Thursday, September 10, 2009

Twist and Don't Shout

Got a bit of a shock when i saw the Nokia 7705 Twist since I wasn't expecting that kind of form factor. Nokia has done a couple of different phones that twist, like the 5700, 3250, and especially the N90. The 7705, does remind me of something else, however.

Who is Nokia targeting with this device, 8-year-olds?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Nokia's 2-Horse Race

Nokia's announcement of the Maemo-based N900 solidifies one of the worst-kept secrets in the recent history of the mobile business. Coming less than a year after the release of the much-hyped (at least before release) N97, it certainly can't be considered a replacement, even though the raw specs might suggest otherwise. At the very least, Nokia will probably have to lower the price of the N97.

The big question in my mind, and many others, is Symbian being replaced? Nokia marketing says no, but the critics are skeptical. If the N900 poaches too many sales from the N97, it won't be worth it to keep making the S60 flagship, even though they might not move the E series, xpress music devices, and 6000/7000 series over to Maemo...yet.

I think, for now, Nokia is going to run with both platforms, to hedge their bets. The symbian OS continues to evolve and even S60 keeps getting more features. Bringing Qt to both Maemo and S60 will mean easier cross-platform development. Hopefully this means more apps for both.

So which horse are you betting on?

Friday, July 31, 2009

*Apple sets mode: -v Google

Lots of talk about the FCC reaction to Apple kicking Google voice off the iPhone. I am hearing that this is the beginning of the end for iPhone exclusivity. Is being locked into verizon is any better?

Kent Newsome says that this is a crossroads for apple, and that they will have to rethink what their customers want from them. I agree but I I also think AT&T is going to have to meet at the crossroads with us so we can hash this out. And that there is more to this paradigm shift for AT&T than there is for apple.

Rate structures from mobile operators are all about the voice minutes, but power users (especially teens) use them less and less these days. They have to buy 400 minute plan at minimum just to get the opportunity to pay extra for data and text. It makes it seem like they are paying more for the voice service they rarely use than the add-ons they do. Add to this landscape the internet SMS and VOIP services, and the only service really needed from the mobile operators is the data plan. So we don't really need a cell phone service provider, we need a mobile ISP. The sooner the big mobile operators realize this, the better the mobile landscape will be. They can build rate structures based on data usage, not on minutes and add-on services. They can stop overprotecting the iPhone app store and rejecting useful apps. And they can start bulking up the data infrastructure for better bandwidth and uptime.

There are a couple of small MVNOs starting up that provide unlimited everything for a flat rate. They can do this because the voice and text services they provide are internet-based so they are essentially an ISP. It seems to me like this will be the natural progression. First people started replacing their landlines with cellphones, the next step is to replace their home isp with a mobile isp. Where do i sign up?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Opera Untie!

Chris Messina of FactoryCity does a pretty good skewering of the new browser/server Opera Unite which is fair enough, considering the self-induced hype bubble Opera has created around the initiative. It does seem a somewhat retro, after so much movement towards the cloud, to bring direct control over your data publishing again. Also, since Opera wants the spotlight, they deserve the criticism that people like Chris bring when viewing something in such a bright light. The ugliest part is definitely the proxy service and obligatory EULA, of which Chris quotes the relevant part about not being a very free network to share things. But self-publishing is the ultimate forum for self-expression, right?

It's all well-deserved, but I'll cut Opera a break because their motivation is pretty clear. The social web seemingly makes the browser irrelevant. The plug-in wars are over. (Flash won) So many web developers have reformatted their IE-locked sites to standards-compliant CSS that I almost never have to boot windows any more. What is going to get people excited about a browser now? Since Opera is a browser company they've got to do more then build the better mousetrap. I don't know if they have done it but at least they are going to get a lot of people thinking. Many are quick to dismiss but I think that is missing the larger point, or at least the larger discussion: what is to be gained by serving from the browser?

The kinds of data that we haven't commonly served from the desktop before might actually be enhanced that way. To do social network status updates, microblogging, photo sharing, location sharing and other personal data streams often means connecting with a variety of services and applications, often with somewhat tenuous connections. You can easily tangle yourself up in a web of redundant status updates between, friendfeed, twitter, tumblr, etc. if you aren't careful. Bringing all those together on your desktop might make it possible for you do make the stream easier to manage, if only to make a single source of your personal data stream. I try to think of it like Apple's sync the way it keeps one hidden copy of your data called "Truth" and everything else has to revolve around that.

So even if Unite doesn't hit the mark at least we can start talking about how desktop solutions might work to help us bring more control over our social media data.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Getting Lost in Web 4.0

It seems like so much of the content of social media is discussing social media itself. As more user sign up, do they expand the discussion or just add to it, creating a topic black hole barely able to keep from collapsing on itself? So much of social media is talking about what the topics are rather than discussion the actual topics. (And I just realized I'm adding another meta layer to the pile.) It's hard enough to find meaningful conversations in all the twitter noise without adding these extra layers of non-meaning. When I do find nuggets of interestingness, I often see them 2, 3, or 4 times, and each iteration has its own disconnected discussion hanging along with it. So many of the social media tools allow for easy replication between them that I'll often see a post on twitter get repeated a minute later on twitter because a user has their twitter feed replicated to their tumblr, then the tumblr sends new post notifications out on twitter. Then it all starts to explode when you get on friendfeed because it collects ALL that users activity on one feed so you can really see how broad a single post can get very quickly. Friendfeed is useful for the discussions that collect around interesting posts, but because there is too much duplication, the discussions get fragmented. This is in addition to the separate discussion may be going on at the post's original blog page. There are tools emerging to bring some unity to the fragmented discussions, but it is too early to tell which one will develop into a tool powerful enough to make it simple. RIght now they are too varied and opaque. I keep stumbling with these tools because it's difficult to see their functional landscape. For example, I made a comment on a blog post and on a FF post linking to the blog post not knowing that the blog was publishing comments from FF, so I double-posted inadvertently. As new tools and networks are being introduced every day it seems, finding and learning many of them is a huge task that not many employed people can handle. I feel like I have to spend some time with them if you want to find the value in them. Otherwise it's like I can only know it on a cursory level. Twitter looks a lot different once you have built your following and honed your friend list, and I am far from a power user. Eventually some winners will emerge and there will be some unity in the space, but for now its a real jungle.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

"Apple Tax" nonsense taken to reprehensible new heights!

Saw a new bit of Microsoft anti-mac FUD on the Windows Experience Blog thanks to MacNN. They pay noted mac-basher Roger L. Kay to "analyze" the Apple tax and basically see if he can make it look even worse. Now, it's impossible for this to be an objective or fair analysis. First, it's being paid for by Microsoft, and second it's being written by the guy who thinks he can look at a photograph of Steve Jobs, and diagnose him with cancer! And where exactly did you get your medical degree, Dr. Kay?

The report stresses the "cool" factor of the mac, and I guess I should feel that macs are cool, because these windows people keep telling me that I'm paying so much extra for the cool factor. Microsoft even spent millions trying to convince PC users that they were just as cool as mac users. The really amusing part of this is: so many people I know, both long time mac users and switcher, own macs because they like the reliable, easy to use hardware and the secure, stable OS. Nobody has ever asked me "will I be cool if I buy a mac?". So why do the PC pundits keep pushing the cool factor? It's because that's how they make people feel guilty for wanting a better computer experience than windows can offer. Since they can't beat the mac on things like security and UI, they admit it, as a lesser defeat to "coolness". Then posit that any responsible adult shouldn't be paying extra for "coolness" in this economy, when there are mouths to feed, etc. That's the crux of Kay's entire feature, that the apple tax pays for coolness, and it is entirely false.

I like my macs, they are cool and OS X is a cool operating system. But that's not why I use them.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Oops, I shifted my perspective

When I saw the skittles website I admit I didn't fully get it. I thought it was cool that they could float their presence over various social media sites, but it seemed more like a novelty than anything and it didn't support the customer the way a large brand needs. It took the clever guys over a UnHub to make the connection for me. (I guess I'm getting slow in my middle age.) Skittles isn't injecting themselves into various social media sites, they are building their own web portal out of them. UnHub lets anyone build a portal our of their presence across various sites as your single link you give to people. Take the typical personal home page. Where there used to be a guestbook (now thats web 1.0) there is now your facebook profile. Instead of a gallery, your flickr page is embedded. Resume? LinkedIn. Music player (ugh, how MySpacey) gets replaced by your lastFM or pandora profile. I know I probably sound ridiculous to everyone who saw into this already, but sometimes it just takes an elegant implementation of something to see the true value of it. Worth checking out.

So now my "homepage" is