October 27, 2011
Digithoughts: Jobs wanted Intel Atom to power the iPad

digithoughts:

Originally, Steve Jobs wanted Intel Atom processors to power iPads. However, due to a number of reasons, Apple went with ARM chips instead.

Slashgear: It seems that what might be the biggest reason that Apple didn’t team with Intel (for the iPad) is the fact that Jobs feared they would teach Intel “everything” and then Intel would go and sell to their competitors.

For the life of me, I can’t understand why component manufacturers that work with market leaders (which is what Apple is right now) insist on trying to compete with them.  If you are partnering with the market leader, just ride the wave to glory.  Intel built up a lot of goodwill with Apple.  They had the inside track to Apple’s mobile devices and blew it completely (by pushing the ultrabooks).

2:43pm  |   URL: http://tmblr.co/ZlVyHyBB7QcJ
  
Filed under: tech bad management 
July 7, 2011
"We often make product decisions based on strategic alignment, partner requests or even legal advice — the end user doesn’t care. We simply have to admit that Apple is nailing this and it is one of the reasons they have people lining up overnight at stores around the world, and products sold out for months. These people aren’t hypnotized zombies, they simply love beautifully designed products that are user centric and work how they are supposed to work."

Open letter to BlackBerry bosses: Senior RIM exec tells all as company crumbles around him (via soxiam)

How management decisions are made at dying companies…

(via soxiam)

June 30, 2011
Apple and Samsung battle escalates: Great opportunity for tech suppliers to win Apple business

Samsung is suing to stop the sale of Apple’s products, products they are core suppliers for.  This seems like suicide for me.  I question Samsung’s brinkmanship strategy.

Apple and Samsung are engaging in an increasingly hostile legal battle.  The conflict stems from Samsung generously borrowing Apple’s iPhone design (while at the same time being a principal supplier of components for the iPhone).

This seems like a great opportunity for outside suppliers to win more business from Apple.  The troubles stem from Apple’s claims about Samsung copying from Apple’s products.  Samsung seems to be imitating Apple products for mobile devices (which is fairly easy considering the help produce key components for Apple).  In retaliation, Samsung is bringing forth its own lawsuits against Apple.  I’m not sure if it’s worth it for Samsung though.  Even if they win the legal battle, they still are jeopardizing their relationship with a key client.

From a strategic perspective:

  • There are multiple mobile device manufacturers creating Android based products.  Can Samsung ever truly get a leading market-share in this space?   Because if they don’t, they just lost out in the mobile market on two fronts.
  • Apple seems to be gaining steam since it went multi-carrier.

The Apple business represents a profitable and reliable stream of revenue and profits given that Apple customers are fiercely loyal. On the other hand, Android based phones are a dime a dozen on a relative basis.  The possibility of losing Apple’s business for the sake of entering a competitive Android based mobile market seems like an incorrect strategic decision.  It’s the equivalent of Intel developing their own operating system to compete with Windows back in the 90s at the risk of getting blackballed out of the Wintel alliance. 

Opportunity for Component Manufacturers

For component manufacturers, this seems like a great opportunity to win business from Apple.  They can make the claim that they are happy to work with Apple and won’t create a competing product that borrows extensively from Apple.

The article I am referencing is below from the WSJ:

Samsung Electronics Co. said on Thursday that it expanded its legal tussle with Apple Inc. by filing a complaint with the International Trade Commission seeking to stop the sale of key Apple products in the U.S.

Samsung also said it filed another lawsuit against Apple in a Delaware district court in the U.S., alleging violations by Apple of patents Samsung holds on telecommunications technology, as well as lawsuits in the U.K and Italy.

The two steps are part of a broader strategy by Samsung to counter a product-copying lawsuit that Apple filed against it two months ago.

In the original case, legal analysts say Apple is moving toward seeking a preliminary injunction that could force Samsung to stop selling its flagship smartphone, called Galaxy S, in the U.S., its largest market. With the ITC complaint, Samsung asked for a ban on the import of Apple’s popular iPods, iPhones and iPads to the U.S.

The fight is one of many that have emerged over the past year in the smartphone and tablet computer markets, new segments of the technology industry where profit margins are relatively high and market leadership is unsettled.

But it has taken unusual prominence because Apple and Samsung, while competing in consumer products, have a relationship in which Apple is the biggest customer of Samsung’s component manufacturing businesses, which make logic chips, memory chips and liquid crystal displays for gadgets of all types.

Since the first suit was filed, the legal approaches of the two companies have exposed their different basic competencies and advantages in the marketplace. Apple is asserting the primacy of its ability to design distinctive products, a skill that enables it to charge premium prices and reap larger profit margins. Samsung is asserting that its manufacturing prowess is equally, or even more, valuable.

The fight has prompted speculation throughout the electronics industry that Apple might try to end its supplier relationship with Samsung, a move that would prove costly to Samsung’s chip business, which has been yielding the company’s highest profits over the past few years.

Apple executives have said they expect the relationship to continue. Samsung has declined to comment on the relationship, but company chairman Lee Kun-hee in late April indirectly criticized Apple’s lawsuit as an attempt to restrain Samsung. “When a nail sticks out, [people] try to pound it down,” Mr. Lee told local reporters at the time.

Samsung responded to the initial Apple lawsuit with countersuits in the U.S., South Korea, Japan and Germany that claimed that Apple violated technology patents it holds.

After all that, Apple last week filed a second suit against Samsung, in Samsung’s home country of South Korea, that repeated some of the product-copying claims made in the original suit in the U.S. and added claims that Samsung was violating some technology patents that Apple holds.

Samsung extended its technology patent suit to the U.K. and Italy on Wednesday and said it may file additional patent suits in Europe.

Samsung’s new complaints to the ITC and in a Delaware court allege different violations of Samsung patents by Apple than Samsung has made in its earlier suits, a company spokesman in Seoul said.

In announcing the latest moves, Samsung repeated its earlier statements that it would “actively defend our intellectual property.”

An Apple spokesman declined to comment.


Read more: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304584004576416653834271060.html#ixzz1QjcgCFXh

June 26, 2011
"Sony laid off a number of employees responsible for network security, two weeks before attacks brought down the PlayStation Network."

Sony cut online security staff two weeks before it was hacked (via thenextweb)

This probably wasn’t a good move.

(via thenextweb)

June 24, 2011
Dear Yahoo!, hire me as your next CEO by Joe Stump

Yahoo is terribly managed right now.  Joe Stump shows he has a better grasp of the tech industry than the entire Yahoo management team with his short sarcastic blog post.  Read his ideas below.

News is going around that Yahoo! is looking for a new CEO. I have no idea if this is true or not, but if it is, I would like to announce that I’m ready, willing, and insane enough to go long and go big with Yahoo! as your new CEO. Yahoo! showed glimmers of hope when it bought Flickr and Delicious. It’s been a bastion of some of the most impressive technology of the last 15 years. I believe it can be great again.

Sounds great, how the hell am I going to do it? I’m going to take the $20bn in market cap and build an empire of product and design talent that will be beyond reproach. Then I will give them the support and freedom to do what they do best: innovate.

  1. I’d buy Instagram and put them in charge of both Instagram and Flickr. They would have 100% autonomy over the entire “Yahoo! Photo” division.
  2. I’d buy Soft Facade and run them as an internal design and branding agency for all of our products.
  3. I’d figure out a way to wrestle The Barbarian Group into the fold and put them in charge of all PR and marketing initiatives.
  4. I would buy Twitter and Square in order to bring Jack Dorsey on full-time to run a new division called “Yahoo! Mobile”. He would have 100% autonomy over the entire mobile strategy.
  5. I’d buy Path and With for the sole reason of bringing Dave and his team on to lead the new “Yahoo! Social” division.
  6. I’d buy the NYT (for a mere $1.5bn!) and recruit John Gruber to be Editor in Chief of the “Yahoo! News” division.

Just think of what we could accomplish if we just let amazing people do what they do best.

June 20, 2011
underpaidgenius:

RIM is dead
(via CHART OF THE DAY: RIM’s Astounding Collapse In The U.S.)

I own a blackberry bold (got it 2 years ago), the best thing it has going for it is the durability factor.  You can drop this thing on the ground, sit on it, whatever - and it won’t break.
With that being said, blackberry didn’t act fast enough to update their outdated OS.  The blackberry management team completely missed out on the entire mobile app trend for consumer users.
Instead of spending R&D updating their mobile OS sooner, they decided to play copy cat by releasing a tablet device that is inferior compared to the iPad in every way.  That proved to be a terrible management decision.
The only thing keeping blackberry afloat right now is the fact that it has an embedded corporate user base using it for emails (that might be slow to adapt to other mobile OSs for the time being). 

underpaidgenius:

RIM is dead

(via CHART OF THE DAY: RIM’s Astounding Collapse In The U.S.)

I own a blackberry bold (got it 2 years ago), the best thing it has going for it is the durability factor.  You can drop this thing on the ground, sit on it, whatever - and it won’t break.

With that being said, blackberry didn’t act fast enough to update their outdated OS.  The blackberry management team completely missed out on the entire mobile app trend for consumer users.

Instead of spending R&D updating their mobile OS sooner, they decided to play copy cat by releasing a tablet device that is inferior compared to the iPad in every way.  That proved to be a terrible management decision.

The only thing keeping blackberry afloat right now is the fact that it has an embedded corporate user base using it for emails (that might be slow to adapt to other mobile OSs for the time being). 

(via underpaidgenius)

June 2, 2011
The key problems with Windows 8

I just read a great article on the fundamental problems associated with Windows 8 by John Gruber, below is an excerpt:

Microsoft’s demo video shows Excel — the full version of Excel for Windows — running alongside new touch-based apps. They can make buttons more “touch friendly” all they want, but they’ll never make Excel for Windows feel right on a touchscreen UI. Consider the differences between the iWork apps for the Mac and iPad. The iPad versions aren’t “touch friendly” versions of the Mac apps — they’re entirely new beasts designed and programmed from the ground up for the touchscreen and for the different rules and tradeoffs of the iOS interface (no explicit saving, no file system, ready to quit at a moment’s notice, no processing in the background, etc.).

The ability to run Mac OS X apps on the iPad, with full access to the file system, peripherals, etc., would make the iPad worse, not better. The iPad succeeds because it has eliminated complexity, not because it has covered up the complexity of the Mac with a touch-based “shell”. iOS’s lack of backward compatibility with any existing software means that all apps for iOS are written specifically for iOS.

There’s a cost for this elimination of complexity and compatibility, of course, which is that the iPad is also less capable than a Mac. That’s why Apple is developing iOS alongside Mac OS X. From a piece by yours truly, writing for Macworld back in January:

The existence and continuing growth of the Mac allows iOS to get away with doing less. The central conceit of the iPad is that it’s a portable computer that does less — and because it does less, what it does do, it does better, more simply, and more elegantly. Apple can only begin phasing out the Mac if and when iOS expands to allow us to do everything we can do on the Mac. It’s the heaviness of the Mac that allows iOS to remain light.

When I say that iOS has no baggage, that’s not because there is no baggage. It’s because the Mac is there to carry it. Long term — say, ten years out — well, all good things must come to an end. But in the short term, Mac OS X has an essential role in an iOS world: serving as the platform for complex, resource-intensive tasks.

Apple’s radical notion is that touchscreen personal computers should make severely different tradeoffs than traditional computers — and that you can’t design one system that does it all. Windows 8 is trying to have it all, and I don’t think that can be done. You can’t make something conceptually lightweight if it’s carrying 25 years of Windows baggage.

http://daringfireball.net/2011/06/windows_8_fundamentally_flawed

I assume the thought process by Microsoft’s management team for Windows 8 must be:

  1. The advantage of Windows is the plethora of Windows based software and applications.
  2. If Windows 8 adjusts its UI on top of previous versions of Windows sourcecode, then Microsoft can enter the tablet market easily with a host of programs that can be incorporated into the Windows 8 universe.

This however, ignores the following problems:

  • Windows 8 is flawed because it is a minor UI overhaul on top of the old Windows.  This means that software / applications for Windows 8 (and Windows 8 itself) is is still fundamentally resource intensive, just like its legacy desktop focused counterparts.  The key problem with this comes from battery life.  Apple is redesigning iOS with battery life, stability, and resource use in mind.  Windows 8 is neglecting that.
  • Additionally, all the bugs and problems of the prior Windows OSs are dragged along.  This disrupts the simplicity attraction associated with with tablet devices.  Bringing along old software will also bring a clumsy user experience carrying along all the frustrations associated with Windows desktop devices (but exacerbated because the interface isn’t customized for tablets).  That is why tablet applications should be designed from the ground up keeping in mind the touch screen interface.

On top of the problems mentioned by Gruber, I have a few concerns of my own.  Namely, this key quote:

Fully touch-optimized browsing, with all the power of hardware-accelerated Internet Explorer 10.

http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/features/2011/jun11/06-01corporatenews.aspx

I think I’m stating a commonly held belief when I say that Internet Explorer is traditionally prone to many security flaws.  The integration of Internet Explorer with Windows magnifies those security concerns.

Now imagine malware exploiting an Internet Explorer flaw.  If you think getting rid of viruses/malware on a PC is a pain, imagine how difficult it will be on a tablet device?  Not a pretty thought.

April 25, 2011
Electronic Arts: A Case Study in the Decline of American Gaming Companies

The population of gamers continues to grow, but Electronic Arts isn’t.  Why is that?  Well, part of the reason stems from bad management decisions.  A example of this can be seen in an annual subscription service plan for Electronic Art’s sports games.

The sports blog is claiming to have received a document outlining EA Sports’ plan to offer an annual subscription that will offer various perks to participants.

According to the document, the subscription will offer benefits for the Madden NFL, FIFA, NHL, Tiger Woods PGA Tour, NCAA Football, and SSX series.

Among the listed benefits of the subscription are: —Discounts on all downloadable content for participating EA Sports console-based titles.
—Free and exclusive EA Sports downloadable content for console-based titles.
—Full downloadable versions of participating titles before they come out in stores.
—An exclusive “recognition badge” that will appear both in-game and on players’ Web profiles.
—The ability to transfer paid content from current titles to future versions of said titles.
—Free and exclusive opportunities to extend players’ EA Sports experience to the PC and Web.

http://www.gamespot.com/news/6310112.html

I’ll break down each item:

Free and exclusive EA Sports downloadable content for console-based titles.

It’s not free if you are paying a subscription fee. 

Full downloadable versions of participating titles before they come out in stores.

Again, not a service.  All Electronic Arts is doing is delaying the release date of a title for traditional buyers.

An exclusive “recognition badge” that will appear both in-game and on players’ Web profiles.

This does nothing for a users gaming experience.  All it shows is that an individual (or their parents for a large segment of gamers) have consumable income to purchase a jpeg image from Electronic Arts.

The ability to transfer paid content from current titles to future versions of said titles.

Again, not a service.  For PC gamers, they have been transferring characters from one title to another title for decades (a large host of role playing games). Even console gamers have been transferring content from old titles to future titles since the Playstation 2 days (used heavily in the Xenosaga series for instance). 

Free and exclusive opportunities to extend players’ EA Sports experience to the PC and Web.

Not a service, playing games online has been the heart of PC gaming for decades.  For console gamers, they already have such services through Xbox Live and the Playstation Network.

The Big Picture: Inept management not understanding the purpose of subscription services and downloadable content

Electronic Arts is offering nothing more than stripping content that should already be available on their sports titles and offering it as a service.  They tried to do this already with their NFL Head Coach series where their stripped out the coaching and GM elements of Madden series (and then tried to offer the new game as a service offering to gamers).  The end result is that Electronic Arts continues to face declining consumer loyalty for their products (which doesn’t help with regards to company valuation).

Electronic Arts new model should be: If it’s in the game, we’ll take it out of the game, and then offer it to you as a new service.

April 14, 2011
Research In Motion’s Blackberry Playbook: Why bother releasing?

On the left, you have the playbook which has half the screen size and half the battery life of an iPad 2.

Sometimes, it is better to wait to release a product, then to release a poor product which ruins brand equity.  It applies to Motorola’s Xoom and it also applies Research in Motion’s Blackberry Playbook.

The PlayBook, which goes on sale April 19, will match the prices of the Wi-Fi versions of the Apple iPad, starting at $499 for a base model with 16 gigabytes of storage—albeit with a screen that, at 7 inches, offers less than half the surface area of the iPad’s.

To get these features with your $500 PlayBook, you must use it with a nearby BlackBerry phone connected to it wirelessly over a short-range Bluetooth connection. Once this link is made, these critical applications pop up on the PlayBook’s screen, via a system called Bridge.

Battery life also fell short in my tests. With the screen brightness at about 75% and Wi-Fi on, I played a movie I had transferred from a computer over and over until the juice ran out. The PlayBook lasted a bit over five hours, well short of the company’s claim of eight to 10 hours for mixed use. In mixed use, and on a second test of watching video with Wi-Fi off, I did better, over six hours, but well short of the 10 hours on the iPad 2.

The hardware is sturdy and the back has a nice rubberized feel. While the PlayBook is 14% thicker than the iPad 2, it’s about one-third lighter. This lower weight, combined with its smaller overall size, will appeal to people who find the Apple product too large.

There are other reasons for my hesitation. For one, unlike the iPad, which can run almost all of the 350,000 iPhone apps, the PlayBook can’t run any of the 27,000 BlackBerry apps. It will launch with only about 3,000 apps designed for tablets, compared with 65,000 tablet-optimized iPad apps.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703730104576260953631631640.html?mod=WSJASIA_newsreel_lifeStyle#articleTabs%3Darticle

So basically:

  • The Playbook has half the screen size of an iPad2
  • The Playbook has half the battery life of an iPad2
  • The Playbook has less apps: 3,000 tablet specific apps compared to 65,000 for the iPad2 (less than 5% of the apps)
  • You can’t use a Blackberry Playbook unless you have a Blackberry smartphone nearby with bluetooth on (outside of being unusable with a blackberry phone, it will also drain the battery life of your blackberry more if you have one).   Bad decision is an understatement for this design decision as this move essentially limits the potential buyer base to existing Blackberry smartphone users exclusively.
  • The Playbook is the same price

What in the world was Research in Motion’s management thinking when they decided to release this product?  No one is going to by it!  If you want to compete with a market leader with better brand equity, you need to compete on price!  Otherwise, don’t bother releasing the product.

But it can use Flash:

The browser, while sometimes slow to load, is highly capable, even on sites designed for a regular computer, and does the best job with Flash video and Flash sites I have ever seen on a tablet—far better than on any Android device I’ve tested. I couldn’t find a Flash video the PlayBook couldn’t handle, and it even breezed through a site written entirely in Flash, which other Flash-capable mobile devices couldn’t. The iPad, of course, can’t use Flash at all.

What I take from the quote is simply this:

  • Steve Jobs was right about Flash.  It drains a lot of resources.  A flashless tablet device may have been the right move after all, as properly running flash requires a tremendous amount of resources (which drains battery life so much that the device has half the battery life despite having half the screen size).

March 8, 2011
NBA to call more arbitrary fouls

NBA referees will have more reasons to issue technical fouls next season.

At the referees’ annual meeting in Jersey City, N.J., on Thursday, the league announced the guidelines for technical fouls will expand to include “overt” player reactions to referee calls.

Referees have been instructed to call a technical for:

• Players making aggressive gestures, such as air punches, anywhere on the court.

• Demonstrative disagreement, such as when a player incredulously raises his hands, or smacks his own arm to demonstrate how he was fouled.

• Running directly at an official to complain about a call.

• Excessive inquiries about a call, even in a civilized tone.

In addition, referees have been instructed to consider calling technicals on players who use body language to question or demonstrate displeasure. They can also consider technicals for players who “take the long path to the official”, walking across the court to make their case.

http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=5609817

Expressive displays do nothing to harm the product of the NBA.  This decision to give NBA refs more leeway to call more arbitrary fouls is a horrible decision by the NBA.

People watch the NBA to watch the players play.  If refs now can’t handle complaining they shouldn’t be NBA refs, people don’t pay money to see the NBA refs and most people don’t care at all about the NBA refs.  The NBA refs are completely replaceable.  The players are not.  More fouls will led to a less appealing game due to key players playing less (leading to lower viewership).

Expressive players are players that care about whether or not they win or lose.  That is what the NBA should be encouraging.  Instead they want to drown out any sign of emotion…. then people complain about players being in it only for the money and not loving the game…. well you can’t love the game if you are called for fouls for showing emotion essentially.