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: 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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The Strange Case of Companies that Grow in Recession

From 2007 and the onset of recession a small group of companies began enjoying exceptional sales and profit growth. Companies like Apple and to name just two. They didn’t just grow. They didn’t just begin to enjoy their best ever years. More significantly, they began performing like no other company before them.

Apple’s revenues in the third quarter of its 2010-2011 fiscal year were up 82% and profits were up 125%. This would be a supreme achievement at any time but the summer of 2011 was not a holiday period, where sales tend to be strong. And the economy still teetered on the edge of recession.

Apple was not just succeeding wildly. On the way to record profits, Steve Jobs’ team had created monumental disruption in a product category (smartphones) that the company had inhabited for a total of only four years. Shortly after entering smartphones, Apple created a new product category (tablets) single handedly with the launch of the iPad.

This was unusual success heaped on top of astonishing corporate performance.

In Amazon’s case, there is a similar tale of total novelty. With the launch of the Kindle ebook reader, the online retailer suddenly converted itself into a device company, a move that would normally spell chaos. At the same time Amazon also pioneered what became known as “platform as a service” and “cloud computing”, a revolution in how companies source their IT needs. Like Apple it opened new horizons for itself during the recession by doing what companies should not do – move into adjaceny markets with entirely new products.

In 2010/2011 Amazon’s revenues from its consumer electronics business line surged 69%, during an extremely weak recovery from recession. The remarkable feature of Amazon’s growth is that its profits briefly fell during the period, yet its share price rose. Barron’s called it a “religion stock”, one you believe in or don’t.

So why do people believe, and what is it people believe in? What is the bigger story behind these and similar successes?
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The Elastic Enterprise

Amped Up and Ready To Go

We live on an amped-up, hyper-connected planet. Anyone, any corporation, any government or any group can immediately communicate and engage in complex transactions with anyone, and increasingly with M2M commerce with any thing, or any company on the planet at any time. This new reality connects people with information, ideas and knowledge without regard to boundaries – enterprise, organizational, or national.

In this hyper-connected world our attention has inevitably been drawn to the new significance of innovation and ideas. We want to suggest, perhaps heretically, that ideas’ generation, innovation and perhaps even collaboration, three pillars of static state innovation are the wrong place for us to be looking for change. Here on the Elastic Enterprise we’d like to invite you to join us in discussing what these changes mean to the future of how we product, how we create wealth. We’re launching in mid-September so if you happen across us before do come back.

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