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Welcome to ZenUnwired; a blog dedicated to tracking developments in technology and strategy, and to deciphering the impact of these developments on wired and wireless ISP's, device manufacturers, OS and application developers, and most importantly - you.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Kits of the Future [Infographic]

Football, sometimes known as soccer, is one of the worlds’ most coveted games. Millions of dollars are invested in the game and people spend tons on tickets and merchandise. With such popularity, the game needs to adapt to changing times, but how can the sport be made to better serve the viewers as well as allow the referees to make better calls? We only need to look to the future!

Live player stats can be monitored throughout the game. Items that will be cataloged is a multitude of information like the amount ran, accuracy, and time on the field. This could easily settle the arguments about which player is the best.

We all know that some players have huge egos that can lead to dishonest behavior such as pretending to be hit hard. Impact visualizers will provide different colors in the event of a strong hit or a soft hit made by player against another. Impact visualizers could potentially put an end to babies rolling around on the field trying to get the opposing player another electronically displayed yellow card on their shoulder.

For even better visuals, jerseys can be illuminated  as well as carry live ads that will grant the spectators to register more precise movements made by players and draw in more money. Just how might these kits (uniforms) be powered, you ask? The kits will be powered by the kinetic energy of a player that will be converted to an electrical current. Yeah, the future.

Soccer (football), just as life, is ever changing. Stay tuned. Keep loving the game and enjoy what the future has to offer! [via]



Friday, May 2, 2014

Corporate Karma: Strategy Is Not About Crushing the Competition





Karma (Sanskritकर्म) means action, work or deed; it also refers to the principle of causality where intent and actions of an individual influence the future of that individual. Good intent and good deed contribute to good karma and future happiness, while bad intent and bad deed contribute to bad karma and future suffering.

Does 'Karma' then extend to companies? I would like to think so. I found the clarity of thought in this post by Ken Favaro extremely refreshing. Here's the key take-away:

"..... Business is not war or sport. Strategy in business is different than strategy in war and sport. It’s not about competitors. It’s about the customer, your value proposition, and the capabilities you need to deliver it better than anyone else. It’s that simple—and that difficult."

In other words, instead of spending time trying to crush/defeat the competition, companies will be better served (financially) by building/extending their capabilities, and then using these capabilities to deliver superior value to their customers.


Sometimes such simple and obvious truths aren't evident, even to great leaders.


Thursday, August 1, 2013

ChromeCast - Everything You Want to Know


What is ChromeCast?

  • ChromeCast, a device roughly the size of a USB thumb-drive, plugs into any HDMI port on your TV, and uses your existing Wi-Fi network to stream video from the internet to your TV
  • ChromeCast is controlled from devices on the same Wi-Fi network, such as smartphones, tablets, or computers, and is powered via USB
  • ChromeCast launched on 7/24, at $35 (+ Taxes) via Google Play, Amazon.com and BestBuy
  • At launch, ChromeCast came bundled with three months of Netflix streaming (available even to current Netflix subs). However, Google pulled this promo within 36 hours of launch due to overwhelming demand. Orders placed before the cutoff date/time are grandfathered in
  • Currently only available in the US; ChromeCast is sold out nationwide


What OS'es does it Support?

  • Android 2.3 +    
  • iOS 6.0 + (iOS cannot be used for setting up ChromeCast at this time)
  • Windows 7 +
  • Mac OS 10.7 +
  • Chrome OS (ChromeBook Pixel on Chrome 28 & higher)


How does one Cast content to their TV's?
You can “cast” content to your TV’s in one of two ways:

  • Cast from your smartphone or tablet, using a ‘cast supported app’: Open the app, and press the “cast” button. Once connected, you can cast videos, movies and TV shows directly to your TV
  • Cast from your laptop, using the Chrome browser: First download the Google Cast Chrome extension. Once you have installed it, you can ‘mirror’ your browser tab on your TV using ChromeCast’s ‘cast a tab’ feature. 


Other Noteworthy Details

  • Supported Sites & Apps: 
    • Currently supported sites include YouTube, Netflix, Google Play Movies & TV and Google Play Music. 
    • Coming Soon: Pandora, HBO Go, Showtime, Hulu Plus, AOL, Revision3, Redbox Instant, Vevo and Vimeo
  • ChromeCast does not come with a separate remote control. You will need to use your phone/tablet/laptop to find the video, control its playback, and even adjust the volume 
  • While casting a supported site/app, ChromeCast gets the video from the Internet directly; meaning – once the video starts playing, you can do something else, or even shut down your phone/tablet/laptop, without interrupting the video
  • Casting a non-supported site using ‘cast a tab’, puts significant strain on the phone/tablet/laptop from which the video is being casted.  
    • The New York Times reports: “The video doesn’t always seem as crisp ……..and some people experience occasional stutters or audio glitches” 
    • Probably as a result of the resource needs, ChromeBooks other than the ChromeBook Pixel ($1,299+) are not currently supported (Google Play states that ChromeBooks with ChromeCast support will be coming soon)
  • ChromeCast is not currently able to cast personal videos and pictures to the TV. However, AndroidCentral reports that a developer has already created an app that accomplishes this (the app is not yet available to the public per the terms of the SDK). In this context, it is also noteworthy that ChromeCast is able to mirror the entire desktop environment using the “Cast entire screen (experimental)” feature on the Chrome browser. However, this feature does not currently support audio.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Is it time for Carrier-branded Tablets?


Recently, while playing with a Galaxy Note (and contrasting it with a Kindle Fire), I began wondering - is it time for carrier branded tablets? 

Conceptually, a CE manufacturer could create a tablet that is customized to a carrier's needs, where the customization goes beyond the presentation layer. For example - instead of a Galaxy Tab running TouchWiz with Sprint bloatware, can Samsung make a SprinTab - where the entire UI and CX is Sprint controlled/managed? Just like how the Kindle Fire is completely Amazon controlled/managed?

At a purely conceptual level,
  • Developing a customizable service layer means that the CE manufacturer can tweak the service layer to any carrier's requirements. So a SprinTab will look and feel completely different than a VZPad. This "customizability", if achieved, should help the CE manufacturer sell abundantly more devices, at a higher margin than in the cut-throat open market. At the same time, carriers could be - at least theoretically - more willing to subsidize their own custom-tablets (maybe even in the form of bandwidth-built-in- "comes with 1GB of wireless data per month"), especially if the OS'es are locked-down.
  • The CE manufacturer could create an ecosystem of vendors behind the tablet. For example - the CE manufacturer could partner with Amazon and/or Barnes & Noble for books, with Amazon, Spotify or Pandora for music, with Netflix, Hulu or Vudu for video, with Google Play for paid apps, etc. The CE manufacturer then could give carriers the optionality to use their own vendors or services (e.g.: Sprint Music on the SprinTab), or let them choose from a list of preferred vendors. 
  • From a carrier's perspective, the tablet becomes the customer's central gateway to the internet, and results in additional revenue streams, with minimal required oversight . Depending on the quantum of digital content purchased, the tablet could become a sticky product too (migrating digital content like books might be difficult). Of course, carriers could position this tablet in myriad ways like - subsidize the tablet for higher tier subs (i.e. incent customers to buy up), enable any/all carrier-services on the tablet and integrate them into the main interface (vs. into one app, in a sea of apps), etc. Therefore, a well thought out approach could have the potential to mitigate the dumb-pipe scenario.
  • From a consumers perspective, a deeply discounted tablet could be just too tempting to pass up.

I admit, this concept needs a lot more thought and refinement. But that said, carrier-branded tablets might be a concept that warrants a second look.

P.S.: If you havent guessed already, SprinTab, VZPad, etc. are just hypothetical products with no basis in reality, implied or otherwise

Why did Samsung buy Boxee?

As a (frequent) Boxee user, I am fairly confident that the intent behind Samsung’s Boxee acquisition is more than just the Cloud DVR functionality. Of course, how all of this plays out depends on how Samsung integrates Boxee into its own SmarTV platform, but here is my list of why Boxee is probably a great buy for Samsung, especially for a price tag of <$30M

  • Cloud DVR: The obvious. Connected TV + Inbuilt TV Tuner + Boxee = Great solution for cord cutters/shavers. However, it looks like Boxee just shut down its Cloud DVR service.
  • Galaxy Effect: Firstly, If Samsung gets the Boxee Cloud DVR to play nice with the Kies platform, then taking recorded content on-the-go, might become tremendously easy, especially on the Galaxy line of devices. Secondly, Boxee has airplay support – meaning you can play pictures, video, etc. on your iDevices, on your big screen – a feature that Samsung has tried unsuccessfully to replicate with DLNA. Boxee’s experience in this space might come very handy.
  • Multi-Format Support: Video formats and their compatibility with connected devices is tricky business. For example - Roku, Google TV and Apple-TV won’t play MKV files (unless you really tinker with the files, or use PlayOn, etc.). The Boxee Box handles any file format like a champ (I can’t say the same for Boxee TV, which is a failed product by any stretch of the imagination). Even though Boxee has stopped supporting both the Boxee HTPC software and the Boxee-Box, I think Samsung will find some very useful stuff in the archives.
  • Apps/Repositories
    • Boxee already has official apps for most of the recognized content providers out there – Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Crackle, Vudu, Spotify, Pandora, etc. 
    • It has a built-in browser that lets you access any video out there on the net (Boxee’s browser isn’t blocked like Google TV’s). However, Flash support is abysmal. 
    • You can also add XBMC repositories to Boxee (e.g. Navi-X, Fuzzthed).
    • You can browse/use HTML-5 based “enhanced for Google TV” sites (e.g.: Epix) just like on Google TV.
    • You can run home-server applications like PlayOn and Plex on any PC or Mac to play anything that plays on a PC-browser, on your TV screen (transcoding on the fly).
  • Interface: Boxee’s user interface is much like Apple-TV’s. Boxee’s remote for instance, works almost exactly like Apple TV’s remote except that it also adds a full QWERTY remote on the back of the remote (much easier to use than having to navigate to each alphabet before selecting). The UI too is very intuitive. For example – on the Boxee Box, once you pick your favorite shows, you can scroll down a beautifully illustrated list of shows. Selecting a show to watch, brings up a list of options – “CBS – Free, Vudu - $2.99, Netflix – Free with Subscription, etc.”. Once you select one of these options, Boxee handles the rest – playing the content within an app, a browser (with auto full-screen), etc. – seamlessly. 
  • Brand/Legitimacy: Boxee might be a fairly unknown brand among the general public. However, among current and potential cord-cutters/shavers, it is likely more recognizable (as a cord-cutting solution, given its XBMC roots) than Samsung is.

Samsung has a lot to gain here. Lets hope they don't pull a Boxee and mess things up.

Friday, May 24, 2013

How To Use Your Cell Phone as a Survival Tool [Infographic]

Infographic

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The RootMetrics Spectrum Crisis [Infographic]

Infographic

How Google Glass Works [Infographic]

Infographic

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Beyond Siri: The Next Frontier in UI [Infographic]

.....and here's the second....

Infographic

The Mobile Workstyle [Infographic]

I know I have been posting a few infographics....maybe a couple too many. I promise to stop; after posting two that caught my attention. Here's the first one

Infographic