Monthly Archives: August 2014

How dumberer can people get? Even accomplished investors can do really questionable things. Take Pavel Curda, a venture capitalist, mentor at an incubator and the founder of the API Mashup Contest. His dumb thing is meeting women at tech gatherings and emailing them the following message soon after:

One Woman Finally Calls Out a Tech Investor for Creepy Advances

Yep.

The crazy thing is that this must work sometimes, else why would he keep doing it right? Well, Pavel flew too far near the sun when he tried it on Gesche Haas.

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I’ve written about the difficulty of doing a mobile apps start-up before, and this report from comScore only reinforces that argument.

According to comScore, in any given month, the majority of US smartphone users don’t download apps…at all.

Yet, mobile app usage continues to grow; apps now represent 52% of time spent with digital media.

The conundrum is that while apps are ever more important, users aren’t downloading more of them. It’s a situation where the top 1% of apps rule the roost while everyone else flounders, struggling to get discovered.

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Just a scant few days ago, I wrote about how the 7-inch mini tablet might go the way of the dodo bird, and a scant few days later, I may have to eat my words. According to a report from the IDC:

Large smartphones (otherwise known as phablets), are already a growing trend in Asia, having outshipped notebooks and tablets last year.  But IDC finds that now even larger devices, tablets of 7” screen sizes and above, are increasingly shipping with cellular voice capabilities, and such devices are getting more traction in the Asia/Pacific excluding Japan (APeJ) region, breaching the 25% mark in the second quarter of 2014. . .This translates to more than 60% growth on a year-on-year basis in unit terms for this category of tablets, which also incidentally happen to be 100% Android-based.

The report also goes on to state that 50% of 7-inch and up tablets shipped in India and Indonesia have cellular voice capabilities. I travel to Indonesia a lot and so find that nugget fascinating, as I don’t recall ever having seen a person call with a tablet. They probably do via a headset.

I can believe this trend happening for a number of reasons: cost, perception that more is better, traffic and handbags.

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The HTC One is one of Android’s best phones — it came second in our list of recommended flagship phones — and it is now available for Windows Phone. Windows Phone 8.1 is a mature platform and mostly on par with iOS and Android, and now it also has top notch hardware. The HTC One for Windows Phone is cheap too at $100 on contract in the US.

Unfortunately, it won’t be enough. This fair review from the Wall Street Journal sums it up best:

In the smartphone market, people tend to join in the biggest crowds. By the time Microsoft got its act together, the masses had chosen sides between iPhones and Android phones. For most, a switch would be like being uprooted from a comfortable home for a comfortable home across the street—it just isn’t worth it.

Microsoft probably has only two plays left before Windows Phone is dead for good. Maybe three: making Windows Phone free, utilizing apps from Windows 9 “Threshold” and waiting for web apps to become mainstream. But really it’s just two.

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The Cornerplay has made some crazy predictions we know, some of them involving Chromebooks. We’ve long argued that in comparison to Windows PCs, Chromebooks sell only because of price and that Microsoft’s efforts to lower the cost of Windows PCs will be effective.

Chromebooks are in the news again because HP is launching the Stream 14 for $200, a Windows laptop the press is designating as a Chromebook killer. This laptop will probably be powered by Windows 8.1 with Bing, a version Microsoft is providing free to OEMs in exchange for Bing as the default search engine. The Stream 14 has an AMD chip so it’s unclear whether the laptop will perform well, but it will probably sell well regardless due to price.

It’s not clear when the HP Stream 14 will launch, but we don’t need to wait that long to evaluate our argument that Chromebooks sell only because of price. Low cost Windows laptops have already been proliferating on Amazon, the place where advocates like to point to as proof of Chromebooks’ success. And those cheap Windows laptops are winning.

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I need a dumb phone with only five features: phone calls, SMS, mobile hotspot, long battery life and slim profile.

Here’s why: I travel a lot, so require a local SIM to make calls and text. However, I’d like to still be able to receive calls and texts with my main number, so I usually carry a second phone for overseas use. This works passably well in that the second phone acts as a hotspot and I can use my main phone with data for Whatsapp, LINE, etc.

qwerThe downside is that Internet tethering is a big battery drain, and the second phone runs out quickly. I don’t need the phone’s other functionality — touch screen, camera, GPS, camera, etc. — for all those things I have my main phone. What if the second device doesn’t do anything else except calling, texting and acting as hotspot, so it can dedicate its entire battery to just those things? Like an old school Nokia phone, just with super-sized battery and 4G Internet tethering capabilities.

Instead of multiple plans, I focus all the data I need in one. When you buy a lot of data for one plan, it becomes significantly cheaper.

I wish a manufacturer will step up and make this phone.

Recently, I was browsing an electronics store and found the next best thing: a Huawei 5370 Mobile WiFi Hotspot.

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Congratulations to Ashwin, Aniela and Jesus (!) for getting the three OnePlus One invites. Gentle reminder that invites have a time limit, so please place your orders before they expire. Once you get your phones, check out my nine suggestions for improving usability.

With that announcement out of the way, it just occurred to me who should adopt OnePlus’ marketing strategy: Microsoft with the Surface 3. To recap, the OnePlus One strategy is to sell flagship devices to tech geeks as a loss leader to generate hype and demand (see here for the blueprint).

I don’t think the Lumia is a good fit for this strategy as consumers won’t have an easy way to compare the value of a Lumia to an iPhone or Android, so its ability to act as a loss leader is limited. But that restriction doesn’t apply to the Surface, which competes with 300 million PCs shipped every year.

Microsoft should create a Surface 3 that is priced aggressively: one with a beastly Nvidia Tegra K1 chip, pen digitizer, Surface Pro 3 display, and a thinner and lighter profile than its predecessor.

Charge $199 for this device. With Office included.

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