Apple TV

WSJ reviews Apple’s new product:

The race to connect your TV to your computer and the Internet is about to kick into high gear this week when Apple Inc., the company many believe is best positioned to pull off this feat, introduces a slender, wireless set-top box called Apple TV.

This silvery little $299 gadget is designed to play and display on a widescreen family-room TV set all the music, video and photos stored on up to six computers around the house — even if they are far from the TV, and even if they are all Windows PCs rather than Apple’s own Macintosh models. It can also pull a very limited amount of music and video directly off the Internet onto the TV.

Dell’s Cheap China Computer

WSJ writes:

Chief Executive Michael Dell said the new computer, with a base price starting at about $335, would be sold first in China, then other countries, including India and Brazil.

The computer, which Dell calls the EC280, “was designed with China and other key markets in mind,” Mr. Dell said. He said Dell is striving to “adjust our business to meet the needs of customers in fast-growing and emerging markets.”

Designed by engineers in Shanghai, the EC280, unveiled yesterday, features an Intel 205 microprocessor and will cost from 2,599 yuan to 3,999 yuan ($336 to $517), depending on the specifications of the monitor, hard drive and memory chips.

Lenovo, which dominates the Chinese consumer-PC market, has found an even cheaper way to get computers to people with low incomes. The company has teamed up with Microsoft Corp. to offer a “pay as you go” computer model that puts a PC in a consumer’s hands for an upfront price of about $150. Part of the computer will be financed by a bank loan. The loan is paid back over time as the consumer buys computer cards — similar to phone cards — that give them a set amount of time on the computer and eventual ownership of it.

Verizon’s Network

Knowledge@Wharton writes about the high-speed network Verizon has built in the US:

Verizon is betting billions of dollars on a new fiber-optic network that could transform it from a telephone company to a cutting-edge technology player. If Verizon’s “build it and they will come” strategy works, the company could leapfrog over rivals, such as AT&T and Comcast, by offering faster Internet service and potentially richer video on demand. But if its fast network fails to entice consumers, the company will have created a multi-billion-dollar boondoggle.

Verizon’s new network brings fiber optic lines directly to a customer’s house. In theory, this network — the equivalent of an Internet fire hose — would give the company a platform to offer new services such as television and video games. Here’s what makes the network faster: Typically, Internet speeds slow as they get closer to a home and hit a morass of telephone lines (think of a garden hose connected to a straw). To avoid this issue, Verizon is laying the groundwork for what is called a fiber to the premises (FTTP) network — that is, fiber optic lines connected directly to a customer’s residence — that will result in speeds as fast as 50 megabits per second in selected areas. The typical cable broadband connection is about 6 megabits per second. AT&T has a similar fiber-optic network initiative but isn’t running the fiber optic lines directly to homes.

Rethinking Mobiles

MEX discusses the buzz that Apple’s iPhone and the rumoured Google phone are getting:

If I was a Nokia or a Sony Ericsson or even a Vodafone or an Orange, Id be worried. Id be asking myself: Why, after years of trying to develop revenues from non-voice services and billions spent on marketing and R&D can companies with nascent mobile teams capture such huge consumer momentum without even shipping a product?

This question wont have a material impact on revenues today and maybe not even for several financial quarters. Even if Apple and Google were shipping killer handsets right now, its unlikely device manufacturers would feel any effect for some time. They have the advantage of massive distribution through well established channels to defend their entrenched market positions. However, it is definitely a strategic challenge which needs to be addressed at the most senior level by both hardware companies and network operators.

Smart Apps

Tim O’Reillly writes: “Pay attention to the idea of apps like twitter that are really communications multiplexers. The theme of being able to reroute communications, whether web, email, sms, IM, or voice, to the device of your choice, is a major one. For example, I’m seeing lots of new services (including Rael Dornfest’s stikkit) (in which I am an investor)) that apply the idea of cc’ing a bot on an email, and having it do something smart with it.”

TECH TALK: Good Books: Know-How (Part 3)

Here are excerpts from a Q&A with Ram Charan (via Amazon) about his book Know-How:

Q: You identify 8 know-hows. Can you take us through one of them?

A: In this time of continual change, money making or business models are becoming obsolete more frequently than ever before. It wasn’t that long ago when AOL was king of the hill. That leadership was taken over by Yahoo. Now Yahoo is at a crossroads and the leadership has been taken over by Google. So far Google is ahead. It has the central recipe to increase its revenues via advertising because it knows how to measure advertising effectiveness better than anybody else. Leaders at both AOL and Yahoo must be scratching their heads trying to figure out how to reposition the company to make money in the new context. Repositioning is a know-how. It’s hard work, and it requires imagination. We will have an opportunity to see about the decision made by Time Warner top brass to summarily replace Jim Miller with Randy Falco of NBC Universal. Randy has a distinguished record. He will have to demonstrate one of the most crucial know-hows in this book: Can he reposition AOL for the new game, and in time? Cost cutting is not the answer.

Q: How can you build your know-how, or help others develop theirs?

A: No talented athlete ever became a champion without consistent regular practice in the right way, along with feedback and hard work. There are no short cuts.That’s why you should start practicing early in your career by taking assignments that will help you cultivate the know-hows and seeking out bosses you can learn from.

Q: Many people think of leaders as having innate traits that set them apart from the rest of us. Are you saying we should be looking at skills instead of personality?

A: At the time somebody enters the work force, a great deal of his or her personality has been formed. Most people who talk about leadership today talk about personality, personality, personality. Personality traits, presence, charisma–they will experience attrition if you don’t practice them in the context of know-hows. Personality traits and know-hows reinforce each other. In the 21st century, the transparency of results is immediate. Failure is detected very early. Dependence on personality traits without the mastery of the know-hows is a recipe for disaster.

Q: What do you think about the future?

A: The future is very bright. The global economy will continue to expand. There will be more demand for leaders than ever before. Master the know-hows. Hone your personality traits while you’re mastering the know-hows. Don’t forget that your success must come in the context of global competition. Take the opportunity to win.

I would strongly recommend reading this book and some of Ram Charans other books, especially Execution.

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