Posts Tagged ‘android’

Every Dog has it’s Day

Monday, January 14th, 2013

It appears that Apple’s time as the unchallenged ‘cock of the walk’ is over.  They became the most valuable company ever with a value of $622 billion last year.  People queued for days to pay premium prices for their every new offering, it was a gold mine!  However, although the iPhone 5 still sold well and was acknowledged as “The best iPhone ever”, it was not met with unalloyed praise.  It was felt that they had launched a very safe, conservative phone.  The success of other companies with 7” tablets forced them to go back on Steven Jobs decision never to make one “7-inch tablets are tweeners: too big to compete with a smartphone and too small to compete with the iPad. ….7-Inch tablets are dead on arrival.” [Steve Jobs]  And when they brought the iPad mini to market, although once again it was a product which sold well, critics again criticized them for the low resolution of the screen and it is believed they have a new, more competitive version coming out in the Spring. 

In 2013 Samsung & Google with its Android offerings stole some of Apple’s success.  Samsung sold 30 million of its S3 Galaxy.  Android activations back in July were 1.2 million per day, with 3.7 million over Christmas alone, it is expected that they will reach a billion soon.  It has 80% of the important Chinese market. 

It seems to me no matter how good you are you will hit a phase when others catch-up  and set the pace.  What you do then is very important.  Do you copy them, or hold true to your previous ideas?  Knowing what to change and when to do it is the true mark of business genius.  I can’t offer a golden rule but will say that if you aren’t continually re-evaluating your path and practices then you will be less successful.  Challenge your assumptions, ask daft questions, ask “Why not?” rather than “Why?”  You also know what makes you different and special and if you don’t then perhaps the answer is “Nothing”.  In which case, then you need to decide if you live with this and the risk it represents or if you can create a niche for yourself.

Technology–master or servant?

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

Microsoft are about to introduce their most important product for years, Windows 8.  It is a new, common platform/interface to be used by phones, PC’s and tablets, so that users have a common experience regardless of platform.  They are taking a leaf out of Apple’s book in this and there is little wrong in learning from a company that seems to be able to little wrong a at present.  They are even launching their own brand of tablet, à la iPad, the Surface, it’s killer feature is that it  has an optional keyboard and is meant to be very good for creating, rather than merely consuming content.  I have heard mainly very good things about all of these developments.  However, there is one big issue that is much talked about; they have completely changed the way people interface with Windows, and done away with the Start button that most of us use as our route into using our PC’s.  True this can be put back (see below), but it begs the question, is the technology the master or the servant?  Do we want to change our work patterns to conform to their design, or should their design be malleable enough to do it the way we prefer?

Of course this a question of Change, and as I have recently changed from Blackberry to Android, I have been asking myself this a lot.  Is there a better way to do what I do, or can I find software that will allow me to configure the platform the way I want.  Of course we shouldn’t reject the idea that there maybe a better way of working, but patterns and habits are Nature’s way of helping us to be efficient and good software design does not intrude, it enables.  That is one reason why Apple has been so successful, because it has managed to make most of its designs appear simple.  Of course, this simplicity is illusory, but most of us aren’t interested in how things work, simply that they do.  I have to say, that after a couple of weeks of wrestling with the various configurations and potential apps, I am pretty pleased with how I have been able to configure my new Galaxy S3, and I certainly feel that I can do more things, more quickly because of it. 

So, sometimes a change is good for us, and sometimes we just know the quickest easiest route and the technology companies just need to enable us to use it.  As new technology is introduced, so new possibilities are born; things like the GPS can give us a whole new set of options whether we are walkers, drivers or fleet operators.  This challenge of making interfaces easy also exists when we are designing our processes and procedures. These should make it simple for staff and more importantly customers to deal with us and never get in the way.   I have recently chosen not to do business with a number of sites that just make it too fiddly to do business with them.  Make sure your business is a pleasure to do business with!

Resources:

  1. Windows 8 Start key

Initial Impressions–Samsung Galaxy S3.. or why I left Blackberry

Sunday, October 21st, 2012

I have recently bitten the bullet and decided to move on from my much loved Blackberry Bold 9900.  I have used Blackberries for quite some time and they were the best phones I’ve ever had.  I loved the way they were programmed and the way that their key functions such as diary, contacts and email integrated.  It also was the best telephone I’d had; it always pulled a strong, clear signal.  In addition, the camera met my needs and I had a few useful ‘extras’ such as GPS on the phone.  However, chinks have undoubtedly appeared in RIM’s previously untarnished armour and their system has fallen over twice and caused a huge wave of frustration amongst its loyal fan base.  There is no doubt that their hardware & software is behind the game, with Apple and Android setting the pace now.  One of my main problems was using the net with a screen less than half the size of even an old smartphone and nearer a quarter the size of the latest models.  RIM have invested heavily in a total rewrite of its operating system, and Blackberry10, which is currently being previewed by developers, seems to have a lot to offer.  Also their new hardware looks very promising.  However this is not due to be released till next spring, and it seems unlikely that it will be available before then, and the chances are that it may take longer for it to reach the UK.  RIM have gone from being the golden child, to the runt of the litter, with a market share of little more than 10% in record time.

I have read nothing but good things about the iPhone 5, and it did tempt me.  I have an iPad, using iOS 6, so I have some idea of how to use that and what it offers.  My daughters have recently also ‘jumped ship’ and bought iPhone 4s, and are pretty happy with them.  However, I do like my tools / gadgets to be organised to reflect how I want to use them, rather than expecting me to change what I do to conform with them.  Also Apple is always the most expensive option. So I decided that I would try Android, which offers a lot of flexibility in how you configure and use it, even if it required more work on the my part.  The Samsung Galaxy S3 seemed to be the new Top Gun.  I did consider the HTC one X, which is also very good , but felt that the sheer market share the S3 has would make it easier to find resources/support for it, and also there are issues with the HTC’s battery life.  You can swap batteries on both the Android phones, but you are stuffed if your iPhone runs out of juice when you are out and about.  I wondered about waiting for Windows 8 and the Nokia Lumia 920, but it isn’t out till the end of the month and as a totally new system it seemed likely to have teething issues that iOS and Android have largely sorted.

So I took the plunge and dived into a totally alien operating system.  The phone is big, but certainly not too big for me.  The biggest difference is the screen, which dominates the whole thing (though at the loss of my beloved BB keyboard!)  I had already migrated my diary and contacts to Gmail so there was no work in getting them onto my phone, I simply signed into that account and they were magically there.  I could simply move all my music and pictures over by inserting my micro SD card from my BB, giving me 32gb of memory for the princely sum of only £10, something else that you can’t do on the iPhone.

Android offers so many things you can configure straight from the box, it takes as while to understand them and work out what they do, let alone which I should choose.  Much is made, when a new phone is released, of the gimmicky things like voice control, gestures and things like NFC.  I don’t feel in the real world they are going to be of much use to me.  It is interesting to see how well I can dictate to my phone, but ,by and large, I want to type my input.  Some of the gestures are helpful, but I frankly can’t remember them all!  It is like the short codes in Windows; I regularly used 2 or 3 like Control B for bold, and couldn’t remember the rest.  NFC may be very useful one day, but I had it for a year on the BB and never used it.

I spent a fair time trawling through articles, forums and YouTube for hints and tips on how to set this up and which of the 500,000+ apps are useful.  I like the fact that if the Samsung calendar doesn’t do everything I want I can find one that does.  After a week, I have a pretty well sorted and organised phone.  In it’s native form it misses useful tricks that are standard on BB and Nokia such as profiles, but you can find apps for that too. 

I was concerned that the signal strength and call clarity might not be all that I am used to, and in truth, I’m not certain that they are as good as the BB.  They do seem good enough though.

I came to the conclusion that there is no perfect phone.  Whatever I chose is a compromise and every one will have strengths and weaknesses.  I just have to find the best package for me in this renewal cycle, and I did want to get much more hands on with the whole new smartphone & app thing.  It is certainly changing the way we work and what we can do.  The S3 isn’t an object of envy like the iPhone, but it is a very good phone, which allows you to do most anything you could want at a pretty reasonable cost.

Corporate Change & Strategy and the Blackberry Bold 9780

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

This is one of an occasional series of blogs that look at my latest techie toys.  More than 2 years ago I bought the original Blackberry Bold 9000 and it is was widely regarded as the best ever Blackberry, and was certainly the best phone I ever owned.  It was a big step forward and like many trend-setting devices, RIM found this difficult to follow up and as a result I have not upgraded despite the seductive charms of the iPhone and android offerings.  All the subsequent new phones from RIM were minor changes and, in my mind (and that of many aficionados) none represented a significant improvement.

What I wanted was, first and foremost, a very good phone (so iPhones antenna problems were a serious issue for me) a first class communications device and then a means of accessing the web on the move.  I waited a long time for the new Blackberry slider (called the Torch) as it seemed to offer a wonderful package, a much bigger sliding, touch screen and a real keyboard.  When I looked at it I was put off by the shape of the keyboard which wasn’t as user friendly as the the traditional blackberries and the sliding arrangement felt a little unbalanced to me and the new operating system (version 6) seemed very odd.  I freely admit that I might have got used to it if I had plumped for that. 

Yesterday I opted to try the 9780, the 3rd Bold.  They have made it smaller and, at present, I feel that I wish they hadn’t!  It is very handy but I never found the old one too big and the smaller size is affecting my typing speed  but I suspect I’ll adjust.  However, many original Bold fans think they should have kept the form factor the same.  The screen is very bright and clear.  This version is an upgrade of the 9700 and doubles the memory, upgrades the camera to 5 mg (mine was 2mg and the 9700 3.2).  They have upgraded the video to 640×480.  One of the most important changes is this operates on version 6 firmware and they have streamlined the user interface and much improved the web performance.  2 years ago I was thrilled just to be able to access the web on the move.  Now expectations have moved on and Apple & Android deliver almost home speed mobile net access and that is what we need/want. 

The call quality is good and the reception excellent as ever.  When you live in the depths of Surrey you need every half bar of reception you can get and this phone will pull a signal where others can’t.  Another thing that RIM do supremely well is the neatness of their programing; I was able to swap all my data, software and settings from my old phone directly to the new one.  It took half an hour and worked flawlessly.  If only swapping computers was this easy!

It is interesting to observe that at a time when everyone who is anyone has an iPhone, the Blackberry seems to be considered strangely cool and the phone youngsters are all switching to (everyone in my family has one, and so have many of their friends).  They are also cheaper to buy and and run than the iPhone. 

RIM are doing some very interesting things now, and we will see their playbook (their tablet rival to the iPad) coming out in the next month or so; it will use an entirely new operating system QNX, which will ultimately be the basis of their next generation of phones.  They can’t compete with Apple and Android in the high specs or apps arenas but are still doing well financially.  They have been quite clever in in not blindly following the higher and higher spec route as this is one reason why the battery life of their rivals phones are so poor.  They aren’t focusing on just being able to move huge amounts of data but on processing it efficiently in order to reduce the packet size.  It is an interesting to watch 3 such successful companies competing with such radically different strategies.  Apple focusing on design and user experience, but high price and closed systems, Google on open access and a more geeky platform, and RIM who traditionally have focused on the corporate market and security and efficiency, now realising the importance of the consumer.  It is an interesting exercise in Change and corporate strategy.