May 282006

Hypercompetitive © Jim Plamondon 2006.

Recorded live and unedited during the LAMP lab in Perth in May 2006 in front of the seven teams developing emerging media projects.

James PlamondonJim Plamondon spent the last decade of his corporate working life as a Technical Evangelist for Microsoft in the USA and now runs, in part retirement, a company called Thumtronics Ltd in Western Australia and he talks here about the tension that exists between digital and physical, the intersection of digital media and physical devices. He looks back at the early history of computer operating systems and how the pairing of OS and hardware proved to be a highly successful model (“the apple mac was a dongle”) – a business model that should always be considered. Jim talks eloquently about the importance of patents and even more importantly the thing that makes patents work, patent insurance. “Never go into a business unless you can establish a monopoly” he uses as a mantra to say there is little money to be made in a downward spiral, competitive marketplace – you need to protect your copyrights and patents to block other players offering the same goods at lower prices.

In looking at internet globalization and distribution he talks about fair trade agreements using developing countries to make product cheaper while at the same time giving a fair relative wage in the manufacturing country. Jim talks about the electronics industry is basically plastic wrapped around electronics and how mass production is so much easier now – with contract manufacturing (keeping cost low and quality high), effective R&D labs and much more reliable distribution – particularly global postal networks.

He gets to a key point when he mentions that manufacturing has very thin profit margins but IP (intellectual property) in product is where its at. Digital is great for virally marketing a product and following that up with a dongle (paper, protected hardware) – “physical media is a way of hiding information”. R&D, manufacturing and distribution should be private but marketing should be public and hopefully pirated and spread wide. Jim finishes by talking about the long tail and its implications for those looking at digital distribution.

You can find out more on Jim’s innovative music instrument the thummer at

All LAMP podcasts are also published through the iTunes store.

Jim Plamondon has a distinguished career as a technical evangelist and involved in many of the world changing operating systems to come from Microsoft and others in Silicon Valley and Seattle. As a Technical Evangelist in Microsoft Research’s University Relations Group, he established and/or enhanced the relationship between Microsoft Research and Computer Science research groups at over a dozen universities worldwide. He identified and funded interesting university research projects at MIT, Harvard, Ohio State, Northeastern, Northwestern, etc. He designed and executed Microsoft’s strategy for moving the coin-operated video-game industry to the use of Windows-based PCs (replacing the dedicated, proprietary systems in use today). Conducted extensive market research and business-model analysis to validate and justify the PC-based coin-op model. Travelled the world evangelising the resulting business model.Gained phenomenal mindshare and momentum in a very short period.

Jim designed and executed Microsoft’s strategy and tactics for starving the Mac platform of its developers by bringing them over to Windows. Organized and led technical conferences on Windows programming for Mac developers. Arranged for and oversaw the writing of a technical book on Windows programming from a Mac perspective, by the author of Apple’s most famous Mac programming books, and arranged for its inclusion in every copy of the most popular Macintosh software development environment.

As part of the BAE team, he encouraged dozens of Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) to use the new features of upcoming versions of the Windows family of operating systems, such that their applications would (1) be available only on Windows, or (2) be best on Windows, or (3) be first on Windows.Worked with local software developers’ organizations to improve Microsoft’s image in Silicon Valley.

Perth 10 May 2006
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