Monday, 4 July 2011

Plus quam perfect


More than perfect in English, for those who are not familiar to Latin.

If the definition of being perfect at HP is what Léo Apotheker meant when he described TouchPads as a perfect product at launch, we would love the job of HR manager there.

Every time an employee complained about his salary or any sort of compensation, we would tell him to shut up and consider that whatever his salary were, it would be “perfect”: Lots of potential (when?!?!?!?!), a few “minor” bugs here and there, apparently nice, ensuring that the employee will have to actually multitask to get its full value, but practically short from a usability perspective, and certainly comparable to what other companies had… at least one year before!

And, as Walter Mossberg said in the previous hyperlink above, if it doesn’t work, the company will re-boot the employee as needed.



This post is dedicated to Molly Weasley, with all our best wishes for her upcoming sabbatical

Out of reach


Well, before we begin, we would like to clearly state that this post has nothing to do with violating intellectual property about a relatively old yet popular hit by a singer called Emilia that happens to have by chance the same title.

By the way, lovely theme this song, played in one or two movies, we recall, as ‘Bridget Jones’ Diary’, for instance.

Anyway, we have a different thing in mind for this post.

It happened to come to our minds lately the myth of Tantalus, the guy that was rich and popular enough in Ancient Greece to challenge the Gods for a place at their table, sharing with them their banquets. But the guy wnet too far, and stole nectar and ambrosia to prove his buddies he had been at the table of the Gods.

And the Gods found out.

And the Gods decided to punish the guy by sending him to Hades, that could be considered as a sort of Beta-release of modern Hell the way we understand it. The Gods, not feeling enough satisfied, went even further, and they placed him in a water pond beneath the most wonderful fruit tree in a way that when he wanted to calm his thirst off, water would withdraw from him, and when he wanted to reach for the low hanging fruit from the tree to fill his stomach, the tree branches would raise enough to remain always out of reach.

If Hades exists and the concept of Eternity may stretch beyond an iPad lifecycle, the Gods be may very well still laughing watching the guy helplessly stretching his arms towards the fruit.

Ironically enough, artists have represented the myth by using, precisely an apple. Not sure about it being a MacIntosh, but still a nice, fresh, and juicy apple.

We have recently been overwhelmed by the tons of news about HP launching its TouchPad in an attempt to challenge Apple’s iPad better than other tablets so far have.

And it looks that compared to ‘others”, HP has some chance. There are quite a number of good reviews. So we believe that all the biggies at HP might be really enjoying the limelight for sometime, from Apothekerr to Jon Rubinstein to Toad Bradley to Phil McKinney to Steven McArthur to Martin Homlish to Bill Wohl, and are kind of attempting to demand their place in the sun (well, not the SUn, for they would need some permission from Larry Ellison), their place at the table of tablets or, if you prefer, at the table of Jobs (er… sorry, the table of Gods).

yep… they want a piece of the cake that is being eaten by the guys in Cupertino…even if the crumbs are being eaten in Taiwan, aren’t they?, the same way that Tantalus wanted nectar and ambrosia.

And you know what… before they even demonstrate the slightest achievement, Jobs has punished them by showing them iPads and putting them at their fingertips and when they think they can reach them, they happen to be “out of reach”…

So it appears that while the folks at HP are celebrating these days having been late to iPad, Jobs (er… the Gods, of course) have already anticipated the punishment.



This post is dedicated to a good friend of ours that loves technology, loves being an early adopter, loves traveling, has an ipad, became a teacher, translated medical brochures years ago in the same company he is currently working at, loves singing ‘New York New York at Karaoke parties, has a daughter whose name is Bea and is married to Isabel.

Monday, 27 June 2011

About face


In about 326 b.C. Alexander the Great reached India after having created the mightiest empire to date. He had built that empire based in his will and determination together with the support of his military commanders in less than10 years since he succeeded his dad as King of Macedon.

After having overstretched his resources and capabilities beyond any conceivable limit, he had to face that India was too much, too complex, to far away, too powerful per se.

Alex did not realize this, and in fact he launched the invasion.

But his up-to-then-loyal commanders understood better their own limitations in front of India, and made their own U-turn and headed home.

This lack of support forced Alex to head back too… and in less than three years, he was actually dead.

His generals ripped the Empire, split is into fiefs and Macedon’s ruling on the mightiest empire on earth was over for ever.

The once almighty empire of RIM has reached India… and commanders supporting yesterday’s success are realizing that their India is too much for their Alex…


At least they bark…


Casually seeing in a sidewalk or in a park a small dog standing up at a bigger one, actually challenging it with a lot of noisy barking is not something readers are unfamiliar to, we’d say…

So here we have the small dog standing up


Where dos the small dog go when the big dog blows back?

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Flies against windows


Springtime is a lovely season… flowers, trees, weather…

Insects and bugs pop up in Spring too, don’t they? So it is not really strange to see flies behind windows (precisely!) glasses bumping once and again their heads not realizing there is a thick glass barrier which prevents them from getting out.

“Bump”… “bump” again… and so it goes until some monstrous human ends up smashing them precisely against the barrier they could not overcome.

And here we have our Perspiration Champion once more bumping and bumping… and not really able to get out of the windows Smile

Even after trying, in a desperate move, to engage with his former fellow Elop at Nokia, still he bumps and bumps once, twice… and still not realizing what is going on.

Probably it is a matter of time that the fly swat in the hands of the market’s common sense will be wielded mercilessly… Hopefully by that time, Apple, Google, and even Palm (sorrysorrysorry, HP) are strong enough by themselves to prevent WWF declaring flies a protected species…



Luke 6:39 in the Bible

Friday, 10 June 2011

Arrogance? Responsibility, we think


Toppers generally generate two diametrically opposite feelings. People either love them, or hate them.

Our worries come when we think that usually there are far more haters than lovers, when it comes to toppers. Or not? Human nature, they say… and for the good and the bad, we are humans. Even toppers are.

We have read and heard lots of comments that are perfectly valid samples of this. About successful companies, about successful people, about successful products… and all the negative comments come usually from those who would like to be part of whatever success we are talking about, by the way.

One of the most clear examples is the success story of Apple’s.

Just google “Apple Arrogance”, and your screen will be filled up with several pages of links about that supposed arrogance from Apple’s.

Now… how much of that arrogance is pure desire of being part of Apple’s success?

Let’s put a recent and practical example.

We could select any of the millions of occurrences of Steve Jobs presenting anything to God-knows-what-audience. But those are not new, driven by marketing masters, and have many conditioning facts that do not make them natural.

This week, Steve Jobs presented a project to the City Hall of Cupertino about what they would like to do regarding their new HQ.


This time it was not really about a new product, a new marketing message. This time it was not about technology. This time it was about one of the inhabitants in the town looking for a new home because his current one had run out of space.

And this guy was not looking for the best manor. His focus was on how his new manor would actually generate progress for the community. It was a win-win project. Or not?

Talking arrogance, we could highlight some specifics from Jobs’ presentation:

1. Can anyone imagine any CEO of any company remotely comparable to Apple taking the time and the passion to present the project to any City Hall in the country? We mean, can anyone visualize Larry Ellison, Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer, Stephen Elop, Leó Apotheker or Michael Dell spending time that way? Would this guys not be delegating the task to someone of their staff at least?

2. Can anyone imagine any of those biggies really caring about making sure, to the last detail, that they made the best-in-class working site besides their own personal office? Would they not delegate that task to someone of their staff at least?

3. Would any of these biggies really get a spontaneous applause just for the fact of appearing in the room? (Well, to be fair, we must consider we are talking America, and Americans are really fond of applauding… they even do when a plane lands…).

4. Can anyone imagine any of these biggies really caring about the impact and the benefit for the community?

Where’s the arrogance? Whatever it is that they might call it arrogance, we would rather call it responsibility. The responsibility on behalf of the community that could naturally be expected from the biggest tax-payer in it. The same responsibility that you would expect from a man towards his family, from a teacher towards his pupils, from a doctor towards his patients.

Don’t lose ground: Steve Jobs was not presenting in front of millionaires looking for investment opportunities. Nor was he talking in front of powerful press communicators that can make or break a company’s reputation; nor was he talking in front of politicians or celebrities, nor in front of brilliant academics.

He was simply talking to third line local politician apprentices (will all due respect to the Cupertino City Hall, but we honestly do not believe any of them will appear in any book of History any time soon. He was talking to mere civil servants… mere administrators of the town resources. Mere temporary employees of the community they represent.

And… sadly enough, these politicians had the guts to request “favors” in return of their approval of Jobs’ project!!!! Favors like free WIFI infrastructure or free iPads whatsoever.

Where’s the dang arrogance here? Who are this low-ranked civil servants to attempt this bargaining? For God’s sake… had they not realized the enormous milestone Jobs’ project can mean to their town to try to save a few hundred bucks each?

Fortunately for Cupertino, it looks that Jobs is going away with his plans. Unfortunately for him, it could very well be that he is not going to be there by 2015 to cut the ribbon…


Thursday, 9 June 2011

Faust 3.0, cleverly disguised.


So finally the eternal promise will make it to mere mortals… Oh, yes, Palm will finally put his tablet in the market, and make it available to mere mortals.

Palms tables, under Palm’s OS, will be sold starting this summer, at $499.

Cleverly disguised as HP’s, naturellement, as mortal sin was cleverly disguised as an apple (precisely!) when the Devil, cleverly disguised as a Snake, offered the fruit to Eve (“bite it, and you’ll be like God”)…

We can figure Léo Apotheker, cleverly disguised as Faust 3.0, handing on a tablet to a mortal sinner… (“buy it, and you’ll be like Jobs”)…

What makes us think that the apple in the logo should go to HP more than to Apple actually…


And… who is talking about the great loser? We mean, of course, Todd Bradley… SVP for Personal Systems Group, declining… against the rising star, Palm head, Rubinstein… Was Todd not a former CEO at Palm?


Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Ballmers in the mist


Humans are not that far from apes, Charles Darwin said… so close apes are to humans, that they can even be trained to imitate human behaviour.

We are sure any reader might recall dozens of examples or jokes about this.

It is nice to see, however, that now readers may enjoy one more example… though, honestly, we cannot imagine Steve Jobs carrying Ballmer in his arms as Sigourney Weaver did with her trainee…




In the 17th Century, Sir Isaac Newton laid the foundations of Universal Gravitation in his Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica. Tradition tells us that he realized evidence after having been hit by a falling apple (precisely) while he was sitting beneath a tree. The obvious thing, Universal Gravitation, took millennia from mankind to be understood.

Archimedes of Syracuse, sometime in the third Century before Christ, suddenly realized the principles of buoyancy while having a bath. He had been for a long time trying to figure out how to calculate how much pure gold was contained in a crown, without melting it. And suddenly, inspiration hit him, and something evident was fully understood.

Copernicus as well realized the evidence of heliocentric cosmology in the 16th Century… and so we may find dozens of examples of obvious things realized after years or centuries of study.

All these guys would have been awarded Nobel Prizes should these have existed when they were alive.

Today we have discovered a new potential candidate for Nobel Prize awards in the figure of SAP co-CEO McDermott, who offers his company for alliance with HP.

Leaving aside his obvious comments, it’s the reading between the lines that catches our attention, as we see there a certain willingness to achieve that alliance. What certainly means there is some sort of motivation, and some benefit.

Probably still hurt by the not so old trial about Intellectual Property (IP) that ended in the biggest defeat in the industry, according to the result, SAP is still trying to inflict some kind of damage to its arch-enemy Oracle while granting some kind of “protection” for the future.






Léo Apotheker served as CEO for SAP. Today, he still is CEO at HP.

SAP execs have moved to HP since Léo Apotheker, aka Faust 2.0, was hired as CEO at HP:

- Marge Breya, new General Manager for Software and Solutions at HP.

- Martin Homlish, new Chief Marketing Officer at HP.

- Bill Wohl, new Chief Communications Officer at HP.

Oracle owns Sun Microsystems, direct rival of HP.

Oracle is in quarrels both with HP and SAP.

Oracle hurt HP by hiring former HP CEO Mark Hurd after his scandalous exit from HP.

HP recently gave up Oracle’s Siebel CRM to move on to’s CRM.

HP’s tradition to hire top execs from other companies and ending up acquiring, merging or absorbing them. Was not a certain Todd Bradley former CEO at Palm, now the jewel of the crown at HP wth all the WebOS buzz? (by the way… where have the HP pre-Palm smartphones gone?).

Some months ago, when SAP was fighting at court with Oracle, SAP’s market cap was at about $50B, HP was beyond $100B, and HP had plenty of cash to be in an even stronger position to force a take over. Today market caps of both companies are at parity… which may ease a “natural merger”…

We spoke about this, which seemed obvious, even when McDermott’s speech was totally different from what we read these days

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Limbo Dance


Limbo dance is the art or ability of dancers to go below a bar that gets lower and lower without using hands or any other support than bare feet…

how low can you go?

It normally turns into a contest, and the winner, naturally, ends up being he or she who is able to go lowest without falling nor breaking his or her back.

We are starting to think that the guy with the “accent aigú” at HP has some fondness of limbo dancing, and is seriously willing to win sooner than later. So far, he has beaten his predecessor, Mark Hurd, and has gone beyond the lowest level (38) after the former fell in love with the Pontifex Maximus at the Oracle when Jodi said “no”.

At this moment common shares are traded below 36 and falling… in fact, there are trading at their loweest level in the last two years, at least.;range=2y;indicator=volume;charttype=line;crosshair=on;ohlcvalues=0;logscale=on;source=undefined


How low can you go in this limbo contest, mein Herr?


Monday, 6 June 2011

Faust 2.1


Angels were created, according to Christian and Hebrew tradition, before men and women. Angels were far more perfect, and certainly less tied to human limitations.

However, in the beginning of times, one of them rose against his creator. Against God Himself.

He was the most beautiful of them all, and claiming his own merit based on that, he led nothing less than one third of the angels supporting his rebellion. He would not accept to bow down to mankind after having discovered God’s plan of salvation. He would not accept being second best to creatures not so perfect as him, to Sons and Daughters of God.

Men and women were not perfect, after all.

Now we have our own version of Faust dwelling into these troublesome and difficult waters… and moving one step ahead. After all, he is not unfamiliar to Hebrew traditions, we suppose.

He will not launch a product which is not perfect

Leaving aside any definition of what perfect exactly means in his mind, should we understand that when WebOS is out there it will really be perfect? Will the tablets or smartphones that run there really achieve that?

Several million people all over the world may have something to say about that… and the same wrongly understood sense of pride which ultimately led Lucifer to rebellion floats in the atmosphere, as Satan’s shadow floated over Faust through Mephistopheles, according to the German legends that our dear 21st-Century Faust is probably not unaware of.

Lucifer is also know as The Fallen Angel… if he continues the trend of the stock value of the company he is leading, he will soon match the same “perfection” as the former.


Sunday, 5 June 2011

Selling bearskins


Years ago, when we started or professional career, a wise mentor of ours told us something which has been invariably true.

“The most difficult task in a company like this is selling”, said he, and added “but the second most difficult one is to get the invoices paid for. And you need both to succeed".

At that time we were not old enough to really understand the importance of this teaching, and we were happy juniors that took all that for granted, and presumed fair play end to end.

After so many years, it is still surprising to notice companies which seem not to have learnt from their elders… and even more surprising to note that one of these companies is based in a country whose traditions and culture specifically teach respect and appreciation to their elders, and to all the experience and knowledge they own.

Interesting to note that it has been in EMEA, in their overseas operation, that the issues have popped up precisely. What makes us think that Europe still has a lot to learn from the Far East, and eventually European culture still clashes with Asian.

Particularly shameful for Spaniards… who seem fond of selling bearskins far too easily.


Faust 2.0


German culture and traditions are an intrinsic part of Europe’s History. As Europe may not be understood without Shakespeare, Milton, Keats, Tolstoi, Dostoievsky, Balzac, Macchiavelli, Dumas, Locke… it could not either without Goethe, one of whose latest works was the story about Faust.

This is the story of a deal… an agreement, if you will… or in modern language, a Strategic Alliance. Faust was given 24 years of unlimited happiness by Mephistopheles in exchange of his immortal soul for eternity.

Immortal souls are often represented in art like auras or halos around their owners… Immortal souls which constitute the essence of their owners, like state-of-the-art products constitute the souls of leading technology companies.

Recently one German-led company has allowed its German head to sell off a significant portion of its immortal soul, or halo, in exchange of having its new partner serving as exclusive agent to HP for certain Universal Communications (UC) solutions. Probably the same way as Mephistopheles was the agent of Faust to grant the latter the appropriate deliverables for his ultimate happiness.

We do not really know what is included in the definition of happiness for our new version of Faust, but in fact it has not proven any kind of happiness to HP shareholders so far, as much as Faust’s original happiness did not really mean any happiness at all to poor Gretchen.

And we do not know either for how long this so-called happiness will last… Despite the original legends stipulated 24 years, our personal bet is that Faust 2.0 may enjoy 24 months, or eventually 24 weeks…


Saturday, 4 June 2011



We have been busy for a while… different reasons have kept our attention to matters other than our blog.

We are back. And we hope we can catch up quickly.Which is more, by the way, than what Big Ape and the Potion-maker could say, we think…

Stay tuned if you’d like.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

The oracle at Compiegne


The even forces, at least on paper, that were standing in late 1939 at either sides of the Maginot Line, would not imagine that less than 6 months later, the initially outnumbered German army would inflict the French the worst defeat ever.

22 years earlier, Germany surrendered to the French. The French required the Germans to sign off the Armistice in a train wagon at Compiegne. The French kept the wagon as a monument to the French Victory and as well to the German Defeat. Fro the French, the German surrender of 1918 was a revenge to the German victories in the 1870s, and so it was carved on stone near the place where the train wagon was exhibited.

When in June 1940 the German flags were unfurled in Paris, the French High Command still had to formally sign its surrender, and they were called to do so at, precisely, Compiegne, and precisely in the same train wagon that the French had kept. Fro the German Leader, as important as the victory itself, the Germans were seeking revenge to the limit of humiliation. He instructed specifically his generals to set the ceremony that way. Anecdotally, the Germans made and intentional stop in front of the stone carving before the actual surrender signing.

We have witnessed recently the Oracle-SAP case verdict. It states that the latter has to pay the former the highest ever penalty in copyright infringement cases. Oracle’s victory sounds pretty much like the worst defeat ever inflicted to SAP.

It looks, however, like the Pontifex Maximus at the oracle is looking after his own Compiegne… Not really necessary, not fundamentally changing the lawsuit case, appearing more as a token gesture than a fundamental part of the trial, is this really something beyond a simple wish of humiliation?

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Legacy’s cost


“Number 2 is just the first one of the losers”, says a very famous motorbike racer who has been World Champion many times (still not retired) who loves being the fastest one.

This would be too radical a view when we have a look to any market, where there is not just one winner. It would actually be impossible under antitrust regulations.

However, the quote from Valentino Rossi (which is the biker’s name, as many bike fan’s might have guessed) can be understood in the context of what is currently going on in the smartphone market (and eventually in the tablet’s too), where old kings are running the serious risk of being phased out from their former positions.

Of course there can be space for them, and we actually believe there will always be, in fact. But it is really hard to accept being below second rank after past history dominance.

RIMM, Nokia, though still hitting very important volumes, might well be in that situation. The issue is the trend, clearly decaying, and the chance that they still base their current results on legacy. .

Legacy of corporate business and systems that have an enormous cost of change. Legacy of users who are provided a phone by their companies that might be used for personal purpose. Legacy from past experiences and resistance to adapt to new phones from previous ones.

But legacy has a deadline and does not last forever. History proves legacy is not enough, and costs empires. Ask the British about India, ask the French about Indochina, ask the Dutch about their Indies, or ask the Russians for the “xxxstan” republics. there is still a Britain, a France, Netherlands and Russia… but where did their empires go?

The sound of silence


It is common to hear that no news equals good news… but it does not really seem the case for the guys at Microsoft regarding their mobile phone story.

Silence, as in that famous tune by Simon and Garfunkel, can be really loud, even more than the cheerful reporting when success is there, like it happened with Kinect.

Silence as well about the potential upgrades that are badly needed does not help either. When will the famous “cut & paste” basic feature show up?

The more they wait, the smaller chunk of the pie they’ll get, though they still have the potential benefit from the corporate and enterprise market, that to much extent has a Microsoft based IT. But even there, RIMM and Nokia can be too far it they keep on slowing down, or if they fail to move fast. Even the slowest of the slowest, that is, Palm, might move ahead of them if they ever start. Particularly if they deliver a confusing message to this segment.

The market does not wait for sound names and brands if they do not really deliver.


Sunday, 5 December 2010

Losers needed


Everybody likes a winner. In America, for example, “loser” is often used as an insult…

As well, and probably for the same reasons, everybody likes winning.

The problem with winners, however, is that to have a winner, you need losers. Winning is a relative situation. No losers mean no winners. When you win, you win against someone. Victory goes always at somebody else’s expense.

We have been wondering for a while about what is going between Oracle and HP. After the latest “victory” Oracle enjoyed, the well known trial against SAP for copyright infringement, which in fact involved indirectly HP through its current CEO Léo Apotheker, we have read about new aggressive arguments from Oracle’s Big Mouth Larry, aka the Pontifex Maximus at the oracle, targeting HP.

These last comments from the Pontifex indeed sound to us like a formal war declaration that finally comes up, after the de-facto war status so far, at least from the oracle’s side. Since the acquisition of Sun Microsystems by the latter, the once good partnership between Oracle and HP has degraded into a bitter relationship between the two companies that could mean in a closer relationship between HP and SAP, for example. SAP might really be all for it. As a matter of fact, we do believe this would be a logic step to take, and would certainly put a strong opponent in front of the Pontifex.

The Pontifex Maximus at the oracle, however, has a strong reputation after his manners, boastings and eventual bluffing. Not precisely an example of a New England British-like traditional gentleman, though effective and results-oriented. In fact, he is the real foundation of his company’s success. Personally, as well, he has fared pretty well, being considered the sixth richest man on earth. And the question remains open: Why HP in particular? What has this Pontifex Maximus against HP?

We do not have the full record of Oracle’s history, nor any insider information source. We don’t from HP either. But still, from the public information we might have had access to, we think we have an idea of what might be the reason.

Big Mouth Larry is probably no exception from the opening statements in this post. He loves winners, and he loves winning. Therefore, he sees any activity he steps into, anything he does, as a competition, as a battle, as a contest… that he ultimately has to win. To prove himself and the rest of the world he is a winner, and the world should love and admire him the same way he adores and admires himself.

Running his company is for him nothing different from any other kind of competition, and he takes it as something where he must win. He would not stand himself if he wouldn’t. Recall the way his PR is managing the fact that a cluster made of Sun Micro servers is the fastest one managing databases: They talk about this the same way they talk of the Oracle boat winning the America’s Cup.

And there is where the matter lies. To become a winner requires him to find a loser, Otherwise, there is no winner. So considering his options, there seem to be three possible opponents: Cisco, IBM, and HP. Cisco being the weakest, in reality it’s already behind Oracle.

Both IBM and HP are phenomenal references. IBM being the master company in the IT industry, a reference for decades, and HP being the largest IT company by revenue. But from the two, HP is weaker, compared to IBM, and certainly within range for Oracle’s artillery.

In other words, HP is a “beatable” foe in the eyes of Oracle, weak enough in certain areas, like software, and big enough for any victory on them to be regarded as brilliant. Beating HP would be a triumph the industry would recognize.

IBM would still be out of reach for Oracle. At least, farther than HP. And despite the Pontifex’ ultimate wish to beat them too, the guy is probably still intelligent enough to declare he does not intend to “tease them too much”. We do not think Oracle is not going after IBM because Big Mouth Larry likes IBM; we think he realizes he would probably not succeed if he tried, and wants not to appear as a loser should anybody think he wanted to fight IBM.

So the Pontifex is looking for losers to beat so he can feel recognition for his victories, so he can feel a winner. And HP’s problem with that is just being in range. That is, in our opinion, the underlying cause in the Pontifex’ fixation with HP. The risk now for the Pontifex, however is not really being able to make it. Having the speed record of database processing does not necessarily mean winning anything.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

It goes without saying


Predicting the future has always been one of the strongest wishes man has had throughout times. Either to benefit from anticipated information, or to prevent eventual bad news, it’s sort of a constant throughout human history.

History is therefore full of examples about predictions, some of which became true (probably by chance), many more of which turned out completely wrong.

One of the most recognized visionaries in the IT world is, no doubt, Steve Jobs at Apple. In fact, his leadership within that company made it possible to actually contribute to define the future of that industry, for the good or for the bad. Apple’s influence is actually tangible in our opinion.

No matter how much this influence might have been (which could be subject to debate depending on personal opinions), it seems not all Jobs’ opinions are exactly right, however. Even successful visionaries might not be completely right.

His widespread comment about mid-sized android tablets being DOA is not exactly what is happening, according to Samsung’s Galaxy tablet performance so far.

Which is not necessarily bad for Apple anyway. Competition is healthy for an industry development, we’d all probably agree.

However, as important in our opinion as what was explicitly said, it is what was not explicitly quoted in Jobs comment. Certainly not usual for Steve Jobs to criticize competition openly or so directly, his strong attack to Android-based tablets indicated his concern about its potential success. In other words, he could have been seeing what Android could achieve…

If he foresaw the results Androids (through Samsung) are apparently achieving so far, then he was not that bad a visionary at the end of the day… and a master of propaganda, the way he presented his forecast.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Teenagers buy too


Political systems that determine what party holds government for a certain period of years are based on people’s votes. Every number of years, elections are set up, and the party that gets the higher number of votes holds government until next election.

If voting age starts at, say, 18, a significant portion of voters in elections happening in year 2020, for example, will include a lot of new voters who were under age in the previous polls. Let’s use the US as an example.

When presidential elections come up in 2012, all the people who are today from 16 to 19 will be able to vote for the first time in their lives. So Republicans or Democrats that prepare those elections should consider all these teenagers as prospect voters and make sure they buy in even before they become actual voters.

And here we got another smart move from Apple, according to the report here… If the information delivered in it is correct, it would be a fact that Apple is not only selling well to current customers, but as well paving the way for maintaining and/or increasing its share in the smartphone and tablet markets at least in the future. The tablet market, predicted to grow real fast, will be based on current customers, but new ones that today are just teenagers that will have resources to buy stuff in the coming years.

Maybe they have to wait long for 6-year-old kids to be real customers, but the same principle applies to teenagers that will have enough money, or that can convince mom and dad to get one iPad or iPhone for them next year, or in 2012.

It is not frequent, for example, to find teenagers longing for a regular mp3 player, a specific Android phone or even a Zune or a Windows Phone 7 phone. But they actually do for iPhones, iPods or iPads. Not necessarily because of games… but more because of all the rest of things you may do with it in a recognizably “cool” way.

Skating, for example, is not that much about moving a certain distance differently than just walking or running. Is about stepping on a fashionable board and doing weird movements on it and with it while managing to keep balance and not getting hurt. Same with tablets or smartphones. It is more about how you do things on them than the actual things you do, which could be performed in a standard laptop or netbook.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

The wrong apple


According to Christian tradition, Eve and Adam bit the apple from the Tree of Life and were expelled from The Garden of Eden for doing that.

That was long ago, however.

Today they could manage their bits with different apples, and mankind might fare better than it actually does. At least, it would be a more reliable world, according to this report.

More seriously, traditional PC makers like HP and Dell are losing ground in an aspect of PC business that really depends only on each of them: Service and Support. Not good news at all for a business who is losing mindshare in the market, running real fast towards (more) commoditization, and getting farther from better times.



Wishing upon a star


Geppetto, the old toy maker from the Pinocchio tale, wished so much to have a son and has prayed so many times for it, that after having built his puppet, it was granted life. Lovely tale…

Lovely tale that came to our minds after learning that Microsoft might be seeing potential revenue in selling (licensing) their patents in smartphone technology.

It appears that the Big Ape has repeated so much his wish for “developers” that he finally has been turned into one of them. True that, after all, a software company is fundamentally a developer, but we are not that sure that the original idea was not to retain IP (Intellectual Property) for the core value of their software, and have other smaller companies developing stuff around that.

If one repeats something too many times, he might turn into that, it seems… | Nintendo Wii

Of course they can always keep on improving the patents… or making it for more patents… but others could too, and, isn’t this strategic shift revealing lack of confidence in their own product line?

Careful too about another aspect: Licensing IP via patents can be a big revenue stream, but it is too much of a one-shot business that would dry up relatively quickly, while the overall OS business through the expanding smartphone market would be more healthy and stable. Bad sign, in our opinion.


Der Volkscomputer (II)


After WWII, once French automotive industry got rid from the German occupation authorities, they followed the Volkswagen concept.

Citroën launched its 2CV model, based on the same principles as the Volkswagen Beetle. It went even a bit further in its austerity. For example, it got just one headlight, for pure cost savings and simplicity. As the Germans in the 1930s, France after 1945 was in badly need for economical recovery.

If iPads or iPhones are the leading concept, the Volkswagen of our times, we guess we could say Citroën’s 2CV follow as the Androids came after the iPhones…



Monday, 29 November 2010

Der Volkscomputer


Back in the 1930s, Germany was in the middle of its reindustrialization as a necessary step to get ready for the war that was already cooking in Hitler’s mind. Besides the reinforcement of the pure military industry, there was a strong recovery of the country’s economic infrastructure, what meant not only basic industry, but communications too. The plan for “die Deutsche Autobähne”, the German highways network was being deployed to.

In coordination with this, the German government of the time decided as well that the automotive industry should as well be a fundamental part of these plans, including the production of a cheap car that could be afforded by the average German family. That was the birth of one of the automobile industry icons: The Volkswagen Beetle. In fact, that is what Volkswagen meant: A car for the people, for the folk. Cars manufactured at that time were really expensive for an average German, who saw Mercedes, Opel, Maybach or BMW as unreachable items. The Great Depression of 1929 or the recovery from WWI were still too high economic loads for German citizens.

Incidentally, we shall mention that the industrialist awarded the necessary support to fulfill the project was Ferdinand Porsche. Curiously enough, we think nobody would associate the name Porsche to an average car for an average citizen in an average country, would they?

Despite the progression of WWII, still after the war the Beetle was there, and it did hit the right combination of price, market segment and product features. It was the right product at the right place in the right time to become an industrial success.

Not as powerful and fancy like Mercedes, Alfa Romeo, Citroen, Opel, Ford, Buick, Oldsmobile or Chevrolet; not as expensive either, it still was enough: Four wheels at a reasonable price that made the car acceptable for basic transportation needs, and was relatively easy and cheap to produce too. Factories were set up in Brazil, Mexico and China.

Later on, it even became fashionable: It’s typical and unique design (unchanged for decades!) came to a point in which it was perceived as cool, fancy and stylish. Not only it became an icon for the industry, but as well for a full generation of users. Even there have even been “revival editions”, special batches with this or that feature, that have been sold as limited series, with real high prices and margins.

It has been one of the best selling cars worldwide. To the point, in fact, that starting from the Beetle, a full line up was developed under the Volkswagen name, which, after having been a name designated to one specific car, has turned into a worldwide brand, and in fact, a worlwide industrial company. The Volkswagen brand is in fact one of the best recognized brands in the whole world, similar to Coca-Cola, General Motors, IBM or other. Under the Volkswagen brand, there are no more Beetles in production, but there are Golfs, Jettas, Passats, Touareg SUVs, trucks, minivans… and the industrial group own other brands such as Audi, Skoda, SEAT…

It looks that iPads are indeed repeating the Volkswagen story. For some, iPad turns to be the affordable Mac. If Mac is a Porsche, iPad is the Beetle… and Ferdinand Porsche himself has re-incarnated in Steve Jobs!

But as we write this, we even think the story goes further… we think the very first affordable Mac was the iPod/iPhone duo. That was indeed the very first Beetle, the first Mac experience for many people. As a matter of fact, would it be false to say that iPad’s success is based on the iPod’s or on the iPhone’s? And isn’t Mac Pros, Mac Airs as well benefitting from the halo of iPads?

Apples to apples


We have read an interesting summary of an analysis made on smartphone users’ loyalty to the brand of their current handset.

The conclusions driven there seem reasonable, though we believe one should be cautious when drawing conclusions.

We think the smartphone market, booming these days, might change a lot in short time, so many things are still developing and reaching users as we write this, that today’s conclusions may be completely different in a few months from now.

If loyalty is a reflection of satisfaction, we’d still need to define how satisfaction is measured. We still need to be clear about what it really means to the user. It is not the same thing a professional that has been given a Blackberry by his employer, for example, to use it for professional email and SMS than a university student that basically might want his phone for chatting, web browsing and facebook logging.

To measure satisfaction, one would need to know the cost a given product has meant to the user, and the expectations he really had about what he got. If we were given a smartphone for the first time for free by an employer of ours, which allowed us to do email on-the-go (assumed our previous phone did not allow us to), we would be very happy with that, regardless the OS (Android, IOS4 or Symbian, for example), especially if it is our company that pays the bill. We would not be more loyal to the handset brand than however loyal our employer were.

As well, if we were to use a Windows Mobile phone after having had an iPhone or Android, our satisfaction/loyalty would be seriously reduced…

As well, there are many factors that can influence user satisfaction or loyalty which might not depend on the handset you are using, nor the OS it supports. What about the carrier service, possibilities or limitations? What about its service plan, the cost of it? For some customer segments, it might be as well important the brand perception or how “cool” might a given device look or feel. We know of many cases where teenagers ask mom and dad for a Blackberry just because mom or dad use one, or just because the most popular mates at school have one each, for whatever reason.

Hard to measure loyalty or user satisfaction, and hard to extrapolate results for predicting future volumes or sales.

We see the current smartphone market more like the case of the youngster that recently got his car driver’s license for the first time. The prospect of moving from being a bike user to driving a car on his own is so exciting to him that he will be the happiest person in the world to have his car, no matter if it is a brand new convertible Ferrari sportscar, or mom’s 20-year old Volkswagen, that she recently replaced by a new one. At the end of the day, both cars open for the kid a new world of possibilities, one way or another, that were so far inaccessible to him.

In a market so much subject to change in very short time frames, conclusions from this kind of surveys should then need to be very carefully managed and understood, we think, making sure one compares “apples to apples” to make those conclusions really valid or useful. By the way, those who prefer Blackberry might prefer to compare “berries to berries”…

Sunday, 28 November 2010

First love


We are sure almost everybody remembers his/her first teenage love, his/her first date, and, of course, his/her first kiss. Despite actual age, or whatever circumstances each person had, we think there is a common denominator for all those situations, something all them share. We talk about the lack of real life experience of those persons, discovering what we think is probably the most important aspect of human life.

Inexperienced as everybody is in first love experience, after the person gets a more or less explicit confirmation by his/her partner that both of them are together, the typical question they make themselves immediately after is “and now, what?”.

Unable to answer this question in a precise way, then those fortunate ones that enjoy that situation may start behaving strangely, incoherently, inconsistently just because they have never gone through that before. Older people, when watching them, probably smile and justify them remembering their own experiences…

After this experience, which frequently turns to nothing (how many people do you know that have ended up sharing their lives with their very first love?), people are supposed to get more mature, and manage better and better their next experiences until they settle down. This is what actually happens, but, as nobody’s perfect, there are always clamorous exceptions.

Enter the Gorilla (aka Big Ape Steve) to demonstrate the case for us:

The not-really-so-successful first smartphone experience by this guys was windows mobile, who was quickly wiped out by Nokia and particularly Blackberry like the best football player in the grade at school usually takes the most glamorous cheerleader from her previous boyfriend.

And now these guys come back… supposedly having learnt from the past. Not really being precise with the product positioning (consumer versus enterprise, work versus fun, or any other user segmentation you want), as you may recall from the “Really!” marketing campaign, not they seem to be willing to demonstrate the world precisely that: They have learnt from the past, and they are different from what they used to be: If Mobile was for work, Phone 7 is for fun.

Learnt what from when? For God’s sake, with less apps than Apple or Android, with less developers than the formers, with less brand recognition, and with precedents like Zune dramatically behind iTunes, how can they claim any strength in the consumer world, in fun?

If there had to be any strength within these guys, it would be clearly related to the enterprise market with the supposedly easy integration on the Office Suite within their OS… though we can hardly imagine, besides email and very basic usage of Excel or Word, any intensive use of Office documents in a screen smaller than a tablet.

Again erratic, inconsistent, and eventually behaving like a teenager who just came home after his first kiss: “so now what?”. And while they make their minds up, market will keep being rushed by Apples, Androids and even Nokias and Blackberries who might have eaten the pie and just leave the crumbs for them when they decide something consistent.

As we said before, nobody’s perfect. Still, you may always find one which is even less than anybody else.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

No Barbie doll for Christmas


We do not have a precise idea of how many Barbie dolls have been sold throughout the years and throughout the world. But we think millions of them. What means that for years millions of girls have played around with them.

The majority of girls might have likely used those dolls as sort of role models, making them act the way they would like to be after having grown up. The dolls turn then to be a representation of what girls want for themselves in the future.

It would be reasonable to think that this Christmas Santa Claus will be delivering to millions of girls in the world another big batch of Barbie dolls to millions of girls who will go on playing with them as well.

We are sorry for Steve. No Barbie doll for him this year.