Skydivers, Mountaineers and Bicyclists – An Update on Google’s Project Glass

Realtime feed of skydiver wearing Google Glass prototype in descent to Moscone Center in San Francisco, June 27, 2012. Source: Google

Google had fun at its latest I/O developer conference with a theatrical level performance including skydivers wearing Google’s electronic glasses streaming live realtime video as they descended from high above San Francisco. As they landed on top of Moscone Center they relayed their payload to awaiting mountaineers who repelled down the side of the building. The payload was quickly transferred to bicyclists who road through the auditorium to cheering fans and up onto the stage to an awaiting Sergey Brin (see video).

Latest Details on Project Glass

Nonetheless, the theatrics provided some new information including the announcement that the glasses will become a product next year, and prototypes (i.e. beta version) are now available for $1500 to well-heeled developers flourishing in the Google ecosystem.

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Everyone Beware: Microsoft is Alive Again and May Become an Elastic Enterprise

A giant has awakened.  Microsoft’s alliance with Barnes and Noble is a major market signal. It should be a wake up call for everyone.  Yes, it’s a great deal for Barnes and Noble and just what the doctor ordered (see my previous blog on B&N). But, it also builds up Microsoft’s business platforms and adds an established e-commerce engine to Microsoft’s repertoire that could add to the appeal of Windows 8.

Yes there are detractors. On Yahoo Finance’s Daily Ticker, Dan Gross quipped, “The desperate got married to the hopeless,” and Henry Blodget added “My guess is that this is rearranging deck chairs.”  I am a fan of both commentators. But, in this case, there is more to the story. The bigger story is about the overlooked overhaul and transformation of Microsoft, the company. Continue reading

Pebble Technology and its “Watch” — A Start-up Surging with Elasticity

With thousands of others, I just became an official backer on Kickstarter of the Pebble, a watch, really a wearable computing device that interfaces seamlessly, conveniently, and wirelessly  with Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android OS phones.

The Pebble / Pebble Technology
Source: http://www.getpebble.com

Over the past two months I’ve written twice about wearable computing – coming from mainline firms, Nike (the FuelBand) and Google (Google glasses). Nike and Google are well-established elastic enterprises and benefit from the elasticity that they have built into their companies. Their wearable devices add new levels of engagement and options for  their huge base of customers.

But Pebble Technology, the maker of Pebble, is a startup.  It also has a noteworthy distinction: it raised over $1 Million dollars from supporters on Kickstarter in 28 hours – for a product that is not yet in production.   But a snappy video and a low-key pitch inspired thousands to make an “investment.”  The Pebble folks also smartly provided “investors” with various contribution options, from a minimum of $99 to a high of $10,000, but each level will receive 1 or more Pebble watches when they are produced sometime in the fall of 2012. Continue reading

We’re on a Journey to the Vanishing Point: Google’s Project Glass and Why You Should Care

It started as a rumor.  It rippled through social networks.  Then came stories by Nick Bilton at the New York Times in December 2011, Seth Weintrab at 9TO5 Google and most recently again from Nick Bilton in a follow-up article about testing prototypes of “Google Glasses.” And Steven Levy at Wired recounted some deep history and added perspective and background elements about the project, now known as Project Glass.

Google CEO, Larry Page Sports New Google Glasses
(Flickr / Thomas Hawk)

This much we know.  According to many reports, an official demo video, and individuals who recently saw Larry Page wearing the glasses at a party, these high-tech glasses superimpose critical information and alerts as one interacts with the physical world, in realtime.  They are essentially a heads-up display for daily life. And if it catches on and moves beyond geekdom, it could be a winner in the interface wars. And no matter how much you want it, whatever you see is a prototype, not yet a product for sale.

But Google’s Project Glass is about more than a new mobile or wearable device – it’s about what we call the vanishing point.  Smartphones and tablets are only the first step on a journey to operationally merge the digital and physical worlds. Continue reading

Salesforce.com Relishing Its New Elasticity

Salesforce.com is one of the companies we write about in the Elastic Enterprise. CEO Marc Benioff believes Wall St doesn’t quite understand what he’s achieving (though his P/E is 90). He added 2,500 employees over the past year, mostly in the U.S., an increase of 47%. He also delivered 37% growth.

The complaint is that Salesforce.com is not delivering the margins. But listen to how Benioff responds to this. Continue reading

Competition and the Elastic Enterprise: Business Platforms, Personal Biometrics and Strategic Options: Nike and FuelBand

How does a sports shoe manufacturer grow?  Well if it was the 1980s or 1990’s, you would get sport celebrities, use high technology materials, create great designs, diversify your merchandise, and go global with sales and manufacturing.  Nike did exceedingly well with that model.  Today you still do all of that but you do more…

If you’re at the top of your game, you “just do it,” differently.  You do it as an elastic enterprise.   Nike is well on its way to becoming an elastic enterprise.  And it’s already reaping the benefits of an elastic strategy with a robust strategic options portfolio.

Nike’s FuelBand, a recently launched high-tech electronic wristband, is another component in Nike’s elastic journey that highlights its strategy. Continue reading

MIT on The Need For Elasticity

In this video from this month’s CES Carlo Ratti from MIT’s Senseable City lab explains how the use of sensors is changing our impressions of the wrold around us. I think it is a classic statement of why companies need to become more elastic. We are fast moving towards a real-time data environment.

In The Elastic Enterprise we talk about the need for continuous active strategy and how great exponents of elasticity are able to respond to the market in a continuous way. Data is now a new business platform providing the means for such day-to-day strategic management.

Competition and the Elastic Enterprise: The Advantage of Elastic Strategy and Strategic Options Thinking – The Case of Apple TV

We think a key ingredient of sustainable future business success is an elastic strategy with a strong strategic options portfolio.  There’s a classic example of that out there right now – Apple TV.

In Walter Isaacson’s celebrated biography, Steve Jobs, he quotes Steve Jobs as saying, “I’d like to create an integrated television set that is completely easy to use…  It would be seamlessly synced with all of your devices and with iCloud.”  But what got the world talking was, “It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine. I finally cracked it.”

Among all the products that Apple is pursuing it still has time for television.

Going further into TV would involve a major multi-pronged strategy.  It’s about capitalizing on the competitive advantages that Apple has developed and has as an elastic enterprise.  Let’s take a closer look.

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Competition and the Elastic Enterprise: What Barnes & Noble Must do with Nook

I admire Barnes & Noble. The company has guts. I most admire Barnes and Noble’s (B&N) ability to reinvent itself. In fact its recent success with its Nook digital business put them on a path to become an elastic enterprise. So why did a company that I admire for its moves to greater elasticity lose 30% of its stock value in a single week?

Well, B&N’s Nook business has been a mixed blessing. The Nook business revenue is growing at double digits but so are expenses. Such performance puts the entire company in the red. To make matters worse, the Nook business requires more investment and is unlikely to be profitable anytime soon – despite its meteoric topline growth.

In the first week of January 2012, B&N management rattled its investors with a one-two punch: downward guidance and an announcement that the company would explore its “strategic options” regarding its Nook digital business. Shares of B&N stock (NYSE:BKS) plummeted. Continue reading