Sunday, January 23, 2011

Microsoft Surface 2.0 - a "touch screen TV"

In CES 2011 earlier this month, Microsoft demonstrated Samsung SUR40 running Microsoft Surface 2.0.
The technology to capture the hands, fingers or object moves on a 40 inches screen has evolved from cameras to sensitive screens.
The price of this new version still is 6000€+. Even if divided by 2 from previous version, this should prevent usage by consumers.
The most important move however with this version is the possibility to hang the large screen on a wall, coming from horizontal use cases to vertical use cases.

The use cases addressed through the demos in CES were:
- horizontal, combined with NFC, to recognise objects, being Redbull cans for immersive advertising or active coins for "poker like" gaming,
- vertical, for museum to enable visitors exploring a large interactive diaporama.

Limitations of horizontal use cases were already addressed here.

SUR40 hanging on a wall becomes a "touch screen TV". Demo in museum, as presented in CES, limits usage to one single user only. This would mean quite huge investment if a museum wants to support 5-10 simultaneous users as a painting or passive wall paper.
The other case demonstrated in the show tells a story about a bank proposing a draw, forcing customers to come in the bank to know if they win (let's imagine the frustrations).

The Kinect technology looks to me much more appealing for move detection in front of a large screen than Surface. Moreover, Kinect decouples the screen technology from the interactive part, which is more scalable "market wise".

So why not investing all Microsoft money sunk in Surface innovations to make Kinect move detection much more accurate, unbeatable ?
One of the reason could be the big challenge of innovation management. From a team management perspective, it's much easier to start an innovation project than to stop it.

Curious to see the success of Surface 2.0 and/or if a Surface 3.0 version will exist.

To be continued ...

Benoit Quirynen

Sunday, January 16, 2011

IPad2 - will definition be twice higher ?

Some rumours about IPad2 state that the screen definition would be twice higher, becoming 2048x1536 instead of 1024x768.

Today, the Wired magazine on IPad already consumes more than 500MB in terms of bandwidth and disk size. Since Wired is often leveraging the full capacity, this could lead to a severe increase (media assets - image and video - take the larger part) in bandwith consumption (for consumers and/or for telcos) as well as on-device disk space (up to 2GB).

All this would only opertae if Apple manages to keep convincing publishers using its tablet after having sucked the customer relationship - as announced on Friday.

To be continued ...

Benoit Quirynen

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Telecom - automated tariff optimization as the next improvement in customer relationship

Yesterday, I received two messages from my telecom provider.

The first message was an SMS notification that I reached 50% of volume granted by my data plan. I like this kind of positive message when it's not pushed to often.

The second message was a bill. It's usually not a pleasure to receive a bill but this one was a bit special. In the header, the provider announces that tariff optimization process has been run based on my consumption and the tariff plan that I have selected is still the best one for me.

It is also mentioned that they will automatically run this tariff optimization process every 6 months. The optimization facility was already available before but it was up to the subscriber to run it and to switch tariff. Now, at least the simulation is executed automatically.

Telecom operator considers that it's better to keep an existing subscriber than artificially increase the Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) based on poor customer relationship. Customer loyalty improvement could make a sound difference for the value of the share at the end. I consider it as a good anti-churn tool and a very good move of telecom industry inline with respect of the subscriber. A win-win deal obviously.

What is still missing is a simulation of tariff with offers from competitors. It would have been very nice to add a sentence : "and if you would have selected provider B, you would have paid x € more every month" ... if it's true.

Is "automated cross-provider tariff comparison" the next step in customer relationship improvement ?

To be continued ...

Benoit Quirynen

Sunday, January 2, 2011

France : VAT increase can turn to a free IPhone for consumers

In France, government has increased VAT rate on Internet access from 5.5% to 19.6%. Based on this increase, most of telecom operators (Orange, SFR, Bouygues) increase their price to more or less reflect the VAT increase.

However, according to this site (, this price increase is considered as a possible breach on contract. Consumers who contracted a package including a mobile phone with a subscription are now allowed to keep the phone, stop the contract and ... re-initiate a new contract possibly including a new phone. So the expensive I-Phone acquired a few weeks ago within the scope of a contract can become yours ... and you can get a new one, restarting a new contract.

That's where sponsoring (or bundling subscription and phones) of mobile phone for recruiting new subscribers of expensive subscriptions or membership can turn to become very expensive for operators.

In a world of expected continuous inflation during next years, telecom operators would be well inspired to better study their pricing, contracts and bundling strategy instead of applying linear changes. As consumers, we should probably be even more careful reading terms and conditions in the future.

All this clearly benefits to mobile phone manufacturers. Apple, Samsung, Nokia and the likes but also Google through Android could accelerate their sales in France beginning of this year if this trick turns to be applied by a lot of consumers.

Price increases are also announced in Belgium. Will the same apply ?

To be continued.

Benoit Quirynen