Tag: contextual computing

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Europe’s Anti-Google Ruling Stifles Competition

Today the European Union gave Apple a great gift to celebrate iPhone’s 10th anniversary (on June 29th): The ridiculous, record $2.7 billion fine, and associated sanctions, against Google that once again demonstrates the EU’s small-minded oversight that wrongly regulates evolving technologies in a big world. The adverse antitrust ruling finds that the online titan favored its own online shopping services (and paying customers) over rivals.

In February 2010, with the EU Competition Commission’s preliminary investigation starting, I rightly called “Google a dangerous monopoly“. Seven years later, the competitive landscape has dramatically changed, and rapidly evolves. The Commission’s action is too much, too late, and in the short-term can only benefit rivals like Apple that will dominate online activities and commerce as what we knew as traditional web search becomes something else. 

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CNET Expunged My Byline–and I Don’t Feel Fine

I made a rather startling discovery yesterday while looking for one of my old CNET News stories: My byline has been removed and changed to Staff. Not on just the one, but all. That ends any historical record reporting for the early tech website—from 1999-2003. While others sites I wrote for during 2003-2009 have vanished, CNET remained and my name as author of record on thousands of stories. It was a repository I could rely on. No longer.

The discovery came while searching for “Mac Cube: Is it all it’s cracked up to be?” The analysis sought to answer a question I had as a G4 Cube owner—as did others, many of whom were regular readers. The dek captures the story’s spirit: “Apple Computer is fending off criticism its stylish Power Mac G4 Cube is marred by cracks. But are the hair-thin lines the defects they appear to be?” 

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Tim Cook’s Last Stand

Washington Post reporter Hayley Tsukayama asks, following up on a commentary by software developer Marco Arment: “Is Apple really at the risk of becoming BlackBerry?“. The answer is absolutely “No”. But the concept is right. The fruit-logo company’s dire straight is much more profoundly catastrophic. The risk is becoming Nokia, and the path to that destination is already well-trodden.

Marco calls BlackBerry “king of smartphones”, referring to its market position before Apple released iPhone nine years ago in June. The description is apt enough. “BlackBerry’s success came to an end not because RIM started releasing worse smartphones, but because the new job of the smartphone shifted almost entirely outside of their capabilities, and it was too late to catch up”, he asserts. But smartphones were a niche category in 2007, so insignificant that analyst firms lumped the devices together with PDAs. iPhone’s disruption was far, far greater—Nokia lost its perennial global handset lead; for many of the reasons Marco identifies. Nokia, and not BlackBerry, is the metaphor, and it is frighteningly foreshadowing. 

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Google Gets Context, Sours Apple

Depending on the day, Apple or Alphabet is the world’s most valuable company as measured by market cap, and both manage the two dominant computing platforms used anywhere: iOS/OS X and Android/Chrome OS, respectively. As I write, Alphabet-subsidiary Google holds its annual developer conference. Apple’s event starts June 13.

During the opening keynote, Google CEO Sundar Pichai frames the conference and the company’s direction by rightly focusing on two fundamentally future-forward concepts: Voice and context. Google gets what Apple likely won’t present to its developers, and we’ll know next month. But based on product priority to date, the fruit-logo company is unlikely to match its rival’s commitment to the next user interface. 

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Apple Lost My Heart to Google in 2015

Whoa, the difference a year makes: On Jan. 1, 2015, my main computing devices were 13.3-inch MacBook Pro Retina Display, iPad Air, and iPhone 6—oh yeah, Apple Watch, joined them six months later. My mainstays at the start of 2016: Chromebook Pixel LS, Pixel C, Nexus 6P, and Huawei Watch. I abandoned Apple and there are no plans to return. I choose the Google lifestyle instead.

I have changed computing platforms too often during the past two decades. From the December day in 1998 when carting iMac out of CompUSA, no matter what the switch, I always returned to Apple products, even after boycotting the company during second half 2012. My last rally was months ago, before giving up Apple Watch, iPad Air 2, iPhone 6 Plus, the 6s Plus (for a single day), and MBP. I don’t expect to ever go back. The allure is gone. 

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Microsoft’s Hollywood-style Redemption Story

Satya Nadella is a man with a formidable challenge. Microsoft CEO’s predecessor, Steve Ballmer, squandered the company’s mobile fortunes. From smartphone platform leader a decade ago, the software-and-services giant is a category also-ran in 2015. Microsoft has no independent mobile platform future. The war is over. There remains this: Making alliances with old enemies to preserve existing territory, while using the foothold to reach into new frontiers.

Made available August 5th, Outlook for Apple Watch is a very smart move and metaphor for what went wrong on Microsoft mobile platforms and what has to go right to preserve and extend the legacy applications stack. While Windows 10 makes its way to Lumia devices, the future is Android and iOS and how the company supports them with contextually meaningful cloud-connected apps and services. 

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Whither Windows Death?

Over at BetaNews I pose question “Will you upgrade to Windows 10?” and provide readers a poll to answer the question. Timing coincides with the official launch of the platform tomorrow. To be brutally honest, I seriously considered using headline: “Will you upgrade to Windows Death?”

Because: if Windows 10 doesn’t succeed it will be the last viable version, given the success of Android or iOS; shipments of both mobile platforms either match or exceed Windows computers; and Microsoft’s advancing cloud strategy signals the end of Windows as we have come to know it, as the operating system evolves and updates in a manner more like Chrome OS than the big release delivered every few years. Then there is the criticism, much of it among beta testers, that makes upgrading to Windows 10 seem like Death. 

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Contextual Cloud Computing is for Everyone

Keeping with my recommendation that “Writers, Own Your Content!“, I cross-post many, but by no means all, of my BetaNews tech stories here. As explained two months ago, much of my readership engagement takes place somewhere else, which is major reason there are so few comments here. Some of them occasionally deserve additional attention.

Late yesterday I posted my review of Chromebook Pixel LS, which Google released in early March. The write-up is purposely rah-rah to impose the importance of embracing contextual cloud computing and to shake up preconceptions about Macs being the tools of the creative elite. I also call “dumb” developers who may receive free Pixels during Google I/O later this month only to then sell them online.

One reader comment, from SmallSherm, to the BetaNews version caught my attention, for accusing me of calling him (or her) stupid and for insulting readers. After writing my response, I wondered how few people would ever see the interaction, which I regard as being quite valuable, there and absolutely none her. I present our two comments for your Tuesday thought train. 

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Chromebook Pixel LS Review

Nperfect is how I describe Google’s newest, and only, computer. If you’re going to manufacturer one thing, then it should be exceptional, which is the other way I describe Chromebook Pixel LS. The company introduced the original in February 2013, available in two configurations. Twenty-five months later, the notebook refreshed—refined rather than revolutionized—beating Apple to market shipping a laptop with USB Type-C, which brings new connectivity and charging options.

FedEx delivered the costliest Chromebook configuration to my door on Friday the 13th, in March. I ordered the newest Pixel from Google two days earlier, within hours of the laptop’s launch. I use no other computer. It’s more than my primary PC and could be yours, too. This laptop rests at the precipice of future computing, for those open-minded enough to welcome it. This review is purposely preachy, which reasons hopefully will be apparent should you read all 1,800 words.

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Microsoft ‘Continuum’: Lucky Timing, Right Context

They say in business that timing is everything. Before Microsoft shown a spotlight on new Windows technology “Continuum”, earlier today, Gartner released a disturbing forecast strangely validating the concept.

The analyst firm predicts that currency devaluation will compel major computer manufacturers to raise prices as much as 10 percent—particularly across Europe and in Japan. Higher prices mean more consumers will do with leaner configurations, and many businesses will push back upgrades. All the while, PC makers will give customers less for more money by cutting back features to preserve margins and shifting sales priorities to markets where currencies are more buoyant. 

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Nexus 6 Review

When isn’t a cell phone too big? The Motorola-made, Google-branded phablet answers that question for me, and may very well for you. From Samsung’s introduction of the original Note, I scoffed at large-screen smartphones—and, honestly, the seemingly stereotypical gadget geeks using them. But big is better, and my arrogant attitude about phablets and the people buying them was unwarranted.

Simply stated: Nexus 6 is the best handset I have ever used. The experience is so fresh and delightful, the emotional reaction reminds of using the original iPhone that I purchased on launch day in June 2007. N6 shatters my negative preconception about phablets, particularly unwieldiness when used daily. That said, I made some lifestyle changes, including choice of clothing, to accommodate the mobile’s massive size. 

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The Smartwatch isn’t a Dumb Idea

Over the holiday weekend, I started using the Moto 360, which user experience is way better than anticipated. (My old watch is left in the photo.) For all the nutcases calling Apple Watch innovative and revolutionary—without there even being a device for them to test—Android Wear is, ah, timely. Google gives great utility that will be difficult for the fruit-logo company to match. Reasons are simple: Context, search, sync, UI design, and Google Now.

I resisted the smartwatch concept for having been there before. Few of the gadget geeks gushing about wearables are old enough to remember Microsoft SPOT. Mid-last decade, the company partnered with real watchmakers (Fossil, Suunto, and Swatch); the devices were as much jewelry as functional timepieces; FM radio delivered appointments, news, weather, and other alerts independent of cell phones; and battery life lasted three days or more (which wasn’t enough). By these measures, SPOT watches were so much more and still failed. Hence, these are reasons why in past analyses I called the decade-later attempt dumb. But I was wrong.