The  GeForce GTX 1070 is the video card you’ll want to buy

Nvidia’s GTX 1070 looks likely to be the best bang-for-buck graphics cards of its generation, stomping the GTX 970 and in many cases beating the Titan X.

These are good times for gamers: there have been nice price/performance solutions in the past, but I doubt there has been one as desirable as the new NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070.

There is certainly a more desirable graphic card, of course: the GTX 1080 is the one you lust over, but as Jon Martindale has said at Digital Trends, the GTX 107 is the one you’ll buy.

The numbers at Techspot -they’ve got a complete review with lots of benchmarks- show us that the GTX 1070 performs even better than the current GeForce GTX 980 Ti and is really close to the Titan X. Both will suffer a lot from this new competitor, much cheaper and really efficient. The comparison with the previous generation, the GTX 970 -who has been set as a requisite for a good VR experience- is astounding. For almost the same price you get around 100% the performance.

Astonishing. If you are thinking about upgrading your PC, there’s at least one thing you should have in mind. Buy a GTX 1070 and enjoy it.

Now the next step is a GTX 1070M. Pretty please?

Apple and the innovator’s dilemma

I’m sure many of you would like to see Apple hit the ground with a wallop. This is what happens when you’re so big: there are the ones who love you (very much) and the ones who hate you (very much). I don’t wish harm on anybody, but I must recognize that I made an evil chuckle when Apple published their latest financial results and we saw that money losses can beat up anyone .

Obviously those numbers could be seen from different points of view. Apple supporters quickly jumped to step pointing out that in fact the problem wasn’t that they sold too few (of everything) last quarter: the problem was that they had sold too much (of everything) on the previous quarter. If one looked at the overall picture, things were in fact pretty good. Maybe the quarter had not been so bright, but my evil smirk was responded by Apple with a powerful infernal laugh:

cashpile

The vignette is funny and true, but the same webcomic would have been appropriate on other companies in the past. Companies that ended up being overtaken by those who did long-term thinking. Marco Arment wrote on Saturday his thoughts on the subject, and there he compared Apple to BlackBerry. He explained how BlackBerry smartphones were good on that moment because that was the concept we had about a smartphone. But they were wrong about the future, and like many others, they weren’t ready for what would happen after the iPhone’s launch:

No new initiative, change management, or acquisition in 2007 could’ve saved the BlackBerry. It was too late, and the gulf was too wide.

Today, Amazon, Facebook, and Google are Placing large bets on advanced AI, ubiquitous assistants, and voice interfaces, hoping That These Will Become the next thing That our devices are for.

If they’re right – and that’s a big “if” – I’m worried for Apple.

The analogy is clear for Arment: Google, Amazon and Facebook -I wonder why he doesn’t mention Microsoft here- are making great investments in cloud services and technologies really promising like Artificial Intelligence. Apple has hardly done anything about this. Some people commented in HackerNews that this was not entirely true and that the company has made some recent acquisitions (Emotient, VocalIQ, Perceptio), but this is just makeup, because whhat Apple has not could be probably more important:

Data.

Apple is a company that has never placed special emphasis on collecting data, and that could be a decisive factor for its future because data allows to feed those IA platforms. Can the IA dig the grave of Apple? Well, I would say that if there is a candidate technology to transform our lives, that’s AI. In fact, it will also have a huge impact -if everything goes as it seems- in other promising fields, including self-driving cars, of course.

It may be the case that Apple doesn’t need to invest in AI, or in those cloud services that remain untapped. It may be the case that Apple is just waiting: someone gets the next big thing in a rough way, and then they come, and then they pull off an enhanced version of it and they show it to us in a way that suddenly we recognize as the one we needed and then we all want to be part of that revolution. That happened with the iPod, of course. And it happened again with the iPhone.

It hasn’t happened again.

It may also be the case (too many ‘mays’) that Apple has not the resources to innovate in this area, and in this regard the solution would be relatively simple, of course: use their  checkbook. I don’t see them moving on that direction, but if someone has deep pockets, that’s Apple. A company whose most high-profile acquisition was Beats, a company for which they paid $3B and has allowed them to become a ‘me too’ in streaming services.

The bottom line is clear. Apple is doing really fine, but if you had to bet on a company that in 10 years had not only survive, but triumph, would it be Apple? I don’t think so, especially since Apple just seems to look short term. Others try to look beyond, and I like that. And this is the reason I think that sooner or later Apple will have a really big problem. Unless they wake up, of course.

Suddenly, Chrome OS makes more sense

Chrome OS wasn’t mentioned once at yesterday’s Google I/O keynote, but there was a big update coming: Android apps will be part of that experience in a move that proves that the ‘merger’ between the two platforms was indeed a reality.

Google waited until day two of its I/O developer conference to announce what might be its biggest and most impactful news. With the Play Store, Chrome OS is suddenly a lot more compelling to users who might have shied away from using a device that could only use the web and web apps.

That’s the real story here: Chrome OS users will be capable of running lots of Android apps on their Chromebooks thanks to the arrival of the Google Play Store to this operating system. In fact the integration of the two OS’s seems pretty natural:

Apps show up as fully independent, separate, resizeable windows, instead of inside some weird Android zone. Their notifications appear inside Chrome OS’s own notifications area

What is more interesting here is that there’s no emulation or virtualization here: Android runs almost natively thanks to containers and has “full access” to resources such as Wi-Fi, processor or RAM -and of course, to the touch screen-. This move won’t make Android a desktop operating system at last by itself -and the approach is different from Remix OS-, but its combination with Chrome OS seems to make sense.  This feature will be available for every certain Chrome OS user in the fall; it will be interesting to see what’s improved in that moment.

Source: Bring Your Android App to Chromebooks | Android Developers Blog

Goodbye to the perfect disposable phone

This looks bad. I’ve been writing all day about the new Moto G4 and Moto G4 Plus from Lenovo, and in fact I’ve just written an opinion piece at Xataka (Spanish).

The feeling about those products isn’t positive. The road taken by Motorola Lenovo after swallowing a company that has been legendary in the segment mobility is very, very sleazy. I didn’t think about approaching it that way, but again Vlad Savov has published a great post at The Verge where he has compared Motorola and Lenovo with Palm and HP. The analogy is clear, and I fear that unless something strange happens Motorola could end up as an entry in the Wikipedia and a memory of something good for those who had the privilege of enjoy his best years. That is precisely what Palm has become. And I quote (emphasis mine):

There’s no doubt, looking at the new Moto G range for 2016, That the former Motorola now lags ITS competition. Chinese Have surpassed rivals Moto phones industry in the design stakes, and the overall quality of Android software has improved to the point where the purer Moto experience is not all that big of a selling point. Will the new Moto G phones be decent? Sure. They just will not be competitive.

The new Moto G4 models are indeed ok, but they are not superior to their competitors. They have become what every manufacturer should fear: a me too who follows boring trends and neglects what brought real value to the phone. As I said at Xataka, this is no longer the terminal that for years caused that feeling of being a bargain.

This stylized photo shouldn't deceive you. This device is not worth what it costs. Not anymore.
This stylized photo shouldn’t deceive you. This device is not worth what it costs. Not anymore.

For years, the Moto G has been the device most recommended by me to my relatives, friends and acquaintances. It was a sure bet, one that worked flawlessly and that could suffer anything without that being a tragedy.

It was as close as possible to the perfect disposable smartphone.

These devices aren’t that. With prices starting at £169 (about $243) for the Moto G and £199 ($286) for the G Plus (they’ll arrive to the US later than in most countries), they go too far from that price that we psychologically associated with a fair cost for a phone that could easily fall to the toilet or the floor without making us cry.

The problem is that everything looks bad in the future of this legendary brand. Lenovo had already announced they wanted to change the branding and use only the word Moto, but that contempt for this manufacturer is evident in other details. A good example is how Lenovo has announced the Lenovo K5 in Spain as a replacement for the Moto G4 Play that, truth to be told, shouldn’t have been announced because it is an absurd product both in specifications and goal market. A poor tribute to a product that changed the mid-range forever and that made Motorola, as Savov said, a beloved maker again -and a very American one- after spending a few years with no clear path to follow.

So dear readers, my recommendation is clear: unless reviews tell us otherwise, these Moto G4 / Plus can go to hell. There are several better options from other manufacturers.

What a pity. Poor Motorola.

My PC is good enough

Yesterday I wrote at Incognitosis (in Spanish) about the latest data that Canalys published about the PC segment. The numbers are crude but real: sales are down for all hardware makers, and even Apple is feeling the pressure.

Analysts from that firm suggested -not really a new argument- that the smartphone is guilty for that reality, but there is at least one more reason:

Your PC (or laptop) is good enough.

I made two polls that would be useful to confirm that idea, but the results were not so definitive as I would have thought. The first question, “How many years have you been using the same PC or laptop?” was pretty conclusive: 7 out of 10 users have a machine that is at least 3 years old.

encuesta1

The second question was more interesting: “Are you thinking of buying a new PC or laptop?“. The answers were pretty different from what I would have assumed:

encuesta2

As you may see there (although the poll is in Spanish) there are many people here who is thinking in buying a new desktop PC (around 40%) or a new laptop/convertible (46%) in the next three years. I think my audience is really tech related -the same happens here- so the poll isn’t that definitive in either case, but I would have thought of much more reduced percentages there.

After analysing the results, there’s an obvious fact: we updated our old PCs because we had to. If we didn’t, we were just missing the future. We wouldn’t have been able to enjoy those exciting features Windows and its apps and games were giving us. We always want more, but in that case we also needed more in order to  avoid falling behind.

That’s not the case anymore. The market is mature and most people feels no need to upgrade or buy a new PC. Their machines are good enough, and Microsoft has made a big mistake with Windows 10, an OS that runs even better than Windows 8 or Windows 7 in old hardware. What happened with minimum requirements? Suddenly the equation didn’t work for us. And that’s a tragedy for Microsoft, Intel, AMD and all the rest of companies that once were successful thanks to that feeling of being compelled to buy a new PC.

Too bad.

The revolution that never was

There’s a sentence intimately associated with 3d printers: they were promising. . The problem is that the technology has not gone further than that. It’s just promising. It was promising in 2010, and it’s still promising in 2016. It’s so promising that we have grown tired about it: we have started to pin our hopes in other areas. 3D printers are cool, but that’s it.

maker1

Reading the recent post at The Awl I’ve thought about what has happened to this revolution that never was. The author, Evan Malmgren, has its own theory:

The maker movement was demoted from a force of social transformation to a geeky subculture; open source HAD failed to take hold of materials production. […] MakerBot Sought to “open source” materials production through private enterprise, and Pettis’s vision failed Precisely Because of That contradiction-it was an Attempt to graft a collectivist approach on top of an aggressively private one.

That’s weird. When MakerBot started to launch its 3D printers it did so with an open mind. Everything was Open Source, it was by and for the community. All very hippie-like, with Jony Ive’s bright colors  and with that spirit that usually makes ideas great but not their execution. And then competition arose, and then MakerBot created the Replicator  2 and then that machine became a proprietary development, and then the Open Source spirit rotted. Of course. MakerBot wanted to make money, and suffered on its own flesh the disadvantages of an Open Source model when trying to compete. Others had too much work done.

Maybe that has been one of the causes of the current status of 3D printing, but I’m afraid there’s been a much more important reason: we have overestimated the ability of these machines.

In fact, it’s not your fault. Its our fault: tech media fault. We swallowed those promises and we raised them to infinity and beyond. 3D printers were destined to democratize home production of all kinds of small (and not so small) inventions. We were supposed to become fierce competitors of the masters of cloning: chinese makers. You could make your own teaspoon, a missing sword for that action figure for your kids, or, for that matter, a gun which would be useful to take care of that troll that is annoying you everyday.

liberator

All very promising, of course, but the results, though amazing in some cases, were anecdotal (but they were certainly cool, pay attention to that link) for ordinary mortals. In fact that’s the feeling that many have about this technology: 3D printers are fine for demo time, but in most cases the wow factor when you see that Yoga little head or your own face printed in 3D lasts 10 minutes. That’s all.

Technological journalists keep talking about these machines, but the fact is that those amazing applications-and there are certainly some of those- seem to remain anecdotal. The limitations on available materials, colors, sizes, print speeds or the final results prove that to get the best results you have to spend lots of money. And that’s not worthy when all you have is the guarantee that you will be able to brag about that little creation with some friends -who will consider you a nerd. Quoting the original article again:

In this sense, the 3D printer is not part of a “second Industrial Revolution,” but an extension of the first. The real impact of industrialization was not due to the invention of power machines like steam engines, but the onset of tooled machines, Which removed the tools from the hands of workers. 3D printing does not Represent an inversion of the subdivision of mechanized work, then a, but an intensification of it. The appearance of mechanical autonomy is an illusion.

I think there’s a pessimistic tone in The Awl piece. Maybe we’re not before that ‘Industrial Revolution 2.0’ that MakerBot creators talked about, but 3D printing has a bright future ahead. I don´’t know how long it will be until that promising technology goes beyond that, but I’m sure that time will come. It happened with CD recorders, and with laser printers, and with so many other technology products that needed just a little more time to mature.

3D printing will remain the revolution that never really was meanwhile. But even so, what a brilliant fake revolution.

Update to Windows 10 now. Pretty please?

Microsoft has applied all kind of tricks -some of them quite dirty- to try to make Windows 10 its most succesful OS ever, but adoption rate quickly slowed down. The numbers are solid –300M active users at the moment- but not great, and this announcement is different from others.

It’s different because you can see Microsoft is actually begging you -at least, that’s the feeling one gets after watching the video– to upgrade to Windows 10. Even the final sentence in the official announcement from Microsoft’s blog reflects that:

If you’ve already upgraded to Windows 10 – thank you. If you haven’t upgraded yet – we hope you’ll consider upgrading today.

That’s not a good sign and reflects a weak position from a software developer that hasn’t been convincing enough on his proposal. What has failed? Difficult to say, but marketing and communication haven’t been what we expected. Nagging users, downloading the OS to your computer without asking or making us worry about privacy issues haven’t helped.

It will be difficult to solve this problem, and the fact that the upgrade won’t be free in two months time makes Windows 10 situation more problematic. So upgrade now.

Pretty please.

 

Goodbye, Atom: you won’t be missed

Vlad Savov writes about Intel and its smartphone strategy: Goodbye, Atom:

Late on Friday night, Intel snuck out the news that it’s bailing on the smartphone market. Despite being the world’s best known processor maker, Intel was only a bit player in the mobile space dominated by Qualcomm, Apple, and Samsung, and it finally chose to cut its losses and cancel its next planned chip, Broxton. This followed downbeat quarterly earnings, 12,000 job cuts, and a major restructuring at a company that’s had a very busy April. Intel is still one of the giants of the global tech industry, but it’s no longer as healthy and sprightly as it used to be.

I would say one of the biggest mistakes of Intel was XScale: giving up on ARM chips could be seen as logical back then, but it was also a little bit arrogant.

Intel had to fight from the top down and that bet never worked out. History has shown us that ARM and its bottom-up strategy has clearly had much more sense in the mobile space.

When Otellini confessed that he passed on that agreement with Apple and their future iPhone -knowing nothing about Apple’s product- it became clear that he was not considering the long term. The company was doing really good back then, so a risky move like that was out of the question.

The situation was exactly the opposite for Andy Grove back in the 80s: the memory business was a road to nowhere, so he had to risk everything, and he made the right decission with his bet on microprocessors. He was looking for a solution on both the short and the long term, and he was lucky. Otellini wasn’t, of course.

Sadly for Intel, this is another example of the innovator’s dilemma. Atom -ahh, those netbook times- won’t be missed. It’s wise to accept defeat.