By APNWLNS payday loans
December 25, 2009
Investor’s Business Daily had an interesting report from ABI Research showing that now, and through 2014, iPhones and gPhones will dominate the smart phone application platform market. Combined they will own about 60% of the market in the out years, with all other competitors in the â€˜other’ category.
That includes Microsoft.
December 8, 2009
Desperate times create desperate marketers.
Such seems to be the case with Sequoia Voting Systems, a manufacturer of electronic voting machines (known among libertarians as â€˜election hijacking devices’). Sequoia recently announced that they were opening the source code for their Frontier balloting systems.
A wise move, aside from the fact that it exposes Frontier as being Microsoft based. I know nobody who would trust their vote to be counted by the same people who brought you Clippy (It looks like you are trying to vote. Would you like me to cast your ballot for you?).
For reader who have resided in Tora Bora for the past decade, electronic voting machines were thrust upon the American public in a fit of panic. In the 2000 elections, a few senile seniors in Florida could not navigate paper ballots. Since the appointment of the next president was to be based on fewer votes than all the elderly dementia patients in Boca Raton, some people demanded radical changes in election processes. Congress did what they do best, and threw nearly endless stacks of cash at the problem without first taking time to understand the problem itself.
Electronic voting machines are intended to replace manual punch card machines. Many manufactures rushed products to market since the several states had tons of federal cash to toss around. The list of vendors included Sequoia, which received some unfortunate product reviews. Since votes are sacred, miscounting votes is demonic. Thus, e-voting vendors need to prove their systems are incapable of error, can not be hacked, and that your vote will be faithfully recorded and tallied.
Programmers everywhere laugh aloud.
This created a marketing problem for e-vote vendors. People buy when there is an imbalance between desire and resistance — pull verses friction. People desire iPhones, but Steve Jobs would not sell many if they cost $5,000 and exploded every time you put it to your ear. So Steve created favorable imbalance by pricing the iPhones in the $200 range (if you ignore the monthly $30 wireless data tax) and reduced iPhone explosions to mere meltdowns.
E-voting is allegedly desired, but is held in high suspicion by voters with functioning neurons. System failures and very public displays of vulnerability to hackers create a lot of friction as well as a few pitchfork-and-torch mobs heading for their county elections office. These woes tend to hamstring all e-voting vendors equally, though a few are held in more suspicion than others.
Would you trust your vote to the same people who make ATM machines?
A good marketing strategist knows that the best way to win a market is to change the rules. Attacking a competitor’s strength is a classic maneuver where the rule (“they are successful because they are good at yada yada”) itself is challenged.
The status quo in the e-voting biz was created by friction, namely the belief that e-voting machines are corruptible. So Sequoia changed the rules by opening their system source code (with limitations and in small batches) in an attempt to skate past the market friction. This puts their competitors on the defensive and forces them to follow suit or be held with more suspicion than Sequoia … a race up from the bottom. Issues remain, such as the full, final and complete release of the code, review by independent programmers who would love to find defects, and admission that using Microsoft was Sequoia’s first mistake.
Once Steve Ballmer comes to my office and fixes XP, then I might trust my vote to their operating system.
There are two marketing lessons in Sequoia’s saga. First, friction is deadly. Great marketing strategists research the barriers to adoption, removing all of them that they can. This makes products easy to buy, and those are products that fly off the shelf. Second, Sequoia sought to change the rules of the game. They saw that the rules (hiding their source code so they could claim security by obscurity) was causing every vendor to lose. So they flipped the switch, changing darkness into light and forcing their competitors to scurry like cockroaches.
Good for Sequoia, though I still won’t vote using their gear.
December 1, 2009
It has been a bad week for brands, and it is only Tuesday.
Between Tiger Woods’ early morning mishap and certain global warming scientists being exposed as frauds, we have seen two well established brands bite bullets. Nobody believes that Tiger Woods was out for a 2AM joyride and happened to lose control of his car while leaving his driveway. His squeaky clean image is tarnished, and though not debilitating to his multi-million dollar income, his personal brand will not carry him as smoothly as before.
Certain scientists lost much more when email and computer modeling code was hijacked and disclosed to the public. In less than three days the word “climategate” – which had not previously existed – has 13.4 million references in Google whereas “global climate change” and a mere 0.5 million. Those emails and comments in source code show that “scientific consensus” never existed, was straggled at birth (i.e., the peer-review stage), and that Al Gore’s Nobel Prize might be recalled (I made that last one up, just to goad Gore’s goat and make Al nervous). These scientists have no future career though they may have future cellmates. The brand of “concensus science” no longer exists and the brand of “global climate change” is now negative.
Brands are interesting abstractions. The concept of a brand is simple, and Silicon Strategies Marketing articulated it best when we wrote:
Branding is making the market think and feel what you want it to about you and your products.
The hard part of branding is making up your mind about what the market should think and feel. The harder part is making it stick. Companies fail at branding because they do not know or properly delegate the three roles of brand management:
â€¢ It is marketing’s job to define the corporate brand, though it typically happens accidentally and largely based on founder’s biases.
â€¢ It is the CEO’s job to make everyone in an organization aware of what the corporate brand is and why it is important.
â€¢ It is every employee’s job to live the brand.
When marketing clearly defines and documents the desired brand, it becomes easier to communicate. People will parrot anything that they instinctively agree with. Employees will ape a corporate brand if they know what it is and it is not abjectly inaccurate. But none of this happens if marketing fails to define it with precision and reduce it to a simple, repeatable concept.
Even CEOs need help. Often the CEO sets the brand based on the boldness of his leadership. Take Larry Ellison and Oracle. Their brand image in the technology market place is not pretty, but it is effective. Larry set the brand early and reinforced it vigorously. Call it what you like – “evil empire”, “death star”, “the matrix” are all common Silicon Valley pseudonyms for Oracle, even among Oracle employees. But the brand is consistent and if nothing else oozes strength.
The point is that the CEO must carry the ball to the employees every day of their working life. When Bill and Dave drafted the HP Way, they established an enduring brand (that temporarily succumbed to a succubus). The HP Way was a simple set of rules for employee behavior that in turn created the HP brand. Bill and Dave did their job and marketing’s job too.
Employees, when given simple and clear branding, will live it. Circuit City – back when it was a healthy and growing concern – had a brand based on customer service, and that brand was broadcast throughout the company and in the house organ. So clear was the message that one newsletter article told of a Circuit City deliveryman who hauled an upright freezer a mile down the road to the customer’s house after his truck broke down. He was not going to let the Circuit City brand fail that customer.
In the technology biz, brands are largely left to rot. Tech companies have the misfortune of being founded by technologists, who view the world as a rules-based logic engine. They often believe that features and benefits drive every decision, and they could not be more wrong. Even iron cast CIOs have emotional functions that need to be nurtured during a sales cycle. Since part of selling is having a clear, believable and beneficial brand, your brand will make or break sales.
Let me give you an example. I was chatting with an old techie buddy of mine who mentioned putting in an order for 100 new X64 servers the day before, and that he ordered from HP. I asked him why HP and he said he simply believed they made the best hardware available. I probed a bit more and discovered that he had not read one comparison report nor did he have a lot of experience with IBM, Dell or any other vendor. HP’s brand made the sale.
If you are a CEO and you cannot repeat your internal band statement, give us a call. It is never too late to get this right because eventually your competitors will.
November 3, 2009
When Silicon Strategies Marketing was busy making SuSE famous, we formed a number of interesting alliances. At the peak of our marketing frenzy we charged IBM, AMD, VMWare and others cash to participate in the SuSE event booth – to co-brand an co-present as shown in this picture from LinuxWorld 2003 (partner co-branding flying over our booth and us holding an audience after the show closed and while exhibit hall crews rolled-up the carpets).
Part of the strategy we put in play for SuSE was to communicate one step ahead of Red Hat. While the fedora-toped gang was still droning on about Linux being cheaper, we recruited major infrastructure vendors (hard and soft) to help us talk about integration and strategy planning. Since the market had decided to go with Linux, these talking points were what customers were thinking about – instant alignment.
We went out of our way to recruit Oracle. They were and are the big boss of the database business. After booting up a box, installing a DBMS is the next task on the average sys admin’s checklist. Having Oracle and IBM’s DB2 in the booth demonstrated that SuSE already had partners that buyers needed to build their future data center.
Which makes Red Hat’s recent sniping at Oracle amusing.
While SuSE, Oracle and IBM were aiming at enterprises, nobody was selling to the bottom of the market. MySQL, following the Open Source parade, slowly swallowed all DBMS action in the lower tiers. Yes, Oracle and IBM eventually released stripped down, limited access, largely unsupported versions of the mainline products. But by the time they reacted, the non-enterprise world had anointed MySQL the de facto SMB database. It came bundled on every release of SuSE, Red Hat, and whoever those other distros were.
The only people more annoyed by MySQL’s success than Oracle and IBM were the maintainers of Postgress (who figure into the story in a moment).
As the years rolled by and as Oracle acquired software companies faster than Bill Clinton acquires STDs, Oracle ran afoul of Red Hat in two ways: First, Larry Ellison brazenly (his only mode) went into competition with Red Hat, offering support services for Red Hat users with the added advantage of providing customers one throat to choke for technical support. Then he bought Sun, and by proxy bought MySQL. With MySQL an intrinsic part of the default LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) stack, this put too many variables in Oracle’s control.
Which is why Red Hat followed IBM and is investing in an Oracle killer.
EnterpriseDB is an extended Postgress DBMS. Aside from offering a number of enterprise-ready features not found in MySQL, it does one thing that might just keep Ellison up at night – it mimics Oracle databases. It provides the same programming interface as Oracle, and thus allows Oracle-ready applications (SAP, et al) to run without the much more pricy Oracle DBMS. In other words, EnterpriseDB wants Larry’s money.
Which is why Red Hat is giving money to EnterpriseDB.
Oracle tried to take Red Hat’s support revenues, and now Red Hat is trying to take Oracle’s license and support revenues (oh, and IBM is helping EnterpriseDB in the same way).
In technology markets, nobody can go it alone. All vendors need partners. But tech alliances are about as stable as my ex-wife, and with less fidelity. They exist on the maxim that as long as each partner is helping the other make money, then the relationship lasts. When one partner causes the other to lose, then the partnership is weakened or broken.
Or partners are swapped.
Marketing strategists decide with whom to partner. They choose the alliances based on creating a whole product that they can bring to market. When we led SuSE’s strategy, recruiting Oracle was essential in bringing a whole product to enterprise IT buyers. Red Hat eventually did the same, and will remain on Oracle’s official partner list, because they still co-create the current whole product. But Red Hat sees that in the long run Oracle does not want to be a partner, but a competitor. Oracle wants to own the stack. Since the DBMS is Oracle’s revenue bedrock, Red Hat is reciprocating by attacking that revenue source through a new partner.
Expect Larry to retaliate … or buy Red Hat.
October 27, 2009
Next Page »
Apple is pushing people to populate their phones with installed applications while Google, IBM and Microsoft are urging folk to remove apps from desktops.
This is not nearly bizarre as it sounds.
The success of Apple Apps for iPhones is slightly more phenomenal than the second coming. The universe seems consumed by the desire to have useful and useless apps installed onto their handsets. Sure, most of the iPhone app rush comes from the rush of playing with a new toy, proving once again the only difference between men and boys is the price of their data plan.
Yet this month shows that the desktop is slowing turning into little more than a SaaS suckling tool, whereby apps are delivered online. Google may have led the pack with early availability of desktop apps-on-tap, but now IBM and Microsoft have tap danced onto the stage.
(The mental visual of Steve Balmer and Sam Palmisano doing a vaudeville soft-shoe act is highly amusing)
IBM’s offering seems to offer what the market would seriously not consider. Big Blue and Ubuntu (say that ten times real fast) have teamed to push applications from a Linux cloud to a Linux desktop via a Lotus leaf. Ignoring the narrow niche of combined technologies, the requisite once-and-future Linux desktop is a momentum killer. Swapping XP for Windows7 will be hideously painful, but slightly less so than a migration to a completely new desktop OS and application package.
Which is unimportant. $3 per user per month is the real news story.
Marketing clouds parted when the rental cost of the solution set was mentioned. Good, bad or indifferent, SaaS apps have caught the attention of application vendors for a number of reasons, the most motivating of which is that steady, predictable revenues streams are far preferable to the old model. Sure, support revenues were the underlying motivation for many software plays, but the agony of product release and upgrade support programs coupled with associated spikes in revenues and expenses made maddening money flows.
Which is one reason Microsoft is chasing the same market.
Though unavailable until next years Office 2010 release, Microsoft is readying a web version of Office. Though pricing and options are not yet known, Microsoft has in the past licensed server-side solutions in creative ways (for example, many ISPs supply SharePoint on a per head rental basis). If Microsoft’s web apps are sufficiently adept, many enterprises might opt for the technical and budgetary convenience of serving applications via a browser than installing every bit on every lap-and-desktop in an organization. Microsoft would certainly approve of monthly/quarterly/annual rental fees since a steady flow of greenbacks makes wallpapering Bill Gate’s den a simpler process.
The question is if enterprises will bite.
Part of technology marketing is knowing how IT technoids work, or would work if they had the nerve to assassinate their end users. After costs considerations are sacrificed, IT’s primary motivation is pain avoidance. The two greatest sources of pain for IT staffs are end user stability and systems stability. Ignoring that no end user is mentally stable, the topic turns to their computing environment stability. Web sourced apps have a number of end user stability advantages, including the inability for end users to augment the program with unlicensed software (a.k.a. malware) and the uniformity of having all users executing the same program and revision.
There will be fewer bald and bleary-eyed IT admins if web apps become the norm.
But no enterprise shop can go 100% web application. One Forrester Research analyst noted that “Our own research shows that a good portion of information workers rarely use all of the tools in their Office arsenal.” True, but there are power users and road warriors aplenty, and they likely can/will not switch to web apps. Web office applications are (likely) less feature soaked than their binary buddies, but are unlikely executable from a back seat somewhere between Baoji and Baoshan.
This creates a conundrum. Since enterprises have invested mega money into desk-lap-top maintenance systems, would they double their drudgery in order to rent apps? Since upgrade cycles for lap-desk-flat-top applications is about five years, and that the average upgrade cost for a bulk buyer of Microsoft Office suites is around $150, the breakeven costs (ignoring maintenance infrastructure and ulcer medications) is about $2.50 a month per user.
Which is where IBM got their $3/head price.
Web hosted applications may be the wave of the future, but current moment will retard any inevitability. There is a lack of marketing connection at play – a lack of urgency, a dearth of desirability, and a shortage of savings.
It is insane to declare web apps DOA, but one wonders why outfits like IBM and Microsoft sense getting products to market is necessary. I think their main motivation may be less demonstrated enterprise demand and more Google’s goading.