Thursday, October 06, 2011

Steve Jobs. You lived YOUR life. You certainly did live it. And you changed ours.

Steve Jobs.  Even if so many people, and I, did not like you precious walled gardens that you tried to keep us inside, you made technology pleasurable for so many others, no matter their age and knowledge. “It’s technology married with liberal arts, married with humanities, that yields the results that make our hearts sing.” Hopefully, others will be just as holistic in their approach. Not sure. But I’m quite certain, your legend will continue to be a muse for so many among us. After all, you did "put a ding in the universe" as you dreamed, and the universe misses you already.

Thank you for seeing a box with silicon and wires with a lot of 1 and 0 in them as the magical devices that you put in the hands of so many. Thank you for being able to see that potential not from the inside as an engineer, nor the outside as a user, but as an Artist, as new kind of Da Vinci. Thank you for packaging these megabytes and megahertz in the elegance of design, both aesthetic and usage. Thank you for putting a heart and a soul in the cold steel, cristals and glass of our gadgets and tools. Thank you for focusing so much on us, the users (even if it was sometimes a little too much for my taste;) Finally, thank you for showing us that, always, “there must be a better way”. And to steal the tagline of the movie The Aviator, “Some men dream the future. [you] built it.”

Above all, thank you for showing how to follow one’s heart and not some quarterly earnings reports (or election cycles) for the long run win. May our CEOs and politicians listen to theirs. Yes, thank you for this life changing quote: (12min17s); you definitely did follow your own advice. It was short, but so much worth living. As you once said "your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life", you surely lived YOUR life and you changed ours. You lived, you certainly lived. Rest in peace. Down here, we will try to “stay hungry, stay foolish”.

Steve Jobs Stanford speech - quote at 12m17s

Friday, September 23, 2011

The market welcomes the new Queen of HP very mildly...will she change the faith of the company as she did with eBay?

Meg Whitman, star of eBay is now at the helm of HP, after a short-lived 11 months reign of Léo Apotheker, so can we safely say: The King is dead, long live the Queen!?

"We would assume that most of this direction was the desire of the board when they hired Leo, so it's unclear if they wish to change this current strategy, or just change the messenger," wrote Louis Miscioscia at Collins Stewart.

I guess it's like with the current problems of the US economy: it's probably less about the real health of the economy than the lack of long term certainty of the direction of the decisions taken that weight on HP's stock right? So would it finally go up if Whitman makes a clear long term statement?

But still, her experience lies with a consumer-oriented dot-com, so "while we believe Meg has proven to be a very capable manager leading eBay from a start-up into a household name and one of the largest internet companies, there will be plenty of scrutiny given her lack of experience in the enterprise business," Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu wrote."

But we could see that in a more positive way, and imagine that this new appointment is a strategic one that would take advantage of the experience of Whitman with eBay, a consumer-driven company. It could be a new reversal of strategy towards the consumer market, perhaps to go back to Mark Hurd's vision rather than Léo Apotheker's exclusive business software one. Still HP made a 10 billion investment in a business software oriented firm, and that's hard to reverse, unless there is no planned integration.

I still believe that the company had an amazing opportunity to get into high-value consumer-driven market with the WebOS ecosystem: phone, tablet, appstore, cloud-services all sync together. I just wish the company would have used the Gillette razors' price structure: not making money on the hardware, but the value added services (cloud services and app-store). Also, if the Touchpad's bill of materials is about 300$ today, it will go lower with time/volume, and the price would have stayed the same, so even on the hardware it could have been profitable. Unfortunately, we all saw the mayhem that happened with the liquidation sale of the tablet way bellow the cost, and the exit of HP from the WebOS hardwares. It might still have this opportunity (or another one), but the company needs asap to decide where it's actually planning to go, communicate, communicate, communicate, and stick to the plan!

Anyway, as many analysts highlight it: HP needs a new strategy (or the confirmation of Léo's one), with a strong vision/mission statement and long-term commitment of the company towards that goal. As Goldman Sachs is "cautiously optimistic many of the strategic challenges are resolvable" but it "is also facing increasing cyclical and secular tailwinds".

Good luck HP! :)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

[updated] - Après 3 mois de test, Google+ vient de s'ouvrir au public. Est-ce trop tard?

Durant ces trois mois de répits, Facebook a rattrapé son retard et a proposé une grande partie de ce qui faisait l'attrait de Google+ (clarification des réglages de vie privée, simplification des listes, intégration du "following" avec les "subscriptions). C'est fou comment Facebook est bon à exécuter quand même... 

Encore une fois il faut remercier la compétition qui nous a amené une nouvelle dynamique de marché et va probablement maintenir le rythme accéléré d'innovations qu'on a vu récemment. Ça me rappelle un peu les pas de géants qu'Internet Explorer (vous vous souvenez de IE6 super lent et remplis de bugs!;) avait fait lorsque Firefox a gagné du momentum il y a quelques années. Maintenant ces navigateurs ont du fils à retordre et des mises à jour/optimisations bien plus régulières...merci qui? Merci Google Chrome! Visiblement Google+ a eu le même effet sur Facebook.

Concernant Google+ plus spécifiquement, j'ai vraiment hâte que les gens derrières publient de bonnes api, qu'ils intègrent mieux leurs différents services, notamment Blogger et YouTube (surtout pour les commentaires), et qu'enfin ils pluguent les api des autres réseaux sociaux tant qu'à faire, ça ne leur feraient pas de mal si ce n'est rendre G+ mon réseau de prédilection ...a voir...

Mais est-ce vraiment trop tard?

Ici Google est allé "all the way" (vous avez vu la grosse flèche bleue publicitaire sur, je pense que Google a vu les analytics de recherche sur sa page et que la croissance n'est plus aussi importante à ce niveau. 
  1. D'une part, il en va de sa pertinence sur le web, car si la recherche devient vraiment sociale comme le voudrait Facebook, il y a un veritable risque pour Google.
  2. D'autre part, il en va du renouveau de la compagnie et de la recherche d'un nouveau vecteur de croissance.
  3. Enfin, il en va du "data scouring", Google n'a pas accès aux données de Facebook, et les gens y passent de plus en plus de temps a y créer des données; avoir son endroit ou ces données sont créées est un enjeu majeur pour une compagnie qui se veut être le hub de la recherche de données sur le web.
De facto, je crois que Google ne va pas lâcher prise jusqu'à avoir "a fair share" du web social, ou elle va couler avec le navire. Je penche pour l'option un, et Robert Scoble semble penser de même....

Personnellement je crois que la guerre a juste commencé, et qu'ils rattrapent assez rapidement les 7 années de retard sur Facebook tout en y ajoutant de belles innovations (le nouveau Hangout avec document sharing et sketching, Hangout sur mobile, Circles, Huddle).

Hangouts on your phone: Stream View (left), Green Room (center), Portrait Mode (right)
Hangouts On Air: Stream View (left), Full-screen Mode (right)

Hangouts with extras: Screensharing (left), Sketchpad (right)

Hangouts with extras: Docs (left), Named Hangouts (right)

Search in Google+: photography (left), cooking (right)
 Pour plus de détails, voir le billet sur le blog officiel de Google

A little far fetched, mais ça me fait penser a la croissance des BRIC face aux pays avancés! Va-t-on assister au même type de rattrapage? Pas sûr connaissant l’inertie des utilisateurs en général, en particulier quand 1/10ème de la population mondiale est sur Facebook. Mais bon, faut quand même voir la video TED de Niall Ferguson sur la fin de "la grande divergence" et l'accélération des rattrapages depuis les années 70 ( Voyons donc le premier pas lors de Facebook f8 demain, jeudi 22 septembre 2011.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Nokia announces a new partnership with Microsoft and their stock dips by 15%! Why?!

Nokia announces a new partnership with Microsoft regarding their mobile OS and announces a deep corporate restructuring, and the market welcomes that with an almost 15% dip in NOK stock! 

I just think that from an investor point of view, this kind of announcement looks like a statement of defeat on Nokia's part, as they had 1 amazing operating system 10 years ago (Symbian) which they failed to leverage in front of the Android and iOS competition and are dropping it now in the trashcan, they also started a new project backed by Intel (MeeGo) 2 or 3 years ago and it seems that they are giving it away to the Open-Source community with not much support like in the case of Android. So that might look like another potentially failed project or at least a last attempt to raise by two failures (Symbian and Windows Mobile OS have both failed to counter the rise of Google's Android and Apple's iOS) in the same manner Microsoft tried to buy Yahoo 2 years ago (cf. a quick analysis 

On the second hand, still in an investor's point of view, if Nokia starts "dating" Microsoft, in the short term there is no upside for them, it will take at least 6months to 1 year to clear the current Nokia products' pipeline and start from fresh. Also the kind of restructuring is not a «done» deal till it is done, and carries a lot of uncertainty regarding the outcome. And finally to continue on the outcome issue, the new Windows 7 Mobile has not been in the market for long enough to see a directional trend whether it will catch Android and iOS train or if it will stay on the side like Symbian, Windows Mobile 5, or BlackBerry OS so far for that matter.

But, and there is a big but: Microsoft has deep pockets and can still spare a couple of mistakes before getting it straight, which Nokia couldn't handle anymore. Then, Microsoft Windows 7 Mobile has had a great peer reviews so far, and finally, Microsoft did the right thing by ditching all the old (and so 2000ish) Windows Mobile OS and starting from scratch in a truly definite and innovative way. It was a tough choice (always tough to do radical change and ditch the current user base, just like what Windows XP did to Windows 98), but it was a long-time overdue thing. 

I think that the timing for both of them is a little bit late (should have done it a year ago, as Android registered an 880% increase of adoption in the last year alone), but at least it finally sets the stage for new paradigm regarding Mobile OS. So far, and in the wake of 2000's Smartphone, the business model for Mobile OS was the like of Desktop OS which was to license it for each device and get royalties, or to keep it for its own devices. Apple is still doing the latter, but Android brought a complete game-changing business model, which is to give it away for free, to open-source AND to support it (the latter being the Achilles' heel of the Linux-like OS for computers). Google is making money through ads served when browsing and perhaps a cut when buying apps. 

So for Windows 7 Mobile, giving money to Nokia (which is still a huge device manufacturer) to adopt their software will benefit both companies. On the one hand Microsoft will get an instant spike in their OS distribution and adoption which will keep them relevant among the major Smartphone OS. For Nokia, it finally gives them an edge on the new Smartphone market. They are VERY strong (better than the iPhone by far) on the hardware part, but to stay head-to-head with the Samsung and HTC of this world they need to have a strong OS, which they will with this more robust Microsoft solution. Also that will let them focus on their core business, which is not software development obviously. 

Bottom line, I think on the long run this is the best strategic move they could make. In my analysis of Nokia before, I said they should focus on their core business and embrace Android. Now it's with Windows. Fair enough. The only draw-back I see with that is that it might delay further longer the adoption of a Smartphone-like OS for their "dumb-phones" that they sell by the truck-load in the developing countries, because now they might depend on Windows development pipeline for that. I still stand by my word, and do think they should deploy a scaled-down Android-like OS for their cheap phones, and not wait until the competition does it. Still, if I had money, I'd put some on NOK today at 4PM, and more in the (most probably) upcoming market pull-back.