Thursday, October 7, 2010

The difference between a phenomenal successful product and a tragic flop

The Apple iPad, was launched in the stores of US market in Apr. 3rd.Undoubtedly one of the most hyped launch in technology history. IPad could revolutionize computing and media market or it could be a flop.

Apple's Steve Jobs is known for his wizardry in the new-gadget department, but if the iPad is a flop it won't be Apple's first bomb. In the year 2000 the company introduced Power Mac G4 Cube. The diminutive 8" x 8" x 8" cube, suspended in a 10" tall Acrylic (PMMA) enclosure, housed a PowerPC G4 processor running at 450 or 500 megahertz, and had an unconventional vertical slot-loading DVD-ROM or CD-RW drive.

Apple targeted the Cube at the market between the iMac G3 and the Power Mac G4. Despite its innovative design, critics complained that it was too expensive. It was initially priced US$200 higher than Power Mac G4 at the time (450 MHz CPU, 64 MB RAM, 20 GB hard drive) and did not include a monitor, thus leading to slow sales. Additionally, early Cubes suffered from a manufacturing issue that led to faint lines in the clear plastic case. This was often considered damaging to the aesthetic quality of the computer. Almost one decade before that, Apple launched Newton and the Message Pad. The MessagePad was the precursor to the modern PDA and ran on Apple's Newton operating system. Both innovations were meant to make consumers' lives easier, but they were, in fact, too complicated for many to use with ease. As result, Apple gave up of them in 1998.

Now, put yourself into Steve Jobs shoes. You’ve created a brand new product; people around you are crazy about it; you put it into the market and it suddenly became a huge success. The first month is a promising one; and then, the sales stopped abruptly. What happened?

The most difficult step is making the transition between visionaries (early adopters) and pragmatists (early majority). This is the chasm that Geoffrey Moore refers to in his 1991 book “Crossing the Chasm”.

Geoffrey A Moore presented the view that successful companies shrink the chasm between early adopters of products and the early majority by: choosing target markets, understanding the whole product concept, positioning the product, building marketing strategies and choosing appropriate distribution channels and pricing. Today, those are basic elements in most companies.

The 2004 CPAS – (Comparative Practices Assessment Study) - report found the average cycle time for a new product is only 104 weeks, down from 181 weeks in 1995. At the same time, new product line cycle time has more than halved, down from 126 to 62 weeks over the same period. It’s critical that organizations develop processes that enable rapid alignment of product development efforts with changing strategy for maximum agility.

The creation of a central repository of product planning information is a critical first step. This repository must form the ‘single source of truth’ for every product in the portfolio and include key information on:

* Strategic fit/alignment
* Product stakeholders and team
* Product goals and benefits
* Risk factors
* Lifecycle status
* Resource requirements
* Program schedule
* Budgeted costs
* Status and actual costs

This information must be available to the entire cross-functional product team, allowing stakeholders and management to view information across all products. This global view provides them with a uniform and objective analysis of product attractiveness and performance, and allows them to make informed, strategic decisions.

Strategic alignment must be considered at the individual product level and at the portfolio level. Individual product risk must also be assessed in the context of the overall risk profile of the portfolio, as well as within the overall organizational posture.

Without these types of solutions, companies that choose to select and prioritize new product development projects blindly will not recognize success, rather the opposite – higher development costs, more failed products and reduced profitability. Falling into the ‘rest’ category spells ultimate doom.

There is no shortcut to put a product as a market leader. But, it is still possible to make it by doing it with patience and resolve. You must identify your potential costumer, and also find the detail about them. And finally you must know if and how they can pay for that product. If you did it correctly your product will definitely be a market success.

Here is a list of some of the successful products and worst flops

Volkswagen Beetle - Succeeded

Launched in 1938 was the bestselling single design in history, and the first car to reach twenty million sales (21,529,464 unities ). The last Mexican Sedán Clásico was discontinued in 2003.

Ford Edsel - Flopped

Ford introduced its much-hyped Edsel in 1957 to consumers who waited for years in anticipation for the car they heard would revolutionize the road. What they saw was a vehicle that looked and drove like many other Fords. Ford sold only 63,110 models in the U.S. during the first year and 44,891 in 1959, when the Detroit Company decided to pull the car from the market. Ford's losses on the Edsel were estimated at $350 million.

Coca-Cola – Succeeded

Coca-Cola is in fact the most successful non-alcoholic beverage to date. The Coca-Cola Company has employed some of the most effective advertising techniques in history. Originally intended as a patent medicine to cure diseases, such as morphine addiction, dyspepsia and neurasthenia, the soft drink has since became a sales success all over the world.

Crystal Pepsi - Flopped

In 1992, Pepsi decided they needed a clear cola to go along with their regular drinks. They introduced Crystal Pepsi as “a caffeine-free alternative to regular cola”. They released in after what they considered successful test runs and waited for results.
The drink initially sold decently but quickly fell off. Pepsi tried to save the campaign by changing the name to Crystal by Pepsi, a citrus drink instead of a clear cola but that flopped too and Crystal Pepsi was discontinued in 1993 after only being introduced in 1992. It lasted a little longer in Europe but, not much longer.

Bic - Succeeded

Société Bic is a company based in Clichy, France, founded in 1945, by Baron Marcel. Bic sells some 22 million pens and other stationery items every day.
Known for making disposable products including lighters, magnets, ballpoint pens, shaving razors and watersports products. The Bic pen, was the company's first product and 50 years later is still synonymous of ballpoint pen.

Colgate Kitchen Entrees - Flopped

Undoubtedly one of the most bizarre brand extensions ever. Colgate decided to use its name on a range of food products called Colgate's Kitchen Entrees. Needless to say, the products did not take off and never left U.S. soil.

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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Taxis Around the World

A 2008 report in Fortune said that Goldman Sachs hired about 300 MBAs in 2007 and that, last year, Merrill Lynch and Citigroup were planning to hire 160 and 235 MBAs, respectively. Is it just a coincidence that so many superstar minds arrived on Wall Street just as it started to fall into one of the biggest crisis ever?

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Do you want to know about a good investment? Ask a cab driver. Investing in stocks has been a tough business, with the Standard & Poor’s 500 posting a total return of -13% since the start of 2000. Boring old bonds have fared better (Pimco Total Return Fund returned 46%), while commodities have done best of all (crude oil has nearly tripled, for example). But the really big money has been made in New York City taxis. The value of a city taxi medallion has jumped 179% this decade, to $760,000 last month, outperforming just about every asset save for gold, which has risen 245%.

Believe it or not Bruce Kovner, a former NYC Cab driver turned $3000 he borrowed off his credit card into a multibillion-dollar fortune trading forex. Looks like an urban myth, but it is true.

Taxicab Drivers are the best-informed person that you can count on, if they are in good mood, of course. They will give you the best information available about everything, the best place where a single guy could meet beautiful girls, best and cheapest place to sleep and eat, not to mention the latest news on politics.

The word Taxi came from Taximeters, invented in ancient Rome, where they employed a mechanism that used the turning of the cart's axle to release small balls. At the end of the trip, the passenger paid based on the number of released balls. The modern taximeter was invented by the German Wilhelm Bruhn in 1891, and the Daimler Victoria—the world's first meter-equipped (and gasoline-powered) taxicab—was built by Gottlieb Daimler in 1897. And the word Cab is an abbreviation of cabriolet, a type of horse-drawn carriage. In Britain, the word taxicab is rarely used. In the U.K., taximeter cab was shortened to taxi and cab, and these were and are used separately to distinguish between type of service and/or vehicle.

The word Taxi is universal (words, which are used in many countries with the same meaning such as Hotel or Sofa) as well as the service, but every city is proud of having their own characteristic Taxi services, normally provided by automobiles, but various human-powered vehicles, (such as the rickshaw) and animal-powered vehicles (such as the Hansom cab) or even boats (such as water taxies or gondolas). Here are some of the most-extravagant and beautiful Taxis you may find around the world.




















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Sunday, January 31, 2010

NIMPS - Near Impossible Solutions

Once Walt Disney quotes “it is kind of fun to do the impossible”. Worldwide, there are lots and lots of people making fun by doing the impossible, trying (and sometimes even achieving) to solve problems deemed unsolvable, building the bridge between real life and dreams. The Trans Global Highway, robots working as housekeeper, ultra realistic prosthetic limbs that are able to regain the sense of touch are some of the articles you may find in NIMPS. Surely you will find inspirational content capable to elevate your spirit, widen your horizons, and maybe even solve your near impossible problem.

Know more about NIMPS – Near Impossible Solutions

Saturday, January 9, 2010

State of the art Social Entrepreneurship for Rio Olympics and World Cup

Rio de Janeiro won the vote to stage the 2016 Olympics, becoming the first South American city to host the event. Ruy Cezar Miranda Reis, 63, special secretary for the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games expects 2 million tourists in Rio, proposed investments of $11.1 billion in preparation for the games.

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Billionaire Eike Batista was one of the main responsible for Rio’s achievement. Made the Olympics bid part of his personal quest to become Brazil’s champion of infrastructure development. His EBX Brasil SA group said it donated 23 million reais ($12.8 million) to Rio’s campaign -- about a quarter of the 102 million reais that Brazil’s Olympic Committee invested in the competition with four other campaign donors.

Though, we haven’t seen so far any Social entrepreneurship initiative that could help Rio and Brazil to use this giant opportunity to tackle down poverty and some of our social problems.

A social entrepreneur is someone who recognizes a social problem and uses entrepreneurial principles to organize, create, and manage a venture to make social change. Whereas a business entrepreneur typically measures performance in profit and return, a social entrepreneur assesses success in terms of the impact he has on society as well as in profit and return.

Yan Waligora, 18, architecture student, questioned “What if part of that investment was used to turn Favelas (shanty houses) into the most fascinating hotel complex? - People would safely walk on the streets; local shops would sell Brazilian souvenirs and other Favelas would build house extensions to receive even more tourists, all of this with an exclusive view to the Atlantic, which is amazing from the Favelas heights.

Much of the people that live in Favelas receives very low wages or are unemployed, they could become small entrepreneurs in a nightshift and Waligora has a plan for them.

Rio de Janeiro is not so different from Valparaiso, we could trace a parallel between Valparaiso and Rio de Janeiro with its improvised urban architecture covering the mountains and surrounding the see.

The big difference is that valparaisians are aware about the potential in the region, which conquered the status of UNESCO World Heritage Site upon its improvised urban design and unique architecture. With its magnificent view to the pacific Valparaiso was nicknamed “The Jewel of the Pacific”. In 1996, the World Monuments Fund declared Valparaiso’s unusual system of funicular elevators (highly-inclined cable cars) one of the world’s 100 most endangered historical treasures. Valparaiso also experienced a very well succeed pilot plan for criminality prevention. The Municipality of Valparaiso promotes the safety and good conviviality in the historical center using the concept of participative vigilance. This way, tourists may walk in a considerably safe fashion on the streets.

Being proud of Rio may be difficult for those who live in poverty, surrounded by violence and under one of the worst social conditions in the planet.

Once we overcome this situation, we have another problem to solve - we won’t have time or money to do so.

Maybe “Catadores de Lixo” – Trash catchers and Tetra Pack could help.

The biggest multinational in food processing and packaging is a Swedish company founded in 1951 in Lund, by Ruben Rausing. Tetra Pack is also the leader in recycling is own trash.

Tetra pack unit in Campinas recycle tetrahedral package and the resulting sub-product has wide application in the construction industry.

The package basically made of plastic and aluminum is recycled through the process of drying and grinding in a machine called "hidrapulper", a sort of giant blender, and then extrusion and injection molding. The final result is a material that could be used to produce plastic parts such as shovel, broom, collectors and others.

But, the most interesting process is the one that grinds together plastic and aluminum and presses it all in high temperature, transforming the material into a plate similar to plywood that can be used in the manufacture of partitions, furniture, decorative items and tiles.

The plate could be molded in many different forms and the expressive cost-benefit ratio could be more even better if counting on sponsors. Paint manufacturer such as Suvinil would be in the best place to be seen, turning the Favelas into a beautiful place to look at.

Now that we want to turn Favelas into an architectural marvel, here is another option short excerpt from the article “Social Entrepreneur Branches Out with Tree House Community” by Jennifer:

“If building tree houses for a living sounds absurd, than investing in the construction of an entire community of geodesic, eco-friendly and self-sustaining tree houses in the forests of California must be down right crazy. Dustin Feider – social entrepreneur, Change Agent and Founder of O2 Treehouse – couldn’t disagree more.

As a child building forts and climbing trees in the woods of Wisconsin, Dustin never envisioned his childhood love for tree houses coupled with rock-solid carpentry skills and a passion for sustainability would culminate in a social entrepreneurship career. Dustin is an emerging champion for “living architecture,” a movement fusing art, design and the use of sustainable natural resources for residential and commercial construction.

All of O2 Treehouses are made from sustainable materials and are eco-friendly.
Dustin’s vision for changing the way we build is touching lives across the country. Guided by Buckminster Fuller’s social entrepreneurship and his 100% percent for humanity idealism, an idea based on the thought all people in the world should enjoy nature and architecture, Dustin is building an entire community of green tree houses in California’s Redwood and Doug Firs forests. The O2 Treehouse project relies on eco-friendly and sustainable practices that would pass muster with any bona fide treehugger. Not one hole is drilled into the trees to build these breathtaking, practical structures Dustin designs as backyard retreats, vacation cabins and eco-adventure resorts.

The eco-friendly building process protects trees from restricted growth.

Dustin is nailing down the basics for the Redwood project, which includes finalizing the details for a prefab location in Oakland, where he can pre-build the tree houses, and finding investors.

While Dustin irons out the final details for the Redwood tree house project, he is working on a Venice bamboo structure, which will include two hanging platforms, a catwalk, bamboo sanctuary and rope ladders. He’s prefabricating the structure in the backyard of the Permacultre East house in Mar Vista which has a rich history of improving sustainability and reducing waste.” See more Social Earth

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Mayan message of doomsday is not in the calendar Part II

Maya success Despite the so called “Maya decline” Mayan culture never really vanished. Differently from many other cultures like the Rapa Nui and Egyptians, we could still see Maya people talking in their natural idiom, playing “Juego de Pelota” ( Mayan ballgame), elders’ council still decide de fate of tribes, etc.

As we have seen in the first article The Mayan message of doomsday is not in the calendar, the doomsday of 2012 comprises a range of eschatological beliefs which affirm that cataclysmic or transformative events will occur on December 21 or December 23, 2012, which is said to be the end-date of a 5,125-year-long cycle in the Mayan Long Count calendar. These beliefs may derive in part from numerological constructions, archaeoastronomical speculation, alternative interpretations of mythology, or alleged prophecies from extraterrestrial beings. Thought, we could interpret the message of doomsday in other directions. Some Maya tribes took advantage from lessons that they have learned from the effects their own mistakes, and from mistakes of the others to prosper, one good example is Milpa agriculture.

We have also seen that deforestation coincided with a dramatic drop in the Mayan population, but they have learned one of the most advanced and simple form of agriculture – The Milpa

Milpa agriculture - A Milpa is a field, usually but not always recently cleared, in which farmers plant a dozen crops at once including maize, avocados, multiple varieties of squash and bean, melon, tomatoes, chilis, sweet potato, jícama, amaranth, and mucana, Milpa crops are nutritionally and environmentally complementary. maize lacks the amino acids lysine and tryptophan, which the body needs to make proteins and niacin; beans have both lysine and tryptophan, squashes, for their part, provide an array of vitamins, avocados, fats. The Milpa, in the estimation of H. Garrison Wilkes, a maize researcher at the University of Massachusetts in Boston, "is one of the most successful human inventions ever created.

To understand the concept of Milpa, we have to understand the concept of four based Mayan cosmography. A traditional Maya house is constructed over four sticks or columns, each column represents a cardinal direction – north represented by the white maize, south the Yellow maize, east the red one and west the black one. The firmament is supported by the same four columns. The city of Uxmal for example, represent the basis that support Orion constellation. Number four is constantly used, even in Milpa agriculture, they believe that the period of eight years is perfect for the earth to be fertile again. They divided this period in four bases of two years. By the first period of two years an area of forest is selected, and the vegetation is cut and allowed to dry after some period of time, the residual dry vegetation is burned. After two years starts the second period in which they plant Maize crop. After two years the start to plant beans in the same field, the last period of two years they permit the forest to grow up again.

These brand new techniques such as Milpa were transmitted by word of mouth from city to city. The city of Cancuén which means place of serpents, was located in the region of Pasión river subregion of the central Maya lowlands in the present-day Guatemalan Department of El Petén. The Mayan city-state is notable for having one of the largest palaces in the Maya world. It was a major trade center, specializing in jade, pyrite and obsidian. Its strategic position on the Río Pasion helped it dominate trade in the region.

They have coordinated commerce and information. Trading commodities as obsidian they had to deal with the elite of their time, and they discovered that high quality information that arrived from elite could be a very important asset.

Cancuén was at the top of its prosperity, Taj Chan Ahk, one of the city's most powerful Ahaus (Mayan political, religious and military leaders) built the city's palace in 770 A.D.

By that time, Ahaus use to attack neighbor cities and capture enemies alive for later rituals of sacrifice in order to consolidate their power. The destiny of the enemy was often decided in a “Juego de Pelota”, the loser and even the winner (we still don’t know why) had his body painted in blue and was sacrificed. This sort of war or invasion used to have pre-arranged dates and hours to occur. A massacre occurred in Cancuén around 800 A.D, Investigations have shown that the bodies, including the city's ruler at the time, Kan Maax, had been executed and dumped in a cistern,

As traders were no more able to use Passion River as trade route, they start to use other routes and took their knowledge to other cities such as Tulum and Xcaret (the original name of Xcaret was p'ole', from the root p'ol that means "merchandise" or "deal of merchants", which gives an idea of the economical relevance of the site).

After that, Maya culture survived Hispanic colonization, deceases brought by Europeans and truism in the region. Today’s Maya culture adopted Milpa as a way to live in harmony with nature and many directors of archeological sites are Maya descendents. Prophecies of 2012 doomsday could mean the end of Maya civilization through erosion caused by westernization and intermarriage. Their cultural purity and way of life could be under a threat. But this is not the first time they face that sort of menace, Mayan know how to survive and shine.

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