Monthly Archives: October 2009

85,000 reasons why Apple’s iPhone isn’t going to be disrupted

There’s nothing geeks love more than to argue mobile phone platforms. Here’s Matt Blaisdell saying that apps weren’t key to iPhone’s success. That’s true, but now that Apple has apps the world has changed and challengers to the iPhone will find it very tough.

Here’s why: everyone is using a different set of 20 apps. Trillions of combinations. You can see this on Appsfire’s VIP list (my iPhone apps are listed there, along with a number of others). None of us have the same set of apps.

So, to get me off of the iPhone you are going to have to duplicate all my apps (and I’ve gotten several more since doing this list a couple of weeks ago).

Here, let’s play a game. Let’s say that a Chinese manufacturer ships an Android phone that makes me hot and bothered. Something, say, that’s half the thickness of the iPhone, has a screen that’s sharper, and the battery lasts twice as long, oh, and let’s just say it costs $50 less than buying an iPhone.

Would it get me to switch away from my iPhone? Probably not, truth be told. (I do have a second SIM, though, waiting, just in case that I use to test phones).

Why not?

Because I’ve grown addicted to Tweetie. So, now you’ll have to build an app, or get a third-party developer to build an app that works better. Let’s say you do that.

But do you have my favorite game? Tap Tap Revenge?

Do you have Facebook? Do you have Photoshop? Just today NASDAQ came out with a cool new app. Do you have that? And so on and so forth.

Every app is lockin.

I’m not going to be switching anytime soon, and neither are you.

So, what the other manufacturers are hoping is that enough users remain ignorant of all the uses of the apps and that they get enough of them built either by themselves (not gonna happen) or by developers outside the company before Apple just locks in everyone.

Joe Wilcox, on Twitter, says that iPhone users are “beyond reason.”

No, Joe, I just want my Kindle app on Android before I’ll switch. I have lots of books that I’ve invested in that I can read on my iPHone.

Or, I want my TripIt app on Android or Nokia before I’ll switch. My entire flight information is stuck inside there.

Or, I want to watch Leo Laporte’s show this afternoon (or more accurately, listen to it on my Prius thanks to UStream’s app).

Or I want to use Yelp’s app to find a great restaurant.

Etc. Etc. Etc.

If you get me all those, and all the other 85,000 apps, but on a device that is sexier and more fun to use (and more productive) then I’ll definitely be reasonable and switch.

Until then I have 85,000 reasons to be unreasonable. Oh, did you see this app called “RedLaser?” You point your phone at barcodes, and it gives you information about the products you are looking at, including what the price is on Amazon.com. Very cool.

Now I’m sure you’ll say you have an app like RedLaser on your device, right? (I’ve seen similar on Nokia devices, for instance) But do you have all the others I use?

Yes, I’m unreasonable. Let me know when I can stop being unreasonable! :-)

Oh, and I met the guy who runs the iPhone app team (he asked to remain anonymous) and he told me his team approves hundreds of new apps every day. So, that’s HUNDREDS of new reasons every day that I will remain unreasonable. Sorry to Nokia, Palm, Microsoft, RIM, and all the other players.

My new iMac rocks (and so does Windows 7)

Last night I bought the 27-inch iMac. Sitting next to it is a 24-inch screen. It is totally amazing how freeing this much screen real estate is.

The new iMac? You can’t even tell it’s not just a monitor. It is just barely thicker than my 24-inch monitor. It is faster than my MacBook and it automatically imported all my items from my MacBook. All without hooking up any wires. It’s nice to see how much better the setup process is on these new computers.

The engineering that’s gone into this is just totally amazing. It’s an “all in screen” computer and it sure makes my desk look cool and clean. It’ll be the centerpiece of my home studio as I build that out. The new mouse is actually my favorite thing. It has no buttons. You just touch it to scroll or click on things. It takes a few minutes to get used to it, the same way that it took a few minutes to get used to the iPhone but now I’m already tired of my old mouse on my Dell.

I also have a pretty new Dell laptop that I loaded Windows 7 on. Both computers are so much better than the previous generations it isn’t even funny. If you are running older Windows I HIGHLY recommend getting the new Windows. It is much nicer than either XP or Vista and runs faster and hasn’t crashed in two days, either (my Vista used to crash every few hours). Congrats to Microsoft.

Anyway, in previous years I wouldn’t have considered an all-in-one computer like the iMac but this one gets me totally over that fear. It’s fast, quiet, and looks ultra sexy.

One thing I’d recommend, though, for the iMac, is to get an Ergotron arm for it so you can position it higher on your desk. Or, do what we did at Microsoft: get a few reams of paper and put the monitor on those (the Ergotron arms look a lot nicer and free up your desk space).

I got the dual core version of the iMac. The quad core will be out in six weeks (my boss has ordered one of those). This one is pretty speedy, though.

The biggest difference between Twitter and Facebook

Facebook yesterday turned on a bunch of new features on its news feed (here is TechCrunch’s writeup of the new features). It looks a lot more like FriendFeed, even though Facebook claims that the FriendFeed team didn’t work on these new features.

What does it do? Now Facebook mostly displays items that got engagement. You know, comments. Likes. Tagging. Etc.

This makes Facebook much more useful because you only see the items that your friends have found important enough to comment on or “touch” in some way. Overnight my news feed went from something that looked pretty cold and lame to something that has tons of “warmth.”

I am SO GLAD I deleted most of the people I had friended on Facebook and went down to a core group of people because I’m getting some pretty good items there now.

But I notice it now has the thing that most of my friend’s hated about FriendFeed: there are people on my feed I didn’t invite all of a sudden.

Here’s how that happens. Let’s say I’m a friend of Maryam Scoble, my wife. I see all her items. That is cool. But it also displays me any of HER FRIENDS who comment on her items. I might not care to read her friends’ opinions on politics or whatever. But I can’t easily get rid of them.

Twitter, on the other hand, doesn’t have comments. So you can’t easily have a back and forth conversation about something like you can over on FriendFeed or Facebook. But it has a HUGE advantage: I only see items from people I invited to get on my home screen.

That is a HUGE advantage for controlling noise and for keeping yourself productive. Especially after you get Twitter’s new lists feature, which lets you split your contacts up into separate pages (I have a page of just Venture Capitalists, for instance, which is a completely different feed from my page of tech journalists).

This is the biggest difference now between Twitter and Facebook and is one that keeps rubbing in that on Twitter you should follow lots of people and brands that you care about, while on Facebook you should follow only people you REALLY care about because they will drag into your view all THEIR friends and that will make your feed noisier and less valuable. Hope your friends choose their friends carefully.

Software architects (especially cloud computing): check this company out

This isn’t sexy like my last two blog posts. No killer video. No consumer service.

But if you are an architect of software services based on cloud computing architectures you have a new kind of problem: figuring out what is going on in your systems across vendors and across services. What’s causing your slowdowns? Is it Twitter? Your own code? The part of your service running on Amazon? Rackspace? Google App Engine?

Nimsoft just announced a new system that will let you monitor your systems. I had a 30 minute conversation with Gary Read, CEO of Nimsoft, about cloud computing architectures and what’s happening in the world of building services and applications that use all these newfangled APIs.

How are you changing your approach to software if you are building systems based on cloud infrastructure?

Part I Discussion of cloud computing and what’s happening in changing architectures.
Part II An introduction to Nimsoft’s new cloud computing monitoring system.
Part III — a demo of the system.

Animoto and SmugMug bring video editing to us idiots

After watching that last video edited by two pros I’m jealous. How can the rest of us who have iPhone video cameras, or low-cost Flip or Kodak cameras, going to make killer professional quality videos?

Animoto and Smugmug, this morning, announced a partnership that makes it possible.

Why does this matter? Well, TechCrunch founder Mike Arrington announced on Twitter that Animoto is his favorite service ever.

Oh, and notice that I filmed the whole interview last night on my Kodak Zi8. Cost? $180.

The new dial tone: video+social media

Last night I attended a Weezer concert thanks to MySpace. When the lights were off you could see the revolution: lots of little screens all over the concert hall capturing the event. I posted mine to 12 Seconds TV.

But there’s something deeper going on. Last week I met up with Leo Laporte and talked about it.

Along for the ride were two documentary film producers. Their results? A video called “the new dial tone.” One of which, Marc Ostrick, was one of the film makers that worked on Obama’s campaign film last year.

What were they holding? Two low-cost cameras (none of which cost more than $200). One is a Kodak Zi8, which is a camera I’ve been using lately on my own Blip channel.

Anyway, they put together a documentary film of the Blog World Expo last week that is absolutely marvelous. In it you’ll see a ton of the biggest names and old-school, but making new media, brands like CNN in social media.

Thanks to Marc and Michael Sean Wright for letting me be part of this.

You can see the revolution happening right in front of you.

What’s another example of this revolution? Watch this separate video with the CEOs of SmugMug and Animoto (filmed on my $180 Kodak Zi8, again) where they show how ANYONE can create very high quality videos with just some photos and video clips. No skills needed. (The new SmugMug/Animoto features were announced today).

What other examples of this revolution are you seeing? Or, even better, making?