RIM, Buy Yourself A Clue

A “high level RIM employee” shot off an open letter the co-CEO’s of RIM pleading for them to get their heads out of their asses (in so many words). Although the points this person makes I’ve read elsewhere and thought myself, it’s still sound advice:

Rather than constantly mocking iPhone and Android, we should encourage key decision makers across the board to use these products as their primary device for a week or so at a time — yes, on Exchange! This way we can understand why our users are switching and get inspiration as to how we can build our next-gen products even better! It’s incomprehensible that our top software engineers and executives aren’t using or deeply familiar with our competitor’s products.

I also enjoyed the comparison of RIM’s SDK to a “rundown 1990′s Ford Explorer”. Odd choice of vehicle, but it works. I would have picked something uglier, like a 90’s Buick Skylark. My coworker Victor suggested a 90’s Chevrolet Cavalier.

Google+

So yes, Google is now in the social networking game with their new Google+. Some people have written about how well-designed it is from a UI perspective. Others have bashed them and dismissed the project.
Here’s the deal. Google, as a company must do at some point, has to evolve. If they don’t they’ll end up like Alta Vista and all the other search engines from the 90’s. This doesn’t mean they’ll succeed or that you have to join their club.
The problem is, they’ll really not trying to evolve as much as they’re growing like a cancer.
Apple has changed their focus and now makes more profit off of iPads, iPhones and iPods than they do on desktops. They also have no problem killing their darlings in the name of innovation and progress.
Google won’t let go of search, search is their equivalent to Microsoft’s Windows/Office cash cow.

Poppycock

Missile Test weighs in on all the defense spending going on in the United States and also how we as US citizens are enjoying our ‘freedoms’:

Americans have less personal freedoms since the attacks on 9/11. We are watched, spied upon, patted down, forced to peel down layers of clothing, etc. Thousands are humiliated everyday, forced to prove their innocence in a country whose due process laws are among the standard-bearers for the rights of the accused throughout the world. But now, all of us, some on a daily basis, but at least all during the course of a year, are forced to show they harbor no ill will towards the building/plane/sporting event they are about to enter, by showing that there are no malicious materials on their person or in their possession. We are a nation of the accused, pouring more than half a trillion of our dollars every year into a system that uses that cash to blow things up overseas and overreact to the threat of terrorism at home.

The Right

In light of New York’s legalizing of same sex marriages, Chris Rock’s thoughts from his 2004 act seem appropriate:

People always say that we can’t have gay marriage because marriage is a sacred institution, that happens in the church. It’s sacred… no it’s not! Marriage ain’t sacred! Not in America! Not in the country that watches “Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire?” or “The Bachelor” or “The Bachelorette” or “Who Wants to Marry a Midget?” Get the fuck outta here! Gay people have a right to be miserable as everybody else! Michael Jackson got married, how fuckin’ sacred is that shit?

—Chris Rock

I’ve Got My Stuff Wherever I Am

This video of Steve Jobs giving the closing keynote of the 1997 Worldwide Develops Conference (via) is awesome on 2 levels.
First, it’s awesome on the macro level. Jobs on the mic – showing clarity of vision, expressing that vision clearly and concisely and showing he understands the technology space. For anyone who’s seen any of his other keynotes over the years, this isn’t shocking, but it’s just fun to watch him command the stage.
The second level of awesome is on the micro level and it happens at around the 14:40 mark (my emphasis):

Ok, let me describe the world I live in. About 8 years ago we had high speed networking connected to our now obsolete NeXT hardware, running NeXTSTEP at the time and because we using NFS, we were able to take all of our personal data, our ‘home directories’ as we called them, off of our local machines and put them on a server. And the software made that completely transparent and because the server had a lot of RAM on it, in some cases it was actually faster to get stuff from the server than it was to get stuff off your local hard disk because in some cases it was cached in the RAM of the server if it was in popular use.

But what was really remarkable, was that the organization could hire a professional person to back up that server every night and could afford to spend a little more on that server so maybe it had redundant disk drives and redundant power supplies. And you know, in the last seven years, you know how many times I have lost personal data? ZERO. Do you know how many times I have backed up my computer? ZERO. I have computers at Apple, at NeXT, at Pixar and at home. I walk up to any of em, and log in as myself. It goes over the network, finds my home directory on the server and I’ve got my stuff wherever I am.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but he’s just described iCloud. But in 1997. I understand what he described in the keynote was networked storage, and not actually downloading things locally to your device(s), but the experience he describes is the heart of iCloud – “It goes over the network, finds my home directory on the server and I’ve got my stuff wherever I am.”
Here we are in 2011, just now catching up to Jobs’ vision.

Fuck the Platform

Sometimes I feel like the guys at 37Signals are the only voices of reason in the realms of business, design and technology.
With everyone saying the platform is the end-all, David says fuck the platform:

For all the 200,000 apps in Apple’s app store, I use two on a regular basis: Echofon and Bloomberg. Once in a while, I use Instapaper and play Civilization. And yet I use my iPhone all the time. It’s my favorite piece of technology and has been for years.

Do you know why? Because Apple nailed the basics. Safari, Camera, iPod, Clock, Weather, Photos, Messages, Mail, and Maps are the apps that I use 95% of the time. Those are the ones that made me buy the phone and stick with it. If I had to read Bloomberg on the web and couldn’t play Civilization, I’d be sad, but my day would surely go on.

I know I’m not alone. The pattern I’ve seen for many people new to iOS is a rush to try a bunch of apps and then never use most of them again. There’s a large market for people who just want the core ten apps executed even better. I’d be happy to trade my iPhone for a N9, if that core experience was stronger.

I agree 100% with David. While I admittedly have more than 10 apps on my iPhone, I rarely use more than 10 on a regular basis (I can’t delete Shazam, you never know what you’ll need to find a track, dude!). Update: I hear where David is coming from, but his essential apps are different from my essential apps which are different than your essential apps. Platforms are important.
I also find his easy dismissal of platforms ironic, given the company he works for has built a great platform for collaboration, project management and communication.
For me, I use the basics: Safari, Mail, iPod, Messages, Camera, Maps
As far as 3rd party apps: Instapaper, Reeder, Twitter
It really is a shame companies like RIM and Nokia are dropping like flies in the face of Apple. We need competition to have a healthly mobile market. As Victor Brunetti points out, a lot of time and attention went into designing the N9 experience.
During a race, there’s a different between turning your head to watch the other cars and keeping your eyes on the road (and watching the other cars in your peripheral vision).
Make a great product, don’t try and make an iPhone killer, you won’t be able to.

The HP TouchPad is available, but not really.

HP_TouchPad_email.jpg
I just got an email from HP announcing the ability to pre-order.
Aside from the phone number at the top, there is nothing clickable, save for the tiny ‘Learn More’ link buried at the bottom.
Honestly, who calls to pre-order their computers, or phones, or anything in today’s world?
If you click on the ‘Learn More’ link, you’re taken to this page:
HP_TouchPad_product_page_a.jpg
And once you click on ‘Reserve Now’ you get this modal overlay:
HP_TouchPad_product_page_b.jpg
I chose ‘Reserve Now From HP’ and I was taken to this product page:
HP_TouchPad_product_page_c.jpg
This is what you call a complete, dead-end and the worst consumer experience you can have.
It’s very evident former Apple exec Jon Rubinstein has had a huge influence on HP’s product design. Experiences like this show where he hasn’t had influence.
I keep rooting for HP and webOS, but Im not convinced they’ll succeed.

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