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Geoff Beckman & Associates
Timely, relevant, in-depth analysis about business and technology
Timely, relevant, in-depth analysis about business and technology


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Tweet: Millennials will buy food from chain restaurants-- but via food delivery services. They don't want to dine in:

Part of the reason the chains are sucking wind is that people under 35 are looking for authentic food. They aren't willing to accept Don Pablo's as "Mexican", Olive Garden or Carraba's as "Italian" or P.F. Chang's or Benihana as "Asian".

(Yes, I know people under 35 eat at Taco Hell a lot, but some of that is because it's cheap and some is that they cater to drunk people.)

Partly it's that they're being underpaid, so they can't afford to eat out that often.

A lot of it is that carry-out has advantages. You don't have to get dressed up, wait in line, sit in a place that has schlocky decor-- maybe next to a noisy 8-year-old. You won't pay a 1,000% markup on drinks (or spend $3 for a non-alcoholic beverage that is usually sold in two-liter bottles for $1).

You don't have to tip the server and won't get pressed to order high-margin stuff (appetizers, dessert) that you might or might not really want. You can have music, TV or movies playing while you wait-- and then while you eat.

And if you use a delivery service, you can order naked, do anything you like while you're waiting for the food, and collect your food wearing a bathrobe.

What do you lose?

1. The fee for delivery (you need to tip the driver, so you don't save on that).

2. The opportunity to get a refill (fries at Red Robin, salad or breadsticks at the Olive Garden) or make an impulse purchase.

3. It'll take longer to get there-- maybe as long as an hour.

4. It will need to be reheated-- it certainly won't be as hot as when it left the kitchen. Also, crispy stuff (chicken, onion rings) has probably been steamed into mush by sitting in a container.

But if you order carefully, you can finesse that.

The internet doesn't overcome the logistical issues that all delivery services face. But it can cut expenses enough to make it viable to deliver-- especially if you use a delivery-only service, rather than do it yourself. It's becoming a real competitive threat.
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Tweet: People claim they use apps with strong encryption-- but they don't know (too hard to figure out) whether they are:

The sneering in the story is highly inappropriate. People assume their app is secure, because other people (especially the makers) say it is. Anyway, how are you going to know? Reading the EULA is simpler and more fun than the privacy and security stuff.

And, as one person points out, if you use a secure app-- but your buddy does not-- how do you walk to them securely? Especially since many of the "secure stuff has a horrible user interface and is hard as hell to figure out.

People will do stuff if they can do so easily. But they're not going to learn command line syntax solely so they can use a Unis OS on the desktop.
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Tweet: Having sold off the PC division it grew by buying Compaq; HP plans to grow its network group though acquisition:

How to be a CEO in five easy lessons:

1. Sell off all the companies your predecessor bought at a loss, because (1) they no longer meet your "core competency." and "business vision" and (2) you need to amass cash to implement your strategic vision.

2. Announce layoffs to cut costs and help service your corporate debt.

3. Acquire a bunch of companies (usually with stock and debt) whose technology seems trendy now, so you can expand your "portfolio of services."

4. Address the people upset about the slump in the stock price by laying off employees.

5. Get fired, so the new CEO can come in and repeat the process.
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Tweet: 67% of internet subscribers buy a streaming service. Only 61% have cable (most say it's required for internet):

This story is a little bit fudged. First and foremost, this study is limited to people who subscribe to broadband (10+ MB or better). That excludes all DSL subscribers (maximum 6 MB), all satellite internet, all dial-up and all people who don't have internet. That's over 40% of the country.

Second, one of the streaming services is "HBO Go"-- which is available for free to anyone who gets HBO on their cable subscription. The study isn't clear, but I don't think they filtered out people like me. technically, they're double-counting.

Third, most of the people who subscribe to Amazon Prime do not do it to get video. It's a bonus; they use it. But It's not the main reason they get it.

But 67% of broadband users have a streaming channel; 61% have cable. And the majority of those cable users (in a different study) say they don't have a choice-- they can't order broadband internet unless they also sign up for cable TV. (Or it isn't financially feasible.)

That's what they call a "captive market"-- and if those households can run, they will.
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Tweet: Wall Street analysts says cable industry lost 2.5% of customers in 2016. Expects 3.5% this year then 4% in 2018:

I guess the theme for today is "Stories that are self-evident." This is another trend that's pretty obviously going to grow. People can't afford to pay $200 a month for cable and internet, cable companies aren't doing anything to reduce costs. So the people who can cut the cord will.

The only thing the companies have done to stem this loss are (1) require people to buy a cable plan in order to get internet and (2) add bandwidth caps to reduce streaming consumption. The second is simply driving people to stream stuff on their phones; the first we get to next hour.
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Tweet: New study: Investors prefer to "mentor" entrepreneurs similar to themselves. Which (naturally) includes a penis:

The nice thing about the story is how it runs through all the normal options for funding, explaining why women get shortchanged. They're not promoted, they don't get hired by investment firms, they are less likely to network aggressively (every new contact is likely to hit on them).

One section of the piece that sounds sexist but isn't-- the part saying that women are naturally risk-averse. This can be documented in a number of situations. Women are less likely to accept an unsolicited job offer from a headhunter. They are less likely to apply for jobs where they do not fit all the requirements. They invest less in the stock market and choose lower-risk investments than men.

None of these things are necessarily bad, mind you. A number of them are mean that women are less likely to make really stupid decisions. There are studies showing that risk-taking correlates with testosterone levels, They sound a little too pat, but there is a growing amount of data behind it.

It's always fun to present this data to the Paul Grahams-- the bigots who insist that there is no bias, just tough-minded decision-making. The solution is always "give it time to sort out"-- which, the ecosystem being the way it is, will never happen. Funny... it's as if they know that.
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Tweet: Steganography (hiding a message in a harmless file) used comments on Britney Spears Instagram to control malware:

This isn't a best practice example. We know that, because it was detected. The most skillful exploits never get noticed. But it explains how the process works, and that is valuable.

The downside: If enough people see this story, every semi-literate comment will be assumed to be a coded message from Vladimir Putin to Donald Trump.
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Tweet: Backchannel, which was published on Medium, is moving to Wired. Tired of waiting for Ev Williams to help it monetize

They did get bought by Wired, so this was coming. But there was no talk of it until Medium entered thrash mode.

I've never been as convinced that Ev Williams the CEO walks on water. Blogger was lucky enough to be acquired by Google, which knew exactly how to monetize it (use it as a tool to pump out ads). In an alternate universe, it gets bought by Yahoo and withers.

Twitter? Well, we know how financially successful that has been (not at all). The founders and funders made money; nobody else has.

Medium is a neat idea, nicely executed. But it hasn't found a buyer and it hasn't gone public, so it is struggling along, not earning money. The natives publishing on it are starting to get restless, and I don't expect the cavalry to show up.

Williams is good at coming up with ideas that are well-executed-- and people like. Coming up with ideas that pay for themselves? Not so much.
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Tweet: Signs Apple is thrashing, They add (far too late) podcast analytics ( ) & QR code support:

You can almost always tell when Apple is feeling some kind of pain. In such cases, it agrees to add features that people have often asked about-- but it has always disdained.

The volume of stuff they recently added-- none of which was significant; none of which pleased fans-- suggests that Apple is feeling pressured to do something people will like. The failure to connect-- even with the famboi base-- suggests that nobody at the top knows what would work.
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Tweet: NSA promised to tell Congress how many Americans it spies on each year; now says it can't estimate. Buy Excel, guys:

Dan Coats was one of the more dimwitted US Senators. Like most politicians, he has no understanding of technology. That is why these evasions aren't even close to artful. James Clapper, Michael Hayden and Keith Alexander at least made these excuses sound convincing.

Whether it matters, I don't know. Since not very many people lost their jobs due to their position on surveillance in the 2016 elections, politicians have decided to go with "All Surveillance, All The Time." The NSA might be able to get away with pretending it doesn't know how many people it has swept up.
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