Electric Vehicles Are Reaching Their “iPhone” Moment in 2017


Originally from Salay Consulting & Social Media Services

When the history books come to pass on 2017, one will look on this year as to where electric vehicles (EV’s) had its “iPhone moment.”

A decade ago, Apple released its revolutionary product. Although smartphones were around before, the iPhone helped change a lot of things. It helped changed how smartphones, and eventually the public warmed to mobile computing. It helped create new spillover industries while flipping old ones upside down.

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Image Credit via Pixabay. Under Public Domain via Creative Commons.

Three factors are contributing this year to why EV’s are reaching that watershed or “iPhone” moment.

EV’s are becoming More Affordable as Battery Prices Plummet: The first shipments of Tesla’s Model 3 have now begun to hit the streets. Initially showcased last year, Elon Musk’s company took 373,000 in reservations as of March 2017. What is so special about this car? It’s Tesla’s first EV into the affordable mass consumer market at $35,000 USD a piece. One of the criticisms with EV’s was the initial excessive costs for consumers.

However, declining lithium-ion battery prices are now making it more affordable to mass produce EV’s, along with Tesla’s Gigafactory 1 in Nevada.

With batteries coming less costly, EV’s are nearing a tipping point where they are near cost competitive with combustible engine vehicles. A recent report underlines this. By 2025, all new vehicles will be electric. It’s especially important to know given the Paris climate agreement requires all participants keep CO2 levels well below 2C while aiming for 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.  Transportation alone creates 23% of all carbon emissions, according to the World Bank. Thus, creating affordable, clean tech transportation options at the mass consumer level is essential in cutting carbon emissions out from transportation.

While other companies, including Nissan, Chevy already produce EV’s. Tesla has had critical acclaim with its prior other models, including the Model S. Just like how the iPhone 10 years ago was synonymous with smartphones.

Companies are Going All In on EV’s: 2017 is also the breaking point where companies are making plans to slam the brakes on fossil fuel based vehicles.

Volvo recently announced by 2019 they will cease to make combustion engine vehicles, and manufacture only EV’s or hybrids. This is the silver bullet car manufacturers need to go all-electric. In 2007, Apple entering the smartphone market with the iPhone helped lure other companies, including Samsung, LG, Sony, Nokia, and Chinese tech companies to get into the smartphone game, providing more consumer choice. Smartphone costs also came crashing down to insanely low levels. It’s now possible to get a smartphone for $32 (compared to $499 or $599 US in 2007 for an iPhone). While it’s highly unlikely anyone will see an EV for $32 in their lifetime, it’s entirely possible as more entrants flood the market, prices will drop to make EV’s even more affordable for Main Street.

 

Global Policy: You can also thank public policy makers around the world around the globe for helping contribute to EV’s watershed moment happening now.

While Trump dumped the Paris accord, other countries are strengthening their ties by supporting cleantech. France recently announced earlier this week by 2040. They will be eliminating the sale of all petrol fuelled based vehicles. Last year, Germany vowed to do the same by 2030. Policy makers are helping to shift towards cleaner vehicles, which adds another layer towards EV’s becoming a real force.

Thomas Friedman’s 2016 book Thank You For Being Late discussed how in 2007 was the watershed moment for many key technologies, ranging from cloud computing storage, solar energy, and smartphones.  Ten years later, thanks to declining lithium-ion battery prices, companies moving towards just electric cars, and supporting legislation, are helping EV’s have their “iPhone moment.”

So what you think? Has electric vehicles reached their watershed moment this year? You can reach me on Twitter at @adamjohnstonwpg, or by email at adamjwpg@mymts.net.

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iPhone At Ten Years Old


Original Post from Salay Consulting & Social Media Services

June 29th, 2007 was a big day as Apple’s iPhone (otherwise known as the “Jesus Phone”) sold for the first time. After that, the rest was history. Nothing has been the same since.  With its touch screen capabilities, allowing consumers to type at ease, without punching the daylights out of a BlackBerry QWERTY keyboard (or until you find you’ve been auto-corrected). Apple has gone on to sell 1.1 billion iPhones in ten years.

The iPhone has caused change, flipping things upside down.

Here is how the iPhone has (in)directly made an impact.

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Image Credit: iPhone by JESHOOTS via Pixabay. Under Public Domain via the Creative Commons

Opening up Smartphone Choice and Leapfrogging Past Old Infrastructure: After iPhone’s launch, we saw an explosion of companies get into the game. Google released its Android mobile operating system to counteract Apple’s operating system iOS. Then manufacturers Samsung, Sony, LG, wanted a piece of the action. Apple and Samsung today are constantly jockeying for the top position in the smartphone universe. Even an Indian manufacturer was able to produce a smartphone at a cost of $32.00. This is critical, considering there will be 4.1 billion users globally in 2020. Many of these new users will come from developing nations, who initially had limited to no Internet infrastructure.

There’s an App for That: Before the iPhone, it was more common for people to refer to apps regarding filling out job or credit card applications. Now you can not go without a day using mobile apps on your smartphone. Mobile apps took off when Apple launched its iPhone App Store in July 2008. It created new markets for IT developers who were looking to expand entrepreneurial opportunities outside of standard computing software. After Apple’s App store, came Google Play, which serves as  Android mobile app store. The app economy is only expected to grow. Analysts predict by 2020, the mobile app economy to reach $101 billion. According to c/net there are over 2 million apps now in the App store and “have spawned industries that couldn’t exist without smartphones,” naming car-sharing services Uber and Lyft.

Social Media Becomes More Social: While social media was here before the iPhone with MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter, iPhone’s launch helped create a breeding ground for how we know social media now. Facebook posts, tweets are now instantaneous, thanks to the iPhone. Mobile social media helped cover major events this decade faster than major news networks, including the Haiti Earthquake, Arab Spring, And the 2013 Alberta Floods.

However, with all good things, there has been some negative consequences with increased mobile social media use. It’s raised red flags amongst cyber security experts. Future Crimes author Marc Goodman suggests consumers are increasing their vulnerability, thanks to data given away freely on social media sites, and mobile apps.

 Mobile Apps lead the Path to a Smart and Connected World: As c/net pointed out, without the App’s store, these industries may not exist. The iPhone indirectly made mobile computing accessible to the common folk. Smartphone apps now make it easier for homes to become “smart.” From smart thermostats, including Google’s Nest, to Phillips Hue, a wireless controlled LED light bulb flows in between ubiquitous Internet connection, thanks to Wi-Fi and cell towers. It’s now possible, in 2017 to monitor your house’s heat, lighting, and find how much solar energy you are producing and consuming– all on your smartphone! This is big for consumers who are all in on the energy efficiency train.

Smart homes are only expected to increase in stature as more web-based devices increase with the advancement of the Internet of Things (IoT). Projections by 2020 have a total between 30.750 billion connected device on the Internet, while IoT market value is expected to reach $267 billion globally.

It’s hard to believe the iPhone has been around for a decade. No one should ever give Apple credit for creating smartphones, social media, or smart devices.

However, by tweaking and improving the smartphone with the iPhone, its help to entice competitors into smartphone markets, and give more choices to consumers; penetrate the mobile app market; make social media what it is today, and pave a path for Internet-connected devices which make our homes smart. The spillover benefits from the iPhone were the legacy of Steve Jobs iconic contribution to mobile phones.

Happy 10th birthday, iPhone. The world will never be the same again.

Corporations Leading the Way on Climate Change (Seriously)


Monday’s news from the United States regarding 13 major companies announcing they will invest $140 billion in renewable energy, to reduce carbon emissions, is proving big business is serious about climate change.

Wind farm US Ill.

Wind Energy By Jim Allen Via Flickr Some Rights Reserved

Some of the most well-known brands, including Apple, Microsoft, Google, WalMart, and Coca-Cola said in a statement from the White House they plan to add more than 1,600 MW of additional renewable energy. These 13 companies have promised their support for a climate deal ahead of the United Nations climate summit in Paris late fall.

Meanwhile, last week, Amazon added their voice in advancing the renewable energy agenda, when it advocated for renewable tax credits in US congress. Thank the world’s largest e-commerce store for purchasing a North Carolina wind farm, in championing both the Investment and Production Tax Credits.

Here are some driving factors why this is a trend that’s likely here to stay.

1. Consumers are voting with their dollars, not necessarily at the ballot box: Ok, I get this where politics is important and elections drive climate policy (including the upcoming Canadian Federal election this fall). However, consumers voting with their dollars has become a new way of doing politics outside the government realm. Ethical funds, consumer boycotts are some ways customers can voice their displeasure with how companies are doing business. Businesses, have a faster response time with consumers, rather than governments with their constituents on many problems. Case in point, Newsweek, recently highlighted Corporate America’s critical role in supporting same- sex marriage and other social issues:

Fortune 500 corporations are trying to appeal to (or at least avoid offending) the widest possible swath of Americans. “Inclusiveness” may not be good politics in this day of polarization and micro-targeting, but it seems to be good business. And that is making the business community the sort of “big tent” political force that neither major political party can claim to be.

While don’t expect the CEO of Suncor to be buddies with New Democratic Party leader Tom Mulclair any time soon, big business will have a bigger ear towards consumers going forward, or they will lose customers business.

2. The Carbon Investment Bubble is About to Burst:  Bill McKibben’s groundbreaking 2012 Rolling Stone article about how Earth could only burn 565 gigatons more carbon into the atmosphere by 2050 before this planet can keep within the 2C limit, was the catalyst of divesting from fossil fuel investments. Now, fossil fuels becoming a more riskier investment. as Bank of England Governor Mark Carney noted these investments will become financially abandoned.

3. IT and Internet companies Are The Backbone for Renewable Energy: From Apple, who runs all their US operations on 100% renewables, to Google, who has bought 1.1 GW of clean energy, information technology and internet-based companies have been leaders in supporting renewables. Tom Friedman’s 2008 book Hot, Flat, and Crowded exemplified how information technology was going to be critical in moving green technology forward.

We are starting to see this marriage become a reality, with these companies investing heavily in The Internet of Things, and smart grid technology. Smart grid markets are estimated by 2020 to reach past $400 billion globally. Hence, there is real incentives for the likes of Google, Apple, Cisco, in reaping the rewards of strong climate change policy.

It’s not perfect. Sure, but corporations are becoming leaders on this issue. And it may very well be driving many Naomi Klein and Milton Friedman fans bonkers.

What the Renewable Energy Sector Can Learn From Apple


Apple recently became the most valuable company in the World. Renewable Energy companies like Gamesa could learn some lessons. Photo sources: ipad & iPhone: http://www.uis.edu/informationtechnologyservices/iss/iphone.html; Apple Logo: Wikipedia; Gamesa wind turbine: http://www.renewableenergyfocus.com/view/17062/gamesa-launches-low-wind-4-5-mw-wind-turbine/

In case you missed it last week, Apple became the world’s most valuable company, reaching an astronomical US$622 billion on Monday, August 20th. This is quite amazing accomplishment, given that Exxon has often been the most valuable company.  With Apple again whipping the oil giants like Exxon, here are some lessons both the renewable and clean technology sectors can learn from Apple’s success:

Sell a vision: One thing that Apple has always been good at is selling a vision, something that other companies do not provide.  Apple was on the edge of a vision, making cool products like the iPhone, iPod and iPad that people wanted. Steve Jobs and company had a vision of where they wanted their products to go. Look at where that vision got them. It’s important that leaders within the renewable energy sector do not lose focus and continue to have a solid vision of where they want their product to be.

At the same time, keep your products simple: While it’s important to have vision, it’s also important for a company to simplify its product. When Steve Jobs returned to the company he created back in the mid-1990’s Jobs began to simplify much of the product line apple had.  Carmine Gallo, an author who has written many books on the success of Apple recently had this to say about the importance of how Apple simplified their products in a recent Forbes article:

“Steve Jobs once said, “I’m as proud of what we don’t do as I am of what we do.” In 2007 cellphone manufacturers were adding features to phones to make them ‘smarter.’ More features added complexity for consumers. Steve Jobs had the courage to eliminate the clutter, including the keyboard itself. Part of the iPad’s success is that it is incredibly easy to use. Since there’s only one button on it, even a 2-year-old can use it. Don’t believe me? Search YouTube for “2-year-old” + “iPad” and see how many people post videos of their children picking up an iPad for the first time. Apple’s lead designer, Jonathan Ive, once said, “We are absolutely consumed by trying to develop a solution that is very simple, because as physical beings we understand clarity.” In 1998, Steve Jobs told a business reporter that one of his mantras was focus and simplicity. “Simple can be harder than complex. But it’s worth it in the end, because once you get there you can move mountains.”

Renewable energy and clean technology companies, should keep their products simple and straight forward for their customers to use. Remember the KISS method in school. It applies here as well.

But sell the “Coolness” of the Product: Just because you keep your products simple does not mean they do not have to be cool. Apple has been successful, because of the coolness factor. They used the “anti-PC” factor early on. Apple innovated products like the mp3 player, mobile phone, and computer tablets, and virtually made cool products other companies would not dare have thought have.

Ron Pernick and Clint Wilder in their 2007 book, The Clean Tech Revolution also emphasized this, saying:

“And if your “cool: cachet is high enough, you may be able to command a premium price for a clean-tech product.” (P.278)

Renewable energy companies like wind, solar or those in the clean technology sector including electric cars and smart grids need to sell the coolness factor. They just can’t sell the “Save the world” factor in order to engage people to buy it. Former General Motors executive Bob Lutz, well-known for his anti climate change views, is a proponent on selling the GM  hybrid electric Volt car as a “cool” product, because the demand was there.

Here is hoping the ghost of Steve Jobs will channel through the leaders within renewable energy and clean technology companies looking to boost their bottom line.