Facebook is not at war with Google as both companies would like to think. It is really suffering more from guerrilla attacks from a set of small players that hit Facebook one functionality at a time. WhatsApp, Snapchat, Twitter, Quora, Path, Tango, Tumblr, Pinterest, Viber, Voxer, LinkedIn and even its own Instagram all chip away from Facebook. It’s the club of companies that are better than Facebook “at something” . And Facebook’s attempt to bury them all with a Facebook phone didn’t work out. Facebook has a billion users but these are many of the same users who more and more prefer the specialty formats of other platforms. While in Smartphones themselves the battle may be only between iPhone 5 vs Samsung IV, when it gets to apps people are much more picky. Facebook is losing dominance by the week to focused niche players.
For most people Facebook Swiss Knife approach is good, but given a choice, a tool set is better. What is Facebook to do? They are lucky enough to be seating on a cash pile and it is a public company worth over $50bn. They have to do what Google has been doing for years. Buy, buy and buy. Instagram was a good start. Buy first and figure how to monetize later, learn from Google’s acquisition of Youtube which for years was as struggle and now is a star.
Former military leader Jorge Rafael Videla, the man responsible for my family’s forced exile from Argentina when I was 16, and responsible for the death of my cousin David Horacio Varsavsky when he was only 17, died today in Argentina. As a family in exile in the USA we thrived, and thanks to courageous men like district attorney Luis Moreno Ocampo, ex-general Videla spent a lot of his life in jail.
But to him and his criminal military colleagues I paradoxically owe some of my accomplishments in life. Videla and other murderous members of the Argentine military chased us away from our home, forced us into exile in the USA where a generous man, Senator Patrick Moynahan got green cards for all our family and gave us a second chance in life. But as a result of this trauma early on in my life, I was left with an extraordinary desire to prove to these awful dictators that I wasn’t worthless. That I did not deserve to die like my cousin David, that I did not deserve to be thrown out from my country. And I am convinced that I owe a great deal of my ambition to Videla and his murderous military gang. I was just a kid who wanted to prove his worth when all this happened to me. And I did that, and I do that every day I teach a class, I build my companies, I give a speech trying to inspire 20 year-olds to be entrepreneurs or I parent any one of my six children. And for this fanatic desire to prove myself, I am not sorry. We were not useless ex-general Videla. We deserved to live and thrive. And thanks to Senator Moynahan we got our chance.
I will always remember David Horacio Varsavsky.
Here is a link to the story of that year of the exile, my autobiography of the year I was 17.
Cavan.com is an innovative online fashion store. They offer a selected range of designer products and, through a team of fashion experts, give personal advice to create an interactive shopping experience.
Truth be told, Cavan is a fashion guru. And the layout of the site is beautifully done.
When it gets to advertising Facebook wants to be seen above all as a branding platform more than a direct advertising platform, and that makes sense. But in Facebook brands look too much like Facebook. What’s great about TV is that TV is a black box. Or lately a black frame. Facebook should take a page off TV and make brands look more different from one another. Facebook brand pages look too much alike for brands to feel comfortable in them. I think it’s time Facebook removes the Facebook look from brand pages and allows them to be different, personal, exclusive, attractive, original.
I think it’s time that us in the Internet industry apologize to people who had a decent livelihood in a number of industries that we destroyed. There are millions of people whose jobs were put at risk by the Internet. And yes of course other jobs were created, and we all love the Internet and could not live without it. But I wonder up to what point, the fact that there is high unemployment in Europe and very low wages in USA (two sides of the same problem, loss of bargaining power of wage earners) has to do with the fact that the Internet has destroyed more jobs that it has created. That it’s been such a quick technological revolution that the economies of the world haven’t had time to adjust. People talk about the financial crisis as a jobs destroyer and that is true, we had a huge one, but job losses seem to go beyond that. Television, movies, newspapers, travel agencies, stock brokers, commercial real estate, retailing, are but examples of industries that have been affected by the Internet. Efficiency is great until the job they want to eliminate is your job. And there is a lot more job destruction coming, more industries to disrupt, jobs that will disappear. I am not complaining about this, indeed my companies have been part of the efficiency trend. But it is hard to argue that this quest for efficiency is not frequently sad and painful to many.
What you see here is the user growth of Facebook. I wanted to share this graph because this is how the biggest internet property of our times grew. It is interesting that it looks more like a linear graph than an exponential graph. It is steep, but it is steady. We know that that growth will not continue as there are around 2 billion people on the Internet, and Facebook is not allowed in some huge countries like China. So in not too long, that curve will start flattening. Therefore, when you make your projections make sure they are but a fraction of this growth curve!
Here are my results of my medical check up today.
I am 52. I am 180.5cm tall and weigh 81kg. My waist is 90cm which I was told is ideal as your waist should be half your height. My resting heart rate is 60 and my max during the stress test was 171. I got to 250W in the recumbent bike in which I was tested. My resting pressure is 105/61. My total cholesterol is 114 and the bad one is 51 good one 39. My blood work was normal. It seems that my habits of cycling and healthy Mediterranean food, no drugs smoking or drinking, stable weight and above all a great family, friends and work colleagues are helping me stay healthy.
Now what are your results?
You see this could be a game, but for once a game in which everyone wins. Because if we compete in being healthy then we are all healthier, as simple as that. So this is why I thought that publishing my “health numbers” would be a good idea. Because I know I will be proud of them until somebody else shows me better numbers. And then I will try harder, to be healthier. Because I am foolishly competitive that way. But here foolish is good. My Dad unfortunately did not lead a healthy life, and died at the young age of 49 of a heart attack. Another incentive for me to stay fit.
Somebody should make a game about this. It will make all those who play better off. The medical check up game? Lab work?
This year Nina and I are thrilled to announce that we have teamed up with Founders Forum to bring you the first ever Founders Forum Menorca TechTalk 2013, which will be held at our farm on the island. We invite outstanding entrepreneurs from around the world to enjoy a relaxed weekend together in a beautiful setting. The 2013 edition will run from Friday, June 28th to Sunday, June 30th.
On June 29th, our guests will give a series of short improvised debates on technology and innovation. As in previous years, we invite the public to attend the TechTalk Open Doors event and join us for an afternoon of dialogue and interaction with some of the greatest minds in the tech world. The event will take place on Saturday afternoon from 4:30-7:30pm. If you are interested in joining us, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to secure a spot (capacity limited to 80).
We look forward to welcoming you to our farm to share an inspiring afternoon together!
I grew up with bands and movies, but now I live with DJs and TV series. And that is fine. I saw Argo and was totally disappointed, Silver Lining Playbook was better. And some movies still have it. But I am totally into Mad Men, Boardwalk Empire, Game of Thrones, Homeland, House of Cards, even Girls the first season. These series are up there with any great movie. In fact they are long format great movies. And then there’s long format great music, and Soundcloud is amazing for that. Yes some bands are still awesome, but great DJs are something else. DJs used to play songs, now DJs are the music experience, the composers. They make the music I like when I work, and when I work out. And they also make long format music. Hence the movies vs TV series, bands vs DJs analogy. All co exist. But lately the talent is with the latter.
When people use a laptop, they expect everything to be free, and when they use a smartphone they expect to pay. That is the main reason why the laptop eco-system is dying and smartphones are thriving.
Laptops have traditionally been expensive. For a couple of decades now we have gotten used to paying over $1,000 for one– the average selling price of a Mac is $1,400. Smartphones however are almost free. While Google is beginning to have some success selling the Nexus 4, most people are reluctant to pay for a smartphone. They expect it subsidized or free. But what is remarkable is how the user behavior changes after the acquisition of the gadget. A phone consumer expects a phone for free, but what happens afterwards they are willing to pay for in excess (e.g. texting, voice minutes, data roaming), even when free alternatives exist. It is a different frame of mind, almost like a deal, an agreement between corporations and consumers: get something for free and pay later, vs get something that is expensive upfront and then stop paying. A laptop is a big investment upfront to enter a mostly free world. A smartphone is a tiny investment upfront to enter an expensive, yet very much accepted world. A laptop is an all-you-can-eat experience, including an all-you-can-eat fixed internet connection. In the laptop world piracy is rampant because people expect everything to be free, but much less so in the smartphone world. And this is almost psychological: the same people who pirate on laptops don’t as commonly pirate on smartphones, even though for example there are many bit torrent clients for Android. A smartphone is an “a la carte” experience in which every component is paid for and dearly, including data packages. As a result the smartphone eco-system is well funded and thriving but the PC or laptop eco-system is dying, making the laptop experience less and less “fun”. Since 2011 more smartphones are sold than PCs. This is mostly because developers and content producers need to get paid, and they are seeing much more money developing or producing for iOS and Android than for Windows and Mac.
Moreover “smartphone only” experiences are on the rise. Path, Foursquare, Uber, Instagram and Whatsapp are but some examples of these. When smartphones started, people used to say that they fell short of what was available on the Web. Now the opposite is true. People using laptops have to have smartphones handy as well. And this is even more extreme with games. As developers realized that few wanted to pay for games on laptops but many more were willing to pay for games on smartphones/tablets, they switched to develop for iOS and Android. And games became huge on mobile.
This perception translates to the investment world. For example Instagram is a free app and yet Facebook paid almost a billion for it. They didn’t pay concretely because of the money they thought they would make out of Instagram itself, but because as young as it is Facebook was until recently a PC company and in Instagram it found a short cut to the mobile world. In general VCs now are much more likely to invest in a mobile platform than in a PC platform even if the mobile platform like Instagram had no way to monetize itself. Mobile growth has the same premium Web growth had a decade ago. And this is regardless of the fact that so far, for example in advertising, it is easier to monetize on the web than on mobile. This is because everyone sees the future as mostly mobile.
For many years, when phones were phones and PCs were PCs, there was a tough debate on how content and software producers were going to get paid. And the answer, provided by Steve Jobs, turned out to be get people hooked on a device that was a computer but one in which everyone had to pay, and call it a phone. There was always another possible alternative, which was open source software and user generated content. That still exists, mostly promoted by Google, but even Google had to adopt the content/software world of Apple to make Android thrive.
Now before I end, here is a list of secondary reasons to explain why smartphones and tablets are killing PCs (or why iOS and Android are killing Windows and OSX):
-Smartphones expanded into tablets and they started competing in screen size with one of the few advantages left for PCs.
-People are finally getting used to glass keyboards (some apps like Swiftkey make them more friendly), and can therefore bid farewell to their keyboards.
-Laptops are more for content producers and most people are content consumers. That’s why the work environment is still dominated by PCs and probably will be for a long time.
-Smartphones are much easier to carry around and therefore open to a whole set of apps, like for example sports apps.
-Smartphones offer connectivity via WiFi and mobile and most laptops only WiFi; WiFi is common but not as pervasive as mobile and therefore a smartphone/tablet has the best of both worlds.
-One of the biggest advantages of laptops is storage, but cloud computing is taking care of that.
-The hardware that is needed to provide a great mobile experience uses energy in a smarter way than the hardware that is needed to provide a great laptop experience.
-While there are very affordable laptops now, they are not as inexpensive as great smartphones that are given out for free or almost nothing in contracts, and laptops are in a head-on race between processor speed and RAM and programs that makes inexpensive laptops appear as just bad products.
But overall I stand by my initial thought; that is, the main reason smartphones are killing PCs is because there is more money in smartphones and while information wants to be free it costs money to produce it. At the risk of gaining many enemies with my statement, I would like to change the famous “information wants to be free” to “information wants to be affordable”. I can agree with Aaron Swartz that science that can only be afforded at expensive universities is wrong, but still the key is not to make things free, it’s to make them affordable. To make information affordable, content affordable, and software affordable. And mobile platforms seem to have achieved a better balance at this than laptops ever did. That is why they are thriving. Better format, better business model. That simple.
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(Photo: email@example.com, Flickr)