Saturday, 6 November 2010

(Do not) play it again, Steve


Who could not remember the famous quote by Rick to Sam, the piano player, in Rick’s cafĂ© in Casablanca?

“Play it again, Sam”, as Rick was willing to remember good old times in Paris with Ilsa.

And Big Ape Steve keeps playing his worn out tune once and again, still under the spell of his unreal world where Microsoft reigns all over the marketplace.

As they have launched precisely Windows 7 Marketplace exactly the same way they launch everything: An incomplete product with less functionality than promised, and just under the stress of claiming they were on time to market.

Again, they follow the other Steve (Jobs by name) that already has had an AppStore up and running for years.

Again, they engage their partners and developers into a potential nightmare of upgrades and patches.

Again they promise first and deliver later: They won’t honor any payouts before 2011.

The same old tune once an again, like a scratched vinyl record in the times of mp3, video streaming and online connectivity.

In short, again late and short to expectations.

Still anybody surprised Forbes believes for the first time the good Steve is more powerful than the Big Ape Steve?

Sultans of suing


We are sure that if we mentioned Dire Straits, every body would recall its unique style, mainly driven by lead singer and composer, Mark Knopfler. Some people consider him the best guitar player ever, and his live performances all over the world are memorable. Sultans od Swing, Tunnel of Love, Telegraph Road, Gold…Many hits come to our minds, but from them all, it is the famous duet with Sting, Money for Nothing, what draws our attention more, together with Private Investigations.

Buzz around another Mark comes back. The Mark Hurd again has bounced up again in the press, as some additional documentation around the fishy Fisher has come to light. Beyond an inappropriate relationship between hard Hurd and fishy Fisher, it looks as if hard Hurd disclosed confidential information to the latter. So fishy Fisher seems to be getting a second 15 minutes of glory Andy Warhol said everybody deserved. However, being represented by the famous attorney Gloria Allred, it appears to us that fishy Fisher has had to devote many more than a mere 15 minutes to the “Gloria” to just get again 15 minutes of “glory”… Not sure this is a good ROI, frankly.

As it is already well known by those who have followed the case, hard Hurd settled private whatever issue fishy Fisher had with him. This happened before he was fired by the HP Board, and likely was one of the mean reasons precisely to lose trust in the guy, and ultimately show him the door. The private settlement included an undisclosed amount of dollars to be paid by hard Hurd to fishy Fisher, cost which simply adds up to all other costs hard Hurd has had (including the intangible impact on his family and reputation) for not having thought it twice before behaving like a hormonally unbalanced chimpanzee during mating seasons.

Although Big Mouth Larry quickly came to the rescue, and saved for him the match ball against hard Hurd, we would still question if all the cost he’s taken was really worth it. Is hard Hurd any better personally and professionally than he was at the time in which praise and success were a constant in his service record?

Again that “Money for Nothing” tune in our heads, as we recall part of its lyrics: “Money for nothing, and your chicks for free…” Indeed the private settlement was something hard Hurd was perfectly ready to afford, and certainly big money for fishy Fisher. Certainly “money for nothing” for hard Hurd, given the ROI he got, though this time the chick was not for free precisely, was she?

After all the “private investigations” after the affair, maybe Mark (Knopfler) could eventually consider legal action against Mark (hard Hurd) for copyright infringement by the latter. Private Investigations and Money for Nothing have been in billboards and hitlists for years already. Just to keep lawyers busy, you know, as suing is starting to become a tradition for hard Hurd, we’d say.

By the way, if Knopfler really gets to legal matter, he could as well include copyright infringement about Sultans of Swing. At the end of the day, hard Hurd is really becoming one of the Sultans of “Suing” lately. True or not?

The apple of their eye

We are used to having heard about the power of Bill Gates and Microsoft for years as much as used we are to reading about that man being one of the richest people on earth. We have seen charts and figures where Microsoft’s income proves larger than small countries’ gross national product.
For once we have seen that a fellow colleague in his industry has overtaken him as to power. Steve Jobs has been rated as more powerful than good ol’ Billy.
Not questioning at all the author’s argumentation, which we fundamentally agree with, we prefer to see this from a different angle, other than historical achievements or financial metrics.
Jobs has succeeded in engaging youth. Youth of today starts being the basis for customers of the future. Apple’s fresh, Apple’s new, Apple’s fun. Apple’s cool, in short. Lot’s of customer touch points, from PCs to TV, from music to movies. Even small kids are starting to get familiar to the “there’s an app for that” slogan.
Microsoft is huge, large, dominates market segments, but… it’s a slow dinosaur claiming more the “me too” story and basically a follower. A losing follower for whom the gap with Apple broadens every day. Just consider Microsoft’s latest: Windows Phone 7, same old story, nothing really new, is it? What the heck can you do with WP7 that you cannot already do, and probably in a better way, with IOS4, Android or even Blackberry?
Precisely this is in our opinion one of the big sandbags Microsoft. This company is fundamentally based on legacy coming from a dominant position it used to have for decades, and at some extent still enjoys for the time being. For them, what they call innovation is what we would call patching and re-patching the same old core, like those unending “system updates” or “service packs” that may block your PC or your mobile phone for hours, just to catch up with things other computers do.
Once their dominant position was taken, they just slept on their own complacency, expecting the scene not to change ever again. Like an old Confucian philosopher that once happened to see a rabbit smash itself against a tree stump and made his lunch for the day, he waited and waited ever since in front of the same stump until he died from starvation, hoping that if one rabbit once smashed against the stump, why should not another one?
And the characters define companies. While Steve Jobs could never be separated from Apple as his alter ego, but surgically, and even after serious health problems he cared to continue his leadership, Bill Gates retired as if he did not really need to do anything more for his company.
And, by the way, leaving the powerful Microsoft in the hands of an insane pathetic baboon does not really seem to be the best choice if he really cared about his company. Just check this out…
Is this what being a billionaire might turn you into?
is this a way to engage youth? Is this sad copy of pop stars youngsters adore the way Microsoft expects to create trends and fashion? Because Apple certainly does. People wait hours for dining in a fancy restaurant, and pay fortunes to wear the same dress whoever celebrity you want to mention. Who waits for hours before stores open to buy Microsoft’s latest device or software? Who will pay a price premium to get something by Microsoft instead of Android, Blackberry or iWhatever?
And why this last difference? Fundamentally their management styles: While the middle aged baboon pretends he is a Jonas Brother and 40 years younger, Apple’s convince passionately the audience about what they do. Just look to the video.
Genuine gentlemen.
Notice the difference: The baboon “loves this company”. Jobs and staff love the things they do. The message is clear. What the baboon really loves is the obscene dollar amounts he is able to bleed from his company, where he probably reached the top spot just by chance. By the way, the guy should use some of those dollars to cover up a bit his serious transpiration issues and make sure he has a cardiologist with him when he behaves in public a way normal people wouldn’t allow their teen age kids.
Apple toppers focus on what their products do, and how they do those things.
Ironically enough, Steve Jobs has been accused of being arrogant… If arrogance is being proud of a product well done, I wish more CEOs had such arrogance. On the negative aspect of arrogance, however, isn’t it much bigger the one demonstrated by the Great Ape? At the end of the day, if we were supposed to get excited by listening to Big Ape, it would mean we should consider ourselves less than him. Inferior, in other words. Ballmer’s audience is the community of Microsoft employees, who are not really realizing that what Ballmer is really telling them is “you guys have to work like apes to make sure the money you suck from customers continues flowing all the way to my bank account; and, by the way, if you see my sweat, keep in mind this is nothing compared to the sweat I am going to squeeze out of you”. Where’s arrogance then?
If Gates, or, for the matter, Microsoft, were more powerful than Apple (or Jobs for the matter), why would Microsoft rush to open store just across the street from Apple’s? Why would Microsoft poorly imitate Apple’s?
Just incidentally… we said one of the basic points at the beginning of this post spoke about winning youth…
A sample about daily life use of today’s technologies. If you look to the logo in the laptop, or if you just check the name of the TV series (quite popular by the way), there is not much more to say, but our hope that there is no further joke in choosing precisely “Carly” as the name of the main character in an attempt to play some sarcasm on former HP CEO Fiorina, who recently got one of the worst ROIs in her personal performance against republican senator Boxer, we heard.
Nice sense of humour…
Not really sure that Jobs is the apple of their eye to Gates & Pals, but we would certainly recommend them to keep an eye on that Apple and begin to learn something. Good manners to start with, we’d advise Big Ape in particular.