Does Palm Pre have a chance against iPhone? IMO: No, but it probably doesn't matter

At CES the product I was most excited by was the Palm Pre. After all, they had hired a bunch of people from Apple and it went further than the iPhone in many places. It had a keyboard. It has an OS that let you run multiple applications at the same time (something the iPhone doesn’t do) and did copy and paste. The OS seemed even better thought out than the iPhone was. Contacts collected data from Facebook and other social networks.

It looked like it would win in the marketplace.

But now it’s March and the tides are changing.

First, last week Apple came out with a set of APIs for the iPhone that many people missed because they were drinking at SXSW. More on those in a second.

But today stuff is leaking about a new iPhone that’s coming out.

Now I’m starting to doubt whether Palm can make it. I’m not the only one.

Lots of iPhones at iPhoneDevCamp

It’s shocking, actually, how well Apple has done with developers. Remember, I was at the first iPhone Dev Camp (included here is a picture of those who attended the first Dev Camp). Apple didn’t show up (a couple of employees did, but they weren’t even allowed to acknowledge that they worked at Apple). How did they turn developers onto the iPhone?

1. Apple sold more than 10 million phones.
2. The experience of using the iPhone got geeks excited. So excited that they put together their own DevCamps even though Apple was pretty clueless.
3. Apple turned on a store that let lots of developers build businesses that are rocking and rolling. Success pulls in even more developers.
4. Now Apple is throwing marketing dollars behind developers. I’ve seen tons of TV ads that Apple’s done. I’ve seen cool Apple ads on the web. The whole front of Apple stores right now features apps.
5. The new OS, coming this summer, lets developers do even more with their iPhones. Pandora’s CTO, Tom Conrad, talked with me at SXSW last week and he was drooling over some of the kinds of things he’s going to be able to build for the new OS and that was before he heard the rumors of the new iPhone.

Can Palm compete with this? If they do, I’ll be the most shocked blogger out there.

I think the bigger question is can Palm get enough hype to push it into a second place status and tear away market share from RIM, Microsoft, and Nokia. The answer to that one is yes.

Why? Because the Palm Pre is so much better than any other phone other than the iPhone. (The Palm is better than the iPhone, actually, but only if you don’t consider all the apps that are being built for the iPhone and only if you don’t consider the new 3.0 stuff that Apple announced last week).

I bet this is the strategy that Palm’s going for. They know not everyone will go for an iPhone. Some people hate Apple (yes, it’s true). Some can’t stand the touch keyboard. Still others still like Palm or just want to use Sprint instead of AT&T.

So, I don’t think there’s any way for Palm to really tear much market share away from the iPhone, but they can do a pretty nice business going after everyone else.

Either way, if I worked at Nokia, Microsoft, or RIM, I’d be working extra hard to figure out how to deal with Apple and Palm. They are going to make 2010 really rough for other cell phone manufacturers if things stay the way they are.

The fun thing about this industry is that in a few months everything can change in a couple of months. Hang onto your seats.

UPDATE: @ian_Wright asked “Do you think Android has a chance?” Yes, definitely. But they are fighting over #2 space too. It looks like Apple isn’t stumbling with developers like it did in the early 1990s with the Macintosh, so it’s going to be very difficult for Android to get mindshare over the iPhone. But Android can easily compete with Palm. Losers here? Nokia, RIM, and Motorola.

Also, @whurley points out that two members of the original iPhoneDevCrew have already put together http://predevcamp.org and it will be in more than 60 cities.

Why Rob Diana is right: Twitter gets the hype while Facebook will get the gold

Rob Diana just wrote “Sorry Twitter, Facebook is The Data Gold Mine.”

First, let’s go back to Ronn Owens. He’s a talk show host on KGO Radio. Actually, he’s the #1 rated talk show on the #1 station in San Francisco (if you exclude nationally-syndicated radio guys like Limbaugh). I was listening the day he discovered Twitter. He resisted at first (a guest told him he MUST be on Twitter, because it’s a good way to let his listeners know what’s coming up). The next day he announced that he had joined Twitter to his audience. I was follower #24 (he now has 558). I joined about 20 minutes after his announcement because I was driving. It was amazing to me that he had only gotten 24 followers in that time, which demonstrates the lack of engagement of a talk radio audience, but I’m getting off track.

What got him onto Twitter? (He’s talked about it several times since). Its publicness.

This is what is driving Twitter’s hype. See, for a celebrity like Owens, or a brand like CNN (which has several accounts on Twitter) the publicness of Twitter is like crack. Facebook might have more users, but it’s hard to be “public” on Facebook. Google’s spiders (the software that indexes web pages) can’t get into Facebook easily while those same spiders eat up Twitter.

The “publicness” of Twitter makes a TON of sense for someone like Ronn Owens who wants to reach a world-wide audience with very little work. Facebook makes less sense because it’s not only more work (there’s a lot more to do on Facebook than just write simple text messages from a cell phone) but it isn’t as public so it’s harder to get new followers.

But this is exactly why people tell me they use Facebook instead of Twitter. So, Facebook has the numbers (about 180 million for Facebook vs. about 10 million for Twitter). It is also why Rob Diana is right: people will put more intimate stuff, like having a baby, into Facebook rather than Twitter.

Only weirdos like me like sharing intimate stuff in a public forum and having conversations. Hint: for every weirdo like me, there are 1000 who are like my wife and only want to discuss that stuff with their “true friends.”

Which brings me back to Rob Diana’s point. It’s those intimate details that will bring advertising opportunities. “I’m having a baby shower in San Francisco at the Hyatt” is the type of thing normal people will share in Facebook with their friends but will never think of sharing in Twitter. Yet that’s the kind of information that a brand like the Hyatt needs to engage with you.

When I went to Las Vegas recently and said I was staying in the Luxor, someone got back to me at the Luxor on Twitter and said something like “let me know if I can help you, I can get you show tickets and make reservations for you.”

This kind of customer intimacy will be far more prevalent over on Facebook because WE are far more intimate there.

Rob is right, I wonder how Twitter is going to shift to get us to be more intimate with sharing the intimate details of our lives?

Oh, and I wonder how Facebook is going to keep us sharing the intimate details of our lives as it tries to add businesses to the social graph? The first time some business answers back a Facebooker like the Luxor did to me on Twitter they might get freaked out, so Facebook has to be careful here.

So, why would Facebook get any money from the Luxor? I can see a ton of ways. Can’t you?

Think of the Yellow Pages. Simple listings are free there (or were back when I advertised in the 1980s). But bigger ads that are more impressive cost thousands per month. Use that model on Facebook. Imagine a brand, like Luxor, just wants to say hi. That’s free. But how about post a link? That’ll be $4 please. And on and on.

Scoble responsible for destroying the utility of the social graph

The other day I was talking with someone who works at Facebook. She and I were having a fun conversation about number of followers and all that. At one point she emailed back that I was “destroying the utility of the social graph.”

How did I do that? By adding people who actually were not my “real” friends.

I asked her to define “real.”

Anyway, this morning, in the comments of my Facebook post I saw a comment from someone named “facebook user” that said “people may not be leaving, but i know plenty of folks who are trimming their friend lists down to true personal friends.”

Ahh, have you ever thought that this is behavior that Facebook wants you to do?

After all, how can they recommend the best sushi restaurant to you if you’ve added people you don’t even know?

Hint: the Facebook employee is right. I have destroyed the utility of the social graph — from her point of view. But I’m there to study patterns of early adopter behavior. For ME my social graph brings me stuff that no one else’s social graph brings.

Which points to what I want in the future: multiple social graphs for different things.

See, I know that Dori Smith (she’s one of the two people who convinced me to start blogging) is a Javascript expert who works in Sonoma. So, I bet she’s also somewhat expert on wine. But, I doubt she’s expert on baby strollers or Half Moon Bay restaurants. So, I want to add her to my “wine” social network. Who would be #1 there? Gary Vaynerchuk, owner of winelibrary.tv, of course. He knows more about wine than anyone else I know.

I really hate the word “friend.” It has no meaning anymore. No one can define what a friend is. Believe me, I’ve asked dozens of people to define it for me. My wife is my most “true” friend, for instance but if you trust her with picking a great wine (she doesn’t drink much) or picking a great sushi restaurant (she hates the stuff) you’ll be very disappointed. You’d be better off asking @garyvee about the wine even though you’ve never met him and he probably wouldn’t be listed among your “true” friends.

This is one reason why I like Twitter and friendfeed. Friendfeed in particular lets me follow different people with different contexts. I can put @garyvee into a “wine” folder, for instance. But I can also put him into “social media innovators.” Twitter doesn’t let me do that, but Twitter also doesn’t try to force me to subscribe to only my “true” friends.

Anyway, in the past eight years I’ve met many thousands of people face-to-face. Just last week I sent off more than 1,000 business cards to Allen Stern’s new business, CloudContacts (and that’s only a small fraction of the ones I’ve collected since I’ve started blogging). His business is scanning them and will build me a new social graph that I’ll bring into friendfeed and other places to study. I can’t wait.

Regarding whether I’ve destroyed the utility of the social graph: that’s up to me to decide, not you. Not Facebook. Not my commenter. I get great utility out of what I’m doing. I see patterns before most other people do and those patterns are getting more and more useful. A year ago I didn’t have the ability to search Tweets or friendfeed items. Today I have very rich search features so I can go through my like feed, for instance, and find every item that mentions Evernote.

Think that’s not important? Well, Feedly, a company that makes a small toolbar that sits at the bottom of Firefox, is using friendfeed’s search API to find people who’ve said stuff about the pages you’ve visited. This is a new kind of application that simply was not possible a year ago.

Yeah, I’ve destroyed the utility of the social graph, but on the other side is a whole new world that I’m discovering has great utility. You must destroy before you can build. Go have fun with your social graph and stop taking this friend thing too seriously. :-)

Why Facebook has never listened and why it definitely won't start now

My former boss, Jim Fawcette, used to say that if you asked a group of Porsche owners what they wanted they’d tell you things like “smoother ride, more trunk space, more leg room, etc.” He’d then say “well, they just designed a Volvo.”

His words were meant to get us out of letting the customers run our business mode we often found ourselves falling into.

Today, over on Techmeme, I see that the latest uproar is over Facebook’s new design and how Mark Zuckerberg is telling people that he won’t listen to customers. Or something like that.

Before we get deeper into this, remember that Facebook has always pissed off its users. First, you’ve gotta realize that in Facebook’s life it will go through at least seven phases. We are moving from phase four to phase five right now. In each phase change people have gotten pissed off.

Here’s the phases of Facebook:

Phase 1. Harvard only.
Phase 2. Harvard+Colleges only.
Phase 3. Harvard+Colleges+Geeks only.
Phase 4. All those above+All People (in the social graph).
Phase 5. All those above+People and businesses in the social graph.
Phase 6. All those above+People, businesses, and well-known objects in the social graph.
Phase 7. All people, businesses, objects in the social graph.

Phase 5 is known as when Facebook is really going to find its business model. This is why Mark Zuckerberg is absolutely correct to say he can’t listen to people who wants Facebook to get stuck in Phase Four. It was a nice phase, yes, when Facebook only had people in the social graph, but those days are over.

Don’t get distracted by the current design that looks sort of like Twitter. Twitter showed that businesses can co-exist on the social graph along with people. Zuckerberg is smart. He saw that Twitter was going to make a crapload of money (that’s why he tried to buy Twitter) and instead of being depressed by being turned down by @ev he decided to phase shift Facebook.

Zuckerberg is a real leader because he doesn’t care what anyone thinks. He’s going to do what he thinks is best for his business. I wish Silicon Valley had more like him.

Anyway, all those who are saying the new design sucks should NOT be listened to. Yeah, I know a lot of people are going to get mad at me for saying that. After all, how can a blogger say to not listen to the masses? Easy: I’ve seen the advice the masses are giving and most of it isn’t very good for Facebook’s business interests.

When Zuckerberg announced these changes a couple of weeks ago I told him he was brilliant and that his moves this month would be remembered for decades. Decades.

Here’s why:

Let’s say you’re walking down University Ave. in Palo Alto, California in a couple of years (or, really, any street in the world) and you’re hungry.

You pull out your iPhone or Palm Pre or Android or Blackberry or Windows Mobile doohickey and click open the Facebook application. Then you type “sushi near me.”

It answers back “within walking distance are two sushi restaurants that more than 20 of your friends have liked.”

Wait a second. “Friends have liked?”

Sounds like friendfeed. But, because Facebook has the users (it is growing the size of Twitter every 15 days or so because Facebook has about 180 million users while Twitter only has about 10 million. Facebook, at this point, is growing 200,000 to 700,000 users per day. Twitter is growing by far fewer users per day (although its percentage growth is faster).

But don’t worry about the friendfeed copying. Zuckerberg is so close to a gold mine that his metal detectors must be going crazy. All he has to do is figure out how to keep those pesky users from leaving the service.

Oh, wait, they aren’t leaving! How do I know that?

Because my wife Maryam is totally addicted to Facebook. She hasn’t left. She hasn’t slowed down. She just told me she didn’t like the new design and made some noises that she was only going to use the iPhone version (not true in my observations). So, if Zuckerberg didn’t lose Maryam and her friends, he’s safe. He SHOULD NOT LISTEN to those who are saying the new design sucks. It will keep him from getting to the promised land where we mix businesses and people.

Here’s what really is hanging out there for Facebook if Zuckerberg doesn’t listen: billions. Maybe even trillions.

Look at what we just announced to the world:

Maryam has an announcement!

Yes, we’re having another baby. But look at what did NOT happen on Twitter: not a single diaper company contacted us yet. Not a single maternity clothing company. Not a single car company (yes, we’re going to buy a new one soon). Not a single camera company (already bought a new one for this occassion). Not a single insurance company (I need more). Not a single bank (I need to start saving for another college student). Not a single stroller company (need a new one that can hold two). Not a single vitamin company (Maryam is going through her prenatal vitamins at a good clip). Not a single shoe company (Maryam needs new shoes for pregnancy, and Milan is growing fast too).

That will NOT last.

Imagine we’re on Facebook in a year. Now all of a sudden I can search for all these things and see which items and companies have gotten the most “likes.” Now do you get why Facebook is copying friendfeed?

Zuckerberg is not listening to you because you don’t get how Facebook is going to make billions.

Zuckerberg is right. He shouldn’t start listening to his users now.

SXSW 2009 will be known as the "SMS & location explosion SXSW"

This week tons of people were asking me “what’s the ‘Twitter’ of this year’s SXSW conference. See, two years ago at SXSW Twitter exploded onto the scene.

Looking back at this year’s conference (pretty tough cause I partied a little too hard with my new friends at Rackspace) it’s clear that this year is going to be remembered for when location exploded onto the scene.

First, everyone’s iPhones didn’t work very well for the first two days of the conference. Turned out that AT&T’s network was overloaded. I met the guy who fixed much of that problem on Sunday (they doubled the network capacity and turned on some new wireless bandwidth). That reminded me of the “Twitter SXSW” when Twitter itself was slow and went down a few times during the show.

But, that’s not the reason why this will be remembered as the “SMS & location explosion SXSW.”

First, it’ll be all the talk about a new app that got its first hype here at SXSW: Foursquare. Techcrunch wrote that up today. What is it? It’s a social app that you report via SMS where you are and it uses that info to build a little game with your friends. Lots of people were talking about it.

When I visited Governor Rick Perry along with a couple of other bloggers Chris Brogan was watching me use Ourdoings to email photos in from my iPhone, which posts them to my friendfeed stream along with a map of where that photo was shot, and he said “why aren’t you using Pixelpipe?” That’s an iPhone app that lets you upload groups of photos when you find available bandwidth. He said it was very valuable to him at SXSW when the iPhone often had very little or no available bandwidth (inside the capital building while we were visiting the governor we had the same problem).

Another app that got some attention at SXSW was CONTXTS, which are mobile SMS business cards. Daniel Graf showed me this. He asked for my phone number, SMS’d that to a number that CONTXTS uses and instantly a note came to my phone with his contact info. Very cool and useful for networking at conferences.

Here, you can try it with my phone. It asked me to “TELL YOUR FRIENDS TO TXT SCOBLEIZER TO 50500.” Now you’ll see how it works and you’ll get my contact information sent back to you.

So, how about you? Did you see any cool location-based services used at SXSW for the first time? There were a ton, like Google Latitude, or Radar, from Tiny Pictures.

Why don’t we list the coolest ones here, or on my friendfeed link, which I’ll post shortly?

Robert and Rocky ride again at Rackspace

TechCrunch just broke the news.

We will give more details about this news today on the Gillmor Gang. That show starts at 3 p.m. Pacific Time. Join us live at http://live.twit.tv or listen to the Gillmor Gang once the recording is up for more. I’ll also be on Ustream’s “Live from the Belmont at SXSW” channel tonight after 7 p.m. Pacific Time too.

When Rackspace told me they were hiring my producer, Rocky, and wanted to hire me too, to build a new kind of community it brought back thoughts of when I was at Microsoft working with Jeff, Charles, Lenn, and a cast of others on Channel 9. That was just a few weeks ago. Since then I’ve been on a whirlwind tour so I could study a bunch of different businesses. I visited a radio station. Facebook. A lonely startup up in Bellingham, Washington that’s now broadcasting live video on the Internet about themselves. Cisco. A coworking facility outside of Seattle which is where iPhone app developer Shazam is located. And quite a few others.

When I was getting a tour of KSCO, a 10,000-watt radio station in Santa Cruz, CA, owner Michael Zwerling showed me the transmission equipment. The brands on that equipment are long forgotten, if you ever knew them, but those companies were vital to pushing our culture and our ability to communicate further.

When I walked into the Northern Voice conference in Vancouver on this tour, and saw tons of people on TweetDeck, I knew we were in the middle of yet another radical shift that would be felt for years into the future (it was this same conference where I first noticed how important the Firefox browser and other social services like Flickr, which was developed in Vancouver, would become back five years ago).

It is pretty clear that the transmission equipment of the modern age is cloud computing. Whether you study Facebook, or Salesforce, or Amazon, you can see the tectonic shifts that are underway in our industry. Look at 12seconds.tv, a small company in Santa Cruz, for instance, just a few miles from those old radio transmission towers, and you see how they are using cloud bursting technology. One of their videos gets popular? Their algorithms move that video over to Amazon and move all the traffic over to Amazon too. This lets them host on their own very inexpensive equipment but protect their service from traffic spikes that occassionally happen.

But forget about the cloud for a moment. Everywhere I look I see other shifts in how we think of the Internet.

Google Latitude showed me that a new kind of location-based service is coming that will get millions of users in just a few days and will lay the bed for a new kind of interaction with your friends and with businesses near you.

Facebook is exploding, seeing 700,000 new users per day. I call Facebook “the velcro” of the Internet because it has so many little hooks to get you involved in that community. I sat next to Randi Zuckerberg at the World Economic Forum as she could ask Facebook’s users a question and get back tens of thousands of responses in just a minute or two. What is happening there is real and is changing everything.

I look at new video communities like Seesmic, that let me interact with people in real time using my webcam. I can post video of a building burning down just as well as just me ranting and raving.

Blogs, too, continue to change and shift. New commenting engines like Disqus or JS-Kit are changing how we can hook up our separate communities together.

Finally we see what’s happening on Twitter and friendfeed and it’s clear that this new world is building the equivilent of a world-wide talk show.

Add all these things up and they got me excited about doing something new.

That new thing is called Building 43.

Why “Building 43?” Well, if you visit Google’s campus, you’ll see that the building that houses their “master plan” is Building 43 (several of its founders sit in building 43 there too). Microsoft has a building 43, too, which is where many of the developers on Windows and other things sit. I always thought that was funny that both companies had a building 43. When I asked friendfeed and Twitter for interesting building 43 stories,

http://friendfeed.com/e/1c9e5999-47ed-4e35-b4ba-e66aea424ad8/I-m-collecting-

stories-about-Microsoft-and-Google/ I learned that Google’s numbering system predates it back to when SGI had its headquarters there.

Our “Building 43,” though, is not a place. It’s not even a website. It’s a decentralized community for people fanatical about the Internet. You’ll find us on Facebook, on Twitter, on friendfeed, on Ning, and lots of other places too.

“What about your videos, Scoble?”

You’ll see me continue my videos with companies and people who are fanatical about the Internet. But you’ll also find we’re focusing our cameras on people who build Internet experiences and learn more about how they did it rather than just what they did like I’ve done for the past few years. This is getting back to my roots as well, where I like learning how to build things.

Building 43 will be a lot more than just my videos, though. It’s a community, which means it’s not about me. It’s about you and what you’re trying to build. That will become clearer as we turn on rooms in building 43.

“Why Rackspace?”

When I first met the Rackspace team (they were one of the first interviews I did at Fast Company) I came back and said “Rackspace is one of my favorite companies.” http://scobleizer.com/2008/04/09/my-favorite-company-rackspace/
That’s because they were building their headquarters in a “bad” part of town and had a vision of revitalizing the neighborhood. We are taking that same spirit to the Internet during this tough economic time. By showing more people how to build businesses and have fun on the Internet we’re going to all win.

Rackspace is also one of the few companies in the world that has touchpoints with thousands of other companies. That’s important because I can study how the Internet is changing live and, thanks to these relationships, we can present to you how these sites were built and how you can build the same features into your own business sites and blogs.

So what is “building 43?” We are on the Gillmor Gang where we talked more about what we’re building. You should listen to that and visit http://www.building43.com and sign up to be notified when we turn on the full site.

First look: FanSnap makes buying event tickets easy

You want to get tickets to the cool concert coming to town, or to Friday’s baseball game. How do you do it? Most of us head off to some ticket site, probably owned by Ticketmaster, and hope we win the lottery and get good seats.

FanSnap has a better idea. They show you in the stadium where you’ll be sitting and show you how much each seating area costs.

Here Mike Janes, CEO, introduces me to his company. He’s a smart guy, too, was the first manager of Apple’s online store, so his thoughts on online retailing are ones worth listening to.

UPDATE: TechCrunch writes that it’s the new Kayak of event searches.