Florian Seroussi's Blog

Entrepreneur, traveler, geek, curious about so many things.

Windows Phone 7 – My thoughts

October 10th, 2010


A year ago I would have been harsh on a new Windows Phone OS. I was harsh in this post.

In April 2010 I saw a very early stage Windows Phone 7 prototype and I said to myself “the whole idea sounded bad, now it looks terrible”.

Microsoft challenge was to start from a blank page. Forget Windows Mobile, WinCE and even Windows to re-create a different user experience based on what was learned from iPhone and Android.

The very first device Microsoft handed out to me for testing purposes was a huge brick, barely functional. My partner Pierre-Olivier Carles needed a phone for a few days and I decided to let him try ‘the phone of the future”. Let’s keep it nice and just say he wasn’t convinced :)

In the meantime, Apple and Google were upgrading and updating their OS considerably adding speech to text, turn by turn navigation, better applications, new features…I was even more perplex on Microsoft’s strategy.

I was wrong. Wrong to under-estimate the power of a world leader in Operating Systems, best software company of all times.

Few days ago as part of our Device Agreement we received a pre-production unit which has nothing to do with anything you have seen before. It’s snappy, reactive, user friendly, reliable, well presented and integrates the best of Microsoft.

I’m not sure if Microsoft will grab the smartphone market. But they did a wonderful job in a short period of time under huge competitive pressure.

95% or so of computer owners are using Windows, 99.99% of all users are using Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint), and 90% of the enterprise world is running Exchange mail server. Well if you are one of those users, this phone is for you.

Native integration of Office Suite makes DataWiz/DocumentsToGo looking almost ridiculous. Outlook native integration with Exchange will ease the life of millions of users.

Admittedly I’m not one of those. But let’s not ignore the vast majority of users because we live in a bubble where Apple rules.

Apple and Google have almost zero experience in gaming unlike Microsoft Xbox solid success. WP7 fully uses Xbox Live so players can stay connected to their favorite games. Gaming + Enterprise might be the winning combination.

I’m not sure how much money Microsoft is investing to conquer the phone segment but last Thursday I was face to face with Steve Ballmer and I felt an incredible energy around Windows Phone 7. It’s not a side project – with all the risks attached. Microsoft will use all of its influence to convince manufacturers, distributors, publishers, and users that Windows Phone 7 is a winner.

I have a feeling that Microsoft is going after Google and too bad if Apple is on the way.

Below a short video of a pre-production unit. What do you think?

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Posted in android, Apple, google, iPhone, Microsoft, Technology, Telecom, World | 1 Comment »


Google Imaginary Open Letter to FCC – One year later

August 25th, 2010


Today Google announced the integration of Google Voice into Gmail allowing users to place and receive phone calls from their computer from any place in the world to the US for FREE.

Since the acquisition of GrandCentral by Google, Craig Walker and his team have been working hard to make the world a better place for communication.

One of the targets is to make Google Voice accessible to all users (meaning outside the scope of Google) with an horizontal approach ranging from Mobile phones to Web based applications and device dependent applications as well. Google Voice has been available for Blackberry and Android phones for over a year. But they never could make it to the iPhone. The application went live for a few hours before Apple’s executives decided to remove it from the app store raising a Valley drama on Twitter and Facebook.

Google asked the FCC to look into Apple’s motivation, Apple replied, FCC sent a few letters, AT&T denied any implications…bottom line: nothing happened. In a world where technology is evolving around time, FCC has failed to do its job.

Worse, I believe FCC integrity is challenged by its dependance to regulatory fees mainly paid by carriers and manufacturers e.g. AT&T and Apple. I see an urgent need to reform FCC processes to adapt to 21st century technology pace.

Here is an imaginary open letter from Google to FCC regarding Apple’s Rejection of the Google Voice for iPhone Application.

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Posted in android, Apple, Blackberry, Gmail, google, iPhone, Legal, TechCrunch, Technology, Telecom | 1 Comment »


Google should buy Adobe

August 18th, 2010


Adobe is the number one gaming platform for developers. Even if Apple is trying to destroy the company’s future, nothing is really changing.

HTML5 is not the new Flash although for video playback it might be a better solution (or not). But developers have constantly praised Flash for gaming. I’m not saying Flash is perfect, nothing is perfect and there is always place for improvement.

But the acceleration of  hardware miniaturization, the abyssal growth of smart mobile devices, the potential explosion of tablets and the furious competition between Apple and Google (soon Microsoft will join) makes Adobe a key player in this war.

Google And Adobe

Google –unlike Apple- has decided to work with Adobe on integrating Flash on their proprietary operating system Android and certainly Chrome OS. Their strategy lays before us on multiple announcements issued by Mountain View’s giant in the last week.

Flash Player 10.1 on Google Nexus Ones

Adobe Air coming for Android

Adobe for Google TV

Native PDF integration on Chrome Browser 6

At least 5 different Google’s units – YouTube (largest Flash network), Android, Chrome browser, Chrome OS and Google TV have made deals with Adobe. Hard to believe it’s all happening without top level corporate talks between both companies.

Adobe’s market capitalization has dropped 30% since Steve Jobs has openly called Flash an insecure, CPU killer, crash-inducing add-on. A $5bn insult  – thanks Steve.

Revenues are also on the downside from $3.5bn in 2008 to $2.8bn in 2009.

Google’s market cap is 11 times Adobe’s and would give the search engine company a nice entry in the mobile gaming playground.

Adobe can’t expect a lot as all deals are based on offer and demand. Apple will obviously not make any bid; Microsoft is too far behind in their mobile road map and will bet everything on Xbox/WP7 synergies.

So who else can afford a $15bn GI Joe?

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Posted in android, Apple, Economy, google, Microsoft, Technology, Video | No Comments »


Unlock your iPhone 4 (or any other) under 5 minutes

August 4th, 2010


Since I posted a picture of my iPhone unlocked running T-mobile I keep getting DMs, texts and calls on how to do it.

The procedure takes less than 5 minutes. You don’t need a computer. Just your phone and a data connection (wifi strongly suggested).

Open Safari and go to www.jailbreakme.com, unlock the slider and leave the magic take place.

Follow the on-screen instructions. Once rebooted, your device should show a new icon Cydia.


Open Cydia – choose “user settings” when prompted, wait for the refresh


Search for Ultrasn (search icon is on the lower right of the screen).Ultrasn0w should appear. Select the app, install it and let your iPhone reboot.

That’s it. Done. Your iPhone is now unlocked.

iPhone 4 on T-mobile fully unlocked via Cydia.

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Posted in Apple, Geek, iPhone, itunes, Technology, Telecom | 5 Comments »


Producteev Launches API for Developers

August 4th, 2010


Lately I got too busy to blog. Not that working and blogging are incompatible, just that my mind was focused on something else. Few posts are in my draft folder just waiting for a quick review which should happen later this week.

About 18 months ago, Ilan pitched me about his project. From day 1 he had a clear vision on what he wanted to do. I’m honored to be a shareholder of Producteev.

Producteev, a task management start-up from New-York launched their API for developers few weeks ago. The API allows developers to access all of Producteev’s extensive task management features. I am very excited to see where this will take Producteev and encourage you to try your luck at developing something for them.

http://www.producteev.com/developers/


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Posted in Entrepreneur, Social Media, Technology, USA | 1 Comment »


iPad is to newspapers what iPod is to Music.

May 31st, 2010

A lot has been written about the iPad and the printing industry. Recently Fred Wilson wrote a post explaining why he doesn’t like the idea of a mobile application but would rather read content on Safari.

His demonstration has some strong point for a power-user but certainly not for the masses. The whole conversation reminds me of the controversy about iPod and music.

iPad at the bar

Yes, I would basically agree that reading content on a browser is more convenient for me. But reality proves that monetization of digital content via web is complicated.

Apple has created a value added chain of services from publishing to distribution. It’s easy to buy and use.

Newspapers over the world are facing their worse crisis ever. It’s the end of an era. And however we look at it, printing news on paper in 2010 makes no sense.

So will the iPad save the newspaper industry? I think it will. Web content will be limited to headlines, forums, past editions, but premium content will be distributed via apps.

The basic recurring argument saying people won’t pay for content because they can find fresher news freely on the web is just ridiculous. No one buys a newspaper for fresh news. Newspapers are here to bring a deeper, better understanding of the raw information. I don’t think Fred Wilson buys The New York Times to find anything new. He cares about the analysis, the vision brought by journalists and experts.

iPad distribution of newspaper solves many problems:

-       production cost [printing]
-       distribution
-       reachability
-       interactivity
-       loyalty
-       spontaneity

When it comes to market ipad/iphone study I turn to my mother. She discovered emails 2 years ago and never wrote a letter since. Same for the iPhone, which never leaves her sight. iPad has dramatically change the way she reads news and this is just the beginning. I bet newer devices will upgrade the digital experience to unprecedented levels.

Apple brought to the masses what the web failed to provide. SECURITY. My mother feels more secure buying an app online than walking to the newsstand down the road. And that, my friends, is the reason why I believe app stores will succeed.

The ability to pay for your digital content in ONE place, all in one click of a button is magic. Until the web can fix compatibility problem, offline reading, payment options, reminders, push notifications and much more, mobile applications will rule.

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Posted in Apple, Content, ebook, Geek, iPhone, Labotec, Newspapers, Technology | 37 Comments »


I’m the master of my fate, I’m the captain of my soul

May 27th, 2010

I’m not a big sport fan. Actually thinking about it, I’m no fan at all. My circle of interest is limited to family, faith, technology and very little time left for other distractions.

One of my guilty pleasures is watching movies during long flights. Mostly for its soporific agent. Very rarely can my body stay alert until the very end word.

Invictus is one of those movies. A movie transcending actors into players, script into documentary.

Invictus Movie

Clint Eastwood directed the movie – maybe I should have started with this. Gran Torino is undoubtedly among best movies of the decade.

Short pitch: Morgan Freeman plays is Nelson Mandela. The story focuses on the end of apartheid in South Africa and how rugby helped in reunifying the country together. Mandela had the perception sport could bring blacks and whites into one homogenized group of supporters. He was right; sport is not about race, religion, skin color but about performance.

Captain of South Africa’s rugby team played by Matt Damon comes from a family of white pro-apartheid activists that slowly understood the need to change. The movie gives a short glimpse of what was the process of re-unification after the apartheid. Clint Eastwood left the violence aside to focus on 1995 victory of South Africa during World Rugby Cup.

France had its Mandela moment after they won 1998 World Football Cup. I remember that night on Champs-Elysées when people were kissing, hugging and cheering all together. La France Black-Blanc-Beur literally Black, White and Arab was born.

My first visit to Johannesburg was in 1982 as a kid, it was a disturbing experience. I was horrified. Years later I came back in 1990 and things seemed even worse. Hopefully my last trip there in 2001 was a much different experience although poverty and discrimination are still dominant.

Movie has been out for a while. A must-see.

“I’m the master of my fate, I’m the captain of my soul” says Mandela. Food for thoughts.

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Posted in movies, Politics, Religion, Uncategorized, World | 2 Comments »


Facebook Privacy. You don’t need to quit.

May 18th, 2010

Half of my feeds is about Facebook and their privacy policy. A complete case of propaganda built up by the blogo-journalistic cartel. Few thousands of top self proclaimed internet right activists are trying to convince 300 Million users that their life is ‘exposed’ by Facebook voluntary exploitation of public data.

Facebook offers a wide selection of options to protect your info and we will go through those steps a bit later. But let’s not be hypocrite here, if you want to keep your life private you need to stay away from social networks. Permanently.

Those attacks are becoming more targeted against Mark Zuckerberg like an attempt to stop the ascension of a giant. The worst is to come after I read the upcoming release of a movie describing Facebook’s founder as a drunk billionaire geek who is a sex-mad “borderline-autistic” conniver.

Mike Arrington wrote an excellent note on the subject but personally I think Zuck will have to face the same hatred Jobs and Gates faced decades ago. Hopefully genius will prevail.

Now here is how you can simply protect some level of privacy on Facebook.

Simply login to your account and head to ‘Privacy Settings’

Facebook Privacy -1


Once you get there click on ‘Personal Information and Posts’

Facebook Privacy Settings-6

This will give you access to a set of customizable features. For best protection chose ’only friends’ to all options.

Facebook Privacy -2-1


I personally do not accept wall posts. If a friend has something to say he can:

-       send me a message or – comment one of my entries.

Facebook | Privacy Settings-3-1


Finally you can opt-out from public searches meaning search engines will not display your Facebook profile


Facebook | Privacy Settings-4-1


One last recommendation – be sure to set privacy settings on applications and games. You surely don’t want to share your recent activity across the board:

Facebook | Privacy Settings-5-1


Be curious and explore those pages. You will find lots of useful information.

The only valid reproach we can aim at Facebook is the lack of universal control of privacy [windows way for security] where user can set level of data sharing from None to Public in one click.



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Posted in Entrepreneur, facebook, Social Media, TechCrunch, Technology | 4 Comments »


Volcanopportunity

April 20th, 2010

In french we have a nice expression “l’arbre qui cache la foret” literal translation ‘”the tree that hides the forest’. Icelandic volcano is a big tree planted right in front our eyes to hide a much larger problem: airlines gigantic losses.

Earlier today Air France made an announcement claiming a 35M Euro loss per day due to the ash cloud. Share lost 5% on french sotck market – enough to call for a bail out by European Commission.Air France

Bunch of crap. Of course there was an eruption, and safety should prevail. Extreme weather conditions is a cause of force majeure and does not oblige airlines to reimburse any of their customers. Their only obligation is to re-schedule flights. So when they say losses- they mean loss of income. Quite different.

But here is the biggest issue. Air France will shortly publish their figures for 2009 and guess what? A 1.3 billion Euro loss roughly $1.8 billions. Yes a mere $5M burned each day…ashes to ashes.

Volcano is to airlines what the mad cow disease was to meat producers. A savior.

Air France is poorly managed and like in the 70′s, 80′s and 90′s they seek for Government monies. How convenient.

Public bail out means us – tax payers. Expect to see a ‘volcano tax’ very soon on EU airfare. After all they have it all figured out – 20 euros per ticket and they break-even.

Bummer!

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Posted in Economy, france, Travel, World | No Comments »


Twitter K.O. system

April 11th, 2010

It all started with a blog post by Fred Wilson about 3rd party apps temporarily filling holes for Twitter followed by a series of announcement that sparked the Twitt-o-sphere on fire. The young growing social network officially released their first mobile application for Blackberry and announced the acquisition of Tweetie (leading iPhone client).

What does it mean for other 3rd party applications offering competing products on BlackBerry and iPhone? Well it doesn’t look too good to be honest- terrible news for Socialscope, Ubertwitter and Seesmic who devoted thousand of hours building a Twitter client for Blackberry and ultimately hoped to be acquired by Twitter…

The official application uses non-public APIs, offers no request limitation (recently Twitter raised their limitation to 150 requests per hour) and can be easily promoted virally by Twitter as a featured application. So many reasons for developers to spoof a revolt and to call for a broken Twitter eco-system…I call it bullsh*t.

Twitter : Is a revolt brewing

Because frankly – this is what they were all looking for. To beat the watch and build a good enough client so Twitter will buy them out. It didn’t happen although Twitter had initiated contact with those companies. Obviously the price range to acquire a Blackberry client didn’t make any sense to Twitter’s investors (Fred Wilson at least) so they decided to go build their own. If one of the apps had been bought out – the feedback would have been very different.

When I hear stories about Twitter eco-system it reminds me of a quote from Louis C.K. “it’s funny how quickly the world owes him something he knew existed only ten seconds ago”.

About 15 months ago I wrote this post discussing about Twitter’s options to drive revenue. The main threat to revenue stream was obviously the existence of 3rd party applications making money on the back of the social network. Not many developers were too concerned about it and kept raising money to bite the hand that feeds them.

This is why Ev Williams promptly announced the acquisition of Tweetie, confusing everyone on Twitter’s real intentions for future growth. Will they buy or will they develop?

In the meantime, many Twitter clients will disappear from the radar until developers can focus on producing genuine ideas and not just filling holes.

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Posted in android, Blackberry, Entrepreneur, Geek, iPhone, Social Media, Technology, Twitter | 3 Comments »


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