Friday, December 31, 2010

Google Flops 2010

It is time to reflect a little the year 2010. We had great new products and some flops. Big winners in 2010 were Apple, Facebook, Bing and Groupon. Google once the shooting star, the wunderkind did suck pretty bad this year. They lost a lot of traffic to Facebook and had some major flops with their new products.

This my small list of google flops.

1. Google TV
Google made such a big hype out of their Google TV. But at the end it could not do more than others but was much more expensive. Google TV got in average 19% one star ratings. Now they are pulling the plug On Google TV. No company will show Google TV at CES, this is pretty disappointing.

2. Google Chrome OS
A great idea just a few years to late. Google did dance on too many weddings and did build up too much competition to their chrome OS with Android. Chrome got delayed many times and still not yet out in the consumer market.

3. Google Wave
Once announced as the best most innovative platform to build new types of projects. After less than 2 years, Google stopped Wave. Gave the code free but does not develop on it anymore.

Still clear number 1 search engine, but lost some ground to Google is not able to work with Facebook together, if you need to search for people, bing is the better alternative.

5. Google Buzz
Announced in February as the new social tool, since then the only buzz they got was trouble. Who is even using google buzz?

Happy New Year and hopefully Google will have a better 2011.

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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Double screwed - Apple is discriminating my son, me and many others.

Today I decided To read some German websites. I went with my iPad to, to get some fast and easy news in a simple way.
Bild is a daily newspaper with a lot of photos. Some of them do show naked or half naked women. As we know sex sells. But otherwise the is a good paper to get some news about Germany when you don't live in Germany. For more detailed and professional news other papers like is of course better.

Anyway I had no luck. First decided not to offer a website for the iPad anymore. Instead i need to download the app and pay for $14 a month. The first week is just $1.

Sure I don't want to pay $14 a month, but $1 for the first week to test is fine.
Now here comes the double screw. Apple does not let me download the app from America, because it is a German app and has sexual content.

I am a big Apple fan, but I HATE that Apple tells me what I can do or not.
Only I live America does not mean i don't want to see, listen or read international.

I am German but live in America, i like Music you don't get here but my friends get them in iTunes Germany. My son needs to learn German but he can't use the iPad for this, because you don't let me download all possible German apps or books. You are discriminating my son, me and all foreigners who are living in the US. We moved here because we believed that the world is global, but it seems not to be true for Apple.


----------------- belongs to Axel Springer AG, which is one of the biggest European newspaper and magazine publisher. like some other German magazines went the way a big American publisher recommended. Don't offer anymore free Internet content if your business is publishing.
I think this stinks. I loved the internet because i could save so much money. I don't believe with this high price, that will get enough users to pay for. And the really bad part is, you can't just buy one day, like you do at the gas station, you need to buy a whole month. WTF.

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Is Apple changing the connector on their iPhone?

Brussels - The EU Commission did promise that beginning of 2011 all mobile phone will have same connector for chargers.
At the moment each mobile phone has different connectors for chargers and when we buy a new phone we get a new charger. Some families have 4 different mobile phones and 4 different chargers.
Starting in January most of the new phones will have an universal connector for chargers. The connector will be a micro USB connector which a lot of phones already have.
Interesting is that Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Apple, Motorola and Samsung signed the EUC proposed standard.
As we know Apple has their own 30 pin connector which is far from a Micro USB connector. Either Apple needs to build a new type of iPhone for Europe or has to ship the iPhone with a separate cable which gets connected to the iPhone and has at the other end a micro USB connector. Right now the iPhone has a cable which ends into a male USB 2 connector and can be plugged into an Apple charger. However that this cable works it would need to have a female micro USB at one side.

I don't think Apple goes away from their 30 pin connector, however i can see they will change their wall charger or the cable which will go into the wall charger.

Google translated article from (image)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

My Top 10 Products in 2010

The year is almost over and many new things came to market. Here is my top ten list. I chose only things i actually used or own.

  1. iPad (starting at $499)
    The iPad is amazing, Apple did create a new niche of products and the sales are big. Everybody thought we don't need it but at the end we bought it. My mother in law is over 70 and i gave her a kindle, she did not like it, because screen too small and no Internet surfing, games or email Then we got her the iPad, she loves it, she understands how to use it and she can finally play some cool kid games with my son (2.5 years old).
  2. Microsoft Kinect (starting $189)
    The kinect is a must have for the xBox360. It is so much fun to play with and not need to have a controller in the hand. It even recognize you automatically when you walk in front of the camera. The kinect is just the beginning, pretty sure soon we seen computers and TVs with similar technology.
  3. AR Drone ($299 from
    The coolest must have remote controlled helicopter. The remote is either your iphone or iPad. The AR Drone has two cameras that you can see were you are flying. If you are more than two with an AR Drone, you can play battles and shoot virtual missiles (extra software $2.99). The best augmented reality toy so far.
  4. Windows Mobile 7
    Windows did wait long, but this time they did it right. The took time to invent their own OS totally different looking than iPhone or Androids. The phones are working great (browser however sucks). A lot of things like bing look better on phone than the website. Google's Android looks like a cheap copy of iOS no real own invention, and much more buggy than Windows mobile 7.
  5. Nook Color ($249)
    The original Nook looked nice but the OS was not really stable and the screen OK, The Kindle from Amazon much better. However Barnes and Noble stepped up and the new Nook Color is not only great for color books or websites, the touchscreen is so needed. I still don't know why the kindle has no touchscreen. eInk is nice, but takes for ever to switch a page. B&N understood and decided to bring a color Nook which is not eInk, but who really needs eInk. For me eInk in readers is old school from early 2000.
  6. TikTok and LunaTik (starting $34.95)
    TikTok and Luna Tik did not only raise $1 Million at kickstarter but are as well very cool wristbands for your latest ipod nano. These bands make your iPod nano to a stylish watch (
  7. Apple TV 2 ($99)
    The new Apple TV is easy to set up, cheap to get and does not need a full blown keyboard like Google TV. Has much less features than the Google TV but it works. Google TV is very buggy not good executed, horrible UI. Apple did it just better and much cheaper. Google TVs are priced around $300 either as an add on or build into the TVs. $300 is too much for a device which needs a remote as big as your notebook keyboard.
  8. Facetime (free)
    Ok facetime is not really a product like the others, it comes with iphone but it is the best video calling software i used so far. Much better image quality than skype or fring for Android. Again, Apple seems to bring only products out if they are fully tested (most of the time).
  9. Logitech Harmony One Advanced Universal Remote
    I still have many devices i can't remote with my iPhone. Therefore i got the Logitech Harmony One Advanced Universal Remote and it is easy to set up and works just fine with my Bose system, LCD TV and and even i control my Apple TV with IT. I went from 4 remotes down to one. This is great.
  10. Instant Paper
    How many times do we see articles and have no time to read them? Instant paper is a Mobile app, is available for various platforms. By just typing the words you will have the service facility from this device. Them to your mobile device, As its Instapaper’s browser plug-in, you will easily find your favorite article then press ‘Read Later’ so that you can do another work on it.
If you want to see a list of top 100 gadgets, then click here.
2Leep has many lists of tops and flops in 2010, go here.

iPhone facebook tops Android and Blackberry did publish the latest data on mobile facebook usage.

The number one is the iphone with 10% all facebook users (57 Million) are using the iphone to be connected. Only 4% (21 Million) Androids phones. Blackberry is a little stronger than Androids with 26 Million monthly active users. This is really interesting that there are more blackberry users than Android, even if the BB facebook app is pretty poor.
As comparison they are more Android phones on the market than iphone, but iPhone does still outrun Androids in mobile usage. I could not find any statistic on the number one OS Symbian (over 40% of all smart phones are symbian).

Mobile phones by OS:

The statistic are showing that more people are active users in social and mobile on their iPhone than other devices. As a developer we should still prefer to develop for iPhone only if we want to limit the testing phase and if we don't care too much for other OS. Apple will take 30% of the revenue, but always think about how much time you save ,because you only need to test and develop against a few devices (iPhone 3G, 3GS, iPhone 4, iPod Touch and iPad - these are only 2 differnet form factors)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Augmented Reality T-shirt by Sebastian Merchel

We know Germans are crazy, because I am German. But now the crazy goes crazier.
A German Designer created an AR tee. It is a black shirt with an antique TV printed on. The TV has a barcode in the middle. Switch your webcam on and let the show begin.

AR-Tees first augmented reality tv-shirt from SebastianMerchel on Vimeo.

AR Tees is based on a simple concept and design frame. There is a black t-shirt (and it could be an ordinary one) on which is imprinted a specialized bar code. The bar code is framed by an old school television set with mechanical dials, antennae pointing in the opposite direction, and speaker grooves on the front.
So far it may look and function like a normal tee. Point a webcam at it though and the AR technology of the tee will blow you away. The TV set imprinted on the tee turns into a real, streaming television for the people watching the tee over the webcam. Old cartoons and Laurel and Hardy shows can be viewed by the person wearing the tee and anyone else watching the person over the webcam.

The AR tech on the tee works with Flash software embedded in your internet browser. The specialized bar code is read by the FLAR-ToolKit to track the content of the tee. Papervision3D has been used to give the content appearing on AR Tees a 3D effect.

The t-shirt costs around $30 and the set up is easy, if you have a Windows computer.

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Angry birds makes me angry

Everybody is playing Angry Birds. 1 million downloads on one day (October 15th) and over 30 million downloads combined on iPhone and android.
The game is simple, almost stupid but very addictive.
I see people playing in smoke breaks, on trains, in break rooms. I even heard one guy playing it in the restroom. Angry birds lite is free, full version is $1.99 and the iPad version even $4.99. They have even Halloween and Christmas version of it. You can even by cheat apps for angry birds. Angry birds is an example how successful a simple game can be.make it easy, make it fun and it will rock.

I had it as well but I deleted it as soon i did read the WSJ article.

In a report published by the Wall Street Journal on 12/17/2010, reporters found that Angry Birds for the iPhone and Android phones may be sending your private data such as contacts, your phone's unique ID number and even your phone number to third party marketing and advertising firms.

The report encompassed 101 of the most popular apps and games on both platforms and, more specifically, found that Rovio, the developer of Angry Birds, knows your phone's unique ID number, contacts and location thanks to you playing the game. Worse off, WSJ suspects that the company is sending that information to third parties. In a reaction statement made by the developer, Rovio denied all allegations that it is sending this information to anyone other than Crystal, the social network that supports its games, and uses Flurry, an analytical software.

"Crystal does not store any personal information, as insinuated by the WSJ article, nor does it utilize any data without the user's explicit knowledge," a Rovio spokesperson told gaming news site Develop. "Flurry collects analytical data to display numerical data such as numbers of users per different countries based on Phone ID and general location. This information is only displayed as aggregate statistics - Flurry never stores or displays any data pertaining to an individual."

And don't think these are the only games and apps that could be making some coin off your private information. The chart and infographic go on to mention that Doodle Jump, Ninjump, Paper Toss, Foursquare and even Tweet Deck are having their way with a least a sliver of your personal data. While the report does point a few fingers, its true purpose is to raise awareness to the fact that our personal data may not be safe even on our smartphones.

Angry birds is not the only app which collects your data, WSJ reports that most of the popular apps are trying to make some extra money by collecting your data.

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CityVille is now most popular app on Facebook

My wife, a former farmville power player switched to CityVille a few weeks ago. I had to see if others did the same.
I found the answer at (my favorite site for Facebook statistics).

Social gaming company Zynga's latest hit "CityVille" is now the most popular social game in the world, with 67.4 million active users.
That figure far surpasses FarmVille, also by Zynga, which was formerly in the top spot at 57 million.

Stat-tracker AppData has been following the launch of CityVille, which Zynga released in early December.

The company says the game had 300,000 users in just its first 24 hours.

Overall, including FrontierVille, MafiaWars, FarmVille and others, Zynga now has 269 million active users playing their games on Facebook.

Zynga has 6 of the top 10 most used apps on Facebook.

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Christmas for a nerd

Christmas is over and my wife gave me some cool presents.
First i got a cool sweater with build in headset for my iPhone. The earplugs are better than the original iPhone earplugs. They really keep staying in the ear. However the sound is not the best. This sweater is available at Old Navy and just cool. A must have for winter.

Then i got a scrabble flash game which is 5 bricks, putting them together will show 5 random letters. The countdown starts and you have one minute to build as many words as possible. At the end you see your score and how many words have been possible. This is a great fun. We played for hours. You can play alone or with as many friends as you wish.

The next item under tree was a beautiful chronograph from Vestal (ZR3). The watch, is, black, black and black. A watch for minimalists, no numbers, not color, no nothing but awesome.

Last but not least, i got an iPad stand with speaker from her. She bought idesign portable speaker from brookstone.

The speaker looks great, however it did not charge my iPad as advertised, but it made my iPad to reboot every 10 minutes. We went to brookstone and exchanged it with another speaker system from iDesign (iDesign is a company from brookstone).
The other speaker system with stand is a little more expensive but a good investment. The iPad get charged and no reboots. The only bad part is that you have to use the speaker volume buttons when the iPad is docked in. The iPad volume buttons will not work. You can turn the iPad in the stand 90 degrees to get to landscape mode. You can even move the stand in a different angle to make writing easier. A very good accessory, but like all iPad stands, you have to take your iPad out of the cover (I have the original Apple cover which is slim design but pain in the ass to get the iPad out).

I could not imagine a much better Christmas.

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Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

I wish all readers and friends Merry Christmas.


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I am Rich

I Am Rich, the controversial iPhone app from 2008 is back. You might remember the $999 app which did nothing then telling people you paid $999 for nothing.
Bow the app is back but this time for Windows 7 phones and for only $499

The I Am Rich app lasted just a week in the Apple App Store before Apple cottoned on to the scheme and pulled the app, but not before eight people reportedly bought the app that did nothing.
Eight downloads for van app which takes 5 minutes to create means that this app was one of the best margins in the app store.

Now two years later, the same developer is trying the same trick on Windows Phone 7 owners looking to prove something.

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Word lens - a good idea but still much to improve

Since the iPhone came on the market augmented reality got more traction. Which makes sense, the smart phones today have good cameras and fast processors.
Most of the augmented reality applications (in an earlier blog I explained that it is not really augmented what we call augmented) are for fun, cool, good looking but not with much benefits.
Last week for the iPhone and iPod touch came out the word lens app. The idea is very promising. You hold your device in front of a sign and it translates the text from English to Spanish and vice versa.
I had to get the app. It is a free app with in app purchase. You get two modes for free, which are just for demonstration. If you want to have English to Spanish you have to pay $4.99, you have to pay the same for the other way around. There are yet no other languages available, but the developers are promising that new languages will come.
I tested the app in the mall at an ATT stand.

Original picture:

Translated with word lens:

And how it should be:

I have to say, as long the letters are clear and big, the results are great, and it is really fun to see on live screen the text suddenly changed.

However there are still a lot of drawbacks.
If you are older like me and hungry, then your hand my shake a little and because of this, the app can't focus and the text changes back and for. Would be nice if they would have an image stabilizer. When you decide to take with the app a picture, the translated words are changing blue with underlined hyperlink. Which takes the whole coolness away, but i guess taking a picture and getting the hyperlinks is to find more explanation to the word.

When the text is too small or the camera can't focus, like holding it close to a letter size printout, the app zooms in but has so much problem to focus that it does not make fun to use it.

Trying during driving to translate a street sign is not possible at all (at least with the iPhone 4).

Overall the app is some fun and shows us what, in future, will be possible, but right now it is not useful at all and the $4.99 per language is too expensive.

The app got a lot press news and downloads but the ratings are poor. I hope the developers will listen to the crowd and work on some updates.

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Kickstarter - not sure what i should think about

I recently blogged about how cool it is and how a project can be extreme successful. The best example is TikTok+LunaTik Multi-Touch Watch Kits by Scott Wilson which got almost a million dollar to help getting their iPod nano wristband started.
I thought kickstarter is great a good social portal to get my long term project idea started.

I have since 7 years the idea to make a cinema movie which is totally done through crowd sourcing.

A friend of mine and I did write a criminal story and script and the idea is that anybody in the world can sign up to tape one of the 120 scenes. The crowd will decide which submission of each scene is the best. At the end we take the 120 best submission and cut them together. The actors in the movie as well the locations will be always different but similar because we would describe how the characters would look like or have to wear. However the fun part is that the characters are every minute are slightly different and taped from all over the world. To make it for the audience easier we would (during cutting) replace the voices that the same characters will always have same voice regardless who the actor is.

A film project never happens before and for sure a candidate for Cannes.
We never executed because we had no funding. Kickstarter is the best place to get it started, I thought.

I applied with my project at kickstarter, which requires to explain what the project is, what people will get if they are going to be backers. Plus you have to provide some links (text is not so much wanted) which shows who you are. So i submitted the link to my blog, to my linkedin profile, my Facebook page and twitter and to my website I once created for the movie idea. After a few days I got an email from kickstarter which was already weird ( but I guess because of my bad written English):
Cassie commented on your Kickstarter submission:

Hi there --

Thanks for writing! Project creation currently requires a US bank account and address. Do you have both? Let me know!


I answered that i might sound weird but i live in the US and i have multiple American bank accounts.

It took another few days till I got another email from kickstarter:

Cassie commented on your Kickstarter submission:

Thanks for getting back to me, Markus! Kickstarter is not a source of funds on its own -- its a tool for turning your already existing network of friends, fans, and family members into patrons. Keep in mind that our platform is also built on an all-or-nothing funding model. If you do not meet your funding goal by your project end date, no backers will be charged and everybody walks away.

With this in mind, can you tell me a little bit about your plan for spreading the word about your project? How are you anticipating to turn your network into backers?

Let me know your thoughts!


Here I stopped because i got upset. I wrote in my application that i will use Facebook, linkedin and other social network to promote my idea and still it was not enough.

They even told my in call that kickstarter is for project and not product funding. Which is true and shown on their website.

I thought my idea is a typical project. It has a start date and an end date.
As great the idea of the iPod nano watch is, this project should have been not on kickstarter. It is clearly not a project, it is promoting a product. You can buy their wrist band from their website in a few weeks. But somehow it got on kickstarter, but somebody like me with a great idea for a real one time project seems not to be able to be on kickstarter.

Eventually my crowd sourcing movie idea will never happen, and the world will never know what great movie they are missing, thanks to kickstarter.

For all who wants to use kickstarter. Use a project which kickstarter employee can understand don't try to have something these people need to think and use their brain (sorry for these strong words). Use something which is mainstream or against mainstream (like Diaspora), or be just already famous in what you are doing.

I thought kickstarter is there to get people with ideas a chance and not just to get kickstarter famous.

Kickstarter is growing and has many projects but I am starting to question kickstarter.

I will answer Cassie and hopefully kickstarter will let me start my project, but right now I need distance, because i am disappointed. I think it is great that they look into each project but please don't talk to me like I am 4 years old. Take your time and read my CV and you will see my English might suck but at least I have 3 degrees and can speak 4 languages. Cassie what is your profession? And how many languages do you speak?

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Adobe listen please to Apple

Adobe did so much complaining about Apple not allowing flash on their mobile devices. But instead they should develop a tool to allow to build rich content without flash. They missed it and now Apple released a tool which can just do this. Right now it is an iAd producer tool, not too much functions but has a big potential to be much more than an ad creation program.

I believe if this takes off, then we will see this tool soon outside of the apple developer program as a real alternative to Flash.

Courtesy of the

Apple has released iAd Producer, a new tool for designing interactive "rich media ads" using web standards for distribution through its iAd network within iOS apps, in a direct blow to Adobe's Flash developer tools, the current standard among many web and mobile ad designers.

Apple's new HTML5 development tool graphically lays out the structure and flow of iAd elements within an iOS advertisement in a "powerful visual editing canvas," the company states in its announcement aimed at developers.

The new tool incorporates a variety of technologies from Xcode, Apple's Integrated Development Environment for Mac and iOS software.

At the introduction of Xcode 4 this summer, AppleInsider projected that the company's increasingly sophisticated, graphical software development tool could portend new HTML5 development tools, specifically noting that "one example of how the company's significant investments in creating Xcode 4 could be applied is in shipping a web development tool aimed at creating HTML5 content for the web and for use within web-based tools such as Apple's iAd mobile advertising program."

Introducing iAd Producer

The new iAd Producer development tool provides more than a dozen templates for creating page views, including Cover Flow and carousel image galleries and geographic maps. A variety of interface components are also provided to enable developers to add media playback controls, standard buttons, sliders and switches, progress indicators and flip views without needing to write any code.

iAd Producer also enables developers to easily add animated transitions and effects to their artwork and pages, and catalogs media assets used in iAd projects, such as graphics, videos, and SVG fonts. The resulting content acts as a self-contained HTML5 website that can be inserted into existing iOS apps to present an interactive advertising experience.

The new tool also provides advanced JavaScript editing that allows web developers to create custom interactivity code with standard development features such as auto-completion and indentation, syntax coloring and popup access to component event names.

iAd Producer also incorporates JavaScript debugging tools similar to those found in Xcode, in addition to validation checking that identifies common errors and "sure that your iAd content is ready for prime time before you submit it to the iAd Network."

iAd expansion further promotes HTML5

Apple has been rapidly expanding its iAd program after acquiring Quattro Wireless less than a year ago and converting its conventional mobile ad banner network into the immersive, app-embedded iAd experience.

The company launched major new iAd campaigns to Europe earlier this month with L'Oréal, Renault, Louis Vuitton, Nespresso, Perrier, Unilever, Citi, Evian, LG Display, AB InBev, Turkish Airlines and Absolute Radio, and created the first iAd presentation for iPad to promote Disney's "Tron Legacy."

Apple previously had no real experience in advertising, but recognized the need for ads to help support mobile software titles. The company's chief executive Steve Jobs said that existing mobile ads, like those served by Quattro and Google's AdMob, "suck," and the iAd would enable brands to deliver high quality, valuable experiences that customers would find interesting, useful, and non-intrusive because they don't dump users out of their existing app and into the external web browser after being clicked.

Jobs described iAds as using standards-based HTML5 content exclusively, rather than delivering proprietary binaries created by web-alternatives such as Flash or Microsoft's Silverlight.

Apple's efforts to push mobile content back to using web standards--leveraged by its powerful position in smartphones, tablets and media players, has prompted Adobe to refocus efforts on delivering HTML5 tools and has forced Microsoft to dramatically scale back its plans for Silverlight and instead focus on delivering HTML5 compliance in future versions of its Internet Explorer browser.

Web content distributors, including Google's YouTube, Vimeo, Brightcove, and even pornographer Digital Playground have all taken steps to support HTML5, joined by a variety of web developers and services (ranging from Virgin America to Scribd) that also want to reach iOS devices.
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Two weeks experiment

You did not hear from me the last two weeks and the reason was that i did want to see what happens when I don't use my iPad or phone for being social.
I did not read news, I did not post on twitter i did not log into my Facebook. I did not write any blogs to avoid twitter or Facebook posts.

The results:
Three friends of mine did break up during this time and I did not know about because i did not read Facebook.
A friend of my sister died, which I missed because she did not tell me in person, she only posted it on Facebook.
I lost 10 followers on twitter because I did not tweet.
My blog visitors did cut down in half.

I missed that google could not buy Groupon. I missed that Mark Zuckerberg is person of the year for time magazine.
I missed a lot.

Stopping using the iPad is like not reading any newspaper, stop using the smartphone for chatting and social is like not be connected to the world.

Basically my life stopped for two weeks.

How did we survive 10 or 20 years ago. How did we communicate? Back in time we did not miss such things and we were able to write letters, calling people or visit friends.

Today the order of choice is different.

1. We go to Facebook and post to friends.
2. We log into twitter and post what we are doing
3. If we don't get the answers we are looking for, we text message to our friends.
4. We call them if they don't respond back via text message.
5. We write an email.
6. We might leave the house to see in person.
7. We DON'T write a snail letter.

Our live changed, we have now hundreds of friends in our virtual world but we almost have no friends in our real life. We know much more people, but do we really?

It is time for me to get back to my life and start being digital.

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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Google e-book store finally live

Google launched their e-book store a few days ago and is claiming they have over 3 million titles in their store.

The store is available here Google is offering ebook readers for Many devices, like Androids, iPhone, iPad and PCs.
I downloaded the iPad app and started to test it against the Apple iBook application.
You need to have an account with google. If you have an gmail account, then you are ready to go. Just login with your gmail account. The app will open Safari if you want to search or buy a book. IBook keeps the user all the time in the application. The nice part with google is, that it does not matter which device you use it always remember the last page you were reading and all your book are on all devices always available. Google books are in the cloud. I did search for "social marketing". With google I got over 340 results back and three as free. The website has a nice feature to display only free books. With iBook i got only 52 results and not free book. Both companies are offering a shortcut to NYT Bestsellers.

Clicking on a book will bring a product page with description, ratings and related books.

I was hoping to see as well some social aspects but they are missing.
Google offers like ibook samples. You have to be logged into the website even if you come directly from your iPad app.
The iPad app is ok. As soon i bought a book on the website, it showed up in my iPad application.
Google has some nice features in the iPad app. It let's the user flip the pages like iBook, but it is not so smooth.

I needed a while to figure out how it works. You need to place your finger very close to the edge otherwise it will not start to flip.
Really cool is the magnifier when you put two fingers on the screen.

Google books has some other interesting features, you can read a book in scanned format or flowing text. You can switch from day to night. Night will make the background black and text white. You can switch 3-D Page turn off, choose from 7 fonts types and you can change font size when you are in the flowing text modus.

But there is no feature to mark text (you search but not mark), you can't tweet parts from the text neither.
The landing page of the app is showing all books you ordered.

Google is saying it is open, but it is not more open than amazon. In fact you can read kindle books on more device than google books.
Google books (like Kindle books) are protected by a digital rights management copy-protection scheme. As a result, the copyrighted books in Google's bookstore can't be shared, resold, or read on any device that doesn't play nice with Google's DRM. The copy-protection system that Google has chosen, Adobe's Content Server 4, works across lots of different e-book readers. You can read a Google e-book on the Barnes & Noble Nook, the Sony Reader, Apple's iOS devices (the iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch), any Android device, and any Javascript-enabled Web browser (which means Macs, Windows and Linux PCs, BlackBerrys, Windows Phone, and many more).
The prices at google are similar like Amazon or Apple, sometimes a few dimes less. Google has the most e- books, but only because of the 2 million copyright free scanned books. Amazon has only 650,000 copyright free books, but 200,000 more copyright protected books.
Most of the books at google are the same as at amazon, both signed same deals with the big publishers.

Overall google is another ebook platform, which means i have now four different apps to read books. I always look first in Apple iBook if I don't find the book i go to amazon or B&N.

The iPad app is better than kindle app and could be better than iBooks if the app would not open safari when I want to search or buy a book and if I could highlight text in the books.

A good start but why another ebook app and another store which does not offer better selection of paid books than the others.

Google eBooks offers a large selection of ebooks. We carry over 3 million titles in every imaginable category.

Paid and Free eBooks
We have partnered with publishers and authors to make hundreds of thousands of ebooks available for purchase. These include new releases and bestsellers; new titles are being added to Google eBooks everyday. To see our latest arrivals, simply view our "New Arrivals" shelf. In addition, we offer nearly 3 million free ebooks from the public domain. You can browse some of our most popular free classics in the store using our "Free Classics" shelf. You can also shop directly at the Google eBookstore to browse our entire collection of ebooks.

File Format
Google eBooks are stored in the cloud, so if you plan to read on the web using your computer, tablet, or on your phone, there is no file to download and you can read ebooks directly within the browser or application. If you plan to read using an eReader, you should learn more about the available ePub and PDF file formats, and how to transfer Google eBook files onto your eReader. A small number of ebooks may not be enabled for download to your eReader due to limits set by the publisher; those ebooks will display an alert message ("No download files included") before you purchase or get the ebook.

Page Quality
Some ebooks are offered with flowing text or original scanned pages, or both. Google eBooks with flowing text allow for better control over your reading experience, such as the ability to easily adjust the font size, line spacing and paragraph alignment. Other ebooks with original scanned pages contain text that does not adjust to the different screen sizes of your reading devices. Many Google eBooks offer both flowing text and scanned pages options, and you can easily switch between the two formats within your reader settings. Any ebook that only comes with scanned pages will display an alert message ("Better for larger screens") before you purchase or get the ebook.

Copyright and Digital Rights
Many Google eBooks are protected under copyright law, and our publisher and author partners require us to protect them against unauthorized copying and abuse. These protections come in the form of digital rights management (DRM) and control your usage of your ebooks, such as the option to download ebooks as ePub and PDF files. These protections are specified by the publisher and Google is required to implement them. Some Google eBooks are completely free of digital rights management - they are either free public domain books, or the rightsholder has chosen to provide its readers full access to the content. In these cases you will be able to download DRM free ePubs or PDFs. For all other Google eBooks, we will implement rights management as required by publishers. Additionally, some publishers will limit the number of mobile readers that can download a specific book at a time, and will limit the number of concurrent reading sessions allowed for their content. Learn more about our user policy, and how to use multiple devices to read.
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Only a few months to go for new iPad

I think there is no doubt that a new iPad is coming. The question is what will be different and should we wait to buy one till the new iPad is out.

Most likely changes:
Front facing camera to allow FaceTime
Faster processor
More memory up to 128 or 256GB
slimmer and lighter
Retina display

Possible changes:
Front and rear facing cameras
Able to use other carriers Thant ATT for 3G
4G support

Unlikely changes:
USB port. Apple wants that all accessory works perfect with iPad I can't see they would allow an USB port, users would try too often to attach not approved accessories.

If you don't have an ipad yet, then wait till February announcement or till April when it is coming out. The first generation model will be cheaper or if you need all this new features then go with generation 2. Either way it makes sense to wait.

Easy to say for me, because I have already an iPad. And so far i did not find any useful alternative. None of the existing tablets can keep up with the iPad.

Maybe google chrome tablets but they don't come before February neither.

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Monday, December 6, 2010

iPhone at Verizon but why not Sprint or T-Mobile?

Since a while are speculations that the iPhone will come to Verizon and ATT loses exclusivity here in the US.
Assuming this is correct (at this point fair to do so, everybody has no doubt), then i am wondering what is the whole deal behind. We know ATT paid a lot to be the only iPhone partner for the first 3 years.
But to get iPhone running on Verizon, Apple has to build a new iPhone which supports CDMA. T- mobile as an example has GSM like ATT, would it not easier to sell the iPhone at T-Mobile without the need to produce a new iPhone?
ATT and t-mobile are both on GSM and both using 3GPP (3rd Generation Partnership Project) for their 3G.
Verizon and Sprint are both CDMA for calls and 3GPP2 for data. This means Apple could already sell to t-mobile and when the Verizon iPhone is released they could sell it through Sprint.
I am, by no mean, a techie, and maybe to get 3G running on t-mobile, Apple would need to produce a new iPhone, and maybe the same if it should work on Sprint.
But if not, why only Verizon?
It looks very likely that Verizon did pay a big $$$ amount to block Sprint and T-Mobile. Or in nicer words: Verizon paid a premium which limits the rights to Verizon and ATT, for now.
Or maybe Apple is speculating to offer on Verizon only the 4G iPhone (which does not yet exist, the iPhone 4 is still only 3G). The good part is that Verizon will switch sometimes to 4G LTE like all other big providers, which means very good times for us consumers.

We will see soon. Maybe only ATT and Verizon will offer The iPhone in the coming year, maybe it is still only ATT or maybe all four providers will carry the iPhone.

What I don't understand is, that it is only 4 weeks left till Christmas and still no iPhone at Verizon. All and everybody it reporting that the number one and two Christmas gift will be the iPad and smartphone, and that 35% of Android users would switch to the iPhone if it would be not only at ATT.
Is Apple not losing a lot of money by waiting too long, should they not try to get the Christmas rush? Or can't Apple produce fast enough? We are still waiting on the white iPhone 4. Which is now over six months delayed.

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Friday, December 3, 2010

First kickstarter project over $500k

A few weeks ago, i have been with my family at the international mall in Tampa. We went there to the Apple store to look at the airbook from Apple. The store was pretty busy and we had not chance to get to one of the notebooks, so I decided to show my wife the new iPod nano with an idea I had. The iPod nano is the same size like a wrist watch and i told her if we put a band on it then it is the perfect wrist watch. The build in clock looks even like an vintage finger watch. She agreed and said this is a great idea.
We left and at home I opened in my browser. Kickstarter is a great platform. Inventors can promote their ideas and the community can support (be a backer) the idea with donations. The donated money does not leave the account till a predefined total amount is reached to a defined date.
I thought i use kickstarter to promote the idea because my cash is low :), but before i decided to look if somebody else had this idea. And a simple search i found a design company (MINIMAL) which did already post the idea I had, but with already a very nice design and two different versions. My idea was taken, but their design idea is so beautiful that I pledged for the product ($25). Which is no risk at all. I thought either they don't get the money they need, then i get my money back or if they get the money i will get two wrist bands. It is a win win for me and them.
When i did this, the total pledge was $20k. By today it is $556,048.

Never before did a kickstarter project get so much pledge.
But, besides that the offered wrist band is totally cool, the guys who started this project did everything right. They had a very good description of the product they want to build, they had a video animation of the wrist bands which was very appealing. A perfect CAD animation.

They offered 6 different pledge packages (all but the $1 deal) will give the backer in return more than the product will go to sale. If you pledge $25 you get the band which will be sold later for $34.95.

For a $50 pledge you are pre-ordering and will receive the LunaTik Multitouch Watch Conversion Kit. The Lunatik is hot-stamped and CNC'd out of aerospace grade aluminum at one of Apple's suppliers. The LunaTik will sell for $69.95 online and at retail. Includes shipping within the USA. (Shipping to Canada add $10, International add $15 to pledge amount)

The Collection pre-order gets you both the TikTok and LunaTik. Includes shipping within the USA. (Shipping to Canada add $10, International add $15 to pledge amount)

A serialized, red-anodized LunaTik Kickstarter Backer Edition signed via laser by the designer, Scott Wilson. While you wait for your custom color we will also send you a TikTok to boot. Includes shipping within the USA. (Shipping to Canada add $10, International add $15 to pledge amount)

Spread the Love Party Pack. You will get a serialized red-anodized LunaTik Kickstarter Backer Edition (with 8GB iPod Nano included) signed via laser by the designer, Scott Wilson. We will also send you 5 silver anodized LunaTiks and 5 TikToks to give to your friends and family to replace their current old school timeware. (Shipping to Canada add $25, International add $50 to pledge amount)

They did not only have good offers, they did as well very good marketing. Press releases and regular emails to the backers. We backers could give our opinion and they listen and implemented some of the ideas.

If you look at the hall of fame at kickstarter, you will see that the top 10 ideas together (including ipod wrist band) collected over $1.7 million and all of them have a similar method to get the necessary money and more.

1. Product niche
All of these products are unique and targeted at a niche group. Apple fans, anti Facebook users, people who like certain authors or producers etc.

2. Video
They all have professional looking videos about their project.

3. Appealing story
The story they tell is appealing, even if I would never pledge for some of the hall of fame projects, i still like their story.

4. Good pledge deals
Users have the choice of different pledge amount and getting something in return which seems to be same amount as they donate.

5. Constant marketing
A good kickstarter project owner will send constantly updated to their backers and will have multiple press releases.

6. Backers are a part of the project
Backers feel that they are a part of the project and can influence the project by pledging money and formulating their ideas.

If you have an idea for a product and you don't have the money to do it yourself and no connection to VC and you follow all these steps then is the right tool for you.

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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Why Google Android might fall down and deep

Android is on over 100 different devices and the number is growing. Android is already third biggest mobile OS in the US (22%, iOS and Blackberry both 27%) but the growth of Android can soon change when when hardware companies are stopping to sell their products with Android.
Google has the idea to offer the OS free and tries to get revenue later through advertisement in when millions of people are using Android. This seems to be a great approach. Make things cheap till they are viral and then when everybody is relying on it get a lot of money through advertisement in.
But exactly this approach can break Androids neck.
This economic benefit is offset by what appears to be a significant problem: When you separate revenue from a product, customer satisfaction will suffers.

For Android this has translated to Google creating products and then modifying them largely in a vacuum because the OEMs aren’t contributing to revenue and therefore don’t get any real vote. The attitude appears to be that if you are getting something for free then you should be happy with what you get.

This pulls the actual solution provider out of the decision process and that is why the Android products generally feel unfinished when compared to their iPhone, RIM (Research In Motion) and even Windows Phone counterparts, and things don’t seem to be improving very quickly.

This would not be the biggest problem if the service providers or hardware manufactures would have a focus on software development. Androids is open source and the OEMs could develop and optimize Android. But this drives to the next problem.

Android and it's Linux base is usually attracting more younger, inexperienced, unprofessional and arrogant developers who are brilliant with small ideas but generally never worked in an enterprise environment where small bugs can be the biggest problem. They never build commercial software which millions of people are going to use. They don't have yet worked where delivering on time is very important.

It is very hard for them to find developers who understand android and can fit into enterprise environment.

The next big problem is Google.

Google itself:
Google is a great company and at least 10 of my friends are working at Google and i am maybe jealous. All my friends working at google are under 25 and I am over 40, I applied at google but I am too old for them.
When i talk to my friends i hear many times how great Google is and how young everybody is, and this is a problem. And as soon a person at Google gets mature, the person starts a new company or goes to competition like Facebook.
I worked with many people in my life, and I worked with great people but the best I ever worked with were the people who worked already 10 years in corporations not the young 23 old high profile with Major from the MIT. It does not matter how brilliant a person is, if the person has no experience or nobody with experience supporting the person, then the results are most likely half as good.

As a result, great new software will be created but with more problems than holes in a Swiss cheese.
Some of the problems that Google is having aren’t unusual. Microsoft had similar staffing issues when they were ramping up to handle enterprise sales in the 90s, and IE6 problems were related to having a free product without a good alternative to revenue for measuring quality. This means that these issues can be corrected, but if one of the primary problems is one of communication, then Google may not yet fully grasp how bad they are. This is good news for challenging products like Windows Phone 7 and bad news for Chrome OS, which will likely have the same issues but be running against Windows 7 and not the mess of aftermarket OSs that Android came out against.
Therefore Android will slide soon down and Chrome OS might never be launched. When a company has not the correct staffing then the consumer will be the loser.
Not working with your partners together and to tell them just take it or leave it, does not work when the product is far from perfect. If google does not try to work with their OEM partners together and keeps this arrogance then Google does not understand how serious the problem is. Android is not a search engine which does not rely on hardware producers. Android raises and falls with the OEM partners.
If the Google management really believes that Chrome will replace 60% of enterprise OS then Google lost the sense of reality.

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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Twitter now $4 billion value

Give me a break. Please come up with an idea to allow people to blog what they want but limit it to 240 characters to make it easy for them to blog. Allow them or others who don't blog to follow anybody they want.
Read in two limes of text why Tiger Woods can't grow a full beard or when Lady Gaga goes to bed. And please make it easy to allow people just to blog links to others people websites.
As a result you get 100 million users blogging something with or no sense, and gives everybody news what we are the whole day doing, because we all want to know it.
You get so much content that you can just print it in a big book and sell it as a bestseller. Even the national library will try to archive your data to keep something for the future. But don't worry too much if your servers are down or not as long you have a cute bird on the page when the DBs are down.

If you like this:

Then you like twitter and you like to be a part of something we never would have known we need it.
I admit i tweet, i admit i don't know why, i guess only because i was told i have to, to be a real social expert.
But it does not matter, it must be good because twitter is valued high.

Twitter is in the process of raising a huge new round of financing that would value the company at a whopping $4 billion, according to TechCrunch.
Venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins is said to have submitted the most lucrative investment offer in the reportedly "intense" bidding, topping an offer from Russian firm DST that would have valued Twitter at about $3 billion.
The figure marks a huge leap from the social-media site's last valuation in early 2009. At that time, Twitter raised $35 million at a reported $250 million valuation.
It also demonstrates astronomical growth for a company that was founded less than five years ago and doesn't have a proven business model or, presumably, any profits to speak of.
The valuation would make it worth four times that of such entertainment-based companies as Lionsgate, TiVo and World Wrestling Entertainment.
The news comes two months after Evan Williams' decision to step down from his CEO post to focus on product strategy. COO Dick Costolo, a former Google executive, took over the CEO reins of the company.

I feel like in a time machine back in 1999 when we did hear every week about new deals of big investments in companies who spend more money than getting in.

I believe we are only 30 months away from a big social break down . 50,000 people will lose their job at end of 2012 because we figured out that social is cool but cool enough to justify Billions of investment.
The social boom will be over. A handful will survive and many new will come after the breakdown, but none of the new ones will get so much money anymore.

I think is is ok to have twitter and I like the idea, but i don't see a value of $4 billion for them. I can't see that twitter will make enough revenue to justify the value. The only thing I can imagine is to analyze the data to learn who the users are and what they are doing and what they like or don't like. This would be awesome, but i doubt it would really possible. At least not now.

My tip:
You want to get rich? Start a social company right now and sell it in 12 months before it is too late.

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Google offers $6 Billion for Groupon, why is this important?

New York Times reported that Google did bit $6 billion for Groupon:

"Google’s $6 billion bid for Groupon, an online coupon start-up, is an aggressive move by the company to dominate local online advertising and help with its long-sought move into social networking.

Google has offered Groupon $5.3 billion, with the promise of $700 million in performance bonuses for management, according to a person knowledgeable about the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Several people close to the deal said Groupon, which is based in Chicago, was expected to approve the acquisition and an agreement could be signed as early as this week."

The question is what does this mean?
First of all it means that google did their highest offer yet for a start up company. The highest investment before was $3.7 billion when google bought double-click, an adserver company.

Second Google will have 3100 more employees. Groupon did hire in the last two years over 2900 people to run their business.

Third the founder of Groupon might get a high management role for local advertisement, eventually CRO local advertisement.

But how will Google benefit from this deal. Google is number one company for online advertisement, but did miss two important new movements or was not able to gain momentum.

1. Social
The biggest social network is Facebook with over 500 million users world wide. The second biggest is myspace (source: ). But none of the top social networks are related to Google.
With Groupon Google is getting into a social network which can be easily in the top ten. Right now Groupon has only 35 million subscribers, but a pretty high usage rate.
Google does need to bit very high otherwise the chance is high that Facebook or Microsoft would buy Groupon.

2. Local Advertisement
Local online advertising is expected to grow 18 percent, to $16.1 billion, next year, according to the advertising research firm Borrell Associates.
Google is not good yet with their business model with local advertisement. Groupon can help Google to get a bigger piece of the projected local advertisement.

Right now Groupon is very attractive. For businesses because they can easily generate $1 million extra revenu in one day (like GAP). And it is attractive for consumers because the deals offered are sometimes up 80% discount. Groupon always offers only a few deals at the time for a city. This is a very scarcity effect. If you don't buy the deal the next day it is gone. The deals are time limited and requests a minimum of buyers to make the deal happen.

However some companies are complaining that they have to offer too much discount and that Groupon takes a too high share (I heard it is 50%). Other companies are saying that Groupon drives a lot of traffic to them but the people don't come back after they used the coupon.

Google could take the viral effect away by trying to offer too many deals at the same time and less discounts to get more advertisers.

On the other side google can help Groupon to explode. I believe the best thing for Groupon and google would be if Google does not interfere with Groupon management and let Groupon run their business. And the $6 billion are helping a lot to grow.

The really good part with local business is that even if Groupon is not the best deal for a local store, it does not matter there are so many out there, that till Groupon had all of them in their system and even if they all would not be happy, then they can just start to talk to the businesses again, because some of them changed the owner, some closed and some new are open. It is a business model which never ends. This makes it so attractive. Dealing only with major brands will bring more money per brand in, but if you piss 10 of them off, then be sure the others won't do business with you. We have a saying in Germany:
"Small cattle does make dirt as well. A lot of small cattle makes a lot of dirt."
Which means small advertisement revenue from a few local stores is nothing, but advertisement revenue from 10% of all stores in the US or world is a lot.
Now important to know is that most countries (not the US) have thousands of family owned small stores and restaurants. France and Germany have almost no national restaurant chain, but alone in Paris over 500 family owned restaurants.

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