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Game On!

Category: Andy Marken's blog Published on Friday, 15 February 2013

In Technology Leadership, the Big Dogs Play for Keeps


“Poker” by Dan McManis

Apple … Amazon … Facebook … Google … Samsung

Each one is ahead in the game of content, devices, customers–depending on the report you read, the phase of the moon or your personal preference/prejudice.

They have coopetition – cooperative competition – down to an art:

- Cooperating one day on things like patents, license sharing, product/service design

- Competing for dominance in smartphones, tablets, PCs, TVs, services

- Challenging governments that want to “manage” the game

- Lobbing lawsuits/lawyers at each other when things get dull

The Stakes

It’s all about eyeballs, search/clicks, advertisers, sales; and they all start with devices – smartphones, tablets, PCs, smart TVs.


One Isn’t Enough – Ask consumers around the globe which electronic products they want, need, plan to buy and they’ll give you a big shopping list. But according to Accenture’s research, people are quickly losing interest in single-purpose devices. Source – Accenture

According to a survey by Accenture, single-function devices – DVD players, cameras, game consoles and POPs (plain old phones) just don’t interest consumers.

Folks love to talk about the post-PC era, but computer sales may just be taking a much-needed breather from their historic hockey stick growth.

Compared to last year, PCs were up 20 percent over the previous year. Not great, but…

Tablets are eating the PC market’s lunch. They were up 7 percent over the previous year, but they still have a ways to go to eliminate/replace them.

Smartphones continue to grow in leaps and bounds with an increase of 14 percent over the previous year because people find them handy to stay in touch with just about everyone – and even make a call now and then.

Smart TVs increased 13 percent over the previous year, even though most are still only connected to the cable rather than the Internet. It’s the idea that counts.

So, there really aren’t any mortally wounded or dead devices for the foreseeable future.

In our household, we use ‘em all.

We watch shows on our big screen set, our daughter chats with friends on her iPhone, our son views all the extras/outtakes on his iPad and the wife gets all the scoop on the actors/plot on her ultrabook while I monitor email on whichever one I choose to access at the time.

US ownership in all of these categories looks healthy:

- PCs – 91 percent in 2009, 94 percent in 2012
- Smartphones – 26 percent owned in 2009; 58 percent owned in 2012
- Tablets – 8 percent owned in 2009; 25 percent owned in 2012
- HDTVs – 6 percent in 2009, 14 percent in 2012

According to IDC, that growth will continue over the next few years … even through 2020. Households will have an average of 15 devices in use this year and 20 by 2016.  Worldwide, the connected user has an average of five devices.

Source – IDC

Tipping Point – IDC estimates that this year, the installed base for tablets and smartphones will surpass the total PC installed base. But computers won’t disappear because there is a place for all of the computing/communications devices in folks’ backpacks.

All of the devices serve different but complementary consumer needs for people who are online … constantly.

Tablets are still young, PCs aren’t dead and there’s always my TV.

Of course, you might say Google has the edge in the game because their OS is in so many tablets/smartphones.


But the number one tablet is the iPad and that’s projected to stay the leader until at least 2017.

Apple sold a record 47.8 million iPhones and 22.9 million iPads last year, despite supply issues; and Cook – a mastermind in operations management – said that will be straightened out this year.

Tim Cook, Apple CEO, Source – Fortune
Apple has also accelerated its introduction of new iPhones, including some lower-cost models that will appeal to the budgets of customers in emerging countries who appreciate the panache of the Apple name.

Cook travels to China – not just for supplier checks, but keep in mind it’s the largest single market … in the world.

Regarding the Apple PC sales slip for iPads, Cook simply said that if someone buys one Apple product they will like the experience and buy more. He could be right.

Then too, Siri is getting better, Apple TV is still an area of “heightened interest” and they have some really huge, profitable apps, content libraries.


Bezos isn’t real happy that Google wants to play in “his” shop-till-you-drop place of business.

He’s not real worried about Apple because he knows Cook is happy with his storefronts that raked in more than $4.5B last year. He has this showrooming thing down to a science, even with companies that sell on his site.

Jeff Bezos, CEO Amazon, Source – mashable

He may have been an early Google investor but he’s been cautious about some of their “do no evil” projects like digitizing documents, selling him ad clicks, cloud computing, retailer shopping mall.

For their Kindle Fire, Jeff used “a version” of Android that just happens to make it a fantastic direct route for selling stuff.

While neither Schmidt nor Serg has been able to sell a decent Android phone of their own, they keep plugging away; and Bezos is working on … something! But he has his eyes on the real money… Google’s search, ad businesses.

Over the holidays, Amazon was a starting point for millions of consumers who found and purchased their products/gifts from an Amazon source/reseller.

“Clicks” are nice but “buys” are extra, extra nice; so an Amazon search is more valuable than a Google search.

Amazon – like Apple - has a very robust library of reading, viewing, listening products for rent and sale.


 Facebook hasn’t quite hit its first birthday as a public company, but it’s still the biggest game in town when it comes to finding “friends” – about one billion or 1/7th of the planet’s population.

Mark Zuckenberger, Facebook CEO - Noah Berger, Source - Bloomberg

Zuck hasn’t let his movie or marriage go to his head, but his black t-shirts are clean now.

The team has been busy helping open store fronts on Facebook, improving customer relationships, learning how to sell ads and products and launching some “interesting” gift shops.

Zuck has never much liked the Googladites down the road, especially when Serg and his team keep saying his latest unveilings have been less than stellar.

Tell a guy his kids are ugly and you can see why he likes the folks at 1 Infinity Circle more than the Mt. View crowd.

Meanwhile, Facebook is cautiously rolling out some interesting mobile apps, mobile ad products and several new mobile connection solutions. No one will admit it, but they’re also working on a smartphone that will probably have some wicked mobile ad apps.


Google still funds all of its other projects like the driverless car and laying high-speed wire to compete against carriers and cable companies with their product search/ad formula. While Cook went to China on a sales call, Schmidt went to North Korea to …?

Eric Schmidt – chairman, Google, Source – huffingtonpost

During Schmidt’s visit to North Korea, Serg and the team revamped their product search service and began charging for being listed.

They’re testing a same-day retail model which could be interesting and profitable if it takes off because they can move product without all the inventory.

Google Android is doing well with mobile devices – better than their own hardware efforts – but they still haven’t figured out a way to make money with the mobile ad search and digital stuff like games, apps, music, video.


Google’s Eric Schmidt likes to say there are now more than 500 million Android devices in use worldwide, with an average of 1.3 million additional activations each day.

True but … the top phones being sold are the iPhone and Galaxy S. Everything else is a distant whatever. The same is true of tablets – iPad, Galaxy Tab.

Dr. Stephen Woo, Samsung CEO, Source – engadget


Don’t forget that Samsung has a couple of aces up its sleeve with Tizen and Bada OS phones which are being market tested in various countries/regions.

CEO Stephen Woo’s company has had a strong winning streak at the table with their phones, tablets, TVs, computers and home products.

might roll out their Tijen and Bada OS products globally and maybe integrate them into some of their other offerings … just to keep Google in line. However, every time the cards are shuffled and dealt, it will all boil down to how well each player plays his hand.

"The Hustler" by Arthur Sarnoff

Sure, we didn’t mention the fact that Microsoft has finally figured out the touch, squeeze, swipe thing and is working on natural user interface techniques like voice, gesture and eye-tracking.

Who knows?

Meanwhile, most of us will play a game that requires skill, not huge piles of chips. Hits: 1941

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