Rob Enderle

About the Author Rob Enderle


Tech Buzz

Sony’s Foolish Failure to Learn From Microsoft’s Mistake

Microsoft has learned a lot of very hard lessons over the last couple of decades, and it continues to surprise and annoy me that other firms seem to have the suicidal tendency to learn the same lessons the hard way. It is far better and cheaper to avoid the mistakes of others, but firms like Apple, Google and, most recently, Sony seem to want to experience past Microsoft disasters first hand.

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IDG Contributor Network: Microsoft Security stopped being an oxymoron with the acquisition of Hexadite

One of the most frustrating things to watch during the early years of Microsoft (Disclosure: Microsoft is a client of the author) was their lack of interest in security.  It was almost as if, when anyone there heard the term, they’d cover up their ears and say “la, la, la, la, la” until you went away. And, as the century turned, Microsoft security meant anything but security, it was mostly bad joke that hit products like Windows and Internet Explorer particularly hard. But this week’s announcement (ranked as the 3rd most important acquisition this year) they are buying Hexadite showcases that over the last ten years Microsoft made a huge pivot. It finally understood that being unsecure could not only result in massive liability for the firm, but was creating a massive drag on the brand because it reflected poorly on quality. It particularly hurt sales of their products in the enterprise. 

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IDG Contributor Network: The coming evolution of the conversational interface

Last week I wrote on how Cortana and her peers, Apple Siri and Amazon Alexa, were likely to evolve in a VR world to become the primary interface because touch, mice, and keyboards, in a virtual world, make aren’t practical unless you are emulating something that uses them. Because of Cortana’s connection to video gaming, I think it, or she, has an advantage over the others. This is because you can emulate the future in a game and reduce the resistance the change so that when the interface matures people, at least those that have played the game that uses her, will not only be ready for the change they’ll drive it rather than resist it. 

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Tech Buzz

Russia, Fake News and Facebook: 24/7 Manipulation

Back when the Internet first came to be, there was the belief that the result would be more facts, less censorship, more intelligent discourse and less successful manipulation. Being able to converse with each other would lead people to be more honest, and our world increasingly would resemble a utopian ideal of peace and prosperity. Now, decades later, “fake news” has proliferated.

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IDG Contributor Network: Cortana: anticipating a true conversational interface for Windows

[Disclosure: Microsoft is a client of the author]

This last month Microsoft, with a variety of partners, announced a series of low cost VR/MR headsets due to market largely targeting consumers by the 4th quarter.   MR is the new term that refers to Mixed Reality and now effectively encompasses AR, or Augmented Reality, and VR or Virtual Reality. 

These headsets solve many problems plaguing the VR market in particular: initial cost (they cost a fraction of the headsets currently being sold), ease of setup (they have cameras built in rather than the earlier remotely installed satellite cameras) and introduce more hardware competition (which often drives lower prices and more innovative designs). But we still are mostly dealing with interfaces into our new VR world that seem mouse or touch based even though neither really lends itself to VR, MR, or AR. 

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Tech Buzz

As New Turnaround King, Is HP Better Than Apple?

HP is the new turnaround king — but is it better than Apple? IBM was the king of tech in the 1980s, but in the 1990s it was the king of turnarounds, after almost going under but coming back from a negative brand equity, which occurs when folks will pay more for a no-name product than one with a negative brand. Apple, at the end of the 90s, was in much the same shape IBM was at the beginning.

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IDG Contributor Network: Apple vs. Microsoft Windows – lessons both failed to learn from each other

Looking back both Apple and Microsoft (Disclosure: Microsoft is a client of the author) made pivotal strategic mistakes in their operating system strategies that the other firm did well.  In each case the company seemed to walk away with the idea that the strategy was bad when it was clearly, after analysis, that the execution was the problem.  Apple tried to both license the operating system in the 1990s and sell hardware, a practice that failed badly and Steve Jobs eliminated the effort.  

Microsoft tried to get the same operating system to work on PCs and Smartphones and that failed equally badly and has mostly been shut down as well.  However, the Microsoft Surface line of products has been surprisingly successful, and Apple’s sales of the iPad Pro, which is more of laptop than a tablet in use, has been doing very well showcasing that the idea was viable but the execution was at fault.

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IDG Contributor Network: Apple vs. Microsoft Windows – lessons both failed to learn from each other

Looking back both Apple and Microsoft (Disclosure: Microsoft is a client of the author) made pivotal strategic mistakes in their operating system strategies that the other firm did well.  In each case the company seemed to walk away with the idea that the strategy was bad when it was clearly, after analysis, that the execution was the problem.  Apple tried to both license the operating system in the 1990s and sell hardware, a practice that failed badly and Steve Jobs eliminated the effort.  

Microsoft tried to get the same operating system to work on PCs and Smartphones and that failed equally badly and has mostly been shut down as well.  However, the Microsoft Surface line of products has been surprisingly successful, and Apple’s sales of the iPad Pro, which is more of laptop than a tablet in use, has been doing very well showcasing that the idea was viable but the execution was at fault.

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Tech Buzz

What Tech Companies Are Doing Wrong With Extremists

It is starting to worry me how little the responses by tech firms will do to fix the problem of extreme views instead of just driving them underground. This is largely due to the excessive focus firms now have on how they are run. Companies tend to be run tactically, with officials more likely to make decisions that will seem to make a problem go away but do not deal with the cause of the problem.

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IDG Contributor Network: Windows 10 Pro for Workstations: undoing a huge 1990s mistake

Disclosure: Microsoft is a client of the author.

Microsoft has made many critical mistakes over the years. Something not uncommon in any firm. But one that seemed to me to be one of the most foolish was to take Windows NT, which was initially uniquely focused on Servers and Workstations, and fold elements of Windows 9x into it to create a more common code base. That made sense from a cost standpoint but created problems for all three groups. Windows Server had to then overcome consumer messaging and elements, workstation users seemed to lose focus entirely, and desktop users got more complexity then they’d ever wanted or needed. 

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IDG Contributor Network: Windows 10 finally has become an adult product with a child’s heart

I became an industry analyst during the ramp to launch for Windows 95 and, as luck would have it, I owned operating systems for Dataquest at the time. The success of the product was directly tied to my own success and I doubt I’d be where I am today were it not for that timing and responsibility. As a result, I’ve watched Windows closely over the years, almost as if it was my digital brother and both of us have had some impressive ups and downs. (Disclosure: Microsoft is a client of the author.) 

Initially Windows was designed to be Microsoft’s alternative to the MacOS from Apple and it resulted after Steve Jobs refused to license that OS to Microsoft. In that way, its birth wasn’t that different than Android’s was, given Android resulted from what appeared to be a similar, though not identical, disagreement decades later between the Google founders and Steve Jobs. 

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Tech Buzz

While You Wait: 4 Potentially Higher-Status Alternatives to the iPhone 8

At a rumored $1,400 sale price the coming iPhone 8 likely will test just how much people are willing to pay for a new phone — particularly, how much parents are willing to fork over for their kids. While iPhones once conveyed status and sense of luxury, similar to a brand like Cadillac, pretty much everyone and their brother has iPhones today. The first few customers who get their hands on the latest model will be envied for about a week.

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Tech Buzz

Why Facebook’s Willow Beats Apple’s Saucer

Facebook knocked it out of the park with its financials last week, and a lot of its success comes from Zuckerberg’s unique focus. Unlike other firms that jump from project to project, ranging widely from what makes them money — like Google — Facebook stays close to what made it successful. There is no stronger evidence than when you compare the two office projects from Apple and Facebook.

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Tech Buzz

Could Tech Nerf North Korea?

When a hostile country regularly lobs missiles into the ocean with the stated objective of transforming a U.S. state into a radioactive cloud, we have a problem. One “oops” and we could suddenly become a 49-state nation again. Approaches to North Korea tend to be in-the-box thinking, but there are new technologies that effectively could neutralize the threat it poses.

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Tech Buzz

The United States of Amazon

Amazon’s significant expansion into yet another market — this time, grocery stores — dominated many of my conversations last week. Clearly, Amazon warned us. I’ve been here before — back in the 1990s, when Amazon was just books, I was running the company’s e-commerce unit. I got into an argument with one of the analysts focused on Amazon, who believed the company wouldn’t go beyond books.

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Tech Buzz

The Art of Manipulation and Misdirection

Last week, I listened to an economist talk about Apple’s complaints that Qualcomm had charged Apple too much for access to patents. What was fascinating was that Apple had folks focused on the 5 percent Qualcomm had charged it instead of on the massive profit that Apple made on each phone. The price of the iPhone 8 likely will be well over $1,000 — but it could cost well under $500 to build.

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Tech Buzz

Hearing Crickets at Apple’s WWDC and a Pin Drop in the Senate

The two mammoth events last week were the Apple WWDC keynote and ex-FBI chief James Comey’s appearance at a Senate committee hearing. Now I’m sure a lot of folks didn’t have the time to watch both events — and particularly for the Comey event, I’m sure the coverage has the right and the left believing very different realities. Apple is becoming more and more like a typical tech firm.

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Tech Buzz

Will Future Autonomous Cars Fly Like Birds or Tunnel Like Moles?

It is kind of amazing how much advancement is going on in the autonomous car space. A year ago, we were mostly talking about cars that seemed comparatively boring, because they just drove on the surface. How quaint — how 2016. Now when we mention “boring,” we may be talking about Elon Musk’s new underground tunneling idea. However, a little company called “Airbus” disagrees.

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