Posts tagged 'Apple'

The Importance of Blogging for Startups

All companies should have a blog, to demonstrate their expertise in a particular subject matter and provide a vehicle for two-way communications and engagement with their customers.

This blog that you are reading now is an example of that.  I, as the Founding Partner of CellStrat, a consulting and start-up mentoring firm, am trying to come across as an expert in startups who has lived through the same battles you now find yourself fighting through.  Not to mention, for many of you, this is your first time ever hearing about CellStrat.  You may be asking, “why should I trust this firm to help me solve my startup-related problems?”.  Well, hopefully the quality of the content on this blog not only educates the readers on various topics, but it also instills trust to get prospective clients to actually pick up the phone and engage with me on their various needs.

Also, this blog gives my readers the chance to voice their agreement or disagreement with various points that I am making.  For example, when I wrote a guest post on Apple Pay on a famous social media site, two readers gave their contradictory and supporting views respectively.  Hence, further enhancing reader education on the topic, and creating a two-way dialog with my readers, so they too feel like they are participating in the discussion.

There are two other clear marketing advantages of writing a blog.  Firstly, search engines love rich content pages, and the more content you write, the more free search traffic you will drive into your website.  For example, this blog is about 7 years old, and is getting 10000+ visitors per month, largely coming from people searching for information related to the posted topics via Google and some through our regular followers.  That is a lot a traffic for a small consulting firm, which I didn’t have to spend one penny on, other than the 30 minutes or so that it takes me to write one post.

The second key marketing advantage is the virility of the content on social media sites like LinkedIn, face book and twitter.  And, since our connections and followers are largely business people related to startups/ technology or the digital media industry in which we have worked for the last 35 years combined, there are very high odds that: (i) the articles are not only interesting reading for them; but (ii) they will most likely forward or re-tweet the articles to their thousands of collective connections and followers of their own, all ripe new prospects for my own business.

So, for the reasons above, consider a blog a vital component of your website, search marketing and social marketing strategies.  And, don’t forget to ask for new followers, as I do in my last sentence below in all posts.

For future posts, please subscribe to our newsletter at:  www.cellstrat.com

December 11th, 2014

Start-ups Dilemmas

Envisioning success is key when it comes to establishing a startup. After all, if you’re an entrepreneur and you don’t think big, chances of ever seeing your idea materialise are close to nil. But often times – especially in a startup’s first year – entrepreneurs find themselves in Catch-22 situations and don’t quite know how to escape them. Two of the many  possible examples below with solutions teach us a lot:

1.  No money, no honey

PROBLEM

In order for start-ups to finalise their product and establish a proof-of-concept, they need funding – and lots of it. The dilemma is that you need money to finish the product, but it is difficult to obtain funding without that finished product.

How can entrepreneurs get their hands on some cash so they can start operations and launch their product?

SOLUTION

Three words: Minimum Viable Product (MVP). This is one of the most important principles of “The Lean Startup”. MVP is a version of a new product that allows a team to collect and gather the greatest amount of knowledge about customers with the minimum amount of effort or resources involved. By employing this technique, startups with limited resources can carry out a strategic plan and focus on the creation and selling of their product to customers.

2. You get what you pay for

PROBLEM

It has been reported that when investors evaluate a startup’s proposal, around 25 per cent of their final decision is based on the team alone. In fact, most investors believe the success or failure of a startup rests in the assembly and quality of the team.

Most of the high-tech products built today are very complex and require a handful of experts to take part in the creation and launch of the product. Having the right mix of people with diverse backgrounds and skill-sets is necessary for the operation of the startup and will be the key to success.

However, the problem is that it is rare for startups to offer a substantial salary to attract Grade-A employees when building their team.

SOLUTION

Build a strong team using equity. Be generous to the team – few investors will look at a one-person company. If the team members won’t join until the money comes in, sign a letter of intent that will allow you to include them in your team and secure funds.

Alternatively, you can hire junior members or interns that don’t demand high wages for ancillary positions. However, you will definitely need to have enough funds to hire experienced and highly qualified people for specialised positions, such as programmers.

One of the main strengths of successful startups is the ability to pivot. It’s possible that the product or service isn’t groundbreaking, but the company succeeds because it was able to adapt and overcome the challenges they were confronted with. Think Microsoft versus Apple.

Entrepreneurs see a list of problems in front of them and can quickly grow discouraged. In these cases it is imperative for entrepreneurs to acknowledge the problems they are faced with, seek valuable advice and understand that there are always solutions that could help them put this ongoing dilemma cycle to an end – once and for all.

December 2nd, 2014

World’s First Firefox OS Smartphone Released In Spain

Though having Google’s Android and Apple’s IOS hitting the market with their name, quality, value and functionality, Telefonica has launched a new Firefox OS Smartphone in the market jointly with Mozilla and ZTE. Telephonica is Spain based telecommunication and broadband service provider in Europe, Latin America and Asia and 5th largest mobile network provider in the world; Mozilla, a open source project by Netscape Communications Corporation, launched the Mozilla Firefox browser and now developed Firefox OS for the Smartphone; ZTE Corporation, China based multinational telecommunication equipment and systems company, the 4th largest mobile manufacturer in the world, has developed this Smartphone’s design.

The above trio has launched world’s first Smartphone, ZTE Open, with Firefox Operating System in Spain for 69Euros(90Dollars) and soon be launched in Latin America.  As per the statement by Carlos Domingo, Chief Product Development, Telephonica, in one conference, this device would be mainly  be for youngsters and those who are new to use the Smartphones.

Equipped with a 3.5-inch & 480x320pixels touchscreen, includes a 3.2MP camera(back), 256MB RAM and 512MB flash memory enhanced with a 4GB MicroSD card that comes as part of the package.

The ZTE Open is fully integrated with Facebook and the Spain-based social network Tuenti and talks are on about incorporating the WhatsApp instant messaging service, Telefonica said.

Mozilla executives said the ZTE Open is the “first chapter” in what they expect to be a long project, one that is already attracting interest from many other telecommunications companies.

 

Excerpts – Techgig

July 3rd, 2013

Facebook not quite “Home” yet on mobile phones

Apparently, Facebook “Home” is not to be, not yet at least.

The Android application launched by Facebook to create an FB overlay on the Home screen of the phone was supposed to be the big bet by FB to control the first touchpoint screen for a smartphone user. But due to poor reviews by initial analysts, Facebook is said to be revamping the FB Home application. The device which was supposed to launch this was HTC One and in US, AT&T was to be the exclusive carrier for this. In UK, operator EE and Orange were planning to launch it. The social network is said to be encouraging the carriers to delay the launch to give the firm more time to create a more palatable user experience.

The battle for the phone user is becoming more intense as time goes by. With smartphones overtaking web users globally, it is of paramount importance for tech firms to own the phone customer and drive more and more smartphone traffic to these firms’ offerings, in order to attract ad revenue and other commerce monetizations.

Without a doubt, Facebook social network application remains one of the top apps on all mobile systems including Apple iOS and Android. But Google, Facebook, wireless carriers and other media are jostling for more and more of user attention on phones as well as real estate on the limited phone screen, which are the next evolution of internet cycle.

Facebook released the following statement on Thursday evening via Engadget: “Following customer feedback, Facebook has decided to focus on adding new customization features to Facebook Home over the coming months. While they are working to make a better Facebook Home experience, they have recommended holding off launching the HTC First in the UK, and so we will shortly be contacting those who registered their interest with us to let them know of this decision. Rest assured, we remain committed to bringing our customers the latest mobile experiences, and we will continue to build on our strong relationship with Facebook so as to offer customers new opportunities in the future.”

htc-first-2

HTC First aka “Facebook Phone”  (Photo: Courtesy / HTC)

After extremely disappointing sales of the HTC First, Facebook will reexamine the Facebook Home before expanding its operating system to more phones in more countries.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has said he would’ve rebuilt Facebook as a mobile exclusive app if he had the chance, so clearly offering a solid mobile experience means a great deal to Facebook. In this regard, the Facebook phone was a brilliant idea and makes a great deal of sense — like Google and Android, a true Facebook phone would allow Zuckerberg & Co. to have complete control over the user experience and ad strategy. The HTC First was the company’s first attempt at such a device — Facebook would focus on software while HTC would focus on hardware — but with the phone failing so soon after its initial release, Facebook will need to take a long look in the mirror. 

Failure of the HTC First may be blamed on Facebook’s decision to make Facebook Home features too accessible to other mobile users on Android and iOS, or maybe Facebook will realize that the Facebook Home features were not that stellar to begin with.

Facebook has fumbled on mobile before, when it launched it’s first mobile site using the mobile browser channel – with poor user feedback on that approach, Facebook later changed course and focused on more cleaner mobile apps, but this was much later in it’s lifecycle; Facebook mobile has a history of bouncing back. The early years of Facebook mobile efforts were limited to working on a common mobile website version of it’s platform addressing multiple platforms like iOS and Android with one approach. It later realized that that approach did not augur well and got into building platform specific Facebook apps, which have been superb hits since.

The last note above take one back to mobile site vs mobile app debate, which continues to simmer in the mobile development world. So far, it seems, the Apps are winning with many firms (eg Financial Times) having switched from a common http://m.xyz-firm.com approach to custom mobile apps for each mobile platform. More on this later in this space.

(with extracts and ideas from International Business Times article dated May 24 by Dave Smith)

May 26th, 2013

Map wars

Since the launch of Apple iOS 6, one is seeing major activity in the world of Digital Maps. Both Apple and Google have been duking it out recently on this front. Before the iOS 6 was released, Google Maps was the default map application installed on the iPhones. But map application in recent times has become perhaps the most popular mobile app and hence substantial customer engagement and media sales get initiated with the map experience. The primary fruits of iPhone mapping app were being enjoyed by Google, until iOS 6 came along. With iOS 6 and iPhone 5, Apple decided to take the Map app internal and worked on Apple Maps for this version of iOS, thereby dropping Google Maps as the default Map app on the new iPhone.

In it’s haste to release the Map App along with iOS 6 launch, Apple mapping team seemed to compromise on reliability and accuracy in Apple Maps. The error proved deadly, as the Apple Maps app was widely criticized after iOS 6 was launched, being that rest of the iOS 6 as well as iPhone 5 was much appreciated. Apple Map Apps shows incorrect placement of landmarks and is frustrating mobile users around the world who rely on smartphone maps to guide them around cities.

This resulted in Tim Cook of Apple issuing an apology to Apple customers. Google, with a guilty pleasure, enjoyed the Apple Map criticism. Google has since announced that they are working on a custom Google Maps app for the iOS 6 platform. It is expected to come out before the end of the year.

Why are Map Apps such a big deal after all ? In an App survey conducted by Wireless Technology Forum, Atlanta, Google Maps was rated as the most popular mobile app. That means that navigation and directions via smartphone maps has become the most key use of these phones. One knew that Mapping Apps were popular and widely used, but who would have guessed that Map App is “the” most popular mobile app out there. Especially Google Maps. Obviously, smartphone users really use this app in their daily movements.

Maps are also used for the most cutting-edge of phone applications, that is Location-Based Services or LBS. LBS refers to finding businesses nearby and guiding customer traffic to those businesses. LBS also enables local advertising and shopping. LBS is key aspect of SoLoMo – Social Local Mobile – a concept referring to convergence between local commerce, mobile phones and social shopping.

Maps also facilitate searches now – Search is more relevant if locational aspects are added to it. Search Advertising has been a revolutionary concept and LBS makes Search even more relevant.

When the iOS 6 Apple Maps app faced ridicule, Tim Cook suggested that iPhone customers download Bing or other Map Apps from App Store. Google, of course, had not planned a iOS 6 compatible Map app, until it realized that iPhone users were clamoring for the Google version, after having experienced the cloogy Apple Map App. Apple Map flap has caused many a casualty at Apple office – with many execs including one of the most senior execs, Scott Forstall, being asked to leave. Just today, Apple fired another manager in charge of Map App.

With the Apple Map app mess, other mapping programs have gained eg Embark and Bing Maps.

Mapping wars are front and centre in the smartphone evolution, the various map providers need to check their coordinates in this new war.

November 29th, 2012

Apple iPhone 5 is here : CellStrat opinion

As if you have not heard enough about iPhone 5 already, here is more of it :)

Apple announced iPhone 5 on Sept 12th. The other big thing that happened that day was Quantitative Easing version 3 announcement by US Federal Reserve – one wonders, it was a synchronized announcement – just kidding.. Certainly, some market analysts have said that iPhone 5 may do more for US GDP growth than Fed’s QE3..amazing..

Well, intentional or not, both the announcements have a dramatic impacts – QE3 will accelerate the stock market rise around the world, fuel more inflation etc. Apple announcement will lead to Apple maintaining it’s hegemony in the smartphone ecosystem. I know, I know, some of you are on side of the table which is less than enamoured by the new iPhone 5. However, our take is that the ecosystem of Apple is much too strong and still underestimated by most. The vertical integration of iTunes, Macs, iPhones, iPads, licensed content in there, seamless charging via iTunes, cross-device synch capabilities are so intense and so transformational in the tech world, that few can match up with Apple prowess over the marketplace. Apple ran out of online inventory of iPhone 5 in one hour of opening the sales..validation enough of a huge pent-up demand out there.

Lack of NFC or some other popular features, now commonplace in other smartphones, will not deter iPhone 5 in creating breakthrough success once again for Apple sales. What most people fail to realize about Apple is that it does not usually toe the line created by others – it creates new models which, in many cases, become the benchmark over time. Coming back to NFC, Apple did bundle a feature called Passbook in the new iPhone 5 – a loyalty and coupon management feature – this is not payment enabled but it could evolve into a Digital Wallet. Many leaders like eBay, Square, Paypal are making do without NFC in Mobile Payments and quite successfully at that. It is likely that NFC may never become the mainstream mobile payment tech if Apple and others listed here do not push it.

As to what Apple iPhone 5 does pack, it has a laundry list of neat features :

LTE (4G capable), Thinner, Lighter, bigger screen (4 inch diagonally), all new Apple-designed A6 chip, better retina display, improved camera (although megapixels remain at 8 megs), enhanced HD video recording, 5 rows of icons on the screen, improved Siri assistant, new lightning connector, new Apple mapping app, better iCloud integration, 700,000 apps, new iOS 6 OS, Passbook loyalty feature, the list goes on and on.

To view all iPhone 5 features, click here.

As far as we can visualize, we still feel demand for iPhone 5 will be back-logged and people will go gaga over this device the world over. Apple mobile leadership is far from being threatened, not until they make major blunders or others truly can provide a neat vertically integrated ecosystem. So far, we see only Amazon as being anywhere close to providing the vertical ecosystem with Kindle platform. Samsung tried but it is missing many major components for creating a complete ecosystem, music partnerships to begin with, among other things. Google does not try as their focus is entirely different – to monetize via search engines on Android devices.

So – for now, it is Apple’s world to rule in the mobile arena, until somebody else “does an Apple” on them.

September 17th, 2012

Mobile Device Parade looms this week

This week, we watch in excitement as a mobile device parade looms from leading device makers. Motorola, Nokia and Amazon are all expected to announce new devices ahead of Apple’s iPhone5 announcement next week.

Motorola is bringing out a Droid Razr smartphone, which amounts to revival of the Razr brand, which Motorola sold successfully for many years before smartphones stormed the markets. Motorola, now owned by Google, has been a struggler in the last few years, and none of its smartphones have caught the fancy of the consumers yet, so far.

Nokia is announcing new Windows 8 phones – Windows 8 phone OS is the prelude to the Windows 8 desktop OS to be announced by Microsoft later this year. Windows 8 is supposed to work seamlessly across PCs, phones and tablets. Nokia’s Windows OS, so far, as been lackluster. Windows Phone OS has only 3% market share in the smartphone market compared to 64% Android share and 18% Apple iOS share.

Jeff Bezos of Amazon is set to announce the next version of Kindle Fire at an event on Thursday. Kindle Fire’s last version has reportedly sold out, as per Amazon, one is sure these device makers produce such products in limited quantity to create the marketing effect of a device in short supply. But certainly, after the iPad, Amazon Kindle Fire is the most successful tablet so far.

Then comes the big brother Apple on Sept 12th, with its reported iPhone5 launch.

While we feel that Apple is the mover and shaker of the mobile smartphone business with bulk of app and device profits as well, sometimes one wonders if the Android market share of 64% vs iPhone OS market share of 18% bodes well for Apple or not. No wonder, Apple is spending millions in it’s lawsuits against the Android device makers like Samsung.

Samsung had recently released the Galaxy Note 10 inch version – Galaxy Note has been a runaway success for Samsung as was the case for Galaxy smartphones.

Device wars are heating up and it can only get better for consumers the world over.

September 4th, 2012

News Corp., AT&T join hands to for providing Mobile Education on Tablets

News Corp. is forming a partnership with AT&T Inc. to provide tablet-based learning and assessment products for kindergarten through grade 12.

The two companies said Monday they would offer a 4G mobile platform on tablets through a pilot program this coming school year. News Corp. also announced that its education business would be named Amplify.

The media company’s statement on Monday was its most detailed outline of its plans for expanding into the education sector since it spent $360 million in late 2010 to buy 90% of Wireless Generation, an education technology company that makes online tools to evaluate students and personalize instruction. Wireless Generation forms the core of Amplify.

Amplify will take Wireless Generation’s offerings a step further by introducing more original curricula and tools designed for students rather than teachers. In an interview, Joel Klein, News Corp.’s executive vice president in charge of Amplify, said it was critical that students have access to the platform both at school and when they take tablets home. “The idea that you can do this 24-7 can really change the game,” said Mr. Klein, who was chancellor of the New York City Department of Education before joining News Corp. in 2011.

The K-12 e-learning market in the U.S. is roughly $5.4 billion currently, a fraction of the amount spent on traditional educational materials like textbooks. But the digital market is growing about 20% annually, according to Michael Horn of Innosight Institute, a non-profit think tank.

Educational publishers such as Pearson PLC, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Co. and McGraw-Hill Cos. education unit are already endeavoring to expand in digital, while technology companies including Apple Inc. also are trying to establish a presence. At the same time, states are cutting back on spending for textbooks.

Most of the content of companies like Pearson, McGraw-Hill and many others for K-12 segment is being digitised and programmed into tablet formats in Bangalore, India too as a cost cutting measure as well as they are also able to find market for their products in India and thus lot of schools and corporates are getting subscription based services for accessing such content on tablets.

(Excerpted from article in WSJ)

 

August 1st, 2012

Apple sued over its use of ‘iBook’

Apple and five major US publishers are going to be sued by the US Justice Department on the grounds of ‘price rigging’ concerning the iBooks store found on Apple’s iPad tablet and iPhone. It’s believed that when Apple first launched the iPad and iBooks the company came to an agreement with these publishers which would effectively ‘strong arm’ every other distributor to follow the rules set out by Apple. Believed to be concerned that if by joining Apple their books would go the same way as iTunes with songs being cheap and standardized the publishing companies demanded an alternative.

Apple’s answer was very simple, they would move to the ‘Agency Model’ where the publishers would set the price and Apple would take a straight 30 per cent cut. Of course Apple was happy with this but only on one condition, that no other distributor would then be able to undercut them. This in turn then force the publishers to demand ‘The Agency Model’ with the likes of Amazon’s Kindle Store. The Justice Department will aim to prove that this action was taken with both Apple and the publishers in full knowledge of the consequences.

Both parties have denied collusion and have argued that by raising prices across the board they have allowed the industry to thrive making booksellers more successful.

It’s not known when the Justice Department will make its move, or indeed if it will at all. However all eyes will be turned to Apple, who recently had to change another aspect of their iBooks eco-system when it came to their iBooks Author app.

(Source: Wall Street journal)

March 12th, 2012

The Memorable Smart Phones, Apps and Services of Mobile World Congress 2012!!

There was plenty of new hardware to keep the gadget fans happy, but the big buzz at this year’s Mobile World Congress was about software and services

What Mobile World Congress was asking attendees to keep in mind as the exhibition opened in Barcelona this week. More than 60,000 people will have passed through the closely guarded doors of Mobile World Congress by the time the event closes later today, with more than 1,400 exhibitors cramming themselves into the exhibition halls.

And with the GSMA – the association that runs the show – estimating the numbers of connected devices will more than double from the current nine billion to 24 billion by 2020, its clear mobile will continue to be an important platform.

Although previous years have seen some major phone launches at Mobile World Congress, this year, things were more measured. Hardware announcements were made, with plenty of phones and tablets to keep gadget fans happy, but it was the software and services that really mattered at this year’s event.

Even Facebook got in on the standards discussion; with chief technology officer Bret Taylor saying that the company would get behind the move to improve web standards so apps can be delivered to users without having to go through app stores.

“The social networking site Facebook and mobile were made for each other,” Taylor said in his speech at the event.

“Mobile operators will hope that working with Facebook could help mobile operators create a new eco-system, that over, time dilutes some of the power held within the industry by the current market-leaders in the application-store space: Apple and Google.”

Google’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt, meanwhile, told attendees at his keynote speech that smartphone prices would become more aligned with basic feature-phone costs next year. “A mobile experience at least at the level of today will be available to almost everybody, at a fraction of the price,” he said. “If Google gets this right, there will be an Android in every pocket. At our current growth rate, this is possible.”

Nokia also showed off the 808 PureView. The handset grabbed headlines for its staggering 41-megapixel camera. However, rather than opting for its favoured Smartphone platform, Nokia put the hardware into a Symbian handset.

As usual, the Irish contingent was well represented at the event. About 25 Irish firms were exhibiting at Mobile World Congress this year, with several taking space in Enterprise Ireland’s pavilion, including Solaris Mobile, Socowave and AltoBridge. Other companies moved outside the Irish pavilion, with payments firm Ezetop and Newbay both exhibiting elsewhere. Movidius showed off new 3D camera modules at its stand, with the company poised to take advantage of the new wave of 3D in mobile devices.

Payments firm BoxPay was on hand to show off its new Android one-click payment method, allowing users to buy smaller items through their phones and add it to their mobile bill. It also now offers recurring subscriptions payments, and is setting its sights on new markets.

BoxPay wasn’t the only firm trying to revolutionize mobile payments. Earlier this week, Vodafone announced a deal with Visa that would see consumers pay for goods with their mobile phones through near-field communications, with an account based on Visa’s prepaid system.

Vodafone’s chief executive Vittorio Colao described the mobile wallet as the “next stage of the Smartphone revolution”.

(Source: http://www.computerworld.com)

March 1st, 2012

Previous Posts


Categories

Blogroll

Archives