December 12, 2010

Michael Mace has a very nice post about what you might call "Peak Customers" (by analogy with Peak Oil).

Time passes, and that middle portion of the market gets consumed. Eventually demand growth starts to drop, and you make another price cut. Sales go up again, sometimes a lot. With revenue rising, you and your investors talk proudly about the benefits of reaching the "mainstream" market.


What you don't realize at this point is that you're not "reaching the mainstream," you're actually consuming the late adopters. Unfortunately, it's very difficult to tell when you're selling to the late adopters. They don't wear signs. Companies tend to assume that because the adoption curve is drawn as a smooth-sided bell, your demand will tail off at the end as gradually as it built up in the beginning. But that isn't how it works. At the start, you are slowly building up momentum from a base of nothing. That takes years. But by the time you saturate the market you have built up huge sales momentum. You have a strong brand, you have advertising, you have a big distribution channel. You'll gulp through the late adopters really rapidly. The result is that sales continue to grow until they drop suddenly, like a sprinter running off the edge of a cliff.

December 10, 2010

More on enterprise iPad :

An informal survey of more than 5,000 Citrix customers point to the popularity of the iPad among businesses and the enterprise, and to the still spotty response by IT management for access to company resources.

Support within organizations appears strong: some 72 percent of respondents said they currently have access to corporate resources.

More than 60 percent of respondents said they were prepared to purchase an iPad for work. Company purchases of iPads came to 43 percent.

The number of people depending on the iPad and using it daily (46 percent) is remarkable given it’s only been on the market for 7 months. In fact 13 percent say the iPad is mission critical for their job. If a business can increase employee productivity and respond faster to customers, the payback can be significant.

The look on the upside is revealing: 88 percent said the iPad increases the means to work remotely, whether at home or “anywhere.” A close second place was the iPad’s help in increasing productivity and computing satisfaction. And more than half of respondents (59.3 percent) said that it allowed access to business applications and documents while keeping data secure. Perhaps this last item is all about the remote wipe capability of the iPad.

Some respondents (32 percent) appear to believe they can do without some other computing devices (likely notebooks). A similar number believe that the friendly iPad needs less tech support than PCs.

December 09, 2010

Umair Haque puts out a great post about wikileaks. I'm quoting a chunk here. But read the whole thing.

Consider just how moribund yesterday's institutions are when it comes to information collecting and sharing. Take transparency in corporations. It's built on a set of institutions crafted in and for the industrial age — like annual and quarterly reports. Four times a year, boardrooms publish updates to their accounts, and once a year, a hefty report explaining and discussing them.

Now ask yourself: does that make even a tiny sliver of sense in a world where I can trade equities from nearly any beach in the world, hundreds of times a minute, using my iPhone? It's an obsolete institution, where my demand for information — to analyze, synthesize, and integrate — has vastly outstripped the capacity to supply it. Hence, stocks froth up and down before and after earnings report releases. When I can't get new information from the horse's mouth, I rely on your opinion, the latest rumor, or what talking heads are paid to say. Result: boom, crash, rinse, repeat. But the real question is one of institutional obsolescence. Why, for example, can't we have continuously updated earnings releases — that let us see what companies are earning in real-time — for a continuously connected world?

Sure: there's a balance to be struck between confidentiality and disclosure. But I'd argue that we're not even close to discovering it. Right now, yesterday's organizations — from corporations to Congress — have a gaping, yawning disclosure gap: the how, what, why, how and when of disclosure simply isn't good enough for markets and communities to be able to allocate and utilize resources productively or efficiently. That's why the traditional understanding of everything from GDP to "jobs" to "profit" to "IPO" is limited.

And the result of an undersupply of disclosure is toxic, perverse incentives. A CEO can make hundreds of millions for running a once-thriving company into the ground because he (or she) can earn his mega-bonus faster than you can stop him from earning it. And the systemic result of that is crisis, stagnation, and decline.

My guess is that, like updating GDP for the 21st century, real-time corporate reporting could create new markets, companies, and much-needed jobs. It might ignite novel sources of advantage — while of course creating disadvantage for companies who won't or can't play by its rules. But prosperity is always going to accrue to those who innovate yesterday's rusting, creaking institutions.

(BTW : my personal / political thoughts about wikileaks are on my other blog.)