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Asymcar 4: Death of a salesman

Asymcar 4: Death of a salesman | Asymcar.

Are cars sold or purchased? Horace Dediu and Jim Zellmer discuss automotive “ecosystems” vis-à-vis Apple and Tesla’s direct sales model. We further dive into the rigidity and risk of such value chains and divert a bit into automakers’ attempts at aviation. Finally, we consider the potential monetization of automotive metadata and what that might mean for new, perhaps “over the top” style entrants.

 

Also history lessons: Ford Trimotor, Ford production system, The Kaiser people’s car.

 

 

The last frontier

Tracking the mobile phone market hasn’t been getting any easier. The lack of published data from many incumbents (including the largest) is compounded by the lack of visibility into entrants. It’s not just ZTE and Huawei which are up-and-coming, but companies such as Lenovo, Xiaomi and Yulong make up an increasingly large part of the overall market. (Not to mention BBK, Meizu, OPPO and TCL).

Canalys suggests that China’s top five vendors make up 20% of the world’s smartphone shipments. This is mostly due to the rapid rise of the category in China and the advantages local vendors have in that market. Absent this large segment, a complete picture of the market is simply not possible. Nevertheless a fuzzy picture of the entire market can be still be painted.

Screen Shot 2013-08-20 at 8-20-12.44.02 PM

Airshow coming to New York

I’m delighted to once again have the sponsorship of IBM for the presentation of Airshow. This time it’s in New York City on Wednesday, 25 September at the IBM Building, 590 Madison Ave. My thanks again to Paul Brody for being so gracious and earnest in his support.

Seating is limited but there are still 25 20 3 available.

This will be the third Airshow, having started in June in San Francisco and rolling into Chicago in July. The event keeps getting better with a plan to introduce a hands-on module allowing participants to build cinematic data-driven presentation during the afternoon.

Airshow is intended as both an exhibition of technique and as an explication of   the methods for creating persuasive presentation enabled by new technologies.

Without revealing too much, the gist of the theory espoused is that presentations can benefit from:

  • The use of directly manipulated visuals
  • Cinematic effects honed by cinematographers over a century
  • Aristotelian presentation principles

Together, these techniques solve the “job to be done” of persuasion—a job universally in demand but deeply underserved by current tools and techniques.

The participant should come away from the event with the ability to:

  • Use the iPad as their primary presentation tool, with or without a projector to large and small audiences
  • Use a cinematic technique of presentation where a layer of implicit yet easily sensed meaning is overlaid upon the words spoken and images viewed
  • Appeal with empathy, logic and credibility to all audiences.

You can register for Airshow New York here.

See also: The end of the projector.

 

Sponsor: TextExpander touch 2.0

Type faster on your iPhone or iPad using short abbreviations that expand into long snippets, such as email addresses, URLs, and standard replies. Tap in your abbreviation and it automatically expands to the full snippet. You can even insert today’s date automatically with the default abbreviation “ddate”! Use Dropbox to sync your snippets to all your iOS and Mac devices!

New in 2.0: Make customized, boilerplate replies fast and easy using fill-ins. Compose messages and expand snippets in formatted text. Insert macros for date, time, date math, etc. easily when editing your snippets on iOS.

Please note that iOS does not allow TextExpander touch to work in the background (as it does in Mac OS X). But you can expand snippets directly in over 160 apps that have built-in TextExpander touch support including OmniFocus, Drafts, Things, iA Writer, DayOne, Byword, Notesy, Elements, and WriteRoom. See the complete list of supported apps.

Sponsorship by The Syndicate

The end of the projector

After having “taken the show on the road” and spending an inordinate amount of time giving presentations during the last year I came to the conclusion that what remains less than good enough for presentations is the variable quality of projectors.

The problem is not just quality of image but also the unpredictable size of screen, how far it is from the audience, how poor the contrast or color reproduction might be and to what degree there is support for wireless connections.

When presenting detailed, information dense graphs, these quality issues become presentation killers and not only do they result in poor retention for the audience but decrease the confidence of the presenter, leading to a vicious cycle.

The answer is not to lug around your own projector because many times the venue will not accept it, other times the image “throw” is not matched to the screen and it’s a pain to set up and transport.

What I think needs to happen is that the projector needs to be disrupted.

This is where the iPad and Perspective come into play. When presenting using Perspective we have the ability to “airshow” or present directly to the (iOS) devices that the audience has with them.

This way not only the presenter’s screen is “mirrored locally” but also the direct manipulation and choreography of the data reveal is instantly visible. You can see a fragment of how it works in this test:

This is the technique we use at the Airshow event and it has proven to work well even with large audiences. To see it in action (and to learn how to develop presentations into cinematic experiences) join us at the next Airshow in Chicago.

Next Airshow: Chicago, July 13th

airshow_fighters_scramble

We’re excited to bring the second Airshow to Chicago in July. Thanks to Ryan Singer and Jason Fried of 37signals.com for offering to host us this summer.  Their venue is ideal for our particular pedagogy.

Speaking of which, I should explain what it is.

Our first Airshow (San Francisco, June 9th) had several objectives:

  • To explain a theory of narration with data, especially big data
  • To narrate this explanation with a tool called Perspective
  • To reveal and test a new feature within Perspective called airshow

Now that we have revealed the feature (mirror your presentation including your direct manipulation of the visuals to any member of the audience—wherever they may be—on their own device, available in version 3.0) we can talk more freely about the structure of the show.

It’s in three parts:

  1. Performance
  2. Cooking Show
  3. Theory

The Performance is the “keynote story” whose recipe we show in the Cooking Show and whose motivation and foundations we deconstruct in the Theory. You can think of the sections as as answering “{What, How and Why} make a great story.”

The show is self-referential in that we use the process we teach to do the teaching. In other words, we use a great storytelling tool to tell great stories about storytelling. Furthermore, Airshow, as a show, uses a tool whose feature  is itself called airshow.

It’s not that complicated; at least not if you understand recursion.

Register here: airshow.asymco.com (Limited to 37, bring an iPad).

Reminder: Giving a talk at Harvard Business School this week

This is a reminder that I’ll be speaking at the Harvard Business School Technology and Operations Management Digital Seminar Series on ”The evolution of value chains in a computing markets measured in the billions of units per year.”

For the abstract see this post.

When: It’s taking place at 3:00 PM on Thursday March 7th.

Who can attend: The talk is open to the public, seating is limited.

Location: The Cotting House on the campus of the Harvard Business School (map linked), Boston. There is parking in the main lot with entrance across from the Harvard Stadium for $14/day.

 

Measuring the iBook market

In June of 2011 Apple announced that 130 million ebooks were sold through iTunes. In October of 2012 it announced that 400 million sold.

That means 270 million ebooks were sold in 16 months. Or about 17 million units per month, on average. It also suggests 2012 ebook sales of about 200 million units.[1] The following graph shows the download rate of books relative to apps and songs:

Screen Shot 2013-02-28 at 2-28-3.09.25 PM

The download rate looks paltry but we need to remember that Apps have a very low average selling price (about 23 cents including in-app purchases) and that Songs are probably priced around $1.1 on average. In contrast each ebook could be generating about $10 per download.

Bits v. Bytes: Follow the money

Google announced its first computing product: the Pixel. It’s not the first Chromebook but it is the first device which is uniquely branded as a Google product (Motorola notwithstanding.)

It’s a curious choice given that companies which have “crossed-over” from being service or software oriented to hardware have started with more “mobile” devices. Amazon launched the Kindle as a low-end product and gradually moved it up-market. Microsoft launched with the Surface tablet and then followed with the Pro version as a hybrid laptop/tablet.

It’s also curious since Google has spent years contributing to the development of mobile phones and tablets under the Nexus sub-brand. This was an approach consistent with earlier Chromebooks as well.

But the Pixel is a high-end product. It’s priced at the top of the range of what a laptop computer might cost (given the dimensions).  Perhaps it’s part of a pattern where Google will hone its hardware skills toward releasing a phone or tablet it can call its own. Starting with a more traditional computer is “easier” than trying to deliver on the more demanding smaller form factors.

And yet, the more obvious question is why would Google want to be in the hardware business? Isn’t being a web-focused company implicitly suggesting that hardware is a commodity to be farmed off to perpetually impoverished and violently abused OEMs?

The truth is quite different from this. Samsung currently makes far more operating profit from Android phones than Google does from all its operations. Screen Shot 2013-02-22 at 2-22-3.47.58 PM

When looking at the patterns of sales and profit capture for hardware vendors since 2007 the contrast is stark:

Right on Cue

On February 6th, 2013 Apple reported that a total of 25 billion songs had been downloaded from its iTunes music store. The previous definitive value was in October 2011 though there was mention of “more than 20 billion” in November. App download totals have recently been much more frequently updated as the following chart shows:

Screen Shot 2013-02-12 at 2-12-2.17.06 PM

[I estimated 21 billion for the November total.]

The latest two data points point to a surge in iTunes song download rates. Prior to last fall the download rate seemed to be hovering around 10 million songs per day.