Daily Archives: December 15, 2010

Treesaver shows HTML5 can hold its own against Flipboard-style design

You know I love Flipboard. So does Time Magazine. So does Apple, which just named Flipboard the iPad app of the year.

The problem with Flipboard is that it’s an app, not the Web, and I keep hoping someone will show me a really well-designed web app that shows me that the Web can still win.

Yesterday Treesaver’s Filipe Fortes took me up on my “can the web be saved” challenge and visited my house to show me what he’s been working on for publishers. An open-source JavaScript/HTML5/CSS library of design templates that will help developers at content companies compete with the design aesthetic that Flipboard showed us.

Now, this isn’t a product you can use today. Right now he’s doing consulting for well-heeled publishing companies, but in a month he’ll release this into beta.

For now, though, he gives a good case for why the Web is still important and how good HTML5 is for the future of publishing.

What’s funny is I first met Filipe when he worked at Microsoft. What team did he work on? What now is Silverlight. He admits that the Web has come a long way for providing great cross-platform well-designed experiences.

Must watch and if you are doing stuff to push the web forward, like Filipe is, please drop me a line! scobleizer@gmail.com

My biases (why I was a jerk to AllMyApps); my Leweb roundup

When I asked Quora which tech startups should I interview that I hadn’t interviewed yet, AllMyApps was at the top of the list.

I was pretty rude to them at LeWeb and couldn’t get excited about their new company and new product (usually I get excited about anything new, but thought I owed them an explanation of why I wasn’t excited about this one). First my excuses: Why? Well, I was tired/jetlagged. I had just sat through something like 15 pitches at LeWeb. More about those later. No excuses though, what really happened is my biases showed through.

What are those biases? That I look at, and care about, early adopter behavior. I like shiny new objects. I told the team that I look for things on the list of tech battlefronts (like Android vs. iPhone vs everyone else, or which slates can beat iPad, or which mobile apps are doing best, etc).

So, a new mobile app wins out over one that runs on Windows, I told them. Why? Microsoft Windows just isn’t on a tech battlefront anymore, according to my biases.

Why? And where did those biases come from?

Well, I sit next to people on planes or cafes and I watch their behavior and often I even get brave enough to ask what they have loaded on their machines. I’ve sat next to dozens of people running Windows. In the past year I have yet to find one that’s loaded anything new in the past six months. Compare that to someone who has a new Android or iPhone or a new iPad. Those folks load dozens of apps and are proud of them.

That behavior leads me to some biases. I note that the same biases exist in the tech press overall and I explained to them why their company won’t be as loved as say, Flipboard or Instagram.

Heck, the little PR they got, in Lifehacker, shows how little reaction they got from the marketplace. The first comment in that article? Meh.

Read CrunchBase about AllMyApps and you can see they got a million euros in funding, which is pretty awesome. Investors are still going after the Windows market because it’s so big.

But I just couldn’t pull myself to really care about it. Neither can the rest of the tech press. Compare, for instance, to the press that got written about the Google Chrome App Store.

It seems that not only I have a bias against Windows apps, so does the rest of the tech press. I’m sorry about being direct with the team at LeWeb about this, but thought I owed them a longer explanation of why I wasn’t excited about their company and product the way I usually am about new stuff.

Anyway, onto what else happened at LeWeb last week. First, there’s a great PearlTrees curated widget that points to the good stuff. I recorded a video with that team in their Paris headquarters last week where I get a demo of what they are doing for LeWeb.

What happened at LeWeb 2010!

Over on my CinchCast page I’ve put up 16 interviews I did at LeWeb. Including some exclusive news, like about Appsfire’s new Android and iPhone/iPad app that helps you discover new apps, and Evernote’s CEO telling me that Android is growing about 10x faster than iPhone usage is.

By the way, all the sessions from LeWeb are now up on YouTube. It’s really great production quality stuff and greatly appreciated when conferences do this (it helps me get more value out of the event because I don’t feel like I have to listen to every talk, which lets me network out in the hall and do things like my CinchCasts).

My two on-stage interviews are now up too. First, the one where I grill MySpace’s CEO. Second, where I ask Mozilla’s chairperson if she can save the web again.

It’s just one of the reasons why I say that LeWeb is the best web conference in the world.

Regarding my roundup, I still have some videos to process, and I’m watching the sessions I missed. Plus, the coolest startups I saw there embargoed me, so you’ll see those companies early next year. LeWeb really is a great conference with 3,000 attendees and one that’ll be even better next year (Loic told me he turned down three offers to sell, and instead will add an extra day in an attempt to make it even more influential).

The concept “connected” watches from Fossil

Fossil's concept watches

Fossil's concept watches (next to a Nexus S phone)

Fossil's concept watches

Fossil makes watches (amongst other things) and is one of the world’s highest-selling watch companies (they make watches under a variety of brands). You might even have one of them on your wrists. But there’s a small team who are trying to rethink what a watch is and could be.

There have been other attempts at wearable computers. I remember my dad always loved wearing a Casio calculator watch (popular amongst Silicon Valley engineers). While I worked at Microsoft they introduced the SPOT watches, that ultimately didn’t do well in the marketplace.

Vice President of Watch Technology, Bill Geiser, explained to me that they learned from earlier tries to put geeky technology into watches. He pulled out of his bag several other attempts, done by other companies. They all had easily-seen flaws. The earlier SPOT technology, which Bill worked on, had flaws that they are learning from. It was too thick, didn’t look like a great watch, the battery didn’t last long enough, and it wasn’t useful enough or flexible enough for developers to really do something interesting.

In this second visit to my house to show me what they are working on, he pulled a couple of watches out of his bag and showed them to me. They hook up to Android and RIM phones, via BlueTooth.

Listen to the audio interview I recorded with Bill and David Rosales, director of watch technology. In the recording you’ll hear more about what they are trying to do with these watches and why they are showing them around Silicon Valley months before they will turn into real products: they want developers to think about how they would use them and get in touch (leave a comment here and they’ll see it). Leave a good idea and they might even drop by your house and give you one of these concept watches.

Talk about constraints, though. You only have a few pixels to display information. A Tweet is even too long (you can display it, but you’ll have to scroll it, or have multiple screens).

Today’s rain in Half Moon Bay, though, reminded me why watches are interesting devices. I wouldn’t dare bring out my iPhone in a downpour. Or, on a ski lift with gloves on (I might drop it, which would make the trip really suck because it costs $600 to replace it). But, a watch could display important information, like my wife is calling, or give me a sense of the kinds of emails that are hitting my inbox. Calendar info. Weather info. Etc etc could be displayed.

The watches themselves, Bill told me in the interview, will cost “around $200.” I’m looking forward to getting mine. In the meantime it’s fun to dream about what could be displayed from my new Nexus S phone.

Are you interested in wearable connected devices like these? Why or why not?

Fossil's concept watches