Tag Archives: business

AT&T CEO “Leaks” News of iPhone Going 3G

To some, Randall Stephenson, CEO of AT&T blabbing that a 3G iPhone is coming is a slip of the tongue, to some, it’s a well planned metaphoric stab at Steve Jobs and to others, it’s old news.

The bottom line is it’s a combination of all three but the consequences are very mimimal.

Why? Because there are two camps.

People who have no idea what 3G is.
People who care about having 3G.

Here’s your test, go up & asks someone if they are GSM or CDMA. That’s ALL you ask them – no alluding that it’s a cell phone acronym – just ask them GSM or CDMA?

90% of the people will go – huh?

The 10% who can actually answer can tell you about whether 3G is important to them.

Of that 10%, 100% can tell it’s a feature the iPhone will eventually add just like GPS.

IT’S JUST A GIVEN.

It’s like asking if the laptops in the stores will be faster next year?

Or if NAND memory will get smaller & cheaper per GB.

IT’S A GIVEN.

In fact, Steve Jobs answered the questioned that 3G was not included because of battery usage right upfront … part of the answer may have been AT&T was just not ready to provide a 3G network at the cost that Apple was happy with … how many people wants 3G at $60-$75 EXTRA per month? How many iPhones would Apple have sold if the lowest price package was around $120 a month and the high was $160 a month?

THOUSANDS of bloggers (lead by ZDNet, no doubt) would have SCREAMED – why not EDGE – it’s “good” enough for maybe $10 extra month?!! Why, oh why is Apple forcing 3G down the throats of innocent people who just want EDGE?

There is just no pleasing some people …

Part of the answer was undoubtly the battery life but part was also AT&T’s network capability … they seem barely able to handle the voice portion – how are they going to deal with 4 times the number of TOTAL 3G subscribers in the US all jumping on their network to text and VOIP?

When will we get 3G iPhones?

Well, part of the answer is when AT&T’s network is ready. Is it ready? Did anyone bother to ask the CEO that? It’s not like adding a feature to an OS – if AT&T networks is not ready, why bother? And analysts presumably can tell when it’s ready … ONLY THEN will we get a 3G iPhone.

Because a 3G iPhone itself is not hard – a software upgrade … a new chip … other than the battery issue, Apple’s portion of this is EASY … is AT&T ready? Is AT&T ready AND not ready to charge us another $60 a month because if that’s the case, it will be as popular as 3G is now in the United States … out of 150 million internet users and over 200 million cell phones, how many 3G users are there now at $60-$100 a month?

LESS than a million.

People have an opportunity to choose and buy 3G RIGHT NOW but it’s clearly not at a price that interests people.

Prior to the iPhone, people didn’t really want to surf the internet on the phone because they didn’t want to pay $15 to $30 extra a month – but Apple made AT&T bundle it in with the regular monthly fee which is only slightly higher than a non internet plan with other phones so is AT&T really ready to deliver 3G at a slight bump in cost?

And yes, Cringley is probably right that it’s a shot at Steve Jobs but ultimately, who cares?

Oh, boo-hoo that AT&T takes a shot at Apple because Apple might jump into bed with Google on the 700 Mhz thing … or boo hoo that Apple might “double cross” AT&T … to use a “street” phrase these “journalists” might understand …

THAT’S HOW CORPORATIONS ROLL.

Not only do corporations cross partners and jump in with someone else, sometimes they do it with their own divisions. That’s just the way business is. It’s nothing new and nothing different.

As for consumers, look 90% don’t care – the buy an iPhone because it offers 30 features no more than 2 taps away and with one device, they get a phone, the internet, SMS, music, video photos and handy information plus cachet & fashion … 3G is nice but do I want to wait 35 seconds for my NY Times page to load or do I want to wait 364 days and 8 seconds for 3G and my NY Times page to arrive.

If I want 3G when it actually arrives, I will buy another phone.

That’s how people roll.

Sure, do people claim that they will wait for a 3G iPhone – of course, but I’ll bet 90% of those people will then claim they are “now” waiting for a 3G & GPS iPhone or if Apple delivers both that, they’ll want a video camera iPhone … or if that’s included, a 12-MP camera … that “wish” list is never ending and it’s a moving target because they DON’T REALLY WANT AN IPHONE – they just want to appear they are rich or savvy enough to want an iPhone if only it had that one crucial feature THAT NEVER ARRIVES IN THEIR MIND.

Will there be a faster laptop next year – uh, d’uh …

Why buy a car when somewhere down the line a hovercar might actually be available – why compromise?

If you want an internet-iPod Phone, what are you waiting for? Perfection?

Or do you really never intend to buy one and just talk a good game?

There will always be something faster & better NEXT year but you can wait and use NOTHING or use something until the better one actually comes out?

Of course, we are at the nascent stage of the iPhone and it is understandable that not everyone needs an internet-iPod-Phone – but the bottom line is 90% of the people who claim to want is a 3G iPhone is just plain lying, just want to sound savvy or just like to hear themselves talk.

That’s NOT to say there aren’t plenty of other reasons why people don’t want to buy or don’t need to buy an iphone – some of the REAL reasons might include:

not wanting to pay more than $25 for a phone because they cannot afford it;
not wanting to pay more than $25 for a phone because they don’t see the need
they hate AT&T
they are boycotting AT&T for the wiretapping issue
they can’t get out of their contract
they hate Apple
they hate their cell phone as it is …

and the list is nearly endless but 3G is way down the list for the average consumer and even on the list of savvy buyers who claim to be holding off because the iPhone is not 3G … they clearly don’t need internet access that much because they’d rather WAIT ANOTHER YEAR for the internet on their phone instead of waiting :30 seconds more TODAY with an iPhone.

The biggest hinderance to wider iPhone acceptance is simply the price but that will not change. Apple is not about to do a Moto or Nokia and sell their crown jewel Apple “name” AND kill their margins just to grab market share willy-nilly. Apple simply wants the greatest market share at the highest margin … and the bottom line to slow(er) iPhone acceptance is much like the iPod. People do NOT believe anyone when they are told something is easy to use – they have not only been fooled, they’ve been conned so they are naturally leery. Even if their regular cell phone promises them music, the internet and the moon and is crap – at least, they are just out $25 bucks and can go swap it out AGAIN for another phone (of course, the cell phone companies are happy – they just re-trigger the 2-year contract from today – what do they care about Nokia or Moto branding?)

So, the 3G iPhone is not much news. Will a couple hundred people hold off? Sure – much like the iPod or the person who wants to wait just anoither 4 months before buying that new laptop to make sure a faster one isn’t coming (pssst, a faster one is coming but maybe you don’t need a laptop if you can go 4 months without one).

And yes, it could get interesting corporate-gossip wise if Apple jumps in with Google but AT&T is not exactly a mom-pop operation who have placed all their marbles in with Apple – they are advertising other phones and even have other competing features with Apple like the other music store but is Apple crying boo-hoo? No – because they realize that’s the business of business. It’s a cold hard world and only high margin revenue will keep them warm 😉

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Portfolio Magazine: The Business of Cluelessness

portfolio_.jpg

PORTFOLIO magazine is the new business magazine from Conde Nast … publishers of VOGUE, GQ and subsequently, the current owners of the NEW YORKER and even WIRED magazine.

They are the GE of publishing. We’re here to be #1 in the category, we will wear you down with professionalism, a crack sales staff and if need be – we will out-write you … or in the case of VOGUE, we will sell so many ads you will just curl up and sob loudly.

It seemed like a first rate idea when Conde Nast announced they wanted to launch a business magazine … if there’s anything that today’s world is about, it’s the business of business – from the time you are speaking as an ankle-biter, you are saying things like, “Just Do It,” and, “I’ll have a Bud.”

It used to be an orderly world. Large corporations proclaimed what they were going to do in quarterly and annual reports and held news conferences. They hired ad agencies and keep that relationship for 30-50 years … the ad agencies were full of guys in white shorts, narrow ties and expense accounts to take reporters to lunch. Unless you had millions, no broker would call you back with a quote – after all, what’s difference is $.25 change for a $33 dollar stock – you can read the stock quotes in tomorrow’s paper and wait for your quarterly statement from the brokerage house – what’s your hurry. If the “Dow” went up or down $3 a day, it was major news …

Fast forward to 2007 and really, I mean – fast forward to 2007 … if you don’t get SMS from your brokerage or website, you might miss a $3 BILLION dollar meltdown between 11:45 and 11:55 … and that’s just Countrywide Mortgage … There are swings of 30% in stock if it’s a good or bad day … and of course, billion dollar companies and 140 year-old accounting firms can fold up overnight … and relationships with ad agencies? The ad agency guys want to make ads to win the Cannes Gold Lion featuring midgets, Salvador Dali look-alike and 100 CGI Jessica Alba’s in bikini’s stroking a white cat … and of course, you sell jet turbine parts … the best ads are on YouTube where two fat guys in Decatur had a free afternoon and the neighbors video camera … at least Peter Luger’s is still around.

What William Goldman once so aptly summed about the business of Hollywood, “Nobody Knows Nothing,” now applies to EVERYTHING in business. A real life Homer Simpson runs NBC, you can artificially create diamonds better than the ones created by Earth’s own forces and 55 day traders have highjacked the crude oil contract exchange.

Man, do we need a magazine to read … except when you reach for the martini, someone has put chocolate in it.

Welcome to Portfolio magazine …

They say a successful magazine is aimed at a specific reader.

Who is Portfolio aimed at? You know the cliche in the movie where a guy sits on a wide expansive veranda and he’s wearing a big Panama hat, a linen suit, smoking a cigar and his housekeeper brings him a pitcher of mojitos and when you look out, you see indentured servants toiling in the fields of some small Central American country?

Which is fine if it was 1958 …

But 50 years later, who is this guy? This guy is now the guy who runs around with Curious George dressed as a giant banana … in other words, WTF?

curious-george_im1.jpg

Of course, that’s the problem is that the old cliches don’t ring true anymore.

FORTUNE was aimed at senior managers and directors, BUSINESSWEEK aimed at more supervisor managers and investors, and FORBES – the personality of the bosses and international news … and during the dotcom boom, they were joined by FAST COMPANY about managing and empowering people and later: INDUSTRY STANDARD, BUSINESS 2.0 and a few others who were basically the SPORTING NEWS of the dotcom boom … who are the hottest players and how they like to shine their bats … and WIRED, while not technically a business magazine – straddles the areas of technology, business & pop culture and of course, the business behind all that …

So, what’s left for Portfolio?

Of course, BW, Forbes & Fortune are aimed at a general audience now … Fast Company abandoned the empowering thing and is just another business mag rag … most of the dotcom “scorekeeping” mags have folded (B2 was just let go recently).

WIRED still rings true to its original point of writing for the Silicon Valley interested … whether you’re in Silicon Valley or not … while not as great as the first idiosyncratic 3-4 years, it’s still plenty interesting and a must-read.

The WSJ does a great job on the day-to-day stuff along with nice analyses … mainly the nice thing is their writers actually know what they are talking about no matter how arcane the industry.

And of course, there’s 24/7 news (not just ones focused on business/financial) and of course, that internet thing in general …

So, what’s left for Portfolio?

So, with CNBC, Fox Business News, the internet & the WSJ, the day-to-day is mostly covered plus anything that can be told visually or is remotely “sexy.”

So, what’s left for Portfolio?

In-depth interviews or even non-indepth interviews?

Honestly, most people now could care less about putting any business types on a pedestal of any kind after all that has happened and of course, the people who often are interviewed are exactly the OPPOSITE of who people want to hear blather about business … it’s the people who DON’T TALK that people want to read about … or in today’s world, no one wants undue publicity for themselves or their company – trade secrets, professional jealously or why confirm your game plan or even why show off YOUR rising stars so some other company can snatch them away?

In-depth analysis?

If the in-depth analysis is too good, isn’t that just giving the book idea away? Or in the case of business world now, maybe an entire COTTAGE CONSULTING gig?

Or if if you know that industry so well, why aren’t you working as a consultant and can make a lot more?

The problem with the business of business writing is exactly like NCAA Basketball Division 1 … how many juniors and seniors are still in college playing hoops that are great players? Some but it’s all just a stepping stone …

And that’s what’s wrong with Portfolio.

It’s a random collection of red-shirt freshman, sophomores with an eye on moving on, juniors with a chip on their shoulder (or some surgery scar) and what else?

Portfolio is best described as random.

It’s bits and pieces of Conde Nast.

Let’s borrow the typeface from the NEW YORKER (well, not exactly a lift but in some bizarre tribute, Portfolio decided on a typeface to evoke Art Deco New York … uh, isn’t Art Deco New York like 1932? While a 70 year old typeface might seem appropriate for an arching literary magazine like the NEW YORKER, it doesn’t quite work for a business magazine).

… and borrow some random charts design elements from DETAILS (which is really a lifting of the non Conde Nast magazines design of NEW YORK magazine … already paying tribute to SPY magazine … so how many magazines is that removed?)

… and if the length of a feature in the NEW YORKER indicates intellectualism … then by golly, we can do that same thing from our brethren publication … sometimes for no reason … don’t think we can write 40,000 words on cardboard, we’ll show you!

… of course, we need the hipness quotient from our West Coast brethren, WIRED … who manages to pull in print the look & feel of the short attention span & disheveled feel of a half-shaven dot-comer with wild in the sky ideas … like a real dot-comer, some ideas that only naiveté conviction could make it work like FACEBOOK, some half-baked idea that ultimately is cool like SKYPE and the plain weird that actually is almost something like TWITTER but then WIRED, in the hands of PORTFOLIO comes off like Microsoft’s “social network.” Too much copying, not any heart. Too much robot, not enough cyborg.

… and the worst feature of most all of Conde Nast’s books, let’s annoy our readers by splitting every freakin’ article in half … are they telling us the last half is not worth reading? Because in 90% of the cases, THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT I DO … I stop reading it. I am not going to look for the second half of 40,000 words on cardboard. You got me hooked in the beginning but then you lost me … let me ask the editors this … when a writer sends an email with their feature and you print it to read, do you only print 50% of the pages, read it – then go have lunch, knit your cat an afghan and then read the rest of the pages and write GREAT on it? (this is what I imagine happens at Conde Nast 🙂 OR so you read it all in one sitting? Then why do you treat your readers with less respect?

HOW TO FIX PORTFOLIO

Now, the writing itself is to Conde Nast standards – professional and top notch … the problem is its randomness.

Who is your audience?

Not the dude in a Panama hat smoking a cigar.

It’s a manager who’s looking for insight and information to slap down in front of their boss (or forward in an email or meekly sneak it on their table) to say, see, they is doing this … we should too! Or to get a glimpse at managers/employees at some other business handle the business of business …

Plus, we have NO TIME. We already have 40 calls to make, 262 emails to answer, 5 conference calls and 3 meetings no one is sure who called the meetings.

How about a business magazine that is useful and saves us from reading more than necessary!

If you’re going to a chart, one is useful … like this one … insightful and interesting about how YOU CAN literally sell TAP WATER to people with a TAP …

water.jpg

But then this is totally not, it’s NOT EVEN lined up correctly – don’t get cute for the sake of being cute.

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This chart would be more interesting and MORE INSIGHTFUL if it was about donuts within a 5-block radius of the Conde Nast building.

Right now, it tells ME NOTHING.

What should I gleam from this chart that is useful to me as a business person or as a manager?

These Wall Street companies didn’t understand the implications of the bundling of securities and financial instruments?

D’UH.

We all know that.

Why did the designer spend 11 hours making 10 versions of this chart (rejected ones include ones that are lined up, one where there is a red separating line, one where there is a separating line that goes down halfway, one where the lines are green, and a grid version).

ALL telling me exactly … NOTHING.

What PORTFOLIO needs to be a RSS for the busy executive … summarized and a quick read.

What is the behind the scenes maneuvers with the BAE & Oracle thing? Oracle has bought a bunch of companies – all fit into the Oracle culture? Is Carl Icahn of 2007 the same dude as the Carl Icahn of 1997 and of 1987?

SUMMARIZE.

If I’m not interested, I’m not going to be more interested 20,000 words later but give me a quick over-view to decide.

And make features useful for all the aspects of the business world – what’s the takeaway for marketers? For financial? For HR?

Or there are about 100 business books published every month – how cutting to the chase and tell me if what kind of people should read this book? Marketers at small companies? CEO’s at Fortune 1000 companies?

BOTTOM LINE

I’m busy. Think of me as your CEO. Do you go into a senior meeting with a 45-minute PowerPoint presentation? Do I want your life story?

And this applies to any other business magazine.

Make me smarter. Make me smarter in my job. Make me smarter in my company.

And you have 10 minutes.

GO!

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