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NY Auto Show

The NY Auto Show ran from March 21st-30th. Here are some of the highlights, starting with the awesome Dodge Challenger due out later this year:

Memories of the General Lee, which was actually a Charger, come flooding back…
…the huuuuge 6.1 liter motor:

Chevy Camaro due in 2009 will be hot competition for the Challenger. Chevy says the production Camaro will be similar to this version from Transformers:

Audi’s R8 looked sstunning…
Who ever thought a diesel car would need such powerful brakes?
Ferrari-style glass covers the V12 diesel motor:
Scion Haku Coupe looks like a great evolution of the current range:

Wild Yaris conversion is oddly reminiscent of Herbie:

New Nissan Skyline GTR amazingly cool from all angles:

Jeep concept looks like it’s desperate to find a beach:
Nissan Cube plugs in from the grille:

Custom design Lexus has trick satin paint job, looks like the Batmobile:

Jag XF is one of India’s newest exports…
…accompanied by Land Rover. This LRX is a concept:
BMW CS Coupe was possibly the most stunningly designed car at the show:

Pontiac Solstice Coupe has echoes of the Jag E-Type:

GMC Denali Concept has attitude…
…and reeeally awesome wheels:

Meanwhile the current Sierra Denali looked so shiny it could have come from Tiffanys:

Corvette ZR1 is probably almost as wide as a Smart ForTwo is long!

Inventive parking methods could resolve some of Manhattan’s parking shortage:
This is a Ford F150 airbag before an accident:

This racing Mustang had a great paint job…
…but the ‘Aim’ switch is worrying. Is that for race drivers who get a bit too competitive?

Mar 27, 2008 Posted by | Hardware, Other Stuff | , | Leave a comment

International Pillow Fight in Union Square

Who can explain what turns this innocent scene in Union Square…

…into a mass pillow fight on a Saturday afternoon? It’s International Pillow Fight Day, New York style.
Let’s zoom in for some action. Check out Batman, and don’t ask me how long my lens is:

Ouch, my head. By the time I got in and out of the melée I looked like a feather duster :-)
Neil Berman

Mar 23, 2008 Posted by | Other Stuff | | Leave a comment

Game on at the library

If the word ‘library’ conjours up images of bookworms hard at work in silent study then you are not alone. All the more surprising then was the scene of welcomed gamers in the New York Public Library this afternoon.

I’m pretty sure that when this inscription was written over a hundred years ago, the scribe had not quite forseen the advent of the gaming industry.

But like the phrase’s democratic ideal of share and share alike, ‘Game on at the library’ brought the wonders of modern consoles to anyone to try for free.

Three projection screens hosted Xbox 360, Wii and Playstation 3 games, with some of the fastest Guitar Hero fingers I’ve ever seen!

Neil Berman

Mar 22, 2008 Posted by | Gaming | | Leave a comment

Are Wii seeing the demise of the Playstation – Part 2

Read the earlier post from August 2007 here.

During some of last year Nintendo’s Wii was outselling Sony’s Playstation 3 by two to one. At the time it looked like we were seeing a fundamental shift in console market dynamics. NPD has just released the latest console sales figures for February (New York Times 3/14/08), so let’s see what’s been happening.

According to NPD, the top selling console was Nintendo’s DS at 587,600 units. Next was the Wii at 432,000 units amid supply constraints. In other words, if there had been more Wiis available in stores then they would likely have been sold.

Microsoft’s Xbox 360 sold 254,600 units, also amid supply constraints. Sony’s Playstation 3 sold 280,800 with no reported supply constraints, although interestingly consumers continue to prefer the positioning of the previous generation model – the Playstation 2 sold 351,800 units.

What does this mean?

1. PS3 is gaining ground

The ratio of Wii to PS3 sales has narrowed to 1.5 : 1. So although Wii continues to sell better than PS3, the trending suggests that their relative monthly sales volumes may become equal or possibly inverse over time. I.e. PS3 may start to outsell Wii in the future. However I expect it unlikely that PS3 will ever achieve a higher total sales volume than Wii, unless its production lifespan significantly outlasts Wii’s.

2. Upcoming mega-games will have an impact

Major releases this year will be key, now that PS3 is more affordable. I anticipate that Wii Fit, which is a big Wii release due in May, is likely to trigger significant cross-generational game and console purchasing. Sales of the much awaited GTA4 for Xbox 360 and PS3 are expected to be 2 to 1 on each console respectively throughout most of 2008 according to an analyst quoted in the aforementioned NY Times article.

If we assume that 360 and PS3 owners buy similar titles, then based on current figures we can predict that PS3 is unlikely to ever have a total console sales volume greater than Xbox 360, all other factors being equal. This leaves PS3 in a highly probable third place at the end of the 3rd gen life cycle unless PS3 sales start increasing significantly.

3. The Blu-Ray victory factor

Blu-Ray’s recent victory as the next gen DVD format should help PS3 sales during 2008, although it is too early to assess an impact from just the February sales figures.

4. Market positioning

Sony has been only partially competing in the 3rd gen console market. This is because the PS3 is still positioned at the upper end of the market and so is not yet within the budget of many mass market consumers. Sony has continued to market the 2nd gen PS2 at the opposite end of the market.

In doing so, Sony has failed to win the all-important middle of the bell curve, which is owned by Wii and Xbox 360. Microsoft compromised on hardware but offered next gen (and now defunct) HD DVD as an accesory option. This allowed Xbox 360 to sell at a reasonable price, which is still significantly less than the basic PS3.

The recent PS3 price cuts have attempted to move the console towards this mainstream price range of $200-350. However Sony has huge R&D costs to recover either through console or game sales so how much further can it really drop the price?

5. Franchise building

The fact that PS2 is still significantly outselling PS3 does have some benefit to Sony, because those owners experience the Playstation franchise. Sony now has to figure out how to turn these customers into future PS3 buyers.

I expect that a poll of Wii and 360 owners would reveal that many converted across from PS2s due to either the new gaming experience (Wii) or price (360), rather than buying a Ps3. Many modern day first time PS2 buyers are probably choosing that model because of its low price in the overall market.

Sony is likely to have a tough time converting them into future PS3 owners rather than losing them to Nintendo or Microsoft, unless the PS3 price falls significantly further. I would anticipate that a base PS3 model would need to cost $249 to appeal to current PS2 buyers as a follow-on purchase.

So has the market dynamic changed since August?

Yes, PS3 does seem to be making inroads. The price drop has helped and I expect the Blu-Ray studio victory will win it extra sales during 2008. But Wii’s position in the lead seems strong and Xbox 360 continues to look like a solid second.

Would a further PS3 price cut help? Perhaps. Sony might end up selling more of them but the payback period to recover the huge R&D costs would probably lengthen…and that I think is what will be taught in business schools once when we look back on the 3rd gen console wars: Sony’s over-engineering led to an inability to compete on the shelves; Nintendo and Microsoft played a better game.

Read the earlier post from August 2007 here.

Neil Berman

Mar 16, 2008 Posted by | Analysis, Gaming, Hardware | , , | 31 Comments

iPhone Exchange Policy

For months iPhone has been the coolest device on the street. Everyone wants one, but so far they have scared corporate IT managers who see them as a security hole in the network. But those IT managers have faced a growing problem over recent times: it’s called user pressure.

That’s because many iPhone owners are well-heeled business types who want to swap out their work Blackberry. However in most enterprises it’s difficult to exchange a Blackberry for a smartphone which doesn’t support Exchange.

Apple’s changed that now and kudos to them for listening to their customers. iPhone now supports push email, calendar and contacts from an Exhange Server via a licensed Microsoft ActiveSync client. iPhone’s user experience remains intact because email is handled by the cellphone’s regular email interface. Many of the industry’s security concerns have been addressed and there’s now a remote wipe facility.

Apple has also opened up the iPhone SDK (Software Development Kit) so third parties can write real applications for it. This means we could see virtual remote access clients from the likes of Citrix, VMWare and other companies to allow users to go straight into their office network. Who knows, maybe Microsoft will even release a version of Office Mobile for iPhone. The operating system is an optimized OS X with Touch enhancements to the Cocoa interface, so ports of regular Mac software could be coming soon.

iPhone is now a real contender in the corporate email battle and it could be the first Apple product to do well in mainstream US companies. Why? Not because it’s good to type on or has an established history (Blackberry and Windows Mobile win easily). No, it’s simply because users will want it. They will demand it, as they have been doing so far…the difference now is that IT departments can actually deliver a solution. Like Windows Mobile, that solution comes right out of the Exchange Server rather than routing through an additional Blackberry message server, so the service delivery has less infrastructure points of failure.

Of course just because the functionality exists doesn’t mean that companies will buy it. But if I was the head of RIM marketing I would be pretty scared right now. Apple clearly means business for the first time, and the users will be on their side. If they can get the pricing right then the competition is in for some tough years ahead.

Now where’s that iPhone drawing I was doing with the slide out keyboard…?

Click here to see if iPhone can survive a Maine Coon mauling.

Neil Berman

Mar 9, 2008 Posted by | Apple, Computing, Hardware, Microsoft, Mobile, News, Software | , | Leave a comment

Want more RAM? Get MetaRam.

San Jose based start-up MetaRam has announced a controller chip which can double or quadruple the amount of memory in a DIMM.

The company, which has signed up several production contracts, says it is able to integrate the controller into existing designs. This should make producing the finished article cost effective, especially for server implementations where mega amounts of RAM can significantly enhance large data-intensive processing jobs.

Looking further down the line, applications for personal computers seem apparent too. However we may find that the cost of low end RAM may always make it cheaper for home users to install conventional memory. The principal short term beneficiary could be data processing farms and financial institutions, which often run huge batch processes.

Having a terabyte of memory all of a sudden will make those nasty overnight runs seem like a walk in the park.

Mar 5, 2008 Posted by | Computing, Hardware, News | | Leave a comment


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