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March 20 2013

The Mobile Consumer (2013)

Nielsen just released their Mobile Consumer Report, it has some interesting facts on how much have changed lately. The most important note seems to be the reach of critical mass for mobile device ownership in many countries, although in many countries (like Russia) people even rely on more than one device to stay connected:

How many of us use a mobile phone?

 

Although there are big differences in the kind of devices used across developed and non-developed markets. Feature phones still beat smartphones in emerging markets like India, proving the need and market for cheaper, entry level smartphones for those markets:

Smart/Multimedia or Feature Phones?

Mobility means for most use cases the use of social networks and games and mobile shopping still means a lot of product evaluation and price comparison rather than actual mobile shopping:

What do we do with our smartphones?

When we look at the actual applications usage, Facebook, Google, YouTube, Twitter and eBay consistently rank in the top 10 sites among mobile web users around the world proving that our mobiles are indeed responsible for a big part of our attention deficit if you ask me ;)

Which Apps do We use?

Unfortunately access is far from universal and the amount people pay for “being connected” still varies a lot, and in many cases and countries have even a direct correlation with usage with most users where data plan prices are higher (like India and Russia)opting for more flexible, less expensive options, such as “pay-as-you-go” data pricing, or taking advantage of WiFi connectivity:

How much does mobile service cost? How much does mobile service cost?

 

As conclusion, there’s still much to go before we can talk about a true universal mobile access, and while we becoming more and more connected through our smartphones we’re still far from extracting their true power. The full report is extensive and also covers mobile video and mobile advertising which weren’t key to me, but which I actually recommend reading if you’re interested in those topics.

February 21 2013

Google Glass

Much has been said, imagined and discussed about Google Glass, but this video just captures my imagination with all it’s possibilities…

February 04 2012

A Day Made of Glass (2)

I like this video and I like the touchscreen based interactions in it, do you?

With iPhone 4, Apple showed us that glass (or better aluminosilicate glass)can make amazingly beautiful and resistant devices, but last year a company called Corning went one step forward and published a video with a vision beyond small devices – “A Day Made of Glass.”. A vision centered around glass, where and if combined with the right technology and high speed wireless networks, glass can be so much more and help technology be even more present and all around us.

It’s an interesting video, and there’s a bit more info at Corning website if you’d like to read more about their vision.

November 10 2011

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. By Steve Jobs

I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I’ve ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That’s it. No big deal. Just three stories.

The first story is about connecting the dots.

I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out?

It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife. Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: “We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?” They said: “Of course.” My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college.

And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents’ savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn’t see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn’t interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.

It wasn’t all romantic. I didn’t have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends’ rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example:

Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn’t have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture, and I found it fascinating.

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it’s likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.

Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

My second story is about love and loss.

I was lucky — I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees. We had just released our finest creation — the Macintosh — a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him. So at 30 I was out. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.

I really didn’t know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down — that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me — I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.

I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.

During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the worlds first computer animated feature film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I returned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple’s current renaissance. And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together.

I’m pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn’t been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.

My third story is about death.

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn’t even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor’s code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you’d have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.

I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and I’m fine now.

This was the closest I’ve been to facing death, and I hope it’s the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960′s, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.

Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.” It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

Thank you all very much.

October 07 2011

Speechless…

It may sound lame, but my mother just wrote me about the death of Steve Jobs.

In the message she wrote many things, but one simply left me speechless… she thanked me for introducing her to Steve work and most importantly she thanked me for the little mac I bough back in ’98. A mac that I used for work and which she used daily while I was out of home and later for almost 10yrs. I knew it was special to her, but wasn’t ready to what came next..

In her own words she wrote me “my dear apple, thanks to that little mac, I got to see a new world and with it a new life, it was thank to that little machine that I regained some balance and a new will of living which was pretty much lost” where she’s referring to her breakup with my father just 2 years before.

I’m still trying to respond back… speechless.

October 06 2011

Thank you Steve

It’s very hard to make people truly understand the rightness in this words, I wouldn’t say that you would need to have had a near end experience, but having had so I can attest that Steve was right in many more ways than people imagine:

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”Steve Jobs

Thank you Steve for 2 decades of inspiration, thank you for changing the way I saw the world and how I’ve tailored my life. Thank you for making us all believe and to make us think differently. I wished you could have stayed with us longer.

October 28 2010

Attention Span & Peripheral Vision by Ford

A few months ago, Ford unveiled the new eco-friendly instrument cluster called the SmartGauge in some of it’s new hybrid cars. Ford worked with Johnson Controls as well as IDEO and Smart Design, to analyse how people would measure efficiency and how their access to fuel information impacted their driving behaviour.

SmartDesign helped Ford understand how they could maximise the usage of a LCD display in a car panel, where the norm seems to be mechanical and/or hard to read displays that typically require way to much visual attention, that should be focused on what lays ahead of the vehicle instead of it’s controls. As Ford put is SmartGauge is an attempt to combine their traditional mechanics efficiency by optimising and improving the role of the driver controlling the machine.

I found the following video from SmartDesign about the usage of Peripheral Vision in the new SmartGauge:

for a better understanding on how it really looks when you’re using it, this demo by FORD, should clear some questions:

It’s brilliant to see how much work it’s taken by some companies to truly optimise and in this case augment our capabilities while using machinery.

October 11 2010

October 06 2010

October 05 2010

A Graphic Guide to Facebook Portraits by Doogie Horner

There’s a whole lot more that your profile picture says about you, than you or I could have imagined ;)

(via Fast Magazine)

Journalism in the Age of Data

It’s no novelty that we’re all overflowed by information, I’m having a hard to cope with it and I guess pretty much everyone else is as well.

It turns out that for people like journalists who need to digest it and present it as part of their work, its even more complicated!So its no surprise that journalists are already looking ahead and trying to find ways to cope with this information rise, it seems that one of the tools they found out, is the usual data visualisation techniques already used by other fields to help find patterns and connections among large sets of data. According to the report some newsrooms are even being retooled to be ready for powerfully using data as the new medium.

If you like me are fascinated by Data Visualization, you should take some time to see the video report on Data Visualization by Geoff McGhee:

http://datajournalism.stanford.edu/

(via Ricardo Silva)

September 24 2010

September 23 2010

September 22 2010

How do I/We move around?

This is something that I’ve been wanting to document for a while, which has to do with something that started as an experiment and when we started we thought it would be impossible, considering our background behaviour, but today I can’t imagine going back to the “old” ways anymore. 

Coming from Portugal, I was used to go everywhere with my own car, not having a car stopped being realistic when I was around my early twenties, back there if you wish to have a reliable transportation system, public transportation isn’t really reliable most of the times and due to the irregularity of terrains in our cities, even the shortest path can easily become a triathlon. 

Having moved to Germany sort of proved that I was in fact wrong. It is not only possible as it’s much more healthy and reliable that one can imagine. Back in the beginning of 2009, together with my wife we decided to avoid having to “nationalise” our portuguese car here in Germany (a bloody expensive thing for the “economic union” we live in) so we just sold it back in Portugal and moved to Germany with our 2 mountain bikes.

Today, combined with the public transportation system it’s our most reliable way of moving around the city. 
What I’d like to share is not only how it’s possible, but also for the scenarios when bicycle isn’t an option, I’d like to share how we move around anyway:

1. When we need to transport big loads (and trust me when I say BIG, we discovered that our bikes take much more than we though possible): for this we’ve enrolled on a car sharing project – “Green Wheels“. So far, there was only one time when the service let us down, but hey the whole network was down, so it’s acceptable, my old new car left me hanging more than that in less time! The service keeps amazing everyone that visits us or needs a helping car to move something around the city. It’s 24h available, there’s no shortage of cars around the city and always a deposit next door where ever we are in the city. The system is simple: we pay as we go!

2. For longer rental periods or longer trips and when the train isn’t an option (in central europe, trains do beat traveling by car in comfort and money, but unfortunately they run in predefined fixed lines) we just book a car thru the typical car rental services. The car sharing service also allows us for daily rentals, but since the kind of cars is limited and their intended for city living, long trip requirements aren’t perfect, so this option becomes the ultimate resource. A good outcome of this is that we collect miles for when we want to flight somewhere and vice versa, so ultimately you’re also saving something.

The result are challenging for us, we’re used to this way of being now but also addicted to the amount of money we saved this past year by simply not having to pay for a car. Changing for a more sustainable way of transportation also meant that without thinking about it we’re actually saving a lot: no more diesel, no more parking, no more taxes or insurances and specially no more car mortgages. 

At the moment we own a total of 3 bikes and I’m still prospecting for a (cargo) bike like the ones I’ve been dreaming about since the first time I was in Copenhagen:

I’m also omitting the fact that I also own a Segway which of all the transportation systems is the most fun of all, but since it carries only one, it isn’t a value mean of “transportation” considering a family or multi person context.

In resume, I’d like to collect some views on how other people move around as well.
For a long time I’ve heard that this problem has it’s roots on the poor transportation system, terrain conditions etc, but I’ve personally discovered that it also as a lot to do with personal will..

September 18 2010

September 17 2010

September 16 2010

Released Too Soon

Released too Soon it’s the latest post by David Pogue on the his NYTimes blog is nothing short of a great read over something that we’ve all known for a while.

There’s a lot of crap software/technology out there!
Why this still happens is a mystery to me as well, there’s tons of examples on how to avoid that, but… they keep on coming!

One of the old advices that I’ve heard along my entire career, had to do with expectations, one can’t really know if our next product/project will indeed match the expectations that aim for. There was also the idea of release soon, release often, but I think a lot of people only got the first one and never really grasp the true meaning of the last part.The prove that this doesn’t need to be is the endless list of forgotten PRs on the next big revolutionary project, which is now only a vague memory in the minds of some of us.

Releasing something just for the sake of releasing is fundamentally WRONG.

David’s article is an excellent review of some of the factors that lead to this sad endings, so my comments below shouldn’t keep you from reading the article itself.
1. Companies that think that they can get away with it (because no one will remember anyway) seem to be something of the past this days, just check the GetSatisfaction forums and you’ll find pearls of wisdom in it about why you shouldn’t follow this path.

2. Companies that aren’t able to skip an internal deadline. Deadlines are just that, Deadlines, I honestly believe they’re excellent to keep the necessary pressure into the delivery date. But in the end deadlines are meant to be broken, especially if quality is jeopardise for this. Companies need to improve seriously their testing capabilities, their user research studies, their closed market trials and most of all they need to start listening to the people that makes those companies. Contingency plans are in order and descoping is sometimes the wisest of all possible decisions.

3. Having talked to soon. A lot of companies end-up in this scenarios because they couldn’t keep their mouth shut, how? They announce the release date to the world way to soon. If you’ve been working for months/years in the next big think, why the hell open the game to soon? In here I like Apple approach, they set a date only and when they feel comfortable with it, prior to this moment (which I suspect has long passed the internal release date) everyone is engaged in selling whatever dream is coming out of their assembly lines. Everyone loves surprises and to talk about something unexpected. I’ve seen a series of times where dates have been set on paper and huge marketing campaigns have been silently rolled out.. then everyone feels obliged to follow along, even if it isn’t the right time…
3. Pretending that everything will be ok isn’t enough, one would be surprised with how many people inside companies have an amazingly accurate capability of foreseeing the future, and in this case, the future might not be aligned with the PR being cooked out. I liked David’s quote on this one:

“Everybody knows the product is a dog, but it’s in everybody’s self-interest to keep pretending it’s going to be fine.”

In all the companies I’ve worked so far I’ve always working with a customer obsessed vision. The current one is no exception, so it’s particular interesting to read this text by David on the exact same day in which this company made a serious effort to restore some sanity in their path towards a better product and service.

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