Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Is Android a "Tower of Babel" OS?

That's the question I'm thinking about after reading an in-depth and excellent 3 part series of articles titled Inside Google's Android and Apple's iPhone OS. 

The series analyzes the Android OS and how it compares to and contrasts with Apple's iPhone OS in three main areas. The first article is a comparison of the OS's as core platforms. The second article compares the business models Google and Apple are implementing for their mobile OS platforms. The final article looks at how each platform manages software updates and delivers platform advancement in the form of new operating system features and bundled apps. If you want a deep analysis of both platforms in these areas and have some time to dig in, the author 'Prince McLean' does an excellent job of covering a lot of ground. 
The biggest takeaway from the series for me was the many ways each Android handset maker is going to be able to make custom modifications and changes to Android. Each vendor is naturally going to try and make the end user experience the most attractive it can. This means user experience from one Android device to the next could be VERY different. Now on the surface that sounds great! More choice for consumer's is always a great thing, right? On the surface that IS true.  

But there is a devil in the details underneath the variability of the flying windows on your Android handset. That devil is the difficulty this creates for SW application developers to develop Android apps that run across many devices on all the different variations of Android deployed on all the various devices from competing vendors. The testing permutations will boggle the mind of even the best mobile app development company. Developers have been promised "write once, run anywhere" many times in the past and every time it's ended in a mess. No matter what Google promises I'm pretty certain the Android model will not achieve, "Write once, run anywhere."  

Imagine trying to manage your 4 or 14 mobile apps you've written for mobile phones when there are 20, or 50, different Android handsets from a dozen different handset vendors and you have to test and certify that app to run on all 50 devices? Then imagine having to retest on every device every time an OS update gets pushed from Google. Then you have to retest and certify AGAIN every time the handset vendor issues it's layer of changes on top of the latest Google Android release.

Now compare this to the effort for the iPhone App developer of retesting and re-certifying each time Apple issues an iPhone OS update. Then take into account the likelihood that Apple is going to move away from it's ATT exclusive and sell through other US vendors and all the major global vendors. As an App Developer, whether you love Apple or hate them, you'll have to think hard about how you spread your limited SW development resources between iPhone and Android.  In the long run is it sustainable from a business perspective for the mobile app developer to take on the headaches building and scaling the Android "Tower"?

This devil has the potential to make the Android community suffer the same fate the builders of the Tower of Babel suffered in trying to build a tower that reached the heavens. There may be just too many Android "languages/dialects" to effectively sustain a combined effort to disrupt and compete with Apple's "iPhone Hegemony".

I'm a big believer in the benefits of competition for consumers and for the businesses who are competing. So I hope Android is a success. That success, if it happens, will certainly drive innovation forward and improve the health of the industry as a whole.

But to do that Google and it's vendor partners must do something to make sure App Development for Android is not going to be a mess? If they don't, SW Developers are going to feel like they are SW developer versions of Bill Murray in "GroundHog Day"; redoing the same SW tests over and over and over and never getting it right? Am I missing something here? I'm curious to hear what people think.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Power to the People: Flipping Your Business Communications Polarity

As enter into 2010 we are going through a huge revolution in how "business communications" affect "business productivity". The changes happening in this revolution will empower people (your customers and your employees) more than ever before and fundamentally  change how your company does business. 

The biggest and most visible reason for this is the Social Media/Social Networking explosion and it's effects on how employees of your business interact with their coworkers and also with your customers, vendors and partners. Before the internet, business communications consisted mainly of telephone calls, mailed letters and traditional paper, radio or TV advertising. The internet added email and 'web-pages with mostly static content' to that mix. These changes increased the speed of communications but not it's fundamental nature. So the core model for businesses communications, and business organization, remained mostly the same. People still made phone calls, sent mail(email) and published content for customers (advertising and manuals on webpages). 

But recently, something new is happening that is going to be much more disruptive to the model for business communications and business operations. That something is the rise of "Realtime Social Media" communications with social networks like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and a hundred other niche social networks designed to serve specific communities. This change is something http://twitter.com/jeffpulver calls "The State of NOW"

Take a moment and watch this short, stunning YouTube video on Social Media, and you'll see just how important it is that your business recognizes this fundamental change. 

This "State of now" model brought on by realtime Social Media solutions is highly disruptive to the way you will do business. Instead of just enhancing the old model of what "critical business communications" looks like, Social Media is turning the old model on it's head. Instead of the most critical communications happening inside your business and flowing from the top your business down through the organization and out to the customers, the flow is reversing directions. The most critical communications for your business are now happening out in the customer communities on social networks like Twitter and other targeted specialized networks.  

Conversations about your business and it's products in these forums can have large and immediate influences on the purchasing behaviors of other customers of your business. This makes it critical that your business monitor these conversations in realtime and engage in them. Your business needs to be in that social network in order to help or clarify or balance that conversation about your brand and products so that those conversations don't result in lost business. 

Then after engaging in the conversation, the "State of Now" information you gather on your brand/products must efficiently flow back toward the top of your business so it can be acted on by company leadership. This critical "State of Now" information is naturally gathered in lower levels of the business hierarchy by "in the trenches" employees assigned to focus on social media. In the future that will not only be people you think of as "customer service" or "contact center agents". It will include every employee in your business because they all will have access to and engagement in social networks.

This "bottom up" versus "top down" polarity change in the model of enterprise communication flow and teaming is possibly larger and more disruptive than all the changes in the fundamentals of business communication that happened in the entire 20th century. What's stunning is these changes have happened mostly in the short span of 2000 to 2010, with the majority happening just in the past 4 years!When you combine these recent Social Media-based changes in how people interact and communicate with other cultural changes in the enterprise work culture (e.g., high employee turnover, multiple B2B partnerships, distributed "virtual" workforces, reduced workforces, rapid changes in market requirements, etc), the result is a near complete change in the old model of medium/large enterprise communication and productivity.

If your business is going to survive and thrive through this "Power to the People" Revolution you need to recognize this change and act on it. Flip your Communication Polarity from the top-down model that dictates to employees and customers to the new bottom-up model.  It's time your business starts living, working breathing and succeeding in "The State of Now".

Friday, October 16, 2009

Is there Anybody "Out There"? - "Spearfishing" 4 People on Twitter Who "Get" You.

   One of the most interesting and puzzling challenges I've run into since becoming a Twitter user is in finding people to follow who are going to be interested in the same topics and types of conversation that I am interested in. I'm interested mostly in 21st Century Communications Solutions and how the changes in that area are impacting the nature of work and life. But I'm also interested in Technology in general, Science, Organizational Management theory, Cross-Cultural teaming and a bunch of other related topics. 

   But the only way it seems I can find people who have common interests, at least given my current expertise on Twitter, is to dive directly into the ocean of Twitter information hoping to somewhat randomly run across people who have common interests. It's like deep sea fishing by being dropped physically and randomly into the ocean with only a snorkel and a speargun. Finding the "fish" I'm after then involves having to make a series of dives down into the "Twitter ocean" looking around on my own with only a single breath of air each time. 

   The primary way I do this "spearfishing" now is I set up keyword search columns in Tweetdeck and whenever I see someone who has tweeted something on one of my topics I follow them. But there are so many "fish" in the ocean, and so many tweets on nearly any topic you pick, that I know I miss most of the tweets by people who have similar interests to mine.  Overall this Tweetdeck/keywords approach is a pretty manual and slow process. What is also then manual is the process of figuring out whether or not people I follow due to the content of their tweets end up following me back. This whole process seems to me to be way too random and unmeasurable. German engineers like myself tend to get annoyed by random and unmeasurable things. ;-) 

So my question is; Why doesn't Twitter make it easier for me to find the people, who I am certain are out there in the Twitterverse, that have very similar interests in what they want to do and share on Twitter? I've sampled a few third party tools like Mr. Tweet and SocialOoomph but none I've tried so far really has a killer model for doing what I'm looking to do. Any suggestions of tools you use that would solve this problem?

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Google Wave "Perfect Storm": Overhyped, UnderCooked or Misunderstood?

Last week the Google Wave invites started going out and everyone was anxious to hear what the first beta testers thought of it. Robert Scoble @Scobleizer got an invite and blogged his comments saying he thinks Google Wave is "Overhyped for what it delivers.". Robert's core concern is that "It is noisy, and the noise happens way down in your inbox." instead of new updates happening at the top of the inbox like it email, Twitter or Facebook. Robert went on to say that "Google Wave was oversold as something you’d use with the public, or at least with large groups of friends, like you use Twitter, email, or Facebook.".

I agree with Robert in one respect. If you use Google Wave as "yet another front end client for the current Facebook or Twitter social media experience" is likely going to be very noisy because Wave can aggregate both of those, as well as email and IM and more, into one user interaction space. Unfiltered, the concentration of all these streams of interaction are certainly going to be overwhelming to you and this certainly would create a "Perfect Storm" of information overload and lost productivity.

But is Robert's claim that, "Google Wave was oversold as something you’d use with the public" really true? I watched the entire 90 minute Wave demo video and nowhere in there did I hear Lars, Jens or Stephanie say Wave was supposed to be primarily a front end tool for interacting with your social media "public" either on Twitter, Facebook or anywhere else. Yes, they did show a Twitter integration. 

But I don't think the goal of Wave is to try and be another Tweetdeck. Tweetdeck is an open-ended information discovery tool that allows individuals to do a lot of shallow sampling at the surface of Twitter's information ocean. I realize there are people building third party tools that allow people to work together in plumbing those depths along vertical threads. But for the most part, interacting on Twitter is still all about each individual "swimmer" swimming around mostly on the surface of that Twitter ocean on their own personal timetable and agenda and it's a "random swim" for most people.

Wave is not something that just allows each of us as swimmers to swim more effectively on our singular and personal agenda. I think Wave is something quite different. Wave really is supposed to be a focused, team-oriented productivity tool for moderate sized groups of people working together on projects with focused goals. Can it be used to plan a vacation or party the way they showed in the demo?  Sure. Or integrate a Twitter or Facebook stream searching on a related topic to augment a given wave? Sure. But even those are "projects" with focused goals. So if a Twitter stream feed is added to a wave it should be focused on a topic relevant to a given wave.

So Robert is I think both right and wrong in his assessment of Wave being overhyped. Wave I think was not hyped, at least by the leaders of the wave team, as being some superior way to go swimming about as an individual swimmer in the "Social Media Ocean". But Robert is also correct when he said.. "(Wave could be)..great with your very close friends or very active coworkers but horrid for nearly everyone else."

Thats exactly right. Wave has the potential to be a breakthrough productivity tool for focused teams of people working toward shared goals. This is something we desperately need right now as we are all currently lone swimmers in a perfect storm in the middle of a vast  information ocean. This new tool from Google is exactly the type of thing needed so we can avoid drowning in the information "heavy seas" we are all bobbing around in. It will allow groups of us to work together to build some "catamarans" and "Catch a Wave" on a course toward superior productivity. As Clay Shirky (Author of "Here Comes Everybody!") said "It's not information overload that's is the problem. It's filter failure."

Is Google Wave Undercooked? Of course. It's a BETA!! 
Is Google Wave Misunderstood? Yes. Everyone thinks everything new right now is or should be a social media exploration tool.

But, Is Google Wave Over-hyped? I think not, at least not by those building it.

Wave is a framework that will allow people to build custom, 'Filtering and Focusing' mechanisms that drive cooperating groups to productivity against shared goals. Could people build GWave's that kill productivity? Absolutely. Any powerful technology can be mis-used to the detriment of yourself and others.

My advice to people when they start using Wave...don't mis-use it. Build and use GWaves that enhance your productivity and start filtering the information firehose instead of just turning up the firehose pressure.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Art of War - Telecom10.0(Google) vs. Telecom1.0(ATT)

What happens when a disruptive Telecom10.0 player like Google(Voice) starts looking and feeling like a burr under the saddle of an old Telecom1.0 Cowboy like AT&T?

Alec Saunders of Saunderslog.com has an excellent and detailed blog summary of Google and AT&T's recent spat over “Net Neutrality”. Alec explains "Google Voice doesn’t pass calls to certain rural carriers because of the high cost of termination in these jurisdictions.  That includes, I’ve been told, our Calliflower conference service which is hosted at a rural carrier as well.  AT&T is trying to convince the FCC that Google Voice is, in fact, a common carrier, and should have to abide by the same rules as they do.  They’ve labeled this a fight over Net Neutrality, which is a mis-characterization."

Alec goes on to explain in detail the Telecom1.0 concept of telephone carrier arbitrage. Basically it's how phone companies pay each other when telephone calls cross invisible gates at carrier network borders (tariffs). Bottom line is AT&T wants to have the FCC start treating Google like a common telephony carrier. But AT&T isn't doing this because they really care whether Google gets affected by this trivial rural termination charges issue. Instead what AT&T wants is to position Google(Voice) into it's "home stadium" of Telecom1.0 competition. If ATT can get the FCC to stamp Google with Telecom1.0 label it will force Google to compete with ATT on it's Telecom1.0 "home field".

Some forget that the original idea of "home field advantage" was a concept related to war and fighting battles. 2300 years ago Sun Tzu said in his book "The Art of War", "The clever combatant imposes his will on the enemy, but does not allow the enemy's will to be imposed on him. By holding out advantages to him, the clever combatant can cause the enemy to approach of his own accord." AT&T is using precisely this strategy because there is actual advantage to be had by Google in siding with AT&T on this rural termination issue. Alec says "..Google may be an (unwilling) ally, as they are facing the same issue – how to avoid paying higher than average termination fees in a business model that gives the customer unlimited long distance for no additional charge."

Sun Tzu would be impressed by this battle ploy being attempted by AT&T. The question though is whether Google will allow themselves to be maneuvered in this manner. Who do you think wins in this fight? Does Google back away and remain in their Telecom10.0 "Blue Ocean" or dive into AT&T's Telecom1.0 "Red Ocean"? There's blood in AT&T's "red ocean" waters and AT&T is circling like a shark waiting to hear a splash.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

21st Century Telecom - Disruptions in RealTime

Hello! I'm Christian. Welcome to my blog "21st Century Telecom - Disruptions in Realtime".

The conversation I'm looking to start, and have you join in, is all about the exciting transition that is happening right now from a 20th century model of telecommunication to a 21st century model. In reality the 20th century model is really a 19th century model. I call that old model "Telecom 1.0".  (Sorry for using the overused "SW versioning metaphor" for the old/new polarity but, it actually does work well.)

"Telecom 1.0" began March 10, 1876 when the first successful two-way telephone call was made by Alexander Grahmam Bell. Bell spoke into his newly constructed device, "Mr. Watson, come here, I want to see you." and Watson answered back.

From that day until now we have been living in a 134 year long "Age of Telecom 1.0". Virtually all the telephone calls made since that day, and still virtually all phone calls made today worldwide, operate on the same basic model. A telephone caller initiates a call trying to reach a destination "phone number" hoping the person or persons they are trying to reach answers the call so a realtime voice conversation can happen. Just like 'Al Bell' and 'Tom Watson' did that day in March of 1876.

But we are now seeing the beginning of a series of fundamental and disruptive changes in how people communicate. The availability and affordability of high bandwidth access to the internet is resulting in new and richer communication models that are changing the way people think about communication. Those changes are focused around what is now being called "Social Media" or "Social Networks".

Instead of people thinking about making a series of individual, person to person conversations with people, or even having group conversations on telephone conference calls, people are now focusing on communication modes where they are trying to engage in broadcasts of information to dozens, hundreds or thousands of people all at once. The two fastest growing examples of that today are Facebook and Twitter, but there are dozens of popular online communities that focus on enhanced communications. @BrianSolis put together a great summary diagram of what Social Media on the internet looks like today. He calls his multicolored, flower-like diagram "The Conversation Prism: The Art of Listening, Learning and Sharing".
You may need a magnifying glass to see all the richness in this diagram but that illustrates just how different Telecom1.0 is from Telecom2.0. Actually calling it Telecom2.0 doesn't do it justice. It's more like "Telecom 10.0" because there is an order of magnitude more complexity in how people now interact in this new context of the Social Media "Conversation Prism".

People are no longer content to have a network of some dozen or so close friends they interact with regularly and perhaps 100 people they call colleagues or acquaintances. That is the "Telecom1.0" past. Today people count their "close" Facebook friends in the 100s or even thousands and Twitter "followers" in the thousands, 10s/100s of thousands" or in some cases, even millions. As a result, "Telecom 10.0", is a completely different animal.

Many, many people have embraced it; some are wary of it and are keeping it at arms lengths while they try and figure it out; and some are downright terrified of what this change means and how it will impact their lives. One thing is absolutely certain, it will in fact make a huge impact on how almost all of us live our lives. If you don't believe me you need to watch this short video on Social Media "Is Social Media a Passing Fad?" and I think you will be stunned by how fast social Media is catching on globally.

With something that is growing this fast it's critical we figure out how to make sure this exciting, invigorating, stimulating and terrifying change is something that makes life better for the human race and not worse. I think this change, while painful and scary, is ultimately going to make the world a better place.

What about you? Are you embracing this change; holding it at arms length; terrified of it; or all of the above?

Listen, Learn and above all...please do Share. I want to know what you think.
There was an error in this gadget