Aug 112014
Apple launches a new smaller iPad

Today Australian electronics retailer JB Hi Fi released its annual results. They confirm what’s been becoming apparent over the last year that tablet computer sales seem to have peaked.

A plateauing of tablet sales is bad news for retailers like JB whose stock price fell by 8% on the news.

It’s not surprising that tablet computer sales have peaked as the growth had been spectacular and, unlike PCs of a decade ago, there isn’t an obvious five year replacement cycle.

That the old PC industry business model doesn’t apply to tablets is why Apple is focusing on other revenue sources like the App Store and internet of things plays such as HomeKit and HealthKit.

Once again, the industry leaders are finding they have to pivot to stay up with a rapidly evolving market.

The other notable point from JB’s management was that Australian consumer confidence is tanking, which might indicate the economy is entering its first recession in twenty years.

If it is true that the Aussie economy is entering a recession, then it might be time for the adults to take charge in a very immature government. Some of the Liberal Party’s pampered princelings may have to start earning their salaries soon.

Jul 252014
Cell phones in use

Last night’s ABC Nightlife program showed how the tech industry has changed in the last five years.

In 2009 the bulk of the conversation would have been about personal computers, laptops and viruses.

Last night, malware is still an important topic but almost all of last night’s listener questions were around smartphones and Tony’s questions were on social media.

That social media and smartphones were the main topics and personal computers — and Windows — were barely mentioned show just how the computer industry has shifted.

Jul 242014
radio programs for techonology, web, social media, cloud computing and computer advice

Smartphones for the vision impaired, malware on portable devices and online trust were the topics of the July technology spot on  Tony Delroy’s Nightlife along with why a restaurant claims Google sent it broke and how we can’t always trust what we hear online.

If you missed the show, you can download the program from the website.

For sight impaired smartphone users both Doug and Nick called in to suggest Vision Australia’s services. The organisation has a page dedicated to smartphone and tablet resources.

Nick and Peter asked about malware protection for Android smartphones. Both Intel’s McAfee Mobile Security and Sophos’ Mobile Security for Android are free for home users.

The next spot is scheduled for 4 September, if you have any topics you’d like to discuss contact me or the Nightlife producers.

Apr 222014
apple smartphone tablet pc

This morning I had the opportunity to interview designer of the Fitbit, Gadi Amit, ahead of his visit to Sydney next month.

I’ll have the full interview written up in the next couple of days, but Gadi made an interesting point about not being in a ‘four screen world’ anymore, but in one where there’s infinite screens ranging from wearable glasses and watches through to smartphones and intelligent signage.

A few years ago the concept of the ‘third screen’ came into use when we started talking about the smartphone supplementing the PC and the TV, it quickly morphed into four screens as the tablet computer appeared.

Now the five year old idea of limiting ourselves to three screens seems quaint when there doesn’t seem to be any limits in the way we can view information.

The end of the three screen theory is an interesting illustration on how quickly technology is moving, it also shows how rapidly business is changing.

Mar 282014

After several years of stalling, MS Office makes it onto the iPad with an announcement this morning by Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella.

The idea of tying the product into the company’s Office 365 and Microsoft’s cloud services make sense although it might be a matter of too little, too late.

Perversely, if Office for the iPad is successful, it could remove one of the last barriers for business and power home users moving off PCs.

Microsoft’s move also shows cloud services are now the main focus of the company; Satya and his team have given up any attempt to shore up the traditional – and immensely profitable – box software business.

That is going to mean Microsoft’s financial statements are going to look very different in the near future.

Regardless of the success of Office for the iPad, what were Microsoft’s core businesses are deeply affected as the company evolves to the post-PC computer marketplace. The challenge is for Satya and his management team to manage that change.

Feb 052014

Earlier this week Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen celebrated his Seattle Hawks winning the Super Bowl while his former business partner, Bill Gates, still struggles to escape the clutches of the software giant they founded forty years ago.

After a long drawn out process, software giant Microsoft has finally chosen its replacement for CEO Steve Ballmer however founder Bill Gates finds himself firmly trapped in the company’s orbit.

Hoodie wearing Satya Nadella‘s ascension to Microsoft CEO was probably the poorest held secret in the tech industry having been openly reported for several weeks.

Nadella has a massive task ahead of him as the industry that’s been so lucrative for Microsoft over the past thirty years evolves to deal with the post-PC era.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella

How Nadella manages Microsoft’s transition will define his business career and tenure at the top job, it will also determine the company’s position in a marketplace where PCs running Windows are no longer relevant.

The biggest news from Microsoft’s announcement though was that Bill Gates will step down as Chairman of the Board and take a new position as ‘founder and technology advisor’.

Microsoft also announced that Bill Gates, previously Chairman of the Board of Directors, will assume a new role on the Board as Founder and Technology Advisor, and will devote more time to the company, supporting Nadella in shaping technology and product direction. John Thompson, lead independent director for the Board of Directors, will assume the role of Chairman of the Board of Directors and remain an independent director on the Board.

Despite leaving the CEO role over a decade ago, Gates finds himself back in a hands on role at the company.

The value of Bill Gates

It’s questionable what value Gates is going to add in the role of ‘Technology Advisor’ as Microsoft’s markets are very different to those the company was founded in and came to dominate in the 1980s and 90s.

For Nadella, it’s not exactly a vote of confidence from the board in appointing the company’s founder to hover over his shoulder offering helpful advice.

On a personal level this must be disappointing for the founder and former CEO as well in that his mind is on far greater topics such as eliminating malaria through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Trapped by Microsoft’s gravity

Gates’ situation though is a classic example of a business founder who’s never been able to get out of the orbit of their business. Despite their best efforts, they keep being dragged back to give a helping hand.

At least though Gates has at least been able to step away to some degree, many baby boomers with smaller businesses are going to be locked into their companies as GenX or Y entrepreneurs don’t have the funds to pay what the proprietors need to retire.

Those boomer entrepreneurs are going to work in their businesses until either they or their venture is put to rest.

Bill Gates’ dilemma though shows how tough it is for business founders to escape the gravitational pull of their creations, even when it’s as big a business as Microsoft.

Paul Allen showed how to step away from a business and is enjoying life, Bill Gates’ story though is much more typical for business founders trapped in the enterprises they built.