HTC EVO Finally Ousted From Smartphone Throne By…HTC EVO 3D

America’s finest smartphone, the beautiful EVO, courtesy of our fine Taiwanese friends at HTC and available on the Sprint network has spent a stunning year as the most-loved smartphone on Earth. Running Android 2.2, capable of eating up many a Flash media from the internetz, 4G-capable, superfast and responsive and with that massive 4.3 inch screen, the EVO faced a bit of competition from the likes of the iPhone 4, Samsung Galaxy S and more recently the Google Nexus S, but ultimately given its newly lower-price point and HTC’s not-too-offensive software layer over Android, nearly universal concensus holds it as the still-reigning-champ.

Until now.

The kind people of HTC are beating the EVO by giving it to us again but with a few key new features. Of course all the hardware is the shiny new stuff we’re seeing in Nexus S and the coming Galaxy refresh. Expect a blazingly fast 1.2 GHz dual-core processor, Adreno 220 GPU, Qualcomm MSM8660 chipset. You can get you’re JVM on with its JAVA MIDP Emulator.

What’s more exciting is actually the only confirmed detail of the product: Glasses-Free 3D Screen and, this is nuts, camera.

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Posted by on April 28, 2011 in Uncategorized


YouTube to Throw $100 Million at Professional Content

Not to be out-innovated by Netflix and spurned by networks not warm to GoogleTV,  YouTube has announced that in addition to its oft-viewed semiprofessional content like Ray William Johnson’s =3 viral video review channel and Songify This, the minds behind the highly popular Bed Intruder hit of last summer, they will shortly be going the whole 9 yards by establishing 20 professional channels.

Each will have an initial budget of 5 million dollars and the company has already opened offices in Beverly Hills, far from their Mountain View Bay-Area territory.

The changes at Google do not appear to be limited to YouTube though.  Google 2.0 (or is it 3.0?) seems to be focusing intently on Mobile, Social, Core Search Services and Media/Content and interpreting Media as something larger and more company-comprehensive than just YouTube.

TechCrunch reports that they are buying up multiple domain names associated with Cloud Computing and Online Music Streaming.  Amazon and Apple are definitely watching this domain stocking anxiously.

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Posted by on April 10, 2011 in Uncategorized


Students Addicted to Social Media

According to a new global study by the International Center for Media ad Public Affairs using IBM’s Many Eyes software for data visualization children are increasingly developing symbiotic relationships with their technology.

Throughout the study technology was repeatedly referred to in metaphorical terms comparing it to an appendage or a drug.  Many young people spoke of acute withdrawal symptoms.

As you can see below young people from Chile, China, Mexico, Lebanon, Slovakia, the U.S. and Great Britain spend 3.5 to 5.5 hours a day on the Internet at least half of which is spent wandering around social networks.

Somewhat surprising is the lack of smartphone penetration in quite unexpected markets.  Notice that both Lebanon and Mexico have wider penetration than the United States.

Students were encouraged to abandon their devices for 24 hours.  Although some students reported benefits of their unplugging experiment the majority felt lost, irritable and bored without their electronic appendages.

This is perhaps attributable to the near constant presence of technologies in their lives as seen in this final graph detailing their first age when using key technologies such as the smartphone, the PC and the internet.

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Posted by on April 10, 2011 in Uncategorized


How Much Money is Rebecca Black Making Off of the Worst Song Ever?

Currently clocking in at 58 million views on YouTube, many are asking themselves if in aiding and abetting the viral spread of what nearly universal consensus is calling the ‘Worst Song Ever, they may have inadvertently enabled the flow of money to its makers.

The bad news is the answer is yes.  The good news is, well, not that much.

The video first entered the social fray in mid-February.  Around the second weekend of March, Tosh.0, The Daily What and scores of Twitter users propelled it into notoriety.

More recently, in one of the worst misreportings since 75% of American news sources claimed Mubarak was the richest man in the world a few weeks back, Forbes Chris Barth asserted that Black was at least a millionaire, if not on the way to becoming one multiple times over.

PC Magazine and a score of a media outlets were quick to say, “Not so fast.”  Barth himself even issued a mea culpa, claiming that in his hectic blogger life he had mistakenly sourced information from huge Bloomberg and Reuters competitor for economic news, Good Morning America who had confused YouTube views with iTunes downloads.

Let’s break down the two biggest revenue streams:  iTunes downloads and YouTube views.  Forbes’ Barth is claiming that since it is assumed YouTube makes $1 for every 1000 page views and content creators like Black and Ray William Johnson take approximately 68% of the profit, Friday should have raked in $20,000 around the 30 million view mark.

Unfortunately, he seems to confirm this figure with public disclosures from viral-video-making-rock-group OKGO’s lead singer Damien Kulash.  Of course, Barth fails to take into account the fact that OKGO’s This Too Shall Pass, a video made famous for its promethean mechanical-dominos game received 128800 likes and a mere 1512 dislikes (which is really a limit approaching zero in an anonymized world filled with contrarian-haters like YouTube or virtually any message board out there).

On the other hand, Black’s Friday has received an awe-inspiring, record-breaking 969,304 dislikes over a 115,834 likes (probably composed strictly of the aforementioned contrarians and ‘it’s so bad it’s good’-people).   Although I doubt that many YouTube viewers understand the Google company’s business model perfectly, I have enough faith in humanity to believe that most people know not to click on an ad from a video that they are watching out of a derisive, condescending wish to belittle a horrible song/singer/production company.

iTunes figures aren’t so hard to pin down though.  PC Magazine reports that with “Friday” sales as of last Friday were roughly 37,000 and that Ark Music/Rebecca Black are taking in about 70 cents per download, or 35,000 dollars.

The two wildcards in the equation are the split made between the Black family and Ark Music and whatever she’s getting for media appearances.  Although I’m not clear on whether Black won an audition or her family merely sought out Ark Music, Black’s mom shelled out $2000 to record this song and retain partial rights after being given that choice or that her daughter could record the song free with no rights.  Although after the fact it seems like a good decision, I still believe her mom is to be belittled for it, as I don’t think people should be recognized for profiting off of, excuse the probability pun, Black Swan statistical outliers.  Also, Black recently appeared on the Jay Leno show, which ought to have netted her something.

So the bottom line…about $63,000, most of which I assume will be going to Ark Music who retains rights over the song and produced the video (without which I doubt any of us would know this song).  Luckily, although the singer of the worst song ever and a rather annoying personification of the idealized overprivileged California teen, Black knows how to keep her musical karma clean, and in return for exposing us all to, on all dimensions -production, lyrics, performance, etc – the most heinous song in history, she’s decided to donate the proceeds to relief in Japan.

I am happy to report that in the true American spirit of innovation, appropriation and optimism, nothing is beyond saving.

YouTube account HeyMikeBauer has made an especially entertaining version of Friday, recorded as a pre-electric Bob Dylan and amassed about 1.8 million views.  Why this video has not been monetized is a true mystery to me.

Conan and Team CoCo attacked claiming copyright infringement on their earlier hit: Thursday.

Slightly funny is the parody made by these two superaffluent suburban kids that’s clocked 2.25 million views, although I ultimately find it wanting.  If they had been two low-income innercity kids I feel like I could have gotten behind it, but when two eleven year olds have a music studio in their gigantic housemansion, high quality video equipment and apparently an iPhone 4, I really expect perfection. No clicks for you kiddies.

Finally, I find this dubstep version INCREDIBLE:

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Posted by on March 27, 2011 in Uncategorized


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iRobot in Japan

Japan, long home of bipedal dancing robots, has caved to American robot imports to handle their nuclear issues.  For years, people have criticized Boston-based iRobot’s products as unromantic, dull and unimaginative.  Yet in times of crisis, Honda’s Asimo, Toyota’s Running/Violin-Playing Robot and Sony’s robodog Aibo haven’t shown to be of much utility.  On the other hand, iRobot’s Packbot and Warrior have.

In age where everyone moans about American deindustrialization and pins all hopes of a comeback on a revaluation of the Yuan, Colin Angle and Co at chez iRobot can be seen as a tremendous example for the rest of us.  After all, in a world where you can export robots to Japan, I wouldn’t be surprised if you could export snow to Russia.

It was Japan’s Self Defense Forces that asked iRobot to aid in controlling the situation at Fukushima Dai-1, the nuclear plant left unstable in the wake of last week’s earthquake/tsunami.  iRobot has sent their iRobot 510 Packbot and Warrior 710, until recently most popular for their work in Iraq (and a knockoff of one of their products’ cameo in “the Hurt Locker”) neutralizing bomb threats.

In addition to supplying them, iRobot will be providing service and training for the robots, a new revenue stream for the company reiterating by CEO Colin Angle in the last few Earnings Calls for the company.

In a fun side note, iRobot’s devices are plug and play which means that that can be remote controlled by Xbox and Playstation controllers.  Halo anybody?

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Posted by on March 26, 2011 in Uncategorized


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Monopoly Power of the Motorola Xoom

With the Motorola Xoom hitting the shelves soon in a Wi-Fi incarnation at $599, I think it’s the perfect time to step back and criticize some of these critics who have been going nuts over the initial 3G model’s $799 price point.

According to just about everybody, the model was priced far too ambitiously and didn’t stand a chance in a head to head battle with the iPad.  Nobody implied that the Xoom was too expensive given its features (as it cost a mere 80 dollars more than the nearest comparable iPad) but rather that without a $499 entry model it wouldn’t stand a chance of competing with the iPad.
I posit an entirely different view on this matter.  I begin by assuming that the people who purchase a Xoom do not consider an iPad a viable substitution. We’re talking IT nerds, computer programmers, gadget freaks, open source acolytes, etc. Therefor, although surely the Xoom is part of the larger “Tablet Market”, it is not truly in open competition with the iPad.
It is, on the other hand, in competition with the other Android tablets.  And those are…..
Exactly.  There are no other Android tablets.  The Samsung Galaxy Tab is a cute little machine, but it’s running an operating system designed for a phone and not the tablet-optimized Honeycomb.  The Dell Streak may have counted as a tablet when it was first dropped in mid-2010, but only in lieu of the fact that the, besides the iPad, it was the only other Slate-style tablet from a major manufacturer (sorry Archos!) on the market.  Today, with two iPads, the Xoom and the Tab making waves, and the huge HTC Evos and Samsung Galaxy S phone models en vogue, I’m loathe to call the 5” device a tablet and more a “gigantic waffle phone”.
So coming back to markets, anyone who ever took a little Microeconomics knows that it behooves producers to price discriminate (charge different groups of consumers different prices for the same product).  Let’s think about this for a moment in the context of the Xoom.  You’ve got the iPad 2 to contend with (and the marked down to less than 50% of  the Xoom price iPad 1).  Should you really try to undercut a company like Apple?  Apple is making money off of iTunes, off of the AppStore, off of in-App subscriptions.  Additionally due to economies of scale, monopsony issues and the First-Mover Advantage, Apple is making tablets at less cost than other manufacturers.  Is it realistic to try to undercut a company that can make devices cheaper than you can and additionally derives profit from more than just the sale of said machine?
I side with Motorola on this one.  All those oddball Android fanboys who need a tablet need a tablet PRONTO and they don’t want anything from Apple’s closed garden.  A lot of these guys have decent incomes, and what’s more, they dedicate inordinate fractions of said income to the purchase of gadgets.  Why not then, knowing that they’re boxed into the Android Honeycomb market, of which you, Motorola, are the only supplier, charge a ridiculous price for your tablet?  These guys are going to pay it anyways.  You can maximize your Producer’s Surplus by literally stealing away all of these early adapter’s Consumer Surplus in a way that pop-hit Apple could only dream of.
Then, on that faraway day that Samsung drops a Galaxy Tab 10”, HTC comes through with a 10” Evo or whatever they are currently cooking up, and Archos throws their hat into the ‘legit-tablet market’, Motorola can lower price to $600 or $500 or whatever the equilibrium price turns out being.  In the meantime though, why not suck as much money out of early-Android-adapters as you can?
In sum I generalize to this rule: There is a tablet market, but its participants do not cross clearly delineating borders in the market.  I, myself, have considered buying both the Xoom and the iPad 2 but I am an outlier.  I know Archos and Xoom owners ecstatic for the next Galaxy tablet, and I know people fretting over whether to buy the iPad2 or a refurb’ed iPad 1 for half the price, but outside of myself I know no one in the interesection of these two groups.
I applaud Motorola for understanding this and pricing accordingly.
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Posted by on March 20, 2011 in Uncategorized


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