Friday, 12 November 2010

Frankenstein’s monster


If androids are originally artificially-made human-like entities, sort of robots, then we could consider the monster created by Herr Doktor Frankenstein one of the first ones, if not the very first, according to the wonderful story by Mary Shelley.

Human-like he was indeed, as he was made from dead human body parts her creator stole from cemeteries.

Alive thanks to science, once he was conscious of himself as a live being, the circumstances turned him against his creator and his closest friends, whom he ultimately ended up killing or contributing actively to their deaths.

Google, as a modern Doktor Frankenstein, has too created an Android. Still, Android per se has no sense by itself unless handset vendors use it and actually distribute it.

Open and free an operating system it is, Android can turn to a monster quite easily. And a dangerous one.

Watch out, hardware vendors on Android… some of you may not make it for the next version of the monster. By the way, isn’t it ironic that the Apple you wanted to compete against set already the example you might need to follow?


Huff and Puff


… said the Big Bad Wolf… But this time it was the brick house.

We are afraid the Pontifex Maximus’ bluff was just that. A bluff.

Where is the evidence, Big Mouth Larry? Whose credibility is now at the stake?

You have live long enough to have learnt the closer you get to the fire, the more you get burnt, Pontifex.


Google dixit


Google dixit, indeed, though we would say they fall short.

Probably Marissa Meyer went further and elaborated more, or eventually was cut short because of timing reasons and she was only allowed a tagline that she tried to summarize as much as she could.

Not only what the guy has done, but as well whatever is yet to come, as it is unthinkable to figure Apple out without him, not thinkable it is to imagine him without Apple. Not cancer nor a liver transplant have been enough to cut the link between the two, and cut was the link voluntarily, under much more favorable circumstances, between Microsoft and Billy Gates.

There is a fantastic recognition Google, by the way, already made to Steve Jobs, which is tempting him to serve as their CEO.

However, the best recognition is not told, yet obvious to those who have further vision: Google de facto tries to copy Apple. Just look at Android…

We stand up and applaud, first to Google for their comments, then to Steve Jobs, for though we compared him already to Sun-Tzu and Clausewitz, after thinking it twice, we should say he went even further. The formers were great theoreticians on strategy. Jobs moved beyond, and executed his strategy too.

Androids are vegetarian


When choosing something cool, yet personal to buy, customers make their choice based on differences. Differences that are worth paying for, that is. However, differences will have to be within a common trend or fashion.

In today’s consumer electronics market, fashion and trends mean smartphones. It is certainly not enough to have a standard mobile phone to talk or text, which is at reach for almost anybody today. Smartphones are wanted.

So the big question for a smartphone potential customer is which one to buy. The choice, again, will be based on difference between the available alternatives, and the value each difference represents to the user.

In a simplified analysis, we could say that there are two main differentiators for these products: Price/cost and features/capabilities/usability.

If we take a look to the main players in the smartphone market, from an operating system perspective, we see Android with its different flavors or versions, IOS4 by Apple, Symbian by Nokia and Blackberry by RIMM.

If we dig a bit through them, we come to the conclusion that there are only two clear leaders, one for each of the differentiation groups.

On one side, we got Android, an open operating system with the enormous advantage of cost, as it is free. This platform provides many functionalities RIMM or Nokia lack, a powerful app base with plenty of developers backing it, and a broad choice of handset manufacturers who will compete against themselves within this platform to make additional differentiation, and, therefore, reinforcing a trend lowering prices.

On the other side, we have Apple with IOS4 as undisputed leader for having set trends in the overall market, coming form the super-successful iPod success, and backed by all the brand reputation they have. Leaders in the app development and selling environments, with iTunes model, and the solid reputation for quality and usability they have proven. In fact, they represent the model others are following, from a conceptual perspective at least.

Despite all the comparisons these two are starring in the news and in the media, we do not really see a major war between them beyond their own natural spaces, given the different strategies after each of them.

Apple leads in innovation, quality, user experience and time to market, and is led my a single company that provides both hardware and software.

Androids lead in price and cost, keeping a reasonable pace from a technology and usability point of view with Apple. Now, their dependence on the different handset manufacturers may lead them to unnecessary conflict between them and need to further differentiate between themselves, potentially at the expense of sacrificing features, capability, quality, usability or reliability; as well, these eventual conflicts would have additional complication by needing to keep an eye on potential newcomers (open free operating system, remember).

So after some consolidation of the market, we believe there will be a natural (not necessarily sought though) od positioning Android as sort of “the affordable iPhone”. or “the cheap iPhone”, similarly to to what local and small unknown brands tried to do when selling their own “clone” PCs (“IBM compatible”, remember?) years ago.

“Affordable” or “cheap” alternatives to quality leaders are always well accepted by the market, and volumes come quickly up for them. Not everybody may afford buying the quality and technology leader’s products. Every car owner would like to drive BMW or Mercedes, yet these are not volume sales leaders, are they? And every man in the world would like to have an Armani suit for each day and carry a Louis Vuitton suitcase when traveling. But Toyota, Volkswagen and Renault might do with good enough cars, and it does not really matter for many people to buy their suits at Sears and travel with an unknown brand case.

The proof is the massive growth by Androids in the latest reported figures, which have not harmed Apple at all, as much as a big sales increase for Toyota or Volkswagen won’t worry a Mercedes dealer much, not to talk a Bentley, or a Ferrari one. In fact, what Androids are doing by an “affordable” offering is basically making the market grow by addressing population segments Apple’s would not reach even if left alone. Apple is probably less interested in additional volumes beyond a certain limit if they come at the expense of profits. At the end of the day, Apple is there to make money too. Especially after their near-to-death arch-famous experience in the 1990s. Truly, Apple’s sitting today on a war chest of about $51 billion, according to lots of online reports, which is twice as much of what Dell is worth at this moment in NYSE, as a reference. Apple will probably sell always less units than Android, but with much healthier financials, as their prices will be higher, and profits will come both from hardware and software. Android will make greater unit volumes, though average selling price and profits will be lower by unit, mainly moving to the handset vendors, and indirectly through ad selling to Google.

The second slice of the market that Androids are eating, is coming, therefore, from Blackberry and Symbian. A legacy niche seems to be what the future looks like for the Finnish guys, who’d better ask Santa Claus for the upcoming Christmas season for a time machine that brings the market back to several years ago, when they were the king of the hill, while the Canadian RIMM still sits on a volume leadership position (which is quickly being eroded) thanks to the cost of change that many businesses have to remove them (smartphone features at Blackberry were initially addresses to businesses more than to consumers, and very successfully, by the way). Still, their technical restrictions and limited functionality do not allow a bright future out of their niches, particularly when it is the consumer market who is driving more trends and techno than professional users.

The proof here is that the expectations for growth and revenue for these guys are more oriented to less developed markets, like Latin America or India.

For the moment, both Apple and Android seem to be able to enjoy their (different) success stories, and yet compatible, it seems. Fast growth, however, will side better with the Androids, whose armies will be eating a important portions of the market period after period… Vegetarians they seem, these Androids, as they are slowly eating the Blackberries. Vegetarians, but certainly not Apple eaters.

No luck for the bride’s kin


Some days ago we were talking about wedding plans. We anticipated some risks, if you would allow us to put it that way.

The ceremony was set, as set was the banquet and the afterward party.

A lovely venue, live musicians, nice food wonderfully served, and a magnificent wedding cake. The bride’s father threw in about $400 million to secure the best celebration ever, and after having arrived late, and with no particular fantastic nor blinding attrezzo, the wedding carried on.

Nobody realized the disappointment for a significant portion of the guests, who actually left the wedding ceremony before it finished, leaving behind only the loyal members of the bride’s family. To few people for all the fanfare that had been set up afterwards at the banquet.

All through the party, the groom looked passive and distracted, ignoring even having upset the bride forgetting to kiss her before they left the church, and nobody remembered to take any camera for picturing the moment the newlyweds were supposed to cut the cake.

The following day, when considering how it went, the bride’s father even considered a yard sale for many of the presents his daughter got, and cancelling the honeymoon trip (no refund, of course).

One of the few family loyalists who remained until the very end, probably to comfort the sad bride, was her elder sister. Some time ago, in fact, she had a similar experience. Was not the sister’s wedding another disaster?

Microsoft Kin 1 and 2There must be something wrong in the bride’s kin… And we are not talking the bride’s dad, who we already have known for long