Posts Tagged ‘smartphone’

Smart Phone Market Shares

smart phone market shares

iPhone 4, the new smartphone to beat

Gizmodo Smart Phone Comparison

gizmodo Smart Phone Comparison
[mage source=”flickr”]gizmodo smart phone comparison[/mage]

Smart Phone Industry Growth

Smart Phone Industry growth
smart phone industry growth

Smart phone was a turning point in the cell phone manufacturer

The very important reason that RIM and Apple can improve sales rankings in the global handset market is the smart phones such as BlackBerry and iPhone have become increasingly common.

According to research firm Strategy Analytics reports that in the first quarter, the net global Smartphone shipments grew from 54 million and 50% over the same quarter last year 35.9 million. Currently smartphones shipped for 18% of the total global mobile phone shipments accounted for. The British market research company Research Consulting Coda expected to reach the global smartphone sales to 2.5 billions of 2010 and 2015. Smart Phone Sales growth is primarily on the phone, a wide range of services to support and have more applications. Steve Smith, the founder of the company, said: "If it is not Smartphone is able to provide a higher level than standard integration technology cell Phone, we do not see this growth in smartphone sales levels. "

It is reported that Apple's mobile software applications, "Store App Store "announced at the beginning of 2010, there may be more than 100,000 types of applications, for the world in 77 countries and regions, and users to download more than 3 Billion times downloaded. This is precisely the reason for Apple's success.

Unlike Apple's iPhone, BlackBerry success is attributed to four factors: focus on their strengths, customer, business model and the concept of the industrial chain.

Unlike the old cell phone manufacturer Motorola, iSuppli Recent data from the first quarter of 2007showed, the company is the world's second largest mobile phone manufacturer by Nokia and has now dropped to eighth in the world. The industry thought that the main problems, the products interruption of the company.

Fortunately, Motorola begun to change. Tina Teng, iSuppli senior analyst with the mobile communications, said: "His profit margin increased by 19 percentage points in the first quarter a year earlier. This shows Motorola to focus on more profitable products such as the Droid chosen so the right way. "

About the Author

Cell Phones wholesale

Bankrupt Utah investor seeks comeback in ID Resort A high-roller Utah real estate investor, the jet lost his $ 5,000,000 $ 450,000 private and Mercedes sports car said to the bankruptcy, that enliven any reason why he can not arrange a transaction for a bankruptcy Idaho ski resort.

Smart Phone Sales Numbers

Smart Phone Sales numbers
smart phone sales numbers

Booming Samsung Seoul tries to one innovator About an hour south of, bulldozers have demolished the last free factories at Samsung Electronics Co. 'S Suwon Campus, Clear signs that South Korea's most valuable company once based in a smoke-fuming industrial complex. In … South Korea – Seoul – Samsung Group – Asia – Suwon

Smart Phone Usage

smart phone usage
How old do you think my daughter should be to get…?

a. a cell phone
b. her own tv (in her room)
c. her own computer (also out of my sight)
According to my 11 year old, we are the only parents in the world who supervise tv, computer usage, and are not considering a cell phone for her at the moment. She is smart and well behaved. What’s your philosophy?

My daughter is 11, she has a TV in her room (with a parental block on all inappropriate channels), no computer, though. Our solution to the cell phone issue was to get her a prepaid cell phone that you have to purchase minutes for, and she has to do her chores to earn minutes. It has worked wonders for making her keep her room clean and get her chores done.

AT&T Wants To Limit iPhone Usage – Diggnation Daily

Smart Phone Penetration Uk

smart phone penetration uk

Experiencing World Class Service Excellence

Experiencing World Class Service Excellence

US Service Excellence Tour November 2001

The Stimulus to Go

This tour has excellent credentials – it has been running annually for many years under the auspices of Manchester Business School. There is a sister UK tour.

For us, the visit was part of a continuing professional development programme- a sort of experiential MBA – visiting world-class companies. Interestingly and appositely the CEO of Federal Express in a video we saw said that

‘the most important thing to invest in is yourself’.

It was also a chance to spend time with a group of senior people from diverse backgrounds and understand some of the business challenges they are facing. Fellow travellers were directors and senior executives from companies including Sky, Argos, Legal & General, Nationwide, Alliance & Leicester and Bristol Airport.

The Main Objective

The hypothesis is that a reputation for Service Excellence is the outcome of how companies align their strategic focus, key processes and people in effectively delivering their customer proposition.

Programme of Experiences

Monday Stew Leonard’s Elizabethtown Water

Tuesday Ritz-Carlton FedEx Hub Night Visit

Wednesday FedEx Express

Thursday USAA Nordstrom Sewell Village Cadillac

Friday Southwest Airlines

Making Sense of It All

The concept of  ‘a line of sight’ through a company’s activities has been chosen to both analyse the experiences and to help surface any alignment gaps there might be (see below).

In true marketing fashion the start point should be with the customer. In narrative terms, however, the flow is better starting with the Context which is important for two reasons. Firstly, to help understand how companies got to where they are today. Secondly, because of the implications it has for the culture and leadership style that we were likely to experience.

Business Model is used instead of Strategic Intent because it has more commercial overtones.  Quite simply how were these companies making their money given their Service Excellence ratings? What trade-offs were there?

In between the Business Model and the Customer, many companies have Processes and indeed design Products in such a way that staff are caught between a rock and a hard place as they intermediate between the company and its customers – ‘Company Push’. How were staff encouraged to behave?

Lastly what evidence was there of an open and timely dialogue with customers? How closely were companies listening to their customers? What were they doing about it? What evidence was there of the customer manifestly influencing what the company was doing? – ‘Customer Pull’.

Inevitably some visits were more fruitful than others in providing input for the analysis and much information had to be taken at face value. Quantitative performance data was almost universally absent.

The Visits

Stew Leonard’s

Format of Visit

  • Tour of store with introductions from heads of sections (coffee, bakery, fish etc.)
  • Classroom presentation by Stew Leonard’s daughter
  • Time –half day
  • Location: Yonkers New York

Context

  • Founded 1969
  • Graduated from doorstep delivery of milk
  • Invested everything to fund first store
  • Mom & Pop store to world class cited by Tom Peters
  • Three stores now all family run
  • Big personality of Stew Leonard writ big across the business
  • In Guinness Book of Records for sales per square foot

Business Model

  • Limited product range – 1000 items only
  • Focus on fresh produce where margins are typically higher (provided wastage is closely managed)
  • Concept of life time value
  • No overt premium for service

Processes

  • Single aisle only so customers trail round like a guided tour
  • Section heads treated as owners of small businesses do buying and set prices
  • Frequent, immediate & varied internal communications highlighting staff performance
  • Underlying logistics not examined

Product Variables

  • Bulk purchasing cost benefits shared with customers to generate higher volumes still
  • Freshness & perceived value for money critical
  • Quick (days) trial and error product development process
  • Only recently introduced wine section which has been very successful
  • Disney style entertainment a feature

Staff Management

  • Department managers introduced their respective areas with walk-throughs
  • We were able to talk to customers and floor staff – good eye contact
  • Front line staff encouraged to deliver outrageous service (see story)
  • Hire for attitude – use bespoke psychometrics – three interviews
  • Focus on self supporting teams; close attention to under performance
  • Promote from within
  • Handwritten notes recognising exceptional performance – ‘a moo to you’
  • Fund of stories which make staff heroes & demonstrate exceptional customer service
  • Strive to create an atmosphere of smiles
  • Staff given time off to visit competitors but must  implement one improvement in 72 hours
  • Use tours as income stream but also energises staff

Customer Dialogue

  • As you enter the store there is a ‘rock of commitment’ which says:
    ‘Rule 1 –The Customer is always right
    ‘Rule 2 – If the customer is ever wrong, reread rule 1
  • Tangible customer involvement and entertainment; factory outlet/market feel
  • Staff encouraged to imagine that they are the customer
  • As in a theatre, the customer is an integral part of the interaction
  • Constant product sampling so immediate response
  • Instant refund policy
  • Customer Suggestions Boxes – all responded to whether acted on or not
  • Customer Panels with store management team
  • Customers encouraged to comment on staff
  • Satisfaction Surveys

Commentary

  • The ‘line of sight’ was crystal clear throughout the store particularly the behaviour of the customer facing staff and the level of immediate and on-going dialogue.
  • This experience should be relatively straightforward to engineer and deliver but there is no comparison between the robotic and sterile experience of many UK supermarkets and the vibrancy of Stew Leonard’s.
  • Their biggest challenge – which they acknowledge – is scalability.
  • There is nothing to say they have to get bigger – ‘right sizing’ has a number of connotations and they may be the right size now.
  • The showmanship is the velvet glove of a very focused business model but their people are used and encouraged to make a difference
  • Clear ‘Stick to the knitting’ approach.
  • Had only recently introduced a wine department in the Yonkers store which was going well which suggests corporate flexibility against perhaps a prevailing paternalism.
  • There seems to be a virtuous circle between, competitive pricing, engaging service standards, higher volumes and win-win distribution of the benefits between company and customer.

Some Delegate Comments

Sell to all the five senses (sight, smell, sound, taste, touch)

Epitomized all the learning that is necessary to create a ‘wow’ in any company

Effective staff orientation can result in excellent service but slogans can ‘tell a story’

Stew Leonard’s – A Service Excellence Story

At five minutes before closing one Sunday night, a customer said to cashier Betty Mucci, ‘We’ve just returned from vacation and are so happy you’re open. Our refrigerator is empty, and we needed this bread and milk for breakfast and the kid’s school lunches tomorrow.’ When the total of $37.12 was rung up, the customer panicked and said, ‘Oh my gosh, I forgot my wallet. I don’t have any money!’

Betsy just smiled and said, ‘That’s OK, just give me your name and address.’ Betsy wrote the information down, put the void slip in the register drawer, and said, ‘Don’t worry, the next time you’re in the store you can pay for your groceries.’ The customer asked, ‘Do you have the authority to let me walk out without paying for all these groceries?’ Betsy said yes, but the customer wasn’t convinced and asked to see the manager.

When the manager appeared and the customer explained the problem, he said, ‘When it comes to keeping our customers happy, we have no hard and fast rules. Each of us has the authority to use our own best judgement and treat every customer the way we’d like to be treated our self’.

Two weeks later, Stew Leonard ran into a friend at a local restaurant. He came up to Stew all excited and said, ‘Stew you won’t believe this story!’ He proceeded to tell how it was his wife that had been the customer who forgot her wallet, and how she had been telling the tale to everyone she met. ‘But what I don’t understand,’ he said, ‘is how you can afford to do it. Aren’t you afraid cashiers will use poor judgement and you’ll lose money?’

Stew responded, ‘How can we afford not to do it?’ Ninety nine percent of people in our store at any given moment are repeat customers. They’re back because we satisfied them the last time they shopped with us. Our attitude is that everybody’s honest If we occasionally run into someone who isn’t, we just take it on the chin. But the important point is that 999 out of 1000 customers are honest. We simply refuse to let one dishonest customer determine how we are going to treat the other 999.

Source: American Management Review

Elizabethtown Water

Format of Visit

  • Talks from

Andrew M. Chapman, president –

Derek Stroud, vice president of Customer Relationship Management,

Beth Neafy, Change Project Team Leader

Professor Bruce Hawthorn, External Process Design Consultant

  • Time: 2 hours
  • Location: Head Office Westfield New Jersey

Context

  • The seventh-largest water company in the US with 500+ staff serving more than 1m customers in New Jersey
  • In November 2000 became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Thames Water
  • Regulated monopoly, have to apply to the Board of Public Utilities for rates increases
  • Company historically consisted of three distinct silos on split sites– water & waste management, engineers and billing
  • Since current CEO appointed in 1997 have been going through major process and organisational change programme to deliver a more customer focused organisation.
  • CEO also felt that customer satisfaction could be a positive differentiator as an acquisition tool for municipal water authority management & should industry become de-regulated
  • Also felt that fewer complaints would lead to happier staff and hence lower staff turnover.
  • Implementing a SAP CCS customer billing and account management system (the first of its kind in a US utility).

Business Model

  • Shaped by regulatory rules
  • Pricing is a cost plus model
  • Penalties if historic customer satisfaction criteria not met

Processes

  • IT Strategic Review identified opportunity to bring together activities of silos
  • Customer Relationship Management is defined as Single operational view of the customer
  • Used SAP Enterprise wide system to re-define processes
  • Key process Revenue Management i.e. Meter Reading to Receipt of Funds

Product Variables

  • Responsibility is only for water supply to property boundary. From road to property is owner’s responsibility

Staff Management

  • Exemplified by internal team approach to process re-design – led by very credible long serving member of staff
  • Quote ‘People march to their measurements’
  • Need to re-skill Customer Representatives to problem solve (improved thinking) and understand issues around water quality (chemistry) and pressure (engineering) – described as getting the crew ready to run the new ship

Customer Dialogue

  • Little evidence that customers have had an input into the process design and change management programme
  • Industry prescribed measures for customer satisfaction a given although they were attempting to redefine these.
  • Implied customer frustration given fragmented delivery through historical silos

Commentary

  • A different context from Stew Leonard’s and the other visits
  • The impetus for change was driven solely by the vision of the CEO – there were no external drivers – arguably the company was ahead of the curve.
  • It emerged in conversation that the heads of the business silos had acted as brakes on the proposed process re-focusing.
  • The pace of the change programme was accelerated with the arrival of a UK Thames Water executive some eighteen months ago
  • The orthodox view would be that processes should be re-designed before IT is applied although it could be argued that the approach was contextually appropriate
  • The absence of any customer input into the re-design suggests that a supplier mentality still prevails and therefore potentially a serious line of sight misalignment.
  • Because of the way rate increases were signed off, provided the regulator agree, the customers would of course effectively be paying for the change programme.

Some Delegate Comments

Similarities with our current situation and interesting to see mechanisms and structures put in place to direct transitional change

Change is always difficult, particularly when your colleagues only pay lip service to it

Placing an employee of long standing with the respect of her colleagues teamed with a visionary leader is a recipe for success

Elizabethtown Water

Customer Service Vision

To provide an appropriate level of service for each type of customer which they value, appreciate and would choose in an open market.

Customer Mission

To provide value to our customers by providing safe, adequate and proper service at the most economical cost by continually improving our facilities, our work processes and the capability of our employees.

Customer Service Strategy

  • Billing: to provide accurate and timely bills that our customers understand
  • Payments: to collect all monies in a timely manner using all reasonable methods
  • Billing Contacts: any contact with a customer should add value in terms of cash, image or both
  • Service Contacts: To provide a level of service that eradicates the need for customers to contact the company more than once and that customers value.

Source: Boardroom Posters

Ritz-Carlton

Format of Visit

  • Presentation from Stephanie Thomas Training Manager
    Back of House Tour
  • Time: Half Day
  • Location: Buckhead Atlanta

Context

  • Group founded by Horst Schulze 1983
  • Based on the legendary Ritz Carlton Boston which revolutionised hotels in America by creating a luxury setting
  • Now 40 hotels worldwide, 22000 ‘ladies & gentlemen’
  • Winner of Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.. First and only hospitality organization to win, first in 1992 and again  in 1999
  • Only 3 hotels owned by company – rest independent ownership but  using Ritz Carlton systems & processes
  • In 1995, Marriott International purchased 49% interest. Three years later increased to 99%.

Business Model

  • Superior environment and psychology of comfort a critical part of the experience – the mystique of the Ritz Carlton
  • Market niche is essentially corporate business travellers
  • Premium price
  • Occupancy & revenue per room (REVPAR) key metrics

Processes

  • Set of core values collectively called The Gold Standards: The Credo, The Three Steps of Service, The Motto and The Twenty Basics captured in pocket card held by all staff
  • Daily departmental “line-ups” attended by all employees including senior executives dealing with one of the 20 basics each day.
  • Use Project Teams to continually review key processes and also problem solving self directed work teams
  • Computerised record of guest’s preferences (often from observation) – staff complete Staff Preference Notes
  • Guest Incident Action Forms
  • Much attention is paid to the psychological attributes of comfort – the furnishings, the quality of the dressing gowns, towels& bedding etc.
  • Backstage photos of table layouts, areas in bedroom to dust & repeat cycles are on display – this helps with the ethnic diversity of the staff

Product Variables

  • Quality Hotels
  • Club lounge, Room Service, Casual restaurant, Banquet Food, Recreation/Fitness
  • Luxury residential condominiums located at The Ritz-Carlton hotels and resorts.
  • The Ritz-Carlton Learning Instituteopen to executives from other companies wanting to learn and adapt the principles of service and leadership to their own organizations.

Staff Management

  • Motto ‘We are Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen’
  • Intensive orientation for new employees – 2 days to orient & select, 21 day review, 30 day Certification Programme
  • Customised psychometrics covering empathy, Caring, Exactness, Professionalism, Politeness and Positiveness
  • Staff encouraged to take ownership of problems – $2000 per guest ‘recovery’ discretion
  • Complaint handling scripted ‘I apologise’ – try to make problem really small – move the customer out of the public areas
  • Recognition – ‘Five Star Employee of the Quarter’

Customer Dialogue

  • By observation
  • Satisfaction surveys
  • JD Powers rating

Commentary

  • Ritz-Carlton is a high quality operation. Was the ambience tangible in the hotel? – Yes. Was the quality evident in the Club Lounge and the bedroom? – Yes. Was the high service palpable from the people? – Not uniformly.
  • Ritz Carlton is process dominated in principle in the same way as McDonalds – another franchise operation. The scope is, of course broader.
  • Inevitably franchises have to be rules based and much time and effort goes into embedding these into the employees – though it has been called a cult occasionally.
  • Whilst they premium price for the service,  they still face the same occupancy challenges as all hotels to get ‘heads on beds’. It is not clear if their model is more resilient or how they have fared post 11 September.
  • Behind the scenes there was evidence of the rhetoric breaking down – Ladies and Gentlemen referred to as ‘employees’ in memos for example. The administrative staff offices were very cramped – not a case of treating your staff as you treat your customers.
  • There was some evidence of staff trying to introduce spontaneity into the prescribed daily routines.
  • Understanding customer preferences and invading their privacy is a fine line that the hotels are careful not to cross.
  • On paper using an 80/20 basis the alignment was strong. However, it is not clear how open the dialogue with the customers is and how this informs the process improvements that the Ritz Carlton carries out.
  • It was also not clear what the trigger criteria would be for employees to use their personal discretion of $2000.

Some Delegate Comments

‘All that glitters is not gold’.  It is easy to present a veneer but very hard to embed values effectively in some environments

Reinforcement through ‘over the top’ communication programme works well

A simple message to staff relating to ‘values’ can encompass an entire culture and consequent behaviour

Ritz Carlton

7 Year Vision

  • To be The Premier Worldwide, Provider of Luxury Travel and Hospitality Products and Services

2 Year Mission

  • Product and Profit Dominance

The Vital Few Objectives

  • Improve Employee Pride and Joy
  • Improve Customer Loyalty
  • Reduce Customer Difficulties
  • Enlarge REVPAR
  • Improve Hotel Profitability

Method

  • TQM – Application of Quality Sciences
  • Baldridge Quality Awards Criteria

Foundation

  • Values and Philosophy
  • The Gold Standards
  • Credo
  • Motto
  • The Three Steps of Service
    – A warm and sincere greeting. Use the guest name, if and when possible
    – Anticipation and compliance with guest needs
    – Fond farewell. Give them a warm good-bye and use their names, if and when possible.
  • Basics

The Employee Promise

  • At the Ritz-Carlton, our Ladies and Gentlemen are the most important resource in our service commitment to our guests.
  • By applying the principles of trust, honesty, respect, integrity and commitment, we nurture and maximise talent to the benefit of each individual and the company.
  • The Ritz-Carlton fosters a work environment where diversity is valued, quality of life is enhanced, individual aspirations are fulfilled, and the Ritz-Carlton mystique is strengthened.

Ritz-Carlton – A Service Excellence Story

Enrique, a bell hop, noticed that a lady customer was having difficulty shutting her suitcase – he tried to help but in fact the catches were broken and there was no way to secure the suitcase. The guest was due to leave shortly and there was no time to go to the mall to buy a replacement. Shortly after Enrique went off duty but he continued to be concerned about the guest. He went home, took a suitcase he had recently bought for a holiday from his wardrobe and returned immediately to the hotel to give it to the guest.

Source: Ritz Carlton Presentation

Federal Express

Format of Visit

  • Evening visit to Memphis SuperHub
  • Half Day Workshop
  • Presenters:
    Myron Bowery: Manager Corporate Communications
    Kathy Bergeson: Quality Process Manager
  • Location: Peabody Hotel Memphis

Context

  • Founded in 1971 at the age of 27 by Fred W Smith ex US Marines Corp who flew 230 combat missions in Vietnam and based on a paper on logistics which he wrote as a student at Yale (marked C)
  • Quote from corporate history ‘ Fred Smith and Fedex are a virtual case study in how entrepreneurial America should work’
  • Created modern air/ground express industry; invented overnight parcel delivery; first to provide on-line shipping and tracking
  • Pioneered hub& spoke approach
  • 1983 first US company to reach $1bn revenues without merger or acquisition
  • 1990 First Service Company to win Baldridge award
  • 215k employees worldwide, 600+aircraft
  • Currently shipping at 1998 levels

Business Model

  • Philosophy ‘Take care of your People. They in turn will deliver the impeccable Service demanded by our customers who will reward us with the Profitability necessary to secure our future’
  • Have redefined themselves from Parcels to Airline to Information Technology Company
  • Have a number of companies within group which ‘operate independently, compete collectively’
  • The 2001 Annual Report quotes ‘Only FedEx remains focused on a unique business model – to operate each company independently, focused on the distinct needs of each customer segment, but also to compete collectively, leveraging our greatest strengths, the power of the FedEx brand and information technology.’

Processes

  • See model below
  • Baldrige Award 1990 but ISO now benchmark driver
  • Activity a mix of low skilled highly labour intensive (making sure bar coding on packages is face up for the readers) and highly automated (bar code sorting)
  • International package scanned 11 times which provides data for track and trace system
  • Very heavy focus on ‘scientific’ problem/process analysis
  • Use actual numbers of defects not %’s as even 1 is too many
  • Heavy investment in FedEx TV as means of internal communication
  • Have high level Weekly Analysis & Review (WAR) Committee
  • 98% response to annual employee survey – results published within hours of cut off time
  • Employ 12 weathermen to help with routing of flights

Product Variables

  • FedEx Express: time definite global express package & freight delivery
  • FedEx Ground: small package ground services including home delivery
  • FedEx Freight: regional less-than-truckload freight deliveries
  • FedEx Custom Critical: exclusive expedited door to door delivery
  • FedEx Trade Networks: Customs brokerage & trade facilitation systems
  • Recently invested in ground presence in US as losing out to UPS
  • Recently gained US Postal Services Airport to Airport contract

Staff Management

  • Hub has 60% staff t/o
  • Focus on experiential (85%) rather than classroom training (15%)
  • Recently withdrew ‘on the spot’ rewards system (Bravo Zulus – a US Navy term for ‘Well Done’) as belt tightening move
  • Upward appraisal process which outputs a company wide Leadership Index which has improved year on year since inception
  • SQIs used as the basis for bonuses at all levels.

Customer Dialogue

  • No single view of customer and value
  • Their Service Quality Index is weighted and varies year on year depending on what customer thinks is important
  • Have used television advertising extensively which shows an engaging sense of humour

Commentary

  • The hub visit was a classic example of what the tour is all about. An intellectual understanding of what was going on was no preparation for the raw energy, cacophony of noise and pure hard metal rock that confronted us.
  • Fedex is an operational giant and what we were seeing was no more than the tip of the process iceberg. The service chain also includes the door to door pick up of parcels and delivery at destination.
  • Like a class sportsman it was apparently effortless professionalism – there was also a sense of the quickness of the hand deceiving the eye!
  • In terms of alignment it was interesting that FedEx claimed to have no single composite view of a customer relationship although their SQI measurement factors shaped by customers was a particular plus point.
  • The withdrawal of the Bravo Zulus – the on the spot reward scheme – was contentious. It was presented as a much needed opportunity to tidy the scheme up but there was a feeling that it could be interpreted negatively by the staff. Outstanding service should be rewarded at all times.
  • There was a suspicion also that it may have been being used to get round an inflexible pay scheme.

Some Delegate Comments

How to change from a transportation company to an intelligent service provider

Good effective process management is possible.  The operation was very impressive

The operation is more important than the staff (Process before people)

Night Visit to the Memphis SuperHub

Getting into the hub was like going to a football match. At 10 o’clock at night there were long queues snaking back from the security checkpoints. In any one night some 8000 people might be on duty. It was a wet and windy night and since many employees work out in the open loading and unloading the planes they were wrapped up like Michelin men (and women of course).

From the observation tower we could see planes lining up to land. – 85 in an hour. On landing, planes moved quickly and efficiently to their berths where in minutes the doors were opened and the specially designed containers – which mimic the shape of the aircraft- unloaded. We were told planes could be emptied in 17 minutes. Trains of containers pulled by small tractors – or tugs as they are called- drove off smartly to the sorting areas – on this night in heavy and persistent rain.

Here letters, packages and parcels streamed along conveyer belts to be divided amongst teams of workers whose role was to turn packages upright so the scanning system could do the automated sort. Parcels then tracked along a series of conveyer belts where computer controlled arms sent them to the right distribution point. Further sorts would separate out priority express packages and narrow the destinations down by cities and even the suburbs of the major large cities. Shortly after the planes were unloaded, screens throughout the complex show the projected time at which the sort will be completed.

Unbundled and re-bundled as it were, the packages were then loaded back into containers and back on to the planes which then left. Memphis can deal with as many as two million shipments (overnight – 30%of the total volume in the FedEx system.

As we toured the hub, small teams of maintenance men were on standby like rapid response units should the machinery splutter. Indeed such is the contingency planning that spare planes are kept in the air in case of mechanical difficulties.

FedEx – A Service Excellence Story

The call from a big medical laboratory in Phoenix was urgent. Shipments of amniotic fluid from two high risk pregnancies had failed to arrive for testing. If they didn’t come soon, the mothers to be would have to endure the difficult procedure again. Senior customer service representative Brenda Currey got on the phone and found the shipments on a truck near Dallas. With help from FedEx operations staff, she had the truck stopped and 20,000 pounds of freight unloaded to retrieve the two samples. ‘Get them to Phoenix and I’ll take care of them’ Currey told the Dallas ramp manager. She met the flight carrying the shipments at 11pm, stored them in her refrigerator as instructed by the lab, and delivered them personally next day. ‘Why did you do this?’ asked the laboratory technician. ‘It needed to be done,’ Currey replied. ‘and I was there.’ Three days later the laboratory called to let Currey know her efforts had paid off. The samples were just fine. (Brenda Currey has been with FedEx since 1985.)

Source: ‘How Time Flies – Fedex delivers the 21st Century’

USAA

Format of Visit

  • Half day visit
  • Presenters:
    Donna Wildey Planning Manage
  • Joe Bruha VP Brand Management
  • Beverly McClure Customer Relationship Management NE Region
  • Location: Corporate HQ San Antonio

Context

  • Founded by Army Major William Garrison in 1922
  • USAA (United Services Automobile Association) serves present and former members of the US military and their families
  • One of America’s leading insurance & financial services companies; 4.7m customers, 23,500 employees, assets $62.4bn
  • President & CEO the most decorated combat veteran to lead USAA. Board chairman retired US Air Force four-star general and former vice president of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff
  • Essentially a direct operation with most business done by phone, mail & web site
  • Strapline ‘We know what it means to serve’
  • Largest mail order company in US and third largest in world

Business Model

  • The mission of the association is to facilitate the financial security of its members, associates and their families through the provision of a full range of highly competitive financial products and services; in doing so USAA seeks to be the provider of choice for the military community.
  • Have extended definition of target market to include enlisted men but still remained within military affinity

Processes

  • Use Balanced Scorecard
    Market Performance 35%      Financial Performance 35%
    Projects  20%                        Mission Accomplishment 10%
  • Within Market Performance lost members = 50% of score
  • See detail of Key results areas below
  • Key Service tenets
    – Trust & reliability          – Simplify the Process
    – Multiple Access           – Customer feedback
  • Aim for what they call the ‘Wizard of Oz effect’ i.e. the illusion of simplicity
  • Evidence that planning process is used to drill down understanding within the company

Product Variables

  • Wide range of insurance and financial products including: property and casualty insurance, life and health insurance, annuities, mutual funds, discount brokerage, credit cards, banking services, travel services and alliance services
  • They had a diagrammatic wheel incorporating  six Business Divisions, ten Key Life Events and ten products to give 600 potential segments.

Staff Management

  • Must be a/the major employer in San Antonio
  • Work spaces heavily personalised; much use of the American flag; military memorabilia in public spaces
  • Head office in San Antonio has three on-site fitness centres, health clinics and cafeterias which also offer take-home meals.
  • There is also a sophisticated system for interacting with staff  and they have never had to lay off staff.
  • One third of the employees have their college education sponsored by USAA.
  • Have a Workforce Transition Team which employees join for 12 months if job disappears through re-structuring etc.
  • Managers have their own restaurant & restrooms – shades of officers & enlisted men

Customer Dialogue

  • No real time IT single view of customer but periodic snapshots they gave themselves a 5/10 rating on current capability
  • Re-aligning products & support areas into customer focused centres of excellence
  • Customer numbers doubling every 10 years
  • Minimalist branding and advertising – rely on word of mouth in close knit military communities
  • Claim 98% ‘loyalty’; products per household 4.97; less than 2% churn
  • Have only recently introduced rules for direct mail volumes – two pieces per member per month
  • Key marketing tasks seen as
    Prospecting – Segment Management – Life Event Management – Product Design & Delivery – Retention – Brand Management
  • Extensive Customer based feedback loops in place using formalised research processes; retention a key focus
  • One of their secrets is the 140 personal characteristics they are reputed to keep about each customer

Commentary

  • USAA have cornered an outstanding affinity market in the US military. Their focus on family and community is reflected in the way they value customer and staff loyalty.
  • Whilst they have broadened their segment definition, for example, to include listed men, and they have a tremendous heritage, there must be a suspicion that they could be heading for a cul de sac given an ageing customer base and the lower numbers of recruitment into the military overall.
  • Their tone could be characterised as one of quiet understatement – certainly the branding is low in personality.
  • Many of their practices and processes seem familiar nowadays and their approach to direct mail is dated. Clearly it was not possible to benchmark their pricing but this together with the product range and features must be a critical part of their offer.
  • It was interesting that despite the strength of the brand in the target market there was no evidence of brand stretch beyond financial services.

Some Delegate Comments

Niche markets are wonderful things, especially if there is an emotive pull

Customer loyalty and trust attracts higher profits

Understand your target market

USAA – Key Results Areas

Service Goals

  • Trust & reliability
  • Simplify Processes
  • Customer Access & delivery
  • High levels of persistency
  • Evaluate lost member trends
  • Use member feedback to improve processes & service
  • Community outreach
  • Legislative & regulatory flexibility
  • Industry affairs
  • Civil justice reform
  • Public education
  • Education outreach
  • Loss control
  • Synergy among lines of business
  • Expand breadth & depth of member relationship
  • Cultivate member feedback
  • Educate members
  • Strengthen community affinity
  • Build strategic alliances
  • Promote personalised solutions
  • Sufficient net worth & liquidity
  • Strongest possible ratings
  • Maintain capital self sufficiency
  • Optimise USAA investment portfolio
  • Migrate losses
  • Improve our operations environment
  • Implement efficient business practices & solutions
  • Quality financial products
  • Co-ordinated packages of products
  • Tailored information
  • Increase penetration of core markets

Public Outreach Goals

Relationship Building Goals

Financial Strength Goals

Product Value Goals

Mission Support Goals

  • Facilitate responsive, value added response services
  • Promote productivity, health, safety and welfare of USAA employees
  • Provide high quality facilities & services
  • Diverse, flexible, motivated, multi-skilled workforce
  • Foster highest ethical standards
  • Value diversity of employees as we value the diversity of members
  • Cultivate employee feedback
  • Educate employees on  products and issues relevant to USAA
  • Encourage employee self development
  • Integrate information technology architecture
  • Develop and manage common information & technology systems
  • Enhance data infrastructure

Strategic Assets – People

Strategic Assets – Technology

Source: CDRom ‘Take a Quality Journey with USAA’ 12/98

Nordstrom

Format of Visit

  • 1 hour Lunch time visit
  • Presenter: Cindy Mahan Store General Manager
  • Location: Dallas Store

Context

  • In 1901, John W. Nordstrom – who emigrated from Sweden aged 16 -used $5000 of his stake from the Alaska gold rush to open a small shoe store in Seattle, Washington
  • Store subsequently passed to sons and grandsons and Nordstrom still remains family owned
  • Expanded from shoes in 1960’s and is now one of the nation’s leading fashion retailers, with 132 stores in 25 states

Business Model

  • Family management, values and approachability
  • Entrepreneurial focus for staff with income largely commission based on sales – have own business
  • Successful sellers may earn more than senior management team
  • Sales staff build and manage own portfolios of customers

Processes

  • Underlying logistics not examined

Product Variables

  • Perception of premium pricing created by environment and ambience but do not premium price per se
  • Aim to never be out of stock of any one size of shoes catering for exceptional widths & lengths
  • Ambience important – wide aisles & low racking so can see length of floor

Staff Management

  • Employee handbook is a double sided card with the only message ‘Use your good judgement in all situations’ see below
  • Look to recruit ‘nice’ people
  • Frequent performance recognition ceremonies and celebrations

Customer Dialogue

  • Quality and frequency essentially in hands of sales people who manage own contact strategy using phone & thank you notes etc.

Commentary

  • We had the opportunity to see their corporate video tracing the history of the company and talk briefly with the Dallas Store Manager – a lady who had previously been a buyer with them.
  • One member of staff (see story below) was grossing $1.5m sales a year and earning more than the store manager.
  • Subsequent shopping confirmed the appeal of the environment and ambience compared with other US major retailers
  • Staff were particularly personable and appropriately attentive in initiating the sales process. Prices were comparable with the other major stores in the Shopping Mall.

Some Delegate Comments

The natural confidence that comes from empowerment

Pride in your work is noticed and appreciated by your clients (and rewarded by your company)

Empowerment of key staff works for the bottom line (regardless of status) – ask people to do what they are good at

WELCOME TO NORDSTROM

We’re glad to have you withour Company.

Our number one goal is to provide outstanding customer service

Set both your personal and professional goals high.

We have great confidence in your ability to achieve them.

Nordstrom Rules

Rule#1: Use you good judgment in all situations

There will be no additional rules.

Please feel free to ask

Your department manager,store manager or division general manager any question

at any time

nordstrom

Nordstrom Service Excellence Stories

  • Nordstrom is famous for is refund policy. The archetypal story told by Tom Peters is of a customer returning two tyres to a store for which the customer was given the money back. Nordstrom don’t sell tyres but apparently there was a garage on the site before Nordstrom arrived.
  • A male customer arrived with a bag of some fifty pairs of socks at the Dallas store. He emptied the socks over the counter and asked for a refund on the basis that they had been uncomfortable to wear. The salesman – relatively new – started to say that they would need to see the receipts at which point a more senior colleague took over. A full refund was processed and it transpired that the socks had not fitted properly. A suitable make was found and the following day the customer returned to buy $1000 worth of shirts. The senior seller in question grosses $1.5m in sales!
  • The Dallas Store Manager was having a difficult time over a piece of jewellery valued at $10000. The circumstances were not elaborated on but the Store Manager decided to personally ring the Nordstrom family member responsible for this product line. ‘You know,’ he said, ‘we knew this was a difficult product area to get into and this was our decision not yours. You do what you feel is right for this customer and you’ll have my full backing’. The cost of the jewellery was refunded.

Source: Dallas Store Manager

Sewell Village Cadillac (www.sewell.com)

Format of Visit

  • 2 hour tour of two showrooms
  • Guide: Chip Besio Sales & Marketing Director
  • Location: Dallas

Context

  • When Carl Sewell joined his father’s car dealership in 1967 he set out to make it the best in the world.
  • Thirty years later the company has grown from $10m turnover to $500m
  • In four locations Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio & New Orleans
  • Co-wrote book ‘Customer’s for Life’

Business Model

  • Exponent of life time value
  • Mission: We will provide the best vehicle sales and service experience for our customers. We will do this in a way that will foster the continuous improvement of our people and our company. We will be a top performing, thoroughly professional and genuinely caring organization in all that we do.
  • Early to recognise that car purchase only (minor) part of potential income stream  – servicing , parts and second hand car sales significant

Processes

  • This is about the integrated engineering of the total customer experience to which every employee contributes
  • Have computer terminal in car park so when mechanic drops off one car can key in to see where next job is  and thus minimise downtime
  • Automated German parts storage system
  • McDonalds type tiles on the floor – justified by business case
  • Customers stay with same Service manager/team

Product Variables

  • Cadillac, Hummers, Lexus, Saab, GMC, Chevrolet, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Infiniti
  • Use physical cues to denote quality and care – leather couches, private working areas for customers, chandeliers & flowers, tiles on the workshop floors, chrome plating
  • Pays to have grass verges cut more often than corporation would do

Staff Management

  • Used same psychologist to select staff for last 25 years  – then staff take applicant out to lunch as part of selection process – if staff don’t want to spend time with the applicant then customers probably won’t either.
  • Service staff are self employed – faulty work is corrected in the technician’s own time

Customer Dialogue

  • Post purchase/service surveys
  • Mystery shopping

Commentary

  • It’s often said that ‘retail is detail’ and this is an impressive example of where the ‘line of sight’ factors have been engineered to create a memorable total customer experience.
  • It also again emphasises the core role of product in the total experience and the added benefits of tangibility that are missing in most services contexts.
  • In the suburb of Dallas that Sewell are in, they have three substantial showrooms and workshops in a matter of say 500 yards – a saturation strategy.

Some Delegate Comments

Need to continue to innovate. Differentiation is always key.  Understand the subtleties of your market

Environment is important – it helps to attract good staff and encourages custom

Engineer the total bundle of benefits to deliver superior customer experience.

The Ten Commandments of Customer Service

1. Bring em back alive

Ask Customers what they want and give it to them again and again

2. Systems, not smiles

Saying please and thank you doesn’t ensure you’ll do the job right first time, every time. Only systems guarantee you that.

3. Underpromise, overdeliver

Customers expect you to keep your word. Exceed it.

4. When the customer asks, the answer is always yes

Period.

5. Fire your inspectors and customer relations departments

Every employee who deals with clients must have the authority to handle complaints.

6. No complaints? Something’s wrong

Encourage your customers to tell you what you’re doing wrong

7. Measure everything

Baseball teams do it. Basketball teams do it. You should, too

8. Salaries are unfair

Pay people like partners

9. Your mother was right

Show people respect. Be polite. It works.

10. Japanese them

Learn how the best really do it, make their systems your own. Then improve them.

WARNING: These ten rules aren’t worth a damn…..unless you make a profit. You have to make money to stay in business and provide good service.

Source: ‘Customers for Life’ by Carl Sewell & Paul B. Brown

Sewells Village Cadillac

Beliefs and Values

  1. We will be at the top when measured against appropriate business standards or performance in every function, in every department, in every dealership.
  2. We will pursue quality and profitability with the aim to stay in business and provide jobs for our people.
  3. The development of our people is essential to our growth and future success. We will provide training and education to encourage the long-term employment and professional advancement of all our Associates.
  4. We will earn and re-earn the good will, trust and confidence of our customers and colleagues every day.
  5. Our suppliers are important to our success. We will establish long-term relationships with suppliers whose values and quality are consistent with ours.
  6. The highest ethical standards will guide everything we do.
  7. We will strive for constant improvement and innovation in all that we do.

Sewell Village Cadillac – Service Excellence Story

Some of our most appreciative customers are people who’ve left us to buy a Jaguar, Mercedes or BMW and have experienced the customer service those dealers provide.

I have a great memory of picking up the president of a company here in Dallas who was standing out front of the Mercedes dealership waiting for a taxi to take him to work. He needed to call a cab because he couldn’t get a ride from anyone at the Mercedes dealership. I was driving down the street, and I saw him waiting there, so I picked him up and took him to his office. On the way he shook his head and said, I don’t know why I left’. Twp years later, when it came to trade in his Mercedes, he traded it to us and bought a Cadillac. He said the Mercedes was a nice car but it just wasn’t worth the hassle of getting it serviced.

Source: ‘Customers for Life’ Carl Sewell and Paul B. Brown

Southwest Airlines

Format of Visit

  • Day visit
  • Presenters: Pat Jansen
    Brian Allen Career Coach
  • Location Southwest Airlines University for People Dallas

Context

  • Profit making for 28 consecutive years
  • Has announced no lay offs before or after 11/9 ; share price fell only 24.1% v United 43.2%
  • Within days of 11 September they had transferred the Staff profit Sharing Fund to a trust account so the funds would be there to distribute
  • Faced years of legal battles and obstruction from established players and vested interests
  • Have a history of moving quickly if a new business expansion opportunity occurs e.g. failure of a competitor, gate availability at a desirable airport – based on scenario planning
  • Stock Exchange ticker symbol is LUV
  • Marketed itself as the LUV airline
  • 33000 employees; 84% unionised
  • Strongly associated with the personality of Herb Kelleher who is frequently quoted around the company – he once settled a major legal dispute by arm wrestling – and lost!
  • Described by Tom Peters as ‘Air Travel’s Greatest Show on Earth’

Business Model

  • Low cost domestic airline
    – fly 737s only – 15 minute scheduled turn rounds- no seat reservations – no meals
    – plastic re-usable boarding cards- no hub – city to city only – first to use two tier peak and off peak pricing
    – use smaller city not international airports
  • Perfected niche of short flying trips 10.5 daily flights per gate v industry average of 8.0; typical plane flying 11.5 hours per day v industry average of 8.6
  • Each station functions as an independent business unit

Processes

  • Percentage ‘on time’ arrivals shown on a live display on all computer screens

Product Variables

  • Frankly the university looks like a playschool. Walls are unfinished. It’s decorated by murals depicted cities and places in the US – they take pride on how little money they spent and the unfinished nature symbolises that minds are always under construction
  • Have a programme of ‘Gate Games’ if flights are delayed

Staff Management

  • Talk about the 4 E’s – Employment, Empowerment, Environment & Enjoyment. Encourage staff to ask for forgiveness not permission. Promote it’s OK to be ‘Younique’
  • Staff encouraged to ‘own’ their part of the business
  • Look for Warrior Spirits (see below)
  • Have Career coaches & Culture Committees
  • Put their staff before their customers – the customer is not always right
  • Family spirit is sustained by customised environment, spontaneity and frequent staff events – pizza parties, barbeques etc.
  • Casual dress is a given – not restricted to specific day

Customer Dialogue

  • No suggestion boxes – challenge managers to interact with staff and staff with customers
  • Strong JD Powers ratings

Commentary

  • By any standards this was a remarkable experience – a rigorously applied business model that has been copied many times but without replicating its total success;
  • Have consistently stuck to the knitting and not been sucked into other value destroying areas;
  • Emotion, passion, and fun are used as strategic assets. The family card is played very strongly. They go public on putting their staff before their customers.
  • It’s often remarked that people park their brains when they come to work but personality is important too;
  • Succession in a company where there has been a dominant personality is always a challenge. The sense is that the culture is so well rooted it will live on anyway;
  • Another challenge Soutwest face quite simply is the current economic climate – what damage would there be to the culture if the company had to lay-off staff? Again one would be confident given the rigours they have historically faced that they could win through this too.

Some Delegate Comments

The most powerful force for excellence in service is your people and how you treat and lead them

The importance of celebration, attitude and living the values to the creation of a truly innovative organization

Culture is at the heart of organizational success – it is at least as important as process

You are the SPIRIT of Southwest Airlines

Service – make it positively outrageous

Productivity – always give your personal best

Individuality – you can make a positive difference

Responsibility – hold yourself accountable first

Imagination – create some fun in your work

Teamwork – together we accomplish great things

Southwest Airlines Service Excellence Story

In the height of summer, a young man boarded a flight in shorts and T shirt. He took his seat, but as the plane taxied away from the stand – and against the Civil Aviation rules – he ran quickly to the toilet. The flight attendant banged on the door and remonstrated with him to return to his seat. When he sheepishly opened the door she asked him what was wrong – suspecting a surplus of beer. Embarrassed and red in the face he admitted ‘My balls are on fire!’ ‘Excuse me,’ she replied. He repeated himself and explained that somebody had left some dried jalapeno chilli peppers on his seat and they must have worked their way into his shorts. The flight attendant, suppressing the urge to laugh, took charge and immediately bought him the necessary first aid – a towel, an ice pack and a blanket.

Source: Presentation

The Brits are Coming

The day we arrived at Southwest University was the day George Harrison died, The meeting started with one of his songs being played on the hi fi system. As representatives of the UK we were offered the presenting teams condolences.

The same day was the graduation day for some 200 cabin crew. They had been whittled down from 90,000 first stage applicants and from 200,000 overall.

They had been on the training for five weeks without pay and (this was the end of November) would not get their first pay until early January. We were invited to go down – to the chant of the Brits are coming – and join them – and what an experience it was! A ten-minute ‘Hi’ turned into an hour long cultural exchange.

The energy, enthusiasm and positive emotion in the room was PALPABLE. For us reserved British people it was a bit like an Oprah Winfrey show in your office. We were paraded to the front and listened as personal tributes to the Southwest Airlines family, spirit and community came from young and old, coloured and white and male and female. Individuals stood up and personally recounted why they were proud to be part of the Southwest family to the accompaniment of cheers, whistles and clapping.

Such was the infectious nature of the enthusiasm that we responded by doing a tour of the room ‘high fiving’ with as many of the people as we could.

This personal story telling and spiritual commitment seems to be a feature of the company. It happened again when we sat down with the training team as a relatively new recruit recounted how she had been made redundant from her last three jobs and had been expecting the same again given the difficulties in the airline industry as a whole. So far, SWA have laid off no staff.

Summarising the Findings

A quantitative evaluation to give company rankings was considered. However, given the varying formats of the visits, the data collection was uneven and this approach was therefore discounted.

Dealing then with the ‘Line of Sight’ components in turn:

Context

  • An important part of the context is the concept of the American dream and an equal opportunity society. Many companies played to this with their oft-repeated ‘rags to riches’ dynastic corporate history, incessant stories, Mark Twain type aphorisms, and a focus on friends, family and community. In the context of UK companies, they were also relatively young.
  • The tour took place as the American economy was in a recession and post the 11th September. There was evidence that companies were tightening their belts and trading conditions were more difficult. For many, the well being of their company was under threat.

Business Models

  • Business models were consistently well defined niches ranging from the extended ‘mom and pop’ store of Stew Leonard’s to the low cost model of Southwest Airlines.
  • In all cases their origins were in an innovative definition of the markets they were in, the customers they were serving and how they chose to deliver their proposition.
  • In some cases these models appeared to be tiring and strategic renewal was becoming a necessity. There was a sense, also, that some of the models risk becoming jaded although there is no particular evidence of consumer backlash for the time being.
  • Well-communicated and shared values were an explicit part of the Business Models. Leaders personified these and put great emphasis on removing the perceptual and actual gaps between leadership, ownership and management. In many cases this made the resulting model highly entrepreneurial and high levels of personal involvement as staff think and act like owners.
  • Whilst Service Excellence was a unifying goal for the companies visited, this was not a blank cheque and investment had to be justified against business benefits.

Key Processes

  • In most cases the stories told by the companies we visited were similar to well rehearsed case studies. Their enterprise wide operating models were well established and in the time available it was difficult to uncover the gaps.
  • Exposure to Baldridge and other Quality measurement systems has made process management extremely detailed and scientific but in a way which is largely accessible and comprehensible for the majority of staff. As a result they are actively involved in process re-design and continuous improvement and own and deliver the outcomes.
  • Processes are fundamental because in the same way that they can promote alignment they can also engineer in misalignment and higher operational costs. The switched-on companies made a point of backward engineering from an understanding of their customer’s requirements into the organisation (as shown in the ‘Customer Pull’ feedback loops in the earlier ‘Line of Sight’ diagram) – and keeping it simple.
  • One tends to think of processes as having a manufacturing or production connotation. However, many of the tools used by companies in the management of staff such as internal communications had the same structured and focused rigour.

Product Variables

  • Functional value and competitiveness of core products remain a fundamental.
  • No overt evidence of overall premium pricing – although this may have varied for individual product lines – (apart from Ritz Carlton) for service or ambience benefits.
  • At a given volume, typically margin will be traded against volume to share the benefits with customers and deliver greater incremental income.

Staff Management

  • Most companies had developed their own psychometric recruitment models with a focus on good personal qualities and positive attitude rather than academic capabilities.
  • Training programmes were as much to do with culture and ethos as technical skills. There were frequent opportunities to re-affirm the personal and cultural fit.
  • There was a strong focus on personal accountability reinforced by family, team and community values. Employees are encouraged to about their feelings.
  • Entrepreneurial models prevailed and were reflected in the measurement and reward processes – ‘Go Huge or Go Home!’.
  • Promotion from within is a regular occurrence; companies worked hard at being an employer of choice.
  • Staff are encouraged to bring their individual personalities to work and see things through the customer’s eyes.
  • Fun and emotion are seen as strategic assets in delivering the WOW facto

About the Author

How do consumers wish to engage with travel companies via mobile in a market like Europe?
A decision, valid from 1 July, has been taken in order to ensure that consumers do not end up worrying about accidentally running up huge bills when they connect to the Internet using mobile networks via a phone or computer when abroad in the EU.

Smart Phone Statistics

smart phone statistics

Defeating Crime With Digital Camera Cell Phones

The Digital Picture Camera 3G Cell Phone is reshaping the way people interact. As they become more and more popular, especially among teenagers, and higher bandwidth and video compression technologies are introduced, we will see a whole new realm of communication.

As more people communicate on cell phones with video and pictures we could very well see a decrease in crime. Criminals will realize they may be caught on phone if they attempt any criminal activities because of the prevalence of these camera phones. The eyes and ears of society will expand in scope and with that we may likely see random acts of theft, violence, and other crimes decrease.

Of course there will always be the smart criminal who tries to figure out in advance a specific plan to evade detection, but the common criminal element we generally see will increasingly be caught on camera and brought to justice. As more and more criminals are convicted in this manner, it will serve as a deterrent to others as they consider the very real possibility that they too may be caught on camera. This will eventually help to restore order and improve crime statistics.

Mobile phones that integrate digital cameras are sold much more often than stand alone digital cameras. Those areas where people have more cash to spend and are more tech savvy, such as the suburbs of large cities or in the Downtown techno sector, should see lessened crime, as there would be a high percentage of people carrying these phones. However, this could cause a “Criminal Divide” to develop in areas where less techno savvy people reside.

But this could easily change as the price of the technology and cell phones comes down due to economies of scale, numbers of units sold and number of participants on the 3G or 3G plus systems. Many times new technologies have disruptive effects in our economy or society at large. In this case the technology’s unintended consequences may be a more virtuous society and decreased crime, which is a good thing.

If you plan on buying a new phone, getting one with a camera in it is smart. Smart Phones can decrease crime. For more ideas on decreasing crime why not contact your local police department’s community based policing officer or volunteer to start a Neighborhood “Mobile” Watch Program.

Who knows, a teenager on a skateboard may actually get a picture of an International Terrorist taking pictures of important infrastructures, or the license plate of a car, which seems to be out of place, and prevent the next attack. Technology has its advantages, but all too often we discuss the problems and complain about the issues of privacy. Millions of teenagers cruising around with cell phones could prevent abductions from pedophiles, rapists or child molesters. Camera cell phones may prevent shopping mall car thefts as more of the perpetrators get caught.

Camera Cell phones are here to stay and they are getting better all the time. Soon we will have full video feed phones, and wireless PDA’s all with GPS instant coordinate tracking. One call brings it all to the authorities: Video, location, time and your basic: “Who, What, When, Where and How”. It’s growing and it is growing fast. The rule of Law will prevail and crime not only doesn’t pay, it cannot last.

About the Author

By Brian Lee

Self-defence, a necessity for our society
Everyday we hear stories of people being robbed of their money and valued belongings by thugs on the streets.

Blackberry Smart Phone Vs Iphone

blackberry Smart Phone Vs Iphone
Are there any better phones in Japan than the iPhone?

What are the ones that would work in the US? I am sick of this Pre vs iPhone stuff I see every day. They all are mediocre compared to Japanese phones I hear. If this is true what is the best phone in Japan, or what is their equivalent to a Blackberry?

Are there any good stylish phones that are better than American, but still work in America? If not a smart phone, than what phones are good? I don’t have any preference I just want something different than a Blackberry or iPhone. That’s all people talk about. I know most of the JP features won’t work here but I don’t care. Thanks.

Yes, everyone is going on about the iPhone, even when there are way better phones out there.
I reckon even the nokia N85, beats the iPhone. Japan has the best variety of electronics in the world. There is a new nokia take a look.

http://www.india.com/technology/gadgets/this_nokia_phone_recharges_without_wires_5107

I don’t think it’s out yet, but it will be soon, definitely in Japan.

Blackberry Storm Vs. iPhone 3G

Smart Phone Market Share 2009

Smart Phone Market Share 2009

Apples Iphone4 breaks record! Can it dominate the smartphone market?

The recent launch of iphone4 stormed the smartphone market. So much was the effect that Apple Inc. said it took advance orders for more than 600,000 new iPhones worldwide on the first day the device was available, a deluge of demand that Difficulties in processing orders for U.S. carrier AT & T Inc. caused

Apple said the pre-orders were ever made by the company in a single day, and 10 times higher than for the iPhone 3G last year.

AT & T had previously suspended pre-orders of Apple's iPhone 4 after the telephone giant was not to be recorded Demand for the product around, and the latest is that it sold more than 1.7 million iPhone 4s started within the first three days of the phone

Analysts expect were the new model to help Apple sell 36 million iPhones in the year ending September, up about 73% of 20.8 million euros a year earlier.

Do you think Apple still has a long way to dominate the smartphone market or going to become the leader? Take a look at these statistics.

Since the start Three years ago, the Apple iPhone is the biggest company, more than 40% of its revenue. According to research firm IDC, Apple is currently the third largest Smartphone maker in the world with a market share of 16.1% share behind market leader Nokia and Research In Motion (BlackBerry).

Apple increased the iPhone shipments a whopping 131.6% from Q1 2009 to the most recent period Q1 2010 (3800000-8800000). Compare that with an average growth of the sector by 56.7% YoY in programs Smart phones and you start to an idea about the growing influence of the iPhone in the smartphone market.

The answer is that the recent iphone4 in the market and the speed with which it grows, and has received with impressive sales figures, iPhone growth rate of 131.6% YoY in relation to shipments of smart phones is much higher compared to the industry average of 56.7%, all these factors indicates that Apple is on its way to dominate in the smart phone market. Although Nokia is in a comfortable position today with a market share of 39.3%, there is a potential threat from the iPhone, and it represents a direct threat to RIM (Blackberry), which has a market share of 19.4% has, considering the amazing growth of Apple's iPhone, it is likely ahead of BlackBerry zoom in relative terms very soon.

Well, it is to be interesting to see what strategy RIM and Nokia would assume their positions when their iPhones to Apple competitors enter the market and continue to defend to sell like hot cakes.

About the Author

Kavin Paulson, an Internet Marketer by profession, working with IPraxa Web Development Company, a CA based firm which offers services like Web Designing & Development, Mobile Application Development, PSD to HTMLL and Internet Marketing. For more please visit us at: http://www.ipraxa.com

News Update: Apple Inc. iPhones Accepted Well in Japan’s Wireless Market

Smart Phone Sales Statistics 2009

Smart Phone Sales statistics 2009

Raymond Kurzweil

Life, inventions, and business career

Early life

Ray Kurzweil grew up in the New York City borough of Queens. He was born to secular Jewish parents who had escaped Austria just before the onset of World War II, and he was exposed via Unitarian Universalism to a diversity of religious faiths during his upbringing. His father was a musician and composer and his mother was a visual artist. His uncle, an engineer at Bell Labs, taught young Ray the basics of computer science. In his youth, he was an avid reader of science fiction literature. In 1963, at age fifteen, he wrote his first computer program. Designed to process statistical data, the program was used by researchers at IBM. Later in high school he created a sophisticated pattern-recognition software program that analyzed the works of classical composers, and then synthesized its own songs in similar styles. The capabilities of this invention were so impressive that, in 1965, he was invited to appear on the CBS television program I’ve Got a Secret, where he performed a piano piece that was composed by a computer he also had built. Later that year, he won first prize in the International Science Fair for the invention, and he was also recognized by the Westinghouse Talent Search and was personally congratulated by President Lyndon B. Johnson during a White House ceremony.

Mid-life

In 1968, during his sophomore year at MIT, Kurzweil started a company that used a computer program to match high school students with colleges. The program, called the Select College Consulting Program, was designed by him and compared thousands of different criteria about each college with questionnaire answers submitted by each student applicant. When he was 20, he sold the company to Harcourt, Brace & World for $100,000 (roughly $500,000 in 2006 dollars) plus royalties. He earned a BS in Computer Science and Literature in 1970 from MIT.

In 1974, Kurzweil started the company Kurzweil Computer Products, Inc. and led development of the first omni-font optical character recognition system computer program capable of recognizing text written in any normal font. Before that time, scanners had only been able to read text written in a few fonts. He decided that the best application of this technology would be to create a reading machine, which would allow blind people to understand written text by having a computer read it to them aloud. However, this device required the invention of two enabling technologieshe CCD flatbed scanner and the text-to-speech synthesizer. Under his direction, development of these technologies was completed, and on January 13, 1976, the finished product was unveiled during a news conference headed by him and the leaders of the National Federation of the Blind. Called the Kurzweil Reading Machine, the device covered an entire tabletop. It gained him mainstream recognition: on the day of the machine’s unveiling, Walter Cronkite used the machine to give his signature soundoff, “And that’s the way it is, January 13, 1976.” While listening to The Today Show, musician Stevie Wonder heard a demonstration of the device and purchased the first production version of the Kurzweil Reading Machine, beginning a lifelong friendship between himself and Kurzweil.

According to former Kurzweil Computer Products employees, the Kurzweil Reading Machine’s designer was engineer Richard Brown, a KCP employee at the time.

Kurzweil’s next major business venture began in 1978, when Kurzweil Computer Products began selling a commercial version of the optical character recognition computer program. LexisNexis was one of the first customers, and bought the program to upload paper legal and news documents onto its nascent online databases.

Two years later, Kurzweil sold his company to Xerox, which had an interest in further commercializing paper-to-computer text conversion. Kurzweil Computer Products became a subsidiary of Xerox formerly known as Scansoft and now as Nuance Communications, and he functioned as a consultant for the former until 1995.

Kurzweil’s next business venture was in the realm of electronic music technology. After a 1982 meeting with Stevie Wonder, in which the latter lamented the divide in capabilities and qualities between electronic synthesizers and traditional musical instruments, Kurzweil was inspired to create a new generation of music synthesizers capable of accurately duplicating the sounds of real instruments. Kurzweil Music Systems was founded in the same year, and in 1984, the Kurzweil K250 was unveiled. The machine was capable of imitating a number of instruments, and in tests musicians were unable to discern the difference between the Kurzweil K250 on piano mode from a normal grand piano. The recording and mixing abilities of the machine, coupled with its abilities to imitate different instruments made it possible for a single user to compose and play an entire orchestral piece.

Kurzweil Music Systems was sold to Korean musical instrument manufacturer Young Chang in 1990. As with Xerox, Kurzweil remained as a consultant for several years.

Later life

Concurrent with Kurzweil Music Systems, Ray Kurzweil created the company Kurzweil Applied Intelligence (KAI) to develop computer speech recognition systems for commercial use. The first product, which debuted in 1987, was the world’s first large-vocabulary speech recognition program, allowing human users to dictate to their computers via microphone and then have the device transcribe their speech into written text. Later, the company combined the speech recognition technology with medical expert systems to create the Kurzweil VoiceMed (today called Clinical Reporter) line of products, which allow doctors to write medical reports by speaking instead of writing. KAI exists today as Nuance Communications.

Kurzweil started Kurzweil Educational Systems in 1996 to develop new pattern-recognition-based computer technologies to help people with disabilities such as blindness, dyslexia and ADD in school. Products include the Kurzweil 1000 text-to-speech converter software program, which enables a computer to read electronic and scanned text aloud to blind or visually-impaired users, and the Kurzweil 3000 program, which is a multifaceted electronic learning system that helps with reading, writing, and study skills.

Raymond Kurzweil at the Singularity Summit at Stanford in 2006

During the 1990s Ray Kurzweil founded the Medical Learning Company. The company’s products included an interactive computer education program for doctors and a computer-simulated patient. Around the same time, Kurzweil started KurzweilCyberArt.com website featuring computer programs to assist the creative art process. The site used to offer free downloads of a program called AARON visual art synthesizer developed by Harold Cohennd of “Kurzweil’s Cybernetic Poet”, which automatically creates poetry. During this period he also started KurzweilAI.net, a website devoted towards showcasing news of scientific developments, publicizing the ideas of high-tech thinkers and critics alike, and promoting futurist-related discussion among the general population through the Mind-X forum.

In 1999, Kurzweil created a hedge fund called “FatKat” (Financial Accelerating Transactions from Kurzweil Adaptive Technologies) http://www.fatkat.com, which began trading in 2006. He has stated that the ultimate aim is to improve the performance of FatKat’s A.I. investment software program, enhancing its ability to recognize patterns in “currency fluctuations and stock-ownership trends.” He predicted in his 1999 book, The Age of Spiritual Machines, that computers will one day prove superior to the best human financial minds at making profitable investment decisions. In 2001, Canadian rock band Our Lady Peace released an album, titled Spiritual Machines, based on Kurzweil’s book. Kurzweil’s voice was featured in the album, reading excerpts from his book.

In June 2005, Ray Kurzweil introduced the “Kurzweil-National Federation of the Blind Reader” (K-NFB Reader) pocket-sized device consisting of a digital camera and computer unit. Like the Kurzweil Reading Machine of almost 30 years before, the K-NFB Reader is designed to aid blind people by reading written text aloud. The newer machine is portable and scans text through digital camera images, while the older machine is large and scans text through flatbed scanning.

Ray Kurzweil is currently making a movie due for release in 2010 called The Singularity is Near: A True Story About the Future based, in part, on his 2005 book The Singularity Is Near. Part fiction, part non-fiction, he interviews 20 big thinkers like Marvin Minsky, plus there is a B-line narrative story that illustrates some of the ideas, where a computer avatar (Ramona) saves the world from self-replicating microscopic robots.

In addition to Kurzweil’s movie, an independent, feature-length documentary was made about Kurzweil, his life, and his ideas called Transcendent Man. Filmmakers Barry and Felicia Ptolemy followed Kurzweil, documenting his global speaking tour. Premiered in 2009 at the Tribeca Film Festival, Transcendent Man documents Ray’s quest to reveal mankind’s ultimate destiny and explores many of the ideas found in his New York Times bestselling book, The Singularity is Near, including his concept of exponential growth, radical life expansion, and how we will transcend our biology. The Ptolemys documented Ray’s stated goal of bringing back his late father using AI. The film also features critics who argue against Kurzweil’s predictions.

Kurzweil said during a 2006 C-SPAN2 interview that he was working on a new book that focused on the inner workings of the human brain and how this could be applied to building AI.

While being interviewed for a February 2009 issue of Rolling Stone magazine, Kurzweil expressed a desire to construct a genetic copy of his late father, Fredric Kurzweil, from DNA within his grave site. This feat would be achieved by deploying various nanorobots to send samples of DNA back from the grave, constructing a clone of Fredric and retrieving memories and recollectionsrom Ray’s mindf his father.

Books

Kurzweil’s first book, The Age of Intelligent Machines, was published in 1990. The nonfiction work discusses the history of computer AI and also makes forecasts regarding likely future developments. Other experts in the field of AI contribute heavily to the work in the form of essays. The Association of American Publishers’ awarded it the status of Most Outstanding Computer Science Book of 1990.

Next, Kurzweil published a book on nutrition in 1993 called The 10% Solution for a Healthy Life. The book’s main idea is that high levels of fat intake are the cause of many health disorders common in the U.S., and thus that cutting fat consumption down to 10% of the total calories consumed would be optimal for most people.

In 1998, Ray Kurzweil published The Age of Spiritual Machines, which focuses heavily on further elucidating his theories regarding the future of technology, which themselves stem from his analysis of long-term trends in biological and technological evolution. Much focus goes into examining the likely course of AI development, along with the future of computer architecture.

Kurzweil’s next book published in 2004, returned to the subject of human health and nutrition. Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough to Live Forever was co-authored by Kurzweil and Terry Grossman, a medical doctor and specialist in alternative medicine.

The Singularity Is Near was published in 2005. The book is currently being made into a movie starring Pauley Perrette (NCIS), and scheduled for 2010 release.

In February 2007, Ptolemaic Productions acquired the rights to The Singularity is Near, The Age of Spiritual Machines and Fantastic Voyage including the rights to Kurzweil’s life and ideas for the film Transcendent Man. The feature length documentary was directed by Barry Ptolemy.

Kurzweil’s newest book, Transcend: Nine Steps to Living Well Forever, a follow-up on Fantastic Voyage, was released on April 28, 2009.

The book he’s currently working on is called “How The Mind Works and How To Build One”.

Recognition and awards

Kurzweil has been called the successor and “rightful heir to Thomas Edison”, and was also referred to by Forbes as “the ultimate thinking machine.”

Kurzweil has received these awards, among others:

First place in the 1965 International Science Fair for inventing the classical music synthesizing computer.

The 1978 Grace Murray Hopper Award from the Association for Computing Machinery. The award is given annually to one “outstanding young computer professional” and is accompanied by a $35,000 prize. Ray Kurzweil won it for his invention of the Kurzweil Reading Machine.

The 1990 “Engineer of the Year” award from Design News.

The 1994 Dickson Prize in Science. One is awarded every year by Carnegie Mellon University to individuals who have “notably advanced the field of science.” Both a medal and a $50,000 prize are presented to winners.

The 1998 “Inventor of the Year” award from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The 1999 National Medal of Technology. This is the highest award the President of the United States can bestow upon individuals and groups for pioneering new technologies, and the President dispenses the award at his discretion. Bill Clinton presented Ray Kurzweil with the National Medal of Technology during a White House ceremony in recognition of Kurzweil’s development of computer-based technologies to help the disabled.

The 2000 Telluride Tech Festival Award of Technology. Two other individuals also received the same honor that year. The award is presented yearly to people who “exemplify the life, times and standard of contribution of Tesla, Westinghouse and Nunn.”

The 2001 Lemelson-MIT Prize for a lifetime of developing technologies to help the disabled and to enrich the arts. Only one is meted out each year to highly successful, mid-career inventors. A $500,000 award accompanies the prize.

Kurzweil was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2002 for inventing the Kurzweil Reading Machine. The organization “honors the women and men responsible for the great technological advances that make human, social and economic progress possible.” Fifteen other people were inducted into the Hall of Fame the same year.

The Arthur C. Clarke Lifetime Achievement Award on April 20, 2009 for lifetime achievement as an inventor and futurist in computer-based technologies.

In 2008, the Arizona-Based experimental band “The Singularity Is Near” was formed, later changing their name to “Ray Kurzweil’s Face” in 2009. They are now respected as one of the most influential musical groups in Arizona over the past several years, raising awareness about Ray’s world-changing ideas and inventions, more specifically how humans will relate to technology and the universe in the coming 4060 years.

Kurzweil has received sixteen honorary degrees from as many institutions:

Type of degree

College

Year awarded

Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters

Hofstra University

1982

Honorary Doctorate of Music

Berklee College of Music

1987

Honorary Doctorate of Science

Northeastern University

1988

Honorary Doctorate of Science

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

1988

Honorary Doctorate of Engineering

Merrimack College

1989

Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters

Misericordia University

1989

Honorary Doctorate of Science

New Jersey Institute of Technology

1990

Honorary Doctorate of Science

Queens College, City University of New York

1991

Honorary Doctorate of Science

Dominican College

1993

Honorary Doctorate in Science and Humanities

Michigan State University

2000

Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters

Landmark College

2002

Honorary Doctorate of Science

Worcester Polytechnic Institute

2005

Honorary Doctorate of Science

DePaul University

2006

Honorary Doctorate of Science

Bloomfield College

2007

Honorary Doctorate of Science

McGill University

2008

Honorary Doctorate of Science

Clarkson University

2009

Involvement with futurism and transhumanism

This section is written like a personal reflection or essay and may require cleanup. Please help improve it by rewriting it in an encyclopedic style. (June 2009)

After several years of closely tracking trends in the computer and machine industries, Kurzweil came to a realization: the innovation rate of computer technology was increasing not linearly but rather exponentially. With this, Kurzweil formed a method of predicting the course of technological development. As a computer scientist, Kurzweil also understood that there was no technical reason that this type of performance growth could not continue well into the 21st century.

Since growth in so many fields of science and technology depends upon computing power, such improvements translate into improvements to human knowledge and to non-computer sciences like nanotechnology, biotechnology, and materials science. Considering the ongoing exponential growth in computer capabilities, this means many new technologies will become available long before the majority of peopleho intuitively think linearly about technological advancexpect. This core idea is expressed by Kurzweil’s “Law of Accelerating Returns”.

Kurzweil projects that between now and 2050 medical advances will allow people to radically extend their lifespans while preserving and even improving quality of life as they age. The aging process could at first be slowed, then halted, and then reversed as newer and better medical technologies became available. Kurzweil argues that much of this will be due to advances in medical nanotechnology, which will allow microscopic machines to travel through one’s body and repair all types of damage at the cellular level. But equally consequential developments will occur within the realm of computers as they become increasingly powerful, numerous and cheap between now and 2050. Kurzweil predicts that a computer will pass the Turing test by 2029, by demonstrating to have a mind (intelligence, self awareness, emotional richness) indistinguishable from a human’s. He predicts that the first AI is built around a computer simulation of a human brain, which is made possible by previous, nanotech-guided brainscanning. An AI machine could handle the full range of human intellectual tasks and would be both emotional and self-aware. Kurzweil suggests that AIs will inevitably become far smarter and more powerful than un-enhanced humans. He suggests that AIs will exhibit moral thinking and will respect humans as their ancestors. According to his predictions, the line between humans and machines will blur as a natural part of technological evolution. Cybernetic implants will greatly enhance human cognitive and physical abilities, and allow direct interface between humans and machines.

Kurzweil’s standing as a leading futurist and Transhumanist has gained him positions of prominence within pertinent organizations:

In December 2004, Kurzweil joined the advisory board of the Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence.

In October 2005, Kurzweil joined the scientific advisory board of the Lifeboat Foundation.

On May 13, 2006, Kurzweil was the first speaker at the Stanford University Singularity Summit.

In February 2009, Kurzweil, in cooperation with Google and the NASA Ames Research Center, announced the creation of Singularity University. The University’s self-described mission is to “assemble, educate and inspire a cadre of leaders who strive to understand and facilitate the development of exponentially advancing technologies and apply, focus and guide these tools to address humanity grand challenges”. Using Kurzweil’s Singularity concept as a foundation, the University, whose initial class of 40 Fellows began their nine-week graduate program in June, 2009, provides students the skills and tools to guide the process of the Singularity “for the benefit of humanity and its environment”. Singularity U encompasses cross-disciplinary studies in ten different scientific and future-oriented tracks, taught by industry experts.

Stand on nanotechnology

Wikinews has related news:

Climate change

Kurzweil is on the Army Science Advisory Board, has testified before Congress on the subject of nanotechnology, and sees considerable potential in the science to solve significant global problems such as poverty, disease, and climate change, viz. Nanotech Could Give Global Warming a Big Chill (July, 2006).

He predicts nanobots will be used to maintain the human body and to extend the human lifespan.

Kurzweil has stressed the extreme potential dangers of nanotechnology, but argues that in practice, progress cannot be stopped, and any attempt to do so will retard the progress of defensive and beneficial technologies more than the malevolent ones, increasing the danger. He says that the proper place of regulation is to make sure progress proceeds safely and quickly. He applies this reasoning to biotechnology, artificial intelligence, and technology in general.[citation needed]

The Law of Accelerating Returns

Main article: Accelerating change

In his controversial 2001 essay, “The Law of Accelerating Returns”, Kurzweil proposes an extension of Moore’s law that forms the basis of the concept of “Technological Singularity”.

Predictions

Main article: Predictions made by Raymond Kurzweil

This section may contain original research. Please improve it by verifying the claims made and adding references. Statements consisting only of original research may be removed. More details may be available on the talk page. (December 2007)

The Age of Intelligent Machines

Arguably, Kurzweil gained a large amount of credibility as a futurist from his first book The Age of Intelligent Machines. It was written from 1986 to 1989 and published in 1990. Building on Ithiel de Sola Pool’s “Technologies of Freedom” (1983), Kurzweil forecast the demise of the Soviet Union due to new technologies such as cellular phones and fax machines disempowering authoritarian governments by removing state control over the flow of information. In the book Kurzweil also extrapolated preexisting trends in the improvement of computer chess software performance to predict correctly that computers would beat the best human players by 1998, and most likely in that year. In fact, the event occurred in May 1997 when chess World Champion Garry Kasparov was defeated by IBM’s Deep Blue computer in a well-publicized chess tournament. Perhaps most significantly, Kurzweil foresaw the explosive growth in worldwide Internet use that began in the 1990s. At the time of the publication of The Age of Intelligent Machines, there were only 2.6 million Internet users in the world, and the medium was unreliable, difficult to use, and deficient in content, making Kurzweil’s realization of its future potential especially prescient, given the technology’s limits at that time. He also stated that the Internet would explode not only in the number of users but in content as well, eventually granting users access “to international networks of libraries, data bases, and information services”. Additionally, Kurzweil correctly foresaw that the preferred mode of Internet access would inevitably be through wireless systems, and he was also correct to estimate that the latter would become practical for widespread use in the early 21st century.

Kurzweil also accurately forecast that, by the end of the 1990s, many documents would exist solely in computers and on the Internet, and that they would commonly be embedded with sounds, animations, and videos that would inhibit their transfer to paper format. Moreover, he foresaw that cellular phones would grow in popularity while shrinking in size for the foreseeable future.

The Age of Spiritual Machines

In 1999, Kurzweil published a second book titled The Age of Spiritual Machines, which goes into more depth explaining his futurist ideas. The third and final section of the book is devoted to elucidating the specific course of technological advancements Kurzweil predicts the world will experience over the next century. Titled “To Face the Future”, the section is divided into four chapters respectively named “2009”, “2019”, “2029”, and “2099”. In each chapter, Kurzweil makes predictions about what life and technology will be like in that year.

While the veracity of Kurzweil’s predictions beyond 2009 cannot yet be determined, many of the ideas of the “2009” chapter have been scrutinized. To begin, Kurzweil’s claims that 2009 would be a year of continued transition as purely electronic computer memory continued to replace older rotating memory seems to be disproved by continued rapid growth in hard-disk capacity and unit sales, while high-capacity flash drives have yet to catch on in high-volume applications. Nonetheless, solid state storage is the preferred means of storage in low-volume applications such as MP3 players, handheld gaming systems, cellular phones and digital cameras. Many companies produce a 256 GB solid state drive for use in laptops and desktops, but these drives will cost over $600, making storage on them cost roughly five times the price of comparable hard-disk storage. On the other hand, Kurzweil correctly foresaw the growing ubiquity of wireless Internet access and cordless computer peripherals. Perhaps of more importance, Kurzweil presaged the explosive growth in peer-to-peer filesharing and the emergence of the Internet as a major medium for commerce and for accessing media such as movies, television programs, newspaper and magazine text, and music. He also claimed that three-dimensional computer chips would be in common use by 2009 (though older, “2-D” chips would still predominate). But although IBM has recently developed the necessary chip-stacking technology and announced plans to begin using three-dimensional chips in its supercomputers and for wireless communication applications, chip stacking remains a low-volume technology in 2009.

The Singularity is Near

While this book focuses on the future of technology and the human race as did The Age of Intelligent Machines and The Age of Spiritual Machines, Kurzweil makes very few concrete, short-term predictions in The Singularity is Near, though longer-term visions are present in abundance. He recently discussed the singularity with Vice Magazine and was filmed for a documentary on the magazine online network VBS.tv.

Work on nutrition, health and lifestyle

Ray Kurzweil admits that he cared little for his health until age 35, when he was diagnosed with a glucose intolerance, an early form of type II diabetes (a major risk factor for heart disease). Kurzweil then found a doctor that shares his non-conventional beliefs to develop an extreme regimen involving hundreds of pills, chemical i.v. treatments, red wine and various other methods to attempt to live longer.

Kurzweil believes that the radical technological advances made throughout the 21st century will ultimately culminate with the discovery of means to reverse the aging process, cure any disease, and repair presently unrepairable injuries. Kurzweil has thus focused himself towards following a lifestyle intended to heighten his odds of living to see the day when science can make him immortal. Kurzweil calls this the “Bridge to a Bridge to a Bridge” strategy: The first bridge to longer life is Kurzweil’s regimen, whereas the second- and third bridges are based on advanced biotechnologies and nanotechnologies, respectively, that have not yet been invented. Kurzweil believes they will allow for progressively longer human lifespans to the point of immortality and that successfully implementing the first “bridge” now allows one to reach the second in the future, which then allows one to reach the third.

Some elements of Kurzweil’s lifestyle are conventional. He exercises frequently, does not eat to excess, and does not abuse recreational drugs. Many others, however, are controversial and may be explained by his obsession with living as long as possible. Kurzweil ingests “250 supplements, eight to 10 glasses of alkaline water and 10 cups of green tea” every day and drinks several glasses of red wine a week in an effort to “reprogram” his biochemistry. Lately, he has cut down the number of supplement pills to 150.

Although not supported by science, Kurzweil and many others believe that consuming large amounts of water is necessary for flushing toxins out of the body, and that alkaline water allows the body to preserve important enzymes used for neutralizing acidic metabolic wastes. For this reason, Kurzweil abhors soft drinks and coffee, which are both acidic. Kurzweil believes that acidic drinks drain detoxifying enzyme reserves. Kurzweil has taken criticism from nutritionists and scientists for his advocacy of alkaline water’s alleged health benefits and other unconventional beliefs, and he responded to this over the Internet. Green tea and red wine contain antioxidants that neutralize free radicals. Kurzweil also consumes red wine because it contains the compound resveratrol, which may help to fight heart disease according to some evidence, but it is also a potentiator of breast carcinomas which may prove to out-weigh any suggested benefit. Kurzweil also takes pills containing high concentrations of the chemical because the amount in red wine is extremely inconsistent.

On weekends, Kurzweil also undergoes intravenous transfusions of chemical cocktails at a clinic which he believes will reprogram his biochemistry. He routinely measures the chemical composition of his own bodily fluids, undergoes preemptive medical tests for many diseases and disorders, and keeps detailed records about the content of all the meals he eats. On that last note, Kurzweil only eats organic foods with low glycemic loads and claims it has been years since he last consumed anything containing sugar. Kurzweil considers foods rich in sugars and carbohydrates to be unhealthy since they spike the levels of glucose and insulin in the bloodstream, leading to health problems in the long term. He instead eats mainly vegetables, lean meats, tofu, and low glycemic load carbohydrates, and only uses extra virgin olive oil for cooking. Kurzweil also diligently eats foods rich with Omega-3 fatty acids (including small, wild salmon).

Moreover, Kurzweil makes it a priority to get sufficient sleep for physical and psychological health, and he maintains low stress levels in part by meditating and getting massages weekly. He exercises daily with walking, bike-riding and using workout machines, but advises against high-impact forms of exercise. Kurzweil claims that his rigorous efforts have yielded positive results, pointing to his vitamin-selling business partner who claims his “biological age” is more than a decade younger than his chronological age. In fact, Kurzweil claims that his personal health regimen has actually slowed down his rate of aging. He also advocates maintaining a slightly below-average body weight on the grounds that it imparts some of the life-extension benefits of full caloric restriction.

Kurzweil joined the Alcor Life Extension Foundation, a cryonics company. In the event of his death, Kurzweil’s body will be chemically preserved, frozen in liquid nitrogen, and stored at an Alcor facility in the hope that future medical technology will be able to revive him.

Kurzweil has authored three books on the subjects of nutrition, health and immortality: The 10% Solution for a Healthy Life, Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough to Live Forever and TRANSCEND: Nine Steps to Living Well Forever. In all, he recommends that other people emulate his health practices to the best of their abilities.

Kurzweil and his current “anti-aging” doctor, Terry Grossman, MD., now have two websites promoting their first and second book, and sells their “longevity products”, many of which can be found on medical scam warning sites.

Stance on religion

Though Kurzweil’s parents were Jewish, they raised him as a Unitarian and exposed him to many different faiths during his youth. Kurzweil gave a 2007 keynote speech to the United Church of Christ in Hartford, Connecticut, alongside Barack Obama, who was then a Presidential candidate. In The Singularity is Near he expresses a need for a new religion based on the principle of mutual respect between sentient life forms, and on the principle of respecting knowledge. This religion would not have a leader, instead being purely personal to adherents.

According to Kurzweil he primary role of traditional religion is deathist rationalizationhat is, rationalizing the tragedy of death as a good thing. In order to benefit from what the Singularity can bring, we need to overcome our deathist rationalization. We need to sweep traditional religion out of our road.59]

“Religious tradition might attempt to slow down technological innovation, transhumanists accuse religious representatives of holding a vested interest in provenance over matters of death and immortality. One of the impediments to the advance toward cybernetic immortality is religion, they say. Religion stands in the way. Religion threatens to block progress. This is because religion has traditionally sought to provide a palliative for people faced with death. Religion brings acceptance of death, and comfort with that acceptance. Ready to engage in combat with traditional religion, in Promethean style Kurzweil wants to defy death and use nanotechnology as a weapon to defeat death.”

Criticism

Even beyond philosophical arguments over whether a machine can “think” (see Philosophy of artificial intelligence), Kurzweil’s ideas have generated much criticism within the scientific community and in the media. Mitch Kapor, the founder of Lotus Development Corporation, has called the notion of a technological singularity “intelligent design for the IQ 140 people…This proposition that we’re heading to this point at which everything is going to be just unimaginably differentt’s fundamentally, in my view, driven by a religious impulse. And all of the frantic arm-waving can’t obscure that fact for me.”

VR pioneer Jaron Lanier has been one of the strongest critics of Kurzweil ideas, describing them as ybernetic totalism (totalitarianism), and has outlined his views on the culture surrounding Kurzweil predictions in an essay for Edge.org entitled One Half of a Manifesto.

Pulitzer Prize winner Douglas Hofstadter, author of Gdel, Escher, Bach, has said of Kurzweil’s and Hans Moravec’s books: “It as if you took a lot of very good food and some dog excrement and blended it all up so that you can’t possibly figure out what’s good or bad. It’s an intimate mixture of rubbish and good ideas, and it’s very hard to disentangle the two, because these are smart people; they’re not stupid.”

Although the idea of a technological singularity is a popular concept in science fiction, some authors such as Neal Stephenson and Bruce Sterling have voiced scepticism about its real-world plausibility. Sterling expressed his views on the singularity scenario in a talk at the Long Now Foundation entitled The Singularity: Your Future as a Black Hole. Other prominent AI thinkers and computer scientists such as Daniel Dennett, Rodney Brooks, and David Gelernter have also criticized Kurzweil projections.

Bill Joy, cofounder of Sun Microsystems, agrees with Kurzweil’s timeline of future progress, but thinks that technologies such as AI, nanotechnology and advanced biotechnology will create a dystopian world.

Daniel Lyons, writing in Newsweek, criticized Kurzweil for some of his predictions which turned out to be wrong; such as the economy continuing to boom from the 1998 dot-com through 2009, a US company having a market capitalization of more than $1 trillion, a supercomputer achieving 20 petaflops, speech recognition being in widespread use and cars that would drive themselves using sensors installed in highways; all by 2009. To the charge that 20 petaflop supercomputer was not produced in the time he predicted, Kurzweil responded that he considers Google a giant supercomputer, and that it is capable of 20 petaflops.

Biologist P.Z. Myers has criticized Kurzweil’s predictions as being based on “New Age spiritualism” rather than science and says that Kurzweil does not understand basic biology. Myers also says that Kurzweil picks and chooses events that appear to demonstrate his claim of exponential technological increase leading up to a singularity, and ignores events that do not.

See also

Accelerating change

Paradigm shift

Simulated reality

Singularity University

Technological singularity

Transhumanism

Transcendent Man (film)

Predictive medicine

Full Genome Sequencing

References

^ Inventor of the Week

^ KurzweilAI.net

^ Piano performance is seen at the beginning of his C-SPAN interview on CSPAN-2 Book TV, November 5, 2006

^ a b Intel Science Talent Search (STS): STS Alumni & Their Honors

^ http://www.kurzweiltech.com/raybio.html

^ links.jstor.org

^ See details at: http://investing.businessweek.com/businessweek/research/stocks/private/person.asp?personId=542059.

^ The smartest (or the nuttiest) futurist on Earthay 14, 2007

^ a b Raymond Kurzweil at the Internet Movie Database

^ KUSHNER, David (February 19, 2009), “When Man & Machine Merge”, Rolling Stone, http://www.rollingstone.com/news/story/25939914/when_man__machine_merge 

^ Era of smart people is dawning

^ “Coming Soon to a Theater Near You: The Singularity”. http://www.wired.com/entertainment/hollywood/news/2007/11/kurzweil_qa. Retrieved 2008-01-12. 

^ Singularity The Movie release date

^ “Transcend: Nine Steps to Living Well Forever”. http://www.rayandterry.com/transcend/. 

^ “Interview H+ Magazine Winter 2009”. http://www.hplusmagazine.com/articles/ai/ray-kurzweil-h-interview. 

^ http://www.kurzweiltech.com/rayspeakerbio.html

^ Survival of the Machines

^ http://www.reuters.com/article/pressRelease/idUS106533+03-Jan-2008+PRN20080103

^ ACM Awards: Grace Murray Hopper Award

^ ACM: Fellows Award / Raymond Kurzweil

^ Engineer of the Year Hall of Fame, 6/12/2007

^ Dickson Prize

^ Corporation names new members

^ National Medal of Technology Recipients, Technology Administration

^ The National Medal of Technology

^ Telluride Tech Festival

^ Winners’ Circle: Raymond Kurzweil

^ Lemelson-MIT Prize

^ Ray Kurzweil Inventor Profile

^ Hall of Fame Overview

^ Hall of Fame 2002

^ http://www.kurzweilai.net/news/frame.html?main=/news/news_single.html?id=10468

^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n http://www.kurzweiltech.com/raycv.html

^ http://www.planetpatent.com/Articles/RayKurzweilLandmarkInventions.htm

^ http://www.mcgill.ca/newsroom/news/item/?item_id=100220

^ http://www.clarkson.edu/news/view.php?id=2249

^ singinst.org

^ lifeboat.com

^ sfgate.com

^ http://singularityu.org/about/faq/

^ Nanotech Could Give Global Warming a Big Chill (July, 2006)

^ “Machines ‘to match man by 2029′”. BBC News. 2008-02-16. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7248875.stm. Retrieved 2008-02-17. 

^ a b “In Depth: Ray Kurzweil”. CSPAN-2. Book TV. 2006-11-05. Archived from the original on 2007-02-20. http://web.archive.org/web/20070220014203/http://www.booktv.org/feature/index.asp?segid=7515&schedID=457. Retrieved 2008-02-17.  at 85, 147, 167 and 173 minutes into 3 hour interview

^ “In Depth: Ray Kurzweil” (RealAudio). Book TV. http://www.booktv.org/ram/feature/1106/arc_btv110506_4.ram. Retrieved 2008-02-17.  direct link to 3 hour Kurzweil interview

^ “The Law of Accelerating Returns”

^ Fleeing the dot.com era: decline in Internet usage

^

^ IBM Extends Moore’s Law to the Third Dimension

^ RAY KURZWEIL- That Singularity Guy Vice magazine. April 2009

^ Youtube video :The Singularity of Ray Kurzweil

^ Wired News: ” Never Say Die: Live Forever”

^ Glenn Beck Interview with Ray Kurzweil

^ Five Myths About Water

^ Ray Kurweil Discusses Alkaline and Ionized Water

^ Quackwatch.org article about resveratrol

^ Fantasic Voyage

^ Ray and Terry’s

^ Quackwatch.org’s list of supplements, etc.

^ a b Simon Young and Robert A. Freitas (2005). Designer Evolution, p. 372, Prometheus Books, ISBN 13-9781591022909.

^ O’Keefe, Brian (2007-05-02). “The smartest (or the nuttiest) futurist on Earth”. Fortune. http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2007/05/14/100008848/. Retrieved 2008-08-28. 

^ Lanier, Jaron. “One Half of a Manifesto”. Edge.org. http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/lanier/lanier_p1.html. Retrieved 2008-08-28. 

^ Ross, Greg. “An interview with Douglas R. Hofstadter”. American Scientist. http://www.americanscientist.org/bookshelf/pub/douglas-r-hofstadter. Retrieved 2008-08-28. 

^ Miller, Robin (2004-10-20). “Neal Stephenson Responds With Wit and Humor”. Slashdot. http://interviews.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=04/10/20/1518217. Retrieved 2008-08-28. “My thoughts are more in line with those of Jaron Lanier, who points out that while hardware might be getting faster all the time, software is shit (I am paraphrasing his argument). And without software to do something useful with all that hardware, the hardware’s nothing more than a really complicated space heater.” 

^ Brand, Stewart (2004-06-14). “Bruce Sterling – “The Singularity: Your Future as a Black Hole””. The Long Now Foundation. http://blog.longnow.org/2004/06/14/bruce-sterling-the-singularity-your-future-as-a-black-hole/. Retrieved 2009-06-08. 

^ Sterling, Bruce. “The Singularity: Your Future as a Black Hole” (MP3). http://media.longnow.org/seminars/salt-0200406-sterling/salt-0200406-sterling.mp3. “It an end-of-history notion, and like most end-of-history notions, it is showing its age.” 

^ Dennett, Daniel. “The Reality Club: One Half Of A Manifesto”. Edge.org. http://www.edge.org/discourse/jaron_manifesto.html#dennett. “”I’m glad that Lanier entertains the hunch that Dawkins and I (and Hofstadter and others) ‘see some flaw in logic that insulates [our] thinking from the eschatalogical implications’ drawn by Kurzweil and Moravec. He right. I, for one, do see such a flaw, and I expect Dawkins and Hofstadter would say the same.”” 

^ Brooks, Rodney. “The Reality Club: One Half Of A Manifesto”. Edge.org. http://www.edge.org/discourse/jaron_manifesto.html#brooks. “I do not at all agree with Moravec and Kurzweil’s predictions for an eschatological cataclysm, just in time for their own memories and thoughts and person hood to be preserved before they might otherwise die.” 

^ Transcript of debate over feasibility of near-term AI (moderated by Rodney Brooks): “Gelernter, Kurzweil debate machine consciousness”. KurzweilAI.net. http://www.edge.org/discourse/jaron_manifesto.html#brooks. 

^ Joy, Bill (April 2000). “Why the future doesn’t need us”. Wired. http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/8.04/joy_pr.html. Retrieved 2008-09-21. “…it was only in the autumn of 1998 that I became anxiously aware of how great are the dangers facing us in the 21st century. I can date the onset of my unease to the day I met Ray Kurzweil…” 

^ a b Lyons, Daniel (May 2009). “I, Robot”. Newsweek. http://www.newsweek.com/id/197812/page/2. Retrieved 2009-05-22. “During the height of the dotcom boom in 1998, Kurzweil predicted that the economy would keep on booming right through 2009 (and on to 2019, for that matter) and that one U.S. company (he didn’t say which) would have a market capitalization of more than $1 trillion. Not even close. Kurzweil also predict-ed that by 2009 a top supercomputer would be capable of performing 20 quadrillion operations per second (20 petaflops in computer jargon), the same as the human brain. In fact, the top supercomputer just broke the one-petaflop markhough Kurzweil says he considers all of Google to be a giant supercomputer and that it is, indeed, capable of performing 20 petaflops. Kurzweil also predicted that by now our cars would be able to drive themselves by communicating with intelligent sensors embedded in highways, and that speech recognition would be in widespread use.” 

^ Lyons, Daniel (May 2009). “I, Robot”. Newsweek. http://www.newsweek.com/id/197812. Retrieved 2009-07-24. “Still, a lot of people think Kurzweil is completely bonkers and/or full of a certain messy byproduct of ordinary biological functions. They include P. Z. Myers, a biologist at the University of Minnesota, Morris, who has used his blog to poke fun at Kurzweil and other armchair futurists who, according to Myers, rely on junk science and don’t understand basic biology. “I am completely baffled by Kurzweil’s popularity, and in particular the respect he gets in some circles, since his claims simply do not hold up to even casually critical examination,” writes Myers. He says Kurzweil’s Singularity theories are closer to a deluded religious movement than they are to science. “It’s a New Age spiritualismhat’s all it is,” Myers says. “Even geeks want to find God somewhere, and Kurzweil provides it for them.”” 

^ Myers, Paul Zachary (February 2009). “Singularly silly singularity”. http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/02/singularly_silly_singularity.php. Retrieved 2009-07-24. 

External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Raymond Kurzweil

Kurzweil Companies web site

KurzweilAI.net – a vast resource, including some of his books for free

Raymond Kurzweil’s IP – all of Raymond Kurzweil’s US patents & patent applications

Ray and Terry’s Longevity Program

Singularity University, Ray Kurzweil, Chancellor

Transcendent Man – Official Site. Movie about Ray Kurzweil

Singularity is Near Movie (2009) – Official Site

The Singularity A comprehensive documentary about the Singularity (2010) – Official Site

Big Think official Ray Kurzweil page

Machine Dreams – CIO Magazine interview, October 15, 2004

Warfighting in the 21st Century – The Remote, Robotic, Robust, Size-Reduced, Virtual Reality Paradigm – Keynote address, 24th Army Science Conference, November 29, 2004

TED Talks: Ray Kurzweil on how technology will transform us at TED in 2005 (audio/video)

Robot Wars – news@nature site interview, February 8, 2005

The future, just around the bend, The Economist, 10 March 2005

The Council on Foreign Relations; An Exponentially Expanding Future From Exponentially Shrinking Technology, November 30 2005

Interview on NPR’s Talk of the Nation Science Friday – December 23, 2005

The Singularity Summit at Stanford, May 2006

Human v 2.0: Ray Kurzweil vs. Hugo de Garis October 24, 2006

25th Annual Army Science Conference November 27, 2006 Web Hosted Presentation, Slides, Video

Debate between Ray Kurzweil and David Gelernter at MIT on November 30 2006

Web 3.0 – How the next version of the Web will prepare us for the Singularity December 11, 2006

– The Edge Annual Question – 2007; What are you Optimistic About? Why?

Interview with Ray Kurzweil and Sample of Ray Kurzweil keynote from Interwoven’s GearUp Podcast

Ray Kurzweil interview on C-SPAN2 Book TV, 3 hours in length

The smartest futurist on earth – CNN Money article May 2, 2007

Accelerating Change presentation from Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence (SENS), Third Conference, Queens’ College, Cambridge, England, 9 September 2007

Glenn Beck interview of Ray Kurzweil, May 30, 2008 and transcript of the interview.

Interview on NPR’s Talk of the Nation Science Friday – June 6, 2008

Audio: Ray Kurzweil in conversation on the BBC World Service discussion programme The Forum

Raymond Kurzweil at the Internet Movie Database

Persondata

NAME

Kurzweil, Raymond

ALTERNATIVE NAMES

SHORT DESCRIPTION

Author, Scientist, & Futurist

DATE OF BIRTH

February 12, 1948

PLACE OF BIRTH

Queens, New York, United States

DATE OF DEATH

PLACE OF DEATH

Categories: 1948 births | American health and wellness writers | American science writers | American technology writers | Artificial intelligence researchers | Austrian-American Jews | Fellows of the Association for Computing Machinery | Futurologists | Grace Murray Hopper Award laureates | Lemelson-MIT Prize | Life extensionists | Living people | Massachusetts Institute of Technology alumni | National Inventors Hall of Fame inductees | National Medal of Technology recipients | Singularitarianism | Transhumanists | ImmortalityHidden categories: Articles with hCards | Wikipedia articles needing style editing from June 2009 | All articles needing style editing | All articles with unsourced statements | Articles with unsourced statements from January 2008 | Articles that may contain original research from December 2007 | All articles that may contain original research | Articles with obsolete information | Cleanup from section | Wikipedia external links cleanup | Wikipedia spam cleanup
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