Amazon bookstores: It’s the drones, stupid

Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 10.52.27 PM Remember the motto of the Clinton Presidential campaign back in 1992: “It’s the economy, stupid!” That election was about the economy and Clinton won as a result. Well this week let slip its plan to open 300-400 bookstores in U.S. cities, sending Wall Street analysts into a tizzy because bookstores look to them like a lousy business even for the world’s biggest bookseller. But this isn’t about selling books. This Amazon plan — if it happens at all — is about creating bases from which to fly delivery drones.

Delivery drones are to me a stupid idea except in certain rare circumstances like flying prescriptions to people living […]

The Cringely boys Kickstart Mineserver™, a $99 Minecraft server

When my three sons, ages 13, 11, and 9 decided to do a summer business together I thought it could be almost anything. After all, they’ve visited three dozen tech startups with me in our RV and they’ve been surrounded by technology entrepreneurs their entire lives. What business would it be?

I just never expected a $99 Minecraft server.

It’s brilliant, really. Minecraft is hugely popular but the Minecraft hardware market is almost nonexistent. It’s not that nobody thought to do such a server but that it’s a business idea most entrepreneurs would see as not having legs. It will scale, sure, but will it endure? In a few months someone — no doubt someone in Asia — will copy the idea, […]

Google’s OnHub router may save WiFi from itself

OnHubGoogle this week introduced its first WiFi router and my initial reaction was “Why?” WiFi access points and home routers tend to be low-margin commodity products that could only hurt financial results for the search giant. What made it worth the pain on Wall Street, then, for Google to introduce this gizmo? And then I realized it is Google’s best hope to save the Internet… and itself.

WiFi is everywhere and it generally sucks. WiFi has become the go-to method of networking homes and even businesses. I remember product introductions in New York back in the 80s and 90s when we were told over and over again that it cost $100 per […]

Apple proves that moats are for dummies

moatAs we all know, Apple last week announced two new iPhones, a payment service (ApplePay), and a line of Apple Watches that require iPhones to work. There’s not much I can say about these products that you can’t read somewhere else. They are bigger and better than what preceded them and — in the case of ApplePay and the AppleWatch — just different. They are all topnotch products that will stand out in the market and have good chances of being successful. So instead of writing about products we already know about, I’d like to write about moats to protect products from competition.

Moats, as you know, are defensive fortifications typically built to surround castles, making them […]

Fear and loathing in Rolex-ville

apple-watch-Edition-830x576In all the coverage and hype concerning Apple’s event on Tuesday I’d like to concentrate on one easily-overlooked product I feel is by far the most revolutionary of those announced. I am of course talking about the Apple Watch Edition — Apple’s gold watch.

Where we might expect an Apple Watch to be aimed at competitors like Samsung, LG, or even Sony, the Apple Watch Edition is aimed squarely at Rolex. It is Apple’s first-ever true luxury product.

There have been near-luxury products from Apple before, but nothing like the Apple Watch Edition, which I am convinced is the brainchild not of design director Jony Ive or CEO Tim Cook, but of SVP of Retail and Online […]