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Google+, Google voice, Chrome Webstore, Chrome OS, Google Music, Google TV, Google Shopping, Android, Google Fiber network; And most recently, Google Play.

Where do all these products culminate?

The answer is a tablet!

What Apple and Amazon understand and few other tablet makers such as Sony and RIM don’t is that tablet is not a device in itself. You need to give consumers an ecosystem to nurture the usage of the tablet and other devices.  Tablets are no longer a device that has a space between smartphone and computer as Steve Jobs introduced. It is inching closer to replace computers. There is a keyboard dock for iPad!

Google understands this as well as Apple or Amazon do. They also understands how people communicate and hence is striving to build a good social network, despite the early struggle.

There is need for a completely integrated ecosystem where a user can listen/buy music or movies, communicate with friends/family and share thoughts/news.

High speed Internet connectivity is also a big hindrance to ubiquitous usage of content accessible through these devices. Google has been setting up fiber optics and hopes to provide broadband 10 times faster than existing US average. The gamble by Google to create a complete end-to-end ecosystem from Apps and OS to hardware and internet infrastructure is as ambitious as it could possibly be. Pulling it off could be as revolutionary as Google search was for internet.

There are two important hurdles:

First, monetization could be a challenge: would Google try to put Ads on their devices and sell them at affordable prices (and hence go Amazon way?) or Make fully controlled premium devices (and go Apple way?). Hybrid option may seem the best alternative, but the trade off is not clear. Monetizing access to Google Play answers some part of this.

Second, Creating a seamless experience for user across multiple Android devices could be a challenge. Can Google make access to content purchased from ‘Play’ (and everything else) on Samsung SmartTV/GoogleTV, HTC Android Phone and Sony tablet seamlessly? It is a tough task, and an area where closed-system approach of Apple and its array of devices are scoring over Android. It becomes even more important in future.

Google seems to have or building (and integrating) all components of making a seamless entertainment experience on multiple devices. It would be interesting to see how Amazon and Apple play out. I think the first casualty could be Amazon if Google does well, before threatening Apple.

P.S.: Started writing ‘why Google tablet is important’ more than a month back, but only completing now. There is so much more I want to write about this, but got to run.

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“You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new.”

 

I realized the impact of lacking the knowledge of what customer wants when a product that I was working on was shelved for lack of market. An entrepreneur needs to know what customers want, be it in service or in product, in advance.

 

“It’s not about money. It’s about the people you have, how you’re led, and how much you get it.”

Vision is almost everything for an entrepreneur. It not only steers the company in the right direction, but also motivates people who work for you. A good product is not a result of how much money you spend in developing it or how much you pay for hiring the best talent. I believe all that someone needs to be happy is something to be enthusiastic about. A good entrepreneur understands this, and leads the people with his vision and extracts the best out of them.

 

“I’m not afraid to start from the beginning.”

To me a real entrepreneur is one who can say this at any point in time. For these reasons, the entrepreneur I admire the most is Steve Jobs.

 

 

This was one of the the essays I wrote while applying to the Marshall School of Business last year. I am preparing for my first final exam (Strategy) of business school. We have a case on Apple Inc., and I can’t help but wonder the void Steve Jobs has left behind in consumer electronics industry.

Have a look at this article which captures this void beautifully:

feeds.harvardbusiness.org/~r/harvardbusi…

 

 

P.S.: Some portion of the essay has been edited for not-so-obvious reasons, but 95% is unchanged.

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The replacement for the bulky desktops had begun nearly three decades back, though there is still uncertainty about the first laptop.Osbourne 1, the first portable computer

Osborne 1, introduced in April 1981, is considered to be the first true portable computer. If you see the picture, you’d surely not call it a portable computer. This was the first commercially available portable computer, with an 5 inch display. Yup, you could put it on your lap as well. There was another portable computer, earlier to Osborne 1, custom made for NASA space shuttle expeditions in 1980s.


The quest for making the portable computer slimmer and thinner was on since then. At present, the Macbook Air seems to have taken the cherry for being the thinnest laptop commercially available. Just when i thought there could be no match for this, Lenovo has come up with ThinkPad X300. Almost as thin as Macbook Air, and comes with DVD drive too. The Macbook Air lacks an optical media drive, which i mentioned in one of my previous posts about the death of optical drives. Apple’s Macbook Air

On the sheer thickness front Apple‘s MacBook Air beats X300 hands down. Macbook Air has a thickness of 0.16 inch on one edge to 0.76 inch on the thickest edge. The thickest edge of Macbook Air was more thin than the thinnest edge of the slimmest available laptop, Sony Vaio TZ series, when Steve Jobs showcased it at the MacWorld Expo ’08, beating the Lenovo team for the ultraslim laptop market. ThinkPad X300 has thickness of 0.73 to 0.92 inches, a close match to Macbook Air.

Both ThinkPad X300 and Macbook Air have a bigger screen of 13.3 inches as compared to that of Sony Vaio TZ series laptops which comes with 11.1 inch screen. Also, they have full fledged QWERTY keyboard, unlike Sony’s 82 keys keyboard. The cost of TZ series laptops range from $2200 to $3700. You can read the side to side comparison of Sony Vaio TZ versus Apple Macbook Air here.

ThinkPad X300The miniaturization of the electronics has allowed them to pack so much in such a small case. The ThinkPad X300 too fits in to an envelope, just as Jobs showcased Macbook Air. The image below shows what goes in to the ThinkPad X300, from the board with Intel Core 2 Duo processor to the DVD drive, audio cables and screws. Thinkpad X300 scores over the Macbook Air in having a better screen resolution of 1440 x 900 versus Macbook Air’s 1280 x 800, a DVD drive, 3 port USB and Ethernet for net connectivity. These features makes ThinkPad X300’s estimated price in the range of $2700 to $3000. Macbook Air basic version costs $1800, this is the one without solid state hard drive. The one with 64GB solid state drive costs $3100.

Lenovo ThinkPad X300

The cost of these ultraslim laptops are about twice that of any good laptops available in the market today. The ultra slim laptops are very flimsy, and handling them well is very important. This makes them attractive, and can be sold without much marketing. Remember how MotoRzar revived the Motorola‘s mobile market share just being very slim?

No doubt i’m very excited about such laptops, i feel there is also need for more rigid laptops handling little more rough use, something like the Sonim’s indestructible mobile phone, which may not be all that attractive and slim. There is need to strike a balance, neither making it too flimsy nor too thick and unattractive. Make little way(about an inch) for theses ultraslim laptops.


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I was reading an opinion article on AV Max, an audio video monthly, by Mehul, who had written about the death of CD drives in the future with portable music players with connectivities to every kind of bigger music system/speaker array replacing the HiFi music systems of yesteryears. His HiFi system laser lens had lost the intensity and replacing that was the only option. Non-availability of the lens in the market made this a hard task.

I was thinking as how long would these optical media drives last, as a technology? Not just the CD drive, but in general all the optical media drives, the DVDs and Blu-rays. For the ones who learnt about the Macbook Air, recently launched at the Macworld expo by Apple, know that Macbook Air comes without an optical drive. This is evidently to make it thin enough to slide it on to an envelope, as Steve Jobs demoed.

Macbook Air

The pen drives and portable hard disks are going to replace these optical drives. Yes, i know some people would like to have collection of their favorite movies or music on DVDs. But weren’t the days when people had audio cassettes collection seem like an era lost in history? Come on, i would not have the patience to burn and keep track of 50GB of data a Blu-ray disc provides. Blu-ray would be a failure even before it kicks in(hard). Sony has lost it in this space.

The real killer would be the Internet. With broadband connections becoming common, people would rather watch movies online, streaming or downloading it. At least, i’d do. I do that even now. I’d rather prefer watching movies at my convenience on my computer online than rent it from the nearby DVD store or ask a friend for it. Wireless broadband speeds reaching high enough to watch a SD video would soon be a reality. May be HD movies streaming would also be possible, with better compression techniques and greater bandwidths, in the near future.

Now about the softwares. How do i get a substitute for boot-up disc or an OS installation? I’d say pen-drive. This should be the substitute the present day optical drives. Downloading the softwares you want should not be a problem. I’m sure the speeds for this are already there, even in India. Only thing is you may have to pay for these stuff, but you can always find a P2P torrents.

So the final question is how long would these drive last, a decade or half a decade? May be less than that. I’d say about 3-5 years. Let’s see how long we’ll put up with these. :)

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The touch screen phenomena is not a new thing, been there for few years now. But the launch of iphone created such a hype not just because of never-seen-before touch screen but for the touch screen hand-held device without a stylus. Of course, the way it was showcased, and the brand of ‘Apple‘ added to the hype.

iphone was received with never seen before enthusiasm even though the less preffered AT&T was the service provider. But the ‘phone’ part of the iphone received severe criticism. The iphone seems to lack many vital features of a good mobile phone(3G and many others). But the stylish 3 inch touch screen display with very good safari browser, and minimal keys were its best features. Also, the interface was like never seen before.

ipod touch

Soon there was launch of ipod touch, that’s iphone minus the phone. Was it to salvage the dent caused by the not so merciful reviewers of the iphone or the smart strategy of Steve Jobs, not to miss out the touch screen hype? ipod touch is very vibrant, and offers all that the iphone had to offer but the phone and all these at a much cheaper price!

N810, a new gadget by Nokia, is a device to compete with ipod touch. Why is the world’s largest telecom supplier going to something without a telephone?nokia n810 Internet has taken over huh? The technology sure seems to suggest this. A little over 4 inch display with reduced QWERTY keyboard, web browser, music player and WiFi makes it very desirable but for the ‘phone’. Who would be interested in such a device? There are many people showing their disappointment over not including the normal phone feature. Why did Nokia do this?

Why are they going for this ‘internet tablet’ hand-helds? Why don’t they want to provide the ‘phone feature’? Is it to make it stand out? The strategy is unclear to me, as i still prefer to have a good phone with add ons like music player, camera and web browser.

As the iphone’s launch date in India nears Nokia, Motorola and Samsung seems to be building new strategies to defend their territory. Motorola has plans of rolling out MotoMusic service, a WAP and internet based platform for music downloads directly to the handhelds, a competation for itunes. MotoMusic is available in China currently. Wonder why don’t they try that out in the US where more people would be actually buying music unlike in India. This still is to complement the music phones. Nokia has announced their mobile services brand Ovi soon in India, to host music, gaming, navigation, and many other services. Sony Ericsson having already made killer sales in the recent past with just their walkman phones would also be planning for something similar for India.

Touch screen seems to be ‘the thing’ for the next generation of mobile phones, if the ‘phone’ exists. Strategy Analytics study says nearly 40% of the phones by 2012 would be touch-screen ones. iphone, Razr 2 could just be the beginning.

Is the technology trend seems to be shifting towards no phone internet devices and touch-screen music players? Have to wait and watch if this would be the new era. Also, it would be interesting to see the response for such devices in India where majority don’t ‘buy’ music for their devices. Time would change the India buyer or the seller in India?

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