The iPhone Kerfuffle

Fred is right:

Cutting the price on the iPhone by $100200 a couple months after launch and pissing off everyone who was an early adopter.

First of all, they should have come out and admitted that the iPhone was priced too high from the get go. The idea that in 2 months the manufacturing cost dropped by $200 is laughable. More to the point, Apple is a mass marketing machine that depends on early adopters for the halo effect, pissing off the very people who will die for you is no way to do business.

iSuppli says that Apple racked up 2% of all SMARTPHONE handset sales in the U.S. Well whoop-de-fucking-doo, 2% for the most hyped consumer electronics device in the history of consumer electronics (okay, maybe the Segway had more hype) and they turned over 2% in a period in which all the major competitors basically stayed away.

Yeah, I’m getting one this weekend.

PS- a $100 gift certificate good at any Apple store really isn’t like $100 cash, not even close. Jobs gets credit for responding, but let’s face it, Apple blew it on this pricing issue.

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Put That in Your Prius and Smoke It

I am a big fan of diesel technology for passenger cars, and in a previous post about Mercedes/Audi/VW’s Bluetec technology I wondered about the use of diesel in hybrid configurations. This makes a ton of sense given that gas hybrids just don’t work in large vehicles and trucks (don’t take my word for it, go drive a hybrid equipped pickup truck that gets maybe 2 mpg better than it’s non-hybrid brother and certainly a lot less than a diesel powered version).

The world of automobiles is governed by the inflexible laws of physics and the reality of it is that hybrids simply don’t have the power required to move 2 1/2 tons of mass without the aide of internal combustion engines that have the end result of decreasing economy.

The answer simply isn’t to make lighter vehicles given the economics of exotic materials that are both lightweight and strong, and absent of strength we would then have to face the real requirement to decrease safety standards as a consequence of building large sized lightweight vehicles with current generation materials.

One possible answer is to encourage the adoption of diesel technology, specifically the clean burning Bluetec technology that has been very successful for Mercedes, Audi, and VW. In lightweight cars the mileage is greater than current hybrids (the VW Polo is a 62 mpg vehicle) while doing it without batteries (an environmental issue on their own), complex electronics that have not be proven over several fleet generations, and lastly, diesel is a system widely deployable without licensing Toyota’s hybrid patents.

Bluetec paired up with hybrid technology is equally impressive in overcoming the major shortfall that current generation hybrids have, they simply suck in heavy vehicles. Mercedes Bluetec hybrid S class is a great example of this in action.

A prime example comes in the shape of the S 300 BLUETEC HYBRID with its unique combination of BLUETEC and hybrid technology that has given rise to the world’s most efficient, most environment-compatible premium passenger car. As a 4-cylinder with hybrid module it develops a combined system output of 165 kW / 224 hp and a maximum torque of 560 Nm, a figure more reminiscent of a large-displacement V8 petrol unit. The luxury saloon delivers effortless performance yet consumes just 5.4 litres of diesel per 100 kilometres – equivalent to just 142 grams of CO2 per kilometre 57 grams or around 30 percent less than the current consumption and emissions benchmark in the S Class segment.

The S Class is a 5,000 pound car that with a standard 8 or 12 cylinder gasoline engine achieves 15-17mpg on average. With a 6 cylinder Bluetec diesel engine that number spikes up to 26 mpg at 340+ hp, making for not just better fuel economy but also impressive performance. A similarly equipped 4 cylinder Bluetec hybrid S Class, as referenced above, is capable of achieving 43 mpg at 224 hp, but with the torque displacement still hitting an impressive 413 lb-ft stat. Anyone who knows cars will tell you that hp is fun but torque is what makes you go.

It’s time for the U.S. to get on diesel technology, not only will emissions be reduced as a consequence of higher fleet fuel economy but we will achieve it with technology that is widely available today, proven over many decades of development, and cost effective.

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Is The Social Graph Just Identity?

Brad Fitzpatrick posted something about social graphs that I bookmarked and kept thinking about, unable to put my finger on why I kept revisiting it.

The social graph contains a combination of public nodes, private nodes, public edges, and private edges. The focus is only on public data for now, as that’s all you can spray around the net freely to other parties. While focusing on public data doesn’t solve 100% of the problem, it does solve, say, 90% of the problem at 10% of the complexity. Private data can be added later, perhaps at a higher layer. For now, only public data.

The problem with the term "social graph" is that very few people understand what it is and why they should care about it. Social network providers, e.g. Facebook, declare the graph to be their secret sauce and expand on why their graph is better than anyone else’s, but that misses the bigger point.

The social graph is identity, federated identity to be more specific. Something we all know and hate, identity management, with a distributed capability that removes much of the hassle while providing a raft of benefits, federation.

As companies who are developing new applications for Facebook are discovering, just being on FB does not make you a social graph climber. In fact, since changing the rules about how many friends any user can invite to a new app, the rate of adoption for new FB apps has slowed considerably.

What does this mean? Certainly it does not mean social graph theory is flawed but it does mean the unique capabilities that FB provides and the mass of their user base contributes as much to the success of any given app. For Facebook it is more likely that the Law of Accelerating Returns matters more than the theory of social graphs. Indeed the front page feed that is updates you on what your friends are doing is a direct consequence of accelerating returns, the more users you have the more features you will likely benefit from (new apps, groups, etc.).

Ping Identity has some really good whitepapers on how we can achieve federation of identity systems today using existing standards. Enterprise customers (although sad to say, few ISVs) are embracing federation as a means of increasing security and user convenience, it’s time that consumer internet sites do the same.

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Office 2.0 Conference

I could not attend the Office 2.0 Conference that started yesterday and am I bummed. The reason for my absence will be revealed in a post on Monday, but for now let me say that this is one of the pre-eminent conferences of the season because Ismael comes at it from the perspective of a user and buyer, not a vendor.

Sure there are pitches and press announcements but I think it’s fair to say that the major theme of this year’s event is "how to" as in how do you change the way you work, as opposed to just use new tools. If you can get there today for the close definitely do it.

For a good summary of day 1, check out Dan Farber’s post.

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