The flourishing mobile ecosystems have created opportunities for a budding entrepreneur in launching a mobile user-based product without much investment. We are fortunate to have the environment, tools and financing partners to take our ideas to realization.
But are we seeing a wrong trend that’s being created recently ? What’s really alarming is the short life-cycle of these products.
So what’s the typical life-cycle of a product in this category?
An out-of-the-box idea coupled with a brilliant solution is what it takes to launch your product. Rest is handled by the ecosystem and the initial users who use the product.
The second phase kicks in by the involvement of noted technology centered portals and famous tech-bloggers to bring in additional popularity( read advertisement) to rocket the product to next level. Based on the uniqueness of the solution, this phase will be easier.
Compared to the situation a decade ago a tech entrepreneur’s job is easy.
What happens next ?
The product have gained enough popularity that it starts getting attention from big players. And one day, the company and the product is acquired by them. Usual promising by them and the entrepreneur that the new alliance will take the product to next level.
Did they keep that promise?
Sparrow – Sparrow didn’t exist on Android platform. Google acquired and said, expect more. In my opinion this product was killed. Sparrow also didn’t have another choice as the push-to-device feature was shot down by Apple. Without this, on the long run, Sparrow will be like any other email client on iOS. So why don’t I cash in?
Instagram – A highly popular photo sharing app with its cool filters made a novice’s snap looked like a professional and appealing snap. It’s ever-increasing user base alerted facebook.
Mailbox – A clever email app, which changed the way we dealt with our day-to-day emails. The product has not even come to main stream. The innovative solution and popularity by tech portals was enough for Dropbox to see a business proposition in the product.
If talent was in Sparrow for Google, it was user base in Instagram and additional revenue thru storage in Mailbox.
Did all these budding tech companies make any wrong decision by selling their products to big players?
In my opinion they did the right thing. Existing ecosystems and choices have made the task in getting our products to mainstream with far less efforts than earlier. And none of these products can survive a decade of existence. Tomorrow another clever entrepreneur will come with a product more innovative than theirs and erode the user base or revenue. Or probably the big companies themselves with bring in their own version as a feature to their existing product line.
So why not cash in on my efforts and exit at the right time.
But, think , are we sending a signal to the user base? All the above products were free, so a valid genuine user concern can’t hold. On the other hand user’s mindset will be getting tuned to the fact the any forthcoming product like these will have a short life cycle. They will be cautious next time they pitch in to use or try a new product. By the time you get used to the product it will be acquired and killed by big companies.
So, if you are an aspiring entrepreneur who wants to ultimately sell your ideas in tech world, launch products which are aligned to the business goals of big players.
It takes a mammoth task, dedication and persisting vision to build and sustain an Enterprise
Will Dropbox be the next Instagram? Only time can tell.
- If Apple were smart, it would buy Dropbox, no matter the cost (pandodaily.com)
- Dropbox Buys Mailbox – Promises To Help It Grow (readwrite.com)
- Another Overnight Sensation: Mailbox Is Dropbox’s Instagram (forbes.com)
What could be the next surprise product from Apple that would re-invent that product line ? Analysts and bloggers have been speculating about this for quiet a while.
Apple really need that. With enthusiasm on its iPhone declining, the company should waste no time in pulling back its depleting fan base.
An iTV has been doing the rounds for a while. But how innovative the design of that TV, it won’t fly until you get content to deliver on that platform. And the core content generators are in no hurry to support something which could take away their major chunk of cash flow for them.
Here comes iWatch – An Apple designed Wrist Watch. The technology space is busy talking about how that product will look like and what features that would hold to wow the users. A recent news about the team that’s working on this product further reinforce the possibility of that.
Will Apple transform the Device to a multi-media / social device ?
Will it completely change the way we use our watches ?
Wait and watch. It’s guaranteed that the product will pack a few innovations , probably a solar-powered device without a visible solar panel.
- Apple Has Around 100 Product Designers Working On The iWatch [Report] (cultofmac.com)
- iWatch, iPhone 5S Photos, and Other New Toy Rumors (iphonelife.com)
- Apple eyes another patent for solar-powered iPhone – CNET (blog) (news.cnet.com)
Windows 8, both Desktop and Phone versions of the OS have been out for a while. Overall, the acceptance of the same has been favorable from the tech world. One area where Windows Phone 8 can shine is the Enterprise, due to multiple factors.
We will use the following three key sections to analyse and find whether Windows Phone 8 can make an impact on the Enterprise landscape or not.
The current enterprise mobile solutions are heavily dominated by Blackberry and iOS Devices to some extend.
Blackberry still remains the Enterprise IT Department’s favoured mobile work force solution, highly contributed by the secure framework for email delivery and reliability. There is nothing at this moment which can excel the security and reliability of Blackberry.
But over the few years, compared to other Phone manufacturers Blackberry have failed to raise any enthusiasm on the Consumer front. Also the infrastructure solution from Blackberry haven’t seen any major innovation or upgrade from what they have started. They have been trying hard to push ahead, but the time horizon that has been projected by them to come up with something new has been longer compared to competitors, who have a recycle period of 6 months on an average. All these factors have triggered a shift in continuing with Blackberry solutions among the current users. On another note, my honest view is Blackberry OS 10 has very promising Enterprise features baked in.
Also Blackberry doesn’t have anything to offer for the current Enterprise users demand on working on Office documents and instant messaging. Their BBM solution is more of peer-to-peer messaging solution which will not work for Enterprises, who would like these to be integrated with their Corporate Directories.
iPhones and iPads
iOS devices currently enjoys a favourable position in Enterprise space. This is mainly attributed by the push or acceptance from top executives, who were either bored by the crude Blackberry handsets or who liked to use their shiny iDevices also at work. This acceptance at the top management and the pressure put on IT departments by the top decision makers started the trend in penetration of these devices with in the enterprise. Still, iOS devices in Enterprise are limited to a creamy layer with-in the hierarchy.
Another landscape where Apple dominates are the startups and technology based organizations who doesn’t want to invest heavily on Enterprise Infrastructure or use their own implementations and want to have a loosely coupled work environment. Over a period of time Apple also supported this trend by improving their support for Microsoft Exchange Active Sync and device security aspects.
Still IT departments are skeptical in accepting iDevices as a replacement for their existing infrastructure on security aspects and control on these devices.
Another not so significant player is Android. Due to Open source nature and lack of native support of Enterprise exchange policies , they never were in the radar of Enterprise IT. Companies like Samsung and LG have tweaked the OS to in-corporate the same. But on Nexus versions, which offered pure Android experience, this was not supported. So the users have to depend on third-party applications from NitroDesk and RoadSync for this. Haven’t heard any large-scale implementation of these tools at Enterprise level. The usage was limited on the Consumer space, where users like to have access to MS Exchange on their personal phones. Windows Mobile (predecessor of Windows Phone OS) did have these build in but, the lack of acceptance on the Consumer Space and continued support of Blackberry solutions saw hardly any adaptation.
But, this is gone change with the presence of Windows Phone 8. This new revamped mobile OS from Microsoft has started seeing acceptance from Consumers mainly due to the new virgin UI and social media integration. Unlike Apple who hardly had any Enterprise integration other than ActiveSync support, this new OS has the Enterprise Core built-in like its Desktop counterparts.
Now why this could be a threat to iOS and Blackberry on Enterprises?
- Blackberry is at the verge of being written off by Enterprises soon. To have a blackberry based messaging solution, the overhead is more for IT Department. You need to have a tie up with the Mobile Service Provider, license cost and maintenance of additional servers for this solution.
- iDevices are still consumer devices at the core. Other than ActiveSync, device encryption and support for Exchange policies, it is still lagging in surviving on Enterprises. Joining a Domain, accessing files server with in the Enterprise etc. are not native to the OS or missing.
Another key factor which cannot be ignored is most of the Enterprises run Microsoft based Enterprise solutions at their organizations. Hardly seen any major shift in this trend.
The lacking from the existing players is where Windows Phone 8 have a niche.
- To support a messaging solution on Windows Phone 8, IT doesn’t need any extra infrastructure. Your existing Exchange server is more than enough. ActiveSync licenses are part of the deal
- No dependency on Mobile Service Provider
- Support for Device Encryption and Security as per Enterprise Policies
- Tight integration with Microsoft based Enterprise components in the OS. SharePoint for example.
- Native support of MS Office applications on Windows Phone 8 is another nail in the coffin for the current players on Enterprises.
- Device Management and Provisioning
- Can have an Enterprise hosted App Store
The acceptance on Windows Phone or tablets on the consumer front is skeptical. One factor highlighted by analysts is the low App penetration in Windows App Store. But there are other plus points which can influence consumer adaptation. iOS has started getting bored for users.
A fresh UI from Windows Phone till it ages would pull in consumers. Unlike iDevices, you are not locked into an ecosystem.
On the Enterprise it’s a different story. IT doesn’t take decisions on WOW factor and usability.
Their key decision-making parameters are cost and how well they can have integration with their existing infrastructure, which is dominated by Microsoft solutions.
Security and native MS Office are another enablers for voting for Windows Phone or tablets. VOIP solution based on Skype which gives a transparent experience, also cannot be ignored. Enterprises will be slow on migrating to Windows 8 based Desktop and laptops, but there is nothing holding Enterprises from adopting Windows Phone 8, who want to replace the aging Blackberry Devices.
So until Apple comes with its own infrastructure solutions for enterprise and Blackberry speeding up their upgrade process – Windows 8, both Desktop and Mobile will be a threat to both on the Enterprise.
Its quiet interesting to see the evolving support around Apple’s Passbook app. I gave a hint about the future of Passbook in my earlier post.
By this time a handful of implementation utilizing Passbook have been announced. Any solutions like Pre-Paid Cards on Passbook, in my view doesn’t utilize the right potential of Passbook.
What strikes me most is the approach taken by Apple to give a solution without utilizing new Hardware like NFC.
- Needs NFC Supported handsets
- Needs specialized terminals at vendor-side to support NFC based payments
- Vendors needs to integrate these terminals to their existing billing software
- Tied down to one or two providers – Google Wallet and upcoming ISIS
Points captured under bullets 2 and 3 needs additional investment on the Vendor side.
No business will go for something new until they see some break-even in the investment they are making.
Since, plastic cards are so popular even with an average customer then why should they need to support a mere percentage of the population with NFC payments.
Advantages of Passbook based mobile Payment solutions
Passbook addresses the top Disadvantages of NFC based solutions
- No additional hardware feature required on users Handset
- No Specialized terminals needed at Vendor side
- Utilizes bar code which is already supported at Vendors.
- Passbook provides an ecosystem for any body to come in
See Also : iOS Passbook Simplified
Disadvantages of Passbook
- It’s basically the current platform its available – Only iOS and that too on newly released iPhone 5 and older 4S.
- Scanning of Bar codes in Passbook cards seems to be problematic for existing readers
The last one captured in the Advantages of Passbook is the most prominent one.
It’s easy for anybody to join the Passbook ecosystem unlike Google Wallet and ISIS.
The implementor just needs to ensure that he generates and supports Passbook compliant cards, which doesn’t seems to be a big deal.
The solutions so far provided in Passbook are either Boarding Passes, Admittance Cards, Pre-Paid Coupons. But we could see some innovative ideas coming up in future, As iOS always remains as a preferred platform for Developers compared to others.
- Apple could gain more acceptance by releasing Passbook to other platforms like Android, Windows Phones etc. Google has already taken this approach by providing support for iOS on their upcoming Google Wallet Version.
- We could build a iOS based bar code reader. We already have Apps to do so in all platforms.
The first one is less likely, as core thinking at Apple is to Sell their hardware based on the exclusive software / app they provide on their hardware.
For taking Passbook forward
- Deploying Passbook app in platforms other than iOS
- Building a Two way interaction between Passbook and POS Terminals.
The current interaction between passbook and POS terminal is One way which is similar to existing payment solutions – Re-Deem Coupons, Credit / Debit Cards. As this is a Software based solution , we could build two-way interactions. One use could be to Pre-Generate a card and during each interaction, the Vendor charges the card and the Passbook card’s balance is reduced by the amount charged. This could in one way reduce the creation of a card for each purchase.
Also Major banks should come forward in generating Passbook supported Cards. The advantage for Banks would be no need to manage the making of Plastic Cards. If we could manage a Two way interaction then we could eliminate multiple Instances of any misuse. As Once a Pre-defined limit based Card is generated then the charging happens between the Passbook Card and Vendor.
It will be exciting to watch how this App could change the way we make mobile payments in future.
- Airlines begin integrating Passbook for mobile boarding passes ahead of iOS 6 launch (9to5mac.com)
- Coupons.com adds Passbook integration for dozens of top retailers (9to5mac.com)
- Whether Apple Passbook is getting typecast as a Coupon Aggregator? (techcurrents.wordpress.com)
- Why Passbook could join Ping in the Apple graveyard [GigaOM] (gigaom.com)
I couldn’t find a better title for this post as that’s the comparison Windows 8 is receiving after its introduction by Microsoft.
So will it be another Vista?
It’s a fact that Vista was a failure – but mainly due to its notorious support for hardware drivers. Users had issues with the existing drivers and devices they had, on Windows Vista, leading to frustration due to their devices not supported on the new OS at that time. The new kind of UI that was introduced doesn’t seems to be of an issue. If that was case then Windows 7 could be marked as a failure.
The timing of Windows 8 also is in favour. Its launch coincides with the majority of Windows XP users who are without any active support from Microsoft, Third parties and Device manufactures.
Whether that’s the case with Windows 8?
Certainly not. I have been using Windows 8 RC and then Enterprise Version in the past two months. Installation of both the Releases on my Desktop which houses a 4-year-old Motherboard and Intel Core 2 Duo was pretty smooth barring the head ache of getting my existing Programs and Settings from old Windows XP.
All the hardware worked out of the box
- A not so well-known FireWire PCI card
- Benq LCD monitor
- Canon Pixma Wi-Fi Printer
- A not so well-known 3-year-old web-cam, which worked after loading the Drivers that came with the product
I would say the hardware integration including your networked devices is pretty good in this Version. Your networked Blu-ray Players, Media Players, TV etc. can be brought into your Desktop environment without any additional efforts. Sharing Media across the devices is easy.
So my experience on that front as captured above rules out that Windows 8 will be another Vista (from my view-point).
So what else, as per the analysts will make Windows 8 a failure?
UI !!! – This is the major culprit as per them.
I’m bored with the existing UI I find in earlier Windows versions and other OS that exist today. The same icons, bordered windows. The restriction of your programs with in a specific area on your screen space etc. We started with plain flat icons, over a period of time we moved to colourful three-dimensional ones. But the underlying interface by which you interacted with your OS remained the same. Main menu to Sub Menu…Icons… Dialog boxes…Windows…
Windows Phone Metro UI was a treat. I don’t own a Windows Phone 7 device. But based on my interaction with my friend’s devices and that at show rooms, I can say it’s refreshing. You move away from your legacy UI to more Dynamic UI where information or Alerts are presented on tiles. Each application or alert occupies its own space without any clutter. Your current application occupies the entire screen space, no restriction or borders of any nature. Microsoft is finally embracing Cloud and Social Networking. The integration with the OS is flawless. You don’t need to visit multiple apps to see you social updates.
So what’s the issue in migrating the same UI to desktop??
“I don’t have my Start button” “Windows 8 have dual character – Windows 8 UI and the legacy Desktop”
The complaints contradict each other. You hate the Windows 8 UI but on top you complain it still has the Desktop environment.
“I miss the Start button” “Navigation is painful” “No clue how to switch between open applications” “How do I shut down my Desktop?” “UI works best on touch enabled devices”
Let’s rewind. DOS to Windows 3.1, Windows 3.1 to Windows 95. Did we (applicable only for those who have used these versions ) completely boycott these versions? Let History answer that.
Microsoft is readying Windows for the new touch enabled devices that are launching in coming years. Change always is painful and frustrating. But change is inevitable in moving forward and embracing the new. Apple said we will not support Flash, we made noise, competitors advertised, with Flash support their devices have an edge on Apple’s. But, where are we now? Adobe itself have decided no more mobile flash releases. All major vendors and mobile OS now are moving to HTML5. Will we stop there? No. Something more appealing and innovative will come and we will move to that.
For those complain about missing ‘Start button’ and ‘confusing navigation’
I’ll take the “adaptability” behaviour of human beings to counter that. We are better known for our adaptability. People have switched from Symbian OS to Android. Android to iOS. iOS to Android(inviting criticism ). Those who have done that switch knows that we struggled for the first 5 days or max 10 days in getting ourselves to adapt to the new environment. By this time frame we would have mastered all that is required to accomplish our day-to-day activities. Later, we stumble upon on few occasions when we use a new feature on the Device. But did we stopped there and dumped the new Device complaining about that? We have spent our hard money on that purchase. We moved on, until we find our next craze!! .
On usability of Windows 8 – My below 10-year-old kid uses the new Windows environment with as ease as Ubuntu …occasional Windows XP…. and iOS. Yes the kid didn’t have an easy time on first usage, but learned when I demonstrated.
Now let’s take two groups of users who may migrate to Windows 8
The numbers depend heavily on this category. Anybody on a Windows XP/Vista will definitely switch to Windows 8 without any complaints. Those who are on Windows 7 are the ones who think twice, but ultimately switch when the “use the latest” syndrome grows over them.
Users who are purchasing their next device – a Desktop or a Tablet or a Mobile
On multiple instances I have seen on show rooms people insisting on getting new Versions of Software on their Desktops or Laptops when they are making a purchase. They seems to be complaining or ignoring those which were shipping with an old version when a new version is already available or have announced. So with this mentality this category will definitely ask for Windows 8 to be available on their potential devices.
But how many of the customers opt for a new Desktop is a different question. As people are more inclined to go for a Laptop/netbook or a tablet now a days. The latter is the most preferred one. So when Windows 8 tablets launches that area is covered.
So Windows 8 will be a failure?
In my viewpoint and the facts that I have analysed it will not be a failure. People will adapt with their new OS.
- The timing of Windows 8 also is in favour. Its launch coincides with the majority of Windows XP users who are without any active support from Microsoft, Third parties and Device manufactures.
- The UI as such is ready for Touch enabled devices which will be the ones you see in future.
- Also for the content consuming user base which are in majority. Windows 8 is covered well in those areas.
- Enterprise users will go for it, as naturally all the new Desktops & Laptops will come pre-loaded with Windows 8. Integration into existing IT Infrastructure also favours them. But Enterprises don’t jump to a new Version as soon as it is launched, it takes almost near to a year when they migrate. Some may still stick to Windows 7 until it phases out.
Windows 8 if it fails it will not be because of the new UI, but it depends on the numbers that will sell.
So all those who are wasting their energy complaining about Windows 8 – options left are either switch to a Mac or be more productive and come together and a design a new OS itself. Ultimately, necessity or frustration is the trigger for innovation or invention.
- Installing Windows 8 on your old PC could turn it into Greased Lightning (zdnet.com)
- 8 tips to make your Windows 8 upgrade a more pleasant experience (zdnet.com)
- Even Windows 8 early adopters prefer Windows 7 by two to one (zdnet.com)
- Upgrading to Windows 8: What you need to know (FAQ) – CNET (reviews.cnet.com)
When we look at the bigger picture it’s “Passbook” that fits in perfectly. NFC is just ONE of the enablers for it. May be until Apple has an ecosystem like iTunes for mobile payments NFC will not come to Apple Mobile Devices.
- To avoid burdening the user with an increase in price or decrease in Apple’s margin by introduction of a feature that is not of much use.
- NFC doesn’t justify until a cash generating ecosystem is in place.
- Interview: Phil Schiller on Why the iPhone 5 Has a New Connector but Not NFC or Wireless Charging (allthingsd.com)
- Apple exec explains why iPhone 5 doesn’t have NFC or wireless charging (bgr.com)