Is Amazon Chime Poised to Disrupt the Workplace?

Key Takeaway: Given numerous entrants into the videoconferencing sector from established and emerging technology companies—including the recent introduction of Amazon Chime—the market leader position in this space is up for grabs. We at Market Strategies have a lot of questions about how the sector is growing and transforming. How prevalent is videoconferencing? Which platforms are being used? What do companies need to focus on to make their platform ubiquitous?  In this article, we will share our data and insights on the players in this space, including the number one thing a company must do to come out on top.

Videoconferencing technologies have been around for more than a decade, but we have seen them take off with our clients in the past year. We enjoy being able to visually interact with our clients and colleagues so we set out to conduct our own research study to learn more about the experience. While analyzing the results, we were surprised by the introduction of Amazon Chime, which promises “frustration-free online meetings with exceptional audio and video quality.” Why would Amazon enter this market now, with Skype and Hangouts being around for years? Is it insightful or redundant? Will a majority of users asking their colleagues to ‘Skype’ or ‘Hangout’ now ask them to ‘Chime?’

Our data suggests Amazon’s move is insightful. While Skype and Hangouts are certainly popular, there is plenty of room for additional competitors especially since no one seems to have worked out all of the technology bugs. And with a majority of users not wedded to any single platform, Amazon (or another disruptor) has plenty of opportunity to grab market share.

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Rise of the Machines: From Modems to Murder

Rise of the MachinesA few years ago, I was told the story of somebody who had walked out of a shopping mall to find that their car had been stolen. They did what any one of us would have done in that situation: called the police and reported the crime. But they were also inadvertently doing exactly what the criminals wanted—focusing on the ‘stolen’ vehicle, which wasn’t the real crime after all. For what the criminals had done was gotten into the car, fired up the satellite navigation, clicked Home and gone straight to the owner’s residence. Confident that the missing car would detain the owner for at least a few hours, the criminals used the electronic door opener in the vehicle to gain access to the house and ransacked the same for valuables. After all, it is easier to sell ‘hot’ electronics and jewelry than it is a current model SUV. Eventually the owner returned home to find their car parked safely in the driveway but most of their treasured possessions gone.

Despite the crime, I remember being quite astounded at the ingenuity of the criminals, and specifically how they had used a (then) cutting-edge piece of technology to spearhead their nefarious plot. I was equally surprised recently when I read that the Europol, the European policing agency, has published a threat assessment predicting that the first murder via “hacked internet-connected device” is likely to occur before the end of 2014. How is that even possible? Is this just a case of the Europeans getting panicky over nothing, or is there a genuine risk here? And if there is a risk, what does this mean for researchers, especially those of us that work so closely with the world’s leading tech and security firms? Continue reading

Kickstarting Innovation

Kickstarting InnovationHighs, Lows and Potato Salad

I am addicted to the thrill of the hunt on Kickstarter, a funding platform for creative projects. I love exploring projects from around the globe that are seeking funding from people like me. With my background in tech research, I am drawn to the technology and product design campaigns, but I enjoy exploring coffee, tabletop games and several other categories as well. I could spend hours reading the entrepreneurs’ backstories and why they believe their widget is the most valuable, special thing out there. For people like me, Kickstarter is the perfect mix of online shopping, online community and heroism. Why heroism? Because via Kickstarter, the Davids of the world can rise up against the Goliaths—corporations and well-funded venture capital firms—and have a real, substantial say about which innovations go to market.

I’m certainly not alone in my Kickstarter fervor. Over 6.5 million people have funded projects that range from the absurd (a “hot” project is for making potato salad with an initial funding goal of $10 and a final pledge level surpassing $54,000 as well as a national debate about what “the potato salad guy” should do with the funds) to the futuristic (a Dick Tracy smartwatch called Pebble, with an initial funding goal of $100,000 and a record-setting final pledge level of more than $10 million).

Setting aside the less-than-serious projects like potato salad, crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter are changing the innovation game, and product development teams should pay close attention.

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The Connected Car: How MR Must Flex to Meet Millennial Demands

2013-06-carFifteen years ago I started a career as a tech writer, which included predicting how the new era of ubiquitous, always-on connectivity would ultimately change our business and personal lives. As the tech bubble rose, we all predicted evermore incredible things and, of course, many were nothing more than hype. My personal favorite is the Internet Refrigerator, possibly the most oft-quoted example of what an always-on digital life would enable. Imagine a refrigerator (so the story went) that monitors the food inside it, notifies you when you’re low on milk, and even orders your weekly groceries online. I first wrote about this concept back when “dot com” was still a fashionable term, and yet a decade and a half later, my refrigerator sits dumbly with a near-empty carton of sour milk inside.

The Smart Fridge bomb of the 1990s leads me to ponder: what are the hype examples of today that are destined to become ironic footnotes of tomorrow? A straw poll among colleagues quickly offered up a likely candidate in the form of the Connected Car. Imagine a car (so the story goes) that has always-on wireless broadband, monitors its own health as well as that of its driver, communicates with key information sources (traffic, weather, even other cars), and is a hub of streaming entertainment for its passengers. Sounds great, but experience tells us that the mere availability of technology is no harbinger of success. The real question is this: will Connected Cars satisfy a genuine need and thereby stimulate ongoing consumer demand?

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