Tag Archives: Mac

Screw OEMs

So yeah Microsoft is finally jumping into the tablet market. I mean technically they tried with the courier but they killed it before it ever went to production… Good move? who knows. Anyhow, they’re back in again and doing it right.

Oh yeah, Google is too, and they’re doing it right as well.

Right? Yeah they’ve finally taken a look at what’s working for Apple and followed suit. Sure there’s a lot that works for Apple, but a big one is controlling the hardware.

MS has long let others build the hardware their software would run on. This post on Pando Daily does a great job explaining why that’s a terrible idea. It’s funny, a friend had to return his netbook because the trackpad never worked right with windows. Go figure.

Google has done the same thing, even letting OEMs tweak and hack and (IMO) ruin their OS, while making hardware. During the Google/IO keynote this year I had to LOL when the presenter made a jab at OEMs during the Nexus 7 announcement. “This is the Android Google intended” (I’m probably paraphrasing).

I’m glad both companies (more MS than Google since Asus is building their tablet for them) have realized that while OEMs help get your product out to a wide audience, they’re not your allies. They’re at best the enemy you tolerate to attack the larger enemy (Apple?). They use cheap plastic crap to make laptops and devices with custom drivers that bog the OS down.

Both companies now have a chance to let their OS shine, which is the important thing. Had MS decided to throw their Tablet OS on every cheap Chinese device there was, it’d tank. Sure some would sell, Android isn’t doing terrible with this model, but they’d never have a solid, stable user base. They’d have what Google does. Angry users with thousands of devices, waiting for custom builds of apps specific to each device.  (just ask Imangi Studios how launching Temple Run for Android went.) Google may feel that fragmentation isn’t an issue, but that’s likely because they’re not using Android.

 

The Kindle Fire is a great second tablet

My friend Jeffry sent me a Kindle Fire last week. He’s awesome! You should check out his Flex components if you’re a flex/AIR developer looking for some awesome turn key components. Ok that said, he sent me a kindle Fire.

I’ve been a Kindle owner since the K2 came out, and I paid almost $400 for it. I dropped it one morning and busted the screen, and bought a K3 for 1/3 the price of my K2, and I love it. It’s light, easy to use and great at the one thing it does, display words on a readable screen. Continue reading

Startups, who’s in to be Apple?

Like most of Nerd America I started Reading the Steve Jobs Biography last night. I got in some good reading at the gym this morning and started thinking. I haven’t made it to the Apple years yet, but as I was reading it, thinking about Apple, about Jobs, startups and about death, a notion started forming.

Who’s going to step up and be Apple? Heck, where are our Hewlett and Packard? Our Michael Dell?  Bill Gates?

I work in a space with a fair amount of startups, and being so close to Boulder I hear about a lot more of them, and of course I’m in the Silicon Valley for events a fair bit too, and of course I follow my friend Eric Norlin. So I’m not uninformed when it comes to startups.

I know there’s awesome startups out there doing cool things (like Bloom). I work in the same building as one. But in looking at them and at most other startups, I wonder, who’s solving tomorrow’s problems? Who’s working on making the next big thing? NOT the next thing for AOL or Google to acquire. It seems that most startups are starting to be bought by someone, existing more than 5 years isn’t in the plans. That certainly is the exit that makes the most financial sense for their backers, and the founders even. I wonder sometimes if our VC and Angel worlds are so wrapped up in ‘quick bucks’ and early exits, that they’re encouraging young founders to not focus on building companies that can or will be around 20 or 30 years. Let alone build companies that are focused on tomorrow’s problems. Sure messy contacts, old school comic readers, and lack of robot balls are problems worth solving, that’s not my point. My point is there should be a balance, and I don’t see it.

Looking at Techstars and Ycombinator I see awesome companies making cool things like gMail plugins and robot balls with LEDs in them, and new takes on training sites, sites about treating musicians like stock, and such. But I wonder will any of them exist in 5-10 years? I suspect not. They’ll either have folded up and moved on, or been absorbed into some other larger thing. And that’s ok in it’s own right, but where does that leave us? The Country of Dell and HP and Apple and Microsoft? I feel like it leaves us with a sad lack of innovative long term tech companies. VCs are bitching about immigration policy not letting tech founders into the country in high enough numbers. I’d argue the gov’t should be looking at these VCs and asking where the companies that will lead innovation are and why they aren’t helping build them? I’d be thrilled to let the next Bill Gates in on a Startup Visa, but not if he plans to simply build something he can sell to Microsoft for a quick buck.

I know in startup circles and no doubt in VC circles getting acquired is a win. In my book it isn’t. I remember sitting around beers with some friends talking about a company in Boulder that was bought before it even left private beta. To me that was a fail. Sure they made out like bandits, everyone got paid. But they were barely a business, they had maybe a few customers, maybe a few hundred, but they were beta testers not paying customers. I suspect that’s why I’m drawn towards brick and mortar style businesses. Conferences, coworking, etc. Because those businesses are immune or less politely often excluded from the hub bub of tech investing. Therefore for the most part they require bootstrapping which it seems so many startups can’t or won’t do. I’ve seen ideas live and die based on acceptance to Techstars. While I have no doubt Brad Feld and co. know a winner or at least a good horse when they see it, I’m sure they’d agree they can’t see all the winners (or losers) all the time.

That kinda brings this all back around for me. I’ve never asked for money or (at least yet) taken out a bank loan for 360|Conferences or Uncubed. I live and die by what I can do on my own (or with partners as the case may be). In both cases i think to myself often, are these businesses that will be around in 10 years? Can they be a legacy, can I actually do something good with them? I think both can. I don’t know if either will, but I think both can, and I’m happy to try and find out. I think both started for the right reasons. Trying to change systems that exist, for the better of the communities they exist in,  which to me is the right reason to start a business. Will I get rich? be acquired by someone? Probably not on both counts, but that’s ok because that wasn’t and isn’t my motivator. I like money don’t get me wrong :) I want to live a comfortable life, but that’s the extent of it. I don’t need to make something someone else wants to buy so I can pay back investors and retire at 35.

I wonder if startup founders go to bed at night thinking about the future. Not the future where they get bought, where tech crunch writes them up and they secure yet another round of funding. A future where they employ thousands. A future where they and their product/service are shaping lives. A future where they make a difference for more than a year. Sure payroll next month is important, press is important I’m not discounting that, but if they’re not thinking about 10 years from now, I’d say they’re doing it at least a little wrong.

 

What I hope to see at WWDC

Blah blah, i know it’s that season (I think I said this last year too) but I was thinking about Devin’s post about possible retail store products for their 10th anniversary and figured I’d throw out my best guesses for the WWDC keynote. Not retail store product options, Devin covered those as well as I could. But really honest to goodness possible products.

The rumor mills are going nuts over the iPhone 4s-5-superDuper, so who knows, and I’m not gonna bother speculating there.

But what about Apps for AppleTV? We know it’s running some type of iOS, why not a subset of the full app catalog for media apps? Hulu? CBS? HBO GO, etc. How awesome to integrate an app store model into the AppleTV. Heck, with a magic trackpad paired, even iOS games could be viable.

 

Or maybe iPod Nano Touch 2nd Gen? I love my iWatch, and I’d love even more for it to do more, though I hope a camera is not one of those things. Cameras are like netflix apps, every device has 2 or 3.

Maybe take a queue from the metawatch movement? If anyone could make it a clean user experience it’s Apple. Why not have my watch show me the SMS that just came in, or my most recent push notifications? I’d love to glance down and see where certain friends are without pulling my phone out of my pocket.

Maybe even an SDK for basic apps? watch faces? etc. That’d be awesome.

This is a bit out there, at least this year. But, SSD only laptops. No optical drive, either 2 drives used separately, boot to the SSD, store data on the HDD, or 2 SSD’s in a RAID array. I’m running the former configuration right now in my Macbook and love it. Booting into Lion…erp Rawrdacted sorry, is cake. Certain features in that OS really really benefit from having an SSD as boot drive, and with the Mac App Store, who needs DVD drives anymore? Even OS X is distributed through it, and new machines can have the OS recovery on a USB drive like the Macbook Air. So why not use that space for something else? Something better.

 

That’s it, pretty simple, nothing too pie int he sky. Ok maybe the iWatch part, but I can hope, everything is in the realm of the possible, maybe not this year but next or the one after.

What do you think we’ll see at WWDC in a few weeks?

My Xoom review

I’ve been meaning to write this for a few days, and decided I just need to sit down and do it. Be aware, this review has no pics. There’s so many pics of the Xoom and the iPad out there, there’s just no need for them now. We all know what a tablet looks like now.

 

OK here’s my thoughts on the Xoom…

The short: I like it, I like it a lot. I’ve been using it almost exclusively since my friend and colleague Jeffy Houser gave it to me for my work on The Flex Show. It’s no iPad but it’s nice.

The Long version:

OS: Honeycomb seems like a great OS. Google shoulda been working on it sooner, and needs to stop dicking around trying to port it to a phone. Rock tablets, and let Honeycomb’s successor be the 1 OS for both.

It’s got some rough spots, but overall I’ve found it to be a great Tablet OS. I had a Viewsonic gTablet and tried 2.2 and 2.3 on it. Clearly neither OS was made for Tablets, so the experience sucked! But the Xoom, feels and works like a tablet should.

The widgets rock, the transitions between screens are very nice, and clean.

 

Apps (marketplace): Point, Apple. I admit, most of the apps on my iPhone and iPad, I can live without, some I never even open after installing or using once. However, right now, there are like 62 apps made for honeycomb. Not 1 is a twitter app!!

Many of the apps for the Xoom, are stupid, so being available doesn’t really do much. Thankfully google does a better job at upscaling than Apple does, so phone apps, mostly don’t look like ass on the Xoom, assuming they work

Say what you will about Apple and the iOS Store, the Google marketplace is pretty much like Dave Chappelle predicted. Amazon has cleaned up the mess a bit, but they’re not there yet.

I’ve been pretty happy with the Xoom app wise, not really missing most iOS apps. Here’s the ones I miss and why.

  • OmniFocus – I’ve invested in their offering. It’s on my iPhone, iPad, and mac. Making todo lists, etc is nice when they’re shared across devices.
  • Flipboard – I’ve got Pulse, and Newsr but Flipboard and Reeder were my goto apps and I do miss them. NetNewsWire too for that matter. My iPad was mainly remote desktop, and news reading.

That’s really it. There’s a few others I’d like to have on the Xoom for sure, but if any combo of those three apps made it to the Xoom I’d be cool.

 

Ecosystem: Win, Apple. Obviously lock in is a big part of this picture, and Apple certainly gains nothing by cooperating, but not having a viable iTunes replacement is a huge loss for the Xoom, and android in general. There’s DoubleTwist which is ok, but nothing remotely close to the awesome experience Apple offers. I will give Double Twist props for the over the Air syncing. Apple, really you shoulda figured this out already.

But yeah I STILL haven’t gotten any of my pics onto the Xoom. There’s not USB host support yet (fail) and Double Twist does music and sorta, video only. Even the Dropbox app doesn’t support saving an image from dropbox to the local storage. I could do some wifi FTP stuff, but that’s just too much work as far as I’m concerned.

Other Tablets: Apple needs competition, so does Motorola. But more importantly, if Google hopes to make some headway against Apple, with Tablets, they need to have more devices out there. Motorola did a good job with the Xoom, but I think someone can do better.

Plus if they (Motorola and Google, etc) hope to get developers interested in building apps for Tablets, there needs to be more devices out there to run them. I suspect part of the reason there’s only 63 apps is that many developers don’t want to waste their time, if there’s a chance the OS could change or google could scrap it entirely (GoogleTV anyone?)

 

So verdict? If you’re ok not having many apps right now (the main ones are there. Evernote, a nice VNC app, tweetdeck sorta works, Firefox, dropbox, etc), and can survive without iTunes-like desktop love. The Xoom might be a fun device for you. The OS is certainly more computer-y which I like, but it’s definitely an easy device to use. Easy as an iPad, no. Easy enough for a non moron? Yes.

Like I said, i’ve been leaving my iPad at home the last two weeks, and am surviving quite well. I haven’t gifted my ipad to Nicole yet, so I have the option to go back, but honestly, with an iPhone, not sure I will.

Dear Google and Motorola, you’re doing it wrong

My friend Justin tweeted this and it really called out something I had noticed the first time I saw the Moto Xoom commercial. Motorola (and by extension Google) are doing advertising WRONG.

Below are the commercials for the Xoom, and the iPad. Notice anything? Motorola spends their time with spaceships, and flashy weirdness, some dude looking around the cockpit of a space pod, talking about technology specs (as a geek this appeals to me, but I’m the minority. I don’t need an ad to decide to buy something) and showing perhaps, 10 seconds of actual device screen, and most of that is a game. I get that the commercial is aimed at showing the game playability of the Xoom. Great, that commercial should be 3-4 down the line. Establish the device as usable first, then highlight game play (if you have to)

Now look at the iPad commercial.

Notice anything? It spends the entire time with nothing but the device. The hands belong to someone, but we don’t need to see him, nor do we need to see him approach the chair, look bewildered about the iPad just sitting on the chair unattended and then sit down, look around some more, be amazed at the quality of the chair’s leather, appreciate the stitching, etc, etc. We see hands using the iPad to do a number of things. Not one thing, many. Sure IMO they’re mostly stupid things I almost never do on my iPad, but the point is, they show how to use the iPad.

Motorola, fire your ad firm. Hire someone who’s at least used an iPad, and hopefully someone who’s used a Xoom. I know there isn’t a lot of apps made just for the xoom, that’s fine, the iPad commercial focuses on all built in apps. Sure later ones have focused on third party apps, but launch commercials are just the apps Apple shipped it with. Surely there’re enough built in honeycomb apps to make a 30 second commercial. Heck look at Apple. Photo viewer, video player, maps, calendar, etc. Nothing crazy, nothing flashy or “OMG THAT APP IS ON A TABLET!!!!” just everyday use apps.

 

I almost wonder if Motorola hired the same firm HP did with the pre commercials? I’m sure some ad wonk Don Draper wannabe will explain the ad is less about the device and more about the futuristic feel of it, or some ad wonk bullshit. That’s not what sells things in 2011. Maybe it did in the 70s and 80s when consumers (no offense mom and dad) were a bit more stupid and easily confused, but that’s not how it works now. LEARN OR DIE.

 

The Wrist, Valuable Realestate

I was reading this article the other day, and it pretty much jived with my review(one and two) of the ‘iWatch’

There’s plenty of “I just use my iPhone, why would i want a watch?” people, and that’s fine, as with all things, it takes all kinds. I have a nice large watch box, full of nice analog and digital watches, and now my iWatch. I’ll probably wear watches forever, or I should say, something on my wrist.

 

I’ve joked with friends, but from the moment i got my first iPod Touch, I’ve been on the look out for something that would make it wearable on a wrist. iOS doesn’t really lend itself (sadly!) to landscape orientation, but android (mostly) does. I wouldn’t care that I’d invite being beaten up.

I hate talking on my phone, I dread it. I’ve thought, and still do about ditching my iPhone, getting an iPod Touch, and just having a blackberry or android phone. I really want a multi purpose computer, that’s easily accessible, always on me, etc.

A watch, or watch like device is the perfect thing. Easy to type on (though obviously not a replacement for a phone if you’re a lotsa email, texting type of person, but for firing off a quick “Im here” sms, etc.

I think the first step will be a connected watch type thing. As mentioned in the article, a watch that lets you accept/decline phone calls, shows your calendar, etc. Either from a connected device from Bluetooth, or with it’s own connection to the internet.

But I do think eventually we’ll have a device, the size of an iPhone or so, that fits comfortably on a wrist, has a camera for facetiming/skyping, etc. I’ll be glad when that time comes. I’d love to not worry about where I sat my phone down? Did I leave it at the bar, or at home? etc.

A device like this, if it’s where my watch would be, becomes less a gadget and more a part of my life, something I grab when I’m getting dressed.

 

Can’t wait!