Innovation Insufficiency

Is owning 95% of a market enough? Taking in a number of market share estimates, Apple iPads have about 5% of the potential U.S. market for pads/slates/tablets (or as the wags at The Register prefer to call them, Fondle Slabs).  This is based on current P.C. market penetrations (north of 76% of households) and the estimated U.S. deployment of iPads.  Thus, the green field of the slab market is currently wide open. Which explains why several million Android slabs were introduced at CES last week. Market mechanics are based on many things, with technical innovation being a misleading indicator.  Apple has always been an innovator, but innovation in and of itself is insufficient.  Apple invented the PDA market with the Newton, which sold four or five units.  Pure innovation, but not only was it ahead of the market, it was also poorly marketed.  Alternately the iPad was very innovative and … Continue reading

Shift Happens

A start-up client of mine maintains an interesting page on their intranet that showed when employees typically come and go.  The CEO routinely arrives at the office around 8:00AM, the software architect by 10:00AM, and their hotshot Java geek leaves the building at o-dark-thirty. Technology is shifting time.  In the bad old days (say 1998) lives were regimented.  Between work and television, most Americans kept static and well matched schedules.  Most everyone was at work at nine, home by six, integrated with their couch by eight and using Jay Leno as a nightlight for foreplay around midnight.  Lives between people were synchronized out of practice and the necessity of both communing at work and the nature of broadcasting. Technology has made work life at the start-up asynchronous and may well spell the death of broadcasting as we know it (expect the water cooler phrase “Did you catch blah-blah-blah on TV … Continue reading

Televised Apocalypse

Google is proving an old joke right, and in the right way. The joke was that UNIX is the original computer virus, spreading like an epidemic to every conceivable computing platform.  Geeks used to laugh at this line … until Linux was first spotted running side-by-side on both a surplus x86 desktop and an IBM mainframe.  It then leapt onto cell phones, into routers, and I think there is a Linux application for my toaster. It may in your next television. Samsung — whose cell phone division likes Android in the same way sumo wrestlers like cheeseburgers — let slip that they are considering baking Android into televisions.  This is no meager moment because Samsung makes more idiot boxes than the public school system makes viewers.  In fact, Samsung make more boob tubes than any other enterprise, and is single handedly responsible for most of the traffic on Best Buy’s … Continue reading

Breaking Barriers

I opened a box of Cracker Jacks and the toy prize was a cell phone. Not a smart phone, but a commoditized flip phone that handled voice conversations, kept a contact list and something that resembles a calendar.  A cell phone so fancy that two decades ago we would have taken a human life to obtain one, but today is so feature free that we might give it to a child so some day he can tell his kids how hard he had it. Markets change constantly, but often products change faster than the markets that support them.  Take the cellular carrier market … please.  Given that the domestic customer base is saturated, carriers are in a constant struggle to keep customers locked into their networks and find new streams of revenue.  Yet they must also help finance your newer and more sophisticated cell phones in order to bring you … Continue reading

Android Drive

I love it when people don’t get it — it means the market is ready to shift. This week the geeks at Google released a gizmo that lets average people create Android apps via a brain-dead-simple user interface.  The reaction from the technical community involved hysterical laughter, deriding the tool and the alleged limitation of the applications it could craft.  Uniformly they snickered noting that while Apple’s App Store is loaded with professionally honed software downloads, Google was encouraging point-and-meow apps.  They used the news to lambaste Google’s Nexus One handset, which had a short life before cellular carriers started selling their own Android handies. The technical community doesn’t get it, which means the market is about to shift. Nexus One and the Android App Inventor served similar purposes, namely market seeding.  Android was a relatively new entrant into the handset OS market, and going up against Apple, Microsoft, RIMM, … Continue reading

Social Smarts

I love technology fads.  If I could just think of a way to profit from the inevitable failure of enterprises trying to implement them, I could retire … to my own private island. Social networking is more than a fad, though the surrounding hype makes it sound like one (with the possible exception of Twitter, a fad that I hope will fade fast).  Social networking serves a real purpose, namely uniting people who have common connections.  Facebook facilitates all types of unions from the common to the outrageous (if you can get jihadists to threaten you, then you know you have some power in the world).  The secret to social media systems is that they let people decide what common connections are important and that do not occur through nominal daily activities. Which is why most corporate social media experiments have been misguided wastes of your bonus check.  Corporate life … Continue reading

HP Handsets

Just keep reminding yourself that Compaq was an odd deal too. Today Hewlett Packard palmed Palm for whopping $1.2B, or about 1/10th of HP’s petty cash.  This was newsworthy for many reasons including the fact that Palm’s struggling handset line will now join HP’s struggling handset line (bet you forgot that HP makes cell phones — so did the rest of the market).  In a world where RIM owns the corporate market, Apple owns the consumer market, Microsoft hasn’t helped HP’s market, and Google/Android are changing the rules of the market, this marriage seems slightly more absurd than half of Hollywood hook-ups. The deal is not without upside.  First, the market for mobile is not yet saturated.  Especially on the low end, there is plenty of green field. As unlocked handsets become more prevalent and popular, HP can use its retail savvy to shove cell phones into public ears.  I … Continue reading