Lately I think maybe people are bored already with IT. The coming CES 2014 will have many wearable devices and what would be key at SXSW 2014 will be “Hardware.” But I feel like many people are starting to get tired of “social something” and “cloud something.” Those with pioneering spirit are starting to venture out of the safe zone of software development.
On one hand the Facebook ecosystem dominates the social network market in the global scale. At this rate they can even control the real world computing like O2O (Online to Offline) and M2M (Machine to Machine). Winner takes all! But on another hand, it seems like Andreessen Horowitz and 500 Startups are consciously avoid “manufacturing.”
In a world where web services and smartphone apps has become a low cost startup business, why is there any reason to do a hardware startup with high inventory risks and R&D risks. Many venture capitalists say that hardware takes time, and there is the fear of keeping stock and managing facilities.
They always say this should be avoided at all costs! But if anything I think everyone saying, “this is dangerous, let’s not do this” could be a good sign. (Tesla is located in the center of Silicone Valley. The same people are invested in the private space exploration company Space One. It can’t simply be said that hardware is outside of the realm for Silicone Valley. But it is quite unpopular for startups.)
Actually, starting with many inventor type entrepreneurs to young girls and boys, doesn’t everyone love to create things? Deep down aren’t people incredibly interested in creating new things (something with a function) with their idea? On top of that like a manufacturing company, developing something with an actual form, connecting it to cloud services and apps is actually nothing special. Computerized high tech device is starting to become something that could be developed by anybody over the weekend.
I used to think before, “With the technology, capital and talent and huge influence, why has Sony not developed their own operating system?” But maybe the thought itself was wrong. Maybe they couldn’t develop it because they had all that technology, capital, human capital, and influence. (It’s true that they had the robotic operating system and gaming operating system but their presence pales in comparison to the Android and the iOS.) Both Xperia and VAIO operates on other company’s operating system and I can’t get the sense of strong intention to develop their own software platform even after Google TV.
“People who are really serious about software should make their own hardware.” is Alan Kay’s famous words. But Sony, which has had enormous success with hardware, was not serious about software. That’s why the hardware that is supposed to exist for amazing software loses its attractiveness. As businesspeople we are very afraid of developing hardware. There is still a feeling that other people will be developing the hardware.
But the boundary of hardware and software is becoming blurry. If one’s truly serious about the software it’s necessary to think about the hardware. Moreover, there’s a limit to creating software if you pay no regards to the hardware.
As a Japanese entrepreneur, it’s a shame that Sony couldn’t accomplish this. Lamenting this will just stops the train of thought. Rather then hardware being a lifeless boring mass-produced product off of conveyer belts that exists completely outside of software, it is transforming into something that is animated and software integrated with varieties nuances. I feel that creating apps only for the existing devices and operating systems may only give an old and narrow perspective.
Google Glass is in essence a Google+ device. It’s a device to wear daily with various sensor inputs, humanly capturing these and logging them into a timeline. But we are developing Telepathy One to be a device that could give people an experience of intimate and warm digital communication. It is actually a software device. This is the kind of true value manufacturing that is needed in the world.