2011 wasn’t really a year in which we saw a lot of big changes on the hardware front from Apple, even though iOS 5 and iCloud made big splashes in software. But I think we can expect a lot of device changes in 2012.
The most popular articles on Pro this week were all about connected consumers and their devices — specifically, how connectivity is now a driving force in the cleantech and health care sectors.
Daily deals are the social commerce segment with the highest profile, and the market is overcrowded with hundreds of players. Winners in daily deals will have to achieve scale, mine their troves of data and deliver a collection of marketing services to merchant partners.
With Google’s proposed acquisition of Motorola, there is a lot of conflicting talk about Google’s DNA, corporate culture, core competencies, etc. A Harvard Business Review blogger thinks Android is Google’s only non-consumer product, while Matt Rosoff at Business Insider says Google’s never been good at consumer products. Google’s advertising platform and services are extremely successful non-consumer products, and, while Rosoff’s right that consumers don’t pay for most of Google’s products, there’s no arguing that it has pleased them with search, maps, YouTube and Gmail. He’s correct that Google hasn’t done much advertising or merchandising to consumers. And Michael Mace knows that hardware product management is a very different discipline than software. Google’s not a portal. True, it’s a gateway, but it depends on usage frequency rather than duration, and doesn’t own much display ad inventory. Google is a platform company that creates APIs and services for its business ecosystem, and even delivers an advertising revenue stream they can share. As Om says, Google’s DNA makes it an engineering-driven company that designs algorithms and leverages its infrastructure.
Exporting a consumer business is tougher than doing the same with a technology play. While technology “translates” pretty well in markets outside the U.S. – once you’ve accounted for distribution channels, competitive environment, regulatory climate, etc. – any lessons you’ve learned about consumer behavior from Americans aren’t likely valid elsewhere. And in China, there are additional hurdles for communications and consumer products. But the market is so tempting, for its size, budding startup culture, and sometimes seemingly weak competitors. So Facebook faces a quandry, and it’s not an operational misfire like Groupon’s. I’m skeptical about Facebook’s chances for early success in China, and it could face a backlash even for trying. What do you think? Should U.S. social media and commerce companies just stay home?