Apple’s iMessage Shortsightedness

This week at Word Wide Developer’s Conference 2016 (WWDC16) Apple showed off a number of new features and improvements to the iMessage application which are coming with iOS10.   Many of these features are interesting and a lot of those which I may find less than fascinating, are certainly catering to a different public.

All of that is good, but there is one thing that really stuck out to me as being missing:  multi-platform support.  While I love Apple’s operating systems and hardware, not everyone does so or is willing to pay for them.  This makes iMessage the least used messaging application on my iPhone and essentially never used on my Mac.  Why?  It’s very simple:  my son used a Windows Phone, while my mother and my brother use Android phones.  Only my wife, in my immediate family is an iPhone user.

At work, most of my work colleagues are iPhone users as well, though not all of them by far. Even corporate phones are divided with the company supplying both Apple and Samsung models.

Following the WWDC16 keynote address, I ran into a post by Walt Mossberg which had the following passage in it…

When I asked a senior Apple executive why iMessage wasn’t being expanded to other platforms, he gave two answers. First, he said, Apple considers its own user base of 1 billion active devices to provide a large enough data set for any possible AI learning the company is working on. And, second, having a superior messaging platform that only worked on Apple devices would help sales of those devices — the company’s classic (and successful) rationale for years.

I couldn’t really get this out of my mind for a while and I kept thinking about how wrong this sounds.   An iPhone, despite the fact that we use it for a lot more than talking to one another, is essentially a communications device.  It is just plain shortsightedness to limit its ability to function as a such using its own built-in apps.

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Tesla Model 3 – the world’s most successful crowdfunding campaign

Just last week, Elon Musk took to the stage to unveil the new Tesla Model 3.  This new model is Tesla’s first mass-market car and a lot of people have been waiting to see what they would come up with.

As in previous instances, Tesla did not disappoint in design or features.  As far as delivery dates, some might have been disappointed but pre-orders seem to tell a different story.

It’s pre-orders that bring me to the topic of crowdfunding…

What you see above is a tweet by Tesla’s CEO.  He estimated that in the first 24 hours of pre-sales, Tesla had received approximately 7.5 billion dollars worth of orders.  At that time, reservations were at 180.000.  Since then the number has been updated to 276.000.

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3D Printing: Science fiction might just drive you out of business

Science fiction isn’t what it used to be anymore. What used to be science fiction is now part of our everyday lives and while most aspects of this change are positive, it could have a profound impact on many businesses.

Over the past several years 3D printing technology has developed to the point where we can now start to see references to it in the news, regularly. When it was first developed it was, as is the case with most technologies, very expensive. This limited the use of the technology to very specific situations such as modeling and prototyping products which would later be manufactured through a more traditional process.

A few years back, however, the first “inexpensive” desktop 3D printers came out and spawned a whole community of enthusiasts. In addition, they started to nudge the imagination of entrepreneurs in the direction of wondering how the technology would evolve and which new businesses it could bring about. It is now possible for you to find a 3D model of your liking online and order a complete printed product to be delivered to your door. One company that is empowering this movement is called Shapeways. They are an online marketplace where 3D model creators can offer their designs and consumers can order. Shapeways will then 3D print these objects on demand and have them delivered directly to the customer. Continue reading 3D Printing: Science fiction might just drive you out of business

Profit from Purpose Instead of Profit as a Purpose

Do you know what is your company’s purpose? Does it even have a purpose?  I know, it seems like a silly question… But, does it?

A purpose is something inspirational that can drive the work of people. It is something that they can pursue and towards which they will strive to do their best work.

Let’s say you are the in the business of making reading lamps, for example, your stated purpose might be…

“We create beautiful lamps with superb quality.”

It might not be fancy, but it is clear and easy for everyone to understand and relate to. We want to make great looking lamps and we want them to be of very good quality.  This is a purpose that is easy for people to understand and relate to.

Today, regardless of what they state, most companies have a single purpose: profit.  Over time companies have confused their purpose with their financial goals, forgetting that profit should stem from executing well its purpose.

Everywhere you go, be it in the US, Europe, Brazil or elsewhere, you see the same situation and confusion.  Executives tell the same story of strategy planning meetings and retreats where they discuss how to achieve the projected financial results, instead of how they will do a better job towards fulfilling the company’s stated purpose.  In fact, regularly this purpose isn’t even remembered during discussions, except perhaps in so far as they serve to determine specific markets the company operates in.

Does this sound familiar to you?

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Previous Century Thinking

Change is all around us, and happening at breakneck speed. This is a reality that most organizations haven’t yet acknowledged, they are stuck in Previous Century Thinking, and that leads to some very weird situations. Let’s consider a couple of points.

Do you know of a company called Docker? If you work in a company that is involved with an Internet service offering, you’ve probably heard of them.   They’ve developed and shared a technology that makes the distribution of pre-configured, Linux-based, applications, such as web servers and application servers, much easier. In just about 18 months this company went from zero to having its technology being adopted by Microsoft, Amazon and IBM, among others. Now consider that at a typical company, as a manager, you may get asked to plan and budget your projects for the forthcoming year, well in advance of the end of the current year. This is so that the projects may be discussed in committee meetings and perhaps approved. There are companies that actually ask managers to name the people who will be working on each project over a year ahead the project starting.

You don’t even know if you will be alive in a year, how can you accurately estimate who will be the best person for whatever task without knowing what is going to happen between now, and then? What if a new product or product category enters the market which makes your future project irrelevant? Or proves that it is so relevant that you should start it early and devote more resources?

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The Great Specialization Fallacy

We should always have in mind this question: “Are we working on the best solution to meet our needs or goals?” Many times that is not the case. Most people are blissfully unaware of this as they imagine that their colleagues wouldn’t suggest anything but the most adequate solution. That assumption, however, is incorrect more often than not.

Over the past couple of decades, we have seen a curious phenomenon arise: extreme specialization.

Today, tech professionals are dividing themselves up into classes such as .Net developers, Java developers, front-end developers, etc. People working with IT infrastructure are also split into the categories of Microsoft or Linux professionals.

This behavior is incentivized by tech companies which employ every means available to convince professionals that their great products should always be used in conjunction with some of their other products. These companies create what are called Stacks, sets of applications that combine their various products with one another and/or with open source components.

But what’s the matter with that?

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You need true believers

If you are starting a company, or simply running one that is already established, you need people who believe in what the company does. Offering good financial compensation and quirky perks might attract good people, but they will only be able to do their best work if they believe in what the company is doing.

Too frequently, in too many companies, I’ve seen people whose only objective at work was to get to the end of the month and receive their next paycheck or to get to the end of the year and receive some sort of bonus. When the financial compensation (such as bonuses) is big enough, you might attract and retain a certain type of person whose main goal in life is to obtain as much money as possible. Those people are not necessarily bad, and at least they will be trying to get as much business as possible, but they might not really care whether your company’s customers are totally satisfied or not as long as their goals have been met and their bonuses secured.

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A little fiction might help open up your mind

Not too long ago I met a young lady who is very committed to her work, whatever that work might be. She was just starting at a new position and a new company when we had a chance to talk.

She made a very positive impression on me, but there was one thing she told me that was quite disappointing. You see, she told me that she almost never read any fiction because even though she liked it, she thought it was a waste of time.

That’s something that has been on my mind a lot, since I figured that there probably are many out there who think the same way. If you happen to be one of those people, I’ll tell you the same thing I told her: a little fiction might just open your mind to new ideas.

Recent history is full of cases of people who went out and actually created the things they read about in fiction novels. This is especially true of science fiction novels since they seem to inspire the more technically creative people. However, I don’t wish to just point at the mobile phone, which was inspired by the original Star Trek series’ handheld communicators, and other such developments. That is just one example of how fiction can offer a contribution to people’s lives.

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