Author Archives: Michael Gartenberg

Michael Gartenberg is a partner at Altimeter Group. His weblog can be found at gartenblog.net. Contact him at Gartenberg AT gmail DOT com Views expressed here are his own.

Nexus One takes Android just one step closer to the masses

Nexus One takes Android just one step closer to the masses

It's been an interesting week, despite CES 2010 running in Las Vegas, two of the most talked about stories have been Google's news of the Nexus One with final price and availability and the reports of Apple planning an event to make a major product announcement. I'll save the Apple discussion until at least the invitations go out so instead, I'll keep the focus on the Nexus One. I've had a chance to spend some hands on with the device and it's pretty impressive.

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When Less is Sold as More

When Less is Sold as More

I recently dined at a fancy restaurant here in NY with some friends and was surprised at the rather miniscule portions that were served. "Less is more" I was told and in this case it proved to be correct. Less was definitely more if we were talking about price. In terms of filling, however, less was most certainly, well, less. Fortunately there are also cheap, late night burger joints where more is just more.

This experience comes to mind as I'm looking at a new phone from Sony Ericsson called the Xperia Pureness, that takes a page from the "less is more" playbook. The phone sells in the US at places such as Saks Fifth Avenue for $990 US. Yes, that's not a typo, this is a $990 phone. As Sony Ericsson puts it "In an increasingly complex world, an innovative phone is honed down to the essentials. Xperia Pureness is free from excessive features, leaving an exceptionally simplified mobile experience. Talk. Text. Time." Yep, the theme of the Pureness is "talk.text.time" and when SE says that, they mean it pretty literally.

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Personal Television is a little blurry for now

Personal Television is a little blurry for now

In a world that's short on all sorts of resources from oil and gas to water, recently we've been asked to cut down our use yet more. Last week, Ralph de la Vega said heavy users of music over data on the AT&T wireless network were bandwidth hogs, that 3% of smartphone users were using 40% of his capacity and frankly, we need to all cut back just a bit. Spectrum is among the few things that they're not making any more of and, with more users than ever, it's going to be hard to come up with the capacity needed to keep everyone happy. One solution to this is to shift some of the capacity off of current networks and come up with new broadcast models for content distribution. The folks at FloTV have done just that. The service has been around for a bit, mostly on handsets from AT&T that carry support for the service. In a reverse trend the FloTV folks have gone from the phone to creating a dedicated device for the service.

Lala and the Shift from Apps to Services

Lala and the Shift from Apps to Services

Over the weekend, news broke from both the NY Times and Wall Street Journal that Apple had purchased the online music service Lala.

What's Lala? A little background. Lala's been around for awhile, gone through iterations involving free online listening before settling in on a hybrid model. First. Lala lets you listen to any song you currently have on your PC that it matches to its database (a concept based on the idea of music fingerprints and a digital locker that goes back to the early days of mp3.com) and upload any song you may have that they don't know about. Once completed, you've now got access to all your music any place there's a computer with a web browser and an internet connection. There's also an additional model that lets you listen to any song for free but only once. After that the song must be "purchased" and can only be streamed from the web but not downloaded to a computer or any other offline device.

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Four Reasons to Buy the Nokia Booklet 3G

Four Reasons to Buy the Nokia Booklet 3G

Nokia's first PC (as opposed to the phones they refer to as multimedia computers) got a lot of hype when it was announced and is getting a lot of mixed reviews from folks who complain mostly about price/performance and that you can get better specs in a netbook for less money. After spending some time with a Booklet 3G, I'm once again reminded that there's more to a purchase than speeds and feeds, and that value, much like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. So I'm not going to discuss the relatively slow processor or hard drive. We can agree that the Booklet isn't a speed demon. It is, however, how a good PC experience should be and that's worth paying for in my opinion.

Citizen Gadgetry

Citizen Gadgetry

I love watching excellence in motion. Watching Fred Astaire dance, reading a poem by Robert Frost, watching Michael Jordan play ball, Tiger Woods play golf or opening new products that have the ability to bring a smile to my face. They all share one thing, these folks make it look so easy. The result of hard work and tireless practice is that the performance appears almost effortless. Of course, that's never the case.

I'm constantly amazed at the number and the degree of badly designed products out there that come to market. I'm talking bad stuff. I mean stuff that had to go from concept, to design, to prototype and eventually make it to the retail channel. Stuff so bad that it's impossible to imagine that anyone in their right mind signed off on the process and the steps along the way. The stuff that makes you scream…"what were they thinking?" You don't need to be a genius to know that some of this stuff just won't work. It isn't rocket science, it's just focusing on the basics and this is why much of the criticism is warranted.

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Apple is no longer the Nordstrom of Tech, they’re the “New Nordstrom”

Apple is no longer the Nordstrom of Tech, they’re the “New Nordstrom”

This past week I was at the opening of Apple's latest store in NYC. It's a work of art with a forty five foot glass wall, an all glass ceiling and marble walls. Along with that there's the now iconic glass staircase. In many ways, it's more a community gathering place for Apple customers and potential customers than it is a retail store. The beauty of the stores are effective but that's not what's ultimately driving sales. At the end of the day, the physical store is merely the visible manifestation of the Apple customer experience. Exercise if you're Michael Dell. Build a store with a forty five foot glass wall and ceiling and see if you sell more PCs.

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HTC HD2: What WinMo Can Do In the Right Hands (First Take)

HTC HD2: What WinMo Can Do In the Right Hands (First Take)

Last week, the buzz was clearly on the DROID (see my first take here) but there was another device that was also getting a lot of attention, albeit somewhat more restrained as few folks had one to work with. A few weeks ago, I wrote a column that emphasized people shouldn't dismiss Windows Mobile. Over the last week I've been using the phone with the quiet buzz that proves that assertion. Sadly, it’s the best Windows Mobile phone that you can't buy in the US yet. What device am I talking about? None other than the HTC HD2.

The HD2 is marked by two features not usually found on most Windows Mobile phones. The first is a capacitive touch screen. This is the first Windows Mobile device that has no stylus and is totally designed for input by touch alone. The second is a 1GHz Snapdragon processor that makes Windows Mobile and especially the HTC Sense UI fly. Finally, add in a gorgeous 4.3" screen and you realize this is not your father's Windows Mobile device.

Technology should be aspirational not confrontational

Technology should be aspirational not confrontational

I had lunch recently with someone who was a recent transplant to NY from Silicon Valley. They commented on what a great thing it was to finally ditch their car for getting around as it's a bit of a hindrance to own a car in Manhattan. I thought about this for a while afterward, mostly remembering the few years I lived in NY when I owned a car and kept it in NY. I never drove it anywhere for fear of losing the most sacred of things in NY, my parking space. As a result, it mostly sat unused except to move it from one side of the street to the other, twice a week. (I initially had dreamed of just garaging it until I discovered that for the same money, I could have gotten it three bedrooms and a 2 baths in a nice area in NJ). The key was, I had the potential of using it anytime I wanted to. Today, I live in the NJ suburbs, no more than 15 minutes from Manhattan without traffic. Ask me why, and I'll tell you it's to have the advantages of the suburbs but still be close to the great museums, theater and culture of NY. Of course you might want to ask me when the last time I went to one of the great museums or saw a show on Broadway. There's an aspirational theme associated with all this. It's not what I do. Rather what I could do.

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