Archive for 'Stage Two'
This week the Stage Two team embarked on a tour of the beautiful Russian River Valley for an off site team building experience for the ages.
The team got to bond, relax and detect subtle notes of oak and vanilla.
The weather was perfect – sunny and in the mid-70s – and good times were had by all.
Along the way we stopped at some amazing wineries, enjoyed a picnic lunch and sang some serious Bon Jovi tunes in the back of our limo.
Special thanks to our limo driver who returned the iPad Adam left in the back of the ride. You are a scholar and a gentleman.
The Stage Two team recently moved into our new offices on Townsend Street, right across from the ball park in San Francisco.
We are still in the process of settling in and unpacking, but we managed to get the coffee machine working, so are calling the entire process a win. As you might expect, a company that works with consumer technology collects quite a few gadgets over the years. During the move we uncovered 2 XBOXes, 1 3D0, several tablets, laptops and netbooks and an ergonomic mouse. It was interesting to see how far technology has come in the last few years.
We really enjoyed working on Montgomery Street and will miss our friends and neighbors in Jackson Square (specifically the breakfast at Bocadillos and the everything at Naked Lunch). But we also look forward to exploring the SOMA district in the coming weeks, making new friends and finding new places to hang out.
Our phone number and email are still the same, and we still have our “open door” policy. If you are in the neighborhood, come by and say hi – we’d love to show you around Stage Two and our new neighborhood.
Yesterday the news broke that Apple iOS devices have been secretly tracking and storing their movements for over a year. Privacy advocates, tech pundits and even politicians got involved almost immediately. We thought we would get in on the media maelstrom and offer a slightly different take on these revelations.
Here, then, are our top ten creepy stalker songs to play on your creepy stalker iOS device.
10. Every Breath You Take – The Police
9. I Will Posses Your Heart – Death Cab For Cutie
8. #1 Crush – Garbage
7. I Love You . . . I’ll Kill You – Enigma
6. You Belong To Me – Carly Simon
5. My Best Friend’s Girl – The Cars
4. Protect Ya Neck – Wu-Tang Clan
3. I Will Follow – U2
2. Sunglasses at Night – Corey Hart
1. Never Gonna Give You Up – Rick Astley
Seriously, our clients are really good at what they do. And when they have good news to share we love shouting it from the rooftops! Anyway, what’s more exciting than getting money? Orbotix, the creators of the robotic ball Sphero, closed $5 million in a Series B funding by Foundry Group and Highway 12 Ventures.
Not only is Orbotix getting some new funds to further the production of Sphero, it’s gaining a new board member: Mark Solon, managing director of Highway 12 Ventures. He joins Brad Feld, managing director of Foundry Group, who has been working with Orbotix since the TechStar days last summer. Read more from Mark on the Highway 12 Blog.
Sphero will be ready to ship before the holidays this year, but you can reserve your own here, which is recommended because we know they’ll be selling like hot cakes (hot spherical cakes).
Check out some of the coverage Orbotix received today with the announcement:
TechCrunch posted a great article on new Stage Two client Evoz today. Robin Wauters, an expecting father himself, got a live demo of the Evoz baby monitoring service from Avishai Shoham, the founder of the firm. Robin’s thoughts?
“The verdict? It’s freaking amazing.”
Quoting from TechCrunch:
Imagine if you had an iPhone or iPod touch to spare, and that you’d simply install it in a charger in your young child’s room like you would any baby monitor.
Now imagine that an always-on application installed on the device would let you call in from anywhere in the world to hear how your baby is sleeping (or exactly how hard he or she is crying, or if you’re lucky, laughing or playing). Imagine that you could also opt to receive ‘quiet’ alerts by SMS or email whenever your kid cries for longer than, say, 5 minutes, so you can give the babysitter a quick call to see what’s up after e.g. a meeting or dinner . . . Evoz lets you do all that, and more.
As both Stage Two founders are recent parents themselves, they know the value of a state of the art baby monitoring service. “I have wanted digital baby monitoring since I had my first kid,” said Jeremy Toeman. “RF baby monitors have been outdated since the 70’s. I’m already using this in my house with my newborn.”
We are proud to work with Avishai and the entire Evoz team.
Parents with children under 18 months old and 2 iOS devices are encouraged to sign up for the Beta here.
Posted by Jeremy Toeman and Greg Franzese
Orbotix has been a client for six months now and we are thrilled to be working with their talented product team. They debuted Sphero at CES and – more recently – took the little sphere on the road at SXSW. We are excited that Sphero will ship this fall and can’t wait to share its special sense of play with the world.
The Sphero team is really cranking on all cylinders these days, and it never ceases to amaze us the speed at which they innovate in this growing space. They started with Sphero and now, with the introduction of Cubo, will bring two solutions to the market this fall.
Congrats to the entire Orbotix team! They are really thinking outside the box with this one.
Posted by Jeremy Toeman and Greg Franzese
Andrew Orlowski has a detailed article in The Register that looks at why Nokia’s mobile ecosystem failed. It wasn’t because their Symbian software was faulty (the article states that Symbian devices actually performed better than others in terms of signal strength and battery life). According to the article, Symbian died because it lacked usability. Quoting from the page:
Nokia’s phones were considered uncompetitive in the marketplace, because new products from Apple and Android had raised the bar for ease of use, particularly for new data applications, and Nokia’s user experience was awful.
The UX matters: it’s the first thing potential customers see when a friend passes them their new phone in the pub. A well-designed UX is consistent, forgiving and rewarding; Nokia’s user experience was inconsistent, unforgiving and hostile.
This last point is especially salient. Apple’s focus on usability and user experience is one of the reasons they have been so successful with devices like the iPad 2. In order to succeed, device makers must deliver well designed products with great UX.
GigaOm delivered their own Symbian autopsy in which ex-Nokia designer Adam Greenfield stated that the cause of death was lack of taste. “There’s nobody with any taste in the decision-making echelons at Nokia,” he writes. Steve Jobs has made similar comments about a lack of taste in the tech sector in the past. Tasteful design and desirable user experiences matter more to consumers than hardware specs and processing power.
While UX is certainly a critical component of successful product development, we see another key factor that led to Nokia abandoning their mobile ecosystem – the rise of 3G and constantly connected devices. In our opinion, Nokia (and Palm, for that matter) got into trouble early in the 3G adoption curve. The company built a bevy of brilliant feature phones up until the 3G paradigm shift, but once technologies like email and mobile web arrived, Nokia failed to adapt in the ways consumers wanted. Its operating system could not handle these newer features and the entire platform stagnated. Eventually, the OS fell too far behind the rest of the market to save it. When people examine the end of the Symbian ecosystem, usability issues will certainly come up.
Great usability must work in concert with a nimble, adaptive corporation that can respond to (and hopefully initiate) tech trends. And this – by the way – is how Apple could one day fail. If a paradigm shift occurs outside Cupertino and Apple fails to pay attention to it, they could move quickly from market leader to tech laggard. As a final aside, placing widgets on homescreens is not something we consider a paradigm shift (hint, hint, Android). When a real computing sea change happens, the winners will be the companies that recognize it and react swiftly.
Oliver Burkeman’s recent Guardian article traces his journey through this year’s SXSW festival and explores the rapidly eroding line that defines what happens “online” and what takes place in the “real world.” More than mere mobile computing, the next internet epoch is ubiquitous and self aware. The end of the internet as we know it occurs:
When the GPS system in your phone or iPad can relay your location to any site or device you like, when Facebook uses facial recognition on photographs posted there, when your financial transactions are tracked, and when the location of your car can influence a constantly changing, sensor-driven congestion-charging scheme, all in real time.
The article details some fascinating tech trends such as gamification, biomimicry and augmented reality. Exactly how all of these ideas will impact our lives still remains to be seen, but the time when the internet was thing that you “logged on to” from a desktop is long gone. Burkeman quotes the writing of Tim O’Reilly (the man who coined the phrase Web 2.0) to declare that – now – “the web is the world.”
Posted by Jeremy Toeman and Greg Franzese
We recently ran across the following presentation that covers “10 Rules for Connected TV App Development.”
Javier Lasa’s deck inspired us to post our own 10 rules for building Smart TV Apps (we will get it done by the end of next week). For more good reading, check out Stage Two’s ten essential tips for making a great Google TV site, and ten commandments for building an amazing Boxee Box App.
After seeing this commercial for the Motorola Xoom (in which a man picks up a tablet and literally takes off in a space ship), I was struck by a number of thoughts.
The first was, “Man, I love spaceships.”
The second thought was, “They seem to be targeting young men.”
The third thought was, “And they are doing a rather poor job.”
My last thought was more of a daydream that I will share with you all here – to the best of my ability. It was something along the lines of “How could Motorola make the ultimate Xoom ad? What other cool things could they put in a Xoom commercial to attract the coveted 18 – 34 year old male demographic? ” Here is what I came up with.
- These Shoes
- A Fairy Princess Wedding
- Explosions (The Bigger The Better)
- Bacon Wrapped Bacon
- Robocop on a Unicorn
- Dinosaurs with Lasers
The above Xoom video focuses too much attention on the tablet’s technical specifications. Motorola should be telling people less about spaceships and more about the benefits of the device. Outside of the tech world (where most tablet customers live) users don’t really care about the Xoom’s dual-core “gyroscope” or one-point-twenty-one gigawatts of processing power. They want to know what the device does that helps them in real world situations. Look at Apple’s iPad commercial. There isn’t a single spec in it- not one. The entire video shows different applications for the tablet that people can imagine themselves doing. So, Motorola – either deliver a Xoom ad that shows people all the interesting and fun things your tablet does, or make with the Dino-lasers.
If you have any ideas for Ultimate Xoom ads, let us know in the comments.