The Chumby Dilemma


I like the Chumby. Having handled one a few times, it’s truly a unique product. Rich Flash Lite content, neat usability, games, etc… But I think the Chumby is destined to fail since it doesn’t have the relevance to an end-user to make it a must have item. Think about it… to an average user, the Chumby’s just a picture frame you can interact with. And when you think about a digital picture frame, it’s like a lamp or clock. You manage your photos for the first three months you have it, and then you’re too busy. Most users would get there with the Chumby as well.

Chumby has just secured another $12.5 million in investor capital. That’s a good thing, but I don’t think money is going to save the product. In my mind, there’s two things that can make the Chumby successful:

Lower the price – $180 bucks, that’s gonna be a killer. While there is an appetite for such spend in certain devices (we saw this with GPS units this past Black Friday) it’s going to need to serve a few more specific purposes to get people to bite.


Portability – Cut the cord and get the Chumby out of the house! It’s a lot more than an alarm clock, so why is it sitting on the bedside table in their marketing? Sell it on its differentiating points which it has plenty of. Add GPS! Make it more relevant on a day to day basis. That’s the only way you’re going to make a clear-cut value proposition to the customer.

I hope the Chumby succeeds. It’s truly a remarkable device but it’s going to take something special for it to go the distance.


Mobile Monday Event at the Apple Store


Okay this will be the last iPhone post for a while, I promise, after all I’m a Nokia guy through and through.

This coming Monday, March 24th at 7pm, Mobile Monday Boston will be held at the Apple Store in Cambridge and focus on the release of the Apple iPhone SDK. There will be demo’s, refreshments, and some great networking opportunities.


My Fidelity colleague, Hadley Stern, has agreed to come and demonstrate the iPhone Market Monitor application that he developed with his team at Fidelity Labs. Hadley is a published author and helps run two popular websites, Apple Matters, and iPhone Matters. Look forward to seeing you all there, don’t miss it!

Flash coming to iPhone, seriously this time

photo from Gizmodo

Via Electronista, Flash will be coming to iPhone, enabled by the launch of the the SDK last week. We’ve been here before and so far, as in the past, I’m skeptical.

I have a hard time believing that the SDK is open and robust enough to creating an actual Flash Player runtime that wouldn’t fragment the platform considerably. I doubt they would launch something as “Flash” with out it fitting into a product roadmap, and maybe that’s where Flash Lite comes in. Having beta tested FL3, releasing a new runtime is not something they take lightly. And getting on a handset like the iPhone is not a hobby or cute little hack Adobe would play with since they believe their presence on mobile devices (over a half-billion devices today btw) is important to their future. They’re right.

And then if they sell it through the app store as opposed to free disbursement, I don’t know, just doesn’t seem very Adobe. So I’m going to chock this up as this weeks rumor for now.

And just a reminder Mr. Jobs, it’s not the real web on your phone without Flash.

Nokia Morph Concept

This isn’t terribly fresh but really hit a nerve when I saw it. Nokia’s Research Center put together this Morph Concept to show how nanotechnology will inevitable change our lives. I visited Nokia’s Cambridge-based research center last month for a Mobile Monday meet-up and saw some interesting, forward-thinking presentations on emerging technologies. They are clearly the thought leaders in this space and a video like the one above is proof of this.

I would guess we’re still a ways off from this, I’m thinking 2050 or so? Even still the idea of a robust, wearable, self-cleaning device that can handle all of my communication needs is pretty enticing. If it plays Doom… even better.



I’m at MobileCampBoston and will be posting some updates on the sessions I’m attending.

10:00amAndrew Yu is giving a talk about his work at MIT to build a mobile website for the school. Some of the challenges he’s talked about are the range of different phones they target, browser and device detection, and the emergence of the iPhone. His biggest challenge was to get everyone to agree what the target handset demographic and SMS strategy. Lot’s of folks from Nokia are in attendance.

11:00amDan Grover is giving a talk about iPhone development. He’s a Mac developer who’s moved over to the iPhone. Crowd is a bit divided on the iPhone. Love it or hate it, it’s here to stay. Getting into the nitty gritty with objective C.

1:00pmWilson Kerr is talking about location based advertising, specifically POI (point of interest) opportunities that can be exploited through GPS technology. Great speaker, talking to how devices and proximity marketing is an emerging trend as devices like Garmin and TomTom are becoming commonplace devices in our lives.

Unfortuantely I had to leave early due to my brother’s 32nd B-day (Happy Birthday Mike), but the barcamp was a big success. I managed to get rid of all of my business cards and get banned (temporarily I hope) by Yahoo Live’s streaming service. Guess I should have went with uStream. Kudos to the organizer’s for a job well done.

Silverlight on Symbian may be a game changer


This is some big news for Nokia and the S60 platform that I picked up on Alessandro Pace’s blog.

    Nokia to bring Microsoft Silverlight powered experiences to millions of mobile users.

I would call this baby steps for Microsoft’s Silverlight platform but still, a presence alone at this point constitutes what is obviously a serious forward thinking strategic initiative. Very un-Microsoft as well since they have their own Windows Mobile platform and would usually only play in their own sandbox. I would also venture to say that it further legitmise’s the S60 platform, particularly in North America where marketshare is at a premium.

As with the Flash platform on the web, Flash Lite has a legitimate lead in this over Silverlight with over 77 million devices shipped. Again, it’s on Microsoft to ‘bring it’ and should be interesting to see what happens here.