Sunday, 28 August 2011

APPLE BUYS my dreams


Call me a dreamer, call me an idealist, call me crazy but this headline doesn't seem all that ridiculous to me.

On this very same day in 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King made his famous "I Have a Dream" speech and while I have no intention of ever comparing myself to Dr. King, I can't help but day dream about what an Apple-Sony marriage would look like.
Image Courtesy:

With the recent spate of mergers we've seen in the industry, the troubles that traditional Japanese manufacturers have faced and the threat of competition coming from non-traditional hardware players like Google, Amazon and Facebook, something drastic has to happen.

Why does Apple and Sony make sense?

1. DESIGN - Sony and Apple fundamentally both are companies that lend their origins to being on the cutting edge of design.  It is hard to argue that Sony in its heyday had products that looked just fabulous and Apple is legendary for their design elements today.

2. WHAT NEXT? - Sony has had a troubling few years and various questions have been asked for Sony regarding what it can do to improve itself going forward.  In a post Steve Jobs era, Apple will also have the same questions asked of them and combining their strengths like may mean they can be a formidable powerhouse going forward.

3. TELEVISION - Apple's attempts to make a foray into TV haven't exactly been what they expected.  Apple TV has been demonstrated at various Apple events but somehow has never left anyone really excited.  Sony at their core knows televisions but has lost their way with the onslaught that they're facing from various Korean (and possibly in future Chinese brands).  An Apple television powered by Sony makes sense.  With stories starting to circulate that Sony could look at moving out of the television business by even possibly selling this unit to a Chinese brand, it could be something for Apple to look at.

4. APPLE STORES - Apple has been the envy of the industry with their retail roll-out strategy.  The experience of an Apple Store is unparalleled and although Sony has many of their own retail outlets, they could do with an Apple makeover.  Further, Apple could definitely sell a lot more products from their own stores which are manufactured by Sony.

5. COOL FACTOR - This is something again that both brands share.  Buying Sony was cool in the 1980's, 1990's and early 2000's.  Buying Apple is today cooler.

6. THE CASH FACTOR - With the recent revelation that Apple has got more cash in its reserves than the US Government, we know that Apple can in true Jerry Maguire fashion, "show Sony the money."

7. SONY MUSIC & PICTURES - Apple is the largest seller of music in the world today through iTunes.  Sony has a formidable music and movie library that could give Apple the edge over other competitors in the industry today.

8. ACCESS JAPAN - The desire of every American brand has been to make it big in Japan.  Some could argue Apple has already done this but how much deeper could Apple entrench themselves in the Japanese domestic market by leveraging on the Sony relationship?  Can Apple succeed where the American automobile industry failed?

9. WICKED PRODUCTS - One can only imagine what the combined R&D strengths of Apple and Sony could produce.  Apple is creative, Sony can be creative.  Together they could be a tag team that rips the competition to shreds.

10. SAMSUNG - Apple's biggest threat these days is Samsung.  This is clear from all the legal juggernaut we've been seeing in the press.  Sony's biggest threat in consumer electronics is also Samsung.  If the cultural differences that divide Apple and Sony threatened to derail such a deal, the strength they could derive from each other in the battle against Samsung could neutralize any such differences.

11. GAMING - Apple has with the iPhone changed gaming.  Sony had at one time changed gaming with the the PlayStation and PSP consoles that they had.  If Apple and Sony can work out a way to combine this know-how, they could give the likes of Microsoft, Nintendo and Google, more sleepless nights going forward.

I know what I've just said is crazy.  I just want to create a stir and make a thought provoking statement or two.  With everything that's happened in the industry of late, you can't help but wonder what could happen next.  Apple has made it a habit of keeping us guessing and with this write-up, may be I've got you guessing on what Apple could be next as well.

Please note all thoughts mentioned on this blog are personal views and not given by me in any official capacity.  If quoting from this blog, please quote me in a personal capacity only and not in my official capacity.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

No comment - Steve Jobs

Image Source:

It was strange.  The news of Steve Jobs stepping down as Apple CEO was all over the Internet and every social media network when I touched down in Dubai early this morning.

Given all that we've seen in tech sphere in the last two weeks and the fact that I've been responding pretty quickly with a blog post on either my personal or work blog, I thought it would be no different this time.

Then I saw the flood of Steve Jobs stories flooding my Twitter timeline and decided against writing anything.  Anything more I would say would only be repeating something that was already said a few hundred thousand times over.

I therefore decided in true Apple fashion, to keep it simple and say nothing.

Monday, 22 August 2011

HP: Where does the ink spill next?

In the last week, we've seen a series of announcements in the IT and mobile industry that were earth shattering but what we've not heard about is what still makes me curious.

First let's take stock of what was announced and what is left to speculation:

  • Google-Motorola - Is this a marriage of convenience (for patents) or is Google going to start rolling out their own branded stock Android devices?  Will Samsung, HTC and LG get short-changed in the process?
  • HP-WebOS - HP has shut down all efforts for developing their own smartphone and tablet devices after a number of failures over the years.  Even buying Palm didn't help them.
  • HP-PSG - HP wants to separate their PC business from the mothership.  Will they spin it off, sell it or look at a management buyout?  No one knows.  Who could align with this is still speculation.
  • HTC-Beats - This was the first announcement that came out last week and sadly for HTC, it was forgotten because of everything else that was announced.  In case you didn't hear, Dr. Dre sold a portion of his company to HTC.  Do we need to prepare for an HTC device with a Justin Bieber ring tone standard or a Lady Gaga-esque crazy smartphone?  
So next we expect to hear something from Dell and Samsung as they've obviously got an eye on Apple, HP and Google.  HTC's announcement seems inconsequential in the grander scheme of things so maybe they may think of something.  Will Acer continue it's tablet / smartphone strategy?  Where does Microsoft fit in with everything going forward?

Will HP compare the consumer IPG business to 1990's
boy band "Color Me Badd?"
What seems to have slipped under the radar though is the future of HP's IPG division.  The IPG division is the portion of HP that's responsible for the printers that HP markets and the lucrative ink / toner business.  It's known that a printer manufacturer like HP makes most of their profits from consumables.  However, at the low end of the market, profits on printers can be difficult because of the number of third-party ink solutions available.  Many brands have withdrawn from this and decided to focus on the enterprise or corporate market (think Xerox, Lexmark and Brother).  

With HP saying consumer grade PC's are very low profit, could they say the same for their consumer IPG products and focus then on the high-end market where there is less competition on consumables?  If they did, who would be able to fill the vacuum left in that segment of the market?

Of course, what I'm talking about is all based on speculation and a creative mind.  I don't have any insight or inside knowledge on this but when you hear announcements of this sort from HP, you have to think, where does the buck stop?  

Friday, 12 August 2011

DJ, Play that funky music

From the title of this post, you can tell that I seem to have been inspired by the music listening to when it comes to blogging.  Music has always been a good way to express yourself or convey your sentiments but also powerful in that it can transcend age groups, gender and cultures.  

My question then is, why are we so restricted in Dubai in terms of the type of music we get to listen to?

I'm talking specifically about the English language radio stations here in the UAE.  We have one talk radio station, two which play adult contemporary and the rest all seem to focus on Top 40, R&B / hip-hop and pop.  Even two adult contemporary stations seem to play the same sort of the music as the other mainstream stations except they probably stuff that's been off the playlist at the other stations for a couple of months or years.
When did you last hear Metallica on the radio here?
There are so many other types of music that one forgets about when living in the UAE and it's only when you randomly hear a station suddenly playing rock, metal, classical, soul, jazz, reggae, folk, country or just simple chill-out music that you remember there are other things we could be listening to.

I'm not saying that every station should focus on one type of music only but at least if they've got a couple of shows during the week that focus on these different genres, it would make for a pleasant change and even though you may not be a fan of every genre, I'm sure many would learn to appreciate it for what it is.

It's sad but we have some brilliant events that happen in Dubai like the Jazz Festival but honestly they're under-appreciated because most people here have never heard of the artists who perform.  The only way the organizers can make these events a success is by bringing a headline act who barely qualifies as a jazz singer or musician but is in many cases better known as a hip-hop or R&B act just to get the crowds in.
Paul Taylor is currently on top of the Billboard Jazz Song
charts but chances are, no one in the UAE has ever heard
of him.

Radio stations have to realize that ever since the invention of the iPod, iPod transmitters and audio jacks in our cars, people have started listening to the music that they want.  If you can provide them the same choice, they may listen more to you.  I know radio has been booming here in the Emirates from an advertising revenue point of view but there is so much more revenue that could be gained if radio stations did something different.  Internet radio is a trend that is catching up in the United States where you have stations that play all sorts of music, some of it so obscure, you'd probably never come across it even if you tried to search for it, that it could just be a matter of time until we see it emerge here.  Why would it do well?  Only because it would differentiate itself from the usual Katy Perry and Lady Gaga type music we hear here normally.

There was a time when radio in the Emirates had shows that focused on specific genres but that seems to have disappeared.  I do hope the guys who run the radio stations read this and do start changing up their playlists with shows that embrace the diversity of genres that are out there.  I for one would be grateful and I'm sure there would be many more out there who would agree with me.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Imagine, do we really have to?

While driving into work this morning listening to The Dave Matthews Band, a cover of John Lennon's "Imagine" that I'd forgotten I'd uploaded onto my iTunes playlist started playing.

Even though Lennon recorded and released this song 40 years ago, the lyrics and sentiments are just as true today as they were then.  The vision he had still seems like a fallacy unfortunately.

Looking at all that's happening in the world today.  Somalia's famine, London's riots, Libya's ruthlessness, Syria's atrocities, Japan's tsunami, Haiti's devastating earthquake.  The list could go on for pages and pages and we still wouldn't do justice to it.

Lennon was a visionary, an idealist and as we started to grow numb to everything that's been happening in the world around us, read his lyrics below from Imagine or listen to the cover version recorded by the Dave Matthews Band in the video below and let's hope we don't need to imagine this in the long term.

Imagine, John Lennon
Imagine there's no heavenwonder you can
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today...

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
It`s easy if you try
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one 

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Google+, Snoop Dogg & Dr. Dre


I'm sure there are a few more I've forgotten but last month I added Google's G+ to the list of mediums I'm on.  I've listed out the different mediums in priority of how I access them.  My problem a month ago as it is till now is where I do place G+.

I've had this conversation with a number of people, whether it be on Twitter, G+ or in person and I'm still finding it difficult to justify moving G+ up the rankings.  Moving it up means moving something down or off the list.

On the list I mentioned, everything after Facebook has started to take a back seat (yes, including this blog though I'm trying to keep it active). Apart from the fact that you need the time to manage all of this and do justice to it, you also need to see what can be managed most efficiently.  Twitter is easy, you can do it off a smartphone.  Facebook became easier once I started Flipboard on the iPad.  LinkedIn is slowly moving onto that list as far as reading information but actively engaging in conversation on there, it hasn't quite roped me in.

For me, G+ will only really become entirely relevant when a common aggregating tool can be used to manage it efficiently.  I can use various tools to manage multiple Twitter accounts, Facebook and LinkedIn from one application or screen but this isn't the case yet for G+.  For now, TweetDeck, HootSuite and Flipboard have no G+ integration capabilities. I'm sure this'll come in time but until then, whenever I keep hearing G+, my keeps wandering over to the early days of Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg.  Dre and Snoop have done well for themselves in the long term and I hope for Google's sake, the same is true for G+.

It's like this and like that and like this and uh
It's like this and like that and like this and uh
It's like this and like that and like this and uh
- Lyrics from "Nuthin but a G Thang" Dr. Dre & Snoop Dogg