Posts Tagged ‘Google’

Has Google Seeded the Future of Mobile?

Monday, February 10th, 2014

This past week’s news was dominated by Apple struggling to fulfill Wall Street’s expectations, Samsung’s proposal to reinvent itself as a software company and, the coup de grace, Google selling Motorola to Lenovo. All of these events reveal an industry in transition.

Smartphones, as we know, have transformed the mobile experience for consumers but have hardly changed since the iPhone was introduced in 2007. They have become faster, bigger and have more sensors but they remain square, slim screens that in developed markets cost around $400. In this scenario Samsung and Apple have thrived, sucking out 90% of the industry profitability.

ARA Motorola projectClearly, the future for smartphones lies in the emerging markets where the next 2 to 3 billion devices will be sold and the price point will be closer to $100. So will these two giants still dominate or will Chinese players such as Lenovo, Huawei, ZTE, Coolpad and an army of white label manufacturers take over this space? Is the smartphone/mobile industry about to enter the commoditization phase?

Against this background it was interesting to see that Google is holding on to the Advanced Technology team that is developing the Ara endoskeleton phone design system, which was revealed late last year. Also revealed was a partnership with Phonebloks with the intent of creating an ecosystem of hardware developers to work with the software developers that support Android. The initial offerings will probably not be successful but the following should be taken into consideration:  for the past few years chip manufacturers have been producing ever more capable systems on chip designs, two examples being Qualcomm’s Snapdragon that dominates the smartphone space and Intel’s Edison for the M2M and Internet of Things space. With the advent of 3D manufacturing and ever more capable components, the concept of a spine that acts as a connector may be the catalyst for a fundamental rethink of devices.

Eco-mobIt is no coincidence that ZTE presented a concept design, Eco-Mobius, at CES 2014 that uses a sliding track enabling users to assemble and disassemble screens, core processors, memory, camera and battery; here the concept of “customize your own device” seems to coincide with a growing interest in wearables. The future may well see the fusion of these two trends with fashion styling enabling devices to fit seamlessly into peoples’ lives.

Discussions around the Internet of Things, Internet of Everything and the Internet of Me are all about the future pervasiveness of mobile connectivity across multiple industries as well as the “always on” digital world we live in. These modular architecture concepts that Google and ZTE are experimenting with will help facilitate this. But, more importantly, since Google excels at building ecosystems, if they succeed in creating an ecosystem of hardware developers to fuse with software companies, the future of mobile will see a complete change. Google may well have seeded the future direction of the industry in a way that only a few of us have foreseen.

Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global

Could TomTom Provide the Roadmap to Success for Apple?

Sunday, February 17th, 2013

Article first published as Could TomTom Provide the Roadmap to Success for Apple? on Technorati.

Much has been written about Apple’s $135 billion in cash and the desire of some shareholders to see part of it returned. Technology companies that thrive in their heyday often face the challenges of a post-glory period when their product ceases to appeal or the market has moved on. Nokia and Blackberry (formally RIM) are recent examples of this, and Motorola is another within the mobile space.

At times such as this, a company’s cash reserve is the only thing that allows for continued investment in R&D; it enables them to try to hit the next product cycle and provides coverage for a cash flow shortfall should the company no longer have the volume to generate profits. Having cash on the balance sheet also provides a company with the opportunity to invest, through acquisition, in new technology and intellectual property to ensure enhanced offerings.

In the case of Apple, the recent debacle over the new Apple Maps app on their iPhone 5 emphasizes the fact that when they’re looking to create a new experience, Apple is better off using in-house software. Dutch navigation company, TomTom, which provides the map software for Apple, has recently been reported to be struggling as its hardware sales begin to falter. For the last couple of years the company has focused on selling their map software but they haven’t had the financial resources necessary to successfully compete against the deep pockets of Google or Nokia (Navteq).

TomTom could, however, be an ideal acquisition candidate for Apple. Within their portfolio they could provide the inspirational innovation to blend hardware capabilities with location, content (iTunes) and contextual information to create new and engaging consumer experiences that enhance the digital life of the consumer. In reality, this mapping capability is already within the portfolio of Google and Microsoft, their main rivals in the operating system space.

Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global

Say “Cheese” and Celebrate the Evolution of Mobile Photography

Friday, December 21st, 2012

With holiday parties in full swing and greeting cards arriving daily, it’s difficult not to see how they have both been impacted by the instant simplicity of taking a snap and sharing it with the world via social media, Snapfish, Shutterfly, Flickr or one of the many other digital photo printing and sharing services.

Pulling out our phones, snapping a photo and posting it for all our friends to see has become such  a normal part of our daily lives that it’s tough  to believe that it was only 10 years ago that the first commercial mobile camera phone came into existence. The first picture, however, was sent as early as 1997 when Philippe Kahn utilized the Motorola StarTAC with an add-on Casio camera and shared a picture of his daughter’s birth with 2,000 people.

The first integrated system with a mechanism for uploading photographs and delivering them to the internet was deployed in Japan by J-Phone, now owned by SoftBank. In 2002 the European operators of GSM systems also deployed mobile cameras along with the multimedia system, MMS, for uploading and downloading pictures. The MMS system was a development beyond what was already in place – SMS – for texts which had been around since 1992.

The progress of development was unbelievably fast. Already in 2003 more cell phones with cameras were sold than stand-alone digital cameras and by 2006 half of the world’s mobile phones incorporated a camera. Nokia was one of the first companies to introduce a mobile phone with integrated camera, and at Mobile World Congress this year Nokia introduced their N808 phone which has an amazing 40 megapixel camera capability.

The photography industry has been severely disrupted by our everyday use of mobile camera phones as they have radically changed the way that we utilize digital photography. Kodak, a name synonymous with pictures, has exited the industry and this week sold its portfolio of digital photography patents to a consortium of buyers that include both Google and Apple. Smartphones and iPhones contributed to the nearly 228 billion MMS messages sent in 2012, with another 5.8 billion over-the-top messages sent via WhatsApp and other such services. How boring would Facebook be without the 219 billion photos that are live on the system today? Back in 2010 it was estimated that 2.5 billion photos were being uploaded per month to Facebook. Currently Facebook has 600 million mobile users, many of them uploading photos daily to this site, not to mention the plethora of Twitter and Google Plus users who are also adding scores of daily photo updates for the world to see.

This week has also seen the other side of this issue emerge as Instagram (owned by Facebook) had to bow to public outrage and revoke its decision to change its terms and conditions that would have allowed advertisers free access to members’ pictures with no compensation. The issues of privacy, ownership, copyright and commercial interest are not yet clear in this digital world.

The mobile phone incorporated camera has sparked not only a picture revolution but also other significant developments, including the utilization of bar codes and QR codes for product identification, comparison shopping and bargain hunting during the busiest retail times of the year. It is no wonder that in today’s connected digital world the camera phone has become such an essential part of our lives, enabling us to capture those special everyday moments and sharing them instantaneously with the global community. Say “cheese”!

Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global

Which 3 Digital Technologies became Catalysts for Change?

Friday, August 31st, 2012

So what exactly have we recognized as being the three catalyst technologies or products that emerged in the year 2007? Below is an overview of each of these and highlighted are the main factors that we believe have influenced their evolution and subsequent relevance today.

WiMAX

WiMAX was an early 4G technology that started the move of the U.S. market to wireless broadband; it is often likened to “Wi-Fi on steroids”. The fact that Sprint and Clearwire, a startup that was supported by Google and Intel, could deliver blisteringly fast mobile Internet service forced AT&T and Verizon, the two largest U.S. carriers, to accelerate their deployment of 4G LTE. This development meant that standards needed to be agreed upon and formalized, and that network equipment manufacturers needed to accelerate production in order to provide for these large customers.

Having AT&T and Verizon focus on a single frequency (700 MHz) made it easier for device manufacturers to accelerate their development of 4G Internet products and deliver consumer-ready devices. The fact that some of these device manufacturers had been working on WiMAX devices in cooperation with semiconductor providers meant that they could accelerate products based on the WiMAX chipsets that almost 80% matched LTE.

Subsequently, both Sprint and T-Mobile have also either invested in or announced plans to build a 4G LTE network on top of their existing systems. What this means is that for the first time all four large U.S. carriers are offering mobile Internet services utilizing the same technology as the rest of the world, enabling global interoperability and roaming.

The iPhone

The second catalyst product was the iPhone which has received much acclaim for its elegant design and simple user interface. The real essence of the catalytic change that the iPhone initiated, however, was a shift in the consumer paradigm of a mobile device being used solely for communication to one that enabled interaction. The iPhone allows users to connect easily on-the-go and to share information, content, pictures and video simply and effortlessly. When it was first released, users found the interface to be so effortless that data volumes climbed exponentially and severely disrupted the AT&T network that had not been designed for large data capability! This forced AT&T, as well as other mobile operators, to rethink the entire concept of network architecture to include Wi-Fi as an offload mechanism. It also resulted in AT&T acquiring Wayport, and in the process becoming the single largest operator of Wi-F in the U.S.

Not only did the iPhone change the existing consumer paradigm and network architectures, it also broke the carrier stranglehold on its relationship with the subscriber. The iPhone was and still is provisioned via iTunes, which had previously been the domain of the mobile operator. This relationship with the subscriber, initiated at the time of purchase, was then solidified through the introduction of the app store and ultimately the iCloud. Apple effectively took the existing mobile business model, tore it up and replaced it with a hybrid that established a stronger bond with the consumer based on end-to-end user experience. The impact of the iPhone’s innovative design, end-to-end system, business model, user paradigm and elegant packaging of an everyday technology has had a tsunami-like impact on RIM, Motorola and Nokia, as well as on major mobile operators around the globe.

The Amazon Kindle

The third catalyst product that has been an instrumental agent of change is the Amazon Kindle. This device did for a 500-year-old product concept, the book, what the Walkman or iPod did for music. Best sellers are now cheaper and easier to obtain via the Kindle which provides on-the-go access to the world’s largest library/bookstore. This simple to use, low cost device made the mobile Internet transparent to the user by incorporating the cost of access into the price of the book. Amazon achieved this by creating a blanket connection relationship with AT&T for global access. The fact that the Kindle e-Reader automatically creates a relationship with Amazon means that loyal subscribers are a natural evolution. Proof that this technological revolution is affecting the literary world is evidenced by the number of large bookstores, such as Borders in the U.S., that have closed, and Barnes & Noble swiftly producing their own e-Reader, the Nook.

The iPhone and the e-Reader together have evolved into an instant-on class of device – the tablet – that satisfies the mobile consumer’s need to instantly connect, be entertained and informed. While small enough to remain portable, smartphones and tablets facilitate sharing, learning, creating and interacting using wireless broadband connectivity (3G, 4G and WiMAX) and these in turn have become indispensable parts of our everyday digital lives.

Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global

www.keysoglobal.com

 

Google & Motorola- Chinese Whispers and Puzzles

Sunday, April 22nd, 2012

Why offloading Motorola Mobility to Huawei makes no sense

 

Even before the deal is finalized the Wall Street Journal is speculating that Google will sell Motorola Mobility (MMI) to Huawei and keep just the patents because it doesn’t want to disrupt the Android ecosystem. The analysts IDC commented that since “Google doesn’t have a hardware background”, they don’t know what to do with Motorola.

The reality is more complex than either of these speculations. In acquiring the patent portfolio, Google is astute enough to realize that in the converged technology world strong hardware and software combination patents are vital. Equally, they understand that this capability needs to be maintained in order to protect the ecosystem going forward, thus acquiring the means to do this. Now it just has to be creatively integrated into the organization in such a way that everyone sees the overriding future benefits.

When looking at Google’s major operating system competitors, Apple has both the hardware and software capability but completely integrated into a closed system; Microsoft with Nokia has an integrated approach as well, even though they are touting an open system. The requirement for hardware and software is without doubt paramount for the future.

Devices beyond smartphones need to be created in order to achieve Eric Schmidt’s (Chairman of Google) objective of connecting the world. While Android in smartphones is growing rapidly, Apple still dominates the tablet space. Concepts such as Google Wallet and Google Glass will need help transferring into the world of commercial production. The acquisition of MMI provides Google with a mechanism for rapidly commercializing technology concepts into simple to use devices.

Does MMI have too many phone design teams and engineering resources for this scenario? The answer is “probably”. Could elements of this be offloaded and would Huawei be a logical acquirer? The answer is “possibly”. However, the core capability will be retained within Google in order to enable the enhanced technology future that Larry Page, Sergey Brin (co-founders of Google) and Eric Schmidt foresee for the world. This future includes enabling mesh type communications for the emerging world, facilitating the digital living room and creating the autonomous automobile. None of these will be successful without the opportunity and means to integrate hardware, software and creative vision. This is the capability that Google has acquired with MMI.

Article first published as Google & Motorola – Chinese Whispers and Puzzles on Technorati.

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Google Plus – A Tool to Transform Knowledge Sharing As We Know It?

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

I was a relatively early adopter of LinkedIn and Twitter and although I have a corporate KeySo Global Facebook page, I really live vicariously on Facebook through my wife who, let’s face it, has managed our friendships and social calendar for most of our married life!

Then along comes this Google Plus! I’m invited to join, not by a friend or family member but by a business acquaintance where I suspect I’m in one of his circles labeled “met and might be an interesting or useful contact”!

I have to admit, I’d been intrigued by Google+ and the statistics for its growth are staggering. The media, of course, are claiming it’s the return of the cold war as Google takes on Facebook – but is it? Or is it something far more compelling than just another social network?

This amusing but revealing video on YouTube caught my eye, so I read Pete Cashmore’s blog on Mashable on “10 Tips for New Users”. Then I acquiesced and signed up!

We live in a world of “digital bytes” that consume our attention every second of the day. My biggest challenge is to find a digital tool that blends into my life to make it simpler, and replaces what currently requires multi-tasking with an all-encompassing digital medium. Similar to that which Steve Jobs managed to do with digital music and mobile web access.

Chris Brogan identified some interesting technical, human and etiquette aspects related to Google+ in two recent blogs. Firstly, just because you find someone of interest to follow and put that person in a “circle”, there is no guaranteed reciprocity. Unless you are “circled” in return, those people don’t see any of your updates and you still have the challenge of getting on their radar so that they “circle” you!

The belief is that Google+ will attract more professionals but their plight is the “digital byte syndrome” – compounded with fatigue – from constantly setting up new profiles and being disappointed by limited results. Then there’s the nagging question – what can I share that’s new? As I see it, the opportunity is there to blend the news updates of Twitter with the professional perspectives of LinkedIn and the digital life observations of Facebook, creating an integrated digital montage that could greatly enhance business and personal interactions.

David Armano appears to have a similar take on the situation. He views Google+ as a social layer that cuts across media, search, communication and collaboration services. This social layer potentially provides a capability that integrates the best of Web 2.0 into personalized services. It’s fascinating to consider that this horizontal layering could give rise to unforeseen and potentially transformational implications for our personal and professional lives, and I believe that its impact will extend way beyond that which most of us could predict.

Could the challenges of corporate knowledge sharing, together with the horizontal layering capability of Google+, form the seeds of what we at KeySo Global call “Digital Wisdom Networks”?  These networks face the challenge of bridging the gap between the internal communities within an organization that protect “aggregate” (internal) knowledge and those communities outside an organization, where an explosion of “collective” (external) knowledge has been powered by social networking. Essentially, Digital Wisdom Networks become trusted circles of professionals, in- and outside of a company, who collaborate to share new information for the purpose of generating company specific solutions and fresh innovation. Google+ might be just the tool they’re looking for!

To find out more about Digital Wisdom Networks and how converged digital technologies can greatly simplify collaboration and knowledge sharing within your organization, contact us at info@keysoglobal.com, +1-847-478-1633 or visit our website www.keysoglobal.com

Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global

 

Why Google should buy Barnes & Noble

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

Article first published as Why Google Should Buy Barnes & Noble on Technorati.

The media is abuzz with the news that John Malone of Liberty Media has made an offer of $17 a share for 70% of Barnes & Noble, the last remaining bookstore in the US.

In the Financial Times the point was made that, being the last man standing, Barnes and Noble has the advantage of no competition, and the Wall Street Journal emphasized the value of the Nook software that could become prevalent across Android-based tablets.

There could, however, be a broader opportunity for a company with vision. In one of his recent blogs, Seth Godin challenged the concept of the current library as being a warehouse of dead books to being a place where “people come together to do co-working and coordinate and invent projects worth working on together”.

Why not extend this concept of reinventing the library to being a reinvention of the bookstore? Apple’s concept of successfully mashing 3 things together – a community (Mac / iPhone users), a platform (iTunes) and an experience (Apple store) – could be built upon to create a powerful viral marketing experience and exceptionally loyal fans.

If Google were to buy Barnes & Noble they could enhance the Apple model by blending communities (Android, Nook, YouTube) with platforms (Nook, Google Search, Chrome and Android), and provide opportunities for new experiences of learning, creating and discovering in an amazing distinct new mashed-up retail forum.

It could become the perfect living laboratory for integration of digital and real-world resources, and at the same time provide a mechanism for interaction with consumers; it would make the Google brand incredibly tangible across all its ventures.

Coincidently, it could provide the perfect forum for facilitating a nationwide open innovation environment that encourages the growth of entrepreneurism. In this new digital age, the Barnes & Noble Café could become the innovation catalyst, similar to the old coffee houses of Europe that used to facilitate the bringing together of creative and inspiring inventors and entrepreneurs. The Android and Nook platforms could be extended to enable a social networking community focused on education, innovation, creativity and fun.

The retail aspect of the B&N facility would also evolve offering a broad array of products and services that real and virtual associates could advise on and show virtually, while suggesting suitable additions that could be purchased locally or online with their Android devices and delivered when they want. The facility would then morph into a hub that brings Adwords to life, with context and location both physically and virtually on Android devices in the store.

In a single move, Google could totally revolutionize the face of retail, turn the tables on the Amazon business model by emulating and enhancing the Apple model – all for less than $1bn. Sounds like a deal to me!

We at KeySo Global understand the importance of reinventing business models and we’d be delighted to show you how converged technologies can be used to help your business run more efficiently and effectively. To set up an appointment, call us at +1 847-478-1633, email us at info@keysoglobal.com or visit our website at www.keysoglobal.com.
Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global LLC