Bargnani Plays Defense

November 14, 2013

Click to see greatness

Inspiration for iOS 7′s Color Palette

June 13, 2013

My-little-pony-friendship-is-magic-mlpfim-wallpaper nicki-minaj-popsicle-1 PowerRangersBigBen red bubblegum machine 463 macaroons

Why Microsoft Will Bounce Back in 2013

January 3, 2013

Tablet/Ultrabook Market

surface_pro2-100015350-large

The Surface Pro will be a game changer. It provides a strong counter to Apple and Google’s software commoditization strategy. It caters to those who are sick of cheap software on mobile, and quality higher price point software will gradually affect the general public’s ideas of what a tablet user experience should be. Apple and Google and the companies that apply downward pressure on software pricepoints will be at a disadvantage – partially because it goes counter to their business model and partially because their mobile OS’s are not equipped to deal with the tech challenges of running complex software suites that require keyboards and mouse pointers.

I also predict One Note will be the surprise killer app that shows how digital note taking should be done. None of this pretend your fat finger with zero precision is a pen nonsense. If you recall the Courier, it was laid out as a portfolio and note taking potential was probably the most intriguing thing about it.

Smartphone Market

Windows8x_red

IMO Windows Phone 8 makes iOS, BB10, and stock Android look old and outdated. Ecosystem is just getting off the ground, but a strong set of building blocks is there. Live Tiles is the killer feature other OS’s will have to react to once WP8 gains more marketshare. An information-centric OS instead of silo’d apps is the other killer feature.

MS has also learned from past fragmentation mistakes. Rather than totally commoditize smartphone hardware and let a ton of OEM’s degrade the user experience, they’ve come up with strict tech specs and limited WP8 manufacturing to Nokia, HTC, and Samsung. Android is currently making all the mistakes MS did on Windows Mobile.

Ecosystem Building

A win in one of the above markets will strengthen the other and create forward momentum across all markets. Office is already industry standard, esp corporate. Those who are vested in Windows software or Office will be drawn to the Surface Pro and Windows 8. Those that have a Pro will want to use Skydrive to sync to Mobile. Similar to how someone who buys an iPhone then wants an iPad then wants a Mac. The forward momentum and might even strengthen the Windows brand enough to save the Surface RT.

XBox 720

Lip service to what might probably be the best engineered console in the 8th console generation (based on the 7th gen track record). They also have a chance to better integrate disruptive Kinect technology. Software sells hardware on consoles, and MS, like Sony and Nintendo, has strong first party IP.

Android Monetization Problems

Google’s Motorola Phone needs to be a hit in order for Android to keep going. They’re giving away too much for free otherwise. Knowing the only way they make money is when an Android user utilizes a Google service from their phone, here are some commonly known monetization problems they’re facing

  1. Letting Amazon hijack Android for the Kindle Fire, removing everything Google related and reskinning the UI to the point it lacked Android features.
  2. Commoditizing hardware to the point Android is the default OS for cheap smartphones. Android phones grow in volume in countries like India, where people don’t have internet access, so Google makes no money. Notice how cheap Android smartphones have become the replacement for stock limited function phones. Basically Android market penetration doesn’t correlate to Google increasing their revenue.
  3. Regardless of the ubiquity of Android, Google draws 2/3rds of mobile revenue from iOS. That’s ass backwards.
  4. They paid a shit load of money for Motorola so if their Google Phone goes nowhere, they will have pissed off third party manufacturers and shareholders while essentially giving Android away to HW mfg’s as a charity. They really need to enter the smartphone hw market strongly. Otherwise with its pitiful return on investment, Android becomes something they spend money to create only to give away for free

Apple’s Stagnancy Issues

While I’m personally waiting for Apple to enter the TV Market and revolutionize it, they’re becoming stagnant on mobile. The freshness of Live Tiles shows that iOS’s 5 year old app centric UI needs an update. Meanwhile they’ve fragmented their mobile devices to the point the release cycle is no longer predictable. Rumors suggest they’re going to be offering their phones in different colors and screen sizes, which is dumb for the simple fact it’s a step in the direction of commoditizing and driving down the value of their own hardware. There’s a reason Steve Jobs only wanted one color initially and it’s a smart money making business reason they’re starting to ignore.

What’s Wrong with the Lakers?

December 10, 2012

dantoni-meme

You really want to know, all you gotta do is look at last year’s New York Knicks.

Who also had D’Antoni.  And also sucked despite having all-stars until they found a PG (Lin) who could orchestrate the D’Antoni offense.

D’Antoni’s offense needs 3 things to gel and they all start with the letter P

  1. Pick and Roll
  2. Penetration
  3. Point Guard that can do these 2 things

His offense’s bread and butter (which isn’t run and gun no matter how many people say it is) revolves around using the pick and roll to catch the defense sleeping.  This is usually done in a half court set.  The 3 non-pnr players position themselves beyond the arc to create space for the pnr and exploit weaknesses in the D.  They’re also supposed to hit the open jumper if the ball is kicked out.  The rest of his offense is transition-based (IE having the 1, 2 and 3 race down the court to act as a threat only to hit the trailing big who slipped through while the defense was looking at the wrong person).  Except for Dwight, the Lakers are not gonna be running so it’s pretty evident they’re gonna rely strongly on the half court pick and roll set.

Well right now, none of the Lakers PG’s (Morris, Duhon) can penetrate especially well or make good decisions off the pnr while keeping track of their teammates.  When Blake comes back, he can’t do it either.  They’re all initiator point guards who pick up their dribble at the 3 line or guys that try to create but end up overdribbling or overpenetrating and screwing it all up.

Which is the same as last year’s Knicks.  They had Toney Douglas and Bibby (couldn’t penetrate or exploit the pnr) and Shumpert (could penetrate somewhat but couldn’t playmake well).  They were pretty much screwed until Lin proved he could play the pnr to perfection.

Until then you had guys like Melo and Shump playing out of position.  You had a rollman (Amare) who never rolled.  You also had a team that couldn’t win because they were broken.

Lakers are gonna look like trash until Nash comes back.  Until then if they do win it’ll be because of sheer talent rather than a cohesive system.  And if Nash reinjures himself, it’ll all fall apart.

Which is why Phil Jackson would’ve been a way better fit for this team than D’Antoni.

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Why Surface Pro = Game Changer

December 1, 2012

Right now here’s your tablet market:

  1. Premium tablets = Original iPad all the other clones priced at >$500
  2. Budget tablets = Kindle Fire, Nook, and Nexuses priced at $200.  From a market standpoint, these tablets are competing with the iPad primarily based on price
  3. Mid-range tablets = iPad Mini with a $350 pricepoint.  Apple is in the process of creating this market through the power of its brand.

The Surface Pro introduces a something new – an ultrapremium market with a $1000 pricepoint.  Why can it do this?  Because it leverages something that the other markets don’t have – the ability to run both mobile and desktop ecosystems on one device.

Up to this point, your mobile devices have either had a mobile ecosystem (iPads with iOS) or a desktop ecosystem (Tablet PC’s running XP Touch or Win 7).  The latter is a big joke – skinning a Touch UI and forcing a tablet to pretend it’s a desktop.  The former works but has drawbacks.

The biggest drawback to the mobile ecosystem is the software on it sucks compared to the software on desktops.  I’m sure a lot of people with iPads have wondered, hmmm I wonder if I can use my iPad to do X application, only to find that either

  1. There’s no app for it
  2. There’s an app for it but it’s crippled compared to its desktop equivalent
  3. There’s an app for it but you have to jump through hoops just to do the simplest things

So a company that attempts to fix this problem has leverage over existing tablet makers.  There are economic reasons for mobile software being so crappy and I’ll get into it in another post but if you want the gist of it, go read my post on why Apple Will Never Kill Nintendo.

By merging both the mobile ecosystem and with the desktop ecosystem, Microsoft is solving this problem and creating something new.   A tablet that can offset the crummy software on mobile with the option to use desktop quality software.

Here are the tablets of the past and present:

  • Tablet PC’s and Win 7 Slates = Desktop ecosystem forced on tablet HW
  • iPad, Fire, Nexus, Nook = Mobile ecosystem on a tablet, but since it’s mobile only, and mobile software has turned into a budget market, you’re stuck with all the limitations of an ecosystem that can produce a million flashlight apps but not one word processor with an equation editor
  • Surface RT = same thing as the iPad without any leverage over it except a crippled version of MS Office, which is why it’s dumb
  • Surface Pro = Mobile and Desktop ecosystems on a tablet for the first time ever, and you can correct the deficiencies of one by switching to the other

The biggest limitation for desktop ecosystem deployment on a tablet is the absence of a keyboard and mouse.  The iPad has you “solve” the keyboard problem by lugging around a bluetooth keyboard (AKA piece-mealing your own tablet hybrid).  Apple was never able to “solve” the mouse problem since it eliminated the pointer from iOS.  So if you run an iOS Word Processing program like Pages, which is based on a desktop UI, you end up having to lift your hand every 10 sec to poke the screen, which is retarded.  That trackpad/keyboard type cover solves this problem rather elegantly I think.  It’s integrated in the system, it doesn’t get in the way, it doesn’t add much bulk but it adds 100% desktop functionality.

So what is the Pro?  People are saying you should be comparing it to ultrabooks, blah blah blah but you really shouldn’t  It’s an entirely new type of product.  There’s nothing out there that’s merged desktop with mobile on a slate form factor and has the marketing power behind it to alter the current market.  This is a first.

Which means if Microsoft is successful, it’ll be creating a brand new product space.   I call it the Ultrapremium submarket but who knows what people will call it.

What is Apple Trying to Do with the iPad Mini?

October 24, 2012

People are saying the iPad Mini is overpriced and can’t compete with the $200 Kindle, $150 Nook, and $200 Nexus.

They’re right.  It can’t compete with those budget tablets.  But what makes you think it’s supposed to compete with them in the first place?

Right now there are two tablet submarkets – the Premium Market, dominated by the iPad, and a budget market, dominated by those $200 tablets.

If you want to know what Apple is trying to do with the iPad Mini, all you gotta do is look at what they did with their other mobile device that had the name Mini.

AKA the iPod Mini

Back then there was a Premium market for MP3 Players, dominated by the iPod Classic and a budget market, dominated by $30-50 MP3 players.  Apple released the iPod Classic first and captured the Premium market.  Then they released the iPod Mini.  The iPod Mini didn’t compete with the budget market.  Instead its purpose was to grow the overall MP3 player market by creating a midrange market.  And that it did.  Only after the market was maximized into 3 submarkets (Premium, Midrange, Budget) did Apple release their budget solution, the Shuffle.

So Apple’s strategy:

  1. Release a Premium Product, blow up an existing market and capture Premium marketshare
  2. Release a Midrange Product, create a Midrange market where none existed, growing the overall market, and capture Midrange marketshare
  3. Release a Budget Product and go after the Budget market

This iPad Mini is step 2.  Everyone who’s complaining thinks it’s step 3

Some Jeremy Lin Predictions

July 16, 2012
Nothing groundbreaking but here we go…
  1. Knicks won’t match the Rockets poison pill offer sheet and Lin will go to Houston.  Dolan excels at mismanagement so it makes total sense for him to transform into Don Sterling when it comes to the only player on his team besides Shumpert that has a ton of upside.
  2. Lin will get phenomenally better this year.  He’s been spending his summer  in the yay area working on cutting down his turnovers which are usually caused by over-dribbling and telegraphing passes.  On the Warriors, the guy couldn’t shoot, couldn’t finish with an open lane, and couldn’t play under pressure.  He reinvented his shot in the offseason and on the Knicks, he was able to hit his shots to draw out defenders, turn dribble penetration + And 1 into his bread and butter, and do things like hit that Calderon dagger with the whole arena standing up and making noise.  I have no doubt he’ll do something similar with his A/TO ratio.
  3. Knicks will continue to be a dysfunctional mess and regress.  They’re a bunch of players slapped together that need different systems to shine but since Melo is the face of the franchise, once he gets bored, it all reverts back to Melo’s elbow ISO game.  A Felton/STAT pick and roll game will surface briefly then fizzle out.  Felton will eventually become nothing but an initiator pg.  On the other end, since 2 of their defensive specialists (Jeffries and Landry) were shipped out and the 3rd, Schumpert, is on the injured list, Tyson Chandler will be playing defense all by himself and the Knicks will be worse off defensively.  Everyone else joined the roster because Bibby needs some old people  on the bench to kick it with.
  4. Lin will be better off on the Rockets.  Yeah, the Rockets lineup is a bunch of scrubs but so was the Knicks bench that he led on that win streak.  He will make them better and not having to defer or run failed pick and rolls where Melo is crowding the rollman because he wants to post-up from his favorite spots should help.  And since Melo and JR have both thrown Lin under the bus (for being offered a CBA provision the Players Union fought to keep… isn’t that ironic), the locker room is fucked now anyway.
  5. On the Rockets, Toney Douglas will play the 2, regain his confidence/shot, and make an awesome comeback, giving Knicks fans another reason to hate Dolan.  Alright this I’m not sure about but I like Douglas and it would make for a great story.

As for all the talk about whether or not Lin is worth $15 million in his third year, of course he isn’t.  It’s a poison pill deal, where overpaying in the third year is used by a team with cap space to poach a player from a team with zero cap space.  Overpaying for the player is what makes the deal work.

Why I Want Lebron to Win a Ring

June 12, 2012

And neither will Derrick Rose, thanks to Thibodeau riding his ass

First of all, Lebron was a retard for doing The Decision.  Making everyone watch TV for an hour just to find out where he’s gonna go = him being full of himself.

But that’s forgiveable.

Far as people thinking he should’ve stayed in Cleveland, that whole team was a bunch of scrubs being carried by Lebron.  He made Mo Williams into an allstar.  Now he’s nothing but a backup PG.  He made Varejao look like a 6th man of the year.  Now Varejao looks like the Lopez twin’s marginally talented younger brother.  Or Justin Guarini with a basketball.

Jordan had Pippen and Phil Jackson coaching the triangle by his 5th year.  By his 7th, Lebron still had a bunch of scrubs along with Mike Brown as head cheerleader.

A lot of the Decision backlash was catalyzed by Dan Gilbert throwing a tantrum.  By now, since it’s 2012, it’s pretty evident Gilbert is an asshole and a shitty businessman.  He complains about small market teams not getting their fair shake and gets Stern to block the Chris Paul trade.  Then he goes out and trades for Luke Walton.  Meanwhile, small market team OKC is in the Finals.  Basically what I’m trying to say is Gilbert isn’t good at anything except throwing tantrums.

So here’s why I want Lebron to win.  Everybody hates him.  Which makes him like every other champ.  Why?

In the NBA, every champ has had to go through hard times.  Those hard times create character.

  • When Kobe came into the league, he sucked.  I remember seeing games at the Forum, where he’d come out, showboat his handles, and brick or lose the ball, making everybody smack their head.  He said, fuck you guys, kept at it and now he’s one of the best.
  • Dwayne Wade spent the early part of his career in the shadow of Carmelo and Lebron.  He also spent it under Pat Riley, who’s an asshole.  He’s also been plagued with injuries (I remember him carrying his team on his back in the playoffs during Spoelstra’s first year when his back was so fucked up he needed help just to get off the bench).  No complaining, just working hard, the guy is a motherfuckin champ.  Which is why he has a ring and Lebron  and Carmelo don’t.
  • Jeremy Lin is one of the best stories in sports 2012.  No D1 scholarship despite leading his high school team to a state title, undrafted despite breaking Ivy League records, getting stuck playing for Keith Smart who hated rookies and loved iso ball, getting labeled as a marketing tool with no game, getting tossed repeatedly into d league, getting waived at the expense of scrubs.  The guy’s life has been tough times since 06.  Which is why everyone loves his story, the guy’s an underdog who said, fuck all you haters, I’m still gonna get mines.

Up until 2 years ago, Lebron’s career had been coasting.  The guy was talented, destined to be one of the greats and was riding high.  The dude would be doing his stupid baby powder thing and dancing around the court.   The guy wore a dookie and shiny gold hammer pants during the ESPY’s while dancing to Bobby Brown and afterwards, people still called him King instead of faggot.  That says a lot.   There were no hard times for the Cavs Lebron.  But then he realized he didn’t want to be a Reggie Miller or a Barkley and retire without a ring.  So he got proactive and did what he thought he needed to do and jumped shipped to Miami.  And everyone hated him for it.  From then the pressure was on him to deliver and he wasn’t used to it so he would choke.  And everyone laughed at his ass.

You guys are his hard times since he no longer has any fans to play for, which is a good thing because the guy’s FINALLY saying, fuck you guys, and playing for himself and not you.  Which is why he exerted his will on the Celtics and was the deciding factor Games 6 or 7.  The guy finally has a champ mentality and is remembering why he moved to Miami in the first place.

I don’t know if Miami will win against OKC.  I’m a Laker fan so I kinda don’t care all that much.  As a Laker fan, it would also kinda make me happy to see Fisher get a 6th ring.  But I wouldn’t be mad if Lebron won.  IMO the guy deserves it more than anyone on the Thunder.

The Knicks’ Problem

March 13, 2012

Stephen A Smith was going apeshit yesterday trashing the Knicks and Lin in particular, pretty much saying that Lin is a scrub and the Knicks should run the offense through Melo.

Why he’s wrong:

- The Knicks already ran the offense through Melo when Lin was warming the bench and it led them to an 8-15 record.  Why the hell would you do it again?

- The Knicks problem now isn’t offense, it’s defense.  And I say this as a Laker fan, whose team has stellar defense and an offense that’s only elevated above horrible because we have guys that can take over games.

NY Fans are blaming the Knicks losing streak on a chemistry problem between Lin and the stars.  The only thing Lin affects is the offense since he’s the primary ballhandler in a pick and roll read offense.  Yet he’s still turning out around 9-10 assists a night and Melo and Stat are getting 20+ points a night with good looks.  The Knicks have no problem breaking 100 points a game.  Offense is not the problem.

The problem is the other team is scoring 110 points a game because the Knicks defense, primarily in the interior, is non-existent.

During the Linsanity streak – Knicks gave up 89.5 points a game.  With Melo and STAT back in the starting lineup, they’re now giving up 104.5 points a game.  Meaning they have to score an additional half a quarter worth of points just to win.

With Melo and STAT back in the lineup, here’s what you don’t see any more:

- Jeffries and Lin drawing crucial charges

- Hustle plays for rebounds and loose balls

- Schumpert shutting down go-to guys for entire games.

Here’s what you do see

CLICK ME

Why People Will Buy the Vita and 3DS

February 22, 2012

The Playstation Vita launched yesterday and already articles like this one are coming out:

“It almost feels like Sony designed a product for a world where smartphones and tablets don’t exist,” said Gartner Research Director Michael Gartenberg. “It costs more than most phones and the same as most gaming consoles. It is hard to say who is the market for this.”

Somebody go tell Gartner, the market is consumers who want to play the best AAA games out there, not bored housewives.   Somebody also tell them that an iPad costs $500-$900, an iPhone costs $300-500, and an iPod Touch costs about the same as a Vita and you still have a ton of people who fork out their money to replace one or more of these devices every year.  Contrast this with a  $170 3DS or $250 Vita that won’t have to be replaced for half a decade and suddenly the pricing is not that big a deal.

If the Vita doesn’t click with consumers, it would not be the first handheld device to disappoint.

Consumers shrugged off Nintendo’s last handheld, the 3DS, when it came out last March. Less than four months later, the company had to cut the price by $80 from $249.99 because of disappointing sales.

Over the holiday season, the 3DS became a success.  It is now the best selling console of all time in Japan and has outsold the DS in its first 12 months to market.  The writer must’ve been asleep for the last 6 months.

Here’s another one.

Sony tried this once before. People had serious doubts about the Playstation 4, a bulky, expensive piece of powerful hardware that powered through early lackluster sales and established itself as a viable and dominant home console.

The fact the guy thinks the Playstation 4 actually exists makes me scratch my head.  That he put a picture of the original PSP instead of the Vita makes me scratch it again.

 Even as Sony attempts to position the Vita as the only mobile gaming device worth having, the hardware seems self-conscious of its own relationship to modern handhelds. It looks like an Apple device, with its rounded edges and shiny black finish. And it’s loaded down with all manner of gizmos that the core gaming audience they’re aiming at usually spurns: tilt controls, front and rear cameras, not one but two touchscreens.

Piano black is not an Apple attribute.  The DS came in piano black.  So did the first PSP.  The one industrial design attribute that’s strictly Apple is a gorilla glass encasing.  But the Vita doesn’t use that.  It uses a plastic bezel.  So what is he talking about?  Who knows.

And there’s a difference between shunning the core gaming audience and supplementing a core gaming device with features to capture other markets.  I don’t feel like explaining it right now.

You don’t buy hardware just to marvel at hardware specs.  You buy it because serves a purpose.  The one that serves this purpose better than the others wins.   For gaming hardware, the purpose is to play games.  If both smartphones and dedicated devices lacked games worth playing, they would both fail at their purpose.  Thus the software becomes as definitive a factor as hardware specs, if not more, in everything from customer satisfaction to profitability.   Thus it makes more sense to scrutinize the gaming experience on these devices than to talk something as derivative as industrial design.  Which analysts and journalists are not doing.  The “in” thing to do nowadays is conflate $1 minigames with $50 console games.

Bottomline, for tablets/smartphones to make dedicated gaming devices obsolete, they have to have games that are as good as the ones on these devices.  But they don’t, due to reasons I talked about in a previous post.  Because of this and because mobile developers have no way/plans to remedy this, dedicated devices will continue to have a market and the 3DS and Vita will do quite well.

Other thoughts:

  • You know how you go to Fry’s and next to the AAA PC games they have a shelf full of cheap $5 games in cardboard sleeves?  App store games are the portable equivalent.  Budget software galore.
  • The rule on mobile is the minigame and Freemium pricing that degrades quality.  The rule on dedicated handhelds are AAA games with a price point that mandates quality.
  • The smartphone/tablet is a launching point for minigames.  Every single one of these minigames can be ported to the Vita without a loss in user experience.  Yet, on a Vita, these games are now second tier to exclusive AAA gameplay, just extra diversions on the side.
  • The opposite doesn’t work.  You can’t take a Vita game or 3DS game and port it to iOS without loss – both because of hardware limitations and because of pricing.
  • There’s conflation about the direction the gaming market is headed because of Apple and Android’s success as platforms and the influx of tablets.  Reality is, while the platforms and their accompanying hardware are successful, the app store business model sitting on these platforms is flawed.
  • The 3DS is a launching point for beloved Nintendo IP that can’t be found anywhere else.  Nintendo is a company that has proven it knows how to make games and is all about innovation.  Gamers will buy and have been buying the 3DS for these reasons.
  • The Vita is the closest thing on the market to having a AAA console experience in your hands.  It’s the device best suited to porting best selling AAA console IP such as FPS’s and sports games.  Gamers will buy a Vita for this reason.

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