Apple: thanks for making the iPhone more expensive, dear journalists

Apple knows well how to play with expectations. They usually disappoint when they launch products, but the disappointment isn’t as big as it could be thanks to big and small media sites.

Those sites (like The Unshut) are happy to talk about every single possible and hypothetical detail on the future Apple smartphones, and all those rumors that keep appearing on the news (I wonder how much of them are leaked by Apple itself) prepare us both for the good and the bad.

Surprises are overrated, Apple would say.

It happened last year with the absence of the headphone jack: weeks before the unveiling of the iPhone 7/Plus every tech journalist in the world had expressed his opinion on that decision. When Apple finally confirmed that omission, we were already prepared for that.

That’s big.

The same will happen with the iPhone 8: we already know for sure that it will cost over $1,000, something that would be a bigger deal if it was revealed as a new fact on the launch day. It won’t be a surprise anymore: Apple already knows they can put this price tag to the new iPhones, because we will be prepared for that. From Appleinsider (and others):

Kuo goes on to estimate an “iPhone 8” price tag starting at $1,000, reiterating a figure first divulged in a report this month. The price hike is attributed to a 50 to 60 percent bump in production costs compared to the anticipated “iPhone 7s” LCD models.

Apple should thank all tech journalists for talking so loud about them. They should thank me, for that matter. So there you have it, Apple: you’re welcome.

Source: Apple’s ‘iPhone 8’ to replace Touch ID home button with ‘function area

Nokia 3310: the immortal phone

I do not remember the exact model, but my father had a Nokia with incredible speakers. I would say that the whole building was aware of when somebody called him, but that technological prodigy (at that time) also had other advantages shared by the devices of the time. Among others, of course, was those batteries that never seemed to die. They remind me of that old ‘Highlanders’ movie. If Connor MacLeod had had a cell phone, it would have been that one for sure.

The fact is that some people are still using this kind of phones. An old friend resisted tech trends for years, and kept his old Nokia (I don’t know if it was this particular model) until he realized that what he wanted was not a new phone, but a camera with which he could also make calls. That was the argument of his surrender, because I doubt that he would have otherwise accept that defeat.

These days the indestructible Nokia 3310 has been part of the news again. A British user told media he had been using it for 17 years, withstanding —of course— the laughter of colleagues. Anyone who has resisted all this time clearly has plenty of arguments to be invulnerable to any criticism or suggestion, but some of those reasons could convince others that a Nokia 3310 is precisely what they (we) need in our lives.

This is a subject largely covered in media, among other things because a phone of this kind allows you to escape the digital whirlwind and, as they said in The Guardian, regain your life. You could say goodbye to the social networks and WhatsApp, something that for many people would probably be like living an empty life.

But you could do it, and in fact there have been strange and bold ideas to detoxify a little of that dependence on the mobile. There are “feature phones 3.0“, cellphones without ‘smart’ capabilities that basically inherit the virtues of those old Nokia devices and that adapt them to modern times with some improvements like having more space to listen to music (this If allowed). It is for example what is achieved with the Punkt MP 01, a funny product whose motto is that you can just focus. It removes everything “accessory” in the smartphone world, and offers you a basic, cool phone that has a ridiculous price: 295 euros. Phew.

The NoPhone

The NoPhone is even funnier, and that product is precisely what the name suggests. A block of plastic with the size and shape of a smartphone, but that is just that:  an absurd and stupid plastic block so you at least have the feeling that you have something in your pocket. It’s like chopsticks for smokers, a way to fool our minds into being quiet, I suppose.

The idea is to help you forget about your phone, something its creators have used to laugh about. That product has been even surpassed with the NoPhone Air, which only teaches you the package of that phone because, attention, there’s nothing inside. Well, yes, there is air. Air that does not take photos, does not store data and does not have Wi-Fi or has a headphone connector. It is “the invisible phone for people who use their phone too much“. A perfect gift ($5) for addicts to these rectangles that dominate our lives and to which we should pay a little less attention.

The NoPhone Air

The funniest thing about these nice phones is that they make more sense than we think. These last two are a reminder of how far we’ve come, but both the Punkt model and the Nokia 3310 are a much more useful resource than we think. Not to fight against the passage of time or social networks, no. To fight attacks against our privacy.

In fact you should buy one of these Nokia 3310 if you go traveling to places where your data and privacy are at risk. Say, for example, the United States, that country in which they are posing to ask you for the passwords of Instagram or Facebook. You know, to see if you are or you relate to terrorists (because someone is going to boast about it there) when you pass through their customs. Which is precisely why if you travel there or to other countries with these types of policies the best you can do is not to take your smart devices with you.

If you do, do not take the ones you use normally, of course. Use an old laptop and a rusty cell phone, formatted and totally clean, without having just used them, and in which you certainly have not gotten into your social networks. I would say you could preinstall Tails or some security focused Linux distro in that laptop, but that would probably make you look more suspicious. No. Throw in a 10 year old netbook with Windows XP (or better, a Windows Me, to whack the staff). If they stop you and want to analyze it give them access password kindly. Let’s see if they can analyze something.

The same can apply to your mobile phone: that Nokia 3310 can do wonders to make you pass customs flawlessly. If you cant to take pictures of the trip, buy a camera in some big store, take them, send them those photos with an encrypted file through WeTransfer (for example), and return the camera to get back your money. There are lots of ways to make life more difficult to people who wants to know everything about you with the old excuse —”everyone is guilty until proven innocent“—, so take that into account.

There you have it. Maybe it’s not a bad idea to buy a Nokia 3310. You can access inmortality for just €12.63 at Aliexpress. That’s not too much to ask for eternal life, right?

The iPhone, 10 years later

Ten years ago mobile phones were exactly that. Phones to talk. The few who dared to bring to the market some other device with the “smartphone” tag tried to bring us something that seemed good, but that neither in usability nor in user experience was acceptable (Hello Nokia N95).

But of course, we didn’t know then.

And then the iPhone showed up. An absolutely disruptive and revolutionary product. One that would end up transforming everything and everyone, although we could not know that on that cold January 9, 2007 in San Francisco. Many only saw the gadget for what it was. Few could see its possibilities. They didn’t even care too much about its shortcomings, because we all wanted one to be able to amaze ourselves. I ended up buying one nine months later, even though it was not possible to make calls (officially) at that time in Spain.

It did not matter if other mobile phones had 3G, or better camera, or GPS, because none of them could overcome the iPhone’s user interface and compete with a vision that for the first time turned the phone into a real pocket PC, one in which you could make a lot of good stuff. That sparked something all over the world: industry, users, developers. It was a magical moment.


And yet, I’m always amazed at how little we talk about the other great disruption of the iPhone. Without that particular thing, this device would not have had the relevance it had. That second disruption was the one that really set apart the iPhone not as a device, but as a platform.

It’s ironic to see how those original iPhones didn’t have native applications: instead of that Apple made use of web applications in an operating system that did not even have its own name (“iPhone runs OS X” was the sentence used on their press releases). The second disruption, which completed the concept, would take another year to arrive. It launched with the iPhone 3G, that product I spoke about a day before it was launched with one of those predictions logical but invisible to many people:

The big revolution in the new iPhones will not be the hardware they include, no. It’s cool to be able to enjoy 3G connectivity and even GPS, but the really important part of these models is that they are expected to finally offer support for an SDK which developers have been working for for months. That’s the great disruption of this iPhone: mobile applications.


Another great revolution was in our hands. One that ended up making the App Store a reference model for the rest of platforms. Not only that: it set the Apple smartphone as an example of everything others wanted to accomplish.

These two disruptions, as I said, changed our world. Giants fell and new ones rose, and in the meantime we started to adapt to a new world in which something singular happened: the mobile phone was no longer a device to (merelly) talk to others.


The phone became something much bigger, because these small rectangles of glass, metal and plastic have been transformed themselves and transformed us. All the revolutions have had their lights and shadows, and the iPhone has not escaped from that blessed curse. It doesn’t matter: this a very special day for the iPhone.

Happy birthday. And congratulations for changing our world.

Facebook and Google define our mobile life

Happy new year, my dear readers.

Nielsen has released a new report with the ‘Top Smartphone Apps of 2016’ in the U.S., and there it becomes clear that two tech companies dominate the scenario here. Facebook and Facebook Messenger account together for 275 million of unique users per month on average (350M if we add Instagram, #8 on this list), but the next five spots go to Google, who had 511 million of unique users on average each month thanks to its plethora of services.

We have then Apple Music on the #9, and a surprising Amazon on the #10 with the biggest growth of all of them: a staggering 43% YoY.

You can tell a lot from who is on that list, but also from who isn’t. Like Snapchat, or Twitter, or WhatsApp (popular outside the US) or WeChat (China centric).

There’s also a strong message here: Apple is mostly irrelevant on the services arena, and they don’t seem to need people using their services when at least they use their devices. The cloud failure is again evident on this chart, but the contrary is true for Facebook, that has built an empire with just an app.

That is much more powerful, I’d say, than building it with hardware, because Facebook is ruling a lot of people’s lives and is their reality. That’s frightening and marvelous and daunting and incredible. Something similar could be said of Google, who all of us should fear even more for its appetite of having us and, beyond that, our data.

These are dangerous times, and to have two companies that depend on our private data and our behaviour to exist is terrifying. And seeing us not doing anything about it is even worse.

Google Pixel: a smart step for a smartphone

Jerry Hildenbrand on AndroidCentral:

Morgan Stanley analysts think the Pixel and Pixel XL are going to be really good for Alphabet’s bottom line with over eight million units sold and $6 billion in revenue.

Many consumers complained about the change course and the departure from the now almost legend-wait for it-dary Nexus family, but that affordable family now makes less and less sense.

Competing in the low spectrum of the smartphone market is getting more and more difficult, but the guys at Google know they can differenciate themselves from the rest of Android phone makers by integrating software with hardware better than anyone, à la Apple.

Google Pixel and Google Pixel XL seem to perform really well and their cameras are probably the best on the market right now. They’re on par at least with the ones found on the Galaxy S7/Edge and iPhone 7/Plus, but the inclusion of Google Assistant (still a little bit inmature) could mean a real new start from the hardware division at Google.

It’s weird: Microsoft and Google seemed to making some hardware products just for fun. Now they have showed they can make better (high end) products than the majority of their partners/rivals.

Why Google Pixel is not the smartphone I wanted

Vlad Savov speaks on The Verge about the new Google Pixel / XL smartphones, and he gives reasonable arguments on behalf of this Google effort:

Google’s invasion of that space is exciting, and the Pixel itself — when stripped of our constantly speeding expectations and preconceptions — is a highly advanced device with which Google can begin to disrupt the status quo.

The thing is, Google is competing with his own partners in an unfair way -Google Assistant seems exclusive to the Pixel family- and is trying to get more money on the hardware business when the new Pixel should be produced with only one thing in mid:

To show others the path. To show what Android is capable of.

Google is certainly doing that with the Pixel, but with a boastful attitude. “We can do something other companies can’t“, they seem to be saying. That discourse should change to “We can do something now you should be doing too“. The enemy here is not Samsung, LG or even HTC, the not-so-secret maker of these devices. The enemy is Apple, of course, and competing with Apple in its own terms (we control the hardware, we control the software) is quite impossible when you need the industry to keep Android where it is now.

Besides that, “really blue”? Really, Google? Really really blue?

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.

T-Mobile unlimited data is not so unlimited

T-Mobile has announced its ‘unlimited plan’, an interesting option for heavy users of data plans on smartphones. The problem is, it’s not really unlimited:

The new T-Mobile One plan will come with unlimited mobile hotspot data, letting subscribers use their phone to connect a computer or other device to the network, but at 2G speeds. Speaking on the conference call this morning, T-Mobile executives said a premium option will be available with a higher-speed hotspot. Update: T-Mobile says the premium hotspot option will cost $15/month extra for 5GB of high-speed data.

Forget about ditching your current DSL/Fiber/Cable connection at home: the dream of paying just one data plan is just that, a dream. In Spain and other European countries unified (“convergent”) plans are quite popular, and they seem to be the way to go on the foreseeable future.

They make sense for the carriers and the users , who keep getting hungry about their mobile data needs. Nice bait for those carriers too, that nonetheless provide packages that at least in developed countries solve our needs easily.


ARM, Softbank and Intel’s lost chance


There was a time when Intel dominated the world. That time passed and the company is one of the biggest examples of ‘The innovator’s dilemma’. They were too confident in themselves, as many others -Nokia, Blackberry- and they failed to see what the future was going to be.

Intel could have made a smart move, but again they didn’t probably even consider it, and now Softbank has done something that could be a really future saver: they’ve made a whopping buyout offer to acquire ARM for £24.3 billion (~$32 billion).

Apparently the reason is Softbank’s interest in IoT. I’d say that’s only a marketing trick to add some hype to the headlines. ARM dominates the world now thanks to their smartphone chip design business, and it will be interesting to see what this Japanese giant does with this kind of power.

In case somebody didn’t notice, it’s a good time to acquire British companies, ahem Brexit ahem.

Source: ARM legs it to SoftBank in $32 billion buyout

Apple resigns: iPhone 7 will start at 32GB

Apple will deliver plenty of critics for that unnecessary goodbye that the future iPhones will make us pronounce, but it will also makee lots of users happy by making right what was wrong for so long.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the iPhone 7 will start with 32GB of storage, replacing the infamous 16GB base tier offered since the iPhone 3GS. That phone was launched on June 19, 2009.

About time, I’d say.