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Tag Archives for " Apple "

Apple’s Foreplay In-Car Lures Powerful Partners into a 5-STAR Business Network

Owners of cars made by a range of manufacturers such as Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo will be able to voice-command their vehicles using iOS devices this year. Apple will unveil CarPlay, the integrated infotainment system, at the 83rd Geneva Motor Show, which takes place from Mar 6 to 16, 2014.

The first ever Apple integration into cars will be showcased, with vehicles effectively becoming “the second screen for the iPhone”, according to Frank Gillett, an analyst at Forrester Research.

“We’re looking at the coming together of some of the most powerful brands on earth, Apple – the most valuable brand – is leading the change in automobile entertainment by using its attractive installed base and business networks”, says Vivek Sood, CEO of Global Supply Chain Group.

At a glance, the new system will give drivers a familiar iOS interface for maps, music and Siri-based voice controls while incorporating standard knobs, dials and buttons in the car. Other basic phone functions can also be accessed, such as making calls, messaging as well as a host of third-party apps.

“CarPlay lets drivers use their iPhone in the car with minimized distraction,” Greg Joswiak, Apple’s marketing vice president for iPhone and iOS, said in the statement.

Currently, CarPlay will only support the latest generation of the iPhone, which means iPhone 5, iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C, and will be available as an update to iOS 7.

A report by Accenture in December says consumers are increasingly looking at in-car technology as the deal-breaker, even more than power and speed as their first consideration.

“Apple again has seized the spotlight, after signalling its attempt with the iPod and car audio systems a decade ago, and then fine-tuning its product family before finally announcing “We’re ready””, says Sood, who also writes the book “5-Star Business Network”.

Other carmakers expected to follow suit include big names such as BMW, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar Land Rover, Kia Motors, Mitsubishi, Nissan, PSA Peugeot Citroën, Subaru, Suzuki and Toyota.

In December 2013, Google announced the plan to work with Audi in developing a similar system. However, nothing has been heard since.

Google’s Android OS has also come under intense competition with the upcoming launch of Ubuntu-run smartphones and Samsung’s decision to ditch Android for Tizen in its smartwatches.

Will Samsung Use Galaxy S5 to Eat Apple’s Lunch?

The world’s biggest smartphone maker has struck again with the announcement of its flagship Galaxy S model to hit stores this April. Samsung Galaxy S5, unveiled at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on Monday, features fingerprint technology similar to Apple’s latest iPhone 5S.

Samsung also packs a whole lot of attractive features in its new 5.1-inch full HD screen phone, including a heart rate sensor, near field communications (NFC) sensor, 16-megapixel camera, water and dust resistance, higher capacity (than its last model) battery, and a leather-like back.

“Samsung is in an extremely favourable position with PayPal agreeing to be the first global payments company to support the fingerprint technology in Galaxy S5 phones. This partnership will enable Samsung to prove to consumers the true power of fingerprint security beyond what Apple proposed with its iPhone 5S launch”, said Vivek Sood – CEO of Global Supply Chain Group.

Hill Ferguson, Chief Product Officer, PayPal said in a blog entry: “By working with Samsung to leverage fingerprint authentication technology on their new Samsung Galaxy S5, we are able to demonstrate to consumers don’t need to sacrifice convenience to increase security.”

The announcement came just one day after PayPal said it would be available on Samsung’s new Gear 2 smartwatches. Samsung has segmented its target consumers and delivered three versions of this product line: fashionable, functional and fitness-focussed.

“What’s more notable in terms of strategy is how Samsung has started to lower dependence on Google’s Android OS by adopting Tizen, a Linux-based OS, for its smartwatches. To gain dominance, Samsung is levering its business network strategically, picking and choosing partners that can help the company win on different fronts,” said Sood – author of the book “5-Star Business Network”.

The open-source OS war by smartphone makers is as hot as ever, with Ubuntu, the most popular version of Linux, set to be available on smartphones by the end of this year.

Apart from two technology giants Apple and Google, Samsung also has to go against smaller yet growing smartphone makers, especially in the lucrative Chinese market. Although currently the top vendor in China with 19% of market share, Samsung needs to watch out for Lenovo and Xiaomi, who own 12% and 7% of the market respectively.

Same same but different: Apple’s emerging rival Xiaomi continues to upstage demand with market valuation more than Nokia’s sale price of $10 Billion

China’s three-year-old technology company Xiaomi has recently announced the sale of its flagship Mi-3 smartphone will be on the Chinese top messaging app Wechat. This is another in a series of tactics deployed by Xiaomi to get to the heart of consumers and spur their demand.
Already with 7.2 million handsets sold last year in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, and a revenue of $US2.1 billion, Xiaomi continues to pursue its drip-feed supply strategy. It will be selling 150,000 units of the flagship Mi-3 smartphone on WeChat on November 28th and customers can reserve their spots in advance.

Xiaomi has been famous for its lightning fast sold-out rates through its solely online distribution channel.  In November, two records were made during China’s Single’s Day flash sale: Xiaomi sold over 200,000 smartphones in just 3 minutes, making it the first company on Alibaba’s Tmall to break the $16.4 million benchmark.

A similar picture is expected with the upcoming sale on WeChat, with potentially added credibility to both partners since WeChat is seeking to be a payment platform as well.

Being compared to Apple with both positive and negative connotations, Xiaomi seems to be faring better than the global giant. Although the two companies have manufacturer Foxconn in their supply chain and are praised for innovation, Xiaomi’s considerably lower price range has earned it a 5% Chinese market share, surpassing Apple’s 4.8% in the second quarter of 2013.

Xiaomi’s latest funding round put it at $US10 billion in value, more than what Microsoft just paid for Nokia’s handset division. Xiaomi, already profitable since September this year, is one of the 15 most heavily venture-backed mobile start-ups ever.

Some analysts have gone as far as saying Xiaomi was able to do in a month what Apple did in a year, pointing to Apple’s 2012 sale of 125 million smartphones globally.

Xiaomi’s achievements so far have been attributed to a number of factors: the right partnerships (e.g. with China Mobile, the country’s state-owned telecom giant; with Google for running its Android operating system; with Foxconn for assembling its phones containing components from Qualcomm and Sharp).

The key differentiator, however, is Xiaomi’s acute attention to innovation and customer service. While Apple takes a top-down approach to innovation, Xiaomi thrives on idea crowdsourcing, leveraging user feedback to develop and release a new version of its Android-based software every week.

Xiaomi’s founder Lei Jun said: “We’re trying to create greater products while selling a product that is close to the manufacturing price”.

“Preferring to be compared to Amazon, Xiaomi follows the business model of selling low-margin devices and making profits from customers as they use them, just as Amazon sells Kindle and e-books. In that case, Xiaomi probably wants to grow into a super networked business like Amazon too, with innovation, efficiency and outsourcing optimisation already achieved at admirable levels” – said Vivek Sood, author of “Move Beyond the Traditional Supply Chains: The 5-STAR Business Network”.

With its high price-performance ratio smartphone line, Xiaomi is also tapping into other technology products, such as smart TV (MiBox, MiTV) and a newly announced wireless router. Originally operating without brick-and-mortar retailers as middlemen, Xiaomi recently announced the upcoming launch of 18 stores, albeit they are only for selling accompanying accessories and services.

As Apple ventures into the growing Chinese market, Xiaomi is looking outwards. In August, Hugo Barra, a Google executive, was hired to develop new products for international markets. No detailed plans have been released yet, but analysts point to some criteria that Xiaomi would consider in a prospective international market: high activity levels on social media and a robust e-commerce infrastructure.

“It’s still early to tell if Xiaomi will create a disruptive force like Apple did when it first introduced the iPhone. But if the Chinese firm knows how to balance the current needs for profits and future needs for products, how to match its product maturity with supply chain maturity, it can be a game-changer”, said Vivek Sood, CEO of Global Supply Chain Group.

Apple’s manufacturer invests millions in the US to meet more demand

Taipei-based Foxconn Technology Group, whose biggest client is Apple, is to invest $US40 million in the United States to boost its high-end production chain. The move, welcomed by the US government, is part of the growing trend to seek a non-China outsourcing location. The world’s biggest contract electronics manufacturer will commit $US30 million to build a high-tech plant for making precision tools, components for telecommunications equipment and other advanced technologies. Foxconn flagship company – Hon Hai Precision, will also fund $US10 million for research and development in robotics at Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania. The main rationale behind the investment, which also creates 500 hundred jobs in the US soil, is to meet customers’ demand for more of their products be domestically made. “This is an example of results-focused outsourcing in which the customer retains control of the relationship. Although Foxconn can also win by investing in US-based manufacturing, the original call was made by its customers.” – said Vivek Sood, CEO of Global Supply Chain Group. Foxconn will not move the production of Apple’s iconic iPhones or iPads to the US, amid the growing trend for American technology companies to relocate manufacturing plants so that their product designers can be near the manufacturers for quality control. “We won’t be migrating Chinese production lines, but creating high-precision, high-tech, high value-added manufacturing in the U.S for future technology trends,” Terry Gou – Founder and chairman of Foxconn said. The company has its fingers in multiple pies, as most service providers, and is responding to the modularisation trend. “We’ll go from original component R&D through to a complete high-end production chain. However this is not, as assumed, manufacturing for a specific brand”, said Gou. “Many technology companies are now seeking modularisation to achieve homogeneity, where products start looking similar, eventually leading to falling prices. Foxconn knows they are playing in an increasingly commoditised market and their decision to raise their bar is understandable in ensuring the leading position.” – said Vivek Sood, author of “Move Beyond the Traditional Supply Chains: The 5-STAR Business Network”. On the other hand, many US companies are not reaping desirable benefits from their outsourcing in China and moving their production back to their homeland. “This insourcing movement is a result of poor supply chain strategy planning. Many companies choose to go with the obvious benefit of low labor costs while ignoring other factors, which may well offset the former” – Sood added.

Is the Apple about to fall from the tree? What we can learn from Apple’s latest share price wobble

Apple’s shares have taken a worrying dip. One of the technology giant’s suppliers, Cirrus Logic, which is estimated to earn some 90% of its revenue from Apple, reported a fall in sales which led to the dip in Apple’s shares. The news shows the vulnerability that corporations can face and how quickly things can change. Creating a 5 star business network is all about reducing risk, enhancing efficiency and ensuring robustness for your organisation. When it comes to the use of technology, this is particularly important. Every investment in technology must have a proven return on investment – companies which are seduced by technology for technology’s sake open themselves up to unnecessary danger. In his new book, The 5 Star Business Network, international business guru and award-winning author Vivek Sood examines the importance of developing a 5 star business network and the relationship between information technology systems and this process. In this must-have publication for any business looking to survive the challenging global economy, Mr Sood provides practical guidance and detailed examples to show every company how it can enhance its core structure and processes in order to achieve enhanced success and increased profitability.

Why do most executives act as if they do not matter?

Vivek-Sitting-682x1024Steve Jobs famously asked John Sculley “Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugar water — or do you want to change the world?” when he was trying to recruit him to come and run Apple for him. That one question perhaps changed the life of John Sculley, as well as Steve Jobs (and Apple). There are many other lessons that can be drawn from Steve Jobs’ way of running Apple, and these are quite succintly covered in this article, so I will not repeat them in this blog post. My purpose of writing this blog post is to ask the readers a simple basic question. Most executives are very smart, pushing through, intelligent individuals. Yet, frequently, till a Steve Jobs comes around and asks them a basic question such as the one above – they settle for selling sugar water. Why? One point of view on a life that matters is presented here. What is your view? Please share openly..

The Value of Loyalty?

I would not have known who Ed Catmull was, except for a passage in Steve Jobs’ biography by Walter Isaacson.

Ed was the head of Pixar who repositioned the company from making ultra-high end graphics designing PCs to a company making beautiful stories into animated films using computer graphics.

As the story goes, at one point in his career, Steve was out of Apple and focused on making Pixar succeed as a computer company, while Ed was trying to building Pixar’s film business in parallel.

Disney saw the potential of this technology, and offered Ed a lucrative deal to come and work for them making such films. By all accounts Disney had more clout, and stronger resource platform to help Ed do the most important thing in his life – yet he stuck to Steve Jobs.

As a result Pixar got the contract to make “Toy Story” and, Pixar’s outstanding success gave Steve his second come back into Apple.

The rest is history.

Awed as I am by Jobs’ accomplishments in creating outstanding products using a judicious mix of internal and external resources, his ability to inspire this type of loyalty struck me as extra-ordinary.

In today’s world of transient affiliations, it was even more extra-ordinary.

The value of loyalty is clear – it rebuilt Steve’s career, and built Ed’s career. If you look at most careers carefully, you will discover the value of loyalty built into them.

In one of my next blogs, I will explore “How to Inspire Loyalty?”

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