The innovator’s dilemma didn’t forgive BlackBerry either

Ina Fried on ReCode:

BlackBerry said Wednesda-y that it will stop internal development of smartphones, relying on partners for any future hardware efforts.

Everybody saw this coming, but that doesn’t make it less painful. Chen has made the right decisions most of the time, and when they weren’t right, they were inevitable.

It’s difficult to fight in the mobile segment, but that is almost impossible when you arrive really late to the party and don’t offer nothing specially differential. The innovator’s dilemma is cruel and merciless and that’s a tragedy on cases like this.

I’ve never had a BlackBerry, but I’m sure I’ll miss the platform… and the fact that we’re all losing something. For starters, competitiveness.

Too sad.

Firefox, Chrome and the perception of value

It doesn’t happen that much in technology, but some articles become more real and truthful as time goes by. It’s certainly the case in ‘Choose Firefox Now, Or Later You Won’t Get A Choice‘, where the author urges the user to use Mozilla’s browser:

So if you want an Internet — which means, in many ways, a world — that isn’t controlled by Google, you must stop using Chrome now and encourage others to do the same. If you don’t, and Google wins, then in years to come you’ll wish you had a choice and have only yourself to blame for spurning it now.

The article is being discussed at Hacker News, where several readers make good points about what are the reasons Chrome and Firefox are currently where they are. One of them made an interesting question: “What did cause you to switch?

When Chrome was launched Firefox was easily the best browser around. That ended with Chrome, which was faster, leaner and had features such as sandboxing that for example allowed the browser to keep running even if one of the tabs stopped working. The extension catalog was not that great at the beginning, but that changed quickly too. 

Years after that, the situation is quite different. Chrome and Firefox are indeed great browsers, and I wouldn’t say one is far better than the other. When I started using Chrome -I’m writing this post on this browser- I did it for the advantages it had, and I didn’t consider sacrificing my privacy as a big danger back in the day. 

That consideration is no longer true, but the problem is, even considering the respect to privacy that Firefox provides to the user, that’s not a perceived value.

It’s nothing you actually feel when you’re browsing. 

That’s the problem, I’d say. Firefox could be interesting for many people if there was some feature specially beneficial to them. Opera has been trying to walk this path with its adblocking capabilities, the power efficiency enhancements and the addition of a VPN proxy. Even with those interesting features, the market share hasn’t changed that much. And if it doesn’t for Opera, I wonder how Firefox can improve its market share with a discourse that again (most) people don’t usually get. 

That’s sad, and the worst part of it: I’m not helping to solve the situation either. I know I should use Firefox. It simply doesn’t feel like the best browser for me anymore. 

Goodbye, Nexus?

google

Google today tweeted out an indication that it will unveil new devices on October 4. People have been expecting Google to at least show new mobile devices on that date, and the smartphone-shaped outline in the tweet confirms it.

A lot of rumors have been published on different media about the upcoming new smartphones from Google. Nothing too fancy or relevant, it seems, except for one detail: their name.

For some reason, Google could decide to change their phone names and say goodbye to the Nexus family. The new phones reportedly will be part of the new Pixel family, which will be announced on Oct. 4th, 2016.

By the way, do you remember that one thing that made the Nexus 4 so desirable? It was the first phone that was actually cheap for what it gave to their users. That trend was picked by other makers, but Google decided their following phones will be more and more expensive each time.

That could be another feature of the new Pixel phones: it seems the smaller Pixel phone will start at $649. Welcome to the new Google.

The ‘killer app’ for the Apple Watch? Fitness.

The Verge has a good review of the Apple Watch Series 2, but everything seems to be left over when you read the first line of that text:

Let’s call it what it is: a fitness tracker.

That’s almost exactly what the Apple Watch is. I would say it’s what it wants to be first, although it can be a lot more. What it matters is that Apple seems to have found what it needed to convince people to buy this device.

You should buy it because it can help you to be in better shape. That’s it. Other makers use that reasoning to sell their fitness trackers, but Apple can at last compete in similar terms with those products while adding all the other neat options the Apple watch gives their users. Joanna Stern, by the way, has also expressed the idea in a fair way:

Still not a ‘need’, finally a ‘want’.

Not much to add after those two little sentences.

The iPhone 7 is a great smartphone you probably shouldn’t buy

That’s what most of the reviewers seem to think about the new iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus, which has good features but nothing that could really justify leaving a perfectly fine iPhone 6s/Plus for these.

The differences are clearly there for iPhone 6/Plus users, but everyone seems to be not that convinced to recommend the new iPhones even though their scores are 9 out of 10 points on average. 

That doesn’t matter. Not because almost everyone misses too much the headphone connector (Ars Technica, The Verge, Mashable), but because this is the perfect transitional device

Every review seems too anxious not about the iPhone 7, but what will come with the iPhone 8

The iPhone 7 is competing with a phone that even doesn’t exist. The problem is, it will lose against our imagination everytime

Courage and comparing Apples to oranges

Much has been said about the removal of the headphone jack in the new iPhone 7/Plus, and John Gruber has added is own commentary:

Choosing to do what you *know* will be unpopular in the short run but you *believe* will prove correct in the long run takes courage.

The problem with Gruber argument is that the comparison, as it almost always happens, is unfair. This is not -even in hindsight- comparable to the decision to not support Flash technology on iOS. Gruber later admits that it’s certainly not the same:

Flash/HTML5 was bad/good. Analog jack/AirPods is meh/good.

I don’t really feel analog jack is meh: it depends on the headphones you get, and if you want better sound you can just buy a phone with a better DAC or an external DAC. But there are other considerations here. The first one, wireless headphones are just an option (and to this day, not better than the wired ones), but he implies they’re the future because cables are inconvenient:

More people would have a worse experience on a daily basis, dealing with tangled cords and all the other hassles of having your ears tethered to a device.

Millions of people don’t seem to have a problem with tangled cords, but even inf we concede this, there’s the question of using a proprietary connector that only Apple has control over. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has argued against that kind of option, and mentions that, for example, “manufacturers must apply and pay a licensing fee to create a Lightning-compatible device“, but even if this and the DRM problems aren’t really that important-Schiller calls them a ‘pure conspiracy theory‘-, the truth is there are questions that should worry the general public:

But therein lies the problem: you shouldn’t have to depend on a manufacturer’s permission to use its hardware however you like (or, for that matter, to build your own peripherals and accessories for it). What you can do with your hardware should be determined by the limits of the technology itself, not its manufacturers’ policy decisions.

Apple hasn’t made this decision based on courage. They’ve made this decision based on money. Period.

 

Project Ara: stop making us dream your dream, Google

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Julia Love for Reuters:

Alphabet Inc’s Google has suspended Project Ara, its ambitious effort to build what is known as a modular smartphone with interchangeable components, as part of a broader push to streamline the company’s hardware efforts, two people with knowledge of the matter said.

It’s nice to be part of a dream, but not when that dream implies time, money and effort that developers and makers all over the world spend into Google aspirational projects.

Google’s Project Ara was one of those, and although the idea was intriguing, the modular phone is the solution to a problem we don’t really have. Vlad Savov expressed it well a few months ago, and the efforts by other makers such LG (LG G5 & Friends), Lenovo (Moto Z & MotoMods) or Fairphone (with its Fairphone 2) show this kind of market is not convincing much people.

The difference is clear: LG and Lenovo just make the bet and dream the dream by themselves. Google dreams with us, and as Eduardo Archanco said, that is not always fair. Not at least for those who are much more than mere spectators.