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…]

Advice to My 10 Year Old Regarding SnapChat Hack

SnapchatSnapChat was recently hacked. 4.6M user account names and their associated phone numbers were accessed and published on the web and put on dozens of torrent and mirroring sites. Users will be exposed to tons of additional spam and phishing exploits.

This prompted me to give my ten year old budding social media maven the following decidedly boring parental advice:

  • The more accounts you have out there, the more likely this is to happen – it is better to be selective and strategic about which services you and your friends are going to use rather than trying out every single one and then getting bored 5 mins later and leaving a residue account to be hacked.
  • Now that your account info and telephone number are out there, people may call your number or send you messages designed to trick you – they will look like messages from friends, etc. This is going to suck, and you are going to have to be very careful what you click on. I’d strongly suggest confirming by text any link a friend sends you before clicking on it.
  • If you cannot confirm it, never, EVER, click on a link someone sends you in some sketchy way.  99% of the time it is phishing designed to steal from you.
  • Ask a grown-up if you are at all uncertain – talk to your parents or go and INITIATE a separate note to the person (i.e. don’t reply to the orginal one) and ask them if they sent you something.
  • Close down any accounts you are no longer using on a very regular basis – yes, I know this will be a tragic loss for your 3 followers on that system.  Trust me, they will get over it -it is more fun to be mysterious anyway.
  • Now is the right time to change all the passwords on all your accounts (now you understand my advice about having fewer dormant ones, huh?).
  • Digital life sucks and it will almost certainly get worse before it gets better through biometrics or some other means, so be smart out there and try always to tell the difference between something that USEFUL and something that is merely NEW. You are the first generation growing up on the internet where strangers with bad intentions can get right into the least expected places – like your pocket, your purse, your chat stream with friends. Be careful out there.
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If you enjoyed this post, you might enjoy my other posts on Apple / Google / Amazon / Big TechCyberSecurityInternet / Big Data / Internet of ThingsMobile / GadgetsSocial Networking, or my recent curated links you might have missed on: Big Tech & Mobile, or  Internet, IoT, Social, CybersecuritySubscribe – 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+.

Scratchpaper Recommended Links [Ed. 0019 / Internet & Social]

Internet Social CrowdLatest selection of the best stuff I’ve seen lately across some of the ScratchPaper focus areas of Internet, IOT, Social Networking, Crowdsourcing, and Cybersecurity, including items on most popular websites by country, how the internet of things might try to kill you,  and how birders are using crowdsourcing to track their feathered friends.  Enjoy.

[Read more…]

Naval Ravikant – Angel Video Interview Series

Facetime Logo

[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.]

I caught up with Naval Ravikant in San Francisco recently and took the opportunity to add a clip of him to the Angel Video Interview Series.  Naval is an entrepreneur and angel investor, a co-author of Venture Hacks, and a co-Founder of AngelList.  Prior to AngelList, he co-founded Genoa Corp (which was acquired by Finisar), Epinions.com (which became public via Shopping.com), and Vast.com (which is a large white-label classifieds service). He’s advised an ton of companies and made more than a few good angel investments including Twitter, FourSquare, Stack Overflow and Disqus.

Although people in the organized angel world sometimes despair at [Read more…]

Customer Crowdfunding: Not So Fast Entrepreneurs (Again!)

CrowdfundingI have written and spoken at length about the issues associated with equity crowd-funding of companies. And not long ago I wrote a piece entitled Customer Crowdfunding: Not So Fast, Entrepreneurs, which was about the pros/cons of customer crowdfunding at the product level (e.g. Kickstarter type fund-raising). In that piece, I made the point that, for all its virtues, customer crowdfunding does have some significant risks for entrepreneurs. It exposes your product plan to your competitors and the world, long before you have it in the market. In the piece, I list the many things your competitors can glean from your successful Kickstarter campaign (spoiler alert: market size, market demographics, market enthusiasm, your price point, your features, your design and look & feel, and how long until you can bring it to market.)

The original post is probably worth a skim if you are an entrepreneur contemplating a customer crowdsourcing platform. One of my key concerns is that small companies may essentially be giving up their only advantages if they go this route.

Now, on top of those original concerns, which mostly boil down to generic and unavoidable by-product of the public nature of these platforms, I am alarmed to see a much more serious, pernicious and cynical issue come to light. [Read more…]

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…]

Start-Up Marketing (Guest Post – one in a series)

Adopter Curve

My good friend Jeff Berman has agreed to contribute a series on marketing for startups to the Scratchpaper community. This is the first in the series. (Table of contents for the series is here). Stay tuned for more.

_____________________________________________

In working with dozens of start-ups and early-stage companies over 25 years, and more than 50 since starting Berman Creative in 2002, I’m still astonished by how well Geoffrey Moore’s technology adoption curve defines the market opportunity for so many B-to-B and B-to-C organizations.

For young companies, the relevant groups are the first three: [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…]

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…]

Reinventing Paper and Rock & Roll

Launchpad portfolio companies have been busy this week. We just closed a $1.1M Series A round with JamHub, which they will use to accelerate the rollout of their very cool rock & roll products. They make a family of devices that allow bands to plug in and jam together with incredible and finely controlled sound quality for each player, but without the noise of a traditional amplified rehearsal. Silent and neighborhood-friendly rock & roll that sounds awesome to the musicians, but doesn’t wake the dead. Fantastic team – we are really pleased to be working with them. (Mass High Tech story here.)

And speaking of reinventing long-standing traditions, portfolio company Vizibility has done a radical rethink the humble business card. This week they launched their new line of NFC-enabled business cards to compliment their online identity management platform for professionals. For situations where you want to quickly pull up the contact info, LinkedIn info or Google results on someone you have just met, you no longer need to manually search or scan a QR code with your phone’s camera. One tap of the NFC enabled card will allow you to bring up the information directly. Very cool. TechCrunch wrote about it here, or you can check out the company at vizibilty.com.

Comments, questions or reactions to this post? Leave a note below and I will respond to your questions.

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+.