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Le Crackberry

Remember when you responded to 100 emails a day using this?

Remember when it seemed every banker, business person, politician, and anyone else that needed email on their cell phone all seemed to be on Blackberries? Those days are starting to go away. Research in Motion, the producers of said “Crackberries” posted earnings yesterday and they were dismal. So how did the great Crackberry go down?

First, RIM can blame Steve Jobs. Apple came out of nowhere and started the iPhone. A smartphone that was almost as good as Blackberry for the technical side but winning on the social side. I mean, the best Blackberry had for social was being able to connect for chatting and not to mention the Blackberry Messenger. BBM remains important, but it’s lost out to Apple’s iMessage in a way… though I think it would be better if iMessage was more separate than text messaging.

Second, and maybe part of number one, RIM can blame Google’s Android. Android came out as a respond to the iPhone, but with a lot more open programming. The tech geeks (whom I know plenty of) love Android because of the open source attitude they have. Don’t forget about the tech geeks. Maybe it’s the business users that drive the market in the short run, but its the geeks that drive innovation in the short and long run.

Third, they jumped into changing their game too late. Only now they are starting to dramatically change things. They acquired a company with a new OS, QMX, that has been going on since 2010. But Apple released the iPhone in 2007. That’s way too late, especially when things change all the time, especially in social media.

In the end, what does this mean? Right now, RIM’s book value is 19.00 per share or so and it’s trading at about 13. This is not a good thing. I’d be short RIM long term, which is sad in my opinion. I love the fact that their OS is very technical. The problem is there’s no market for it. MS-DOS got beat out by Windows. Windows is close to being beaten out by MacOS. It’s the circle of life. While I love the technical side of RIM and Blackberry OS, it just won’t stand. Phones are meant to be social and for business. Apple and Google got it. RIM only focused on the business, and that’s they’re downfall. While I still think they can compete, I mean I’d rather have a Blackberry for work than an iPhone (if only for the keyboard), Apple will win out. Or Google will, seeing as they have phones with keyboards.

If this were a chess game, I’d say, RIM, check (and your options are limited).

Fun links:
iPhone vs. Burrito – and the Burrito wins!

It’s my new favorite word in business. With the exception of ear-banging (Hint: Cue to recruiters at job fairs nodding sadly). And I just found out it has its own Wikipedia page.

Now, I’m not sure if you’ve heard but Yahoo is suing Facebook over patent infringement. Which is basically them saying “We came up with the idea of profiles, you just found a better way to use them so we’re suing you.” I don’t know how this happened. But they might as well sue Google for patent infringement also, right? Except they did. 

I don’t like lawyers much for the reasons I don’t like politicians (and I apologize to both set of friends who are involved in either). And we do need both, for one reason or another. But patent law is going insane if its allowing Yahoo to put patents on everything its ever tried and then going back and suing people.

Mark Cuban, whom I love to hate as a Heat fan, wants it to go through. Even though he thinks its insane. A good friend of mine described Yahoo as a fish flopping out of the water waiting to die. I can think of no better comparison.

But this is the world we live in. C’est la vie

I remember watching plenty of soccer (football/futbol) matches. More specifically the 2009 Champions League Final between Barcelona and Manchester United. At the time, Manchester United was sponsored by AIG, which had received a $85 billion (which got up to $182 billion) credit facility from the US government. I just loved the irony that the American public was sponsoring a football club in the UK. Honestly, I laughed then and the joke still isn’t old. I honestly thought they should replace the AIG logo with a picture of Uncle Sam or the American flag.

This week, AIG announced they would be looking to raise $6 billion in order to help pay back the credit facility. In order to do this, they plan on selling AIA Group, an Asia based insurance holding company. While AIG certainly is in desperate need of some cash to pay back the US Treasury, I worry about the long term prospects of AIG.

As a result of taking the bullish side of the first credit default swaps, AIG really hurt itself as a firm*. In order to meet short term liquidity issues, it had to complicate its long term solvency. Meaning, it had to forego its long term credit for short term credit. Now, the bills are coming due and AIG has to trim the fat. The main issue I have with them selling off assets is that it will reduce the diversification of the firm.

Not only that, I believe that AIG’s sell of AIA is just the beginning. I’m pretty sure more will be coming. After this, AIG will have raised $6 billion of the money they need to pay back. Afterwards, they will owe about $42 billion back.

* Credit default swaps – A credit default swap is best thought of as insurance on a bond. You can buy a credit default swap on Greek debt. If Greek fails to live up to its debt obligations and defaults, you get paid. Think like a put option. You pay a premium for downside risk. You don’t have to own the underlying asset.

A lot of fuss came about when Google+ came to be over the summer. A lot of hype went into this platform, thinking it could rival Facebook. But right now, statistics show people are signing up but not using the service as much as intended. As as shown by this picture, it seems as though the only people using Google+ are Google employees.

Social Media Explained

The world of social media explained with donuts. Notice the last one.

In glancing at the above photo, you notice that there are different sort of “sectors” in social media. Facebook is a purely  social platform for people to connect with their friends. Foursquare, is one I really don’t understand to tell you the truth but it allows people to check in at places. Instagram and Pinterest are very similar in my opinion, with Instagram only serving on mobile devices and having filters to play with pictures. We all know YouTube by this point. LinkedIn is like a professional Facebook. Last FM is self-explanatory (though I would have put Spotify instead of that here).

After going through that, you may notice I skipped Twitter at the top. That’s because I worry about Google+ going the same way as their Buzz platform which was eerily similar to Twitter. In fact my first buzz posting which I put up without reading anything about it was that it looks a lot like twitter. To which I’m pretty sure I got a lot of people ripping on me for that. But the real reason I wrote that is because well, I had no clue what Buzz was supposed to be at that point.

I mention Buzz because it’s another venture that Google started and later shut down. While it wanted to be Twitter, it’s true mission was so that Google could get more information. And recently I read a WSJ article (The Mounting Minuses at Google+) that said that, “… the main financial goal of Google+ is to obtain personal data about users to better target ads to them across all of Google.”

That sounds a little scandalous, doesn’t it? Also in that article it shows a great picture that I will post here:

Average minutes per user on Social Networking sites for January (note: does not apply to mobile apps)

 Google+ even comes below Myspace in average minutes per visitor for the month of January. And everyone thought Myspace was dead! What’s more surprising is how Pinterest has grown, even more than Twitter and Linkedin. While not everyone may agree with Linkedin, it’s purpose is certainly different from Facebook. My dad and uncle would never consider joining Facebook (at least I think for my uncle), but they’re both on Linkedin as they both have professional post-graduate degree and operate in that sector.

Also, Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest, and tumblr are able to connect directly with Facebook. These connections actually increase Facebook’s influence, even respective to their “competitors”. But Google+ is more of a direct competitor to Facebook.

Additionally (non Google employees), how many friends do you have on Facebook and how many connections do you have on Google+? I don’t want to disclose numbers but between Google+, Linkedin, Twitter, and Facebook, the lowest number of connections I have is on Google+. Twitter is hard to judge but on both Linkedin and Facebook, I know I can post and have almost 1000 people aware of my post.

This isn’t to say that Google+ is doomed. They just need a better strategy. As I stated before, Facebook can go down. And if they were, wouldn’t it be Google+ to take its place?