Monday, September 24, 2012

Has Apple Peaked?
Published: September 21, 2012

The classic challenge of any company is to maintain healthy growth AFTER business success. The mindset often changes from aggressive market actions to protecting what you have. You must build the awareness of this phenomenon into your strategic thinking and corporate culture to avoid this insidious trap.

If Steve Jobs were still alive, would the new map application on the iPhone 5 be such an unmitigated disaster? Interesting question, isn’t it?.... 
…..No doubt, the iPhone 5, which went  on sale on Friday, will be another hit. Apple’s halo remains powerful. But there is nothing about it that is especially innovative. Plus, of course, it has that nasty glitch. In rolling out a new operating system for the iPhone 5, Apple replaced Google’s map application — the mapping gold standard — with its own, vastly inferior, application, which has infuriated its customers. With maps now such a critical feature of smartphones, it seems to be an inexplicable mistake… 
…..But there is also a less obvious  (Job’s death)— yet possibly more important — reason that Apple’s best days may soon be behind it. When Jobs returned to the company in 1997, after 12 years in exile, Apple was in deep trouble. It could afford to take big risks and, indeed, to search for a new business model, because it had nothing to lose.
Fifteen years later, Apple has a hugely profitable business model to defend — and a lot to lose. Companies change when that happens. “The business model becomes a gilded cage, and management won’t do anything to challenge it, while doing everything they can to protect it,”
It happens in every industry, but it is especially easy to see in technology because things move so quickly. It was less than 15 years ago that Microsoft appeared to be invincible. But once its Windows operating system and Office applications became giant moneymakers, Microsoft’s entire strategy became geared toward protecting its two cash cows. It ruthlessly used its Windows platform to promote its own products at the expense of rivals. (The Microsoft antitrust trial took dead aim at that behavior.) AlthoughMicrosoft still makes billions, its new products are mainly “me-too” versions of innovations made by other companies….. 
….And you can see it in the decision to replace Google’s map application. Once an ally,Google is now a rival, and the thought of allowing Google to promote its maps on Apple’s platform had become anathema. More to the point, Apple wants to force its customers to use its own products, even when they are not as good as those from rivals. Once companies start acting that way, they become vulnerable to newer, nimbler competitors that are trying to create something new, instead of milking the old. Just ask BlackBerry, which once reigned supreme in the smartphone market but is now roadkill for Apple and Samsung.

Monday, September 17, 2012

This Diagram Explains Facebook's Next $10 Billion Business

This is a great example of an idea that uses the true base strength of your business or company—in this case with Facebook it is their enormous data on us—to expand your business by deploying different market access. The idea is summarized in this 2X2:
An explainer: Right now, Facebook only sells ads on These ads can only be targeted to users based on data they gave Facebook about themselves – their "likes" and their profile information.  That's the top left quadrant. 
In the bottom left quadrant, our source wrote "FBX," which stands for Facebook Ad Exchange.  Through the Facebook ad exchange, which is in beta right now, advertisers will be able to buy ads on and target them using both the same Facebook data described above AND data about users provided by third-party sources.
Right now, Facebook says it will build this exchange, but our source thinks Facebook will eventually acquire New York-based ad tech platform AppNexus and plug it in, instead.
Our source says Facebook's next $10 billion business (which would be its first) takes place in the top-right quadrant. In this business, Facebook will sell ad inventory on third-party sites and target it using its own data AND third-party data.

Monday, September 10, 2012

A Tablet Straining to Do It All
Published: August 15, 2012

In the heated battle for supremacy between two giants—Apple and Samsung— in the digital electronics market,  the product and IP battles are fierce. We discussed the former in an earlier posting ( Now, Samsung is coming out with a new product to compete with the iPad.  The approach of loading new products with features is a natural reaction to compete with a winner. However, one must aways first define the key criteria in the target customers’ buying decision and then ensure the product attributes separate you from competition against these criteria. Adding features that are superfluous add cost and often complicates the product for the intended user.

The hot news in Silicon Valley legal circles these days is Apple’s titanic lawsuit against Samsung. Apple maintains that Samsung pilfered some of its iPhone and iPad designs when creating the Samsung Galaxy series of phones and tablets.
It’s a big, big deal; billions of dollars are at stake. And it’s already having an effect: these days, Samsung is being careful to avoid unvarnished Apple mimicry....
....Its message to the tablet-buying world is this: “O.K., the iPad is great for consuming stuff — reading books, watching videos, surfing the Web. But our new Galaxy tablet is also good for creating stuff, for one simple reason: it comes with a pen. See how different we are from Apple?”....
....But over all, the Note feels like a laundry-list tablet. It has a higher feature count than any other tablet, but those features are stuffed into a machine with less coherence than any other tablet.
Clearly, Samsung had no Steve Jobs on hand to veto anything. Features that don’t work well are mixed in with the winners; features you’ll never use are jammed in with the useful ones....
...But the Galaxy Note 10.1 demonstrates that superior specs, more impressive hardware and a much longer list of features don’t necessarily add up to a superior product. Sometimes restraint is just as important as exuberance.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Blank Checks: Unleashing the Potential of People and Businesses
How an unusual management technique inspires business teams to envision — and achieve — breakthrough results.
by Sanjay Khosla and Mohanbir Sawhney

This is a fascinating approach to enable innovation and growth. We continually find that one of the major barriers to success for a project is the inability of the business to resource it to win. Here is an approach that does that. I strongly suggest reading the article!!!

The secret of (many Kraft businesses)  turnaround was to free the team from resource constraints that could limit their imagination, inspiring them to achieve unprecedented results that would create a virtuous cycle of growth. This, of course, ran counter to one of the gospel truths in management that people need to live within their means. Managers have always been taught that they have to work with the limited resources available. Unfortunately, resource constraints limit more than plans. They also limit the creative potential of people. 
What if resources were not a constraint? If managers were free to dream and act big without worrying about busting their budgets, they would be limited not by resources, but by their imagination. We believe that business leaders can unleash tremendous untapped potential by unshackling their people and their businesses from resource constraints (while still, of course, holding them accountable for results). The key insight is that business leaders, instead of defining budgets and resources, should focus on defining ambitious goals, while leaving it to their managers and their teams to ask for whatever resources they need to achieve these goals. When teams decide their own budgets, they act as owners and are inspired to achieve the impossible. At Kraft Foods (where coauthor Sanjay Khosla is president of the developing markets group), we call this idea a “blank check” initiative....

How Blank Checks Work 

1. Picking the best bets. The first step in a blank check initiative is for the business leaders to choose the business domains that should be targeted for growth.
2. Selecting the team. Blank checks are ultimately bets on people, rooted in the faith that they have the potential, the passion, and the perseverance to transform their businesses. 3. Defining goals and plans. Once the business leaders have selected a business domain and chosen the team leaders who will receive a blank check, they need to define the targets they expect the teams to achieve. 4. Kicking off the initiative. Once the business plan has been agreed upon, business leaders need to formally “issue the check” by approving the amount the team has asked for and transferring it into an account that can be accessed by the team leaders.
5. Monitoring results. As the blank check initiative begins, it is important to set milestones for key deliverables, and then to monitor them closely as the initiative proceeds