Making HVAC sexy

The folks over at Nest Labs are doing something truly innovative and even sexy in the field of HVAC.  Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (or HVAC as it is called by insiders) is responsible for keeping most of the U.S. civilized in the dead of winter or during the sweltering heat of summer.  It is also responsible for roughly half of the average household’s energy expenditure in a given year – roughly $1,100.  If you’re like most people, the thermostat is your interface point for more than 99% of your interactions with your HVAC system. Those interactions range from putting the system on permanent “hold” (a recent Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory study found that as many as 50% of households are set this way) or trying to program it using a kludgy interface that conjures painful memories of trying to set the clock on the VCR in 1983. Continue reading

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Apple’s age of entanglement

“Entanglement” is one of the proverbial holy grails to which businesses aspire in their customer interactions.  Essentially it is simply a snappy way of describing a deeply integrated relationship that makes it difficult for customers of a given business to leave for a competitor.  In the business-to-consumer world tens of billions of dollars are spent annually to attract customers and the trick then becomes retaining them. Continue reading

Amazon Kindle: the rumors are true

Amazon tabletAccording to MG Siegler at TechCrunch (who has apparently seen and played with) the new Kindle by Amazon is a very different device than prior versions and will very likely rock the Android tablet market to its foundation.  Here are the quick-and-dirty details of the upcoming device:

  • 7″ back-lit color touch screen (no e-ink)
  • 6 GB of on-board storage
  • Uses a highly customized version of Android
  • Features the Amazon app market
  • $250 price point (which will likely drop to $199 when a degree of market penetration is achieved)

Given the recent success of the $99 TouchPad fire sale that has caused HP to produce a swan song final run of the device, Amazon’s price point is certain to garner a lot of interest.  In fact, industry analysts and journalists alike (including yours truly) are predicting a “race to the bottom” among other major Android tablet manufacturers (i.e., Samsung, HTC, Motorola, etc.) that will likely cause Amazon to capture a large slice of the market.  The $250 price point is expected to be lower than the cost to produce the tablets but Amazon is expected to make up the difference (and then some) through purchases of books and applications.

Personally speaking, I am very curious about this device since I’ve had a love-hate relationship with the Kindle having first spurned it as yet-another single-purpose device (here and here) in a world driven by convergence.  Once I spent more time with it I was impressed by its elegance in delivering that purpose – much like the early iPods.  Only time will tell whether this will truly turn the Android tablet market on its ear or not but I am pretty confident that the product team on Beacon Hill knows what they’re doing.

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