Best Buy Smarter than the Apple Store

apple storeThere is an App for that” – is the mantra nowadays, and I really hoped for one,  to solve the major task of telling me where I can buy an iPad.  Anywhere, in any physical store along my long drive from San Francisco to Pleasanton. In the real-time, always-on age it should not be a big deal.  But it is.

Of the two potential sources Best Buy fares better: at least they have an online inventory locator, which tells you none of the stores have it 🙁

Apple stores (the best retail experience in any industry)?  Fuhhgedaboudit.  You can order online and wait two weeks for delivery, find retail stores, even make personal shopping appointments, but the online system can’t tell you availability in the individual stores.  But the Apple site certainly looks better than Best Buys.  Design without content. 🙁

So I am back to the Stone Age method: calling stores one by one.  At least my smartphone helps with that: Google Maps pulls up the stores in the area, and I can touch to call them one by one.   All Apple stores answer with this message:

Thank you for calling the Apple Store in …..  The magical and revolutionary iPad is now available…

Except it’s not. Available.  You have to get to a live salesperson, store by store, to get that information. The welcome message is a cheery lie.   Once again, Best Buy fares better:  the welcome message apologizes that they did not receive new shipments, and all their stores are out of iPad inventory.

So that leaves me with one choice: ordering the iPad online. Which I did.  And don’t get me started on how many things went wrong during the order process…

I know, I deserve it.  After all on the long ride from Google I/O @ Moscone to Pleasanton I had two gorgeous smartphones next to me, on the passenger seat.  Both Android. 🙂

(Cross-posted @ CloudAve)


Resistance is Futile: We Will Be Assimilated – by Google.

Two seemingly unrelated items:

Today Hitwise reported on how Google Maps is catching up on Mapquest, which once was the king of online mapping.

Perhaps more important than just the numbers is the source of traffic:  61% of Google Maps traffic comes from links placed in organic Google Search results.  Contrast that to Mapquest, where 8 out of 10 hits come from searches on the Mapquest brand itself.  Translation: Mapquest is only used by its already dwindling user base, while Google Maps gains steadily, since Google owns Search.  The writing is clearly on the wall.

The second story: Google Gmail Within Striking Distance Of Hotmail – reported Information Week a few days ago.  Wait, wasn’t Gmail supposed to be email for the geeks only, lagging behind the masses of Yahoo and Hotmail users?

Between September 2007 and September 2008, Gmail’s visitor total grew 39%, from 18.8 million to 26 million, ComScore figures indicate. Windows Live Hotmail during this period saw its visitor share decline 4%, from 46.2 million to 44.6 million.

If Google’s Gmail growth rate rises to, say, 46% over 2009, it could reach approximately 43 million unique U.S. visitors by the end of the year. And if Windows Live Hotmail continues to bleed visitors at a rate of, say, 3%, it will finish the year with around 42 million unique visitors per month.

So Gmail may overtake Hotmail by the end of this year, and if the trend continues, it might overtake Yahoo by the end of 2011, concludes Information Week.  Note, these are site visits, not account numbers, but account numbers include all the throw-away, long forgotten dormant accounts that both Yahoo and Hotmail has in abundance.  All these email systems being web-based, visitor stats are a better representation of actual usage.

The third story (yes, I promised two, but can’t stop now):  The Google Power Meter., currently being tested by Google employees.  These are smart devices you plug in all around the house, they will report back to the mothership and you get a nice dashboard aimed at helping you making the right energy choices.

I would certainly like to know just how “smart” they can be – any chance of bi-directional communication?  I can’t help but remember the mail campaign from PG&E, my utility company.  They are handing out $25 to anyone who allows them to install a smart thermostat free of charge.  The catch?  At times when consumption reaches peak levels, the utility company can remotely throttle back your air conditioner.  So now you see why I’m hesitant about these Google electricity meters.  Could they be switched from passive reporting to regulating one day?

The fourth story (gee, I really have to stop soon): An opinion piece on Bloomberg discusses how the health provisions slipped into the stimulus bill will effect every one of us in the US:

Your medical treatments will be tracked electronically by a federal system. Having electronic medical records at your fingertips, easily transferred to a hospital, is beneficial. It will help avoid duplicate tests and errors.  But the bill goes further. One new bureaucracy, the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology, will monitor treatments to make sure your doctor is doing what the federal government deems appropriate and cost effective. The goal is to reduce costs and “guide” your doctor’s decisions (442, 446).

Ouch. I’m all for electronic medical records, but I don’t want them to be turned into a Big Brother function.  And I don’t want a computer program to decide on my medical treatment.  But I’ve just complained about the Sorry State of Health 2.0: neither Google Health nor Microsoft HealthVault are up to the job yet.  I want them to get there, and I trust they will (at least one of them).  I don’t want them to run my health care, just help me and my providers manage it – but fear of potential misuse won’t stop my desire for progrees.

Do you see the trend here?  Google is unstoppable.  They want to manage all data, but our life is increasingly all about data and what we do with it.  The former Borg in Redmond is now a toothless veteran, slowly dwindling away – Google is the New Borg.  Resistance is futile.  We’re being assimilated.  And we like it.  Enjoy the video: (better quality if you click through)

Related posts:

(This post originally appeared @ CloudAve.  To stay abreast of Clod Computing, SaaS news and analysis, grab the CloudAve feed here.)


Google StreetView in More Places You’d Know

Google StreetView has just arrived to Dallas, Detroit, Indianapolis, Fort Worth, Boston, Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Providence – reports The Boston Globe and Google Operating System, adding that “the total number of cities that have the street view imagery is now 23”.

Actually, it’s a lot more, if we add small towns. I can count more in this area alone. While we keep track of major metropolitan cities (and that is indeed 23), the Google Fleet has for quite some time been driving around Small Town America, taking pictures of residential areas. Who knows, your home might be covered – better check it out nowsmile_wink. I’ve accidentally discovered my own former home in West Chester, PA:

The postal address is West Chester, but in fact it’s in nowhere-land between West Chester and Chadds Ford. The area is as rural as it gets, the average lot is 2-3 wooded acres, you can see dear in your backyard, and there’s generally nothing but residences and country clubs. Which brings me to my point:

In a typical city, street photos do carry information: shops, cafes, portals, public buildings ..etc. Google needs to balance the usefulness of information against privacy concerns, and as a result, it started masking the faces of people who accidentally just happen to be photographed. But what’s the point of shooting rural neighborhoods I’ve just shown above? They are often secluded developments, not even part of any township at all, where there is no public / tourist traffic – you take a county road in the woods, and only drive there if you live there or visit someone. What’s the “use case” here? I’m actually not so concerned about privacy, simply wondering about priorities. There are only so many StreetView Chevys, and far to many major cities uncovered.

Additional posts: Google Blogoscoped, Mashable!


Another Mashup Bites the Dust – or NOT.

I already used this title, a little more then a month ago, and it’s no coincidence: back then I wrote about Gmap Pedometer, a handy little Google Map hack that allowed you to calculate the lenth of your planned hike. When all of a sudden Google Maps encorporated the same feature, that pretty much eliminated the reason for this mashup to even exist (although it still does).

It’s that time again: now that Google Maps went social, allowing user profiles, let’s spend a moment of silence in memory or of the mashup that has been doing the same for a long time: Frappr.

And remember: not all mashups get acquired by Google. Some just get assimilated. Resistance is futile. smile_sad

Related posts: Google Operating System, Screenwerk, Search Engine Land, TechCrunch,, ParisLemon and Mashable!

Update (10/18): In this case I’m glad to be proven wrong: a day later, Frappr is acquired. Also read Read/WriteWeb and Mashable!


Another Mashup Bites the Dust

I love(d) Gmap Pedometer: handy Google Map hack to calculate the lenth of your planned hike. But now it’s all over – why bother using a separate app when Google Maps can now do the same?


The Long Swim to SAPPHIRE

SAP’s Craig Cmehil is excited to come to Atlanta as part of the Bloggers’ Corner at SAP’s annual mega-event, SAPPHIRE. He even included the map of the Congress Center area. Nice … but Craig, you should look at another map – the one that tells you how to get there. Pay special attention to step# 35. I hope you start training soon.smile_shades

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