Monday, June 13, 2011

Lower end tablets have to get this right.

So, Notion Ink - not my intent to pick on you guys in particular, but this illustrates my point today...

Maybe I am a bit late to the game here and just piling on, but I don't get the Adam tablet.  Sure, they did some things right (e.g., chose a solid CPU and a cool transflective display option from Pixel Qi), it is priced competitively and on the outside it looks like a reasonable product, but they made some fundamental mistakes, several of which were pointed out by others long before I got here... 

So, here's my problem - you HAVE to release product, not prototype.  OTAs cannot fail - you have to design well test the hell out of them (been there, done that).  Your hardware cannot look like it was thrown together in haste.  These issues and more have been laid bare before you all in more blogs, reviews, teardowns, forums, etc than I could possibly enumerate.

But, what I have not heard people talking about, and my point today is:  that in order to have a viable consumer product in this space, you have to have apps.  When I was at Chumby, we used to remind ourselves of this by saying "it's the content, stupid!"  I believe it really is.  Actually, I know it really is.  I have been on this soapbox before and imagine that I will be again.

Companies that get caught up in rushing to market and/or making a cool piece of hardware, but forget that the apps are what the user really cares about, what sets the tone of the out of the box experience when the user first powers up their new device and what enables a brand to build compelling consumer marketing around their product are clearly not paying close enough attention to the ads for iOS-powered and Android-powered devices - those ads are mostly about the apps.

If you know me, you might think I am biased, since app acquisition is big part of what I have been doing for the last several years, but all you have to do is to look at what is going on in the market and you will nod your head and say, "yep."

I know that getting apps for pre-load is not easy - it is hard work - but just like getting your OTA solid, and passing your FCC certification and having engaging ID and all the other things you need to do in order to launch your product in this space, you need to get it done and get it done right.  And not just any apps - no, no, no...  the apps have to be the apps that people use and people want, the ones they talk about, the ones they show their friends.  It is pretty easy to build that list of apps by sitting down in front of your computer (or tablet or whatever) and spending a few minutes, if you can't just rattle them off the top of your head already.

I will have lots more to say about apps in the coming weeks.   For all of you folks working hard to launch your tablets, get it all right...and figure out how to get those apps.  Remember, you only get one chance to make a first impression!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Here we go! Welcome...

Hi friends, colleagues and those just curious about (or even better, interested in) what I might have to say.  For those of you who do not know me yet, here's a brief intro...

I have been in high tech long enough to know better, yet here I am still.  Suffice it to say that I started on the software dev side of the business, worked my way up to CTO and then made the transition to the business side of the house (or as my developer friends like to call it, the Dark Side).

Over the last 7 years or so, I have been marinating in the mobile/connected device and app space.  Started as one of the co-founders of chumby, where I did a little bit of everything in the beginning and then settled (mostly) into a business development role.  Worked with players across the rapidly growing connected device ecosystem - ODMs/CMs, chip companies, OEMs/CE companies, carriers/operators. retailers and, of course, all kinds of companies in the nascent "apps" space.  Openpeak lured me away from chumby to build their app ecosystem, so that is what I did, from the ground up.  Since last summer, those activities were focused entirely on Android tablet apps.

I have spoken about devices and apps at conferences in the US and EU, spoken to investors regarding trends and opportunities in the market and advised Fortune 100 companies regarding their app/mobile device strategies. And, of course,  I have done lots of deals in this space. 

In my travels I have talked to hundreds and hundreds of people in and around the device/app space.  I have learned lots of things from very smart people and I have formulated lots of opinions - about things ranging from who is building devices to the viability of the various application ecosystems to the pros and cons of Android to ... well, don't want to give it all away in my first blog entry., so you will just have to tune in for more.

I plan to talk about that stuff here - you may find it interesting, informative and/or useful, OR you might think that I am full of crap.  Hopefully, more of you will fall into the first camp.

Just a random comment - cannot escape this stuff - my wife is watching TV and there was just a *really* bad tablet commercial - we can talk about that at some point too - who hires these marketing guys, anyway?

So, I plan to post every week and then see what folks have to say.  I have several weeks worth of subjects already picked out, but feel free to make suggestions and I will do my best to respond.

So, my first "real" post will be in the next week, give or take.  The next post may take a bit longer - for those of you that know me, my mom just passed a few days ago, so getting through that, still.

Hope you opt to join me here and that you find it worth your time.  Back with you soon.