Apple = Steve Jobs

One fact that Walter Isaacson’s biography on Steve Jobs makes crystal clear is that Steve Jobs = Apple.

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Starbucks to Acquire Barnes and Noble?

What if Starbucks were to acquire Barnes and Noble?

First of all we wouldn’t be seeing notices like these. 

Starbucks-Barnes-and-Nobles

Starbucks-Barnes-and-Nobles

Second of all Barnes and Noble with a market cap of $ 788.91 Million is an easy acquisition for Starbucks with a market cap of $42.24 Billion.

And for Barnes and Noble with their stocks fluctuating between $13 and $16 for a long time is only slipping further. Nook sales are down and Amazon has beaten them in both; e-readers and print books.

Starbucks’s stocks have been rising steadily since 2009.

But these are not the reasons why I am recommending that Starbucks should acquire Barnes and Noble.

I am actually saying that Starbucks need a game changing act soon and acquiring Barnes and Noble is one such act.

Here are my reasons:

  1. Starbucks has serious competition in its core business. Caribou coffee can give Starbucks a run for its money any day. I personally prefer Caribou Coffee when I have the option between the two. Caribou Coffee has a better store layout and a more homey touch than Starbucks that resembles more like an old library. In other words, Caribou Coffee is more in tune with Gen Y.
  2. Amazon went from a book seller to a world’s leading tech company, why can’t a connoisseur coffee seller foray into technology? What better opportunity than to invest the money in Barnes and Noble e-readers to boost its appeal and sales. I can attest that Nook is a classy device, lost in the sea of competition that is willing to make no money out of them yet.
  3. Coffee and books are made for each other. Why can’t we add breakfast and pastries to that list. After all you would have so much real estate to play with. e-readers are the future. You’ll have more space than you actually need to host all the books of the world.
  4. Offer a Starbucks coupon with every book you sell. Come on Mr. Schultz, we know those coffees really don’t cost that much!
  5. And not to forget that an act of keeping Barnes and Noble open will make Starbucks an instant heart throb of millions of Americans, including yours truly.
  6.  Gen Z adore this section (see image below), you need them to come to you before they discover Caribou Coffee. Invest in the future.
Barnes and Nobles Store Closing

Barnes and Noble Store Closing

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The path less travelled – taking a different approach

Sometimes changing the way we approach a challenge can make all the difference. We can buy a dvd and try to learn ice skating on computer or get out there on the ince rink and learn as you fall and skid.

Nothing motivates like success. From time to time we get comfortable and cozy, in other words lazy and that eventually drags us down. Get out of your comfort zone, keep pushing your envelope a bit every now and then. And when you do that and you achieve success I believe that is the biggest motivator of all. It adds new energey to take on new tasks and challenges.

Photo: Courtesy America’s Ice Garden

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Teach Yourself Programming in Ten Years

There are two types of programmers; one who has learned programming in 21 days and then there are those who can program.

A very well written article by Peter Norvig on this phenomenon of “learn all” programming languages in fewer days than you can possibly finish reading the books.

 

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UDACITY – reinventing higher education

Sebastian Thrun and Peter Norvig, professors at Stanford University did an experiment by  offering their Artificial Intelligence class CS221 online for free. They expected few thousands to sign up and that few thousands was close to 160,000.

Thrun prophesies that in about 50 years, the world will have about 10 global online universities offering higher education. They want their university, UDACITY – it’s a play on 2 words – audacious and university, to be one of them.

They recently held an online conference using Google Hangout where they invited Salman Khan of Khan Academy, about whom I have mentioned in one of my earlier blogs. It was an interesting conversation and listening to what I believe is shaping the future of the higher education.

I wonder if someone can bring the same enthusiasm and quality to school education – K12. The challenge is for lower grade levels; education for pre-k and for elementary school children . This opens a new argument all together, what should be taught at that level? How should it be taught? The impact of educating the children through an equally innovative method and style can have a bigger impact than the impact created by mass education through higher education.

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Instagram should thank Steve Jobs for their astronomical acquisition

Instagram‘s sale to facebook for $1 Billion – that’s $ 1000 000 000. Folks that’s a looooooot of money!

While countless people have given countless reasons for the astronomical price of a seemingly simple app – an app that applies filters to photos before sharing with others, I am not going to give mine. I may agree that Facebook may have felt threatened that their core element that engages and binds their users together, photos, may soon be hosted and owned by another company.

Ironically  what made Instagram popular are facebook users. People sharing photos on facebook using their smart phone cameras and Instagram app. What if the smart phones had a built-in app to share photos with facebook? iPhone decided to integrate twitter and it killed many and any such apps for twitter but it did not integrate facebook and Instagram filled that void with amazing grace.

If smart phones had integrated facebook with their system, I don’t think facebook would have bought Instagram for $1 Billion or bought it at all!

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Google’s foray into Online Survey Business

Google has been trying to make an entry in the online survey/research market for sometime. They launched Google Survey as a package of Google docs.  That was a sub-standard software that barely did anything beyond providing the ability to ask few simple questions and forget any insightful report.

But it seems Google is now serious. They recently launched Google Consumer Survey that gives the impressions of a serious intent to enter the booming market of online research. Tag that along with a strong panel (read you and me who are constantly updating and telling Google who we are and Google’s ability to put surveys in front of you without being in your face) gives them a great leverage over others who rely on panels or provide panels for research.

As the market heats up and as SurveyMonkey and Zoomerang try to dominate the online research market, there’s still no clear winner in site. I feel strongly that Google will buy D&B – Dun and Bradstreet Inc or one of these “People Inc” businesses to get close and direct access to corporations – the growth engine behind the research market.

However, there’s a player in this space that stands out like a diamond in the rough. SoGo Survey is miles ahead from first generation survey tool provided by SurveyMonkey, Zoomerang, Survey Gizmo, Qualtrics which I have used all. It’s the company to watch as they capture more and more market space and roll out amazingly powerful features for serious online researchers like me and Fortune 1000 clients I have worked with.

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Apple settles a lawsuit over iPhone4

I mentioned in one of my earlier blogs about why iphone 4 wasn’t much of a phone if it kept dropping calls. It looks like Apple finally settled on it and has accepted to refund $15 or a free cover to all iPhone4 buyers. I have an iPhone4S and this one is Sleek and Shows no Signs of Sloppiness.

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Effect of search engine ranking on clicks and business

If your business depends on Search Engine Traffic – being on first page makes or breaks your business.  I have always tried to get a sense of the effect on CTR the Search Engine Ranks have but according to Spotify here’s what it looks like.
Clicks and Search Engine Ranking Effect

The first page gets almost 85% of the traffic! What is even more amazing is the difference between #1 and #2 placement. If you are spending your money on SEO and someone gets your business on page 2 of Google, they have barely done much for your business!

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The future of education

Khan Academy, couldn’t have asked for a better ambassador than Bill Gates – someone who has touted it as the “future of education”. Salman “Sal” Khan, who started to post video tutorials trying to help his nephews and nieces with their Math and Science studies has found a global audience who love his fluid and easy to understand style of teaching.

He has now amassed an amazingly talented group of people who are taking his efforts to mainstream classrooms and around the world – establishing a truly global school. But it still came as a surprise that the #3 guy of Google - Craig Silverstein, left Google today to join Khan Academy.

The best of education brought to you by a group of extremely talented people at your leisure for free of cost. I am excited at the prospect of what Khan Academy can achieve.

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