Friday, May 4, 2012

Busy Week in Mobile Land

It's been a busy week in the mobile realm, everything from BlackBerry's user conference to rumors regarding the new iPhone.

BlackBerry

RIM held it's annual user conference this week, I went to the one last year and while it was good for general knowledge, I felt that this year there wouldn't be much to gather from it.  RIM realized the turnout was meager since I had both a call from RIM asking me if I was going and an email offer from RIM for free tickets to the "BlackBerry Jam" developer event.  The developer event promised developers free test devices, it also promised developers $10,000 in profits the first year on any app they develop, with the caveat that the app was a certified BlackBerry 10 app, which to me means that RIM will cherry pick the apps they'll support. 

In the keynote address RIM announced that it listened to it's customers and realize that they like their keyboards, so RIM has build a device with the best virtual keyboard...  OK really? They listened to their customers who all love REAL keyboards and HATE virtual ones?  In RIM's defense they came out the next day and said that they'd always build devices with real keyboards.  RIM also mentioned earlier they were going back to their corporate roots, but again in the keynote very little was mentioned of the corporate space.   It's clear that RIM is flailing in the dark, hoping to land a punch.  From reading the press that is coming from the event, the word "Palm" is coming up a lot (you don't want your company compared to Palm), between that and a look at RIM's stock (which is at it's lowest point since early 2004), I'm thinking only a miracle can restore RIM to any sort of dominance.

Samsung

Samsung is #1!  Well sort of. Samsung took the #1 mobile spot from Nokia (mainly because Nokia, like RIM is flailing in the dark).  I think Samsung's rise is partially due to Nokia/RIM failing and partially due to the fact that Samsung has been delivering by far the best Android devices to market.  While I'm still an iPhone kind of guy, the Samsung devices are very nice, sleek, powerful and professional.  Some like the Samsung Note (AKA the Phablet == Phone+Tablet) are so large that you either need to have a purse or wear it on your belt, the device is much too large for a pocket, I saw one in Miami and the woman using it was struggling to hold it.  The Galaxy III was recently announced and it also appears to be a very nice device.  Samsung though tends to be focusing on the larger device, many (including me) think they are a bit too large.

What would be interesting is if Samsung took Windows 8 and really exploited it's possibilities.  I think Windows 8 has huge potential and while I'm unsure if Nokia can do anything great with it, I think Samsung could.

Apple

Apple FINALLY announced WWDC last week.  They sort of got it right and sort of messed up all at once.  Apple usually doesn't pre-announce their event registration, which means you need to be on your toes.  Last year's conference sold out in under 8 hours and was full of individuals turning around are reselling tickets on ebay for more than face value.  This year Apple requires the purchaser be the user (with few options to move a team member into the purchaser's slot), this should keep people from selling on ebay, but it has at least one fan willing to change his name to yours so he can get into the show (I'm not sure I want two of me in this world).  Apple messed things up by opening up the doors to purchase at 5:30am PST, which meant that many of the developers on the west coast were still tucked in their beds, the tickets sold out in under 2 hours.  I just happened to check the site at 8:35 and was able to get a ticket for myself.  This will be my first WWDC and I'm a bit excited about it.

There are more rumors regarding the new iPhone 5 (we all love rumors don't we).  The latest have it as using a Liquid Metal body, at 2mm thinner and 4 inches tall (but same width), the size would mean that the iPhone 5 would have the dimensions of a widescreen TV.  There are also more rumors about Apple working with a haptic display that would give users tactile feedback from the display.

Microsoft/Nook

It's been announced that Microsoft and Barnes & Nobel are creating a new company around the Nook that they are calling "Newco" (this is a placeholder for the real name).  At first everyone thought this meant Nook would be migrating to Windows 8, but the folks at B&N said no, the Nook would always run Android, this leads me to think that they'll be developing a new device, with a new name, that could run Windows 8.  There's huge potential in this relationship for Microsoft, the biggest is that B&N already has a following, they have ebooks and they have a proven ecosystem (none of which Microsoft has right now).  I'm thinking the biggest mover in 2013 may be Microsoft, they don't have much to lose in the mobile space and they have the most to gain from being risky, the real question is "Will Microsoft stop playing it safe".

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