Flicking through my Pulse news aggregator application recently, I couldn’t help but notice the plethora of announcements from major technology companies over the past few weeks. I thought I’d provide my flash take on three items.
Generally, I use two questions to assess an early-stage idea’s potential:
1.Does the idea promise to make it simpler, easier or more affordable for people to do what they were already trying to do?
2.Does the company have a unique ability to deliver against the idea’s promise?
Cisco’s umi. Question 1: No. Question 2: Yes. Overall: Thumbs down.
Cisco last week announced a device that would integrate with a television to bring high quality videoconferencing to the home. Right now consumers looking to conduct home-based videoconferences typically turn to Skype and other free services. I think Cisco is absolutely right that there is a job to be done here — while Skype’s quality is adequate, I find it quite frustrating at times, and it has limitations. However, I think there are very few consumers who would place a value on that job at $600 for a device and $25 a month for service. A few dollars a month integrated into a television? Different story altogether. Maybe Cisco is taking a page from Apple’s iPhone strategy — milk the early adopters, then push price way down to expand market share.
Research in Motion’s PlayBook. Question 1: Weak yes. Question 2: Weak yes. Overall: Thumbs up.
Apple’s iPad has been a runaway success (some analysts suggest it could produce $30 billion in revenue in 2011, which is just astounding), but I still think the tablet game is far from over. I’ve noticed that I bought 80 percent of my apps within two weeks of getting my iPhone and iPad. Since then, there haven’t been any that I have found interesting. This leads me to believe there is an opportunity for a company that moves beyond an arms race of features and functions to thinking about a special purpose device plus integrated services for specific use cases, such as in hospitals, schools, or by a salesperson. RIM’s device looks like a step in this direction — a focused device designed with the enterprise user in mind. RIM certainly knows this market, and has the capabilities to deliver against it. I think the PlayBook has some interesting potential.
Scott D. Anthony is the managing director of Innosight Asia-Pacific.