The Evolving Mobile Battle Rages On…

phonefightAs an  avid user of business technology, I try to keep abreast of the competition in mobile devices, but suffer from the dilemma that many other frustrated users do.  No one device seems to have it all covered in a way that let’s me settle on one mobile platform for communications and other business functions.  I’m not exactly on the sidelines of this epic battle among Android, IOS, Windows and others.  I’m stuck in the middle of it all.

My tether to Windows Mobile was recently undone by the lack of compelling upgrade options from my last generation Windows Mobile 7.5 device.  Unfortunately, it’s not been a clean break.  I settled on HTC’s One (Android) partially because I still couldn’t justify an iPhone as a serious replacement, but also on the hopes that the platform could give me the business seriousness of Windows with the depth of utilities and and apps in the iPhone environment.  Beware of being halfway into anything…

Just this morning I tried to receive and the upload some MS  Office docs on my Android phone to the Google drive of my child’s elementary school class.  Despite the “native” interaction you’d expect from Android and Google’s suite, I couldn’t save the .doc files to my 32GB android phone so I could then upload them to the Google drive.  The more I tried to work around the frustration, the more it became apparent that my hip new Android device seems to suffer from some of the same compatibility problems that Apple has in its closed, but wildly popular, environment.  My new phone can’t even support this simple (and widely used) document type.

tabletphone1Then it shouldn’t surprise you that I continue to carry at least 2 smartphones on most days, and up to 3 on others as I try to tap the particular strengths of each.  If my pockets look fat to you, it’s not because my wallet is overstuffed.  You probably have just seen me rolling with my 3 best (can’t-do-without-them) frenemies.  Stop me sometime, I’ll introduce you to the Bros – Sir 3GS, and the HTC twins (fraternal) – Mr. One and Mr. HD7.

Can somebody get me the Ph*** out of this mess???  With that I introduce you to Microsoft’s next volley in this battle…  That tablet’s going to look pretty silly when I hold it up to my ear to make a call.

*****

Reposted From Mobile News via ZDNET, By  

dell-venue-8-pro

Windows 8.1 gets a bad reputation as a tablet OS in spite of all the work Microsoft has put into it. While it’s true that it’s quite a stretch to build a platform that covers all possible computing forms, Windows 8.1 has some nice features that leaves Android behind.

Snap view

Microsoft wasn’t the first to develop a scheme allowing multiple apps to run and display at the same time, but it’s done it better than anyone. Snap view allows putting multiple apps onscreen and then adjusting each pane to the size that works best.

While Android doesn’t have this ability, Samsung has its multi-view which works in a similar fashion. It’s restricted to a few approved apps, though, and that is a big limiter compared to Windows 8.1. It’s only on a few Galaxy devices and not part of Android proper.

Samsung’s multi-view is better than Microsoft’s snap view in one area, and that’s the ability to rotate the screen to portrait and still use it. The Windows 8.1 snap view will only work in landscape, in fact it disables screen rotation when it’s active. That smacks of laziness of the developers of Windows and needs to be fixed.

The one restriction aside, snap view in Windows 8.1 is well implemented and it’s nice to find it ingrained in the OS.

Updates

Galaxy Note 8.0

Have a lengthy discussion about Android and it will eventually turn to the thorny subject of updates. Perhaps the lack of updates is a more accurate way to put it.

Updates to Android devices are at the whim of the device makers and carriers and there’s no guarantee that a given device will ever get that shiny new version of Android. If they do, it will likely be long after it’s available from Google.

Windows device owners aren’t saddled with this update envy, as all updates are pushed to devices. A very few may not have the smoothest update experience, but at least they get the chance to grab new updates.

While it’s true that Android devices continue working just fine without each new OS update, they do miss getting some security updates that are part of these OS renewals.

Mobile experience improvement

Android has been out longer than Windows 8, and it seems that the user experience (UX) is roughly the same as it’s been for a long time. Sure there are minor improvements with each new version, but that’s about it.

The story is different when it comes to Windows 8. While there were some serious shortcomings in the original version of Windows 8, Microsoft stepped up to the plate and ironed them out with Windows 8.1.

That Windows 8.1 rolled out so fast is a testament to the new Microsoft. The improvements that are ingrained in Windows 8.1 are not minor. The advantage of snap view is due in large part to the 8.1 upgrade.

Rumors are already appearing about the upcoming Windows 9, which will no doubt be another major step forward as far as the UX is concerned.

Sharing

We’ve been taught since an early age that sharing is a good thing, and that certainly applies to information. The ability to send information from one app to another is very powerful on mobile devices.

Both Windows 8.1 and Android have the ability to share information between apps, but the Windows implementation seems to be more consistent. The Share feature is always available right there in the Charms menu, and many apps have it implemented well.

There are a few apps that don’t have the ability to share, Google’s Chrome comes to mind, but for the most part apps make it simple to do so.

A great example of sharing in Windows 8.1 was given to me by a friend. He’s able to take ink notes in Windows Journal on his tablet and share them to his Evernote cloud where all his other notes live.

Another good example is the ability to share web pages to the Windows 8.1 Reading List app. This saves information on the web to read later in the Reading List app designed specifically for that purpose.

Sharing information is not missing from Android, but it’s more useful in Windows 8.1 in this writer’s experience.

The evolution of Windows

Windows 8.1 isn’t for everyone but it’s coming along nicely. It’s not strictly a mobile OS but it’s evolving into a decent one. The advantages discussed here are not the only ones over Android, but they are big enough to make a difference.

Some may feel that the availability of Microsoft Office on Windows 8.1 is a big advantage over Android and wonder why it’s not on this short list. While the absence of Office on Android is a disadvantage over Windows for some, it’s not for the millions of current Android users and thus is not discussed here.

Android makes more sense for some mobile users as it’s a robust platform for tablets and phones. It’s now making its way onto the desktop, too. Those wanting a pure mobile UX can do well with Android.

Windows is a better mobile OS than some realize, and it would be a mistake to overlook it. Mobile devices of all types are now available with Windows 8.1, and that alone could be an advantage for some over Android.

See Related: 

Topics: MobilityAndroidLaptopsTabletsWindows 8

James Kendrick has been using mobile devices since they weighed 30 pounds, and has been sharing his insights on mobile technology for almost that long.

The 10 Rules of Successful Entrepreneurship (Part 3 of 3 part series)

EntrepreneurContinued from the previous post…

8.  Learn to sell – this is a must-have skillset, whether you have someone in charge of sales or not…  The good news, even if you’re not born with the gift of gap, you can become better by continually getting in front of prospects and practicing your pitch.  While I do not believe in entrepreneurs pitching vaporware but if you don’t believe in your products and services, it’s impossible to convince others to believe in them (you can read between the lines)…

9.  Redefine failure – when you have your own business, often the highs are so high and the lows are so low.  But even on their gloomiest days, successful entrepreneurs feel a compulsion to make sure that failure isn’t the end of their story.  It’s OK to fall down nine times, just make sure that you get back up the 10th time.

10.  Don’t be in it just for the money – a tricky statement¸ since most entrepreneurs I know are red-blooded capitalists like me.  But as an old saying goes, money is a great motivator, not an end-all be-all.  Successful entrepreneurs are driven by desire to accomplish meaningful things while embracing it as a way of life.  Jobs once asked Sculley (back then a senior exec at Pepsi) when trying to convince him to join Apple, “do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugar water or change the world?”  Sculley came on board as the CEO of Apple (only to get fired later but that’s for another post).

While writing this 3-part post, I found myself reflecting on my own current endeavors.  Am I following the rules myself and doing everything I can to ensure their success?  What’s your answer?

Clash Of The Titans: The Battle Over Skydrive On iOS

by BruceB.

 

skydrive

Microsoft Battles Apple’s IOS

Microsoft is embroiled in a conflict with Apple that is part of a bigger story. Today I’ll tell you about the details of the standoff over whether Microsoft will be allowed to keep giving away a Skydrive app for iPhones and iPads. In the next article, I’ll give you the bigger picture, which will help you understand some of the battles to come – and perhaps help you make decisions about what devices you buy.

Today’s flap is about whether Microsoft will be able to update an app for iPhones and iPads that provides access to files and pictures stored in Skydrive.

BACKGROUND

Skydrive is Microsoft’s cloud service for storing files and pictures online and syncing them to your computers and other devices. If you’re not familiar with Skydrive, take a look at this article for some background.

Signing up for Skydrive is free – 2Gb of space is available to anyone with a free Microsoft account. If you want more space, you can sign up for additional space for a modest subscription fee.

Most people will use Skydrive by installing a small program on a computer or phone or tablet. On computers, it creates a special Skydrive folder that is synced with the online storage and any other computers connected to the same account.

On a phone or tablet, a Skydrive app displays everything in the Skydrive folders and allows them to be reviewed or downloaded. I have access to all my client files on my Windows Phone 8 device and my Microsoft Surface tablet, in addition to my laptop and desktop computer.

The Skydrive apps for phones and tablets have other features unique to those devices. For example, you can have your phone automatically upload all the pictures you take to your Skydrive folders, where they can immediately be viewed on your computer or tablet.

Microsoft has been continuously improving Skydrive for the last few months. It is built deeply into Windows 8 (all sizes – computer, tablet, phone) and it will take center stage in January when Office 2013 is released and Skydrive becomes the default location for saving files. Developers have been given tools to create programs that integrate with Skydrive in interesting ways. Skydrive fits the new age of mobile devices, meeting your expectation that you will be connected to your stuff everywhere – every computer, every device.

There are competitors to Skydrive which have their own strong points. Dropbox continues to be a compelling, secure service for file syncing and sharing, with good cross-platform support, for example. But Microsoft’s plans to integrate Skydrive with everything are well under way. If you’re a Windows user and you’re not already committed to Dropbox or SugarSync or one of the others, you should be using Skydrive.

THE DISPUTE WITH APPLE

There is a Skydrive app for iPhones and iPads in the iOS App Store. Microsoft has an update ready that will fix bugs and add some new features. Apple won’t approve the update.

Apple wants money.

See that reference above to a subscription fee? A few months ago, Microsoft gave users the ability to buy more online storage space for an annual fee. You can sign up from the Skydrive web site.

Apple’s position is that it must be paid 30% of all money collected from a user who signs up for extra space, if they have the Skydrive app installed on an iOS device.

Forever.

Even if the purchase is not done through the iOS app. Microsoft offered to take out every vestige of a purchase mechanism from the app. Apple said it didn’t make any difference.

Even if the app is immediately uninstalled. Apple says it has a right to 30% of the revenue from that user’s subscription forever.

Even if the user stops using an iPhone and switches to an Android phone or Windows phone. Apple wants its cut forever.

What’s more, at the moment, Apple is blocking apps from third-party developers who integrate with Skydrive in any way, because Apple must get a cut from anything that touches money even indirectly. You can’t get an iOS app to play music stored in your Skydrive folders because Apple isn’t getting a cut of Microsoft’s Skydrive revenue.

Apple’s position is that it must be given 30% of the revenue from a product which roams across multiple platforms – lifetime fees for a subscription which was not purchased through the Apple store and which is not directly related to use of the service on an Apple device and indeed which might never be used on an Apple device.

The story was broken by The Next Web a few days ago, and has been confirmed by Microsoft.

It is extortion by Apple, driven by greed and its desire to keep Microsoft away from iOS devices – a bit ironic, since Microsoft has arguably done as much as any third party to keep Apple’s computer business alive. Microsoft Office has long been one of the most popular third-party programs for Macs. Microsoft even invested $150 million in Apple when the company needed a boost to survive at the end of the nineties.

That’s old history, though. Apple is ascendant today in phones and tablets and aims to stay that way.

The companies will negotiate and eventually it will be resolved. We may never know what they decide. When the giants fight, the little people don’t always get to know the details. You can and should use Skydrive while they work it out.

There is a bigger issue behind this fight, though – specifically for Microsoft and Apple, as well as many more fights to come as Apple, Google, Microsoft and Amazon jockey for position in the new world of mobile technology. I’ll step back and give you a broader view in the next article.

Start Updating! iOS5 Released!

Get started with the iOS 5.1 update today! Apple brings 200+ new features for an even more superb operating system. There are bigger and better ways to communicate, not only through its primary messaging app, but with Twitter, your e-mail, and any other messaging apps of your choice. I’m sure the app market will continue to expand as well in concert with the improvements in iOS5, including new and improved game options.

If you’re a gamer, like me, I can point out a few choice games I play with my “free time” like: Draw Something, Hanging with Friends, Scramble with Friends, Scrabble and many more. These are just a few of their popular games that are still growing in the Apple App Store marketplace, give them a try, tell your friends and compete or play for fun.  Whatever you do just remember to enjoy your new iOS 5 update!

Games aren’t the only new addition.  There are now much better and more effective ways to communicate socially. You have your Twitter, you have your e-mail, Facebook, Tumblr, Google+, Instagram, OovooFaceTime, Skype and plenty more. The market constantly grows with the demands of those social butterflies among us.

If you’re into the media, don’t worry, there’s something for you too.  The App Store has plenty of those apps as well.  YouTube is always there and Spotify is a newer music media player that you can connect and synch with from your Facebook account, share playlists with friends and play it virtually anywhere!

Apple is always surprising consumers with their innovative products and ideas. We look forward to the next big Apple product which should be coming soon!

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Requiem / Paean for a Dot-Com Darling

It’s a tale that unfolds more than we care to count, but is heart-wrenching to see nonetheless.  We’ve seen it many times: a young star meets with great success early on.  Their ascent is met with many accolades and kudos.  Then, they fall from grace.  Scandal; missteps; a change in public sentiment.  No matter how hard they try, they can’t reverse their fall from the great heights.

Sock puppets and search engines

yahoo pets.comI’m talking, of course, about Yahoo!, the once-revered icon of the late 1990’s dot-com era.  Two young Stanford grad students, Jerry Yang and David Filo, unleashed on the world an indexing service that would help navigate journeys on the increasingly congested “information superhighway.”  In this context, Yahoo! was nothing short of revolutionary.  Even its silly name seemed to capture the slightly irrational, but very fun, mood of the time.  This was when “burn rate” was a proxy for a company’s growth prospects, Herman Miller chairs and foosball tables represented credibility, and Jack Welch could get upstaged by a sock puppet as a company spokesman.

I have fond memories of that era: it’s when I moved to Chicago, fell in love with the woman with whom I just celebrated 11 years of marriage, and arrived at the very satisfying answer to the Frequently Asked Question, “what the hell are you going to do with a History and French degree?”  It’s why I still have a great deal of affection for this Sunnyvale company, even after the Microsoft acquisition debacle, the dustup over Carol Bartz ignominious departure, and the Scott Thompson resume kerfuffle.

Having logged time at two financial services companies, I was obviously a big fan of Yahoo! Finance.  There were two services, however, that capture the era well.

Yahoo! MailWashington University alums will recall standing in line waiting for the sterile “green screen” terminals to check their “Pinemail” in the Olin Library.  I quickly tired of the clunky interface I used to check my email after leaving St. Louis, and abandoned my “@wustl.edu” account for a Yahoo! one.  Granted, I am on the whole underwhelmed by Yahoo! Mail, given their glacial pace of introducing upgrades, and the fact that their integration with Outlook is a joke.   However, my Inbox is an ever-evolving scrapbook, a digital collection of moments I’ve shared with friends, family, and professional connections.  It’s why even though I have a Gmail account I’m still not parting with my Yahoo! account.

Geocities.  Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram have found a captive audience in folks looking for exposure – sometimes a little too much, as in the case of the “oversharenting” moms and dads examined in The Wall Street Journal.  It wasn’t always this easy.  I hate pulling out the “in my day” card, but you had to sort of know what you were doing in the late 90’s to publish content.  Geocities was the middle ground between Facebook and WordPress, that offered some primitive drag and drop tools for building and maintaining Websites.  Through Geocities I was able to share pictures with relatives in India, develop a Web portfolio to show hiring managers that a liberal arts grad could write code, and acquire a minor following from folks interested in sound clips from Goodfellas (one of my all-time favorite flicks).   Geocities has unfortunately gone the way of Delicious, Briefcase, and other sunsetted properties.

Holding out for a Hero (or a Good Product)

Ashton Kutcher was recently tapped to play Steve Jobs in an upcoming biopic.  At time of writing, if we were to associate a celebrity with Yahoo!, it would unfortunately be the likes of Lindsay Lohan or some other misstep-prone, washed up train wreck.  I’m holding out hope though.  Few seem to recall that the Apple of today was very much like Yahoo! before Jobs rescued it from the brink in the late 90’s – incidentally, while Yahoo! was riding high.  To win over the hearts and minds of customers and investors, Yahoo! needs to completely reinvent itself like Jobs did with the iPod, as opposed to half-baked, poorly executed attempts at innovation such as Livestand, and now Axis.

I’d like the next chapter of  the Yahoo! story to unfold like the amazing scene in Limitless when Eddie Mora shakes off the cobwebs, gets to work, and starts kicking some serious butt.  It would be nice for Yahoo! to replace “LiLo” with Bradley Cooper as the star with whom they are identified.  As talented as he is, however, I’m not sure Cooper could pull off the Jerry Yang look.  There’s always Eddie Murphy.

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Anticipation: iPhone 5 Features and iOS5 Integration

Here’s another update on some expected features in the iPhone 5…. As we all should know, there will be some enhancements to the camera. The snapshot feature will let your shots become frame worthy photos with just a few taps. You can handle all of your editing needs – crop, rotate, enhance, and red-eye removal – without leaving the Photos app. With iCloud you can push all of your photos and albums to other iOS 5 devices. Next time you’re thinking, “Don’t forget this or don’t forget to do that…” you can just put it all in your Apple iOS 5 device and jot it down in your reminders app. You’ll get an alert as soon as you pull into the area you have a “to-do” task written down. Your reminders also work with iCal, Outlook, and iCloud so that the changes you make to one will automatically update on all of your devices.

apple ios5 device sync and integration

You can now customize your newsstand subscriptions. You can read all the news in one place; the new newsstand organizes your magazine subscriptions and newspaper apps. There has also been a newsstand area added to the Apple App Store. The iMessage app has also been enhanced; you can now send unlimited text messages via Wi-Fi or 3G from your iPadiPhone, or iPod touch devices. Keep everyone in touch and up to date with group messaging. Track your messages with the new delivery receipts and optional read receipts and be able to see when someone else is typing. New updates to the notification center enable you to see all of your notifications in one place. The notification center is the best way to stay on top of your life’s breaking news. Keep looking forward to your iPhone and iOS 5 updates!

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Death of Blackberry (Part 3 of 3 Part Series)

blackberry death crushed

No, not that blackberry, but rather the ubiquitous device synonymous with multi-tasking corporate executives since the ’90s.  I still remember hearing “dings” of a new email arrival every few seconds sitting in a meeting with Goldman honchos during my traveling consultant days.  Every one of them had what we called BBB (blackberry brick and believe me, it was as big as a brick).  The device popularity (or necessity) soared to new heights after 9/11 – when the wired and wireless lines crashed under an overwhelming volume during the crisis, BB servers were still working, allowing its users to communicate.

So what happened since then?  Research In Motion (RIM), BB’s parent company, recently announced substantial sub-par quarterly results, prompting exit of its founding executives and board members.  While its fairly new CEO, Thorsten Heins, did his best to reassure its workers, partners and shareholders, I believe BB is dead if nothing else for two main reasons below.

  • Reliability – despite being a partner in iPhone applications development company, I refused to give up my beloved BB.  For 3+ years, I carried both my BB Pearl and the latest version of iPhone.  Two phones, two carry-on clips, two rechargers – it was pain…   But when I had to replace my Pearl 3 times during the same time span due to faulty components, I just gave up and switch to the iPhone.
  • Consumer Appeal – while consumers wait in line outside the Apple stores for the latest and the greatest, it’s not the same for BB.  And why should they?  Both iPhones and Androids do a good job of implementing meaningful HW and functionality upgrades in new releases, you cannot say the same for BB.  Result – different versions that are essentially derivatives of the same product.  Bottom line – new models have no additional appeal to consumers.

There was a rumor that perhaps Samsung was looking to purchase RIM  – the deal fell through.  Apparently Samsung thought it would do better with its own line of smart phones.  I am afraid BB is walking down the same path that Motorola was on until it decided to adopt another operating system…   Obsolescence.

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Latest Rumors: Apple iPhone 5

apple iphone 5 iphone pro

Surveys say that the iPhone 5 may be the most anticipated devices among consumers awaiting Apple’s rumored two new devices. The release date of the iPhone 5 has been pushed back repeatedly for months. The release date was once sometime in June, it is now sometime in October. Many features have been added to the iPhone, some of which I will list here: (1) the screen is a bit bigger; (2) 4G LTE; (3) improved SIRI; (4) operating on the new IOS 6; and (5) a potential 3D camera, among other things that have been added.

The main features worth paying attention to are things like the new sleeker design, a laser keyboard, and holographic display all rolled into the iPhone 5. It has a newer computer generated concept than the iPhone 4s. There have also been enhanced gaming features.

Some rumors claim that the phone would be made completely out of glass. The type of glass they are using is called Gorilla Glass 2. This is supposed to be stronger and more durable than the standard gorilla glass and they hope it is perfectly suitable for the iPhone 5. The glass iPhone will set Apple apart from all of its competitors. Questions are raised about whether this is really suitable for day to day uses and typical living conditions. Carrying this phone without a case isn’t an option; they hope that using gorilla glass dampens the worry of consumers.

Strategy Revolution – Guest Contributor, Robert Cannon

revolution management

Forbes has published a review of Roger Martin’s “Fixing the Game” . I have since read the book itself and consider this a seminal work in the area of leadership and management strategy. It harkens back to the theories of Peter Drucker and Michael Porter, whose focus was on the purpose of a firm or company. That is, the main purpose is to create and service a customer.

The review points out a fundamental weakness in our current financial incentive world. For public companies it’s all about managing earnings and expectations. For private companies, it’s an overemphasis on the shareholder. The best public companies have avoided the managed earnings trap, but they are few. I think mostly of Apple, who’s leadership (not just the departed) focuses fiercely on the customer, and not simply on what the customer thinks they need (no market research here), but rather on what they really want (but just don’t know it yet). Translating this to the private market, the focus of the firm needs to be on serving the customer in the best way possible, and only then will profits follow. The more recent focus on maximizing shareholder value (a term called the “dumbest in the world” by no less a titan than Jack Welch) should not be the driving force. Incentives are OK, but they must be tied to customer-related goals as well as profitability.

I would recommend the book on its own merits, but remember as the leader of a small company you must try to keep the focus on your customer and you will succeed. Just bring in a good financial mind to incentivize the workforce and count the beans.

Robert Cannon is a principal at Cannonomics Inc.

Smart Money Apps for Smart Devices

A friend of mine (a somewhat self-appointed guru of free iPhone apps) recommended these two personal finance apps, and I think they are great.

  • Mint – Available for iPhone, iPad and Android devices, Mint was founded by Aaron Patzer in 2005 to rein in the tedious tasks of getting his personal finances in order.  It was one of the first websites that track account balances and expenditures automatically while assigning categories to those transactions.  The company claims a patent-pending categorization technology and proprietary algorithm which makes all this possible.  It downloads data securely from your bank, credit card, loan and investment accounts and creates a financial dashboard that helps to track, analyze and develop a budget.
  • Pageonce – I must admit, I had to look up the word pageonce to see what it meant only to realize that it actually is not a word…   Started in 2007 with offices in Palo Alto (CA) and Israel, Pageonce, much like Mint, is an information aggregation tool.  Unlike Mint, however, it also lets you track nonfinancial accounts such as frequent flyer miles and rewards-card programs, which I found very useful.  The application is also available for BlackBerry which Mint is not at this time.

I think Mint is better for planning and budgeting (I found myself using the application more on my desktop) and Pageonce has the upper-hand in tracking (I use it more on my iPhone).  Now that Mint has been bought out by Intuit, perhaps they’ll spend more time and resources for development in both areas.

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