Monday, September 15, 2008

Hypernova, meet Supply Chain Managment...

I couldn't help but post a "non-technical" opinion today. Yesterday, while shopping for groceries, I went to purchase my normal catch of canned tuna from Rio Mare (yeah, premium Tuna, I roll like that). I noticed Hypernova was selling the following:

1-Can Pack: 59.90 CZK
2-Can Pack: 139.90 CZK


That means, if you buy two, 1-can packs, you pay 119.80 CZK ... but if you buy 1, 2-can pack, you pay 139.90 CZK. Hmmm, ok. So I bought two, 1 can packs and saved the 20 CZK.

Now, it doesn't really take a genius to know something is wrong here. The cost of packaging 1 can vs. 2 cans is obviously more (Economies of scale anybody?), not to mention when you rid yourself of a 2-can pack, you free up more shelve space for more goods. Also, customers *generally* lower the cost of purchase by purchasing in bulk (while 2 cans to 1 isn't really bulk, the same "theory" applies). In other words, the one 2-can pack should have been cheaper than 2, 1-can packs.

Apparently, the fine folks at Hypernova haven't taken any Economics 101 classes, and they need to learn a thing or two about Supply Chain Management and Marketing ... I'm available for consulting services should you guys want it (because you DO need it!).

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Jablotron Car Alarm (GSM/GPS)

Well, I just recently picked up a cool car alarm from Czech maker Jablotron that is GSM and GPS* enabled. My car now has its own SIM card! When the alarm goes off, it calls my phone and sends me SMS to tell me what has been disturbed (door, window, trunk, hood, ignition, etc...). I can send short code SMS messages to arm, disarm, check its status, gets its location via GSM-Triangulation, or get its GPS coordinates. It's pretty neat.

Coupled with a third-party website/partner that can do real time security monitoring for your car, they even allow you to track your car via online maps to find your car anytime you want (I can even see it in my phone browser, which is a good thing too). It will create a "travel log" of locations you visited, too, if you enable it (excellent for supply-chain / fleet management gigs ... or for the psychotic husband tracking his wife's every move). And just to be a super annoying neighbor, I can set the alarm off remotely for 5s seconds, for example, just in case I feel like it (I can set my alarm off from Greece when on vacation if I want -- don't ask why).

All in all, if you're looking for a good autoalarm, check (he said check) these guys out. Hopefully, they'll come up with a GSM-camera for the car, too, so I can monitor my car with video at night -- that'd rock the house. Let's go Jablotron, get the little pin-hole cam hooked up too!

* I was too cheap to put the GPS module in ... it won't work while it's in the garage or in undergroud parking, so for me it was considered a waste of money (3000 CZK, 170 USD, 120 EUR difference) -- but, if somebody steals my car, I'll wish I had it so I could find its precise location [unless they get it into the chop shop quickly], instead of getting 200-500m near it using GSM-Triangulation.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Apple "3G" iPhone arrives in Prague ...

Well, it has been a bit more than a week since the Apple "3G" iPhone hit the market here in Prague. People with who had very little idea of what an iPhone was 1 month ago, are now pounding their greasy fingers on the iPhones screen, thanks to the relatively low cost no thanks to carrier subsidies. Nobody quite knows what to do with it, however. With a touch of humor, my own carrier, Vodafone, has called friends offering the "3G" iPhone (these friends already having the initial version of iPhone) and that it's the greatest thing since sliced bread. My friend's conversation went something like this:

Vodafone: Hello! We now sell the Apple 3G iPhone, it's the greatest phone on the planet, don't you want to sign up for a contract and get it?

Friend: Why would I want the 3G iPhone, you guys don't offer 3G in the CZ.

Vodafone: Hmmm, but it has GPS now too!

Friend: Can you download the maps locally onto your iPhone?

Vodafone: Yes

Friend: Have you ever played with an iPhone?

Vodafone: Yes, we have one here.

Friend: Go play with it again and call me back when you know the answer to th question.

Obviously, not all customers have a clue. Most will just say "ok, let's do it" -- the marketing is silly. Signs for the iPhone are everywhere, but nobody really knows why it's so good (functionality wise) ... it's call comical really. I have been lectured by another colleague that I should get it becaues it has GPS. When I state I've had GPS functionality for more than a year with my stale Nokia N95, they're really not sure what to say after that (besides I can listen to music on it -- which I guess I can, but I can on my N95 too ... but I prefer my iPod Nano).

At any rate -- I noticed that previous iPhone users were mostly happy about the fact that they can configure their iPhones to access the companies Exchange environment -- this feature alone seems to be the only reason most previous iPhone users are bragging about the new iPhone. This definately has been a change agent -- those folks who have iPhones and had to carry Blackberries for corporate email have finally "converged" -- which is something that Apple has been good at doing, and if they can continue, they're going to give Blackberry hell.

Now where is the Nokia N96 so I can say I have HD TV abilities (but of course, my carrier won't support that, just like it doesn't support 3G) on my phone. I need a "notch up" in the cool department. :P