Posts Tagged ‘Apple’
This week the discussion arose again about electronics for AV systems and ‘smart homes’ at one of my meetings with a developer client developing a gorgeous luxury building in New York. What exactly does the consumer want delivered to-day in a brand new Manhattan luxury apartment in the way of electronics?
Above a certain price-point, the expectation now is for a minimum of pre-wiring for speakers so as to avoid the need to rip out walls after closing. Electronic power points for electronic shades are becoming more the norm too. After that the waters get muddy: do they want a fully integrated Crestron or Savant system that allows you to control lights, shades, music, TV, AC, heat, security, etc? Each consumer is different and there certainly are a few who want space-ship quality electronics. Usually these people are rocket scientists who know how to operate these systems fluidly. The other day I visited a client who had just completed the renovation of a mega-penthouse in Tribeca….they had installed ‘the works’……..but it was painful to see how at even the light switches they had little hand-written notes describing how to use the system. Something as simple as turnign a light on and off had been made difficult. Really? At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this past week there was no hype about life improvement. Aside from Apple, are there any electronics companys trying to make things more consumer freindly or are they merely designing for themselves and their tech friends? Should we really be heaping attention on an event hosting companies that are actively making people dumber, aiding and abetting in the invasion of privacy, and for the most part making life more complicated than rewarding?
In a world where it is considered OK to send correspondence littered with errors, I think its time those designing electronics take a long hard look at the market to realize the majority of us are not tech geeks and when it comes to our homes we would prefer not to have to think too hard about how to turn on or dim a light. I look forward to the day when controls for home systems are as easy to use for a tech geek as they are for a child or an older adult, yes the ones who may also not be able to easily navigate the miniscule type on these contols that usually require a microscope to read!
Come on, you electronics wizards: its time to make your genius work for the people, not make them feel eternally inferior and reliant on a helpdesk to figure out the most basic of tasks in their own homes!
While we await the outcome of the Greek elections this weekend, the world seems fixated on a country whose GDP is the size of Indiana, Maryland or Minnesota….if we are to put things into perspective. If Indiana’s economy went bust would America crumble?
Lots of the blame for Greek’s woes is being heaped on their citizen’s reluctance to pay taxes. In fact, a good chunk of the wealthier citizens simply refuse to pay taxes. there are over 100,000 swimming pools in Athens, but only a few thousand owners pay the required taxes on these pools. that translates to a few thousand people paying for everybody else who refuses to pay! This corrupt system has resulted in the lowering of the minimum income requirement for taxation to kick in…unsurprisingly those with small incomes, especially salaried individuals who have no means to avoid paying taxes are feeling the pinch and have to carry the weight of those who are self-employed who have much better opportunities to skirt taxes.
While we can all laugh at the Greeks, lets not laugh too loud: Remember that US darling company APPLE paid corporate federal taxes at an effective rate that was below 10% in 2011……while the rest of the smaller corporations pay double and triple?
It ceases to amaze me how a select few are always able to avoid their responsibility at the expense of the majority: surely if the likes of Apple paid 20% in taxes, the rates could be lowered for all and result in a booming economy the likes of which we have never known?
Surely if the 20% of over-taxed buildings in New York had their tax assessments reduced to match those of the 80%, the 80% would pay a fraction more and the 20% would pay a significantly less (but equally to all)….all based on the clear principles of the Constitution of the United States of America, by the way.
So next time you frown at the Greek ‘system’, know that similar abuses are happening in your own back yard. And are equally disturbing and damaging.
The number of brokers switching from Blackberry has grown dramatically over the past year: An increasing number of top companies and government departments that were once devoted to the Blackberry are instead now giving some staff the option of using Apple Inc’s iPhone or smartphones running off of Google Inc’s Android-operating system. Will the Blackberry-wielding broker be a thing of the past?
There is now a real danger for RIM that such switching will gather pace and turn into a much bigger exodus of customers, although if you speak to the average I-phone user, they do lament the loss of the very business-friendly Blackberry they once used to rely on. I personally have great difficulty switching technologies as it takes me a while to learn anything tech-related. I have to say however that the new Blackberry I own is a disaster: just by holding it in the wrong way it dials numbers on its own, resets settings, takes photo’s of my feet….all the things it had never done before in older models. Maybe Blackberry lost its way by trying to do everything to all people? Maybe the market has a place for a phone that actually is mostly geared towards business? Surely many of the i-phone features are more entertainment than work-related?
Now Blackberry/Research in Motion may be sold: The uncertainty surrounding RIM’s future, and the possibility of a sale, is “scary to an end user,” said John Hering, chief executive of Lookout, one of the world’s biggest providers of mobile security products. Within 12 hours of RIM’s announcement, Hering said, he heard from several corporate technology executives troubled by the news.
RIM needs to solve problems for the customer not dabble with trying to be a company it obviously has failed to be. If they were to release a simpler, super-effective business focused device, their future would be much brighter. Maybe a device where the keys were large enough for human hands and eyes? I know this is true as I still see many, many i-phone broker devotees carrying a ‘supplementary’ Blackberry in their pockets… I wish Bang & Olufsen would buy them out and instill the same simplistic design philosophy they apply to their audio/visual products.
We have entered the NEW TECH ECONOMY, an economy that is reliant on, and thrives on technology to improve speed and productivity, lower costs and increase profitability. This Tech Economy makes our world a much smaller place by inter-connecting countries and economies instantly, 24 hours a day. It usurps in many ways the significance of the brick-and-mortar economy of bygone decades. Right now the key focus for investing in Silicon Alley is not Social Media: its all about energy. The world is looking to tech for solutions.
Hewlett Packard announced job cuts of 27,000 to-day: are they looking to Apple for a business model based on Apple’s ability to ship profits and jobs outside of the US to boost profitability?
All this is facilitated by technology. Commerce and industry are driven by it. Even in real estate land the reliance on tech for marketing and advertising is huge, not to mention day-to-day operations. These are the ‘GOOD NEW DAYS’ as opposed to the ‘BAD OLD DAYS’ when we had to run back to our offices to read a faxed memo, type letters and mail them, etc, etc. In the GOOD NEW DAYS of the Tech Economy we can read a newspaper anywhere in the world, anytime of the day…..from the palm of our hand. or receieve an e-mail message, or an important call. This connectivity has accelerated our lives dramatically, and in many ways made our world much easier.
On the flip side, personal interaction is waning, our addiction to a screen keeps growing, and the complexities associated with technology keep growing too: more concerning is that tech reduces the need for humans. The humans that can embrace and thrive on this “New Tech Economy” will reap the benefits, while many will falter. I believe this could further boost the growth of the rich, and further enrich them. Surely the investors of Hewlett Packard will be the biggest beneficiaries of these massive lay-offs? To-day alone the stock rose over 2%.
As crazy as it seems, the STAR TREK fanatsy worlds created for our entertainment decades ago are physically materializing before our very eyes, creating a new world where evolution too is accelerating. This should serve as a warning to all that the ways of the past will change and we had all better adapt fast, or risk becoming extinct.
New York’s famed Plaza Hotel built in 1907 is for sale again by current owner Elad Properties: the landmark property that recently underwent a significant renovation and was partially converted to condominium residences has traded hands several times over the past decade. Sahara India Pariwar Ltd from India is the reported buyer. The cash offer is for the hotel “as is” and debt free. Fairmont Hotels & Resorts Inc. manages the hotel, which overlooks Central Park and the Plaza in front of Bergdorf Goodman across from the APPLE store, for Elad. The Sahara Group would terminate the contract with Fairmont Hotels. The estimated price is $ 575-600 million, a relative bargain considering individual apartments have sold in the building for almost $ 50million. Sahara Group has supposedly already made a down payment for the Plaza Hotel, and is conducting due diligence. It says that the hotel part of the property, which has 100 condominiums and 130 large condominium rooms, is being valued at $400 million, and its premium retail space is being valued at around $200 million. It also says that a condition of a deal is for Elad to first terminate the management agreement with Canada’s Fairmont Hotels with immediate effect.
I’ve always felt the retail segment of the hotel was a bit of a flop: I think New Yorkers are simply not used to entering a mall-like setting and don’t particularly like it…..especially when above or below street level. Time Warner seems to be doing much better although the other night I spotted several vacancies above street grade. I also felt the service and quality of the hotel was a bit disappointing and hopefully this sale will improve things. Remember when Ivana Trump and the Donald were in charge? Those were the days….
Yesterday Google unveiled Project Glass, a secret program designed to bring augmented-reality to the masses. Google’s new Android-powered glasses will allow you to check your email, update your Facebook, or even check-in to your favorite restaurant. The device creates a direct link to your smartphone, providing real-time information in a heads-up display (HUD).
It is the company’s first official venture into wearable computing. The team leading the initiative, including Babak Parviz, Steve Lee and Sebastian Thrun, are part of Google’s clandestine Google X labs, a branch of the company that focuses on futuristic tech and big picture concepts, such as space elevators, robots and driverless cars.
Is reality changing forever? It certainly has on television where Reality TV has nothing to do with reality! Now with these glasses will it be able to have a spectacular Central Park view through the windows that in the past showcased a dark, hideous alley? Will buyers or renters be able to scan a QR code on a building and take a very real-looking-and-feeling virtual tour of an apartment without entering the building…..just by looking in their glasses?
It’s all very space-agey…..and almost unbelievable. Then again, whoever would have thought just a few years ago that millions would read all their books and newspapers on a little computer tablet? Our world is changing faster than ever, and this may signal the transfer of the computer out of our hands and onto our bodies. A few years ago, millions did not run around staring at their telephones/PDA’s all day and night. Will these glasses do to our eyes what the headphones are doing to our ears? Will I-views become as chic as I-tunes?
Maybe Corey Hart’s “I wear my sunglasses at night” will become a huge hit again? And how chic a version will APPLE deliver?
In the past 10 years we have seen a radical acceleration of evolution in the way we live as human beings: politicians (as always) keep trying to fight this fact, but we can physically witness evolution in our daily lives. Here are some items that I have identified in our homes that should/could be clear enough evidence for all.
Skinny, wall hung Plasma and LCD televisions have replaced most of the old traditional boxy TV’s we all used to have, freeing up to 8 square feet of living space in many instances where those hideous monster big screen TV’s used to take up half of the living room of the Wall Street bachelor pad. In Manhattan, those square feet saved are worth at least $ 5,000……$ 25,000+ in some buildings….PER TELEVISION.
I-pad’s and laptop computers havd removed the bulk of the need for a ‘work desk’…..and the work desk can certainly be much smaller now. Thats a lot of square footage too!
Remember those huge filing cabinets for all the paperwork we used to file away? Well, certain papers are still essential, yet most can be stored in a computer or scanned. More square footage saved.
In recent years, super-high-end apartments would boast about ‘the rack’, a stack of equipment that controlled all the tech throughout the apartment. While these racks are still necessary for many home automation systems, they are getting smaller. And SONOS system eliminates the need for these racks if a more basic system is desired.
We have more wall and counter space where landline telephones used to be placed. We have more ceiling height now that recessed can lights use much smaller LED lamps. Speakers are housed in walls and ceilings. All of a sudden a 6 burner Miele cooktop with 2 seperate ovens is more in Vogue than a massive Viking range.
Last week the New York Times discussed how furniture designers are re-thinking furniture usage in a high tech world: desk lamps with built in chargers or power sources for a laptop? Mirrors that house TV’s (they exist widely already, although they are not 100% effective yet)? Walls that double as storage? Dual functionality equals space and efficiency savings. What about wall thick (approx 8″) tech mechanicals to be able to embed them in the walls for surround sound systems so they aren’t always the hideous visuals below a TV?
We are seeing beds housed in ceilings that drop when needed (an alternative to the space-saving Murphy bed). Stairways that are storage rooms. Artwork that can change and ‘shuffle’…..a la Bill Gates’ house. Windows that wash themselves (they exist!). Window shading built into the glass electronically eliminating the need for shade pockets. Windows that produce energy. A newspaper rack is no longer necessary when we read ‘newspapers’ on line.
We also will witness evolution backlash: those white Apple earphones that were all the rage a few years ago, have been replaced by much larger BEATS headphones with a decidedly retro-cool vibe. Retro will always slow evolution for a while.
As the world population grows, and the need for energy and resource conservation grows, so too will the need for efficiencies of humans grow. The marriage of technology and design is rather new, but the increasing esthetic awareness is huge. Apple probably takes credit for most of this phenomenon.
Designers and their tech counterparts will be challenged to design that which is both functional and desirable. Design that makes out lives easier will win. Yes, efficient spaces are inevitable. But claustrophobic, unattractive design will not survive. Super-luxe tech will provide huge opportunities too. Soon we will probably have all our tech implanted into our bodies…..a scary thought. Then again, whoever thought 10 years ago that we would be watching movies in the palm of our hands on a phone?
We are witnessing what Phillipe Starck terms the DEMATERIALIZATION of society, where less ‘things’ are needed to function. Now tell that to the Kardashians!
Remember when those sleek white APPLE ear-phones were all the rage? They defined what we SHOULD be using tech-wise. Now all of a sudden BEATS and other super-large 70′s style headphones are all the rage. In this lies a big message: fashions change fast and furiously, and the reasoning can be confusing. This should be an important message to designers and developers of new buildings.
With a large concentration of new properties being developed currently, the need for strong, innovative design is tremendous. Two years ago, any big-name designer made themselves available immediately for a new project. Today, they barely return calls they are so busy. The key to great product is great design…..but if the APPLE earphones can be so easily trumped by the BEATS-style headphones, everyone had better be on red alert trend-wise. Interiors should never be so fashionable as to be so easily and quickly dated.
As I look out of my window in the distance I see a large U. S. Post Office facility and it reminds me of the on-going debacle that is the Post Office. I speak on this subject from a real estate perspective living in an area (West Chelsea) that has witnessed a radical transition from an entirely commercial area (that died) to a mostly residential and art gallery neighborhood. Real-estate-wise this has happened here, in Soho, Tribeca and around the world. It’s called evolution, and some keep fighting it……especially the US Post Office.
The problem with the Post Office is it acts and thinks like a big government. So the first thing it wants to turn to is protecting exactly what it does, keep doing it the same way, but apply extreme austerity measures by cutting. The employees only focus on keeping their benefits and keep working in the exact same manner as before demanding that the rest of the country support this farce. Both are wrong. And they are an incredibly accurate reflection of what is happening in our country politically as well as what happens in real estate…..until smarter people step in to change things.
In Soho, artists moved into mostly abandoned buildings where the wholesale textile industry used to thrive. When the industry died, so too did the neighborhood. Big scale developers were not interested because the land in Soho is not the best for building huge, hideous structures as it does not have the best bedrock for this type of construction. So artists moved in, upgraded the buildings to somewhat liveable….then came the restaurants and retail, and all of a sudden it was cool to live in a loft. So rich bankers bought lofts from the artists (making many of them very rich), renovated them, and within a few years Soho became a very high end residential real estate environment. But of course, government could not keep up, and still wants to enforce a program (A.I.R.) to protect the environment as an artist’s studio environment…..while collecting significantly higher real estate taxes from the new inhabitants. Another perfect example of government fighting evolution. Just like the post office.
Real estate is the most visible form of evolution in my mind…..seeing the speed of transformation of entire neighborhood uses is pretty astounding. And it works best when government and commerce work together as is witnessed now in the Hudson Yards, West Chelsea and the Financial District. Its smart government (raising real estate tax collection, encouraging transactional taxes, higher employment, etc) AND smart commerce (construction profits, rental incomes, tax breaks, etc).
Now back to the Post Office: the world has changed! We don’t mail as many letters as we used to. Federal Express ships boxes better than you and with much less attitude (lets face it: a trip to the post office used to be about being annoyed and insulted by rude, lazy, slow staff). We send e-mails. We send e-vites instead of mailed invitations. Now instead of ONLY focusing on cuts or preserving history, maybe its time for the Post office to re-invent itself. Here are some ideas:
1) Look closely at Federal Express and UPS: both have grown dramatically as the world evolved into ordering massive volumes of product on line, efficiently, cost effectively and with a friendly demeanor.
2) What other tasks could the post office perform, knowing that much of its real estate is located in PRIME locations in the hearts of most communities: how could they provide one-stop shopping for mail, stationery, coffee, tech supplies? If Duane Reade can sell sandwiches, what else can the Post Office sell?
3) Could the post office forge strategic partnerships with on-line retailers?
4) What about selling/leasing the roof real estate of all their locations for solar + wind farms? Replacing the light poles on top of their facility in West Chelsea with wind turbines could provide lighting for the roof as well as pay the electric bill.
5) What about all the post office vans becoming driving billboards advertising things besides the POST OFFICE? Or advertising all the new services they are introducing to the world?
Frankly I see ALL the opportunity for the post office in their real estate: yes, they have to trim costs and make their methods and staff more efficient. But more importantly they need to EVOLVE and re-invent their role in our society. Lets not forget: Apple was never a phone manufacturer a few years ago. Now just a few years later, it dominates the market.