The 2012 US Tax Day is coming. While traditionally, it’s supposed to be today (April 15th), the government is kind enough in these situations to give us a natural extension until Tuesday, April 17, 2012. For those who are scrambling to find all their receipts, W2, 1099s, and more, don’t worry, for some of you, you won’t even need to use a computer for this year’s IRS Tax Return. You can simply download a copy of TurboTax from Intuit for your iPad or iPhone. Sounds a bit odd, right? Well, normally the reaction would be: “Taxes from my tablet? Doesn’t seem like it’s possible.” OR “Taxes on my iPhone?How is that possible?!?” While I was a bit skeptical myself, I was happy to get a briefing from the folks at the TurboTax division at Intuit. Continue Reading →
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A few weeks ago, I had the misfortune of dropping my laptop computer on concrete in a parking lot. The ugly part was that later that day when I tried to boot up my computer, the LCD screen was cracked. Even worse, my hard drive would not boot. But that’s another story. The good news is that aside from the LCD being cracked, overall the computer survived. Off to a Google search. I found this site, Laptop Screens, where I found a replacement LCD screen for $59. With shipping it came out to about $77.70. I seem to recall the last time I helped a friend go and repair their LCD screen, it cost $200, so the DIY replacement was certainly going to be cheaper and faster. Continue Reading →
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It’s not IF, but WHEN. With prices like this from the AT&T store, the Android Army will grow in numbers. Let’s hope Google can manage it better than Nokia with the Symbian Foundation.
In an effort to help “The 99%”, American Express teamed up with Foursquare to promote Small Business Saturday for 2011. This is the second year AMEX has run this promotion that it seems to really be growing in popularity. With more than 2.75M Likes on their Facebook Fan Page, Continue Reading →
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Well, 2011 is pretty much over as we enter the Thanksgiving week. The other day I was cleaning up my desk at home and noticed that I had four tablets mixed in between. It made me realize that that at the beginning of this year, I started with none. The first device I picked up was the Samsung Galaxy Tablet – 7 inch. IMHO it’s still a solid device, but somewhat lacking on screen size. Continue Reading →
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Thanks to (@jamesparton for mentioning this site 4SQ MOVE, a site that measures that distance you traveled, based on your Foursquare check-ins. Created by @BriBarthelemy, here are some highlights about what I was able to glean in using the site:
There are plenty of ways to make improvements, enhancements and tweaks for a long while. It’s certainly worth your time to stop by, login and see how you fair.
For those who are curious, my last 250 check-ins yielded 1746km (1085 miles). How did you fair?
Here is my interview with Gabe Slate, Tech Reporter, at KRON 4 TV in San Francisco. It’s quite interesting that financial services as well as utility companies have started to offer mobile and email alerts for monthly services. I guess is that the jury is still out on whether or not this is truly leading to more loyal customers, now that they have the ability to control or view their usage. We’ve become a society addicted to data and dashboards.
After Amy Winehouse died in July 2011, her album “Back to Black” rose to number one on the iTunes charts, from a previous position of “Unranked”; ditto for Michael Jackson, whose greatest hits collection sales the day of his death were 700 times higher than the day before. Kurt Cobain’s death led to a 170 percent surge in all three of Nirvana’s albums in 1994; similar surges occurred after the deaths of John Lennon, The Notorious B.I.G. and Alex Chilton of Big Star. Could Steve Jobs’ unexpected death on Wednesday evening lead to a similar surge in Apple sales in the coming days and weeks, as pilgrims and admirers seek a tangible way to honor a fallen icon?
First, another question (and not to go all unanswerably-philosophical Terrence Malick on you, but): Why do we become newly attached to the items of the recently deceased? What is the meaning of this practice? Is it as a form of tribute, an attempt to pay them back or honor them somehow? Is it because it makes us feel closer to them, helps us to remember and celebrate their lives and their accomplishments, to animate them in their peak condition one final time? Is it out of an effort to feel, somehow, what they may have been thinking so close to the mysterious unknown, that somehow within their output there is encoded the thoughts of a man or woman who is closer to the brink of death? Continue Reading →
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The day before Steve Jobs’ death, newly minted Apple chief executive Tim Cook strode across the company’s vaunted showroom stage in much the same way as his predecessor: decked out in black and prepared to unveil a highly anticipated gadget.
The reviews of his first performance were less than stellar. Four years ago Jobs was cheered within seconds of coming on stage to unveil the first iPhone; the crowd reaction for Cook’s unveiling of the iPhone 4S Tuesday was mostly tepid. The BBC’s headline proclaimed: “Tim Cook’s dull debut.” “Could they bring back Steve Jobs and right this ship?” Shepard Smith asked on Fox News after the presentation.
The passing of a man who embodied chief salesman, meticulous product designer and long-term corporate visionary leaves an unquestionable void at the heart of one of the world’s most successful companies. But Jobs has left behind a management and creative team at Apple that includes some of the most well-respected designers, software engineers and marketing wizards in the country — though most Americans may never have heard of them.
“They’re coming out of the Steve Jobs shadow, so I think all of them have a little something to prove,” said Peter Misek, a technology analyst at global securities and investment banking group Jefferies & Co. “But I feel pretty good about the bench.”
Much of Apple’s senior management team has been with the company since Jobs returned to take the helm in 1997, and most have played pivotal roles in designing and marketing the company’s signature devices and brands over the last decade. Analysts and Apple observers point out that while Jobs’ public charisma has outshone most other leaders at the company, behind the scenes his closest advisers were creating the devices and messaging that made the brand into one that is universally recognized.
“He was the face of Apple: he was very visible, he was very public and as a result, the spotlight always shone on him and the scrutiny always shone on him,” said Van Baker, a vice president and research director at Gartner, a technology research group. “But the luxury for the other members of the team was that they could just do their jobs. They didn’t have to deal with the distractions. They got to toil uninterrupted and do the day-to-day work of bringing out incredible products.”
The creative side of Apple’s executive team has directly impacted the products most Apple users interact with every day.
Beginning with the artful and translucent iMac more than a decade ago and continuing through the sleek and contoured iPad, Apple’s unmistakable design quality has been the brainchild of Jonathan Ive, the company’s senior vice president of industrial design, whose products have been displayed in the Museum of Modern Art. Scott Forstall, another senior vice president, is behind the operating system for the iPhone and its bevy of applications.
Philip Schiller, the company’s marketing chief, helped devise the memorable “I’m a Mac, I’m a PC” television commercials. Eddy Cue, the company’s senior vice president for Internet software and services, played a central role in Apple’s media sales strategy, from the iTunes store to the App store to the new iCloud system.
“Keep in mind, just because the general public doesn’t know who these people are doesn’t mean that in the computer world people don’t know,” Misek said.
“There’s not a single one of these guys who isn’t thought of as a rock star in Silicon Valley.”
New chief executive Tim Cook, though not nearly the flashy performer that Jobs was, brings the distribution know-how and operational insight that analysts say is more key now that Apple has established itself as a titan.
“When Steve came back, they needed to be a disruptive company. They needed vision and cool products that disrupted the market that was out there, because they were the newcomer,” said Scott Sutherland, an analyst at Wedbush Securities. “When you look where they are now, I think they still need to innovate, but they are the leaders. They don’t need to disrupt the market; they need to add to their market lead.”
The open question is whether the current team has the long-term vision Jobs had –the knack for dreaming up products that consumers didn’t even know they needed.
“I dont think anybody has really emerged as that visionary who can challenge and innovate,” said Eric Chan, the president of Mobileslate, a management consulting firm for mobile and wireless. Continue Reading →
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Here’s my video on Fox Business today where I was talking about the upcoming Amazon Tablet, which provides serious competition to Apple and their iPad. Too much scrutiny has been placed on the device itself and not enough about all the things the device is connected to. Amazon has been quietly amassing and launching several digital services including the Kindle Store, Cloud Drive, Cloud Player, Instant Video, Android AppStore and more on the way.
A big driver of where Amazon has the upper hand is the trust in eCommerce. Apple has spent time and money to build a great experience so that the company can earn the trust of users. The simplicity and ease of user has been a great way to lull people’s trust. And consumers have certainly spoken with their wallets. With the same goal of trust in brand, Amazon has accomplished the same thing with online eCommerce. The Kindle has been a great hit to prove success in digital books, and the Amazon Tablet can further extend the wallet share of digital spend for music, books, videos and much more.
The other remote opportunity that Amazon could resurrect, is a digital shopping assistant, albeit heavily oriented towards fulfillment via Amazon and its properties.
Last, the other thing that this tablet has a great shot is data connectivity. With the Kindle, it simply just works. You look for books almost anywhere, purchase and begin reading. I would be very speculative about how this will extend to the tablet. I am willing to bet that data access for any Amazon service or destination would be free and perhaps some select partners such as email. Otherwise, Amazon begins a new business unit as an MVNO.
You’re on Facebook all day. You have email open all the time. Where does your calendar fit into all of this? As we increasingly sign up for Facebook Events, you need a service that can help you manage everything on the go. Plango today is introducing their Facebook Calendar app for the Apple iPhone.
“There has been much innovation across social and mobile in the past ten years, but the calendar has somehow managed to remain largely static,” said Petri Sakkinen, CEO of GoAct. “Plango is the useful, fun calendar extension that Facebook has been missing. We redefine the calendar by putting event planning in your pocket, providing you with a single view of all real-life events and related social activity happening in your network.”
People use their mobile phone to manage their lives–there’s an app for everything. But, how do you arrange to meet three friends at a bar after work? How do you choose which bar you meet at? What about juggling that, plus a trip to the florist for your mother’s birthday, and a last minute change to your weekly tee time with a colleague? Plango solves this problem by integrating with your Facebook calendar and letting you schedule on the go, from your iPhone.
“Most social apps are fun, but they aren’t good for actual transactions – making appointments, agreeing on a location, negotiating a time among a group,” says Esther Dyson. “Plango helps you keep track of your commitments without loading you up with overhead.”
Generation Y makes plans socially. They are reluctant to use traditional productivity tools, but have embraced social and emotional apps like group messaging, IM, and group event planning and discovery services. By combining elements of these categories into a calendar app that’s native to the iPhone and Facebook, Plango becomes the new social calendar solution for Facebook and iPhone users.
Thanks to Gregory Gorman, one of the organizers of Mobile 2.0 for inviting me to participate in one of the workshops. This event is always a good one with respect to the people and content.
Take a look at the agenda here: Mobile 2.0 Conference 2011.
As a sneak peak, Gregory told me that the opening keynote, panels and workshops will be full of insight and useful content to take back to your office and start charging towards your mobile goals.
There has been a lot of talk and fanfare about Vizio entering the tablet market. Engadget reported that Walmart had the device in their system, priced at $349.
Today I went down to Costco and picked up the Vizio tablet for $329.99. The store I went to had 30 of them in inventory. Costco has it for $20 cheaper and available *before* Walmart! When you walk into the giant warehouse and wander around the TVs and PCs you won’t find it on display. At time of writing, there was only the Acer Iconia and HP Touchpad on display. If you want to grab one, you’ll have to ask a Supervisor, who is on the other side of the Cashiers, when trying to check out. As you can see from the receipt, this is the exact same model: VTAB1008. There is also an Accessories Pack for sale ($39.99) that includes a case, SD card and I believe some headphones, but was not that interested. It took a while for them to find it in the secure products area, the guy told me that the tablets were still sitting in the larger box/pallet. Continue Reading →
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This is the Silicon Valley at its finest. Get a bunch of people from all walks of life in a mutual spot for 24 hours focused on making great things happen — in mobile. The Wireless Industry Partnership (WIP) will be hosting The Muther! of all Hackathons on June 24-25 at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View.
As one of the judges for the event, I’m looking forward to meeting as many developers as I can with great ideas and innovation smarts to wow us. One last thing. WIP has given me the opportunity to invite 10 people to the event for free!
Click here to register and use the code: MOSLATE
This is a repost of an article that ran on Fox Business where I was quoted in speaking about Amazon, Apple and Google with respect to their Cloud Music Service offerings. Thanks to Jennifer Booton, for the interview.
My only comment about this article is that it should have covered more about Pandora, Slacker Radio and Spotify, since those are existing “Cloud Music Services” but with a streaming/broadcasting model. Continue Reading →
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I was quite happy to be given the opportunity to be interviewed by Fox News Live regarding the Amazon Kindle earlier this week. It’s quite an impressive milestone in which Amazon has now sold more ebooks through their Kindle platform than physical books through their web portal.
Unfortunately, the interview was a bit shorter than I would have liked, so I just wanted to share some more thoughts on this topic. While the Amazon Kindle has expanded the platform to include virtually all electronic devices such as PCs, Macs, iPhones, Androids, and tablets, I feel that Amazon needs to think deeper about what it has created. True, the e-ink technology of the Kindle device has some great advantages and the catalog is unparalleled, as Barnes and Noble Nook and Apple’s iBook App are building up their long-tail catalog.
But if you examine a little more closely about a more holistic approach to media consumption on a tablet device, the Kindle falls short of being a media consumption device. This is where the Nook and iPad are much more versatile at accommodating a multi-media approach with music, videos, books, other documents and applications. And I believe this approach to encompass all forms of media *as well as* being connected with a web browser can make for a more compelling device with flexibility.
I certainly appreciate a single purpose device, such as the now defunct Flip Video — it’s simple and easy to use. But as much as Apple iPods started out as a music player, it has also evolved to play movies, TV shows and even run iPhone apps (iPod Touch). If the Kindle device can survive, it will need to examine whether or not it can expand the universe of media beyond books and magazines. After all, how many devices do we really need to carry around?
REPOSTED from Samsung Developer portal
There are hundreds of thousands of apps for mobile phones today. By way of example, I recently counted over 100 different chess games for mobile phones and the trend will only continue upward. A number of articles have talked about which application stores monetize the best, techniques for marketing and promotion and numerous DIY suggestions on how to get app downloads and drive popularity and make it to the Top 10 Lists. While all of these suggestions are great to employ after the application has been completed, let’s start at the beginning, when you are still planning your idea. How about answering to yourself a basic question: What is your key differentiation?
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REPOSTED from Wireless Week
For every dollar the phone companies make on data services, they used to make two to four times that on voice services. That is, until now.
In 2010, the average revenue per user (or ARPU) for wireless consumers decreased $0.46. Within this revenue shortfall, voice ARPU fell the most – $2.86 per user. Meanwhile, data ARPU actually increased by $2.37. That means phone call revenue is falling by the wayside, and data and apps are the new trend. Continue Reading →
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Reposted from Bloomberg Businessweek, March 16, 2011
When consumers weigh buying a tablet, a smartphone, and a basic, no-frills phone for calling, the smartphone looks expendable, contends analyst Eric Chan
Smartphones are the products most at risk of cannibalization in the rising tide of tablet sales—not laptops, as some industry analysts are predicting.
Current forecasts for the ‘tablet effect’ are shortsighted and fail to consider the long-term implications that this phenomenon will have on the mobile electronics industry. While tablets are likely to crimp laptop and netbook sales for the first year or so—until consumers fully understand what a tablet is—the long-term trend is different. Laptop sales will bounce back. Smartphone sales will drop. This long-term trend should be clear just by looking at user surveys, product evolution, the redundancy factor, and basic economics.
Consumers use smartphones primarily for media and data capabilities, not calling features. That means they’re not really ‘telephones,’ per se; to the average person, they are portable media devices. So why stick with a three-inch screen when you can have one three times larger? And if you do buy a tablet, why continue with a smartphone? At current prices of $200 to $400, the smartphone is too expensive to win the battle against tablets at a mass-consumer level.
According to a 2008 Nielsen (NLSN) survey, consumers were already using SMS text messaging more frequently than telephone calling. The survey found users in the 13-17 age market texted 754 percent more often than they called. The same held true for the 18-24 market, which texted 298 percent more. Even the 25-34 market texted 138 percent more often. The Pew Mobile Access 2010 Data Usage Report found a steady and significant increase in data usage by smartphone users: 34 percent record videos with their smartphones (vs. 19 percent in 2009); 34 percent play games (vs. 27 percent in ’09); 38 percent access the Internet (vs. 25 percent in ’09); and one-third play music (vs. 21 percent in ’09).
Nielsen also reported that smartphone data usage increased by 230 percent from the first quarter of 2009 to the same period in 2010; a mere 3 percent of smartphone owners use these devices for only voice communications and half use Wi-Fi on their phones to download data. At its core, the smartphone is just a smaller tablet—a precursor, in fact. Product evolution demonstrates that there is an optimal size that a mobile device wants to be. That size isn’t three or four inches. It’s seven-to-nine inches.
Consider how smartphones have grown bigger while tablets are shrinking. Smartphones began as small 2.25-inch BlackBerry (RIMM) screens, jumped to the 3.5-in. iPhone screen, and now range as high as a 4.3-in. Android (GOOG) screen. At the same time, tablet sizes are getting smaller—from the 9.7-in. iPad screen to the 7-in. screens of the Samsung (000830:KS) Galaxy Tab and RIM PlayBook. Rumors have also circulated that Apple (AAPL) is developing a smaller iPad, in the six-to-seven-in. range, or a larger iOS device with a five-in.-plus screen. Remember that when the first tablet appeared in 2010 as the iPad, the form factor was almost identical to Apple’s iPhone. So, too, were the features. The only real difference was size.
Consumers use smartphones not to call their friends, but to consume data and media services. That puts smartphones in the same market space as tablets. The devices mimic each other in services and features, particularly when you consider that tablets can also make video calls via Skype and FaceTime. The only essential difference is user experience, reflecting the disparity in screen size. Given these devices’ redundancy, and the costs for maintaining both, it makes sense that consumers will eventually shift away from the smaller of the two.
The relatively ‘cheap’ price of tablets, in relation to the cost for smartphones, puts the latter at a market disadvantage:
• Samsung Galaxy Tab ($299) vs. Samsung Fascinate ($199)
• iPad 2 ($499) vs. iPhone 4 ($299, $199)
• RIM PlayBook (est. $499) vs. BlackBerry Storm2 ($199)
So what’s the point of having two mobile devices—at hundreds of dollars apiece—when both do pretty much the same thing? Does it really make sense to own an iPad and an iPhone? Or a Galaxy Tab and a Samsung Fascinate?
If this year’s tablet sales meet the 24.1 million projected sales numbers of Forrester Research (FORR), and smartphone sales overtake feature phone sales for the first time, as predicted by Nielsen, then it is quite reasonable to expect that smartphone sales could start to diminish by the latter part of 2012.
I specifically see smartphone sales falling among consumers in the 13-17 and 18-24 year old markets. Young consumers will start buying down on their phones, opting to buy a tablet plus a feature phone, rather than the expensive redundancy of a smartphone and a tablet, or the limited features of just a smartphone. These age groups are particularly vulnerable because they are already adopting tablets and e-readers as book replacements. Changing readership habits provides a strong incentive for moving to a tablet device; these demographics’ smaller budgets will necessitate a buy-down on the phone. In the 25-34 market, consumers will still use smartphones when employers provide them. Left to their own devices, a significant proportion will opt instead for a tablet, plus a basic phone.
This buy-down trend is coming in the next two to four years. But it’s possible for smartphones to stay in the game.
Mobile payment could be the key for smartphones. If mobile payments become widely adopted by carriers, operating systems, credit-card companies, and retailers, it could help smartphones withstand the natural downward trend that is coming. Bloomberg News reported on Mar. 15 that Google plans to begin testing a mobile payment system in New York and San Francisco in the coming months. Such a service would extend the use of its Android mobile platform.
Another short-term strategy is price cutting. Staying as close as possible to $200 will be critical. Also, manufacturers and retailers will likely have to offer special incentives for buying a tablet plus a smartphone. In the long run, smartphone survivability depends on the manufacturers’ ability to maximize the smartphone’s single inherent advantage over the tablet: size. Because of it, such key functionalities as photography, navigation, calling, mobile payment, and scanning are easier to perform on a smartphone than on a tablet. Harness those advantages, and smartphone sales will decline less than they otherwise would.
In general, the next few years will likely be tough for smartphones. This may not be a permanent trend; I think it will last only a few years, until consumers adjust to the idea of spending more on personal devices. But in this multiyear interim, we will see the smartphone market wither as innovation tapers off, developers exit, sales decline, and brand diversity wanes.
CTIA is back to Orlando this year, instead of Las Vegas. In annual tradition, I have posted a list of networking events for the 2011 CTIA Conference in Orlando.
In the post 2011 Mobile World Congress, Carnival of Mobilists, there were several submissions to contribute this month. Before we get into it, I have to say that this was one of the more exhausting conferences that I have attended in a while. Part of it might be due to the larger attendance as well as my meeting schedule. Continue Reading →
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Forgot the USB power plug adapter? Not to worry, just install one of these power plugs in your house, office, anywhere you need to charge up those devices – iPhone, iPods, mp3 players, digital cameras. Now you just need to remember to have the cable nearby.
So where can I buy this thing? Click here to buy.
MY BLACKBERRY IS NOT WORKING! – The One Ronnie | HILARIOUS | Ronnie Corbett, Harry Enfield
Listen carefully at the dialog. If you are in the mobile industry, you’ll pick up on the subtle humor.
For reference, found this quick infograph from Executive Travel Magazine, Nov/Dec 2010.
Did you realize that the first mobile touchscreen phone was first introduced in 1993 by IBM? Even adjusted for price inflation, it the latest HTC Evo is very affordable in comparison to its predecessors.