One event was in Milan and featured a product no consumer will ever see, but all will experience. The second was in Berlin and featured a family of consumer products, which are a primary reason the PC industry is racing toward a brick wall. One city has great food; the other has great beer. I was attending neither, but watched the events via live Web stream.
EMC was in Milan with the goal of tying in the excitement of F1 racing with a new—actually updated—storage family and a range of additional storage products and services. EMC has a comfortable lead in storage, but unlike a certain operating system company in Redmond, Wash., does a good job at regularly recharging its products to stay abreast with technology developments.
The big news in storage is the rise of flash-based, solid state storage, storage as a cloud-based service, an ever-increasing variety and volume of stored data, and the need to make the data residing in the storage infrastructure secure and rapidly accessible.
The company has not strayed too far from its storage focus, but instead hives off new companies to address high growth areas including virtualization (VMware) and platform as a service (Pivotal). That hiving strategy may be a good idea for Redmond to also take a closer look.
The EMC event included a new midrange VNX upgrade designed to take advantage of flash and multi-core processors, an announcement that the ViPR software-defined storage platform encompassing a variety of data types and services would be ready earlier than expected. The company also showed its public cloud-like, but private cloud secure Project Nile, which is designed to provide rapid storage deployment.
In all, EMC continued to provide a counterbalance to both the rise of public cloud storage and open source-based hybrid storage capabilities. Storage is one of those products consumers don’t see but have frequent interactions. CIOs tend to focus on business applications, but they are aware storage provides the data upon which those applications depend.
The Samsung event was held at the IFA show in Berlin. A consumer electronics show in September makes more sense than one in January. IFA is rising in prominence as the place where product introductions will get noticed unlike the overwhelming product noise associated with the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show.
Samsung introduced three products: a smartphone, a tablet and its first smartwatch. The watch, the Galaxy Gear reported to be priced at $299 when it goes on sale later this month, received the most attention. The advent of wearable devices has been much forecast, but only now are the products being introduced.
EMC, Samsung Launch Major Products From Europe via Webcasts
The Gear in its present form is chunky, bears a strong resemblance to the Dick Tracy 2-way wrist radio and is a 1.0 version, which requires tethering. It is certainly less intrusive than the Google Glass product (which does not need a tether but does have a strong “creepiness” factor) and it does address the awkwardness of talking into a phablet or taking out your phone for simple photos, checking messages or answering calls. I’m expecting a parade of smart watches over the coming months.
While the products in themselves are interesting, the interplay between the devices is what matters. The Steve Jobs vision of a family of products with features geared to specific form factors, but all bearing a common theme, is proving true. Samsung is currently leading Apple in developing a family extending beyond tablets and smartphones. Apple might introduce a watch at its upcoming September product announcement, but that has not been confirmed.
The Galaxy Gear is promising, but does have some drawbacks. As a tethered device (via Bluetooth), the watch cannot function as a stand-alone cellular phone. The Gear also requires a user to learn a new interface and new set of swipe commands. It also adds one more device to tote along rather than reduce the various devices that now encumber consumers.
As for the two product Webcasts, they were about equal in their ability to deliver information. Despite all the technology advances associated with Web streaming, multimedia and high-definition cameras, these two Webcasts were still broadcasts of guys (and they were all guys) on stage delivering PowerPoint presentations.
The producers did add some cutaways to (in EMC’s case, a silly stunt of employees changing F1 tires) and Samsung showing its new commercials. The concept of adding information (product specs, pricing and regional availability) in a separate window to accompany the video is either not within reach or not seen as important. For those of us watching remotely, adding information instead of entertainment would be welcome.
Eric Lundquist is a technology analyst at Ziff Brothers Investments, a private investment firm. Lundquist, who was editor-in-chief at eWEEK (previously PC WEEK) from 1996-2008 authored this article for eWEEK to share his thoughts on technology, products and services. No investment advice is offered in this article. All duties are disclaimed. Lundquist works separately for a private investment firm which may at any time invest in companies whose products are discussed in this article and no disclosure of securities transactions will be made.