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April 2013

Where is the luxury phone market?

Think differentA Ford is a great car and it's fine for the general public. But there is also a large, premium/luxury market for the discerning enthusiast and people of means. Where is our luxury phone market?

Firstly, there is a real market need. Every device on the market has it's trade-offs. The HTC One has the nicest feel in the hand and a stunning screen, but the camera and polish of the Android skin leave something to be desired. The iPhone and the Lumia have stunning cameras but each have their own tradeoffs. The Galaxy S4 has a nice camera, but a horrible plasticy feel in your hand. And virtually all phones sold today demand a case.

If you want the best phone on the market, not only will you need to compromise, but you will be just one of millions of other people sporting the exact same handset. The non-conformists, Apple and Samsung, have gone mainstream. And there is no better time than today than to start a hardware startup.

This limited run, premium handset would be sold at a serious premium - think double the cost on a carrier contract of $200-300 higher than the standard off-contract pricing. It would have the best specs on the market, stock Android, differentiated design and a stunning build quality. Not only would it look great, but it would be solid enough not to need a case. If Blackberry could figure out how to make a phone that didn't need a case in 2006, I think we can work in out in 2013.

Our innovative mobile world has gone mainstream. Someone, somewhere is going to think different. The market demands it.

In breaking news, the market demands a rumor mill

Real Time ReportingBy the third day after the Boston attacks, we all knew that the breaking news rumors in social media and on 24 hour networks were likely less than accurate. Yet, despite the inaccuracy of this information and with our skepticism meters running high, we found ourselves glued to Twitter and the 24 hour networks. 

Here's the sad truth: in a time of crises, we thirst for information to quench our frenzied minds. We want this information so badly that we will lower our standards and tune in to real-time and social sourced quasi-journalism.

Is this good for the news industry? Does it hurt the network's credibility?

That really depends on what the goals of the individual media outlet. I believe we will see a spectrum of responses to our new real-time and social-sourced dynamic.

Real-Time Outlets in search of large audiences (and the cash that come with them) will lower their journalistic integrity and will report on many inaccurate rumors, feeding the information beast. During breaking news, the mainstream masses will likely tune in as long as there is a modicum of integrity behind this reporting. But I don't know that these audiences will come back for the post-action analysis. This will 

Accuracy Oriented Outlets with sacrifice the "breaking news" ratings for higher journalistic standards. But when the dust settles, I truly believe that the masses will look to those with high integrity for the after-action reporting. While Accuracy Oriented Outlets will have the gravitas and integrity to guide us back to normalcy, they may struggle to gain the mass appeal they lost during the breaking news. That said, these outlets may be able to court a premium audience and premium revenues to match. At the end of the day, I don't believe too many media outlets will want to wait for the dust to settle before reporting. This space will likely be reserved for slower media, such as print media. Some savvy accuracy-oriented outlets however, will turn to hard evidence such as live-video feeds of breaking news to augment their stories.

Hybrid Outlets will seek to maintain a real-time presence without sacraficing much of their their journalistic integrity. This is where most mainstream media outlets will find themselves situated. Hybrid Outlets will take the gamble that most people will tune in for just the right mix of timely reporting and accuracy, and will stay tuned in for the post-action reporting as the outlet did not seriously damage their integrity. These outlets will make heavy use of social media, but with a level of healthy journalism-turned filtering. They will heavily feature and repost verified news such as live-video in the interest of keeping their audiences glued to their feeds.


I don't know which model will prove the most successful. But in an era with truly democratized digital reach, we cannot expect all media outlets to maintain high journalistic standards. The market demands a breaking news, low-to-mid fidelity solution. And someone is going to rise/lower themselves to the occasion. 

The biggest computing trend we aren't discussing




These are sensory experiences. They are human sensory experiences. These are emotional triggers and instinctual reactions. These are not attributes one would normally ascribe to a computer-driven experience. 

As our computers learn from and augment our connected lives, they are learning to mirror our behaviors, quirks and honesty. Google Now holds incredible power - the eventual power to deliver many of these sensory experiences. But it is still an appendage, separate from our natural lives. Using Google Now requires that the user lift a phone, push a button, swipe to unlock, and then swipe to load.

This isn't natural. It's isn't integrated. And this friction is holding back the true potential of the platform.

Wearables are only the first step towards better information capture and delivery. We need to create an invisible operating system and interactive layer - computing that requires no additional effort. We need to learn to publish and communicate differently. We need to learn to develop and adopt an API for ever-present access and non-invasive communications. 

We spent the last 30 years proving to the world that computing was worth the distraction from life. We will spend the next 10 years learning how to seamlessly augment life itself.

Saying Goodbye: Thank You Allen

It was early 2008 and I was thrilled to be joining the budding social-professional scene in NYC. I was young, enthusiastic and out of my league. I attended conferences, read countless blogs, tweeted and did everything I could to learn about this incredible industry.

I was at a conference in Tribeca when I noticed the name tag of the guy sitting next to me - Allen Stern, CenterNetworks. To be honest, I was starstruck. I had been reading CenterNetworks regularly for some time, and here was one of the names I'd seen countless time. Here he was, sitting right next to me!

Like a true social media groopie, I probably came across as a young, energetic and a little weird. Allen took it all in stride, and we ended up bonding over the remainder of the event. Over the next few years, we traded emails and conversations on various social networking platforms, staying in touch across states and later across continents. Whether it was talking mobile tech at a Jeff Pulver breakfast, talking tech on Facebook, the pain of commuting to Manhattan from his old neighborhood in Brooklyn on Twitter (close to where I was living) or more recently about fitness and wellness on Google+, Allen was a brilliant guy and a great friend.

Allen was the influencer who was in it for the people. 

Allen, I was honored to be one of your people.

I drew inspiration from your journey and will never forget how your giant heart made me feel like one of the guys when I was just getting started. Your quest for wellness was an inspiration. Thank you for everything.

As we say in hebrew, Baruch Dayan Ha'emet. We're already missing you.