Saturday, 30 August 2008
This is mostly (about 60%) Wifi network access, with some eBook reading and music played through the built in speaker. At times combinations of all three. I should add that this is with 3G enabled (as you can see my signal is pretty good); push email enabled (using Exchange Activesync to mail2web.com) and location services enabled. Brightness is set to auto. I'm sure you'll also note that there is about a third of the battery remaining according to the gauge top right of the picture.
I don't own a single other handheld that could achieve that sort of runtime from a single charge, 3G or otherwise. Even the monster batteries in the iPaq 214 and HTC Advantage struggle to manage more than three and a half hours of actual usage.
Strike one iPhone 3G myth...
Friday, 29 August 2008
I suspect the real purpose of this competition has been to ensure that there are plenty of applications available in the Android Bazaar (yes, that's really what they are going to call it) and to slip the better developed or conceived ones a considerable bung to compensate for the free app only nature of the bazaar at launch. The apps that seem to have done best out of Google are those which integrate well into the ad-backed Google ethos.
I see some fairly major issues with the 'Bazaar' and Android in general; complete free rein to publish applications effectively guaranteeing the sort of device hangs and crashes that have plagued Windows Mobile for years. Even the Maemo platform makes some effort to control and direct users to stable applications.
I think Google's partners (almost certainly T-Mobile and HTC, at least for now) will see some steady early sales, but they are unlikely to make huge dents in the market shares of RIM, Microsoft and Apple based on what's been declared to be the platforms best applications. Unless the hardware is something amazing anyway...
Terribly un-PC, but very, very funny. Sort of thing that gets beer shooting out of your nose...
Thursday, 28 August 2008
So if I were Apple UK I'd be right back at the ASA with an explanation of what constitutes a standard and how little merit a 'de facto' standard has in this scenario.
If the ASA are to be allowed to define what constitutes the 'whole internet' on the basis of what people are currently using then the whole internet is going to start looking a lot like Internet Explorer running on Vista (that is to say: totally crap)
Wednesday, 27 August 2008
Let's hope it has lost the dreadful keyboard and slider that afflicted it's predecessor in the process.
The flaw can be found by locking your iPhone, then from the passcode screen choosing emergency call and then double tapping the home button which allegedly then takes you to your favourites (or back to the lock screen on mine) and from there in to your phone.
If it works for you then the fix is to set your double tap action to the home screen or iPod in general settings.
Apple is apparently aware of the issue and a fix is no doubt in the works as we speak.
Monday, 25 August 2008
This time things are looking bad for it's latest flagship model and it's forthcoming OS has been delayed again.
The Treo Pro actually looks like the most competitive Palm badged device in an awful long time. I say Palm badges because it's actually made by HTC and I'm guessing the OEM made significant input into the device too. Competitive it may be, but no US carrier has picked it up and I am wondering if any carrier this side of the pond will bother either. It's bad for Palm as it's sales of non-subsidized smartphones has been very poor. The unlocked 680 can now be had for the price of a decent meal out and the 750 has also seen it's price slashed.
Worse for Palm was the announcement that it's new OS had slipped from an early 2009 ship date to 'first half' 2009. As I predicted last week, that sort of delay effectively kills Palm as an OS company.
It's been a busy time for Google as if has prepped updated versions of it's SDK for developers to build applications around. However in line with original predictions it's likely that T-Mobile will get the handset into the shops by the Christmas buying season
What will developers have ready to ship though?
I've played extensively with both previous popular Linux based operating systems, Qtopia on the Sharp Zaurus and Maemo on the Nokia Internet Tablets and the common thing about them had been the wide gulf in quality between the good apps and the average ones. And unfortunately there have been many more of the latter.
Google needs to drive some decent applications to the platform if it hopes to compete with Apple, RIM and Microsoft.
As the Zune has proven, having a big name and a huge groundswell of anticipation behind a launch does not indicate an success in any way. I'm willing to guess that Google do rather better with Android sales than Microsoft did with it's rather disappointing MP3 player.
Wednesday, 20 August 2008
for web browsing, which taken in conjuction with previous sales/usage
correlations; suggests that Apple will have sold 5 million iPhone 3G
models by the end of September. That's about 1.5million ahead of
previous estimates and would push Apple over it's 10 million iPhones
in a year target.
More interestingly the research also suggests that iPhone has a 0.31%
share of the overall web browsing market. Or another way, one in every
300 web requests comes from an iPhone - that's phenomenal if true.
Of course there is no detail on how PacificCrest gathered their data
or any numbers to back it up - or at least none that I could find; so
this isn't necessarily the true story. But even if it's only a close
approximation it's an obvious indicator that Apple judged the mobile
market better than anybody previously.
Tuesday, 19 August 2008
In that time it has come from being laughingly bad, through some landmark devices, to being a mature and mostly stable operating system. On the way Microsoft has made some serious losses as it has re-invented the platform to better fit the market. Taking the years in which it is possible to extract financial performance for the CE/Mobility division (and its various rebrands) it would be fair to say the Microsoft lost between a quarter and a half a billion dollars on the platform over the ten year period. Its also likely (though difficult to gauge) that the last two years have recouped some of those losses, as main competitor Palm struggled. But in that same time Windows Mobile has seen the rise of a number of far more capable competitors. Nokia (Symbian), RIM and Apple. Never mind the great Google Android unknown.
1998 also marks the arrival of Exchange as a serious Mail platform (I believe it was also the first year it outsold Lotus Notes for example) and Windows Mobile's future is closely tied to Exchange.
In the last few years Microsoft have gone out of their way to license Exchange Activesync technology to all of their rivals, except RIM who have their own push technology. Why would they do that if Windows Mobile is an important product line to them?
I think its because RIM's push technology is so strong and its integration with other mail server products (Domino and Groupwise) is so good. The Blackberry side of the Blackberry/mail server duality becomes so powerful that Exchange's market dominance would be threatened. If your driver is mobile push email and the best supporting platform for that is Domino, Exchange is probably going to get the elbow when the next round of refreshes arrive.
By supporting Nokia, Apple and even Palm with Exchange Activesync, Microsoft dilutes the Blackberry effect and keeps Exchange in the lucrative mail server game. If the cost of that is poor performance of the Windows Mobile division its a price worth paying.
Monday, 18 August 2008
It looks like all 5 million handsets ordered by Palm are Windows Mobile based which, when compared to Palm's annual sales figures, suggests that Palm have given up on shipping a Palm Linux device this financial year and we probably won't see anything on that fron until the summer. By which time it may be too late. Palm will be facing not only the might of Microsoft and RIM, but also Google's Android will be widely available by then. Not to mention the iPhone...
I think the huge success of the iPhone as a platform, with the success of the App Store tempting more and more developers from other platforms; plus the likely hoovering up of open source and ethical developers by Android; has left Palm in a difficult position. Its new platform has to tempt developers to support it and with the poor past performance of Palm application sales; its going to be a big ask. Without third party support Palm Linux can only fail.
Palm are going to have to face up to a very different future and it will soon be time to accept that they can only survive as a licensee of another OS (Windows Mobile or Google Android for example) and give up on Palm Linux completely. They can then focus on building leading edge devices and let someone else deal with the software issues. Because even on its Windows Mobile devices its has notably failed to achieve that goal.
Sunday, 17 August 2008
remains the market leader in the server virtualization segment it's
business is under attack on a number of fronts, not least from the
arrival of Hyper-V in Windows Server 2008.
So now would not be a good time to kill your customers business
critical systems by delivering a flawed update you would think..
If you're wondering what 'Server Virtualisation' means, then the
simple answer is that it's a way of cramming between seven and ten
system or application servers (web, database, email, etc.) onto one
piece of hardware.
It's being widely deployed for a number of reasons - financial
savings, power savings and server room space being a few. VMWare owns
this market and customers have come to expect a certain level of
service. The release of ESX 3.5 Update 2 didn't seem a major version
change to many users, however a bug which will stop any new virtual
servers running, effectively disables load balancing and kills
disaster recovery started plaguing systems on August 12th.
3.5U2 will stick in many sysadmins minds for many years to come.
Fortunately for me my VMWare deployment is running just behind the
leading edge. A good policy I find, when people's lives depend on your
and The Unofficial Apple Weblog is reporting that the push
notification service, which many developers are desperately waiting
for, has been removed with no explanation from Apple. Doesn't sound
Friday, 15 August 2008
So first up is Bookshelf, the first iPhone appp I bought and in constant use since I bought it nearly one month ago.
Unlike other eBook readers available for the iPhone, Bookshelf isn't tied to a particular store or format. In fact Bookshelf supports as wide a number of formats as any reader I've seen on any platform including (but not limited to): txt, html, mobipocket, fictionbook and plucker. It also allows you to synchronise ebooks directly with your PC or Mac using a desktop java application called Shelf Server.
The process of synchronising iPhone and desktop is very easy: start Shelf Server on your PC, search for a Shelf Server from within Bookshelf and then to the location of your books to download them. The application also supports online bookshelves, so theoretically new books can be obtained on the fly whenever you have network access.
The reading experience is excellent too, customisable colours, font sizes and rotation, auto scrolling and reasonably fast loading of even the largest books. The latter is achieved by 'chunking' loading a portion of the book into memory and then each subsequent section as required. It works very well. When you reach the end of a chunk a little red arrow is shown at the bottom of the screen and the next time you page down the next chunk is loaded, almost instantaneously. You can navigate through the book a chunk at a time, when paging through a reference book or manual for example; as well as set your own bookmarks for future reference.
The last little feature is an example of the thought that has gone into the app - there is an option to disable auto-rotation, so that if you are reading in bed or at the beach the screen doesn't flip each time you change position slightly.
All in all an impressive app that delivers a great reading experience and allows the iPhone to make a persuasive argument against dedicated eBook Readers like the Kindle or illiad. Well worth £5.99 of anyone's money.
The Blackberry is an established product with mature and proven capabilities and a support environment that works (most of the time anyway).
Much as I think the iPhone is a brilliant device it is lacking in so many essential corporate features that I'd be wary of deploying it as a replacement for my significantly smaller fleet of PDAs.
That's not to say that at some time in the future the iPhone (or some version of it) won't gain those features, but until they've been comprehensively tested in the marketplace they're unlikely to appear in any business or mission critical rollout. For users who just want email notification out of the office the iPhone will be just fine, but as a true enterprise tool it has some way to travel yet.
Simplify Media - free in the App Store, for now - allows you to do all this. It works very well, although it takes a while to sync libraries the first time.
Just be sure that you cleanse out any of those dodgy tracks that you wouldn't want friends knowing you listen to...
Wednesday, 13 August 2008
Which makes me wonder how a visit by Hawk to the museum could degenerate into an ejection, a forest fire of blog and social networking posts and a storm of some magnitude in the blogosphere.
The bare facts are that Hawk (a pseudonym) was taking pictures from the atrium's second floor when he was accused by Simon Blint (the Museum's Director of Visitor Relations) of taking pictures of museum staff and forcibly ejected in order to ensure their safety. Now, unless the SF MoMA is subscribing to the view that photography steals a person's soul I'm struggling to see how that can be the case.
Blint is alleged to have claimed that Hawk was taking opportunistic candid shots of a female member of staff - and having refused to review the photographs which had been taken, had the photographer removed from the museum. Hardly the best advertisement for the person in question's people skills is it? Unfortunately for the Museum and Mr Blint, Thomas Hawk published details of the incident on his website and started the aforementioned storm.
The accusation made in public by Mr Blint would be considered slanderous (in British law anyway, not sure how the US views such actions) especially as the is not one shred of evidence which he or the museum can provide to back up their claim. Furthermore the museum has now issued a press release which appears to put a similar claim in writing, crossing the line into libel. Unless the museum has CCTV footage or compelling evidence to back their case it seems they may have made a poor choice of response.
Now that's not to say that Thomas Hawk is entirely innocent in this matter, after all he has has a number of previous run-ins with security people. Which is really the crux of this post.
In this alleged post 9/11 world taking pictures is suddenly seen as a national risk, as if the existence of a picture of a building would have any impact on the likelihood of it being a terrorist target. Biggest offenders in this department have been the Metropolitan Police with their ludicrous anti-photographer campaign - in London of all places, packed with tourists, all taking photographs. Trust me if you're anything but pearly white skinned and you come to London on your holiday, don't take photos if you don't want to be locked up for at least 28 days without recourse to any judicial review.
The stupidest thing is that Londoners have been living with the threat of terrorism for years, the IRA blew things up pretty much willy-nilly through the seventies. Yet we lived through it without any of the security measures currently being put in place. And of course the Met locked up pretty much anyone with an Irish accent that they thought they could beat a confession out of, so not actually attempting to catch the real terrorists. Still probably preferable to the shoot to kill policy now being employed.
One day of fairly minor bombings (compared to the Twin Towers or the Madrid train bomb) and suddenly we are happy to give up our civil liberties and, amongst other things, treat cameras and photographers like terrorist with thirty pounds of Semtex. To put it into context, the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust killed 90 people through saving money by not cleaning its hospitals - almost twice as many as died on 7/7. Who, I wonder, is the greater terrorist.
Monday, 11 August 2008
To recap, this was a bad idea for several reasons: it was too expensive, it diverted Palm's attention away from its core markets at just the time when they should have been an unswerving priority and it didn't really have a market to sell to.
Jeff Hawkins is now claiming that the Foleo was a netbook, before such a thing existed. Which is laughably far from the truth.
The only netbook that has gained any market traction has been the Asus EeePC and that differed from the Foleo by being a whole magnitude smaler, lighter and cheaper. Plus it delivered exactly on the experience promised, not something that Palm have managed to achieve in recent years.
Moreover, Asus managed to get the EeePC into the retail channel quite successfully and its success was then product driven - buyers saw it on the shelf, liked what it did and bought them in droves (even leading to the sort of Xmas shortage normally reserved for the year's most popular toy).
I just don't see how Palm could have matched that success, even if they had been marketing it to the right people (in fact the Foleo was pitched as a smartphone companion rather than a netbook, or educational tool as the EeePC was).
In close succession both Hawkins and Ed Colligan have covered themselves in egg, to the point where people who loved their products (and I do count myself as one of those) wring their hands in despair - these guys are running the company? That explains a lot.
One month on Apple are reporting a pretty amazing 60 million downloads and $30 million dollars in sales. Thats $9 million in Apple's pocket and $21 million to some very happy developers.
And its bound to grow further as Apple deploys the iPhone into more and more countries. So what was more important? Well, in terms of what it can do for both Apple and developers - and no doubt the myriad of clones that will spring up - the App Store has to be seen most important mobile launch of the year.
Putting aside the N96's small, small screen, would the ability to watch TV on your mobile tempt you to flash the cash, or has TV descended into so much rubbish that you don't even feel like paying to watch it at home?
Sunday, 10 August 2008
Since then I have had a number of Windows Mobile phones (XDA IIi, XDA Mini S, HTC S620, T-Mobile MDA Pro, T-Mobile MDA Vario 2, HTC Advantage and HTC S730) and I think I've reached the stage where I feel the same way about Windows Mobile now as I did about Palm when I jumped ship.
All the devices I have listed above have had one problem or another (except the S620, however as a 2G phone doesn't meet my needs any more). The Vario 2, which has been my daily phone most of the last 18 months, has been the one that's finally pushed me over the edge.
Firstly the inherent problems: the video drivers are inadequate to playback video, TCPMP needs to use the WM software driver otherwise the screen corrupts completely. Which introduces problems with audio synch, as the video lags terribly.
Windows Media Player is plain awful too. Why when you fire up WMP does it automatically default to the internal memory for the media library? You couldn't use it for storing media and there's a perfectly serviceable micro-SD slot for exactly that purpose. And whilst the slot itself is perfectly serviceable, WMP's handling of it isn't and it will regularly refuse to recognise the existence of the card or a library of media files on it, even when the rest of the OS will quite happily talk to it. Worse still, if you choose shuffle and repeat for your music playback WMP plays the list through once and then stops. Aaargh!
The phone side of things isn't to pretty either - radio reception is well below average, completely losing its signal in areas where other phones hang on; and worse still when you come out of a zero reception area back into good coverage it can take an age to rediscover the signal. On occasions the only way to get back online will be to reset the phone.
Browsing via a 3G signal can be hit and miss too. Regularly the phone will fail to make a data connection, despite showing solid signal strength. The only way out of this is to reset...
Are these just the result of me having a bad phone? Unlikely, as I'm now on my fourth, having had numerous hardware issues to add to the other troubles.
Just before purchasing the iPhone I had a chance to play with the new Touch Diamond. And while its a nice clone of the iPhone way of doing things its still Windows Mobile underneath, as I discovered when it managed to crash heavily during my short trial.
The problem is, I feel, that Microsoft's updates have made things less stable, not better and this is in part due to the numerous different form factors and variations that the company is trying to support. Instead of ironing out bugs each update tries to do more and introduces more problems.
Unfortunately for Microsoft people aren't prepared to miss calls or be stuck incommunicado just because their OS hasn't be properly tested. And mass desertions to Symbian, Blackberry or Apple are likely to be the result unless Microsoft get it right with Windows Mobile 7.
Impressive stuff and sure to boosts HTC's bottom line.
It's so not.
What it amounts to is a good defensive move by Blackberry to minimise the impact of the iPhone in its core business Market.
But for someone with their heart set on the iPhone the Bold is never going to come close as a potential replacement.
If Apple were to decide to revoke an app it would surely be as a result of a security breach or risk. I for one would be happy for Apple to automatically delete an app that was going to compromise my iPhone's integrity. In fact, I'd want them to do it over the air rather wait for me to sync back to iTunes.
Otherwise I can't really see any benefit for Apple being able to revoke apps - it's not like they'd kill an app because they had fallen out with the developer or anything trivial like that.
Friday, 8 August 2008
This can be seen as the beginning of all Palm's troubles - not long after the split its licensees started disappearing from the scene; and those that remained either got bought by Palm or went bankrupt.
But around the time that Palm lost its focus and began to do the sort of re-organisations which characterise a business in a drive-less situation many people were talking about Sony stepping in pre-split and buying Palm outright (and I have to admit many others were mentioned too). If this had happened where would Palm stand today?
Well I'm guessing that Cobalt would have made it onto devices as early as 2004, giving Palm/Sony (or whatever the company wound up being called) a platform to compete with Windows Mobile in the emerging smartphone market, something that both Palm and Sony-Ericsson have failed to manage with Garnet and UIQ.
Given the zen of Palm and the design brilliance of Sony I'm also reasonably confident that we would have seen something comparable to the iPhone a long time ago. In fact the thought of something akin to the Sony Clie NX80 with a built in smartphone, running an up-to-date version of Cobalt has me drooling even today.
As it is Palm's stock is low (in every sense) and its credibility even lower after the disaster of the Foleo and CEO Ed Colligan's pre-launch dismissal of the iPhone ("PC guys are not going to just figure this out. They're not going to just walk in.") For Q1 of 2008 Apple sold twice as many iPhones as Palm did its whole range...
Palm's final ignominy is that its best products run Microsoft's Windows Mobile OS - something that was a pale shadow of Palm OS as recently as three years ago.
Wednesday, 6 August 2008
Which sounds like delivery on their promise to get Android shipped this year, however things aren't quite so straightforward. Given the length of time that T-Mobile have spent getting the Vario IV ready for market (its now some three months since its announcement in Barcelona) and the additional complications that T-Mobile are likely to face in customising the Android OS to their requirements; I'm guessing that the phone may not make it to the shelves at all this year.
Not a great start in the face of some pretty hefty competition from Nokia/Symbian, Windows Mobile, Blackberry and Apple...
And larger developers?
Well Sega's success with Super Monkey Ball points the way forward. The company expects to top one million downloads at $9.99 a pop (a slightly inflated £5.99 in real money) which will net the company $7,000,000 after Apple have had their 30% cut.
In terms of return those are the sort of numbers which make developing for the Xbox 360 and PS3 seem pointless, given their high development costs and low numbers.
We already have Sega and EA on board, whilst iD (developers of Doom and Quake amongst others) have been waxing lyrical (in the form of co-founder John Carmack) about the iPhone's potential. How many others will we see on board in the near future? Personally I'm looking forward to a Codemasters port of their first F1 racing game sometime next summer, that would be sweet.
absence of trial versions of applications.
Do a search for 'lite' in the app store and you'll find this is no
longer the case, with a decent selection of (mostly game) trial
Tuesday, 5 August 2008
So far Apple have had to give users extra months service to compensate for advertised but missing or broken features; been mired in functonal problems which seem to be getting worse not better; and failing to deliver service of any kind to some users.
I should imagine that a position on the mobileme team is a rather uncomfortable one to be holding just now, especially given Steve Jobs perfectonist's nature.
Can Apple deliver Exchange for the rest of us? I'm not so sure. A better plan would surely have been to integrate some or all of the features of Gmail and let Google handle the push side.
Friday, 1 August 2008
Especially as Citrix are canvassing opinion on its viability here.
The only question is: why are the asking and not building? It doesn't take a huge leap of intuition to see how popular this would be, even without reading the comments attached to the above linked.
former to knock Google off it's perch as number one search engine and
the latter to index more pages than the giant.
Two problems with that, firstly the claimed 120 billion pages is
somewhat less than Google's 1 trillion.
Secondly, there is no real compulsion to find a new search engine,
Google does a fine job, integrates with a variety of tools and
Google's 'do no evil' policy means that people feel comfortable using
By Tuesday Cuil was facing a serious backlash around the web. I
suspect that the company would have done better to try a low key
launch and build some inertia before publicizing it's lofty goals.
I wonder whether they'll be able to recover a badly damaged reputation?