Archive for January, 2007

Capturing the Power: Week of 1/28/07

Wednesday, January 31st, 2007

Mobility is a wonderful thing. As mobility gets built into all products and services, businesses need to learn how to both capture the power of mobility and manage the dangers introduced through mobility. Here are some examples of how the power of mobility is being applied to create competitive advantage:

Complete list here

Business Models: January 2007

Tuesday, January 30th, 2007

As the Mobility Era matures, obviously a key question will be “how to make money?”. There are plenty of opinions on the best answer to this question. The below is very inclusive and I provide no editorial functions, so don’t take from my selections, ordering, headlines, etc. any indications of the interests or plans of my employer (if you do, you’ll undoubtedly be disappointed when they don’t play out):

Managing the Danger: Week of 1/28/07

Tuesday, January 30th, 2007

In order to be winners in the new mobile era, businesses will not only need to capture the power of mobility, but also manage the danger. Highlighted below are recent examples of the danger of mobility and how some firms are beginning to manage it:

The complete list is here.

Big Bell Dogma: January 2007

Monday, January 29th, 2007

As we work to build mobility into every product, service, and process, our greatest inhibitor is the mindset represented by those who defend the tethering of products and processes to specific places. This mindset is fueled by the investments that have been made that establish power in the companies, departments, and individuals that stand in the way of mobilizing our lives and our businesses. These investments are not always in hard assets, but often are investments of time and experience to establish intellectual and relational assets. We should expect our assault on these “fixed” ways to be defended to the death. Here are recent examples:

And here is an interesting observation on the difference between what a Big Bell brand stands for and what a Wireless brand stands for and what customers think of each: Techdirt’s analysis.

Complete list here.

(For more context, read the Mobile Declaration of Independence.)

Converged Products: Week of 1/28/07

Monday, January 29th, 2007

The most convenient way that mobility is getting built into products is through the convergence into the cellphone of capabilities that previously existed as standalone products. That way, those products are now with you and available for your use whenever you need them wherever you go.

Complete list here.

Recent Research: January 2007

Sunday, January 28th, 2007

Research is good. Free highlights from expensive research reports are great. Here are some recent headlines:

Beyond the Phone: January 2007

Saturday, January 27th, 2007

Converging products into a cellphone is one way that mobility is getting built into every product, but it’s not the only way. Every month, I’ll focus on devices that are integrating the power of mobility into products themselves in ways that create new value for the customer. Power up!

Enabling Technology: Week of 1/21/07

Friday, January 26th, 2007

The Law of Mobility talks about value increasing with mobility. The impact of this law is being felt because the barriers to building mobility in are being obliterated week after week. Here are examples of technology advances enabling this to happen:

Full list here.

Indicators: Week of 1/21/07

Thursday, January 25th, 2007

More and more, the world around us reflects the growing assumption of the law of mobility. Each week we will track indicators of Mobility’s growing importance in our businesses, our lives, and our society:

Full list here.

Why Apple May Fail in Cellphones

Wednesday, January 24th, 2007

Everyone assumes the iPhone (or whatever it will be called) will be a huge success.

I’m not convinced.

I lean towards being an Apple fan, but if the company continues on their current path, I believe they are drastically limiting their opportunities for success in this market.

For starters, consider these two questions:

  1. Would you consider the iPod to be a market success?
  2. Would you consider the Macintosh to be a market success?

One could argue that the answer to both questions is “Yes,” but as you considered them I’m guessing your reaction to the two questions varied significantly.

The Mac has done okay.  Especially compared to the vast array of PCs running Microsoft operating systems, it’s hard to call the Mac a market winner.  (Note: I am making no editorial comment here about whether the Mac OS is better or worse than Windows, or which I like better or which is better suited to most people.  My vote would be with Apple by those criteria.)

The reality is that most people won’t buy a Mac.

Why not?

For starters, it’s priced higher than equivalent functionality from other brands (if you can even compare a Mac to a Windows PC…).  Most folks aren’t willing to pay the premium.

Second of all, the Mac does not run much of the software that folks are used to using on their PC.  Sure, there may be “better” equivalents on the Mac, but fear, uncertainty, and doubt keep the masses on their familiar Windows platforms.

Third, Apple has significantly limited the number of channels that can sell a Mac, and has changed the rules on channels over the years scaring away many otherwise valuable partners who now focus solely on Windows systems.  There are probably a dozen stores within five miles of my house that would sell me a Windows PC, but not a single store selling Macs.

Despite all this, Mac fans are insanely loyal.  Apple has made an awesome product.  But that product leadership has not translated into market leadership.

Now, what do we know about the iPod?

The iPod carries a premium price.  Over time, Apple has introduced a broad range of iPod products so that more people can afford to buy one, but even their lowest priced iPods are priced at a premium relative to similar capabilities from competitors.

Apple went out of their way to quickly land virtually all the songs that someone could want in the iTunes store.  iTunes also supports ripping music from your personal collection to load onto your iPod.  Apple has been pretty nasty about making it hard for competing online music stores to work with the iPod, but that hasn’t hurt consumers enough to reject the iPod because the iTunes store is competitive enough in selection and price.  So, the “availability of software” issue with the Mac is NOT an issue for the iPod.

Apple sells the iPod through a very broad array of channels.  I can find the iPod in lots of stores that I normally go to anyway in the course of my normal shopping experience.

The iPod, undeniably, has been a huge market success.

Which path is the iPhone headed down?

The iPhone is priced at a premium.  Over time, Apple likely will have a range of iPhones at different price points, but they likely can only strip out so much and still have the value proposition they introduced as the iPhone.  I believe the market will be limited.  Of the next billion people to become mobile users, a very very small percentage will be able to afford an iPhone.

Apple has indicated that the iPhone will be a closed platform.  It will be very hard for third parties to introduce applications to run on the iPhone.  There are tons of applications already running on Java phones, Symbian phones, Palm phones, and Windows Mobile phones.  Those applications will have a hard time moving to the iPhone, seriously hurting Apple’s appeal to current mobile customers.

Apple has indicated a very limited channel plan.  This could change, and I would recommend Apple look very hard at this, but early indications are that Apple wants to keep the channel extremely limited.

All of this points to a product with market success approximating the Mac much more than that approximating the iPod.  That’s not good for Apple and, honestly, it’s not good for the rest of the community either (consumers and developers most notably). 

Let me introduce one last comparison for your consideration.  Think about Linux.  Is Linux a market success?  Probably not.  Not yet anyway.

The Linux OS is moving increasingly into the cellphone market.

Linux is the opposite of premium pricing.  Some would say that Linux is “free.”

Linux is as open as can be.  All developers are welcome.

Linux has channel challenges, more because channels aren’t yet interested in the product than because anyone is intentionally limiting who is allowed to sell it.

Like the Mac, Linux has fans who truly are fanatical.

Over the next 12 months, 24 months, 5 years… what do you think will sell more, phones based on an Apple OS, or phones based on Linux?

Apple may have changed its name, but when it comes to the iPhone, the company is still acting like Apple Computer, Inc.