Thursday, December 13, 2012

Our Failed Patent System Stifles Innovation Instead of Rewarding for Invention

I have said this before, our patent system is a failed one. Software patents must be reconsidered because win or lose, everyone but the lawyers suffer. Companies are spending so much time and money defensively, they are losing there innovative edge. Smaller companies have to divert precious resources (focus as well as money) to legal rather then innovation. It's sad, really. While I have no sympathy for Apple, they are as much if not more a part of this mess than any and I believe it affects their ability to innovate.

Jury Finds Apple Guilty Of Infringing Three Patents for Handheld Devices, Damages To Be Determined

You can't blame GE or GM for using the loopholes within the system that allow them to pay less in taxes than the average company (if not the average american) and, despite the president doing otherwise, vilify the rich guy for not paying more taxes than he owes under current law. If you want them to pay more, you need to change the law, and eliminate the loopholes.  Here within our patent system, you can't blame the companies for working the system for what they can as it is currently designed, as long as they don't break the law. You must change the system to work for the purpose that serves all, fosters and rewards for innovation and invention - as it was intended. The current system favors big vs small, the trolls vs those developing and delivering the innovative products.  The system does not function this way now.

While for Apple above, it seems perhaps payback for their ongoing battles with Samsung, it is just another example of a lose, lose outcome for everyone, especially consumers.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

How to Raise Your Rates By Offering Less Value

Re: How to Raise Your Rates By Offering Less Value (Yes, LESS value) via @DerekHalpern

Good insights, thanks Derek. Solid advise once again. I'd like to offer a slightly different twist on this.  It is one I have employed many times in the way we have sold our products.  You need to be careful when you "bundle" component parts into your product message, especially if they can be presumed to have different values to different customers.  Two things happen when you don't carefully plan this out:

1) You potentially devalue your product in the eyes of the customer, in that the additional components are presumed necessary, because the product by itself does not otherwise provide 'enough' value.

2) You devalue the additional components, the otherwise value-add's.  While the hotel pool isn't a direct example of this, it is still an important related concept because it is one of the value-add's of that particular hotel.  It presumably has different meanings to different customers and that in fact, is part of my point.

Today, many companies have procurement groups that are moving towards (if not already applying) a model of commoditizing the products or services they purchase. When you bundle, you may find that what you believe is an apples to oranges comparison with your competitors does not matter to these buyers. In the end, to get the sale, you may end up with price compression. The value-adds you have, especially if the others don’t, should be separate in order to realize their full, potential value.  Sometimes it's better to get the base model in the door, even at a lower margin in order to sell-up the value-add's at a higher one.


Hands On With iTunes 11, Has Apple's Evolution Left Innovative Process Behind?

Great Macworld article:

     Hands on with iTunes 11 | via @macworld

especially the tips on getting back some normalcy in the new version of iTunes. I have used iTunes 11 now for 2 days and while interface changes are slick yet a little non-intuitive vs previous versions, two big concerns come up.

1) on a powerful Quad Core system, everything in the new software is slow to the point of being painful.  This seems to be a trend where Apple as it evolves over time is facing similar issues to Microsoft in that said evolution means more and more bloat in their releases; resulting in poor performance on older, yet still powerful platforms.

2) Searches are broken. This is very frustrating. For instance, if I search for "Girl On Fire" which is Alicia Keys latest album in our collection, it leaves out songs that additionally feature other artists on the album - a very common thing these days in music. If I search on Alicia Keys, he songs show but are still split up as if not part of the same album. I have noticed similar issues related to the way TV shows break down in that portion of the interface.  There are other usability issues as well, but the real point here is that once again (as with maps), Apple is not innovating the way they used to and clearly not testing their software to the anal retentive level that were once a company mandate.

Probably a good time to reference an old post of mine tied to a Rich Karlgaard post on Innovation from back in 2011, it also has a link to a great article on the way Apple used to innovate:

  Eleven Tips++ = Ten Tips: Great Restructuring Winners plus my thoughts too:


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving '12

We can talk about gratitude and give thanks all day long but the truth is, gratitude is morally and intellectually demanding. It takes mental fortitude to see what is awesome in your life instead of what is not awesome. To focus on what you have or are blessed with instead of what you don't have or aren't happy about. 

Many of us have been affected by Sandy, some as a mere and or continuing inconvenience and others have had their lives changed forever by this storm. But today is the day set aside, the prescribed opportunity, to tune in, focus on and be thankful for who and what we do have and even share and send some additional prayers to those that may not be so fortunate.

Enjoy today, bask in the glow of the loved ones that surround you.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving everyone.


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Kindness for and a "thank you" to our soldiers. Not sure who this originated from, but to them I say "thank you" as well.

Caught this via email today.  I am not sure of the author but it's an emotional read. I shared it earlier on Facebook and response was very similar to my own so I figured I should share here too.  

I put my carry-on in the luggage compartment and sat down in my assigned seat. It was going to be a long flight. 'I'm glad I have a good book to read. Perhaps I will get a short nap,' I thought. Just before take-off, a line of soldiers came down the aisle and filled all the vacant seats, totally surrounding me. I decided to start a conversation. 'Where are you headed?' I asked the soldier seated nearest to me. 'Petawawa. We'll be there for two weeks for special training, and then we're being deployed to Afghanistan.' After flying for about an hour, an announcement was made that sack lunches were available for five dollars... It would be several hours before we reached the east, and I quickly decided a lunch would help pass the time... 

As I reached for my wallet, I overheard a soldier ask his buddy if he planned to buy lunch. 'No, that seems like a lot of money for just a sack lunch. Probably wouldn't be worth five bucks. I'll wait till we get to base.' His friend agreed. I looked around at the other soldiers. None were buying lunch. I walked to the back of the plane and handed the flight attendant a fifty dollar bill. 'Take a lunch to all those soldiers.' She grabbed my arms and squeezed tightly. Her eyes wet with tears, she thanked me. 'My son was a soldier in Iraq; it's almost like you are doing it for him.'

Picking up ten sacks, she headed up the aisle to where the soldiers were seated. She stopped at my seat and asked, 'Which do you like best - beef or chicken?' 'Chicken,' I replied, wondering why she asked. She turned and went to the front of plane, returning a minute later with a dinner plate from first class. 'This is your thanks.' 

After we finished eating, I went again to the back of the plane, heading for the rest room. A man stopped me. 'I saw what you did. I want to be part of it... Here, take this.' He handed me twenty-five dollars. Soon after I returned to my seat, I saw the Flight Captain coming down the aisle, looking at the aisle numbers as he walked, I hoped he was not looking for me, but noticed he was looking at the numbers only on my side of the plane. When he got to my row he stopped, smiled, held out his hand and said, 'I want to shake your hand.' Quickly unfastening my seatbelt I stood and took the Captain's hand. With a booming voice he said, 'I was a soldier and I was a military pilot. Once, someone bought me a lunch. It was an act of kindness I never forgot.' I was embarrassed when applause was heard from all of the passengers. 

Later I walked to the front of the plane so I could stretch my legs. A man who was seated about six rows in front of me reached out his hand, wanting to shake mine. He left another twenty-five dollars in my palm. When we landed I gathered my belongings and started to deplane... Waiting just inside the airplane door was a man who stopped me, put something in my shirt pocket, turned, and walked away without saying a word. Another twenty-five dollars! Upon entering the terminal, I saw the soldiers gathering for their trip to the base. I walked over to them and handed them seventy-five dollars. 'It will take you some time to reach the base. It will be about time for a sandwich. God Bless You.' 

Ten young men left that flight feeling the love and respect of their fellow travelers. As I walked briskly to my car, I whispered a prayer for their safe return. These soldiers were giving their all for our country. I could only give them a couple of meals. It seemed so little... 

A veteran is someone who, at one point in his life, wrote a blank check made payable to 'The United States of America ' for an amount of 'up to and including my life.' That is Honor, and there are way too many people in this country who no longer understand it.

Thank You to Our Soldiers and Thank You to whomever it was that shared this and reminded us once again that:

"Kindness from strangers can manifest through grand gestures, but most often it shows up in normal, everyday occurrences. It is usually short and sweet, simple and sincere. The kindness of strangers seeks no compensation and has no expectation of reward. It is usually spontaneous and responsive to a perceived need. In short, it is authentic and free." - Adolfo Quezada


Friday, February 24, 2012

Could Social Media Law 2012 Turn Concepts Like BuzzFeed Into BuzzKill? Privacy And The Sanctity Of The Timeline...

A few weeks back, I commented on Brian Wassom’s January 5th Mashable article:  5 Predictions for Social Media Law in 2012

My comment was:
"so, is time to start worrying about the business of illegal post stuffing/purging of our social media timelines by criminal parties for those with ulterior motives?"

The comment didn’t generate any responses but it should be a concern for us all.  Another article referenced in a comment from Darren Heitner was regarding our Facebook post’s discoverability.  The abstract follows:

ABSTRACT: Facebook has revolutionized the way that people communicate and do business by providing an open and connected environment for individuals and businesses alike. This openness has largely contributed to both its popularity and success. However, enjoying the openness of this revolutionary platform may come at an unexpected cost, especially for those who do not understand how the website’s content may be used as evidence in a lawsuit. Darren Heitner demonstrates how content published on a person’s Facebook account may be discoverable for the purposes of litigation, even when the information sought is unavailable through Facebook’s privacy settings.

Note, that despite privacy settings and whether they work as described by Facebook (another concern of mine), all of your posts are discoverable.  I believe this should be limited to what was shared based on the expectation how it was shared ie: public (friends of friends) vs a semi private (friends only) conversation, or private (one on one chat) but that is not the way it goes.  Again, this does not even take into account whether the privacy settings work as Facebook says they do when other Facebook users browse your timeline or photos and potentially worse, when you have no understanding of the actual access a Facebook partner has to your friends, timelines etc.  For instance, is that partner granted access as a friend, a friend of a friend, or is it’s access as if it were you yourself?  If you are not careful, it’s very scary what could be exposed to an audience other than what you believed, expected (or intended) based on your privacy settings.

This all said, there was an article this week on Digiday by Saya Weissman regarding BuzzFeed’s Facebook Time Machine which helps you go back in time, on your Facebook Timeline that is, with nostalgic blasts from the past potentially interesting to others.  While the concept is interesting and even tempting, it does play right into my concerns about the ability to post content into our timelines rather than in real or near real time.  What is going to protect us from the potential side effects of errant, missing or undesirable data becoming legal discovery as if it was posted when (and if) it happened?  While the BuzzFeed idea is neat, who protects our timelines from posts as well as unintentional deletions?  Are the platform providers and their employees themselves adequate guardians?


One might argue that if you are uncomfortable with the downside of these new social media platforms, don’t use them.  The problem is that they are very powerful platforms connecting and reconnecting people, businesses, brands, b2b, b2c, etc. enabling engagement, showing measurable and immeasurable benefits for all parties even in these very early stages.  


Staying away is not the answer.  Caution certainly should be.  Educating both young and old with a clear, accurate understanding how our data is being accessed, used and/or could be used in the future would be a big step in the right direction as well. Perhaps an industry partnership and/or adcouncil campaign is necessary. Regardless, of whether a timeline should be legally discoverable, I believe the concern for the sanctity of our timelines is real and will have to be addressed somehow ... even if in general, they should be no more a record of events than hearsay and rumor.


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