Sunday, 21 November 2010

Criticism and pain


When facing his government duties, Sir Winston Churchill said once: “Criticism is as necessary as pain; it reminds us that something is not going well and needs attention.”

More than a mere critical opinion or a different point of view, facts can be a much louder or stronger criticism. As such, it should probably be paid, therefore, more attention.

And for the moment, Sony Ericsson’s decision to not introduce smartphones with Windows Phone 7 is a fact.

There has been a lot of opinions back and forth, for and against Microsoft’s phone operating system… but so far, besides it’s poor performance in sales (as far as we have known), we have not seen a harder one.

If the fourth largest worldwide handset manufacturer says “no”, this is a serious warning to Ballmer’s boys. Especially if they have androids there, as reported in the link above.

Opening new stores may not be enough.

Giving free tickets for pop concerts might be useless.

Playing Incrediboy might not suffice.

Not caring for your developers might backfire.

Leaving it all to a wizard at the end of a yellow brick road may mislead.

Taking everything for granted does not solve problems.

If one treatment does not work, it is useless to repeat it to heal the problem.

and, definitely, we would not put the solving of our pains in the hands of apes.

Too many pain symptoms to avoid facing them, we believe.

Flaming balloons


By the end of the 19th Century, the German started developing balloons for military purposes. We could consider this milestone, together with the use of reconnaisance balloons during the American Civil war as the very early stages of modern air forces.

Despite the progress made since then until the late 30s, when classical planes had consolidates its dominance in the air, and when helicopters were beginning to have their earliest realistic prototypes, it was clear before 1940 that balloons had reached a dead end. The Hindenburg disaster in 1937 was the final chapter of its brief history.

Conceptually speaking, the defenders of the balloon industry used the principle of “best of both worlds” to insist in developing that industry. Static possibilities, later developed factually with helicopters, combined with actual mobility like in the classic planes, combined with its very low cost compared to the other models.

Caught halfway between the two flying models, there was no room for balloons.

In a brave attempt to bridge the gap between today’s two main trends towards easy, affordable computing ultra-mobility (netbooks and tablets), Dell is about to launch their Inspiron Duo device.

In our opinion, we are basically talking of an original design that combined the features of both types of devices, tablets and netbooks, and there is some praise about the possibility of getting the best of both worlds.

However, we see a bigger risk in getting caught halfway between both worlds, or, if you’d prefer, getting the worst of both worlds. Few advantages, all the disadvantages, that is.

Besides the clear disadvantages pointed out in the reference news, we see some more:

First, the flipping screen, as a movable part, can be sensitive to hardware failure. The less the mobile parts the better, for reliability. What takes us to the second item.

Second, though flash storage is a plus compared to standard disks with moving parts in terms of reliability, its increased capacity is not really a significant advantage, for netbooks and tablets are more and more oriented to online content that is stored in the “cloud”, not necessarily in a local disk.

Third, its operating system, as it is today, is not a rival for tablets in particular, powered by androids and iOS much more successfully than whatever Windows might be doing. Just look at market data for units already shipped, or to market predictions.

Fourth, having a keyboard (supposedly demanded by customers) is not really such an advantage. Millions of customers, using same figures as in previous item, are clearly NOT demanding such a keyboard, which adds cost, weight and technical complexity.

Fifth, a significant value for tablets, regardless of its OS, is the AppStore behind them. Microsoft is way behind Apple and Google, isn’t it?

Sixth, long-term financial viability. Even if Dell makes an initial success, following the “Qualdroid” business model does not guarantee financial success to them. The “Wintel” model proves so.

Seventh, as well related to Dell’s financials, they are starting from a very weak position at this moment that might not help at all in sustain the time it might take for this Inspiron thing to take off. Maybe they are diverting their consumer portfolio too much, with Streak, Inspiron, mobile phones…?

In praise of Dell we could say it is always good to try new things and move forward with innovation… but we do not really see a major chance here. Not to kill iPads nor Androids at least, Inspiron Duo might blow up like the Hindenburg did.

Fred’s car could be colourful too.


Imagine Bob (figured name) took Fred’s (figured name) without Fred’s consent and used it to get on time to a business meeting that reported Bob $1 million, money which not have been made by Bob if he had been late to his meeting.

After the meeting, Bob was arrested by the police for having stolen Fred’s car. Bob had not damaged the car, and he opposed no resistance to his arrest. In fact, offered to pay for the gas he actually used. The car was worth $30,000.

Certainly Bob caused Fred some damage, as Fred was not able to use his own car for some time, until the police returned it.

Leaving aside the criminal aspect (the actual theft), would Fred really have any right to claim any of the $30,000, just because the actual usage of the car was a necessary step for Bob in the process of making the $1 million deal?

We would say, not being experts at law, that Bob should pay Fred for the actual gas, the insurance cost for the time Fred could not use his own car, and a certain compensation for any additional cost Fred could have had after his car theft: Transportation, phone calls, Fred’s earnings during hose days in case he needed his car for work, plus a certain additional amount for the hassle.

But probably it would be unfair to have Bob paying the $30,000 just because he used it to make the deal.

Last Friday Safra Catz cared to appear once again to give testimony in SAP-Oracle ongoing trial. And she gave another illustrative masterpiece of analogies which could be better understood by the jurors. 

True that the oracle’s intellectual property has a value. True that it should not have been illegally acquired by TomorrowNow. But the fact it is valuable does not increase or diminish the harm made by SAP to Oracle, which is the fact being tried.

Fair to claim $1.6 billion at least, just because the cost of what SAP used was that much? By the way, it was the oracle who said it was worth $1.6 billion at least…

If SAP made $40 million with the 358 customers that were “safe-passaged” from the oracle, by selling projects at 50% discount on the oracle’s fees, it means that the oracle would have got $80 million at the max if having continued business with those customers.

$80 million, plus $120 million already agreed to be paid for attorney’s costs (no criminal charges dropped as well) seem much more reasonable a sentence to us.

Fred could have said, by the way, his car was worth $60,000, or $90,000, based on sentimental value as well… lots of time washing it in the driveway, lots of happy times spent in the back seat, perhaps… and eventual colourful cool tuning, why not.

Weak argumentation in our opinion to claim that much, Kitty… sorry, “Catz”.

They might need ear trumpets


The recent trend in the consumer side of this former topper in the PC market certainly suggests dropping this sandbagging division.

But their strategy doesn’t follow. They seem to trust their gut-feeling and believe they can put their consumer business in the same level that enterprise business is.

Several hundred million dollars in marketing campaigns, according to them, justified by their claim about listening to customers.

Well, in our opinion, they might consider sparing a few of those dollars to get some ear trumpets to listen better…

Frankly, the suggestion to either give up to others, like HP, that are doing far better in the consumer business, does not really seem absurd. Lenovo or Acer could as well do.