Mobile Advertising: The Question, Not The Answer?

Reading all the studies available on the web, it’s easy to believe that mobile advertising beats every other ad medium.  Looking at my own behavior, and surveying my friends and acquaintances, I hear the opposite opinion.  Talking with friends who have apps out there, I hear that ads work for free stuff.

Having mobile advertising only work when something is free doesn’t sound like a great marketing tool.

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NFC Terminal

NFC: Not For Cellphones?

Every year, studies come out that show that NFC is the Next Big Thing in mobile, and that it is just around the corner.   Every year, the date of arrival is pushed out by another twelve months, and nothing happens.  Nokia put NFC in a phone several years ago.  Apple has patents for NFC.  But so far, it’s not happening.

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Internet Big Guns

Will Mobile 3.0 Bring Down the Internet Big Guns?

A fascinating article by Eric Jackson appeared on the Forbes website last week. Jackson questions the long-term viability of both Facebook and Google as we move beyond the old vision of the desktop web to a world dominated by mobile devices. Let’s call this new world Mobile 3.0 just to have a point of reference. Look at Mobile 1.0 as the cell phone in its original incarnation, a device that supplemented and eventually replaced the wired home phone, as the primary device for voice communications. Mobile 2.0 introduced texting, first in Europe and then in the rest of the world, and made asynchronous conversations possible. Mobile 2.0 added the mobile web but usage was limited by the hardware of the time and by poorly designed operating systems like Symbian.

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Jeff Spirer

Welcome Jeff Spirer!

I’m pleased to announce that a long time friend, Jeff Spirer, will be contributing to Mobileslate. As I have been consumed with my startup, Embee Mobile, I still remain dedicated to posting, but have found it challenging to provide content on a regular basis. He’s got some great content that he wants to write about, so stay tuned.

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Future of Money and Technology Conference

VIDEO: Virtual Currency Panel from #FutureOfMoney Summit

Had the pleasure of being on the Virtual Currency panel with:

Jered Kenna, Bitcoin
Philip Rosedale, Coffee & Power
Charlie Shrem,
Rebecca Watson, RadiumOne

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TurboTax for iPad

Intuit TurboTax Goes Mobile

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.

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How To Replace Lenovo T420s LCD screen

VIDEO: How to Replace a Lenovo T420s LCD Screen

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.

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Android Phones

Arming the Android Army

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.

American Express Small Business Saturday

@AmericanExpress Small Business Saturday #4sq Check-In

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,

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Motorola Xoom

Mobile Computing with #Tablets in 2011

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.

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#Foursquare Sense of Accomplishment – #Distance Traveled: #4sqmove

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:


  • Easy to login, using your Foursquare credentials
  • Graphical overlay using Google Maps to show all of the locations you checked-in to


  • Only calculates the last 250 check-ins. For the avid user, doesn’t seem you can get a “total sense of accomplishment in kilometers”
  • It takes your complete set of check-ins, even the ones that are [off the grid] and shares those with people


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?


VIDEO: KRON-TV Mobile Alerts Interview

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.

The Huffington Post

REPOST: Will Apple Fans Buy IDevices As A Tribute To Steve Jobs?

REPOSTED from Huffington Post: October 8, 2011

The Huffington Post

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?

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The Huffington Post

REPOST: Apple After Steve Jobs: The Men Who Will Decide Tech Giant’s Fate

REPOSTED from Huffington Post: October 7, 2011

The Huffington Post

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.

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Competition for the iPad

VIDEO: Competition for the iPad

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.

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Social Mobile Calendaring with Plango

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.

Mobile 2.0 Conference 2011

Mobile 2.0 Conference 2011 San Francisco

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.


Vizio Tablet – Unboxed from Costco $329

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.

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EVENT: The Muther! of all Hackathons

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

Fox Business News

REPOST: Sound of Music: Three Tech Titans Battle for the Cloud

Fox Business News 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.

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VIDEO: Amazon Kindle Interview on Fox News Live

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.

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Samsung Android

Building Community Features for App Success

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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Five Ways to Win Back the Voice Market

Wireless Week
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.

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Size Matters: Tablets vs. Smartphones

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.