Technology: Great When It Works (And When You Can Actually Buy It)!

The world moves ever more quickly. In the past few weeks, Greece has nearly collapsed, Italy is sliding, the world’s cheapest Tablet PC, Aakaash has been released and Tim Cook has announced iPhone 4S, and been thrust into the hot seat at Apple, in what is arguably the toughest act to follow in the world. 

In all of this we are left to mourn Steve Jobs. I think it’s remarkable that he chose to work almost to his last few weeks. That he carried on till the time when he must have known the end was really nigh. Barrack Obama’s quote sums him up quite well – “…brave enough to think differently, bold enough to believe he could change the world, and talented enough to do it.” I woke up on the 5th of October to read about Jobs passing away and felt inexplicably sad. I’ve never been an Apple fanboy but I did fall in love with both the iPhone and iPad. And I (like millions of others, I’m sure) owe my job and a lot of the work I do to Steve Job’s legacy. So thank you Steve. If there is a heaven, I hope you’re there, disrupting it for the better. 

Meanwhile here on earth, the chasing pack probably has an even longer way to go to catch up with the iPad than you might think, looking at demand. The oft quoted phrase “there isn’t a tablet market, there’s just an iPad market”, is still true and I was given a stern reminder of how true this is. We wanted to do some demos at the recently concluded Cognizant Community event, so I went off to buy an Android tablet. One John Lewis, half a dozen Carphone Warehouses and a few other assorted stores later, I had to accept that you cannot buy an 3G enabled Android tablet in London. You can buy any number of WiFi tablets, but of course, their limitations are pretty obvious. Realizing I wasn’t likely to get my hands on it in store, I turned to Amazon. And in a few minutes the order was placed. For the next 5 days I kept bugging Penny at reception (about 17 times a day), with increasing levels of frustration but no result. The seller, GSM Fonz, were sending me placating mails but no device! Finally I got this email from them: 

“We are extremely sorry once again. We have called Royal mail today and they have advised us to file the claim with them as the item has been lost. We have processed a refund for the product and we will forward a claim with Royal mail as well. Royal mail may contact you regarding the claim as well.

We are sorry for any inconvenience you have faced. We have no other unit available straight away to send you.  However we will list the prodcut very soon again which you can purhcase once again if you are interested.”

It’s bad enough that Apple wins the demand game hands down, but if you also lose the supply chain battle, where do you go from there? (Something for Samsung et al to look at a  bit more closely.) I was recently in a presentation where we were told about the incredible efficiency of Apple’s supply chain, which is designed and managed by Tim Cook. It was a good reminder of how important the nuts and bolts of business are, even in a digital world. 

Also had pleasure of meeting the great Sir Steve Redgrave, the monumental winner of gold medals at 5 consecutive Olympic games! And some very insightful comments from him on how to improve performance and drive success. Then there was the presentation from Jean Francois Rischard, about the world’s big problems: brilliant but utterly depressing. Made me ponder the whole point of getting out of bed on the next day. Fortunately Don Tapscott had given us a boost already, on collaborative problem solving in the networked world. 

Talking of collaboration, it was hard to look beyond Social TV at this year’s IBC (Amsterdam). Everybody was on the bandwagon. But you had to only scratch the surface to sift the significant marketing chaff from the minimal grain. The acquisition of TV Genius by RedBee was a smart move, as I rate the TV Genius model highly. A world where the EPG is heavily influenced by twitter or Facebook is not so far away. At the Convergence Conversation event we also spoke about how the second screen will start influencing the first and we’re seeing signs of that already. One such example is the recently announced “Citizen Journalism App”. This is an area I’m particularly interested in and would love to hear your thoughts on, if you’ve built an app or had any experience with good 2-screen apps, especially where the second screen is driving or significantly influencing the primary (TV) screen. 

Despite my difficulties in getting the Android tablet, I did get my hands on an exciting android phone – the Samsung Galaxy S II. It’s a great device, with a giant screen. And I’ve already had a couple of experiences of solving real life problems. The first was a driving trip to meet some clients and parkners where I used the phone as a Satnav. Not just a map, but as a proper Satnav, with interface, voice and all. Worked like a treat! Another time when my personal phone, also an android, died while I was on the road, trying to reach some friends. I was lost for ideas for a few minutes, but then presto! I remembered that I had synched my contacts with gmail, so it took me 5 minutes to synch the new phone with my Google contacts and I was good to go! It’s great when technology works! And a great vidication for keeping data in the cloud! I’ve also discovered some brilliant apps – such as Paper Camera, which takes photographs like sketches. Having said all of this, it did have me scratching my head when I switched on the phone and couldn’t for the life of me find the dialer. All those functions, but no dialpad! How could this be! Finally Googled it and discovered I had to slide the top panel to the left to find the dial pad. Not intuitive, I have to say! Still an exciting device, though I’m yet to compare it with the iPhone 4S! 

To end, for now, a Steve Jobs quote which we should probably all hold dear. “Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

Au Revoir. 

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