The great BlackBerry marketing mess

You should go over to Ken’s site to read the whole article. But I think there is so much irony in this teaser.  Especially launching something like this before RIM announcement of abysmal sales and mounting losses.

I think they should take some of their own advice and do something different.

The great BlackBerry marketing mess:

RIM’s teaser on its UK and Australia sites

It probably wasn’t the plan, but RIM may soon enter the record books for Most Self-Inflicted Wounds By A Market Leader.

After being spanked by iPhone and Android over a period of four years, RIM is fighting back with a marketing campaign. And wow, it’s a doozie.

(Via Observatory)

Mini House in Belgium

Here is another brilliant use of small space.  The house was designed for a couple.  My favorite feature is the floating stairs. I love how the functionality is there but they are not heavy visually in the room.

Mini House in Belgium:

This house in Bruxelles, Belgium, did not boast a generous square footage. Which is why the team at Vanden Eeckhoudt-Creyf Architectes decided to expand the place vertically. This contemporary loft was created for a couple with no kids, so the design could get away some adventurous elements. Namely, several sets of minimal floating staircases were used to access each level, and a classic fireman’s pole to easily get down to the bottom floor from any of the upper three floors. How cool is that! The house incorporates a kitchen/dining area, a small living room, a dressing room co-joined with the powder room. A beautiful sleeping loft (my favorite detail) is finishing this dwelling.

(via inthralld)

(Via Shoebox Dwelling)

Running on Air

Today I am going to start a series of posts called Running on Air. The focus of these posts will be to showcase individuals who use their Macbook Air (either size) to run their business.[1]

People always find an excuse not to create. I need more computer power. I can’t do that. I need a manufacturer. I don’t have the skills in that area. But actually now is a great time to put those lizard brain ideas aside and try. There has never really been a time like now, when it is so easy to create a run a business in general form your laptop. What I want to do is let these people tell their stories. How they use the technology to work better – not harder.

I am focusing on the Macbook Air. I know there are many other devices that could do the same thing. This is not a Mac versus PC thing. This is about telling the story about a particular product that I love.

I am in the process of launching a side project for myself and will also be documenting the software and tools I use throughout the process. I will be running it exclusively from an 11″ MacBook Air. Perhaps this will take some of the mystery out of the others to encourage them try it for themselves.

You can help me too. If you know someone who is doing this please have them send me an email or contact me on twitter.

Thanks ! Austin

  1. It is still ok if you use cloud services or hosted web sites.  ↩

Announcing nothing !

Is it me or does it seem odd that after the announcement of the Microsoft Surface the excitement I read most about is the integrated kickstand and the keyboard?

I am glad to see Microsoft trying to do something different. Competion can force other innovations.  I am also glad the Surface is going to be built by Microsoft instead of left to partners.  But I find it incredibly hard to annouce a product and leave out the what I think are the critical things.  MG Seigler says it best below.

No Price, No Date, No Apps, No Problem. No Wait — Problem.

Carmine Gallo’s “The Apple Experience” matches reality

This is a funny post because it combines a book review as well as my shopping expereince.  Last week I finished reading Carmine Gallo’s new book The Apple Experience. The book deals with the a lot of the “hidden” or little things that makes up Apples Retail customer service. Key elements revolve around listening to the customer and building a relationship. Not every customer will buy something in that trip but they may in the future. That initial visit to the store could be very important.

Today I went to the Apple store to drool over the Retina MacBook Pro as well as the revamped 11“ MacBook Air. I was planning on making my decision but I needed to see the Retina for myself.  A woman walked into the store at the same time I did. She was in her early to late 50’s early 60’s. We were both greeted and specialists were assigned to both of us. While we waited we went to the same table to begin looking at the new 15” Retina MacBook Pro. She was in the store first so the employee went up to her and asked her how he could help her today. This is an almost verbatim dialog that occurred:

Apple Emp: My name is Fred. How can I help you today?
Woman: Hi I am Carol.  I need a new computer, for home. I work at a University and the guys there told me I should get a mac and gave me these specifications.
Apple Emp: Carol may I look at what they recommended?
Woman: Here you go. (She passes the paper to the employee)(I see this and it is the MAXED out 15″ Retina)
Apple Emp: (Laughs) Well they have great taste ! Is this for them or you?
Woman: It is for me and they told me I should get as much as I can.
Apple Emp: I understand. May I ask what you do with your computer? What programs you use most, how you use your computer, do you travel with it?
Woman: Well I use email and the internet to get recipes, I print things and occasionally I get a picture of my grandkids that I would like to save. We do go back and forth to Florida and trips to see our grand kids. Will this computer do that for me?
Apple Emp: Why yes it will.

And with that he could have stopped there and handed her the new machine. But he knew it was overkill. This is a classic example of using a bazooka to kill a mosquito. He helped to educate the consumer on what she was buying. This sale would have been upwards of $3799. I am sure if he was commissioned from a big box store the sale would have ended.  But Apple retail employees are not and the goal is deliver a happy customer.

Apple Emp: Carol if I heard you correctly you do email, photos and 3 or 4 things a lot with your computer. This computer will do all of those things and more. It is an excellent machine and geared toward high end professionals. Would you be interested in looking at some other models that are less expensive and would also fulfill your computing needs?
Woman: Sure

With that he took her to see both the 13, and 15 MacBook Pros and then to the table to show the MacBook Airs for her. I was glad the store was busy and my specialist was delayed a few minutes because it allowed me to watch the ongoing interaction.

Fred explained the difference of the lines and the models. Pro first and then the Airs. When she saw the 11″ Air her face lit up and smiled as if she has see a new dawn.

Woman: I wish this computer would do what I need – it looks amazing. So small and beautiful.
Apple Emp: This will ! and more. This is a very powerful machine that will fit your needs now and still allow you to grow should your computing needs change. Do you like to rent movies?
Woman: Yes we do from Netflix online and the iTunes store. Can I watch a movie on this?
Apple Emp: Yes

She then went into a litany of little questions. Can it… Yes Can it… Yes Can it… Yes

Her face changed a little. She then became a little wary. Thinking how can she afford this tiny powerhouse that can do all these things AND print recipes. (one of the goals)

Woman: How much is this one?
Apple Emp: This model is $999 and the one with double the space is $1099.
Woman: Really?
Apple Emp: We have both models here when and if you decide this is right for you. Woman: I will take the $1099 model.
Apple Emp: I think this is a wonderful choice for you and you will save more than $2400.
Woman: Hmmmmm
Apple Emp: Is there a problem that I did not address?
Woman: Can you help me prevent my husband from using it? Or should I just get him one as well.
Apple Emp: I am sorry I don’t have a device that will prevent his use. But you should bring him in if he likes yours and I can show him some options.

Again a commissioned sales representative might have got her the second computer to line their pocket with money.  But instead Fred invited her to come back with her husband and make a decision then.  Watching this type of customer service mirrors exactly what Carmie talks about in his book. Needless to say my time at the store was equally pleasant and productinve. I walked out of their with an 11″ MacBook Air loaded up.

These ideas are not really earth shattering, to me it is common sense.  This type of service is what other companies should strive for as well. It just makes sense. If you have any interest in learning how to deliver an exceptional customer expereince you should read this book !

Apple turns over entire inventory every five days

When I read this on MacFilos I was shocked.  I have been thinking about this for a weeks now, mostly pondering how Apple is doing this so well.  What they are doing differently etc.?  Daring Fireball commented on the original Gartner Report a well. There is no smoking gun here, no magic bullet just amazing products and supply chain management.

In fact I am sure most people don’t care about this at all but it is truly remarkable.  I worked for a very large manufacturer in the United States for 7.5 years.  We were a global seller with manufacturing in several countries around the world and we sold a lot of product. The company was on the the bleeding edge of JIT (just and time) and cell manufacturing.

We moved a lot of product – but we did not turn over our inventory EVERY 5 days!. I would say maybe every 20-30 days at best.

Apple turns over entire inventory every five days:

Tim Cook, the maestro of just-in-time source and supply, has achieved the near impossible in turning over Apple’s entire inventory every five days. Just think: All that stock, all those millions of phones and gadgets, all turning over in such quick time. No chance of the shelves getting dusty down at your local Apple Store.

(Via MacFIlos)

A brilliant use of space

An example of a brilliant use of space.  It looks cozy and not stark in the extreme minimal terms.

Small Swedish Apartment:

This small but cozy apartment in Gothenburg’s Lorensberg district, found through Stadshem, demonstrates a great use of space. The place in its entirety is only 38 square meters (little more than 400 square feet). Yet it includes all essential components without looking cramped. The sleeping loft (my personal favorite detail) is connected to the floor-to-ceiling bookcase. The space under the staircase is used for storage, uncluttering other areas of the apartment. Unified surfaces and unobstructed sunlight make the place appear bigger. Beautiful design, seriously flares up my real estate envy…

(via freshome)

(Via Shoebox Dwelling)

To Air or not to air ?

Since the announcement of new hardware at WWDC my friend Michael at MacFilos has been twisting much like me over over the new options. Our big dilemma has been to upgrade our MacBook Air’s or go for the new Retina MacBook Pro.

I still have not seen the new screen yet and perhaps that is a good thing. Michael actually dared to go in an see it in all it’s loveliness. But in the end he decided that upgrading his 2010 model would be the better solution for him.

[Updated: Things change ! ]

While this may seem like a silly thing to fret over it is an important decision. You want to love the machine. You plan on holding on to it for sometime. There are days when you live in front of it. It really needs to be an extension of you because so much of what we do is on the computer.

I have 13“ MacBook Air that I love. It has been a workhorse for me and have no complaints. I originally opted for the larger air because I did not have an external display. Four months ago I purchased a 27” Thunderbolt display to augment my home office setup. With that purchase under my belt I feel I can have the best of both worlds now in terms of a home setup and extreme portability. I have been waiting a few months now for the processor upgrade to the Intel Ivy Bridge chipset. I was thrilled when the update was announced. Personally I did think that a retina screen would make it to the 11“ air due to the size relative to the new iPad. But in retrospect it makes sense purely from economical point of view. The Air is priced very aggressively and I think the cost would have had to increase by a couple of hundred dollars. Apple also has a history of putting the newest technology on their flagship 15” MacBook Pro.

I have also heard that there are several applications not looking as good until they are “retina-fied”. Of course this is to be expected with the new release.

But I prefer to not have to hope that my favorite application will get updated in the mean time.

I know the Air will get the Retina, probably 12 months from now. I am fine with that and will consider selling this one and purchasing a retina air if and when it becomes a necessity. For now I lean toward the BTO 11″ Air. Thursday I will go to my local store and the real test will happen then !