Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Amazon's expanding B2B efforts

The recent news regarding Local Register, Amazon's new mobile payments system, may be the next step in my pet theory that Amazon was designed NOT to be a retailer but rather to be the backbone for retail and take a margin on retail generally.  However, to create the scale and credibility needed to move into these businesses, Amazon first needed to create a massive retailer.  But making money from retail itself is perhaps not the true goal.

For example:
1) Warehousing and third party sales.  Amazon has expanded greatly into storing goods for third parties.
2) Fulfillment and Delivery.  Amazon acts as storefront and handles logistics interfaces for third parties.
3) Finance.  Amazon provides small business lending.
4) Cloud.  This is very well known.
5) Payments.  Now Amazon handles payments for goods that have no other connection to Amazon.
6) Devices.  Although superficially supportive of Amazon's retail business, these are equally supportive of Amazon's third party retail businesses.

What's next?  What does Amazon do that is easily portable and deliverable for third parties?

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

AppleTV and gaming

I had expected games to be announced for AppleTV by now (so much so that I foolishly deferred buying an AppleTV for our new television).  I had originally assumed that the announcement would be dependent upon a large enough installed base of AppleTVs to resolve the usual chicken/egg problem for game devices (no games means no one buys the console; no console owners means no one develops games).

However, I think that, beyond installed base (seems like it is about 20m units so far, but perhaps some of these are older models? In any event, at 7m units per year, it will reach a respectable number quickly), perhaps the delay is because of the poor reception for the MFi controllers.  And, until Apple can figure out if it wants to sell its own controllers or try to simply set standards, it is holding off on gaming?

A good controller is hard to design but worth getting right.  And a good controller at a reasonable price (especially as it will be compared to the relative cost vs. the AppleTV itself) is even harder.  If we don't see games announced when the installed base of third generation AppleTVs (running at least an A5) is 40m, I will be more convinced that it is a lack of good controllers at a good price that is deferring games.

Separately, the fact that Apple has stuck to A5s for the AppleTV is suggestive of trying to create a meaningful base.  At the same time, the 64bit A7 likely makes more sense for quality gaming and future proofing so, if Apple wants the installed base to be 64 bit, we may have a long wait for games on AppleTV.  I may go buy that AppleTV now that I think about it...

Friday, March 14, 2014

Stolen plane?

MH370 is veering into James Bond territory.  All normal location reporting systems turned off.  Radar tracking shows it changed course sharply immediately after.  And now satellite information sent from the engines (and thus difficult to access to mid-flight - but I must admit I can't wait to see the movie where someone needs to disable these transponders) shows controlled long-distance flight?

Also, how did China, which is very careful about issuing visas, issue two in stolen passports.  Normal visa procedures require PRE-SUBMISSION of the passport, together with photos, etc. which is then reviewed, has a visa card pasted in, and is returned.  That seems a very bold action with a stolen passport as it is a high level of scrutiny (not a simple visual check at an airport for 5 seconds) and traceable locations (given the return obligation).  Also, how did they get the photos of two Iranians to match those of some Austrian and Italian guys?

Finally, if it was a 777-200ER (news reports say 777-200, Boeing's report page says ER), this is one of the longest range planes ever made.  It can fly to almost any point on earth.

It seems someone now has:

  1. ~200 Chinese nationals;
  2. the ability to get anywhere in the world; and
  3. enough of an organization to land and conceal a wide-body passenger liner.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013


I'm so proud that I came up with a riddle.  I think it is original (or, if not, at least I have never heard it anywhere else).

What can one hold only in two hands but never in both?

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


When does Apple start to be perceived as a bully?  Perhaps it has already happened and I am just late.

Monday, August 19, 2013

police stops as a proxy for social equality

I wonder what the incidence is of police stops of high-end cars around the world?  I'm thinking this could be an interesting measure of evenhanded enforcement/social arrangements around the world.  For example, notwithstanding its relatively high gini-coefficient, my guess is that most new BMW drivers feel they are as likely (or perhaps even MORE likely) to get stopped by the police.  I wonder how common this feeling is in other places.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Targeted broadcast television advertising

Given the high value of digital advertising, much of which is based upon the better targeting, why haven't cable providers and broadcasters joined forces to deliver targeted ads?  I think this should be relatively straightforward (massive because of the numbers but straightforward nevertheless): with broadcasters' permission, cable providers would replace the ads with those better targeted to the specific household.  Delivery should be relatively simple.  Ads could be pre-loaded during low demand periods to avoid the need to stream ads in realtime (DVR equipped cable boxes may be able to do this without hardware modifications).

I believe advertisers would object if they perceive their ratecards as losing value (we paid for x households, instead we got y).  So we would have a combination of broadcast program and narrowcast ads. Which, in fact, is how adserving works generally anyway.  And could very well be why Google is getting in the broadband business.