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February 2011

Memo to Google's Eric Schmidt -- don't quit your day job

So ya gotta believe Eric Schmidt-- he says the Smartphone is the new PC.  Can you believe it? He must know. The chief Googler says that this device is the new PC, smartphones are outpacing the sale of PCs and yeah, we will get everything we need from this 2 x 4 inch shaky little box. He really said this -- pretty much unquestioned by press who were at the event, the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.  And your car will drive itself, you'll never be lonely -- and you'll be happier. I'm not making that up -- he said it. Maybe he really can predict the future -- when miniaturization rules the world and we have bifocals attached to our bifocals. Just don't drop your PC into the trash on his say-so just yet.  Let's see how effective business people can be with this cute little thing -- let them try to edit a 21-page word document like the one I just sent out with 9 different graphics and 21 end-note references. In fact, I am willing to bet that none of the folks I sent it to are reading it on their iPhone, Droid, or BlackBerry. And folks I know are not updating their multi-sheet Excel files where they track their business performance and they're putting down their phones to work on those large PPT sales decks that they can only see fractionally.

Aging in Place Technology Watch February 2011 Newsletter

Chinese mandate visiting aging parents. This article is quite intriguing -- the Chinese are now experiencing the law of unintended consequences -- their one-child policy created a downstream eldercare issue. No siblings to split the responsibility, dispersed families and a government worried about the cost of care. So they have proposed a law mandating that family members visit their aging parents at a frequency to be named, plus 'pay medical expenses for the elderly suffering from illnesses and provide them with nursing care." I wonder -- what is a visit -- does Skype count? A phone call? How can this be verified?  This was based on a very real worry by the government that the social net programs will be overwhelmed by 2020 (250 million over the age of 65). So isn't the exact same phenomenon happening in the US?  And what does it mean to the future of safety net programs if 20% of US women had no children at all

Watson: good for baby boomers, puts doctors' diagnostic role in jeopardy

Watson: that Jeopardy win was a good beginning -- real win is ahead.  In a computer science building at Carnegie Mellon University last week, it was cute to watch the students file into a room to watch the last Jeopardy round on TV. So by now you know that IBM's super computerized multi-year Jeopardy effort paid off and Watson handily beat the two best human Jeopardy players. So what's Watson's next act? Soon, say IBM folk, Watson's tech will be commercialized within healthcare apps: "We're going to look at creating a product offering in the next 24 months that will help empower doctors to do higher quality decision making and diagnoses."  Interesting -- and even more so while thinking about Andy Kessler's WSJ analysis of the types of jobs threatened by technology, including the roles of today's doctors.

Road rage – runaway electronic technology in cars

People are to blame – so cars must outsmart them. And no, seniors aren’t to blame. Today’s Wall Street Journal confirmed that Toyota’s foot pedals were not at fault for the suddenly accelerating cars last year – was it human error?  In today’s NY Times we learned that the value of a human life is, uh, rising in dollar value ($9.1 million according to some federal agencies?). So what’s a government to do to avoid the cost of fewer than 40,000 driving fatalities last year? Save us from ourselves and cut power when both brake and accelerator are hit and how about adding black box recorders for post-crash analysis?

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Tell something new -- mobile apps, health, caregiving

Early 2011 was prolific for published studies. If you print all these, it's gonna get expensive. Click on the Trends link on this site and you will be awed and/or inspired -- nine studies have been posted since the start of this year, three on mobile devices and health.  The lemming effect is surely in play here: so much interest (not to mention conferences), so many apps in the iTunes App Store -- oh wait, in the top 10, we have a white noise generator and 3 weight-loss apps -- and further down the list, more white noise generators, apps for runners, baby names, mood tracking and apps about quite a few other bodily functions -- to say that the list is broadly inclusive as 'Healthcare & Fitness' is to understate.

Market to baby boomers or appeal to all ages

Oops, according to the Wall Street Journal - did I say the word aging? Ugh, that's so yesterday. This was a spectacular and sometimes hilarious weekend of coverage -- we were treated to a full page on the marketing struggle to be subtle and euphemistic about this mind-boggling trend. We will for the rest of this post put a euphemism whenever we want to think about it. Why do we want to read so much about this phenomenon?  Well, silly, because baby boomers are turning 65 at the rate of 10,000 per day (3.65 million this year and for the next 19 years). Never you mind that 1.7 million in the 65+ age range died last year, so in the near term that's a smaller gain than it looks -- and let's not forget that a few weeks ago, life expectancy shrank slightly. With the 'tsunami' of uh, living a long time having fun (see, there's a euphemism!), marketers have got to cash in.

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