A digital currency beyond the reach of central banks is gaining acceptance. What does this mean for the dollar?
For those lacking a subscription, I have summarized the key messages:
Bitcoin’s growing acceptance will not undermine the US dollar
Bitcoin lacks attributes that are typical of a reserve currrency
Key reserve currency attributes include:
Confidence, instilled by sound monetary policy and regulation
Bitcoin’s perceived value may diminish as more copycat virtual currencies emerge Recent surge in bitcoin is due to Chinese interest. Potential reasons include closed capital account, lack of sound alternatives and desired for diversification
What are the primary traits of a great people manager?
Answer by Edmond Lau:
The Gallup Organization did a 25-year study that included over 1 million employee surveys and 80,000 manager interviews across 400 organizations to identify 12 elements of a great manager. Mark Buckingham and Curt Coffman reported on these elements in First, Break All the Rules, and Rodd Wagner and James Harter further refined the ideas in 12: The Elements of Great Managing.
The 12 elements listed below correlated with increased productivity, profits, employee retention, and customer satisfaction.
Just got back from a Meetup on experimenting with iBeacon and more importantly, developing BLE aware applications. Quite insightful.
Ironically, BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy), a marketing term coined by the folks at Nokia, is now supported by most of Apple’s product lines, and some of the Android devices (though Android itself has limited supported APIs).
Apple’s approach to iBeacons is quite interesting and provides a foundation for interesting development of applications (locale driven context) as well as integration with future devices (ala Samsung Galaxy Gear Smartwatch).
In the next 6 - 8 months, one can expect to see retailers starting to adopt this - thinking of some of the more digitally savvy ones like Burberry - where their iOS application transmits your size information while providing information on new items / trends / backgrounds as one moves around the store.
Asurion (Your Technology Protection Company) is the primary insurance provider for the top 4 carriers in the US - they have also recently expanded to Europe through an acquisition about 3 years ago.
It is owned by the PE firms - an article in Businessweek circa 2010 (Is Asurion Cell Phone Insurance Worth It?) alluded to net profits being around $500M on revenues of $3.8B (of which about $400M is paid to the PE firms, leaving a net profit of $100M).
It appears that for the most part, it is the only player (aside from Apple’s coverage for the iPhone) that the wireless carriers use, hence providing to a certain degree some pricing power in terms of fees charged as well as sourcing of refurbished units that it provides claimants.
Generally, as the article referenced mentioned, it is not a good deal for consumers given the payments involved, the deductibles applicable and the replacement value of the refurbished insurance.
Is the Gartner claim that by 2017 the CMO will spend more on IT than the CIO plausible?
Answer by Nauman Noor:
I don’t work for Gartner nor am affiliated with them in any manner. I do feel though that directionally the statement is quite believable once you consider three key aspects:
1. What is being CMO spend being compared against
If you were to review the spend in most IT organizations, a good 60-70% (if not a bit more) is dedicated to keeping things running (e.g., data center operations, electricity, leases on infrastructure, etc.). Another 10% - 15% is typically dedicated to bug fixes, maintenance and general support.
That leaves 15-30% of the budget on providing new capabilities - discretionary spend in some ways. That then has to be divvied up across the various business areas and ofcourse, some at making IT function better.
Gartner’s projection is focused on purchase of new technologies and services by CMOs. In terms of an apples to apples comparison, it would be fair to compare and contrast this against discretionary spend.
2. What is included in the CMO technology spend
Gartner’s classification has more than just servers and analytics when it comes to CMOs and technology. It includes SEO tools, social media platforms, e-commerce and a variety of other things (see: Gartner Digital Marketing Transit Map). They are predicting that with the adoption of SaaS, CMOs will increasingly engage the providers directly versus relying on their inhouse IT counterparts. For instance, one can leverage Amazon for hosting the ecommerce site and fulfillment of orders as well.
3. Overall industry or segment specific
Spending on IT does vary by industry, just as marketing spending does as well. So there will be sectors / segments where marketing spend is nominal (e.g., OEM manufacturers) while others will spend less on IT (e.g., retailers, restaurants, food services). I believe that the projections are at an aggregate level.
As with any projection, the variance is huge and the key point to note is that CMOs will be increasingly engaged when it comes to use of technology within the enterprise. Over time, it will be viewed less as something that would be left to the CIO to be determined.
It appears that the outage was caused by NASDAQ’s SIP (Securities Information Processor) going berserk, which resulted in trading being shut down for a good portion of the afternoon that day.
The article points out that there were connectivity issues from Arca [to NASDAQ] which may have been a precursor to the malfunction occurring. As the good folks at Nanex point out, it could have been a simple case of TCP/IP socket starvation of the primary SIP instance that cascaded into a mess forcing a shutdown…
In a nutshell:
Arca attempted to connect to SIP via a TCP socket, which seems to have been rejected either due to connectivity issues or just high system load at the time
Arca’s system reattempted to connect (probably as soon as the earlier connection attempt ended). The default TCP settings on the SIP resulted in ports being used up in rapid succession
[Primary] SIP was functioning in a clustered environment, with the heartbeat check occurring over TCP as well. Due to port exhaustion, heartbeat checks now start failing
Redundant SIP instance goes online and starts broadcasting. It attempted to resume where the master supposedly left off, and thus started to broadcast stale quotes (but with the current timestamp). In reality, these were rebroadcasts of what had been sent out earlier by the primary as it was still functioning.
The primary SIP continues to broadcast quotes in parallel. It is able to do so as it is designed to send those via UDP which is not impacted by the TCP port exhaustion
Receivers - basically everyone trading with the NASDAQ got confusing quotes from the backup and primary. To end the confusion and prevent chaos, NASDAQ unplugs the whole thing and starts clean up.
It is an interesting failure mode, which may have been avoided had there been a realistic performance test. Admittedly, the conditions that led to it are hard to replicate, though it points out a single point of failure when it comes to using the same networking stack to fulfill two tasks (primary communication and heartbeat monitoring).
When designing heartbeat monitoring for mission critical / continuously available systems, it is a good design practice to have multiple paths for heartbeats to ensure system uptime.
This can include use of point to point Ethernet connectivity (with UDP and persistent TCP connections as checking mechanisms), serial connections (for short distances) and/or use of common data blocks on shared storage device. This way, should one path fail, alerts can be triggered informing the NOC of potential issue needing investigation.
Another good practice is to address potential loss of reliability. It could be due to a stale version of the application running (while other instances are using a newer release), application malfunction (as was the case at NASDAQ) or malicious activity (e.g., via malware).
Hence, once a server has been declared to be unavailable or more accurately, unable to function as designed, it should be removed from the production environment. Through automation and use of scripts, one can take production facing network access offline (via load balancer, router, firewall, etc.), begin forced server shutdown and/or simply kill the primary application(s) that are hosted.
It appears that the IT team at NASDAQ would benefit from a lesson in designing continuously available applications and perhaps a visit at organizations that have to bake key non-functional requirements into their production systems (thinking the likes of Google, Amazon and perhaps their counterparts at other exchanges like NYSE).
Hopefully, they don’t try to learn ‘on the job’…
NEW YORK/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Regulators are questioning how robust Nasdaq OMX Group’s systems are after last week’s massive trading outage, while shrugging off a spat with NYSE Euronext as a distraction,
All the other answers are on point. The gist of it is that Paul and team are able to identify the traits in founders that make start-ups successful, able to augment their teams with managerial talent, provide coaching and then leverage their ecosystem.
Nothing unusual at a high level from all the other incubators, though the difference is in execution. If you have time, I would highly recommend reading Paul Graham’s essays at on site (http://www.paulgraham.com/).
Their focus continues to be on execution and continuous coaching - most people pay lip service to these principles though in practice fall short.
How many people are watching Gangnam Style right now?
Pretty good approach to how many people are watching a popular Youtube video at a given time…
Answer by Ryan Hardy:
Gangnam Style reached reached 500 million views on October 19th, 2012 and reached 1 billion views 63 days later on December 21, 2012. A change of 500 million views over 63 days implies that the video is being viewed an average of 92 times per second in that period. Given that the video is 4:13 long and assuming that 1 view equals 1 person, this means that, on average, about 23,000 people worldwide are currently mesmerized by PSYs dance moves. This is comparable to the population of a small town or the attendance at a very large indoor concert.
This is an average, but how much does this vary during the day? I warn you that the following is extremely preliminary and somewhat lazily done by my usual standards.
I extracted the data from this image to generate an approximate distribution of the world’s population by longitude using edge detection and a handy data extraction tool for Google Chrome (WebPlotDigitizer). I’m too lazy to go and find geospatial population data.
After duplicating the histogram and normalizing, I then calculated the fraction of the world’s population in a moving 12 and 16 hour range of longitudes to determine how many people are awake and how many people are in daylight.
Here’s what it looks like.
The way to read it is to say that at approximate local noon in the time zone on the x-axis, y of the world’s population is either awake or in daylight. I’ll admit that determining the proper amount to shift these plots horizontally is confusing, so this plot might change in future edits. I assume people wake up at 8 am worldwide and go to bed at midnight, though this varies considerably around the world.
Regardless of the proper shifts, approximate univariate statistics can be derived from these data. The average The standard deviations of both quantities is 0.04. Awake fraction and daylight fraction can change by 0.17 and 0.23, respectively in the course of the day. The means of these are 0.51 and 0.67. The 2.5th and 97.5th percentile awake fractions are 0.6 and 0.75.
I therefore predict hourly Gangnam Style views have a standard deviation of 6%, or +/-1,400 views and that 95% of the time, the number of people watching is between 20,600 and 25,800 people.
“If you fail, don’t associated yourself with that failure. It’s an event, it’s not who you are.”—Great advice by Jason Sosa, founder of IMRSV, one of Time.com’s 10 startups to watch in 2013, shares his thoughts on perseverance in the face of challenges. (via fastcompany)
A scoop from The Guardian confirmed what many people suspected—the National Security Agency (NSA) is spying on the phone activity of millions of Americans. Using a secret court order, which was not disclosed to the public, the NSA obtained bulk phone records for Verizon’s customers on a daily basis. Each day, the NSA would receive a massive flood of data from Verizon.
Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. has poached four senior executives from American International Group Inc., grabbing people with experience insuring large and unusual risks.
Just as rates begin to harden, Berkshire indicates its intent to enter Commercial Insurance market. The shadow of additional capacity may temper some of the hardening while the market share of the current leaders diminishing somewhat.
In the E&S space, it is likely that Lloyd’s and AIG (through its Lexington subsidiary) will loose marketshare. In addition, market entry in the E&S space is a lot easier than the admitted market - from an operations and technology perspective. It will not be surprising to see products with a modicum of distribution to be in place as early as 2014.
Admitted market is going to be more challenging given the average premium size is much smaller and the regulatory oversight slowing launch of products. Nonetheless, it is clear that Insurance continues to be a focus of Berkshire and one where it seeks to replicate its reinsurance underwriting success.
Would it make sense for square to become more of a payment network?
As Square comes to terms with the complexity inherent with rapid growth over the past two years, it is not surprising that it may be viewed by some of the regulatory bodies as beginning to resemble a MSB. Some regulators are beginning to view it in the same light as PayPal, potentially due to the funds that it probably keeps as part of the merchant payment processing.
At some point, it may have to either acquire a bank or apply to setup a subsidiary with a banking license, rather than attempt to convince the patchwork of state regulators that it is not a MSB and eventually at some level the federal regulators that it does not need to comply with various statutes such as BSA / AML.
If that is the case, it may as well look into acquiring complementary payment network like GreenDot. Not only would it get the underlying banking infrastructure, it would have the synergies arising from owning the end to end value chain for what can be an emerging portion of payments (via pre-paid GreenDot cards). GreenDot can get other potential distribution channels, though it may be a stretch for Square merchants to offer GreenDot cards. They seem to be the quintessential ‘ma and pa’ shops seeking a hassle free approach to taking credit cards at the point of sale. Nonetheless, given the currently depressed valuation of pre-paid card providers, it may be an opportune time for someone like Square to acquire one to round its portfolio while addressing regulatory needs.
1. Do make a plan. We’re all busy. When we hit the weekend, we think we want to do “nothing.” But it’s impossible to truly do nothing. Instead, you’ll do unconsciously chosen somethings, and you’ll hit Sunday wondering where the time…
Good article, with a funny visual on how different coders view each other.
Also, somewhat heartening to see that Java is making a comeback in the startup world. It is still quite the power language with innovation in terms of libraries continuing to happen. Case in point is the reference to Dropwizard that awe.sm is leveraging to enable their web services.
I don’t usually like describing my own work as “beautiful,” but with your permission I will make an exception today. There have been some requests for scripts illustrating the plotting of network diagrams with ggplot2, and today (for the winter solstice) we’re bringing you a really…
For those seeking to plot network graphs [in R], this post notes how more visually stunning plots can be achieved.
Oracle’s recent acquisition indicative that it is starting to take Gartner’s prediction that in the near future CMOs will be the largest source of discretionary IT spend starting to react to the SF.com. Though hardly new, this acquisition also limits other enterprise players (e.g., IBM and SAP) from making similar forays.
There are not many firms that are mature - given that SF.com closed its acquisition of Radian6. It is going to be interesting how SF.com fares in terms of growth now that Oracle is going to be actively canvassing CMOs. One may not be surprised that Oracle will integrate the latest acquisition (though superficially) in the next 12 months with its complementary offerings (thinking Siebel CRM) and attempt to stem the competitive pressures in existing accounts.
It is no surprise the SF.com has been actively eliciting converts from Siebel’s customer base, and though the economics of cloud computing can be countered, its capabilities in what Forrester calls ‘Enterprise Listening Platforms’ has been harder to negate.
2013 will be an interesting year, as social media, mobile platform support and customer driven collaboration begin to be integrated in legacy platforms. Just as eCommerce was once treated as a stand-alone organizational entity by many brick and mortars, social media will become embedded in traditional marketing and communication channels.
Another citation on why integrated architecture is crucial in preserving investments made today around Mobile Business Intelligence.
Though, there were other aspects of the interview that did not make it in. Specifically, the user experience around use of interactive applications on today’s tablets and mobile devices has some ways to go to support day in day out interaction.
Things like the lag on the touchscreen is still in the order of 200 - 300 milliseconds which makes it difficult to consistently and repeatedly manipulate graphical objects / perspectives in an effective manner. Though the occasional use of Mint may be okay and fun once in while, when one is using a BI application to review and manipulate sales figures on an intra day basis, the lag becomes much more noticeable and annoying.
Also, current BI applications are geared as stand-alone apps - targeting executive leadership for the ‘dashboard’ type of reporting needs. For ongoing analytics and data that can be used for one’s day to day job (ergo, operations), enterprises still need to integrate those with their core applications. Though most of these have not been ported to mobile devices, once they do over the next few years, the true impact of having information at hand will be felt.
A few weeks after the fateful Feb ‘11 announcements I wrote about “What Happened to Nokia”, it got picked up by some fairly big tech news sites and 10s of thousands of people read (or at least visited, it was a pretty long blog) what I had to say.
Now that the Windows Phone strategy is not working out as well as planned and yet more cuts have killed off Nokia’s next generation platform for the low end (codenamed Meltemi, think bada competitor but much better), I’m writing some final thoughts on the topic and then moving on. I say final because I really don’t expect Nokia to be very relevant for a whole lot longer, certainly not returning to their former glory. The data collected by Asymco is pretty compelling in this instance.
Tomi Ahonen has recently posted an incredibly long public assault on Stephen Elop’s management. I think he goes too far in blaming Elop for everything, Nokia was in a pretty bad shape before he arrived. However, he has made a bad situation much worse and I think the conclusion is essentially correct, Elop and most of the board need sacking for almost completely destroying the company.
The “Burning Platforms”
So, my take on the famous “burning platforms” memo and February 11th announcements with another year or so of hindsight is fairly simple. First, Q1 2011 the whole industry, apart from Apple, saw a major drop in demand, or at least demand growth (see the graph here). Elop in his relatively new Nokia CEO role knew they needed to shift smartphone platforms to regain competitiveness. He had access to Nokia’s forward sales pipeline for the quarter but not the rest of the industry and he panicked, assuming the drop in demand for Nokia products against a strong industry growth trend was due to their inferior product range. He did a deal to get enough cash from Microsoft to keep the business running while they transitioned and made some fairly hefty concessions to get it (for example, he’d have to be as mad as Tomi makes out not to sell the N9 in advanced markets in competition with the Lumia 800 unless the Microsoft deal explicitly forbade it). This could make sense of the total lack of detail evident when the deal was announced and the very poor bargain Nokia appears to have achieved given Microsoft had already tried and failed partnerships with the other major OEMs.
And Strategy Announcements
Clearly, from the various sales projection charts that were shown on February 11th, the Nokia board had agreed a strategy that involved the phasing out of Symbian over several years as it gradually drifted down the value chain, while Windows Phone ramped up, was optimised for lower price points and localised for more countries. Telling the world that this is what they expected wasn’t the most brilliant business strategy - simply committing to improve and support Symbian (as they were doing anyway) and making the updates available to every current buyer would have made much more sense, the phasing out would have happened naturally. The plan most likely included continuing to build out the developer ecosystem around Qt and as Symbian was phased out it seamlessly transitioned over to Meltemi with lots of local content for the developing/emerging markets where that platform would primarily compete. Meltemi would not have run on cheaper hardware than Symbian but being Linux-based it would have increased their agility at the low-end - much shorter time to market (due to simpler development environment and pre-existing hardware adaptation layer) - and allowed them to ditch the immense cost of maintaining Symbian/S60 & also S40, which was shifting down into a market where Shanzhai was making it hard to make profit.
Original Plan Not Bad
The plan was not actually a bad one. The disconnect in development environment between mid-low end and high end devices might have been an issue but with Symbian/Meltemi not selling at the high end, appealing to local developers to create solutions for the markets where devices were sold would probably create a more appealing long tail than attracting the 1000s of gold and glory hunting startups in Silicon Valley solving first world problems - they could pay the porting costs for the big name apps that didn’t care enough about reach to do it anyway.
So, what went wrong? Management and comms. When Elop started he’ll have wanted to do what most turnaround CEOs do, get as much future bad news out of the way early so everything bad is attributed to the previous management any recovery is all his doing. How to go about that - same way most arse-covering CEOs do - hired some management consultants to assess the situation and tell him what to do. Probably some US-based ones with their slightly warped view of the “smartphone market”. I put that in quotes because it’s a pretty meaningless term now - I’ll have to explain that in a follow up post. For these purposes it’s enough to say that Symbian was not really competing in the same “smartphone market” as the iPhone and high end Android devices. As most Symbian developers would have been able to tell you, outside a relatively small core of early adopters who bought Symbian devices for their advanced feature set, the bulk of Symbian devices sold were not used as smartphones in the iPhone sense. Much as Nokia wanted it not to be true, the iPhone (at least by the 3GS) really launched a whole new product category for which they did not yet have a competitive response. Your competitors are not who you think they are, they’re who your customers think they are*.
Viewed in the market for iPhones and flagship Android devices, Symbian was horribly uncompetitive. Nokia clearly had a serious problem and could not sell Symbian devices in that market with the great margins they once enjoyed. However, viewed against the competitors where the vast majority of Symbian devices were selling at the time - mid-low end Android devices, bada, teen-focussed BlackBerry and high end feature phones - Symbian was still fairly competitive. With a decent UI overhaul (as it eventually got with Belle) it would have been extremely competitive in that space, particularly since every device came with free SatNav, complete with offline support and turn-by-turn voice guidance in countless countries (things Android is still catching up with). Nokia’s profits would continue to take a beating without a credible high end offering as that’s where the bulk of the industry profits are, but they could have continued to run a profitable business with what they had and given themselves a few years to rebuild a credible offering at the high end.
So new partnership with Microsoft to rebuild at the high end and make the most of existing assets, unless… the CEO decides to tell the entire industry that the Symbian line of products is no good and will be killed off, before any replacements are in sight. This simultaneously does massive damage to the operator and retail channels, the early adopter consumer interest and the developer community - all of which Nokia badly needed. Did Stephen Elop really think that an internal written memo of that nature would not leak? I doubt it, but if he did, he’s an idiot and should be fired. Being generous and assuming there were a lot of safeguards and the memo really should never have leaked, or there were well-intentioned reasons for leaking it - what about it’s content? With it’s slightly warped view of Nokia’s true situation at the time (which was pretty bad but not jump in the ocean or we’re all going to die bad) the only possible reason for such a message to the staff is to motivate them to change.
The organisational change psychology involved here is to make the staff feel they’ve reached a crisis point and HAVE to change NOW. This is flawed and outdated thinking in change psychology. Indeed, shortly before Elop started in his new turnaround CEO role, a New York Times No.1 bestseller was released, “Switch - How to change things when change is hard”. Wired called it “A Fantastic Book” and I think it must have come up on Mr. Elop’s radar - shame he didn’t pick up a copy. Allow me to quote a few relevant sections here (from pages 119-123):
Speaking of the perceived need for crisis, let’s talk about the “burning platform,” a familiar phrase from the organizational change literature. It refers to a horrific accident that happened in 1988 on the Piper Alpha oil platform in the North Sea.
Skipping the details of the accident…
Out of this human tragedy has emerged a rather ridiculous business cliche. When executives talk about the need for a “burning platform,” they mean, basically, that they need a way to scare their employees into changing. To create a burning platform is to paint such a gloomy picture of the current state of things that employees can’t help but jump into the fiery sea. (And by “jump into the fiery sea,” what we mean is that they change their organizational practices. Which suggests that this use of “burning platform” might well be the dictionary definition of hyperbole.)
So this is an exaggeration designed to evoke strongly motivating negative emotions - slightly disappointing that dear Mr. Elop (or more likely his management consultants) couldn’t come up with something more imaginative than the canonical analogy to fit the situation but much more disappointing that he was eliciting entirely the wrong emotions:
There’s no question that negative emotions are motivating … But what, exactly, are these emotions motivating?
(buy the book if you want the psychological explanation)
Bottom line: If you need a quick and specific action, then negative emotions might help. But most of the time when change is needed, it’s not a stone-in-the-shoe situation. The quest to reduce greenhouse gases is not a stone-in-the-shoe situation, and neither is Target’s mission to become the “upscale retailer,” or someone’s desire to improve his or her marriage.
And neither is Nokia’s need to respond to the competitive threat posed by Apple and Google/Samsung…
These situations require creativity and flexibility and ingenuity. And, unfortunately, a burning platform won’t get you that.
So what is the answer, in a nutshell:
To solve more ambiguous problems, we need to encourage open minds, creativity and hope.
Great Way To Kill Productivity
For the 1000s of staff reading that memo who would be continuing to work on Symbian, where execution of the new UI was absolutely critical to the company’s continued income in the short term, how does that do anything but anger and demotivate. It seems the MeeGo leadership cleverly managed to turn the anger around into determination to show what they could do and prove the CEO wrong. They executed a(nother) new UI from scratch in 6 months and beat the Lumia 800 to market**. However a high end smartphone, declared a one off before launch and not sold in the most developed markets was always doomed - no apps and a lack of affluent customers (even so, it’s sold similar numbers to the Lumia devices despite a microscopic fraction of the marketing budget and near identical industrial design).
With the Symbian/S60 engineers demoralised and then transferred across to Accenture, Symbian UI updates were inevitably delayed further, and of course the networks had little incentive to approve updates quickly, since they were for the most part no longer stocking many Symbian devices anyway. That said, the update situation there is still significantly better than Android, where despite the updates being released for ages, most users are still running Gingerbread from back in 2010 and new devices are still sold running that version.
If Only The Windows Plan Was Working
All of this might have been swept under the carpet IF the Windows Phone devices had taken off as hoped. Microsoft attempted to buy market share with an unprecedented marketing assault and some hefty sales incentives to channel partners. This appears to have failed. On the developer side it’s also becoming very clear that you can’t really buy a developer ecosystem either. Once you start paying people to build apps for your platform, word soon gets out. Even popular apps that might have been thinking about porting anyway will now wait until someone comes and offers them some money. Vast numbers of Microsoft desktop developers not wanting to get left behind by the mobile revolution jump on Windows Phone bandwagon in order to avoid learning new languages and technologies, or because they’ve just been drinking the Microsoft kool-aid for too long. Unfortunately, the real mobile entrepreneurs with the great ideas are market driven and looking for cash (iOS) or reach (Android, iOS or both). For a late to market offer like WP7, they can wait to see if it ever gets decent sales. Small startups will even turn down free porting cash for platforms they don’t see as generating a near term return as it’s small change in their big plans and a major distraction that costs management time.
Now one potential advantage that Windows Phone could have had was games (and games are the most important app category for consumers) - there’s the Xbox link up and potentially simpler porting for all those top titles from the console. Unfortunately WP7.x doesn’t allow native code (because they were about to replace the underlying OS fundamentally) and thus it’s very expensive/impractical for many of those games to port over. WP8 will fix this BUT… the current phones don’t get an upgrade***. This is going to hurt the Lumia range further in the retail channels. Most consumers may not have heard about this, but no-one in the sales channel wants their customers coming back in 6-9 months saying, “how come my Windows Phone doesn’t run all the latest games Microsoft is showing off on the TV”. That leave’s Nokia with what now looks like a very last roll of the dice on WP8 success and already massive damage to their brand.
Now There Are No Alternatives
To add insult to injury, with the developer interest in Symbian/MeeGo mostly killed off by the memo and subsequent announcements Nokia had to fund a lot of application development. That’s something they now can’t afford again with Meltemi, so that had to die too, to preserve enough cash to keep the Windows Phone effort running. This leaves Nokia with no credible story at the low end, so revenues there will continue to decline. This is a logical choice 10% of the high end market is potentially worth more than 30% of the low end.
How far the mighty have fallen, it looks most likely we’re heading towards this situation I speculated on in my previous post:
If Nokia is left with a sub-profitable smartphone business and Microsoft is doing well out of it they can either subsidise further, or buy Nokia and strip out the other parts of the business.
Except, now I’d replace “and Microsoft is doing well out of it” with “and Microsoft is out of other options”, plus there’s less and less of the rest of Nokia to strip out with each new announcement yet still little reason for Microsoft to buy them rather than subsidise unless it becomes worth it for the patents, manufacturing and distribution vs building out their own in a “no-one wants to use Windows Phone anymore” situation.
Is It All Elop’s Fault
Did Stephen Elop cause all of this, no. Nokia were already in a lot of trouble. Did he make it much worse, yes. The aftershocks of February 11th are still playing out. Some have been pointing out that Nokia was already losing market share rapidly before February 11th. That’s true, but the were also still growing unit volumes - only losing market share because they were growing much slower than the market. After February 11th their unit sales were in free-fall. This is the difference between having time to make a turnaround while falling behind competitors and heading towards bankruptcy very fast. However, having previously tried and failed to rebuild for a couple of years there’s far from any guarantee another couple of years would have helped.
Is he the worst CEO ever - I seriously doubt it. However by deciding to take the easier way out, throwing everything away and counting on Microsoft to solve the software side, rather than fixing a broken software development organisation, then making a catastrophic comms error, he has given himself a really good chance of going down in history as one of the most value destructive CEOs ever. Either that or he really is a Microsoft trojan and really brilliant strategist - one small comms misfire and lots of sincere looking effort to make things work turns the world’s largest device maker into a Microsoft captive OEM for the rest of its history. However, in cases of potential conspiracy, 99 times out of 100, the truth is far more cock-up than conspiracy.
* I read wise words to that effect somewhere recently and can’t find them again to attribute the source. If I stole your thought, please comment and I’ll link to the original.
** And some of this same team have formed a new company, Jolla, to continue making MeeGo-based smartphones. I think there’s a market for geek/hacker phones that’s big enough to support a small company but their ambitions are bigger so I hope they’re going to support Android apps - if not I can’t see it working.
*** So Nokia moves from a platform (Symbian) with a new UI layer (Qt) that enables a transition to a real competitive OS solution (Linux/MeeGo) keeping some level of app compatibility, to a platform (Window CE) with a new UI layer (Metro/.NET) that enables a transition to a real competitive OS solution (Windows 8)… just a year behind on that plan… oh, the irony.
This article is rather insightful in terms of the challenges that NFC faces in high traffic situations that one encounters in day to day life.
Also, implicitly it highlights the impact of decisions (such as placement of the secure element) on the customer experience. Furthermore, the notion of TSM needs to be ironed out and the options whittled down to make the overall approach particle.
Based on the current perception, it would probably be fair to say that the initial estimate of ubiquitous acceptance in the next 2-3 years is more like 3-5. The caveat would be the emergence of a player (like Apple) that can standardize the current standards based proprietary extensions with one path forward. Ofcourse, as Apple has demonstrated it may resemble a closed system, though makes for a consistent experience and a modular way for the ecosystem to plug in to (once Apple gets its cut).
Self-Service goes mainstream in Business Intelligence and Analytics
EMC’s recent acquisition of Pivotal Labs coincided with the release of Greenplum Chorus. The former seems to be driven with the need to inject its internal software organization talent and leadership around Agile delivery; large software shops from time to time need a bit of cultural change to enhance productivity and remain nimble. For Pivotal, its distribution and marketing prowess just got a shot in the arm - EMC’s sales and marketing coupled with its penetration in F1000 companies will help it compete better against the likes of Rally as Agile Delivery is just starting to gain traction.
The main story though is around the notion of self-service. Just a few years ago, the notion of business users being able to write their own queries would have given their IT counterparts the shivers. IT has long had the centralized, locked down mentality when it came to business intelligence and analytics. They felt only they were intimately familiar with optimization of data access patterns and understood the ramifications of data distribution better than its owners. Though times are changing: most analytical oriented databases can manage adhoc workloads better through smarter query optimization and processing, better suited design (e.g., columnar databases) and make use of new infrastructure capabilities (e.g., SSD, in-memory architecture) In addition, the tools used by business users, such as MicroStrategy or Cognos are getting better at pushing down the various operations to the database, allowing for better use of processing power.
In the last year or so, the notion of self-service has expanded beyond queries. Chorus is a prime example of this trend. Some of the capabilities are foundational, like federated metadata repository and search. On those dimensions, it is addressing areas where Greenplum was lagging and with this release is closer to par with some of its competitors.
The more notable and leading capabilities are the self-service around provisioning (or ‘spinning out’) of data sets for studies and ability for users to integrate their own data sources via REST or by uploading common file formats. If the underlying data is stored appropriately, it allows data scientists to be self sufficient for most of their daily activities, without relying on IT support. In addition, it accelerates the integration of third party datasources in the investigative phase, enhancing overall organizational learning productivity.
Finally, few of the capabilities are an implicit acknowledgement that researchers or data analysts are not the most organized bunch - the concept of shared libraries and code seems like a marketing euphemism for code management tools. For most developers these are second nature, though for analytics departments needing to scale as they grow, these become a necessity to preserve the intrinsic knowledge and manage rapid iterations across a large team.
Like EMC, Microsoft has been focusing on the accessibility and integration of third party data more heavily (versus ‘spinning out’ of datamarts). The first foray was launch of Data Marketplace on Azure. In addition to data sets, there are applications that can be accessed. Supposedly, building on SQL Server 2012, there will be a ‘private’ version of marketplace for use within the organization that would allow users to collaborate on queries, data sets and visualizations.
It will be interesting to see how the database vendors (e.g., Teradata) react as well as the vertical integrated (e.g., Cognos + DB2 offering from IBM) evolve to address the growing awareness that social collaboration is key to unlocking the information potential of corporate data assets.