Success Anchored in Function AND Beauty

Just a saying from Dr. Ferry Porsche (as in Porsche cars) that I liked:


“It has always been a principal of our company that function and beauty are inseparable.”


If you can make something useful and attractive–you have a real winner!


Companies like Porsche and Apple get it (many, many others are clueless).  


Product development is both art and science and therein lay the foundations of their success or failure. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Paul Allen And Steve Jobs – Both Left Us Early!


Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft died yesterday, Oct. 15, 2018.


His untimely death reminded me of Steve Jobs, co-founder of Microsoft who died Oct. 5, 2011.


Allen co-founder Microsoft in 1975 and Jobs co-founded Apple in 1976


Allen was 65 and Jobs was just 56 at time of death.


Both were pioneers in the IT Revolution.


Both died of cancer.


Both dropped out of college.


Both accumulated $20B of wealth in today’s money.


Both own(ed) 2 sports teams (Jobs posthumously)


Both were huge philanthropists in terms of what they left the world: money in Allen’s case and many innovations in Job’s.


Both have been in Time’s 100 Most Influential People.


Both died an early death–sadly too young!


(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)

Contrarian on Apple

As Apple approaches the unbelievable $1 trillion mark in market value, I am going the contrarian. 


Historically, I love Apple products–truly. 


But since Steve Jobs, Apple has done virtually nothing!


They are losing the battle for common sense priced products. 


They are losing the battle on innovation. 


Think for a second what has Apple come out with that is “WOW” in the last few years–either in terms of new product or design. 


Do you care anything about Siri?


Are you in love with their Apple Watch? 


Do you think much of their new iPhone X?


What about the computers–same old, same old?


I am still using the iPhone 7plus and have no intention to upgrade anytime soon. 


See the picture above, this is Apple’s idea of innovation. 


It’s the new Mac Pro — virtually the same as their iMac Pro, as their store rep explained to me–except it’s shaped like a tall and weird version of the Amazon Alexa personal assistant. 


BTW, you still need to attach a monitor, keyboard, mouse, etc. 


Are you impressed NOT? 


Apple as a brand used to mean the latest and greatest. 


Even now, I am still drawn to Apple products, just because I am conditioned to think of it as the best!


But is it still the best and is it worth the premium price?


Apple still has me as a customer and I am still a big fan of what they have done in the past.


But they better do something amazing again and now, because I think their stock is in for a mighty big and painful tumble if we don’t see the old Apple again soon. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

It’s Gazillions Baby!

Handbag - Silk.JPEG

So being a millionaire is no longer anything.


You’re still considered sort of a poor schlub!


Even a billionaire is not such a big deal anymore. 


It takes at least $2 billion to make it unto the Forbes 400 Richest Americans List


Further, a recent episode of CNBC Filthy Rich Guide asks who will become the world’s first trillionaire!


They say trillionaire as in a number with “4 commas”–never really thought of it that way.


…but it’s definitely a big,(1) big,(2) big,(3) big,(4) big number.


Jeff Bezos of Amazon with $90 billion currently in the bank and growing fast is forecasted to be the one who will make it. 


So no longer are we betting on which mega corporation–Apple (with a current value of almost $830 billion)–will become the first trillion dollar company.


We are talking individuals with that much moolah too. 


So with the median net worth of Americans a measly $69 thousand dollars, it’s no wonder that billionaires like Mr. Wonderful (Kevin O’Leary of Shark Tank) calls more than one entreprenuer looking for an investment, a cockroach!


What’s a shame is not only the complete social inequity and class system that we have and that continues to grow with those in McMansions and others homeless, but also that so many can’t see that what’s really important is not the beautiful pocketbook full of money, but the decent soul filled with good deeds! 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Survey The Performance

survey

So I was in the Apple store recently and made a purchase to upgrade some technology.


Afterwards, I got an email asking:


“How was your experience with Beverly?


When I opened this my wife saw this and was like, “What the heck is that?!”


We should be surveying the work performance and not the experience with the person.


I can’t imagine that super smart Apple didn’t see this sort of double entendre about sweet Beverly.


All Apple needed to do was add in the word(s) at the top, shopping and/or at Apple, as in “How was your shopping experience with Beverly at Apple? (rather than burying it in the subtext later)”


But then their customer satisfaction survey maybe wouldn’t get as much attention.


Sexualizing the customer experience shouldn’t be part of marketing, unless maybe your purposely visiting a shady part of town for unscrupulous reasons. 


Anyway, I did respond that Beverly was a definite 5!


Thank you for the wonderful technology Apple and for the experience with Beverly–it was great! 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Answer Your Watch

Watch

So I did it and took the plunge into a smartwatch. 

For over a year, I thought the technology just wasn’t there yet. 

Too clumsy, too difficult to use with such a small device. 

First, I considered just a Fitbit for tracking activity, but I quickly ruled it out, since you can get so much more with a full smartwatch.

Then, I looked into the Pebble, in particular the latest model the Time Steel, which runs between $200-$250. 

But I watched a review that pointed out the the Pebble does not have a touch screen, and everything are the buttons–okay, I immediately ruled that out. 

Next, I looked to old trusty, Apple…they have never failed me yet, and I tried on their various smartwatches. 

I settled on a simple sports model, since I figured as the technology continues to evolve or as the watch gets beat up in daily use, I could simply upgrade to the next great thing. 

Also, I figured if I really don’t like how it works, it wouldn’t be such a great loss monetarily. 

Well, the verdict is in–I really like it!

Easy to set up by simply syncing with the iPhone. 

And then all your major apps just show up on the colorful apps panel. 

In no time, I was checking the 10-day weather forecast, reading news headlines, tracking my activity, using the GPS locator, looking up calendar events, checking email and replying with easy voice dictation, sending text messages, and even calling family and talking to them into the watch!

I even started the music on my iPhone from another room by using the smartwatch. 

Oh yeah, I almost forget, it tells the time too!

Except for taking photos, which would be really cool with the watch, but it doesn’t do–it did most of the basics that I wanted it to. 

For not a lot of money, I felt that I was getting a lot of convenient functionality, and I am now encouraging my wife and kids to get it too. 

Apple, you still got it–so even though Google surpassed you in market value this week, I am still hopeful that you got some decent mojo left in you. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

What does 600613 Spell?

As per my previous blogs on the mystical number 613 (corresponding to the G-d’s commandments in the Torah), today we have a technological twist.



Recently, Google paid an award to a former employee of $6,006.13.



The amount is special in two ways as you can see:



First of all, Google saw that, if you look closely, this number spells Google. 



Secondly, it has the number mystical number 613 in it. 



613 is a winner and so is Google, which is now the the most valuable company in the U.S. (worth more than Apple) at $554 billion!



If you use simple Gematria, where each letter is a number (A=1, B=2, C=3…Z=26), then Guess what other successful technology companies has the mystical 613 in their names:





















(Also, see which amazing technology company has 613 twice in their name!)


In contrast, some ailing technology companies that do not have 613:


– Yahoo


– Twitter


– LinkedIn


613 is a reminder of G-d’s benevolence to mankind in that he G-d us the commandments as a roadmap to live by.  613 is a symbol of faith in G-d almighty and in his holy Torah (Bible). 


For those that keep His charge, we believe that Hashem will bless them and keep them. 


Indeed, technology used for the good of mankind is a blessing to us all.  😉


(Source Graphics: Andy and Dossy Blumenthal)

Stack Theory Doesn’t Stack Up

Extraordinary People.jpeg

Christopher Mims’ article in the Wall Street Journal today on why big companies get disrupted by others doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. 

He discusses the “Stack Fallacy” of Anshu Sharma a venture capitalist that it “is the mistaken belief that it is trivial to build the layers above yours.”

Mims explains that the stack is like a “layer cake of technology”–where one layer is built on another.

Similar to the OSI technology model where there are architecture layers for physical, data, network, application and so on. 

Basically, Mims explains that tech companies can only invent at a single layer of technology (or below). 

But when companies try to invent up the stack, they fail.

Here’s why…

Mims says that companies despite their size and resources can’t innovate up the stack because they don’t understand the users there. 

But this doesn’t stack up to me. 

Companies can and do use their resources to study and understand what users want up the food chain and what they can’t easily build, they can acquire. 

Apple successfully went from a iPod and iTunes music player and song store to producing a highly sophisticated and integrated iPhone and Apps store where music is just an afterthought.

Similarly, IBM went from being primarily a mainframe and desktop company to being a top-tier consulting firm with expertise in cloud, mobile, social, artificial intelligence, and analytics computing. 

But it isn’t easy for a company to change. 

And to me, it’s not because they can’t understand what users want and need. 

Rather, it is because of something we’ve all heard of called specialization. 

Like human beings, even extraordinary ones, companies are specialized and good at what they are good at, but they aren’t good at everything. 

A great example of this was when NBA superstar, Michael Jordan, tried to take his basketball talents and apply it to baseball…he was “bobbling easy flies and swatting at bad pitches” in the minor leagues. 

As even kindergarteners are taught that “Everyone is good at something, but no one is good at everything.”

Companies have a specific culture, a specific niche, a specific specialization and expertise.

And to go beyond that is very, very difficult…as IBM learned, it requires nothing less than a transformation of epic proportions. 

So I think Mims is wrong that companies can’t undertstand what users want in areas up the innovation stack, but rather it’s a monumental change management challenge for companies that are specialized in one thing and not another. 

Welcome to the world of Apple after Steve Jobs and his iPhone and to the the recent 25% decline in their stock price with investors and customers anxiously waiting for the possible but not certain next move up the technology stack. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Where’s The Value?

Binary

So I don’t know how I feel about this or maybe I do. 


The Wall Street Journal reports today that from the 10 largest companies by market capitalization:


1) The top 3 are technology companies


Apple $679B

Alphabet (Google’s Parent) $489B

Microsoft $422B


2) Moreover, a full 5 (half) of the top 10 are technology companies


That includes the 3 above and the other 2 below:


Facebook $288B

Amazon $280B


As a technology person, I am thrilled at the impact that IT has on our society. 


We are no longer the same thanks to our Apple iPhones, Google Search, Microsoft’s business tools like Outlook, Office and SharePoint, Facebook’s social networking, and Amazon’s online shopping. 


But to think that these information capabilities outweigh by value everything else in society that we need as people is somewhat astounding.


For example, the other 5 of the top 10 companies are:


Exxon Mobil (Oil and Gas) $346B 

Berkshire Hathaway (Insurance, Utilities, Clothing, Building Products, Retail, Flight Services) $340B

General Electric (Power and Water, Oil and Gas, Energy Management, Aviation, Healthcare, Transportation) $298B

Wells Fargo (World’s Largest Bank) $280B

Johnson and Johnson (Pharmaceuticals) $278B


So when you add these behemoths up–this is what we have:


The 5 top technology companies are worth $2.158T


Vs.


The top 5 traditional companies from all the other industries combined are worth only $1.542T


Net it out:


The largest representative IT companies are worth $616B or 40% more than the other major companies combined.


(In fact, just the top 3 IT companies at $1.56T are worth more than the top 5 other companies at $1.542T.) 


Sure IT growth has been on a tear for the last couple of decades and we love everything futuristic it brings us. 


But isn’t it a little scary to think that the companies that meet all our other needs from food, clothing, shelter, medicine, transportation, energy, finance, retail, etc. isn’t worth more to us than just the IT alone. 


Perhaps adding it up from a value perspective just doesn’t add up in a real life perspective. 


I love technology and want more and more of it, but man does not live by technology alone. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Apple Desperately Needs Some New Fruit

Apple

I love my Apple iPhone, but this core product debuted in January 2007.


We’re going on almost 9 years!!!


Don’t get me wrong, the iPhone is enormously successful:


– It accounts for 92% of the smartphone industry’s profits (even though it only sells 20% of the smartphones). 


– The iPhone bring in almost 2/3 of Apple’s total revenue now going on almost $200 billion. 


But, the new growth that Apple seeks in not based on any real exciting innovation.


Take for example Apple’s announcements this week:


– A new larger 12.9 inch iPad with a stylus (the Apple Pencil).


– A revamped Apple TV set-top box. 


– Apple’s iPhone 3-D Touch that controls the smartphone based on how hard you press. 


Uh, ho-hum–this is all V-E-R-Y boring!


Google has a similar problem with their core business of advertising on Search and YouTube accounting for 89% of their revenue.


But at least Google continues working towards their next moonshot, and has reorganized their innovation labs into a separate entity called Alphabet–working on everything from:


– Self-driving cars


– Delivery drones


– Internet balloons


– Smart thermostats (Nest)


– Broadband services (Google Fiber)


– Longevity research (Calico)


– Smart contact lenses


– Robotics


Unfortunately for Apple, the death of Steve Jobs in 2011 has meant the loss of their driving force for innovation. 


Despite a workforce of about 100,000 and a gorgeous new flying saucer-looking headquarters, can you think of any major new products since Jobs?


Apple is a fruit in it’s prime–ripe and shiny and hugely smart and successful, but without any new fruits going forward, they are at risk of becoming a stale mealy apple, versus a bountiful and delicious fruit salad. 


Apple is very secretive, so maybe the fruit is coming. 


I hope for our sake and theirs that Apple is seriously planting for the future and not just harvesting on the past. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)