Geek News: Latest Technology, Product Reviews, Gadgets and Tech Podcast News for Geeks


Out of the Shadow of the iPhone

Posted by Andrew at 4:42 AM on March 7, 2012

Samsung Galaxy BeamAt this time of year the technology circus does its tour of the world….CES in Las Vegas, MWC in Barcelona and CeBIT in Hanover, Germany. Interspersed are product launches by major companies like Apple.

When Apple and subsequently Microsoft decided to move away from the industry events and do their own mini-shows, many commentators noted that it was disappointing that the market leaders weren’t going to be attending and predicted the death of the big show. From all the evidence I see, it’s been the best thing that ever happened.

Take Mobile World Congress last week – it was a great show with Samsung, Nokia, HTC, RIM all putting out great phones and tablets. With the figures showing Android well ahead of iOS in the US new handset market and the absence of Apple at the show, it really felt like smartphones had come out from under the shadow of the iPhone. Companies were daring to innovate and be a bit different because the competition is no longer simply about being better than the iPhone, it’s about being better than Android competitors.

HTC’s One line-up might not be earth-shattering but there’s a progression from entry-level to top-end. Samsung continues to produce different sizes and integrate other technologies, such as pico projectors (Galaxy Beam), and Nokia supports its long-term plans in the Windows Phone market while still introducing a bonkers megapixel camera on the older line.

In comparison, Apple would have produced largely the same phone as the last one, only a bit faster, yet would have stolen all the headlines. Great products for sure, but Apple isn’t innovating, it’s perfecting.

The smartphone market is in rude health and it’s great to see genuine innovation and competition rather than the predictable progression of a near monopoly.

It’s The Content, Stupid

Posted by tomwiles at 8:28 PM on October 6, 2011

Admittedly I’m coming in late to the party. I had all sorts of excuses – I already have a MacBook Pro, as well as the latest generation of iPod Touch. Why would I need an iPod with a giant screen to run mostly the same apps I can already run on my iPod?

After buying an iPad 2, I understand what all the fuss is about. It has also become immediately clear to me why there is a booming iPad market but currently not much of a tablet market. The reason is staring everyone in the face, yet few seem to see it, particularly large tech companies that are struggling to compete in the wrong arena.

The iPad is admittedly an incredibly nice piece of hardware – however, that’s not why it is so successful. The reason for the iPad’s overwhelming appeal and success is very simple – it revolves in large part around being able to run well-written targeted iOS iPad-specific apps that take advantage of the iPad’s screen size and svelte form factor. At about the size of a traditional magazine, it takes the best elements of the multimedia computer and puts them into a highly-readable, touch-interactive color screen that will easily fit into places and situations where even laptop computers don’t work so well.

In short, it’s all about the content and being able to easily consume it anywhere. The content isn’t just about browsing, listening to music or watching videos. The content in large part is the iPad-specific apps themselves, some of which are incredible, such as the 100% free Flipbook RSS reader app.

Amazon has a chance at success with the 7” Kindle Fire, not so much because of the $200 price point, but because Amazon has a lot of ready-made content hanging out in its cloud. Many people pooh-poohed the original Amazon Kindle, only to witness it quickly morph into a success. The Kindle was not and has never been a success because of the Kindle hardware – the plethora of Amazon ebook content is what caused the original Kindle rise to stardom. The availability of the content finally got the ebook ball rolling in a huge way, and the mass market finally realized the incredible convenience and advantage of having a cloud-connected ereader.

Would-be iPad competitors will never effectively compete with hardware alone, no matter how sexy or inexpensive they are able to make it. To borrow part of a phrase from an early 1990’s presidential campaign, we would all do well to paste this sign on our wall:

“It’s the content, stupid.”

The Best; Then There’s The Rest

Posted by tomwiles at 9:37 PM on December 10, 2010

One of the classic methods of marketing centers around the idea of bundling; i.e. getting people to pay for lower-quality merchandise by pushing sheer quantity over quality. This strategy isn’t always successful, but when it works it can work brilliantly.

When I was a teenager growing up in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, music was sold via vinyl records. The “hit” songs were played on the radio, thus creating artist familiarity and product demand. Radio stations of the day would sometimes play the “B” side of the record but most often they only played the “hits.” In other words, they weren’t playing the “misses” on the radio.

In a stroke of marketing genius, however, someone somewhere got the idea to bundle the musical misses and missteps on the “B” side of the vinyl records. When 33-RPM records came along, this trend was amplified because there was more room than ever. Make consumers think they were buying not only the artist’s latest hits, but throw that filler material in there too. Sometimes with certain artists the filler material could be brilliant too. However, most of the time it was just filler material.

This strategy mostly worked until digital recording and playback techniques, combined with the Internet, caused massive changes in the way people manufactured, discovered, marketed, and purchased music. For a variety of reasons, today people tend to only want to buy what they consider to be the very best “hits” from services such as iTunes, and there’s little to no market for the “filler” misses.

The same marketing concept has been used via bundling to get people to pay for “filler” cable TV channels. Want a “good” channel such as Discovery, TLC, or History? Sorry sir, that sandwich only comes with pickles, mustard and horse radish – take it or leave it.

What consumers often fail to realize is that substantial portions of their cable TV and/or satellite bills are paid directly to bundled channel providers that they probably never watch. Bundled mediocrity gets rewarded.

Why are you mindlessly paying good money for bundled channels you probably don’t know the names of? Stop rewarding bundled mediocrity. Turn off your cable or satellite subscription. I promise you – your heart won’t suddenly stop beating. The world won’t suddenly come to an end.

Browser Market Share Shocker

Posted by Alan at 5:32 AM on August 2, 2010

It’s been a while since I paid attention to web traffic, specifically browser numbers.  So, what I saw today was a bit of a shock.

It seems things have been changing recently, on just about every front.

For a start, I thought Firefox was gaining share.  I seem to think I heard that in several places.  I also thought Explorer was losing, Chrome was on the rise, and Safari and Opera didn’t much play in this game.

But today, August 1, 2010, NetMarketShare released their July numbers for the browser battle.  And it seems that, not since Explorer vs Netscape, has there been this much of a battle.

For starters, IE has gained share for the second straight month – 59.75% > 60.32% > 60.74%.  Needless to say, Microsoft is touting this all they can.

The next shocker was that Firefox has LOST share – for the third straight month.  They have dropped from 24.59% to 22.91% since April, 2010.  Since I have a techie website, and see mostly Firefox and Chrome in my stats, I may be a little jaded here, but I honestly thought Firefox and Chrome were the big winners recently.

Chrome, it turns out, has also dropped some, though.  Not much, but 7.24% to 7.16% is a drop, none-the-less.  Especially since they have been on a steady upward trajectory since launch.  In fact, this their first drop ever.

Safari has been on a steady rise for the past few months, going from 4.24% in September 2009 to 5.09% in July 2010.  This was another shocker, since I had no idea anyone running Windows was using Safari.  But, Safari’s market share outpaces Apple’s OS which hangs in at 5.06% versus Windows’ 91.32%.  Is this making sense to anyone?

Finally, Opera, also has risen.  They remain far behind, but they rise little by little.  Again, it seems to be at the expense of Firefox and Chrome.  For July they topped out at 2.45% over June’s 2.27%.

As I mentioned, I run a techie site, much like this one, so my view is skewed.  But, most of my users are on Firefox and Chrome and I have seen no real drop in the numbers.  But, it looks like the masses are going with the defaults – IE and Safari.  With more people coming online all of the time this is a trend that could, against all odds, continue.  The third-world may rule our future after all.