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Politic vs. Entrepreneurship

A thought came to my mind today thinking about the US Presidential Election this year (2016) and the French Presidential Election next year (2017):

In English

Politic: vote for ideas endlessly argued by teams in talking shops. Entrepreneurship: invest in and back teams capable to execute their ideas.

In French

Politique: voter pour des idées palabrées par des équipes. Entreprenariat: investir et soutenir dans des équipes capables d’exécuter leurs idées.

 

If only we could vote for people that are capable of acting rather than for people that appear good at talking…

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Mobile and Home Internet plans/bundles in France and in the US

As I have been travelling quite a bit between the US and France over the past few months, I have been dealing with different mobile plans in each country.

Each provider offering similar services, I decided to compare the best mobile plan I would select in each country. After being done with that, I went to do the same exercise for Internet Service Providers for home – comparison between the best triple-play home bundles.

The bottom comparison is on total pricing. The difference is significant given a multiple factor of 3.5x to 4.0x in favor to France. For similar services, a gap so wide is significant. Media and Internet are becoming a strong influence on our 21st century society; we even start having a dependency to it. A good service definitely has a bigger budget impact on US families than on French ones.

TMO_Free

TWC_Free

These 2 comparisons are not intended to criticize T-Mobile or TimeWarner Cable to be in favor of french company Free (Iliad); I am simply laying down the details of the offers and comparing them.

Sell Driving Cars – Business Trips

One subject has monopolized my thoughts since the CES 2015: using Sell Driving Cars (“SDC”) to enhance business trips.

The energy in Vegas during the CES 2015 was truly inspiring, firstly I strongly felt that SDC were in many minds – getting closer to consumers -, and secondly I got to discuss about Business Trips in general as friends and their clients were attending the CES.

By thinking about SDC and discussing business trips logistics, I had a “ah-ha!” moment about how SDC could reshape the way business trips are done.

From the top of my head, the recent SDC announcements that should reshape habits / products / logistics / services / businesses / industries / sectors / cities, are:

  • Redefining habits for commutes and long car travels: Mercedes showing off a SDC “Living room car”, Audi travelling by SDC to the CES from SF to LV, and a Delphi SDC used from coast to coast in the US
  • Enhancing products: Tesla developing software updates Over The Air for its Model S to give it semi SDC capabilities
  • Reshaping services by developing Self Driving Cabs / Taxis: Uber getting into SDC by opening a Research Facility in Pittsburgh and hiring the former head of Google Maps
  • Revolutionizing the transport and delivery industries: Amazon pushing hard on prepping its delivery drones; SDC can deliver goods (e.g. automated pizzas delivery, drones delivery, etc…)
  • Reinventing and improving cities: The University of Michigan developing a research test facility for SDC – among others to enhance interactions with pedestrians

However, the topic that I have not read articles about is: SDC applied to Business Trips. Therefore, I thought I would take a crack at it and think aloud on this blog post.

When I discuss business trips with friends and colleagues, the recurring main question is: “How do I make sure, whatever the mean of transportation, to have mobile reception and data access to get calls and emails done while away from the office?” Therefore, I believe this is the order of preference for transportation: cab or black car > train > flight (although now most have Wi-Fi) > driving (as you are not supposed to drive and use a phone / internet device at the same time).

While getting a black car or a cab to bring you across town make sense, does it make sense to get a cab to drive you across a county or a state, where most likely the same driver will have to wait for you to bring you back to your far away point of origin? I do not believe so; actually, neither do my friends or colleagues that end up renting cars to drive to their meetings and then back home.

That back and forth driving, behind the wheel, therefore almost entirely “offline’, for 1h / 1h30+ a way, do not make much sense to me. It is very inefficient in many ways. I am very hopeful that SDC will fix that.

The most obvious inefficiencies are:

  • Aren’t employees supposed to add value while on the job? Being behind the wheel stuck in traffic jam or for a while on a high way is not adding value to the employee nor to the employer
  • Insurance wise, it can be very risky and expensive for companies if something were to happen to an employee while driving on a business trip

As soon as SDC will be a reality, I believe SDC will completely redefine business trips, potentially having employees choosing SDC over rail. Instead of ordering a black car or renting a car, employees will order a SDC that will come pick them up to drive them to their destination, close or far.

The benefits are as follows:

  • SDC are considered safer than human maneuvered cars, therefore they could lower insurance premiums
  • Employees can be on the phone or online at all times as they are not driving
  • Non-public / confidential data will not be leaked when passengers on planes or trains overhear private conversations or oversea your work on your computer / tablet or phone
  • Driving can be tiring and stressful; employees could rest and relax ahead of a long day with counterparts
  • If planning a “no need to fly” business trip, there should not be a need to use 3 different forms of transportation as when you take a cab / car service or your own car to the train station, then hop on a train, to then again at the arrival train station most likely take again a cab / car service; this twice considering the return trip – therefore with an SDC, no transportation changes, no waiting time at a train station, etc…
  • A driver does not need to be stuck waiting to drive the employee(s) back to their point of origin(s)
  • The means of transportation can be optimized (e.g. a SDC can do the first leg while another can do the return) by algorithms taking into account multi factors: fuel / battery range, demand / offer, storage needed for the business trip (bringing goods in, leaving without them), overnight stays, etc…
  • If a SDC breaks down during a business trip, say flat tire, another one could be dispatched right away if it would arrive before the flat tire would be fixed, hence saving time on the unexpected delay
  • People that do not have a driver’s license could consider business trips by themselves; the same applies to 18 to 25 year old working young adults, old enough to work yet too young to be allowed to rent a car while on a business trip
  • Employees with jobs relying heavily on transportation and driving, would not be penalized anymore at work for having their driving license suspended while driving during their private time
  • Added supervision for corporations as it will deter employees from misusing company benefits as well as it would translate into cost savings

Some concerns could be:

  • Employers could potentially track their employees every moves during business trips made by SDC, hence a loss of privacy for employees
  • Employees driving a lot for a living might almost not be scared anymore to lose their driving licenses for a while as a SDC would take care of the driving

Over the past few months if not few years, when we have read that Google X was working on SDC, we all got curious. When few months ago, news broke that Uber wants to develop SDC to no longer just get their fee of ~30% of a black car fare but the whole 100%, we all thought it does make sense for the future development of the company. Now that recent reports have put the spotlight on Apple SDC push, as they seem to have poached many engineers from Auto Makers and from battery manufacturers specialized in electric vehicles, we all got a reality check from the $700bn+ company! SDCs are posed to arrive sooner rather than later and in a big fashion, as Tech giants are all over it!

Business trips could be changed in a big way, all for the better.

 

Interesting readings:

– RE/Code “Automakers in the Driver’s Seat as Car Tech Dominates CES” (http://recode.net/2015/01/08/automakers-in-the-drivers-seat-as-car-tech-dominates-ces/)

– IEEE Spectrum “Self-driving Cars Will Be $87 Billion Market by 2030” (http://spectrum.ieee.org/cars-that-think/transportation/self-driving/self-driving-cars-market-2030)

 

 

 

Amazon’s Army of Robots.

Robots are trending nowadays. Google acquires Boston Dynamics a few months back and Apple is said to be using robots to build the upcoming iPhone 6. This is just the tip of the iceberg, to name the most well known companies in tech using robots.

Regarding robots, something that really strikes me is not the Hollywood picture of how robots will replace humans (I, Robot?) but the way that robots can assist humans to perform better. Think a GPS device in your car, helping you turn by turn; it is not a robot, but it is a tech tool that does the mapping and guiding for you or instead of your passengers.

Now, to go back to what struck me regarding robots, was the announcement by Amazon that it acquires Kiva Systems in 2012.

Amazon.com to Acquire Manufacturer of Robotics (NYT)

Amazon.com is buying an army of robots.

The online retailer announced on Monday that it is acquiring Kiva Systems, a maker of robots that service warehouses, for $775 million in cash. Amazon, a customer of Kiva’s, is buying the robotics company as it builds out its vast network of warehouses and tries to improve its margins.

By then, 2012, the explanation of what was Kiva, was interesting. If I remember well, at the time there were a few videos online that got me really curious about what Amazon was doing in its warehouses. However, this blog post is to show the video below that I stumbled upon recently (even though it is a 2011 video):

I find this fascinating. It looks like an hanthill at work, such a hive of activity! Robots are there, very active, working alongside humans.

Music Streaming

For a while, I have been using Deezer while in France, Spotify while in the UK, and Pandora while in the US. Each time, I used each related free version with ads every {x} songs.

I did not mind the ads unless I was studying or working.

For a few months now, I have been looking into subscribing to a music streaming service. I am into music but I do not need to own albums or songs, I am more a “mood” listener. Depending on my mood, on the time of the day, or on the context of the day (working, chilling, ready to party…), I will just start a playlist or a radio channel. Therefore streaming services are perfect for me.

I have been looking at subscribing at either Spotify or Google Play Music All Access (oh my, that’s a longggg name!), given that they are priced at the same level and work in many countries, therefore ideal while travelling. As I have many Nexus devices and use almost all Google services, I thought GPMAA would make more sense.

While GPMAA has a standard 30 days free offer, I saw on my Google Play Store an ad for 60 days free. After contacting Google, this seems like a bug, therefore I would not be able to get 60 days free. Disappointing. However, this week Google started offering 90 days free of GPMAA to Google Chromecast owners. Guess what, I have a Google Chromecast, of course. The product is about $35/£30 while the offer is for 90 days free or a $29.97 / £29.97 saving; pretty sweet deal!

I have started my 90 days free GPMAA 2 days ago. It works great. No complain so far. I am using it as I did Deezer, Spotify or Pandora.

 

Now, the thing is, I recalled a 6 months old article about artists and how they get paid now that music streaming services are so big and powerful. See below:

What Musicians Actually Get Paid By iTunes, Pandora And Spotify Is Truly Pathetic” by Business Insider

What Musicians Actually Get Paid By iTunes, Pandora And Spotify Is Truly Pathetic

 

The Battle for a Free Internet has started !

Crush the week ahead of you to get closer to your goals.

Yesterday Monday, someone close to me, supposed to know me very well, told me “get this done quickly, and then find a job. Your goal is something you do at 27 years old, not now at 31”.

I have been thinking about it for the last 24 hours.

A couple of months ago, I have left my job as, while it was a great job, it was not my dream job. Since, I am working out my way towards my goals and my dream job. I know I need to work harder for it, and I will.

The comment mentioned above was poor as it does not matter why when what how, it is all about reaching your goals.

Today, I just promised myself that every Monday morning after waking up, I will watch and listen to this video, to crush the week ahead of me.

Big Data For 2014 (and perhaps 2015)

For the entire year of 2013 I kept saying to Techies and non Techies that Big Data was upon us and it would change the Tech world as we know it. Web 3.0? Or is the Internet of things the Web 3.0? (this on another post).

I came across Big Data a few years back, in 2009 or 2010, through an amazing book from Jeffery Deaver. It was The Broken Window, part of the Lincoln Rhyme series. I enjoyed it a lot. This is when I started understanding about Big Data while readying a few Tech articles about it, even if they were scarce at the time.

Throughout 2013, and even during 2012, Tech journalists kept producing articles about Big Data, however the companies evolving around that sector were unknown to the mass and no one really understood what it is and how to make money out of it.

Today, Business Insider reveals that Facebook And Pinterest Bulk Up Their Big Data Teams. Having main stream companies doubling down on Big Data, will definitely help people understanding it and will keep the Tech world efforts up to crack it.

4G Global Standard and the current 4G fragmentation!

I always understood that 2G and 3G were fragmented between GSM and CDMA Standards. Another thing that I had understood was that the new 4G was built to be a new common standard – see both Charts above.

However, when you look closer to it, it can be confusing given all the bands there are for 4G…

Check this out:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_LTE_networks North America and European carriers have different 4G bands.

Ok fine, it seems making things complicated but if ONE phone can work on all these bands, be it.

HOWEVER again, checking the top smartphones of the moment: Apple iPhone 5S, Samsung Galaxy S4, LG G2 and Nokia Lumia 1020, none seem able to work on all global bands.

http://www.apple.com/iphone-5s/specs/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samsung_Galaxy_S4#Model_variants

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LG_G2#Model_variants

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nokia_Lumia_1020#Model_variants

So basically, when we travel to another continent and we pay the roaming fees, we will only be able to access 3G while in our home markets we would have 4G? Makes no sense to me.

Alright, so as I imagined, Qualcomm has a “Global Radio Chip in the making”: http://gigaom.com/2013/02/21/qualcomms-new-radio-chip-gets-us-one-step-closer-to-a-global-4g-phone/. Fine. But this will only come to market next year I suppose…

The point to this:

1) why fragment the markets with so many bands?

2) why can’t we have more global communication standards in our new world becoming so global?

3) why while we have been drawn for more than 2 years under 4G ads for carriers or phone makers, only now or next year there will be a global radio chip?

[UPDATE] November 10, 2013

A few days ago, I bought a Google Nexus 5 Smartphone. As for the iPhone 5S and for the explanation above, the Nexus 5 will have different models, 2 actually: 1) North America and 2) Europe / Rest of the World:

http://www.google.com/nexus/5/

NETWORKS
2G/3G/4G LTE

North America:
GSM: 850/900/1800/1900 MHz
CDMA: Band Class: 0/1/10
WCDMA: Bands: 1/2/4/5/6/8/19
LTE: Bands: 1/2/4/5/17/19/25/26/41

Rest of World:
GSM: 850/900/1800/1900 MHz
WCDMA: Bands: 1/2/4/5/6/8
LTE: Bands: 1/3/5/7/8/20
Still no news of the Qualcomm Global LTE radio chip.

Since this blog post and today’s update regarding the Nexus 5, I have discover this great presentation from Qualcomm on the Global LTE Segmentation, unfortunately a bit dated from 2012:
www.qualcomm.com/media/documents/files/4g-world-2012-global-multimode-carrier-aggregation.pdf

US Cable Cord Cutting!

Coming from Europe, something struck me when I used to work in TMT M&A in the US: Cable Cord Cutting phenomenon in the country.
In Europe we do have Cable providers, but they are not as strong as in the US as people can get 20+ channels for free with just a roof aerial.
With the development of broadband internet, Cable Cord Cutting has been a rising in the US (as well as Netflix share price!).

Here are two interesting recent articles on the subject:
http://buzz.money.cnn.com/2013/10/29/cable-satellite-cord-cutting/
http://www.forbes.com/sites/amadoudiallo/2013/10/16/how-to-cut-the-cord-cable-tv/

When my American friends tell me about their TV experience or when I stay in the US, I hear the same thing, which South Park summarized quite well in this video: