Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Google. Microsoft. Cloud Based Apps. Fight!

So Microsoft is feeling the heat from Google Apps.

Must be the case if Monkey Boy’s Microsofties have decided to go for an all out attack on the Gnomes of Mountain View.

Microsoft recently released a video telling Monkey Boy truths about Google Apps.

Now while I don’t necessarily believe that Google Apps is the greatest thing since Cuban Cigars and Premium Vodka, its not a bad product and it has a pretty good price point story to tell.

The truth is that Office 365 is very expensive, especially in Australia.

Now a friend of mine showed me a couple of emails relating to Office 365 discussions he had with Telstra before he told them to get a grip on reality.

The first, and biggest question was based around the variation in cost between most of the world and Australia. Across the planet the cost, predominantly, equates to USD$24 per user per month, for the plan he was looking at, in Australia its AUD$40.10 per user per month for the same plan.

As I write this the exchange rate is hovering around USD$1=AUD$1.06.

This means that it should be costing around AUD$22.64 per user per month. Its a cloud service, no boxes to move, distributors to take a cut, product to feeight into the country, DVD’s to produce, packaging to manufacture and so on so where’s the price differential?

I mean the data centre that runs Office 365 for Australia is in Singapore and is the same one that is used in Singapore where the cost is $24 per user per month and in the absence of anything else it looks like its priced in the local currency.

So what was the explanation from Telstra for the price variation?

As to pricing differences between AU and US, It is a common practice by all multinationals to have price discrimination based on Geography. If you compare the prices of Petrol, iPods, TVs Big Macs, there is a price discrepancy based on the purchasing power of that that country.

We still believe that purchasing Microsoft Online Services will be more cost effective than on premise software. But also consider this, the Australian currency is the 4th most traded currency. Between July and October 2008 our currency fell from 97c to 61c.


So the strongest argument Telstra had was that ‘all multinationals to have price discrimination based on Geography’, unless you live in Singapore, in Russia the price converts to USD$30 per user per month, and that three and a half years ago the Australian dollar fell from 97c to 61c.

Sorry but that’s ancient history.

Here’s the thing AUD$40.10 converts to USD$42.75. So if we use USD$25 per user per month as a base price someone in Australia is levying a massive tax on all Australian businesses to use a product that supposed to help reduce costs.

Lets do the math.

A business of 100 staff in the US will pay $2500 per month or $30000 per year to use the cloud based Office 365.

A business in Australia with 100 staff will pay $4010 per month or $48120 per year to use the same product running on a data centre ‘out there somewhere’.

Convert the annual US price to Australian dollars at todays exchange rate and the price becomes $28122 per year.

So it costs an Australian company $19998.00 per year more to use Office 365 in Australia than it does in the United States for an equivalent number of users.

No wonder Microsoft is taking aim at Google Apps.

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Samsung Big Ass Mobile

So Samsung, and now LG have a phone that comfortably (?) sits in that uncomfortable space between a tablet and a smartphone.

The question for me is why? I mean its too big for comfortable use as a phone, unless your one of the genetically privelidged who can hold a competition basketball comfortably in one hand.

So when you use this phone you’ll look like this…

Not the look you need when you’re trying to look cool with your new smartphone.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

This may be a bad omen...

One of Samsung’s staff has come out to say that they are not much concerned with the appearance of an ‘iTV’ from Apple.

Now if I think back to the comments from ‘the industry’ prior to Apple delivering the iPhone they weren’t too different.

Things like, “they don’t understand the market sector’, or, ‘their phone is too expensive’, or, ‘we have better battery life’, and so on.

Now Samsung swings into action with their AV product manager saying that TV sales are driven by picture quality and that Samsung can’t be touched in that respect.

He said “TVs are ultimately about picture quality. Ultimately. How smart they are…great, but lets face it that’s a secondary consideration.”

I dunno, if there’s a TV on the market that lets me access my media content by voice control as well as giving me a consistent interface across my phone, tablet and so on with a good picture quality…I’ll consider it.

Here’s the thing. Go to one of Gerry Harvey’s “yell and sell” palaces and you’ll see a wall full of TV’s and the picture quality varies wildly. In fact you’ll find that the staff adjust brightness and contrast to benefit whatever they’re trying to shift. I’ve seen it.

I’ve had the staff adjust all the setting to be the same on several TV’s I’ve been looking at and found that the nicest suddenly became ‘not so nice’.

I’m not saying that Apple will dominate the market, but, Chris Mosely from Samsung should acquaint himself with the word hubris, just like Monkey Boy did after his comments in the video above.

Monday, February 13, 2012

So NFC is a good idea?

A while back I put up an article about some concerns I have with NFC implementations.

Just the other day there was a big hoo-hah about Google Wallet being hacked on rooted Google Phones. Now it turns out the Gnomes of Mountain View actually left a security hole big enough to drive a truck through.

This piece on Boy Genius Report goes into more detail on the mechanics of the hack.

My problem with this is “what were they thinking”?!

From looking at the video this isn’t the sort of security flaw that’s taken hundreds of hackers millions of lines of brilliantly executed computer code to discover and exploit.

I mean, really, are we supposed to trust our personal and financial security to a bunch of code-monkeys that leave security holes like this in a product?

Makes you really feel safe about that RFID chip in your passport and your credit card too.

This is a technology that requires a whole lot more thinking about.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Halliburton dumps Blackberry

So Halliburton has decided to give their 4000+ Blackberrys the flick for iPhones.

This is not good news for RIM.

They’ve been losing corporate customers at a massive rate and their much vaunted Playbook has just turned out to be just another very expensive paving brick. Just to move stock they’ve had to decimate price and in Australia some carriers are giving away a playbook with every Blackberry activation and they’re still having trouble moving stock.

RIM is a living (?!) example of what I described in an article I wrote for Australian Anthill a long time ago If you don’t change, you will die!

The problem with this company has always been that they thought because they created the smartphone market they knew what everyone wanted. The reality is they didn’t and the market is punishing them for it now.

They took their eye off the ball and it hit them right between the eyes.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

More about PC Sales

Just following on from my last entry.

According to this piece in The Register:

Apple was the only major computer maker to increase its shipments into the UK PC market during the final three months of 2011.
The article was quoting figures from Gartner that excluded iPad sales, despite that Apple showed a growth in shipments of 17.2% when comparing Q4 2010 to Q4 2011.

Comparatively HP dropped 27%, Dell dropped 32.2%, Acer lost 62.4% and Toshiba lost 5.4%.

The big question is if this is being driven by:

  1. Everyone wants a Mac because Windows is so yesterday.
  2. Everyone is waiting for Ultrabooks running Windows.
  3. Everyone has decided to skip Windows 7 and wait for Windows 8.
I do know that many training providers for the corporate markets are now offering Mac training on a regular basis so maybe there is a change happening in the market.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Apple in the Workplace

I recently heard about a company that was moving away from their Mac environment to a Windows based environment. Their IT staff argued against the idea but the CFO argued it was what all corporates are doing. The Board of this public company committed to spending several hundred thousand dollars to change platforms, but, without a single functional improvement, just a platform shift.

It turns out that the bean counter was wrong and the IT staff were right.

This article from the Sydney Morning Herald Cracks appear in Windows’ corporate dominance seems to bear out what the average person is seeing - Apple gear everywhere

The most interesting section of the article was:

Microsoft has traditionally dominated the corporate workplace and more than 85 per cent of corporate computers still run some version of Windows software. But products based on Apple operating systems - including Macintosh computers, iPads and iPhones - are increasing in demand.

Apple declined to comment on its hiring moves. But Forrester Research analyst Frank Gillett said a rash of recent job ads by Apple is “strong evidence that Apple is responding to the demands of companies for a direct, formal relationship” with the company rather than buying products from the Apple Store.

The growing appetite for Apple products in the workplace underscores the changing nature of the corporate market. Workers want lighter laptops, tablet computers with longer-lasting batteries and smartphones with apps in the office environment. And information technology departments and buyers are listening.

Last year, 46 per cent of companies in North America and Europe issued Macs to employees, according to a survey from Forrester Research.

More importantly the demographics were telling:

Younger workers and those near or at the top of the corporate ladder were more likely to use Apple products in the office, according to the survey. Forty-one per cent of Apple users were directors, 43 per cent earned more than $US150,000 a year, and 28 per cent were between the ages of 18 and 24.

In other words the future decision makers were packing Cupertino hardware as were company directors and corporate professionals.

This doesn’t bode at all well for Microsoft and their Windows platform.

In Australia the Commonwealth Bank has made the decision to jump platform from Dell to Apple for their laptops.

The battle for the hearts and minds of the current and future decision makers is being fought right now and Ballmer and his crew of happy Microsofties are not doing too well.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

When Plan 'B' is actually Plan 'F'

It never ceases to amaze me at exactly how blindingly ignorant management are when it comes to a Disaster Recovery Plan.

Recently I was talking to a friend of mine, who I’ll call Sam, who told me this story. It’s so good that I’ve transcribed the conversation as it was described to me. I pity the poor shareholders in this ASX listed company.

CEO: So we need a Disaster Recovery Plan.

Sam: Great. That’s a good idea.

CEO: How are you going to do it?

Sam: (confused) Why do I have to do it?

CEO: Well if this place burned down what would happen to our data?

Sam: It would be fine. The data is backed up to tape as well as hard drives. The hard drives are in a room that has a four hour fire rating and tapes are taken off site daily.

CEO: Excellent. So we’re fine.

Sam was really confused at this stage.

Sam: What about the rest of the business?

CEO: What do you mean the rest of the business? You’ve got backups what more do you need?

Taking a deep breath…

Sam: Well lets assume that the place burns down.

CEO: Okay.

Sam: So what happens the next morning?

CEO: You restore our data from the backups and we’re back up and working again.

Sam: Uh-Huh. How?

CEO: Well you know. You just restore the data. You know, all that technological stuff.

Sam: Okay, what do we restore to?

CEO: Computers.

Sam: What computers? The place burned down.

CEO: You know you can just go to a local store and pick up a few computers so we can get working again.

Sam: What about the phones?

CEO: We’ll redirect them.

Sam: To where?

CEO: Mobiles.

Sam: What about the staff? Where do they go?

CEO: They come to work.

Sam: Yeah, but that’s just burned down, so what do they do when they get here?

CEO: Uhhhh…we’ll give them mobiles.

Sam: And where are we going to get the mobiles from?

CEO: Our telco.

Sam: So 50 staff show up for work at the burnt out wreck of the building and I’m supposed to have 50 mobile phones ready to issue to them?

CEO: That’s right and with their computers they’ll be able to work.

Sam: That’d be the computers we just bought from Harvey Norman, right?

CEO: Yep.

Sam: And where do they use their computers?

CEO: Don’t you think you’re being a bit negative about this. You should be giving me solutions to all these things you’re bringing up! You’re not being a team player.

Sam: So lets just assume for a second that the staff show up and the computers are here, they all need to be setup, installed, configured and have the data restored to them. They phones need to have SIM cards and be activated and then we need to redirect each phone to the correct new mobile service.

CEO: See. That’s the spirit. Now you’re getting it.

Sam: But the building has burned down and there’s no power and nowhere to work and set up the computers and activating 50 new phones is going to take a while as well.

CEO: See. Now you’re not being a team player again. You’ve got to find a positive outcome.

Sam: Positive outcome!? The place is a pile of ashes, I’m surrounded by 50 computers and the software they need to run, 50 mobile phones that I need to activate, there’s no power and nowhere to work!

CEO: We have faith in your ability to deliver on all of this.

Sam: But what about our business system? It doesn’t run on a computer I can get from Harvey Norman.

CEO: We have continuity of business insurance, just buy what you need.

Sam: It may take a while to get it ready to go.

CEO: That’s okay. Just so long as we can collect money we can use it as an excuse to delay paying everyone we owe money to.

Sam: Oh. Okay. So long as you’ve got a plan.

CEO: Well I do, but I’m not so sure about you and your team. You should work on it some more and address the shortfalls I’ve identified but the rest of the business has a plan.

Sam walked out of the office shaking his head, certain that the business was on a course that mirrored the maiden voyage of the Titanic.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Ballmer Disses Andoird

So Steve Ballmer thinks that Android is cheap and complex.

Lets cast our minds back a few years when Ballmer gave us his opinion on the iPhone.

So now Ballmer is telling us that Android is no good. Based on his other prognostications I guess that Android’s going to go like gangbusters at the expense of Microsoft.

I seem to remember Ballmer telling us that the Kin - remember that one? - was going to set the world alight. By the time of its merciful death it is rumoured to have sold less than 10000 units. What was left are supposed to have been buried in an unmarked mass grave somewhere.

Then there was the rumoured Zune phone, that Ballmer dismissed as impossible and against the company’s mobile product philosophy.

Its starting to look like you could do worse than betting against Monkey Boy and his tech pronouncements.