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Consumer Electronics

Roku IPO Reminds us Tech is an Oligopoly

September 3, 2017



Roku is a company that defied the odds - competing in a market with Apple, Google and Amazon and somehow persevering by making superior products in what is without a doubt a highly commoditized space. To make matters worse, Google and Amazon really don't seem to care too much about profitability - Amazon in general and Google/Alphabet for its businesses beyond search.

Still, despite the challenging competitive environment, Roku has persevered and done well.

The company's investors are about to partially cash out via an IPO and in its filing documents it tells us that two of its most popular services, YouTube and Netflix pay them virtually no money.

Tech is an oligopoly of sorts. In 2015, Om Malik wrote about the winner-take-all nature of Silicon Valley.

Here is an excerpt:

This loop of algorithms, infrastructure, and data is potent. Add what are called network effects to the mix, and you start to see virtual monopolies emerge almost overnight.











Devialet, 4,500 Watts of the Cleanest Power You Will Hear

April 4, 2017

In my former life as an amateur audiophile I would have been salivating over the Devialet line of speakers and amplifiers. But that was a long time ago. Then again, when I got a chance to hear these speakers, I did salivate and if you have extra thousands of dollars lying around, you will likely not find a better sounding speaker, anywhere. Truly amazing.

Technology has revolutionized audio - not since vacuum tube powered components have we seen such an improvement in audio quality.

Sennheiser Shows the Future of Work in NYC

April 3, 2017


Sennheiser
and furniture company Wilkhahn recently held a press conference at their pop-up store in Greenwich Village, NY where the audience was treated to great content and the ability to try some of the company's high-end audio products.

The presentation started with pictures which showed the evolution of the office - from tightly packed desks, to offices, to cubes and now more casual informal settings replete with couches, huddle rooms and a few quiet areas for serious work. In other words, our collaborative future.

The takeaway? Well, it wasn't all that different from what many of us heard in the keynote room of ITEXPO in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Companies are changing to suit the tastes of millennials.



Why Apple's Dropping its Pants With New iPad Price

March 21, 2017

This new device is a dramatic departure for the company... Here's why



If you look at the innovations of the iPad over the years, the device has gotten significantly more powerful as well as lighter with each iteration. The company pioneered a Smart Cover and a Smart Keyboard and even launched a pencil - although, they didn't pioneer that... In fact it was avoiding the use of a stylus that got the company to where it is today...



Cloud and Debt did Avaya in

January 24, 2017


8x8 has seen its stock triple in the past five years as they move upmarket and take share from telecom hardware players. Interestingly, this increment is the exact same amount of time its been since ShoreTel acquired M5 to provide cloud solutions to customers.

This is what we said at the time:
Cisco may now be forced to buy 8x8 and Avaya will likely make a move as well. This move could even push Vonage to go after the SMB space. Mitel is an interesting question - they have leading edge tech but a troubled stock to use as currency.



8x8 CEO Discusses Communications 2.0 and Going For the Win

January 15, 2017

 Communications is often sold as a commodity. What once cost dollars a minute is often free today but everyone knows that if you can find a way to take a commodity product and alter it – even slightly, you can charge more and become very profitable. Starbucks is a great example and so are the numerous frozen yogurt chains around the country able to charge more per customer than analysts ever thought was possible.  

In a recent conversation with 8x8 CEO Vik Verma, he explained his vision for the hosted voice company and the market as a whole.

NYC or France, Where Would You Locate Your Company?

January 7, 2017

New York City – whose moniker is “The City that Never Sleeps” has pushed to ensure your company never sleeps and in today’s connected and digital economy, this may be the difference between success and failure.

If you had a chance to choose a western region to locate your company and you had the choice of just New York City or France, which would you choose based on recent events? Moreover, if you had to make your decision largely based on recent government actions – let’s the last few weeks or so, which would you choose?

In other words, we are going to put aside tarriffs, currency, minimum wage, taxation, regulations, the availability of a solid slice of pizza, baguette or the availability of fine wine.

As we reported on Christmas Day of last year, France has a new law which allows people working for companies with 50 or more people to negotiate to not work after normal business hours.

Wireless Carriers Racing to the Bottom

October 12, 2016

It had to happen eventually - a price war is taking its toll on telecom equipment providers because their customers won't spend money in some cases unless they can see an ROI of a billion dollars fairly quickly. This comment is attributed to Verizon from a trusted source I can't reveal.

In my recent meeting with Sprint, they explained how they are racing to the bottom by giving away more for less with their Unlimited Freedom plans. Obviously, these are my words, not theirs.



In addition, the Sprint ads on TV are amazing - they say their network quality is within one percent of Verizon yet a lot cheaper. When put in those terms, its very tough for Verizon to keep charging a premium for their service.

T-Mobile is obviously part of the challenge as well - they've been giving away more for less and increasing their value over the years.

Ericsson just put our its numbers for the quarter and an unexpected 14% drop in sales cratered the stock by 20%.









Jabra Halo Smart Wireless Stereo Headphones a Great iPhone 7 Companion

September 9, 2016

Confirming months of rumors, Apple announced two new iPhone 7 models which have no headphone jacks. There are two schools of thought on this decision. The first is the headphone jack is antiquated and not necessary. The second, Apple wants to make more money and charge royalties for use of the Lightning connector.

Aricent: How to be Digitally Durable

June 20, 2016

"APIs are now a business model!"
"A company that has more APIs has more value."

If every industry is being digitally disrupted (it is) then the question companies need to ask is how to remain digitally durable. If you want insight into how to fight off the next wave of innovation before it makes you obsolete, a great place to start is talking to Frank Kern, the CEO of Aricent, the company responsible for helping other companies be disruptive.


If you don't know them, Aricent has a few different practices from security and IoT/embedded to cloud and software defined everything. I last interviewed Frank in 2015 where he shared with us his vision for the future of technology.

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