AirPooler Is Lyft For Private Planes


Beautiful article on how Digital and Technology can transform your business model or even help create new market niches. This could become the Uber of the skies – and I can’t wait to see it succeed. As an aviation enthusiast nothing could be more satisfying than making private air travel an affordable alternative. Good luck AirPooler!

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What we know (and suspect) about the iPhone 6 and iOS 8


As it is almost becoming a tradition in the industry, this time of the year gets fuelled with speculation, rumours, concepts and ideas on what the next iteration of Apple’s SmartPhone and mobile operating system would be. Here is a consolidation of what we know so far:

The Screen

Little room for doubt here, the iPhone 6 will definitely have a larger screen and quite possibly come in two different screen sizes (4.7 and 5.5 inch). There are quite a few facts pointing in this direction, and beyond leaked designs and alleged pictures of iPhone 6 parts, the key hint is coming from down the supply chain, where screen manufacturers are already ramping up production of screens in these sizes in time for a potential September launch. The latest to be added to the rumour mill is the announcement by Japan Display that they would start production of  a Quad-HD 5.5inch display in the second quarter of the year. Japan Display has recently been mentioned as to be entering the list of Apple’s component suppliers, and would mean a huge jump from the current 640 x 1136 resolution to a staggering 1440 x 2560. Details on the resolution for the eventual 4.7 inch display are yet to be released, but could be easily higher than current Full HD standards if density is maintained.

Design

Some very realistic and others bordering science fiction, iPhone concepts are a gradual approximation to the real product to which we are already used to. There seems to be consensus on two aspects: A slimmer body and a much thinner bezel allowing to minimise the volume (and hence weight) increase of the device due to the jump in the screen. Most of the concepts are evolutions from the current 5/5s family design (see this beautiful – and realistic – video by Sam Beckett).

There have also been alleged leaks of schematics that describe with high precision how the device would look like which have been used to create yet another concept which would inaugurate a new look for the iPhone saga.

iOS 8 and Wearables

It is becoming increasingly clear that iOS 8 would evolve the new look and feel inaugurated with iOS7, and would have a strong focus on Health and Fitness, in line with the blooming of wearable devices in the last couple of years which are seeing fitness as a huge potential market for wearable technology. It looks like all Health functions will be grouped inside Healthbook, just similarly to what Passbook meant as a place for coupons and passes. The increased popularity of iBeacons could possibly mean some further development of this technology with real life applications in iOS 8.

iOS 8 rendering by Sam Beckett

iOS 8 rendering by Sam Beckett

And wearables. While Healthbook would put your iPhone 6 at the core of your fitness activity, allowing you to track all your progress, monitoring health parameters would require sensors that are best fitted to wearable devices. This would be a good symbiosis with the much spoken and yet to be seen iWatch, which could pack an array of sensors to monitor your blood pressure, heartbeat and possibly even sugar levels and other parameters. This would be the perfect complement to create a complete ecosystem around Health & Fitness and would mark the start of Apple in wearable technology where others already have a couple of iterations.

As in previous years, still quite some time until we get to know iOS 8 as usual in WWDC 2014 -likely to be held mid June this year- and an eventual launch of the iPhone 6 in September, once iOS 8 goes through it’s beta phase, in what should be possibly one of the most feature and innovation packed launch in the iPhone’s history, teaming it with new devices, new design concept and a change in size. Looking forward!.

 

 

There might be hope, after all


BlackBerry Messenger

BlackBerry Messenger

BlackBerry will not give up. Even though their latest generation of SmartPhones is not really taking off, the Canadian firm is still trying to find avenues to stay afloat. There was a first move opening BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) to other platforms, followed by the latest announcement of a pilot to allow monetary transactions over BBM. There might still be hope for the Canadian manufacturer, by focusing in monetising what once made them strong: Their level of security, and giving up what they are not really catching up with: Mobile Devices.

There are certain markets where BlackBerry remains strong, and where BBM enjoys a greater market share than WhatsApp (India, Indonesia and Canada amongst a few others). Seems logical to capitalise on their success in these core markets as well as the dominant position of BBM as the messaging app of choice.

Indonesia, once known as BlackBerry country, still accounts for more than 15 million users, and is the market of choice to launch their latest proposal, one that could definitely help increase the loyalty of Indonesians to the brand, but not sure whether it would be enough to attract new users to the platform. Named BlackBerry Money, the app allows BlackBerry users to link a bank account to their BBM identity, allowing to send money to other BBM users. In essence, a stored value account gets associated to the users BBM identity, where money can be used to make payments to friends and merchants. It can also be used to buy airtime from the user’s carrier and to send money back to their bank account upon receiving payments.

Fragmented market

There are quite a few mobile person to person payment solutions available, but the market is quite fragmented, with no proposition really having the critical mass required to become the de facto mobile payments standard. Barclays is one of the market players, with Pingit seeing quite a success in the United Kingdom. For BlackBerry Money to have a chance, it would need to be made available to all platforms where BBM is available. Only this way could it have the critical size to become the mobile payment platform of choice for consumers.money

Processing the payment

One of the key aspects when monetising mobile payments is the payment processor. Google still looks shy with Wallet whilst Apple is yet to make a move. Both companies have an enormous amount of Customer credit cards on file, and would probably be tempting for them to materialise payments by using credit card issuers, although this might be a gross misinterpretation and they might have bigger plans in the making to eat the credit card issuers cake. In the meantime, BlackBerry is teaming up with local banks and going towards a stored value model which gives them a certain degree of freedom on processing and eventually establishing (and receiving) the fees.

Quite an interesting move from the Canadian manufacturer, and one that could mean there might be hope, after all.

 

Crowdsolving and MH370


Tomnod

Tomnod – enabling the crowd search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 – Picture courtesy of Tomnod

It’s been 9 painful days since Malaysia Airlines flight 370 vanished from secondary radar on the early morning of Saturday the 8th of March en-route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. As sad as the story and mystery of the whereabouts is, a beautiful use of Technology, Digital and Social Media has come on the spotlight in the hunt of the plane. The idea is simply brilliant. Thousands of detailed, freshly captured satellite images are made available to the public, allowing the crowd to collaborate in the humongous task of combing thousands of square miles of ocean in the search for any trace of the missing plane. The imagery is provided by DigitalGlobe, who owns and operates the network of satellites that constantly capture the images, with Tomnod being their crowdsourcing arm.

The mechanics are simple, and brilliant. Just browse to Tomnod’s website and join the cause. Tomnod will assign you tiles of the map where the search area is being focused, allowing you to tag different types of objects as you find them. With a simple and incredibly intuitive user interface, you can be collaborating to the cause in a matter of seconds

Whilst in this particular case the plane is yet to be found, this has been successful in the past in finding a missing light plane in Idaho, helping response and humanitarian aid teams prioritize they activities in the aftermath of devastating super typhoon Haiyan or mapping the damage of a deadly tornado in Oklahoma.

Tomnod has helped resolve real problems in recent times.

Tomnod has helped resolve real problems in recent times – picture courtesy of Tomnod.

It just comes to demonstrate how Technology can help solve real world complex problems, by organizing and coordinating a massive collaboration effort across the globe. Beautiful idea, hope it is as successful this time as it was in the past. You can help, spread the word!.

Fitness, Gamification and Payments – or what the iPhone 6 should bring to the party


So this could be it, the next generation of the iPhone seems to squeeze into a thinner case to possibly maintain it’s volume while finally going beyond a 4 inch screen.

Possible iPhone 6 prototype

Possible iPhone 6 prototype – Photo courtesy of MacRumours

Form factor aside, there are two elements that I believe would be the next trend setters: Fitness and Payments.

Payments

Your phone will be your wallet

Your phone will be your wallet

For the last two generations we have been missing NFC to be packed into the iPhone, sending a clear signal that this is not what Apple believed in for the short range / contactless communications required for mobile payments. In exchange, the iBeacon technology was introduced in iOS7, built over bluetooth 4.0, by making use of the BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) standard.

In short, iBeacons are indoor located, low-power, low-cost emitting devices that, making use of the BLE, can make iOS devices in their vicinity aware of their presence. This enables all sort of use cases based on close proximity, allowing for any system to send notifications to your iPhone. The main advantage over NFC is that is doesn’t require any specific hardware on the mobile device, as it operates over Bluetooth 4.0, and it broadens the possibilities well beyond sending payments from a POS to a mobile device for them to be authorised (remember that fingerprint reader in the iPhone 5S?), retailers are already using iBeacons to enhance and augment shopping experiences.

Bits and pieces of the eventual payments ecosystem have been gradually introduced, with Passbook, introduced in iOS6 possibly playing a role in storing your payments information in conjunction with iCloud keychain. iBeacons would solve the problem of communicating with the mobile device to exchange the payment information and get the operation authorised.

It’s yet to be seen how far will Apple want to go, as this model would just automate and mobilise payments and allow for Customers to digitise their credit cards, but essentially the payment method would still be a credit card, which limits the revenue Apple would get should they become a payment processor. With about a billion credit cards on file, it’s difficult to believe they wouldn’t want to make the jump, but that’s possibly material for another post on the matter.

Fitness

Nike Fuel Band

Nike Fuel Band

It’s not a secret that games are the most highly ranked and rated mobile apps in all platforms, together with the most retained. Such is the difference with other applications that a whole science has been crafted to bring what makes games so addictive to other applications and businesses: Gamification.

Gamification is the use of game thinking and game-mechanics in a non-game context to engage users and solve problems. 

Wikipedia

Gamification techniques are based on human’s natural desire for competition, achievement, status and altruism, and can be implemented into applications in different manners:

  • Rewarding the customer for accomplishing desired tasks (badges, levels, virtual currency or just showing a progress bar)
  • Encouraging competition by making achievements and rewards visible to other players or providing leader boards
  • Integration with Social Media increases visibility and leverages the power of referral and recommendation, together with the engagement and competition with friends and relatives for progress

Quite a few companies have understood these dynamics and are getting increased engagement in all sort of fields, and fitness couldn’t be a better example. SmartPhones have been good companions in fitness in the last few years, and recent developments like Fitbit or Nike with Nike+ are putting all the Gamification ingredients in the shaker to create a perfect SmartPhone-Fitness-Social Media triangle. These companies are having to develop hardware to cover for the natural lack of fitness specific sensors in SmartPhones, but that is possibly going to change, and here is where I believe the iPhone 6 will again step ahead of the competition.

Reportedly, Apple would be packing into the 6 a few sensors that would enhance it’s fitness capabilities, like the ability to measure heart rate. The motion coprocessor is already there and tracks your movements with precision, so with new additions the 6 could be the perfect fitness companion. Game!

I’m touched


As a foodie and amateur chef with a passion for Digital, I can’t help but be touched, specially when this comes from one of the biggest talents in my home town.

It is no secret that Digital in general and Mobile in particular are changing the way we understand and consume technology, and it is helping businesses transform their business model by enabling completely new ways of engaging Customers and helping create new products, services and completely transforming the Customer experience.

Food on an iPad to create a fully immersive gastronomic experience

This photo of Arzak is courtesy of TripAdvisor

I have always believed in Gastronomy being a holistic experience, one that goes far beyond the quality that gets delivered on the plate, but rather comes from every single detail in the venue, the attention and knowledge of the staff and dozens of other subtleties that make up an experience. Everywhere I see the word experience I wonder how Digital can help transform and enhance it, and I have to admit this is just one space where I struggled to find a way for doing so. Until now.

This is just a completely unexpected and lovely way of using Digital to improve the experience in one of the best tables in the world. Arzak, featuring three Michelin Stars, is using iPads to help gourmet diners dive into a more immersive experience by serving culinary creations on tablets showing images that follow the theme. Sea images for food and fire for grilled meat are just two examples.

I’m touched. And booked for my next trip home.

BlackBerry to Become a Platform?


With the launch (and success) of BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) for iOS and Android platforms, BlackBerry opens up an important piece of their mobility ecosystem to non-Blackberry platforms.  It is not the first time the Canadian firm makes its software platform available outside the devices manufactured by themselves.

BlackBerry users would remember BlackBerry Connect, which allowed non-BlackBerry devices to offer BlackBerry email service to their users.

Times have changed enormously since BlackBerry Connect was released, and the company that then was quickly gaining market share concentrating on email, is now struggling for survival. Their devices have lost the battle agains the strong contenders from Apple and the Android ecosystem, but they still play a strong role in the Corporate world.

Would the launch of a multi platform BBM, a fundamental piece of their puzzle that’s underpinned an important portion of their success in former times, be actually the first step in their new strategy?. Would we see a release of the whole BlackBerry suite of productivity tools (Email, Calendar, Browser, Messenger) for iOS and Android?.

I believe this would be a brilliant strategy to follow. Focus on what is still a strength rather than on the devices where they seem to have lost their edge. They would enter with a potentially very strong proposition a market in which probably now only Good for Enterprise is playing, with the advantage of plugging it to their large base of BlackBerry Enterprise Servers already deployed across the globe.

Given the 20 million downloads of BBM in the first week after its launch looks like there definitely is an appetite for BlackBerry as a platform.

Let the sunshine in


A beautiful application of technology it is to use it to bring sunlight to a place naturally deprived from it.

The Rjukan Mirror Project

The Rjukan Mirror Project – photo courtesy of The World’s Best Ever

With a peculiar orography, Rjukan small town west of Oslo, Norway is surrounded by mountains that prevent sunlight from reaching its almost 3500 inhabitants between September and March each year. A pioneering project is installing three computerized mirrors that will direct sunlight to the town’s market square.

Powered by solar and wind energy, the heliostat mirrors are controlled by a computer program following the sun movements to provide an illuminated ellipse-shaped area of 600 square metres.

A century in the making

The town was established in the beginning of the 20th century around the industrial settlements of the Norsk Hydro Company exploiting the waterfalls in the area for power generation. The importance of sunlight was identified as early as 1913, when Sam Eyde, founder of Norsk Hydro, envisioned the idea of a mirror to direct sunlight to the settlement in the valley.

A century later, the vision has become a reality thanks to the application of modern technology. A beautiful and environmentally friendly application of modern technology to deliver the sun to those deprived of it.

Corporate Crusade


First Crusade

Adhemar de Monteil carrying the Holy Lance in the First Crusade

It is becoming increasingly clear that Apple is executing a serious, calculated strategy to conquer the corporate space, traditionally dominated by Microsoft in the desktop/laptop space and BlackBerry in Mobile. It all started back in June when iOS 7 and OS X Mavericks were presented. Silently, they both introduced several features that clearly target the introduction of their devices in the corporate environment, where security policies and device manageability play a crucial role in determining which technology is used in the workplace.

In fact, the enterprise market is the only one where Macs are really increasing their footprint, reportedly at a yearly 20% uplift. Serious numbers for an industry -desktop computing- not living its best days.

Looks quite timely that OS X Mavericks includes several new features that make very good sense in a policy controlled environment, just to name a few:

Security enhancements to VPN connections used for remotely accessing resources in the corporate network, better ways of managing and controlling FileVault 2, the hard drive encryption facility in Mac OS X as well the possibility to use Apple TV for presentations onto screens and projectors.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/enterprises-will-love-mac-mavericks-2013-10#ixzz2iVxQHbff

Whilst OS X is not new in the corporate scene, iOS seemed to be lagging when compared to its desktop counterpart. This, together with BlackBerry’s lately decline, will surely boost the adoption rate of iPhone as the corporate mobility solution.

The list of features is extensive but can be summarised in the ability to embrace both personal and corporate use in a single device in a totally seamless way for the user. Details about them can be found in this article about the iOS 7 Event for Corporations that never happened.

Enterprise space

Enterprise space

And just when we thought these were strong arguments in the Corporate Crusade, the 22nd October event surprised us by giving out both the Operating System

and iWork (Apple’s equivalent to Microsoft Office) for free. How this translate to corporate purchase agreements is yet to be seen, but definitely a bold move within their calculated strategy to secure a leading position in the enterprise space.

Apple suitcase? Or maybe bike?


Apple logo

Apple – photo courtesy of confidentjohn

There is lots of speculation on why Angel Ahrendts, former Burberry CEO and the best paid Executive in the UK, would quit to join Apple as senior vice president of retail and online stores. Ahrendts diversified and transformed Burberry bringing back the prestige lost over the years while increasing revenue by 250% since she joined the British firm back in 2006.

The very reason behind this move could be a radical change in the way we understand Apple. The guys in Cupertino might be considering a deep transformation from a Technology manufacturer to a lifestyle or even a luxury goods company.

It’s no secret that other luxury brands have found good success in diversifying their portfolio of products well beyond their traditional products (Montblanc, Prada or Loewe are just a few examples). When executed with care avoiding the vulgarization of the brand, this strategy has worked well for quite a few players in the luxury industry and is a great way of leveraging the value of the Apple brand, estimated in 98 billion US dollar, about four times the first luxury brand, Louis Vuitton (LV).

Does this mean that the next big thing coming from the kitchen at Cupertino would be a hi-tech line of suitcases?. Or maybe an iOS powered bike?. How about the rumored iWatch being a luxurious line of finely crafted watches?.

Thrilling possibilities, watch this space.