Posts tagged ‘IPhone’

April 5, 2013

Microsoft vs Google in the Enterprise

I was reading an article in the guardian titled “Microsoft threatened, as smartphones and tablets rise, Gartner warns” and another post by Fred Wilson/Christina about “Monopolies and Startups” both are connected to the theme of transformation that I have been referring to for sometime now. My colleague was telling me that someone asked him a question What about Surface? when they were discussing some device and technology choice, and his response was What about Surface? i.e who cares? That is the problem, when fringe products that are suppose to appeal to everyone usually does not appeal to anyone. Focus and niche strategy is the best way to launch a new product. It also goes back to the Innovators dilemma, on the new entrant. Microsoft is a new entrant in this space, and they should have acted like one instead they are acting like a big company they are which is sad to see because have many choices is good the consumer. In additino, the interesting part about these transformations is that everyone ignores it until it is too late. The Gartner report about the rise of Smartphones and Tablets is very interesting because few of us were seeing this before it has hit mainstream. IMHO, Microsoft lost out on this battle and Google has gained a huge advantage with their Chromebook, Android Ecosystem. This is the projection of Gartner and Fred Wilson actually wrote about this a while backOperating Systems shipmentsI believe the problem with the competition to the Android and iOS ecosystems should have been fought by Microsoft in a different way. They should have entered the low end market i.e a price point that works in large markets like India, China or Brazil or Latin America less that $150 like the Chromebook with their new operating system. The problem for Microsoft is that they want to be in the enterprise and the Enterprise IT is getting consumerized right in front of our eyes, Deloitte, one of the big 4 Accounting and Consulting firms allows their consultants now to bring their own device and they even subsidize a iPhone 5. I know because my wife just got a new iPhone and she DOES NOT like Apple products, but she now loves her new phone. I think it is a matter of time before the smartphone/tablet User Interface takes over the Laptop/Desktop. I think that is the inflection point that Gartner is alluding to. I think the biggest winner in this over the long haul is going to be Google, because they are very quietly innovating and coming up with Cloud based solutions that work seamlessly with their Android and Chromium ecosystems. Microsoft has found itself in a perfect storm, the assault by Apple in the high end devices and by Google, Amazon and many smaller startups in the lower end. To add insult to injury, enterprises are starting to see if they dont adapt their IT systems they will be left behind by their competitors so they are also looking for newer things that consumers are using. All the people who sell to the Enterprise continue to live in this dream world of yesterday. I have a strange feeling that in a couple of years, I will refer to this post to say I told you so. Consumers i.e employees in the enterprise will dictate what kind of software and device and infrastructure they want to run on rather than the IT department.

May 20, 2012

Next Killer Mobile App

I have always maintained that the killer mobile app of the Internet was Email. I know it is not cool but it is by far the most important backbone of communication channel. Email has become the infrastructure utility of the Internet. I think if one looks back the most prolific usage of a mobile application which resulted in creation and catapulting of Blackberry to super startdom was the email. I remember the time when we used to carry two mobile devices, Blackberry for email and a mobile phone for voice. Blackberry really came up with the solution by solving the two devices problem and that made them the de-facto device for the business professional. When I started my career with Ernst & Young, we had an intricate communication system called the E&Y Voicemail. It was a voice messaging system that you can use with any phone, you dialed into a standard number punched the 4 digit code of the person you want to leave a voicemail for and voila you did. It was used extensively within the company as the main communication channel when email was not sufficient. I wonder if they still use it, I know that all the Big 5 Accounting and Management Consulting companies had their own way of doing this asynchronous voice communication.

The motivation and idea to write this blog post came to me while I was reading a paper written by ANDREW ODLYZKO with the title “The Volume and Value of 

InformationWhat is interesting in this table is that voice minutes have more or less plateaued, however Text messaging is exploding. This is not anything new and the growth of Twitter and 140 characters is a useful trend and it is the basis for the Texting communication. I have written about why I believe Voice and Sound are going to be next big thing. The idea for a killer app, I am sure there already exists one for voice messaging. You limit the size of what can be said with a simple interface and that voicemail gets delivered to any device of choice actually to all the end points of communication to the individual you want to communicate to. The author of the above paper alludes to such an app:

Human culture is largely oral, after all, and the huge revenues of voice telephony testify to the utility of voice communication. Voice messaging could provide a nice hybrid between the traditional telephony and email/texting, one that even illiterate people could use. Some voice messaging is taking place, but in clumsy forms, and what is needed is something really simple, such as a button on a handset that a person could press to ensure that after the called party number is dialed, a message is recorded and deposited directly in a voice mail system.) Or are there other social communication changes that are playing a role? However, the advantage of mobility that wireless offers is undeniable and may have implications for Internet traffic growth rates.

There you go, the next killer app of course the app becomes a killer app only when there is enough uptake to make the network effect work. Think of Instagram for Voice. I think some the text message startup that are out there could be the natural extension providers for this application. I am going to propose this problem when we have a hackathon in Reykjavik University on May 29th as part of Startup Iceland Conference to be hosted in Andrews Theater in Ásbrú Enterprise Park.

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April 20, 2012

Tectonic Shifts in Economic Value Creation

We are witnessing a tectonic shift in economic value creation. We can attribute this to various things, but it is fundamental and real. Let me walk you through a simple example of my father-in-law, he has been an employee of an organization for over 35 years. The organization through its employees solved a problem and created economic value. This structure is how we had always thought about value creation. He is planning to retire from service in the next 2 years, he has been working on his hobby of Whittling for sometime now and he has gotten very good at it. He whittles all the time now a days, actually he has converted his garage into a workshop for machines and tools and showcase for all his work. What is fascinating is that, I pointed him to Etsy and he has become very intrigued about the prospects of actually creating some economic value for his hobby. He was even surprised to find out that similar work of arts on Etsy were fetching as much as $45/piece… whether he will be able to sell his goods for that price is yet to be seen but he now has a platform that would allow him to display, market and sell his work of art. I am not sure how much money he could potentially make but he has hundreds of pieces of grumpy old men, vikings and santa clauses carved from wood and I am sure there is a niche market for his stuff. What has this got to do with Tectonic Shifts? well, think about it, someone who is retiring is actually embarking on a new entrepreneurial role of selling things that he does for passion, if this is not value creation I don’t know what is. The story is but a small sample of a much larger trend that is starting to happen all over the western world. What is the implication of this? well, it is quite possible that many of the established industrial, hierarchical and inefficient businesses are going to be disrupted by efficient smaller teams that leverage the new communication and device technologies. I think Clay Christensen has written a lot about it starting with his book The Innovators Dilemma.

We are starting to see the established hierarchical organizations fighting back with road blocks to innovation, SOPA, PIPA, ACTA and CISPA are some if not the last of the regulatory walls being raised so far to stop innovation that could break the traditional business models of Hollywood, the music industry and the Media business etc The Hoteliers association trying to prevent Airbnb to expand in NYC, Taxi Drivers of New York protesting against Uber… We have already witnessed the demise of one of the Industry giants, Kodak, killed by Instagram, iPhone, Android and Facebook. In addition to that the traditional publishing industry which was very inefficient is being destroyed by the e-reader and e-book revolution. So, what are the next industries? I don’t know but I am not waiting to find out.

The biggest risk in this transition is that the new generation wants to embrace this freedom to innovate through Life, Liberty and Blazing Broadband and the previous generation wants to hold on to the stability of their jobs, social security, healthcare and retirement. How do we transition smoothly from one way of economic value creation to another without any revolution or blood shed? I think, there is a solution… India, China and most of the new emerging and emerging markets still function under the old regime, I think the experience of the older generation in the western world could be very useful in the emerging markets. We should find a way to transfer that experience, where the older generation from the west is able to contribute to the development of the current generation in the emerging markets and the new generation in the western world is allowed to innovate freely and disrupt any industry. There is only a small problem the younger generation in the emerging markets have once again grown up with Facebook, Twitter, iPhone and Android, they may want to leap frog, just like the entire country of India skipped the whole land phone line to start using the mobile phones. I don’t have an answer but this is happening right in front of our eyes, what should we do about it? embrace the change? allow this tsunami to change our world? I think those countries that embrace this would lead the next millenium. This transition is not dis-similar to what happened during the Trade revolution 200 or 300 years back, America and Britain innovated by allowing trade and commerce in their economies, whereas India, China and Latin America due to established kingdoms, feudal, land lord systems resisted that innovation wherein they lost out on a tremendous economic value creation. So which country is going to innovate faster? I believe Iceland has an important role to play in this transition.

February 11, 2012

Snoop-Around.com vs mbl.is

I saw this website snoop-around.com on the SVEF awards night, snoop-around.com is a Photo/Interview website in Reykjavik, where they visit creative people in their workshop or home and do a profile on them. The website won the award for being the Best Approach, Blog and Video Content category. It was really fascinating to see how creative one can get watching people doing creative work. The vicarious feeling I get being around others who are doing fantastic things is infective, it forces me to act. Anyway, I have written before about how having a balanced Creative and Analytical skill set is critical for a team to increase the odds of success. When one things about the web, it is a balance of the creative and analytical sites that get the attention. Apple is a classic example, I am writing this blog post in a Mac Air and I keep thinking how much work should have gone into the creative side compared to the engineering side of putting this piece of machine together. It is a balanced engineering and design effort that I think is amazing. I believe that is the recipe for increasing the odds of success in any endeavor.  If you are web designer focus on form and function, beauty and analytical. I believe we are embarking on a new world where Art, Creativity, Design has to in the front with all the geeky engineering and analytical discipline behind to make the thing work. The Snoop-Around.com website is a good example of that. I think their business model is built around advertisements, I don’t see the advertisement on the main view of the page… it is clean, shows what I expect it to show but when you scroll down you see the advertisements done beautifully. I want to compare that to another site whose business model is built on advertisement mbl.is. I think mbl.is is a great website but the design side of it needs work, it is too messy, crowded, it actually turns me off when I go to the site. The actual content is probably 3% of the real estate and 97% of it is moving advertisements and nothing that really interests me why would I even bother going to the site? it is just poor design! What do you think?

January 20, 2012

Liveproject.me – A Startup Profile

Here is profile of another startup here in Iceland. LiveProject.me allows users to stream their experience from a live event like a concert or show. I have met with both the founders, they are designers and creators who gave up their day jobs to be entrepreneurs. I love this concept, allows everyone to turn their iPhones and Android Phones into live streaming cameras. What is so cool about this service is that you get to see the energy of the crowd through which you can feel the show… just brilliant. I advised them on their business model, on scaling and also pointed them to some of the books that I have written about. This is the kind of idea that falls right in the center of my investment thesis. Platforms that are built on top of iOS, Android or any Mobile device. There are so many different ways they can build followings and users. TV stations needs to start noticing this trend make sure that they are investing in this otherwise they will be marginalized. Fred Wilson wrote about one of his portfolio companies Boxee, which is now starting to stream live HD TV. There is a fundamental change that is starting to happen. We had many different ways that content came to us but it was controlled by a few content creating companies and they had gate keepers who sought rent for everything that went through them, now with startups that are disrupting that business model no wonder SOPA and PIPA have become the way to create a scarcity based business model. I think eventually scarcity cannot be a viable business model because of the underlying forces of Moore’s law.

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