Thursday, March 27, 2008

Insider tells all Motorola is fast dying like an old granny

Last month we were contacted by the late Geoffrey Frost's personal adviser at Motorola; until Frost's death in 2005, Numair Faraz worked under the Motorola's former CMO -- the man widely regarded as the father of the RAZR. Like many (ourselves included), over the years Numair has become increasingly disenfranchised with the company's direction -- enough so that he compelled us to publish his letter to Motorola, its board of directors, and MOT investors everywhere regarding the company's egregious missteps and mismanagement.

In researching the myriad claims raised in this letter -- which we believe to be true -- we also discovered a number of other unsettling things about Motorola's corporate past in the last five years, such as certain gross corporate excesses demanded by Zander and his inner circle (like a small fleet of extravagant private jets, where most companies that size might only have one, if any), or the fact that Motorola's current CEO, Greg Brown, is so technologically out of touch he refuses to use a computer for communications, and has all his email correspondences printed by his secretary and replied to by dictation.

There's no doubt in our minds that Motorola is in dire straits. But today's news of the company's broken-off mobile division only serves to cement the fact that the company no longer knows how to conduct its core consumer business, and is squandering time and money as it flounders in a market that long since passed it by. Motorola did not comment on this story. Letter posted after the break.

Dear Greg Brown, and the rest of the executive team at Motorola,

As you may or may not recall, I worked with Geoffrey Frost as a personal adviser during his days as Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of the company. I was the one quoted in Forbes in 2003 as saying "Motorola's biggest problem is that Samsung kicks ass," and eventually came to spend nearly three years working with Geoffrey during his efforts to revamp the company's mobile lineup, which eventually saw the launch of the RAZR. As I told the company's senior designers at Motorola's 75th anniversary meeting: create something cooler (and more expensive) than anything else out there, and everyone will want it.

After the success of the RAZR, while Geoffrey was tied up every which way in ROKR development, meetings, criscrossing travel, and so on, through his associates I implored the company to beef up their software expertise, and focus on creating socially networked devices (this was in the years before MySpace and Facebook became the juggernauts they are today). Your predecessor, Ed Zander, had little interest in this, and instead insisted on parlaying his relationship with Steve Jobs into the ill-fated ROKR effort in order to prop up Motorola's stock price.

Zander, who seemed to care more about his golf score than running one of America's greatest technology companies, left all of the hard work to Geoffrey; I've always considered it Motorola's dirty little secret that the strategy for their entire profit machine was run by the company's CMO -- not the rest of the company's executives, who are as inept now as they have ever been.

Many close to Geoffrey believed Ed Zander worked him to death, putting the pressure of the fate of the company in his hands. [That was certainly the buzz around the industry at the time. -Ed.] I took his untimely death in 2005 very hard, and knew that the company would head downhill in the aftermath. On a personal note, Lynne, his wife blamed the company for his passing. She committed suicide soon after.

Meanwhile, Ed Zander continued to reap the dividends of Geoffrey's work as the company made billions in profit from overselling the RAZR for years. Instead of channeling that money into the obvious -- further development of groundbreaking consumer devices -- Zander purchased enterprise companies such as Symbol ($3.9b), and engineered billions of dollars in stock buybacks.

As I told Zander in a phone call in 2007, I felt that he was setting the company up for massive failure. He had the audacity to say, "Well, maybe Geoffrey should have come up with a better successor to the RAZR," and told me to "Wait for big things in 2008." I guess he was right -- the golden parachute he got for his exit from the company was worth about 30 million dollars -- and that doesn't include his accumulated Motorola stock.

Your appointment to the position of chief executive gave me cause for hope, and I reached out to you; I knew you were one of the main drivers behind the enterprise acquisitions, and that you had zero expertise in consumer devices. Surely you could use some help in turning Motorola's flagging cellphone business around?

But apparently different from the rest of the incompetent senior executives at Motorola -- except instead of merely being inept, you're actually actively killing the company. Your lack of understanding of the consumer side of Motorola doesn't give you a valid reason for selling the handset business; moreover, publicly disclosing your explorations of such a move, in an attempt to keep Carl Icahn off your back, shows how much you value the safety of your incompetence.

You clearly have no interest in fighting the good fight and attempting to mold Motorola into the market leader it can and should be. Taking control of the handset division, as you have recently announced, will accomplish very little except but to give you an ability to say, "We tried our best" -- which you haven't -- when you finally do cart the business off to the highest bidder.

In order to turn the handset division around, you need to bring in another Frost; someone worldly and dynamic who is more interested in Motorola's success than their own corporate career. You need to task the company's designers with the same mantra that created the RAZR -- make me a phone that looks, feels, and works like a symbol of wealth and privilege. Recognize the superiority of American software, and bring back those jobs so irresponsibly outsourced to China and Russia. Fully embrace embedded Linux and Google's Android initiative, and take the phone operating system out of the stone age.

Recognize that, while rich people don't really know what they want, the lower end of the market does -- and fund the development of an online "crowdsourced" device design platform to take advantage of this fact. Get rid of all of your silly, useless marketing, including those overpriced and completely ineffective celebrity endorsements, and do one unified global campaign with Daft Punk (the only group whose global appeal extends from American hip hoppers to trendy Shanghai club kids to middle-aged Londoners). Understand that the next big feature in handsets isn't a camera or a music player -- it is social connectedness; build expertise in this area, and sell it down the entire value chain.

I was there when Motorola's handset division was brought back from the brink of death 5 years ago. Follow my advice, and we can do it again.

Maybe it sounds like I take the downfall of Motorola personally; I do. It was my experience at Motorola, with people like Geoffrey and all of the loyal employees who still remain, that taught me what corporate America can and should be. But with people such as Zander and yourself, Motorola symbolizes the worst of our country's corporate culture.

As an immigrant American, and someone who has traveled all over the world, I really do appreciate the uniqueness and importance of the American culture of creativity and ingenuity. Whereas other countries back their money on gold and commodities, we back ours on our ability to invent the future. The failure of Motorola as an American institution of creativity and innovation, should you let it happen, will now be entirely of your doing. Hopefully you'll keep that in mind while the board has the accountants prepare your golden parachute.

Numair Faraz

Microsoft Eyes Potential Big G's On the iPhone

Don’t think for a minute that Microsoft is ignoring the iPhone. In fact, the software giant is probing the gadget for profit opportunities.

For a little more than a week, a team of the company’s Silicon Valley software engineers has been examining the iPhone software development kit (SDK for short), a set of tools Apple (AAPL) released this month that let outsiders build software for the iPhone and the iPod touch. Microsoft (MSFT) executives aren’t sure yet whether they’ll find worthwhile opportunities to sell iPhone software – but they seem eager to find out.

“It’s really important for us to understand what we can bring to the iPhone,” Tom Gibbons, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Specialized Devices and Applications Group, told Fortune on Monday. “To the extent that Mac Office customers have functionality that they need in that environment, we’re actually in the process of trying to understand that now.”

Though it’s typical to think of Apple and Microsoft as pure software rivals, their relationship is actually more complicated. For more than a decade, Microsoft has maintained a group of engineers whose sole job is to develop software for Apple’s Macintosh operating systems. Most of the engineers in Microsoft’s Mac Business Unit are based in Mountain View, Calif., a few miles from Apple’s headquarters. (They also happen to be quite close to the headquarters of archrival Google (GOOG).)

The Mac unit’s work certainly isn’t charity – it delivers millions of dollars in profit for the company with its Mac version of the Office productivity suite. Microsoft doesn’t break out exact numbers, but we can extrapolate: Gibbons said the Mac Business Unit provides about a third of the revenue for the Specialized Devices and Applications Group, which also includes Windows Embedded, Microsoft Hardware, the Automotive Business Unit and Microsoft Surface Computing; the whole group did more than $1 billion in sales last year. So it’s reasonable to guess that the Mac unit provided about $350 million – and since Gibbons said the Mac group was one of the group’s more profitable units, it’s possible that Microsoft made somewhere in the neighborhood of $200 million in profit from Mac software.

Which brings us to the iPhone. With the Mac Business Unit, Microsoft has long prided itself on having one of the largest groups of Mac developers outside of Apple. With that expertise in Mac software, and knowledge of the Microsoft Exchange protocols the iPhone will use for business e-mail, the chances are good that Microsoft will be able to develop extra iPhone goodies.

“We do have experience with that environment, and that gives us confidence to be able to do something,” Gibbons said. “The key question is, what is the value that we need to bring? We’re still getting comfortable with the SDK, right? It’s just come out. So we had a guess as to what feasibility would be like, now we’ll really get our head wrapped around that.”

The Mac Business Unit isn’t the only Microsoft group eyeing the iPhone as an opportunity. Voice recognition unit TellMe, which Microsoft purchased a year ago, also sees potential in the device. Of course, TellMe now spends much of its time developing for Microsoft’s own Windows Mobile operating system. But as long as the iPhone SDK will allow software to take advantage of voice recording and location-based information, said general manager Mike McCue, TellMe will be all over it.

“If the SDK supports these things,” McCue told Fortune in February, “we’re absolutely going to get a version out there as soon as we can, get TellMe out there on the iPhone.”

The iPhone software update that opens the door to such third-party software is due at the end of June; that’s also when owners of the iPhone and iPod touch will be able to purchase the new programs. Until then, you can bet that developers everywhere – even at Microsoft – are hard at work.

Be Jeweled! Astraware releases Hexic(R) and Mozaki(TM) for Windows Mobile(R)

Astraware(R) is excited to announce the release of two new games for Windows Mobile(R) based on popular MSN Games titles. Both Hexic(R) and Mozaki(TM) have been developed by Astraware for Microsoft's Carbonated Games studio.

Hexic is a fantastic twist on the match-three genre by famed Tetris designer, Alexey Pajitnov. Hexic is deceptively simple to begin with - just rotate any trio of hexes in order to form a cluster of three or more same-color pieces - but a real brain-boggling challenge to master. Featuring Marathon, Timed, and Survival game modes, players are sure to enjoy many hours turning hexes into stars, stars into pearls, and pearls into victory!

Mozaki is a classic brain-teasing strategy puzzler, also by Alexey Pajitnov. Players grab a piece from the stack and place it on the board, connect pieces of the same color to make an unbroken line from the colored edge to the centre of the screen, and connect the required number of lines and win the level. Marathon Mode is deceptively simple, but more colours and mismatched blocks increase the difficulty. Players who prefer to play against the clock can check out Timed Mode for an extra challenge.

"It is exciting to work with Microsoft on these well known titles from MSN Games, and we're pleased to be the online distributor and to bring them to our Windows Mobile customers!" said Howard Tomlinson, Director of Game Development, Astraware.

"It's our goal to give video gamers the flexibility to take their favorite games with them on any handheld or phone," said Alfredo Patron, Director of Microsoft's Mobile Communications Business in Europe. "We're excited to extend these two popular games to our broad customer base which relies on our 140+ phone designs."

Hexic and Mozaki are available for Windows Mobile(R) and are priced at $9.95 each. Both games are optimised for play with 5-way or stylus. For more information, to download a trial, or to buy, visit the Astraware website:

Monday, March 24, 2008

nokia n95 8GB review and specs

Announced to the public in August 2007, Nokia N95 8GB has been one of the top handsets under Nokia’s belt. With its slide design, it has covered slick and functionality all at the same time. N95’s 8GB internal flash memory, can really take its users to places. From photos, videos, games and music there is definitely no limits to its consumers. It has a 128 MB RAM capacity and a 1200 mAh battery, so there is more space and time to enjoy N95.

N95 has a talk time of up to 160 minutes in WCDMA and up to 240 minutes in GSM, stand by time of up to 200 hours in WCDMA and up to 225 in GSM. It can also be USB PC sync. In WCDMA, it supports up to 30 fps video call and video sharing. It has an Fm radio internet browser. It can be switched to landscape mode for N-gage or Next Gen games. It has an integrated hands-free speaker Bluetooth. It can store numbers dialed, received and missed making it easier to access. In its weight of 128 grams, users can surely have anything and everything they need.

Network system
HSDPA / GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900
99 x 53 x 21 mm, 96 cc
129 g
TFT, 16M colors
240 x 320 pixels, 2.8 inches
Battery type
Standard battery,
Li-Ion 1200mAH (BL-6F)
Up to 280 h
Talk time
Up to 6 h
Polyphonic (64 channels), Monophonic, True Tones, MP3
Number in phone Practically unlimited entries and fields, Photocall
Call records Detailed, max 30 days
No Card Slot
8 GB internal memory
Class 32, 107 / 64.2 kbps
SMS, MMS, EMail, Instant Messaging
Infrared port
Camera 5 MP, 2592 x 1944 pixels, Carl Zeiss optics,
autofocus, video(VGA 30fps), flash secondary CIF videocall camera
Bluetoorh v2.0, A2DP
EDGE Class 32, 296 kbps; DTM Class 11, 177 kbps
Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g, UPnP technology
Symbian OS 9.2, S60 rel. 3.1
Built-in GPS navigation
Installed Maps application covering over 100 countries
Dual slide design
Java MIDP 2.0
MP3/AAC/AAC+/eAAC+/WMA player
3.5 mm audio output jack
TV out
Stereo FM Radio
Office document viewer
Push to talk
Voice dial/memo
Built-in handsfree

Very handy with its latest features

Nokia's new upgraded version of the N95 cellular phone, the N95 8GB, is a much better phone than the original. At first look the phone doesn't feel much different, because it is still rather chunky. But what i think makes it look good is the colour change to black, which has made a significant difference and personally i think it looks sexy and seductive now. It now has 8GB memory which i watch video clips on and music clips and now i don't have to use a music player

The Best Phone So Far To Date

Pros this is short bigger screen 2.8 LCD also Better Battery life up to 6 to 8 hours and 8gb internal memory and great camera 5mp and video 30 frames per second and faster ram as well. the only cons for me is no lens cover but by doing away with that better life on its battery great phone a tiny difference from its original.

My Experiences:

Nokia's new upgraded version of the N95 cellular phone, the N95 8GB, is a much better phone than the original. At first look the phone doesn't feel much different, because it is still rather chunky. But what i think makes it look good is the colour change to black, which has made a significant difference and personally i think it looks sexy and seductive now. It now has 8GB memory which i watch video clips on and music clips and now i don't have to use a music player, because it is already on the phone. I like the extra features that this Nokia N95 8GB has, including space for photos and games. I wouldn't buy this phone on the basis that it is that much better than the original N95, but if its a brand new phone i would but it.

Obama first, now Mokia N82 is black

I was thinking that question as I read through a two page press release announcing that the Nokia N82, which essentially is just a Nokia N95 in a candybar shape, is now available in black. That was it; after two pages of copy they were almost gleeful to reassure you nothing had changed about the phone other than the color of it's skin.

Which got me to thinking about Geraldine Ferraro's comments that Barack Obama was only getting where he is in life because he was lucky enough to be born black.

Maybe the main reason Nokia is now offering the Nokia N82 in jet black instead of white is because of the Obama effect; Black is the new White and Nokia realizes that America is just more comfortable in something that comes in a Black package.

The idea is of course absurd, but you never know... if I say something ridiculous enough much like as with Ferraro's original comments, maybe something that isn't a real story will be treated like one.