Protests in Brasil

The Brazilian people exploded this week in a wave of protests throughout the country.  The governor of the state of Sao Paulo was on a news video that went viral saying that the protests were from a very “small” group of people, that quote has run viral as showing how of touch the average politician in Brasil is about what’s going on.

Although I haven’t gone to Brasil for the last 3 years, I traveled extensively there from 1998 to 2010 and still have a lot of friends there.  During that span of time I could see the incredible surge in economic development that happened in the country during that time and the rise of a huge middle class.  It moved a country that the majority of it’s people were poor to middle class which was a remarkable achievement, however that achievement still happened with government corruption that people still see as rampant, and despite improvements in infrastructure and other services, there is still a lot of poor infrastructure and services.

The people just couldn’t take for one more second the vast expenditure that the government undertook to host both an olympics and a world cup in a short span.  Spending that has enriched quite a lot of people in industry and government.  While all those people were getting rich and investments were not made in healthcare, housing and roads, an increase in mass transit fares, which hits the poor quite harshly, was passed.  I think it was a simple read for most people in Brasil, if we can afford to spend hundreds of billions of dollars in these two events why do the poor have to pay more for transport!?!

The great thing is that a huge number of middle and upper class people in Brasil agreed which is why this exploded so quickly.  The mass transit rate increases were rescinded, but the demands for a better government will still continue.  I don’t know how long the protests will continue, but I think it’s quite clear that the people of Brasil have spoken.  Let’s see how the government reacts.

A friend in Argentina once told me a joke, it sounded like a joke to me, but I think the first person that said it was serious, he told me “We don’t want the politicians not to steal, we just don’t want them to steal EVERYTHING”.  There will always be corrupt politicians, like there are corrupt businessman, clergy, etc…  But let’s see if the table can be tipped in favor of the citizens?

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Apple, Google and Innovation

I am reading all this stuff about how Google is the innovator, Google is innovating more than Apple.  Last night I was re-listening to the first podcast I did in 2007 (http://www.abulsme.com/comments.php?id=A1087_0_1_0_C), and the discussion revolved around Google, Apple and Microsoft, and it reminded me of the stark reality about Google vs. Apple. Over the last 15 years, Apple has disrupted 3 key markets with music, cellular phones, and personal computing.   Google has launched all this stuff like Android (which was bought they didn’t develop), Google Earth, Google Glass, they bought YouTube, Google+ (cue laugh track), etc…  Apple used to do a lot of this in the 80’s and 90’s, launch and develop a lot of overpriced cool stuff that made no money.  The Newton for example was one of the biggest, way ahead of it’s time but way overpriced and a niche product.  The first thing that Steve did when he came back was jettison all this crap and focus Apple the overall user experience (hence all the Apple stores whether online or physical) and selling stuff that made money.  Google today, just like when we recorded that podcast in 2007, doesn’t make money on any of this stuff; it still only makes money on advertising. Even worse is the fact that Google loses money on phones, and not just a little money, a lot of money.  Take the Motorola purchase, they spent $12.5 billion and have lost another couple of billion running it.  Their phone story from a profitability standpoint is a disaster, and it’s a disaster with no end in sight as they make no money on licensing.  There is nothing they are doing on the phone front, in the short to mid-term horizon that is going to reverse those losses.  Samsung is looking to differentiate themselves from Google and looking at other operating systems, where does that leave Google?  What about other stuff Google is working on?  Google glass is a gimmick; I don’t understand all the hoopla around it.  It’s outrageously expensive! And like we don’t have enough problems as it is with people that keep using their smart phone’s in places we don’t want them to, hey let’s enable them to pay even less attention!  Sweet!   Glass is cool, but I don’t see it as a mass market,, money making, market disrupting product.  How is Google going to thrive in the future? Why does Wall Street give it such a premium valuation when they have failed to make money on any of these investments or new ventures? Other than search and blatantly ripping off the Iphone, what has Google done that is disruptive?

While geeks may love Android for all the tweaking and stuff they can do with their devices, all survey’s show that the overall end user experience at Apple is superior.  Many years ago I used to install every beta of every application that came out, I wanted to be at leading edge and I wanted try all this stuff, like Netscape 1.0, Realplayer 1.0, ISDN modems, the first very slow wireless cards over cell networks, you name it.  I stopped because all it made was for one hell of a miserable user experience.  Of course back then if you were using Netascape 1.0 and it was the first browser, well, it was the first browser and it was cool no matter how much it crashed.  But a lot of stuff we are talking now is just different flavors of the same stuff, and I don’t want this crap ruining my end user experience and adding no value. I was on a trip with my mother a couple of years ago and my mother had an Android phone on which she wanted to install an app to track NBA scores, and I could never could get this thing to work no matter how hard I tried.  There are a number of people that want the most customizable, tweakable platform for them to use, and more power to you, go ahead knock yourself out.  But when I buy my mother a smartphone, I want her to be able to update it herself.

I will never forget a Samsung Windows phone I owned in 2009.  If you wanted to update the software there was a 2 page word document that explained the process.  Seriously, 2 pages.  Samsung is like Sony, great hardware awful software, look at their smart Tv’s I have never seen anything more kludgey, especially when compared to the simplicity of Apple TV.  A cool looking product can only get you so far, most users will require to update their product or service it.  If the whole experience isn’t polished then people will leave for a better one.

The bottom line is that all these people ripping Apple for lack of innovation and praising Google in my opinion have lost their minds.  They were also out of their minds when they were over praising apple for a few years after the Iphone and Ipad.  No company can keep that rhythm of market disruption, none.  The battle for markets is going to continue and I think there is plenty of room for both companies to thrive.  But people have got to get a grip, Apple has not become stupid overnight, and Google unstoppably smart or vice versa.  Till next time.

My New blog

I decided to create a blog to post my thoughts on business and technology.  I hadn’t had a blog before because I didn’t know what I would write about, but I am finally giving it a go.