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  • Can Microsoft Rise Again? [View article]
    "All that sort of simple data entry can be done now via apps."

    That is not my experience. For example at the present time I have spreadsheets where all the data entry is binary choices, checklists, and selection from pull down menus using data validation controls, and these features don't work on apps on phone operating systems. At least not on Windows phone. Maybe they work on Android and Apple.

    People think of spreadsheets as used primarily for accounting purposes, but actually they are a universal tool for entering, collecting, displaying, and manipulating all kinds of data.
    Apr 7, 2015. 09:10 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Can Microsoft Rise Again? [View article]
    A few months back I predicted in these pages that Microsoft would most likely hit $50 per share, which it did, so it was no real surprise when the stock retreated from that important technical point of resistance at which many stock and option holders would probably cash out (as I did).

    At $40 per share the stock looks like a decent buy pending the next run at $50, assuming that comes before the next run at $30, which I think it will.

    I believe that the release of the universal operating system Windows 10 this summer is going to be a huge catalyst for Windows phone, especially for phablet sized devices like the Nokia 1520 and whatever succeeds it in the Windows phone ecosystem, because you will then have hand-held pocket size devices able to run a full operating system that will be immensely useful in business, for example inputting data into spreadsheets (currently cripped on phones) or editing employee time card programs on a pocket device. I can also foresee a huge increase in the use of One Note on handheld devices (aka phones) once the operating systems are united and the full version of One Note 2013 or its successor can be run on phones. I also understand that Microsoft is coming out with better support for onscreen writing and dictation, which is also very important.

    I recently used an Android phone for a couple of weeks and didn't like the device at all compared to a phone running Windows phone. That is now, but the gulf will be much greater one Windows 10 is up and running and everything really comes together.

    I think it is also very important to look at what is going on in worldwide markets and not just in the USA which is Apple's backyard.

    Discussion of phones (or handheld computers as we should probably call them) often focus on the question of whether phablets can be operated with one hand, which I think is a mistake. Has anyone tried to hold a Surface RT or PRO or Galaxy tablet in one hand while jabbing the screen with the other? Those things are heavy and will give you carpal tunnel syndrome in a jiffy, but a phablet can be held in one hand very comfortably while the other is used to enter data by finger or stylus. This will not be much of a consolation for those multitaskers who want to send texts and play the guitar or urinate at the same time while driving a semi, but the rest of us won't be bothered too much.

    However making money in the stock market would be awfully easy if stocks just went up vertically when companies were doing well, but in truth stocks bounce around most erratically between being overvalued and undervalued and no man knoweth when they are next going to swoon or surge--at least not at the level of Seeking Alpha readership and even Warren Buffett screwed up by selling Tesco puts in large numbers. All we can really say is that MSFT has the potential for another run at $50 per share within the next year.
    Apr 7, 2015. 12:50 AM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Surface 3 And Apple Watch - Red Oceans Vs. Blue Oceans [View article]
    That is pretty much what Cortana does!
    Apr 5, 2015. 05:46 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Wal-Mart Continues To Make Its Turn [View article]
    In my local Publix there are several managers and assistant managers who wear suits and ties and have their pictures posted at the customer service desk, but they are often seen discreetly stacking shelves.
    Apr 5, 2015. 05:35 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Wal-Mart Continues To Make Its Turn [View article]
    Good article. The Walmart Neighborhood Market stores are actually just regular food supermarkets rather than the out-of-town or near-the-interstate department stores that are open 24 hours. Also have much smaller parking lots (less distance to walk past employee cars in all the best spots.)

    Maybe they can serve the "food deserts" i.e. low income, high crime urban areas where regular supermarkets fear to tread and where most of the food stores sell mainly Coca-Cola, Pringles, lottery tickets, Wonderloaf, and cigarettes. Trouble is I suspect many people who live in these areas have forgotten how to cook regular food anyway.

    Anyway, they are definitely a route to getting more grocery customers spending at Walmart who maybe don't want to drive 10 miles for the groceries and walk 100 yards from the vehicle to the front of the store, so probably good for growth.
    Apr 3, 2015. 12:58 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Surface 3 And Apple Watch - Red Oceans Vs. Blue Oceans [View article]
    Good article. One of the problems is that there is no definitive device for all tasks. People keep talking about tablets replacing laptops, but who wants to work on a tiny cramped device all the time? Personally for desk work I want a minimum 19 inches wide screen so I can lean back in my chair, or show work to someone else, a large keyboard with full travel keys, and a full-size mouse.

    But I also have smaller devices, like a small phone that fits in my top blazer pocket so I can answer texts by voice when driving, a tablet to sit on my bedside table for use primarily as a music player, a small tablet for one-handed reading in bed and so on.

    There is no combination of device, data plan, and phone service that is perfect for all my needs and my desired budget and probably never will be, because it is not in the interest of the main computer companies and telephone companies to provide me with exactly what I want, unless I am prepared to pay premium prices, enter into long term contracts, and so on, so there will always be multiple ways for people to get what they most need (or think they need) at a price they can afford.

    Once you have established that you can afford anything, the choices are much clearer. Perhaps large screen monitors and heavy duty keyboards and mouse at home and work, a high powered tablet like the Surface Pro 3 that is portable and can be taken on the road, a smaller tablet with stylus support like the Galaxy for client presentations and data collection, a phablet-size device with or without calling for reading and net surfing in bed or in the airport waiting lounge , and a small phone with a good camera, wifi, and a data hotspot for sharing together with the data plan for than, and you have your starter kit.

    Or maybe you can substitute an Apple laptop for the Surface Pro 3 if you prefer to use the Apple software or your job requires it.
    Apr 3, 2015. 12:50 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Microsoft: The $70 Lumia 430 Should Alarm Samsung And Google [View article]
    I can't see why people attach such value to banking apps. You still have to go to an ATM to get cash, and with so many bigger phones available these days, if you really have to check your bank balance several times a day to see how much money you have, you can surely get on the bank's mobile optimized Web site and do your business that way. Or even use a laptop or tablet type computer.

    OK, now tell me I am ignorant and out of date and that Warren Buffet is conducting his whole business on a banking app, and that fortunes are won and lost on banking apps on phones every day.
    Mar 24, 2015. 12:18 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Microsoft launches $70 Lumia 430 [View news story]
    The 7-inch tablet I have now runs Windows 8.1 on an intel processor, and is only one step up in size from a big phone, so it is certainly possible.
    Mar 24, 2015. 12:06 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Microsoft launches $70 Lumia 430 [View news story]
    "The thing is - most people equate Windows with work."

    This seems to be a very North American attitude to Windows phone and I wonder how much it affects world wide markets.

    Of course it IS true that Windows integration and functionality is probably more useful for work than for play.

    It is often said that Windows phone lacks apps. I don't find it to be so bad. I particularly like Cortana reading out my text messages while driving and taking dictation to send a reply with completely no hands.

    I recently tried out an Android phone for a couple of days and didn't seem to be able to do this at all. Sure there were a couple of apps that sort of did it, but they seemed to be written by 12-year-olds and were far from the finished product.

    I also like being able to dictate into Speech Trans and send the text transcript to One Note with only one touch. Obviously I would like it more if it was fully automated and done by voice, but most likely that is coming. I have tried dictating into a Galaxy tablet and it came out as complete gibberish, whereas my Nokia phone takes it down like a champ.

    The real problem that Windows phone faces is that Apple has a lock on the upper echelon business and professional markets, and Android is the choice of those whose main interests are Tinder, Grindr, and Blendr and apps written by 12-year-olds for each other. However what I find hard to understand is how Apple users were all so happy with their small equipment up to iPhone 5, and now they all decided that size matters in the age of Six.

    However I can't see Microsoft giving up on Windows phone, because integration between devices is so important in the long run.

    Microsoft is offering some great deals at the moment, for example I was able to pick up a little 7" tablet running Windows 8.1 recently for about $60 for when I wanted something a bit bigger than a phone to show my One Notes to other people, but still one handed, and it came with a year free of Microsoft Office Personal and 60 minutes a month of free international calling on Skype, so if you look at it from a favorable angle, you could say that the device was free.

    Is this a going out of business sale, or something different? There are loads of products out there that survive in spite of attracting little attention. For example, when has anyone said anything good about All In One computers here on Seeking Alpha. Yet manufacturers are still making them, and once Windows 10 unites the operating systems, it really isn't going to cost Microsoft much to keep the operating system alive for the phones.
    Mar 23, 2015. 11:54 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Microsoft: Carrier Support Is Key To Windows Phone Success [View article]
    My Nokia 520 already works perfectly well without SIM card service. In fact my daughter (age 2) uses one daily without a SIM card, just with wi-fi. She can call me on Skype (and does) and if I chose to enable the service, she could also use the paid Skype calling service to make calls directly to my cell phone or to landline phones.

    One of the great advantages of this service is that you can make calls from anywhere in the world to numbers in North America without paying local international calling rates to a cell phone company.

    So Microsoft already provides wi-fi phones, only they have SIM card calling too. And there are plenty of other services like Line and Viber offering various levels of service.

    This is exactly how many people in developing markets WILL use smart phones, so you are right, sort of, and Microsoft is doing the right things. Only in developed countries with highly developed systems of credit ratings is it more advantageous for the consumer to buy into a two-year contract where the monthly payments include the cost of the expensive device, or most of it.

    Here is a question, a poser. If you can buy a cheap SIM card phone for as little as $10, (which you can), then why does it cost a huge amount to add SIM card calling to a wi-fi ready device? Why can I not add a $10 SIM card dongle to my laptop and use it as a phone with a calling plan like Cricket that is now offering unlimited domestic calling and texting, plus unlimited international texting, plus unlimited international calling for a number of countries, plus 20GB of data for about $50 per month?

    Obviously it must be technically possible, but probably the answer is that the large network companies like ATT and T_Mobile don't want that in North America. However there is no real reason to assume that patterns of usage will not change in other markets.
    Mar 11, 2015. 11:00 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Microsoft: Carrier Support Is Key To Windows Phone Success [View article]
    My two year old was frustrated today as she could not download a game she wanted on her Windows phone. I had neglected to tell her that I recently changed my Windows account password. I don't know why she doesn't set up her own account, since she is so smart, but for now I am letting her use mine. The credit card payment system is disabled, since I found her trying to buy $50 worth of gold coins for some game she likes.

    Parents beware! A lot of these children's games are basically set up to steal money.
    Feb 28, 2015. 10:52 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Microsoft: Carrier Support Is Key To Windows Phone Success [View article]
    But could you put it in the handkerchief pocket of your blazer and and dictate no hands replies to text messages with it while you drive.
    Feb 28, 2015. 10:44 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Microsoft: Carrier Support Is Key To Windows Phone Success [View article]
    There is no reason why people cannot have a number of different kinds of device if they need them. Leaving aside a workplace desktop, I have a laptop, a Surface tablet, a small Windows phone, a large Android phone (you can call it a phablet) and a Galaxy tablet that is supplied for my use by one of my employers.

    The thing is that you could probably buy one of each of these plus a fairly decent digital camera for the cost of the latest iPhone.

    Incidentally, I have the Android phablet as a handheld data entry and reading device that can fit in a pocket, but when I tried using it as a phone instead of my Windows phone, I soon reverted to using the Windows phone and now just use the phablet by powering it with the hotspot from the Galaxy tablet (which I otherwise find to be a particularly useless device for most purposes). I just like the way Cortana handles my messages when I am driving and asks me "Read it, or ignore it?" and then asks if I would like to reply (all no hands). Once you get used to a feature, you don't want to give it up.

    The price of iPhones seems to be remarkable in the sense that if you get an iPod without GSM calling and messaging, you basically have a crippled iPhone, and yet to add GSM calling and messaging to the device adds hundreds of dollars to the price, although it cannot add much to the cost of manufacturing. While extra memory seems to make the price go up sharply, memory is not actually very expensive and my $29.99 Nokia 520 phone has unlimited story memory if you allow for switching out the 64GB SD card and putting in another one, which you can't do with Apple devices.

    Apple devices are great (I had an iPod a few years ago), but there is no particular reason to think that people in India or Pakistan (huge populations) would necessarily bypass Windows phone in favor of Apple because of the Bank of America app or lack of. Every cell phone market is different, and what may be very popular in one place may be a complete flop in another for all kinds of reasons, not least marketing.

    Incidentally, I was in a somewhat ghetto Cricket store in Florida recently looking at the large ZTE phone they have for $199 and asking a few questions like how loud was the volume on the speakers, and did it take an SD card, and could it be used as a hotspot. The store was staffed by three charming young ethnic women who were full of innuendo "Ooh, if you buy that phone, then LaShonda has something special for you!". The interesting thing was the manageress told me: "Hardly anyone who comes in here is really interested in the phone like you. Most people just say "Oh, I like that one. It's purdy! Really cute!"

    So tastes in cell phones and what people are looking for WILL vary hugely in different markets, even within a single country. Lack of a BoA app may be a dealbreaker for some, but I doubt that many customers in that Cricket store are too bothered about it.
    Feb 28, 2015. 10:36 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Microsoft: Carrier Support Is Key To Windows Phone Success [View article]
    How would anyone make money from developing an app for Bank of America? Would end users pay for it? If you have developed the framework for a good Bank of America app for North America for Apple, can you readily adapt the code for any other bank in the world by changing parameters and interface languages?

    I would have thought the general trend for apps that are alternative Web sites is for companies to develop mobile versions of their Web sites that are browser agnostic or browser indifferent. Surely much more cost effective than maintaining multiple apps.

    Most interesting is the question of apps that aren't just versions of Web sites, but that use some function of the operating system to perform calculations or display images, like the cooking timer app I have on my phone, or the Nokia downloadable maps or the Bing downloadable languages.

    Personally I like to be able to be in a foreign country and still be able to access local maps and gps without using roaming data, or be able to use Spanish language translation without a Web connection. Actually I rarely use this as my Spanish is fairly fluent, but occasionally it can be handy to look up a word in a legal document, or something like that.

    Anyway, I readily concede that Windows phone will always be a minority operating system in North America, but how does this affect the availabilty of apps in emerging markets like like Argentina and Pakistan and Nigeria?

    Are Android and Apple developers there making money in ways that cannot be done with Windows, or is it just a question or adapting apps that are successful in North America to other markets?

    What kind of apps sell the operating systems in these markets?

    In my own not very exhaustive researches in the health care system in the US, I find that yes, higher paid employees like doctors usually do have Apple phones, though some had adopted the larges sized Samsung phones before Apple came out with the larger phones, because they were better for using with the fine print in drug database or symptom lookups and such, and particularly for data entry into fields. The larger phones are also better for reading pdfs and electronic patient medical records, examining X-ray images, EKGs, etc. while on the go. For dictation the size of the phone does not matter much.

    Lower paid ($10 per hour) employees also almost all have smart phones, but use them mostly for baby pictures, games, Facebook, etc. and are not knowledgeable about different operating systems. However lower paid employees are MUCH MORE NUMEROUS!

    And then what about the children? Many parents, for example me, are happy enough to put a $29.95 toy into the hands of a 2-year-old, but would think twice about a $650 device. My 2-year-old daughter has her own Nokia smart phone and is already quite expert at using the interface to access her games and videos, so much so that she now also picks up her mother's phone surreptitiously and places video calls me on Skype. Is she a Windows phone customer of the future, or is she in the same position as a child using a Mattel toy phone--just waiting to graduate to the real thing, an Apple or Samsung phone?

    I am certainly willing to listen to arguments about why Windows phone is destined to be a global failure, but I am not yet ready to short Microsoft on the basis of a complete collapse of the Windows franchise, because I don't know which way things will go in the future. The first Apple smart phone came out in 2007, only 8 years ago. Just think how many automobile manufacturers have come and gone since Henry Ford. I laughed when Honda started making cars powered with a chain like a motorcycle. We all knew Honda made good bikes, but cars? Give me a break! Nobody is laughing at Honda automobiles now.
    Feb 26, 2015. 11:17 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Microsoft: Carrier Support Is Key To Windows Phone Success [View article]
    Exactly. I use Bing quite a lot now as it is the default with Cortana on my Windows phone. Yes, I will still use Google sometimes when I can't find what I am looking for, but Bing can meet most people's needs.
    Feb 23, 2015. 09:20 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment