Google’s Pixel Buds, Bragi, and the power of incumbents

Google introduced a range of new products during its hardware event including a set of wireless headphones called the Pixel Buds. Google Hardware event; presentation of Pixel Buds start at 1:23 Amongst other features, Pixel Buds support real-time voice translation through Google Translate. The earphones, however, do not do the actual translation work: Google told us that the earbuds are connected via Bluetooth to the smartphone, and that the smartphone microphone picks up the spoken words. It sends them over the cloud to Google’s data centers, where Google Translate produces a translation. It sends back the translated words in the form of speech to the phone, which transfers them back to the earbuds. — VentureBeat Thus, they are more about seamless user experience than technology (click the Bud and start talking vs. talking out your phone, opening the app and then talking). The announcement of wireless headphones should not come as a surprise. A Google patent from earlier this year showed that they might be working on something like that. Also, Samsung, Sony, Motorola, and Apple have similar products as well. Speaking of Apple, Apple’s AirPods are what comes immediately to mind when hearing about the Pixel Buds. And the

revolut, N26, and the future of banking

revolut, the app-based bank from Britain, started their operations in Germany and Austria on September 27. From their profile on SEEDRS Revolut is targeting consumers and businesses that are dissatisfied with their banks and other financial services for three main reasons: (i) lack of product innovation (ii) the expense of spending money abroad and (iii) fees to transfer money overseas. — SEEDRS The narrative is clear (this is important as I will show later on) and is well summarized in revolut’s claim: “ Revolut — The only account for your global lifestyle”. Concretely this means that you get fee-free purchase and withdrawals for 120 currencies, free money transfers of up to £5,000 per month and you can keep up to 26 currencies in the app which you can exchange without fees. Furthermore, they focus on user-friendliness through insightful spending overview (financial forecasting is planned), immediate balance update, splitting-bills between revolut-users, P2P credits, in-app credit card (un)blocking, instant money transfers and an in-app customer support chat bot. In terms of products you can either use a real or virtual credit card and they also offer an insurance for smartphones. In addition to free services, they have a premium version (6,99€/month) though which you

ZEIº on DHDL

The Austrian-based start-up Timeular went on Die Höhle der Löwen (DHDL) with their hardware-based time tracking tool ZEIº. The ZEIº is an eight-sided polygon where each side represents a task you are working on. You switch between these tasks by switching the polygon, and the upwards-facing side is the tasks being tracked right now. Three Z by Timeular (Source) I wrote about ZEIº a while back (post in German) and concluded that the product creates „pain“ for users: because they have to (re-)design each side multiple times due to ZEIº’s limited flexibility: it has only eight sites, and you cannot add spontaneous tasks people can steal it it is only useful for stationary work The jury from DHDL additionally mentioned that people simply won’t use ZEIº because finding the right side for the corresponding task is difficult, they will simply forget to track and that using a time tracking device is simply annoying. Furthermore, they criticized that a hardware-based solution is not future-proof and that an (AI-)software is the way to go. ZEIº only better significantly better for a few people The first part of the criticism shows that customer education is needed. There are a lot of people who do not

volders, a Berlin-based contract management startup, raised two million euros

 volders, a Berlin-based contract management startup raised two million euros. The company describes itself as a personal contract assistant. You feed the application with your contracts and it manages them for you. You are alerted about contract expiration, you can cancel or prolong contracts and in combination with a built-in price comparison tool you can compare and sign up for new contracts. Overview of your contracts in volders (Source) In essence, volders wants you to do the following things in a repetitive circle: Upload all your contracts Receive notifications about contract expiration Cancel contracts Compare and switch contracts volders started as vertragslotse.com in 2014 and received a six-figure investment in 2015. Also in 2015, Vertragslotse.com was renamed into volders. (It seems to me that the major reason for the name change was internalization.) Finally, In 2016 they launched an iOS-App (pretty late) (volders’ history) With their latest investment they want to position themselves as your „personal digital contract assistant“. Furthermore, they want to make “their customer service more proactive and tailor the comparison and prolongation offers more towards their customers“. This year they increased their user base by 50 percent to 550.000 (from Gründerszene). Their plan (more proactive customer service and

Apples Finanzergebnisse Q1 2017

Am 31. Jänner fand Apples Telefonkonferenz zu den Finanzergebnissen für Q1 2017 (1. Oktober bis 31. Dezember) statt. In Summe war es ein Rekordquartal. So erwirtschaftete Apple mit einem Umsatz von $78.4 Mrd. (Wachstum von 3,3 Prozent im Vergleich zum Vorjahr) einerseits mehr als vom Konzern erwartet und andererseits das größte Quartalsergebnis bis her. Dieser Rekord ergab sich durch Höchstwerte beim iPhone, dem „Service-Geschäft“, der Mac-Sparte und der Apple Watch. Das globale Wachstum wird von China und einem Starken US-Dollar gebremst. Zur Sparte Anwendungssoftware  (iWork, Final Cut Pro, Logic Pro X etc.) wurde nichts genannt. Es gab Wachstum in vier von fünf geografischen Regionen, Potential für Indien, China und Stärke des US-Dollar aber stellen Problem dar Die Performance in Großchina verbesserte sich (wie von Apple erwartet) in Relation zum vorigen Quartal. Der Umsatz fiel um 12 Prozent, bereinigt um Wechselkursschwankungen waren es acht Prozent. Festlandchina blieb konstant bzw. wuchs wenn bereinigt um Währungsschwankungen. Als problematisch sieht Apple in vielen Märkten die Stärke des US-Dollars. Laut Apple wird die Marke weiterhin Prestige angesehen, insbesondere da die Mittelklasse in Ländern wie China, Indien und Brasilien wächst. Die Demonetisation in Indien hat Apple zwar noch nicht ganz verarbeitet, erzielte aber trotzdem einen Umsatzrekord dort. Tim

Xiaomi’s troubles and how to solve them

The Chinese internet company Xiaomi was founded in 2010. In 2014 and 2015 it was amongst the top five (sometimes even top three) smartphone makers world wide.   And with a valuation of over USD 46billion it is one of the world’s most valuable technology start-ups. Xiaomi might be known for its low-budget and stylish smartphones, targeting China’s middle class and its youth, but that is only part of what gave it that valuation. Investors believe that Xiaomi can build and ecosystem with its smartphones, smart home products and services consisting of games, apps and others. Its potential lies in bringing revenue through hardware-purchases as well as recurring purchases through services. Part of Xiaomi’s smart home portfolio (Source) Xiaomi’s portfolio represents that idea. Its offerings include a set-top box, rice cookers, a water and an air purifier, a drone, a fitness tracker,TVs, notebooks and a virtual reality headset as well as accessories such as power banks and audio devices. Xiaomi starts losing to competitors Ending 2015, however, it starting losing market share and ranks now below the top 5 smartphone producers. Instead of USD16 billion in sales revenues as predicted by the CEO Lei Jun, the company reached $12.5 billion, a miss of almost 13%.

Recall of Note 7 did not hurt Samsung’s brand

Samsung has completely recalled its Galaxy Note 7 and stoped production due to risks of catching fire. As a consequence the company lost more than $19n of stock value. At the time of the recall, analysts worried about negative consequences on the firm’s credibility and trust. The concerns were not unjustified considering the gravity of the issue and what other companies were doing at the time of the recall. Actually there wer two rounds of recalls; in the first, which officially started on September 15, Samsung replaced faulty Note 7 with new handsets. The second recall, issued on October 10, was final and production of the Note 7 stopped. The dates are of these actions are interesting as Apple announced its new iPhone models, the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus on September 7, about a week before the first recall. Also, Google announced its new phones around these days; on October 4 the company presented its Google Pixel phones. With that in mind it is safe to assume that Samsung will not only incur costs from lost sales and recycling of the phones, but also due to damaged reputation. A recent poll, however, indicates otherwise. The poll conducted by Reuters/Ipsos revealed two things: Current Samsung smartphone owners are as loyal to their

Peter Drucker’s five deadly sins in 2016

(Peter Drucker) In 1993 Peter Drucker published a column titled The Five Deadly Business Sins, a copy for download is available here. Here, I want to shortly summarize them and see how they relate to what is going on in our current business world. 1. Premium pricing and high profit margins Drucker criticizes that companies falsely assume that high profit margins equal maximum profits. The profit equation of course suggests otherwise: Total profit equals profit margin multiplied by amount of goods or services sold. Additionally he argues that premium pricing always creates a market for lower-end competitors. He gave two example for this sin: Xerox and GM. Xerox, over-engineered its copier and, therefore, raised its prices into the premium segment creating high profit margins for Xerox. However, as consumers only needed a basic version, Xerox lost significant market share to Canon who entered the market which such a basic copier. Further, Drucker argues that the U.S. automobile industry (including GM) lost market share due to its fixation on „big cars“ as opposed to Volkswagen and Japanese competitors with their small, fuel-efficient cars. U.S. competitors followed their competitors, but not soon enough, due to the low per car profit margins. This

Strategic implications for Netflix’s future

Source I am currently read Frank Rothaermel’s Strategic Management: Conceptsand also doing the “Chaptercases” (case studies at the end of each chapter) and posting them here on my blog. Chapter seven’s “Chaptercase” happens to be about Netflix, which is a nice coincidence as Netflix recently published its earnings for Q3 2016; its last quarter’s user growth exceed its expectations in the U.S. as well as in international markets. The streaming service currently has about 86,75 million users in total (see statistic below for details). Source: http://statista.com and personal calculations So, here are the questions from the case study: Netflix growth in the United States seems to be maturing. What other services can Netflix offer that might further demand in the United States? International expansion appears to be a major growth opportunity for Netflix. Elaborate on the challenges Netflix faces going beyond the U.S. market. What can Netflix do to address some of the challenges encountered when going internationally? Netflix growth in the United States seems to be maturing. What other services can Netflix offer that might further demand in the United States? Original content: The company has given that answer in the letter to shareholders. Netflix has been creating on content for four years now and user growth