Why Giant Smartphones are Still the New Normal

Ascend MateMarch 2014: The New York Times reports this week that at this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the giant smartphone trend is not only continuing, but accelerating. I was just in a meeting the other day with one of those monsters, and I could barely take my eyes off it it. Some kind of a Samsung with a screen well over 5 inches diagonally. By the time you add the heft of its aftermarket silicon rubber case, the thing was about the size and thickness of a 350 page paperback book .(But not the same weight as a book – that Samsung brick is going to really pull down one side of your coat – and forget about your jeans pocket.) Screen was pretty flashy-looking, though.

However, the press continues to miss the point on these things. As I pointed out a year ago, they are not taking off because they are better than phones or tablets, they are taking off because they are cheaper and easier than having to buy both. If you compare them to a tablet, the tablet is better for content consumption and productivity. If you compare them to a smaller phone, the phone is better for portability and, well, being a phone. So if you are willing to pay for and carry both, you’d be better served from a functionality standpoint.  But most people are not willing or able to buy, carry and maintain both.  So they are looking for a single device compromise – as I pointed out below a year ago, this is especially clear when you look at the demographics of initial phablet growth. And now the trend is continuing with a new demographic – the non-techy early mainstream. I called it just over a year ago, and I stand by my original thesis:

Jan 15, 2013: Until a very recent epiphany, I had been observing this trend of growing smartphone screen size with puzzlement. Android smartphones grew to 4 inches. 4.5 inches. 4.8 inches. Then Samsung releases the Galaxy Note at 5.3 inches. And now the Note 2 at 5.5 inches. And now Huawei has just released a a phone with a 6.1 inch screen (the Ascend Mate, pictured above).

Yet Apple was not wrong that good one-handed operation maxed out at a screen size of about 3.5 inches diagonal. And you definitely look a bit odd holding a tablet to your head. And these things are giant in your pocket, if they even fit. So what is driving this? [Read more…]

Cookin’ Without Gas (It’s Official)

Update: Well, it is official. My internal combustion engine car, a trusty companion for the last 14 years, has been sold, and I have a confirmed Vehicle Production Order for a BMW i3. It is supposed to be built on March 12th and arrive with the first US-bound shipment of customer i3s on May 5th (they have been on sale in Europe since November.) My conversion to solar-powered driving should coincide with the arrival of the spring sunshine. Looking forward to it. Below is the story behind the story.  And for some really geeky videos on how this unusual carbon fiber car is actually produced, see this playlist.

[Original Post:] Regular readers know it had been a life-long dream of mine to live in a solar house and also a life-long dream to drive a solar-powered car. I got the roof done. Cars with enough solar panels on their roofs to power themselves will almost certainly never be be practical in my lifetime, nor probably that of my kids. But stationary residential solar arrays already generate more than enough power for transportation use. As I outlined in my post 365 Sunrises, my residential solar array makes about 1,350 kWh in excess of what we need to power our house for a year. Could that be enough to power all my personal transportation needs?

[Read more…]

Congratulations, Crocodoc

Crocodoc

Congratulations to Ryan Damico and the team at Crocodoc for their successful exit today to Box.com.  I invested in Crocodoc in 2009 when Ryan was a brand new entrepreneur and the company was called WebNotes. I liked Ryan and I liked the early vision. What grew out of those early roots was even more impressive. Ryan and his team went on to build a very capable enterprise class tool to display virtually any document right in the browser, via HTML5. This capability has proven absolutely essential to a variety of large customers including SAP, LinkedIn, Yammer, Facebook, and of course Dropbox and Box.com. Not entirely clear what Dropbox is going to do once this technology is in the hands of their arch-rival Box.com. That should be interesting to watch. Meanwhile, read more about the deal via WSJ here, TechCrunch here., GigaOm here, The Next Web here, VentureBeat here, and ZDNet here.

Comments, questions or reactions to this post? Leave a note below and I will respond to your questions.
If you enjoyed this post, you might enjoy: The Long Road to Instant Success (Crocodoc)
Subscribe – To get an automatic feed of all future posts subscribe to the RSS feed here, or to receive them via email enter your address in the box in the upper right or go here and enter your email address in the box in the upper right. You can also follow me on Twitter @cmirabile and on Google+.

Why Giant Smartphones are the New Normal

Ascend MateUntil a very recent epiphany, I had been observing this trend of growing smartphone screen size with puzzlement. Android smartphones grew to 4 inches. 4.5 inches. 4.8 inches. Then Samsung releases the Galaxy Note at 5.3 inches. And now the Note 2 at 5.5 inches. And now Huawei has just released a a phone with a 6.1 inch screen (the Ascend Mate, pictured above).

Yet Apple was not wrong that good one-handed operation maxed out at a screen size of about 3.5 inches diagonal. And you definitely look a bit odd holding a tablet to your head. And these things are giant in your pocket, if they even fit. So what is driving this? [Read more…]

Instagram’s Turn for a Face-Palm

Homer - D'Oh!

Yep, we’ve stepped on the rake again.  In what is becoming an almost weekly ritual, we’ve had yet another user revolt and PR fiasco because of revised user terms and conditions.  Instagram’s turn this week. The line in the damage control note from Instagram Co-Founder Kevin Systrom today that grabbed me was: “Legal documents are easy to misinterpret.”

This statement is stupid in so many ways.  For starters, [Read more…]

Cookin’ Without Gas

Regular readers know it had been a life-long dream of mine to live in a solar house and also a life-long dream to drive a solar-powered car. I got the roof done. Cars with enough solar panels on their roofs to power themselves will almost certainly never be be practical in my lifetime, nor probably that of my kids. But stationary residential solar arrays already generate more than enough power for transportation use. As I outlined in my post 365 Sunrises, my residential solar array makes about 1,350 kWh in excess of what we need to power our house for a year. Could that be enough to power all my personal transportation needs? [Read more…]

AT&T Sucks Too

[New Update: The latest outrage is equally offensive: making you pay extra to use communication services like Apple’s FaceTime over cellular (link). You are already paying for bits by the drink on a capped data plan. Bits are bits. Why on earth should you have to pay a surcharge for certain types of bits?  (I know, I know, it is high bandwidth traffic that taxes the network and demands low latency.  But you know what?  Not my problem.  Invest the capital to make the network work. That’s the business telcos are in.]

[Original Post]: Quick rant to observe the utter stupidity [Read more…]

Top 10 New iOS 6 Features I’m Stoked About

This week at its World Wide Developer Conference, Apple publicly exposed some of the features of the next generation of its mobile operating system, iOS 6. It is not coming out until the Fall, probably in conjunction with the next iteration of the iPhone, but here are the things I am really impatient for: [Read more…]

Customer Crowdfunding: Not So Fast, Entrepreneurs

Wil Schroter is the co-founder and CEO of Fundable.com which is a crowdfunding platform for startups, so it is not entirely surprising that he would pen a very pro-crowdfunding piece in GigaOM recently. In the piece, he righty calls out a few of the advantages: customer-sourced funding does allow you to test the market before you build, and it does allow you to fund the product before it is built avoiding the need to amass dilutive capital on a speculative basis, and it does allow you to engage with and build buzz amongst your potential customers even before they are your customers. (The recent hysteria about the Pebble Watch is a good example of this.) But what is totally misleading, even disturbing, about Schroter’s GigaOM article is that it so utterly and completely misses the bigger picture.  [Read more…]

Martin Flusberg – Entrepreneur Video Interview Series

[This post is part of an on-going series of video interviews with members of the start-up community – see a list of links to the full series here.]

Martin Flusberg is a serial entrepreneur with a twist. Not only has he started several companies, he has also been an angel investor for several years as well. This gives him a great perspective on the challenges of getting a company off the ground, communicating with investors to get it financed, and helping it grow. I am a friend and admirer of Martin’s, and an investor in his current company, PowerHouse Dynamics. I am also a very enthusiastic user of the product – for a full discussion of using the PowerHouse Dynamics eMonitor with a net-zero solar system, see this post.) The other thing about Martin that people may not realize [Read more…]