So here we are — the last day of 2011 and the end of the first year of me writing my occasional newsletter, Om Says. Being on a break, I decided to not read the web and instead go analog and read a lot of books to nourish my mind. For me, it was an enjoyable year of writing these newsletters and I have picked out 12 stories from the archives that I feel are something you might want to revisit during the New Year’s weekend. Happy 2012, everyone.
The top story of 2011 that impacted me personally:
Steve Jobs left a big hole not only for his company, but also for the tech industry. In a time when so many companies focus on short-term decisions, Jobs taught us that real success is in taking the long view. (Also, The Tao of Steve.)
My thoughts on media:
The unbundling of telecom resulted in the free-ing of the last mile, which in tandem with rise of the Internet resulted in the destruction of the voice-minute economy. The media landscape is going through similar unbundling, thanks to the Internet, which takes away controls over distribution networks.
Unless media corporations stop defining themselves by their products, they are going to be unable to navigate the big shift that is changing the rules of the game — what I call the “democratization of distribution.”
One of the biggest mistakes we as a society in general, and this industry in specific, make is that we mistake the medium for the message. Those who can keep their eye on the message — Amazon and Netflix for example – profit handsomely. On the flip-side you…[MISSING REST OF SENTENCE]
Some trends I see emerging:
There is a re-definition of the consumer electronics landscape and we are seeing a future for hardware that combines hardware, software and connectivity with specific services. Without services, the devices may lose our attention and end up at the back of the proverbial drawer.
An Internet-connected, sensor-based and iPad-managed terrarium — a microecosystem — by London-based product designer Samuel Wilkinson is an artful marriage of physical living and digital worlds and it could be a precursor for what homes and gardens could become in the age of connectedness.
Observations on the “apps” and app revolution:
Steve Jobs called the iPad magical. Fast forward to today, and I (and about 15 million others) agree. However, if iPad, the device, is more magical, the applications (apps) for the device are anything but. Where are the apps befitting the device and its hardware capabilities?
The crowded consumer Internet has made it difficult for startups and services to get attention from the people who really matter: the end users. The question is: How do you get that much-needed attention? Not with VC dollars. Instead it is something less tangible.
The biggest frustration I have with my iPhone is when the phone switches between Wi-Fi and 3G networks and just hangs. In solving this problem, MIT researchers used motion sensors, showing how mobile devices need to become an extension of us.
With over 650,000 apps seeking our attention, it is not an easy task for apps to get it. In order to be successful and stand out, mobile apps have to have little friction, and in the process overcome smartphones’ and the mobile web’s three limitations.
And some random musings:
The economics of attention are much more ruthless and unforgiving than the real economic underpinning of a product. Just as it is hard for a movie to recover from a bad opening weekend, today’s apps lose if they don’t make a good first impression.
I started my recent European tour with a visit to Loic Le Meur’s annual celebration of the Internet, Le Web. If attendees were an indication, startup culture is everywhere. Perhaps it’s the setting, but this celebration of technology and startups reminds me of another creative age.