Virulent Word of Mouse

October 24, 2011

The Wi-Fi Journey

Behind every successful technology lie many quirky stories showing how it grew like a teenager or barely averted disaster. With the passage of time, most of those stories fade into obscurity or, at best, become parts of verbal explanations accompanying countless resumes. The few events that find their way into public discourse, if any do at all, normally get stripped of context and nuance, losing the contours that actually mattered to those who participated.

Perhaps that’s why those who developed Wi-Fi decided to write a collective memoir, bringing much to the fore that would otherwise fade. What the world today calls Wi-Fi began as experiments with wireless LANs, and became embedded in IEEE Standard 802.11, and only then did it explode into a plethora of products and services. Every stage involved numerous quirky events and lessons.

The resulting book, The Innovation Journey of Wi-Fi: The Road to Global Success (Cambridge University Press, 2010), involves almost a score of contributors, including many influential voices in the Wi-Fi world. For a certain kind of reader, this is a great book. Are you that kind of reader? Let’s find out. (more…)

October 5, 2003

Book Review: Jumping on Bandwagons

Filed under: Book reviews — Shane Greenstein @ 7:46 pm
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Think back to the days when the world’s largest telephone company, AT&T, was also the world’s largest regulated monopolist. It was an insanely profitable company, generating billions of dollars in revenue a year.This same company organized one of the seminal commercial failures of the 1970s, the Picturephone. AT&T had followed all the rules, read all the technological forecasts, and-so its managers thought-began to develop the product of the future.Yet, the Picturephone had one huge problem: Nobody wanted to buy it.

The whole affair was a spectacular and embarrassing commercial disaster.To be sure, there have been many other failures of new ventures in communications since then, but none quite as embarrassing (with the possible exception of the recent disaster at Iridium, the satellite phone consortium organized by Motorola).

(more…)

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