Saturday, January 8, 2011

CES, Pastrami & Starbucks

Consumer Electronics Show
I'd love to say something clever and/or insightful about the Consumer Electronics Show but I've never actually been to it and this year was not an exception.  Given that I'm going to limit myself to a few observations.

Before I do that I'm posting a link to a BLOG entry that I really enjoyed.  The BLOG is called "The Daring Novelist" and the title is "Books Are Note Commodities! They're ... Pastrami On Rye!". In addition to being enjoyable to read the author makes a great point about specialization and differentiation and how important they are not only for writers, but for business that don't want to compete on price alone as well.

On to CES related topics.  I have a general sense of blah at this point as in general there hasn't been a lot of exciting news.  There are dozens, if not hundreds of Android based tablets coming.   Android 3.0 was demoed and while video of it looked very nice it doesn't seem like "Honeycomb" is going to be earth shattering, though the fact that it is aimed specifically at tablets is interesting.  In reality though the Android platform already provides significant functionality and a fairly good overall experience.  Where it falls short of Apple is in the applications space.  Android does have one advantage in that Google's various applications always debut and get updates on it first.  This is not enough to offset Apple's iPhone application ecosystem but it shouldn't be dismissed either.  Highly popular 3rd party apps do show up on Apple products first, but it is increasingly common to see them appear on Android.  Angry Birds and Pocket God are two examples.  Recently published data shows that Android has surpassed Apple in share of total smart phone subscriptions.  This is a compelling reason to conclude that most publishers are going to port at least their more popular applications to Android.

With the latest rumors claiming that the Verizon iPhone will be announced as early as next week the tables could very quickly be turned with Apple once again moving ahead in terms of total subscribers.  It's hard to see how a Verizon iPhone won't hurt Android some. It's not tragic for Apple even if Android stays in the lead. Apple sold less than half the computers that Dell & HP did last year but given Apple's far superior margins I suspect that either company would gladly switch places; particularly Dell given their declining market share.

One other CES related topic is the MakerBot Thing-O-Matic Kit.  Apparently MakerBot had some of the assembled kits at CES and they were very impressive.  I've been casually interested in CNC for a while now. The Thing-O-Matic looks like a nice/interesting tool, though with my sub standard mechanical skills I'd much prefer something that came already assembled.  Pricing seems reasonable given the capabilities.  Having one would be  like having your own little desktop factory.

One last item, apparently Starbucks is going to have a new logo soon. I've been thinking about this for a couple of days, and my first, second and third reactions aren't positive.  I understand the desire to remove the word Coffee from the logo given the direction the company is going in but I don't see the wisdom in removing "Starbucks".  It seems a bit arrogant and honestly the logo looks kind of naked and ugly with no text.  I don't think it is anywhere near as bad as the recent Gap logo debacle, but I will be curious to see how people react as they role this one out.

I added the following an hour or so after posting the rest.

A CES related event that I should have mentioned was Microsoft's announcement of support for ARM based CPU's.  This is another indicator that they are adjusting to the fact that monolithic PC's and operating systems are going to be a much smaller percentage of the total market in the future.  Smart phones and Tablets are increasingly powerful and with the addition of external displays and input devices when at home or work they are rapidly approaching the point where they could be most people's universal computing device of choice.  This is particularly true if you throw in the development of cloud based storage and application solutions as the risk of losing data declines significantly.

IT has oscillated between highly centralized and highly distributed models numerous times over the past four decades. With cloud based computing and highly mobile devices it looks like we're going to settle some place in between those two extremes.

Image via Wikipedia
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