Archive for February, 2010

Apple vs Amazon – which is the better bet?

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

Just read a Reuters article about Apple v Amazon – addressing the question of who is going to “win”.

It’s an interesting question. The article conflates stock price growth potential with e-reader market share competition. Although stock price is somewhat correlated with e-reader sales, the two variables are not causal. Still, it’s an intriguing debate.

Apple is trading at 17X earnings. Amazon is trading at 40X earnings. Apple is a manufacturer whose success is tied to creating hit products. Amazon is a retailer whose success is tied to managing a portfolio of products. No brainer calculus in my opinion:  if you believe Apple has at least one more monster hit like iPod or iPhone in it’s future, then 17X seems like a bargain compared to 40X.

As for Kindle v iPad, this is a silly debate imho. Kindle is a single purpose device and it does its thing very well. The iPad hopes to replace my netbook and kindle. It will have to be brilliant for me convert. The jury is out for now. But I am betting that apple will win. Maybe not in 2010 but soon.

Why? Who is more likely to create a monster successful consumer electronics device – a retailer competing with walmart or the inventor of the iPod and iPhone – the two most iconic devices since the Sony Walkman?

Simple math IMHO.

Full reuters article:

Apple vs Amazon – which is the better bet? | Reuters.

Power to the People = Bloom Energy

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

founder of Bloom energy with power brickCheck out this Reuters post on Bloom Energy, a well funded start-up that hopes to change the way electrical power is generated and distributed. They make a hydrogen powered fuel cell that powers your building (or eventually your home…)

Is Bloom Energy the next GE? | Analysis & Opinion | Reuters.

It’s worth noting, imho, that Bloom does not reduce our dependence on fossil fuel sources. Although it’s a “personal power plant” it still needs hydrogen to run it.  Hydrogen that you get most cheaply from Natural Gas. In that respect, this is an evolutionary not a revolutionary shift in power supply.

However, the personal printer industry gives us a sneak peek into the potential that Bloom (and the many other innovative new power companies in start-up mode) represents. In the mid 1980′s companies like HP / IBM / Okidata / et al brought the power of printing to the consumer. Futurists declared that the combination of personal printing and innovations like email would make for a radical reduction in paper consumption.

The opposite happened.  We consume more paper than ever. However, we have the shifted power of communication from a few companies to many individuals and companies. And as personal computing (and the internet) matured, we have seen an even more radical shift in power of communication from a few media companies to bloggers, tweeters, etc.

While Bloom will not change the dependence on fossil fuel any more than the personal printer reduced the consumption of paper, Bloom (and it’s sibling start-ups) radically shift the political and economic landscape of power generation and distribution – from a few regulated monopolies to the individuals and companies that need the power.

This shift alone will almost certainly lead to more interesting innovation.

Taming the Abrasive Manager

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

Have you ever worked for a tyrannical boss? Have you ever worked with someone brilliant in their field but also gifted at demoralizing employees and pissing off peers?

Help is here!

Taming the Abrasive Manager is a quick read and a should be a mandatory read for anyone who works for (or even near) one of those “challenged” managers. Dr. Laura Crawshaw aka The Boss Whisperer shows you in fun, easy to read stories and brilliant instructions based in 25 years of real-world experience taming misguided leaders who terrorized their workplace.  What I enjoyed most about this book is that the author doesn’t stoop to cheap caricatures; she succinctly and precisely nails the core driver of “bad” boss behavior – FEAR BASED TRIGGERS – and shows you how you can help yourself and help a boss see the light.