Chocolate Vapor

This looks absolutely gorgeous.
But until I see something besides (great) Photoshopped 3-D renderings and (shitty) After Effects video demos, it’s all just smoke and mirrors. Vaporware.
Syncing? Responsive touchscreen? Integrated mapping, email, contacts, media and browsing? Easy to use? Great applications?
I hope so, but something tells me LG is going to let me down.

innovation vs invention

The spark of this entry came from a post written by Tomi T Ahonen on the blog Communities Dominate Brands.
In his post, Ahonen blasts Forbes for an article titled, Nokia’s Motorola Moment. The crux of his argument is that Forbes has gotten gotten all the facts wrong, and that most of the innovations being credited to Apple and their iPhone were actually introduced by Nokia years before.
To Ahonen’s credit, the Forbes article does have holes, and there are generalizations that don’t hold up. That being said, I do agree with Forbes that Nokia isn’t bringing it’s A-game with regard to high-end smartphones. Like Motorola a few years ago, Nokia is being reactive to competitors, rather that being proactive and innovative.
Ahonen’s fallacious reasoning stems from his not accepting of this distinction that Professor Jan Fagerberg explained in his 2004 paper, Innovation: A Guide to the Literature:

Invention is the first occurrence of an idea for a new product or process. Innovation is the first commercialization of the idea.

In a tirade tinged with hostility, Ahonen provides example after example of Nokia being first to introduce various features on mobile devices – equating ‘being the first’ to ‘innovators’:

Forbes claims clearly that Nokia is lagging in innovation compared to Apple’s iPhone. Now, the current iPhone 3GS is yes, a very impressive smartphone. Lets look at a few of the innovations we witnessed in this newest model, one month ago? Compared with the iPhone 3G from a year ago, the “innovative” 3GS upgraded its camera to 3 megapixels. Nokia is clearly not as innovative, as Nokia’s first 3 megapixel cameraphone (and yes, smartphone) was released in 2006. The 3GS now added video recording ability to the camera feature of its phone. When did Nokia’s (smartphone) cameraphones all incorporate this “innovative” ability? in 2004. Apple now offers video recording at 30 frames per second at so-called DVD quality. First Nokia smartphone to have 30 fps DVD quality video recording came out in 2006. The 3GS added MMS picture messaging support in 2009. Nokia’s cameraphones have all been MMS compliant at least since 2003 (proabably 2002, I don’t remember exactly). Apple added Autofocus in 2009. Nokia had autofocus early in 2007.

What Ahonen is clearly not understanding is that more and better features do not mean innovation. Was Nokia the first to have many of the featured mentioned? Absolutely. Did they innovate within the mobile space with these features? No. They might have invented or pioneered with particular technologies, but they did not innovate.
Fagerberg explains this lag between invention and innovation:

Sometimes invention and innovation are closely linked, to the extent that it is hard to distinguish one from another …In many cases, however, there is a considerable time lag between the two. In fact a lag of several decades or more is not uncommon (Rogers 1995). Such lags reflect the different requirements for working out ideas and carrying them out in practice. First of all, while inventions may be carried out anywhere such as, for instance, in universities, innovations occur mostly in firms in the commercial sphere. To be able to turn an invention into an innovation a firm normally needs to combine several different types of knowledge, capabilities, skills and resources.

What Nokia is failing to provide is a unified Human Experience that brings together messaging, maps, email and web browsing and effortless application purchasing and downloading – something that marks Apple’s iPhone as a true innovation in mobile computing. The iPhone continues to lack certain features that some people consider necessities, but what is does do, it does so amazing well.
At this point in the history of technology, its pointless to compete on features alone. My universal remote for my cable TV has every button imaginable on it, but that doesn’t make it innovative. And conversely, just because Twitter has none of the features available on Facebook doesn’t make it any less of the innovation in communication it’s proving to be.
I won’t break down each place Ahonen misses the mark in his argument, but suffice to say he goes on and on with examples of Nokia having bigger screens first on their phones, being the first to have an mobile application store (Ovi), the size of Nokia’s app store being bigger and on and on with precedents made by Nokia. But let’s remember Fagerberg’s ‘lag’ quote from above. Invention doesn’t mean innovation.
And no matter how matter how many features a Nokia phone might have under the hood, they’re pointless without an easy and innovative way to access them.
UPDATE: I just remembered another ‘first’ for Nokia – gaming on mobile devices with their N-GAGE. Another example of pioneering, but not innovating. Once again, the innovation awards goes to Apple with their SDK, App Store and integrated accelerometer all wrapped up in an easy to use system.

Jor-El keeping it real

You will travel far, my little Kal-El. But we will never leave you… even in the face of our death. The richness of our lives shall be yours. All that I have, all that I’ve learned, everything I feel… all this, and more, I… I bequeath you, my son. You will carry me inside you, all the days of your life. You will make my strength your own, and see my life through your eyes, as your life will be seen through mine. The son becomes the father, and the father the son. This is all I… all I can send you, Kal-El.

—Jor-El aka Marlon Brando aka The Greatest of All Time, Superman

having the vision

This past Wednesday TechCrunch received a zip archive of over 300 of Twitter’s internal strategy documents. TechCrunch founder, Michael Arrington, pondered what to do about this ‘dillemma’.
Prominent Mac blogger, John Gruber reacted to this on his site, Daring Fireball, “What you may ask, is the dilemma, since it is clear that any decent human being would simply refuse to have anything to do with something so lurid?”
Then on Thursday, TechCrunch went ahead and published some details from the documents. They didn’t include what were supposedly embarrassing details about Twitter employees. Some would consider this approach the least sleezy way to handle the private documents and others would say it’s just journalism.
But that’s not what I want to focus on in this post. The information is now public and I’m not going to act like it doesn’t exist.
I’m interested in vision and it’s clear that Biz Stone has it. This is from a strategy meeting on February 25, 2009:

If we had a billion users, that will be the pulse of the planet.

and from a March 13, 2009 management meeting:

Can we do to google what google has done to others?

When I see statements like that, it reaffirms my believe that many, many people are underestimating what Twitter is, and what Twitter could become.
It’s easy to dismiss Twitter as a platform for narcissists, Millennials, and creepy stalkers. To do so is to miss the point. It’s about communication. That’s really it. Simple communication. And in a world where we’re being increasingly inundated with technology and mobile devices, platforms like Twitter are starting to look more and more appealing as a means to communicate.
I recently deactivated my Facebook account and in hindsight, I realized that Twitter was Facebook without the extra baggage (I tweeted that moment of realization).
When you combine a service as easy to use and far-reaching as Twitter with visionary leadership, big things happen (good and bad). Goals of wanting to become the ‘pulse of the planet’ give me chills and bring to mind co-founder of Google, Larry Page’s goals at Stanford when he told his professor (I’m paraphrasing) he wanted to download the entire Internet to his laptop. His professor thought he was nuts and that the goal was impossible.
I’m sure people are saying the same thing about Twitter.

find Bill Gates a browser!

CNet interviewed Bill Gates this week and got his comments on Google’s Chrome OS.
Gates gets all ontological and shit on the web browser and browser-ness:

It just shows the word browser has become a truly meaningless word …What’s a browser? What’s not a browser? If you’re playing a movie, is that a browser or not a browser? If you’re doing annotations, is that a browser? If you’re editing text, is that a browser or not a browser? In large part, it’s more an abuse of terminology than a real change.

Gates’s confusion on what a browser is and isn’t could explain a lot of things about where Microsoft is. It could explain why their own Internet Explorer Browser continues to lose ground to Firefox, Safari and Chrome.
Microsoft is still very much rooted in an 80’s engineer mindset with a thorough lack of focus on design and usability. As we watch the world of software continue to evolve – in the browser and on mobile devices we find Microsoft in continual ‘catch up’ mode.
The same holds true for multi-touch. I have yet to see any noteworthy Surface applications that aren’t internal prototypes (And please oh please, no more demos of people pinching and spreading virtual polaroids or using PC Paintbrush with their fingers).
All of this unnovation comes despite spending over $9 billion each year on R&D.

Apple pulls an ‘iTunes’ on AT&T

Craig Moffett from Bernstein Research on the iPhone-AT&T relationship (via ZDNet):

Apple has radically tilted the strategic playing field away from the network operator in favor of the device manufacturer …Remarkably, Apple has so thoroughly stolen the customer relationship – who would argue that Apple iPhone customers’ first affinity is to the device rather than to the network – that the network is not only irrelevant, it is rather a source of derision.


Apple’s direct-to-consumer end run around the wireless industry is in many ways simply a repeat of its brilliant negotiation with the music industry at the dawn of iTunes back in 2001. Less than a decade later, Apple has managed to capture considerable value from the music industry as it sells ever more iPods.

This isn’t a new discovery, but I love how long it takes big business to see the error in their ways.
I also hate the irony in the fact that the ‘phone’ part of the iPhone is the weakest link in my owning an iPhone.

names are important

So Google has a browser called Chrome, and they’ve decided to call their new operating system Chrome as well.
Gizmodo responsed to this today, ‘Android, Chrome OS Relationship Confusing Everyone, Including Google‘.
John Gruber responds more specifically to the wack-ass nomenclature:

A web browser is very different from an OS, even if the OS only runs the browser. Google themselves recently conducted a survey that suggests that most regular people do not understand at all what a “web browser” is. If regular people are confused about what a browser is, it’s a good bet they’re even more confused about what an “OS” is. Calling them both “Chrome” isn’t going to help clarify the matter.

This reminds me of Amazon’s recent ‘Kindle’ iPhone app.
Wait, I thought that white, e-ink device on my desk was a Kindle? Now, if I don’t have a Kindle, I can still have a Kindle (on my iPhone)?

his space, my space, everyone’s iPhone space

Last week Michael Surtees wrote a post on how he organizes his iPhone home screen.
It wasn’t long after I bought my iPhone that I too started to organize my home screen based on my usage patterns. Over the last year and half my usage patterns have shifted slightly as new applications have become available but overall I’ve remained fairly consistent (see my original post from July 2008 for reference).
One of the biggest changes I made was getting rid of most of the webpage links from my home screen(s) and putting them in my bookmarks list within Safari. It used to be a novelty to have all these sparkly little webpage icons on my screen, but as I’ve acquired more and more apps, I’ve become more utilitarian and conservative with what I deem worthy of a spot on my home screen.
So In response to Surtees, I’ve mapped my iPhone space. Unlike Surtees, I organize icons in orbits, with the bottom left-hand corner being the nucleus and where my ‘clicking thumb’ sits (I write right-handed but I do a lot of things with my left hand). Similar to him though, I’m less strict with my second and third home screens.

where to get off the subway

At some point, yes, there will be an iPhone app for everything.
Add Exit Strategy to the list of ‘Things People Used to Do With Their Own Brains’.
Makes me think about all the things I use to rely on myself for – remembering peoples’ phone numbers, knowing the order of songs on CDs (and playing CDs through), and soon, where to best position myself on subway cars.
I can’t say my life is simpler or more complex with technology. Nor can I say it’s better or worse.
Just thinking out loud.
Exit Strategy via kottke