By Mike Wehner | April 25th 2014
Nobody really talks about Gil Amelio any more. Serving as CEO of Apple for just over a year, his tenure is overshadowed by the return of Steve Jobs and the eventual rise to greatness that the company is still enjoying today. But Gil Amelio was a smart man, and he identified a lot of what was wrong with Apple’s game plan and message at the time, as is evident by this internal address that he put out just weeks after becoming CEO. Looking back, it’s remarkable how accurate Amelio was regarding how Apple could get its groove back, and he paints a near perfect picture of the company Apple would later become, even without him at the helm. “We need to do some financial house cleaning, ridding ourself of some assets and infrastructure which just don’t figure into our future game plan.” That meant killing off a lot of the seemingly random product categories that Apple had begun to unsuccessfully dabble in. Jobs is often credited with actually delivering on this promise — axing unpopular projects like the Pippin — but it’s clear that Amelio saw the problem and had at least partially begun the culling process. “The essence of our plan is simple: We’re going back to our roots.” Amelio certainly delivered on this, not only in terms of product focus but more literally by bringing back Steve Jobs… who would eventually lead a coup to oust him. “We think computer-based tools should be fun as well as fulfilling. This means we must put the customer — the Apple user — at the center of everything we do, and frankly, I think we’ve lost sight of that.” Amen! Apple was at a strange crossroads in 1996. The company’s scattershot approach was clearly a failure and a new direction was needed. The user-first model is something that Apple would eventually grasp on to and has yet to let it go. “We must simplify our line of products while differentiating them through innovation, deliver greater perceived customer value, increase the clarity and intensity of our marketing message, improve the value proposition for our family of third party developers, and simply and strengthen the organization while rebuilding many of our basic business processes.” This reads like a list of things any current CEO could propose today if they wanted their company to be more like modern-day Apple. Apple knocked each and every one of these ideas out of the park. Today, Apple’s product line is fairly simple but sets itself apart from the competition with unique features and overall quality, perceived customer value is what drives Apple’s premium product pricing, its marketing is world class, third party developers flock to Apple’s devices, and the company’s business processes, while sometimes opaque, are serving it splendidly. “You will see a world full of graphics and visualization. You will also see new breakthroughs in the area of usability from Apple. Up until now, we’ve had to learn our computers. In the future, our computers are going to learn us.” Is this man a psychic? Gil Amelio’s days were numbered as soon as he completed the deal that brought Steve Jobs and NeXT into the fold, so his opportunity to deliver on these promises was practically non-existent. Despite this, everything about his vision for the future of Apple eventually came to fruition, and the company is now thriving. How much Amelio actually played a role in the turnaround can obviously be debated, but his eerily accurate predictions can’t be denied. [Source]
By Jason Knott, April 03, 2014
While cellular network signals are getting clearer and stronger in the sky following the new FCC mandate, it sure is getting crowded down on the ground on the manufacturing side.
Yet another cellphone signal booster company, 5BARz International Inc. (OTC: BARZ), is entering the fray. While the company is currently focused outside the U.S., primarily in Latin America, it has its sights set on the U.S. market later this year. As part of that expansion, the Seattle-based company announced it has selected San Diego-based Flextronics (NASDAQ:FLEX) as its supply chain solutions and manufacturing partner for the 5Barz Network Extender.
The partnership greatly expands 5BARz’s manufacturing capabilities to serve the rapidly growing global market demand for improved cellular infrastructure connectivity. The differentiator that 5BARz brings to the table for its plug-and-play, network-specific $200 device is its patent.
According to Daniel Bland, president and CEO, the company has a U.S. patent that allows for the signal booster to automatically adjust the system gain in order to not interfere with the macro-network. For example, using software the device can change from 70dB gain to 90dB gain.
“We are the only company that can do that and we will aggressive defend the patent,” Bland tells CE Pro.
Also the 5×3.5×1.6-inch Network Extender has the ability to cancel out the echo or feedback that can occur when antennas are mounted too close together.
“That is a game-changer,” comments Bland.
From a distribution standpoint, 5BARz is focused on selling directly to phone company carriers at this point, not to integrators. But Bland says that while the company does not have a multi-tier sales channel right now, once the company enters the U.S. market it will be evaluating all channels. Since the company is not yet in the U.S. market, it has not yet applied for the FCC certification.
The partnership with Flextronics will enable 5Barz to deliver their Network Extender products in large volumes with high quality. Additionally, Flextronics’ ability to leverage its global scale and manufacture these products in different regions around the world will also benefit 5Barz and its customers.
“We are excited about partnering with a world-class iconic manufacturer for high volume production, allowing us to extend our reach and connect with more customers and channels in several regions,” says Bland. “5BARz is committed to delivering high quality, cost-effective solutions for our cellular network infrastructure devices on scalable level. We recently announced our innovation center launch in San Diego and Flextronics’ location will enable seamless logistics and efficient operational procedures as well as a reduction in time-to-market to meet the needs of our customers.”
“We are thrilled to partner with 5BARz and provide them value that increases their competitiveness in the marketplace,” says Mike Dennison, president of Flextronics High Velocity Solutions. “Specifically, we are pleased to provide them with supply chain solutions, including our global scale, that will help to take the Network Extender to the next level.”
While there are multiple companies now offering cellphone boosters, the market still has very low penetration. Bland estimates the U.S. market for these devices to be $27 billion, which represents only a 3 percent household penetration.
April 3, 2014 | By Tammy Parker
5BARz International’s plug-and-play signal booster is getting its own boost, thanks to a volume manufacturing deal the company signed with Flextronics.
The companies announced that Flextronics will be 5Barz’ supply chain solutions and manufacturing partner for its Network Extender device, which delivers improved cellular signals for voice, data and video reception cellular devices.
5Barz’s Network Extender, announced in February at the Mobile World Congress trade show, measures 5.5″ x 3.9″ x 1.6″ and weighs 10.5 ounces.
The device combines the send and receive antenna into a single form factor, which 5Barz CEO Daniel Bland said is unique for carrier-grade signal boosters. The company has a patent for a process that cancels out parasitic feedback between the antennas, enabling the device to achieve 70 db of system gain, he added.
The San Diego-based vendor hopes to gain business from mobile operators that are seeking ways to slash their individual customer churn rate, which averages about 3 percent across the industry. As mobile communications device usage increasingly shifts indoors, operators are seeking ways to improve their in-building coverage and keep their customers happy.
Bland contends that most signal boosters are not carrier grade. Boosters offered by Nextivity do fit carrier-grade requirements, he said, but are also quite expensive.
Another proposed solution for residential cellular coverage is femtocells, which have largely failed to meet expectations for widespread adoption. Femtocell issues range from service issues as well as their reliance upon residential broadband backhaul, such as cable or DSL, which is often provided by a third party such as a telco or cable operator with which the mobile operator has no relationship.
Mobile network engineers “have had femtocells jammed down their throats for the last five to six years, and they have just not been adopted,” Bland said.
He said 5Barz Network Extender will only cost mobile operators $200 per unit, which is inexpensive enough to enable carriers to distribute the device to customers for free. That differs from the femtocell model, whereby carriers have often tried to generate profits by selling femtocells to their subscriber base.
Bland contends the low price of its signal booster provides the device with wide adoption potential, possibly changing the way network infrastructure is built out. “This is a sea change of huge proportions if we’re right,” he added.
The Network Extender can be set up to amplify only a specific carrier’s signals and can be remotely managed from an operator’s network operations center (NOC). “This really is a network infrastructure device,” he said.
5Barz is slated to begin delivering test devices this month to a major telco in Latin America. Those devices support only 2G and 3G, per that customer’s requirements.
“We’re in negotiations now with several major telcos that we will be signing cooperation agreements with,” Bland said. “We’ll have LTE in the second quarter,” he added.
In February 2013 the FCC approved new rules for cell phone boosters, giving booster makers a major win after years of acrimonious debate over the issue. Bland said that while 5Barz has had positive responses from U.S. telco executives, the company expects the Network Extender’s initial sales momentum will come from Latin America.
SEATTLE & SAN JOSE, Calif., Apr 03, 2014 (BUSINESS WIRE) — 5BARz International, Inc. (OTCQB: BARZ ), ( www.5BARz.com ) (“5BARz” or “the Company”) a technology leader in the cellular network extender industry, today announced that it has selected Flextronics (NASDAQ:FLEX) as its supply chain solutions and manufacturing partner for the 5BARz Network Extender, an innovative device, which provides improved cellular signals to deliver high quality signals for voice, data, and video reception on mobile and cellular equipped devices.
The partnership greatly expands 5BARz’s manufacturing capabilities to serve the rapidly growing global market demand for improved cellular infrastructure connectivity. 5BARz has developed a patented breakthrough technology, providing users with a plug and play consumer electronic product that represents a key solution for cellular network operators in providing clear, high-quality signal for subscribers with a growing need for improved connectivity.
The partnership with Flextronics will enable 5BARz to deliver its Network Extender products in large volumes with high quality. Additionally, Flextronics’ ability to leverage its global scale and manufacture these products in different regions around the world will benefit 5BARz and its customers.
“We are excited about partnering with a world-class iconic manufacturer for high volume production, allowing us to extend our reach and connect with more customers and channels in several regions,” says Mr. Daniel Bland, CEO of 5BARz International. “5BARz is committed to delivering high quality, cost-effective solutions for our cellular network infrastructure devices on a scalable level. We recently announced our innovation center launch in San Diego and Flextronics’ location will enable seamless logistics and efficient operational procedures as well as a reduction in time-to-market to meet the needs of our customers.”
“We are thrilled to partner with 5BARz and provide them value that increases their competitiveness in the marketplace,” said Mike Dennison, President of Flextronics High Velocity Solutions. “Specifically, we are pleased to provide them with supply chain solutions, including our global scale, that will help to take the Network Extender to the next level.”
Gil Amelio talks about 5Barz’ mobile booster technology and the mobile market.
BARCELONA — 5 Barz used the Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona to present the second generation of its Network Extender — a small, lightweight device designed to solve the limited connectivity problem that cellphones and other wireless devices often suffer indoors and in poorly serviced areas.
The management team hosted a special demonstration of 5BARz’s latest technology at Barcelona’s Majestic Hotel on February 25. Gil Amelio, former Apple CEO and 5Barz’s board chairman, said, “I believe that our engineering team has made remarkable advances in mobile technology that heretofore we thought to be impossible.”
Cellular communications today are facing two big problems:
- In highly populated areas, such as large cities, there are over 50,000 cellular data users per square kilometer who generate 500 GB of data daily. This number will increase tenfold by 2016.
- In remote areas and inside buildings, cellular connectivity can be limited, and users experience frustrating call drops, slow data rates, and heavy battery drain on their devices.
5Barz is not looking to solve the first problem. That can only be addressed by the operators and the industry installing new infrastructure, optimizing their networks, and facilitating the use of different waves, such as WiFi, to increase data throughput and serve hungry devices.
However, 5Barz can address the second issue.
As of today, the only reliable option to increase signal strength has been the installation of small cells (Phantom Cells) to amplify the signal of the large base stations inside buildings and in other areas. But those cells are extremely expensive, require a complex installation and are difficult to service.
5Barz solution is a small box, weighing only 300g, with the antennas inside. It only requires 5W to operate and can extend 2G and 3G (LTE will be supported later this year) cellular coverage up to 4,000 square-foot radius. The system uses special patented technology to eliminate noise and only amplifies cellular channels, without interfering with other wireless technologies.
(I was able to test the system with my smartphone in the basement of the Majestic Hotel — the only area with limited signal — and the performance looks really promising. One of the advantages is the drop in power use by phone, since it doesn’t have to increase transmission power looking for a cell signal.)
While 5Barz is not the only company offering this kind of technology, its Network Extender is one of the smallest devices on the market. Any user can just install the device inside their office or house and enjoy better connectivity.
The Network Extender could be sold as a consumer device, but 5Barz is initially offering it to network operators, who can market it as a solution for their customers. Operators are losing substantial revenue due to dropped calls and low data rates. Also there is the opportunity to offer new services such as videoconferencing and live streaming in otherwise poorly serviced locations.
Naresh Soni, CTO of 5Barz International, said:
“We are excited to deliver a world-class consumer experience with our new device, which is simple to use with carrier grade capabilities. The 5Barz Network Extender includes several important technical innovations for achieving high system gains in a small form factor by leveraging our patented and patent pending technologies. Our roadmap and innovation pipeline will enable us to ensure we deliver even more compelling feature sets and performance for carriers and end-users.”
There was no indication of pricing during the presentation, and 5Barz is now discussing agreements with major telecoms. Here are the specs for the new device:
- System gain up to 70 dB
- Covers 4000 sq ft area / SOHO
- Power savings for handsets of up to 80 percent
- Size: 140 x 100 x 41 mm
- Weight: 300 grams
- Number of simultaneous users: 10
- Frequency bands: 2100, 850, 900, 1700
- Modes: 3G/2G (future support for 4G) and 1800
- Power consumption: 5W
- EIRP: 25 dBm / 10 dBM (uplink/downlink)
- Noise figure: less than 3.5 dB
- Complies with FCC requirements for BBA sold in the US after March 2014