Avi Greengart

Why Do Good Companies Make Bad Products?

Why Do Good Companies Make Bad Products?

When I first started as an analyst, my cousin asked me a fairly basic question: “isn’t all your analysis positive? Why would a company deliberately ship a bad product?” I was reminded of this question as I worked my way through several products over the past few weeks that definitely are not getting positive reviews.

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Smartphone Screens: How Big is Too Big?

Smartphone Screens: How Big is Too Big?

I head up the Consumer Devices group at Current Analysis, where we have two complementary products: data - we track product pricing, availability, and specs - and analysis - our assessment on how competitive various products and initiatives are. I recently had a client ask a question that crossed both: how many smartphones today have super-sized screens, and how big is too big? (I warned them that the answer would make a great SlashGear column.)

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Why It’s So Hard to Compete with the iPad

Why It’s So Hard to Compete with the iPad

With few surprises, techies were underwhelmed with Apple’s iPad 2 announcement, but I’m confident that consumers will be thrilled with the product. Apple already had a massive lead in the consumer tablet market it created, and these "underwhelming" upgrades should keep the company comfortably ahead. Apple has given competitors an opening by sticking to 3G, and it did not further pressure them with a lower entry price point or higher-resolution display. However, Apple has three critical advantages.

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Avi Greengart’s Last Minute, Non-Obvious Holiday Gift Guide 2010

Avi Greengart’s Last Minute, Non-Obvious Holiday Gift Guide 2010

First, a confession. This guide is always "last minute," mostly because I get so busy covering all the new devices launched just in time for the holiday shopping season that I end up starting the holiday gift guide late. Last year it was so late that I gave up and turned it into a Best Products of the Year piece instead. This year I’ve missed Chanukah but I’m still getting in ahead of Christmas, so that’s good. However, I do usually try to make this a "non-obvious" gift guide. SlashGear already has you covered if what you want advice on the best cellphone, camera, Bluetooth headset, or the like. My favorite products this year include several on that list, including Apple’s iPad, Jawbone’s ICON, Mophie’s Juice Pack Air and the 11" MacBook Air. I’d add Amazon’s Kindle and Microsoft’s Kinect (assuming you can find one at retail). But what if you’re looking for…

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Why 2014 Will Not Be Like 1984

Why 2014 Will Not Be Like 1984

Or: Will Google's Open Model Overcome Apple's Closed Model?

There is an argument I’m hearing a lot lately that Apple is repeating the mistakes it made in the PC era again today with the iPhone. The argument – which I’ve heard from financial analysts, journalists, and my friend Marc on our walk home from synagogue – goes something like this:

In 1984 Apple ran an ad during the Super Bowl promising that 1984 would not be like [the totalitarian world of George Orwell’s novel] “1984.” Apple then launched the Macintosh, which had an enormous lead over the rest of the PC industry thanks to its graphical user interface. But Steve Jobs decided to keep the Mac a completely closed system while Bill Gates over at Microsoft invited all comers to build apps for MS-DOS. Thanks to the open nature of the PC platform, clone makers from Compaq to Gateway to Dell built more powerful hardware than Apple, Microsoft eventually built its own graphical user interface, and the Mac was relegated to 2% market share.

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Apple vs Adobe – what are the real issues?

Apple vs Adobe – what are the real issues?

The war of words between Apple and Adobe started out with public statements, moved to full page advertisements, and has descended into confusion as Apple has backtracked on one of its initial restrictions and RIM and Samsung have highlighted Flash support on their tablets. To unravel this mess, let’s go back to the beginning: In April, Steve Jobs wrote an open letter to Adobe as a press release and posted it on the Apple.com home page (it can still be found online). Jobs lists six extremely well-argued points, but only two of them matter: Flash’s ubiquity on the web, and cross-platform development. (Some of the other points are legitimate – Flash can be buggy, when it runs without hardware acceleration it eats battery life alive, and some Flash content has not been formatted for touch. However, Apple claiming that it cannot support Flash because it isn’t “open” is disingenuous; Apple supports whatever standards it wants to, and while Flash is most certainly a proprietary standard, it is a standard.)

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Nokia’s Featurephone Problem

Nokia’s Featurephone Problem

Nokia’s struggles in smartphones are well documented, and I’m not going to rehash them here. However, if you live in the U.S. it is easy to overlook just how huge and successful Nokia is. Even in smartphones, Nokia is the global volume leader, and when it comes to featurephones, Nokia literally sells about six dozen of them in the time it takes to read this sentence – every minute of every day. Most of those are basic voice phones sold in emerging markets like India and Africa, but Nokia is also the market leader in multimedia featurephones. Nokia’s latest entry in that category is the X3 Touch and Type (not to be confused with the X3, launched last year), which is a Series 40 phone with a touchscreen on top and a physical numeric keypad below. I find the X3 Touch and Type deeply disturbing.

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Competing in a Heated Android Market

Competing in a Heated Android Market

As an analyst, I’m frequently asked for advice on buying different phones. I’m happy to give it, but when I “review” phones I am typically looking at it from more of a strategic angle. In other words, I’m trying to determine “how does this help/hurt the vendor/carrier,” not “is this a good phone, per se.” You’d be surprised at how many terrible phones sell well, and how many fine phones falter. It’s my job to help vendors and carriers navigate these dynamics. With that in mind, here’s my mid-year update on Android and the challenges vendors face when licensing it.

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Nintendo v. Apple

Nintendo v. Apple

I was at E3 last week (was that just last week?) and attended two separate Nintendo events: the press conference where Nintendo talked about upcoming products, and an Analyst Q&A session where Nintendo executives explained Nintendo’s strategy to a group of mostly financial analysts who looked grossly out of place at E3 (financial analyst types dress much, much better than the average E3 attendee). One of the things that struck me in the press conference is how much Nintendo is competing against Apple in mobile gaming, and one of the things I discovered in the Q&A session is how much alike the two companies are in their approach to product development.

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