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

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

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

Thinking About the Business Ecosystem

The business ecosystem is one of the most important innovations of the past ten years. A year or so back I wrote about metrics and business ecosystems – given we have this new asset attraction system how do we measure activity around it?

We need a broad set of metrics so we can understand where value is created in business ecosystems and how we can optimise that value – it’s easy enough to understand value if your ecosystem is up and running, and productive. But how do you understand the phases of growth? The presentation below compares the old Symbian ecosystem with that created around Apple’s iPhone. It’s a work in progress. Clearly I need to think more about the history of these two ecosystems but here I’m trying to addresss the issue of what might make good metrics.

Much Ado about Apps – A Long Transformative Tail (Part One)

By now anyone who has a smartphone or a tablet also has an app, or rather, several pages of apps.  Apps are ubiquitous in digital life.

Apps alone can provide business benefit.  But apps plus a business platform, plus a business ecosystem, plus universal connectors can  position the enterprise to become elastic, primed for highly scaleable growth.

In this post we will describe how apps are being used to create elasticity through the customer ecosystem, improving customer engagement, customer experience and customer innovation.  In a second post, we’ll describe how apps are used to make the enterprise more elastic through different ecosysstem communities.

"Fruit Seller"

” Fruit Seller” Louise Moillon, 1631

Let’s start with the customer ecosystem.  The Baroque era, 17th Century painting by Louise Moillon, “Fruit Seller,” captures the essence of the merchant and customer relationship.  The customer contemplates the basket of fruit and considers whether the product might fulfill a need.  The painting embodies the customer lifecycle, as it has existed for eons, in one dramatic and artistic moment.

But today, the customer ecosystem expresses the dimensions of customer life in a highly connected world.  Customers talk with other customers.  Customers talk with competitors.  Customers share experiences about products.  Customers help other customers.  And in some cases, customers help companies make products and services better.  With the right app strategy an enterprise can engage the customer in ways never possible before, transform their company and create a long tail for competitive growth.

Continue reading

Why Amazon’s Kindle Makes an Elastic Enterprise

Amazon’s Kindle, and now its tablet Fire, are great illustrations of a new business truth.  The kudos and plaudits go to Jeff Bezos and Amazon, but in fact the Kindle is as much about a huge ecosystem of writers as it is about the hardware (and a daring strategy). Here is an extraordinary customer ecosystem – not readers but authors. And the truth is every business needs a customer ecosystem as part of its overall platform and business ecosystem strategy.

Until the Kindle, Amazon was basically a marketing platform. An extraordinary one, of course, emerging too as a Cloud service infrastructure.

But with the Kindle Amazon stepped into a different realm of strategy. Not only did it become a publisher. It also became now a serious platform business, managing an ecosystem of writers and, soon, apps developers.

The developers we’ve seen before – creating a new model army of creatives though. That is special.

Here’s a question: Did Kindle really make e-publishing or did the writers come first?

Did one device create the self-published industry or was there huge pent-up creativity looking for an outlet?

One of the first self-published authors, Amanda Hocking, wrote about vampires and sold over 100,000 copies per month. Hocking illustrates many hidden truths of the new business climate. Customers are creative. Creative people are closer to a wider range of strong market niches than companies ever can be. Clearly, before Hocking, the publishing world was not supplying the vast appetite for vampire books.

Amazon’s smartest move was to create the conditions for creative people to fail or succeed, at ultra low-cost. It took the right bet on pent-up demand – not just for reading particular types of content, but for writing and publishing it.

Creative people form an invaluable business ecosystem. Platforms that support the exploitation of widely diffused creative talent can be hugely successful. Before Kindle, publishers treated those people with disdain – they were the slush pile. Post-Kindle we have a new market in taste created by a new ecosystem for taste.