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2011 predictions

January 7, 2011

2010 was a great year and 2011 is looking good for mobile technology!  So to ring in the new year I am sharing my predictions for 2011, and here they are!


  • The GSM iPhone will be updated mid-year (probably June) (OK, this is obvious).  I expect more memory and increased speed.  I don’t expect a price drop, my bet is Apple sticks with the $199, $299 and $399 brackets.
  • iPhone will come to Verizon, but not on the CDMA network.  My money is on Apple and Verizon are betting on LTE.  Verizon is currently rolling out LTE and are slated to have the network transitioned by 2014 so given that most smart phones are sold with a two year contract this does not jibe with a CDMA rollout.  I realize that most of the people “in the know” disagree but I think that LTE is the future and Apple has been willing to sacrifice near term tactical gains for long term strategic growth.  Also, AT&T are going to begin their LTE rollout this summer.  I also believe that most of  the people who are Verizon customers who want a smartphone have purchased an Android device.  Also, (I realize there are a lot of also’s here) let us consider who are the customers who want iPhone on Verizon most – they are a group who have been very dissatisfied with AT&T’s network and are users who consume a lot of network bandwidth.  Is Verizon really looking forward to getting these users?  From a purely financial standpoint, yes.  But realistically they are going to impact Verizon’s network in the same manner as AT&T’s network.  AT&T will benefit long-term from these users moving to another network.


  • A new iPad will be announced late Q1/early Q2 (April timeframe).  I expect that it will have a built-in front-facing camera.  It will also probably have more storage space and a faster processor and better battery life.
  • I am betting against a retina display on the iPad for 2011.  To fit the iPad with such a display would increase the cost, require a LOT more display memory, increase the load on the processor and reduce battery life.  My opinion here is that Apple will not want to impact the existing user experience (battery life, responsiveness, cost) at this time.  Maybe in 2012…

Android (Phones)

  • More is better will continue to be the mantra.  The CES trade show is in progress as I write this post and there are a ton of new devices that will be available to consumers this year.  The devices will continue to become more elegant and feature packed.
  • The OS fragmentation will continue and consumers will increasingly impacted as a result.  The user interface skins (Sense, Blur, etc.) will continue to balkanize the platform.
  • Developers will still be searching for workable strategies to monazite Android applications.  Google needs to make significant changes to the market to help developers realize profits here, but I doubt that they will do it in 2011.

Android (tablets)

  • There will be a lot of press given to tablets running Android.  A LOT of press.  The reality will be that the devices that will be available this year will be running a version of Android that isn’t optimized for tablets.  Google has stated that Android 3.0 (honeycomb) is their tablet optimized version and with the demonstrated lag between the time when Google releases an Android update to the time it actually appears for a given device, there is little hope that we will see many Android 3.0 based devices this year.  As a result I expect users to be disappointed with the Android tablet offerings in 2011.
  • Users will be very disappointed to learn (and more often than not surprised) that the devices that aren’t tied to a paid data plan will not be able to access applications in Google’s Android Market.  This will cause a long-lasting mark on Android as a tablet OS.

Windows Phone 7

  • I hope Microsoft addresses at least some of the major issues with Windows Phone 7.  I believe they have a good start but are not focused on making this a great product.  My bet here is that Microsoft will throw a lot of money at marketing and my hope is that they also throw as much money toward engineering.

Windows Tablets/Slates

  • Having watched the CES coverage and listening to Microsoft’s tablet vision I rank it as a non-starter.  Microsoft has completely missed the boat.  I am convinced that if Microsoft were to focus on Windows Phone 7 OS as their tablet solution they could compete in the tablet space.  They aren’t.  The only reason that I can imagine why Microsoft refuses to use Windows Phone 7 OS for their tablet solution is the amount of revenue generated by a table running Windows 7 vs. a table running Windows Phone 7 lay at the core of this issue.  Android is “free” (not really but let’s play along with that for now) and iOS is basically “free” since Apple can roll the cost of the OS into the hardware.  Microsoft can’t give Windows Phone 7 OS away and they don’t sell hardware so I understand that they are between a rock and a hard place here.  But tablets running Windows 7 (or Windows 8 or whatever it is called by the marketing staff in 2 years) just will not satisfy what consumers want.

Overall I believe 2011 will be an exciting year for Mobile Technology!


What do I think of Windows Phone 7

July 13, 2010

This is a response to a local Microsoft representative – Jeff Blankenburg from his blog:

Hostility Towards Windows Phone 7

I would like to state that the hostility toward you as an individual was at best childish.  Frankly some people in our trade need to grow up.  I enjoy the good hearted jabs that we often share with regard to our platform(s) of choice but what you described goes beyond the pale.

First off let me make it clear that I want Microsoft to succeed with Windows Phone 7 (WP7).  I think the mobile ecosystem will be better off if Microsoft is a viable player.  Second – I think Windows Phone 7 is interesting – from what I’ve been able to see.  I think the UI and UX are huge improvements over the Windows Mobile make-it-look-like-WindowsXP approach.  And providing modern tooling (.Net, XNA and Silverlight) for application creation are huge wins for developers and users.

I think Microsoft has a good technology platform in WP7, but as we have seen in the past that hasn’t been good enough to make it viable.  OK, so what do I think Microsoft would need to do to make WP7 viable?

  1. Developer tools – The tooling and frameworks must be at least at par with the competition.  Currently that is not the case.  Example – Microsoft is not providing local database support on the device.  This is a critical need, data often needs to be local, anyone who tells you to depend on the cloud is at best uninformed.
  2. Native code – I like C# and .Net.  I think they are great platforms and that they can do great things on WP7.  But I don’t think they can address all of the needs of developers on mobile platforms.  With mobile platforms you still need to eek out every last bit of performance at times and not having the option to go native is a problem.
  3. Marketing – Don’t use the approach/company who does the current marketing.  It works well selling into the enterprise but frankly they have demonstrated their abilities when it comes to consumers.  Mobile is about consumers!
  4. Distribution (part A) – Partner – There is only one way Microsoft can come close to the market that Apple enjoys with iTunes, and that is to partner with an existing market leader.  The obvious choice is Amazon as they have a huge base of consumers who already have their credit card information on file and are “one click” away from purchasing goods.
  5. Distribution (part B) – Create a great store for WP7 applications.  The existing stores are at best lacking (even Apple’s AppStore).  Make the experience for users and developers first class.  Make it easy for users to find applications and easy for indie developers to sell applications.
  6. Tablets – Windows 7 is not a fit for consumer tablets, get over it.  I don’t care what Steve Ballmer says, Windows 7 on tablets will not succeed in the consumer market but Windows Phone 7 could.  An operating system made for a mobile device is better suited at providing a better UX than a desktop/server operating system.  This is important not just for creating a tablet market but also to allow WP7 developers to have a tablet platform target for their applications.
  7. Focus on consumers – If Microsoft want’s to compete with Apple it needs to focus on the consumer market.
  8. OEMs and Carriers – Apple has shown what can happen when mobile devices are’t hobbled by carriers (yes, yes, I know AT&T still has some control such as the debacle with tethering).  Microsoft needs to control the operating system updates, base set of applications, the distribution of 3rd party applications and not allow carriers and OEMs to degrade the UX as they have done in the past (if you don’t know what I’m getting at here ask someone with a Samsung Blackjack II to turn the device on or off for you).
  9. Focus – Focus on mobile like it really matters.  Don’t allow other products to pull down the efforts of the mobile team, they are starting from a very tough place.

I think Microsoft could succeed in mobile, but I wouldn’t put money on it.  I doubt they will do any of the above and make many of the same mistakes they have made in the past.  This is sad because I think WP7 has promise and I’ve had the great fortune to meet some of the amazing engineers on their mobile team and I believe those folks could do great things given the right situation.

So to sum up, what is my opinion of Windows Phone 7?  For me the “Blue Monster” says it all –

“Change the world or go home.”

It is a good thing! Courier and Slate “cancelled”

April 30, 2010

HP has “cancelled” the Slate.  Microsoft has “cancelled” the Courier.  I think there needs to be a discussion on what “cancelled” means in each of these statements.

While it is true that HP will not release the Slate tablet PC with Windows 7, I doubt the project is dead.  Pointing back to my recent statements, I submit that HP will most likely put a mobile operating system on hardware that is similar to what the Slate offered.  They may change and use a processor that is more mobile friendly, provide for solid state storage, provide a solid sync strategy and provide a channel for users to buy applications.  I am very encouraged by these events as I think they will make the next revision of the Slate a better product for consumers.

I am also encouraged by news regarding the Courier, with a caveat, I’m not sure Microsoft ever intended to produce the device.  My concern about Microsoft’s intent aside, I think Microsoft taking another look at the direction of such a device at this point is the right move.  Making changes to a rocket on the launch pad is much easier than trying to make changes to a rocket after it has been launched!  Microsoft needs to compete with the iPad and I think they can, if they re-think their mobile strategy.  As it stands now, Windows Phone 7 is limited to two (2) screen resolutions, neither of which will allow it to be viable competitor for a tablet form factor.  This limitation is artificial, political and should be removed.  Removing artificial barriers such as this could put Microsoft in a competitive position in the tablet space.

What did HP get for just over billion dollars

April 29, 2010

I was in San Jose a few weeks ago for the iDev|360 developer conference and was witness to the mainstream media taking note of Palm’s dire situation.  The San Jose Mercury News had the headline “Palm’s demise may be at hand” (section A page 1 April 13, 2010) and a story detailing how Palm’s latest smartphone offerings were “Struggling with underwhelming sales”.  It really hit home with me as 5 years prior I was in San Jose attending what was the last of the PalmSource conferences.

It’s no secret, I was a major Palm fan back in the day.  I ran the Palm OS Developer’s group for well over a year and I still have a drawer of vintage Palm OS devices.  But Palm let the glory slip from their hands and have been unable to re-catch the fire that they once had.

But with the news of HP acquiring Palm, you really have to think about what HP expects to get from the investment.  Let’s look at what HP bought.

The Palm brand

Palm has stood for mobile computing for over a decade, it is one of the most recognizable brands in the mobile space.  One could contend that the brand has been tarnished over the years but I submit there is still value in the Palm moniker.

Palm’s Intellectual Property (IP)

Palm owns over 1000 mobile patents.  As we have seen recently, mobile patents are being used by companies to protect their products and markets.

The Palm Line of Hardware

The Pre and Pixi lines of mobile phones have hit a chord with some users.  I have actually seen these devices in use by everyday people.  I say this because when I first saw these devices I was un-impressed.  I did not see the elegance of prior Palm devices in the design of this generation of devices.  Many in the industry made light of the sharp edges and overall styling.

Palm’s team

I have had the great fortune to meet several of Palm’s engineering team over the years at the PalmSource conferences.  These folks are amazing.


This is the operating system running on the Pre and Pixi smartphones that Palm has been selling.  Palm has positioned it as an environment where you can build applications using standard web technologies (meaning JavaScript).  It provides multitasking, and on one of Palm’s webpages states  “Palm webOS is designed to run on a variety of hardware with different screen sizes, resolutions and orientations, with or without keyboards and works best with a touchpanel though doesn’t require one.” (

The webOS channel

Back in the day there was something called the “Palm Economy”.  Most of us who used the term were referring to Palm, the hardware, the operating system, indie developers (Micro ISV’s for those who are coming from the Microsoft universe) and their applications and electronic distribution outlets.  The once vibrant “Palm Economy” has gone through a recession of sorts and the majority of participants have moved on to other economies.  It is obvious but I will state it here, developers are important to a platform.  Developers need a channel to sell into that actually has consumers who can and will buy their goods.  Developing such a channel is critical to the success any mobile operating system.  Consider the thought experiment, where would the iPhone and iPad be without the AppStore?  (and if you still aren’t convinced that applications matter, visit Apple’s WWDC 2010 page and examine the graphic which contains hundreds if not thousands of iPhone OS third party application icons)

So where’s the value in HP’s purchase of Palm?  The Palm brand, while it is a household term isn’t in my opinion worth the price HP paid for Palm.  I contend that HP already makes hardware so while the Pre and Pixi lines have some value to HP they aren’t what drove the sale.  Palm’s IP is a treasure trove of technology but only if you were going to be sued, in fear of being sued or you were planning on starting legal action against others and lacked a patent portfolio of your own.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s huge value here and I was betting that HTC or Google would end up buying Palm for the IP portfolio alone, it is just that I don’t see HP needing it at this point.  The human assets that Palm has while amazing could have been cherry-picked over time so I don’t see much value with regard to the team for HP in this deal.

That leaves what I believe to be the two gems that HP wanted; webOS and the distribution channel.  Why?  It is very simple, the iPhone and iPad.  At this point, Apple owns the  “mobile pie”.  Companies such as HP, Lenovo and others want a slice of the “mobile pie”.  Even more, Apple is the sole provider of the ovens that that are used to make the pies, they are the only vendors of the ingredients that can be used to make the pies and only distribution channel to sell the afore mentioned pies.  And there’s a LOT of money right now being made in the “mobile pie” arena.  (OK, I will drop the pie analogy here but hopefully you get my point)

HP is bringing phones and tablets to market which will greatly benefit from webOS and the webOS channel.  The “Slate” is one such device.  It is rumored to be running Windows 7, which is a desktop operating system.  I have put forth many times that desktop operating systems such as Windows don’t scale to mobile devices such as tablets and phones.  And frankly I wouldn’t want Mac OS X on my tablet or phone either, this isn’t about a silly anti-Microsoft religious debate.  Operating systems like iPhone OS, Android, webOS, and Windows Phone 7 (*COUGH*) scale nicely across the mobile spectrum (phone, PDA, tablet, etc.) while desktop operating systems don’t.  I don’t want to get a mobile device and then have to wait hours while it has to install system update after system update, reboot after reboot need to happen just to get the device in working order (see my tweet stream for my latest adventure with a Windows netbook for context).  Mobile devices also need an application distribution channel that allows consumers to purchase applications and for developers to sell applications, just look at what is happening with Apple’s AppStore.

In conclusion I’m very happy to hear that Palm will live on in some form.  I look forward to seeing where HP will take the webOS Economy.

Comcast’s website and a lost sale

June 2, 2009

Today I was exploring Comcast’s on demand service. I found something I thought might be amusing for my son and selected it (Disney XD). It wasn’t until I was at the show selection (several menus deep) before it was obvious that I didn’t have the necessary access to that service. Ok I dug around a bit more looking for pricing information in the on screen menus. I was presented with a “Buy” button and a button with a box icon (turns out it is the package button). The package seems to be called “Digital Classic”. Ok, no information on pricing is available on via the on-screen interface.
Off to Comcast’s website I went. I pop “Digital Classic” into the search and come up with 4 pages of hits, none seem to be pricing. I triangulated my plan (digital preferred with on-demand) by the stations that I have available and I didn’t see Disney XD. OK, let’s find what package does contain this service. So I started to dig around on Comcast’s website looking for the pricing information. The only document that mentioned Disney XD was a press release. OK, time for the big guns – use a search engine. The results were also less than helpful.
At this point I lost interest.
Comcast lost a sale. I had my e-wallet in hand ready to spend money. The hassle of wrestling to find information that should be dead simple to find made it not worth my time. It is 2009, information must be on the web, and it must be well organized and easily discoverable. If you are attempting to sell products and don’t provide information to your consumers don’t expect them to buy your wares.
Being quite the twitter junkie I expressed my frustration by tweeting. I did get a response from @ComcastCares offering to help but at this point it is too late in the deal.
I will continue to be a loyal Comcast cable customer but frankly I doubt I’ll bother even trying to deal with on demand again.


January 1, 2008

And now… a blog!  Some things about me, I am –

  • a mobile computing zealot
  • a supporter of local technology groups 
  • and a proud dad

In this blog you can expect information on mobile technology, local technology happenings (Ann Arbor, MI area) and general musings.