Jan 30

The Verizon iPhone, rumored for over 2 years, is counting down to release this Thursday, February 3rd.

Verizon iPhone4 Countdown

I was a long time Verizon customer when the first iPhone was introduced.  It was amazing but only available on AT&T.  I did not want to switch.  Then the iPhone 3G was released and AT&T was not enough of a barrier … I was weak.  Many others stuck to their guns willing to wait, and wait, and wait …

While waiting, these Verizon customers flocked to the iPhone wannabes, the most popular being the Motorola Droid series.  But since Verizon announced the iPhone 4 was coming to their network Motorola reported a decline in Droid sales .

Is Android Doomed?

John Paczkowski  in WSJ’s All Things Digital recently posted an article entitled Verizon iPhone Demand Could Hit Nearly 25 Million, Theoretically.  I believe a large percentage of these customers will be switching from Android phones.

To make matters worse, Google is ‘not happy’ with Android Market Sales.  If application developers cannot make money in the Android Market the innovative apps will dry up, driving more customers to the iPhone.

So is Android doomed?  I would like to hear what you think.

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Jul 11

Back in early December 2009 I published a blog post predicting the capabilities I expected to see in the new Apple iPhone 4.  I successfully pre-ordered my iPhone 4 32GB on June 15th and received it a day early on June 23rd.  After a little over two weeks using the Apple iPhone 4 I’m ready to grade my predictions.

Before evaluating my predictions, I want to provide my initial impressions of the iPhone 4. Aesthetically it is a work of art.  I just love the look and build quality of this smartphone. The display is spectacular and the A4 processor provide extremely fast performance.  This is the first smartphone I have owned that truly provides a competent camera, music player, hd video recorder, web browser, and mobile phone so I can carry just ONE device.

So let’s take a look at my predictions …

  • Front facing camera for video conferencing.  I am not sure how you would take pictures if this was the only camera (unless you only like pictures of yourself!) so I would also want a 5-megapixel camera with flash on the back.

Grade A+: As predicted the iPhone 4 has a front facing camera and a 5-megapixel camera with LED flash on the back.  I know some are disappointed by the rear camera only being 5-megapixels but I am not.  The pictures are so good I now use it as my primary camera. Take a look at this picture I took on the iPhone 4 at the NC State campus.

Apple also introduced FaceTime for iPhone 4 to iPhone 4 video calls using the front facing camera.  This elegant implementation makes video calls as easy as a phone call. Unfortunately I have two issues with this implementation; 1) it only works between two iPhone 4s and 2) only on wifi.  The recently approved Fring app already provides video calls over 3G so I’m sure it won’t be long before FaceTime works over 3G.  My guess is we will see versions of Skype and WebEx doing same in future releases.

  • HD video.  I would like to see HD video good enough to compete with the popular pocket video cameras like the Flip Mino HD or Kodak Zi8.  Then I would have one less device to carry.

Grade A+: Sure enough, the iPhone 4 has 720p HD video so now my Flip is collecting dust on my desk.  One cool implementation feature is Apple lets you use the front facing camera (SD) so you can be in your videos.  The video quality is outstanding although I wish it  wasn’t compressed when uploaded to YouTube from the iPhone 4.  The quality is full 720p HD when uploading the video file that synced to your Mac/PC with iTunes.  Here is what I mean …

Video uploaded from Mac after syncing the iPhone 4 through iTunes

Same video uploaded from the iPhone 4.  It would be better if the video was not compressed when uploading via wifi.

One surprise was iMovie for iPhone 4 ($4.99).  This let you create amazing movies from multiple video clips, photos, and music ON YOUR iPHONE 4!  It even has pre-built themes, custom transitions, and titles.  Here is a nice “how to” from Mac|Life.

  • A faster processor … maybe from PA Semi which Apple acquired two years ago.

Grade A+: Yup, the iPhone 4 uses the Apple A4 processor.  It is extremely fast with no lag.

  • At least 64GB of memory.  I would also like a SD/SDHC card slot that can hold at least 32 GB.  Then you could capture hours of video without having to sync.

Grade F: OK, I missed the boat on this one.  The maximum memory is 32GB and there is no SD/SDHC card slot.  I have the 32GB version and currently have plenty of space.  From what I read, Apple could not provide a 64GB device at the same price as the iPhone 3GS 32GB ($299).

  • Higher screen resolution.  Some want a larger screen but for me that would make the iPhone too bulky.  I do want a higher resolution then the current 320×480 that hasn’t changed since the 1G.  OLED technology would also be nice and would help with the much maligned battery life.

Grade A+: The new Retina Display (960-by-640 backlit LCD) is stunning.  It is so sharp you can zoom in on text and not see any pixelation.

  • Increased battery life.  I currently get about a day and a half on a single charge.  This is acceptable but twice this would be nice.  I am not really a fan of removable batteries.  They take up more room requiring a thicker device and for me my old phone is on eBay way before the battery dies.

Grade A+: Apple did place a larger battery in the iPhone 4.  I currently get about 2 days of battery life with a lot of use as I learn the new features and persue my latest addiction … Angry Birds!  Once I get into a normal routine I will easily exceed the 2x I predicted.

  • Flash support.  Adobe and Apple stop fighting and make this happen!

Grade F: The fighting continues and I see no signs of  Flash in the future.  With HTML5 video this is becoming less of an issue.  Apple has even started showcasing websites that “support the latest web standards” for iPhone and iPad.  Translation – they do NOT use Flash!

  • Include turn-by-turn navigation software.  I know this will break the backs of companies like Garmin and TomTom but Apple must be competitive with the numerous Android phones.

Grade F: NO turn-by-turn navigation software although there continue to be many options in the App Store.  Plus with multitasking (details below) you will not miss your turn when you get a call!

  • Improved email app.  I currently have six email accounts so it is cumbersome to read my mail with the current app. For example, if I want to check email for two accounts I select the first account, then inbox, read mail, then go back twice to see all accounts, select the second account, then inbox.  I would like to see all my email accounts combined into a single inbox.

Grade A+: Finally a single inbox!  They also added a feature where you see conversations together similar to Gmail.

  • A better way to organize applications.  I try to organize my apps by pages.  The first two pages are my most frequently used, followed by less frequently used, a couple of game pages, etc.  But as anal as I am it is still hard to find infrequently used apps.  Search helps but I would like to have the ability to create folders (don’t shoot me).

Grade A+: Apple did an excellent job implementing folders in iOS 4.  I now have just 3 pages of apps including 5 folders organizing similar apps (Music, Shopping, Utilities, etc.).

  • Easy way to delete Apple provided apps.  I do not use the weather app because I like The Weather Channel one better.  Why can’t I delete the Apple weather app?

Grade F: We still can’t delete Apple’s apps but with folders I’m able to hide the ones I don’t use on my last page.

  • Limited multitasking.  Because applications on the iPhone remember their context multitasking is not a big deal.  But limited multitasking for applications like Pandora would be nice.  Then I could listen to music while surfing like I do with the iPod app.

Grade A+: This prediction was right on.  We now have limited multitasking in key areas that doesn’t degrade battery life and is easy to use.  To view applications running in background just press the home button twice.  When I first starting using this feature I would constantly go in and delete applications running in the background.  Based in a terse email someone received from Steve Jobs, I now just let iOS 4 take care of multitasking and I have seen no degradation in performance or battery life.

  • Streaming video over 3G.  I really like my SlingBox but a SlingPlayer that only works over wifi defeats the purpose.

Grade A+: Streaming video over 3G was finally approved by Apple and AT&T in Feb 2010. This made the $29.99 SlingPlayer for iPhone worth the cost if you already own a SlingBox.

SlingPlayer for Apple iPhone 4

  • Verizon, Verizon, and Verizon.  I did not upgrade to the 3GS so that when my AT&T contract ends I could get an iPhone 4G on Verizon.  As of this writing this is unlikely.  One warning for Verizon if they get the iPhone … DO NOT cripple features so you can sell your crappy services like V Cast.

Grade F: I give up trying to guess when the iPhone comes out for Verizon!  When it does I believe there will be a mass exodus from Android phones to the iPhone 4 or 5 or 6 or …. To be honest, AT&T provides excellent service where I live in the Research Triangle Park area of NC.

Conclusion

With the new iPhone 4 Apple has once again delivered a smart phone that leap frogs the competition right when the competition was catching up.  Obviously the world agrees as Apple sold 1.7 MILLION iPhone 4s in the first three days.  Personally I am very excited because my grades above proves Steve Jobs is reading my blog!

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Jun 08

The waiting and speculating is over.  Yesterday Steve Jobs officially unveiled the Apple iPhone 4 at the 2010 WWDC.  It is an amazingly beautiful device packed full of the features we craved.  But the features and specs of the  iPhone 4 are not the subject of this post … you can find plenty of coverage elsewhere.  Instead, I want to tell you why I believe we will see a Verizon iPhone 4 this year.

Now it has been widely reported AT&T could lose 40% of their iPhone customers to Verizon.  So if the iPhone 4 wasn’t coming to Verizon in the next 6 months why is AT&T doing everything they can to lock-in current iPhone customers?  Here is their master plan …

1. Extend Exclusivity Past iPhone 4 Launch

The rumor going around is Apple wanted a flexible wireless plan for the iPad.  This provided AT&T leverage to extend exclusivity beyond the iPhone 4 launch.  They knew the iPhone 4 would be a game changer (again!) that could not be resisted by their current customer base.

2. Allow More Customers to Upgrade

Steve Jobs announced AT&T’s “incredibly generous upgrade offer” during his keynote.  Now current AT&T customers eligible for an upgrade sometime in 2010 can purchase the iPhone on launch day for $199 (16GB) or $299 (32GB) locking in a larger percentage of their iPhone customers to a 2 year contract.

3. Make it Expensive to Jump Ship

AT&T recently announced an increase of the Early Termination Fee (ETF).   As of June 1st you have to shell out $325 to get out of your contract.

4. Upgrade Network

This gives AT&T a 2 years cushion to focus on improving their voice network in highly populated areas. With the Mark the Spot app they are moving in the right direction.

Plus AT&T recently was rated by PC Magazine as the fasted mobile data network.  And unlike Verizon, they allow simultaneous data and voice access so for example, you can look up a phone number for someone while you have them on the phone.

Conclusion

I hate to say it but I am falling into AT&T’s trap!

When the first iPhone was released I wanted one but not on AT&T.  So I tried other Verizon “smart” phones (Motorola Q and Samsung i760) to fulfill my gadget appetite.  Unfortunately all of Verizon’s offering left me hungry.  So when the iPhone 3G was released I could no longer resist and switched to AT&T.

Last year when the iPhone 3GS was announced I decided not to upgrade as the rumors were pointing to a Verizon iPhone in the Spring.  By doing this my 2 year contract with AT&T would be fulfilled allowing me to switch without penalty.

So after watching Steve’s keynote followed by additional research I realize I must have an iPhone 4.  Therefore I will be pre-ordering mine a week from today agreeing to another 2 years with AT&T.  I can see Ralph de la Vega, CEO of AT&T wireless, sitting in his office saying “my plan for iPhone domination is working mwahahahaha.”

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Apr 19

Today Gizmodo confirmed that the Apple iPhone found on the floor at a Redwood City bar is the real deal.  Checkout their video showing every angle of the next Apple iPhone.

Based on my earlier post, every hardware feature I was hoping for has been implemented including a front facing camera, a higher resolution screen, and a higher resolution camera with flash. There was also a second mic on top likely for noise cancellation.

Gizmodo - New Apple iPhone Pictures

At the Apple iPhone OS 4 Event we saw a glimpse of the new OS including multitasking, ability to organize apps in folders, and a single inbox in email.  So it appears that Apple has implemented every features on my wish list.  Do you think Steve Jobs reads my blog?

One interesting discovery is the ceramic back.  There have been rumors that the back of the new iPhone might be touch sensitive similar to the Apple Magic Mouse.  This could support some cool new functionality.  For example, when listening to voice mail you could swipe the back of the iPhone to hear the next message without removing the iPhone from your ear.  Unfortunately the iPhone was remotely wiped before Gizmodo could see this and other features in action.

Apple has really raised the bar with this fourth generation iPhone forcing the competition to play catch-up once again.  Based on AT&T mandating no vacations for all retail store employees in June we should be seeing this beauty in a few months.

For the first time you will see me in line on launch day!

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Apr 05

After a couple of days with the Apple iPad I am beginning to believe it is a “magical and revolutionary product.”  Check out this video …

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Apr 03

I pre-ordered my iPad selecting the shipping option rather then in-store pickup as I did not want to fight the crowds at the Apple store.  So instead I spent today repeatedly refreshing the UPS status page hoping my “Destination Scan” would be updated to “Out for Delivery.”  This never happened so I was losing hope late this afternoon.  Finally at 6 pm ET the Apple iPad arrived!

Why am I so excited?  I truly believe the iPad will change computing the same way the GUI  interface did when the first Mac was released in 1984.  And based on the early reviews the experts agree.  By the way Apple, why didn’t I receive an iPad a week before launch day?!!

Here is a video showing my iPad being delivered and what is in the box.  A detailed review will follow in about a week.

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Jan 27

The New York Times said “Last time there was this much excitement about a tablet, it had some commandments written on it.”  Well the wait is over.  Today Steve Jobs officially announced the Apple iPad.  I documented tablet rumors in this post at the end of December … let’s compare the rumors to reality.

It’s All in the Name

OK, I was wrong about the iGuide name!  Although I still like iTablet, iPad is starting to grow on me.

Operating System

The iPad does run iPhone OS which is a disappointment.  No multitasking, so I can’t surf the web and listen to Pandora.  It does run all the existing iPhone apps which is cool and will even pixel double so they run full screen.  This is great for games but the Facebook app they demoed looked a little odd that big.

Although I won’t see GarageBand, they did port iWork to the iPad.  The iWork apps they demoed really took advantage of the iPad hardware.  For example, they showed a touch numeric keyboard specifically designed for entering data into the spreadsheet.  Each of the iWork apps (Pages, Numbers, and Keynote) are $9.99 which is cheap compared to the $79 for iWork on OS X.

They also demoed an iPad version of the popular Brushes app which was very impressive.  I really liked the pop-over menus that I’m sure will show up in other iPad apps.

Screen

The screen is what I expected, a 1024 x 768 resolution 9.7″ backlit LED.  This is a little disappointing from an eReader perspective.  I was really hoping for a dual mode screen so you could have the benefits of Kindle-like eInk and color for movies, pictures, etc.

That being said the eReader app called iBooks is stunning.  Purchased books are displayed on your bookcase.  The other side of the bookcase is the iBook Store.  When you click on a book it is lifted from the bookcase and opens before your eyes zooming to a full page view.  The animation is very realistic as you turn pages.

Interface

Of course the interface includes touch gestures but that’s it.  There is no hand-writing or voice recognition.

There are some new two finger gestures in iPhoto.  Events are shown as a stack of photos. Using two fingers you can expand the stack so all the photos hidden are exposed and then hide them again.  This is nice when you want to find a photo in an event.

Connectivity

All the iPad models have WiFi 802.11n built in.  3G is an option and I was pleasantly surprised to find out the service does not require a contract.  There are two plans offered by AT&T; 250 MB max for $14.95/month and unlimited for $29.99/month.

Webcam

Sadly there is no front facing iSight webcam.  I was really hoping I could have video Skype calls with the iPad.

Price

Here is the actual pricing of the iPad …

A TechCrunch report said investors didn’t like the iPad until they heard its $499 price.  I have to agree.  If you want a device that fills the gap between the iPhone and the MacBook you cannot price it the same as a low end Macbook ($999).  Everyone would just buy the MacBook!

Conclusion

Apple has an excellent video which gives you a feel for the new iPad.  It starts with “… when something exceeds your ability to understand how it works it sort of becomes magical.”  I’m not sure about magical, but it is a very cool device.

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Jan 17

The InfluentialsIn 2001 I “retired” as a Director of Architecture and Planning at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to become an entrepreneur.  At that time I started a company called PriVault which focused on protecting consumer privacy online.  While researching the PriVault business model I came across a book called The Influentials by Edward Keller and Jonathan Berry.

Here is a quote from the book I lifted from an old PriVault deck “Business is working harder and paying more to pursue people who are trying to watch and listen less to its messages.”  I know this is true for me.  My primary use of a DVR is to watch a recorded show about 20 minutes after it starts so I can fast forward through the commercials.

Keller and Berry defined a group of individuals called the influentials.  They are well educated, highly involved in politics, their work and community.  They were the first to purchase digital cameras and to fly after 9/11.  When it comes to making purchasing decisions we listen to influentials just after family and friends.  So you must find a way to influence the influentials!

Pepsi Logo

This brings me to Pepsi.  Many were shocked when they read this headline: Pepsi’s Big Gamble: Ditching Super Bowl for Social Media.  My shock when reading this was what took so long for corporate America to see the light?

Now I must admit I watch the Super Bowl ads but really doubt they are worth approximately $2.8M per 30 second spot CBS is charging in 2010.  A week after the Super Bowl I bet most of us remember the ads about as well as we remember the second place team.  So from this perspective, Pepsi made the right decision.

From a social media perspective, I believe the influentials were the early adopters of social media tools such as Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, etc.  So by focusing your marketing strategy here you reach the individuals who are trusted by those purchasing your products.  With Pepsi opening their wallet to social media, I expect the Pepsi Refresh Experience will be money well spent.

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Jan 12

I just started blogging at the end of November 2009.  I really enjoy sharing my ideas and initiating a conversation with you.  As we start the second week of the New Year I feel compelled to post my blogging resolutions.  I know it is a cliche but it just feels right!

Many of you have made resolutions similar to these.

New Year's Resolutions

Although these are not mine, the list does illustrate the type of things we list each year.  We are more apt to keep our resolutions if we share them with others … so here are my blogger resolutions for 2010.

Increase My Social Media Knowledge

SocialnomicsTo this end I have purchased some of the best books in the field … Kindle editions of course!  I have already completed Crush It! by Gary Vaynerchuck and am half way through The New Community Rules by Tamar Weinberg.  The other books waiting for me are Six Pixels of Separation by Mitch Joel, Socialnomics by Eric Qualman, Trust Agents by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith, and the Whuffie Factor by Tara Hunt.

Am I missing anything?  Should I remove any from my list?

Blog at Least Two Times per Week

I am not a professional blogger since I work full time as an IT/Biz consultant.  This leaves little time for family, friends, playing the guitar, and of course, blogging.  However my goal for 2010 is to have at least two comprehensive posts per week.

Updated Look and Feel

When I started researching blogs I read over and over again that content is king, so this has been my focus.  But now I’m ready to take the design and user experience to the next level.

At this point I’m vacillating between two different premium WordPress themes; iBlogPro 3 and Thesis. I am currently using the free iBlog 2.  I like the Apple website look but it does not have a lot of options.  I can play with the php code but I have to be careful with updates as it overwrites my modifications. The Pro version provides lots of unique templates which are very nice.  Thesis on the other hand is extremely flexible, is optimized for SEO, and has a plethora of options.  Plus it is the theme used and promoted by Chris Brogan!  I would love to hear your thoughts on these two themes and any others I should be considering.

I also plan to work with a designer to come up with a professional looking header.

Home Base, Outposts, and Passports … oh my!

I first learned about home base, outposts, and passports watching this video posted on Chris Brogan’s blog.   The home base is of course this blog.  I currently spend most of my time here.

Outposts are sites like Twitter, FriendFeed, Digg, YouTube, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon, Facebook, Flickr, etc.  My goal is to split my time between blogging and these outposts. Although this may bring traffic to my home base, that is not the priority.  The priority is to build relationships, share ideas, participate in the conversation, and have fun.  Here is an interesting blog post on this subject that Chris recently published: How Outposts Improve Your Ecosystem.

I would like to end this post by saying “Chris Brogan is a dumb ass.”  Chris, I’m waiting (you need to watch the video for this to be funny!)

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Jan 08

CES LogoCES kicked-off this week with an avalanche of announcements.  As I read through the analysis from blogs like TechCrunch, Engadget, and Mashable! I see 5 emerging trends.

1. Tablets, Tablets, and more Tablets!

Everyone is announcing tablet computers, full blown computers that take advantage of a touch screen for input.  During Steve Ballmer’s keynote address he featured a Windows 7 tablet believed to be from HP.  Other tablets running Google’s Android OS were announced from Dell, HTC, and others.

Many of these announcements are to preempt the rumored Apple Tablet which All Things Digital now reports will be announced on Wednesday, January 27th.  I believe Apple will once again leave everyone else playing catch-up following their announcement.  Today The Business Insider reported a source who had seen the Apple Tablet OS said “The UI has a good bit of new sexy to it.”  Much like Justin Timberlake, Apple is bringing sexy back!

For more about the Apple Tablet see my earlier post.

2. Android Mobile Phones

NexusOne

I had an opportunity to play with a Motorola Droid over the holidays.  It has a beautiful screen but the interface is not nearly as refined as the Apple iPhone.  With Android v2.1 and the Nexus One it is likely the competition has finally caught up to the original iPhone released about 3 years ago.

To be honest, if the iPhone 3GS was available on Verizon the Android phones would just be a niche player.  But this is not the case so Apple really has to step up its game with the next iPhone.  My guess is some of the “sexy” in the Apple Tablet OS will find its way to the next iPhone 4G.

For more about the iPhone 4G see my earlier post.

3. 3D Television

By now most of you have seen James Cameron’s Avatar in RealD 3D … if you haven’t, go see it NOW!  This is not your red-blue glasses over-the-top 3D movie.  The effect is very natural and really adds to the experience.

Vendor are betting you will want to have this same experience at home.  Sony and Toshiba have already announced 3D TVs.  Of course without programming these will be expensive paperweights.  Fortunately Discovery Communications, Sony Corporation and IMAX Corporation are teaming up to deliver the first dedicated 3D television network in the US and ESPN plans to launch its 3D channel in time for the World Cup on June 11th.

Amazon Kindle 2

4. eReaders

The Amazon Kindle released over 3 years ago became the first popular eReader.  Today with their second generation hardware they have captured 45% of this rapidly growing market.  Sony is second with 30% market share with the remaining 25% going to everyone else.

Barnes and Noble joined the fray with a capable Android based tabled called the Nook.  At CES a slew of notable eReaders were announced from Spring Design, Copia, Entourage Edge (interesting dual screen eReader), Samsung E6/E10, Fujitsu FLEPia, Skiff, and many more.

For me I would like a color tablet with a dual mode screen that mimics the excellent eInk displays as described in this post.

5.  Automobile Automation

Ford is leading the way with MyFord Touch with Sync.  This video from Revision3 does a great job detailing the capabilities.

And to think we are concerned about the safety of people driving using their mobile phones … I hope I’m not the first person to cause an accident because I was changing the color of my cup holder light!

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