27 February, 2011

NFC in phones by replacing the SIM only

SK Telecom from Korea has embedded NFC into the SIM card without requiring any chipset in the phone. At the moment, the technology can only read NFC signals, but can't broadcast them. From BBC: NFC tags could make phones wallets of the future.

Read and broadcast is coming apparently.

Q: What's the impact?
A: Well, you don't need a new phone get NFC, just a new SIM card, so the barriers to adoption are much less.

26 February, 2011

Next generation Computer Interaction - Kinect Hacks

Microsoft Kinect is an extra bit of gadgetry that you attach to one's Xbox that does some cool things: it recognises your voice and it recognises that your movements. For non-gamers (eg me!), then this is a step-up from Wii - you have to hold a Wii to do the same thing. Have a look at MS's
Kinect trailer).

Well, clever geeks have taken this on board and created some pretty cool computer interactions.



My favourite is the Swim Browser  (see the video), which describes itself as hands-free browser. (Translation: a browser that allows you to surf the web by waving your hands around). It was the winner of 2011 PrimeSense/OpenNI developer challenge, so err..., other people think it's good too.

I sense that we are only at the beginning of this....

16 February, 2011

Nokia lashes itself to Microsoft for its smartphones

Last week, Nokia, that doyen of phone manufacturing companies, lashed itself to Microsoft's Windows 7 phone operating system for its future smartphones. Nokia is in the midst of turbulent times. Stephen Elop, its new boss of 5 months, sent his staff an memo on 11th February warning them that they were standing on a burning oil platform and risked being consumed by the flames. The firm will also get a new operational structure and leadership team, more of whom will come from outside Finland, aka ‘de-finnistration’.

In 2G and 2.5G phone era, Nokia were all conquering: they perfected the 'candy bar' phone and made an elegant user experience, built on sound technology. As users ventured beyond calling and texting to surfing and dedicated applications, this design started to creak. The advent of touch technology really demonstrated that Nokia had lost its golden touch.

Further details of the partnership: Microsoft's Bing will power Nokia's search services, while Nokia Maps would be a core part of Microsoft's mapping services.

On reflection, this announcement isn't too surprising. Stephen Elop formerly head of Office Products at MS was recruited as Nokia's CEO 5 months ago. He will have the historical and cultural capabilities to make this marriage work.

The tech press have been making a big deal of this announcement. But let's not forget that Nokia still makes about one third of the world's phones and remains extremely powerful in the developing markets of the world. Any phone manufacturer would be delighted to swap places with Nokia.

This isn't a company in crisis, but it does need a kick up the pants. Phone manufacturing today is much more about providing the building blocks for an ecosystem and less about filling the end-to-end solution with single solution technology.

In this respect, I think that, of the two front runners in the smartphone battle, iPhone and Google's Android, Android is better positioned, as Apple remains draconianly closed. However, I do believe that Apple will open its iOS to a greater degree within 18 months' time. RIM's Blackberry remains in trailer in the race and will most probably remain niched in the enterprise market.

Microsoft are likely to be VERY pleased with this new relationship. Historically, it has spent colossal amounts of money on mobile development, with little real traction. Access to this mobile giant (I refuse to call it a dinosaur yet) will bolster its credibility.

However as Rory Cellan-Jones writes in the BBC news story:
The cruel verdict from some is that two turkeys don't make an eagle .... This is a huge moment which could shape the future of an industry.

However what did make me sit up and think was the Economist's analysis (Nokia falls into the arms of Microsoft) and the analysis below of market share vs profits (source is credited to Asymco)



Incumbents are receiving a battering from Apple (particularly Nokia), which is fleecing the profits in the industry. We're likely to see an increasing number of partnerships and acquisitions to counter the Android + iPhone duopoly. I believe it also augers the end of European telcos doing handset manufacture.

One nagging thought: what are the implications for Japanese highly advanced mobile technology, now that the ecosystem battle has superseded the device wars??

13 February, 2011

Product Management in small technology companies

CPMN
Last month's Cambridge Product Management Network monthly meeting was a gem. Rob Davis gave an excellent presentation on Product Management in small technology companies (click this link to see slide deck).

What made it really interesting was that Rob distilled 10/15+ years experience in embedded software, hardware + software and purely software.

Key lessons learnt:
  • Be brave
  • There's more than one way to skin a cat
  • Just do it

Key Influences:

An excellent 'So what' Question and Answer methodology for Product Managers to keep in their heads at all times:
  • To: Description of user segment
  • Who: Have a particular set of characteristics
  • We Provide: Name / Description of Product
  • That: Provides specific user benefit / user function
  • Unlike: Competitors' Offering
  • Our Solution: Requirement from Customer to adopt / benefit
Next month's presentation on Pricing should be excellent - see you there!

09 February, 2011

iPhones are for dirty sluts

The Register, as well as being an excellent source of tech news, occasionally has amusing, well-written articles.

So this article, NY hookers cross street from Craigslist to Facebook, talks about a study by sociology professor (!!) that undercovered that Facebook has become the primary social software service now that Craigslist has shut down it Adult Services section last year.

However, the gem in the story is the reference to the value of the Blackberry brand.
This symbol of professional life [ie owning a Blackberry] suggests the worker is drug- and disease-free," Venkatesh [aforementioned Prof] explains. 
The article notes that:
Of prostitutes that own a smartphone, 70 per cent have BlackBerries while just 11 per cent own iPhones.
El Reg readers display their sense of humour in the comments on this story.