Thursday, January 28, 2010

Will The Apple iPad Challenge The Kindle And Netbooks?

My first impressions of the Apple announcement were not so positive beyond the obvious attractiveness of the product.  Once you look ‘under the hood’ there is much to be excited about.  Apple has thought this out very well, but then Steve Jobs is all about the consumer experience first.   I believe the iPad is the Kindle and Netbook killer!  It's competitively positioned in terms of functions, features and price.  In terms of user experience, the iPad is in a class of its own.  

Reasons why the Apple iPad will win.

  • The iPad is designed with the user experience in mind – full color and a multi-gestures touchscreen that we are now so used to with iPhones and the Palm Pre ( )  A Kindle takes you back to the 1980’s in looks and functionality and a Netbook has no such touchscreen either.
  • The iPad is about consuming content of all kinds and not just reading books: watch movies or TV shows, play games, listen to music, read anything including emails, respond to emails, get navigation, get access to the internet and thousands of Apps already available on the iPhone, upload your photos and videos etc.  Netbooks can indeed offer you access to the Internet but hey, it’s Windows not the Apple experience!  You don’t get the feel of reading a book on a Netbook browser i.e. the visual aspect of turning over a page.
  • The iPad offers a pretty good-sized virtual keyboard unlike the tiny ones on a Netbook or the cumbersome one on the Kindle.  Additionally, the iPad offers a great docking facility enabling you to attach a full size desktop Apple keyboard. 
  • A USB connection on the iPad opens up access to all sorts of stored information on a Flash drive, including connectivity to a digital camera for upload to Flickr, Youtube etc.  No such thing with a Kindle! 
  • iPad supports ePub, creating compatibility with books sold in any format.  The Kindle is proprietary!  The iBook store is a whole new shopping experience and being able to turn pages in color on the iPad is also very realistic and visually pleasing. 
  • Publishers are not too happy with Amazon’s 70% share of revenue and will be eager to distribute through Apple’s iBook store for a 30% revenue share.  
  • The iPad starts at $499 for just the Wi-Fi connectivity model with 16 GB  - only $10 more than the Kindle DX!  Which would you buy: a plain vanilla e-reader or a whole-life-device on an iPad? 
  •  With the Apps store, publishers can create new experiences with e-books incorporating video within a book for example.  The Kindle is a pure textual experience and only black and white.  The processor cannot handle multi-media.

All in all, Apple is synonymous with ‘the cool factor’ and for a mere $10 more than a Kindle DX, the iPad wins hands down!  The Kindle will possibly continue to appeal to pure book readers only.  Amazon might be able to sustain sales if it dropped the price significantly, but it looks like they are entering the Apps market shortly, in which case, Kindle vs. iPad will lose. As for Netbooks, well no comparison, you’d have to be a Microsoft fan to go for one of those.  Once you’ve used a Mac or an iPhone, you will never go back to the Microsoft platform. 

Monday, January 25, 2010

Social Media - Most Popular Activity Online

Neilsen's latest survey shows global consumers spent over five and a half hours on social networks in December, up 82% from the same time last year. Compared to a year ago, people were spending only about three hours.  Not surprising therefore, social network sites saw a related increase in traffic with Facebook leading the pack.  Facebook experienced 209 Million unique users and the site now attracts 67% of the online audience worldwide.  Staggering!  

What are the implications?
1. if you are a business, you had better figure out a way to be part of this social media revolution and how to bring your brand online.  Hire a consultant unless you are an expert - learn from them  before jumping in and making huge mistakes.  It requires a strategy and guidance from a professional. 
2. Content publishers should be worried as this is a definite shift in mind share.  Facebook has a built in Newsfeed that can be utilized by anyone with anything to say and it's searchable by Google. 

Another very interesting revelation by Neilsen's survey is the decline in Linkedin.  Personally, I have never really liked the site which has tried to evolve into more group discussions fostering social networking.  With such momentum on Facebook, why bother with Linkedin?  But that's a whole other discussion.

What's your viewpoint?

Friday, January 22, 2010

FaceBook to Build Data Center in Oregon

Great news for Oregon. Bad news for California, the headquarters of Facebook.

What will it take for California to understand basic economics?  Lower taxes mean more business which equals more jobs! The new headquarters will be completed by end of 2011 and create 200 new jobs in the construction sector.
For more on this story click here:

What do you think California should do?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Apple iPhone Catches Up With Palm Pre Or Does It?

A new and  major update for the Apple iPhone is about to be launched.  One of the major improvements is the ability to multi-task i.e have applications running in the background.  Navigational changes are rumored too, for example, zooming in and out wherever you are and not just for the Internet.  Well that's merely catching up with the Palm Pre!

More important than the feature updates is the change to the monthly unlimited plan that no one is yet talking about.  At last, AT&T is dropping the price by $30 a month to $99.  It has been way too expensive for too long.  Perhaps AT&T's monopoly on the iPhone is soon to disappear?  Isn't it interesting that this $99 plan now matches Sprint and, Verizon is also  launching the Palm Pre and Pixi at a $99 unlimited package.

And who says competition doesn't work?  
I'll be as bold as to predict that Sprint will soon retaliate with a price reduction.  Watch this space!  The reasons to still have a landline are disappearing fast

Monday, January 18, 2010

AT&T Pays Charities To Rail Against Net Neutrality?

The FCC has received more than 13,000 responses on this issues. Many of these groups receive donations from AT&T. Is this just another form of lobbying?

The NextWeb says:
"These groups have spent absolutely zero time thinking about Net Neutrality, so their input is purely what AT&T wanted them to say. I can assure you that Big Brothers/Big Sisters doesn’t actually believe that Net Neutrality will interfere with the “competitive marketplace” in which ISPs operate (fun fact: there is practically zero competition in the ISP market; unless you’re some sort of crazed activist, you’ll pay for whichever is fastest in your area)."

But what is Net Neutrality?

Quite simply, it is the issue of data transmitted over broadband networks. The cable and phone companies would love to charge you tiered rates based on content. So if you want to watch videos, 'they' want to charge you more for the bandwidth you use. Telecomms companies argue they build out the network and so from their point of view, they desire to recoup their costs. Net Neutrality supporters say that regulations is needed to insure data moves around freely.

You decide!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

What Should You Do If Your New Cell Phone Dies Just After Purchase?

If you buy a cell phone and the screen dies within the first few weeks, what should you do, repair it or get a new one? I suggest you go back to the store and ask for a replacement. It's likely the screen was faulty anyway. One customer story ended well at Radio Shack who went out of there way to replace his Palm Pre. You can read the full story here:

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Smartphones Hit In-Store Retail Shopping

As more and more smartphone owners discover the utility of scanning a product barcode to find the best prices (online and in stores), in-store retailers need to find ways to embrace this new way of shopping (as reported by E-marketer). Indeed it can be a competitive threat to a store but, there is also opportunity if stores stop fearing technology.

Research firm Compete found that 41% of iPhone users and 43% of Android users do compare prices online.

What's the solution?
Retailers should develop their online presence to include lots of information and reviews on the product, and develop easy mobile access to it. This helps the customer feel more comfortable to purchase from the bricks and mortar store and hence fosters loyalty

Julia Bornstein, senior VP of Sephora Direct, a beauty products retailer said: "We’ve found that the mobile site is driving sales in stores. It’s keeping some customers in stores longer by giving them all this information at their fingertips."

All the major bricks and mortar retailers now also sell online, so a mobile access implementation should not require a major investment or upheaval to the current business model.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

SKIFF And Sprint Take On E-Readers- Kindle, Nook

The E-Reader market continues to heat up as a new entrant launches an innovative product called the Skiff e-reader.

The Skiff is revolutionary in design. Unlike other rigid screen designs, the Skiff is just over a quarter-inch thick and features an e-paper display based on a thin, flexible sheet of stainless-steel foil. (Yes you can actually bend it!) It's 11.5-inch flexible touchscreen has 1200 x 1600 pixels compared to the Kindle DX, which has a 9.7-inch diagonal screen and 1200 x 824 pixels. The Nook has only a 6 inch display. Skiff is the first e-reader optimized for the newspaper or magazine format i.e. it displays their original graphical format and with the highest resolution so far. Skiff also comes with 4GB of memory, SDHC card slot, speaker, 3.5mm headphones jack, a full touchscreen display and Wi-Fi connectivity, (color screen later this year). Content is downloaded via Sprint's 3G network.

E-readers were among the hottest-selling items in the holiday shopping season. Forrester Research predicted that 3 million units would be sold in 2009 in the United States and 10 million units in 2010. Those who waited will not be disappointed as this product sector will see some major advances this year.

Skiff will be launched at CES, Las Vegas this week and is well worth waiting for.


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