Notebook Pricing and Segmentation

<br/><a href="" target="_new" title="Laptop Hunters $1700 - Lauren and Sue get a Dell XPS 13">Video: Laptop Hunters $1700 - Lauren and Sue get a Dell XPS 13</a>

According to a recent NPD study found that Macs accounted for over 90% of computers sold in retail channels for over $1000.  PC manufacturers really need to learn to segment the market better.  This research underscores that there are customers with high willingness-to-pay (WTP) looking for a premium product.  Even Microsoft's own "Laptop Hunters" ads make this point.  In the video above, "Lauren and Sue" are looking to buy a notebook for under $1700 and they find exactly what they want for under $1000.  Which is great for Lauren and Sue, but should also make PC manufacturers wonder if they couldn't have charged more for that same product

Palm Foleo - when bad PR attacks


This recent article on CNET comparing the failed Palm Foleo to similar, and arguably successful, sub-notebooks has me thinking that the problem wasn't with the Foleo itself but how Palm described the product.  At its core the Palm Foleo was a lightweight (2.5 lbs) Linux based notebook with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, a 10" screen and full size keyboard.  It was to be bundled with a solid web browser, e-mail application, and basic office applications.  In reality, the Foleo is not that different from the EEE PC. But from the onset the Foleo was described as a "mobile companion" for your smartphone, not a standalone device.  By contrast, the EEE PC, and other sub-notebooks, have been marketed as nothing less than a small, simple, cheap, easy-to-use PC.  The Foleo was met with skepticism and criticism, while EEE PC enjoyed overwhelmingly positive reactions.

If you want to destroy a product's perception there's no better word to use than "companion."  To many consumers "companion" means overpriced, limited compatibility, limited-use, and unnecessary.  Much of what Palm did seemed to emphasize that it was not a standalone device: in photographs, the Foleo was almost always pictured with a Treo by it's side; even in in this video with the CEO of Palm, Ed Colligan, the first thing he said was that it's a mobile companion.   Colligan goes on to make some very compelling points, but I think he lost most people after the companion part, and, by the way, it only works with Palm smartphones.

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GPS Navigator Product Spam


I recently mentioned product spam in digital cameras, but check out all these GPS navigators from Garmin.  It wasn't difficult for me to find two that are incredibly redundant: the nuvi 260W and nuvi 660.   Both retail for about $399 (see their Amazon product pages here and here), both have a 4.3" touchscreen, both can say the names of streets and both have the same preloaded maps.  However, the 660 has Bluetooth, a longer lasting battery, an FM transmitter, an MP3 player and a few other features the 260W lacks.  So given that they're both the same price why would anyone logically choose the 260W over the 660?  The really crazy thing is the 260W is newer.  Why would Garmin introduce a new product with fewer features than an older product at the same retail price. head hurts...  By comparison, TomTom's product line is much more streamlined and user-friendly, also the listed prices are much closer to the actual street prices.

The word of the week is Gopher

Unless you were born in the late 90's don't waste your time with "My Word Coach" for the Nintendo DS.  I've been playing the game for about a month now and I keep getting the word "Gopher" over and over again.  But this was really the icing on the cake. 


I don't know about you, but I don't have occasion to use the word "gopher" in a sentence that often.  (Except when I'm talking about how lousy "My Word Coach" is.)  And I'm pretty sure I've never struggled to verbally express myself and had the word "gopher" come to the rescue.  I also can't think of an instance when some people were talking about a gopher and felt embarrassed that I didn't know what they were talking about or nervous that someone might find out.

The Palm Centro Should Include a Daily Alarm Clock


My girlfriend's new Palm Centro smartphone doesn't include one of the basic features we've come to expect on a cell phone: a daily alarm clock.  I don't know how Palm missed this; by comparison the iPhone has a great alarm clock.  The Centro's "World Clock" application has an alarm, but it will only go off once; you have to manually turn it on before each time you want to use it.  To add insult to injury, Palm knew that this would cause confusion, so they included this handy tip:

Like a typical alarm clock, the World Clock application only allows you to set an alarm clock within the next twenty-four hours.

Ok, seriously, what "typical alarm clock" does that?  And why should that behavior be replicated in an alarm clock software application?  Instead of actually resolving this problem, they tried to just explain it away.  Sure you can create a daily recurring event on your calendar, but that can get pretty cumbersome.  And while there are alarm clock applications out there, having to use a third-party app for something as basic as an alarm clock almost discredits the product.  I thought technology companies had finally figured out that what makes a product great is how well basic features are executed, and how functional the device is right out of the box.

Zune Software Installer Needs Improvement


I was in the middle of writing an entry about the Zune, when it occurred to me that the iPod attracts so much attention, it seems hardly anyone realized that the real competition isn't the iPod, it's iTunes.  After all, without iTunes the iPod is just sleek paperweight.  I thought if anyone wouldn't overlook the importance of making a great music jukebox and music store, it would be Microsoft with all it's emphasis on software.  So I began downloading the Zune software to check out how it compared to iTunes.  The first thing the installer does is check for updates.  Huh?  I just downloaded it, how could there be updates?  Somehow though, there are, and it has to download them.  This on top of the time I spent downloading the installer.  Finally it finishes with the updates, and I get this lovely "Installation Error" message above.  Wow.  There's a link on the screen so I click it which instructs me to dive into Windows Event Viewer to try to figure out what happened.  Double Wow.  This is where the average person would just give up.  I've been using Windows since forever, installed countless applications, and this is the first time I've had to look in Windows Event Viewer to troubleshoot an installation.  Also I've used every version of iTunes since version 4, and I've never had any installation problems.  Now, I don't own a Zune, I just wanted to try out the program, which you'd think would be something Microsoft would want to encourage.  But this experience has been totally disappointing and frustrating.  I even found myself getting annoyed at the language on the help page:

Use the information in the Date and Time columns to locate the events that were logged for MsiInstaller during the time that you could not complete the Zune software installation.

Are you kidding me?  When "I" could not complete the installation?!  It's the Zune installer that couldn't complete the installation, and somehow I'm getting blamed.  The copy should read more like "during the time when the Zune software installation failed."  Microsoft really needs to work on Zune software installation experience and try to keep from blaming users for their software problems in help documentation.  I'm going to work on installing it again tomorrow, even though it really doesn't deserve another chance.

Forget teaching gorillas sign-language, let the gorillas teach us "Gorillian"


Since the mid 60s there have been several high profile gorillas and chimps that learned American sign language. Which is cool, but if you're ever lost in the jungle and want to ask a gorilla for directions or to crash in his nest for the night, the chances he will know ASL are slim to nil. Researchers should really get the gorilla to teach them the gorilla language, or "Gorillian". It really only seems fair that if the gorillas goes to the trouble of learning ASL, then researchers should make the effort to learn Gorillian. Some Googling didn't turned up much on the effort, which I find surprising. I'd think by now some researcher working late with an ape that knew sign language would have thought to himself: "Hmm, I wonder what the ape word for banana is?" followed immediately by the realization that right in front of him was an ape who he could just ask...

Tablet PC to Replace Medical Charts


Ready for some scary statistics?  Each year about 1.5 million people are injured due to medical mistakes, and about 90,000 are killed.  Numbers like that make me want to write to Apple and tell them to stop releasing a cool new music player every few months, and make technology that could save lives.  So I was totally psyched to see the C5 Tablet from Motion Computing developed for health care providers.  It's a tablet computer with a built in barcode scanner, RFID reader, and camera.  Plus it's fully sealed so it can be cleaned and disinfected.  While a lot of really good thinking went into the device, the $2200 price tag will probably put it out of reach for most hospitals, especially the ones that need it most.  Given that OLPC was able to make a $140 laptop, Motion and collaborator Intel could have tried a little harder to bring the price down.  The main problem is that it runs full blown Windows, instead of Windows Mobile or a custom Linux build (like OLPC does).  Read on for more on this.

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