2010 Year of the App Phone (Android vs. iPhone vs. WebOS)

2008 and 2009 were all about the iPhone. Smartphones were obsolete, nothing else came close. That will be different this year. 2010 is the year of the App Phone.

Last week I looked at the version of a common app on Droid vs. iPhone. The iPhone still won hands down. (Not that a great app couldn’t be delivered on Android, but iPhone has been so much more successful that developers still prioritize it far above the others.) Why will that change this year?

iPhone has the lead in most areas as the most polished and intuitive device with the most apps. But Android and Palm are set to rapidly gain enough market share and maturity of their own to stand up as viable competition.

And they’re all being freed of carrier lock-in. Palm announced WebOS handsets for Verizon. AT&T announced that it will sell Android and WebOS. iPhone may be available on carriers other than AT&T as soon as June. Google has announced its Nexus One, and many more Android handsets are sure to come this year.

For me personally, this means a big change. I am, afterall, the guy who camped at the front of all three previous iPhone lines. Continue reading

It's time to end TSA-sponsored terrorism in the air and on American soil!

In nearly three years on Twitter, rarely have I seen such widespread, rapid and uniform response to anything having to do with politics, security or terrorism. The complaints and jokes came on rapid fire this afternoon, filling my screen with everything TSA and terrorism. It was a slow Twitter day, but perhaps 10% of the tweets I saw over a few hours were on a single topic — that’s unprecedented.

After a failed terrorist attempt yesterday, the TSA has responded with the next escalation after their previous high-water mark of stupidity (no pun intended), the no-liquids rule. Now: no more electronics in flight, nothing in your lap, only one carry on, and no movement in the last hour of flight. Many of those I follow on Twitter are frequent travelers, most are highly intelligent. All who’ve commented seem pissed (and not just that they won’t be able to pee).

They know the real impact of what security expert Bruce Schneier calls Security Theater (if you don’t like that link to his blog, try this one to 60 Minutes, even if they haven’t read his latest reaction.

My first reaction was When I stop flying, it doesn’t mean the terrorists have won, it means the TSA has! Continue reading

iTunes 9 Home Sharing/Sync the Wrong Solution. Give us automatic media caching!

We live in an age when homes don’t have a single computer on a desk, everyone has their own laptop. It’s great that iTunes9 recognizes the need to share files between computers so that everyone in a home can make local copies to hear each other’s music and watch each other’s videos.

Except that we have tiny storage in iPhones, MacBook Air and netbooks — some iPods hold more. We need to solve the problem of keeping only the files we need with us and having the rest stored on the network. I want an automatic system to swap in and out the files on my machines based on my requests and favorites, caching all the most used files locally and pulling less-often used files off the network as needed.

TimeCapsule sucks as Network Attached Storage for iTunes or Sonos

Apple, please announce a beefier TimeCapsule (and/or Apple TV) today!

Here’s what I learned through trying to set the TimeCapsule up to act as drive space for music and video: The TimeCapsule works well as a wireless router, and works OK for backups, but it sucks to use as general storage.  This is a shame since it was introduced at the same time as the MacBook Air, a machine which is great as your main computer but for the fact that it doesn’t have enough hard drive to manage any but the smallest collection of photos, music and videos.

I’ve struggled with this issue since I first got my Air 18 months ago: where to put all the files that don’t fit on the tiny 80gb drive? It meant I’ve kept only a small music collection. Hell, some iPods come with larger drives, a few are even twice the size.

It seemed simple enough to fix. Apple’s TimeCapsule is a combined 802.11n wireless router and Network-Attached Storage (NAS) device. It is designed to give you a place to backup your computers via the OS X Time Machine software, but it also lets you mount a drive for any other purpose.  I’d bought one at the same time as my Air. But now I’d finally set it up as a shared drive, mounted it on both laptops, pointed iTunes to it (instead of the default local directory), copies all files there and started ripping CDs to it. This was going to rock.

Only it didn’t. Continue reading

Skittles goes all in on Twitter

Skittles Vodka (with instructions on Flickr)

Skittles Vodka (with instructions on Flickr)

In a brilliant publicity move, tonight Skittles made its website home page primarily a Twitter search on “Skittles.” (They overlay a menu that lets you get to other Skittles content, including Facebook, Flickr and Wikipedia.)

Even if they take it down quickly, everyone will be talking about it for some time to come.

Like any good publicity stunt, this required rare courage.

I’ve already read several folks putting obscenities together with Skittles (some more creatively than others), or folks just adding the word to any tweet. The conversation will be as much backlash and criticism as anything else. But the point is exactly that people are talking about what Skittles did. And any publicity is good publicity, right? You just can’t buy the kind of media this will generate.

As well, we’ll all learn something in the conversations and fallout. That alone is worth the experiment. Bravo, Skittles.

Update (9:21am Monday):
Skittles is generating so much traffic to to Twitter that users are complaining of timeouts on loading pages (and TweetSuite isn’t yet updating with all the folks who’ve been kind enough to tweet a link to this blog). I’m looking forward to hearing from @abdur, Twitter’s Chief Scientist and creator of search.twitter.com, what he thinks of all this (and whether Skittles gave him a heads up).

@dalelarson on skittles.com

@dalelarson on skittles.com

Update 2 (Monday afternoon):
I liked this post, inspired me to think a bit deeper and comment:
Skittles Goes Modernista! With A Distributed Experience.

So far the only comments I’ve seen out of Twitter about Skittles are:
I am neither… there are both pro and con points” (thanks for getting back to me, Abudur!),
Netik’s quick response to @LaughingSquid: “I don’t know what they’re thinking.
Though one might take this status blog entry to mean that Skittles blew a fuse at Twitter’s datacenter: “We experienced a brief data center power failure this morning affecting a small number of servers. Site performance was degraded for 5 minutes.

Competition Reduces Friction for Payments

Great news for business models that monitize by charging users: new competition in the payments space is heating up.

The iPhone AppStore capitalizes on 75 million iTunes accounts attached to credit cards to make buying cheap apps frictionless for users. I still want to extend it to paying for web and desktop apps and add flexibility for content and subscriptions.

PayPal powers payments on EBay (where the payments are larger), but doesn’t have quite the same easy single-click power and hasn’t been widely applied to the application/content space. Others, such as Google Checkout have never reached critical mass.

Yesterday, Amazon.com launched its Flexible Payments Service (previously in limited beta), touting it as “the first payments service designed from the ground up for developers.” They clearly intend it to work for e-commerce, digital goods, donations and online services, including digital music and online storage, and provide for subscriptions and recurring payments. Customers pay using the same login credentials, shipping address and payment information they already have on file with Amazon. In other words, it looks like it could compete with both of the above.

Sounds like a great foundation for the service I want to create…

A hint about good presentations, Politics as an example of transparency? and OMMA Social

The best speakers bring authenticity through personal stories.

It was easy to focus on Rich Ullman‘s lunchtime talk during OMMA Social today as he creatively wove in stories and slides from his experience over the last 48 hours. (Sorry about that olive, Rich.)

He made a point about transparency making newly appointed U.S. Senator Gillibrand an example. With the news around her appointment, he’d just learned that as a congresswoman, her Sunlight Report broke ground making her the first to list her official schedule daily (who she is meeting with) and among the first to disclose all her earmark requests and post her financial disclosure reports.


Take it one step further:
I’d love it if every member of congress had a Twitter feed updated as they went through their daily meetings and proposed, amended, or voted on budgets or legislation. Following those I vote for would be manageable and give me a much deeper awareness and sense of engagement.

[Rich was kind enough to upload his slides to Slideshare within an hour of my request. Thanks!]
[You might also be interested in live blog posts about each presentation at OMMA Social by @dberkowitz]

Best iPhone Twitter app comes down to Tweetie vs. Twittelator Pro

Tweetie screenshot main page

Tweetie screenshot main page

Gizmodo’s new comprehensive review of iPhone apps evaluated many more than I did (“ten zillion”), but matches my own experience. We both narrow it down to Tweetie vs. Twittelator Pro.

I’ve been switching back and forth between the two for the last month or two. Either is a great app with the edge for smoothness going to Tweetie (which also seems to display more tweets on the page). The edge for pure power goes to Twittelator Pro.

Twittelator Pro screenshot main page

Twittelator has a great feature I wish was included in other iPhone apps:  a button to scroll down a whole page at a time. This is especially useful in catching up with a long list of tweets. This is the only app I’ve seen with this functionality, so it’s a nice innovation.

The other power feature I make use of in Twittelator is the ability to define my own saved searches.

I can’t think of anything in Tweetie that Twittelator doesn’t do (well, there are fart noises and the flashlight if you enable the Popularity Enhancer).

Despite all that, my current swing is in favor of Tweetie, though I still switch it up. Which do you prefer?

Suing over negative Yelp reviews (and a better response)

A friend of mine, Michael Blacksburg, represents defendant Christopher Norberg in a case where a chiropractor has sued over a negative review on Yelp. They’re in mediation today, trial in March if it doesn’t settle.

The case raises complex issues for everyone such as:

  • where are the lines between fact and opinion
  • how much should that legal distinction apply to consumer review sites?
  • how should online review sites be structured to be fair to both sides?
  • how should they handle negative comments?
  • how should reviewer reputation and identity contribute?
  • what about anonymous reviews?

The Chron has a good story (and an editorial), and I liked PC World’s review of the lawsuit and they had a lively discussion on NPR’s Forum this morning with an attorney from the EFF (who threw one hell of a great birthday party earlier this week).

How should businesses participate in the process and respond to negative comments online?

I’m in the camp that says the lawsuit does chiropractor Steven Biegel far more harm than good (no matter what the outcome). Everyone would be better off to handle these issues conversationally than legally.

I like the suggestion ‘from Sharemarketing’: Don’t sue your way out of a bad review on Yelp:

Suing is the exact wrong thing to do. Why not go onto Yelp and respond. Say something like this:

“I respect the opinion of Mr. Norberg, a client of mine from date to date. But I think his characterization of me is wrong. I’m honest and hard working, and I’ll work hard to solve the issue you have. Also, my rates are public and agreed upon before treatement. I’m not sure what specific disagreement Mr. Norberg had with me, but I wish he would have talked to me directly instead of using Yelp. Call me anytime, night or day and I’ll happily explain how my treatment works, and I’ll let you know the rates.”

UPDATE 2:36pm 9-Jan-09 Blackie texted to tell me that the case settled to the mutual satisfaction of both parties. (The issues raised, however, remain for all of us as we move forward online!) Elinor Mills at CNet provides great coverage of the settlement.

Obama's Blackberry: "They're going to have to pry it out of my hands"

The NYT explains about Obama’s Blackberry: “Attached to his belt for years, he has vigorously argued, [it is] an essential link to keeping him apprised of events outside his ever-tightening cocoon.”

Obama on why he’s being asked to give it up: “This is a concern, I should add, not just of Secret Service, but also lawyers.”

I still propose that Obama should not give up his Blackberry, but keep it and put it to even better use. Don’t secure it, free it!

(UPDATE 1/12/09: a couple of interesting posts on the BarackBerry over at CrunchGear geek out on the issues today.)