Thursday, October 25, 2018

The Lockheed Martins, the Boeings, the Raytheons, etc., should beware of the Amazons, the Googles, the Microsofts, etc. [RAWDUMP]


  • When you cannot sync your Google contacts [which you built over the years] with a phone, that phone starts to seem pretty useless even if its hardware is excellent. And an otherwise inferior phone that can sync your Google contacts starts to seem more practical and useful. Switching costs basically.
  • Sony might build excellent hardware, but what's stopping you from switching to another company for your next buy? Nothing. Sony doesn't know how to create switching costs for its customers [obviously this doesn't apply to Sony's PlayStation business]. Software and online services make you invest your time, energy and information in their services and create switching costs for you. The more you use a service, the more "invested" and locked you get into that service. Sony, Toshiba, Panasonic, Sharp, etc., focus on and create great hardware, but there's nothing in their products that makes it difficult for you to switch to another provider. And now that these online companies are dominant [people are totally locked into these services], that if you don't support all of these, even your great hardware won't sell.
  • No one should be fooled that the Amazons/Googles/Microsofts don't salivate uncontrollably when they look at the limitless revenues and profits of the military-industrial complex. Heretofore it was isolated from these companies. Electronics, software and Internet have made it possible for these companies to enter the defense/military/weapons business.
  • For now, these software companies are touching only the Cloud storage business. But they already own and are developing many technologies for consumers that have full-fledged military applications - image recognition, object recognition, video analysis, and a whole spectrum of other stuff. Step-by-step these technologies will be offered to the military.
  • What stops the Googles from finally starting to build software and associated Cloud-based services to fly and operate a fighter jet in a fully-unmanned fashion [aided in no small manner by the various image/face/object/video recognition technologies that they already possess]? None of the Northrop Grummans or the General Dynamicss have any of these technologies [nor can they quickly build high-quality ones even if they decide to invest the required amount of money]. It would be foolish to wager that BAE's software - any software - would be better than Facebook's or IBM's.
  • Dassault Group is a notable exception in the military-industrial complex. It has a full-fledged software subsidiary, which it can far more easily expand into a Internet+Cloud division, compared to pure-military players.
  • As the importance of software, Internet and Cloud grows in defense products, expect a lot of acquisitions of software/Internet/Cloud players by defense giants.
  • Smaller Cloud players such as IBM, Oracle, and others shouldn't lose sleep if the Pentagon awards its Cloud contracts to Amazon [or a mix of Amazon, Google and Microsoft]. Defense contractors will need deep software+Internet+Cloud capabilities and expertise in the coming future, and they'll be forced to turn to these "other" players to fulfill vast capability gaps. Lucrative business is right on the horizon from contractors, if not from the government.
  • An American Chevrolet or Ford car of the future which quickly and properly syncs with and works with all your Google, Amazon, Kindle, Alexa, Apple, iCloud, MSN, Microsoft, Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Yahoo Mail, Netflix, Hotmail, Outlook, and other accounts and services is better from the customer's standpoint than a German Audi or BMW which is weak in software and online services [even if the latter's car hardware is somewhat better]. Pay a lot to these American online giants or else people won't buy your cars. This is loss of control for Germans.
  • Think of what Android has done to the smartphone industry. Dozens of so-called "manufacturers" [basically assemblers] running after crumbs, and dictated to by Google. The real power is with Google, with YouTube, Play Store, Chrome, etc. All of these phonemakers are "expendable assets". Replaceable assets. German cars could become the same. The car of the future could be such that the real value would be in the operating system, applications, data and online services attached to it. Buy [or rent] a car from anyone, and login to your Google account to transform it into your personalized vehicle. Later logout and the car is ready to be used by another fella.

Monday, September 24, 2018

One way BlackBerry can differentiate its smartphones is by being appealing to customers who need conservative, traditional features

Physical keyboard is a "traditional" feature. By including this in many of its latest phone models, BlackBerry already attracts those customers who like traditional features. This class of customers either doesn't like quick or radical change, or doesn't want to lose traditional features, or likes certain "power" features. Examples of such features/traits:
  • Physical keyboard.
  • Removable battery [clearly a concerted decision by phone-makers].
  • Rubberized or textured backs [these actually look pretty good] [there's a mad race towards glass backs which is making already-fragile phones even more fragile].
  • 3.5 mm headphone jack.
  • Compact/small size, but not overly skinny/thin.
  • Hardware switches to electrically disable camera, microphone, location-tracking chips, Bluetooth, and so on, without having to trust software.
  • Memory card slot for expandable storage.
  • More features can be thought.
No manufacturer seems to be catering to power users who need such features. The hunger is there, but it isn't being addressed. BlackBerry should see and seize the opportunity. There's no point becoming a "me too" and engaging in fierce competition with Xiaomi, Huawei, Lenovo, Motorola, Samsung, Nokia, LG, Oppo, Vivo, Meizu, ZTE, etc.


Sunday, September 16, 2018

In some cases, a buyer should ensure that he helps all his different suppliers so that all of them survive, thus preventing a monopoly

  • It Apple continues to buy OLED / AMOLED displays from only Samsung, it's possible that in the future LG's OLED business goes bust, leaving Apple with Samsung as the only supplier. Assured extortion of Apple by Samsung will follow [considering the significant superiority of AMOLED over LCD and the lack of an alternative equivalent technology].
  • It is Apple's duty to make sure that a thriving supplier base exists for its needs, even if this means that sometimes Apple has to buy some components at higher prices - than can be bought from the dominant supplier - just in order to ensure the survival of weaker suppliers.
    • Such lessons aren't taught in business schools. MBA books preach / teach buying all your needs from the supplier which supplies you a component at the lowest cost [everything else the same], in order to minimize your costs and to maximize your profits. This short-term view neglects the possible negative future consequences of the erosion of your supplier base and the establishment of a monopoly supplier [not even God can stop this monopoly supplier from exploiting you in every possible way].
    • Such a dire scenario is all the more possible if you - like Apple - are a very large buyer, and if you not buying from a particular supplier - say LG - can result in the bankruptcy of that supplier. In such a case, it's vital that you help that supplier [in order to help your own self].

Saturday, September 15, 2018

It's very, very sad that Apple has discontinued the best-sized phone in the world, the iPhone SE [RAWDUMP]

ALSO SEE OID 258Z
  • This ongoing move towards bigger and bigger phones is sheer madness.
  • Manufacturers know that these monsters are difficult to hold, use and carry, yet they won't stop their march towards converting phones into phablets and tablets.
  • Apple, a company that was legendary for ergonomics under Steve Jobs, has foolishly joined this bandwagon of Android phone companies.
  • iPhone SE, along with Sony's XZ1 CompactSony Xperia Z1 Compact, and BlackBerry Q10, was the most ideal-sized smartphone ever [obviously, iPhone 5, 5s, 5c were of similar size]. It fits perfectly in your hand and in your pocket and is a delight to hold and use [even with one hand]. Even the iPhone 6s, though still quite easy to hold, is a bit more than what a phone should be.
  • It's really bad that very few, if any, powerful phones are left that don't happen to be monster-sized [XZ1 is the best one, while XZ2 is bigger so not really ideal in size]. Welcome to capitalism, where only profits matter and usability be damned.
  • Anyway, I still think Apple should've launched an updated iPhone SE, with the following improvements over the original:
    • ADD: Ion-strengthened glass, oleophobic coating [6s]
    • ADD: Wide color gamut display [7]
    • UPDATE: Apple A10 Fusion [7]
    • UPDATE: PowerVR Series7XT Plus (six-core graphics) [7]
    • UPDATE: Front camera to 5 MP, f/2.2, 31mm [6s]
    • UPDATE: Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, hotspot [6s]
    • UPDATE: Yes, with A-GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO, QZSS [6s]
    • UPDATE: Non-removable Li-Ion 1960 mAh battery (7.45 Wh) [7]
    • UPDATE: Touch ID [6s]
    • CHANGE: Power/unlock button on the right side rather than top [6s, 7]
    • UPDATE: iOS to 12
    • UPDATE: Internal storage options only 64 GB or 128 GB
    • ADD: Double-tap to wake.
    • ADD: Either double-tap to immediately lock/sleep display or a special icon which needs to be double-tapped.
    • Other features/ports not to be changed/removed [especially headphone port].
  • Should've priced this at USD 549 [64] and 649 [128].
  • Continuing to sell the SE makes strategic business sense too, if not tactical. Why? To maintain iOS' network effect against the onslaught of an Android that seems omnipresent, Apple needs the support of a large install base. SE's lower pricing and its attractiveness to a "different" base of users [those who want an iPhone but can't afford more than ~600 USD, or those love and value compact phones, or both] means that the SE would've given Apple the numbers it needs to make sure that a large number of folks use iOS, thus driving usage, familiarity, feedback, discussions on online forums, downloads, installs, word-of-mouth, and so on.
 

 

 

Update [17-Sep-18]: Now I realize that the world needs a fully-powerful small-sized phone too. So Apple could instead launch iPhone SP [Small+Performance], with the following features:
  • Size identical to iPhone SE.
  • A12 Bionic processor [also update graphics chip].
  • 3 GB RAM.
  • 7 MP front camera.
  • Stereo speakers.
  • Instead of Face ID, give the most up-to-date Touch ID sensor.
  • Multicolored LED notification light. Current iDevices have no way to tell you that you have a missed call if you don't turn on the device's display. It's bad.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Almost-accurate machine translation of human language can be dangerous - its occasional inaccuracy can lead to wrong decisions

The point here is that if machine translation becomes so good that you become so confident about it that you don't think you need to cross-check or double-check the automated translation, then this can lead to wrong and potentially dangerous actions/decisions [the assumption here is that merely "almost-flawless" automated language translation can create this high level of confidence or trust in a human user, and that "fully-flawless" level of accuracy isn't required]. Since the translation service is not 100% accurate but only almost-100%, it will inevitably make occasional errors/mistakes. But since the human user has complete confidence or faith in this service and so he doesn't feel the need to get the automated translation checked [manually - by a human translator], the error/mistake can be [silently] accepted by the human user as if it were the correct translation [that is, the human won't even realize that there's any flaw in the translation]. This can lead to erroneous actions or decisions. If doctors rely solely on such "almost-perfect" computer translation, serious medical blunders can occur.

An example of very good automated translation is below. How can I claim that the translation correctly depicts what was originally written in Ukrainian? I read a few news stories [in English] about this Ukrainian-language webpage. But I cannot be sure that those news outlets got this page translated by a human, or they themselves too relied on Google Translate.




Update [7-Oct-18]: Another [representative] scenario where an almost-accurate system can lead to catastrophic outcomes is an imaginary crying-infant detector device which continuously listens to incoming sounds, and can identify sounds that resemble a crying infant. It alerts the parents - who are sitting at some distance - when it detects this crying. Support it's "so" accurate that parents start to depend blindly on it. Suppose its real accuracy is 99.5%, whereas the parents consciously or subconsciously start to assume - based on their real-life experience with the device - that it's "virtually" 100% accurate. Now this can lead to fatal mistakes. What if a particular type of low-volume, intermittent crying by an infant falls in that 0.5% category, and the device doesn't raise an alarm, and the parents falsely assume that all is well, and the infant keeps crying for a long, long time? It's a scary scenario. In any such high-stakes scenarios, any machine-based system better be at least as accurate as a human. Nearly-100% can produce fatal outcomes due to blind faith and by the system's human users. As it's sometimes said, good enough is not good enough.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

In offline retail we discover and choose, in online retail we have to trust the results shown to us [COMPACTIDEA]

Realized this on 10-Jun-18 when doing some searches on Amazon India [screenshot below], and once again today when read this article on NYT. Can I trust Amazon's search results for my query? What if it has secret deals with some manufacturers to covertly promote their products in the search results [even if those products aren't the best]? What if Amazon is trying to sell me Western-made products [or American] rather than Asian ones, in order to "help" its fellow American companies? Considering how dirty these giant Western corporations are, I don't think there's any reason to trust them [especially when electronics and software give their deeds invisibility and also deniability].

When we enter a physical market or supermarket, we roam around and choose what we want to buy. Although the placement of products on different shelves - in terms of visibility - has some similarity to which search results are shown on top on Amazon, the similarity isn't too strong and it's also hard for the supermarket to quietly show different "results" to different shoppers.


A thought similar to this occurred to me in 2012 too. The conclusion remains the same. Let us fear our fellow Indians less and these Westerners more.

Look at the screenshots below - searches performed on Amazon India just moments ago. Amazon is literally trying to kill Energizer and Duracell, perhaps by juxtaposing its own much cheaper deal with a handpicked far more expensive deal from Energizer/Duracell [and maybe by sinking better deals by these two brands much lower on the search results page].



Friday, May 4, 2018

Samsung needs a brand positioned at low-end so that it can sell affordable products to fiercely compete with Chinese sellers without spoiling the premium image of the Samsung brand

PROBLEM: Samsung is trying to be present in every product segment with the same Samsung brand. Won't work in the long run. Selling both ultra-cheap basic mobile phones and also iPhone-rivaling Galaxy S9 smartphones under the same brand isn't a good idea. The ultra-cheap basic phones spoil the premium image of the Samsung brand. Further, in light of my this prediction, Samsung is continuing to face immense pricing pressure from Chinese smartphone-makers [and the Chinese firms are going to get only better and better].



SAMSUNG'S RESPONSE AND WHY IT WON'T WORK: In response, Samsung is trying various [mostly desperate] tricks, like churning out some models with "alternative" SoCs from MediaTek or Spreadtrum, among other things. While these tricks could/should eventually be successful, such lower-end products will also dilute the overall premium image of the Samsung brand, and this could end up hurting Samsung more than helping it. No owner of a Galaxy S9 will like or accept it if his maid is also talking on her Samsung-branded phone. Or if his driver takes out his J2 Pro from his pocket [with the same usual Samsung ringtone as the one on his S9!]. That's the real issue basically, in frank words. Not only does a rich man want product-exclusivity [S9 gives this, since his maid/driver can't afford a S9], he also wants brand-exclusivity [Samsung brand doesn't give this to him, whereas brands such as Bang & Olufsen and even Sony give this because these latter two brands only play in the high-price space, thus cutting out maids/drivers].



SOLUTION: A good solution [and maybe the only?] to this problem is that Samsung should create a new, separate brand which is positioned in such a way that it can take on the Xiaomis and the Huaweis through fierce pricing and other methods/promotions without negatively touching the flagship Samsung brand. It can do all those things under the banner of this new brand that it can't be seen doing under the main Samsung brand. Crucially, however, the procurement and manufacturing of this new brand should be in the same factories/plants as Samsung-branded products, so that costs remain under control [think of VW producing both Volkswagen and Skoda cars under the same roof, without the buyer knowing about the immense commonalities]. This dual-brand strategy is numerically the lowest-possible case of the multi-brand strategy used by the world's top hotel groups - Hyatt, Radisson, Marriott, Hilton and others. While these hotel chains go to the extreme, with perhaps a dozen or more brands, Samsung can likely solve its problem with just one additional brand.

It should be noted that customer segmentation done by these large hotel groups is done on two levels - brand-level and product-level. For example, if you choose the Hampton by Hilton brand, you've already chosen a rather affordable brand from within the various Hilton brands. You've thus expressed your customer segment on the brand level. Now within a Hampton by Hilton hotel, further fine-level segmentation happens when you choose a room type - King Room, Suite, Twin Room, etc. Similarly, the various smartphone models that Samsung sells can be thought of as produce-level segmentation, whereas the two different brands that Samsung should run will cover the brand-level segmentation.



Saturday, March 31, 2018

The need to be seen as leading everywhere - no matter the cost - can make a leader take dangerous, harmful and inefficient decisions, and this can contribute to the demise of this leader's leadership

Because America is the leader in many areas, it now has this urge to appear as the leader everywhere, even in areas where either it isn't the leader or where it doesn't necessarily need to be the leader [or need to only appear to be the leader]. This ongoing desire to look like the boss makes America take incorrect actions many times. Actions which cause an overall harm to America, while making America look like it's leading others. A good example is the currently ongoing case of British accusations against Russia of using a nerve agent to poison a former Russian spy on British soil [no evidence provided by the UK so far]. Britain expelled 23 Russian diplomats, and Britain along with the United States pressured countries across the world to expel Russian diplomats to show "solidarity" with Britain. Many countries - chiefly those without an independent foreign policy and which are in reality merely vassals of the US - succumbed to the pressure and expelled Russian diplomats [in different numbers]. Now, America being America felt this pressure to be seen leading these expulsions. It couldn't accept being seen somewhere in the middle of the list of countries expelling Russian diplomats, so it expelled 60 Russian diplomats - far more than any other country, including the UK - in order to come out as the clear leader of this effort ["topping the charts"].

Now, America spoiled its own relationship with Russia in order to not be seen in the middle of a list of countries taking anti-Russia actions. Was this a wise move tactically or strategically? In my opinion the self-created pressure to always seem like the boss forced America to take a route that was not the best route to take, and this action will hurt the US more than helping it [even if the negative effects become visible after a long time]. This generalization seems to apply manywhere - those who feel the desire/need/pressure/urge to be seen as leaders might unknowingly take inefficient or self-harming actions just to fulfill or satisfy this need, without consideration to which course of actions is the most beneficial.


Saturday, February 24, 2018

Sony must resist the temptation to get into everything once again and should instead maintain its focus and direction [COMPACTIDEA]

Sony's flirtation with tax-hailing is a distraction, not an opportunity. Sony is recovering, but profits shouldn't mean that Sony [once again] gets distracted and starts doing things it shouldn't be doing. Cabs and taxis aren't things Sony should be concerned with. Leave those to the Olas and the Ubers. Instead, Sony should stay laser focused on business and consumer electronics, software, online services, cameras, chips/components/sensors, game consoles and games, smartphones and tablets, IoT devices, automotive electronics, robots, etc. These are the businesses that are Sony's strengths and that Sony can do well in.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Amazon's online stores aren't insurmountable - Google Play can easily be converted by Google into a broader online store for everything

Sometimes it might seem like Amazon.com, Amazon.in, etc., are insurmountable online stores. But take a look at that Google Play store inside almost every Android phone out there. What stops Google from converting it into a general-purpose online store selling everything from shirts to jewellery to perfumes to industrial products? In my opinion, nothing, actually. The Play store already has massive "footfall" in the form of billions of Android users browsing, searching, surfing, and using the store. Google also has deep knowledge about what its/these users like and want, based on their Google searches, Gmail emails, Chrome URLs, YouTube video viewing, Google Play applications installed, and so on. Using this trove of data, Google can target specific products at individual users [just like currently it targets ads for products/services]. The Play store doesn't have to be - and eventually/probably won't be - restricted to only movies, TV shows, magazines, books, games, applications and other types of digital content pieces. I think Amazon knows that it's vulnerable in this way.


Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Buying online rather than offline can make you richer on an overall basis even if you pay more money for your online purchases on, say, Amazon

The basic idea here is that if buying online - say on Amazon.in or Flipkart or Jabong - saves you time, then you can utilize the same time to earn more. The extra income [or profits] that you generate from this newly-released time will most likely compensate [many times over] for any [slightly] higher prices that you might have paid for making your purchases online. One of the questions to be asked is this - will you be able to invest the time saved into raising your income? This is related to the fantastic concept of opportunity cost. Another question to be asked is - [how] does buying online save you time? The answer to this question is a relatively straightforward yes - you don't have to drive to the market [or to different shops], you don't have to waste time finding parking spot for your car, you can do comparisons far more quickly online than offline, you won't get stuck in costly traffic jams, you can sort and filter as you like, and so on. Another thing, if you don't want to invest the newly-liberated time into increasing your income, you can always use this extra time for enjoyment and entertainment activities, say with family and/or friends. You'll certainly be happier even if not richer. And who knows, your extra happiness might by itself make you wealthier!

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Thought experiment - how would we think about alternatives to Microsoft Office if we were told and assured that compatibility of file formats will be pristine and perfect for all suites

ALSO SEE OID 224Z, 225Z

Just like compatibility of JPEG or .txt or HTML is largely similar and perfect irrespective of application used. If 100% file-format compatibility was assured, I'm sure that the landscape of productivity suites would be much more fragmented in terms of market share. There wouldn't be just Microsoft Office dominating. Corel WordPerfect Office, SoftMaker Office, LibreOffice, Apple iWork, Google Docs, IBM Lotus SmartSuite, AppleWorks, and others would also have had meaningful market shares, depending upon which customer segment they targeted/target. Different office suites from different vendors are priced differently, have innovations of their own, and are targeted at different types of customers, but the only thing that stops people from happily accepting these is compatibility with Microsoft Office file formats. Remove this barrier and all of a sudden people will start choosing that particular suite which best matches their requirements for features, contained applications, price and other factors. Currently people are forced to ignore these other requirements because of file-format issue.

North Korea's rocket, missile and nuclear weapons programs all probably got significant help from piracy of widely developed and available Korean-language software packages, research papers, and other scientific books and knowledge

It's kind of ironical. The very fact that North Korea and South Korea are brethren is one of the likely factors for the fast pace at which the North's rocket, missile and atomic bomb projects have evolved. Because of the South's vast, developed and flourishing economy, there's widespread availability of advanced, Korean-language 3D CAD, CAM and simulation programs, as well as top-quality scientific and research papers on physics and mathematics, including perhaps on engine design and rocket science. It isn't hard to imagine that a lot of this knowledge got transferred to the North, either because it was already available on the Web, or because of piracy. Once the North got/gets access to a particular advanced program, it was/is forever. You can't undo it. And because it was/is in Korean language, they're immediately comfortable with it and start milking the benefits. Had the North been a state with its own, separate, nowhere-else-used language, it wouldn't have been able to as easily understand and/or use software applications in other languages [because no meaningful software company would've developed applications in this nowhere-else-used language of North Korea].

Saturday, January 6, 2018

It can't be ruled out that Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities were deliberately crafted by Intel at the request of NSA, or to force the world to replace, or both [COMPACTIDEA]

Don't take whatever is happening at face value. In the case of these giant American corporations, anything is possible. It's more likely than not that these spectacular "bugs" were deliberately introduced in the microprocessors, either because the rouge agency NSA wanted to covertly steal data from all over the world, or because Intel wanted to force the entire world to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on buying new technology equipment from the computing industry [including itself, of course], or both. The general public can never understand the nefarious thinking of those at the top of these evil private companies. There's more to this development than meets the eye.