Sunday, June 27, 2010

Apple iOS 4… is it right for you?

Apple’s release this past week of iOS 4, their next generation mobile operating system for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad delivers several features and functions demanded by users for quite some time. The promise of multitasking, unified inbox, new customization features and menu folders all combine to make upgrading your existing Apple mobile device an apparent easy decision. But user experience with the new iOS on legacy devices suggest caution should be given before performing the upgrade.

While the new iOS runs beautifully on the latest generation of iPhone, those who have installed the Apple’s latest on older iPhone 3G devices have reported quite a few problems. Plus, many of the attractive new features aren’t available on the 3G devices. Multitasking, custom wallpapers and other features simply aren’t available when the new iOS version is installed on iPhone 3G devices. This means all you get for your ~3 hours of upgrade efforts will be menu folders and a unified inbox. One additional point to consider is that iOS 4 runs very slowly on legacy iPhone 3G devices. So much slower, many say the device is no longer functional.

So, if you have an iPod Touch or an iPhone 3GS, this latest upgrade brings some overdue functionality. If you’re in the market for a new AT&T mobile phone, the iPhone 4 is absolutely worthy of consideration. However, if you own an iPhone 3G, our recommendation is to simply hold off on the upgrade. The functional improvements are minimal and the performance hit is significant.

(submitted by John)

Will Work for Virtual Money

In what can only be described as a sign of the times, this story describes how people will do real work for virtual pay. Naturally the virtual pay has value in virtual worlds (i.e. World of Warcraft or Second Life) and related gaming sites (Farmville or Mafia Wars), but typically virtual currency is earned by activities that happen in-world. However, as with most things these days, the line between real and virtual is steadily blurring. The article describes CrowdFlower, a web site that works as the exchange pairing willing workers with real jobs that pay in virtual currency. As weird as this may sound, it is undoubtedly a marker of things to come.

Read the article.

(submitted by Tom)

Can You Hear Me Now? Google Voice Goes Mainstream

Google just announced the formal release of Google Voice, a service that provides a U.S. telephone number bundled with a variety of telecommunication services. At its core Google Voice is designed to provide a single phone number to forward calls to a variety of telephone devices. It also contains outbound calling services, voicemail, conference calling, call screening, and transcription of voicemail messages, plus a few other features. Where this service will go exactly is unclear, but what is clear however is that telephone technology (analog or digital) is evolving and being reinvented and Google intends to be leading the way.

Read the article.

(submitted by Mike)

Spying on Times Square

The clothing store Forever 21 has deployed for an innovative and perhaps scary way of billboard advertising with its new Times Square Billboard. Sitting above the billboard a hi-tech camera pans the crowd below and builds composite images of the people on the street. Then the software displays the various people in the crowd in various animations (turning into a frog, being kissed by a model). Of course those carrying a Forever 21 bag are more likely to find themselves instantaneously up on the digital billboard. Forever 21's goal was to increase the average time people look at a billboard, normally 6 seconds, if the first hours are any indication this technology will exponentially increase that number.

Read the article.

(submitted by Judi)

Analytics Comes to Baseball, Again

Most people are familiar with how the Oakland A's (as described in the book Moneyball) used analytics with tremendous success to evaluate and develop major league talent. Now baseball is turning its attention to use analytics to maximize profitability in ticket sales. The San Francisco Giants are piloting a program that would charge more for popular games (L.A. Dodgers and Boston Red Sox) as a way of driving increased ticket sales. To those familiar with the power of analytics (i.e. everyone reading this newsletter), this is of course obvious, but it is interesting to how this plays out in other industries including professional sports. Undoubtedly if the Giants are successful other teams and entertainment venues will follow.

Read the article.

(submitted by Mike)

Friday, June 18, 2010

Eating the Little Guy: How Tech Companies Grow

Here's an interesting story about how tech companies grow. Citing bargain basement prices on name brands such as Iomega, Sun, Palm and 3com, companies such as HP and Oracle have been swooping in and buying them with a frenzy. This is part of an industry wide trend over the last decade where big companies eat smaller companies in order to grow. Microsoft, Apple, Google, IBM, along with Sun and Oracle have built there empires through these acquisitions. Sometimes this leads to indigestion as some investments don't work out, as with HP's acquisition of Palm or Ebay's purchase of Skype. The article sheds light on why tech companies are unique in comparison to traditional companies in terms of acqusitions.

Read the article.

Submitted by Judi

Is the iPad Good for Business? An Alternate View

With all the hype and excitement about the iPad it is hard to remain objective. Here is an article that highlights the shortcomings of the iPad for the corporate environment. It is always good to have different perspectives and the author makes some good points. That said, most of the problems he identifies (lack of central management, file transfer, and browser support) will be corrected in the next release or two.

Read the article.

Submitted by Mike

Building Community with Gaming Techniques: A Clorox Study

Fostering innovation is a critical need in today's modern enterprise. With divisions and different product lines spanning the globe, simply communicating with one another is difficult and innovation is out of the question. Clorox, a company with many different brands to manage, tried to solve the problem with technology, which did not work. Then they employed gaming strategies which turned out to be quite successful.

Read the article.

Visualizing Crime

Data visualization engineer Doug McCune created a unique way of visualizing San Francisco crime data. He took crime data, overlayed it on a map, and used terrain elevation as a way to illustrate the different types of crime. While this is not overly applicable to enterprises, the technique may very well be. It reminds us that data visualization can go beyond simply charts and graphs.

Read the article.

Submitted by Mike

Determining the Worth of Facebook Fans

As we all know companies have been racing these days to create a presence on Facebook. Typically companies create a Facebook page and then encourage users to become fans. But the real question is how much are these fans worth? Turns out, $137.84 a piece. In a recent study conducte by Syncapse and Hotspex, they examine the true value of a Facebook fan. They surveyed 4000 users and developed a six point framework for measuring fan value. Naturally a study like this raises more questions than answers, but simply the fact that research companies are attempting to quantify the value of a Facebook fan is telling.

Read the study.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

What Makes the iPad Killer for the Enterprise

All the hype around the iPad lately, the way it looks, the available Apps, and how great it is as a media player are missing one of the key features of the device, the multi-touch. The multi-touch feature, the ability for multiple people to interact on a screen simultaneously, is what will make this (and other similar devices) a game-changer for the enterprise. Imagine being multiple people manipulating data on a single screen or having multiple devices work seamlessly together as data is passed from device to device. Naturally this type of device has huge potential for collaboration.

An Actual Use for Chatroulette

Chatroulette, the website that randomly pairs strangers in webcam chats and is often derided as containing nude and lewd behavior, is actually being put to good use by a company. Travelocity's Roaming Gnome mascot is now a regular (fully clothed) on Chatroulette talking to customers about his travels around the globe. For a couple hundred dollars and staff members time, the Gnome has racked up 350,000 impressions and 400 conversations in just 40 days. From a marketing point of view this is a great ROI. Obviously Chatroulette is not for every business, but it is interesting to see new and innovative approaches to social media that go beyond Facebook and Twitter.

7 Ways to Protect Yourself on Facebook

Given all the hubub about Facebook privacy these last few weeks, Consumer Reports produced this list of 7 things you should stop doing on Facebook. Besides adjusting privacy settings, this includes using a strong password, hiding your birth date, avoid posting your child's name in status updates and not mentioning you will be away from home. Incidentally, Facebook released new privacy settings this week so look for more information on that in upcoming editions.

Softness in the IT Services Market: HP Cuts 9,000 Jobs

Citing weak IT services growth, HP announced this week that it is slashing 9,000 jobs from its IT services division. This is on top of the previous 25,000 cuts. The article notes that IBM is also reporting weakness in this market. The question is why? While there is no simple answer it seems that the ways companies purchase and contract for technology is changing. On the positive side, and another signal of where things are at, HP is hiring 6,000 sales people.

(submitted by Mike)

$8 Billion Upgrade in 1.2 Miles

While GPS is most know for helping individuals find locations while driving in a car, it happens to also be a key for global operations including emergency response, supply chains, banking transactions, and even the stock market. In fact the GPS system, made up of two dozen satellites, is an often overlooked critical piece of the digital infrastructure. It is now going through a $8 billion upgrade. The goal is to make it more accurate and more reliable.

(submitted by Tom)