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‘Steve apples HTC’ – or in plain english ‘Apple sues again’

Posted in General with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 3, 2010 by newideasconsult

I awoke this morning to news that Apple is suing yet another mobile phone company, HTC.  My post heading should explain my initial reaction quite well! It seems Apple, usually known for their ‘innovative’ products, are becoming known for suing instead.  So I am inventing the term ‘to apple someone’ which means ‘to sue someone in a technology dispute’.  I’m getting a little tired of reading how the new kid on the block has turned around and sniped just about everyone in the phone industry for so called patent infringements, but I guess that is the prefered strategy for Apple this decade.

Having said that, the blame for this crazy litigious wave we have seen the past few years should not be placed at a vendor’s door, but rather at the US Patent Office that now really really needs an overhaul.  You cannot be a under funded short staffed agency in the US acting as a doorkeeper to innovation across the globe using an old legal framework, and continue to make sane and sensible decisions affecting millions of dollars, successfully and fairly. The US Patent Office operates under tremendous pressure, tries to process millions of patents, and makes badly informed decisions because of that very lack in resource, funding and an aged mandate, leaving a minefield of problems for future generations that will cost billions to resolve and cut innovation down severely!

Technology is so fluid these days and software changes so rapid that keeping track of those changes and accepted norms, as well as the unique understanding of where software will go naturally in each of its publically used formats, i.e. phone, computer, and so on, requires a very very different look at how patents are awarded.  Just remember that ridiculous award to Amazon for one click purchasing way back in 2001 that caused such a ruckus amongst everyone when Amazon started to sue others because of this nefarious patent award.  Anyone in payments at that time knew that consumers wanted to complete the payment process as rapidly as possible, so the clicks needed to be reduced, a natural outcome of the booming e-commerce initiatives over that time and since.  Awarding a pretty flimsy ‘idea’ with a patent to someone with deep pockets absolutely harms the industry and the consumer.  Innovation simply dies with it!

Now the triggers of Apple’s various disputes with Nokia, HTC and others may actually be based on what they feel are real infringements to their ‘patents’.  I would dispute whether ‘patents’ would have been the correct legal framework for ideas that to me seem pretty close to how anyone will work with a device like a mobile phone.  They should never have been awarded those patents if it was not truly ‘innovative’ and required protection.  Time and again the USPO do this and time and again it is left to lawyers to sort out the mess.  So all the best to Apple’s legal team for recovering ‘losses’ for patent disputes – if the patent says it is yours, and someone else tries to make money from it, apple them, I agree!

Shame on the USPO who must take responsibility for the mess that is the legal minefield of the software / device patent landscape today!  Apple and others are only using the potholed approach you created to leverage money out of ideas that should never have been awarded patents in the first place.  When it affected only the US economy and people, it was already a shame, but at least limited.  However the mobile wars are going to spill over thanks to the approach Apple have taken to prevent the importation of devices during disputes they create (imagine how that can be abused by vendors in the future 😦 ), and globally it is going to cause havoc unless this mess is fixed and fixed soon!

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Google Buzz

Posted in General with tags , , , , , , on February 11, 2010 by newideasconsult

Interesting features were added to my GMAIL account yesterday, called Google Buzz, and though I normally follow the online buzz about Google, circumstances led to this added feature surprising me completely.
It currently allows me to add a status message as we do in Facebook, follow friends and have friends follow me, and add third party updates to my profile, from Twitter, Flickr, and Picasa for example.

Though this is not Wave, which is pretty much an open invitation to wave in whatever direction to whoever you wish with whatever you want, Buzz seems to be the initial rumblings of a Google project getting it right. Many people find Facebook and other similar services cumbersome, or daunting in terms of the many features you are faced with when you first log in. Google may have gotten things right when they took several generations of people on in GMAIL, then added features such as chat at a later stage, all the time enriching the offering one or two features at a time. Taking the next step and allowing a more social interaction between GMAIL contacts or ‘friends’ is to me a more natural progression than being thrown in the deep end with full feature sites such as Facebook day one. Even my 72year old father could find Buzz quite exciting and easy to navigate and learn.

Obviously, just like Facebook, the problem lies in how this great ‘idea’ is implemented, and it seems to me that Google fell right into the same old trap with the default settings within Buzz.  The main issue for me is the public display of frequent email friends within my list, done without my initial permission.  Friends lists in Facebook has also often been the problem for them, and the Google Buzz team need to review FB’s experience and ensure they learn from it and fix the Buzz issues asap or face a tremendous backlash because of this security ‘hole’.

Mark Shuttleworth steps down as CEO of Ubuntu’s Canonical

Posted in General with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 18, 2009 by newideasconsult

Wow, what a day yesterday for the open source and linux community, waking up to the news that Mark Shuttleworth’s stepping down as CEO of Canonical.   Having read his reasons for doing so after recovering from shock, I found them very compelling and potentially much more beneficial to the Ubuntu and Linux community than if he remained where he was.  Mark’s a pioneer to me, has always been, someone who rolls up their sleeves and does the job that needs doing.  Having him tied up in corporate affairs to the point where this distracts him from innovating, cannot be a good thing, and with Jane Silber, a very capable executive, there to take over the reigns at this time, I applaud him for making the change now.  He is quite right that Canonical has reached a transition point and that a different kind of leadership may be needed to drive the revenues for the company and set the strategy into motion.  Having Mark in the background where he can influence when needed is the cherry on top in my view!

Mark, you’ve always liked sailing off the ‘edge’ of the known world, so this should not have been a surprise to us I guess!  Godspeed to you, Jane and Canonical, and we look forward to Ubuntu’s ongoing maturity!

The ultimate future for the mobile phone

Posted in General with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 14, 2009 by newideasconsult

Today I was asked my view on what I think the future holds for the mobile industry. To be frank, I suddenly realized I did not really know, a scary yet exciting place to be I guess. O, I spoke of the consumer reach the phone has that no other channel can ever match. I mentioned how the content owners are launching commendable efforts to expand their markets, by using the mobile channel. Nokia comes to mind here. I thought of mentioning the iPhone, the Blackberry and the Android powered phones that all have fantastically smart operating systems with some nice applications, but then remembered that those phones reach less than 2% of the total mobile market globally, and that the same market is dominated by prepaid services not contract. So it became tough to think of what the future holds for the mobile channel and therefore the mobile phone!

I think automated localized application results (think a hybrid of google search, google maps and google checkout for the mobile, and you have something of what I’m talking about) may be one of the many good futures for a mobile platform.

Maybe you have a better idea of what that future will look like?

Google releases the first Chrome OS code… cue the doomsayers!

Posted in General, Standards, technology with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 21, 2009 by newideasconsult

I just love how we are as human beings, especially the geek brigade.  Whether IBM, Microsoft, Apple, Novell, any Linux distro, and now Google, we are always either completely in love or completely out of love with their product/service, and highly complimentary or highly critical!

This past week Google makes more news and some code available of the upcoming Chrome OS, and makes it very clear that this is still pre-alpha stuff, just to get us warmed up to the idea. No sooner has the day ended or out come the doomsayers (doomsayer – ‘One who predicts calamity at every opportunity.’ – thefreedictionary.com), and we have blogs and articles all over the web stating how Google missed it, how Chrome OS is dead before it has even begun, and how Chrome OS will take down Microsoft, or how Microsoft will take down Google, and so on and so on and so on.  Btw, if you want to know my personal favorite, it has to be Randall C. Kennedy’s Why Chrome OS will fail — big time … EISH! and you have to be South African to understand that I am not complimenting him here at all!

With Microsoft it was the same, remember Bing?  Wow, we saw all kinds of comments coming out of the woodwork on that one, no matter that for once Microsoft started getting it right with the move to a single search platform within their offerings, or that the data on usage in those first weeks had very little to do with Bing’s ultimate success as a search engine and more to do with people trying out the new platform.

Doomsayers are always going to be around, but these days of instant reports over multiple mediums, pretend experts, self promoting blogs, reporters writing reports based on the opinions of other reporters who heard news from unnamed often unverified sources, tend to lead to some seriously misguided comments!   And since when have we become so cynical that we shoot down new ideas even before they’ve truly been tested?  Imagine hearing about two brothers who made bicycles for a living believing they could FLY!

Are companies also guilty here? Possibly, watching Apple over the years they seem to have a trick to successfully release news of new ideas, concepts, services or products, though they too have not been spared this treatment.  I don’t think Google is perfect in how it does that either, and so too Microsoft or even Apple.  With the ease with which people can publish their own thoughts on anything these days (you’re reading mine right now) controlling how these new concepts or products are written about in better and more accurate ways, may become the issue for public debate, but it is something we as geeks can improve on here and now.

Like Google Wave, Chrome OS already suffers from public hype, the perceived solution that it is not, and I wonder just what is going to happen when finally it is released to the world.  For the greater part of that hype we the geeks are to blame.  There is so much misconception from the very crowd of people others look to for balanced opinions, that it is depressing to me to think what these doomsayers are doing when they are not writing such drivel.

Can you imagine being an owner of a company where these individuals work, and the critical decisions they make on your behalf?  Just imagine how many dollars their opinionated choices have already cost you, because they prefer to follow their own opinion instead of conducting a ‘fair evaluation’ of a new solution without bias?

When a product is put out to the world in code for a collaboration or comment so early on in its development it would be nice if we could all put our collective efforts into trying it out and making constructive comments about the code, the intended functions that are or are not delivered, and the resulting user experience only, instead of acting as the town-criers that we are not and prophesying biased drivel.

We all suffer from this habit of isolating ourselves into camps, don’t we? Geeks and technologists are so guilty of this, myself included, but lately I have realized that when it comes down to it, no product or service is perfect, no brand saintly, and no consultant worth his or her salt should pretend otherwise.

We should be ‘cross-platform, open-minded individuals’ who look at the problems experienced by our clients, their budget and resource constraints and then to the pool of available solutions or solution components that could offer them relief without taking brand bias with us into that decision-making process.

The EU will not be the end of Microsoft, Bing does not mean the end of Google, Chrome OS does not mean death to all other OS’s, and Google’s Phone won’t kill Nokia or iPhone for that matter.  Logic must prevail when we offer opinion, we must base what we say on fact, and we must know when to say the things we do.  If we do this our integrity remains intact and those who value our opinions become better informed and make better choices.


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Chrome OS code released into the open!

Posted in General with tags , , , , , on November 19, 2009 by newideasconsult

Google today released code of their much anticipated Chrome OS, though it is still very much alpha at this stage. According to Google the code cannot be consider beta or production, but that the current version of code will allow developers to understand, design and develop for Chrome OS as it is today. If you are interested in getting your grubby little hands on it as I have, go to chromium.org, download the depot tools and then the code version you want. Like Android this could be the start of a very good ‘friendship’…

Google announces new Chrome based OS

Posted in General, Innovation with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 8, 2009 by newideasconsult

Although a lot has been written about the Google versus Microsoft battle now that Google has entered the OS market with yesterday’s announcement, I thought I would write my own post to set the record straight on this issue and about what it is that Google is launching here.

Firstly this is NOT a Windows competitor, this is very clearly a Chrome and Linux based OS or in generic terms a browser centric operating system more in competition with Cloud and so on, than with Windows.  It is not a competitor to Windows Mobile either since Android already competes directly, so one has to put the announcement made by Google in clear and understandable terms.  It is a browser centric operating system currently aimed at the NETBOOK market only, officially to be launched Q3/Q4 2010.  There are of course going to be uses for this type of solution other than Netbooks, but for now that is where Google seems to be focusing their launch efforts.

It truly pains me when the rumour mill and the secondhand news vendors come together with the ignorant and start splurging their own versions of the announcement all over the Web.  It causes a huge amount of press for Google of course, but sets people off in the wrong direction.  Again, as can be clearly read on Google’s own blog, this will be a Netbook OS based on Chrome that will offer all the usual Google Apps and allow 3rd party applications to run as well.  Furthermore it clearly states within this blog announcement that any standards based browser will be able to handle the OS and in light of this, I would say the announcement runs very much along Google’s usual focus of Web based solutions.

In my view Ubuntu, along with the other Linux distros, remains the most viable threat to Windows’s dominance, and the Chrome/Linux based Netbook OS from Google a competitor to Windows CE, Tinux, Cloud and other similar OS’s focused on the Internet driven device or Netbook type device.

Nothing new here then, but as with any product announcement from Google, still extremely exciting!