When I sit in Ohio Stadium for a football game, my fancy smartphone is a useless piece of metal and plastic. Some developers have tried to come up with apps to improve the gameday experience, but these apps miss the point. With 105,000 fans in the stadium, another huge set of ticketless fans milling around outside, all the stadium staff as well as security and service staff outside the stadium — there are probably 200,000 network devices in 30-40 acres all trying to jam onto the system, and all failing. The cell network simply can’t handle the load.
Our cell networks are wonderful things, but in the build out of our networks, the notion of broadcast has been left behind. 98% of the fans want the same exact data — top 25 scores, breaking football news, in-game replays, radio game feed. And yet the cell network and data apps feed this data to each user via dedicated single-user transactions. Cell broadcast exists in the standards but is not really in use in networks or handsets. Qualcomm tried to push Mediaflo for this use but got very little uptake and eventually shut down the service.
It’s unfortunate that the idea of broadcast has been left behind. It would be hugely useful in these kinds of crowded venues. I wonder if Qualcomm might not have succeeded had they just focused on NFL and NCAA football fans — people who spend stupid amounts of money on tickets and related gameday expenses, and who would probably spend money on dedicated gameday data services. It is not an easy service to provide tho. It requires spectrum, devices using that spectrum, and local content assemblage and editorial. There may be too many moving parts. It might be easier just to truck in lots of picocells to events and say screw it, dynamically expand the cell network as needed.
Seriously, who would not want a Lava heater? I am ready to order one today.
Contrast with the “Samsung Galaxy S II Epic 4G Touch”, Samsung’s latest phone. How stupid a name is this? Do they seriously think this will have lasting impact in the market? What will they call an upgraded version some day? Will they increment the S or the II or the Epic or the 4G or will they just abandon this?
I’m no product naming expert, I used to excuse myself from all naming discussions while at Microsoft since it always felt like a discussion of how many angels on the head of a pin. Ultimately good products can overcome bad names, and bad products aren’t helped by clever names. But I admire cleanliness and simplicity in names, and the Lava name is simple, evocative, and to the point. The Samsung name is ridiculous.
UPDATE: a smart guy informs me that the Samsung name of the phone is the Galaxy S II. A little long but not egregious. It is Sprint that has slapped on the “Epic 4G Touch” modifier and Sprint deserves the blame. Pro tip: if you include “epic” in the name, pretty much guarantees the offering is not epic.
I’m playing around with ifttt.com and it is intriguing. I remember an earlier effort, yubnub, that I always found compelling. A general script interface to all my Internet data and services so that I can do interesting things across sites seems good.
I remember the evolution of Lotus Notes. A super general collab platform that let you store anything, write nice scripts and forms on top of it. The generalness of the platform was appealing and a certain set of early adopters went for it. But there were many more customers who didn’t want to create their own collaboration apps, but needed some pre-built apps. And so then Lotus made the “nifty fifty” most popular apps available — email, calendaring, candidate tracking, simple CRM, etc etc etc. And that was good, and more customers bought it. But ultimately Notes got washed out of the market by Microsoft Exchange, for many many reasons. But one simple view is that, while Exchange was a collab platform too (although terrible to code against), Exchange really focused on the high volume apps of mail and scheduling and just made those apps work. And that is all most people really needed.
Competitively the ifttt.com guys need to be very cognizant of cherry picking. While it is great they have hundreds or thousands of canned scripts, I don’t need hundreds, I only need a couple. And that is probably true for most users. And if the couple that people need a common across large groups of users, then some competitor can sweep in and just do those couple scenarios really really well and ifttt.com will remain a niche tool. I’d bet that they will have to build a lot more code on top of their platform to make sure that the top scenarios are really slick and easy to use, to avoid losing users to alternatives.
For instance I can already pretty easily use a wordpress plugin to MIRV content over to twitter and then to facebook. Will I flip over to ifttt.com for this or will I keep using the solution that someone has polished and made fit into wordpress? I suspect I’ll use the one that fits really well in wordpress. Now if the ifttt.com guys wrote the code to provide an ifttt.com plugin for wordpress, that would be interesting…
Nice writeup of Apple’s manufacturing/supply advantage vs the PC OEMs. Reminds me very much of the way Honda and Toyota crushed the American car manufacturers in the 70′s and 80′s — GM in particular had overly complex product lines, cars with a gajillion options. Honda came in with a simple model, no options, and great great quality, and just crushed GM in core markets. Product line complexity comes at a huge cost, Apple is playing this hand well.
Sony has a new e-reader out and it seems to be very nice hardware, I’d love to buy one. Let me check out their reader store and see what their book inventory looks like these days:
Oh. And this kind of sums up Sony’s strategy. Nicely designed premium hardware, but off in their own software and service planet, which is not well executed. I’ve tried to give Sony the benefit of the doubt — I owned the first Sony Reader back in 2007 — but they have failed to act on the big picture here. A big part of the Kindle’s awesomeness is the great store backend, the seamless download experience with the store, and the availability of Kindle software on every device on the planet so that I can read my purchases on my PC, my Mac, my phone, my Kindle, my iPad, on the web, pretty much anywhere. Sony totally whiffs on this total experience. It is kind of sad because I would love to see a first rate competitor to the Kindle, and Sony has some great assets to bring to bear — retail stores, solid hardware design skills.
In the long run, Amazon wants to sell digital goods, Sony wants to make great devices — I have to wonder why Sony doesn’t abase themselves, drop their own store, let Amazon run the backend for the Sony device, and make the Reader the best Kindle-compatible device in the world. Any other strategy just seems pointless.