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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Microsoft taking off their gloves ?

One has to point out that despite the great improvement in Microsoft's promotional Videos, the comparison  between a paid service and a advertisement-based service, at least as far as my 2 cents go, still gives Gmail the upper hand. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Nokia's Chinese experiences and their lesson

An interesting article on Seeking Alpha by Shaun Rein (of China Market Research Group) caught my attention. It analyses Nokia's difficulties in China, and illustrates some important points regarding the Chinese market:
"Nokia made the mistake of not understanding that the Chinese are no longer price sensitive for many products, and often buy products to show off...after a house or car, the mobile phone is the most prized possession for a majority of consumers. For many Chinese who cannot afford a house or a nice car, the mobile phone becomes the status symbol to show off"
According to the article, the battle is far from being over:
  1.  Nokia has a much better distribution network, and this is still major advantage over Apple, as the recent fraudulent-Apple-store affair teaches us. 
  2. The turnover frequency of Smart phones in China is overwhelming: "younger, upper middle class Chinese consumers change their mobile phones every nine to twelve months...These consumers are also not particularly brand loyal when buying phones. They look for the latest, hottest phone that will confer status on them, and many still remember Nokia’s status as king from just three years ago. This gives Nokia an opportunity to roll out new phones in more areas before Apple is able to penetrate the market."
    Even if middle class and lower economic class consumers cannot afford changing their smart phones every year, they will probably still change them in the fastest frequency possible. In Israel, for example, mobile-operators, who also serve as smart phone distributors, try to dictate a changing rate of 18-24 months.   
  3. Despite my recent admission in my mistaken analysis of Apple's current competitive edge, I still believe that Apple does have that tragic hero streak of making a fundamental mistake just when it is in the lead, and that such a mistake will take place in the coming 2 to 4 years (assuming it has not been made yet, without public recognition).  This of course does not mean Nokia will prevail. There are enough Android-based players competing for the Chinese holy grail, who might use Apple's theoretically coming mistake for their own maximization of market share... 
Summing up, we can deduce some wider lessons, which I believe apply to consumers all over the globe:
  1. Smart phones are not your regular Information commodity. They are a status marker (or maybe even Status maker?)
  2. The emotional-social role of smart phones changes consumer behavior. Consumers are much less price-sensitive than they used to be in the traditional PC/laptop days. This is probably also a strong incentive for consumers to replace their smart phones again and again.
  3. lessons 1&2 probably have some bearing on other modern mobile gadgets, like the tablets. 

    Sunday, July 24, 2011

    Apple continues to increase its PC market share

    Readers of this blog will probably have fun with this one. I've expressed my doubts in the past regarding Apple's future stance in the market, But Apple's recent performance has been so convincing, I'm searching for a saltshaker.

    Seems like Steve Jobs has finally done it: despite the rise in tablets and smart phones, Apple is only seeing a significant rise in Mac's purchases.

    This can mean only one thing: people are not deserting the PC in general. They are deserting the old generation of PCs. And at least for now, Apple is able to be a leader in all 3 fronts:

    • smart phones
    • tablets
    • desktops.

    I'll make this post short, as I have to  use that saltshaker and contemplate the wider implications while eating my hat. 

    where does the data of the world reside ?

    אסטרטגיה צבאית במרחב האינטרנטי

    הולכים ומסתמנים הסימנים לכך שהמרחב וירטואלי הולך והופך להיות שדה הקרב הבא. מצד אחד זה מאוד מעודד. כידוע, בעולם הוירטואלי אפילו אם מתים או נפצעים, תמיד אפשר לחזור מחדש. מצד שני, החיבור בין הוירטואלי לממשי הופך את שדה הקרב החדש הזה, למפחיד יותר מכל קודמיו.... 

    התגלו חיים ללא אינטרנט

    Thursday, July 7, 2011

    Google+ is no buzz

    As the days goes by, it appears that Google+, Google's new social network, is accepted enthusiastically. It is already described as superior compared to Buzz, its group video feature, Google hangouts, is described as a killer app (and considering what Facebook has to offer in that category, it is no wonder Facebook is trying to block people from bringing their friends to google+). What is probably most important is that Google+ is reported to be  a huge source of traffic, only one week into the limited field trial. Facebook is justly worried.

    [update, 20/7/2011: It appears that Facebook has gone beyond being worried. One cannot help but assume that Myspace's quick rise and demise in the face of Facebook, is what makes Facebook so hostile to the new network on the block]

    if you can't compete, pay the client for buying it

    the final power shift in the smart phones world ?

    There may be many reasons for a company that develops products for different platforms to choose one platform as its first environment for innovations. In many cases it is a simple reflection of the company's development environment. But I tend to think that  in the smartphone world, at the stage, preferring to release an innovation into the Android-based smart phones before doing so in the iPhone space, is a revolutionary step. Foursquare's choice to release their recent development "Notifications", for Android based smart phones, after years of iPhone-first, is a clear indication that Android has matured enough,  and iPhone's years of technological dominance, enjoying his first-real-smart-phone-to-be-around status, have come to a clear end.
    Very much like other stages at Apple's history, this is a sad stage for the innovative company. Once again, Apple's choices are leading her to a small market share, which not only lacks the cost/benefit edge, but also the technological leadership edge. 

    is online sharing growing or is it a mirage ?

    Mark Zuckerberg the trends in Facebook, and claimed that Online Sharing is growing at an exponential rate, and that 4 Billion items are shared each day on Facebook.
    As much as the description and numbers are impressive,  I'm afraid this statement should be taken with a grain of salt. During that event Zuckerberg has revealed that Facebook has reached the 750,000 active users milestone this month. Divide 4 billion by that active users number, and you get an average of 4 items per user per day. Now, lets recall that many sharing-events are automatic updates by users, and that some users are more active than others, and things appear less impressive.
    Considering my own personal experience at Facebook, things appear as if the social network has reached a static stage in its development.
    It surely has to do with its maturity, and the way privacy definitions have finally been realized and are used  by the social network users (one rarely sees nowadays the embarrassing information sharing messages of the past). There are probably sub-networks that are more active than others, with a different nature than the sub-network I'm familiar with. And yet, while one has to respect the immense technological challenge of supporting an active community of such magnitude, which produces such a daily output, one also has to wonder what part of this immense output, be its growing rate expanding or static, is actually useful.    

    Microsoft most successful mobile project is still Android

    As time goes by and Microsoft's smart mobile phone still lags behind competitors, Microsoft's ability to earn profits from its competitors, Android-based smart phones, makes one wonder whether Microsoft's vested interests in Android aren't actually making Android Microsoft's preferred Mobile operating system... 

    Wednesday, July 6, 2011

    age and entrepreneurship

    When you think about the image of entrepreneurship in modern media, one tends to think of young entrepreneurs.

    Bill GatesSteve JobsSergey Brin, Larry Page and Mark Zukerberg are all examples of entrepreneurs who started their way to success in their twenties, and reached early & HUGE success very soon after the beginning of their entrepreneurship.

    But these amazing success stories (and there are many others), which may cause some "elderly" persons after the age of 30 to feel like they have arrived late to the game, should be taken with a grain of salt.

    Two facts in a Business Insider report of  the findings of a 2009 survey caught my eye:

    • 80% of entrepreneurship activity is being made by persons above 35. 
    • In 'high-growth' industries, "people over 55 are nearly twice as likely to launch startups". 

    Seems like it is never too late to become an entrepreneur.

    Monday, July 4, 2011

    You can't have a gmail account if you are under 13

    Martin Sutherland, on his blog "Legends of the Sun Pig" told how Google made his son cry. It turns out Google is really serious about not letting people who are not allowed to enter a binding contract, enjoy their services.

    I was surprised to discover that the official age in which one can enter a binding contract in the U.S is (in most states) 18 (if that Wikipedia article seems cumbersome, try reading about the majority age here, it is better summarized). In Israel the approach is more sophisticated, and a minor's capacity is judged by the type of transactions youth of his age are commonly involved in, instead of a strict age line. I was further surprised to discover that this entire Google-Age dilemma is old internet news , but I was mostly surprised to realize that Google is brave enough to let persons above 13 use their services despite the formal majority age, but not brave enough to let persons under 13 enjoy their services, even with parental consent.

    And lets all remember - when we are talking about Google's services, we are talking first and foremost about SEARCH. Does Google really think it is reasonable that in this age of information, minors under 13 will not search the internet ? Does Google really think it is reasonable that in this day and age minors under 13 will not have an email ? Sometimes lawyers and law make even the most pure-intent organizations lose their right mind.

    Google, you are doing evil. Time to wake up, and adapt your Terms of Service.