Saturday, 26 February 2011
Which rather misses the point. A ban from the app store means no access to iPhone, iPod or iPad owners. Apple has an absolute monopoly on software delivery to these devices unless they are jailbroken.
For Android its a completely different game, the Android market is one of several software vendors with their own stores. So if Google says no it just means finding another vendor for the product. Or even selling it direct. Gameloft had successfully followed this strategy.
So these comparisons between Apple and Google are nonsense and should be taken with a huge pinch of salt. If your app gets banned use an alternative method for delivery, if people want your software they'll find it...
Friday, 25 February 2011
In early 2005 Nokia shipped a product right out of left field - the N770 Internet Tablet. Whilst it had no phone features it was designed as a better way of experiencing the web on a larger screen, either through Wifi or via a shared 3G connection from your mobile phone. It was the 2005 equivalent of the iPad - except that Nokia didn't really see it as a 'real' product.
As an operating system it used Tablet OS - aka Maemo. Little more than a testbed for Nokia's engineers Maemo proved to be more flexible and capable than Symbian and soon garnered enthusiastic community support. Not surprising as it was available on a cheap device - about £250 at UK launch - that was both pocketable and delivered an excellent internet and media experience. Nokia updated the OS a year later adding significant performance and functional improvements to the N770.
|The Maemo Desktop, complete with widgets in 2007|
The N770 was replaced by the N800 at the beginning of 2007 and suddenly Nokia had a serious product on its hands. Support for VoIP services, in-browser Flash (in 2007!!!), a rotating camera, WVGA resolution screen and USB host. It was a geek's dream and community support swelled on the back of what was at the time, the best mobile web/media device money could get you.
It was at this point that Nokia sealed its fate. Rather than throw its weight behind Maemo, empower its Linux team and embracing its community support to migrate its product range to the competitive OS it made a decision to react to the iPhone by touch-enabling Symbian and delivering its top end products on that platform.
Even the arrival of the N810 in late 2007, a sleek, powerful tool failed to persuade the company to redirect its efforts and shortly afterwards it announced the Symbian Touch based Tube - aka the Nokia 5800 and followed it with the N97, then the N97 Mini. Flawed phones which all just proved that conceptually Symbian couldn't do touch interfaces.
Whilst the Symbian group were delivering failures, the Linux group delivered the first Maemo phone: the N900, another product well received but still very niche. The N900 was never designed or marketed as a consumer phone - yet following the spectacular failure of its flagship Symbian phones Nokia finally decided to back its dark horse and announced that it would make Maemo the OS of choice on its high end phones. At last, the right decsision!
Except that Nokia bought Qt in the interim and it now wanted to migrate the Maemo environment from its traditional Gtk front-end to Maemo. The Linux team, developers and community set to work, presumably with a heavy shrug of the shoulders. This additional work was unnecessary and delayed what should have been a relatively quick move to a N910 consumer phone.
Worse still, in the background Nokia and Intel were negotiating the next step on the road to disaster. Nokia agreed to merge Maemo with Moblin to create MeeGo, pulling the rug from under the development teams again.
Four years since the N800 shipped and demonstrated that Symbian was a dead man walking, eighteen months since the N900 became the first Maemo phone, Nokia had yet to ship a single MeeGo device. Symbian had delivered high-end failure after failure; its products were stale and market share was dropping at an alarming rate. After another abject failure with the N8 flagship it was no surprise that Nokia sought refuge in an OS partner.
So what stopped Nokia making the switch to Maemo in 2007? I suspect that Symbian advocates oversold the capabilities of touch on Symbian. Furthermore the corporate voice for Symbian was far more powerful than that of the Maemo group and its likely the success of Maemo in niche areas was used as a weapon against it. Its probably also true to say that Nokia had no inkling of the disruptive affect of both Apple and Google stepping into its core territory at a time where it looked, and probably felt, invincible. A lack of vision in its leadership probably contributed too. The decisions to switch to Qt and then MeeGo smack of corporate politicking and a company riven with in-fighting. It would be interesting to take a look at strategic planning documents over a two year period beginning January 2007 to see just how Nokia planned its responses to its new competition...
Having missed the boat in 2007 Nokia has a much more difficult path back to competitiveness - at least it can share some of the work with Microsoft. And my feeling is that Nokia is now a less insular business than it was six months ago, much more about mobile phones and profits than it was about Finland and having the high ground.
Whether that leads to great Nokia products somewhere down the line remains to be seen...
Thursday, 24 February 2011
Packed aboard Discovery is the first true robot to head into space, the R2, the prototype for a range of NASA androids designed to assist in the maintenance and running of the space station in the future.
Of course its not the first Android in space, that was achieved by a Nexus One, launched last year by Google engineers...
Wednesday, 23 February 2011
After all, if you're anything like me, you're overrun with the things. Dozens of power bricks with USB ports and dozens of micro-USB (and mini-) USB leads.
The reason behind the switch was to reduce the ecological impact of continuously shipping and junking phone chargers.
So how about leaving the charger out of new phone boxes in future? Anyone without an existing charger can buy one as an accessory sale at the phone shop, whilst the rest of us will thank you for saving us the clutter and doing a little bit to save the planet too...
How about this for a little beauty? It's the Mini Rocketman, which the auto press would have us believe is the next Mini.
Little is the operative word too, being a tad longer than the original but significantly shorter than the current BMW version.
The body encompasses a 3+1 seating layout and nifty double hinged doors to access those seats. The setup appears to be designed to house an all-electric or hybrid motor, with performance being a key factor in the Rocketman's make-up.
No word on when BMW might turn this from concept to reality but I suspect this will be the city car to have when it does arrive...
Tuesday, 22 February 2011
This is where Zinio comes in.
They are the only game in town if you want a real electronic magazine (as opposed to a glorified web app with lots of fancy distractions but less content). I first came across the Zinio concept a year ago on my Samsung Q1u - at the time the application was a bit too much for the hardware, but the brilliance of the concept certainly shone through.
I was re-acquainted with Zinio when Dell upgraded its Streak with Froyo and included the Zinio Android app. Excellent I thought because the execution is now as good as the concept. The arrival of my Galaxy Tab with Zinio pre-installed was also pleasant news.
Concept, execution, what about price? Well things still look good here: individual magazine purchase and subscriptions both seem to be significantly cheaper than the shelf/publisher prices (EVO, for example is 71% of the cover price for an individual issue, 67% of the annual subscription charged by the publisher).
Its all going well, I'm ready to install the software on my devices to ensure that I've always got access to my purchased content when I hit a roadblock. Despite having what is clearly a perfectly functional Android client available, its not in the Android market. In fact on Zinio's web page its labelled as coming soon and has been since December.
Guys you've got a winning product and a workable financial model here, don't risk its long-term success by being slow out of the door with the software...
Saturday, 19 February 2011
Of all the nasty self-serving policies Apple has dropped in the last 18 months or so this has to be the nastiest. Sure I understand that Apple is in business to make money, but this move smacks of the abusive use of a monopoly to extract money from publishers for which Apple provides no value.
How does it work? If, for example, The Guardian were to launch a newspaper app which delivered your daily newspaper to your iOS device every morning 30% of the subscription fee would be Apple's - and the subscription could not be made available cheaper elsewhere either.
Its not just newspapers that will be affected either... services like Spotify and last.fm will owe a third of their subscription fees to Apple, as will companies like Zinio, who are already struggling to make their subscriptions competitive.
In the end everyone suffers at the hands of this outrageous land grab, made possible by the iTunes App Store holding a position of monopoly on the supply of applications to iOS users.
I believe that this move had already prompted further investigation into Apple's business practices by US and European Monopolies Commissions. Last time this happened Apple backed down before serious action was taken. Let's hope that they see it through this time.
my indignation at the following story shows my lack of understanding
of how the real world works, but seriously, how do these guys sleep at
The National Enquirer, a US trash newspaper, is reporting that Steve
Jobs has weeks to live, based on the diagnosis of a recent photograph
by two physicians.
What? Who would even consider publishing a story like that when Jobs
has asked for his family's privacy to be respected, when its nothing
but wild conjecture and when the last thing a man away from the job
and company he loves is to start hearing predictions of his own death.
I can imagine how distressing the widespread reports of this story
will be to those close to him.
These guys should be strung up.
Wednesday, 16 February 2011
Tonight, in the European Champions League Arsenal edged out the Spanish champions with two late goals, despite being behind for most of the game and out played for most of the first half, some of the second. 60 minutes into the game nearly 650 passes had been made - 100 more then the average Premier League game manages in the full 90. It was a joy to watch.
The only thing that could possibly be better is the second leg in Spain, where unfortunately one of these teams must be eliminated.
Sunday, 13 February 2011
Quickest in his first test session in the new Renault car and requiring only two hours of testing to eclipse both Petrov and Kubica's previous best times seems like the sort of work that will get him to the grid in March...
Monday, 7 February 2011
was only possible if you were a subscriber, until last year when I
installed the client for Android and discovered that radio services
were free using the official client. Strange, I thought, as the
Windows Mobile unofficial client Pocket Scrobbler had been forced to
remove radio capability previously.
That's changed now, with today's announcement that mobile radio
service will now only be available to subscribers, bringing last.fm
into line with Spotify.
I don't think there'll be a large impact for most users and for those
who do use the radio function the subscription cost of £3 per month
doesn't seem outrageously high.
Sunday, 6 February 2011
It seems highly unlikely that he will make it to the grid for the start of the season, or possibly at all. Its reported that the injured arm is the same one that he previously injured in a 2003 road crash and is already held together with titanium plates.
Without wishing to pre-judge the reports if the medical centre Renault team boss Boullier has indicated that Bruno Senna is the more likely choice to replace Kubica if he is unable to continue.
Whilst the general extent of the injuries are bad there is the consolation that they aren't life threatening. Yet it would be terrible to see the end of a career which promised so much.
Saturday, 5 February 2011
The Guardian (of all things) has an article today claiming that John Lewis has downgraded its price match promise, to the detriment of its customers. Except that a delve into the article pretty much disproves the whole premise of the piece.
It looks like John Lewis has changed the terms of its guarantee to be a like for like comparison with other retailers who offer the same products with the same guarantee (John Lewis offers longer than standard guarantees on most products - 2 years on electricals for example).
Let's be honest, there's nothing underhand or deceptive here and the most surprising thing is that the Guardian felt it was worthy of an article.
And just how important is price when shopping at John Lewis? Isn't the differentiator the number of (decidedly non-pushy) staff and their good product knowledge?
Friday, 4 February 2011
Its my experience that if a F1 car looks good at launch its probably
going to be competitive. No idea why that should be, but I can't think
of a single successful car that looked a dog's dinner when launched.
So the new 2011 Mclaren should be a winner based on its swooping
curves and interesting sidepod design...
Nokia has a meeting planned for February 11th in London and this is likely to be the venue of any Windows Phone 7 announcement.
For this to be a mutually beneficial project Microsoft is going to have to get its update mechanism in action as there are just too many missing features to compete right now.
For Nokia anything is better than the steaming pile that is Symbian, its never had a problem with hardware and something like the N8 running WP7 sounds very tasty indeed...
Thursday, 3 February 2011
There are a couple of programs that really stand out in touch screen format though. Spotify, which works on the move because you have access to the full desktop version; and Windows Media Centre, which works as well in a small window on the SL8 as it does full screen on a PC.
I'm glad to report rock solid stability, something that Windows 7 seems to have nailed down, my Acer ultraportable gets restarted when Microsoft pushes an update out, otherwise its either on or sleeping. The SL8 is proving to be similarly stable.
Pretty impressive customer service wouldn't you say... now, what shall I ask for next?
Wednesday, 2 February 2011
Personally I'm most looking forward to seeing the first black and gold Lotus cars on track in 25 years... law courts allowing of course!
Are those valid criticisms? I can't say until I've tried one out but what I can say is that the decision to put an 800x600 resolution screen on a 7" device is crazy - that's less than you get on an iPhone 4 which has one quarter the screen real estate...
If that's representative of the thought put in to the rest of the device then I'd guess that Gizmodo have some very valid concerns.
first time people got their hands on some of the models which will be
taking the fight to the iPad this year.
One thing that has me confused though is the presence of high mega
pixel camera hardware on the back of several of the announced tablets.
Why? When are you ever going to be in a position where a 10" tablet is
your preferred tool for taking an image?
As far as I can see your only valid use for a rear having camera is
for Google Goggles... for which 3mp should be fine.
Tuesday, 1 February 2011
One of Google's most successful acquisitions has been blogger - a free service hosting millions of blogs.
Pity any Android owners who want to update their blog on the go then, as Google appears to have no interest in delivering an official blogger client for those devices.
Its seems such a small thing to ask, but for now all we have to rely on is a few third party apps with questionable utility...
Which shows ignorance of how the sales model works. Dell and Apple will announce sales numbers based on sales to end users because their sales models are mostly direct. Even then there will be some distribution sales included as both now have retail partners. Microsoft sells WP7 to OEMs, so when it days it has sold 2 million licenses that's where they have gone.
Samsung sells via retail so when it says that it has sold 2 million that's where they have gone. How many have subsequently sold to customers isn't really their concern. If distribution keeps ordering more - which appears to be the case - then you can be sure they are selling well.
The Wall Street Journal then reported that a Samsung employee had classified sell out (the number of sales from distribution onwards) as 'quite small'. As you can imagine this kicked up a firestorm around the web.
Except that she didn't say it. What she said was 'quite smooth' and having listened to the audio of the call I can say there is no ambiguity about that.
Why would the Wall Street Journal make such a howler? Could it be because of owner News Corporation's vested interest in the success of the iPad? Its heavy investment in iPad titles and its forthcoming iPad only paper?
Update: The WSJ says that the error was the result of a poor transcript of the call provided by... Samsung! Seriously Samsung, get yourself a proof reader...