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Great iPad Customer Delivery Experience

I personally held out for the iPad WiFi+3G model this last month. As I wrote earlier, the wait was not so fun, while watching others play with their WiFi pads. However, I can now say the wait was well worth it–being able to use my iPad anywhere without worrying about a WiFi connection is nice, to say the least. I’m writing this entry in my car at lunch, with no WiFi to be found…

Considering the staggered launch strategy that Apple is executing, I was curious about how well they would pull it off from a customer experience perspective. I am happy to say that for me personally, it was a great experience.  Why?

  1. They said they would deliver late April.  They did, albeit the last day–April 30th.
  2. They synchronized pre-order shipments with the in-store launch.  This was a big deal for me, because I pre-ordered my iPad a couple months ahead of time.  They shipped them on April 29th, and it arrived the afternoon of April 30th, same day as the launch.  Because the 30th was a Friday, if they had shipped on the 30th, I wouldn’t have seen it until Monday May 3rd–that would have sucked.
  3. They sent a follow-up email as soon as the package was delivered by UPS, showing the basic’s of getting started.
  4. The packaging and ease of use is impeccable, everything you would expect from Apple.

I’ve heard they have shipped well over 1,000,000 iPads now, and International shipments won’t start until end of May.  I think it’s very plausible that they may hit the 10M target by year end.

Should Kids Be Bribed to Do Well in School?

A friend shared a recent TIME article “Should Kids Be Bribed to Do Well in School?” This struck a cord with me as I am a father of 3 teenagers–with some personal experience in this area :-)

I have used many methods of incentive over the years, both negative and positive. The bottom line: nothing has been entirely consistent in results. My experience is that motivation works differently with each child, especially when it comes to doing well in school.  I’m not so hot about ‘Bribing’, yet I do see value in paying for performance.

Good is the Enemy of Great” – Jim Collins
I do pay my teenagers for great performance. $100 for an A, $25 for a B, and zip, zero, nuttin for anything less. This means pulling 7 As in one semester is $700, not too shabby. Yet, it still doesn’t work consistently for each of my kids. We want our kids to do well for their own benefit (and sometimes ours), after all doing well increases options and opportunities. I’ve used the analogy that school is their ‘job’, and that they will be paid for doing well in jobs after school, or even while in college–then why not in high school? Oddly enough, the whole ‘work’ thing backfired with my oldest son–any mention or connotation of ‘work’ and he would rebuke me for treating him like an employee instead of a son…

Short-term Goals are important
Pay for Performance doesn’t work on it’s own–even for most adults. In the article, a girl named Chyna works hard for 3-4 weeks, because her birthday is coming up and she wants some money for that reason. Kids need short term goals to fuel the performance. I see this same behavior in my 17 year old, who is really not very motivated by money…unless he’s got a specific goal he wants that requires money to make it happen. He’ll then work his butt off to get there.

My daughter’s grades seem to be influenced most significantly by:
a) Does she like the teacher, and more importantly, does she think the teacher cares about her.
b) Does she talk to her teacher–obviously there is a a bit of a chicken and egg problem here…

Social Influence and Recognition
When I was in Jr. High, I was better at fighting than getting good grades. I remember cheating on a math test and getting positive recognition in 8th grade. it was just enough incentive to make me think–what if i did it without cheating? I did exceptionally well in high school, fueled by the positive social recognition that came from “being smart.” Unfortunately, i’ve never been able to use my experience as a positive motivation for my kids–they see it more as a ‘how do we compete with that’ syndrome.

Bottom line, from my observations, self esteem has the most significant influence on our children’s ability to learn and perform well in school. I’m still working on the right formula–maybe I’ll have it figured out by the time the grand kids arrive 😉

iPadimonium is Painful

The iPad experience has been surreal for me.  Not the kind of “I’m in heaven dream”, but rather the frustrating “outside looking through the glass” dream.  You see, I ordered one of the WiFi+3G models…coming later this month.  The logic seemed solid at the time, yet in retrospect I’ve missed out on a fabulous launch party.

I was at the Apple store @ Flatirons on Launch day…I couldn’t resist.  I was fascinated with watching the people, what their reactions were–who was there playing with the iPad?  All I could do was look over the shoulder’s of very possessive people that were completely mesmerized in their exploration of this new device.  I did not get one touch in 15 minutes, before my teenagers said it was time to leave…I rationalized that it might make the wait more painful, if i did play with one.

It did and does.  I was at the Boulder NewTech Meetup on Tuesday evening, and it was ‘very cool’ to be one who had an iPad.  i got over it–after borrowing a friends and pretending it was mine.  Playing with the iPhone/iPad Simulator does not covey the experience of holding one in your hands.

There has been a lot of talk from Wall Street about Apple NOT making the expected launch numbers–only selling 300,000 or more than $150,000,000 in first day revenue.  I think Wall Street is full of Pelosi!  Apple is not able to claim sales until they ship product, so they still have all of the pre-orders for the WiFi+3G models, including my slice of pad heaven.

I’d say the iPad is in the middle of a brilliantly orchestrated Launch…

REWORK is Extraordinary

I highly recommend the new book “REWORK” by Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson, founders of 37signals. What caught my eye while browsing new releases @ B&N was the endorsement from Seth Godin “IGNORE THIS BOOK AT YOUR OWN PERIL.” And then I saw the back cover…and I was hooked.  I read the whole book on this Easter Sunday afternoon.

It’s common sense for Starters–the nouveau entrepreneur.  It challenges many of the precepts of startup culture with wit, simplicity and graphics that make you want more.

Enough said–i will be keeping a closer eye on the founders of 37signals.  Inspiration is truly perishable.

The Google Phone – Nexus One

Google is getting a head start on the media blitz @ CES with the launch of the Nexus One phone.  However, the media response thus far has been mediocre at best.  Bottom line is it’s a nice looking HTC phone with features you would expect; however, it’s not much different than the Droid that was just recently launched.

What’s more interesting is that you can buy the phone unlocked Day 1, or from T-Mobile with a 2 year contract and soon from Verizon and Vodafone.  The sheer onslaught of android phones will give Apple some stiff competition—albeit not in design…not yet.

One feature the Nexus One has that is of particular interest to me is a built-in secondary microphone for active noise cancellation.  Noise is big issue for Voice capture and speech recognition, which are important Vozle features.  We have been evaluating software based noise reduction—so we welcome built-in noise cancellation on the hardware—hopefully it works 😉

Moving Systems into the Cloud

Cloud computing is going mainstream…this might sound a bit obvious as the media has been hyping cloud computing for sometime.  However, it has only been in recent months that companies are seriously starting to move production systems to the clouds.

I can say this with some authority, as i have an increasing number of clients and colleagues asking for advise and consulting related to moving their website or systems from a corporate data center or co-lo to a cloud computing platform.

My team started evaluating Amazon’s Web Services platform almost two years ago.  However, there are many pitfalls and lessons to be learned in this new environment.

Here are a few lessons learned from working with Amazon Web Services:

  1. Costs can easily get out of control quickly. Keep a handle on the individual AMIs (machine images) you deploy.  Using prebuilt images with SQL Server for instance raises the cost substantially.  If you have your own licenses already, consider using a low-cost vanilla image, and loading your own software and licenses.  From our experience, CPU costs have been a bigger issue than storage.

  2. Configuration and management is non-trivial. You gain by not having to worry about the hardware and also by having the ability to scale on demand.  However, configuration and management of a multi-server farm in the cloud is still a non-trivial matter.

    NOTE that when instances are terminated, the next time they are started they will have an entirely different hostnames and ip addresses.  For some apps and system software this can become a serious problem.

    For example, if you rely on Integrated Security in SQL Server and terminate an instance, the next time the DB server comes back up, you will lose all access to the DB because the hostname (and thus security domain) has changed…

  3. Use a 3rd Party agent-based Dynamic DNS service. AWS provides a virtual IP service; however, you still have to associate instances with the IP either manually or write scripts that interact with the APIs.

    We found that using an agent-based dynamic DNS service (such as DynDNS.com) provided the easiest and most flexible configuration.

There are many other lessons learned along the way.  If you are looking for assistance in moving to the cloud, contact me at (ceo (at) shawndavison.com).  If my team is not able to assist you, we can provide referrals for partners we recommend.

Shawn Davison

P.S> Microsoft will start charging for Azure cloud services starting Jan 1st, 2010.

Vozle Voice Writer - Coming Soon!

Vozle’s first consumer iPhone application is on it’s way!

Vozle has been focused on building collaboration solutions that extend the reach of existing enterprise applications.  However, we are now extending our reach into a few select consumer markets.  Voice Writer enables you to capture tasks, ideas, and information anytime, anywhere, in the moment–using voice.  Voice notes are automatically converted to text when online an then can be tagged and emailed.  Voice content is saved and can be played back at anytime in the future.

Checkout Vozle.com for more details.

Shawn Davison

Smartphone Market is heating up

This quarter, we (my Vozle team) got a handle on the smartphone market–after all, it is the primary delivery vehicle for Vozle today–although we are also very excited about the new Apple tablet (more about that later…)

Here are some of our findings:

  • Total worldwide smartphone shipments for 3Q09: 43.3M
    • That is 15% of total phone shipments of 287.1M
    • iPhone has 17+% Worldwide
      • ChangeWave is estimating 30+% in the US, not far behind BlackBerry at 40%
      • Estimated # of iPhone shipments in 2010 — 40M
  • Nokia is still the King of the cell phone world at 37.8% market share; however, they are NOT doing well in the US and there is no indication they will not seriously compete in the smartphone market…yet.  We don’t think they will give up the lead without a fight; however, it hasn’t started yet.
  • Gartner projects Google Android based phones will overtake Apple iPhone in 2012, due to the fact that Google is aggressively scaling across multiple carriers.  Estimated # of Android phones EOY09 –> 20+, EOY10 –> 40+.

Based on the numbers, we have confirmed Android is our secondary platform priority behind iPhone.  The big question now is when will RIMM and Nokia have touch devices in the US that will take a significant bite of market share?

6 Days with Bob Proctor - The Master Thinker

I had the opportunity to spend 6 days with Bob Proctor in August.  To say the least, it was a Mind blowing experience.  He is doing it again in early December for a select group of individuals–checkout The Bob Proctor Matrixx.

Bob is a living Master of the Philosophy of Achievement and Success, as taught by Napoleon Hill, Andrew Carnegie, Wallace D. Wattles, James Allen and others.  You may know him as one of the teachers in the movie The Secret.

Bob has become a guide and mentor in my life.  Although I have been a student of Bob’s for more than 5 years, 2009 has been an extraordinary year of personal growth.  Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a student of human potential and awareness.  Bob is a living Master of these subjects.  He is known to his peers in the Personal Development industry as ‘The Master Thinker.’

Bob is genuine to the core.  He is on a mission to help people experience Right Thinking–to teach people the laws of the universe that you don’t learn in school–and to ultimately make an indelible imprint on millions of peoples lives by helping them become who they want to be.  In particular, he teaches about Money, the Mind and creating Multiple Sources of Income (MSIs).  Some of my favorite books of Bob’s include “You were Born Rich” and “It’s Not About the Money”.

He is 75 years old, yet more active than most 25 year olds–and he is not slowing down.  I can say this first hand, as I have had the opportunity to be with or in close proximity to him 10 days this year.  He is a student of human nature and a master of human potential and natural laws.

He continues to study every single day.  He carries with him everywhere he goes a 50 year-old copy of Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich.  He can recite verbatim the wisdom of many masters.  He lives what he teaches.

Bob will tell you that all the Geniuses are dead–people thought they were crazy when they were alive.  It wasn’t until after they were dead that they realize their contribution and impact.

I think Bob is a Genius, and he’s still alive.  Experience The Bob Proctor Matrixx!

Paul Joseph Skok - An Awakened Leader

A favorite quote of mine from Frank Herbert’s epic novel Dune is when Paul Muad’dib realizes his destiny and shouts to the universe “Father, the sleeper has awakened!”  I was reminded of this after listening to Mr. Paul Joseph Skok this evening give an inspiring address to more than one hundred leaders in the Denver area.

I first met Paul almost 7 years ago.  At that time he was the facilitator of a personal growth and awareness seminar I attended called The PSI Basic Seminar.  Paul was captivating and inspiring and the material resonated with me.  While listening to Paul speak tonight I realized how much he and PSI Seminars has impacted my life in amazing and wonderful ways.

Thank You Paul for setting such a great example of Leadership in the Community and being a mentor to me!  I look forward to working with you and PSI World Denver—knowing we will make a real difference.

Paul Joseph Skok, I will follow you.