Posts Tagged ‘Apple’

Samsung SmartTV – Building the Hope for Apple’s TV

November 24, 2012

Samsung  Smart TV

I just bought a new Samsung 46″ LED SmartTV and I’m very happy.Still waiting for the real smart Apple TV, though.

The “Smart” part shows the great potential the internet+TV combo has, but it seems we will have to wait for Apple to “Get it Right”.

One thing I learned is that the TV is much better for consuming content like videos and songs on Vimeo and YouTube.

The TV comes with a wireless internet connection, integrated browser, Application store and VOD service.

The things I liked :

  • Price of about $1200 including installation+delivery+ wireless + wall mount+ Israeli VAT of 17% (we have wars to finance)
  • The non smart TV functionality is great – colors, lightening , connectors , etc
  • Installation was very straight forward. More of an appliance style than computer style
  • Having an alternate VOD with an excellent quality really shows the promise of breaking the tie of content and infrastructure providers.
  • Comprehensive localization in the configuration and VOD content as well
  • Vimeo is a great web site with an excellent app and high quality content
  • It was fun the watch the War on Channel 10 and Ynet at the same time with PIP (Picture in Picture). Well , the war was not really fun, but you see what I mean.
Facebook App Download on Samsung Smart TV

Facebook App Download on Samsung Smart TV

The reasons why we need Apple iTV for are:

  • Browser runs “Out of Memory” for the majority of web sites
  • No way to change the home page from “Bing”
  • Keyboard entry is extremely slow, unless you buy the wireless keyboard
  • Auto Updates are cool, but why don’t they happen in the background
  • Auto Updates are too frequent , almost every day
  • Integration with Google,Facebook,Picasa and online identity  is quite hard. Entering my password was quite a nightmare.
  • YouTube is full of much junk and songs get stuck frequently
  • No “Ad-Blocking” for the browser and pop-up windows consume the main screen
  • The iPad remote control is not working on iOS6 (and I did not get it to work on ios5 either)
  • Samsung online registration is  as bad as Nokia’s PC software used to be. Early warning signs :(
Vimeo on Samsung Smart TV

Vimeo on Samsung Smart TV

An Apple Real Smart TV – Next Week?

February 29, 2012

The rumors about Apple launching a “Real” TV appliance next Month make a lot of sense.

Apple quote is “We have something you really have to see. And touch”.

  • It is very easy to easy to imagine the features. Just think about a very big iPad. It needs internet access + Itunes + Applications + Local and Cloud Storage.
  • There are many “Smart TV’s” around. As usual, the hardware companies jut don’t get it. The user interface is boring, the CPU is too slow, the software is limited. Just like smart phone before iPhones and touchpads before iPad (think Window Tablet for example ).
  • The component prices are low enough that such an appliance can be reasonably priced.
  • It might have build in Camera, making consumer Tele Presence real, for the first time.
  • Apple has track record of selling large beautiful screens.
  • From the business side Apple can partner with one of the Big Cable vendors to handle the “boring” stuff. The same way it saved AT&T business it can save a cable provider. Instead of fighting the internet the cable provider would get access to a new exciting high premium market. Or they can just buy NetFlix.
  • Apple likes to take market away from Samsung and Sony :)
  • Big question mark is on user interaction.Might be something like PrimeSense or maybe “Just” smart usage of iPhone\iPad people already have at home. Or maybe a new kind of control which is a hybrid of iPad and iPhone.
  • I guess the stock would rise to $700 , if they do announce such an appliance :)

Here is an example of “Smart TV” from a company that does not “Get it”.

Why the F22 Crashed and the iPad Took Off

October 20, 2011

In the 20th century the majority of innovation started as evil nations wanted to destroy other nations.

As a result, the evil (and peaceful) nations devoted large chunks of their tax money to the defense budget.

The flow of research money was the following:

Public (taxes) -> Government -> Defense Agencies -> Universities -> Private Companies (implementation)

Research Budget Flow

Research Budget Flow

Many of the most important contributions to technology and science were created or commercialized through this path: the internet, GPS, atomic energy , satellites and plenty more.

The innovation flowed from the government to enterprises and only then into consumers.

Space and Aviation -> Military ->  Large Enterprises -> Civilian Government -> Small Enterprises -> Consumers

The early experiments or products were extremely  expensive  and sold in small quantities and required public financing.

In the 21st century the flow of innovation and new technology has reversed.

innovation Flow in a Consumer World

innovation Flow in a Consumer World

The recent launch of an iPhone into space with GPS tracking by civilians, is one amazing example.

The following stock chart provides more evidence. It plots the iShares Dow Jones U.S. Aerospace & Defense Index Fund compared to some major consumer oriented companies like Google, Sony, Amazon.

Chart of Defense Index Vs Consumer Companies 2006-2011

Chart of Defense Index Vs Consumer Companies 2006-2011

The new innovations are derived from consumer demand and consumer services or products : cellular phones, smart Phones, social networks,cloud computing, personal computers and online advertisement.

I believe this is the reason the Intel, Apple and Google are now the largest companies in the world, displacing companies like SUN, Nortel, Lucent, HP , IBM and similar companies more focused on enterprise and governmental markets. While IBM, Microsoft and Intel are still leading the patent table, one can claim it implies more on the inflation of patents , rather than true  innovation.

Top 10 Companies Patents ROI from MSN

Top 10 Companies Patents ROI from MSN

The reversal of innovation can be explained by multiple theories:

Moral – the global society has become more civilian and democratic. Individuals have more civil rights, more control of the public spend and therefore there are fewer wars, less dictators  and less weapons. Unfortunately , I’m not sure all of the facts support this theory. I have found some evidence. For example, from 1988 to 2009 the global military spending share of GDP has dropped by 34% from 3.5% to 2.4% , global average. The number of conflicts decreased by 40% from 1992 to 2009.

Share of Military Expenditure as Percentage of Gross Domestic Product 1988 2099

Share of Military Expenditure as Percentage of Gross Domestic Product 1988 2099

Armed Conflicts by Region 1946-2009

Armed Conflicts by Region 1946-2009

Economics – In the end of the day we are all consumers and individuals. Economics are driven by numbers and since there are about 1 Billion consumers with a high standard of living, it is the largest market for almost any product. Selling a $300 product to every consumer translates to $300 billion market, this is equal to the global IT market spend. Selling $30 of advertisement to one Billion people …. you can do the math on your own.  Compare that with the cost of design and manufacturing of a new stealth plane.

The R&D alone would cost Billions  of dollars, and each airplane would cost $336M million dollars , if it the project is not aborted during the 20 years of development. Programming an amazing computer vision system for smart missiles would only be relevant to 20-40 customers. Delivering an amazing face recognition for  facebook generates access to 750 Million customers. The OCR domain is one example I already bogged about.

Sociological Open source software has allowed sharing of innovation and technology with zero cost of patents, licensing and removing many anti-competitive habits , either explicit or hidden that were common in past years. It also allows sharing of development costs across organizations. Younger generations are used to great user experience, and would not “go back” when entering Enterprise office. Cloud computing is also helping to build start-ups in 50 dollars.

The fact that Google and Amazon are hosting funding challenged public database of bioinformatics, that used to be funded by the government is rather  provocative.

To summarize, while there are still huge budgets in defense and commercial enterprises, there is strong trend driving innovation from the individual. Do you believe the trend is real?

Is the new CEO a Chief Product Manager?

March 5, 2011

If you can be a product manager, you can acquire the experience of acting as a CEO. The skills gained in product roadmapping, prioritizing tasks, interoffice communications, customer understanding, and product marketing are absolute necessities for being an effective enterprise lead.
Mark Pincus(video on Product Management as CEO Training), CEO and Founder of Zynga,

Is the new successful Hi-Tech CEO actually a chief product manager?

While this may be an over simplistic view, I do believe we are seeing a trend in the industry.

Google recently decided to appoint its president of products as the new CEO. Steve Jobs is known to design Apple’s product features down to the smallest detail. But maybe he is just a Chief Product Manager ?

Looking at ten leading CEOs background, this might be a a sign of a new trend.

Company Name Previous Title Formal Education
1 Apple Steve Jobs GM Macintosh Division None
2 Google Larry Page President Products Ms. in Computer Sc.
3 NetFlix Reed Hastings CTO Ms. in Computer Sc.
4 Oracle Larry Ellison ? None
5 Twitter Dick Costolo Group Product Manager BSc Computer Sc.
6 Microsoft Steve Ballmer Assistant product manager (P&G) BA in Math and Economics
7 VMWARE Paul Maritz VP  of the Platform Strategy and Developer Group Math and Computer Sc.
8 Cisco John Chambers Senior VP,Worldwide Sales and Operations MBA
9 NetApp Tom Georgens VP Product Operations MBA and Computer Sc.
10 DataDomain Frank Slootman Senior VP of Products(Borland) Economics

In the past, CEOs came from a legal or a financial background. Later on they came from a scientific or engineering technical background.

Promoting the sales executive was  the key trend in the 90’s and in many more modern organizations the marketing leaders were “moved” upward.

Steve Jobs shows off iPhone 4 at the 2010 Worl...

Image via Wikipedia

But some of the 20th century reasoning and basic  assumptions are no longer valid, at least in the technology sector.

Lets assume that the new tech and consumer markets are frictionless and all information is publicly available.

As a result we can observe that:

  • Sales people are less important  since products are sold directly of the web and personal relationships are less relevant
  • Finance is less critical as the standard financing options are pretty well understood and commoditized
  • Marketing is still important, but traditional outbound “tricks are less important. The “Gartner” marketing that does not say anything about the product, is much less effective. Product marketing, pricing  and daily analytics are much more critical. If everyone loves your product, marketing is easy, channel management is easy and awareness is easy. Nowadays the customers can try the product immediately and they are the ones who create most content about it.
  • Technical innovation is still relevant, but in many cases the big companies are not the ones inventing algorithms or new chips. Ask yourself who invented the iPAD battery,GPS or screen or compass and what’s their stock quote.

In these markets, the best product has a good chance to win everything. There are plenty of examples how a great product makes the rest of the company functions much easier and successful. Of course, there is no first degree in “Product management” and a strong technological  is definitely an advantage. However, it does seem that great product leaders, are able to drive few of the most successful  companies in the world (even, in some cases,  with a lack of great people skills:) ).

Is packaged software dead? and how to lose weight with no diet

July 30, 2010


Many have predicted that packaged software days are over. Gmail will kill outlook, Salesforce.com would abolish Siebel etc.

This week I had a chance to test the theory as I had to install a new laptop from scratch, moving to windows 7.

BTW, does anyone remember how SUN re-branded Solaris 2.7 to Solaris 7 just to compete with Windows NT 5 (which was re-branded Win 2000) ?

Surprisingly , I’m still using a ton of packaged software.Yes, these old-fashioned exe\zip\tgz files that used to come in ARJ format on multiple 1.2 diskettes.

However, about half of the software is used to either connect to the Internet, or synchronize information between the internet and my laptop.

Here is the list of software installed during the first week

  1. Skype – For Instant Messaging and Voice
  2. SnagIt32 – Screen Captures
  3. Babylon – Translation and Spell checking
  4. Office 2010  –  Outlook,Excel,Word,PowerPoint ( Is anyone using OneNote or the thing Ray Ozzie invented ?)
  5. Google Sync For Outlook
  6. SecureClient – VPN to Connect to the  Office Network
  7. XMarks -To Synchronize Bookmarks
  8. Chrome,FireFox - Additional Real Browsers Beyond Internet Explorer
  9. Adobe Reader – For Reading PDF Files
  10. ITunes – To manage My iPhone and Watch HOUSE on flights
  11. VMWARE Workstation – To run some of these programs in a Sandbox
  12. KeePass – keeping multiple password in a simple way
  13. Java ( Now Spelled ORJAVA ) – In honor of the great company that SUN used to be
  14. Notepad++ – for normal text editing
  15. InfanView – For Viewing Pictures easily ( Picasa might join later )
  16. QuickTime , Silverlight  – Because there was no way to avoid it
  17. Putty\WinSCP\FileZilla – because files need to be moved
  18. 3G Modem Software – because Apple thinks iPhone is not a modem
  19. Tons of Lenovo Useful and annoying software that came pre-installed
  20. CloudShare Firefox Plug-In
  21. The Bank ActiveX for Authentication  – so our employees would be able to put food on their table for Sabbath
Shrink Your Stomach in Two Weeks No Dieting

Shrink Your Stomach in Two Weeks No Dieting

Like many promises made to Americans (see sign above) the death of packaged software seems to be premature.

Looking at my iPhone the situation is not much different , all these “Apps” are actually good old-fashioned shareware applications.

  1. iTunes
  2. Skype – see above
  3. WAZE – GPS and Traffic
  4. Foresquare – Narcissism :)
  5. Facebook –  Group Narcissism :)
  6. MacDonald Farm – keep kids quiet
  7. Haaretz – updates on the pseudo racist government we have
  8. Bank App – to pay the bills
  9. WordPress – obvious

Again, all of the apps are connected to the net, updated from the net and send updates to the net (except for the Macdonald farm ).

In practice, while the web becomes the main interface, installed connected apps are probably here to stay for a long time.

Microsoft Sold in Gas Station, Apple Sold Out

April 22, 2010

My gas station started selling Microsoft Wireless keyboards. Apple has people standing inline for days to get a new iPad.

Make me think …

BTW, Apple just published great results and the share is up 30% since iPad announcement.

Microsoft Wireless Keyboard Hardware Sold in Gas Stations

Microsoft Wireless Keyboard Hardware Sold in Gas Stations (Click for Larger Image)

Apple Store San Francisco  iPad Launch Line

Apple Store San Francisco iPad Launch Line


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