Saturday, November 7, 2009

And One Phone shall Rule Them All...Not...!!!

One Phone to Rule Them All.....NOT!!!!

I remember many years ago,when My wife had a pager. That was a big deal then. If I needed her to call someone, or call home when she was out and about I could page her. and as soon as she was able she would call me back and find out what was going on. I know that there were days it payed for itself.
A few years later we finely were able to get a cell phone it was a old Motorola flip phone that had a short little antenna, and a the Flip was a plastic panel that would flip up to cover the keypad, and protect it when not in use. Just being able to call during the day if there was a issue or to call someone back was at first a matter of convince, then it became a matter of necessity.

Fast Forward to today. We now have 5 phones on our plan. I have a basic phone as the the older kids who each have one. My wife is now completely computerized. everything is on her PDA/smartphone. It is plugged in every night to sync and charge. We have a saying;
"If its not in the computer,, It snot Happening.." Which pretty much sums up our dependence on technology. and computers, and her pda in particular.
For the last probably 10 years or so there have been what are generically referred to as Smartphones. which in a very wide sense, means any phone that can do more then just talk and other basic functions. Which could include everything from the keyboard texting phones, up to Palm Pre, My wife's Treo, to the king of the hill, Apple's IPhone.
Ah, the elusive IPhone, which has been hailed as the be all, and end all, of smart phones....
Again Apple followed its usual pattern of not being the first to a market, just doing it better then anyone Elise's once it got there. As was the case with the original ipods, and mp3 players. There were several players making mp3 players, out in the market, but none of them were doing well, their hardware, while mostly functional, was anything but ascetically pleasing and easy to use. Then along came Apple..
Suddenly was a struggling market, only geeks and techies know about bloomed into a national obsession.
Much has been written and made of the success of Apples Ipod Lines. The point is today they are the standard of which all other Mp3 and portable media players are judged against. The did the same thing with the smartphone, They didn't make the first smartphone, they just did it better then anyone else,,,
Until Now..

Now there is the Android series of smartphones, made by Motorola, HTC, and eventually several other manufactures for Verizon wireless, cell phone service. The Android is a direct competition to the Apple I Phone. While the IPhone has for the last couple of years been only on the AT&T network, The Android is only on Verizon . While the AT&T network is constantly panned for their poor service, ranging from coverage, to customer service, Very few, have paned the IPhone itself, except for a limited number of issues particular to that phone. The Verizon network is generally praised for its coverage, among many things, However, in recent years they have not been able to come up with a phone that could seriously directly compete with the I phone. Now it appears they finely have.
The Android runs on the relatively new Google operating system, and widely touted as being equal to the Apple Phone OS. In circles even better. But that's a subjective judgement call.

The pros and cons of each phone and platform, and even carrier, are being debated all over the web.
I am not even going to attempt to compare them, It wouldn't be fair, because at this point I've never used either, the closet I've come is the Apple Ipod Touch, which we got earlier this year.. Color me impressed.
However, that doesn't give me the creditability to compare something I've never seen or used.

The point of this article is there is room for two phones to rule them all to say.
Android will have a tough time competing with Apple, particularly if AT& T manages to improve the coverage and service. However, this may be the ship that many of their IPhone folks were looking for to jump ship, and many may not wait until their contract is up to do it. So based on AT&T's past record,
I see a huge letting of IPhones. That will help drive Android sales, However, Android better deliver, as had better Verizon, if they want to keep all those new subscribers, I've heard talk of their Nickle and dimeing services, That's a ploy that may well cost them in the long run, given T-Mobile's new program, where you buy a phone at regular price up front, and they give you a way better rate on the service plan, Something like from AT&T, and Verizon, would go a long ways to sway customers, and bringing down the retail price on the phones to begin would also help drive that plan, and they would make more in the long run.

In the long run the two will have live together and each will have its strengths, and weakness.
Choosing which one is going to be a matter of taste, in many cases location. Depending on what features you need, and platform you work from, one may be better then the other for specific needs.
I predict that after all the release hula is over over the next few months, Things will settle down, and we find the two AA's ruling their respective carries and coexisting very nicely, While there will probably be a slant towards Apple, if Android, plays its cards rights, and Verizon, keeps it network up and reliable , and the android Apps store matures and useful aps that compare to the aps on the Apple App store come up soon, and the phone just works and doesn't send users screaming to tech support, on a regular basis, Android will do very nicely, it may take a while but Android should do very nicely.. In the long run.
And Two Phones Shall Rule Them All.....

Monday, November 2, 2009

A Brave New World

Lately I've been watching a lot of "TV" on the computer; ie, netcast, or podcast as the traditional term for audio, and now audio and video broadcast over the internet, either streamed live as they happened or played off a site or downloaded and saved to and played on a portable mp3 player, both without video and more and more with video.
What I'm mostly watching is TWIT.TV, TWIT stands for; "This Week In Technology".

It started out a a audio taping of a informal conversation about tech by Leo Leporte, and several of his old Tech TV friends.
It was later put up on a site and, eventually broadcast and downloaded. Long story short;
Leo Leporte has over the last several years built TWIT into a small station. They now do about 30 hours of netcast a week, besides streaming the feed live during the taping of the shows. and running repeats of the latest shows when now one is there.. They now have sponsors and so there are a limited number of comericals , which are all of products they they use .Theses "comericals" harken back to the days of old when the announcer would go into a ad for a particular product and then righ back to the show at hand. This is what they do on TWIT tv. When its time for the few, usually 2-3 ads that they need to run, Leo, or whoever is hosting the show, will say that its now time to mention a word from our sponsor, and do a speil about the particular product or service, there is no fancy music or other gimmick, just Leo hawking the product for that day.Orgininaly they only put out audio versions of their netcast, which are available to download from I-tunes and a number of other venues. Recently within the last couple of weeks Leo Leporte, founder and owner of TWIT TV anaunced that he had just signed a deal with a company called Media Fly which is a web media, ie podcast aggeriator. They collect and put out software and products to bring media off the web to other platforms, everything from traditional auduo/video mp3 players, to smartphones, and many other devices, so essentially you an either stream it directly fom the web or or download it to you portable device of choice and take it with you, includes both regular audio only podcast, and the a/v podcast. The importance of deals like this are many:

For starters they give the whole podcast industry a creditability they haven't had before. Suddenly they are no longer just those strange things that the geeks search out and listen to. On a equally important note, it also brings the podcast to a whole new market that would never take the time to look for them, then figure out how to download and play them. Suddenly they are almost as easy to play as turning on your tv. Actually Leo Leporte explained this whole ease of use and the whole though process that went into the making of TWIT tv and why podcasting hasn't taken off like it should in this speech he did in early October. The Second link is to the speech at Blogworld, where he announced the deal with Roku and Media Fly.
The two links below explain what I have been trying to explain here much better then I can.

Also, earlier this month he in connection with the media Fly deal , he announced that the entre TWIT program would beput on the set-top box called a Roku. You may ask what a Roku box is, it is a small black box the you hook up to your tv and then it connnects to your network either wireless or by wire and allows you to stream content over it to your tv. Right now they have 3 main sourses of content. Amazon, which has both rent and buy options for their movies and tv series. If you don't rent or buy anything it don't cost you anything. The other is Neflix, which uses a subscription model, one flat rate starting around 10.00 a months allows you to rent one movie at a time, ie, physical dvd, they send to you, the big thing however is, with this box you can stream as much content as you want off their library, which is quite extensive. The last provider is MLB, major league baseball. again a subscription model, which I know nothing about exept you have to pay for it. Its there, which is cool for thoses who want. Now they are adding the Media Fly content to the box. Further research shows there are content provider coming on board over the next probably couple of months. At least that is my hope.

What platforms like Media Fly and and anything lets lets one take content from locked in device and play the same content on any device, be it a tv, natively, or through a box like Roku, or Boxee, or even Apple tv, and then take the same media and play it on a portable device and take it with you give adertisiers a whole new market to sell ads to. By the podcasting doing short content related ads the support the content maker and allow him to afford to make his product and keep it free to give away, and the adviritsers get a captive audience , which is also a niche market, which is more likely to be interest in a product related to what they're watching or listening to. And probably more likely to respond to the ad. On top of that, they will be able to track how their ads preforms, and get better demographics about the audience. Its a win-win, for everyone, the podcaster gets to pay for his show, the advertisers get to sell to a niche market that is interested in their products, and the listener hears ads he's probably more interested in.

Any way that it comes out in the end, ie,over the next few years,; things are going to change drasticly. A lot of how this will play out will depend on how the FCC and to a large extent they large telecos and content providers react to the shift. In theory, the consumers should be the ultimate winners. But How do you define winner;
Yes you will be able to stream almost anything you want whenever, wherever, you want, but your account is being tracked and advertisers, are keeping track of what you watch, so they can show you ads related to the content your watching, and possiblity based on where your watching it, and on what device your watching it on.
So in the end, the consumers have to decide if this is a fair trade, what and when they want for constant tracking of their viewing habits, and possibility even more sinister uses of the data..

Yes its a brave new world....

Ken Lawson