The list of indignities we suffer online every day is significant. Our bank hits us up for a high-yield checking account ... while we're in our high-yield checking account. We have to navigate four levels deep at our favorite sites to get to what we want, every single day. Even when a site should know you, the experience is one size fits all, and frankly, dumb. The Web doesn't know you at all.
While most of us have been busy rebuilding our music collection yet again—at 99 cents a download—RealNetworks has been putting together the building blocks of the next revolution in music. Its Rhapsody subscription service offers unlimited access to a library of more than 4.5 million tracks for $13 to $15 a month. "There should never be a day when you don't have your music wherever you are," says Michael Bloom, Rhapsody's general manager.
Is it possible to run a billion-dollar publicly traded company and save the world at the same time? When Fast Company posed such a question of Timberland's third-generation CEO Jeffrey Swartz two-and-a-half years ago, his response was to quote Rabbi Tarfon in the Jewish text Ethics of Our Fathers: "It's not required of you that you complete the task. Nor is it permitted of you that you lay down the task."
For the past two decades, the history of the video game industry has been as predictable as most of its products: More advanced technology creates more powerful consoles, which run more realistic games. It was all about leveling up. That is, until Nintendo decided to stop spending its quarters playing a game it couldn't win. Faced with competition from technically spectacular machines made by Sony and Microsoft, the company had to reimagine what a game console could be.
Few startups dare to go up against Google. But in China, search engine Baidu did, and it's won the first round.
Why? Baidu performs better in the Mandarin language and has more customized interactive features for local users. Even though Google recently redid its Chinese site, Baidu's market share climbed to 60 percent in 2007, up from 47 percent the year before. Baidu is China's most popular web site and ranks in the top ten globally.
The standard by which all other design firms are measured, Palo Alto-based IDEO had a great year, even against its own high bar. Unlike past years, where design firm innovation was often about a creating a new laptop or other electronic gadget, in 2007, IDEO's initiatives spanned areas far beyond the realm of traditional product design.