Beware of geeks bearing gifts – First Engadget column is live

April 27, 2009

I’m pleased to announce that as of today, i’m writing a guest column for Engadget. First column, Beware Geeks Bearing Gifts is here. I’ve long admired Engadget’s industry coverage and it’s become a must read for me many times in the course of a day, thanks to Josh Topolsky for having me on board as a columnist.

So, what topics would you like to see me explore in the future?

Will There Be a Windows Media Player 12?

April 24, 2009

We first got a look at Windows Media Player 11 back in 06 and of course, it’s become the default player for Vista and still appears in the Win 7 betas but other than that, there’s not been a lot of news or momentum around WMP or the WMP eco-system. At a time when Apple is leveraging iTunes as a core platform for Windows/Mac content management and other services, WMP seems to be quietly withering on the vine (or the OS, as the case may be).

We’ve already heard about the next version of IE, what about the next version WMP? Or will the next version of WMP just be the Zune software?

Apple ][ forever?

April 24, 2009

I was watching the movie 2010 last night and there was Roy Scheider using an Apple IIc on the beach (with the rare LCD display add on).


Perhaps Roy just has a love old technology as I do. Or just didn’t think a netbook was up to the task even in 2010.

Thanks to @haramati for finding the screen grab.

Off to the Bay Area

April 17, 2009

It’s been a while since I’ve been out in the Bay Area, looking forward to getting together with old and new friends next week. Posting will be light.

What platforms lead themselves most to personalization?

April 6, 2009

While there wasn’t a whole lot of news out of Microsoft at CTIA, one thing they did discuss was the role of personalization in Windows Mobile going forward. They talked about the role of themes to personalize the device and also announced that among the designers creating content for these themes would be Isaac Mizrahi. You can see some of the designs below (the Mizrahi theme is the final one) and judge for yourself. I think Microsoft is on the right track here (although I personally cant say I love all the designs). The ability to personalize is a key component of devices going forward. We’ve seen it with ringtones, cases and the like but most devices don’t readily lend themselves to personalization through software.

There are two aspects of personalization in mobile devices. First, it’s the device itself. Some devices make a fashion statement all by themselves and their iconic designs. The RAZR comes to mind here as well as the iPhone. But there’s other aspects of personalization that go beyond the device itself and that’s why I think Microsoft is on to something here that might be more important than first glance. What do you think? Is personalization and customization going to be important to consumers? Bonus question, what platforms lead themselves to personalization more than others?  I have some ideas of my own that I’ll share shortly on that topic.



Are industry conferences a dying breed?

April 6, 2009

Michael Dowling raises the question of the value of conferences these days. Dave Winer raised this issue some time ago as well.. Personally, I go to fewer and fewer of these each year since time is so precious and there’s little to be gained as an attendee. Trade shows aren’t much better and at the moment, I skipped CES this year but did go to CTIA last week (where word was attendance was way down, as much as 30-40% according to some estimates)

While there was little news at CTIA last week and I did not hear great things about the conference sessions, the time was super valuable to me. Why? I was in non-stop meetings from the time I got off the plane until the time I left for the airport. I think I had a total of about an hour of downtime the entire time I was in Vegas. While the shows themselves aren’t overly useful, as a venue for face time, they continue to provide value. The question is, do we need these events to serve as the venue? I could think of a totally different type of event that would facilitate the same or better dialogue and do it in places that are more convenient toward travel and make better use of time. What do you think? Are conferences as we know them a dying breed?

The Passover story according to Wikipedia

April 6, 2009

The Passover story, according to Wikipedia :)

Giampaolo generates buzz but will he generate sales?

April 6, 2009

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, Microsoft’s new ad is getting a lot of buzz. Of course, that’s the point. Philip Elmer-DeWitt over at Fortune weighs in with the following.

Once again the camera follows a typical budget-constrained buyer on a laptop shopping spree using Steve Ballmer’s money. Once again the shopper chooses an HP (HPQ) Pavilion over a Mac. And once again, the Apple (AAPL) press has gone after the buyer’s choice with its teeth bared, digging into the machine’s innards and ripping them apart, spec by spec.

I agree with Philip, these ads are meant to serve two purposes, provoke the Apple faithful and play to a market that is unlikely to ever make the same analysis of folks like Joe Wilcox (who offers a good comparison about the value prop of both machines).

As i pointed out after the first ad, this isn’t about accuracy or details (anymore than the two folks folks in the Apple ads are really PC and Mac). It’s about getting the message across about the strengths of the platform, in this case it’s about the diversity of the eco system and relative issue of price.

Unfortunately, this ad still misses the mark inasmuch as it’s still not about the platform advantage of Windows, it’s all about price and price alone. Unlike the first set of commercials which focused on features and use scenarios (around Windows Photo Gallery) these ads feel less effective long term in driving the message of Windows. That last thing Microsoft wants to do is make this an issue of price alone, in fact, i know a number of folks in the Linux community who would love them to continue making that argument.

Lessons from the LG/Michael Bay fiasco are self explanatory

April 6, 2009

It should have been a great moment. LG, who is partnering with Dreamworks SKG to showcase LG phones in the upcoming Transformers movie, planned a joint event at their booth at CTIA. The plan was to showcase the film, show off the trailer and have a few remarks from director Michael Bay. Here’s what actually went down.

LG was showing off their global promotion in conjunction with Dreamworks SKG and Michael Bay of their collaboration around the new Transformers Revenge Movie.  This included the world premier of the trailer for the movie just at the end of the day.  After the trailer which had delivered quite a crowd, Juno delivered a few words culminating with a very warm welcome for their surprise guest, Michael Bay, who just happened to be in town for an awards show in the next day or two.

Michael was warmly applauded.  Casually dressed, he seemed at ease as he took the mic, said hello, then said, “I have some big news: I’ve just been named the next CEO of LGE…”  The crowd laughed.

Michael smiled again and then delivered a nice turd for his partners by saying “No.  Seriously – I don’t know anything about mobile phones.  In fact, look at my phone (which he held up) – it’s a Thirty-Nine dollar Samsung”

You could feel Mr Cho’s anger from across the room.  LG people ran to get phones, Mr. Cho went up to Michael (who seemed oblivious to the enormous slap he’d just delivered to every LG employee’s face) and said, “Here now you have an LG phone” and gave him his own personal device.  He took the mic back and quickly wrapped up the disastrous press conference. But not before Micheal could dish out a little more pain…”but all my contacts are in the other one” he said in a petulant voice.

Juno said “we’ll take care of that.”  I couldn’t help but wonder what sort of care he was imagining taking and of whom.

Wow. Doesn’t really get much worse than that. I was going to offer a few lessons that could be learned from this event but really, do I need to? I think it’s pretty self explanatory at this point.

A new way of being transparent

April 2, 2009

LGs phone with transparent keyboard that doubles as “mouse” was simply too cool not to photograph. UI was slick and smooth. Here’s hoping it makes it to the US.

Meeting Pre for the first time

April 1, 2009

First impression. Very nice. Apps shown looked very good. More to come.


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