Steve Jobs the greatest CEO – the greatest Marketer… OR … Steve Jobs the Genius?

Nobody else in the history of business has achieved what Steve Jobs has achieved as a CEO. He has taken Apple from death bed (in 1997 it was dying) made it the most valuable company on earth.

Interesting story: What Happened After Apple Fired Steve Jobs and How we was able to turn it around

Robert X. Cringely says “Lots of CEOs make products. Many make millions. Very few make history.

So, does that make him the greatest CEO? Maybe … maybe not – but will posterity remember him as a CEO?

Nobody else in the history could launch a product the way Steve Jobs could do. Each of his product launches has become folklore. Remember when he pulled out the MacBook Air from an envelope?

There is no doubt that he has redefined innovation. Nobody else in the history has designed 5 path breaking products.

Good summary of what he has achieved: Master Inventor, Master Marketer

So, does that make him the greatest Marketer? Maybe … maybe not – but will posterity remember him as a Marketer?

Who is a Genius?

Wikipedia refers to Leonardo da Vinci, Albert Einstein and Richard Feynman as geniuses and defines it as:

“Genius is something or someone embodying exceptional intellectual ability, creativity, or originality, typically to a degree that is associated with the achievement of unprecedented insight.”

  • Exceptional intellectual ability – check
  • Creativity – check
  • Originality – check

The page also has quotes from Immanuel Kant

“Genius is a talent for producing something for which no determinate rule can be given, not a predisposition consisting of a skill for something that can be learned by following some rule or other.” – Check

It also quotes Arthur Schopenhauer

“Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see.” – Check

So what will posterity remember Steve Jobs as?

You can decide!


Speciation of Operating System

DOS=30, Mac/OS=27, Windows=26, Linux=21

The youngest of the four is Linux which is now 21 years old. All of them are out of their teens and entered adulthood where they are now mature and have stopped growing. They have grown up in a world where every computer whether a server or a client had a monitor which was 12’’ or larger, a keyboard, a mouse or a similar device which could be used to move the cursor on the screen and a storage system where files were stored organized hierarchically. They mostly had one processor to run and multi-task multiple applications. But they have already started feeling the generation gap.

Well, DOS should not be in the list because we have already written its obituary. I have decided to keep DOS in this list because the trigger for this post was DOS completing 30 year – its memory still lingers in the latest version of Windows where you can still open a command window and use the DOS commands.

Generation Gap or New Species?

There are so many brash new preschool kids in the family. They are so different that you will be pardoned in thinking that they are not progenies but are different species.

You have the likes of iOS, Android and others who do not understand what a mouse is. To them keyboard, multi-tasking, file systems all are after thought or non-existent. Everything revolves around touch. The largest screen size they look at is probably smaller than the smallest screen size of the previous generation.

Then there is another species called Chrome OS which does not understand anything other than what a browser is but it understands a keyboard and a mouse. It tries to be completely agnostics about the processor and the storage.

The third species is the likes of Eucalyptus, Open Stack and Azure. To them, anything to do with display, mouse and keyboard is only incidental. They subsume their parents like Windows, Linux etc. and can manage any number of them. They in collaboration of others like Amazon, Rackspace, and Microsoft etc. can become omnipresence and omnipotent.

Then you have the fourth species like Google App Engine and other PaaS platforms which is completely ethereal and has no physical form. You only talk to them through a messiah like Eclipse or Visual Studio using language which they decide to speak.

As you can see they have very little in common – their DNA has mutated substantially.

Evolutionary Biologists call this Speciation.

Where does that leave us?

Many of us had a dream that we can think of a language which every operating system will understand. But like Esperanto, that dream lies shattered.

So, what happens to us developers, designers and architects?

We need to learn how to deal with these different species. Before that we need to recognize that we are dealing with things that are quite different from what it was only 5 years back.

We also need to recognize that this may not be the end of the mutation and few years down the line we may have entirely different ecosystem.

We have to unlearn and relearn stuff – welcome to the new world.

Google-Motorola : Microsoft-Nokia : Palm-HP – Do you see a pattern?

By now you would have already read about the Google offer to buy Motorola Mobility division. You would have read about why this is the biggest mistake Google has ever made. You also would have read about why this is the most brilliant move made by Google.

You would have been told why this is the best thing to have happened to Android and also why this is the worst thing to have happened to Android.

So, there is no agreement on the possible impact of this deal except for one point this is a BIG deal and a Game Changer.

There is a general feeling that one of the key motivation for Google was to acquire the patents which Motorola own but that can hardly be the whole story.

However, let us step back and correlate this with 2 other deals which happened in recent past.

  • HP buying Palm primarily for the Web OS
  • Nokia dumping MeeGo and tying up with Microsoft

Do you see a pattern?

Here are the 3 cases:

Case 1: April, 2010 – HP buys Palm for US$ 1.2 billion

Case 2: February, 2011 – Nokia and Microsoft comes together for a “broad strategic partnership”

Case 3: August, 2011 – Google buys Motorola Mobility for US$ 12.5 billion

Horizontal or Vertical – Which is the best way to organize the mobility industry?

Keeping Apple aside, the PC industry is horizontally organized. That means different companies provide the chips, operating system, services etc.

On the other hand the Gaming Console industry is vertically organized where one company provides the hardware, software, online service, shops etc. Currently Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft own and closely control the platform.

Till last year, again leaving Apple aside, the mobility industry was trying to organize itself like PC industry that is everybody was trying to separate hardware from software. Palm split itself into hardware and software divisions, and Nokia helped set up Symbian.

Are we witnessing a reversal of trend?

PC industry was more about standardization – so the horizontal strategy worked very well. Apple with a vertical strategy and a differentiated product could not make much headway. The game was about more hardware power with a standardized interface. The enterprise was the major driver.

On the other hand the gaming console industry was about differentiation which is difficult to achieve without complete control over the platform both hardware and software. Enterprises have no role to play here.

In the mobility industry, Apple with a vertical strategy, have been very successful. Looks like differentiation rather than standardization is what is going to drive the market. The user will probably be interested in the cool new feature and about usability rather than standardization.

So, where does Samsung, HTC, LG and others go from here?

Why I bought a Kindle instead of …

I admit it … I bought the Kindle on an impulse. Now that I have bought it and have been using it (I may be rationalization but) I do like my Kindle and there are several reasons for liking it.

You must be thinking why Kindle, why not iPad or Galaxy? After all, with these devices you get color, touch, browsing and many other things.

Kindle is monochrome and without touch screen. You also need a Wi-Fi connection to browse.


Then why did I buy the Kindle?

It all started when Mahadevan announced that he is going to buy a Kindle. He has checked one of his friends who is an avid book reader and has got a strong recommendation for Kindle.

I was under the impression that Kindle will not work properly in India. However, I was wrong. The 3G version of Kindle comes with a built in 3G connection which will work anywhere in the world and there are no extra charges for it.

That did it – I told Mahadevan to order one for me also. If it did not work out well we would have company in our misery.


Kindle arrived in 2 days

It came from UK – reached our office address in two days. No hassles.

I opened the packed and thought that there was a sticker with instruction stuck over the display. I was trying to figure out how to remove the sticker.

It took me about a minute to realize that what looked like paper was the kindle display! It was brilliant. It was just like printed paper.


Will the 3G work?

My first worry was will the 3G work properly? Or would it entail going through some elaborate and time consuming process to enable it? At the back of my mind there was a worry that it will not work at all.

To my relief, when I switched it on, the 3G connection was active!


Transferring the ownership

However, it greeted me as Mahadevan.

Since Mahadevan had purchased using his account the ownership had to be transfer. The process was simple and smooth. Mahadevan just released the device from his account and I included it in my account.

The transfer happened immediately and the Kindle greeted me as Udayan.


Initial Reading experience

The Kindle was of the size of a typical paperback book – much thinner and a little heavier. The display area was slightly smaller than the paperback – and easy to read.

My only initial crib was that the previous and the next page button on the left side should have been reversed. Several times I pressed the next button on the left side while trying to go back. However, I have got used to it now.

I connected it to my laptop and started charging it. Not sure how long it took to charge completely (may be around 2 hours).

I could transfer a PDF file but the text is not free flowing. That means either the whole page will display but the font will be too small or you have to use the scroll button to read. Either way it is very inconvenient.

Amazon provides a free service which you can use to convert a PDF file to Kindle format – I have not yet tried it.


Purchasing the first book

The Kindle was preloaded with the instruction manual and a dictionary. So, the next step was to purchase the first book.

I had borrowed a book called “The 100 Best Business Books of All Time” from Just Books lending library. The first book in the list was “Flow” – I had heard about it earlier but never got to read it. So, I decided to explore.

Using the Kindle, I could easily locate the book on the Amazon store and download the first chapter free to get a flavor of the book. No problem.

After glancing through the first chapter, I decided to buy it. 1-click order worked smoothly and before I realized the book was downloaded on the Kindle.


Reading Experience

On the whole I think it is more convenient to read on a Kindle than a physical book, especially if you read lying down. You don’t have to struggle to keep it open. It is definitely lighter than any hard cover book. Only problem is you cannot throw around like a book.

Off course you can search the content. It is very easy to mark a portion and take your own note. Interestingly, you can also see what others have also marked. You can also directly post your marked portion to Facebook or Twitter – I have not tried it yet. What I miss is the ability to flip through the book.

After the first charge, in one week, only about 20% to 30% is consumed. So, one month from charge to charge can be expected.

Lack of color was hardly an issue – after how many books do you read in color?

You may miss the touch but I don’t think it is a very serious loss.


Overall verdict

If you are a regular book reader and have a habit of purchasing books – just go for a Kindle.

  1. Reading experience is good – much lighter than iPad or Galaxy – easier on the eye
  2. Long battery life – no worry about running out of charge when I am going to US
  3. Free 3G connection buying books from anywhere in the world – I can buy a book when I am in a hotel at some part of the world and desperately need a book

I just wish that I had a magic wand which I could use to transfer all my physical books into the Kindle.

Gartner Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies 2011

The Hype-Cycle for Emerging Technologies for the year 2011 has been released by Gartner. As has been the trend from the past less than 60% of the technologies listed last year find a place in this year’s report. Unlike last year, there are not many glaring omissions. (Here is an analysis of last year’s report). However, as is the case like last year, few technologies appear from nowhere on:

Climbing the Slope

Consumerization The trend for new information technology to emerge first in the consumer market and then spread into business organizations (see this)
QR/Color Code Quick Response code is a specific two-dimensional bar code that is readable by most smartphones (see this)

Sliding into the Trough

M2M Communication Services Machine-to-Machine refers to technologies that allow systems to communicate with other devices of the same ability (see this)
Hosted Virtual Desktops It has this been included because of this service from Rackspace?
Virtual Worlds Remember Second Life? (see this)

(If you are new to Gartner Hype Cycle, there is a short explanation at the end of this post)

What else is New?

On the Rise

3D Bioprinting  Machine that can assemble cells of any type in a desired 3D pattern. The expectation is that this technology can at a future date grow organs. (see this)
Big Data & Extreme Information Processing and Management  Finally Big Data appears! Is “Extreme Information Processing and Management” and derivative of “Extreme Transaction Processing” which appeared last year?
Internet of Things  How different is this from M2M?
Natural Language Question Answering  I am sure this is prompted by IBM Watson and Google “Best Guess
Social TV  Social Network + TV = Survival guide for broadcasting companies. (see how BBC is approaching this problem)
Video Analytics for Customer Service  Like your every action on internet is watched, now your every action inside a store will be watched and analyses! (see this)

At the Peak

Context-Enriched Services  This is a variant of “Context Delivery Architecture” which appeared last year.
Gamification  Or Funwire, which is the use of game playing mechanism for non-gaming application particularly consumer-oriented web and mobile sites.
Group Buying  I suppose it is inspired by the likes of Groupon.
Image Recognition  Probably Google Image search is the trigger. (It works quiet well – if the image is there to be found – then it will be found!)
In-Memory Database Management Systems  They are quiet usable now. (see this)
NFC Payment  There are 140 NFC Forum members include which includes … well see this.

So what is the bigger picture? What can we decipher as the larger technology trend?

Cloud Computing is too nebulas a term to survive long – it is going to splinter

Here are six (out of 42) technologies listed in the report which are directly or indirectly related to cloud.

  1. Cloud Computing
  2. Cloud/Web Platforms
  3. Hosted Virtual Desktops
  4. Big Data & Extreme Information Processing and Management
  5. In-Memory Database Management Systems
  6. Private Cloud Computing

Human and Machine – Machine and Machine are getting connected like never before

How we connect to machine is evolving very fast. How machines are connecting with each other is also evolving very fast. Machines are also becoming more autonomous. There are ten technologies listed which goes on to enhance this connection.

  1. Human Augmentation
  2. Computer-Brain Interface
  3. Mobile Robots
  4. Natural Language Question Answering
  5. Internet of Things
  6. Augmented Reality
  7. Virtual Assistants
  8. Gesture Recognition
  9. Machine-to-Machine Communication Services
  10. Speech Recognition

Here are few interesting links which you may enjoy:

How Consistent Is The Hype Cycle Compared To Previous Years?

This is how I measure consistency. I count all the technologies mentioned in the current year’s hype cycle. Then I count the number of those technologies which was also mentioned in last year’s hype cycle. The ratio expressed as a percentage is the degree of consistency.

This year I have added another measure that is instead of matching it with technologies mentioned last I have also matched it with technologies mentioned in any of the past years.

Here are the consistency figures from year 2004 onwards.


% of technologies mentioned in the previous year’s hype-cycle

% of technologies mentioned in any in any hype-cycle since 2003

























For Those of You Who Are Not Familiar with Gartner’s Hype-Cycle

Here is a short explanation.

The assumption behind it is that every new technology creates an initial hype when everybody is talking about it. As a result an inflated expectation gets created around that technology. Since new technologies take time to mature and deliver value, it very rarely lives up to the initial hyped expectation. Therefore, after a peak of inflated expectation disillusionment follows till it reaches a trough. After this, some technologies dies a natural death and are forgotten. However, there are some which starts delivering value and people starts adopting them. When sufficient number of people adopts it, the technology is said to have reached the mainstream. The hype-cycle is represented as a graph and each technology of interest is plotted on the graph. Gartner also predicts the timeframe of each technology to reach mainstream.

3 Key Decision you need to take while preparing a Cloud Strategy

What do you think of cloud computing? Whether you view the Cloud as the Future of Computing, or feel that Cloud Computing is a massive hype and will shortly blow away – you are likely to be either drafting or implementing some form of a Cloud Strategy.

I am sure you have kept yourself updated on what is happening on cloud computing. You have a good understanding of the possible advantages (cost saving, agility, etc.) of cloud computing. You are also aware of all the concerns of adopting cloud computing (if you want an update – you can have a look at the report from Gartner IT Council on Cloud computing).

However, to make an effective cloud strategy, you need to look beyond the hype and also take a realistic view of the cloud shortcoming. Unfortunately, cloud computing is such a nebulas term that it can be used to encompass almost anything that is connected with IT! So, making an effective strategy for such a vast canvas is daunting task.

However, you task can become much more manageable if you make up your mind on the following three points.

1.  Should “cost saving” be one of the strategic objective?

In theory, the economy of scale of the cloud provider is expected to make the cloud infrastructure to be much more cost effective compared to what can be achieve in your data center.

In practice, assuming that you have already implemented virtualization, the cloud is likely to be cost effective only for some types of usage. This is especially true if you are looking at IaaS (you can have a look at this research finding).

I suspect that the charges for cloud service are dictated more by demand, supply and competition rather by how much it cost to offer such services. Otherwise, how do you explain Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure making incoming traffic free from the same day?

All of us know that hardware prices keep coming down. In 2 years’ time you can buy a machine with twice as much power at the same cost. However, the cloud pricing has not shown any such trend. So, the migration which might have been cost effective 2 year back may no longer be so.

Yes, you may achieve cost saving by migration to cloud – but that is not the point.

The question is should you make cost saving as a strategic objective for the cloud?

My recommended answer will be – No.

If you have answered yes to this question then you need to identify which of the applications have a variable load pattern and make plans for migrating them to cloud.

2. Is there a business case for increasing the flexibility and agility of your IT operation?

If you are a startup then cloud can make a difference between survival and death. On the other hand, for most main stream organization taking advantage of the flexibility of the cloud is not straight forward.

Yes, you can spin off a cloud instance in minutes but will your existing operational setup allow you to do so and deploy an application in production?

Do you have the following in place?

  • Agile development methodology
  • DevOps practices and self-service deployment
  • Charging user department for usage

Without these practices in place, you will find it difficult to be agile. Implementing these practices will require significant amount of change in how you work. It will require time and effort. It will require people to change their thinking.

So, should agility and flexibility be a strategic objective for the cloud?

My recommendation is – Not unless it is required by business.

If you have answered yes to this question then you need to start from a business objective and find a business sponsor who will be ready to fund the cloud migration.

3. Do you need to leverage the distributed nature of the cloud?

Do you believe that applications can developed without bothering about where it is going to be deployed and still take full benefit of cloud computing? There are some who think so. However, consider the following points:

  1. Cloud computing without variable load does not make sense …
  2. Cloud computing without multiple machine instances does not make sense …
  3. Cloud computing without fault tolerance does not make sense …

Does your current practice of architecting, designing and developing applications take care of the above? If the answer is yes then it is great news – you are already several steps near to moving to cloud. If the answer is no then you need to consider the implication of incorporating these principles.

Here are some pointers for you to get you thinking on this direction:

Moving an existing application may mean complete rewrite.

Therefore, would you want to take advantage of the distributed nature of the cloud?

My recommendation is – Not for existing applications.

If you answer yes to this question then you need to find applications which can benefit from distributed processing.

Have you answered “No” to all the 3 questions?

Then you have simplified life for yourself. Your cloud strategy can focus on one and only one point.

“How can you get rid of all the IT related activities that are not core to your business?”

The essence of cloud computing strategy boils down to this one single point.

You have to decide which of your applications are of strategic importance to you – which of them have embedded code which you consider as your key IPR – which of them use data that are of critical business value?

Such business critical applications can remain with you and you can consider setting up a private cloud for them.

For everything else you can prepare a cloud migration plan. That plan can be mostly based on usage of SaaS taking into account how much life is left in the existing implementation, the cost of maintaining the application and the maturity of the SaaS offering available in the market.

The risk in this approach is that you may be making yourself redundant.

The recent Forrester study seem to indicate that this is really the direction the world is moving. So, if this is the direction in which the world is going to move you better get prepared for it.