signals of noise

Category: technology (page 1 of 2)

The Fall of HP

Meg Whitman reveals how badly HP was managed, hints at pain to come in their most recent analyst call. It is truly disheartening to see a giant fall this way. And especially so having worked there for some time.

The lack of central leadership left individual units to figure out things for themselves. The company’s marketing? Totally uncoordinated. Its services unit? Directionless from four changes in the top in as many years, and hurting from changes in the sales force. Its products? Too many, too slowly delivered, poorly packaged. Managerial accountability? What’s that?

via HP CEO: We’re screwed (for the next few years) | Ars Technica.

Apple, Google and a Breach of Trust?

Here’s why Steve Jobs wanted to go thermonuclear against Google for copying the iPhone. If all this is true and laid out neutrally it does suggest a breach of trust.

In 2001, when Google was a three-year-old start-up with roughly $50m in revenues, Google’s co-founders met Steve Jobs and wanted him to become Google’s CEO. Already CEO of his own highly-consequential, 24 year-old tech company with $8b in revenues that had just developed the iconic iPod, Jobs demurred and generously took young Larry Page and Sergey Brin under his wing and mentored them.

And this bit makes it clear that the form factor of the iPhone totally ‘inspired’ the first gen Android phones. Feel sorry for RIM here, they could have had these patent battles if the iPhone wasn’t around!

In November of 2007, Android showed a very damning video that effectively juxtaposed Google-Android’s pre-iPhone “before” prototype which looked and operated more like a Blackberry button-driven phone, with Google-Android’s post-iPhone-launch “after” prototype that heavily-resembled the look-and-feel of the iPhone and incorporated many of Apple’s signature touch-screen inventions.

And how about this, er, coincidence (emphasis mine).

Google’s Chairman Eric Schmidt made a potentially incriminating admission yesterday at Motorola’s new phone launch in publicly admitting that “we were late to tablets” and that only 70,000 of Google’s 1.3 million daily Android activations are tablets. That’s potentially incriminating because during 2008-2009, when Mr. Schmidt was still on Apple’s board, Steve Jobs made sure to keep Eric Schmidt in the dark about development of the iPad. Isn’t it interesting that when Mr. Schmidt was on Apple’s board and aware of the iPhone, Google was not “late” to the smart phone market (Google-Android now has dominant market share), but when Google’s Schmidt was out of the loop as a board director on the existence of the iPad, Google is somehow “late” to the tablet market?

via What made Apple's Steve Jobs so Angry with Google-Android? | The Precursor Blog by Scott Cleland.

Imaging at a Trillion Frames per Second

This is extreme slow photography. Almost at the speed of light.

Ramesh Raskar presents femto-photography, a new type of imaging so fast it visualizes the world one trillion frames per second, so detailed it shows light itself in motion. This technology may someday be used to build cameras that can look “around” corners or see inside the body without X-rays.

As you see in the video, this camera can even look around corners and the speed at which the imaging takes place, necessitates space-time warp corrections.

At this speed if you wanted to see a bullet fly through an object, it would take 1 year. That’s right.

How to Copy the iPhone (by Samsung)

Here’s Samsung’s step-by-step guide on how to copy (or is it how to be ‘inspired’) by the iPhone. It is true that every product draws inspiration from competition but this is fairly extensive. Most of the features in question are design features. Which kind of raises the question ‘should design be protected’ in a technology market? Absolutely.

Samsung Relative Evaluation Report on S1, iPhone

And surely Apple will argue that these are the little things that makes the iPhone, well, the iPhone.

The Fall of Microsoft

Few days ago I shared a post on how as companies grow they lose their innovation mojo. Here is the inside story of how that happened at Microsoft. Must read. [For the time constrained, here is a nice summary. Same soure.]

This is also a retelling of the Nokia and Xerox story.

In those years Microsoft had stepped up its efforts to cripple competitors, but—because of a series of astonishingly foolish management decisions—the competitors being crippled were often co-workers at Microsoft, instead of other companies. Staffers were rewarded not just for doing well but for making sure that their colleagues failed. As a result, the company was consumed by an endless series of internal knife fights. Potential market-busting businesses—such as e-book and smartphone technology—were killed, derailed, or delayed amid bickering and power plays.

Politics and bad people management decisions are always at the fore front of such debacles. Imagine if a BMW or a Ferrari treated it’s assembly plant units differently. Won’t happen because those are the key assets.

So how bad is the situation?

This bad.

One Apple product, something that didn’t exist five years ago, has higher sales than everything Microsoft has to offer. More than Windows, Office, Xbox, Bing, Windows Phone, and every other product that Microsoft has created since 1975. In the quarter ended March 31, 2012, iPhone had sales of $22.7 billion; Microsoft Corporation, $17.4 billion.

Microsoft is back doing some good work. Hope that is enough.

Apple Not Interested in India

In the medium term at least. Asked about their focus on India this is what Tim Cook said (scroll right to the bottom of the link).

Asked about the market for its goods in India, Cook remarked that while he “loves India,” the multilayer distribution structure of the company’s markets “really adds cost to getting product to market,” and that as a result, “in the intermediate term there will be larger opportunities outside of there.”

Unless FDI policy does away with the 30% sourcing in India clause for single brand retail. And that is unlikely to happen. So Apple will just treat India as a dumping ground and continue to be expensive.

Nokia is the New Xerox

So Nokia it seems is the new Xerox. Well, was. They had the designs for a touch screen smartphone with internet capabilities and a tablet way back but let those rot. Only for Apple to come around and steal the market. A second time.

Frank Nuovo, the former chief designer at Nokia Corp., gave presentations more than a decade ago to wireless carriers and investors that divined the future of the mobile Internet.

More than seven years before Apple Inc. rolled out the iPhone, the Nokia team showed a phone with a color touch screen set above a single button. The device was shown locating a restaurant, playing a racing game and ordering lipstick. In the late 1990s, Nokia secretly developed another alluring product: a tablet computer with a wireless connection and touch screen—all features today of the hot-selling Apple iPad.

And too much bureaucracy and central control is never good for innovation.

“What struck me when we started working with Nokia back in 2008 was how Nokia spent much more time than other device makers just strategizing,” Qualcomm Chief Executive Paul Jacobs said. “We would present Nokia with a new technology that to us would seem as a big opportunity. Instead of just diving into this opportunity, Nokia would spend a long time, maybe six to nine months, just assessing the opportunity. And by that time the opportunity often just went away.”

Can they turn around?

Content v/s Hardware

There is a very interesting observation about “Hardware Companies Will Have To Quit The Tablet Market In 2012“. The basic premise of the argument being content providers can undercut on hardware price and make it up via content sales. Which means Apple, Amazon and Barnes & Noble are perfectly poised while the HPs and Dells of the world will struggle.

Which leaves me wondering about Android and Windows 8 tablets. Neither Google nor Microsoft makes hardware. But they have content. Will it mean that they will also have to get into the hardware game? Or at least start sharing some of their content revenue with their hardware partners?

Interesting times ahead.

[image: IntelFreePress]

iPhone 4S Coming to India?

The iPhone 4S seems to be headed to India. Aircel has this page up on their website where they say they will start accepting pre-bookings from November 18th. This is the first indication I have seen of the 4S coming to India. Is Apple becoming a little more friendly with India? Wouldn’t be surprised considering Tim Cook’s point about Apple owning just 5% of the entire handset market. If they need to make inroads, India will play a big role. If this is going to happen in the next month, at least we won’t be waiting for the year or so we had to for the iPhone 4.

More significantly though this might lead to further drops in the iPhone 4 and 3GS prices! That will be awesome. Meanwhile over at Airtel’s site I noticed a subtle Rs. 1000 increase in the prices of both models. May be they also know something and want to make a little more before slashing prices.


iOS 5 is Coming

The iCloud website is live with a link to setting up iCloud on iOS devices. Maybe I see it because I access it from my iPad. The link gives a 404 right now, but should be live soon.


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