Thursday, February 24, 2011

Best. Presentation. Ever.

For all the startup entrepreneurs out there, here is a great lesson on presenting.  Taka's enthusiasm pushes through the language barrier.  As Yossi Vardi said after the presentation regarding why he would invest, "If you're going to lose your money, at least have some fun."

I hope you took notes.  I have to go find some turquoise shoes for my next presentation, and work on my "Boom!".

Taka has now given my two favorite presentations of all time.  His presentation for Tonchidot at TechCrunch40 a few years ago was even more epic than this year's.  See the presentation and the Q&A. The product seemed impossible, the presentation unintelligible, but the enthusiasm was infectious and you desperately wanted it to be true.  Turns out, it was true, and the system works in Japan.

LifeProof iPhone Case

Here is a cool product from the Launch Conference.  A few months ago, my iPhone fell out of my bike jersey pocket at 20mph with only a slim plastic case and a ziploc for protection (more here).  I have looked at Otterbox cases, but they are bulky.  This case is waterproof, can be dropped from 6 feet up, and is just slightly thicker than a normal case.  At $70, it is targeting a narrow market, but I will get one.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

It is better to be though a fool than to speak up and remove all doubt

Wow, AT&T continues to impress with its seeming complete disconnection from reality.

Losing iPhone exclusivity?  No problem, they say.

Want 4G?  No problem.  We'll just call our 3G service 4G and it's all good.

And now, these comments from Randall Stephenson that platform-specific app stores are bad for customers.  Uhm, come again?  AT&T holds forth that their Wholesale Applications Community is a better idea.  For them, sure.

Let's break this down.

Consumers obviously hate the iOS App Store...10 billion times over (yes, that is billion).  Stephenson laments that customers will have to go to different app stores for different platforms.  Newsflash--most consumers only live on a single platform.  And I, for one, don't care about what Android apps are available since I have an iOS device.  Sure, this may get a bit more confused if people buy a tablet with Android and an iOS phone.

Stephenson wants the carriers to control the app stores, and for apps to be more generic, HTML5 versions that play nice across platforms.  The simple fact of the matter is that, at least for now, native apps are slicker than web apps, and can access more of the phone's capabilities.

The carriers had control of the app stores for a long time--until Apple's App Store, in fact.  I remember talk about having to get on the carrier's "deck" of apps that they shipped with a phone.  Well, they pretty much blew that opportunity by completely failing to innovate.  Now you don't need to work through the carrier to have a smartphone application, and the demand, usage and utility has soared.

App stores are a dramatically better way to discover new apps.  Hence the move to them on the desktop.

Telcos just are not good at rapid innovation--it is not in their DNA.  Nor would that definitely be a good thing.  Think about it.  The phone network has to work.  Bugs and downtime are major problems.  This is not Twitter crashing again, it is major panic time.  So telco engineers protect the functioning network above all.  Monkeying with new and exciting stuff has little upside.  That risk averse attitude permeates telcos.  It serves them well in their core business, but guarantees mediocrity when they expand beyond providing pipes.

So.....stay away from my app ecosystem, AT&T.  Make sure the tubes and pipes continue to work so the little gnomes that carry packets around the world can do their thing.

And don't say stupid things like the App Store is bad for consumers, when, very clearly, they think otherwise.  It is hard to think of when AT&T last did something that it own customers actually liked.  Maybe they are smoking that same shit at AT&T that Wall Street was toking a few years ago.

I chose to stay with AT&T for my mobile service because I like GSM.  I desperately want AT&T to get better, to give me more reasons to be happy with them.  But the stuff that they say continuously indicates that they are clueless.  Sigh.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Musings on SuperBowl commercials

The Super Bowl broadcast is, er, the Super Bowl of TV commercials.  It has become a showcase for short form video wizardry.

In case you missed them "live" (I mostly did), Hulu has your back. [UPDATE: Gadget is borked.]

As usual, some commercials were hits, and many more were just not impressive.

My favorite was Best Buy's commercial, because, well, you just can't go wrong with Ozzy.  I often wonder how much is scripted and how much is just Ozzy being Ozzy.  Along that line, VW's use of Darth Vader will always work for a certain demographic (probably the right one for VW).

There were a lot of other celebrity commercials that I thought did not work so well.  Groupon's commercials fell flat for me--the Tibet one in particular will probably ruffle a few sensitive feathers. Groupon is hoping to draw attention to those causes, but the snarkiness that is so funny to hipsters probably fell flat with a nationwide audience [UPDATE: It did. Groupon had to apologize and pull the ads.].  Sketchers' commercial with Kim Kardashian was better.  Audi's commercial probably had the best celebrity participation with Kenny G--wow, how long has it been since I've been impressed by Kenny G?

Universal's commercial for "Cowboys and Aliens" gave us a preview of the first flop of the summer.

Perhaps my highest scorn is reserved for Motorola's ad for the Xoom.  If you are going to knock off Apple's 1984 commercial, which is generally regarded as the best commercial of all time, you had better bring your A game.  Motorola did not.

My favorite ad of all time?  It would have been the 1984 commercial if they had eliminated the speech and text at the end, and instead just faded to the Apple logo.  That would have been magic, but probably not as effective at selling Macs, which back then were definitely a fringe item.

So, I think I have to go with Reebok's Terry Tate ads from five years ago.  Funny, and set up to go viral with a good web tie-in.  Plus, the branding is subtle.  Oh, and a nice homage to Office Space with the TPS reports.