Category Archives: Career

iPhone v.s Android

The smartphone game is over. The tablet game will be finished soon, within 2 years.

iPhone versus Android

iPhone versus Android

 

 

Android wins, iPhone loses. 75% v.s 15%, soon will become 85% v.s 5%. But that doesn’t matter much for Apple. Apple is a brand for high-end products. They don’t aim to gain all market share. To gain market share, Apple has to attack more of the low-end market, which means they have to lower their price. However, matching other supplier’s price may be harmful for Apple’s brand, although they may achieve it by more efficient supply chain and factories.  To become a high-end brand, Apple spends a significant amount of money on their brand and will not scarify it for the market share.

But in this ecosystem war, the bigger ecosystem leads to a win by monopoly. When 75, 80 or 85% of the market is using Android, app developers will flock to there, and make the ecosystem become much more valuable for customer. To continue earning a lot of money, Apple has to continue what it has done best under Steve Jobs’s empire. New product, new market, new value, or new software that people are willing to purchase with high-price.

What will be the next Apple’s product? Probably Apple TV, I am not even sure about that.

And the important questions for most of us, as app developers, what should we do? Should we all move to Android yet, should we change our strategy of iOS first, Android second? Or should we start discussing about Mobile Web App?

I am writing more on the Mobile Web App v.s Mobile Native App in the next post, catch it soon.

Communication problems between distanced members

Misunderstanding

Lacking communication….

If money is your startup’s problem, you should open a branch to outsource some development work into cheaper countries, like Vietnam. Then, you would exchange 1 problem with another, probably harder than you thought.

Communication: this is a key. Effective, efficient, going into the right way. In startups, there are much less time for documentation. Things have to go really fast, features after features, products after products. It is much better for startups to go fast, try with different ideas until they get it correctly. And when they get the idea correctly, it is time to execute, as fast as possible to get the products into the market. Distance difference is a main barrier for communication, talking over Skype feels very different from talking face-to-face. Another barrier is time difference.

The time difference between Vietnam and America is huge, 10-15 hours time difference. When the Vietnamese developer wakes up, their colleague sleep, and vice versa. I have seen some approaches to this problem: scheduling out some fixed time in the day or week, to meet, or someone has to sacrifice. The first one is not normally working for startup when lots of communication needs to happen. The second one will not last for long.

Competitive Advantage – how to make it last

In the last 2-3 years, iPhone development has been my advantage when I stepped into the area early. It brings me many good results. But, that’s over. You hear it correctly. I don’t mean iPhone development will decline, but the growth of the market is significantly slowed down. And the number of good developers in this area will significantly grow when more resources are available.

Long-Lasting Success Requires Non-Ending Efforts

Competitive Advantage

Competitive Advantage

To be successful, a company or a person has to get some competitive advantage. The problem is sooner or later, every other companies/people will improve themselves to gain your competitive advantage. It may take them 3-5 years, but in this technical world, it would be even less. This advantage can never generate a long term plan. No matter how you protect it, no matter what cost you pay to protect it, people will soon be leveling your advantage. Don’t dream and don’t sleep on the victory. Long term and scalable model requires lots of building efforts to generate more competitive advantages.

I have never tried to protect my knowledge about iPhone development because I know the market controls itself. I see enough of stupid people trying to protect their knowledge to gain advantage in company promotion.

To be successful in long term, the same for personal or company, you need to build a culture that motivates new innovation, i.e creating new values. These new values, new knowledge or new understanding will bring you more competitive advantages or guarantee with you a long term success

Online Education and Interaction

Education Video

Education Video

Coursera is cool. Online Education is cool. Content is cool. But do you know what is not? The interaction. It is damn boring to stay focused in 3 hours for a video lecture. Recently, my wife and I tried our best to study Introduction to Finance and Financial Computation Econometric. The interaction environment in the normal classroom is not always interesting, it is even worse in an online course. Maybe we haven’t used all the resources we have or we haven’t tried hard enough. But to make the model more successful, interactions would be the key.

Offline watching has its benefits: people can watch anytime, anywhere and any videos you like. It sounds good until it comes to practice. People get lazy, some of them are watching half the video and have to stop to do something else. When they come back, they lose time to get into focus again. It takes more time and efforts to really focus and learn quickly with offline video.

Obviously, they are still free, I have no complaint about a specific site. What I mean is “Hey, this is my problem and may be others’ problems, hope you guys can fix it”. I think we need to give more benefits for people, as gamification and gaming theory often do, to let them spend a specific of time in their schedule to finish the video, to really focus. Maybe these sites offer some chance to chat with the professor, some small quiz that can be both challenging and rewarding.

In the long term, I really think that solving this problem is the business key and competitive advantage for any company.

Reality is Broken – Why Game Matters (part 1)

Reality Is Broken

Reality Is Broken

This book offers me a novel approach and surprising idea of thinking. I am influenced by my country’s media on how bad the game can affect people and students’ mind and how bad games are. But this book challenges my long-time sticky idea, and it does a good job. It sounds like a gamification book or articles that me can read somewhere on the Internet, but it actually gives me more than those boring theories.

Good theory of gamification
It provides me a good understand, not just the theory of gamification. How game designers think, how they plan and write stories that are attractive, human friendly and feel very personal to you. The game challenges you, the game rewards you, the game praises you and welcomes you, the game gives you chance after chance when you keep failing.

The book author makes a good comparision with the real life. The real life challenges you, no rewards, punishes you for being wrong, makes you feel like shit when you fail and noone ever cares about how you feel.

The book makes me stop here and start thinking and observing people around me more. People are worried too much about their future, their failure and their life. Games give them what people actually dream for. It actually explains to me how people are addicted to game. It is not just people want to be fun and entertain, it is normal that people are seeking for respected, value recognition and a better life.

Understanding about sociology and psychology
The book also gives a deep understanding of how Massively Multiplayer Online Game works, how it can be used to resolve real world problems. It is quite interesting for me when the author analyzes the World of WarCraft to demonstrates how gamers actually collaborate, get to know each other and together do something to achieve the goal.

Many other examples are also useful and interesting: Wikipedia is a big multiplayer online game, where people try to collaborate, edit and create better articles to achieve a big goal together. Or this fun and interesting game: FreeRice (http://freerice.com/), where you try to achieve your goal and also help to heal the world.

The author analyzes many different aspects of a game that help people to try to achieve their goal, stick to their purposes and try again and again until they got the goal. If we know how to design a good game, we can make people work together to reach one really big goal.

World Of Warcraft  

World Of Warcraft

Wikipedia

Wikipedia

Education would be the next wave

This is our research about the electronic education market, as the CMU Assignment

To look at the whole report, you can read it from here:

In short, we are seeing the new trends in technology, business, politics and market landscape is moving to allow better competition and creates better platforms.

In technology, we have better network bandwidth, better cloud computing, better consuming device (ipad/iphone) and better content generation tools like iBook Author.

In business, we have seen recent trends in education, from traditional education, to distant learning with the materials downloaded/sent to you via DVD, and then to e-learning when you can get interactions with teachers in the online place. The e-education would bring it further, to help you with more interactions with the teachers, with other students, and you can study wherever and whenever you like.

Domain + Tech + Design

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We can see the new hype about education, health care or photography. I believe that in this new era of technology startup, it is time that we are innovating in each industry, to transform the industry into a better format. We have technology there, we have social network there, we have better design there, in iOS or Android platform. The technology industry have gone quite far comparing to other industries like education, healthcare, design, news, food, lifestyle.

We have seen innovations in Education with Coursera, Ucademy, Khan Academy… We have seen more innovations is coming in Healthcare with Misfit Wearable…News is already transformed with iPad, iPhone, social network and how we share news together….

I agree with the article:

The only way out of this innovation gridlock is an expansion in founding team diversity. I believe the missing piece from the DNA in the founding teams of transformational companies is now the domain expert, who has deep insight into the industry they are trying to disrupt.

I think we will see more innovations in each industry, rather than just technology improvement like the last few decades with Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon.

In the meantime, our project team in CMU has spent a significant amount of time to produce a quite good report on the Education Innovation.

http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/assets_c/2012/07/map-of-value-creation-thumb-580×482-1971.jpg

Suggested Frameworks for iOS

Here are some suggested frameworks for iOS development, since I have used all of them quite a lot. I think they are good frameworks/libraries that you may need to know. It could save you a good amount of time in researching and reinventing the wheel.

List of Frameworks/Code Snippets for Objective-C:

List of some good components

CorePlot : Core Plot is a plotting framework for OS X and iOS. It provides 2D visualization of data, and is tightly integrated with Apple technologies like Core Animation, Core Data, and Cocoa Bindings.

Core Plot Graph

Core Plot Graph

iPhone Cocoa Http Server:

CocoaHTTPServer is a small, lightweight, embeddable HTTP server for Mac OS X or iOS applications.

Sometimes developers need an embedded HTTP server in their app. Perhaps it’s a server application with remote monitoring. Or perhaps it’s a desktop application using HTTP for the communication backend. Or perhaps it’s an iOS app providing over-the-air access to documents. Whatever your reason, CocoaHTTPServer can get the job done. It provides:

 

Steve Jobs: What I feel about him

Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs

I finished this book quite a time ago, but I didn’t feel to fully understand and let all the information and knowledge penetrates into my mind. There are conflicts, there are debates, there are loves and hates from everybody. It is so easy for people to judge emotionally and I didn’t think that I understand everything to start writing it out.

There are many lessons inside this book, and each single person takes his own belief from the book. I have my own lessons, hope that it is not emotionally biased and spend time thinking through it for a while.

 

 

Autocratic, it is so necessary in the success of the company. People may believe that Steve Jobs was fired due to his wrong approach of management or people favored a salesman too much more than the product guy. I think it was mainly an organization politics problem, Steve Jobs was right but he did not get enough power and networks to back him up. I believe in his autocratic, as much as I believe in Mark Zuckerberg’s autocratic system. Forecasting an uncertain future is too hard to convince everybody to follow the leader. It is wasting both time and efforts. It was a quite shock for me while reading this article. I agree with the Jeff Bezos’s style of management in this article: https://plus.google.com/112678702228711889851/posts/eVeouesvaVX

Steve Jobs is not a genius, sorry for any of his fans. I don’t underestimate his talents and efforts but no success comes overnight. He was in a hard time after leaving Apple, building NeXT and then Pixar Animation Studios. There were up and downs in his life but he chose to stick into his core value and keep moving forward with innovative ideas. He has a great mind to recognize the great ideas, a great mind on how to make a product perfect. People may say that many ideas are not original by him. If they look deeper into the product development process, there are 2 things people must understand: the possession feeling and a great care of details. I love the ways Steve Jobs take an idea as if it is his own, as if it is his baby. That’s how passion and great care for the products are made from. If the product manager doesn’t have the feeling of the product as his own. Steve Jobs took this possession to a great level, and ignores the original owner as a whole.

The last great thing that I learn from Steve Jobs is details matter, a lot. I learnt from my own product development, from writing my own book. Details matter, a lot. People may not care about how great most of your works are, but they quickly recognize your mistakes. It is part of how people’s psychology works, they would assume you need to produce a great product so the great parts are normal. And negative emotion has a bigger impact than positive emotion.

 

How Information Technology changes global supply chain?

The outsourcing trends started with manufacturing in 1990s and then this trend happened to software industry. This trend helped the software industry grow really fast, creates a lot of entrepreneurs that can only have a small fund to invest. Through freelancers and outsourcing websites, small entrepreneurs can cut cost and outsource parts of their projects to China, Vietnam or India to get their work done with almost the same quality.

 

And now, this trend has been back to manufacturing industry, where small companies and entrepreneurs can outsource the works of manufacturing to China. Do you have a good idea? No problem, you outsource to China to produce some amount of the products, as small as hundred or thousand products for a tiny cost. There is no need to have a factory and the inventory. You only need them when you have the customer orders.
This new trend will bring more innovation from anybody within the U.S., as long as you have a good idea.
Easier to access the workers
In the past, to get your idea implemented, you need to have at least hundreds of thousands dollar initially. It is also much more risky when you have to order at least tens of thousands of products so that the factory can start manufacturing your products. Lots of people fail when they do not have enough money to start or they could not sell all of their products.

Now, things have changed. Based on sites like alibaba.com, U.S. entrepreneurs could get access to a pool of talented manufacturers. These manufacturers accept to work on anything, ranging from a small contract of 100$ to 10,000$ and they could deliver your products quickly. This lowers down the barriers of entry for new entrepreneur and creates more chances for people to step in.

Alibaba business-to-business model has been a huge success, with around 500 companies do their business in alibaba.com. The revenue of the company has grown from 48 million USD in 2004 to 183 million USD in 2006 and it still keeps growing up. The platform of Alibaba allows U.S. companies to hire any Chinese manufacturer they need for a tiny cost. An instant translation service will help both of them communicate with each other accurately.

Lowering down the cost
This not just helps the entrepreneurs but also the small and medium enterprises as well. This lowers down the cost as well as the risks for any companies to invest into their new ideas.

Bdier, a graduate student at M.I.T Media Labs, quitted her job to become a new-age manufacturer. She designed a protocol for making electronic components into Lego-like bricks that could be used by anybody. She then gave the protocol design to the Chinese manufacturer to make it for her.

There are more case studies that people can work on their garage has a good design and then send it to a Chinese manufacturer to make the actual product. This could save these entrepreneurs a lot of money and they can finally create what they love.

Easier to sell and do marketing
Due to the nature of the Internet, it is now easy for a good product or idea to spread out. Facebook, Twitter, Gmail and Youtube now help companies to do viral marketing with a very small cost. People observed the success of many small companies that have cool products and do not need to spend much money on marketing.

Google, Alibaba, and then Dropbox has been successful in the same way. They make good products and then give it out for the world to try it. Then people will tell their friends, and the product grows by word-of-mouth.

References

-Why the Chinese web portal is giving up its stockmarket listing, So Long, For Now, The Economist, viewed on March 6, 2012 <http://www.economist.com/node/21548253>

- Secret of Alibaba’s success is team work, sense of mission, Monster and Critics, –Business News, viewed on March 04, 2012

<http://news.monstersandcritics.com/business/news/article_1371368.php/Secret_of_Alibaba_s_success_is_team_work_sense_of_mission>

- Giridharadas, N, 2011, The Kitchen-Table Industrialists, The New York Times, viewed on March 3, 2012