Finding God In Our Smartphones

“Out of clutter, find simplicity. From discord, find harmony.”
– Albert Einstein

Smartphones have changed our world. Wearables will change our selves. Together, these amazing devices represent some of humankind’s greatest work, integrating the absolute leading edge of technical prowess, computer engineering, manufacturing skill and materials science. I wonder also if they are bringing us closer to God.

I confess, I do not know the answer.

Silicon Valley is about money, not faith. Real-time, not eternity. Change, not permanence. The worship that occurs here is typically at the altar of wealth, intellect, and luck; a place where residents proudly wear their atheism on their sleeves, and where the obviously religious are, if not looked down upon, then viewed the way far too many view obese people — broken, not quite fully evolved.

The spirit finds a way.

At the intersection of smartphones and wearables is a locus of desire to know ourselves, improve ourselves, celebrate ourselves. And yet, through these devices we are reminded how fully connected we are to one another, and soon, to all things. This strikes me as a form of grace.

At first glance, this notion seems incongruous. With smartphones and wearables, we post in real-time what we ate, how much we weigh. We tweet our passing thoughts on all manner of topics. We update our Facebook page to sanction our latest pleasure or most recent transient annoyance. We take pictures of our self, then another, then another, and display them all for the world to see. We actively seek the affirmation of nearby friends and faraway strangers, asking them to affirm our actions, no matter how small or fleeting.

We may all be, in this age of miracle and wonder, at our most vain.

Nonetheless, that fire hose of data gushing from these personal computing devices lays bare our very human failings, our strivings and our mortality. What comes after that? At the time of our greatest technical and intellectual advancement, do we merely expose ourselves as insufferably common, or are we (unknowingly) unlocking the fullest truth of ourselves?

The very tools used  to elevate our physical and intellectual selves, helping us to be the very best we can be, may ultimately serve to remind us that without a equal focus on the spiritual, it’s all for naught.

Consider that with smartphones, that which was once physical is now digital. Apps, tweets, music, movies, these are abstractions made real. We are contented with their ephemeral realness. Our very best technology, then, may be edging us closer — shaman-like — to bridging the physical and the virtual, and possibly to accepting the spiritual.

Our most advanced personal technologies are not merely uplifting, but guiding. We track everything, or soon will. In the morning our devices will remind us to eat right, to walk 10,000 steps. In the evening they will ask us if we gave due attention to our children, our spouse and our dreams. The daily rituals of monitoring what we do and how we improve may in fact help us find our way onto a narrow, possibly righteous path to goodness.

Yes, we can instantly access all manner of fetishism, violence, pornography, but also the greatest of humanity — and one another. The fragments of humanity, good and bad, are embedded within our technology, and resident inside our iPhones and Fitbits. Humans seek, we care, we dream, we sense there is far more beyond our self, our neighbors, even our world. This is true even if, at least in this infant stage of our meta connectivity, we initially turn such powers upon ourselves.

With smartphone in hand, we are connected to nearly everyone, from anywhere, at any time, and never truly alone. Wearable computer bracelet strapped tightly against our skin, the truth of our self is brightly flashed before our eyes, including our mortality. These devices will change us.

Which may not lead us to God but certainly should lead us all to be better.

Microsoft Buying Nokia A Great Move. But iPhone And iOS 7 Are Already Set To Remake Mobile Computing Once Again.

Do not be misled. Microsoft purchasing (the best of) Nokia — at firesale prices — is a brilliant move. Nokia + Skype + Bing + Office + Outlook + Nokia Maps + Nokia imaging. That is a very powerful proposition.

Apple, however, remains at least one step ahead, and iPhone continues destroying and disrupting all in its path. The mostly wise and semi-literal sacking of Steve Ballmer is but the latest casualty of the iPhone. There will be more.

In less than a decade, Apple’s iPhone has fundamentally altered computing, connectivity, work, play — and industry after industry. Its impact simply cannot be overstated.

aapl versus the rest

Bet you didn’t see that coming.

Ballmer was absolutely not alone, of course, in failing to realize early on that iPhone was the personal computing equivalent of gun powder. Fact is, excepting Steve Jobs and Larry Page, nearly all in the computing industry whiffed on the iPhone’s game-changing potential — until it was much too late. Even the beleaguered Apple faithful, whom cheered when the iPhone was first launched, and aggressively downplayed the device’s initial glaring shortcomings, perceived it as little more than a touchscreen iPod with calling capabilities. They, like the CEOs of tech’s biggest, baddest companies, simply could not fathom how this little device with nearly no buttons, no software and no keyboard would soon re-construct our future, re-make Silicon Valley and devour content like some technological black hole, everything collapsing inside its glowing screen.

Now, we know better. Well, most of us. Far too many remain stubbornly clueless. Despite controlling the most used, most engaging mobile platform on the planet, despite the ongoing turmoil inside the Android camp — and, frankly, I still question Google’s long-term commitment to Android — we are treated to such nonsense as Fred Wilson’s “fear” that Android will obliterate iPhone and iOS.

Hard to take such unthinking proclamations serious. The iPhone is just getting started.

The iPhone Second Wave 

Apple has an astounding 600 million users on the  same version of the same operating system. This is more than anyone else. Given the global thirst for smartphones, it’s hard not to see this number reaching at least 1 billion in under two years. That ensures at least a decade of self-sustainability. There is more to come, however, much more. I believe the value of each individual iPhone, old and new, is on the cusp of a sizable increase in value and utility.

This is the most under-reported story about the iPhone

iPhones connect us to apps, to the cloud, to the web, to our content. The unstated genius of the iOS 7 operating system, however, is that our iPhones will increasingly connect to each other. This represents yet another fundamental computing shift.

iPhone to web (or cloud) was merely the first implementation of iPhone. Soon, it will be iPhone-to-iPhone-to-iPhone.

With iOS 7, Apple is rolling out AirDrop, which supports proximal one-to-one and one-to-many sharing of apps, web content, photos and other services. The new iOS will also leverage iBeacons, allowing us to connect our iPhone with (Apple-approved) wearables and intelligent accessories.

The value of these interactions is not derived from the web, but device to device, location to person.

In other words, Apple is on the cusp of having a billion users on the same platform, their computers always in hand, everywhere they go, connected to each other in physical proximity, not via the web, not via the public switched network, but iPhone to iPhone. I can only begin to fathom the unprecedented innovations we will quickly witness in location-based social sharing, gaming, and commerce.

Only Apple Can Do This 

No one else has this. No one has ever even had this potential.

Yes, Android phones are far more prevalent. Yes, Google does a far better job of connecting us to all that the world wide web offers. But, only Apple will be able to connect us en masse to one another, device to device.

Think of three modes of connectivity. All are vital, all are valuable.

  1. Apple does the very best job of connecting user with device — via the most intuitive operating system and a richer, simpler ecosystem.
  2. Android does a better job of connecting users (and their devices) to the real-time and increasingly personalized richness of the world wide web.
  3. The third path is entirely new: connecting device to device for all manner of sharing of content, data, money, photos and whatever else clever app developers invent.

Again, this is something only Apple can deliver. Hundreds of millions of devices, nearly all on the same version of the same OS, similar hardware, same modes of connectivity, same (Apple-based) standards, same simple method of sharing, same payments and distribution platform.

It will take years for Microsoft-Nokia, or Samsung or even Google-Motorola to catch up with, if they ever can.

My advice: Do not once again underestimate iPhone’s impact. It’s just getting started.

Who’s The Gorilla And 8 More Questions About the iPhone 5C

Question #1: Is The iPhone 5C coming?

Sure looks that way. The rumors have grown so loud that they’ve become deafening. Let me put it this way: If the iPhone 5C is NOT announced on September 10th at the upcoming Apple event, it will be the non-announcment heard ’round the tech world.

There’s nothing in this world more instinctively abhorrent to me than finding myself in agreement with my fellow-humans. ~ Malcolm Muggeridge

Question #2: Why The Change In Apple’s Strategy And Why Now?

It’s hard to say who gets criticized the most, the successful person, or the failure but it’s mighty close. ~ Joe Moore

Apple definitely considered doing a mid-range phone years and years ago. They opted, instead, to continue manufacturing their one-year and two-year old phones and sell them at lower price points. That strategy has been successful, but it also may have run its course. For a good read on this topic, I commend you to Rene Ritchie’s article entitled: “Why iPhone 4C didn’t make sense but iPhone 5C just might.”

The hardest thing to learn in life is which bridge to cross and which to burn. ~ David Russell

Question #3: How Will Apple’s Corporate Philosophy Shape Their Decisions On The iPhone 5C?

Do what you feel in your heart to be right – for you’ll be criticized anyway. ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

When thinking about the iPhone 5C, we need to keep in mind that Apple is unique. First, Apple has always been about making the best, not the most. ((Tim Cook: “For us, winning has never been about making the most. Arguably we make the best PC, we don’t make the most. We make the best music player, we wound up making the most. We make the best tablet, we make the most. We make the best phone, we don’t make the most phones.”)) Second, Apple is not afraid of cannibalizing their own products. Third, Apple believes in simplicity — less, but better. Fourth, Apple’s strength is in its ecosystem. Any tactical decision that diminishes the cohesion of Apple’s ecosystem would be strategically counter-productive.

The man who follows a crowd will never be followed by a crowd. ~ R. S. Donnell

Question #4: Is Apple Introducing the iPhone 5C In Order To Standardize Their Technology?


Logic merely enables one to be wrong with authority. ~ Doctor Who

This is definitely one of the most compelling reasons for the move to the iPhone 5C. It will allow Apple to simultaneously retire the iPhone 4 and 4S and move its new customer base to the newer iPhone screen size and to the newer iPhone Lightning power cords. This is not the only reason for the move to the iPhone 5C, and it may not be the primary reason for the move, but it is entirely consistent with Apple’s doctrine of simplifying their product lines and consolidating their ecosystem.

Question #5: Is Apple Doomed If It Doesn’t Add More Market Share?

Get a grip.

Apple’s market share is bigger than BMW’s or Mercedes’ or Porsche’s in the automotive market. What’s wrong with being BMW or Mercedes? [2004] ~ Steve Jobs

The iPhone is America’s most profitable product.
— Apple Computers, iPads and iPhones were just named the top three brands of 2013.
— Apple easily out-profits both Microsoft and Google.

Rule Number 1: Never lose money. Rule Number 2: Never forget rule Number 1. ~ Warren Buffett

If Apple is doomed, then what does that say about the respective state of their rivals?

Profit is one of the nine reasons to be in business. The other eight are unimportant. ~ John Kirk

Apple is doing just fine. Turns out that selling a differentiated premium product is a sustainable business model. Who knew? ((Ben Thompson: It turns out there are two sustainable positions in an industry (and to be clear, this isn’t exactly rocket science. Again, business school…). The low cost leader – Samsung – and the highly differentiated one. See, Apple already did “transform the industry with a revolutionary design.” And while Android has made significant gains on the hardware, software, and even ecosystem fronts, the overall package offered by Apple is still highly differentiated. The evidence bears this out: Apple charges the highest prices for phones, happily subsidized by carriers (especially in the US), because customers will change carriers to get the iPhone. This results in by far the highest margins in the industry with only a small portion of the overall volume.)) (Most every knowledgeable business observer, that’s who.)

We learn from history that we do not learn from history. ~ Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

Those who do not know their history insist that history is about to repeat itself – that Android is about to become the next all-encompassing Windows monopoly. But if you know your business history, then you know that Windows was an aberration, not a precedent; the exception to the rule, not the rule.

We’re seeing history repeat itself all right. Just not the history most have mis-remembered.

“History is a very good teacher, but (it) has very few students.” ~ Wael El-Manzalawy

Question #6: But Didn’t Steve Jobs Say That Apple Needed Market Share, Not Profits?

“What ruined Apple was not growth … They got very greedy … Instead of following the original trajectory of the original vision, which was to make the thing an appliance and get this out there to as many people as possible … they went for profits. They made outlandish profits for about four years. What this cost them was their future. What they should have been doing is making rational profits and going for market share.” – Steve Jobs, 1995

Whenever Apple’s market share comes up, so does the above Steve Jobs quote. But when you’re re-reading that quote, keep these things in mind.

First, Steve Jobs was still running Apple when the current iPhone pricing policies were set. It’s unlikely that he forgot his own advice.

Second, the iPhone has been gaining market share in key global markets.

Third, pricing to gain market share simply for the sake of market share is a chump’s game.

Apple already has 65 percent of the mobile phone profits with only 6 percent of the market share. How much more profit share can Apple reasonably hope to acquire?


Fourth, Steve Jobs wasn’t talking about ALL market share, he was talking about acquiring the RIGHT market share. Some customer’s are simply not worth having.

The question is one of price elasticity: How much more profit, if any, will Apple garner by lowering the price of their phone? ((“Price elasticity” seems to be way beyond the pay grade of most pundits and analysts who follow the mobile sector, but what it essentially means is that when the price of something goes down, sales almost always go up, but the rate of that sales increase depends upon the price elasticity of the product. In other words, dropping prices may increase sales but the increased sales may result in disproportionately larger or smaller profits. Unless we truly understand the price elasticity of the iPhone, we really shouldn’t be calling for Apple to drop its iPhone prices.)) And will the market share that they acquire be desirable?

Question #7: Is Pricing The Key To The iPhone 5C?


(The price of the iPhone 5C) is the only thing that deserves analysis ~ Horace Dediu

I respectfully disagree.

The success of the iPhone 5C depends upon valued differentiation. The key is not to make the phone cheaper, it is to make it more valuable EVEN THOUGH IT IS CHEAPER. (Perhaps Apple should call it the iPhone 5 “V” instead of the iPhone 5 “C”.)

Many companies foolishly try to differentiate their products by price. This is always a mistake. If the lower priced item is more valuable than its price, then it cannibalizes its premium sibling. If the lower price is achieved by crippling the value of the product, then poor sales and user dissatisfaction ensue. (See, for example, Windows RT).

The key is to differentiate without disabling the product. You want to create a product that is, yes, lower priced, but the lower price is merely the icing on the cake. The “cake” is that the lower priced product is actually MORE VALUABLE to its intended audience than its premium priced cousin.

Take for example the iPod Nano and the iPad Mini. In both cases, they were lower priced than their premium siblings. But in both cases, the features that the products were missing (size, for example) actually ENHANCED their value to their target audience. Apple needs to do the same with the iPhone 5C.

A satisfied customer is the best business strategy of all. ~ Michael LeBoeuf

Question #8: How Will Apple Differentiate The iPhone 5C From the iPhone 5S?

I don’t know.

I used to be indecisive but now I am not quite sure. ~ Tommy Cooper

— They could do it by making the phone only work in certain geographic locations, like China.

China is a big country, inhabited by many Chinese. ~ Charles de Gaulle, former president of France

I don’t think that’s likely.

— They could do it via specs: lower memory, storage, processor, no LTE antennas, no NFC, no Siri…

…no way. This is crippling the product, not enhancing it. The new iPhone 5C will certainly have lower specs, but those lower specs – as with the iPod Nano and the iPad Mini – should be consistent with the job the product is being asked to do. Artificial differentiation should be avoided at all costs (see what I did there?).

People want economy and they will pay any price to get it. ~ Lee Iacocca

Apple’s goal is to CONSOLIDATE their ecosystem, not fragment it. ((Tim Cook: “And I would just add to that, because we are not fragmented like our competition, we can update an iOS with a major release and a substantial percentage of our customers will update to the – to our latest offer. We’ve made that very elegant and very easy. Also because the usage for iOS is so much higher, when we integrate things well, people use them a lot more and so just those concepts by itself are huge advantages from a customer experience point of view and from a more of the metrics that you’re thinking about point of view.”)) Nothing should be “missing” from the iPhone 5C that will be “missed” by any of its intended audience.

Power is not revealed by striking hard or often, but by striking true. ~ Honoré de Balzac

Question #9: Who’s The Gorilla?

Competing in the market is like wrestling a gorilla. You don’t quit when you’re tired, you quit when the gorilla is tired. The question is, who’s the gorilla in the smart phone space – Apple or Apple’s competitors?

Trying to predict the future is like trying to drive down a country road at night with no lights while looking out the back window. ~ Peter Drucker

We may find out who the Gorilla is on September 10th.

Apple’s 4-Inch iPhone 5 vs. Android 4-Inch Plus Devices

Since June I have been using the Galaxy Nexus 4.65 inch screen smart phone. Upon switching to that device from the iPhone 4S, I was instantly taken by the screen size. It was clear that gaining just over an inch or so in display size yielded a compelling experience. In fact, the screen size was one of the primary reasons I was able to withstand not going back to the iPhone 4S despite the things that frustrated me about Android.

Bigger screen size is one of the features we hear constantly touted by Android handset makers as a core feature. By reading many of the comments from the Android enthusiast community it is clear that larger screens are something they clearly value. It is also clear that Android OEMs believe that having bigger screens is a clear differentiator over the iPhone. Coming off my experience with the larger screen size Galaxy Nexus I can understand why at the surface this seems to be true. This is why I was pleased that Apple made the iPhone 5 with a larger screen. One of the criticisms about the iPhone 5 I have heard was that the screen was still too small at 4-inches. It was clear from listening to the presentation at the iPhone launch event that Apple is convinced that from a design perspective 4-inches is the ideal screen size for clean one handed operation. So the question I want to tackle is whether there is clearly more value to be had in smart phones with screens larger than 4-inches. In essence, is bigger better?

The initial assumption is that the larger the screen the more information I can see at one time. If this was not true, then I would have to question value that would be derived from the larger screen smart phones outside of perhaps games and videos, especially given the design and hardware tradeoffs necessary to make a larger screen as well as the compromise in efficient one handed operation.

To test this I looked at key applications on both the iPhone 5 and the Galaxy Nexus to see if applications like email, text messages, viewing web pages, Twitter, Facebook, etc., were that much better on a 4.6″ screen. In all the scenarios I wanted to look at, I compared both devices with key applications and looked at how the information was displayed.


For many email is still a critical application. Email support for Microsoft’s Exchange was one of my more frustrating experiences overall with Android. Email is critical to me in my workflow and I have always liked how Apple handled Exchange server and I prefer the UI of Mail as well to many other mobile email applications.

As you can see from the below screen shot both the 4″ screen on the iPhone 5 and the 4.6″ screen of the Galaxy Nexus displayed roughly the same amount of information.

On Android the app lets me see about 6.5 messages and the iPhone shows me 6 full messages, which is one full message more than the iPhone 4S. My conclusion is that the 4.6″ Galaxy Nexus provided no significant value with respect to email over Apple’s 4″ screen on the iPhone 5.

Text Messages

Not everyone may consider email as critical as an everyday application as myself or other professionals but text messaging is a different story. Text messaging may be one of the most important applications on any smart phone and I was curious to see if the larger screen provided any significant value when it came to text messaging.

As you can see from the text message thread below, the iPhone 5 actually shows more messages as a part of each thread than Android. A key thing to note is that on the iPhone 5 I have a thread that is often more than one line per message, where as on Android there are more one line messages. When I looked at text message threads on the iPhone 5 that were more one line messages, I could see almost double the amount of messages on the screen than on Android.

Conclusion: iPhone 5 with its 4″ screen does a better job displaying text messages than the 4.6″ Android Galaxy Nexus.


Facebook is another key application that many consumers use regularly on their mobile devices. Both of the screen shots below were taken using the mobile application created by Facebook for each platform.

As you can see both devices show roughly the same information with the iPhone 5 showing just a bit more of the timeline but not enough to consider it useful. My conclusion was the Facebook experience was generally similar with no significant value being derived with Facebook on the larger 4.6″ Galaxy Nexus.


Not everyone uses Twitter. I do regularly and it is an important application in my every day smart phone use. The comparison screen shots below are Twitter’s official application on both iOS and Android.

Here again we find very similar experiences between both devices with no real value being derived from the larger 4.6″ screen.

Web Browsing

Web browsing is another key application to a smart phone experience. Many sites are deploying mobile versions of their sites but to do this test I wanted to see if the larger 4.6″ screen on the Galaxy Nexus let me see more of a full web page than the iPhone 5’s 4″ screen.

So I went to the full version of the NY Times to see how the experience compared on both devices.

As you can see here again, both devices display about the same amount of information regardless of their screen size differences. Interestingly, however, even though the iPhone 5’s screen is smaller than the Galaxy Nexus, when viewing the full version of the NY Times on both sites, I still found the iPhone 5’s screen easier to read the text and key elements of the page. Thus, the full web experience was actually better on the iPhone 5’s 4″ screen than the Galaxy Nexus 4.6″ screen.

Key Conclusions

What I am pointing out in this analysis is in the same vein as the issue I brought up in my column last Friday, which was that customized apps, tuned to a screen size, are going to out-perform in terms of experience and value than apps that are simply scaled to match whatever screen size gets thrown on the market. Scaling an application just increases its size relatively but as I show above does not lead to more information and debatably a better experience.

The one area where this may make a difference is with games and videos where a slightly larger screen may be pleasant. But those use cases are just one part of the overall device usage.

We are already seeing the vast majority of iOS developers beginning to tune their apps just for the 4″ screen. This is not something we can say with Android development. It would be difficult to create custom applications for all of Android screen sizes in order to utilize the value of each screen size–if even possible at all. This is why Android is based on an app scaling philosophy.

I am watching closely how iOS developers take advantage of the larger screen to see if the custom apps built for 4″ screens actually provide more value in terms of experience and value than scaled apps on Android to fit every screen size.

Ultimately consumers will have to choose which tradeoffs they feel are most valuable as they evaluate what matters most to them in a smart phone experience. What performing this analysis proved to me was that I found no real significant value in terms of experience or information display with even the largest Android smart phones.

In conclusion, bigger does not necessarily mean better.

2012: The Year Google Fixes Android or Loses the War

The end of 2011 brought about some interesting market developments. Both Nielsen and NPD shared data that the once so dominant Android actually declined in market share over the holiday quarter of 2011. Both Nielsen and NPD also shared that during the same quarter iOS, mostly due to the iPhone, closed the gap on overall Android market share.

Now, with all of these quarterly market share reports, we have to keep in mind that this data only reflects the current quarters data and not the annual or overall installed base. Still, it is important to note that during the holiday quarter (perhaps the most important quarter) Android market share declined and iOS jumped dramatically. This reality should concern Android partners and Google.

We sensed this trend early on and shared with our clients last fall the fact that Android could be headed for a decline in market share. In my TIME column in October of last year I outlined many of the ways that Google was mis-handling Android and unfortunately further straining their already strained relationship with their partners. If Google does not get a handle on not only the fragmentation issues but also their relationship with their partners (by being more transparent and trusting with them) then I anticipate the decline in Android market share to continue. Not solely based on more consumers choosing iOS but by Android’s partners vesting more resources and upping their commitment to Windows Phone.

I don’t expect any Android vendors to completely dump Android but I could see them shipping fewer Android devices overall as a part of their product mix in favor of Windows Phone, which inevitably would lead to fewer Android devices on shelves at any given time, which would lead to even further Android market share decline. I firmly believe that Android device volume is its strongest competitive advantage. Right now Android currently has the bigger share of OEM resources and overall device mix per OEM. However, that could all change very quickly and in 2013 Microsoft will have a compelling story around Windows Phone and Windows 8 for their partners. If Google does not adjust their strategy with Android quickly they run the risk of OEMs shifting the balance of their resources more toward Windows Phone (or something else) and away from the Android platform.

If you line up all of these underlying trends it could spell real trouble for Android. My biggest concern for Android overall is that the platform itself creates no significant hardware loyalty. That is a dangerous truth for any of Google’s hardware partners. The same can be said of Windows Phone, or any other horizontal platform for that matter. If you are going to be in the hardware game you have to differentiate and more importantly create a partner ecosystem that creates customer stickiness.

Lastly, on my point that Android’s competitive advantage is volume of devices in channel at any given time. NPD shared their data on the top devices sold over the Oct/Nov time period. If you look at the chart you see that the top three are iOS devices. Note these are three different phones. If Apple does continue to diversify their products on the market and leave legacy devices in channel at lower price points, they will themselves be creating their own iPhone army of devices that could further hurt Android’s market share over the long haul.

Android Hardware Is Too Saturated For Its Own Good

The plethora of Android devices on the market was added to in a variety of ways today with news from IFA.

My friend Evan Selleck asks a good question over at PhoneDog. Is the market being saturated with Android smartphones?

The answer is yes. Resoundingly and overwhelmingly yes. There is a difference between choice and too much choice. I believe there is a paradox at play with regard to the strategies of Android hardware makers. They believe the more devices the better. I actually believe the opposite is true.

I read a book a while back called “The Paradox of Consumer Choice: Why More is Less” by Barry Schwartz. His main premise of the book is that too much choice actually makes it harder for consumers to make decisions. If you are interested in this I highly recommend reading the book.

If I were to put myself in a consumers shoes, something I do often, and I were genuinely shopping for an Android phone I would find it difficult. There are simply too many choices. You also have the added bonus of knowing something better is just around the corner because Android vendors release new phones as often as rabbits have babies.

Furthermore a saturated landscape of devices is even harder to justify in a market that is in the process of maturing like the smart phone and tablet segment. Most consumers are still buying their first smart phones. Therefore they are still exploring what they want in a smart phone.

So the paradox is that Android vendors believe more is better when in fact while this market matures more is less. Android vendors should be making it easier for consumers to choose their products not more difficult.

The impact is that this saturation and overwhelming amount of choice with Android devices will most likely lead consumers to go with the safe bet, which is the iPhone. All the reviews of the iPhone are positive, consumers hear from their friends how much they love the iPhone, etc etc.

When you add all that up you can see why I stated that the iPhone 5 would be Apple’s biggest launch yet.

The bottom line is this saturation in the Android space makes it easy to conclude that the iPhone’s dominance is no where near being threatened. Apple is the #1 smart phone manufacturer and it doesn’t appear that will change anytime soon.

If you look at the history of the technology industry, the most iconic products stand apart. Take the Palm V(5) for example, arguably one of the most iconic products in our industries history. Palm didn’t release five Palm products that year. They just made one the Palm V and it was the most desirable PDA by far. Apple’s strategy has been the same.

While this market is maturing the right strategy for Android vendors would be to pour all their resources into creating one amazing device per cycle. Unfortunately they are falling into the trap of thinking the more devices the marrier. Thus saturating the market and making it hard for consumers to choose.

You may say this sounds silly since Android has been growing at alarming rates with vendors employing this strategy. To that I say let’s re-evaluate Android market share at the end of the year.

Make Competitive Smart Phones or Get Out of the Market

We all know the world is moving from feature phones to smart phones. This is happening in some regions like the US and Europe faster but it is happening at a global level.

The latest data from Strategy Analytics and IDC released today both show overall growth in the global handset market along with declining growth of the feature phone market.

This is significant when we look at the top 5 leaders of global handset sales. They are in this order:

The first thing we need to observe is that one on that list is not like the other. Everyone but Apple makes both feature phones and smart phones. This is why the Nielsen data released yesterday confirms Apple as the number 1 smart phone handset maker.

So if you look at the data over the past few days you will conclude that having a competitive smart phone will be critical to anyone on that list above Apple if they want to stay above Apple. Apple climbed to the top of the smart phone vendor chart quickly and they can climb to the top of the global handset list as well just as quickly.

I agree that feature phones are still important particularly in the developing regions but those who are in that market hopefully realize that priority needs to shift in future thinking and RND around the smart phone market. If they don’t they will become irrelevant.

For more data on the profits captured and lost related to this data check out Asymco’s article on how “Apple Captured two thirds of available mobile phone profits in Q2.”

Lastly I believe it is only a matter of time before HTC makes it onto this list. They released record earnings today as well as 12.1 million handsets shipped in Q2 2011.

Android Is at A Critical Junction

I believe that the next six month’s will be the defining point in the future for Google’s Android platform. Whether this future is bright or gloomy will depend on the next six month’s.

It seems right now like Android is riding the big wave reaping in success left and right. The reality is however that there is truth to the Android success but there are also walls still standing in the way.

The report from Nielsen relased yesterday that I opined on shows the meteoric rise of Android in such a short time to garner 39% of US smart phone OS market share. This is truly remarkable success in such a short time. However the question that we have to investigate is how defendable Android is as a platform or is it vulberable at a fundamental level.

If we conclude that Google plays their cards right and builds the right “moats” around the Android castle then it is strong at a fundamental level. However if we conclude that their “moats” are not that strong or deep then it could be vulnerable at a fundamental level. If the former is true Android remains a viable force in the market. If the later is true Android could encounter market volatility and market share could sweep back and forth.

Google’s Hardware Partners
At this stage of the game Google depends on hardware partners to develop devices that take advantage of their software and services. This is a strength as long as your hardware partners stay commited and loyal to you.

There are challenges however with hardware partners. First off there are other companies competing for their business. In the case of smart phones and tablets, Microsoft is Android’s competition. If HP ever wised up and licensed Web OS then there would be three very good options for hardware partners to build products upon.

Android is still the obvoius choice for OEM’s looking to bring a smart phone or tablet to market. Consumers understand the value proposition and there is a large enough app ecosystem in their market place to appease the market.

The question is six month’s or even one year from now will Android still be the obvious choice? I know many people will quickly say yes but I still have concerns. One major reason is the now over 50 law suits facing Android in some capacity. Right now Android is free for most OEM’s to take and implement. However if some of the key lawsuits go against Google we could see license fees from between 15-30 dollars depending on the OEM.

If this happens Android is no longer free. I wonder if that happens whether manufacturers would re-consider their commitement to Android.

App Store Economics
Now you may argue that no other licensable or free platform has the developer ecosystem that Android does. This of course is true but again continuing to develop and maintain that ecosystem will be key.

App developers want to get paid. And as BlueStacks CEO Rosen Sharma pointed out in his column on “How the App Store Money Flows;” there are still issues facing the economics of the Android market that many developers we talk to do not want to deal with. Believe it or not among the larger app developers and as well as some of the more savvy ones, there is heavy consideration still for Windows Phone and for WebOS.

Google must continue to develop a robust economic system that works for everyone who wants to write software for the Android platform. If developers see no economic growth or ROI of their allocation of precious resources to Android they will go elsewhere.

There is a lot I like about Android and I want to see it continue to develop and flourish. Google however will have to navigate and maneuver the waters of the next 6-12 month’s extremely strategically in order to preserve the moats around their castle. Android @Home for example has a great deal of potential I believe and could add real value to the Android platform and ecosystem if done right. Chrome OS is another strength that can be leveraged and assets can be shared across Chrome OS and Android.

As Tim pointed out this morning Amazon could come in and change the game. There are a lot of un-answered questions around Amazon’s tablet strategy from pricing model, to proprietary app development etc, but so long as Android is the underlying platform i’m assuming Google will benefit still in some way.

Android is still behind in tablets and this is another weakness that needs to be addressed. Tablet sales of Honeycomb devices have been less than lackluster. If the Android Honeycomb activation dashboard is any indicator there are between 1.2 and 1.5 million Honeycomb tablets in consumers hands. Motorola released that the XOOM sold 440,000 units; we are yet to see Samsung’s Galaxy Tab sales, Acer’s Iconia sales and Asus Transformer sales.

What we need is a truly break out Android tablet that can excite the mass market. From what I know is possible with hardware and from what I am seeing from the semiconductor companies I know it is possible, i’m just not sure when or who will deliver it to the market.

We will have to wait and see but I have to say I am extremely excited about the next 12 month’s.

The Post PC Era Will Happen in Two Stages

In much of my work providing industry analysis to many companies in the technology industry, I come across the question of what the post PC-era actually means quite often. As the technology industry shifts from one computing platform (the PC) to multiple computing platforms (tablets, smart phones, TV, more) the landscape is changing and continuing to bring new challenges to industry leaders.

I believe the Post-PC era is going to happen in two stages. First there is the stage we are just entering into that can best be understood as the PC plus era. In this phase the PC is still needed as a central platform in the lives of most consumers. Meaning the PC is still a valued and sought after part of the ecosystem. Other devices like smart phones, tablets, smart TVs etc are capable and complimentary computing platforms but none can adequately replace the other.

The traditional PC as we know it is still the central computing device in this phase; however more devices are entering the ecosystem that allow consumers to become less dependent on it. Another key point of the PC Plus stage is that the PC is a general platform for computing and other devices are more specialized.

The next phase will be the phase where truly de-centralized personal computing starts to take shape. In this phase you will be able to do most if not all desired computing tasks comfortably, reliably, and conveniently from any connected smart screen. In this phase the personal computing cloud becomes a key ingredient that is the central glue of the personal computing experience.

I say this phase is de-centralized because our dependence moves from the PC to the cloud thus allowing any device connected to our personal cloud to become our computing platform of choice.

Consumers in this model can choose just one or any number combinations of screens that fit their fancy to accomplish any and all computing tasks. The key difference in this stage from the PC plus stage is that most if not all computing devices can become general purpose devices rather than specific function.

There is of course going to be a great deal of variation in how this plays out in the market place. We will see quite a bit of experimentation by both the manufactures and the consumers of these products as we flesh out the needs of the market.

This personal computing market is large enough that a one size fits all approach will not be the standard. This opens the door for many different innovations and product approaches to support each other and allow for healthy diversity and competition.

De-centralized computing becomes more personal
I’ve often explained that as we get smarter devices, smarter software, and smarter cloud services we will also get more personalized devices, software and cloud services. The translation is smarter = more personal.

This is not to say that there isn’t a level of personalization with these devices already only that it will be more so in the future.

The technology industry has used the term “personal computer” for three decades now, however the term really means “owned by a person.” My personal computer isn’t really all that personal at this point in time. It knows nothing about me and everything personalized about it is because I put in the time and effort to personalize it. A better term would be “customized computers” rather than “personal computers.”

In the future however I believe these devices really do become more personal rather than customized. The roadmap the semiconductor companies are on will pack an incredible amount of compute power into nearly everything imaginable. When that happens smart software and smart cloud services will have the opportunity to transform devices into truly personal computing companions.

What is the future of the PC Industry?

As I perused the recent PC shipment numbers from last quarter and saw that they were rather anemic and with relatively slow growth forecast in the future, it became even more evident to me that we are at a major inflection point in our journey with personal computers. We started this journey in the 1950’s with mainframes and then went on to minicomputers. But with both of these technologies, only a limited amount of people had access to them.

But when the PC came on the scene, it democratized the computing experience and made it possible for millions of users to experience the virtues of a computer. At each point in history, as we moved from mainframes-to-mini’s-to PC’s, we have had a major inflection point in which one technology faded from the forefront and the one’s following it took center stage. But even as we moved from one computing design to another, the older technology matured and took a different place in our digital world. Mainframes are now the super computers and backbones of huge enterprises. Minis have transitioned to powerful workstations and clustered servers in a sense. And the PC’s, which cut the cords to mainframes and mini’s to define their existence have become the workhorses within a family’s home, managing their digital movies, photos, finances, etc. At this stage PC’s have matured and settled into a comfortable place where its reason for existence is more and more focused on handling the heavy digital lifting we need from time to time.

Now, even if the PC market is slowing down and is not as robust as in the past, we are still going to sell 350-400 million PC’s every year for some time. They have a place and will continue to be important digital tools in business and the home. However, we are at the next major inflection point and PC’s are about to take a back seat to the newcomers that will define the next major growth phase of computing.

I believe that this inflection point can be described as going from personal computing to personalized computing and will be defined by tablets and smartphones that take all types of shapes, form factors and designs that make the computing experience more personalized and customizable. This inflection point is just as dramatic as when the PC came on the scene and cut the chord between the mainframes and mini’s and brought personal computing local. Another way to think of this is that we are moving into a phase in which people want a PC on their desktop and in their pocket.

But, it goes even deeper if you look at the PC, tablets and smartphones as just another screen in our digital lives. In the future we will have a lot of screens in our lives as well. A screen in our cars with a 3G chip in it so that our cars can be connected to the cloud at all times. Or screens in our refrigerator that is tied to application specific functions related to the kitchen and food. Or a screen built into the mirrors in our bathroom that is tied to the Internet and can deliver custom information on demand as we get ready to head out for the day.

Here is a chart from one of our presentation decks that shows what this might look like. Out in the periphery are a whole host of screens. Next is a layer of services that serve as gateways to things like apps and various services that are then tied to the cloud.

This new inflection point is being led by tablets and smartphones but is bound to carry over to a whole host of others screens people might choose to meet more personalized needs over time.

On the surface, the PC industry and PC companies who have a history as hardware vendors should see this as a new opportunity to extend their PC design and manufacturing prowess to this new extended personalized computing opportunity. But that is not the case. Except for Apple who has made this transition quite smoothly, the rest of the PC vendors are quite challenged when it comes to designing products outside their normal PC expertise. And it is really unclear to me if they ever will be able to extend their experience in PC and laptop expertise to personalized computing.

It gets even more interesting when you realize that hardware is actually only 1/3rd of the equation. In the future of “personalized computing” there is also the apps and services layer and then how all of these work with and react to a cloud based back end. These screens may be smart but they get much smarter when they have apps and are connected to the Internet.

At the moment, most of the Windows PC vendors realize that moving to a tablet/smart phone extension of their business is pretty tough. Indeed, the big guys seem to be putting more energy in the core strength’s, which are enterprise computing and SMB. I don’t think they will give up but I suspect this will be a big struggle for them to create “personalized” computing devices that really add to their bottom line.

This leaves room for potential outsiders to swoop in and become major players if they have the ability to create new “screens” of their own that can be tied to a rich eco system of apps and cloud services. The one that I see on the horizon that fits this description is Amazon. It is widely rumored that they will do a tablet this fall. But it is their back end and services that could make them a major player over night. They have a music store, a video store, an Android apps store and the big kicker-credit cards of over 200 million users. Like Apple, they have spent over a decade building this back end and customer loyalty/commerce engine and would be well positioned to end up being the #2 consumer tablet player almost overnight.

Further Reading: The Amazon Tablet Opportunity Could be Huge

So how will this ultimately impact the traditional PC vendors? My best guess is that they will not be able to compete in the consumer tablet and smartphone market unless they pour billions of dollars into building similar cloud based back ends and services that make their digital screens sing. The only traditional PC vendor who could have a chance at playing in this new personalized computing consumer space is HP if they are willing to make the billions of dollars in investments to build out their own eco system of apps, services and a rich cloud back end that equals Apple and Amazon.

Further Reading:
HP TouchPad Review – 3 Things that Set it Apart
10 Days with the HP Touchpad

Instead, what I believe will happen is that the traditional PC makers could and should make a major push into corporate with tablets and own that space. Yes, Apple is gaining serious ground here, but they don’t have an enterprise sales and service organization that is really needed to support and integrate tablets into an IT department. In the end, I believe they will realize that it will be almost impossible to compete at the consumer level with Apple and Amazon and put more of their energy into enterprise and SMB focused tablets.

The PC market is maturing and mainstream PC vendors are still well positioned to create new and innovative products around PC ‘s and laptops that could still see yearly growth as much as 10% over the next few years. But I am not optimistic about their chances of extending their computing expertise beyond the more traditional PC and laptop form factors and take serious ownership of the digital consumer. That will come from Apple and Amazon and anyone who can build out a complete eco system of hardware, software and services that really meet the needs of the consumers of the future.

Should the Media be Proclaiming RIM’s Death?

Over the past few weeks i’ve been reading a number of articles from the big media outlets all proclaiming the death of RIM. Most of these articles are pretty grim and their headlines say it all. I have nothing against a good or controversial headline its more the content of the article i’m interested in. What i’ve noticed is the content of these articles being fairly negative on RIM don’t really offer much helpful insight for either the consumer or RIM itself.

Two articles in particular this week are examples of what I mean.

BGR: Inside RIM: An exclusive look at the rise and fall of the company that made smartphones smart

All Things D: Bring Out Your Dead: Is Research In Motion The Next DEC?

So what I am wondering is what the role of the media should be in a situation like this where a company is struggling. Given that the media is extremely influential and actually does affect the mind share of consumers, it seems that if all the outlets go around saying RIM is dead, consumers will believe it and write them off no matter how good any future products may be.

Perhaps it would be more helpful if these articles contained a balance and point out what has gone wrong but offer helpful suggestions on what RIM could do to remain competitive. The result would be that the market may not write RIM off entirely and instead look to see if RIM responds to the helpful insights to the media, using the media to their advantage, and still have a shot at competing.

Too often it seems like the media is powerful enough to claim a companies death, thus affecting the mind share of investors and consumers and in return create a self fulfilling prophecy where the company actually does disappear.

Now i’m not saying the media does not always write negatively. In fact a number of good articles have come out that do offer helpful suggestions. I simply believe they are more rare than the norm. A few examples:

In BGR’s Open letter to BlackBerry bosses: Senior RIM exec tells all as company crumbles around him the letter itself contains helpful insights and suggestions.

Even though we are analysts not journalists Tim and I have also covered the topic.

Tim Bajarin wrote one for PC Magazine called What RIM Needs To Do To Survive that offered a number of suggestions for RIM.

And in my article last week for the tech section of I wrote about The Tragic Decline of BlackBerry and offer some insights as well on how to turn it around.

The bottom line is I would like to see more competition and consumer choice than less. I know negative news drives traffic but what i’m hoping is that there is a balance. I’d love to see the media also use its influence to do all they can to help struggling companies better compete going forward.

Again it comes back to my original question. What should the role of the media be when a company is down?

Microsoft’s “Can’t Lose” Mobile Strategy


Microsoft has been trying to recapture momentum in mobile after ceding the early market leadership it had 5-6 years ago due to its lack of adequate investment and resultant inability to stay competitive. And its renewed focus and execution over the past 1-2 years is indeed enabling it to make progress. But behind the scenes Microsoft has a strategy to become a driving force in the market and will likely produce more profits than many of the handset manufactures. And this is regardless of whether Windows Phone is successful.

Microsoft makes no mobile hardware, and licenses its OS software to several handset manufacturers (e.g., HTC, HP, Samsung). Its latest version of Windows Phone 7 (Mango) is refreshingly competitive and shows a lot of promise. And its distribution partnership with Nokia could propel it into a leadership position (although we remain skeptical that it will happen as quickly as some predict). Many observers focus on Microsoft’s attempt to gain ground on the competition by increasing its anemic smartphone OS market share. But the number of smartphones now being sold with windows mobile or the newer Windows Phone 7 is pretty small (various estimates are less than 5% of the market). Even at an estimated $10-$15 license fee per phone, the stakes are pretty small for a company the size of Microsoft.

But licensing the OS should actually be Microsoft’s back-up position. Frankly, there is far more money to be made other places. First, Microsoft is now putting a squeeze on all of the Android handset makers by enforcing its patent portfolio and claiming all such manufactures must license Microsoft IP to prevent infringement. And the handset makers are coming on board. Deals have been struck with HTC to start, and negotiations continue with others (e.g., Samsung). It is quite likely that Microsoft will be able to extract licensing fees (eventually) from all the manufacturers. And at $5 per handset produced, that is a staggering sum.

Adding to this revenue stream is yet another lucrative deal for Microsoft. Virtually every smartphone made (including Apple and Google Android, but with the exception of BlackBerry) licenses ActiveSync as the way to both connect to email (via Exchange) and to control the device (e.g., kill, provision). Microsoft controls 80%-85% of the enterprise email market. Without ActiveSync capability, the devices are unable to work in the business world, and what high end smartphone maker wants to be excluded from the corporate world? So licensing fees of $3-$5 per smartphone device for ActiveSync licenses has huge potential.

So what does this mean for Microsoft’s revenue streams?
Currently, all versions of Microsoft powered phones sell about 12M units per year (based on smartphone sales of approximately 400M worldwide estimated in 2011*, and 3% market share for Microsoft). That amounts to $180M best case (at $15 per device). There will be an estimated 140M Android phones (based on 35% market share) and 80M iPhones (based on 20% market share) sold this year worldwide. That amounts to $660M – $1.1B for ActiveSync licensing. And it’s likely that Microsoft will get many (if not all) of the Android vendors to pay royalties, so that’s another potential $700M (at $5 per device). This is not guaranteed, given it has not yet signed licenses with many of the vendors and some vendors in emerging markets may not care if they are infringing. But even if Microsoft only generates half of this amount, it’s a substantial sum. The OS revenues look paltry by comparison to potential IP revenues. And IP doesn’t require the substantial investment in updates and improvements that the OS does, making it even more lucrative.

Further, the smartphone market is likely to at least double over the next 3 years when we expect Microsoft to capture 15% of the smartphone market (primarily with Nokia). So 15% of an 800M device smartphone market = 120M devices and at $15 per device for licensing the OS = $1.8B in revenue. But the number of devices to be sold on Android = 45% of the total or 360M and on Apple = 15% or 120M. And at $8-$10 license fee per Android device and $3-$5 per Apple device, that’s $3.2B – $4.2B in revenue.

And moreover, even though Bing is currently way behind Google search in market share, it is now the favored platform for phone manufacturers distancing themselves from Google’s dominance. We expect Bing to capture 25% of mobile search in 3 years. This represents a huge revenue opportunity for Microsoft, although it’s hard to quantify at this point.

Bottom Line:
Microsoft can generate a lot of revenue from its deal with Nokia. But even if it doesn’t, the number of licensees of its IP will guarantee Microsoft a sizeable chunk of the mobile revenue stream. And that doesn’t even include the potential for revenues generated by cloud-based and Bing centered services. So Microsoft stands to gain handsomely from mobile, whether it succeeds with its own OS or not. It really can’t lose.

*Market Statistics and Projections (compiled and adapted from various estimates):

  • Current Smartphones shipped worldwide 1Q 11 = 100M units. Estimated 400M total units in 2011.
    Approx Shares: Android = 35%, Apple = 20%, RIM = 15%, Symbian (Primarily Nokia) = 25%, Windows Mobile = 3%, Other = 2%
  • Future Smartphone estimates for 2014 = 800M units
    Shares: Android = 45%, Apple = 15%, RIM = 15%, Windows Phone (Primarily Nokia) = 15%, Other = 10%
  • China’s Real Role in Tech 

    I have had the privilege of traveling to about 55 countries as part of my job over the last 30 years. And while I really enjoy Italy, France, Hong Kong, and Singapore, the one country that fascinates me the most is China. I first went to China in the early 1990’s, just when they were starting to establish their special trade zones. At that time the government was still leery of outsiders and we could not travel anywhere without a personal guide of some sort. 

    Fast forward 20 years and the China I visited in 1990 is not the same place it is today. China has emerged as an industrial powerhouse and a major manufacturer of all types of goods, especially electronics and computers. I became aware of China’s real interest in computer manufacturing during a dinner I had in Taipei with ACER founder, Stan Shih in 1991. At the time, it was illegal for any Taiwanese company to do business with mainland China. But Mr Shih told me that he was working through private channels and was planning to put one of his computer manufacturing facilities in China shortly.

    Indeed, within a few years, China had opened its doors to various partners throughout the world and started down a path to become one of the major manufacturers of personal computers and tech related products. 
But China has gone down another path that has enhanced its role in the world of technology. They have made hardware, semiconductor and software engineering a keystone of their educational system and in fact, they produce the most doctorates in these fields then any other country in the world. And all of their engineers and most of their college educated youth take English as a second major, thus making it possible for them to communicate well within the international business community.

    Software Expertise
    Last fall I want to China to speak to a couple of thousand software developers who had gathered to learn more about developing specifically for smart phones. They came from all over China and represented top students from the universities as well as individual developers who were specifically interested in developing for the Android platform. Although the iPhone is a hot item in China and there are a lot of people developing for the iPhone, most of the major Chinese handset makers are backing Android (a completely customized version) and this will clearly be the OS of choice for smart phones in this country.

    To put this into perspective, China will sell about 500 million cell phones in 2011 and at least half of them will be smart phones, with Android phones taking the lion’s share of this market. I spoke to a professor at one of the universities after my speech and he told me that two years ago he had about 30 students signed up for his smart phone developer class. This year he had over 3000 sign up for it.

    What is perhaps most striking about modern day China is that a middle class is developing and even in the outer provinces, people have cell phones and TV’s. And the traffic jams in Beijing are amazing. One of my hosts told me that there are at least 100 million cars in and around Beijing now, which unfortunately makes it the most polluted place I have been to in years, next to Mexico City.

    Thirst For Education
    But the thing that both impresses me and concerns me the most about China is the incredible drive and interest in education that makes these students tick. After years of incredible oppression, the ability to learn more freely and to think for themselves is surely a welcome change from the past. Their emphasis on math and sciences at all levels of education puts them so ahead of the US that it is frightening. I don’t want to get on a high horse here but to not emphasize math and science in the US educational system will only put the US at a disadvantage for future competition, especially in the world of technology.

    While China clearly has made major strides in education and commerce and has become a powerhouse in manufacturing, banking and world trade, I was reminded that it still is a society that has a lot of controls over its information and people. During my visit I could not get access to Facebook or Twitter at all. It was blocked, at least through the server of my Hilton Hotel Internet connection. And various types of searches through Google were also blocked, although on this trip I had less trouble using Google then in the past.

    And it is still clear that China favors home grown properties over outside sites like Google, Yahoo, etc. Baidu is their top search engine and China created apps drive most of the smart phone market. But what a lot of people don’t know is that a great deal of the apps created for the rest of the world is actually coded in China. I deal with many US based software firms who use Chinese software shops to help create, fine tune and support their overall software development projects. China’s influence on hardware and software is much more far reaching then people understand.

    But it is the drive of the young people I met on this last trip that really struck a chord with me. I spoke to dozens of kids who just want to be normal, hard working folks who can contribute to the world of technology development. Some were true entrepreneurs and dreamed of having their own companies and in some way making it big. They know of the many tech millionaires and billionaires that have risen within the Chinese tech community and some aspire to that type of fortune.

    But for most, they just want to have a better life for themselves and their families. They want a simple apartment and the big prize for them is to own their very own car. To them that is the symbol of success. More importantly, they are serious students of technology. The kids I met are not techies in the sense that they just love technology. Instead they represent millions of engineering students who want to invent new technology products, not just play with them.

    Although I still have great faith in Silicon Valley and its role in the world of technology development and the other key tech centers around the US dedicated to technological inventions, China’s emphasis on math and science and its focus on technology innovation cannot be ignored. This is the real role they are playing in advancing the world of technology. In financial circles, we clearly know that China is a country to be reckoned with, especially since they hold most of our debt. But its rise as a tech powerhouse and one that has millions of engineers dedicated to finding new tech solutions and products means that its competitive position in tech will only rise. It should be admired and feared at the same time. The US really is in danger of losing its edge in tech if it does not reverse its course and make math and science more important to our educational system.

    Will Low Radiation Phones Be A Selling Point In the Future?

    There has been mounting media over the past few years around whether there is a link to cell phone radiation and a possible cancer risk. The latest WHO (World Health Organization) report that was recently released issued yet another warning that there may be a link to cell phone radiation and brain cancer. Which leads to an interesting question: Can low radiation levels be sold as a feature of cell phones in the future?

    My guess is yes. In the very near future, I would not be surprised if we begin to see more labels on these devices clearly stating how much radiation (SAR levels) they produce. I would even venture a guess that there will be consumers who will take the radiation levels of a cell phone into consideration as a part of the decision making process. Some consumer may be more concerned about the radiation levels than others but tradeoffs will be made based on what the consumer cares about.
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