Monday, April 8, 2013

My New Website

Hi everyone,

I have a new website at  You can follow me on twitter @pocket_opinion.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

HTC may finally get it

I wrote an article a little while ago criticising HTCs marketing efforts.  I think the points I brought up hit the nail on the head, the company just wasn't investing enough in their marketing effort.  Even though they had superior hardware, it didn't matter to the consumer because they weren't informed of the benefits of the HTC One series phones.  HTC has said they are going to change this and give an effort to marketing their new phone, the HTC One.

I think HTC has made some great devices and the One series phones were nicely designed phones with great materials.  The consumer has a hard time making senese of all the derivations of the HTC One that was available.  I think HTC has learned their lesson.  They are releasing the HTC One, probably the nicest designed Android phone to ever be released.  What is great about their marketing message is that they are hopefully going to release only one phone with one name.  I hope they don't follow the temptation to release millions of derivatives of the same phone concept.

HTC really needs to market the design of the phone, the boom sound, and the design process that they have taken to make the phone.  I currently have a Galaxy S3.  It works great but it looks hideous.  There really isn't anything special about the build of the phone whatsoever.  Its basically just a plastic brick.  What is hilarious is that this phone was inspired by nature.  HTC has a real chance to gain market share back from Samsung if they can market to the consumer correctly.  Although it is going to be difficult with the marketing budget that Samsung has, it can be done.  I am rooting for you HTC.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Whether Nintendo Likes it or not, they are in trouble

When I was growing up as a child, Nintendo was king in the video game space.  Everyone and their brother had to have a NES, SNES, Gameboy, and others.  This was a different time.  This was a time before smartphones and tablets when if you wanted to play games on the go, you had to buy a dedicated gaming device and if you wanted to play at home, you had to buy a home console.  Even though PC gaming was big during those days, it offered a different experience.  In today's market, we have smartphones and tablets that will play games for a dollar or even free.  Even though these games do not offer the same depth of a dedicated handheld or gaming console, its enough to scratch the itch.  People are now buying their kids iDevices instead of Nintendo gaming consoles, taking the drawing away the market that Nintendo has built their business around.  There are many other factors that are leading to the decline of Nintendo's marketshare.

The Nintendo DS was hands down the greatest selling gaming system of all time.  It was extremely popular with kids and parents as well because parents could buy a DS at a relatively low cost and provide their kids hours upon hours of entertainment.  Then came the iPod, iPhone, and the Apple Appstore.  I really can't remember a product that was so disruptive in the market than Apple's products. Whole industries struggled to keep up and other industries had to change their business models completely.  This happened to Nintendo as well.  It's even more ironic when you stop to think that Apple didn't even try to make their devices mobile game consoles.  What made them so successful is that parents can buy their kids an iPod, which is more expensive than a DS, that offers games as little as a dollar or even free!  Developers can crank out games at a much lower cost than would take to make a game for the DS.  There are also fewer hoops to jump through.  Even adults who may have had a DS system may now just buy games on the device that they already own.  Couple this with the rise of the Play Store and Nintendo is in a really big bind.  That was clearly evident when Nintendo dropped the price of their 3DS quickly do to low sales volumes.  It is clear that phone and tablet gaming has really taken a huge chunk out of Nintendo's marketshare where they previously dominated.

What I think Nintendo did wrong was first, not change their business model fast enough to allow the same games you see on other devices on their platform.  Second, they felt they were offering the market better products at a higher price.  This may have been true at first but good developers have learned how to make good games at a hugely discounted price.  There are some games on phones and tablets that require on screen controls.  These games could have been where Nintendo provided a better experience than on phones and tablets.  Third, I felt that Nintendo could have courted indie developers that were making games for the Steam platform on PC.  Many of these games were cheap as well but were very good and innovative.  I feel this could have created a market of people who wanted to play great indie games but maybe didn't want to play on the PC or wanted to play on the go.  Lastly, the gambled on a fad with the 3DS that turned out to be what consumers generally didn't want.

The Nintendo Wii was a phenomenon.  It brought gaming to the mainstream unlike any other game console had done before.  It was demoed on Ellen and other talk shows.  It was used by families and nursing homes.  This was possible because the Wii was simple and also a new way of interacting with a video game.  People who were adverse to trying a video video game found it natural to hold the Wii-mote in their hands and play tennis, bowling, or other games.  The Wii was more of an activity than a game console for many people.  Nintendo target the casual market and was immensely successful at it but what they failed to do was keep the "hardcore gamer" interested in the console.  This is where the danger set it.  People who are not enthusiasts lose interest and are not nearly as emotionally invested as your enthusiast gamer.  Many people that bought a Wii as an activity used it as a Wii Sports machine and maybe bought a few more games but that was it.  Since Nintendo wasn't attracting the "hardcore gamer," they lost a lot of potential sales on the software side.  Microsoft and Sony owned the enthusiast market and were enticing the casual market in other ways.

Now Nintendo has the Wii U.  First of all, the marketing message sucks.  There is a problem with the name, in that many people do not know the different between the two consoles, even if it has a U at the end.  People who do not know that the Wii U is actually a new console may think it is either what they already have or maybe its just an add-on for their current console.  Its easy to see how someone who doesn't follow the industry would think this way.  Nintendo really only showed the tablet part of the Wii U and never really articulated to the consumer that this is actually a new console.  I saw this first hand while at Walmart.  They also didn't articulate that this tablet has a very short radius from the system.  People who have seen tablets see them as portable mobile devices, not something that is tied to a console by a leash.  I also think that many of the casual market who bought a Wii probably stopped playing it after a certain point, letting the machine become a dust collector.  Even if they do still play it, the tablet controller is probably intimidating to someone who just wants to wave their arms.

I really never thought the casual market was going to be interested in this machine.  It doesn't have the same marketability and ease of use of the Wii.  Nintendo didn't do the Wii U any favors by providing a terrible marketing campaign.  Nintendo didn't fully target the casual market with the Wii U, they also wanted to bring back the hardcore that they lost.  This is important because that market buys software, and lots of it.  At launch, they released a ton of ports of games that people probably already played unless a person only had a Wii, making that person more of a casual player anyways.  Nintendo didn't have the killer first party titles they should have had.  Not to mention, the Wii U is graphically in the current generation.  If they were going to get any kind of hardcore enthusiast, other than the Nintendo fanboys, they needed to get original games out quick since new next-generation consoles from Sony and Microsoft were right around the corner.  Nintendo failed to do this and it may be too late to attract those buyers.

If you want a tablet to play games with, your probably going to buy an Android or iPad tablet.  You're not going to go out and buy the restricted Nintendo Wii U.  I think we will see this play out in the future.  Sure, there will be people who buy the Wii U but no where near as many as who bought the Wii, there just isn't that killer app and it doesn't translate well to a talk show.  Nintendo really should have invested their time in releasing a dedicated tablet or phone although they are terrible at making operating systems.  Nintendo is in a lot of trouble and I think it won't be too long until we see Mario on other platforms.  

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Ubuntu mobile, what could it mean for Canonical

Ubuntu mobile offers something interesting to the operating systems that already exists in the market.  In this article, I want to highlight a few reasons why Ubuntu mobile should be taken seriously.  They have some unique ideas that I think could provide a compelling alternative to the current mobile powerhouses.

For most of the current OSs, apps have to be written natively to support the OS APIs.  Web apps can be written but they typically do not perform nearly as well as a native app.  They are also not eligible to be distributed on Google Play or the iOS Appstore.  Even though apps do perform better when written in native code, this is a large investment for the developer to have to develop each app for each OS.  This is not a problem for the large companies but provide a significant barrier to entry for smaller developers.  This is especially true for Android development where varying hardware configurations can make it tedious for developing an app.  Ubuntu mobile and even Firefox OS are hoping to change this way of thinking.  Ubuntu and Firefox OS are going to provide APIs that developers can use when developing mobile web apps.  This will allow developers to access the hardware unlike on Android and iOS where apps have to be developed natively to take advantage of hardware APIs.  Ubuntu mobile, unlike Firefox OS, is also allowing developers to develop apps natively as well.

The reason developers can take advantage of both on Ubuntu is because of the APIs for web apps as well as the fact that Ubuntu mobile is running the full OS.  Their strategy is to have compatibility across all devices.  This is similar to what Microsoft was trying to do but wasn't able to take advantage of.  This could possibly put Ubuntu in a really good position if you could use your phone or tablet as your computer by plugging in an HDMI cable into a monitor and have a full fledged OS on your phone or tablet.  Since it is full Ubuntu, the possibilities are much better than what exist on Android and iOS for a fully integrated device.  I do not think that iOS would ever go down this route but I do believe that Android has the ability to also perform this function although Ubuntu seems to be the one company doing it.  The real question is, will anyone care?

Your average consumer is a fickle person.  They seem to go with whatever is popular and do not normally show allegiance to a particular product.  They are willing to switch to whatever fits their needs.  Look at the Wii for example.  Everyone had to have a Wii when it came out and now that the Wii U is out, they are having enormous trouble selling the device.  The casual consumer is not a fanboy like you and me, The don't have allegiance to platforms, they only care about what is cool and what can meet their needs.  If Ubuntu mobile can fit that mold, they may be in very good shape to gain market share away from the big two.

Ubuntu releasing this fresh, new operating system gives them a good amount of buzz around the tech community and this buzz eventually trickles down to the average consumer.  Whether they are interested or not is a different thing all together.  What is important is that it is creating buzz.  Ubuntu has been around for a while and hasn't been very relavent at all in the desktop OS space.  If they can start getting people to buy into their mobile platform, maybe this means that the mobile version will also sell desktop Ubuntu similarly to iPads, iPods, and iPhones selling Macs.

After looking at the tablet demo video from Mobile World Congress presented by Mark Shuttleworth, I think Ubuntu may actually have something interesting on their hands.  Its a fresh and pretty looking OS that comes with some great ideas.  Hopefully they can attract developers with their APIs for web app developers so they will have plenty of apps at launch.  Also, hopefully they can convince the consumer as to why they should care about Ubuntu.  One thing is for sure, they have some great ideas that I would like Google and Apple to take note of.  I also think they have a much better chance of winning consumers than Windows Phone because they are doing something unique.  If they can take advantage of the integration and get support for developers, they could be a force to be reckoned with.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Why I think the Google store concept is a great idea for Google.

There is generally a huge problem when a company is selling technology products in a store where said company does not control the experience or the message for the product.  Competition is too high to let an employee, who may just want a job, try and sell or not sell the consumer a product.  This does not go for every employee but it is a risk a company must take when they do not own the customer experience.  Best Buy for example does not care about what platform an employee pushes to the consumer as long as they are able to make a sale.  This is an especially a huge problem for a company like Microsoft that is trying to gain footing in the mobile space.

Apple has obviously found great success in having their own stores.  What helps Apple is that they are currently the trendy company and make products that people like and want.  Their products are perceived to be superior to the competition by many people, even though that may not actually be true.  Microsoft has also tried the store concept with not nearly as much success.  The problem with Microsoft is that they tend to screw up at least one thing associated with a product launch or selling a product.  To make matters worse, Microsoft's product do not at all have the appeal that an Apple products has.  I feel that at this point, Google is popular enough to have just as much success or even more than Apple.

Many people that follow technology and some that do not know that Samsung's mobile platform is Android.  There are also many people that when asked whether Samsung is running Android OS may either not know or just say no, they are running TouchWiz or Galaxy.  In fact, there isn't even a mention of Android on Samsung's Galaxy line of smartphones.  This is a huge problem for Google.  Essentially, Android is really a platform that Google can use to push their services and provide advertising.  It is become essential to their business.  If people continue to buy Samsung smartphones in droves and people replace Google's brand with Samsung, Samsung may be able to eventually push their own services and do what Google is doing now with their services and advertising.  Google needs to defend their Android brand while making sure it is synonymous with Google.  This is where Motorola comes in.

Believe it or not, Google has many consumer products.  They have Chrome OS, Google TV, Android, and probably other products that I am not aware of.  Chrome OS is not killing it in the market and Google really hasn't done a great job marketing the product.  The same can be said of Google TV.  Google recently finalized their purchase of Motorola, a hardware manufacturer.  I didn't think that Google was just going after Motorola for the patents.  Motorola has very good brand recognition and Google can use this to push their stock Android OS which none of the manufacturers use.  They can make sure that Android and Google is branded on each phone while making sure their services are paramount on Motorola's phones.  Seeing that Google has had really good success with the Nexus line of phones, I do not think that Google would have a problem selling stock Motorola phones.  People who buy those phones could potentially get their updates quicker considering there isn't a need to skin the OS.  This could lead to a significant advantage for Motorola over competitors.  Couple this with Google having their own stores and controlling the customer experience, they potentially have a pretty big hit on their hands.

Google can use their stores to pushe their own interests while making sure consumers have a good experience.  Even though Google is currently having huge success selling Android phones, at what point are the manufacturers the more important factor than Google.  I think it is essential that Google sell their products in their own stores so that they can push their own products that are essential to their business model.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Widget Locker and why its so great.

I recently bought a Samsung Galaxy S3 and sold my Nokia Lumia 920 Windows Phone 8 Phone.  One of the drawbacks of using Samsung's TouchWiz over Windows Phone is that the GS3's lockscreen cannot be used to display any information that you may want to view.  Luckily, I found Widget Locker to be my locker savior.

The first thing that is great about this app is that it replaces your old lock screen.  Although every time I restart my phone I have to run the app again to get it to replace the GS3's lockscreen.  I don't know if this is just a flaw with the GS3 or if it is just this way when using Android.  I don't restart my phone often so it isn't really that big of a nuisance.

This app allows you to customize the way you unlock your phone.  Currently I am using the Jelly Bean unlocker but I added an option at the bottom of the unlock circle that will bring me to my dialer.  You can edit this to display a number of different configurations like moto, iPhone, Sense, ICS, and many other options.  No matter what unlocker you are using, you can customize each button on the unlocker so that it will open a different application or shortcut like the dialer.

You are also able to place any custom slider, application, shortcut or widget on the homescreen.  I have a widget that allows me to interact with Doggcatcher so I can pause and play my podcasts on the lockscreen. I also have a widget that displays the time as well as the weather.  In addition to the widgets, I have ten applications that I frequently use on the lockscreen.  What is great is that you can place any widget that you can place on the homescreen on the lockscreen.  Stock Android doesn't allow this flexibility.

I have tried a few other lockscreen widgets but none that allow the customizing that this app allows.  If you are looking for a great way to customize your lockscreen, I highly recommend this app.  If you choose to download this app, also download WidgetLocker Theme Viewer that will allow you change your unlocker to around 2,000 different options.  Currently I have a Pacman theme.  I hope that if you decide to download this app and enjoy it!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Is Microsoft's new strategy going to pay off?

Its been no secret that Windows 8 is having a tough gaining market penetration.  Microsoft says that they are selling 20 million units a month but does that mean to OEMs or consumers?  The company has made some bold moves with the OS like getting rid of the start menu for the new tablet interface.  Even the companies own flagship device seems to be off to a rough start.  What seems to be the problem?

The first problem is having two different versions of Windows.  All of the advertising for Windows 8 shows the Start screen.  It looks the same on both Windows 8 and Windows RT.  The only difference is that Windows RT has very limited capability even though it also has a desktop.  Since Microsoft chose a horrible name for their ARM version of Windows, people not familiar with the tech industry will have a tough time differentiating the difference between RT and Windows 8.  Another thing that hampers Windows RT is that the app market has to be re-created since normal Windows applications will not run on that version.  Microsoft already had to do this with Windows Phone with limited success, what makes them think developers will be wanting to develop for the RT portion of Windows 8?

Another reason their strategy is off to a low start is that the price of their devices are too expensive.  I understand that Microsoft thinks they have an amazing operating system and OEMs think they can trick  consumers into paying ridiculous prices for their tablets and PCs but those days are over with the advent of the netbook.  Its not really the consumers problem that OEMs fought a race to the bottom with prices.  They made their bed and now they have to lie in it.  If I or anyone else is going to pay upwards of a thousand dollars for a computer, i'm going to buy a Mac and I bet many other people feel the same way.  Even the RT tablets are expensive.  I am sorry Microsoft but your tablet is not an iPad and shouldn't be priced like one.  Didn't they learn their lesson from the Android tablet pricing model?  I guess not.

Lastly, the devies that have been released have not been great.  I like an all-in-one PC but not for the prices they are charging .  I feel like for a desktop PC, your going to want a desktop operating system.  I feel the same way with laptops.  I do not want to touch my laptop screen, that is why I have a touchpad.  Some of the convertibles are neat but they are also lacking on disk space and the prices are outrageous.  If you want a convertible with some real power, your going to have to get a core i3, i5, or i7, that comes with a fan as well as they are bulky.  If you instead look to buy an atom powered device, your making compromises on power.  I think that the atom processor devices, that are convertible or hybrid devices, will sell the most because they do have decent battery life, are lighter and smaller, and can run full Windows when you need it as well as convert to a tablet when that makes sense.  Also, where the hell is a seven inch tablet version of Windows RT.  Has Microsoft been living under a rock? I am pretty sure that Apple released an 8 inch iPad and 7 inch tablets are killing it in the market.  Why was that not released day one?  I think a seven inch surface tablet that is reasonably priced would have done much better in the market that what they released.

I think Microsoft should have kept traditional Windows only for laptops and desktops.  Hybrids and convertibles could have full Windows while also have a mode for a tablet version of Windows Phone.  Tablets 8 inches and under would run only Windows Phone tablet edition.  I don't think Windows RT has a chance in hell of doing anything in the market and until OEMs and Microsoft releases devices that make sense to consumers, they are going to have a tough time convincing consumers that their high priced computers are worth purchasing over the competition.