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Google Challenger: Spotlight

Google Challenger - Yosemite Spotlight

Competition

Yosemite: SpotlightIn 2011 the world was introduced to Siri — your personal digital assistant. Siri works on iPhone 4s and forward. Siri lets you use voice, instead of touch, to make appointments, call friends, send texts, and much more. It is the “much more” that is particularly interesting, because this is exactly what a search engine does. You type in a particular request and returned to you are several (hopefully) relevant results. Google has been the king of search for nearly 10 years now. No one, not even Microsoft or Yahoo!, has been able to make a dent in Google’s search dominance. But that may soon change.

Siri could do “much more” such as look up a baseball score or let you know about the nearby dry cleaners. In order to do this, Siri uses partners to return outside-the-iPhone type requests. Siri’s original partners included (info provided by wikipedia):

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Steve Ballmer's Need To Be Relevant

by: Mark Reschke | Aug 20, 2014

Steve_ballmer_clippersWe just can not get rid of this guy. Like a nagging winter cough, a bad back or rheumatoid arthritis, Steve Ballmer’s need to be relevant seems insatiable. With his recent overpaid L.A. Clippers acquisition, it sadly appears he will be in our consciousness for some time to come. 

Yesterday, at the Clippers Fan Festival, Steve Ballmer brought out his nearly trademark maniac appearance. Going quasi-crazy on the fans, followed up with a 13 minute speech that did not excite anyone, but probably scared many. Some say Ballmer is simply an extremely passionate guy in whatever he gets into. That’s one apologetic opinion. The other is Ballmer simply cannot get over himself, and since his rise and reign at Microsoft is over, he needs the spotlight now more than ever.

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Iphone-launch-steve-jobsApple is a unique company, and anyone who would deny that just doesn’t understand the company's history. While IBM created the first personal computer, it was Apple that made the PC useable by people who weren’t programmers. Yes Apple leveraged the idea from Xerox (and then Microsoft from Apple), but does anyone think we would have seen mass adoption of PC’s in the 90’s if Xerox were leading the charge with the GUI interface? And it wasn’t just the GUI interface. Apple delivered files, folder and a trash can, in easy-to-understand icon format. Apple then linked the PC with design software and laser printers and an entirely new way to publish documents was born.

Fast forward two decades and Apple launched the iPod. Apple did not create this product category either, but took it to the next level and made it a must-have for an entire generation. Once again the iPod portable music player was not a standalone device. iPod  came with iTunes vertically integrated, quickly followed with the iTunes store, and the music industry was transformed overnight.

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Amazon's Major Miss "fire"

by: Mark Reschke | Aug 14, 2014

Amazon_fire_phoneAmazon CEO confidently strolled onto the stage on June 18, and introduced the world to Amazon’s first-ever smartphone — the fire Phone. The fire Phone shipped with a few novel ideas, such as tangle free earphones (that’s the claim), a 3D display, and an easy way to channel any online purchase right into Amazon.com. Then came the fire Phone reviews — and they were not pretty. Next came the actual product launch, and sales have equaled or fallen even shorter than the poor reviews it had been given. Amazon’s fire Phone is already in massive trouble, which seems more than strange, given it is the latest in a line of never-ending Android smartphone launches. Why would fire Phone fail to do well within the large Android crowd?

Amazon launched fire Phone exclusively with AT&T wireless. Amazon targeted its launch at millions of iPhone owners currently on month-to-month payment plans or iPhone owners whose two-year commitments were and/or are about to expire ahead of iPhone 6’s launch. This would appear to be a perfect time for Amazon to swoop in and steal away iPhone sales, converting a healthy dose of AT&T customers to fire Phone. But either Amazon executives ignored, or did not believe one major piece of data  –  iPhone loyalty figures hover around 90%. The idea that Amazon could somehow deflate that figure by converting iPhone users who are no doubt waiting for iPhone 6/air to launch is a bold miscalculation. AT&T is struggling to sell the fire Phone to anyone, let alone loyal iPhone users who are, in, out, or nearly out of contract.

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It has been somewhat amusing to watch, but Microsoft’s horrifically managed businesses and Johnny-come-lately practices may actually be coming to an end. That isn’t to say Sayta Nadella, Microsoft’s new CEO, won’t make his own set of mistakes, but if his rhetoric matches the actual direction of Microsoft’s overall business, the slow motion train wreck Steve Ballmer was engineering over the past decade may be grinding to a halt.

Steve Ballmer’s idea that Microsoft could truly be all-things to all people in every market was pure folly, mixed with a heavy dash of hubris. His belief that the software giant continued to be the only 800 pound gorilla in the tech world was absolute arrogance and denial, culminating into one undefined direction for the company. So far it appears Nadella has a better grip on reality and a shaper focus for the company moving forward, as he is preparing to axe the irrelevant.

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Nfl-micros-ft-surface-pro-2

The NFL has entered an agreement with Microsoft to allow the use of Surface Pro 2 tablets on team sidelines this season. Currently the NFL bans any computer device from gracing a team’s sidelines during game time. Up until now pictures from the booth were taken of plays, printed out, stuffed into binders and then run down to the sidelines. Think 1980.

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Intel_tablet_adLast night, while stumbling upon Penn & Teller’s whimsical Fool Us TV show (sorry, I really don’t watch much live TV anymore — thank you Apple TV), I found myself watching what I thought was another Microsoft Surface commercial, wasn’t a Microsoft ad at all. Rather, it was a generic Intel tablet commercial, pushing the idea that Intel-based tablets are what people need (not ARM-based or iPad tablets). Just how desperate is this dual-force Microsoft and Intel I wondered?

Microsoft’s failing campaign to sell their heavy, battery draining 2-in-1 Surface Pro is one thing, but Intel trying to sell the idea that the only type of tablet worth buying is due to something the user will never see, touch or understand – the processor. Apple’s dark decade of the 90’s laid the groundwork for Intel to advertise to, what could be described as, low technology information consumers. Intel was successful in pushing the idea that when looking to buy a new PC, that only an ”Intel Inside” PC was worth considering. 

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Windows_phone_doa

During the June 2014 quarter Apple, Inc. sold 4.4 million Macs. The sales figure was surprising in that during the year ago quarter Apple only sold 3.75 million Macs, representing a year-over-year sales increase of 15%. Based on IDC’s worldwide estimates for the June quarter, coupled with Apple’s actual Mac shipments, Apple likely achieved 5.9% global PC share.

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What Microsoft’s 18,000 Person Layoff Means

by: E. Werner Reschke | Jul 18, 2014

Nadella-ballmerMost might think, and rightly so, that laying off 18,000 employees means a company like Microsoft had a bad year or that their future looks dire and therefore requires huge retooling. Those assumptions often are correct, but not always. Companies lay off employees for a variety of reasons, and it isn't always symptomatic of the whole, as a division may be suffering or shutting down, not the entire company. But huge layoffs can also mean a company needs to change direction and needs to “start over.” When Steve Jobs’ returned to Apple in 1997, and then became the iCEO, Jobs immediately slashed 4,100 employees within Apple's ranks, representing a third of the companies workforce. In Apple's case, it was an indicator Apple was nearing it's end, only a quarter (some say) from bankruptcy. But it was also the start of a new beginning.

Microsoft claims most of its layoffs are targeted towards former Nokia employees and some restructuring within the company. Is Microsoft’s CEO Sayta Nadella working to change the culture and truly turn the often rudderless Microsoft, or is he merely rearranging the deck chairs like Ballmer had done so many times before? Microsoft is facing stiff competition in mobile and cloud computing — two places they want to dominate. In order to compete, Microsoft must remain lean and nimble. Layoffs may help accomplish this goal, but so heavily in mobile where they need to win?...

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Ballmer’s Microsoft - The Lost Decade

by: E. Werner Reschke | Jul 11, 2014

Steve Ballmer

In 2004, just ten years ago, the New England Patriots were the NFL’s new dynasty with three Super Bowl victories in four years. Lost, Amazing Race and 24 were the top three hit television shows. The U.S. war in Iraq was just one year old, and Microsoft was the undisputed king of the tech world.

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