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Chatting Cars and Enterprise Software

Today’s big news is Salesforce Teaming up with Toyota to create a private social network where you can befriend your car and it will “tweet” you when it’s thirsty, need a checkup etc..etc..etc – see the details from @Krishnan’s post.  The opportunities are really endless – more on that later.   I have to get something off my chest first.

I admit when Chatter first came out, I did not get it.  Yeah, another activity stream, so what?  I’ve long agreed with Chief Curmudgeon Dennis Howlett that activity streams without business context offer little value in business.  Things started to get interesting when Chatter added the ability to follow documents, opportunities and other business objects.  Aha!  So now we’re getting business context in Chatter!  But why?

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Now You Can Get Your Google Apps Data Backed Up for Free. Startup Econ 101: When Giving it Away is a Good Deal.

Ouch that’s a longish title. OK, I admit, I am tired, could not decide between two messages and ended up combining them.  Well, let’s see the messages.

The Art of Pricing

The other day I got into a tweet convo with a Startup Entrepreneur whose product I found interesting, at least at first glance.  But he has a problem: the entry point for one user is $20/month – and then the price scales up.  I tried to convince him to drop the entr

y price point to either free, or $1-$2 – something that allows impulse buy.  He defended his pricing on a value basis.  In principle he is right – but there’s the small problem that nobody knows about his product.  In this case “giving away” value would become his marketing, would allow for growth, and he could scale his pricing as aggressively as he wanted. He badly needs enthusiastic users that become his marketing army.

My friend and fellow Enterprise Irregular Charlie Wood (that was my bias disclosure…) understands this…

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Trouble with My Feed

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feedburnerI’m experiencing trouble with my Feedburner feed – apologies and I certainly hope to get it fixed soon.

(Oh, and Googlers who read this are most welcome to chip in to helpSmile )

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Motorola Takes Us a Step Closer to Personal Computing Nirvana–and it’s Not Even a Computer

Motorola Atrix 4GIt took five years, but the personal computing nirvana vision I first heard from Zoho CEO Sridhar Vembu is becoming reality. The concept that I discussed in The Cell-Phone Aware PC May Be a PC-less PC, and other posts is simple.  Instead of a plethora of situational devices with redundant computing capacity, carry around just one powerful mobile device, which:

  • brings connectivity, the browser and personalization, with
  • data and apps in the cloud, while
  • the actual devices we interact with are inexpensive displays and keyboards (and other peripherals) that come in various shapes and sizes, truly focusing on usability, ergonomics and convenience.

The first product that gets quite close to the vision is the Motorola Atrix 4G

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Gmail, Don’t be a Yahoo!

In the 90’s I used to laugh at friends who all used Yahoo! as their personal email service. I did not understand how anyone could put up with the slow speeds of web-mail, and tried to convince them to install a decent email client, like Outlook, which is what most of them used in their corporate jobs.

Then things changed: Outlook grew into a bloated monster, it brought otherwise fairly speedy computers to a grinding halt and finding stuff in the archives of years of email became a gargantuan job. A new web-based email service came to rescue: Gmail was fast, well-organized, included productivity-boosters like labels and conversation-threading, and most importantly, you could not only search but also find old email in seconds! For this former Outlook-fan the switch was a no-brainer – in fact I ended up ditching almost all desktop software, moving online. (Gmail for mail and Zoho for most other tasks).

Life was good, I stayed productive and Gmail grew into a suite of productivity services by Google.  Too bad it’s breaking down – again…

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Finally Something Good on the Privacy Front–from Google Latitude

latitudeRecently I’ve been experimenting with Google Latitude: I wanted to see if I could use it to replace the “family locator” function that most mobile carriers offer at a premium price. This would require that your child or elderly parent or whoever’s whereabouts you care about carries  the phone in their pocket with the display off, while it continues to send its location to you.

No can do.  Partly due to Latitude, partly due to the mobile carrier. The problem with Latitude, at least on Android 2.1 is that as soon as the phone goes to sleep, your GPS shuts off – I understand it as default to save battery life, but Latitude should offer the option to continue using GPS, if I so chose.

Without GPS …

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GOutlook. Gmail Back to Earth… in Search of Revenue.

Image credit: LifeHacker I’ve been long-time Gmail fan, having used it from the very early days, for almost 5 years now. The key reasons why I switched and have stuck with the service ever since were the productivity boosters, first of all:

  • Threaded conversations
  • Labels
  • Search

Google did to email what all new product teams should: throw away all known concepts, start from fresh, figure our what the system should really do, instead of delivering a customary system with minor improvements.  Instant success. Instant Customers.  No, correct that: instant users.  There is a difference.  Apparently not everyone likes “radically new”.

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IPhone’s Cryptic Bars vs. Real Signal on Android

iphone 4 signal bars At one point in the iPhone antenna blunder Apple tried to hide behind smoke-screen, claiming they discovered an error in how they calculated signal strength to be translated to those ever-important bars the iPhone (and all phones) uses.  They would issue a software update, that would fix the problem – or not, as we now know, the culprit being the antenna design, not just the graphical representation.

Now there’s an entire article @ the Wall Street Journal lamenting just how meaningless these bars are, since all handset manufacturers have their own arbitrary interpretation of what is 1 bar or two .. three .. four.  In fact signal indicators vary between different models of the same manufacturer.

But why are we kept in the dark?  Why can’t we get real, standardized, comparable numbers?  Turns out we can.  Just not on the iPhone.   When I recently compared two Android phones the HTC Incredible and EVO, and two carriers, Verizon and Sprint, I did not have to resort to subjective bar settings.  That would have been comparing apples (not Apple!) and oranges.

realsignal All I had to do was download the free Real Signal app from the Android Apps Market.  This app displays the real signal in dBM, and also provides two independent bar displays  – similar to the “stock” bars on your phone, except this one can be calibrated.  For example given the poor reception in my area by any carrier, I only ever see 1-2 bars on the stock display – might as well re-calibrate the display to between –85dBM to –110dBM, which is all I can get. This way I get to compare any phones and all carriers – no more BS, no more dumb bars.

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NTP is the New SCO

patent trollNTP, the shell company whose only business is to extract ransom from real businesses does not sit on the $600 they extorted from RIM.  They are now suing just about all the smartphone industry: Apple, Google, HTC, Microsoft, LG and Motorola.

Is NTP the new SCO?

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