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The IoT gadget – today’s case: the smart watch (I)

Today I will talk about one device that tries to break through the ice: The smart watch. Is it a real new product or just a minimized version of the touch-screen phones. For personal reasons, I will not use the word smartphone. So what is so hot about the smartwatches. Or should I spell gadgetwatches… Little matters. They are real. I’ve used google to find five watches labeled as “smart”:

Let’s judge these products. First, we apply  the 4Ps  to each one of them
Criterium:  Price (base price)
 1) 200€
2) 190€
3) 70€
4) 80€
5) 60€
6) 140€
There are three categories: below 100€, up from 200€ and in-between. Given that some touchphones cost  less than 100€, the Samsung Galaxy Gear ranks as high end, while the to MyKronoz watches are low-end. Are they ?
Criterium : Promotion
Samsung has promoted on a decent level its watch. Sony follows up close. There is little promotion for MyKronoz products, while Nike promotes its product on a very reduced scale, in some outlets.
Definitely, a watch priced 200€ must sell or there is a problem. So Samsung makes substantial efforts. Maybe not enough. But it tries.
Criterium : Placement
1) The Samsung watch is a gadget for Samsung phones. It sells through the same channels as the phone and on Internet. Not bad.
2) and 4)  The Sony follows the same politics as Samsung.
3) and 5)  The watch is promoted on internet. Today internet is the single most important distribution channel, so why spend money on outlet display cases when there is no need? Well done.
6) Nike tries to hide the Fuelband. there is little information about the product and it sells only on internet and only on specialized sites.
Conclusion: the phone makers use traditional channels as well as internet, while the other companies use only internet.
Criterium : Product
This should be the most important of the criteria, but the price weights much and biases the choice. However, the products have been designated as smart watches, so we try to make  the ranking based on the product itself.
1) Samsung has presented the SSG as an extension for its line of touch devices ( phones and tablets). The theoretical user base is huge.  And The watch  is not just a watch. Practically, it has all the functions of the phone, even a camera and an audio  jack for earphones.  For a smart watch, it   has too many features for a screen so small. Playing videos  ? given the size of the screen, one should look weird when watching a movie. Subtitles ? forget them. One needs eagle eyes. And most people have fingers thicker than half the size of the screen. Samsung has forgotten the only interface available for a device so small: voice. But well, Samsung is known best for building Apple clones at a cheaper price. And this is a huge advantage when building its user base.
2) and 4) Sony tries to keep the pace with Samsung so there is little surprise. The line of watches is a complement to the Android phones. From this point of view, Sony supports Samsung.  The price is the single most important argument.  The integration with the social networks might help sell the two products. As of today, Sony is much, much behind Samsung.
3) and 5)  Are a very bold initiative. MyKronoz products connect to any Bluetooth-abled smartphone. This means it targets products from Samsung and Apple. And at such low prices, it hits hard.These underdogs might become a threat to Samsung. Unlike Samsung and Sony, MyKronoz offers only basic functions like call-management and music listening. however, these are the most important uses for a phone, so the small bracelet does well on its job.
6) The Fuelband connects to Bluetooth-phones. The  target being active people, the uses are restricted to fitness. The major drawback of the Fuelband is the lack of realism of a product with a well-designed form factor.
Criterium:  the design
1) Brushed metal  for the  device, plastic for the bracelet. The screen is 36x56mm. The form factor is similar to  the one of the  android tablets.
2) Plastic and metal rim for the device, plastic for the bracelet. Screen dimensions : 42x41mm. An ugly big square, bigger than most wrist watches.
3)  Plastic for the device, plastic for the bracelet. Dimensions: 38x80mm, but the screen is curved and it blends well onto the wrist.
4) Plastic and metal rim for the device, plastic for the bracelet. Dim: 36x36mm.
5) Plastic for the device, flat screen, plastic for the bracelet.  Dim: 38x80mm.
6) Plastic for the device, plastic for the bracelet. Little or no information available. however, the formfactor and the bracelet blend well onto the wrist.
For this criteria, there are only two products that have a good design: the ZeBracelet and the Nike Fuelband. The other products are more like the cheap Casio watches of the 80’s.  The plastic and metal mix is a poor choice for products
To be continued in a future article…
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The next big thing (II)

The device is real. People use it. The drawback is the lack of API for it. I am confident that the scenario of the iPhone will repeat itself. The small device is capable of HD images, is small enough to fit into a pocket , weights 300g and coud be put anywhere. Yes, I am talking about AppleTV. It  is only a matter of time until this last brainchild of Steve Jobs will reach its full potential. Is there place for another device, next to iPhone, Macbook, iPad, iPod ? Yes it is. Just imagine playing Angry Birds on Apple TV using your hands and voice.  Is this a realistic scenario ? Yes it is. Should Apple release it ? Only if they really want the share to rocket by $1000. I’m not so sure about the last part. One thing is sure: wealth cannot come from lack of money. Wealth needs vision, long term plans and enthusiasm. These were thing Steve had. These the fuel of the engine that launched so many products. 

Finally, why have nice, useful things when we could still continue to use cheap black plastic computers or phones or game consoles. Have you noticed what  the XBox One and PS 4 are made of ? Really ? Do you like the design ? Cause I don’t. And Quality begins with the design. Aren’t Porche and Jaguar and Ferarri  the dream of any driver ? Why ? Because of engine’s Gigahertz frequency, RAM capacity ? no. Because of design. This is the fuel of the XXI century.

 

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The next big thing

The iPod mini was the last big thing to step up. Yes, there have been many launches of similar products. Samsung tries very hard to create the next TV. Still, it doesn’t work. The problem is the same from the days before  the iPhone. There is a thick line between something really useful and  something that just works and makes bling-bling.

I have the firm conviction that we’ll see a new and revolutionary product in less than 12 months from now. Yes, before X-mass 2014, there will be something new.  And someone will be able to say:

“I have it in my backpack, but first let’s see. It is something revolutionary. It allows you to interact with your environment in natural ways. It is what you were expecting since your birth.  But first, is there possible to have such a product today, when we have these game consoles that recognize your movements. First, the above mentioned consoles aren’t so good at gesture recognition. You move too fast and the result is far from perfect. Too far. Yet you use these consoles. Do you like the experience ? No, but really are you satisfied by the experience of playing the last hit ?   Or when you speak, most of your words are misunderstood .

Well, today  I present you  three revolutionary products . A game console. A voice recorder with perfect recognition. A device capable of incredible accurate interactions. A console. A voice recorder. An interactive environment device. In fact it is a single product. Yes, I present you a game console with perfect voice and  gesture recognition. And we call it iPlay.”.

I am pretty sure that the next big thing will be about interaction. And were Steve Jobs still alive, this product would be the next big thing. Alas, today, the players in the field lack the necessary vision. But I am talking of 12 month of hard work. Who knows. Maybe, maybe, there is hope. Future will tell.

 

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The size of IoT market in 2020

Each week I read about the estimated size of M2M market in 2020. What is interesting is that the figure is increasing. This is a logic explanation of the fact that some big investments will be in effect by 2015, like the smart power meter or the emergency cal or the NFC devices ( phones included). The last figure I’ve seen is 212 billion. While this might be seen as a joke about 2012, I welcome the new figure, more than ever. Why ? because it is evolving. The market abhors vacuum and round figures. I am sure that the most accurate projection is not 50 billion, neither 212 billion, but 423.169.531.992 devices.  Why ? There is an emerging market that grows unseen, yet it cannot be ignored: the nanotech devices. How many ? A lot. And by 2020, they will represent 90% of the market. 90% ? Yes. like the millions of billions of insects, hard to see the hidden part of the iceberg is. But it is.   

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android versus ios

There is a huge pack of people prasing the qualities of Android. Well, I’ve downloaded the ADT and tried to test a basic Hello World application on my Mac. Guess what, the android simulator took a couple of minutes to launch. overall performance was scary. i halted the test when Adt + simulator were taking 1.5 Gb and the cpu temp was 85 C degrees.

I don’t know what is going on, but apparently in order to make the simplest Android appliction one need a machine with much memory and CPU power. This isn’t very encouraging.

Just to compare it, my xcode launches without problems and I am able to run and test many iOS applications without problems.

One thing is sure, I definitely prefer iOS over Android.

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Samsung + ARM = M2M

Samsung is a big player in the world of M2M. At the Cartes 2013 exhibition I have the opportunity to see up close  a M2M module. It made me want to create my own M2M company. I mean, a M2M module is just a SIM socket + SIM, the ARM CPU + flash  memory and the connectors ( Ethernet, serial, etc.) Only the antenna was missing. Why then is the M2M movement gaining momentum such clumsily ?

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Cartes 2013 – Villepinte (France)

Just got back with hot news from Cartes 2013 Exhibition, the Mecca of smart cards & security. I have fresh good new and fresh bad news. Which should I write about first ? The good, the bad ? Long lasting impression.

The first impression: the exhibition has improved slightly. 99% of the exhibitors are the same from the 2012 edition, but I’ve seen new faces.  The big four ( Gi-De, Gemo, O-thur, Safran)  were front row. However, instead of showing many demos, they were rather static. So static that the second day by 4 o’clock p.m., Gi-De was emptying its stand. Too bad. Tomorrow might be the day of big deal closing. If the showcase is empty …

Half of the stands were empty, i.e. without visitors. The other half were way too crowded to let one enjoy the view.  The most sad was the stand of one big company with only four chairs upon which stood 4 salespersons from that big company.  Maybe the database they sell and the four letter language program that runs on smartcards don’t need a bigger showcase at an exhibition of this importance. Maybe. Let us not despair. 

 

Now for the full half of the glass. I enjoyed talking with people from various fields related to the smartcard industry. I must say that they are most professional and very eager to present their respective products.

 

From the secure fingerprint card with long lasting power reserve to the pick-and-place machine which glues ICs on the antenna card, from the facial recognition software from Toshiba to the testing of NFC, I have enjoyed conversing with very professional people, eager to offer information about their product.