Google should buy Twitter

At present Jack Dorsey, new CEO of Twitter, is facing a real up hill struggle to get people to see things his way. He rejoined Twitter October 2015 as CEO and since then he’s been sacking people left, right and centre trying to reduce that 3,800 unnecessary headcount (Think the ego has gone to his head a bit with the long shot comparisons to him and Steve Jobs). He’s been culling hundreds (more than 700) of jobs to cut costs at the over inflated Stock Market listed company. At present Twitters stock is a in a dive (and so is Square, Dorsey’s other Stock Market listed start-up), so much so that he’s now gone from Billionaire status to just multi, multi milionaire decreasing from $2.2b to little more than $800m. Tough time for Dorsey (I think not ;-)).

In my opinion Dorsey doesn’t have a problem with product, even though at present they keep trying to change the layout and features, which recently caused the hashtag #RIPTwitter. His problem is the fact that Twitter has no real source of income. Even though the company has never made a profit, never showed any real return to shareholders it still managed to list for Billions, yes BILLIONS in valuation (more than $33b), with the preconceive notion that it will one day make billions from advertising like Facebook. The reality has been extremely different with still no profits and no real way to advertise.

Google on the other hand has now admitted what a pointless endeavour Google+ has been. Although they have 2.2b registrations, which they basically cheated to get if you had a googlemail email, only 9% post on a regular basis. That’s only 198m posting on a monthly basis, which sounds a lot, but when you compare that to Facebook, which generates 4.5b likes with 300m pictures added per day and Twitter generating more than 320m monthly users and more than 1b unique visits monthly to sites with embedded Tweets, the 198m doesn’t sound very much any more.

Google usual purchases are around the $1b mark. As of December 13, 2013, Twitter had “a market capitalization of $32.76 billion” so buying Twitter would be a little out of their comfort zone. If a deal were to happen, it would be the second-biggest ever acquisition in technology, well ahead of Facebook’s $19bn (£13bn) purchase of WhatsApp in 2013 and behind only the $106bn AOL-Time Warner merger of January 2000.

Google has around $60bn in the bank, though a lot of that is stashed overseas to avoid taxes on repatriation; a share- or debt-funded acquisition might be simpler. Eric Schmidt, Google’s chairman (and chief executive through its fast-growth years), told Bloomberg in December 2014 that “the biggest mistake that I made was not anticipating the rise of the social networking phenomenon”. He added: “It’s not a mistake we’re going to make again. In our defence, we were working on many other things, but we should have been in that area, and I take responsibility for that.”

Some think Google’s problem with “social” is that its data-driven culture tends to be blind to the tweaks that make people love social networks. As mobile use is now dominant, social networks offer the most valuable advertising space. In the fourth quarter, 69% of Facebook’s advertising revenue came from mobile ads, up from 53% a year before; and revenues were up 49%.

Google, by contrast, has seen its cost-per-click (what advertisers pay when someone clicks on an ad) decline by 30% over the past four years as mobile use has grown, limiting its potential for revenue growth. Google, of course, relies on advertising for 90% of its revenues, and perhaps more of its income.

With social dominance, social data and everything in our lives becoming social from taking a picture with instagram and sending money with my new start-up Cendit Google has to do something to make sure these social giants don’t chip away too much of its market share to the point where it becomes a scary future for Google. This is a protection exercise more than money generating. Below are 5 things I think each party brings to each other, which would enable them to match or even surpass Facebook.

What Google brings to Twitter:
1) huge number of advertisers already using Google AdWords and AdSense
2) global reach
3) potential inclusion by default in Android mobile software
4) integration with YouTube for short and long video
5) resilient systems

What Twitter brings to Google:
1) highly engaged social network
2) users’ instant “sentiment data”
3) different dimension to “search”
4) mobile-optimised platform for advertising
5) positive reputation on privacy

I believe Google has made three attempts, thus far, to buy Twitter so they obviously see something there for them. I personally am a huge fan of both Twitter and Google. I use Twitter more than Facebook and use Google search a lot more than Bing at present. Having been lucky enough to have been around both campuses and know/met various ‘high ups’ at the companies they have a lot in common with their cultures, unless Dorsey has set about changing that as well. I believe Google would be a wonderful fit for the unprofitable Twitter and think the shareholders should embrace the opportunity should it arise seriously. Otherwise the question is: Will Twitter be here in 5 years time????

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Continuing with Continuum

Had a play with continuum these last few days and the verdict: It’s cool, but I don’t get it!

As I’ve said in a previous post Microsoft aren’t the first to try this trick of turning your phone in to your laptop or PC and for me I don’t see the point. The idea, I think, is to make your PC smaller, more versatile and flexible meaning you can take it anywhere. Reality is you need your phone, a mouse, keyboard, a monitor and Continuum plus all the wires that connect them. Not sure how Microsoft think this makes the phone easier to carry around?

Connecting Continuum up was super easy and it all powered up with no issues at all. I thought the idea of using your phone home screen as your start display was great. The dynamic twisting and turning of the app tiles worked perfectly and I was super impressed when loading and shutting down apps.

The big sell for Microsoft, at the moment, is the professional programs like Word, Excel, Powerpoint, etc. You get a scaled back version of these desktop apps, but you still get everything you basically need to do anything you want. I personally ran large files with over 15 years of financial forecasting connecting more than 6 spreadsheets and it work swimmingly. Something I didn’t expect it to be able to handle.

The multitasking was really quite buggy though. As the above image shows, whilst you have something on the big screen you can play around on the phone accessing other apps and continue what you’re doing. I found that if I tried multi tasking like this the Excel, Word or Powerpoint file would crash. One time I was on Skype on the phone discussing the spreadsheet in front of me and the phone completely froze and I had to reset the whole thing.

The first time I used Continuum I had a few user error issues with the mouse and the phone. You can use the phone as the mouse if you wish, but if you put the mouse and phone too close together things get confused very easily and the portable mouse wont work. It took a few curse words before I figured that one out. Very red faced!

For me one thing Microsoft has never struggled with is hardware. Believe it or not Microsoft have been in the hardware game a lot longer than people realise, nearly as long as Apple. They just didn’t make huge volumes of laptops or desktops. The devices they’ve always come out with have always had good looks and appeal (other than the Lumia 950XL that’s been hit with the ugly stick like the 1520). And again they’ve always had great software, but because Microsoft are so late to the smart phone/device market they’ve been left so far behind that they are really struggling to catch up. Even though they deliver great software and are trying to make developers lives easier with their cross platform technologies developers are still not really interested. And I feel this could happen again with Windows 10. With Windows Phone 7 and then 8.1 they still didn’t have many of the big apps and looking at the apps coming out no one is developing for Windows Phone and I don’t understand why developers are doing this. I’m involved in three big apps coming out this year in Fintech and Insurtech sectors and each one of them I’ve made sure will be available on Windows Phone. Though the numbers may not be as high as Android or iOS the users are loyal and deserve great apps.

Overall Continuum is a great concept, but reality is very different. I’d rather a good looking, solid and robust phone (which the Lumia 950 has in abundance and I recommend) and a fantastic bit of kit like the Surface Book or Pro 4. They’ve made these two so great I think that they’ve already made Continuum redundant.

The Trial Continues

I’ve now had a chance to review all aspects of the kit Microsoft sent across, I’ve spent quite some time setting the phone up, setting up Continuum, having conversations with Cortana and using it out and about. I’m going to break down each element in my next few posts covering:

  • Windows 10 Mobile
  • Continuum
  • Cortana
  • Design and specifications
  • Apps vs Univeral Apps
  • Practicality

The Microsoft Lumia 950 is Microsoft’s first Windows 10 smartphone. That alone should make it a big deal.

At this moment in time I don’t think you’ll see tens of millions of people across the UK or the globe buying one of these tomorrow, next week or even next year. For most, Windows still isn’t a viable option over Android or iOS. For the dedicated Windows fans, this device is right up their street.

Windows 10 Mobile

Visually there’s not a lot different between 10 and Windows Phone 8.1. The two share familiar navigational layout. The customisable grid of Live Tiles remains the same, as does the Store, the Action Center pull-down menu and the alphabetical list of all apps.

At the very bottom of the screen, unlike Microsofts last flagship device the Lumia 930, you’ll find a trio of navigation soft keys: back, home and search like on the 730 and co. Like the others holding down the back button pops up the multitasking view, where you can manage, launch and kill your recently used apps.

A new difference between 8.1 and 10 is the homescreen, which is more customisable than before, and looks a bit more modern. You can now add a background image as well as being able to add an image to the tiles like 8.1.

The Action Center shortcut keys, which run across the top of the screen when you bring it down, can be expanded with a simple click. They’ve now added a further two rows of toggles, which does make it look a bit daunting at first glance. They’ve continued the same look and feel if you’re using Windows 10 on a laptop right now, the Notifications Center found in the bottom right corner of the desktop looks basically the same.

Microsoft’s have claimed time and time again their aim is to create a consistent look and feel across all devices – phones, laptops, desktops and tablets – and they’re on the right track.

The next major difference are Continuum, the Universal apps and Cortana, which I’ll cover in their own posts as this comes with a lot more detail.

Overall is their much difference between 8.1 and 10. Visually, no, Underneath, oh… yes, but is this enough to start changing peoples perspective of the Windows platform and entice people over, who knows.

Thus far testing is going well, so stay tuned for more info…

Ciao

 

Lumia 950 Trial

On Thursday (my 32nd birthday) I received Microsoft’s new device the Lumia 950 as part of a trial they’ve asked me to do. As you’ll see in my last post I gave the launch of the Lumia 950 and 950XL  a real hard time, so it’ll be really interesting to see how they really shape up in my hand.

I’ve been in the Windows Phone ecosystem since the beginning with the HTC Titan running Windows Phone 7, which I thought was a great phone. I now have the Lumia 930, which I’ve had for a very a long time and is also a very good phone, however does come with a heating issue. I’m now looking at the new crop of Windows Phone devices so this has come at a fortuitous time for me to review.

So what did the lovely guys over at Microsoft send me I hear you ask? I’ve got the Lumia 950, Arc mouse and keyboard including Continuum with all the wires that connects everything up.

Lets first start with the Lumia 950. Overall its much better looking than its bigger brother the 950XL. It’s surprisingly light, thin and fits well in the hand. Overall, I’m quite impressed. It charged as quick as they say, so within half an hour I was ready to start downloading apps and heading in to town to give it a proper test.

The keyboard and arc mouse are as slick as ever, which leaves Continuum. As you’ve probably read in my last post the Lumia 950 and Continuum aren’t the first device to try and turn your phone in to a laptop or PC and I’m sure it wont be the last, but the way Microsoft have structured Windows 10 and the use of this little black box they call Continuum is different to everyone else. This little box is about 5cm square and for it’s size is fairly heavy. However, it’s very discreet, currently sitting under my TV in the lounge. It connects up very simple and I’m looking forward to giving it a thorough test drive.

Overall, I must admit, I am a lot more impressed with not only the device, but Continuum as well. Initially, I thought this was a Microsoft PR stunt, but looking at it they’re very serious.

I’m going to try and get a post out every day on my journey with this new phone and gadgets over the next two weeks so keep reading and keep coming back for updates.

Ciao…

Windows 10 Lumia and Surface Launch

Yesterday we saw the launch of Microsoft Windows 10 Devices. The categories that most interested me, as I’m not a gamer were the 2 new Lumia’s, Surface Pro 4 and the Surface Book.

In this blog, 1 of 2, I want to talk about the Lumia 950 & 950xl. I was really quite disappointed and yet at the same time not surprised by the Lumia launch. For me this was a leftover from the Nokia overpayment. Fingers crossed the Lumia brand will disappear in the next 18 months as Microsoft, I believe, will release new flagship phones mid-late 2016.

I’m following the internet here and think the branding ‘Surface‘ is perfect for all their device names. It’s a cool name and forward thinking as it applies to every possible product they could create. It’s much better than Lumia.

950-940-800x450The phones themselves, are ugly. No real design has gone in to them like previous Lumia devices. For example I run the Lumia 930. It’s a great phone, good weight, great design with a great camera. The new Lumias 950 & 950xl not so much.

Other than how ugly they are I was really disappointed with the new feature of the sign-in. I realise that using the retina to sign-in is intriguing idea moving forward, however, according to other reviewers who have had the device in their hands, the phone has to be high up and close to the eye for it to work properly. For me it’s like the Google sign-in with your face feature it’s more a fad/cliche with no actual reasons to use it.

I’d have much preferred a stepping stone enhancement of finger print recognition to lock and unlock the phone like Google and especially the iPhone. As a man in Fintech I think it has been revolutionary of Apple to incorporate this in to the phone and I’d like to see Microsoft do the same.

android-features-heroI am also disappointed with the idea of linking the phone to a monitor and keyboard via a docking station. This may sound revolutionary, but Ubuntu have been doing this for years with their devices. Ubuntu even tried to raise a world record $32m for its Ubuntu Edge device, which actually looked really cool, think they managed to raised about $24m in the end. Not only did Ubuntu work with Android to make this happen, but Motorola got in on the action07-moto-webtop-accessories_610x377 with ‘Webtop’ that is available with your Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and up Motorola
devices. Not only could you link the Motorola Razr to a monitor and keyboard, but also a laptop.

The next step is quite obviously utilising the Cloud, especially Azure, with your mobile phone, I just expected more… but I don’t know what more… Maybe, like it always does, it comes down to the design of what they’re presenting. You have people working seriously hard to make products sexy and make us want to use them but the let down of how the Lumia’s looked really took the wind out of the sails for me and I think it will for their sales figures. And yes I did see there was a PUN opportunity, but come on reader you’re better than that.

Overall I’m looking forward to the hangover of Nokia sailing off in to the distance and seeing some great design coming in the next iterations and love the liquid cooling systems in the 950xl, but am still concerned with the potential of how hot it may get. I’ve personally sent 2 930’s back for overheating.

As a first mover on devices think I’ll have to wait for the next iteration of hopefully a SURFACE phone. However, don’t think this is the case for the Surface book or Pro 4.