Thursday, January 31, 2008

Will Only Outsiders Deliver Innovation in Mobile Phones?

When Apple introduced the iPhone, many of the established mobile phone makers publicly scoffed at Apple's ability to enter the mobile phone market, especially once they saw the pricing and the absence of a physical keyboard.

Palm CEO Ed Colligan "laughed off the idea that any company — including the wildly popular Apple Computer — could easily win customers in the finicky smart-phone sector. 'We’ve learned and struggled for a few years here figuring out how to make a decent phone,' he said. 'PC guys are not going to just figure this out. They’re not going to just walk in.'" Three months after launch, the iPhone had about triple Palm's market share in the US.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer proclaimed, "There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance." Again, just three months after launch, iPhone was outselling all Windows Mobile phones combined.

Of course, we've also seen a lot of established manufacturers introducing iPhone knock-offs in an attempt to compete with the iPhone's success. You might have noticed the LG Voyager, since it's almost always shown with an iPhone-like home screen.

Gruber sets us straight: "That's actually not the main UI of the phone. That's just the interface for accessing secondary features of the phone. The main UI is just like that of any other crap LG phone, and one of the 'apps' you can launch is the iPhone knock-off 'shortcut' mode. And, when you open the slider, the inside screen has a third different UI. The overall experience is worse, way worse, than that of a typical LG phone."

Google has a new open platform, Android, under development that may offer some innovative devices once they start shipping later this year. And Nokia's N95 receives rave reviews, except for it's ridiculous $695 pricepoint.

So who is going to offer a real competitor to the iPhone in this space? Sure as heck not Motorola. They've done such a fine job with the ROKR and the Q. How about Garmin? "What," you say, "the GPS maker?!" Well, sure. Why not. If a computer maker with a great UI can make an awesome phone, why not a handheld GPS maker with a great UI?

Meet the Garmin Nüvifone. Okay, they might need to work on the name, but this phone hits all the other bases square: attractive case design, 3.5" touchscreen, built-in still/video camera, SMS and MMS messaging, a whole host of Google apps (search, maps, mail, traffic, weather), and, of course, GPS-based navigation (duh). Plus it's Wi-Fi and 3G capable. Anyone besides me see a legitimate iPhone competitor here?

I sure hope Apple does.


Sunday, January 20, 2008

Mommy, Why is There a Server in the House?

The best marketing to come out of Microsoft since, well, ever.


Web Snapshots Are Nabbed for Commercial Uses

"It's not like the picture was some golden chalice of Internet wonder. It's a picture of a stupid dog," says the Baltimore mom. "But it's my dog and it's my photo!"
Tracey Gaughran-Perez tells Monica Hesse of the Washington Post about discovering an unauthorized photo copied from her blog, Sweetney, in the Saints-Eagles football telecast on Fox.

Big media never tires of warning people not to make unauthorized use of their content, but somehow it's okay for them to do it themselves. Think this is an isolated incident? Read on.

But in an increasingly user-generated world where the public is the artist, sometimes it's the big boys who get grabby. And the questions that arise are about ownership, but they are also about fairness, and changing culture, and ultimately, the search for authenticity.


The Future of Social Networks

In a guest column on GigaOm, Brian McConnell writes about the past and future of social networks. I appreciated the review of previous incarnations of online social networking, but I'm finding his postulations about the future to be a bit long-winded for a rather simple idea: an open standard will be developed/adopted for social profiles (much like RSS for articles, iCal for calendars), online publishing platforms (e.g., Blogger, Yahoo!) will adopt it as a feature, and then commercial social network providers (e.g., Facebook, MySpace) will be in big trouble. There, I said it in one sentence.

However, what I find truly interesting about this subject are the implications of this likely development. And not just in terms of who wins and who loses. More like, who will be first to exploit the new standard in some innovative way (Plaxo?, Tumblr?, start-up?), what new compelling thing will commercial social networks become in order to survive, and (once all your social data is accessible) how will you be able to use this meta-data about yourself? Enter Jackson Miller's conceptualization of 3D social networking.


Sunday, January 13, 2008

Get Connected at PodCamp Nashville

I'm Going to PodCamp Nashville
Following on the success of last summer's BarCamp new media "unconference," tech-savvy musicians, marketers, bloggers and developers will gather next month in Nashville to discuss new media and podcasting. PodCamp Nashville, which is free to the public, will be held at the historic Cannery Ballroom on Saturday, February 9, and is designed for anyone interested in online media to share ideas, hear from industry experts, and participate in discussions and demos.

Just like BarCamp Nashville, PodCamp promises to bring together creative, tech and business types from across Nashville to exchange expertise and collaborate on developing new ideas and projects. It's a fantastic opportunity to meet people and get involved in local new media development. Organizer Dave Delaney recommends that interested participants register in advance to be assured admission.


Friday, January 4, 2008

Warner Bros. opts for Blu-ray over HD DVD

Looks increasingly like Blu-ray Disc will win this decade's beta war, as Warner Bros. ends support for HD DVD.

Dropping the standard is expected to create a tidal shift in the balance between Blu-ray and HD DVD. While both formats have until now offered a similar amount of movies in their format, Warner's defection may place as much as 70 percent of all major-label HD movies in the Blu-ray camp.
Guess it's time to run out and buy a player now....