Friday, September 28, 2007
Via New York Times.
Thursday, September 27, 2007
So what's Verizon's rationale? Well, they disallow certain content with certain themes and abortion is one of them. Even stranger, text campaigns are things that people have to explicitly opt in for ... so this is the same as your ISP not allowing email from a pro-choice group to get delivered to your inbox, even if you've signed up for it.
Anyone else think this seems wrong?
Verizon's got a responsibility to protect their consumers from some degree of unsavory content... but suggesting they have the right to dictate what can and can't be delivered as SMS, just because the outdated common carrier laws don't treat SMS the same as voice is absurd.
Definitely feels like a "write your congressman" sort of moment.
From the New York Times via Reg Braithwaite
So what do you get? Instead of using Flash, or QuickTime which would play back without any issue ... there's some QMesh plugin that you've first got to install to view this music video. Strike 1.
Anyway, I start to browse the music store (using miles to pick up music? Not such a bad idea, I guess, if the price is right). It turns out I can't just put in my Aeroplan number/password to start buying music... I've got to go all the way back to the Aeroplan website and redeem my miles for a voucher I can use on the store. Strike 2.
That also means, there's NO price listed anywhere on the site. I.e. it'd really be nice to see how many miles each song/album costs. Maybe as dumb as the Zune "points" thing, but at least it'd give an idea of cost. Strike 3.
Of course, even if I did decide I wanted to pick up a voucher, I'd be out of luck, as the site's down at the moment. Great idea... send out emails announcing a "world premier" and then go down for "routine maintenance."
To top it all off, only a tiny percentage of music on the site is in MP3 (instead of WMA) format ... and all the MP3 music I saw were from bands I've never heard of. So, for anyone using an iPod ... you're out of luck.
Strike 9, you're done.
Nice try, though, Air Canada... Maybe you should just do a deal with Apple to let us redeem miles for iTunes gift certificates?
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Apple's created a terrific new device, touting it's fantastic open Internet capabilities, and then have locked it down to an absurd degree.
It's bad enough that the official way of putting ringtones on the phone is to take a subset of your already-purchased iTunes music and pay $0.99 for a ringtone sample to be created.
It's worse that the only developer API that's exposed officially is nothing more than a pretty plain-vanilla browser.
There's OS X buried under that, and all sorts of developers have been figuring out how to write apps that take advantage of all that power ... who are building the ecosystem that makes the phone more valuable, and what's Apple doing? Telling them their apps may stop working at any point.
And what about the consumers who've shelled out $500 for their shiny new iPhone? Well, if they happen to want to use another network, or install native apps (whicn involves hacking the device), they lose their warranty. Actually, they might even end up bricking their phone.
Now, on the one hand, Apple's got a point: They built the phone, and the operating system. If someone wants to hack what it is that they've built, it's certainly not Apple's responsibility to make sure any future update won't conflict with the hack.
On the other hand, going from a world where the carrier controls the complete user experience isn't much worse than a world where your hardware vendor controls the complete user experience.
The iPhone came out quickly, shook the Motorola's and Nokia's of the world pretty fiercely, and excited developers... all of that is good. It's probably fair to guess that they just haven't had the time to open things up for developers cleanly yet. I'd even bet that Apple are going to release extensions to XCode to let developers build rich native iPhone apps in the not-too-distant future...
But at the moment, they're just scaring their customers, and irritating the developers that are the ones that'll really add value to iPhone going forward.
Monday, September 24, 2007
a startup (well, not *that* novel... remember Startup.com?) ... but
why does it seem like they're actively trying to show off a bunch of
juvenile office antics... That can't really help with recruiting. Can
Randy Pausch, a computer science professor just gave his final lecture at CMU... and luckily it's available on video for all of us to watch.
I've admired Randy's work for years, as he started the Alice project, to teach kids computer science by letting them create and animate their own virtual worlds, and it's great to hear him talk about how the idea came about, and where it's going. It's also great to hear him so pleased that it'll be a part of his legacy.
That's because Randy's dying of cancer, and has just a few months left. It's one of the most amazing lectures I've ever seen, and I can't say anything more than it made me wish I'd had him as a professor.
(Via Ryan Coleman -> Google Reader -> Plaxo Pulse)
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Basically, if you're trying to see what Google's up to by searching for their name in the USPTO database, you may be out of luck.
But... does that matter?
The quid pro quo of a patent is that the filer gets a monopoly on an invention for a time, but must disclose the workings of this invention to the public as a condition. So, eventually it's a contribution to the commons.
Google hiding their ownership doesn't change this... the inventions still get disclosed. The public still gets the benefit, and Google gets a monopoly on the technology for a time. The only people that get hurt are people using patent databases as a way to figure out what their competitors are up to.
It's a fair (and common) use of the patent databases, but this strategy-disclosure doesn't seem to be a part of the patent quid pro quo (nor does it seem like it ought to be). So in this case, I'm siding with Google... obscuring patent ownership doesn't sound all that evil to me.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Saturday, September 08, 2007
I happen to disagree.
I'd suggest that great design, and utility foster loyalty and passion. Beetle drivers love 'em ... because they have personality and great design. People love Starbucks precisely because it's consistently good ... everywhere, and for everyone.
BlackBerry users love 'em, despite the thought that using one makes you look like yet another banker/CEO/geek. (Yeah, BlackBerry doesn't have huge penetration, but it's a pretty insular demographic: if you have a BlackBerry, I'll bet a lot of your friends and colleagues do too.) Why? Because they're incredibly functional.
Are customers any more loyal to Tiffany's than to Target? Actually, I'll bet that Target customers are more brand-loyal. Exclusivity be damned.
So Apple's finally gotten to a point where a lot more people can afford a video-enabled iPod. Does that mean it's less exclusive? Absolutely. Does that mean their owners will love them any less? Of course not. Not unless there's a sexier, more useful alternative.
Oh, and about the iPhone price drop... Um... so what?
Nokia launched it's flagship N95 a few months ago. Until recently it was the £500 phone... now it's free on a contract with every operator in the UK. When it launched, I was amazed at how many mobile early-adopters picked one up (at considerable expense). Now, every day I see another "normal" person who happened to pick an N95 because it was free and has a decent camera.
So the suggestion that Apple ought to have given it's former customers the full $200 difference in price back seems a little silly. It's not like Orange and Vodafone (or Nokia) are looking to compensate anyone for the change in price for the N95. That's just a part of life with gadgets... whether it's a phone, camera or laptop.
Moreover, taking a product mainstream and jumping the proverbial shark are totally unrelated. Motorola took it's hugely successful (and originally hugely exclusive) RAZR mainstream, and dominated the handset market for quite a while. Then they deeply discounted the price... and continued to do so (nothing different from Apple or Nokia here).
They jumped the shark because they couldn't deliver a compelling followup product... and that's the important bit ... the ability to innovate, and to keep innovating in places that people care about is the bit that keeps customers loyal and passionate.
Then again, I could be wrong... anyone want a $10.5 MM cellphone?
Friday, September 07, 2007
I'll hand it to RIM: their people are individually pretty great ... their support and customer care processes need some work, though.
A BBC article mentions a team of Wisconsin researcher ... They believe that "antioxidant compounds" in the Guinness, similar to those found in certain fruits and vegetables, are responsible for the health benefits because they slow down the deposit of harmful cholesterol on the artery walls.
Sweet. Now I just need someone to prove bourbon is good for you too! :)
This morning someone at RIM's tech support called me back. Nice guy, super apologetic. Basically said, "Yeah... known issue. We've fixed it. We just haven't released the fix yet. It'll be out in a few weeks." This is good news, and I'm glad to hear it. Releasing software into the wild, in a carrier environment, takes lots of testing and bureaucracy, so I can't fault RIM for taking a while to deploy it. At least they're honest about the timelines/status.
But... RIM still cost me $ for their bug, and while the tech support folks have finally gotten back to me, the customer satisfaction team is still curiously silent.
I woke up this morning to see an open letter from Steve Jobs, apologizing to early iPhone purchasers for the recent price drop, and offering them store credit to make up for it. So, RIM ... how do you handle years-long loyal customers who evangelize your product? Steve just raised the bar.
Thursday, September 06, 2007
Like a good customer I went ahead and sent an email to the support and customer satisfaction folks at RIM. Several days later? No reply. Not a peep. Not even a "we got your message, and we'll get back to you" automated reply.
In the same time, I've had three (count 'em, three) friends in as many days here in London decide to get BlackBerry 8800's at my urging. (I'm a bit of a Berry-zealot, it seems.) Even spent a half hr last night helping a friend try and get hers set up... and what do I get from RIM? Silence.
Hmmm... after almost 8 yrs on a berry, someone build a decent push-mail sol'n for the iPhone and maybe I'll deal with the keyboard...
UPDATE: David Terrar (of Blognation and Business Two Zero) wrote "Sutha Kamal of Plan Q was trying to tell me this a few weeks ago over some Japanese food at the height of my enthusiasm for the Nokia E61i. I’m really glad I’ve seen the light and chosen the 8310, which looks particularly cool in its new grey livery and smart leather sleeve."
Hmm... I really hope to hear from RIM soon. I'd like to stay on the Berry.