No two ways about it: Microsoft hasn’t gone anywhere in Mobile so far

Screen shot 2012-04-09 at 1.24.26 PMWhile we are witnessing and analyzing what I at least take to be the slow-motion trainwreck that will be Windows 8/RT and the Surface RT tablet, it is worth bringing back to mind for a moment another already full-fledged trainwreck that is Windows Phone thus far. Nokia is still only selling Lumia phones at a 1 Million PER MONTH run rate in Q3.

Compare that to the 1 Million+ Android devices being activated PER DAY, as well as the recently announced 26.9M iPhones Apple sold in Q3, which is about a 300k per day run-rate. Microsoft and Nokia are going exactly nowhere, market share in Europe (which was supposed to be more Nokia-friendly than the U.S. market!)

“…Across the “big five” EU countries – the UK, Germany, Italy, Spain and France – Windows Phone now show[ing] a 5% share, up one point from a year ago.”
-> Guardian (many more sales stats there)

And TechCrunch recently wrote that “Windows Phone Is Taking Share From RIM”, which incidentally is dying and has been toast for a good while now. So when can we go ahead and declare that Windows Phone 7.x at least has been an unmitigated failure?

Yes, it is possible that things will pick up a smidge over time with WP 8.x, and some supposedly super-secret advantage of getting access to Windows compliant apps on a smartphone. Which so far is belied by the fact that there are very few such apps ready for Windows RT and the Surface RT.

Every review so far, even the largely positive trending ones, are complaining about the fact that the apps situation is looking very bad for MSFT, and Robert Scoble at least thinks from his mobile developer contacts he surveys regularly that that isn’t about to change much at all.

And you may say “who cares what Scoble thinks”, but in reality wasn’t the Windows RT and Surface RT launch supposed to be what would stem the tide of MSFT #PostPC era irrelevance and make everything better? So one would think that MSFT would have pulled out all of the stops to get a lot more apps developed, it’s not like they don’t have the funds to buy/bait developer interest directly.

So I just have to ask, what is the hold-up there?! Frankly, it doesn’t make any sense, especially since MSFT have already now been through the “chicken-and-egg” problem (essentially a vicious circle of negative reinforcers) re:low amount of apps / low sales / low developer interest / low amount of apps with WP7.x for about 2 years.

For Steve Ballmer, who once snidely remarked that he didn’t get Googles #Android / #mobile strategy, maybe the “learning curve” really is infinitely steep…?

Thoughts On Microsoft’s Surface Tablet Strategy

Screen shot 2012-06-19 at 3.47.00 PM[I first wrote this post on Google+ over here. Click through for more discussion and Curation there as well.]

I’ve been collecting my thoughts on the Microsoft “Surface” “tablet” since it was announced yesterday, and rather than trying to gel it into a longer coherent post, here’s the key points, rapid-fire, not necessarily in any particular order:

0) Vaporware… (by the way, in this context am I the only one who found it hilariously ironic that they called the case for this thing “VaporMag”…).

Says ZDNet in “Microsoft, What the Hell is Wrong With You?”:

So let me get this straight, Microsoft. You made journalists schlep across the country, no, the planet, for a product that might not ship for months? … no ship date, no prices and… no compelling 3rd-party applications or even Office to show on it whatsoever. So we have no idea how well it performs, and how well supported it will be by 3rd-party software developers. …No demonstration or even any claims of how good the battery life on each model is.

1) Microsoft just threw a grenade into their OEMs locker-room, and they must be pretty desperate about Windows 8/RT’s chances to have done so.

From the same ZDNet post:

…And if the Pro version of the Surface is powerful enough, with Intel Core i5 Ivy Bridge CPUs, why do we need Ultrabooks if we can just clamp a keyboard cover to a Surface Pro? Am I the only person who believes this thing is a total jump the shark cluster-you-know-what for Microsoft?

Right now, Microsoft’s OEMs — with the exception of whatever “lucky” company got the nod to do the contract manufacturing for this product — must be absolutely livid. To produce their own ARM and x86 Windows 8 systems, they have to pay exorbitant licensing fees. Windows RT is going to cost an estimated $85 per copy to your average OEM. A Windows 8 Professional license on x86 will be considerably more.

More on the possible intention of the Surface RT and Pro being “halo devices” at the bottom of the post.

2) Which brings me to the form-factor issue: The 10.6″ screen size makes both these tablets too large, while the “Pro” version at 2 pounds is also way too heavy, and ends up being more like a Netbook, no?

I’ve said for a long time that I find even the 9.7″ iPad with still wide bezel around the screen too large at times for truly mobile, non-tiring use. Same for the ubiquitous 10.1″ Android tablets. Which is BTW why I personally settled on a Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9, which also only weighs just under 1 pound, and makes for the perfect size/weight/handling combination for my tastes.

But 10.6″ weighing in at 2 pounds?! Who are they thinking will use this thing as a tablet? This truly is more in the direction of the meaning of “slate”/stone tablet…

It appears that MSFT are running headlong into the power-requirements for Win8/RT leading to non-tablet-y weight/size trap that I have pointed out repeatedly before as the Achille’s Heel of the whole Windows 8 “combined OS” enterprise (-> item #3). SeekingAlpha has a post up that goes in the same direction:

…its Surface Pro version still seems a bit half-baked. In the attempt to feed it Intel’s (INTC) Ivy Bridge i5, the device ended up being a little on the thick side and needing active cooling. It would seem Microsoft would do better to have a second go at this and use a slightly less powerful Intel processor, to get the device using passive cooling and getting a bit slimmer.

The whole point of the post-PC/iPad is low weight, low power consumption, and incredible battery life. #facepalm

3) And while Apple at least had a compelling reason not to make the iPad 3 lighter (it actually became a tiny bit heavier over the iPad 2 – interesting tidbit, Apple no longer lists the weight of the iPad 2 on the official specs sheet… you just can’t explain to the average consumer why it had to get a touch heavier…) due to the extra horsepower and battery required to run the Retina display, the screen resolution for the Surface RT (especially) and Pro versions will not even be close:

“The “Full HD display” Microsoft mentions in its spec sheet for the Windows Pro version suggests a 1,920×1,080 pixel resolution. That might also imply a 1,280×720 display (aka 720p) on the vanilla “HD” Windows RT Surface tablet.” –

So what we’ll likely have will be a slightly-too-large tablet built to compete with the iPad 2 specs, at the price around the iPad 3 or possibly worse ($400 – $600 range). And a Slate with near Ultrabook specs, but with a too-small-for-laptop-too-large-for-tablet 10.6″ screen. Macbook Airs/Ultrabooks in my view have a sweet-spot in the 11.5-13.5″ range.

And the 11.6″ screen Macbook Air is only 17mm thick at its thickest point, while the Surface Pro will be a 13.5mm slab throughout, not counting the covers with the keyboard and/or keyboard/trackpad options adding between 3 and 5mm, the latter putting it over the thickness of the MBA.

This same 11.6 MBA is priced at $999, right around where the Surface Pro will presumably be priced?! Oh, and another thing that no one I have read so far has addressed: How well do you think that “kickstand” thing on the Surface will work on your LAP?!

4) In summation, even in the realm of vaporware, Microsoft “magically” manages to dream up the worst of all worlds… a tablet that is too-large to be truly mobile, and out of spec (already! wait until the iPad 3S or similar refresh next spring…) with the current main contender, and so far has no 3G/4G option from all we know.

As well as a laptop that is saddled with a netbook-like too-small screen, and a tablet-like Accessories=Afterthought keyboard/kickstand “solution”.

All while managing to tick off their supposed OEM partners, highlighting the elephant in the room of too-expensive Windows 8/RT licensing costs to keep margins competitive on supposed Win8/RT tablets, and appearing generally desperate.

5) So I have to disagree with TechCrunch’s Matt Burns here:

…To me the Surface doesn’t seem like a serious iPad contender but rather a reference design or even a halo device. When released later this year ARM models will likely start around $400-$600 and x86 models will hit closer to $1,000. Even though it will likely never outsell the iPad, the Surface sets a clear standard for HP, Dell, Lenovo, Acer, and Asus. It shows the rest of the industry the proper way to make a Windows 8 tablet. –

To me, if intended as a “halo device”, they have shown the other OEMs precisely what not to do. This “Tweener” is a non-starter, like most overly Tweener devices tend to be.


More hints at the ill-conceived Win8 “halo device” strategy ->

…Also: “Microsoft Really Punched HP And Dell In The Gut… This is particularly awful for HP. It gutted Palm, dumped its WebOS hardware business, and banked heavily on Windows 8 devices. Now its biggest competition could be Microsoft.” –

The State Of Online Advertising Revisited

Screen shot 2012-03-13 at 9.11.33 PM[From a previous Amplify curation post “Very perceptive post about the potential for a new kind of Search on Facebook”, with UPDATES added below.]

[Screencap from under “Fair Use – Parody” ;) ]

Social Ads for the most part do not work, because the click-through rates are so abysmally low. But this concept outlined in the curated excerpts below could indeed be just the thing that would make advertising in social media something useful, as opposed to this.

It is very similar to my riff on the Super Tweet concept that was first raised by Scoble end of 2009, in response to Twitter announcing their initial advertising intentions. Which I have written upon previously, as well as the Advertising Failing On The Web issue in general.

The essence is the idea that by placing advertisements UNDER a contextual link you have to click to see them (along with other related content from the service in question, asf.), the act of clicking on that link puts the user in a completely different mindset than what typically happens during the more passive state of being interrupted during social media content consumption.

(And of course the effectiveness of the interruption decreases constantly, as users train themselves to just ignore the marketing messages as much as possible.) It is a more active, solution-focused mindset more in the vein of “classic” Web search.

AND it meets the other requirement I am always hammering home, that of contextual relevance: Offer people MORE of what they were already doing. Don’t try to offer them something random that has nothing to do with the context.

The “More like this” link could provide the necessary contextual glue! Twitter would be wise to shift their efforts in this direction as well, rather than trying to do this [instream ads, which users will train themselves to ignore in short order, like they have with every other form of unwanted display ad…] and be certain to reap mostly scorn and probably failure:

[post still needs to be transfered over from the now closed Amplify: ]

Clipped from – The Future Of Facebook Search:

Facebook continues to test and improve their own search results. Yet, are we too focused on how Facebook is tackling traditional search? What if Facebook added a simple More Like This link to certain news feed items?

Clicking on the More Like This link would return a news feed with related content. In this instance, it would return Open Graph pages related to Samsung and HDTVs.

… Implementing a More Like This feature relies on a number of assumptions. The largest of these assumptions is whether Facebook can identify the content of a news feed item. My example might be difficult because it’s a simple status update without a link that has Open Graph data already attached to it.

Why is this interesting? I believe a More Like This feature would change or move user intent. Search has traditionally been about intent harvesting. Users come to Google with an intent. (“I want to find a creme brulee recipe.”) At that point it’s a bit like shooting fish-in-a-barrel.

Why did I want to find that creme brulee recipe? What created that intent?

… A More Like This feature creates an interaction – an activity. The user is raising their hand and requesting more information about that content or topic. It might not be a traditional search – it may not translate into intent harvesting – but it’s certainly much further down the spectrum.

UPDATE: Riffing on “A Million (free) Angry Birds Downloads Exposes Critical Android Platform Fail”, which says “There is no possibility that an ad-laden video game is better than one without ads.”

Actually, there may be ways to make it very acceptable & lucrative for the App designer at the same time. The key is as with every other form of advertising online: Offer/sell people things that make sense in the context of what they were already doing!

You just have to step away from the “ad network” model, that will never work well because the offers will be way too random. But why is it that people playing Farmville on Facebook are paying real money to buy VIRTUAL tractors? Because the offer makes sense in the context of what they were already doing…

Anyway, Angry Bird’s makers could upsell the users from free to a premium version of the game. They could build in premium implements somehow a la Farmville. If you make each offer cheap enough to be an impulse purchase, people WILL buy. That’s why they put another quarter into the pinball machine or similar.

You can sell them Angry Birds “swag” trinkets (T-shirts, cups, posters, etc.) at Impulse Purchase prices. Etc. etc.

Jeff Jarvis on what I’ve been beginning to call “The Content Creator’s Dilemma”

Screen shot 2012-03-02 at 5.08.27 PM[From a previous Amplify curation post.]

Jeff Jarvis is pointing out several excellent recent examples of changing journalism practices in the age of the Real-Time Web, and ever more rapid Content Decay (that’s why they call it “old news”…). Is the news article becoming a luxury, and mere byproduct of other, larger reporting and #Curation efforts?

I’ve been meaning to write a longer post about what has been forming in my mind under the preliminary heading “The Content Creator’s Dilemma”, but… I haven’t found the time yet given the rapid-fire progression of topics in technology, in social media, in #dinomedia, etc. that I also wanted to at least curate here on Amplify to stay approximately “caught up”.

So shall we now add to the recent idiom “TL;DR” (Too Long; Didn’t Read), its mirror, “Too Long; Didn’t Write”?!

Because that’s how I’ve been feeling in regard to an increasing array of topics over the last 12-18 months. And why I’ve been so much more active over here on Amplify curating than on my own long form blog. Why in fact I’ve been arguing consistently for Curation as a concept:

It avoids reinventing the wheel, and dispenses with the cost of, as Jeff Jarvis calls it here “adding background paragraphs…those great space-wasters that can now be rethought of as links to regularly updated background wikis…”.

Because rather than create endless rephrasings of the same basic, introductory points (that no matter how well crafted in a single piece, are still subject to the same unforgiving new “laws” of rapid Content Decay), I would rather add those in “en bloc” from my own, or other people’s writing and clippings, and keep my own writing restricted mostly to the “tip of the spear”, the most relevant, most current, most novel or insightful take or connection of dots possible.

Because that is where value, if there be any at all, can still be created. That is why I firmly believe that Curation will “win”, that it is the nearly only sane stance to take in this digital new media reality. Maybe the only thing that anyone will still pay for.

As Jeff writes: “An article can be a luxury. When a story is complex and has been growing and changing, it is a great service to tie that into a cogent and concise narrative. But is that always necessary? Is it always the best way to inform? Can we always afford the time it takes to produce articles? Is writing articles the best use of scarce reporting resources?”

That is the essence of The Content Creator’s Dilemma: Too long, didn’t write… given the pincer-like twin threat of Content Overabundance and Content Decay.

Clipped from Buzzmachine – The article as luxury or byproduct:

A few episodes in news make me think of the article not as the goal of journalism but as a value-added luxury or as a byproduct of the process.

… At South by Southwest, the Guardian’s folks talked about their stellar live-blogging. Ian Katz, the deputy editor, said that live-blogging — devoting someone to a story all day — was expensive. I said that writing articles is also expensive. He agreed. There’s the choice: Some news events (should we still be calling them stories?) are better told in process. Some need summing up as articles. That is an extra service to readers. A luxury, perhaps.

The bigger question all this raises is when and whether we need articles. Oh, we still do. Articles can make it easy to catch up on a complex story; they make for easier reading than a string of disjointed facts; they pull together strands of a story and add perspective. Articles are wonderful. But they are no longer necessary for every event.

I’ve been yammering on for a few years about how news is a process more than a product. These episodes help focus what that kind of journalism will look like — and what the skills of the journalist should be.

… In a do-what-you-do-best-and-link-to-the-rest ecosystem, if someone else has written a good article (or background wiki) isn’t it often more efficient to link than to write? Isn’t it more valuable to add reporting, filling in missing facts or correcting mistakes or adding perspectives, than to rewrite what someone else has already written?

Freeconomics New Generatives + Impulse-Purchase Pricing = Kickstarter. Better Than Gov’t Grants for Artists!?

Screen shot 2012-03-02 at 4.11.56 PMKickstarter project crowd-funding is a fantastic example of how you can still sell, even when everything (at least in the digital/content realm) is trending toward $0/FREE.

1) Notice the way that the Kickstarter set-up allows for “donation” sales of $1, what I call pure Impulse Purchase territory: The amount is low enough that the vast majority of people don’t need to bring their rational/doubting/calculating brain into the equation at all.

2) More importantly, the various donation levels (=offers) all include the New Generatives principles that can still work with #Freeconomics:

Priority/exclusive access and experience/embodiment (live stream of the performance art event), plus patronage (the self-satisfied feeling from being a patron for the arts, etc.).

Next level up: Input into the creative process – experience/participation.

Next level up: A piece of the paper canvas – embodiment, uniqueness/authenticity/personalization.

Next level up: Lunch with the artist – personalization, experience/embodiment, exclusive access, etc.

And guess what? It works like a charm… almost 4 times the stated fundraising goal!

These principles apply to music and bands just as much as by the way.

[UPDATE: And Jason Calacanis is predicting that we will soon see a multi-million $ independent movie project on Kickstarter, possibly by the likes of Quentin Tarantino. Get the movie you want made by the director/artist you want! -> More here on this Google+ post. ]

Amplify’d from Mashable – Could Kickstarter Be Better Than Government Grants for Artists?

Artist Molly Crabapple has just been given $17,000 to lock herself in a paper-covered room for five days and make art until the walls are covered.

But that sum didn’t come from the National Endowment for the Arts or a wealthy patron; Crabapple, like many in her subversive art-making shoes, turned to Kickstarter to find funding for the stunt.

In her Kickstarter proposal, she outlined the basic premise of the project, dubbed “Molly Crabapple’s Week in Hell.” Anyone who donated a dollar to the effort would get to watch a live stream of the whole five-day shebang. Anyone who pledged $10 or more would get to name an animal for inclusion in the artwork; donations of $20 or more would get an actual piece of the ink-filled paper sent to them. And backers who fronted $1,000 or more would get an absinthe-infused lunch with the artist.

Crabapple set a $4,500 fundraising goal; so far, the total raised is $17,000 — enough to make a short film about the project, which Crabapple says will debut online shortly after Crabapple’s Week in Hell wraps.

REQUIRED READING: The Freight Train That Is Android – by Bill Gurley

Screen shot 2012-01-09 at 8.36.56 AMIf you care about #mobile and smartphones at all, it is crucial that you fully appreciate the depth of what is going on with Google’s Android strategy (which is why I’ve clipped a lot of key excerpts from this great post; by all means keep an eye on Bill Gurley, his stuff is usually excellent and in depth).

The only thing that they are lacking is Apple’s branding finesse, but it is pretty hard to compete with “LESS-THAN-FREE” in the long run…

Why would Google “bare [almost] any burden” (including the $12B purchase of Motorola Mobility, in large part to defend Android in the #PatentWars) to buy their way into this? Because… “The Future Of Mobile Is The Future Of Everything”.

From – The Freight Train That Is Android:

…the more I wonder if I too may have underestimated the unprecedented market disruption that is Android.

One of Warren Buffet’s most famous quotes is that “In business, I look for economic castles protected by unbreachable ‘moats’.” An “economic castle” is a great business, and the “unbreachable moat” is the strategy or market dynamic that heightens the barriers-to-entry and makes it difficult or ideally impossible to compete with, or gain access to, the economic castle. …

For Google, the economic castle is clearly the search business, augmented by its amazing AdWords monetization framework…and Google would clearly want to put a “unbreachable moat” around it. …

So here is the kicker. Android, as well as Chrome and Chrome OS for that matter, are not “products” in the classic business sense. They have no plan to become their own “economic castles.” Rather they are very expensive and very aggressive “moats,” funded by the height and magnitude of Google’s castle. Google’s aim is defensive not offensive. They are not trying to make a profit on Android or Chrome.

They want to take any layer that lives between themselves and the consumer and make it free (or even less than free). Because these layers are basically software products with no variable costs, this is a very viable defensive strategy. In essence, they are not just building a moat; Google is also scorching the earth for 250 miles around the outside of the castle to ensure no one can approach it…

Because they are “giving away” money to use their product, this creates a rather substantial conundrum for someone trying to extract economic rent for a competitive product in the same market.

This is the part that amazes me the most. I don’t know if a large organized industry has ever faced this fierce a form of competition – someone who is not trying to “win” in the classic sense. They want market share, but they don’t need economics. Imagine if Ford were faced with GM paying people to take Chevrolets? How many would they be able to sell?…

[First curated on]

Related -> This SiliconAlleyInsider Sub Headline Reveals Why You Must Move The Freeline

Thinking about your business on another level.