Late to the Party

Fortune Tech were lucky duckies and got to interview Lenovo CEO Yuanqing Yang.
When asked if his company can catch up to Apple or Samsung in smartphone sales, Yang replied:

Definitely, over time. Our mission is to surpass them.
Thanks, Yang. Noted.
Let’s check in each year for the next five years. See how that surpassing thing goes.
If you’ll indulge me for a moment, Mister Yang, sir: Now that you own Motorola, might I suggest going all future-retro with new models that look like the StarTAC and RAZR? Kids these days eat up olde timey technology gadgets.
You know, the smartphone market is still growing, but it’s also getting fairly mature. It might be wiser to use a blue ocean strategy and purse the next thing, versus swimming with the sharks in the smartphone red ocean.

No Compromise

Steven Sinofsky, 11 August 2011 (my emphasis):

We started planning Windows 8 during the summer of 2009 (before Windows 7 shipped). From the start, our approach has been to reimagine Windows, and to be open to revisiting even the most basic elements of the user model, the platform and APIs, and the architectures we support. Our goal was a no compromise design.
The Verge, 30 January 2014 (again, my emphasis):
Microsoft is once again planning to alter the way its Start Screen works in Windows 8.1 Update 1. While the software giant originally released Windows 8.1 last year with an option to bypass the “Metro” interface at boot, sources familiar with Microsoft’s plans have revealed to The Verge that the upcoming update for Windows 8.1 will enable this by default. Like many other changes in Update 1, we’re told the reason for the reversal is to improve the OS for keyboard and mouse users.
I don’t have a PhD in the English language or user interface design, but Windows 8 sounds like one big, fucking compromise.

We Are Redundant

At, Craig Karmin on the future of checking into hotels:

Guests arriving at the Aloft Hotel in Manhattan or one in Silicon Valley will soon be able to do something hotels have dreamed about offering for years: walk past the check-in desk and enter their rooms by using a smartphone as a room key.
Sounds great, right? Why do I need to talk to this human being, when I know how to get to the elevator and find my room myself?
Seems everything is more efficient when us humans stay out of the way.
Daily Exhaust contributor Bryan pointed out to me that at some point in the future we’re going to have to pay people to be unemployed because there’s not going to be any jobs left.
We love how computers make things easier.
We have to be careful what we wish for.

Valuing Brands

Microsoft is giving up the fight for the use of the name ‘SkyDrive’:

The name change comes more than six months after Microsoft was forced to rename SkyDrive following a trademark case with British Sky Broadcasting Group (BSkyB). Microsoft is positioning the new OneDrive naming as the one place for documents, photos, and other content. “Changing the name of a product as loved as SkyDrive wasn’t easy,” admits Microsoft’s Ryan Gavin. “We are excited about what is to come, and can’t wait to share more.”
Admittedly, OneDrive is a stronger name than SkyDrive, it’s just sad Microsoft has to be sued to arrive at great brand names.
This feels a lot like when Microsoft gave up on the use of ‘Metro’ for the name of the Windows 7/8 (and Phone) user interface design language.
I think what it comes down to is Microsoft doesn’t value any of it’s brands besides Windows and Office. Ballmer can do all the reorg-ing he wants to unify Microsoft, but changing what your values are is a completely different thing.
As I’ve said many times before, Microsoft is not a consumer electronics company (save for XBox). They could very well learn the skills necessary to sell to human beings, but all their success up until now has been from selling to corporations and corporate IT departments.
Can you imagine Apple giving up the rights to ‘iCloud’ or ‘iPad’ or any other brand they own? Apple understands the importance of brands beyond just being a name or a logo on a box. In the end a brand is what people say it is and all the associations they attach to it.
Microsoft still doesn’t get this. I’m not sure they ever will.
The Windows and Office brands mean everything to Microsoft, but it’s becoming clearer and clearer how little they mean to consumers. I think many people see ‘Microsoft’ and ‘Windows’ as synonymous, both inside and outside the company.
Contrast this with Apple. Depending on who you ask, Apple means iPod or iPad or iPhone or Macintosh. Or all of the above. Every one of those answers is right. Microsoft tried to dip its toes in the consumer electrics world with Zune but failed miserably. They’re trying again with their Surface tablets, but instead of starting fresh, they’re doubling down on Windows.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Microsoft decided to scrap the ‘Surface’ name as they prepare the next iteration of Windows.

Thirty Years Ago

I wish I could say I was on the original Mac thirty years ago, but I wasn’t. I was on the original IBM computer, the 5150. My father actually bought it in 1981 and it wouldn’t be until around 1990 that I remember using Windows 3.x.
Back in the pre-Windows days of the 5150, everything was done at the DOS prompt. It’s where I traversed file directories, launched programs, set up my SoundBlaster card and most importantly, installed and played video games (I remember always looking for INSTALL.EXE and SETUP.EXE).
The first time I used a Mac was at Pratt Institute during the summer of my junior year in high school in 1994.
When I started college at Rutgers in 1995, I majored in graphic design and exclusively used Macs in our computer labs.
I wouldn’t be a Macintosh owner until I was gifted a G4 tower by my parents upon graduating from my design program in 1999. My dad was computer nerd and PC guy, but understood it was important I have a Mac to work on, versus a Windows box.
After that, I never returned to the PC again.

A Base-Model Toyota Corolla

Seamus Condron at is a longtime iPhone user and self-admitted Apple fanboy, but he decided to keep an open mind and test drive a Google Nexus.
It didn’t go well:

On a spec sheet, the Nexus 5’s HD display trumps the iPhone’s considerably. And don’t get me wrong, the Nexus screen is impressive, but I prefer my iPhone 5’s. For one, it seems some of the third-party app icons on the Nexus are degraded, which I venture to guess is the fault of the app makers. That said, the app design of some of my favorites seem considerably less elegant than on iOS 7 and fonts also look bigger than necessary. In the end, I think the uniformity of iOS 7’s interface design strongly influences how I feel about how things look on the screen. I may have come around on that if I had more time with the Nexus 5, but my first impression is usually the last.
Sounds consistent with my experiences using Android—although I know the “stock” Android experience is different than what I experienced on the Samsung Galaxy S3.
My disappointment with Android comes from thousands of tiny cuts.
There’s many little details they either weird or not right: crappy typography, hokey iconography, cheesy clocks to put on your home screen, weird 3-D transitions between home screen panels, blind adherence to the Android flush-top menu bar with apps, the weird back button, choppy UI transitions, clunky icon/text sizing in the status bar, a weird mis-mash of flat & textured/gradiented UI elements.
Using an Android device feels like driving a 2010-ish, base-model Toyota Corolla (or Honda Civic)—it has everything you need in a car, but there’s just no life to it. The interior is drab and generic, the handling is fair, acceleration is weak and everything feels flimsy and plastic.

Chuck’s Pixels

—Chuck Close (American, b. 1940). Self-Portrait (Black on White), 1977. Hard-ground etching with aquatint.
(Taken at the de Young Museum, San Francisco, CA)