The next gizmo finding its way into my pocket is likely to be the Treo 600, and there’s a nice piece about it at BargainPDA.com. The comments, incidentally, show up some of the interesting distinctions between the US and worldwide phone markets. CDMA providers, because they use phones dedicated to a particular provider rather than the GSM SIM card system, tend to lock users in to a particular service and phone – discouraging you from switching. It also discourages you from upgrading your phone as often, which means you don’t get the same kind of feverish upgrade culture where everyone has to have the latest phone – the phone as appliance and lifestyle accessory, rather than technology.
There’s an interesting two-piece over at Tabula PC about why Apple products are regarded as cool, while PC products – and in particular, the Tablet PC – aren’t. The main thrust of it is that while tablets and PCs focus on technology, Apple has successfully turned its products into appliances – products that are easy to use and look good – while PCs remain simply ugly. The key is that the first wave of Tablet PCs focussed on the traditional PC user, corporates, and looked like they were designed for boring men in beige suits.
The most interesting Tablet PC remains Microsoft’s original prototype, for the reason that Microsoft wasn’t bound by the terrible ideas on marketing that the likes of Compaq and Toshiba are. It’s no surprise that after all this time, the only company that can make PCs that look like appliances rather than water coolers is Sony – and its absence from the Tablet market is probably one of the reasons why that market is currently so dull.
Inspired by ravings from Yoz, Phil, Quinn and probably Danny, I took at look at Bloglines this morning. Bloglines is an RSS aggregator which, because it’s web-based, gives you the freedom to have access to your daily reading from any machine. On the surface, this is a solution to a problem that I have, which is keeping my news reading in sync over two machines, but in practice, I hated it.
My initial impression after registering was simply “urgh”. I would be being kind if I said that the interface had all the benefits of simplicity. In reality, it’s so simple that it borders on the primitive. It’s like something from the stone ages of the web. Yes, it obeys all the usability maxims – you can certainly get to what you want to do fast – but the key thing about any application is that it should engage you, make you want to use it, not look like something your accountant would code.
Then there’s the features – or rather, lack of them. It reads RSS. That’s it. There’s no fancy community stuff, no posting to blogs, no search, nothing – in short, none of the features that could easily be done that would make it worth using.
So I won’t be giving up NetNewsWire any time soon. As a solution to the techno-nomad who never uses the same machine twice Bloglines is bare-able. But for anyone else? Forget it.