Ford Fires On All Pistons

Mark Fields is out!  Jim Hackett is in!

If we were wondering the impact of innovation on the auto industry its clear we found it.

The company that took pride in not taking bailout money, now has to swallow some pride as the innovation team has to look at the total company.

This should be interesting, before Jim Hackett was around Ford had been aligned with Microsoft and the Sync products and other interesting strategies.

Ford has done a number of things, right,  They have used their connections to the colleges and universities in Michigan to enable third party development.

However, the community around them has never truly taken to the adaption, and Microsoft has been absent.

The reality of transforming the car industry is more than an app platform.  Tesla runs its vehicles on 40K lines of code including the autonomous vehicles.  Traditional automakers have over 1M lines of code and over 100 sensors.

For success to come to the traditional players.  The legacy systems need to be ignored not abandoned but isolated.

New requirements require new systems.  Old systems can be evaluated on revision when feature interaction causes a problem, or costs can be significantly reduced.

I look forward to seeing what Jim Hackett focus will be.

Unicorn Awareness 14 of 156: Xiaomi Zowie

This is a series of articles aimed at making people aware of the endangered Unicorns that exist among us.

It is not their fault that they are endangered. It’s the price and pride of ownership. So where along the way the decision was made to feed them more than they can consume and that lean was not as import as means.

Some of the unicorns have done well on this diet. Others have not. We don’t pass judgement on the individual unicorns. We just highlight the herd for your awareness.

Currently we have gained a new Unicorn and the count is 156.


It might be the great firewall of China is an aid to Xiaomi growth, but certainly it’s vision is international.  The company’s name means “little rice” in Chinese, but within China the social aspects of the Xiaomi product line is apparent.  The founder Lei Jun is like the Mark Zuckerberg of China and the product launches rival the Steve Jobs grandeur.   Combined with their social media prowess, moderate pricing strategy and frequent software releases the company has a market valuation of 46B.

Of note is the fact that Qualcomm is an investor.  The WSJ lists Huawei and Lenovo as its competitors but Apple and Google come to mind first internationally.

The Bright Shiny Object Syndrome

A friend once commented on a specific country, that it was the best place to go if you wanted to see a smile while being told to go jump in a lake.  “They are very good at telling you to F*#k-off politely”

I have similar feelings about the “spirit of collaboration” in California.  I contend that the openness is a false trust factor.

I am not saying I am not interested in open solutions, I am saying that some business ideas are corrupted by the bright shiny object syndrome.

While I am impressed with all the activity, sometimes it feels like some stronger discipline is needed.  A good example is ride sharing and the offshoots.  Does Apple really have any business going into the Auto industry?   If so, what is their competitive advantage?  Are they going to be able to charge a premium for a mid market car?  Go on the high end?  The auto industry was very sick just about a decade ago.  Consolidation occurred for brands and companies.  Does this look like a ripe market?

Yes, Tesla has brought game changing technology to market, but it’s still not clear if they are not going to be an enabler for others more than a competitor.

Uber and others have indicated they are going to use autonomous vehicles to ride share. Does a driver less car change the cost factors to the point where the BOM is significantly impacted?  And does the lack of a steering wheel have other human factors that impact comfort and buying decisions.

The fact that Google left the board of Uber indicates the issue I have.  Google wants to be in the ride sharing business in San Fransisco.  Google waited until it was ready before resigning from the board.  I am not sure that follows the “do no evil’ goal, but even so, I still have to ask why?  The fact that Uber has taken a real debt with bonds and merged it’s china operation suggest that things are tougher.  Does the use of Google for maps equate to a google cab?

I would love to see the rotary guidance applied to opportunity.

Does it have to be built?

Does it have to be built now?

And does it have to be built by us?

I think a lot of projects would be abandoned once these questions asked.

All Hands on Deck with Roger Von Oech

I believe I am a very creative thinker, but candidly, I get a lot of help. Tony Buzan’s Mind Mapping techniques have added to my retention. I find it incredible how often I draw a strategy using a mind map and find new links.

However, when it comes to creativity, I give a lot of credit to Roger von Oech. Roger got his Interdisciplinary Doctorate from Stanford on the History of Ideas. He also ran conferences on Innovation and created the Whack Pack and the Innovative Whack Pack.

There have been days when I have brought my decks out to a meeting to get a group thinking outside the box. There have been other days, when I have used the decks like a tarot reader working on a question.

The one that I randomly chose a few days ago to carry with me says…
“Those who approach life like a child playing a game moving and pushing pieces possess the power of kings.”

For me this translates into not accepting the status quo easily. Since the King can barely move in chess the question has to be asked what if the king could knight any piece.

Who do I wish I could give more power and resources to in my organization?

Rogers latest contributions have been in 3 dimensional “puzzles” that allow structure to be played with. For today, I will stick with the decks, but if I ever start to build something, I will take advantage of his physical guidance.

The Blue Bulb of Facebook.

With Goldman Sacks valuing Facebook at $50 B with the monies from a “Russian Investor”. I had to laugh. If the CIA had Google, why can’t the KGB have Facebook.
Mind you that is just speculation, but as we have all seen the blue bulb of the Internet, I want to raise a caution flag.
When the Internet was young and the carriers did not offer access, AOL was the primary dial up service. AOL was its own ecosystem and as such did not have the legs Facebook has, but as I watch my wife and her friends share their lives on Facebook in far too a familiar manner I ask myself is this the sustaining model of the future?
Many applications are offering me automatic links to Facebook including the ability to use Facebook as the userid and password.
For me it feels like Deep Packet Inspection is a wasted effort since Facebook knows all.
But the nuances of privacy are not normally a concern for the young. I think we have another 3-5 years before Facebook’s pervasive penetration is recognized as something that needs to be avoided.
While I hear parents and children fight about the invasion of privacy the fact that all generations are on this platform has not truly sunk in.
Over dinner I am constantly hearing of parents that are hiding the fact they read their kids pages.
I think when the next generation of parents sees their kids on facebook the level of parental control will either be integrated or force the kids into a new world.
I would love to hear of your experience. Drop me a line.
Your Secret is Safe with Me.

The Macro Vision of Meta Message is that It takes more than Broadcasting to Catch the Eye

Rovi, acquired Sonic Solutions for $720 M enabling them to offer a program guide for over the top video that will deliver programming from online video rentals. Rovi has transformed itself from the MacroVision copyright protection strategy to an Internet distributor.
Already Sonic Solutions is being used by Best Buy, Blockbuster and CinemaNOW. This migration to online is getting a lot of play on Wall Street with NetFlix in the process of renegotiation for early access to movies.
Fred Amoroso, Rovi’s CEO stated in an interview with Investor’s Business Daily that “consumer devices [are] going through perhaps the most significant transformation they have in 50 years….
Rovi also enables the multiroom DVR strategies that are highlighted in ads from FIOS and DirectTV.
Over 10,000 movies and TV shows, Sonic Solutions’ TotalGuide has catalogued on behalf of their distribution partners. Rovi sees the opportunity as being different than Google’s indexing.
Amoroso’s noted the role of regulation on Internet distribution will cause some speed bump’s in navigation the varieties of regulation around the world. After all “The Internet is here to stay.”

Should Intel and Nokia Merge

Andy Abramson had an interesting concept in his blog this week about Intel and Nokia working more closely together.  The basis of the concept starts with the battle in silicon right now.  Its and interesting question to contemplate for a number of reasons.

1)  The WiMAX, ATOM revolution has not produced the momentum that Intel would like.  Google, Comcast, Sprint and all the other elves involved with Clear are not enough to get the billions of cellphone devices looking to include Intel in the their space.  So forging a relationship with Nokia where they could have a stronger presence in the 3G world makes sense.

2) If the goal was not to be a device company but to turn Nokia into a platform strategy, that would have a lot of value to Nokia, which has been coping with a market that is heading towards less customizaton. Nokia has been stuck delivering lots of phones with nuances to carriers, why not make this more like the PC market.  You could even bring the PC manufacturers into the mix and have them be the private label.

3) It allows Nokia to get reset on so much of its legacy Symbian flavoring.  Bringing the Nokia Developer community to the web where it can stop the internal battling and take advantage of the tools coming of age as we head toward HTML 5.0.  The IPhone has everyone scrambling and it maybe that the goal should be to keep the apps as close to web development as possible.

While it is fun to speculate, I am not sure this is the move, that Intel wants to do next.  I can see more advangates to Nokia, but it maybe that I just see the flaws in Nokia’a armor right now.  Intel can afford to have several missteps in this market and unless their PC manufacturing customers are ready to attack the ARMy of cellullar players it maybe that all these things can be done with Nokia without the merger.

But if does happen, remember Andy said it first.

Video is the New Voice – Bob Logan of Dialogic

Bob Logan and I have been talking about doing an interview about Dialogic’s video work for a while now. As Bob says on the podcast “Video is the new Voice”. So we did an interview together in several forms. Hope you enjoy listening reading and watching.

CF: What is new in Dialogic these days?

RL: One thing that is not new is that Dialogic provides enabling technologies… platforms… etc etc. For a long time, we have specialized in media processing and signaling… especially in the voice world. To answer your question, we think that Video is the New Voice. Applications that have been voice or audio-enabled will be video. More specifically, within the video space, we see lots of opportunities for mobile video… fits with our talents. Etc

Our focus is on mobile video, and our specialty is highest quality with the highest performance.

CF: What types of applications do you see happening today in mobile video?

RL: You know what, Carl? Some of the most popular applications today are actually capitalizing on the fact that not all networks today handle video services. There are some cool applications around call completion – probably a pretty boring topic on its own, but one that has always been a big revenue winner for the carriers.

Lots of applications around entertainment and social media. There is an application in Asia called “love meter” – basically the app has some software that tries to measure the caller’s mood to determine if he or she is compatible with the person on the other end.

There are always applications that kind of catch me by surprise. In Japan, a very popular application is a remote surveillance application that lets you check remotely on the status of your pet.

And finally, we need to acknowledge that adult content has always been on the leading edge of communications technologies and mobile video is no exception.

There are lots of examples (none from the adult industry) on Dialogic’s YouTube channel,

CF: What are some new applications that you see with increased bandwidth – 4G and beyond?

RL: A lot of the high bandwidth mobile applications will be similar to those we have on our computers today – video streaming, music streaming, interactive video telephony.

People are becoming more comfortable with mobile video. The people at Nielsen publish a nice report each quarter – the most recent data are from 3Q10 and it shows 15M people watching video on their mobile phone – up >50% since last year. And naturally, teenagers are the heaviest users. It’s becoming more mainstream and higher bandwidths will just accelerate the trend.

I think that high bandwidth networks make it much easier to monetize mobile video – advertising becomes easier. Combining this with increased information about the user (likes/dislikes), geographic information available in the device, information on the content being viewed… the advertising can get very targeted.

One thing to keep in mind, Carl… the high bandwidth networks will help, but new devices will also help. Look at how the iPhone has revolutionized mobile video.

CF: You’ve given some applications and examples from the consumer market – what about enterprises?

RL: We’re seeing a lot of enterprises adding video to their IVR systems, turning them into IVVR.

Applications like remote filing of insurance claims, enterprises offering video training to consumers (think about video help on how to assemble your kid’s toys on Christmas Eve)

These examples are streaming, but I think the real breakthrough to the enterprise will be from enhanced analysis of the video stream itself.

Detecting whether a video is authentic, whether it has been tampered with, determining if it contains objectionable material, ensuring high quality. These are things that matter a great deal to an enterprise, and these are the areas where Dialogic is spending its research and development investment.

CF: You mentioned video quality. Do you think that really matters in a mobile world?

RL: Yes, Carl, I really do.

For one thing, we need to realize that the mobile operators are looking at the increased levels of traffic that video is bringing onto their networks, and they are getting concerned. There have been discussions about throttling traffic or at least making people aware of how much traffic they are consuming. Carriers are approaching this with a mindset of restriction or punishing consumers. I want to make a prediction – I think that some carrier is going to realize that there is a revenue opportunity here – that they will offer a higher quality of user experience and be able to use that as a way of generating additional revenue for network investment. I think someone will turn this into a carrot instead of a stick.

Do you remember that Nielsen report that I referenced earlier? Well Nielsen has also reported that people who watch video on their laptops typically watch “short form” video – YouTube clips and the like.

But people who watch mobile video are typically watching professionally-produced content. Some of this is because the carriers provide this content as part of their service offering. But I think viewers have a higher expectation of quality when they watch professionally-produced content.

Combine that with larger screen sizes, better display technologies, and networks with higher bandwidth and we believe that quality will be increasingly important for consumers.

Yeah, quality matters.

Meritocracy and Skype

The pressure on me these days to blog is goofy.

While I am a personality (good and bad) by in large I keep my negative opinions to myself.

The Skype suit by Joltid, brings home the fact that for so many years, no one in the meritocracy has enabled enough innovation to overcome these set backs.

All too often the battles goals at the IETF are thwarted by a general acceptance of the status quo and the need to move to bigger fires.

My hope is that the Joltid suit will awaken some of the P2P efforts at the IETF to enable an alternative.

Sarbox Undone

I consider myself a liberal, well, at least socially. So when a conservative arguement makes sense to me I welcome it. Too often, I liken the battle of politics are talking past each other. This lecture leaves me asking a lot of questions about how to manage transparency.

Dialogue is good. The observation that Enron was a SARBOX compliant board makes me ask the question, what should I do?