Blackberry Alums

My good friend, fellow MIT alumnus and intellectual property attorney extraordinaire, Tony Sebro, summed up his experience with his Blackberry.  The picture ain’t pretty and it is emblematic of the problems facing RIM.

Continue reading “Blackberry Alums”

Goals That Don’t Include Being a Sysadmin

My Month With the Nexus S – Release Candidate One:

“I said at the start that if the Nexus S were my first-ever smartphone I’d probably love it. But since it wasn’t my first, I come to it (and maybe more importantly to the operating system) with expectations of performance, stability, battery life, and general attention to detail that it just can’t meet. Sure, it comes with a whole host of freedoms that I can exercise, like installing a third-party keyboard component to replace the system keyboard, but I didn’t exercise those freedoms because I don’t care, I’m just not that guy. I never themed my Windows installations, never jailbroke my iPhone, never turbocharged my car. I want a phoneputer that just works and lets me pursue my own goals; goals that don’t include being a sysadmin. The Nexus S does everything one could reasonably expect of a smartphone, and it does them competently, but if you’ve experienced a smartphone that does those things exceptionally, mere competence is a big step backward.”

(Via Daring Fireball.)

Features vs. usability really is not a contest.

Because We Don’t Have an App for That

RIM CEO: Apple Is Wrong for Having an App for That:

”‘So you reject the appification of the Web?’ asked Summit host John Battelle. ‘Correct,’ Balsillie said, challenging Apple’s ‘there’s an app for that’ slogan for its iPhone App Store, which has more than 300,000 applications.

Balsillie’s comments were tinged with a note of bitterness in the wake of unprovoked attacks on RIM’s business by Apple CEO Steve Jobs. One month ago, Jobs appeared on Apple’s fourth-quarter earnings call to tout how Apple had passed RIM in smartphone sales for the quarter.”

(Via eWeek – RSS Feeds.)

Jaundiced Journalism?

iPhone 4, Windows Vista Share 10 Remarkable Similarities – IT Infrastructure from eWeek:

“At Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference July 11 to 15, Chief Operating Officer Kevin Turner told attendees he believes Apple’s iPhone 4, with its antenna problems, could be that company’s Windows Vista. Turner was referring, of course, to the issues faced by Microsoft after its Vista operating system failed to deliver an experience that customers had hoped for. Turner’s comments were certainly interesting, and they undoubtedly will make some wonder if he’s right. After all, there are parallels that can be drawn between the two releases. Depending on what Apple does to address the iPhone 4 antenna issue beyond offering a free case, the iPhone 4 could turn out to be just as big of a problem for Apple as Vista was for Microsoft. Let’s examine some of the similarities between Windows Vista and Apple’s iPhone 4.”


(Via eWeek.)

I was a tad incensed at this article because it made a good case if one was selective with the facts.  Structurally, the Vista rollout is very different from the iPhone.  The majority of Vista licenses are sold in bundles.  iPhones are outright retail purchases.  It’s a lot harder to return Vista when it’s included with your PC.  Customers did have an option to downgrade but that was prior to purchase.  Returns are practically impossible when the OS is bundled.  Returning an iPhone is easy.  Just walk into a store and get your money back.

As of right now, Apple is reporting1.7% return rate over this “issue” which is less than 1/3 the 6% return rate of the iPhone 3GS.   People were reporting antenna problems the day the phone went on sale.  So it’s not like customers haven’t had plenty of opportunity to return their phones.  It’s always possible we could see more returns in the future, but as of now people are keeping their phones.  That’s a win for Apple.

To imply that “Anntennagate” is going to turn into a Vista-esque failure for Apple feels like yellow journalism to me and it’s disappointing to see so much of it these last few weeks.

Miller-esque caveat alert: ‘Course that’s just my opinion.  I could be wrong.

On the Launch iPad

By now you no doubt have heard of Apple’s launch of the iPad, it’s entry into the ultraportable computer market. Given the company’s track record in groundbreaking products I’m optimistic of it’s chances for success. There are several reasons for this, but even more important than the iPad’s success, is its potential to change how we imagine personal computing and how it might affect the industry. But before I talk about what I think the iPad is and what it might be, let me briefly say what it isn’t.

Apple Flying w/o a Net.

Tech pundits far and wide (and not a few of my tech savvy friends and colleagues) have spent much time criticizing the iPad’s lack of ports, lack of keyboard, etc. Or they harp on the converse: that it is just a big iPod. Both imply that it isn’t a serious or capable machine because it doesn’t have the necessary computer accoutrement. What was immediately obvious to me was that they miss the point. Apple is not interested in netbooks which are shrunk down PC’s that simply add inconvenience to the PC experience: flexibility, complexity, and but in a cramped form factor. Thankfully, this is not the direction Apple decided to go.

It’s not a Big iPod touch. Yes, really.

Apple developed a strong user interface for the compact space afforded by the iPod touch and the iPhone. It’s operating system is by necessity efficient and surprisingly powerful. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by what I can do with my iPhone. But most importantly it is simple making the device easier to use and a more effective tool. This has come at a price: a loss of flexibility and some power. But that is relative. It’s clear that users aren’t interested in battery doors, multitasking, or SD slots. They aren’t interested in being computer geeks. They are interested in doing their work, enjoying their media and playing their games.

The iPad continues this trajectory, but with an important difference: screen real estate. On a superficial level, this quite obviously makes the iPad a big iPod touch. The problem is what would the apps be like in this different form factor? Sure an iPad will run iPod apps at 2X the size, but does anyone really believe that developers will stop there? Apple ported its iWork suite and the apps if they are not fully functional cousins to their Mac OS counterparts, seem to come very close. And that’s the real difference between in the iPad. I could work all day on an iPad because it let’s me do the work I’m trying to do. Scale is an important factor. It changes things.

There Still is No Free Lunch

For all the simplicity and the machine getting out of my way, there is a price to pay. We lose some flexibility and some power depending on the application in question. I can’t have half a dozen dongles hanging off the thing as of yet. So this is clearly not on par with the power and flexibility of a laptop or desktop PC. But sadly this is all many of the iPad’s critics seem to notice. It’s too bad this kind of myopia is neither new, nor unprecedented. The iPod and iPhone all enjoy this distinction. The rest is history.

What Lies Before Us

The real challenge is on developers to see how far they can take this platform. No doubt Apple will be the first first-to-market manufacture but it certainly will not be the last. For all of Ballmer’s grousing, look for the tablet edition of Windows to imitate the iPad environment. We well see more focused computing in the years to come and I’m excited to be alive to witness it.

Enterprise Halo Effect

Apple Moves Closer to Snow Leopard Release:

“If Apple can pull off this effort, the company will be able to further capitalize on its hot iPhone mobile platform to make inroads against  Research In Motion’s BlackBerry and Microsoft Windows Mobile in enterprise environments.”

(Via eWeek.)

Apple might actually have an executable enterprise strategy here instead of trying to boil the ocean by offering me-too software to established enterprise competitors. Mobile Access Server is an important sign of where Apple might be going with the iPhone platform. Apple is incrementally trying to attack large enterprise akin to the so-called halo effect of the iPhone on Mac sales in the consumer market. Is this Apple setting the stage for Apple to back the iPhone platform in the enterprise? It sounds interesting since they would be replicating Microsoft’s success against mainframe/Unix. Microsoft used Office to weaponize Windows against Unix environments. I think the hardware analog here is Office/iPhone Windows/Xserve.