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How IDEO brings design to corporate America

How IDEO brings design to corporate America

By Dinah Eng @FortuneMagazine April 11, 2013: 8:06 AM ET

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David Kelley in IDEO’s Palo Alto workshop

You may not know the design firm IDEO (pronounced EYE-dee-oh), but chances are you know its work. If you’ve used an Apple mouse (IDEO fashioned the company’s first, in 1980), swept with a Procter & Gamble (PGFortune 500) Swiffer (it collaborated on the hit), or even stood in line at an airport recently (the firm has worked with the Transportation Security Administration to make the process friendlier), you’ve felt the legacy of David Kelley. He founded IDEO in Palo Alto in 1978 and built it into a global operation with 600 employees and $130 million in revenue (he declines to divulge profits). IDEO brings a human-centered approach to products, services, and organizational concepts for the likes of Samsung, Eli Lilly (LLYFortune 500), and Bank of America (BACFortune 500). Kelley, 62, is also Stanford University’s resident design Yoda. The avowed “variety junkie” is proud that IDEO does everything from designing the ideal home for wounded soldiers to helping Elmo teach kids good behavior via a mobile app. His story:

I grew up in Barberton, Ohio, where my father was an engineer at Goodyear and my mother was a housewife. It was a typical Midwest upbringing, and I wasn’t really into college preparatory stuff. What was exciting to me was taking apart the car or the washing machine.

In 1973, I got a BS in electrical engineering from Carnegie Mellon University and went to work forBoeing (BAFortune 500) in Seattle, designing things for the interior of the 747. When I found out about the Stanford Product Design Program, I became interested in the human-centered side of technology, but didn’t think I’d get into the program. So I moved to Dayton and worked for National Cash Register (NCR,Fortune 500), designing new banking terminals, until I found out I was admitted.

Going to the Stanford program was a perfect fit. I love trying to understand what people want, what they value, and designing something for them. I graduated in 1977 with my MS in engineering and product design, and discovered that I really liked teaching. In 1978, I went to my mentor, professor Bob McKim, and said I wanted to keep teaching and I wanted to start my own company. He introduced me to Dean Hovey, who was studying at Stanford, and we started a company called Hovey-Kelley Design. A couple of professors who had their own companies in Silicon Valley gave us our first projects — designing a reading machine for blind people and a medical device called a differential [blood] cell counter.

Soon after Dean and I started our company, another Stanford colleague introduced us to Steve Jobs. We ended up doing a lot for Apple (AAPLFortune 500). They were technologically focused, and we focused on the human side. We’d ask [with the first Apple mouse], should you use the mouse with your fingertips or slide it like a bar of soap? Once we started doing Apple products, people wanted to know who we were.

Back then, we were paying about $300 a month for three offices. I remember flinching when I signed a 10-year lease because I still owed on student loans and I had a negative net worth. I had no interest in calculating revenue, and still don’t. We charged $25 an hour and had six employees. Half the time we worked, and half the time we didn’t. All I cared about was how much we were paid per hour, and if we had enough to keep everybody busy. Read more of this post

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China bird flu death toll rises to 22; Infections rise to 108

China bird flu death toll rises to 22

9:31am EDT

BEIJING (Reuters) – An elderly man in eastern China died of bird flu on Tuesday, bringing the death toll from a strain that recently emerged in humans to 22, a provincial health agency reported. The 86-year-old man died after having been diagnosed with the H7N9 virus on April 17, the Zhejiang Health Bureau said on its website. Two others in Zhejiang have been diagnosed with the disease, including an 84-year-old man and a 62-year-old man, both of Hangzhou who fell ill on April 15, the health bureau said. In neighboring Anhui province, another case was diagnosed on Tuesday, a 91-year-old man, the state-run Xinhua news agency said. The man became sick on April 14, Xinhua said. So far 108 people have contracted the disease since the first deaths were reported in China last month. Read more of this post

Big tech is struggling with old age; Some of the world’s most well-known and powerful tech titans – IBM, Microsoft, Intel – are marked by trying to manage declining aspects of their businesses

Big tech is struggling with old age

April 23, 2013: 6:51 AM ET

Some of the world’s most well-known and powerful tech titans — IBM, Microsoft, Intel — are marked by trying to manage declining aspects of their businesses.

By Kevin Kelleher, contributor

FORTUNE — At its heart, the tech industry is about the new. Today, tech giants succeeded because of what was new yesterday. The flip side is that the new ages into the old more quickly in tech than in most other industries. And so companies that dominated tech even a decade ago can appear to be aging quickly. Such is the picture of the tech industry after a week of earnings reports that saw giants like Intel (INTC), Microsoft (MSFT), and IBM (IBM) discuss their financials in the first quarter of 2013. While the individual results and subsequent reactions among investors varied, one thread ran through all three: Each is struggling to manage older businesses in decline even as they push into promising new areas like cloud computing.

The most dramatic example was IBM, which has seen its stock decline 9.3% since it reported first-quarter earnings last week. IBM, a 101-year-old company, sold its PC business in 2004 in an effort to move into higher-margin software and IT services businesses. Its growth since then has made the stock a favorite among tech investors. Even so, IBM is still struggling with aging businesses. Revenue at the company fell 5% last quarter from the same quarter a year earlier to $23.4 billion, below analyst forecasts. Much of the disappointment centered around hardware, including servers based on x86 architecture that, like PCs, have become low-margin commodities. Some reports suggested IBM may sell its x86 server business to Lenovo (LNVGY), the company that bought its PC business years ago. Read more of this post

Can Google stop the drop in mobile advertising prices?

Can Google stop the drop in mobile advertising prices?

By JP Mangalindan, Writer April 23, 2013: 6:34 AM ET

Google’s latest quarterly earnings raise concerns about its mobile ad efforts. But things may turn out just fine for the tech giant. More than fine, in fact.

FORTUNE – For Google, the money has always been in advertising.

Propelled by products like AdWords, advertising generated $43.7 billion in sales last year — a whopping 95% of Google’s (GOOG) overall revenue. Its continually lucrative ad business has allowed Google to use its cash for other less-profitable ventures: Android, self-driving cars, Glass among many others. But like most of tech, Google has been challenged by the transition from desktop to mobile computing — and how to make money from users browsing the web on smartphones and tablets. One thing is for certain: The mobile market cannot be ignored. In the U.S. alone, mobile ad spending is expected to more than double from $7 billion this year to $16 billion in 2015. JMP Securities analyst Ron Josey recently estimated that mobile ads now account for 14% of Google’s overall ad sales. An important metric for Google tied to ads is called “cost-per-click.” It measures the average amount advertisers pay Google each time a user clicks on an ad. Last quarter, the company announced it would reduce the number of ads on its mobile search page to preserve the user experience and predicted a higher cost-per-click. The latter didn’t happen. Instead, Google’s cost-per-click fell 4% compared with the same time last year and marked the sixth consecutive quarterly decline. In truth, mobile ads still command lower prices than desktop ads do, the argument being that people remain less likely to click ads on their phones or tablets than desktops. (What’s more, many users may be clicking on them accidentally.) “The saying goes that ad dollars follow eyeballs, but that’s not entirely the case,” explains Clark Frederickson, vice president of New York-based digital market research firm eMarketer. Companies may be quick to tout growing mobile sales, but at the end of the day, just over 10% of e-commerce occurs on mobile. And until mobile phones and tablets become just as much a buying device as they are say, a consumption device, Frederickson says many advertisers will continue to focus their ad dollars on the desktop for the time being — even if the desktop’s days appear numbered.

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Alibaba’s billionaire founder Jack Ma: “The world is so cruel that only with much of your own efforts plus a bit of luck can you survive the black forest. Never expect anyone. Count on yourselves. ’

Jack Ma to Set up A College for Entrepreneurs in Two Years

By Chelsea Dong on April 23, 2013

Jack Ma, who is about to resign as CEO of Alibaba Group soon, revealed at an event on the past Sunday that he was planning to found a college for entrepreneurs in about two years in collaboration with some of his friends. He once said he would set up a business school with Feng Tang, a real estate tycoon. He also advised entrepreneurs not to count on big companies to save them. He said, ‘Never dream of saving your lives with help from big companies. The world is so cruel that only with much of your own efforts plus a bit of luck can you survive the black forest. Never expect anyone. Count on yourselves. ’ On May 10, Jack Ma will retire from his post as CEO and become the chairman. He seems to quite look forward that day. He said, he would do what he likes after that day and enjoy the simple relaxing life after resignation. Regarding the dreams other than the business school, he said, “I don’t want to leave much regret when I leave the world.”

 

Reuters: How do you spell Singapore without “LKY”?

Analysis – How do you spell Singapore without “LKY”?

Sun, Apr 21 2013

By John O‘Callaghan

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – They crammed into an art cafe in Singapore and pulled no punches, deriding authoritarian officials who ruled with an “iron fist” and complaining that government ministers with million-dollar salaries were out of touch.

One woman, a middle-aged professional, got nods of agreement when she said modern Singapore’s founding father, Lee Kuan Yew, had done great things but that new ways were needed from current leaders still practising a “do-as-I-say style of parenting”.

Singapore remains regimented but the unusually frank criticism at the recent gathering, part of a government-run national “conversation” about the city state’s future, reflects the reality that this is no longer the era of Lee Kuan Yew.

LKY, as he is widely known, built the tiny Southeast Asian island into one of the world’s wealthiest nations with a strong, pervasive role by the state and no patience for dissent. Read more of this post

Magnetic therapy may not relieve ringing in the ears; “People want a pill to make it go away, but there isn’t anything like that. There’s no cure for tinnitus.”

Magnetic therapy may not relieve ringing in the ears

Mon, Apr 22 2013

By Genevra Pittman

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Using a magnet to generate an electrical current in areas of the brain that control hearing does not seem to improve ringing in the ears, a new study suggests. Researchers found people reported just as much bothersome ringing after a month of so-called repetitive transcranial magnetic simulation (rTMS) as after a series of fake, magnet-free treatments.

Although it seems natural that ringing in the ears – known as tinnitus – would be a hearing-related problem, so far medications and magnetic stimulation targeting the brain’s auditory areas haven’t made the sound go away, according to Dr. Jay Piccirillo. “People want a pill to make it go away, but there isn’t anything like that,” Piccirillo, an otolaryngologist from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, told Reuters Health. “There’s no cure for tinnitus.”

Read more of this post

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