Author Archives: Avi Greengart

Avi Greengart is the Research Director for Consumer Devices at Current Analysis. He can be reached at avigreengart AT gmail DOT com. Opinions here are his own.

Analyzing E3 2012

Analyzing E3 2012

E3 is an interesting event – it’s a cross between CES and Comicon. Technically, it is an “industry” event not open to the public, but apparently if you work at a Gamestop you qualify as “industry.” Were people dressed up in costume? Yep. Were there scantily clad booth babes? Lots. One company just outside the convention center had women in bikinis posing for photos as a tie-in with their… no, it was entirely gratuitous. Did people stand in line for hours to get cheap SWAG? Absolutely. In fact, the lines were far longer to get free Oswald Rabbit ear hats in the Disney booth than to play games on the Wii U in Nintendo’s booth. That sort of blew my mind: you get the chance to go hands on with unreleased hardware and software and instead you wait for a silly hat? And yet E3 is not a gaming festival – there was plenty of actual news at the show.

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Conversations with a Finnish Journalist

Conversations with a Finnish Journalist

With Nokia’s Lumia 900 launch well underway, I have gotten a lot of questions from the press about Nokia, Microsoft, Nokia’s marketing strategy, Microsoft’s marketing strategy, and its chances of success. The most interesting was a conversation I had with a Finnish journalist. Nokia is extremely important to Finns, accounting for a measurable chunk of the entire country’s GDP, and the perception of Nokia in Finland differs significantly from the rest of the world. I found myself discussing some basic issues about the company and the market that tech journalists from the US and UK just don’t ask. The following is an edited version of our conversation.

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Do You Trust RIM?

Do You Trust RIM?

RIM is in a heap of trouble, but you wouldn't know it from the attendance at BlackBerry World in Orlando earlier this month, where literally thousands of people packed a giant conference room to hear CEO Thorsten Heins' keynote address, meet with RIM account teams, and attend developer events. These weren't just holdouts from RIM's government or enterprise base, either; RIM allowed BlackBerry World alumnae to skip some lines, and the "SpeedPass" lines were 20x shorter than the regular ones. RIM has been growing rapidly some global markets, and many of the attendees appeared to hail from these locales, where the BlackBerry brand – and BBM in particular – are hallmarks of upwardly mobile youth.

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It’s a “Beats” World, We Just Listen To It

It’s a “Beats” World, We Just Listen To It

Did you see this product announced, back on March 5? I didn't think so, but if you've been watching American Idol, you should have seen ads for Beat's audio "Beatbox portable," which is, "an AT&T exclusive." I have been trying to wrap my head around the idea that a wireless carrier would want to procure exclusive distribution for a portable speaker, and then spend millions of dollars advertising it (a 30 second spot on American Idol costs approximately $500,000). Oh, and the price of the speaker itself? $399.

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Avi Greengart’s Toy Fair 2012

Avi Greengart’s Toy Fair 2012

I have attended and spoken at a lot of trade shows over the years – consumer electronics, telephony, computing, broadcasting, database programming, home theater, whatever SXSW is – but I have always wanted to go to Toy Fair. Even the name of it sounds like fun – who doesn’t like toys? This year I finally found an excuse to go, and it wasn’t to see Star Wars toys. (Well, at least it wasn’t the only reason.) At CES this year, there were tons of connected toys – board games that interact with an iPad, children’s educational tablets, and lots of flying things with iPhone controllers. I covered a few of these in my holiday gift guide, but thought that it would be worth attending Toy Fair 2012 and seeing how deeply connectivity really went in the toy industry. What new gadgets would I find? Are vendors embedding 3G and 4G radios into toys, or just WiFi? Toy Fair agreed, and gave me a press pass.

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The Future of Retail: Apple’s Grand Central Station Store

The Future of Retail: Apple’s Grand Central Station Store

Earlier this month, Apple opened a new store inside New York City’s Grand Central Station. This is not Apple’s only store in Manhattan and does not make a dramatic architectural statement like its Cube on Fifth Avenue. Much of its retail model has been seen before in other Apple stores. Yet when I visited it just before it opened it felt radically different than any other retail environment – even different from other Apple stores – and serves as an object lesson for how to sell and support digital products at retail in an increasingly online world. Even if you dislike Apple’s products (or just some of its more enthusiastic fans), if you’re in Manhattan, Apple’s store is worth a visit. Apple claims that it sells more per square foot than any other major retailer in the world, and while some of that is due to products that sell well on their own, Apple’s retail store processes, compensation structure, and architecture all play roles worth investigating.

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Why Are Mobile Device Ads So Bad?

Why Are Mobile Device Ads So Bad?

It has become fashionable to praise Apple's serene iPhone ads and rail against its competitors advertising, with Verizon Wireless’ obnoxious DROID and LTE ads drawing particular ire. In case you don’t watch any television or live outside the U.S., the Verizon Wireless ads include women battling cyborgs (this has to do with smartphones how, exactly?), people skydiving and firebombing cities with lightning balls (shouldn’t Homeland Security be intervening?), and unidentified objects slicing through cities (not an ad for a disaster movie, but a visual pun for the DROID RAZR). Meanwhile, Apple’s ads calmly explain the latest features and apps, sometimes with bold adjectives (“magical,” much?) but an even tone and methodical manner.

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Apple Fall 2011: Worst Case Scenario (for Apple’s Competitors)

Apple Fall 2011: Worst Case Scenario (for Apple’s Competitors)

In my last column, I discussed what I consider a fairly plausible, if unsurprising, set of expectations for Apple this fall. I called it a Best Case Scenario (for Apple’s Competitors). Click through to read it, or if you need the Cliff’s Notes version, that would be:

1. The existing iPhone 4 remains on the market or is replaced with an 8 GB version.
2. Apple introduces the iPhone 5 with a larger display, dual core processor, and camera spec bump. And it’s thinner.
3. Apple updates the iPod line with new colors, tweaked designs, and a smaller nano that is designed to work well as a watch.

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Apple Fall 2011: Best Case Scenario

Apple Fall 2011: Best Case Scenario

In my recent report on Steve Jobs' resignation, I noted that many pundits seem to think that without Steve at the helm, Apple will lose some of its competitive edge. While anything can happen in the long run, in the short term this is dangerously stupid thinking. Let's recap:

Steve did not invent Apple products alone. Nearly his entire executive staff -- including everyone involved in iOS product design, development, and manufacturing -- is still at Apple, and it's not like they will suddenly forgot the lessons learned from working with Steve over the past decade (the man makes a strong impression).

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