Recently in Business Category

That's a Big Twinkie

By Michael Mulvey on February 25, 2015 9:52 AM

How big is Apple?

This big:

The Student Becomes the Master

By Michael Mulvey on February 23, 2015 4:22 PM

Apple Inc. Closes At $775 Billion Market Cap

via Twitter

Ideas × Execution

By Michael Mulvey on February 3, 2015 5:00 AM

Derek Sivers

Hyperbolic Headlines

By Michael Mulvey on January 6, 2015 10:53 AM

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


By Michael Mulvey on December 30, 2014 1:18 PM

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.

God View

By Michael Mulvey on November 19, 2014 8:41 AM

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.

Samsung-flavored Schadenfreude

By Michael Mulvey on October 30, 2014 11:37 AM

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?

Thanks for the Heads Up, Dick.

By Michael Mulvey on September 26, 2014 10:07 PM

Andreessen is completely right: Startups are overvalued, stuffed like Christmas ducks with cash they don't really need, and since they're staffed by inexperienced kids with no oversight, they're spending that cash. This is a big problem, a big and obvious problem, and Marc Andreessen is right: We should worry.

But what he's not saying is that all of these worrisome things are happening because he has made them happen. Marc Andreessen is warning us, essentially, about Marc Andreessen. It's not a good sign when a man, no matter how large it would appear his brain is, tries to distance himself from his current agenda.

—Sam Biddle, Valleywag

Corporate America Hasn't Been Disrupted

By Michael Mulvey on August 14, 2014 9:12 AM

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.

Not a Good Idea

By Michael Mulvey on August 7, 2014 8:46 AM

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.

Know When to Fold 'Em

By Michael Mulvey on August 6, 2014 9:00 AM

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.

Being too close to a project

By Michael Mulvey on July 29, 2014 9:00 AM

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

"There are some roads not to follow; some troops not to strike; some cities not to assault; and some ground which should not be contested."

By Michael Mulvey on July 15, 2014 9:00 AM

I'm loving this analysis of Microsoft by John Kirk on Microsoft.

His premise is Microsoft ignores every rule of warfare in how they decide to compete with products made by other companies.

Like when Microsoft took on the iPod with the Zune:

From a strategic standpoint, Microsoft's move to create the Zune was inane and bordering on the insane. Its strategy:
- 1) Obliged Microsoft to betray its existing allies (hardware manufacturing partners);
- 2) Required Microsoft to abandon its greatest and most powerful weapon (licensing software to hardware manufacturers);
- 3) Compelled Microsoft to fight with unfamiliar weapons (hardware);
- 4) Forced Microsoft to fight on the battlefield of its opponent's choosing and where its opponent could could leverage its strongest assets (integrated software and hardware).

And then again with Bing:

Google was founded in 1998 and soon became a very real threat to Microsoft. A response by Microsoft was appropriate and called for...but not the response Microsoft made. As usual, Microsoft went right at 'em by challenging Google where Google was strongest and where Microsoft was nonexistent -- in search.

Let's examine this from a strategic perspective:
1) Attack opponent where opponent is strongest. Check.
2) Attack opponent with a weapon with which you have little or no expertise (search engine/machine language). Check.
3) Attack opponent where they live, thus guaranteeing that they will they will be inspired to fight with desperation in order to ensure their very survival. Check.
4) Attack where even success gains you little or nothing. Check.

For too long, Microsoft has been in reaction mode to every other company doing something innovative (and profitable).

It begs the question, what do they really love to create? What are they good at?

Grand Opening, Grand Closing

By Michael Mulvey on June 23, 2014 10:12 AM

To play devil's advocate to my vinyl post, some things do die:

Wednesday's demise of Code Spaces is a cautionary tale, not just for services in the business of storing sensitive data, but also for end users who entrust their most valuable assets to such services. Within the span of 12 hours, the service experienced the permanent destruction of most Apache Subversion repositories and Elastic Block Store volumes and all of the service's virtual machines. With no way to restore the data, Code Spaces officials said they were winding down the operation and helping customers migrate any remaining data to other services.

What he said.

User, Consumer, Employee & Person

By Michael Mulvey on June 18, 2014 9:24 AM

Google sees you as a user, Amazon sees you as a consumer, Microsoft sees you as an employee (though they're trying to change that).

Apple sees you as a person, but one at leisure who doesn't want to be using a computer in the first place.


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