Archive | July, 2011

Microsoft, Nokia, Facebook, Skype. The teaming of tech companies makes the future look bright!

So with the Facebook announcement yesterday it ties Microsoft, Skype, Facebook and Nokia all together into a big hot-pot of giant technology developers working together.  Talking with a colleague today we were trying to imagine if there was anything they were missing.  You could possibly say Twitter but as with Apple they could simply build its integration into any future developments of a new operating system.  Imagine if they get things right what their future mobiles, pads, laptops or computer devices could be like?

  • Microsoft gives you XBox gaming with over 50 million users.  Windows 7 has over 350 million licenses sold and when you consider the amount of XP or Vista still in the market place that adds a few hundred million more.  The Office365 platform offers web apps for the user but more importantly is offering some great options for business with hosted services and Sharepoint is one of the better if not best collaboration technology for the enterprise out there.  That combined with all the other obvious pieces such as Bing search, 350 odd million Hotmail accounts and Windows Live it’s a very impressive list.
  • Nokia gives you fantastic mobile hardware experience and build quality with the infrastructure to deliver high quantities of high quality devices.  They shipped 450 million devices in 2010 (YES 450 million!) and while their market share has slipped of late the ability to deliver that volume could be very important if they get the hardware and user experience right so as to meet consumer demand in the future.
  • Facebook gives you currently 600 million users in a platform that is constantly used to share massive volumes of information and something a large portion use regularly from their mobile device.
  • Skype has over 500 million users, is already now integrated with Facebook and again a product regularly accessed from mobile devices.

So that is a very simplistic view but you can see the numbers are just huge with true global penetration.  There is a huge population that already know these companies and their products.  Imagine if they keep the best bits of what they already have, that link to a product well used and they deliver with it the user experience of an iOS device with single sign on at home, at work, at play with everything in the cloud if you wish so your experience is the same irrespective of where you are.  That is an awesome package.  That is something has been fantasized about by us techies for a while but honestly thought it was a bit further away but getting closer with the likes of iCloud (which I can’t wait for!).  Yes you can get a sense of it now by using different apps and pieces of software but imagine a platform that delivered it all seamlessly automatically with one ID and this is something they can deliver now or at the very least in the very near future because as they said in an old favourite 70’s show of mine ‘We can rebuild …. We have the technology’

NOTE: Ok yes so I am a little optimistic and I realise combining these behemoths of industry will not be easy and integrating the different tech will be even harder so it wont be next month that they deliver devices but what I have seen of Windows 8 is very impressive so if they can combine that properly with the other pieces the future looks bright and might mean better competition and more options than just an iPhone or Andriod device.

Dear RIM! It’s not me it’s you!

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I got my first Blackberry in 2004. I just loved it. Email on my phone. It was every techs dream. Ok so I wasn’t exactly the first to get it but the novelty was huge at the time. The device itself was wonderful. Easy to use, robust, reliable and with a phenomenal battery life. From then until about early 2010 I continued to be a RIM supporter. When the iPhone came out I scoffed at those Apple people with their gimmicks they called phones. True I did try an earlier iPhone and loved the interface and briefly flirted with abandoning my Blackberry but the iPhones unreliability with constant freezing and poor battery meant after a month I threw it back at O2 and got a new Blackberry. I loved the Blackberries reliability. However this new latest model I was given had lost some of it’s allure as the newer screens and faster connections sapped more battery. The price one pays. That companion on travel that would always be there was no more. I found myself charging it almost every day(yes I used it a lot but still). Also after being with the iPhone for a while I found the Blackberry clunky and dated and I missed some of the apps. When the iPhone 4 came out I tried it again and I still have it. I won’t be handing it back. The Blackberry is long gone.

I still work with Blackberries and shake my head every time I take one up. Don’t get me wrong aside from the Storm models they still deliver and are a very reliable device but have changed very little especially the user interface since my first model years ago. How could something that was so great fall behind so quickly. Why weren’t they listening? I have been reading plenty from tech folk on improvements they needed to make over the years. Changes that were needed. Surely management were reading the same pieces, questioning validity, listening to staff and also keeping an eye on the opposition?

For the last couple of years I have been reading from some that RIM will eventually fail or at best become a small bit player for die hard fans. Initially I thought it was a little premature and they would quickly catchup but soon fell in line as new models failed to deliver as promised and in many cases such as the Storm followed by Storm 2 were horrible devices and should never have been allowed to market. The latest Playbook mess where the only real feature they can push in their advertising is Flash is beyond a joke. And watching an interview where someone defended it’s lack of email unless you already have a Blackberry was just embarrassing. What year is this again? What is one of our key forms of communication?

The anonymous letters from staff of late that have been posted on the web on their concerns and suggestions lead to many questions as to why these people were forced to take such extreme routes to get their voices heard. Were management so pig headed as to not listen to and engage with their employees? It doesn’t sound like a healthy working environment where frustrations end up being vented in such extreme ways. Sure there has to be structure in an organization but in tech and especially mobile tech where it changes so fast you need all ideas on the table. You need fast well informed decisions and the ability to incorporate feedback as quick as is humanly possible. But everyone knows that. People have been saying it to RIM for what seems like ages. (OK so you need more than just those things but you get my point!)

I do however like that they at least responded to the anonymous letter but unfortunately they didn’t really address any of the issues. And nothing I have read lately leads me to believe that they are going to deliver anything worth talking about anytime soon. Especially with the comment recently that they are now focused on the User experience. Isn’t that what Jobs said back in 2007 with Apple? Why haven’t they been focused on the user experience before now? The fact that no-one is developing apps for their device despite their huge penetration should have screamed something at them before now? As has been well covered the 2 main players are Apple and Android devices. However the whole Microsoft, Nokia, Skype, Facebook tie now makes it possible that the next device delivered combing those 4 power houses could offer a lot to the consumer market. However while I feel right now like many others that RIM may end up another tech giant confined to the history books I do hope they get back on track and don’t live behind the illusion that just because they have a lot of money that all is well. I want them back offering choice in this most fantastic marketplace. I want to want a Blackberry again.

However on to the nub of the issue and what all the above drivel was leading to is that I get asked very regularly what phone to go with and I will NOT be advising people to get a Blackberry (and haven’t done so for quite a few months now). I’ll be saying iPhone or Android (and keeping an eye on the Windows phone) for the foreseeable future.