Now here’s a photo I don’t recall shooting, on Aug. 12, 2014, at 6:20 p.m. PDT, using Nokia Lumia Icon. I captured San Diego Comic-Con 2014 using the Windows Phone—and with surprising satisfaction. But my then […]
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.
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.
I cursed Microsoft’s find Windows Phone feature yesterday, after my mom misplaced—okay, lost—her Nokia Lumia Icon. I knew GPS might be a bit inaccurate, but repeated attempts to locate the device put it inside a building, then in the parking lot, then somewhere else around the facility. Icon’s location bounced around, as every effort to lock it failed and the device frequently couldn’t be found.
But I wrongly faulted the tech. Turns out, Microsoft’s service accurately provided the locations. Mom’s Icon was on the move, something that wouldn’t be known for several hours later.
Three weeks ago, at BetaNews, I asked “What tech changed your life in 2014?” Readers answered there and on Google+. As the new year starts, I wonder what will make all our lives better. Apple Watch? I doubt it. Shake me awake from the nightmare if the wearable isn’t the most successful flop of 2015. Windows 10? Skipping nine is a good sign, but is giving users more of what they don’t want to let go life changing? Eh, no.
At the precipice of looking ahead, this is a last look behind. Once Consumer Electronics Show leaks and early announcements rush the InterWebs, all eyes will turn forward—blind to what many people have, focusing on what they want instead. That’s because “aspiration” is the defining word of the technology era, and the promise if you buy newfangled This or That your life will be better for it. Sometimes the promise is true, but too often not, which is why I asked the important question three weeks ago.
Looking back on this last day of the year, I wonder how my daily tech changed so much since the first. On Jan. 1, 2014, my core computing comprised Chromebook, Nexus tablet, and Nexus smartphone. Midyear, I switched out to all Microsoft—buying Surface Pro 3 and Nokia Lumia Icon. While commendable the effort, Windows poorly fit my lifestyle. Today, I’m all Apple—13-inch MacBook Pro Retina Display with 512GB SSD, iPhone 6 128GB, and iPad Air 128GB. I can’t imagine using anything else.
I abandoned my Google lifestyle for numerous reasons, with my desire to create more content rather than consume it being primary. Google gives great contextual computing, with respect to information that is relevant to where you are and even what you want. But Android and Chrome OS, and their supporting apps, aren’t mature enough platforms for consistent content creation.
Over at BGR, Tero Kuittinen writes: “Apple suddenly looks a lot like Nokia“. There’s no looks like at all. As I explain in my book, The Principles of Disruptive Design, Apple, like Nokia in 2007, is unable to transcend design concepts that lock it into an older UX paradigm; from top of the mountain can’t see the crumbling below; and is unwilling to jeopardize the success it has to risk something new.
While checking RSS feeds yesterday, I came across one of John Gruber’s many cuss posts. By cuss post I don’t mean bad language but his cussing out something or someone, often with one word and link to source. John used “What a turd” to describe a video comparing Nokia’s N97 promo video against supposedly real world experience (Post title: “Nokia N97 Promotional Video vs Real Life”).
Nokia would have kicked Apple’s ass long ago.
Last week, I ordered the Nexus One during Google’s event, before the invited attendees got their free review units. Google shipped the phone by free FedEx overnight, so I began using the so-called “superphone” on Wednesday (January 6). Google impressed with the simple ordering process and prompt delivery.
I would recommend the Nexus One over iPhone to most anyone. While I’m no fan of Nexus One’s industrial design, the phone satisfies in most of the important ways: Call quality, user interface responsiveness, overall speed of the device, 3G telephony and data reception, ease of typing on touchscreen, and applications availability. Google and HTC have put together a simply satisfying smartphone.
Nokia World convenes for two days in Stuttgart, Germany (local time there, 9 a.m.). It’s an event that many US analysts, bloggers or journalists will look at with disdain. If hype were the only measure of success, Apple would be the world’s largest handset manufacturer. But for all the iPhone bark—much of it coming from the United States—Nokia has got way more bite. Not that most Americans will hear about it.
I am mad at Apple and Nokia. Apple has the best mobile software and services platform anywhere. Nokia offers the best hardware platform—granted, HTC closes in. This difference has forced me to choose one company’s smartphone over the other, leaving behind dissatisfaction with the compromise.