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Tech Roundup: Web 2.0 Gets Cheap, Cisco the VC, Xbox 360 Promo, More

Good news, bad news on Web 2.0 -- According to a recent Forrester report, businesses that want to use such social media tools as blogs, wikis, social networking, and RSS have something pleasant to anticipate: falling costs. Prices over the next five years are supposed to drop even as the average number of licenses will increase. The abilities are becoming software commodities and, as such, will continue to fall in price over the next five years or so. One estimate is that average web 2.0 deployments will cost in 2012 half of what they were last year. Now for the bad news. When the numbers are that small, companies aren't making deployment decisions based on price. Although there should be an increase in use, someone has to pay for the drop in prices, and that's likely to be the vendors. Surprise. [Source: BusinessWeek]

Your friend the downturn -- People don't tend to look forward to economic crashes and slowdowns. But there is a silver lining. Conditions can provide an impetus to solve problems that haven't yet been adequately addressed, and that means opportunity for entrepreneurs. It's easy to forget that cash-positive, billion-dollar-valuation LinkedIn started in 2002, certainly not one of the more auspicious tech vintages when you consider the industry as a whole. For example, some recent Boston College graduates are trying to improve how groups handle expenditures. Ah, but can they tell who had the penne arrabiata and how much of the tip that person should kick in? Hopefully, because according to Paul Volker, this crisis stands out from all the others he saw, before, during, and after being U.S. Federal Reserve chair. And he's 81, which means, yup, enough institutional memory to consider this really bad. [Source: Innovation Economy,]

Cisco making innovation investment pay off -- Some companies become sluggish and predictable as they get larger. But Cisco has been doing well with its Emerging Technologies Group. Since starting two years ago, the group has opened eight new lines of business, at least one of which, real-time conferencing product Telepresence, is doing well. Now it's doing something that I suggested Microsoft try -- running a contest with funding available to the winners. Ironically, Microsoft used to support internal groups that were trying to push the boundaries, but shut them down in the late 1990s. [Source: VentureBeat, BNET Industry Technology Blog]

Microsoft trying Xbox 360 promotion -- again -- Call it more game madness. Microsoft has apparently done well by lowering its prices on the Xbox 360 twice so far and it must be thinking that the effective third time is the charm. But instead of literally dropping the price, it's running a promo offering either a free 512MB memory card or a $20 refurbished 20GB hard drive. Only the Core or Arcade units can qualify, and users learn whether they are among the chosen by going to a web site and providing the applicable numbers from the machine. This also makes the machine the cheapest "real" model out there. (What? No storage? No way.) But as they keep trying to sweeten the pot, you have to wonder just how many previous buyers they are seriously ticking off, particularly when at least some resellers have said that, no, they can't take return units and, no, they can't offer to reimburse the difference in price, even if someone bought a unit only a few days before the price drop. [Source: Ars Technica]

Obama tries Xbox 360 promo too -- Clearly the Democrats have decided to focus on the youth vote. There is a confirmed report that Barack Obama campaign ads are appearing at least as billboards in a driving game called Burnout Paradise from Electronic Arts. What comes next? A mano e mano face-off between the two candidates in Final Fantasy: Presidential Edition? [Source: GigaOM]

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