Post Microsoft

10 years ago Microsoft software was dominant in my usage – Windows, Office, Messenger, IE, and probably more.

Today, the only Microsoft product that I use is Visual Studio Code (I switched from Sublime Text last year).

I haven’t used Windows, IE or messenger in a decade. I do occasionally use Excel and Skype, when someone insists, but have neither installed on my devices.

Continue reading Post Microsoft

Android Keyboards in India

Why don’t Android phones sold in India come with Google’s Indic keyboard set up as default?

Specially for phones that don’t ship with proprietary/3rd-party keyboards, doesn’t it make a lot of sense to pre-install Indic keyboard over the default English keyboard?

It’s such a small step, yet can be quite a big enabler for the users (and, even, possibly a differentiator) – using the power of defaults to deliver a better user experience!

Smart wearables – ‘Game Theory 101’ case study in the making

Google announces a platform for wearables, inviting its industry partners to conceptualise, design, and deliver actual devices.

Apple will release its device(s) – polished, with unified design, closely integrated with rest of its hardware offerings.

Google can then choose to let its industry partners respond, or actively force direction with a Nexus watch kind of product.

Apple might choose to respond by adopting features from Google where it’s lacking, attacking with lawsuits where it’s leading, and with refining the allure of its own product where it sees the need.

It’s a multi step game, one side has huge brand loyalty and an integrated device-platform play, the other has flexibility in strategy and ability to flank. One wants to maximise earnings from hardware sales, other wants more users on its platform.

Neither will play for a draw, though that’s a result both will gladly (eventually) accept.

Place your bets, buckle up, and get ready for a ride.

It’s Game On. Again.

Continue reading Smart wearables – ‘Game Theory 101’ case study in the making

What does $3.2 Billion buy you?

Motorola – a Google company, no more.

What?

In August 2011, Google bought Motorola Mobility for a reported price of USD 12.5 Billion. This included cash and credits of about USD 4 Billion. Net price paid: USD 8.5 Billion.

After a year and a half of shedding employees and departments, and putting some of its own execs in-charge, Google sold the home equipment business of Motorola to ARRIS in December 2012, for USD 2.35 Billion.

Finally, on 29 Jan 2014, Google sold the remaining operations of Motorola Mobility to Lenovo for USD 2.91 Billion. Except the patents. It kept the patents for itself.

Why?

So, after all the buying and selling ended, Google ended up picking a bill of about USD 3.2 Billion. What did they get for that not-so-insignificant amount?

Some, from one end of the tech divide, will tell you they got some dud patents and a hole in the pocket.

Others might differ. Martin Bryant put out one insight on Twitter:

Google keeps most patents after reviving an ailing player in the Android ecosystem: a Machiavellian scheme if it was all preplanned.

[Update] Chris Lacy had other angles in mind:

Samsung made app concessions, Google left phone hardware & there’s a S/G patent deal. Lots more to this. Reporters, go investigate & report.

[/Update]

The truth, I guess, is somewhere in the middle. Google did end up brilliantly reviving an ailing player, one with a strong existing brand, in the Android ecosystem. They still might have overpaid for the patents, though no one will ever really know unless they’re tested in a court. The sale also helped assuage any troubled feeling amongst other players in the Android ecosystem who may have started feeling threatened by a reviving Motorola owned by Google. Individually, none of them seem worth the money. Together, they start to seem like a master stroke.

The Answer

So, to answer the question in the title: USD 3.2 Billion buys you about 20,000 patents (incl pending) of some value, a vibrant market for your product (Google’s flavour of Android), cooperation of key market partners, and a stake in a fast growing but controversial market without having to directly invest there (Lenovo operates, and is HQed, in China!)

Google got a great deal, me thinks!

Which Came First – Sherlock S3E1 Or Google Smart Lens?

On Sunday, 12th Jan 2013, a Sherlock episode airs hinting at the key antagonist wearing a Google Glass like device, except it’s not in his glasses, but in his eye or in his contact lenses. 4 days later, Google publicly announces its Smart Contact Lenses project. Coincidence?

iPhone and the high non-iPhone mobile tariffs

Apple‘s iPhone is widely hailed as a must-have for most mobile operators, so much so that some go to quite some lengths to get the phone on their networks just to stop haemorrhaging of high-value customers.

There seems to be an un-talked-about additional benefit to mobile operators from the rise of iPhone – higher ARPUs on non-iPhone plans than they’d otherwise get.

As visible in the graph above, after taking out the retail cost of the phones, the monthly cost of an iPhone contract is consistently lower than that of the relatively no-risk SIM-Only plans. As a comparison, the similar ex-phone monthly cost of a Samsung Galaxy S3 is also higher than that for an iPhone on both EE and Vodafone (though surprisingly lower on O2 and 3’s networks Note 4-G).

It appears that the operators are giving up margins in the device (compared to pure hardware sellers like Amazon or Curry’s Note 4-F) and/or margins in monthly tariffs (compared to SIM-Only plans) to ensure the iPhone users stay with them. Add in the higher network traffic from iPhone owners (as frequently reported in media Note 5), and higher risk (compared to no-hardware SIM-Only plans) and it seems that the operators are killing the very reason they want iPhone owners so desperately on their network – higher revenue realisation.

My guess is that something else is happening. Instead of a SIM-Only plan being a baseline price, of sorts, and iPhone plans being built upon it to at least recover the phone subsidy, it’s the other way around. Operators have set the ex-phone monthly cost of an iPhone contract at the baseline figure – the minimum revenue realisation they want from a pay-monthly customer. Then, they’ve built all other phone and SIM-Only plans on top of that baseline figure.

This ensures that instead of haemorrhaging on iPhone contracts, and making normal profits on all other contracts, the operators now get to make normal profits on iPhone contracts and above-normal profits on all other contracts.

Thus, the cost of an iPhone contract acts as a high tide raising all the other contract prices along with it, resulting in higher ARPUs for operators than would have been possible in a non-iPhone scenario. Obviously, the telcos must love the iPhone Note 6.

 


Continue reading iPhone and the high non-iPhone mobile tariffs

The Perfect Travel Blogging Tool

Google Glasses with:

  1. auto-upload images to Google Photos enabled.
  2. offline voice to text function, text saved in a Google Doc.
  3. a Google Apps Script adding a time-stamp (and, if possible, a GPS location) to every piece of text saved to the Doc above.

 

Now, go out on your trek up Ben Nevis. Whenever you like a sight, take a picture and dictate a description. Dictate a note every time you cross a milestone or just wish like noting something. It all gets converted to text and saved in a Google Doc, on your Google Drive.

Another script could pull in auto-uploaded photos and add them to the Google Doc with time-stamped dictations.

That’s it, without having to type anything, you now have a blogpost with all your photos and thoughts from the hike listed together in a time-ordered sequence. Edit it if you want, or just post it away!

(You could even have a script which would automatically upload this to your Blogger blog as a draft, and add a reminder in your calendar to preview and post)

Required: Google GlassGoogle Docs and someone to write those Google App Scripts (that could be me).


Note: This piece is just a figment of my imagination, and this idea or I are in no way related to Google. Also, like everything on this blog, this idea is covered under the CC-BY-3.0 license so feel free to use it as you like, with attribution.

Apple + Sprint – Exclusives.

(click image for original BGR article)

With $20 billion worth of inventory involved, I believe it’s more a case of Apple getting exclusive access to Sprint’s customers than Sprint getting exclusive rights to iPhone 5.

With such a huge inventory to push, I doubt Sprint will want to sport any high-end Android or WP phone for the next few years.