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Can Microsoft Take Back Momentum From Google and Apple?
April 27, 2015
Microsoft is holding its Build event this week, marking the beginning of its major push to launch Windows 10. Build is in San Francisco this year, which effectively puts it right in the back yard of both Apple and Google -- a nice "in your face" move. I was the featured launch analyst for Windows 95 two decades ago and there, Microsoft ripped Apple a new rear orifice.
The Business Power of Empathy
April 24, 2015
In our high-powered, win-at-all-costs business environment, the word "empathy" often evokes derision and scorn. Who has time to be a squishy, touchy-feely wimp overflowing with empathy? We're all busy closing deals and kicking butt! Kicking, closing, etc., is great and all -- but empathy has genuine business value. Don't forget that CRM has "relationship" right in the middle of it.
Take Your Apple Watch Face and Love It!
April 23, 2015
Apple is known for fantastic product design but not for customization. The first iPhone hit the world nearly eight years ago, and yet our "customizable" home screen options are limited to the organization of app icons and a few bland wallpaper choices. So all of us future Apple Watch owners likely will have to settle for a handful of Apple-developed watch faces.
Digital Disruption and a Great Gap
April 21, 2015
You can tell when the economy is doing well, because instead of worrying about how you're going to make the next mortgage payment, you worry about the next disruption in business. The big worry on the horizon now is the digital disruption, a nice piece of alliteration designed to make you question your worth. The DD is the confluence of a lot of wonderful new technology.
Big Data Drives Change if You're Ready to Be Driven
April 20, 2015
In an earlier chapter in my career, I had the seemingly lofty title of "software and intelligence editor" at a telecom trade magazine. Even back in 1996, telecom was experiencing a "big data" problem. It wasn't a problem of collection -- no, telephone companies collect more data than almost any other industry, recording call times and durations, as well as the numbers their customers dialed.
We'll Soon Live in an Imaginary World
April 20, 2015
Virtual and augmented reality and holographic image technologies are coming at us with the speed of a freight train, and it won't be long until we'll no longer be able to distinguish between what is real and what isn't. There are some initiatives going on behind the scenes, as well as some breakthroughs, that shortly will make our experience of the world very different from what it is now.
Sage and Salesforce: An Odd Couple?
April 15, 2015
It came as a surprise when Keith Block, vice chairman of Salesforce, made an off-the-cuff remark about a Sage-Salesforce alliance at Salesforce World Tour last week. Sage and Salesforce in February had announced they would work together, with Sage moving some of its undisclosed ERP applications to the Salesforce Cloud. However, the word didn't seem to spread, and it remained off my radar.
There's a Science to Engaging With Empowered Consumers
April 13, 2015
We all know customers have changed. They can voice their dissatisfaction with you, complete most of the buyer's journey without you, and even seek out support and service without you. If you're a business, you have two questions to ask yourself: 1) Do you really want to become unnecessary to your customers? and 2) What are you going to do about it?
Apple's Storm Clouds
April 13, 2015
An Apple shop recently dumped Apple for Dell following a surprising revelation. Over most of the last two decades, the only time I've seen a move like this was when some change in IT forced it, and a lot of staffers subsequently would quit. This move was largely user-driven. Then, last week, one of Apple's biggest fans actually panned an Apple product, effectively calling it pretty but stupid.
Gadget Ogling: Capacious Cases, Dumb Domestic Drones, Smarty-Pants Cups
April 11, 2015
When it comes to adding extending your smartphone or tablet battery life during the day, Mophie's been trying to make life easier a little longer than most, with time to iterate on its battery pack cases. The company's going a little further now, as it expands its Space line of cases that house not only batteries, but external storage for iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and iPad mini.
Reality Check: Should We Buy an Apple Watch for Its Potential?
April 10, 2015
Because there are so many Apple-loving fanatics who are hopelessly addicted to their iPhones, the first wave of Apple Watch sales won't give us a reliable indicator as to whether it is a real success... or not so much. Because we're talking about Apple here, there will be a couple million customers who will love it and make it work -- even if, deep down, they're slightly disappointed.
Shopping for Algorithms and APIs in the Cloud
April 10, 2015
Now that cloud computing has made it economically feasible to capture and collate large volumes of data, many organizations are trying to find an equally economical method to analyze and move the data across various business applications. Enter Algorithmia and Bedrock Data, two cloud-based companies offering online marketplaces to remedy these age-old issues.
Oracle Modern Customer Experience
April 8, 2015
Oracle did some smart things at last week's Oracle Modern CX Conference and user meeting in Las Vegas. The company has been making strides in organizing its messaging and products around customer experience in the wake of its RightNow Technologies acquisition a few years ago. It's been taking on the CX mantra whole hog. Today, Oracle CX is a full-featured tactic.
Fiorina's and Clinton's Presidential Runs: The Irony Is in the Analytics
April 6, 2015
There will be a lot of irony in the U.S. presidential primaries and general election as campaigns ramp up later this year. Last time, with Mitt Romney, we saw a business multimillionaire and ex-governor get schooled in how to use analytics by a guy who wasn't even that experienced in politics. It was kind of like watching Jon Stewart beat Tiger Woods at golf.
The Apple Watch as Bullsh*t Filter? We Can Only Hope
April 3, 2015
In "iPhone Killer: The Secret History of the Apple Watch," David Pierce doesn't reveal any serious secrets -- because Apple never does -- but he does illuminate the early days of the Apple Watch, centering on an interview with Kevin Lynch, Apple's vice president of technology. It's an interesting read for sure -- an easy recommend for any Apple enthusiast.
Retiring in a Tropical Paradise: Risks May Outweigh Rewards
March 30, 2015
One of the really attractive options for retirement is moving to another country and, for a fraction of the cost of living in the U.S., living like royalty. Well, I've been hearing a lot of stories about this over the last year, and I think there is reason for concern. This isn't to say that a lot of folks haven't done it successfully.
Gadget Ogling: Shooting Flames, Flowing Time, and Locked-Up Temptation
March 28, 2015
Someway, somehow, it's apparently legal to own the XM42 flamethrower in the United States, unless you happen to live in California or Maryland. I can't fathom any circumstance under which a weapon -- let's not mince words here -- capable of shooting flames 25 feet should be available for anyone to pick up if they have $700 lying around to back Ion Productions' crowdfunding campaign.
What's in an Apple Name?
March 25, 2015
Apple has chosen some iconic names in the past, like the "iPod" and "iMac." Apple even managed to take "iPad" -- which was widely panned for evoking a feminine hygiene product -- and transformed it into the popular lexicon of children and Wall Street analysts alike. However, Apple does far more than give big and bold names to products -- it even names key features.
The Big Implications of the Google, FTC Antitrust Scandal
March 23, 2015
A 160-page report that was far more complete than the FTC no doubt wanted last week was leaked to the media, clearly showcasing that the FTC staff recommended action against Google for anticompetitive practices. The FTC commissioners then decided to let Google off the hook, apparently because it made some minor changes. That move gave the impression that the FTC was effectively in Google's pocket.
Gadget Ogling: Cute Robots, Secure Tablets and a Conscientious Can
March 21, 2015
PLEN2 is simply adorable. A robot to seemingly fix all the world's problems, if its Kickstarter project is anything to believe, PLEN2 is possibly the most joyous humanoid machine I've seen in years. Maybe I'm swayed a little by the infectious theme song in the pitch video. The idea is to sell the basic robot and let customers get creative using open source tools and 3D-printed parts.
Apple Drifts Away From Jobs
March 16, 2015
Steve Jobs' Apple displayed a rather fascinating balance between design and utility. Granted, it often shifted more toward the design side, which resulted in problems like Antennagate, but that tended to happen when Jobs wasn't around. He made sure the products worked well and looked good -- he understood the need to do both. By any financial measure, Tim Cook has been doing a great job.
Gadget Ogling: Falling Apples and Magical Pancakes
March 14, 2015
Apple dropped a few new facts about its Watch at this week's presentation. The hardware is interesting in that Apple is limiting what people can do with their 8 GB of storage. No more than a quarter of that can be filed with music, and photos can take up just 75 MB, which seems somewhat rudimentary. I'm glad to see the battery apparently lasts enough to see out a full day.
Apple Sinks to Selling a $10K 'Douchebag Detector'
March 13, 2015
Movie star Anna Kendrick managed to say something in a single tweet that instantly nails anyone who would buy a gold Apple Watch Edition: "We should be thanking Apple for launching the $10,000 'apple watch' as the new gold standard in douchebag detection." Right on. Still, people who believe that a gold Apple Watch is an important status symbol aren't the real problem here.
Astroturfing's Legality Is in the Weeds
March 13, 2015
We see it all the time: a glowing 5-star comment on Yelp about our favorite neighborhood restaurant. At first glance, it looks authentic. However, what if the review actually were purchased by the restaurant? Would that change your perspective on the review or the restaurant? Of course, paying for advertising is hardly new. Celebrities for years have endorsed products and restaurants.

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Is native advertising good for journalism?
Yes -- It's a reasonable source of additional revenue for media outlets to support their traditional editorial efforts.
Yes -- Paid-for articles can contain useful information, but readers might bypass them if they look too much like ads.
Maybe -- But only if it's clearly labeled as paid-for content.
No -- I don't trust any information from media outlets that cloak paid-for content as objective journalism.
No -- Native advertising is confusing and devious, and it threatens the fabric of traditional journalism.
I Don't Know -- I don't understand what native advertising is.
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