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Archive for November, 2011

Tablets Scramble to Drop Their Prices for the Holiday Rush.

November 28, 2011 2 comments

Thank you Amazon Fire!  Amazon sent the Android tablet market into a frenzy last week when they launched the Amazon Kindle Fire, an Android tablet customized for a seamless Amazon experience, for a whopping $199.

…and $199 is retail by the way, not just a black Friday gimmick.

In just over a week, Amazon has changed the game of Android Tablets.  Here are some examples of how the Android market is trying to keep up with Amazon’s pricing brevity:

  Barnes & Nobel dropped the Nook Color (the traditional rival of anything “Kindle”) from $249 to $198   and launched the Nook Tablet, a remarkably similar device with additional memory, priced at $249. 

Walmart dropped their already inexpensive Vizio 8″ tablet from $250 to $198.

Latest to jump on board is the BlackBerry Playbook made by RIM.  This fledgeling tablet has been given new life by a lower price point.  For a limited time the price is being dropped from $499 to $199, just to compete with the falling price brought on by the Kindle Fire.    This tactic is working as well.  A Best Buy representative said that the Playbook is selling out across the country.    

              

Why Would Amazon do This?

Amazon took the lesson from the HP Touchpad firesale earlier this year.  The computer giant, HP, liquidated all Touchpads and discontinued the product.  HP slashed the price from $399 to $99, and perhaps influenced the direction of Android tablets forever.  Touchpads sold out immediately, an android port (CyanogenMod 7 Alpha) was developed to replace the lack-luster windows-based OS , and the Touchpads had an immediate underground following.  As a matter of fact, the upcoming Android upgrade, entitled Ice Cream Sandwich, will increase the usefulness of the Touchpad.  Incidentally, the HP’s now discontinued Touchpad was the biggest selling Android tablet of 2011.

So, the lesson in all of this?  Field of Dreams says it all.  If you build it [and sell it for the right price] people will come.  The $200 line has been crossed and the Android world is reeling to figure out new price points.  People will buy a cheap 7″ with limited bells and whistles over a fancier 10″ tablet that is triple the price.

The next year in the world of the Android operating system will be an education to watch.  Perhaps we will see a redefining split between competing middle-class and business-class Android tablets.  Perhaps we will see the industry push the price back up and take the hit in customers.  Perhaps, on the other hand, Android will be able to do what Apple cannot…hold their prices lower than the competition.

Again, thank you Amazon Fire!  The sky is falling.  You have changed the  tablet pricing rules.  The race for consumers is on and this consumer will be actively looking on to see who comes out first!

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Cyberbullying…a realization

November 15, 2011 Leave a comment

“You gotta take a look at this!”  These were the first words my wife said as I walked through the door the other night.  She calls me over to the computer only when there is something outrageously funny or horribly offensive and I could tell that tonight would be the latter. I walked to the computer and read through a facebook conversation posted on one of my daughter’s friend’s wall.  We read through the entire conversation together.  It was filled with a horrific medly of insults, vile language, and threats about what would happen at school the next day.

Now, let me be clear, it was not directed to my daughter.  But our daughter’s friend was the bully, and we had never seen that side of her.  In person she is a sweet, considerate, quiet 13 year-old.  What was it that caused her to change into a cyberbully?  Why did she feel she had free reign to unleash such garbage toward another girl online?

My wife and I decided to stop the attack.  We chose to approach her by way of texting.  Once this friend realized that her actions were public, she changed her toon.  The conversation was immediately deleted off of her wall, and she was mortified that we read through it.  She has apologized over and over to us.  She apologized to the girl she cyber-attacked.

A national organization called Fight Crime: Invest in Kids did a study in 2006 that found 1 in 3 teens have been the victims of cyberbullying and 1 in 6 preteens have been victims (read it at http://www.fightcrime.org/sites/default/files/reports/cyberbullyingteen_2.pdf).
With 33% of teens being victims, I wonder about how many are committing cyberbullying.  I also wonder if it translates into actual bullying at school, or if it stays in the virtual world.  A quick conversation with one of my daughters revealed that it does, but has evolved since the days of stuffing people in lockers and throwing their binders down the hall.  Now it is even more psychological.  “They just laugh around you,” my daughter said.  “Everywhere you go, people just start laughing and looking at you.  There is no reason for it….they just laugh.”

So, I wondered, at what point do we grow out cyberbullying, or bullying at all for that matter?

Never.

I was at a presentation of Loralee Choate, creator of loraleeslooneytoons.com.  She was talking about the highs and lows of blogging.  The highs, she explained, included a trip to the White House and brandwork with McDonalds (both increadible stories).  The lows had to do with cyberbullying.  She described a friend she had for years in the ‘real’ world who turned into her biggest troll (cyberbully) in the ‘virtual’ world.  It was a dual relationship.  This ‘friend’ would smile at her, then get online under another name and troll her website.

There is a certain sense of invincibility people feel online.  There is an assumption of confidentiality online as well.  I don’t know what can be done to educate the public that the United States Supreme Court found that there can be no expectation of privacy online.  After all, people have been feeling invincible in vehicles for more than 50 years when they are not.  I can’t imagine what technology will be in 50 years, but I hope the virtual learning curve is faster than the drivers’.

Until then, it must come back to oversight.  Parents, webmasters, colleagues, any third party.  Cyberbullies need virtual babysitters, and with so many of our youth in danger of being victims of it, or heaven forbid turning into the cyberbullies themselves, we must be aware.

So that is the point of this blog.  Cyberbullying is out there.  It is real.  It is around.  I admit I don’t understand the rush some people get from destroying another’s self-confidence.  Until reading that facebook conversation with my wife, I didn’t think it was as an immediate danger as it is becoming.

The Jetsons life in a 2011 reality – A look at Videoconferencing.

November 12, 2011 1 comment

I remember the Jetsons cartoon.  I still catch myself humming the theme song sometimes when thinking about my Oregon childhood (Meet George Jetson!).  For those of you who are unaware of such a staple of my cartoon diet, or those who want to take a quick jaunt down your own memory lane, enjoy:

Now that you too have the theme song playing over and over in your heads, I’ll get to the point of this post:  We live a (relatively) Jetsons life.

There is an episode I remember as a kid when a neighbor calls the Jetson’s home early in the morning.  Jane (the mom) was still getting ready for the day; her hair in rollers.  In the Jetsons world, when someone called, a television screen came popping down from the ceiling.  People spoke face to face.  You looked at the person calling.

Jane, of course, couldn’t bear to let herself be seen by the neighbor, so she donned a mask of herself before answering the television.  During the conversation, the neighbor sneezed and her own mask flew off of her face.  The conversation ended quickly!

It was all science fiction of course, but to the six-year-old Todd Hamann it was awesome!  To look at the person on the phone.  Wow!

Fast forward 30 (-ish) years to an older Todd Hamann staring down an iPad Touch running facetime.  It was awesome!  To look at the person on the phone. Wow!

“AHAA!”

Do you ever get that “AHAA!” moment when taking a broad look at today’s technology?  The ‘next big thing’ changes too fast sometimes to even become a big thing at all.  Products evolve so fast that consumers become numb to the technological leaps of each phase.

…anyway, I digress.

Tablet computing has Jetson-ized us even more and I think it would be a good time for that “AHAA!” moment again.  A computer measured in millimeters thick, and fractions of  a pound.  We can call our neighbors with these little TVs anytime, from anywhere.  Society calls it video conferencing, but to this grown-up boy it’s still called awesome.

I took a quick google search and found some professional video conferencing services.  I list them at the end of this post.  Video Conferencing is turning into quite an industry.  It’s cleared the $2 Billion annual revenue mark according to Tandberg.com .   Companies are catching on to this evolution in communication.

 

 

List of Popular Video Conferencing services.

http://www.oovoo.com – free video conferencing for up to six people at a time.  $9.95/month gets you up to 12 people at a time.  Currently a free download, but they will soon release a cloud interface.

http://www.skype.com – free one-on-one conferencing.

http://www.webex.com – $19/month

http://www.netmeeting.com – $49.00/month for up to 15 attendees

Model Leadership Strategies

November 7, 2011 Leave a comment

In his book, Touch Points, Doug Conant, former CEO of Campbells Soup, stresses the importance of creating your own leadership models.  I have been studying up on my own leadership model and have reached a conclusion:

Empower, Uplift, and Share the Wealth

In my own leadership experience, I have discovered that these three actions above all will motivate all involved to a synergistic level.  People do not work merely for money, even though they might say they do.  If money was the only driving principle there would be a mass exodus from the public sector to entrepreneurship and business schools would be bursting at the seams with aspiring MBAs.  No, my experience is rather that people work for the pride of their work.  I absolutely know that public employees work for that very reason.  I was in management with the Driver License Division in Utah for long enough to know that.

Pepperidge Farm has also taught me the same thing.  Recently I was walking down a hall and bumped into a Line Lead.  “No one signs the extra work list anymore,” he said with some frustration.  “We need people to stay after, and no one is signing up.”  Clearly, we work for the pride of our jobs.  We work for the recognition of our coworkers and families.  We need the money, but believe it or not money is not the driving force behind why we go to work.

I have listed some popular leadership models below.  It may be a good idea to see where you think you fit into this list as a leader.  As for myself I probably align myself with the Quiet Leadership approach or the Level 5 Leadership model.  How is your workplace governed?

Popular Leadership Models

Transactional Leadership:  Rules..eh, RuleBest used in mature establishments, such as Pepperidge Farm.  Rewards are based on achievement, and punishment is dished out for breaking the rules.  There is a clear chain of command.  The clear advantage is organization, the disadvantage is that organizations that improperly use this organization can focus more on punishments than rewards…rules trump all.

Transformational Leadership:  Energy and Vision.  For this leadership model there must be one charasmatic leader.  People are motivated by a ‘higher cause.’  They are motivated by the idea that they can accomplish anything.  Inspiration comes through words and action, not through rules.

Participative Leadership:  Democracy…pure and simple.  All levels of the company have a say in policy, procedure, etc..  The idea is that with greater participation comes greater comradery.

Situational Leadership:  Mold to the Occasion.  Leadership models adapt with the situation governing them.

Charismatic Leadership:  Transformational Leadership….on steriods!  Leadership hinges on a charismatic leader who motivates with words and reason.  Ironically, having one overwhelmingly charismatic leader can smother creativity and imagination in the work force.  Things improve only on the scale the leader sets.

Quiet Leadership:  In this model, the leader motivates from behind the scenes.  Credit is not taken by the leadership, rather it is attributed to the workforce.  Ego and aggression are not worshipped as in some other leadership models because they are not needed.  Giving the group credit is meant to raise the standard of excellence without leaving a team member behind.  Ironically, Quiet Leadership is usually facilitated by management no less driven than the charismatic leader.

Servant Leadership:  My Responsibility.  In this model, the leader is made to feel they have complete responsibility for the outcome of the line.  The good of the line outweighs the good of the leader.  The leader tends to be self-sacrificial.  success belongs to the team, failure belongs to the leader.

Level 5 Leadership:  Quiet/Servant Leadership.  This is a mash-up of Quiet and Servant Leadership models.  The Company image is more important than the leaders, who merely facilitate the company’s vision.  Leaders in this model are not intimidated to hire those who have more experience or education.  They are humble, but driven.