Tuesday, July 27, 2010

3 strikes, but not out!

Under normal cicumstances, 3 strikes, and you're out!

If my car breaks down on me 3 times, I'd switch cars! 3 DSL issues later, I'm with Comcast.

Exceptions involve matters of the heart, strong  relationships, a lack of choice or irrational attraction! For example, I'm sure we've had more than 3 major disagreements, but my wife and I are still together (uh-oh!). I'm sure our teenager has broken major rules more than 3 times, but I still see him at home. If you consistently have major issues with your boss ... you may just have to suck it up and deal with it. And then, there's irrational (or rational) attraction...

The point? Well ... I've had 3 issues with Apple's magical device this week alone, but rather than walk away, which I'd have done under normal circumstances, I'm still open to giving the iPad a shot. This only happens when one has something to offer beyond what's normal... Yes! the iPad is special!

I was using (not testing) my brother-in-law's iPad (I'm still waiting for multitasking (iOS4?) and video camera - i.e., for my very own xmas gift, or maybe someone will buy me a birthday gift next month).

News Flash! Apple's no-flash decision bit me in the butt 3 times in 1 day! (I think the iPad is great otherwise - and FlipBoard is pretty awesome on it.)

First, I tried following lyrics for a song I'm trying to learn while listening/streaming it live from a Bollywood website - doesn't matter which! There's a flash music widget on the site, so I normally go to the page and the song starts playing, while I can  scroll down the Hinglish lyrics! Convenient! Flash may be slow, but who cares - I want to do it! It works on my Android phone.

Tough - it did not work on the iPad. No flash!

Second, I tried going to Flickr on the iPad - is it just me, or does Flickr not work on the iPad? Tough. No flash! Anyone who thinks that's a good thing for users? Apple fanboys?

Next, I went to my own website. I've updated my own site with CoolIris Photo-wall - pretty cool, if you ask me, i.e., desirable functionality on my website. Screech! I could only see 3 large gaping spaces on the iPad! My site is broken on the iPad (no flash) because ...
Book of Jobs #1 - Thou shalt spend the time to "sanitize" thy pages of vermin Flash.
I need to HTML5 it? Should that really be my priority, or should I spend time playing carrom with my kids before they go off to college?

Strike 3!

While most other products would have been out of consideration after this kind of experience, I'm still open to the iPad, because I believe it is a game-changing product. But you know, if there was a copycat in the market by xmas, with similar functionality (a fast follower?) and user-choice, allowing me to do what I want/need to do, maybe I'd be okay if the brand said Orange!

I think the Flash decision will eventually amount to a bite out of Apple - maybe a small one.

BTW - I don't think the issue has anything to do with the system being "closed". Open systems are good, but not a recipe for success. Apple, Facebook are flourishing examples of closed systems! It's about being able to do what you want/need to do. I wasn't sure about this flashpoint earlier, but now it just seems like a bad business decision.

Today flash, tomorrow AdMob ads, what's strike three for developers?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

iPhone FaceTime - a Silicon Valley relationship!

This is a true story, and has nothing to do with Antennagate! Read on!  If you liked my "search play" you'll probably  like this...

A sweet relationship begins...

It was an early morning in January 2007, and he saw her shapely figure emerging from the an Apple orchard in Cupertino. It was, cliched as it may sound, love at first touch (yes, she did let him slide his fingers across her whenever he so desired!)

She brought him the newspaper in the morning, sang his favorite songs for him, was with him night and day, and even accompanied him to work. His company agreed to pay for her to be with him. They had free lunch together at the cafeteria everyday. I guess they thought that if she would constantly remind him of the tasks he was to do for them, that would pay off...and it did!

They went on a Safari together, and she took care of all the navigation, finding interesting places, maps, directions and all sorts of great information. The remainder of his family felt pretty left out, as he was with her in heart and soul even when he was physically with family members. He didn't care. He was in love with her smooth and shapely figure and delightful touch.

Fall! He'd fallen head over heels in love and they were married. He had her in his pocket, and they spent all the time together.

A year or two passed - she introduced him to her sisters, who were actually prettier and flirtatious (Man! was he surprised at how fast they were!), but he stuck with his first love. She suited his needs, and he needed no other...

The contract had been signed. Til' death do us part, so it seemed...

Boredom in the relationship...

As often as it occurs in real life, this Silicon Valley relationship lost steam just as Silicon Valley employees lose interest in their companies. (like software engineers lose interest with a product after a while just when they've learned enough and become important for the product). She was just not as flawless as during the early days. She seemed to be a little sluggish in the mornings, and every photo did not show her in the best light. There was no optimal resolution to all situations. Her favorite rubber jacket was slightly ripped - she still wore it sometimes and she looked kinda shabby.

He still tried talking  to her, but she did not always listen! It was like she did not recognize his voice.

Then, there was news of this new lady in town. She was introduced first as kinda stoic and robotic, like an Android, but once you came to know her (really), she was actually quite slick and fashionable. His company offered him her company - and to be polite, he asked her out!

Pandora's box had just been opened! and the music just flowed...

With his new amour, things were just brighter and faster. Her face was like liquid, and rippled with enthusiasm every time he touched her.

With his wife, things just got sluggish and irritating.

He'd just started listening to a great new radio station online, and his wife always seemed to turn it off every time he asked her a question! It got so damn irritating, he wanted nothing to do with her. With her, Pandora's music softened everything they did together - it was a cruel joke.

Going out in the car was just different. His wife would constantly remind him to ask for directions, while she would speak them out as he held her in his hand. Never did he get lost again, never reminded again that "men never ask for directions! (but should)"

He would pick her up in his hands, and speak with her, and she would respond to his every suggestion. It's like she knew his voice, accent and all!

He made a clean break! The separation was a little painful, and he had to learn a whole new set of buttons to push, but he got there quickly. He missed the old records that he would listen to with his wife.

No Annulment

Their ATTorney, Bloody ATTgood said he was fine with the separation, although his wife had first introduced them. Further, since ATTgood had a deal with his company, he'd get a special discount for upcoming legal services. Sounded good! He trusted his lawyer at his word. He moved in with his first extramarital Nexus. He called her Nexy!

It was a few months when he started receiving his lawyer's repeated (irritating) SMSes. Apparently, he needed to pay more, the same pre-nuptial agreement could no longer be used with Nexy. His legal fees shot up, since apparently the lawyers were dealing with more complicated information - 3 G's more expensive! It sounded rather absurd - he did not feel like a million bucks! He'd spent enough on his wife to begin with!

He went through with it, and had to pay his lawyer more just to be with Next to Nexy. He was too much  in love with her to give her up and go back to his wife. Pay to play! The funny thing? With ATTgood, he did not get the 3 G's worth of service, as promised!

Then, he noticed that he was not getting the promised special discount with his legal fees - they were higher and were piling up, with no discount. What was he paying for? It took him months to find out. Call after call, ATTgood said they'd adjust his legal bills, but no discount was forthcoming!

He was mad, and called one more time, "I'm switching the legal service unless you tell me exactly why I'm not getting my promised discount. I have emotional trauma, and my relationship is in bad shape, and I'm paying more for your terrible services and dropped calls and you're ripping off my company discount. It's like a double-whammy, a single-EDGEd sword through my guts! It does not feel good, and now I'm beginning to think I should have stayed with my wife to begin with, so I wouldn't have had all this pain! I'm spending more money on this!

"Aah!" ATT-no-good croons. "It seems that I know what the problem is. The legal documents we have show that you are still married - to your WIFE! It's right here on the computer. Plain and simple."

"I thought I got that ANNULLED! I even paid more to make that happen, and to stop your stupid SMSes. "Are you an idiot? Or just a ****ing shark?" I'm not even getting anything more for paying more."

HE felt like the idiot for agreeing to all this!

All of a sudden, seemed like Nexy looked better in videos than in photos - she actually looked pretty dull in incandescent light, and her makeup was literally blueish in flourescent light. The damn flash didn't seem to do the trick either.

"Get the damn annulment, ATTnogood!" he bellowed. "Or I'm taking my legal services to T Mobile lawyer down T street!"

The party

The next weekend, he met his ex-wife at a party. She was wearing a brand new silver dress, with mesmerizing silver halter straps, and it looked like she had a glass sheen on her dress - front and back!

A couple of margaritas, and he wanted to go up to her, talk to her and see his face in her eyes! He wanted some FaceTime with her - she seemed to touch an emotional chord in him. She was looking prettier and brighter, and had lost some weight. Someone took a photo of her while he walked towards her, and there was a blinding flash. He saw that the photographer was delighted with the photograph.

There was a twinkle in her eyes!

The annulment was in flight, but he wanted to be with ... his wife ... again!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Football, execution, social networks and innovation!

The last month has been all about ... football ... and execution! Brazil, my favo(u)rite team, played the ultimate collaborative team game, weaving the ball around the field, and creating the most unexpected patterns in attack, but they had a single point of failure in defense, and their team network failed - instead of executing when in a position of strength (leading 1-0 against Holland), they focussed on denial-of-service attacks, and behaved as defensively as Yahoo! did vs. Google. The result -> they, like England, are out.  Beckham, in a fancy suit, was the marketing icon for both England and Yahoo! during the world cup. Marketing and execution are 2 different things!

I spent the last month at Bangalore, and one thing I learned, is that everything works there based on social networks. You call into the ether, you get Biryani delivered. You lower your car window and ask the autorickshaw-driver next to you, and you get to your destination (no need for Google maps :-)). "Aagey se right" and the social network executes for you. (Hyderabad is a different matter, as all answers seem to be "Seedha-eech". It's called "auto-forwarding to the next friend" :-)

Football is a social network - you pass the ball, you get it back, you score! It's like WebEx :-) The key learning is that the real power is in team-nets vs. anonymous social-nets. You want Messi on your team, not Joe the Plumber! This is true on the Internet as well - I trust my friends, colleagues more than anonymous followers.  This basically means that social features may have unexplored power in the enterprise (where the trusted team lives). (I'm not sure about the equivalent of a match-saving handball in social networks - blocking someone on Facebook?)

Maradona, with an opportunity to win, underestimated what the competition could do - the Argentine defense looked amateurish, especially on the 4th German goal (which should not have happened at a World Cup!!) You need  offense and defense to win, and that's true of technology as well. Yahoo! only had a "defense" strategy. Google and Facebook play like South American teams! Opt-out instead of opt-in is an aggressive strategy, followed by both.

Companies that underestimate the competion have chinks in their armor - which is why I place three elements into product strategy - mandatory features (trapping, passing, penalty kicks), defensive features (set plays, goalkeeping), and differentiating/offensive features (messi, forlan, klose and ronaldo9 (who may have done more than fabiano!)). Ghana lost because it missed a mandatory feature - slotting in a penalty kick when it mattered. African teams lose composure at key moments - unnecessary fouls late in games, etc. - they often beat themselves with a lack of discipline (Nigeria-Italy 1994)!  (similar to India/Cricket). Not so with teams like Germany, who have the ultimate discipline - they never beat themselves - you have to *beat* them, as Spain did today.  See this article on Africa's date with failure. Quoted:

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act, but a habit.” - Aristotle
This brings me to innovation. Innovation wins! Germany gave up on the old cross-and-head strategy. They innovated! England did not innovate, and their kick-and-rush was boring and predictable (even Beckenbauer said so). The result is that Germany's results were stunning. England came in with a Nokia and Germany spoke on an Apple iPhone 4 (4 goals/game?). I would not be surprised if Ballack being out actually helped Germany innovate. At the semi-final,  Germany played a scared, defensive, boring game, and got out-innovated! Simple! You need to play to win.

And when you have killer features in your product (Milito), play them to win!