Category Archives: Strategy

RIM Protects its Core

RIM pulls BlackBerry app Kik while Apple, Google OK | Electronista:

“However, some have speculated that RIM was primarily concerned that Kik is too similar to BlackBerry Messenger and is a competitive threat that would reduce the incentive to keep using BlackBerries. The app has been available on Android and iPhone devices and, if popular, could make it easier to switch platforms.”

(Via The Macintosh News Network.)

Exactly.  It would be foolish for them to give BBM addicts a road to recovery.

How Mobile Apps Are Disrupting the Car-Rental Business

How Mobile Apps Are Disrupting the Car-Rental Business:

“Since Zipcar has shown that a mobile app and special software can help tackle the logistical challenges of car sharing, rivals have been following suit. Six months ago, Hertz launched an iPhone app that functions in much the same way for Connect, its own Zipcar-like program. Whereas Zipcar has 6,500 vehicles, Hertz has nearly half a million, although only about 1,000 of those are available through Connect. “As we began to look at [Zipcar] and to see that model grow, it was a natural evolution for Hertz,” says Joseph Eckroth, Hertz’s chief information officer.

(Via Technology Review: The Authority on the Future of Technology.)

I have personal experience with this.  It is indeed a niche that’s growing.  I don’t see ZipCar being able to fend off serious forays from the established rental companies if they get serious however.  Disruption?  Maybe.  Right now it looks more like evolution.  What would be disruptive is an acquisition forcing the remaining competitors to get into the game.  We’ll see.

Is Google Guilty Of Deliberate Query Sabotage?

However, whether the results on Ben and on me are due to malevolence or the same unreliable reporting of result counts that appear to be prevalent in the other cases, the unreliability of the counts is striking. Until recently I had used counts of results reported as a rough measure of the significance of an individual or a piece of work, or at least of their popular visibility, which is not quite the same thing as significance.  Obviously I cannot use the number of results returned as a measure of anything until I understand them further. Can I use Google Scholar, or any other Google site, and assume that results have been returned with an even hand, without fear or favor, and with care for their accuracy? I suspect not.

via Is Google Guilty Of Deliberate Query Sabotage?.

This is such a biting damnation of Google’s search result count it garnered a response in less than 3 hours.  Unfortunately the response is more public relations than substantive explanation or even rebuttal.  Restricting a search should always do just that, restrict the search.  If the “estimate” goes up, these numbers are not even remotely accurate regardless of how many significant digits you care about.  Trying to hide behind the word “estimate” is simply disingenuous when a more accurate term would be “guesstimate.”  And Google has no plans to fix this bug since they don’t want to “spend the cycles on that aspect of [their] system.”  It’s only their core business.  Not very important stuff at all.

A Social Engagement with Small Business

Companies marketing to small businesses should also establish a presence on top social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook before pursuing more IT resource-intensive initiatives (such as creating a company-managed online community).

via How to Use Social Media to Engage Small Business Decision Makers – Web Services Web 20 and SOA from eWeek.

The main strategic reason this is good advice is because of what are called network effects.  Chief among them is the desire of network participants to go where everyone else is.  This gives you great bang for your marketing buck in terms of both time and money.

Coincidentally, I looked into creating my first Facebook company “Page” today for just this reason this evening.  What I’m deciding is not just to have the Page but how to best spread the word on such sites as Facebook, control content, etc.  It is not a no-brainer, you need to carefully consider how such a presence affects your image and brand as well as the impression it leaves with your target market.  For example, what kinds of comments will be on your Facebook Page?  “Hi babe! Long time no see!” is not exactly professional and would probably be counterproductive to what the Page is trying to accomplish.

So by all means get your company out there and be social!  Just remember to wear a suit when you do.

BMW, Mini to use iOS 4’s new iPod Out for music | iPodNN

BMW and its connected Mini label have taken advantage of updates in Apple’s iOS 4 to provide an easier way to navigate music on an iPhone or iPod touch. When attached, any iOS 4 device will put out an iPod-like menu on a car’s center dash display; anyone in the front cabin can steer playback from the car’s own controls rather than distract themselves with the touchscreen.

via BMW, Mini to use iOS 4’s new iPod Out for music | iPodNN.

Apple has a killer “lock-in” scheme.  Making it’s UI universal and using users themselves as lock-in devices.

On the Launch iPad

By now you no doubt have heard of Apple’s launch of the iPad, it’s entry into the ultraportable computer market. Given the company’s track record in groundbreaking products I’m optimistic of it’s chances for success. There are several reasons for this, but even more important than the iPad’s success, is its potential to change how we imagine personal computing and how it might affect the industry. But before I talk about what I think the iPad is and what it might be, let me briefly say what it isn’t.

Apple Flying w/o a Net.

Tech pundits far and wide (and not a few of my tech savvy friends and colleagues) have spent much time criticizing the iPad’s lack of ports, lack of keyboard, etc. Or they harp on the converse: that it is just a big iPod. Both imply that it isn’t a serious or capable machine because it doesn’t have the necessary computer accoutrement. What was immediately obvious to me was that they miss the point. Apple is not interested in netbooks which are shrunk down PC’s that simply add inconvenience to the PC experience: flexibility, complexity, and but in a cramped form factor. Thankfully, this is not the direction Apple decided to go.

It’s not a Big iPod touch. Yes, really.

Apple developed a strong user interface for the compact space afforded by the iPod touch and the iPhone. It’s operating system is by necessity efficient and surprisingly powerful. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by what I can do with my iPhone. But most importantly it is simple making the device easier to use and a more effective tool. This has come at a price: a loss of flexibility and some power. But that is relative. It’s clear that users aren’t interested in battery doors, multitasking, or SD slots. They aren’t interested in being computer geeks. They are interested in doing their work, enjoying their media and playing their games.

The iPad continues this trajectory, but with an important difference: screen real estate. On a superficial level, this quite obviously makes the iPad a big iPod touch. The problem is what would the apps be like in this different form factor? Sure an iPad will run iPod apps at 2X the size, but does anyone really believe that developers will stop there? Apple ported its iWork suite and the apps if they are not fully functional cousins to their Mac OS counterparts, seem to come very close. And that’s the real difference between in the iPad. I could work all day on an iPad because it let’s me do the work I’m trying to do. Scale is an important factor. It changes things.

There Still is No Free Lunch

For all the simplicity and the machine getting out of my way, there is a price to pay. We lose some flexibility and some power depending on the application in question. I can’t have half a dozen dongles hanging off the thing as of yet. So this is clearly not on par with the power and flexibility of a laptop or desktop PC. But sadly this is all many of the iPad’s critics seem to notice. It’s too bad this kind of myopia is neither new, nor unprecedented. The iPod and iPhone all enjoy this distinction. The rest is history.

What Lies Before Us

The real challenge is on developers to see how far they can take this platform. No doubt Apple will be the first first-to-market manufacture but it certainly will not be the last. For all of Ballmer’s grousing, look for the tablet edition of Windows to imitate the iPad environment. We well see more focused computing in the years to come and I’m excited to be alive to witness it.

iPhone dominating mobile web in Americas and Europe

iPhone dominating mobile web in Americas and Europe:

Operating System Share, Worldwide Smartphones Only, Q4 2009

(Via the Unofficial Apple Weblog.)

The iPhone has almost 9 times the share of Blackberries. That can’t be good for Web 2.0 apps long term Web 2.0 apps on the Blackberry long term.  Enterprise email only gets your platform so far against such a competitor.

Enterprise Halo Effect

Apple Moves Closer to Snow Leopard Release:

“If Apple can pull off this effort, the company will be able to further capitalize on its hot iPhone mobile platform to make inroads against  Research In Motion’s BlackBerry and Microsoft Windows Mobile in enterprise environments.”

(Via eWeek.)

Apple might actually have an executable enterprise strategy here instead of trying to boil the ocean by offering me-too software to established enterprise competitors. Mobile Access Server is an important sign of where Apple might be going with the iPhone platform. Apple is incrementally trying to attack large enterprise akin to the so-called halo effect of the iPhone on Mac sales in the consumer market. Is this Apple setting the stage for Apple to back the iPhone platform in the enterprise? It sounds interesting since they would be replicating Microsoft’s success against mainframe/Unix. Microsoft used Office to weaponize Windows against Unix environments. I think the hardware analog here is Office/iPhone Windows/Xserve.

Worth Every Penny

Mac vs. PC: What You Don’t Get for $699 – BusinessWeek:

“PC makers in the Windows camp have done everything possible to make their products progressively worse by cutting corners to save pennies per unit and boost sales volume. There’s good reason Apple is seeing healthy profits while grabbing market share. It refuses to budge on quality and so charges a higher price. Rather than running ads that seem clever at first but really aren’t, the Windows guys ought to take the hint and just build better computers.”

(Via BusinessWeek.)

How a $699 really costs $1500 but all you really get is $699 worth of computer.

Paying for the Name

Microsoft’s latest ad attacks Mac aesthetics, computing power — RoughlyDrafted Magazine:

“The strangest point of this ad is that Giampaolo didn’t get the portability, battery life, and power he was looking for, he just ended up with a cheap-appearing machine that obscured its real technical limitations under a flashy layer of misleading, specification-oriented marketing, the very thing he thought he was avoiding with HP: buying a brand rather than a computer. And that’s exactly what Microsoft wants people to do: buy its brand rather than a computer that does what they want it to do.”

(Via Roughly Drafted.)

Great summary on why Microsoft can’t even sell itself. It has to sell others. I wonder how Dell or Lenovo feel about this ad.