Understanding the Double Down : A guide to execubabble

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via eater.com

Double down: A gambling term used in blackjack to mean you're going to invest twice as much without greatly increasing your odds for success.

Also, a technology catchphrase used by executives to mean the exact same thing.

Doubling down is a gambling term. When doubling down you get 1 more card. After that, you better have enough cash left to play the next hand. Here's the rules to understand "when to hold them and when to fold them" when executives say they are doubling down.

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What's the initial bet? a.k.a. what are they gambling with?

  • RIM doubling down on the playbook = bad bet. They don't have the time or resources to invest extra in something as large as a tablet when they don't have their main business, phone hardware/software, ducks in a row. They're gambling with the rent money.
  • Google doubling down on android tablets = neutral bet. They've got a great smartphone base. It's growing and active. Should smartphone and tablets not work out they've always got that whole advertising thing to fall back on. Android's important to Google, but they're not living paycheck to paycheck by any means.
  • Apple doubling down on secrecy = good bet. They've got the cash and resources. Secrecy is great. It helps make Apple compelling, but it's no longer essential for them to win. We've pretty much known about all their major announcements before hand for the last couple of years and their profits continue to soar. Apple is gambling with the $100 the casino gave them for starting a frequent player card.

What cards are they holding? a.k.a what's the chance of winning?

  • HP doubles down on WebOS. HP a company known for printers and PC's says they want a smartphone OS on those products as well. I'll rate that as them having a Jack and a six and asking for one more card. Sure they could have gotten a 4 and won it all, but even if they got WebOS on PC's and printers it would still have been a bust.
  • Tony Bates of Skype doubling down on Windows 8. It remains to be seen what will happen, but as I see it they've got five. The five is either a three and a two or an ace and a four. If it's the three and a two the best they could get is 16 and they'll have to count on the competition having less or busting. If they've got the ace and a four they stand a better chance. If they've got the ace and can position Skype as a "one more thing" and deliver some amazing integration marrying the PC, tablet, and Windows Phone the next card might be the six they need to give them 21.

Do you want to buy insurance? a.k.a. if the dealer has blackjack doubling down won't help you

  • RIM doubles down on Blackberry 10/Holding off on Blackberry 10 until 2012. Six more months of development and fixing "the seams" isn't going to help. They're going to loose. The best thing they can do is get up and go play at a different table, heck maybe play a whole new game.

Executive Tip: In blackjack when you double down you only get one more chance to win that hand. The same is true for public perception. Once you say you're doubling down you better get it right or people stop caring. Every once in a while you can push (get the same hand as the dealer) and let it ride once more, but more often then not the next card HAS to be a winner.