November 2010
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Month November 2010

The iPhone is not superfluous, not easily copied, not revolutionary and not a premium product

The release of the iPhone is rightly acclaimed as a watershed event in the history of telecom. It was a sensation. But it was also a product that was widely underestimated and dismissed. Even today expert opinion is divided. The critics of the product transitioned directly from labeling it a superfluous bauble to an obvious and copyable sustaining innovation. Advocates of the product describe it as revolutionary and dazzling with the potential for capturing significant profit share due to premium pricing and positioning.

So which is it?

I'll let you in on a secret: insider info is bogus

So the SEC is investigating analysts who peddle “channel checks” for violation of securities laws. Former SEC chairman Paul Atkins summarizes the law as follows:

“Insider trading basically comes down to where you know or ought to know that the person from whom you’re getting this information has a duty to someone else to keep it confidential. If you go in and pay the mail clerk to give you special information, that’s not proper.”

This is perhaps newsworthy. But the real news is that information that comes from sources that cannot be verified should not be trusted and certainly not valued.

Here’s why: if someone holds information that is non-public they automatically treat it as more valuable. It’s more valuable because it’s not something everyone has. It’s not valuable because it’s accurate. By definition, that accuracy cannot be proven so the assumption of its value is based entirely on exclusivity. So valuable perhaps that you can even sell it, and surely many do.

However, simply not being public makes is no more likely to be accurate. You have a situation where people ascribe more value to something that is equally (and sometimes even more) inaccurate as background noise.

Beware of anyone offering non-public information to a larger audience. The data and the person’s ethics are both suspect.

The proof comes every quarter: those who rely on inside info are no better and often worse in predicting fundamental performance.

Measuring iPad enterprise use

I’ve noticed that there is a lot of speculation on the prospects for iPad use “in the enterprise”. Business users could sure benefit from the device and anecdotal evidence does point to many cases of use in business.

But anecdotes are not conclusive evidence. How can one make a better guess? Based on reader input, I thought I’d test this hypothesis directly on my own stats.

As pointed out a recent posting on my stats, the iPad has been a popular device in accessing this site. 102k out of 1.06m views came from iPad users. A statistically interesting number.

[Help Wanted] CTO for a new startup

I’m trying something new.

A reader presented to me what I consider it to be a disruptive opportunity. In order to help, I offered to use the Asymco podium to solicit applications for a leadership position in this startup. As I consider this audience to be of the highest possible competence and sensitivity to the subtle shifts in the mobile industry, I consider posting this Help Wanted ad a win-win for all involved.

So, without further qualification, here is the pitch:

A new company is being formed that will build the next generation of sports products and services. Traditional sports products have been predicated on business models dependent on old media and advertising. The opportunity exists to enter new, non-consumption markets where new audiences, new performances and new ways of making money are made possible.

Professional sports is one of the last bastions of broadcasting. It’s time to lead the charge.

As CTO you will be responsible for building and managing a team of developers, designers, systems/network engineers, and product managers. You will be expected to have a roll-up-your-sleeves mentality and be able to work extremely closely with the engineering team to design and build out new products and services.

If you have proven leadership and management experience and have operated a mission-critical technology environment while maintaining a climate of rapid innovation, this new company will give you the reins and compensate you handsomely.

If you are interested, please send your resume to Help Wanted.

The integrated iPad news daily: Read all about it!

When I wrote my opinion on the future of publishing (Citizen Publisher), I focused my lens on books and magazines. Published works that have relatively low time-sensitivity and hence relatively long shelf life are quite different from newspapers which package material with very brief temporal relevance.

The print-based news industry has suffered much more than print-based books and magazines. The primary cause is that “print” plays a far larger role in newsprint-based newspapers than in books.

To give you an idea of how important the printing plant is,

Stats update: Asymco reaches one million pageviews

I began writing in February of 2010 but I moved to my own domain in June. More than 95% of my traffic came after June 1st (during which time 284 articles were written.)

Since then 270,036 visitors came to visit 592,351 times and saw 1,063,355 pages. 65,331  stopped by more than once. 337,270 of the visits came because someone told them about Asymco. 27,113 visits came because a search engine sent them. 1,548 of those who came had something to say and they said 5,273 things. Over 2,500 asked to keep in touch.

Here is the less lyrical breakdown of that traffic as reported by Google Analytics:

1,063,355 Pageviews

270,036 Unique Visitors

  • 269,167 New Visitors
  • 65,331 Returning Visitor

592,351 visits

  • 337,270 from referring Sites (56.94%)
  • 227,277 direct traffic (38.37%)
  • 27,113 from search Engines (4.58%)

Views by operating system (top ten of 25):

  1. Macintosh 433,624
  2. Windows 271,938
  3. iPhone 201,940
  4. iPad 102,870
  5. Linux 19,898
  6. iPod 14,033
  7. Android 12,191
  8. (not set) 3,954
  9. SymbianOS 1,399
  10. BlackBerry 1,196

5,273 comments from 1,548 readers

1042 Twitter followers

248 Facebook “Like”

Approximately 1000 active RSS feeds

Did Google Arm Its Own Enemies With Android?

James Allworth, a Fellow at the Forum for Growth and Innovation at Harvard Business School writes:

Baidu,… has taken an even bolder approach. It’s reportedly in negotiations with a number of smartphone manufacturers to remove all references to Google, and replace them with Baidu.

… Microsoft recently negotiated with Verizon that some of the Android phones that ship to Verizon customers will have Microsoft’s Bing, not Google, as the default search engine. And the manufacturers are getting in on the act too: Motorola recently released a new phone, the Citrus, based on Android, but shipping with Bing.

Yes, it’s Google’s operating system. In both these instances, it counts as a “win” in the handset volume war against Apple, Microsoft, Nokia and RIM. But Google will not make a cent on this handset, despite having enabled its creation with Android. All the search revenue will flow to Microsoft.

via Did Google Arm Its Own Enemies With Android? – James Allworth – The Conversation – Harvard Business Review.

Readers of this blog might find these arguments familiar.

Since February this year, I wrote four articles under the headline “Google vs. Android” documenting these contradictions in Google’s strategy. There have been numerous other opinion pieces that described how Google’s approach was not consistent with an innovation-based disruption.

I’ve also argued that there is strategic incoherence in building systems software and hardware while selling web services.

Android is powerful, but as Google is finding out, power can be very dangerous without control.

Why the Mac keeps growing

When the iPhone vs. Android rhetorical war heats up, both sides bring up the history of Macs vs. Windows PCs. The commonly held thesis is that Windows triumphed as the PC was commoditized (and modularized). This triumph was at the expense of the over-serving and over-priced Mac.

This is a largely accurate view of what happened during the 90s. But the problem with this thesis is that (1) the PC’s job has been slowly changing in the last decade (2) the Mac keeps growing faster than the PC and (3) Apple keeps capturing a vast portion of the profits in the PC industry.

These anomalies or contradictions to the thesis imply that something changed. What changed and can these changes turn the tables on the market and create an opportunity for a new computing disruption?

Are mobile networks commodities?

Apple has been contemplating a SIM card that would make carrier switching a lot easier. Sounds great, doesn’t it?

“Apple is relenting,” said Rodman Renshaw analyst Ashok Kumar. “They are now completely backing away from their plan to take the carrier out of the equation,” said Kumar,.

via Apple to Kill Carrier-Irking iPhone Plan – TheStreet.

This brings to mind a recent article I wrote that any talk of mobile dominance by platform vendors is bunk.

… no single platform can win a disproportionate share because it would threaten the balance of control the operators require. So talk of “dominance” of one platform or another is hyperbole. The most likely scenario is an even distribution of share between 4 or 5 competitors.

The power of distributors in the mobile phone value chain cannot be ignored. It’s not fair, it’s not convenient and it’s not consumer friendly, but as long as networks are not good enough for mobile computing, mobile computers cannot commoditize the network.

The consequence (for those of us who try to foresee the platform game) is that operators will continue to play platforms off against each other leading to the scenario I suggest above.

Dell's devices head resigns

Garriques will leave Dell at the end of January after nearly four years on the job. Prior to Dell, Garriques had been the mobile device chief at Motorola until early 2007.

via Dell’s Device Plan Reboots, Exec is Out – TheStreet.

Here is how Ed Zander (the former CEO of Motorola) described Garriques soon after he left the company.

…Zander didn’t have a lot of good to say about the former team running Motorola’s cell-phone business. “The management in mobile devices made calls that were dead wrong,” he said, referring not so much to massive price slashing on the popular Razr as to the slow-footed move into so-called 3G (for third-generation) multimedia phones. That particular slam was directed at a young guy named Ron Garriques, who headed that division, which is most of Motorola’s business today, before high-tailing it out of Motorola just before the you-know-what hit the fan. Garriques today is part of the crack team turning around Dell.

His move to Dell caused quite a lot of speculation that Dell was going to be a serious contender in the mobile device space (despite their previous failures).

Apparently the launch of the Android-powered Streak was not enough to cement his future at Dell.