Another view of GrandCentral

I’ve been using Grand Central since last October and overall I’m very happy with it. Michael Gartenberg says that he doesn’t want to give them control of his phone number and doesn’t like the interface for incoming calls.
GrandCentral solves a problem that I haven’t been able to solve any other way — I can’t get cell service in my home — and it solves it in an elegant fashion. My GrandCentral number rings both my cell and my home office. Its email notifications and message inbox are beautifully designed and easy to use.
I still wish that it had a more powerful set of rules (e.g. don’t forward to my home number before 9am). I wish I had more control over the greeting. Like Michael, I wish I could turn off the “Press 1 to take a call” feature — for selected callers. GrandCentral seems to fluster some callers, who sound confused by what precisely they’re talking to at first. And I really wish I could use my GrandCentral inbox with my iPhone (It requires Flash, of all things). And although I’ve heard some complaints about call quality, there are so many steps in the telephone chain these days, it’s really difficult to say how GrandCentral affects the quality of your calls.
I’m a lot less troubled than Michael about giving GrandCentral control of my phone number. It’s a big advantage for me that I don’t have to make my “real” numbers — the ones I do plan to keep for life — available to everybody. I use my GrandCentral number in my email sig.
Ever since I’ve been using GrandCentral, I’ve felt like I’ve had much more control of my telephone communications. And that’s something I’d pay money for.
Originally published on my blog at JupiterResearch.

Is synergy strangling Sony?

I’m reading the New Yorker article on Howard Stringer’s struggles with Sony that David Card and Michael Gartenberg have already recommended.
The author seems to bought the proposition that poor communication between the silos is what is strangling Sony. I’m wondering if the opposite is true. It looks to me like the pursuit of false synergies may be at least as big a problem.
Did Sony’s ability to put its film assets behind Blu-ray encourage them to get into a format war they’re likely to lose? Did Sony’s ownership of vast reservoirs of music encourage them to launch their less-than-successful SACD high-definition audio disc? Did it commit them to a DRM strategy that not only knocked them out of the portable music player market, but convinced them to pursue a their disastrous rootkit project? Has Sony’s commitment to its proprietary Memory Stick format made its cameras, computers and MP3 players a little bit less attractive? Will Sony’s strategy of developing its own super-microprocessor for Playstation lock it into a unwinnable long-term competition with Intel, compel it to put its own expensive chips into commodity products where they don’t belong, and turn it into the Silicon Graphics of consumer electronics?
If Sony had not been able to marshall these corporate resources to support doomed platforms, would they have been forced to engage the kind of give-and-take with their customers and suppliers that makes free markets work?
Originally published on my blog at JupiterResearch.