Category Archives: Mobile

Goodbye, JKOnTheRun

Warner Crocker on the demise of JKOnTheRun:

jkOnTheRun was one of the first mobile tech blogs I followed and JK was one of the guys who I always turned to hear or read his opinion. I still do. Whether it was reading posts on the blog or listening to the podcasts with James and the late, and still dearly missed Marc Orchant, it was always a blast. I always looked forward to those podcasts as I did the Mobile Tech Roundup podcasts with JK, Kevin Tofel, and later Matt Miller. I learned a lot from all of that reading and listening and the beauty of it is I was always entertained while doing so. MOTR still is in my podcast queue though James isn’t a part of that anymore.

I agree. I loved the On The Run with Tablet PC podcasts that James and Marc used to do. Blogs have moved a long way past the enthusiast stage, and I miss it. That’s not to say that what Kevin and the guys are doing about mobile at GigaOm isn’t great (it is) but it’s very much a different blogging world out there.

This guy understands

Sometimes, commenters are better than the articles on which they’re commenting. On a post about how Google is open, no really, it’s open, Android owner “David S” says this:

So Android is open if you redefine open to the point that Android becomes open? Because you say it is, we should trust you? You can’t be serious,

Open source software has very clear definitions and Android no longer meets those criteria. That is a fact and no amount of spin and requests to “trust me” can change that. Having multiple hardware vendors making devices is not the same thing as being open source, unless you consider Windows to be open source. And that would be crazy.

Looking back on Google’s statements over the years I’m struck by how rarely they actually describe Android as “open source” and how frequently they just referred to it as “open”, allowing everyone to assume they meant the former. Clearly they didn’t. They meant Android was open the way Windows is open – open to being run on different manufacturer’s hardware.

Of course being or not being open source has nothing to do with whether a piece of software is any good or not, and that’s what we Android users should be most concerned with. It’s time we gave up the fantasy that Android is better than the competition because it’s open source and judged it on whether it’s a better, more reliable, easier to use system than others on the market. The answer here is that it isn’t, yet, but it can be if Google and Android developers make it so.

I couldn’t have put it better myself.

Compare and contrast

Compare

“The Glendale Galleria store in California sold out of all their iPad 2s within 45 minutes of opening their doors (thanks, Michael K.). According to multiple reports via Twitter, users were unable to choose the model they wanted.”

and contrast

“Jefferies analyst Peter Misek on Friday argued that earnings estimates for Motorola Mobility are too high for the second quarter and 2011 because sales of the Xoom and Atrix haven’t lived up to expectations.”

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Why the tablet market is Apple’s to lose, in 23 words

James Kendrick on Twitter:

“Tablet makers cannot build tablets as cheaply as Apple. This is the dilemma facing Samsung and friends, & won’t go away. Profits might”

If you’re interested in mobile stuff, you should read James, who’s currently writing the Mobile News column for ZDNet. The old On The Run With Tablet PCs podcasts which he made with the sadly-departed Marc Orchant remain some of my favourite ones ever made.

Apple 2011 = Microsoft ’97

Brilliant comment from “Chucky” on a post from from Michael Tsai:

Microsoft in 1997 had a very specific corporate strategy. They had a temporary situation of great market leverage. And rather than concentrating on making better products for their users, they began to concentrate on two objectives:

1 Using their leverage to avoid the rise of middle-wear.

2 Using their leverage to grab a rent-seeking slice of the commerce their users did out on the internet.

Microsoft in 1997 was willing to be incredibly evasive and disingenuous in its pursuit of those goals.

Does any of this remind you of Apple in 2011 in any way?

Apple has steadfastly avoided the creation of middleware on iOS – stuff like Flash, which acts as a layer between the OS and the application. And it is now using its leverage over the platform to grab a slice of all the commerce people do through apps.

Who’d have thought that Steve Jobs would have stuck so closely to the playbook written by Bill Gates?

The Nokia/Microsoft Elephant Tango

Alan Patrick ponders if Nokia and Microsoft ever be Mobile?:

“The reason the JV is happening is that the assets being brought to the table are not so much incredible but non-credible. The two companies have completeley dropped the ball in mobile over the last 5 years, from positions of strength, due to a combination of world class arrogance, incompetence and intransigence. The question is, can they remove the cultures that made this happen?”

My short answer: No.

My longer answer: You can see that Nokia doesn’t comprehend what went wrong by the fact that it’s got the right to customise everything on Windows Phone, something no other licensee has. That Microsoft has allowed Nokia to insert this clause shows that it doesn’t understand the success of iPhone (and the failings of Android).

WiFi tethering and the iPhone: Battery life?

John Brownlee at CoM:

“It seems likely, then, that as soon as the Verizon iPhone comes out, Apple will pump an official iOS update for all devices down the pipeline, bringing the Hotspot app to all devices, including iPads. Naturally, the carriers probably have some control over how a subscriber can use that Hotspot app on their existing plans, but it seems pretty likely that all iPhone owners will be able to tether their devices to their 3G connection via WiFi soon enough.”

Phone companies do have ways of spotting people tethering, the easiest being massive spikes in data usage. But some Android users have had tethering built-in for a while (notably on the stock Nexus One), and I’ve yet to hear of anyone having problems.

What I’ve found using tethering occasionally on my Nexus One, though, is that it reduces the battery life massively: an hour of use, and it’s gone. By comparison, a dedicated device like the 3 MiFi 2 gives me several hours, easily.

Given that Apple focuses hard on battery life, and making sure that no app drains the battery too much, it will be interesting to see what its done to stop WiFi sharing killing your battery in record time.

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Google is the carriers’ best-friend

Doc Searles has got a new iPhone, and muses on a few points:

“I still see this as a phase, and not a bad one. Apple and Google have together cracked open the unholy death grip that phone makers and carriers have long had on the mobile world. At some point those two halves will come completely apart.”

It seems to me that, by accident or design, Google has done precisely the opposite: Handing incumbent phone makers and carriers a tool that lets them stay in the game. Android has basically saved LG, Samsung, HTC et al from either years of development of their own OS or millions in fees to Microsoft to license Windows Phone.

It’s also handed the carriers the ability to “tailor their customer experience” (read: “install a load of useless crapware and lock their the phones tightly”), and control what applications exist on a new phones – in some cases, to lock down what you can install on your phone.

That’s the truth of “open” and Android. Android is about creating an open environment for carriers and mobile phone makers, not for end-users.

Not saying that this is bad, in the sense that Android’s existence increases consumer choice (which is always good). A world where there was only one smartphone OS wouldn’t be healthy, even if it was iOS.

But I don’t think Google deserves any credit for breaking that “unholy death grip” – that wasn’t their intention, and it’s not really in their business interests.

Just how bad is Flash on Android?

Pretty bad. In fact, if you’re thinking video, utterly unusable.

Kevin Tofel of GigaOm and JKOnTheRun is someone who isn’t a dyed in the wool iPhone or Apple fan. In fact, he replaced his iPhone with a Nexus One in January (a process that I’ve recently gone through, more of which anon). And that’s why this video over on NewTeeVee of his experience with Flash video should be required watching for anyone who thinks Flash on mobile is a reality, today.

What does this demonstrate? Simply that the idea that Apple could simply magically put Flash on the iPad (which runs a processor in the same class as the Nexus One) is fantasy. Ignoring the broader reasons for Apple wanting to keep Flash off its platform, it’s clear that Flash is simply too processor-intensive to work properly on mobile-class processors as currently specified.

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