Thursday, March 31, 2011

Google locking down Android Honeycomb

Last week, Google confirmed that they will not release the source code for Honeycomb, the new tablet-designed version of Android, to the public anytime soon. Personally, I'm outraged from a developer point of view! Android has had a long lasting reputation for being "open." Unfortunately, this confirmation by Google changes how I think about Android entirely!
Since the beginning of Android on devices, Android has been about choice (choice of devices, choice of apps, choice of customization) and about many options for developers.
However, if Google decides to make this a continuous pattern for Android, then developers and geeks (who are the biggest Android users) will lose faith in the platform.
Unlike Microsoft, Google can't make a quick "turn-around" with their mobile operating system. Google has established, over the past few years, a reputation for having an open source platform that makes it easy for developers and geeks, alike, to be able to customize their devices and publish their device configurations online so others could enjoy their hard work.
Sure, developers could still work on the operating system, and sure, this only applies to Honeycomb (version 3.0) for the time being, but this has set a possible, and dangerous, precedent.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Windows Phone 7 is a sitting duck!

Last year, in spring, as you may know, Microsoft announced that they were working on a new multi-touch focused mobile platform. At that point in time, it was called 'Windows Phone 7 Series.' But then later on, they renamed it to 'Windows Phone 7' in an attempt to eliminate confusion.
Back in November, the first Windows Phone 7 device was launched in the U.S. (The Samsung Focus) It was quite an elegant device with all the physical features and appearance of a typical smartphone. The problem was, Windows Phone 7 was behind in lots of areas in which Android and iOS had filled.
Sadly to say the least, Windows Phone 7 is still in the position it was back in November of last year. It still lacks an official update that is compatible with all Windows Phone devices. Even the alleged update that "updated the update mechanism" didn't come to many devices. And even for those devices that got the debated "no functionality" update, it caused major technical problems for those devices.
Since then, Microsoft pulled back that debatable "pointless" update and there is no evidence in the horizon that would suggest that the update is coming back soon. Even if the update didn't provide new functionality, at least it would have paved the way for future updates that would bring new features or would improve previous features.
I'm very disappointed that Microsoft is putting the Windows Phone 7 platform in "the back seat" so to speak, meaning that priority of Windows Phone updates and fixes is quite disappointing. Remember that Microsoft still hasn't dealt with the SD card issue and if they don't respond to the massive problem soon, and if they don't deal with the massive complaints soon, it could spell a disastrous blow to the platform and consumers and developers alike, will lose faith.
We need an update Microsoft! I believe we're not putting high expectations on the company. Since, we, as consumers (hopefully), are only expecting an update that will fix the updater problem and possibly fix the SD card issue.
These are serious issues, and unfortunately, Microsoft is not taking the complaints and technical concerns seriously or to a literal extent. This could potentially permanently injure the Windows Phone 7 platform, which in my opinion, and in the opinion of many other, is a great platform and that Microsoft just needs to clean up their act.

Monday, March 21, 2011

This AT&T and T-Mobile deal is deadly to the industry!

On Sunday, AT&T confirmed that they've struck a deal with Deutsche Telekom for $39 billion in cash and stock (T-Mobile will get 8% stock in AT&T) to acquire T-Mobile USA. And already, the industry is buzzing over this and speculating what that means for T-Mobile customers and what it could possibly mean for both AT&T and T-Mobile's future. This deal honestly makes me extremely disappointed because T-Mobile will no longer become competitive because possibly, the deal will be approved by the FCC & FTC.
Of course, if the FCC or the FTC doesn't approve the deal, then T-Mobile and AT&T will be bitterly disappointed, but consumers and T-Mobile customers to be specific, will be very pleased! I'm one of those concerned that this deal will damage T-Mobile's reputation greatly and will be less compelling to consumers. Since T-Mobile in its current state, has competitively priced voice & data plans compared to Verizon and AT&T. Although T-Mobile doesn't have the greatest selection of devices to choose from, it has competitively priced service and has decent coverage in areas where AT&T or Verizon performs poorly.
So if AT&T takes over, it's like AT&T times two! Double monopolies are really dangerous to a recovering economy here in the United States! Let's hope that FCC deems this acquisition to be monopolistic and either block the acquisition altogether, or put major limits on AT&T.
Either way, I'm not going to be happy with the outcome!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

SEO-based links are officially unethical!

I don’t know if it makes you frustrated, but I hate it when I click on a websites that has a title or description that is relevant to what you’re searching for, but then when you end up at that site, you realize that it’s not relevant at all! You come to a realization that the title was simply put in there for SEO (Search engine optimization) just so the website can get another “viewer” of the page so they can present larger numbers of viewers to their advertisers. They don’t care if you clicked on the site and it turns out to be irrelevant. Those websites really don’t care, because they’re simply in it for the money! For the advertisers and for the page rank, so they can maximize profit. The web is full of corrupt people who use the web and the good nature of people to gain profit from those innocent web users who don’t know any better than to click on those links.

I have personal experience with clicking on SEO-infested websites all the time! I encounter these unethical sites on a day-to-day basis. This finally pushed me overboard when I was searching for solutions for a technical problem with my Android device. A result appeared in my search that seemed to be “relevant” based on the title of the link, but of course, when I actually clicked on it, and went to the site, I realized it was only somewhat relevant and didn’t contain the content I was looking for. There was no solution to my problem on that page! It was all an SEO title just so they could grab another viewer for their advertisements!

We, “the people of the internet” (According to Jeff Jarvis), should have access to high quality content and websites that don’t grab us for the ads, but rather for the content. Old media on the web seem to have the wrong message stuck in their heads. Ads aren’t the primary source for traffic and income! If you put up crumby ads on your websites, along with poor content, then nobody is going to read your website. And I don’t care what kind of site it is. You have to produce good content on the web, in order to drive genuine traffic. Then maybe, ads could be your secondary source of revenue. A more successful strategy might be to aim for high quality content first, and then people will come along and support you (through donations etc.) People will NOT support ‘pay walls.’ Such as what the New York Times is doing. I believe that is an unsuccessful strategy. If you make high quality content a high priority, then people WILL support you, whether it’s through donations, or some other means of financial support. But my advice to you is to stay away from SEO as much as possible. It upsets us as users, and it’s an unsuccessful strategy for success in the online media and journalism space.

Bottom line, SEO is unethical!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The tech industry is trapping us in their "big bubble."

If you look at any section of the tech industry, you'll notice a new trend. They're trapping us into their "closed bubble." You can use the cable and content industry as an example.
The cable companies hate FCC's proposed Net Neutrality because it kills their closed eco-system and forces them to provide at least some options. The cable companies want you to subscribe to their service and want you to buy their cable box or DVR. They desire to lock you into their service exclusively and make you come to them for all the content. But yet, at the same time, they don't want to spend much to gain content from content makers. Also an important note, the cable providers don't want you to have choice. As a result, they hate and are trying to take down YouTube and other video web services as well as Netflix. If Netflix and YouTube have less content than the cable companies do, or if services like Netflix have limitations, then that'll just give the cable companies more to profit on and as a result, they have a monopoly.

You could also look at the new smartphone 'apps' trend. Apple sort of 'invented' this form of content with their iOS'App Store.' Applications are essentially content websites, (e.g. games, news, productivity, entertainment etc.) conveniently wrapped up in a closed package. Emphasis on closed because the developer is the only one who has access to the source. Thus, we're, unfortunately, moving away from the open internet infrastructure for content, to the closed application model.

The solution:
The good news is that every problem has a solution, including this one. For video content, such as the content you consume on your cable box, we could shift focus from the cable companies to web content providers (such as Netflix, YouTube, and Hulu). If the FCC would just give it a better attempt, then we could make this happen. At this moment in time, FCC's Net Neutrality, unfortunately, does not do a good job of that. However, I like the concept the FCC has put out there. The best part about putting your content on the web is that you don't need a big budget or a big time production company to help you be successful online. For a fairly small budget and with some decent quality content, you can be successful.
The same thing is true with 'apps.' You can make any of those successful games (such as Angry Birds, We Rule, Cut the Rope etc.), productivity apps, business apps, medical apps, and all those other apps, into websites on the open internet. It may sound difficult, but more and more with the expansion of HTML5 and HTML5 capability, you can make a great web app using open technologies (HTML5) on an open platform (the internet.) No one said you had to make your content open or unprotected. You can put copy protection on your content, but at least deliver your content on an open platform with open technologies so that you can maximize your potential with the most amount of users or viewers.
Then again, if you decide to keep your content unprotected, more power to you! Keeping your content unprotected and open benefits you and your users! But of course, no pressure to keep it open.
This will not be an overnight transition from closed to open platforms, but over time, if we move from these closed eco-systems, to the web, we, as consumers, and the content creators, will see a great benefit from it.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Firefox: Destined to fail!

The desktop and mobile web browser space has been filled with many competitors. Google Chrome, Opera & Opera Mini, Safari, and yes, Mozilla's Firefox. Google Chrome has been massively growing at the expense of Internet Explorer and Firefox. In fact, you could say that all development and innovation coming from Mozilla has practically stopped dead in the water. Let;'s think about this closely. Take a look at when Google's Chrome launched. December 11, 2008 (according to Wikipedia) Google launched the first stable release of Chrome. It was quite a big leap from what the industry was doing prior to Chrome. It took major leaps forward in security, feature set, user interface, and user experience. It rocked the world forever and no doubt made Mozilla think about Firefox and the other web browsers totally differently.
Since then, Google has launched 9 new versions! Now let's contrast this to Mozilla's Firefox, which is now currently on version 3! As a matter of fact, it's become a running joke to ask, 'When are they ever going to release version 4??' If you look at this Wikipedia article, you'll notice that version 4 was launched as a "project." And it was allegedly "coming soon." However, since then, there still hasn't been any public release of version 4. This is bad news for Mozilla and great news for Google. Google is on version 10 and Mozilla is not even on version 4 yet! (Although it is rumored to be "coming soon." But I would take that with a grain of salt.) This is the exact reason Firefox is losing market share to Chrome. Not to mention Chrome also launched the capability of running add-ons in the Chrome browser, making it functionally identical to Firefox.
If Mozilla doesn't step up to the plate, Google is going to steal the spotlight away from Mozilla. But to be honest, I don't think I will miss Firefox. That is, if it dies. But of course, with the evidence I've just given, I don't think Firefox will last much longer at the current rate of progress.
I personally use Chrome 95% of my web browsing time. Yes, I may have to use Firefox every once in a blue moon, however, I don't use it much. Plus, if there so happens to be a website incompatible with Chrome (although I can't name any off of the top of my head.), I can always use Microsoft's IE9 (which is actually decent.) Or I can use Safari or Opera.
Bottom line is, if Mozilla doesn't launch version 4 soon, they will fail. Arguably, they already are failing. Chrome is eating their lunch and right now, it seems that Mozilla is okay with that! Step it up Mozilla!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

More Windows Tablets please!

Thanks to Apple’s iPad and Samsung’s Galaxy Tab Android tablet, everyone has since forgotten the Windows-based tablets. The industry seems to have headed in the wrong direction. Instead of a mixed culture of complexity and simplicity, the tablet manufacturers as a whole, seem to want to have complete simplicity. The obvious question that just has to be asked is, ‘Have they forgotten the geeks?’ The iPad has made things simple and I do not believe that is necessarily a bad thing, but if we eliminate complexity altogether, then we as consumers, will not have choice. That, I believe, is a dangerous idea!

The key to all this is choice! Prior to the iPad, the Galaxy Tab, and all the Android tablets, Windows on a tablet was the only choice. Therefore, the industry should not go back to that period in time, but rather, we should proceed forward and allow for choice. Apple and all these Android tablet makers want to eliminate Windows tablets. This eliminates choice and that does not benefit the consumers in any way, shape, or form.

I understand that the manufacturers do not want freedom of choice because they want consumers to rely solely on their platform, rather than a few different platforms for computing. It makes them more profitable and hurts their competition. That is what concerns me the most! Competition is good for the technology industry but of course, those tablet makers don’t want competition!

Besides the fact of choice and competition, Windows tablets allow people to ease into the transition from desktop computing to mobile computing. Yes, it is a very slow transition, but over time those will see that mobile computing is a benefit to them. In the meantime, Windows tablets give you the power of Windows, such as the application infrastructure and the power of a full desktop operating system, while introducing people to multitouch. Although, multitouch is not quite as intuitive on a Windows tablet, it still works. Especially with Windows 7, in which some of the major apps have been redesigned from the ground up for multitouch computing. Use Microsoft’s OneNote as an example, which is part of Microsoft’s Office productivity suite. Their latest version, OneNote 2010, has intuitive multitouch support. It supports hand recognition, which operates fairly well without difficulty, and supports hand drawings, whether you’re using a stylus or your fingers. The experience of using OneNote 2010 will be one that anyone can enjoy. The beauty of a Windows 7 based tablet is that it can serve a great number of purposes, such as productivity and entertainment. You can enjoy a movie and flip the screen around (if the hardware permits) and quickly flip it back to normal position when you’re done to swiftly transition back into productivity. It serves the best of many worlds! It combines multiple products into one, which is why I prefer a Windows 7 tablet over an iOS or Android tablet.

Sure you can’t all the great multi-touch applications and games that you can with Android and iOS, but for me and I know for a lot of other people, they’re fine with that. In a bad economy, people cannot afford to buy a one-purpose product. In fact, you could buy a Windows 7 tablet for around the same price range as an Apple iPad or a Samsung Galaxy Tab. Some Windows 7 tablets are actually cheaper than a Samsung Galaxy Tab.

So maybe a Windows 7 tablet is not for everyone. But it would benefit a lot of consumers, more than an iPad or Galaxy Tab would. It combines some great features of the Android and iOS tablets, with the benefits of Windows and a desktop computing platform.