Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Archive for the ‘platform wars’ Category

BlackBerry’s Uphill Battle

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So, tomorrow’s the big day.

Research In Motion is formally introducing its BlackBerry 10 operating system.

Will the industry yawn and wonder what part of the mobile wilderness that RIM the BlackBerry has been wandering, or will it welcome the potential for new innovation with open arms?

We shall see, but there’s been no end of speculation and expectation appearing in the blogosphere.

For IT professionals, The Wall Street Journal’s Clint Boulton indicated CIOs should be prepared to ask (and get answered) a few key questions.

They center around pricing, upgradability of BlackBerry’s Enterprise Server, interoperability with iPhone and Android, and the like.

The broader question is what will drive demand? Will the market be receptive to the new phones and software behind BlackBerry 10, or are iPhones and Androids “good enough?”

Plenty of tech and mobile companies have had their time “in the wilderness,” and there’s nothing to focus innovation and R&D like dwindling market share.

I was a faithful BlackBerry subscriber for several years, before the lure of the more user-friendly environment of the iOS operating system drew me away from my last RIM device, the BlackBerry Bold.

Looking back, there were a few things I especially liked about RIM’s earlier offerings.

Most notably, the real-time, secure email capability. At a time when I was traveling extensively, there was nothing like being able to walk off the plane and crank up my Bold to find out what had happened in my world the prior 10 hours I was in the air.

I also liked the ability to synchronize with my work calendar — nothing like missing a meeting because you didn’t know it was even happening.

What I didn’t like? The inability to easily introduce new applications and content, most notably music and video (vis a vis iTunes), and yes, that all important road warrior time killer, games. I could only take so many bouts of “Bricks” or “Breakout” (It’s been so long, I forgot what the game was called!)

The application universe also always seemed so limited with RIM, so if they are going to “break out” of the wilderness, that app ecosystem is going to be key.

But only if the OS is up to the task.

CNET’s Roger Cheng explains we can expect two new devices at least, the Z10 and X10, a touchscreen and keyboard version, respectively, and that they’ll be available in February.

As far as apps are concerned, Cheng indicates BB 10 will launch with 70,000 apps.

Though that pales compared to the number of iOS and Android apps currently available, it’s a start, and the real key will be are they the RIGHT apps (the ones that help the mobile warrior stay productive, informed, entertained, and sane on the road, and yet have enough attraction to pull in other demographics).

Creating awareness through marketing will also be key to RIM’s renaissance. The “mindspace” for mobile has been increasingly dominated by the Apple and Google juggernauts over these past few years, and we can hardly turn our heads without seeing Samsung’s TV spots suggesting the iPhone is your our parent’s geriatric mobile device.

RIM hasn’t been part of the conversation for…well, years.

But I think RIM’s challenges are much bigger than awareness. The proof is going to be in the pudding, or in their case, in the user experience.

Design of a useful, attractive and compelling user experience may not have been MORE important in a new product launch in eons, because despite having the early advantage in the mobile smartphone space, now every new experience (including the BB 10 is) going to inevitably be compared to another, existing experience like iOS and Android.

Between that, the desire for a rich apps ecosystem, and getting the word out to a skeptical public — well, over the next few months, let’s just say we’re going to find out how much Motion their Research has as they try to convince loyal, “pry this mobile device out of my cold, dead hands” users out of their comfort zone and into the land of the unknown BlackBerry.

Written by turbotodd

January 29, 2013 at 9:01 pm

If I Die…Please Leave A Message

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File this one under the “Things To Do Before I Die” category.

If I Die, the new Facebook app for when you're prepared to send the very best -- and the very last.

There’s a new website where you can leave a message that will only be published after you die.


“If I die” is the name of it, and no, I didn’t find out about it because someone who was dead left me a message.

This is just one of those Web phenomena where you can’t decide A) Why didn’t I think of that? or B) What WERE they thinking?!

Here’s how it works: You install the “if I die” Facebook app on Facebook, with all the concordant permissions to use your data (including, presumably, longgg after you’re gone).

Then, you create a video or text message (I’m thinking video.  If you’re going to have to deal with me after I’m dead, I want you to see my once living visage live and in the flesh!).

Then, you must choose three trustees among your friends, who also presumably will confirm A) That you kicked the bucket and B) Will validate your “if I die” message so it can be made public.

But the best part of the Web site was the campaign they ran to get people to sign up for the App. Apparently, the hesitancy wasn’t that people were worried about their privacy after they were gone (although it’s inevitable Facebook will change their privacy policy AGAIN long after I’m gone).

No, it’s that nobody wants to believe or think about the fact that someday, when they least expect it, they’re going to die.

So the campaign used the API of popular location-based services like foursquare and Gowalla to identify still real, living breathing humans when they checked into a place, and then called to the place of the check-in to ask if they could speak to the person who checked in so they could explain that someday they were going to die, and that they really ought to think about leaving a message well in advance of said inevitable demise using this nifty new Facebook app.

Wow, who would have thought that the campaign to drive adopters of the app could be any creepier than the app itself??  Is there some kind of new “Do Not Die” list so I can be spared such interruptions when I’m simply trying to get a Double Latte at the Starbucks?!?

You can watch the video below to learn more.  Me, I’m off to start my death preparations in a more old school manner: making out my ‘bucket list!’

Written by turbotodd

January 6, 2012 at 9:21 pm

Platform Warriors, Come Out And Play-Ayy

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My daddy always told me, never bring a knife to a gun fight.

Actually, he didn’t tell me that, but it sounds like something he would say.But what happens when everyone brings a knife to the knife fight??

That sounds a little something like what’s happening with the emerging Platform Wars of 2011.

Google, Facebook, Apple, and Amazon are lining up in the back alley, emotions are heating up, and somebody’s about to get hurt…the only question is, who?

Are the platform war stalwarts ready to rough and tumble it in the virtual streets? WAR-YERs, come out and PLAY-AYY!

The most recent tidings that suggest evidence of this: A machination that allegedly keeps Google+ invite links from appearing on Facebook user news feeds.

CNET’s Josh Lowensohn filed about this recently, and it just sent me cracking up.  No matter its origin or even veracity, it’s the kind of Silicon Alley back alley knife fight we’re going to see a lot more of.

No, Johnny, you can’t play on our side of the playground…you’re not one of the cool kids!

I’m having flashbacks to the OS/2 and Windows wars of the early 1990s (although we in OS/2 land lost that one pretty soundly – although I still miss my beloved Warp toolbar!)

Only this time around, the knives are much bigger and much sharper, and the stakes are that much higher. This time around, it’s not only the ruling consumer IT platform at stake: It’s also the mobile, publishing, and entertainment industry hubs.

Another analogy: This is three dimensional chess with moving pieces, and Deep Blue is nowhere to be found to help figure out what the next move should be.

This all kinda reminds me of that infamous 1979 cult classic, “The Warriors.”

If you know the movie, you remember that siren call: “WAR-YERS, come out and PLAY-AYY!!!”

But instead of the Gramercy Riffs and the Turnbull ACs, we’ve got the Googlers and the Facebookers and the Amazonians and the Applers.  Although imagining Mark Zuckerberg holding a Bowie knife kinda makes me laugh.

Get out your baseball bats, boys and girls, there’s gonna be a rumble!!

In any good rumble, though, you have to keep an eye out for the alliances that are forming –- they could be critical in the coming clash.

Facebook and Microsoft, which put in an early $150M stake, then FB’s acquisition of ConnectU, FriendFeed, Beluga, and a host of others.

Google, first with dMarc, Postini, DoubleClick, YouTube, and now their Motorola Mobility acquisition, which gives them an aggressive mobile and ITV set-top play (someone had to do something to revive the Google TV patient, who was dead on arrival at the Beverly Hills ER).

Amazon, with their acquisition spree of Zappos, Audible, Woot, Lovefilm, the Book Depository, and a host of other vertical commerce and entertainment plays and formidable portfolio of credit-card carrying members (including me) who are loyal to a fault.

Apple, with their vertical integration and fortress-like wall around their hardware and software, not to mention their PR office and social media team and brilliant business development in music and entertainment (maybe Steve Jobs could go teach the President a thing or two about negotiating?)

Apple’s competitive differentiation is the Great Wall of Apple. Steve Jobs doesn’t have  to get along with the other kids in the sandbox — his is only big enough for one genius!

Me, I’ve never been an operating system one-trick pony, and so I figure I’ll play the same quadfecta for the looming platform knife fight.

I’m on Google+ and use Google search every day; I use Facebook to keep in touch with people from high school I hoped I’d never hear from again; I have several Macs, 4 iPods, an iPad, and an Apple TV, and I still don’t know how to get my music from one machine over to another; and Amazon…well, I wouldn’t short that stock anytime soon, as I’m sure I’ve probably given them more sheckels than any of the other platform warriors over the years.

Yes, it’s gonna be a wild ride out to Coney Island.  Director Tony Scott in 2008 suggested he was going to make a remake of “The Warriors,” only this time he said the movie would take place in Los Angeles and would feature thousands of gangs.

Methinks he might want to consider moving the setting up to Silicon Valley and settle for four Goliaths instead of a few thousand Davids.

Written by turbotodd

August 17, 2011 at 5:20 pm

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