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C by GE Sol: Would You Buy a $200 GE Lamp?

September 18, 2017

Some time back we were fortunate enough to attend a breakfast meeting with Jack Welch in Stamford Connecticut. At the time, the Palm 7 was all the rage to give you an idea of how far back we're going in time.



Jack said two things which stood out in our minds.
  • A Palm 7 uses as much energy as a refrigerator when you take into account the servers it accesses
  • Chinese light bulb competition is brutal
On this second point, GE has turned to Apple's playbook of vertical integration to get around the problem of commoditization of their market. Instead of fighting the no-name brands head-on, the company has gone upmarket and sells a $200 C by GE Sol Lamp which includes the Amazon Alexa voice assistant.

Yes, you can assemble something similar by buying an Echo Dot from Amazon and some Philips Hue lights but this misses the point of the elegant simplicity of the Sol which is a piece of art in and of itself.



This new lamp C by GE Sol is part of the GE Lighting portfolio and was designed by Richard Clarkson. It not only works with voice commands but also via an iOS and Android app.



Here are some other features of this lamp:

  • Five Different White Lights: From crisp energizing light to help you stay alert in the office to soft, relaxing light to help you unwind in the family room, Sol has five white tunable light options for your control.

















Apple iPhone X Face ID May not be Secure Enough for Many Users

September 16, 2017



While Face ID is theoretically 20 times more secure than Touch ID at 1:1,000,000 chance of a false match as opposed to 1:50,000, there are some legal and societal reasons why we still believe it is less secure in certain situations.

Touch ID requires the owner to physically place their finger on a device. Face ID does not.

This may not seem like a huge deal but it has tremendous implications both legal and societal.

We pointed these issues out recently where we said the phone could be used without the permission of the owner in certain situations:
  1. Law enforcement holds phone up to person’s face to unlock it.
  2. Person sleeping or partially passed out – another person holds phone up to their face.
If a person is arrested or crossing a border or otherwise comes into contact with law enforcement, the authorities have the ability to take the phone from the owner. With Touch ID, assuming force is not used, the owner of the device would have to physically decide to place their finger on the phone to unlock it.

Face ID however makes this potentially easier for law enforcement. Now, all they have to do is place the phone up to the user's face.

We reached out to Apple about this matter and they replied with the following statement:

Our teams have been developing the technologies behind Face ID for several years, and our users’ privacy has been a priority since the very beginning.

Face ID provides intuitive and secure authentication enabled by the TrueDepth camera system and the A11 Bionic chip, which uses advanced technologies to accurately map and match the geometry of a user's face.















Apple's Face ID may not be Secure

September 14, 2017

After answering critics for years that the size of the iPhone was large enough in comparison to the ever-larger Android devices, the company finally capitulated and now makes phones it once implied we would never see. In 2013 they actually said larger devices don't fit in the hand. After the taller iPhone 5 was launched, that all changed. The iPhone 6 Plus became even taller and wider.

Apple made an important design decision with its iPhone X line.

MultiTech Continues IoT Leadership in LPWA and Security

September 12, 2017

One of the longest-running companies in the connectivity business, MultiTech has stepped up their IoT leadership. Specifically, in the world of LPWA. At MWC Americas the company demoed NB-IoT with T-Mobile. Company spokesperson Sarah Brown told me in an in-person interview that this is the first demo of its kind in the US.

Apple Chooses Qi for iPhone 8 and iPhone X Charging

September 12, 2017

Whatever wireless charging tech Apple decided to use would spark a trillion-dollar upgrade cycle in cars, gym equipment such as treadmills, office furniture, night-tables (especially in hotels), coffee-shop furniture and basically all flat surfaces.

Just to stay competitive, Dunkin' Donuts will upgrade all its tables to keep pace with Starbucks and there may not be a restaurant that can afford to ignore the trend.

We are talking world-wide here - over a trillion dollars will easily be spent. Some of the upgrades would have happened anyway but do not underestimate the power of Apple to force companies to piggy-back on their success.

Apple could have gone with its own standard and taken a piece of this new trillion-dollar space through licensing but instead they decided to use Qi, the standard we first talked about in 2013 when we were a bit thinner.



Because Apple went the open route, and decided not to make money from their newfound wireless charging dominance, the industry as a whole will flourish.

There will be no Apple-tax and subsequently all vendors have a new standard to focus on. Expect Microsoft laptops to benefit as well because they soon will have to embrace Qi. Ditto for Chromebooks and all Android devices. We saw Qi powering an electric kettle four years ago so it will likely be able to handle the charging of much of our electronics - not servers but at least much of what we put in our laptop bags.

Expect dirt-cheap Chinese Qi-power mats.













Paul Ryan: Smartphones Are Cleaning FEMA Out

September 7, 2017



According to Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, people are using smartphones to apply for FEMA assistance at unprecedented levels and as a result it is nearly out of funds.

This wasn't possible in past disasters because people needed PCs, electricity and homes which weren't flooded or destroyed to connect to the internet.

Hurricane Harvey and it's immense amount of flooding has destroyed a large number of homes (above) while Hurricane Irma has already hit land in the US territory of Puerto Rico and will hit the US mainland soon. Even worse, hurricane Jose isn't far behind Irma.

Smartphones have made the pace of everything happen more quickly and asking for assistance from FEMA is no different and while this is great for those in need, it will put inordinate strain on government budgets to ensure the emergency fund stays solvent.







Why IoT Companies Will Soon be Chasing Lumavate

September 5, 2017

Few people have heard of Lumavate but at the conclusion of this post you'll be convinced that they likely point to the future of at least one segment of the IoT market.

Before we get into the company, lets delve into the company's latest news. Don Brown has led a $2 million dollar seed investment.

The reason this matters has to do with integration.

Dr. Don Brown is someone who gets a fraction of the press he deserves. If he lived in Silicon Valley, the tech media would worship him 24x7. Because his last company was located in Indiana, he flew somewhat under the radar of the general media while revolutionizing the way trillions of dollars were spent in the call center market.

I first met Don when he launched Interactive Intelligence around 1995.







Tunnel is the Professional way Call Centers Text Customers

September 4, 2017

WhatsApp revolutionized consumer texting. Slack did it for business. Tunnel wants to do it for call centers.





There is no shortage of vendors who will allow your call center to send text messages via an API.

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.











Watch out Slack, Here Comes Flock

September 2, 2017

There is no shortage of competition for the enterprise messaging customer. Slack is the acknowledged leader but Cisco, Microsoft and everyone seems to want to get in on the market. The latest is Flock, a cloud-based team collaboration service, which has attracted 25,000 enterprise users and customers including Tim Hortons, Whirlpool and Princeton University.

According to Bloomberg: 
A teenage entrepreneur who became a millionaire by 20 before sharing a billion-dollar fortune at 36, Bhavin Turakhia isn’t afraid to think big. Now he’s putting $45 million of his own money into building a rival to Slack and other office messaging platforms.

The bottom line is the price Flock will charge is more than $3 per user less than Slack.


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