Friday, December 28, 2007

Over the last two months many magazines, webzines, and websites tout the Top Gadgets for the season. Here are some that I followed:,30583,1686204_1686305_1690738,00.html

The iPhone seems to be a favorite of the lot and on a previous rant I have mentioned that I am one of the June 29ers to get the iPhone!

I have always collected gadgets and one of the earliest that I still have around (don’t use it much) is the Casio SF-8300 PDA.

The collection has never stopped; tens of thousands of dollars have been spent (or wasted…)!

In the 90’s Collection - I have had the Palm Pilot Professional, the First Windows CE PDA – the HP 620 LX, one of the very first Mega Pixel Digital Cameras – the Ricoh RDC-5000 (even before it was introduced to the open market in 1998), one of the very first portable Digital Players from Sony – the MS Walkman (in 1998), the Handspring Visor Prism, and the Palm Pilot VII (the wireless version with Web Access capabilities).

The 2000 Collection:

Started with the 2nd Generation Apple iPod, and continued with first generation, second generation iPod Shuffles, Nintendo Gameboy, Sony PSP, Nintendo DS-Lite, 2nd Generation 8GB iPod Nano, the much revered Apple iPhone and just recently the Nokia 810 Internet Tablet.

I am hoping that 2008 will see more added to my toys as they say: "Men Never Grow Up – The Toys Just Get More Expensive"! Next time, I will publish my (never-ending) Wish List…..

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Long Tail, Freakonomics, and MicroTrends: What do they have in common?

In the past month I have been reading rather interesting books that seem to have a relationship between them, or at least similar influences. The first one that I read was “The Long Tail” by Chris Anderson.

The concept presented by Chris is rather simple (or may be he has done a very good job of explaining it): technology (digitization of audio & video content, on-line distribution channel with infinite shelf-capacity, recommendation engines, search & discovery capabilities) has opened opportunity for content that is serves the ‘niches’ rather than the mass. As Chris explains, instead of “the Billboard Top 40’ gave way to several top forties for various different genres…

Chris also talks about ‘physical’ products that may not have the same attributes (virtual) such as MP3 songs, but are the long tail. The Long Tail started out with the editorial piece put out by Chris and a very good review of it is available here (on Wikipedia).

So, the essence is to sell less of more - marketing to the niches of peoples (read: communities based on shared tastes and likes)!

The next one is, Microtrends by Mark J. Penn, which I started reading a week ago. The book is all-about niches, niches of people. The book itself can be browsed in any sequence, and that’s exactly what I am doing. Each chapter is about a group of people driven by common themes/demographics/tastes (sounds familiar?). For example, ‘Internet Marrieds’ are the people who hooked up on the Web and got married or ‘Social Geeks’. There are about 75 of such categories. Mark has talked about the impact of the rising numbers of such groups and what impact it may have on the society and of course, how to market to them. The final chapter, ‘Conclusion’ gets into all the contradictions that are faced by the society today

Moving on is the book by the economist Steven Levitt – “Freakonomics” – a book on (economics-based) motivation of day to day behavior of people. A great example provided by Steven is the example on real estate agents when they are selling your house and how contrary to normal thinking, they may not be acting on your behalf. So, the book is economics of the daily life (or should I say daily grind). It is also, in a way, Bear that thought, I am going to tie it all together….

The books are all about personalization and niches and the individual … they remind of the cover of the Time that at the Person of the Year as You! and was also mentioned in one of my earlier posts.

Microtrends is about micro-communities – or communities revolving around niches, The Long Tail is about how the market, the economy would be impacted by marketing to the niches, and Freaknomics is how to study the impact of these day-to-day happening communities and niches and what implications they may have.

Would love to hear from the reader, am I dreaming or there is some common link/pattern between the three of them?

Monday, September 17, 2007

Apple iPhone, iTunes & Sync Frustrations...

  1. Plenty of people may not like Microsoft Outlook, I on the other hand, love it! It is really very, very powerful productivity tool. It makes sure that I remember all the important dates (makes sure that my family does not get ma at me J ), helps me organize and manage my dates, PLUS all my contacts. With all the simplicity Apple promotes, I think it has taken it too, too far. It installs plug-ins for Microsoft Outlook on Windows machines to sync the Contacts/Calendar. And it does an extremely poor job! Synchronization software has been around for almost 13 to 14 years (beginning with Palm PDAs) and Apple still does not get it. I am amazed that Sony Ericsson’s Windows Software does a better job than Apple at helping me synchronize with Microsoft Outlook. I recently got another cell phone – a Nokia 6120, and syncing with Outlook is a breeze. What’s up Apple? Why don’t you acquire a software company that gets Microsoft platform?
  2. Today I tried syncing, and it would drop content (an entire Photo Folder) without even warning me or telling L
  3. I have setup my Outlook to run with two profiles. The default profile handles my Office Outlook/Exchange, and another profile for three of my personal email account. Guess what, it won’t sync with the “personal” profile… all other synchronization software actually lets you pick the folder you can synchronize with…
  4. And what’s up with NOT supporting Firefox? The iTunes software will ONLY sync web bookmarks with Internet Explorer. I use a combination of Firefox and Google Firefox Sync to keep track of my bookmarks across all my machines (including the Apple Powerbook), and iTunes does NOT support Firefox!

Don’t mistake me, I still love Apple and what it has done with the iPhone! Sure it has a very, very advanced user interface… but it still has a long way to go on working as a PDA. Or, may be my expectations were very high!

PS: I am sure there many other rants and raves on the Apple iPhone, but I had to post mine.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Social Networking Explosion

Last couple of years has witnessed an explosion of Social Networking starting out with Friendster, MySpace and Facebook. These three received considerable attention due to the large following, and the mega-acquisition of MySpace by Rupert Murdoch.

Is it hype or real? I don’t know, but I am skeptical about the true value of these social networks. Are we getting pulled into Virtual Worlds, blending or rather bending reality? My background is completely tech-oriented and even then (having access to the Internet, mobile or wired) mostly stayed away from Instant Messaging & Online Chats (which I would consider as major pre-cursors to the Social Networks). Point being, I really wonder what’s going on. Businesses going crazy to have real estate in Second Life (it has its own currency!), and making widgets for Facebook.

In any case, I have decided to get my feet wet or should I say virtually wet…

I have built out my profile on LinkedIn (Disclaimer: had an account for almost 2 years or so), publishing my pictures on Flickr (Had the account for year or so but started using it frequently) and sharing my passion for Books on Shelfari. LinkedIn is pure professional networking but it has helped me locate my classmate from my Middle School in India J and that was amazing, bumping into somebody after almost 20 years! Flickr is more of an outlet for my creative side and Shelfari is an expression of something I love to – read.

Last but not the least, Wikipedia is NOT a social networking site, BUT it is the “Britannica” of the Virtual World, and very powerful tool. I bring it up because I would classify Wikipedia as a Network of Communities contributing their expertise. And it has a great list of Social Network Services!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

The iPhone Debacle & Power of the Consumer

I am an above average gadget guy but definitely not the extreme kind. Case in point I did get my Apple iPhone™ on June 29th but I was not standing in lines forever. I reached the Lenox Store may be 20 minutes before the 7 PM Grand Opening, stood in line with my family for about 40 minutes or so and got my 8GB iPhone.

And, I was pi**ed at the announcement made by His Jobness yesterday.

But, then there is the Power of the Consumer! The announcement angered tons of early adopters (I was fuming last night, I was willing to spend the 600 bucks, and I know some people think of that as wasting money, but I did want to be an early adopter).

The strong feedback forced Apple’s CEO to offer a rare apology to the early adopters – (He could have done better, but in this case something is better than nothing).

I was an early adopter of the 2G 30GB iPod, 1st Gen Shuffle, 2nd Gen Shuffle, and the 8GB Nano when it came out (I also own the Apple 15” G4 PowerBook). No more, not even with the $100 Apple Rebate. Apple has left a bitter impression, and I will think twice before buying any new Apple Product.

The net has changed, it has given a medium to express and point out to Apple and other companies to think through their future product strategies. And it has given power to the consumers (an interesting post @ GigaOm on this)!