Thursday, July 26, 2007

Hogwarts train runs on time

Selling 10 million books in 24 hours is (relatively) easy. Just put J. K. Rowling's name on the cover next to the phrase "Harry Potter and..."

The hard part is actually getting that many physical copies into the hands of that many people, that fast. For that, you need production and distribution technologies that didn't exist when the first Potter book came out. Forbes explains.

That time of year again

I must admit, with everything else going on this summer I did not exactly greet Semicon West with boundless enthusiasm. More like, "Semicon West? Already? whimper..."

But the show takes place whether we're ready for it or not, and this year brought the usual mix of big equipment announcements and less spectacular, but equally important innovations. Probably the biggest of the former was Applied Materials' line of high-k and metal gate products. Among the latter, I was especially intrigued by K-Patents' refractive technique for chemical composition monitoring.

I also spent some time wearing my Solid State Technology contributing editor hat, with two articles in the magazine's e-daily. One introduces Intermolecular, a company bringing combinatorial methods to process integration challenges. The other brings a photomask vendor, a design software supplier, and a chip manufacturer together to talk about yield challenges.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Reimagining Potter

Movies are different from books. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix seems to be the first of the Harry Potter movies to recognize and embrace the differences.

Potter purists will hate it. Things were left out. Things were added. It isn't what Rowling wrote.

No, it isn't, and that's okay. Where the book (the longest of the series so far) rambles across the long expanse of the school year, the movie careens toward its epic climax, feeling shorter than its 138 minute run time.

Movies are different from books. Finally, the Potter movies stand on their own.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Looks good on the bottom line, too

What does leading edge design get you? Premium prices and fat profit margins. iSuppli did a teardown of the iPhone and estimates the profit margin at close to 50%. That's component costs only, not including logistics or stuff like software designer salaries, but it's still a pretty nice number.