Over at Forbes, Ewan Spence on the pricing of the Samsung S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge:
Pricing details around Samsung's Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge are starting to come out, with an expected street price in the UK of £550 for the SIM-free Galaxy S6 (and £650 for the Galaxy S6 Edge). While these prices are unconfirmed, they are higher than the entry-level competition of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.
Arguably the price difference could come down to Samsung running with 32 GB of storage compared to the 16 GB Apple has fitted to the iPhones, but I do like the idea of Samsung exploiting a higher price than Apple. If the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge handsets turn out to be more expensive than the Apple iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, then Samsung will have some powerful arguments available to help sell the device.
Spence "likes the idea of Samsung exploiting a higher price than Apple."
Wait, Spence has more brilliance in his brain to share:
Now the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge have the advantage Samsung should push hard on the specifications battle. That will be helped by Apple essentially ducking the numbers fight, so Samsung should be able to play hard on the fact that the S6 is a more powerful phone with more features.
And the easiest way to say that a phone is 'better' than another phone is to be more expensive.
Is that the easiest way to say 'better'? Just make it more expensive? Maybe Toyota should try that with their Corolla. Just add $10K to the price tag.
Premium pricing only works if your brand is perceived at premium and this perception is controlled by people who buy your products, not the company making them.
I don't think this will prove a winning strategy for Samsung, but since they're clearly in the game to copy everything Apple does, fuck it. Go for it, Samsung.
Microsoft reveals how it will make money giving away software:
Microsoft's traditional revenue has primarily come from licensing software like Windows and Office to OEMs and businesses. Microsoft grew into the giant it is today thanks to this hugely successful strategy and a dominance of the PC market. With mobile altering the landscape, Microsoft is turning to new strategies for the future of its entire business. Speaking at Microsoft's Convergence conference today, Chris Caposella, who is in charge of marketing at the software giant, revealed Microsoft's freemium plans in full.
It involves four parts: acquire, engage, enlist, and monetize. Acquire is Microsoft's way of getting people to use a product for free, like Office for iPad. Engage is Microsoft's plan to get them hooked on the product and leverage other parts of its ecosystem to keep someone using the service. Enlist is simply finding fans to keep the circle going, and then monetizing is figuring out who will pay for subscription versions of the service they're hooked on. It sounds simple, but it's something Microsoft hasn't traditionally succeeded at. Google has thrived at offering free services in return for your data or ads, but Microsoft's approach assumes people are willing to spend money on apps and services they're addicted to.
Good luck with that strategy.
Bill Gurley predicts 'dead unicorns' in startup-land this year
Bill Gurley, the prominent investor behind Uber and Snapchat, has been sounding the tech bubble alarm for months now. He's preached about the dangerous appetite for risk in the market, the alarmingly high burn rates and the excess of capital sloshing around in Silicon Valley.
What's that, Alan?
Headline on Flavorwire:
Moviegoing Hit a 20-Year Low in 2014. Is the Death of the Movie Theater Inevitable?
Will theatres die? No.
Seriously reduce in number? Very possible. I say we start closing the disgusting ones, where you're afraid you might catch bed bugs.
One a related note: Vinyl record sales in 2014 were the highest they've been since 1993
Headline at The Verge: Almost every single Xbox executive we profiled in this video last year has left the company
It's no secret I dislike everything Microsoft does (save for hardware, ironically). This is partly because I don't think they understand making consumer electronics, partly because I don't think they understand selling consumer electronics and partly because I think it's quite possible (likely?) they'll abandon it like they've done with the Zune, PlayForSure and many other initiatives. Oh,and despite efforts in recent years, I still agree they have no taste.
The XBox is no exception. It's far from leading a "revolution" in the living room and Kinect has proven to be a flop. Turns out people don't want to flail their arms and legs around in their living room, they just want to sit the fuck down and relax. To be clear: I feel the same way about the Playstation and Nintendo Wii/Wii U being "living room devices". They're not.
Let's also not forget XBox brings in chump change for Microsoft relative to Windows, Office and Enterprise.
Verge headline: Uber allegedly tracked journalist with internal tool called 'God View'
A company that tracks all their drivers via GPS has a 'God View' they can enable.
Fucking shocking. Next thing you're going to tell me is Google could read my email if they wanted to, or Facebook sells my data.
The fact that Uber has this feature at their disposal is not surprising, it's how they're using it that matters. In light of all the bad decisions they've been making lately, this story isn't helping.
Things aren't looking good for Samsung:
What is Samsung's "nightmare scenario," you ask? That it will become just another low-margin Android vendor. For years, Samsung has literally been the only Android smartphone vendor to consistently turn a profit. Indeed, Samsung and Apple for a long time have accounted for all of the smartphone industry's profits as smaller players have had to force themselves to fight over scraps.
But two things are happening right now that are sucking the life out of Samsung's smartphone profit machine: It's getting squeezed at the high end by Apple, which has finally released a phablet capable of taking on the popular Galaxy Note, and it's getting mauled at the low end by vendors such as Xiaomi that are cranking out phones with strong specs that sell at rock-bottom prices.
Maybe if Samsung keeps copying Apple things will turn around?
Over at FiveThirtyEight, Ben Casselman drops a spoiler on the whole "disruption" thing:
Talk to anyone in Silicon Valley these days, and it's hard to go more than two minutes without hearing about "disruption." Uber is disrupting the taxi business. Airbnb is disrupting the hotel business. Apple's iTunes disrupted the music industry, but now risks being disrupted by Spotify. Listen long enough, and it's hard not to conclude that existing companies, no matter how big and powerful, are all but doomed, marking time until their inevitable overthrow by hoodie-wearing innovators.
In fact, the opposite is true. By a wide range of measures, the advantages of incumbency in corporate America have never been greater. "The business sector of the United States," economists Ian Hathaway and Robert Litan wrote in a recent Brookings Institution paper, "appears to be getting 'old and fat.'"
Corporate America is doing fine, but why?
Consolidation is one factor:
Large companies are becoming more dominant in part by buying up their rivals. Hathaway and Litan find that, not surprisingly, most major industries have become more consolidated over time, as Wal-Mart and Starbucks have displaced corner stores and coffee shops.4 It's a lot harder to compete with a multi-billion-dollar multinational company than with an independent business.
This entrepreneur stuff makes me think about crowd funding sites like Kickstarter. They're great (I've completed 2 successful ones), but they usually kickstart projects, not businesses.
Remember, there's no reason to fret. Very soon we're not going to have to work ever again.
From the NY Daily News:
Tech giant Microsoft is in negotiations to open its first ever New York City retail store on Fifth Ave., sources told the Daily News.
The deal, at 677 Fifth Ave. near 53rd St., would give Microsoft a splashy presence on the top retail corridor in the country and put it just a stone's throw from its biggest rival Apple's iconic glass cube store.
Not a good idea.
Remember, Microsoft is the very antithesis of strategy.
Repeat after me: Microsoft: Software, Services, Enterprise. Microsoft: Software, Services, Enterprise.
That new focus on Microsoft as a productivity company could spell the end for projects like Surface Mini, or even the larger ARM-based versions of Surface. Calculations by Computerworld suggest that Microsoft has lost $1.7 billion on Surface hardware, including the $900 million write-off for the Surface RT last year. That's a huge loss for something Nadella describes as an effort to "stimulate more demand for the entire Windows ecosystem." Microsoft has thrown similar amounts of cash at Xbox over the years, but the Xbox 360 sales have proven there's demand for Microsoft's games consoles.
—Tom Warren, The Verge
Microsoft has lost $1.7 billion on Surface hardware. Well done!
I'm trying to remember if Apple ever lost money on the iPad?
Oh that's right, they never did.
It sure seems like Amazon, and really, every company could benefit from some sort of Vice President of Devil's Advocacy. That is, someone who looks at a product just about to launch and points out all the reasons it will fail.
It was said the Steve Jobs served a similar role throughout his years at Apple. He'd be presented with a product and more often than not, he'd rip it apart. He was even known to cancel launches at the last minute if he didn't feel like something was up to snuff.
But Jobs was also undoubtedly deeply involved in the creation of these products. He was the rare visionary who could step back and see the forest through the trees. (And even he had missteps --plenty of them.)
—MG Siegler, The VP of Devil's Advocacy