408,000 is small. Really?

Regarding Palm’s recent revenue forcast (via NYTimes):

The company shipped a total of 960,000 smartphones during the third quarter ended February 26, but sell-through — which reflects how many devices actually end up in consumers’ hands — totaled 408,000 units, lagging the 600,000 units or more many analysts expected.

I understand that the point to consider with this news is the decreasing sales trend not the total number of units sold, but it’s still sad to think that a company that moved over 400,000 units is doing badly.
As much of a Apple enthusiast as I am, I really want to see Palm succeed with their Pre and WebOS. They need to break off from their shitty mobile provider, Sprint.

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to Flash or not to Flash

One guy’s story of trying to go Flash-free:

For me, the conclusion after February was clear. I missed out on a few things that annoyed me intensely. Most of the things I missed out on were videos on websites like TED and the New York Times. I had some catching up to do after February. With the help of ClicktoFlash and Youtube and Vimeo’s HTML5 players I was able to watch most of the video content out there, but there is still a lot that you can’t watch without that little plugin. I also ‘missed out’ on a truckload of so-called ‘rich advertisements’, which I absolutely adored.

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Health, Technology

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the elevator pitch – crystalizing your idea

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A good way to tell if you understand your own business plan, product or service is whether you can describe it in the length of time an average elevator ride takes, aka the ‘elevator pitch’. Sometimes that’s all the time you’ll get to pitch it to the person making or breaking your future.
The smart people over at Knowledge Games have a great exercise to help you achieve that level of clarity and simplicity:

Often this is the hardest thing to do in developing a new idea. An elevator pitch should be short and compelling description of the problem you’re solving, who you solve it for, and one key benefit that distinguishes it from its competitors. It must be unique, believable and important. The better and bigger the idea, the harder the pitch is to write.

A great example of a company who understands this is The Future Well.
What is The Future Well and what do they do?
They provide a much needed service with an admirable focus, and they can tell you:

We identify either creative or disruptive business opportunities within the health space and design beautiful solutions that positively impact health and happiness.

And:

Sometimes we identify the opportunity and find the right partners to execute it and sometimes we build it ourselves. Other times, we help guide clients so the product/service is simple, elegant, and wrapped up with a business strategy that leverages their core competencies.

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Compact Discs

Remember when compact discs cost upwards of $20 each? I’m talking back in the early ninties days of long boxes.
Well, Universal Music has some news (vis iPodNN):

Universal Music Group on Thursday said it would cut the prices on most CDs to 10 or less. Known as the Velocity program, it would see album prices range between6 and $10. The label would count on sales volume, as well as costlier deluxe versions, to make up for the lower 25 percent profit margin.

The irony is that CDs should have cost between 6-10 dollars twenty years ago.
We were squeezed for years by the record labels with their enormous profit margins.
Now they can get the squeeze.

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meds not always the answer

After an hour-long wait I had a great conversation with my doctor. I explained that the medication he suggested I take before bed (for a non-terminal issue) made me feel drowsy in the morning, almost like I was hungover and that I stopped taking it.
He told me he was glad I stopped taking it. He went on to express his frustration that drug companies create conditions and diseases that don’t exist and that while my condition might cause discomfort, the med he prescribed was by no means the only solution.
I’ve become more and more jaded with the US healthcare system and it was refreshing to talk to a doctor that didn’t feel like he was in a drug company’s back pocket.

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Education, Health

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Design for Developers

This past week at Roundarch we kicked off the visual design phase of an iPhone appication we’re developing for a client. As I began reviewing the designs my teammate Vika had started, one of our multi-talented senior developers, Chris Nojima, alerted us to the iPhone Dev Center on Apple’s website.
The iPhone Dev Center is just another example of Apple paying attention to every detail. There’s some people that think Apple’s products are all about shine and polish and pretty colors.
If you haven’t had the pleasure of using a iPhone to dispel this theory, you need go no further than the iPhone Dev Center to see how much Apple focuses on how the iPhone works. Coding tips, How-To videos, Human Interface Guidelines … it’s all there.
And if you can easily become an Apple Designer and/or Developer (or at least see what’s involved) for free by registering. If you already have an ID from iTunes, you can just use that instead.

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Education, Technology

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iPhone Human Experience

We’re kicking off ux and design for an iPhone application at Roundarch, and I happened to come across a very insightful post by the infamous Jakob Nielsen on iPhone UI design.
Love him or hate him, he makes some solid points, some of which are obvious, some aren’t. Here are a few that I dug:

A very strong conclusion from our iPhone study is that people install many more apps than they actually use.

If you’re designing a “serious” business app that you think offers real benefits to your customers, you might feel above the fray of rude-bodily-noise apps. But you’re not … Your website is part of the Web ecosystem, and your site’s usability is dictated by the overall Web Human Experience, which is dominated by the sum of all other sites people visit.

Registration can certainly provide added business value and added usage convenience to your customers. But this is true only if people actually complete the registration. Sadly, if you push registration at users before they’re sufficiently convinced of your app’s value, many will simply back right out of the app and never try it again. You’ve then lost the one chance you’ll ever get at making a first impression (actually, any impression).

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Innovation, Technology

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more thoughts on standardization

Continuing my thoughts from last month on the Unified Mobile Platform.
I’ve been thinking about standards and standardization, theory vs practice, and relevance.
Ok, first off, let’s think what would happen if we took the premise of the Unified Mobile Platform (if you want to know what a world of ‘unification’ looks like, check out that beautiful site) and moved it to another industry, say – automobiles.
Suppose all the car makers in the United States banded together ‘for the common good’ in order to create a standard car-type and engine-type. An ‘open ecosystem’ in which all car makers could create cars that whose parts would be compatible with all the other car makers’ parts.
Yeah. It sounds great but it’s bullshit.
It’s bullshit not only because it would never work, but it’s also extremely boring and flies in the face of how innovation, art and expression happen.
Sure, a world full of ‘Ferrari-types’ sounds great, right? Everyone is driving different ‘flavors’ of Ferarris. That’s the ideal scenario, but if this were to really become a reality, and if we know anything about US car makers, we’d most likely be stuck with a country full of Ford Escorts.
Do I really have to say this? Variety is the spice of life. (UGH)
The truth is, even if we lived in a world of Ferraris some people would still be unsatisfied. That’s why we have Lamborghinis and Audis and Porsches and Bugattis and Toyotas and Volkswagens and Jeeps and Chevys and Fords and the dozens of other makes.
Even when we do have alliances and open standards, things don’t always hold together like people envision. Case in point – WebKit. WebKit is the ‘engine’ that power MobileSafari on the iPhone as well as the browsers for Google’s Android OS and Palm’s WebOS.
Actually, here’s a list of browsers that use WebKit. If you notice from that link, the only browser that passes the Acid3 test 100 percent is MobileSafari. So even when you have adoption of open standards, things still diverge and become customized. That’s how humans work. Think about our workspaces. We surround ourselves with plants and lights and figures and pictures and books. At least those of use who are creative do that.
Depending on your point of view, open systems can fall victim to fragmentation, as some say is the case with Google Android
OR
Open systems can mutate and evolve into different ‘flavors‘, as is the case with the open source operating system, Linux.
The only way to ensure a system neither fragments nor mutates is to have it controlled by one company. Case in point: Apple’s iPhone OS as well as their proprietary DRM technology formerly used on music and currently still in use on their video content. Like it or hate it, Apple has succeeded in creating a completely consistent and stable operating system with iPhone OS because they control (and don’t license) the technology as well as the hardware.
What we’re seeing with the Unified Mobile Platform isn’t a initiative done out of good will and progress, but one done out of fear.

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Sony – competing with and helping Apple

A thought regarding to the news that Sony plans new mobile initiative to take on Apple.
First off, for the millionth time – don’t tell us what you’re going to do, if you’re going to try to beat Apple, just do it. Pre-announcements have a bad track record of not coming true.
But my main point is this, Sony cannot even entertain the idea that it’s possible to give Apple serious competition within the mobile sector when they’re creating all sorts of peripherals and docks specifically designed for iPhones and iPod Touches.
This is like you and your neighbor trying to sell your houses at the same time, and you go over to their house every day to paint, mow their lawn and work on their landscaping.
Sony can’t continue to feed Apple’s product ecosystem if they want a chance at making a bigger dent in the PMP and mobile markets. I know, there’s a ton of cash in the peripherals market for Apple products but that’s something that Sony will have to sacrifice if they want to get back to the Walkman days.

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Technology

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just turn it into a game

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I’m like a kid, if you want me to take interest in something, just turn it into a game. Like my addiction to Wii Sports, Push Ups Dojo is a another game to get me off my ass.
Case in point: Push Ups Dojo
The gist: put your iPhone on iPod Touch on the floor in front of your face and tap your nose to the screen as you do push-ups.
It might sound silly, but it makes the push-ups I’ve already been doing for 9 months that much more enjoyable. I don’t have time to go to a gym, nor do I want to pay for a gym membership.
My only complaint is that there looks to be only 4 levels to unlock on this and not to pat myself on the back, but I’ll have the 50 reps level unlocked by Wednesday.

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Innovation, Technology

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