Smart Speakers are Heating Up!

No, it’s not the smart speaker as hardware, but it is the market that is showing some interesting developments across the board. It is expected that, by 2022, the smart speaker market would reach US$5.5 billion (source). Starting with already popular Amazon Echo (since 2014), followed by Google Home (in 2016), smart speakers could be the most talked about tech gadget this year. Guess who’s next? It is Apple HomePod (coming up in December, 2017) that would probably arrive with some breakthrough specs, asking for more than double the price of Amazon Echo and Google Home.

Smart speakers are holding some bright promises in our virtual life. With net-connected speakers working as your voice-driven online search vehicles as well as music stations, it is taking many of our on-net activities by freeing our hands and engaging us in a voice-interactive way. What’s more, Amazon Echo can be integrated with so many smart home apps like voice activated household switches and what not! On the other hand, Google Home is also competing in this segment with search and music services, along with more functionalities that are on the way. Surprisingly, Apple Homepod has a unique design that is different from the rest of the crowd. Like other smart speakers, it uses AI (artificial intelligence), however, it goes an extra mile by making the sound adaptive to your room! So Homepods are likely to sound great, with clearer and crispier sound no matter whether they are played in big or small rooms.

And the surprises are not over yet. Facebook is planning to ride this speaker bandwagon by offering a smart speaker in 2018, coming with an integrated touch screen that can also act as our visual workstation. Oh, did Amazon Echo Show just do that by offering its speakers with an integrated screen? What a pre-emption! It would be interesting to see who will ultimately win this race of offering big and bigger ideas for our future virtual needs.

amazon-echo

photo credit: amazon.com

(Disclaimer: this post is merely an observation of a market phenomenon. It does not imply or sponsor any endorsement for any specific brand).

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Mobile Phone Batteries Need to Show Some Innovation

Considering the kind of innovation and advancement that we have seen in mobile phone technologies during the last decade, the same pace may not be seen for mobile phone batteries. Although some considerable developments could be observed, the innovation might not be practically visible at the consumer end. The fact is, there are innovations and improvements in mobile phone batteries, but the gadgets have become increasingly powerful and power-hungry, projecting a perception that mobile phone batteries are destined to drain out in a day or less. Until more powerful batteries can be manufactured, many producers invested in research on reducing the power consumption while attempting to keep the functionalities at par or above the competitors. For example, these R&D efforts resulted in less power consuming yet more vivid Amoled display, production of more power-efficient chips, optimization of software design, and so on.

However, recent research clearly indicates that the battery design is about to see a breakthrough soon. Transiting from Li-ion to Li-polymer, and now graduating to Li-air and Nano-tech batteries, future batteries may revolutionize the way we charge and use the capacity of those batteries. The future depends on how tech companies would invest in and adopt these novel technologies and change consumers’ experience of mobile phones to a “wow” level .

 

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Failing Upwards!

Failing, this could be in your career or the brand that you manage, is not an end in itself. Some people would take it as a point where they would fall down further, putting themselves in isolation from the core competition and give up. But the smart ones would take lessons from it and do not repeat the mistake.  They would take it as an opportunity to grow and outsmart others. Failing could be your stepping stone to a bigger success! Check this forum (click here)  where startup founders are talking about their mistakes, so that they can learn their lessons and grow fast. In fact, many entrepreneurs have stepped on the their success paths based on past failures. Similarly, if Elon Musk were not ambitious enough to breakthrough with re-usable rockets, Space-X project would not be here today without learning from past failures.

The bottom line is, while we don’t want failures in our lives, a few inevitable ones would actually surface up as blessing if we know how to capitalize on the learning that ensue from it. It appears that a positive and learning attitude towards failures would immensely contribute to future growth.

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A Tale of Brand Loyalty

This is only one side of the tale, so you tell me about other sides!

This side tells me that brand loyalty is becoming elusive as markets are becoming hyper-competitive. That could be an excuse because that means we are not pro-active in a hyper-competitive market and letting others take our customers away by offering something new that we were shy of offering in the first place. We love to copy market offers, paste it in customers’ minds, hoping that we would beat the competition by focusing on competition and not on customers! And that’s how we lose focus on customers and chase the competition. When disloyal customers are frequently rewarded, loyalty would be seen as an act of foolishness by customers. So brands are putting themselves in this vicious cycle and making their stories attractive to disloyal customers.

How about making the first move first? Without copy-pasting the market offers, why can’t we act like brand leaders and stay upfront when it comes to retaining our loyal customers? The market is actually as big as our thoughts. If we fail to think big, we will end up having petty markets.

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What Facebook Means by Re-booting Globalization: Part I

In a recent essay on redefining globalization, Mark  Zuckerberg cautioned that globalization was something that was considered normal by people and governments across countries, are now being increasingly seen and used that contradicts the very outcome of globalization. Instead of connecting societies across the world, policies are most likely resulting in isolation, inequitable distribution of wealth and increase in poverty. At the initial stage, he planned to visit all the states in his home country and make people aware of the issue.

Does it sound like he is panicked by apparent anti-globalization policy of the current administration, or Britain’s voting to quit the European Union? In fact, he openly denied such connection. But rumors know no bound. According to an article by Huffington Post, Zuckerberg could be a presidential candidate in 2020 or 2024. Others disagree. The new essay is simply a revised manifesto of creating a connected world through strong global communities. In the backdrop of recent political events, he might have just felt that the previous manifesto needed to be re-asserted with stronger emphasis. Here is the essay you might be interested to read (Click).

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Google is Maturing to “Home”

Google Home is actually a smart speaker, powered by Google Assistant. Simply put, it is a voice activated device, combining Google services like calendar, search, and so on. It did not happen in a day, of course. Since the day you opened your Google account, the day you bought your first Android phone, the day you took your first picture, and so on, Google is collecting all our usage behavior data. Presumably, their database about “us” is huge. Combined and programmed together to give us a highly customized solution with amazing device interface, Google is now mature enough to “keep talking” (video) to us through machines (using artificial intelligence), that would amazingly sound “relevant” to what we are. But how far this “Home” thing will go in future? How much compromise of privacy will it ask for? What do you think?

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Will Electric Cars be the Mainstream Vehicle in Future?

With ELon Musk at the helm of Tesla, it seems like it will make a headway in the mainstream car market in future. Being the performance leader in its category, Tesla has been highly consistent in what it has been doing- making Tesla a promising electric car that all other brands are zealous of! Yea, look at the pioneer Toyota and Nissan who started making electric cars (Hybrid though) with their special models. The development did not go far while Toyota was following a niche strategy with its electric car. High price and efficiency of batteries were also a few limiting factors for adoption of electric cars. Most likely, “economy” brand Toyota was following a wait-and-see strategy in this segment. On the other hand, Tesla invested in battery innovation, the heart of electric car. Their more affordable model is just about to roll-out that might actually help spreading their business in developing countries.

In the tech-world, “wait-and-see” would result in new brands picking up the trend and leave you behind the race. It appears that Tesla is now taking the lead in that direction, while Toyota is now aggressively coming back with their electric car models. Future would most likely favor the innovative and aggressive brands. What do you think?

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What happened to Titan?

Titan is Apple’s car project! Since its reported inception in 2014, there appears to be many ups and downs in the secret (?) project. It started out like an innovative and a strategically diversifying idea for the mobile phone maker, however, industry sources indicate that the project is shifting its focus from making a full-fledged vehicle towards more of vehicle-related “smart” devices and software.

The initial plan required huge research and development budget, which, of course, Apple invested in— along with hiring the best possible talents from the car industry. Lately, leaked accounts indicated that the project was scaled-back, jobs were cut, and focus of the car project shifted towards more of developing supportive software than of making full-fledged “Apple” (or Titan) cars. Could this be the result of new calculations stemming from the rising success of Tesla and Google cars? Could Apple fall behind compared with the “would-be” giant Tesla and Google cars in the smart car segment because of their (Apple’s) starting “late”? Perhaps they are just discovering the classic fact that businesses should focus on whatever they do the best, i.e., making smart devices with excellent software; and just make one more of this thing for the car industry! What do you think?

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Branding: Do it right the first time!

While rebranding could be an option for failed or weak brands, it’s expensive. It is like an ascending aircraft that failed to maintain its consistent pace on the runway, while deciding at the end that it needs to take-off right away, requiring above-average energy to push it up harder. Maintaining consistent speed and taking off at the right point could have been less expensive!

Yes, when it comes to branding, it better be done right the first time! Cheap experiments with brands could be utterly expensive in the long-run. Look at the initial craze of Mojo cola in its early years that pushed the highly competitive soft-drink market towards its advantage. The early “investment” in widespread promotion appeared to be successful in its critical positioning. Mojo’s contemporary domestic competitor like “Pran” cola, later coming back with the brand name “Maxx”, seems to be struggling with apparently meager promotion campaign. Although we don’t see widespread promotion of Mojo right now, its already-established positioning probably helped a lot in maintaining its steady market situation. In fact, it seems that it took-off the runway at the right point, and now soaring in the sky without the need for huge energy! Doing it right the first time not only saves time and money, but also leads to a stronger brand.

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