Friday, December 12, 2008
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Tech companies sold 36.5 million smartphones—devices that can connect to the Internet and perform other tasks in addition to making calls—in July, August and September, according to researchers at Gartner. That’s 11.5% more than the same period in 2007, which is the slowest growth rate Gartner has ever recorded. Nokia sold 15.4 million of its devices, Research In Motion sold 5.8 million BlackBerrys, and Apple sold 4.7 million iPhones. Nokia’s sales for the quarter shrank 3%, RIM’s grew 81.7% and Apple, which introduced a new iPhone around the start of the quarter, saw its sales grow a staggering 327.5%. LINKMain point: seemingly dramatic growth in 3Q (for RIM and Apple at least) but actually the slowest growth ever recorded in the sector. As the recession knocks these numbers back for the fourth quarter of 2008 and first quarter of next year, I wonder whether corporate buys are going to decrease more than consumer buys? If so, it will probably hurt RIM relatively more than Apple. I also wonder about the opportunity in the developing world, because it seems to me that's got to be one big growth opportunity for smartphones--low income consumers and small businesses for whom smartphones ARE the computer and on-ramp to the Internet. Nokia certainly has their developing world strategy dialed in--that's been their strong suit for a long time. Is this a mitigating factor in a recession and will this allow Nokia to keep pace or exceed Apple and RIM in future quarters? I wonder how good RIM's developing world strategy is? What's Apple's strategy? The iPhone is certainly the best portable device alternative to a laptop. I would think this would be the device of choice for anyone in the world who has no computer. Can Nokia match this with their latest high-end product offerings? Does RIM even care to be competitive with consumers in places like India, Russia, Brazil and Turkey?
Relevant to this discussion--for which I am not dialed in enough to have anything more than questions--is Lenovo's sales strategy which de-emphasizes growth opportunities in the U.S. and European markets and focusses on developing countries: see recent Fortune magazine article on this approach: LINK. What relevance does this have for the smartphone market?
See also this WSJ article on mobile phone usage in poorer nations: LINK.
Aside: at least in Munich, at the opening of the Apple store, what recession???? Take a look at this shot of panorama of the opening: LINK. Dramatic crowds as always! RIM, Nokia, Microsoft aren't worried when this happens over and over and over again?
As of this writing, you can easily upgrade your Verizon BlackBerry Pearl or Curve (LINK) to the new BlackBerry 4.5 operating system and finally get GPS working on the BlackBerry maps program. However, Google Maps and everything else is still left without access to the GPS chip.
But those using the 8830 "World Edition" have been left out in the cold without an official upgrade. Rumor is that the 8830 is going to be the first of the current Verizon BlackBerrys to be phased out and that there won't be an official upgrade to the 4.5 operating system. But there are working versions of Beta upgrades out there--do a search for "8830 18.104.22.168" and you should be able to find a "pirate" download site with a copy or go here for example. Very nice thing is that it does seem to work and it unlocks GPS for BlackBerry Maps. About time.
I have to say that people would be shot at dawn at a place like Apple for allowing leaks like this to occur. But further, people would be shot at dawn for allowing such a completely haphazard, rumor strewn way of releasing OS upgrades as BlackBerry has of late. I fear for the health of RIM.
Monday, November 24, 2008
I finally got a chance to play with one the other day when I noticed one on the table of the person next to me at the coffee shop. I was both pleased by how easy it was to type on the thing--seems better than an iPhone to me--and shocked at the lag time for various functions, most noticably the switch from portrait to landscape mode. Felt very much like Beta software to me. This was before the recent 4.7 upgrade was available which apparently fixes some or all of these lag time issues.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
This device came out over four years ago, perhaps even more than five years ago. I found a review from April 2004 but couldn't easily find when the 7200 series was first announced.
First, it's amazing that the new release of the GMail for BlackBerry application works perfectly on the old machine. Certainly it's slower, but it's still perfectly functional. Isn't it wonderful that a device from almost five years ago can run one of the newest of applications?
Second, design of the old machine has a classic simplicity that I miss. It's simple black and silver. Its round shape fits well into my hand in a way that the newer BlackBerrys don't. (Admittedly my hands--and those of my wife who still uses her 7200 series--are relatively large and so smaller hands would find it less attractive.) It's lacking the SEND and END buttons that RIM added to BlackBerrys with models that followed (added so that they could appeal to a broader audience who were switching over from traditional mobile phones). Finally, its keyboard is designed for typing. Look at how much more closely spaced the keys are on the newer models. The 7200 series is a great example of elegant, purpose driven design in which form follows function to the benefit of both form and function. The 7200 series reminds me of Bang and Olufsen stereos or some of the classic designs from Braun.
I wish RIM would launch a special edition of the 7200 series, with the case and keyboard of the 7200 and the speed and screen of the 8830--or better yet, the new Bold. That would be a special device. Of course they never will. I wish I had time, skills and money on my hands to do a real mashup of the two. That would one worthwhile mod.
Friday, November 21, 2008
With the new BlackBerry Storm on Verizon, fears have been that they'd do the same. It appears that they haven't quite done this, but who knows? Until I hear definitive proof that Google Maps works on this device, I'd be suspicious. Here's what PC Magazine has to say in their review of the storm (LINK).
"Two GPS applications are on board, Verizon's $9.99 per month VZNavigator, (which gives you spoken, turn-by-turn driving directions) and the free BlackBerry Maps (which doesn't). The camera app is also GPS-enabled, so you can geotag your photos. I found the GPS to be unusually good at swiftly locking onto satellite signals. When it can't get a signal at all, the system resorts to a rough estimate based on cell-tower locations. The GPS is "unlocked," meaning that third-party programs on the phone can use it to find locations. But apps have to be written specifically for the Storm—the generic version of Google Maps for BlackBerry, for instance, couldn't get a GPS fix."
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
If any of you have older BlackBerrys (most of us at this point) and are envious of the new clock application you've seen in the newest BlackBerrys (shown at left on the new Pearl flip) you can buy from Vorino Software a very nice clock app that provides similar functionality (LINK).
Monday, November 17, 2008
The old Jawbone worked perfectly for me (available from Amazon here: LINK). The metal ear-loops could be molded so the device stuck to my face (although the device was a pain to put on my ear).
The new Jawbone (Amazon LINK) at least for me, was almost unusable. The ear-loops can't be bent and simply didn't work for me. The device would fall right off my ear. However . . . if you want to spend the money, a custom molded earpiece is BRILLIANT. Avery Sound (LINK) send you two little globs of goo which you mix together an then press into your ear. Wait 15 minutes. It firms up (doesn't harden!). You pull it out of your ear, ship it back to them, they clean-it up, drill the sound hold and the hole to attach it to your earpiece, and ship it back. Voila. The Jawbone again becomes the best bluetooth earpiece, with greatly increased sound quality and sound volume because of the custom earpiece. Looks fine in the ear, but out of the ear looks pretty odd as the picture below shows.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Any other suggested solutions to the lack of a mobile feature in 37Signals Basecamp? My current favorite toy, RTMilk (LINK) isn't anything as collaborative as Basecamp but it does have a fabulous BlackBerry (and iPhone) sync feature.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Here's a quick overview:
That stands for Blackberry Internet Service. It's the standard service that's available when you buy a BlackBerry and sign up for a data plan. When you get your phone, you go onto a carrier-specific website created by BlackBerry and link your e-mail account (GMail, Yahoo, whatever) to your BlackBerry. The BIS will grab e-mails from your e-mail account and "push" them to your BlackBerry. This service does not provide any sync feature. If you delete a message on your BlackBerry it will still show up on your GMail account, Yahoo account or whatever service you use. Also, BIS provides no sync for Calendar, Contacts or Tasks. Those need to be synced manually via cable or bluetooth between your computer and your BlackBerry.
BlackBerry Enterprise Server is software that is installed on top of a Microsoft Exchange Server (or Lotus Notes or other). It provides full sync service between the Mail, Calendar, Contacts and Tasks on your own computer, through the Exchange Server and to and from the BlackBerry. Clients that work with an Exchange Server--and therefore provide sync with the BlackBerry between your computer's data and your BlackBerry--include Outlook for Windows machines and Entourage for Macintosh. If you do have a BES, you can still make use of BIS for personal accounts. For example, you might sync your corporate Mail, Calendar etc. through BES but also grab your personal Yahoo mail through BIS.
Google has created two interesting alternatives to BIS and BES. They aren't as complete as BES but if you're a sole proprietor and don't want to go through the dramatic expense and hassle of an Exchange Server with BES, they're a pretty good solution. Go to the site that Google has established for BlackBerry applications (LINK) and follow the instructions to download to your BlackBerry the GMail program and the Sync program. With the GMail program on your BlackBerry you can have full bidirectional sync of ALL your GMail. The previous version wasn't all that usable because there was no off-line functionality, but now that they've added caching and an off-line capability for recent e-mails, I find that at least with my Verizon BlackBerry I'm able to dispense with the built-in BlackBerry e-mail application (except for SMS). Of course, you have to be making use of GMail. Further, the GMail application also provides access to your GMail contacts, in a limited way and without editing capability. Note that it doesn't make use of the built-in BlackBerry Address Book application but does it through the GMail BlackBerry application. Additionally, the Sync program does a beautiful job of synchronizing your Google Calendar.
Note that if you are a sole proprietor or a small team (or even a large team), it's likely to make sense to go with an outsourced Microsoft Exchange with BES option. You can check this out at Apptix, Intermedia or other hosting providers.
Unfortunately, there's no Google sync for tasks. BUT there is a great program called Remember The Milk (LINK) which does a bang up job of syncing your BlackBerry tasks with the RTM task management website (if you sign-up for the $25/year premium option). Further, if you use FireFox and GMail you can integrate your tasks with GMail.
All together now
If you want to get really crazy, you can use RTM and the Google Sync applications on your BlackBerry along with BES and produce full sync, via your BlackBerry, back to your Outlook or Entourage client. Best way I know of using Google Calendar and providing a seamless sync back to an Outlook calendar so that your corporate team can see your calendar via Exchange Server.
IMAP and POP3
If you're wondering about IMAP and POP3 on the BlackBerry, none of the solutions discussed above make use of either of those protocols. Essentially, IMAP is a protocol used by programs like Outlook, Entourage and many others to access e-mail stored on a server and sync it between the client computer and the server. POP3 is a different protocol that downloads mail from the server to the client machine but doesn't provide the sync capability of IMAP.
Google has updated their Sync program so that contacts are synced on a limited basis: LINK.
Monday, November 3, 2008
With the new BlackBerry Storm now on the horizon, Verizon has updated their Storm webpages (LINK) and there is no indication that things will be any different. Conspicuously absent is any mention of GPS except in the context of VZ Navigator . . .
(I've posted on this GPS issue before: LINK)
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
But conversions between Excel 2003 and 2007 result in horrible errors, with #N/A replacing some of the formula values. So, I now have to largely go back to 2003 for serious work that involves collaboration.
Anyone else come across problems like this?
Friday, October 10, 2008
Monday, September 22, 2008
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Monday, September 15, 2008
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
This is a really big deal. Google Chrome's new brower. More thoughts on this later. In the interim, take a look at AVC (LINK) which explains why this is a big deal and at the Google Chrome comic book explanation of why and how the browser works (LINK).
Sunday, August 31, 2008
A few thoughts. Just yesterday my wife Liz and I were talking about this. I had set up Twirl on her computer so she would see my tweets and I also signed her up to follow a few other people I thought were interesting. These included @pearlbear who Liz doesn't know and who I only know via friends (though I think I've met her once). Liz remarked how strange it is that she now is following @pearlbear's move west across the country and she doesn't even know the woman. Twitter does produce a different kind of intimacy. People wonder if produces a somehow "false" electronic intimacy. In my opinion, any kind of connection between people is good. Twitter is a way to be connected to the lives of more people, more easily and what can be wrong with that?
Twitter does seem to divide between those who use it to connect personally with each other, both around ideas and around time and space ("headed to the coffee shop at Main and Hope"), and those who use it to pass tidbits of larger relevance back and forth. For my part, I tend to be following people who provide quotes and links valuable for my work such as @pkedrosky. When I joined Twitter I was amazed at how much more effective it is than other social networking systems at producing serendipitous connections to work-relevant people--for example the connections to the mobile-devices-for-good-crowd I know follow because of @Katrinskaya. Partly this is because you can follow people without the question of whether "friending" them is appropriate or not. There's a low bar to following and deleting a follower. I also follow those on Twitter who aren't work-relevant but are simply intersting, producing their own brand of haiku such as the irreverent and seemingly often drunk @warrenellis. Example of his latest: "Suck it up, hippie. Sarah Palin could break your limp wrist simply by flexing her womb. You Yank owl-huggers are in for it now."
Main point, that's been made by others: the Twitter limit of 140 characters forces a beautiful economy of language. If you can't say intriguing, relevant and catchy things within that limit, you're mundane and not worth following. A great practice for those working up to pitch movies or ventures, actually. Or those who need to be on TV or radio and come up with soundbites.
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
> Occasionally a contact won't sync. Usually I understand the reason. Sometimes it doesn't make sense. After each sync, if there are exceptions, you get an e-mail with exceptions listed.
> As far as I can tell, it will only sync the main e-mail field. I have multiple e-mail fields set up in both programs, but there's no way to set-up custom field mapping.
I'll provide a more comprehensive report later, but good news is no lost data so far.
(And for BlackBerry users, who are still without an easy OTA sync without use of BES, one nice thing about the Appiro product is that all of your contacts are in this way synced from Salesforce, over to Google and then accessible using the Google Mail application on your BlackBerry. Not the speediest service (though for me a switch to Verizon has made all the difference) but at least you can access them in a pinch. To get my contacts into the regular BlackBerry addressbook, I still occassionally sync one-way from SalesForce to Outlook, and then via cable to the BB.)
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
(Of course the thing that sucks about Verizon is that they disable GPS on BlackBerrys, but that's another story. Win some, lose some.)
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Please wait for a site operator to respond.
You are now chatting with 'Ennis'
Ennis: Hello. Thank you for visiting our chat service. How may I help you today?
JS: why does GPS on my new blackberry 8830 ONLY work with Verizon's navigation system?
JS: are there any plans to open this access to other services (like Loopt and Google maps)
Ennis: I would be more than happy to assist you with that information.
JS: ok . . .
Ennis: Verizon disables the gps navigation system and uses VZ Navigator. The only difference is vz navigator uses cell towers instead of satellites.
JS: so VZ Navigator is different from other navigation systems that also cost $10 per month and use GPS? And therefore is only accurate to 1000-2000 ft??? why would I pay $10 per month for that?
JS: and on Verizon's website it says "Can I see the GPS coordinates while viewing a location's detailed info? Yes"
JS: so doesn't that mean it uses GPS?
Ennis: It has gps listed but no Verizon phone has the gps application only vz navigator.
JS: but VZ Navigator doesn't use gps?
JS: and so therefore, it can only be accurate to 1000-2000 ft
Ennis: Gps is traceable VZ Navigator only lists downloadable directions
JS: ok. this isn't making any sense. I'm wondering if there is any value to paying $10 per montyh
JS: if VZ Nav doesn't use gps--which you stated--it is of minimal value
Ennis: VZ navigator does not use gps.
JS: ok. then I won't sign up. thanks!
JS: (don't understand how a system can navigate without gps!!)
JS: since cell phone triangulation isn't very accurate!
Ennis: Is there anything else I can help you with today?
JS: all set . . . sadly! love my switch from ATT to Verizon for voice quality but didn't realize that the 8830 on Verizon doesn't really use gps, has no navigation program that will actually navigate!
Ennis: I do apologize for this inconvenience.
But perhaps there is some slim hope: for $4 per month (vs $10 for VZ Navigator), you can sign up for Loopt on some Verizon phones, but not BlackBerry . . . perhaps someday. Loopt is a location aware service that shows you and your friends on a map. It makes use of GPS.
PS: Of course, VZ Navigator DOES use GPS and "Ennis" doesn't know what he's talking about.
On Thursday afternoon, several hours after I’d gotten my final “Steve’s health is a private matter” — and much to my amazement — Mr. Jobs called me. “This is Steve Jobs,” he began. “You think I’m an arrogant [expletive] who thinks he’s above the law, and I think you’re a slime bucket who gets most of his facts wrong.” After that rather arresting opening, he went on to say that he would give me some details about his recent health problems, but only if I would agree to keep them off the record. I tried to argue him out of it, but he said he wouldn’t talk if I insisted on an on-the-record conversation. So I agreed.Read the article: LINK
Monday, July 21, 2008
Jalopnik (LINK) pointed me to one of my strange childhood car fantasies, the Matra Simca Bagheera. It was cool because it was a two door sports sedan with three across seating! Funny the things boys will obsess about.
Jalopnik noted (LINK) that the successor to the Bagheera, the Murena for sale on eBay (LINK) . . . ok, enough, back to work.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Friday, July 11, 2008
No one seems to have figured out a good sync for Google Contacts until now. I haven't yet tested it thoroughly but Apple's MobileMe does seem to successfully sync Google Contacts, even my "Google Apps" contacts.
(See my post about another good Google Contacts sync, with Salesforce LINK.)
I am using a PC not a Mac. Downloading iTunes 7.7 puts a new item in Control Panel called MobileMe Preferences. That utility gives you the option to sync your MobileMe contacts with one of: Google Contacts, Outlook, Yahoo, or Windows Contacts. Trying it out of course requires you to pay the $100 a year subscription for Me.com (formerly Mac.com). Also, because Google captures every one of the addresses you e-mail to as a contact, you'll have a lot of "No Name" contacts in your MobileMe contacts. Looks to me like it would take me years to sort through my list of those . . .
AND once, you've done this, who cares? Well, you would care if you use Google and have an iPhone, but otherwise, for a PC user, does it really matter that you can sync Google Contacts over to .Me? They are both in the cloud rather than otherwise accessible.
And no calendar sync for Google Calendar! Only option is Outlook!
Apparently there IS an option for Macs, located within the OS X 10.5.3 Address Book application. See here LINK and LINK
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
Saturday, July 5, 2008
Friday, July 4, 2008
Thursday, July 3, 2008
AT&T has confirmed that owners will be able to deactivate first generation iPhones to be used as Wi-Fi iPods.
“If the [original] device is not re-activated as a wireless phone after you’ve upgraded to iPhone 3G, it will still work as an iTunes player and can access Wi-Fi,” the spokesperson said.
BlackBerry has just announced their BlackBerry Unite! product for the United States and other countries. They began a test marketing of this product in Spain in 2007 and in Canada earlier this year. Now at the BlackBerry Unite! website (LINK) you can download what is effectively BlackBerry's answer to .Me.
But what a difference. Apple's .Me is from 2008. BlackBerry's Unite! is from perhaps the year 2000.
Unite! must live on your own PC, that you've got keep constantly on. It is essentially a stripped down version of BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) without the need for Microsoft Exchange. Intended for families and small business, it doesn't appear to provide any of the ease of use that such customers require. I downloaded it and tried to get it to work but failed. The product uses MS Explorer as a front-end but despite excessive tinkering with my security settings on Explorer, try as I might I couldn't get the thing to load.
Apple's .Me, I'm sure, will be simple to configure. Launching in about a week (early July), it doesn't require you to install it on your own PC (how radical!) because it lives in the cloud (LINK). It's essentially BlackBerry Enterprise Server for the rest of us. And will continue to erode RIM's hold on businesses as well as individuals.
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
In a previous post I suggested that RIM doesn't understand how to connect to individual customers. Its orientation is still towards corporate IT, even though it's met with a lot of success selling to individuals with the Pearl. What they don't understand is the extent to which the lines between personal and corporate merge when you have a personal device, something that much more so than a computer is an extension of oneself. Even if it is a corporate device, it's a lot more personal and therefore there's going to be a lot more pressure from individual users for corporate to adopt the device that suits them personally. Hence, Apple is at an advantage because it understands how to connect directly to its customers. RIM struggles with this--witness their very weak efforts to date to capture the pent up excitement with the Bold. Their response have been to wall themselves off from their customers, with the result that fan sites have become the best source of information. But all this analysis doesn't really get to the heart of how Apple is disrupting RIM (and other mobile phone manufacturers, though open source has not yet played its hand).
I have been re-reading Clay Christensen's 2003 classic The Innovators Solution (LINK). In that book he uses RIM and Palm to illustrate how to think through the innovators dilemna with respect to new products and features.. He asks what "job" it is that RIM and Palm are solving for their customers. His answer is that BlackBerrys are there to do the job of make-me-productive-in-small-snippets-of-time whereas Palms are there to help you keep you organized. He also suggests that RIM is there to do the job of keeping the user from getting bored--if the meeting starts to drone on, if you're in an airport, you can do something with your BlackBerry to keep yourself occupied (remember, this was written before other devices, such as Palms and Windows Mobile added as much functionality as BlackBerrys in this regard). He says that some of the competitors to the BlackBerry are actually the WSJ and CNN, in that this is what business people may turn to when they don't have anything else to do. Further, he suggests that it would be better for RIM to improve upon the jobs that it's already solving rather than try to also solve the keep-me-organized job with features borrowed from Palm such as effective calendaring.
Of course RIM did address the keep-me-organized job--extremely well, in my opinion. The BlackBerry solution is easily as good as Palm and has been so since about when Christensen's book came out. In fact, for BlackBerry to incorporate Palm-like features was relatively easy and also essential, since the job of making the user productive with e-mail and voice goes hand-in-hand with the job of keeping oneself organized. Christensen suggests that if RIM and Palm had stuck to their core competencies, people could have been satisfied with two devices for a very long time. History has shown this not to be the case. RIM has been ascendant and Palm is just about dead.
What is more interesting in Christensen's analysis, for the question of BlackBerry versus iPhone, is his observation that in addition to being a productivity tool, the BlackBerry has always been a boredom elimination tool. Here's where RIM was blind and where the iPhone excels. There is nothing that produces the "childlike wonder" of an iPhone, with its gorgeous screen, magical interface, incredible web browser, and integrated iTunes. Just like any good disruptor, Apple was able to attack RIM (and all other handheld devices, at least in the context of the United States market) by offering to do a job for mobile phone customers that RIM didn't even realize they were accomplishing: entertainment. BlackBerry is now struggling to catch up, with entertainment features tacked onto its soon-to-be-launched Bold. But Apple is already stepping outside the circle of entertainment. With the soon to be launched Apple ME "connect-to-the-cloud" product (which I've dubbed BlackBerry Enterprise Server for the rest of us), Apple will be eating away at the next level of market in which RIM seems only vaguely aware that they're in: small business customers who would love to seamlessly sync between their handheld device and their work and home computers (whether Windows or Mac) but have no inclination to deal with the hassle and expense of a BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES--which has to itself sit on top of a Microsoft Exchange Server!). There is nothing on the market today that does more than vaguely approach the functionality that Apple will launch with ME--except BES+Exchange at an order of magnitude+ greater price point and complexity. And even before that launches, Apple is already gunning for BlackBerry's core customer base, the larger corporation. They'll soon offer corporations the answer to the question of "how do I manage these freakin' iPhones that everyone from the Boss on down insists I incorporate into the IT environment". --Apple will offer a product that does they same job as RIM's BES does, integrating with an Exchange server and giving corporate IT the ability to lock down individual iPhones. But additional Apple will offer an easy programming environment in which corporations can create and distribute their own, proprietary, corporation-specific applications.
Will RIM soon be just hanging by its thumbs, differentiated only by its physical keyboard? Next post: where I wish RIM was headed.
Ars Technica: LINK
From that last link: "If there is any good news for RIM, [RBC Capital Markets Analyst Mike] Abramsky also notes 'a significant expansion of the smartphone market' this year, meaning more potential customers for RIM. At least until Apple steals them."
Friday, June 27, 2008
The mobile phone world will soon split along similar lines to the personal computer, dividing those companies able to make a distinction for themselves largely through innovative software and those who make the receptacles for other people's creativity (like Dell in the PC world). The interesting question to me is where RIM, maker of BlackBerry devices, will be positioned. Devices will be iPhones or based on Symbian, Android or Windows Mobile. Will RIM be able to position itself as a second Apple, with a proprietary operating system running on its own hardware? Or will it be overrun by Apple, open source or Microsoft?
I think RIM has a chance. But only if they understand how to engage more closely with their users. Recent indications are not encouraging.
The RIM of today is based on the marriage of a telephony device and a texting device, producing a hybrid of mobile phone and a pager. It was more than a phone but less than a computer. Although RIM has added features and functionality, its devices have remained a combination of telephony and text. Apple changed the game last year by creating a device with genesis in a computer platform, which includes telephony and texting components but only as a subset of a larger offering. And Google and Nokia are trying to change the game further by producing whole new open source software development platforms for mobile computing. What should RIM do about these changes? How should they respond and position themselves?
A device like a BlackBerry, and most especially the iPhone, is now powerful enough to literally become part of us, our electronic extension for storing parts of ourselves and engaging with the world via the device, with our voice and with other data (images, location, text, sound).
RIM was the first company that offered a device that became such a literal part of us. The "crackberry" name applied to obsessive BlackBerry users is an indication of the extent to which users found themselves unable to detach themselves from their devices. The level of intimacy produced between user and device is even greater with the iPhone. With its touchscreen, you literally have to stroke it. But it's also able to become such an intimate extension of ourselves because of the power that a device based on a computing platform gives the user and the intuitive and beautiful interface Apple created.
RIM would have like to maintain their stronghold in the corporate world and relegate the iPhone to a role as a personal, home device. But that Microsoft strategy will be less effective with mobile platforms because of the personal nature of the device. Two devices, one for work and one for home, is much less acceptable when the device is literally an extension of the person. As a consequence, the corporate world has had to begin to adapt to the iPhone and Apple has accommodated. With iPhone 3G and the significant backend offerings targeted to appease corporate IT departments, such as the ability to manage iPhones remotely, Apple will have in the iPhone a crossover device between the personal and the corporate.
For RIM, as for other mobile phone companies, the success of the iPhone has been a stress and challenge. RIM is used to having the lines between the personal and corporate are fairly clean. Now along comes Apple with a single product that live in both worlds but is driven by individual's desires for the device rather than corporate mandate. RIM’s new BlackBerry Bold is an attempt to also create such a crossover device. It will be their top end mobile when it comes out, and therefore is intended to appeal to corporate customers. But it also includes more personal features than previous corporate oriented BlackBerrys, such as a camera and iTunes and video support. RIM may have a device that can approach the appeal of the iPhone. Can it create a marketing strategy to match and effectively engage its customers desire to purchase a new electronic, personal extension?
Apple’s customers are well known for their unusual passion for the company’s products. And Apple knows how to stoke that passion, communicating directly and personally with its users. It's ability to market products is legendary. Despite that BlackBerry users are also highly passionate about their devices, RIM in contrast to Apple seems to hide from its customers. Bloggers have desperately tried to figure out when the new BlackBerry Bold is coming out. Silence from RIM for weeks and then denials. Contrast that to Apple which tells customers when products will launch and then delivers. RIM created a place for the BlackBerry Bold on their website prior to its release (now slated to be August in the United States). But it took the company over a month to make ANY response to those who went to the trouble of entering their e-mail address on the site. And the update that was finally sent was a graphically weak HTML e-mail that merely linked back to the same minimal information that's been online for over a month at RIM, al beit with the slim addition of a poorly produced video that is clearly a mock-up of the user experience rather than the real thing!
Going forward RIM is going to have to understand that the obsession that people still have for its devices is going to be converted over to the iPhone if they don't fix their ability to communicate with their customers (tell us when the damn things are going to be released, for god sakes!) and articulate a vision of the company that recognizes the personal relationship its user base has with its products. On RIM’s website, the Bold has been announced but with a frustratingly small amount of information and images. Meanwhile, pictures of demo copies of the product are scattered throughout the Internet outside of RIM’s control. RIM can’t relax and assume that its extensive corporate infrastructure will protect it forever. RIM has to engage directly with its customers as individuals. It ignores the personal relationship its users have with their BlackBerrys at its peril.
Saturday, June 21, 2008
via Straightline (LINK)
Cars really are the most significant pieces of art that the average of us every buys. Just look as this wonderful little Alfa Romeo. (Turn off your computer speakers--the soundtrack spoils it.) Too cute name though: Mi.to. So cute it even has it's own blog, of sorts (LINK).
Thursday, June 19, 2008
|iTunes||yes||?||sort of, they say||no||no|
|yes||only with server based software (BES--BlackBerry Enterprise Server)|
|calendar||with .Mac||only with server based software (BES) OR to Google Calendar|
|contacts||with .Mac||only with server based software (BES)|
|MS Exchange||yes||yes, but needs BES software on top|
|applications||should be lots and easily installed||lots but kind of variable and often annoying to install|
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
RIM's stock was juiced by the success of the BlackBerry Pearl (one of which I just bought, but that's another story). Will the Pearl prove to be a one shot success in the consumer market, much like the RAZR for Motorola? I'd seriously consider a short of RIM stock . . .
Brilliant little post from BoyGenius, relevant to my previous comment about Nokia, BlackBerry and marketshare. Just continues to amaze me how far superior Apple's marketing efforts are. That company is run like the fantasy of a tight military ship. From BG (LINK):
We won’t get into this too much, but which would you consider a better way to announce a highly-anticipated handset: “You can get it on July 11 for $199″ or “You can get it sometime in the third quarter for somewhere around $500″? But we digress. Some new live videos are popping up around the internet today from Nokia’s not-so-secret London launch event so if you want some live E66 and E71 action - again - go seek them out. In the meantime, we’re wondering what we should do with our E71? How about a nice “Will it Blend” video? This is what the E71’s market share will look like in the US because Nokia couldn’t get its act together and release it before July… Vrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!"
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Monday, June 16, 2008
One of the points that I hadn't considered was Nokia vs. RIM. Worldwide market share is 40% vs 1%, yet valuation is only $100 billion vs $75 billion. RIM does harvest more revenue per customer, but still, that indicates a lot of room for RIM to fall, or a lot of room for Nokia to rise.
Fool's recommendation is dump RIM and buy Nokia, Apple and Google (for the Android phone platform).
As much as I love my BlackBerry and suspect I'll buy the new BlackBerry Bold, I have to agree. Though as an observer of Nokia mostly in the United States, I can only see their marketing efforts as almost hopeless. They want to launch the new E71 to go up against the Bold and the iPhone, yet they can't even seem to get a carrier to take it on (perhaps At&T).
No one will be able to trump Apple (and perhaps Google) if phone companies like RIM and Nokia don't produce better Web integration through recognizing that their computers are vessels for software, and ultimately software may trump all. This is Google's ace perhaps against Apple. Can they become the Microsoft of the mobile world, providing the software platform for a myriad of players to produce the hardware and software applications and consign Apple to a niche? What opportunity is this for Nokia and RIM? I'm sure they experimenting with Android. Could we see a Nokia or BlackBerry running Android?
Friday, June 13, 2008
OK. Correction. The page loads fine in Explorer. But Firefox 3.0 produces the above mess. My comments above still apply.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
In my opinion, the most significant announcement by Apple yesterday wasn't the iPhone 3Q (aka iPhone2) but .Me. It will allow for wireless syncing of Macs, PCs and iPhones (running 2.0 software). More about that in a subsequent post. For now, here's a quick review of three of the other options available for synchronizing files between computers.
First, the old standby, Groove (LINK). Purchased by Microsoft and now part of the Office suite, it's a program that I use daily but unfortunuately is likely to be eclipsed by other offerings in the future.
Also purchased by Microsoft is FolderShare (LINK). It's been expected for a while that they would be subsumed under the Microsoft Live banner, and indeed they finally have. Their old site interface is gone and a new monicker is attached, "Windows Live FolderShare". Happily, it continues to offer Mac/PC file sharing. It will be interesting whether the .Me offer supplants and supercedes FolderShare.
A new offering, about which I was unfamiliar until today but which just got my attention via a BlackBerry blog is SugarSync (LINK). Also Mac/PC, it's no surprise that they stepped up their campaign after the launch of .Me. Perhaps this is, to some extent, the option for users who don't use iPhones and are still commited to BlackBerry. Haven't used it yet but I'll be taking a look.
Enterprise Server, if you don't know, is a piece of software that sits on top of an Exchange Server and manages BlackBerrys within the enterprise. It is the only way that you can get wireless sync of calendar and contacts between desktop machines and your BlackBerry.
But with .Me, finally without the use of either Exchange or Blackberry Enterprise Server, you're able to sync your calendar and contacts wirelessly. Not being able to do this with the previous iPhone seemed to me a painful omission. To be able to now accomplish this through a simple web-based system as the link between Macs, PCs and iPhones is a nail in the BlackBerry coffin.
BlackBerry has made a minimal attempt to create a small business (as in really small business) or home version of its Enterprise Server with a product called BlackBerry Unite! (LINK) but it still requires the use of a dedicated, always on desktop machine. And they've only launched it in Spain and Canada (though if you're really tricky you can download the software and apparently it does work on other carriers, outside those two countries). The idea that BlackBerry is requiring small business or home users to set up their own server for the cloud is crazy!
I love my BlackBerry and want to get a BlackBerry Bold but this wireless .Me option sorely tempts me. It should tempt any small business user as well.
"Apple will continue to penetrate the small and medium business market much more heavily and aggressively than it has been able to do so previously with this Exchange integration, but as far as larger enterprise, we still see RIM as the standard,” said Mike Abramsky, an analyst with RBC Dominion Securities." Globeinvestor.com LINK
Sure RIM is the standard for now, but iPhone is going to be a highly effective wedge that will, I suspect, rapidly penetrate upwards, from the sole proprieter and small business user on up.
Monday, June 9, 2008
Honda is supposed to be introducing their 2.2 liter diesel in 2009, in the Acura TSX of all cars, 50 states legal and without the urea injection system (yes, you heard that right) that cars like Mercedes will require to meet emissions standards. But in Europe you've been able to buy that engine for a while, in a brilliant Honda Civic, unlike any Honda Civic we get here in the United States. Of all the cars in the world I could have, this would be right there at the top of the list.
Looks like a Renault!
There's an amusing take on the car, from last year's Jalopnik (LINK), as well as an article on hypermiling this car and the massive Audi Q7 diesel in which they got 70mpg in the Honda and 35mpg in the Audi. Their point: all the bellyaching from US manufacturers (including Toyota but notably not Honda) that they don't have the technology to get such mileage is complete and utter bs (LINK).
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
Apple HAS to launch a MacBook with built-in cellular modem or at least a slot on June 9. HOW can it be called the Air if it has to use a modem with a dongle??!!
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
The Air is the most beautiful laptop ever designed, but with a bag of drives, cables, cheaters, and extenders, it’s a little like a supermodel who requires an entourage of hair and makeup people.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Google for Applications
Microsoft Office (yes, true, absolutely necessary despite how good Google Apps are)
Mozy.com for off-site backup
Lightweight laptop (MacBook Air, Lenovo X61, Lenovo X300 or comparable)
Big monitor at home with external keyboard and wireless mouse
Good office chair
Verizon wireless cellular modem for laptop (pricey but necessary if you rely on web applications)
Blackberry (need real keyboard, not iPhone)
Moleskine graphpaper notebook
Nice briefcase from SFBags
Noise canceling headphones
JawBone bluetooth earpiece (incomparable)
A headset for Skype, perhaps
Blackberry charger that with the right connecting cables will charge phone, bluetooth earpiece and iPod
A tiny flashlight
Slip on shoes for travel through airports
Friday, May 16, 2008
Will wonders never cease? As was the buzz around town, Aliph has made their Jawbone successor official yesterday. Dubbed simply "New Jawbone", Aliph’s new bluetooth headset is available immediately from the Jawbone website and through AT&T. What is the wonder we referred to in the first sentence above? No, it’s not that the New Jawbone is 50% smaller in size than the original. No, it’s not that Jawbone now refers to its noise cancellation technology as "NoiseAssassin". The wonder is that Jawbone somehow managed to make the new model even uglier than the original. Astounding. Don’t get us wrong, the first-generation Jawbone headset was a marvel; one of the few products we’ve come across in recent history with function that matched the pre-release hype. It was just so… ugly. The new model seemingly takes its design cues from the pick up trucks typically found in the parking lot of any local dive bar. The body of the Jawbone pays homage to tacky diamond plated tonneau covers while the ear loop is apparently styled in line with after market leather seat covers, complete with contrast stitching. As a launch promotion, we definitely recommend that Aliph toss some samples out to an eager crowd on 80s night at Ultra. How cool will the middle-aged half naked mothers-of-two look when they’re rocking out to Poison with these puppies hanging from their ears? Teased hair flowing… Diamond plating sparkling… Pure magic. Ok, enough. Word on the street is that BG is preparing a Jawbone giveaway of the new model, so check for that soon!LINK
Thursday, May 15, 2008
The New Jawbone seems to have cinched the honor again of best bluetooth headset . . . again. I haven't bought one yet but the reviews are great . . . now I just have to "lose" my current headset (which I'm pretty good at doing) and buy a new one. One review here:LINK and LINK and lots more just by doing a Web search. Here's my post on the original Jawbone: LINK
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
But in terms of design, there's no reason there couldn't be a comparable car in the U.S. Unfortunately, we're lacking in that respect too. The closest we come is the Nissan Versa, a cousin of the Scenic since Renault owns Nissan. The Versa is, reputedly, built on the same or a similar platform. Indeed, the two cars have very similar. The Scenic is one inch (27mm) shorter but is both three inches (86mm) longer in its wheelbase and greater in its height. It's definitely wider but unfortunately, I don't have width stats because all I can find is a measurement for the Scenic "avec rétros extérieurs", that is with mirrors.
I sat in a Versa recently and it's amazing the difference that design can make. The small additions in wheelbase, height and width, combined with designers who are in a completely different league, make the Scenic feel like a car that's one whole size class up. You sit more vertical in the Scenic, there's much more legroom front and back, the seatbacks are thinner but more comfortable, the driving position is better, the luggage compartment is flat to the floor instead of featuring a huge lip above the bumper, there are storage pockets galore including four deep covered wells in the floor, one at each outboard seating position, there's greater visibility for front and rear passengers, etc etc. And the fit and finish is also one or more classes up.
Oh well. I do love New England. Its rural character can equal rural France in many respects. And although we don't know how to make croissants, at least our food is starting to be comparable. But we're a decade back in car design, at least for small, efficient cars.