The difference between Google and Nokia

While this is hardly a definitive view, I think it’s an excellent example which highlights a key difference  in how Nokia and Google have gone to market with very similar ideas.

Ovi Prime Place and Google’s Favorite Places both seek to link physical businesses with mobile maps.  The main difference and it’s likely to be critical here is that Google has proactively seeded 100K businesses with QR code stickers and listings while The Nokia Ovi team has decided to leave the map blank and invited businesses in to create their listings …   without any marketing.

Which do you think will grow more quickly and succeed?

What about the Google Phone is Going to matter?

Take a peek on Techmeme and you might think the only story in tech news is the upcoming and likely release of a Google Phone.  I’m sure it will be decent enough but am starting to question the logic a bit given the rumor that the Nexus One as it seems to be called will be sold as an open device, yet on T-Mobile.

I’m definitely a fan of open.  I absolutely prefer that my mobile devices not have restrictions based on operator business development initiatives and instead offer all that the hardware and OS can deliver.  I just don’t see how this device is going to really make that much of a difference for the mainstream consumer – or for T-Mobile.  According to the FCC leak the supported bands will be global and specifically TMO’s (1700) in the US.

If T-Mobile sells and supports the device it will really be a T-Mobile device.  Even if you buy it elsewhere you will need to run it on T-Mobile (again in the US) to actually take advantage of the 3G services and why would you buy an advanced smartphone otherwise?

I would love to be a fly on the way at Verizon Wireless right now.  They just spent gobs of cash launching the Droid which is strongly co-branded Google and has little to no Verizon anywhere.  Maybe they jumped the gun on going for Droid so quickly when big G had this cooking (to compete) all along …

I’m wondering whether Google might be looking to upend the subsidy market by  taking on the cost directly in exchange for all the lovely data they track … assuming a Google phone is like the G1 in that you must have a Google Account for it to work.  I tend to agree with Ewan that this really is going to be a price play.  It’s unlikely that this will be the phone for me, and I do wonder who an open Android device is for just now … Looking forward to seeing how this all plays out.

Sony seems out to prove online video can’t work

I’ve written about day and date previously and think it’s a compelling opportunity for media companies and of course the consumer. I seriously doubt though that offering a $25 24 hour rental is the way to succeed.

It is doubtful consumers will find the offer particularly attractive: At $24.95 for a 24-hour rental, it is more than many movies cost to buy on DVD. Still, the offer demonstrates how Sony, like its hardware rival Apple, has more incentive to promote Internet video than other media companies. via

Sony is apparently offering this solely through their connected TVs which is totally ridiculous. No PS3? Oh right different department. Fail. I’m curious what percentage of consumers with a new connected set, actually have it configured and working for anything … It should be interesting to hear how Sony reports back on the results of this test.

Who approves Sprint’s product shots? #fail

I’m not sure why I always notice stuff like this, but I find it so lame, I have to comment.

A while back Sprint was running a relatively smart ad about belt tightening and featured this ad which I snapped a pic of during my commute:

I am sure the creative director thought the belt needed to be horizontal...

Tonight was just browsing some RSS and see that once again Sprint has decided that regardless of how someone might actually be using the device being shown they will show it in a way that better suits someone’s creative eye:

Samsung Moment

Of course Sprint has bigger issues … like preventing tethering!

Hoping Nokia Listens and Takes Action

Thanks to IntoMobile, I’ve discovered this video which captures so many excellent critical points about the N97 …

The N97 represents so many things that are just plain wrong with how Nokia typically brings a product to market.  Instead of waiting until the all pieces are in place they ship and expect that customers will be fine with a firmware update (or three) until the dust settles and you finally have the product you thought you bought in the first place.

What Nokia seems to have failed to recognize is that the market has shifted and consumer expectations are considerably greater thanks to the competitive spirit driven by the iPhone and quickly followed by Android, Blackberry and Palm.   You can’t keep pretending to get it right and then fix it later.  There are simply too many other products available that suit the needs of quite a few customer segments.  As you might notice from this helpful chart Apple is quickly working it’s way into the business set as well …

SAI chart_of_the day

Things have to change at Nokia and in a substantial way or sadly we’ll just continue to see the market share numbers drop … complacency is not the answer. As a long time loyal user and fan, I find it frustrating that so little has changed since the arrival of the iPhone – which is clearly the marker by which the shift in consumer understanding and usage changed considerably. It seems so clear to everyone, yet Nokia continues to do it all over and over again.

Don’t even get me started on services …

The iphone’s closed but no one seems to mind

I don’t know that the average mobile consumer knows or cares but the iPhone is a surprisingly closed platform. You’d think with the massive volume of applications and sales that it would naturally be open, but like all Apple products there are rules and the best oportunities are left for the house.

As I mentioned on my previous post, there is no way to get native multitasking going with a 3rd party application. For most people this is a non issue, but the more advanced consumer will definitely find limits with push notices. There is no way to stream or pandora while web browsing or emailing … No way to upload a picture through ShoZu or pixelpipe while snapping another. These are things I have been accustomed to for years yet are completely blocked on the iPhone. Apple’s solution is to email a reduced size picture from the camera roll instead of allowing 3rd party apps to help out. On the music side of course you have your iPod which plays anywhere.

Application amd network limits are another point of interest. Sling and Qik have yet to make an appearance yet MLB was able to offer 3G as well as wifi access to the games of your choice. The iTunes application will not let you download over wifi yet tap tap revenge is quite happy to let you download new tracks over 3G as I experienced last night. These network blocks seem to be the result of a carrier deal by AT&T here in the US and it’s definitely a cop out on a less than ideal network rollout. The fact that the new iPhone happily seemlessly switches to AT&T wifi at starbucks and other locations is no miracle … It is providing relief to the network strain the iPhone has brought.

The iPhone truly does offer a remarkable experience for a handheld device yet it also seems to be blocked of things other devices have either long been capable – even those offered by the very same AT&T. I know similar blocks exist in other markets as well …

While we all accept the “Apple Tax” on pricing of hardware the limits on the software and services side are unique to the iPhone. The basic BS limits you find on carrier delivered devices have simply been switched around for a new set offered by Apple instead. It’s curious how most tend not to be bothered by these restrictions … Presumably based on the superior level of finish and user experience no one wants to give back.

I’d really just like to have it all.

(btw I tapped this out in the wordpress iPhone app)

Real or Viral, This is Brilliant

bmw vs audi

I shared this find on twitter earlier tonight and it was re-tweeted enough times that I’ve continued to consider just how awesome it is. This piece from BMW to counter Audi is either the more brilliant placed media ever or a very slick piece of augmented reality viral marketing. Either way it’s a superb ad. I’m hoping it’s real.

Microsoft to Launch Retail Stores

As you may have read already today, Microsoft intends to launch retail stores which strikes me as a serious challenge.  Unlike Apple which has had great success with their retail strategy, Microsoft relies far too much on their external ecosystem to tell their whole story.

Microsoft has a solid story around connected entertainment with Xbox, Zune and MCE and Apple still regards this area as a hobby with AppleTV.  This is a small piece of what they will most likely (my guess) be looking to sell though and I wonder how highlighted OEM partners will be selected to display on the PC side.  Given the existing channels in which Microsoft products are sold, I’m wondering whether a store in a store concept might not actually be a better play here.

Microsoft will definitely have a lot to contend with on the consumer experience side as their system is still quite a bit more complex to setup and manage.  It should be an interesting year for retail …. Apple is apparently also retooling their stores to offer more a differentiated experience via the Mac solution. 

Psion is really working hard to keep netbook for themselves

02/07/2009 - Netbook For Mobile Internet

jkOnTheRun reports on how Google is now honoring Psion’s trademark of Netbook effectively killing the search term for anyone else.  If this pushes further we are likely to see devices currently called netbooks go through a rebranding.

What’s strange about this is that Psion has effectively been a dead company for years and has no active product in the market – even if they did in fact invent one called a netbook though it was discontinued in 2003 – long before the notion of low cost computers we now know as netbooks came around.

Why now?  What are they cooking here?  There’s no known effort underway that would require Psion to protect the term so their device alone could be marketed that way … and it’s not looking lie a legal battle is mounting to do anything other than stop people from saying netbook.

Sites like netbooknews apparently get 50% of their earned ad revenue from the term netbook and this change is going to sting initially for sure.  I’ve been debating removing the sticker on my NC10 which reads Netbook for Mobile Internet but now I might just have to keep it there out of spite.

Sony Vaio P is not a netbook


Sony’s Vaio P (not a netbook) netbook is on display at the Sony Style store and over lunch I went to go check it out.  It’s a beautiful piece of engineering and design, but considerably under-powered and way over priced.  I found the keyboard to be manageable and the screen was really beautiful though definitely small for the 1600 x 768 screen resolution.

Build quality was solid though these seem like pre-production models (no number just xxxx) and I would hope to see it improve even more as release units arrive. The mouse pointer system is similar to what lenovo has on the thinkpad, but the button layout is harder to reach. I found the trackpoint device was also pretty slow though I tried a second P and it was a bit better. Still not anything close to the relative prevision I’ve become accustomed to on the X61 I use for work.

01262009098 01262009100

After a few minutes of playing around just testing the keyboard and seeing what was installed on the system, it feels slow.  Perhaps due to Vista though more likely a result of the slower 1.33GHz processor (with Vista).

In theory this is a terrific machine, but it seems like you are really just paying the Sony tax for styling here rather than getting anything serious from a performance perspective which is pretty disappointing.  A device that costs way more than 2x what the standard netbook costs should deliver more than simply a pretty package.

Are netbooks bad for the industry?

intel atom logo

Thanks to NetbookNews I watched this interesting interview between Xavier from and Rahul Sood, the founder of VoodooPC and currently the CTO of Voodoo at HP…

Rahul has written a great post which led to the interview on his blog and I definitely recommend you read that as well for a very insider perspective on netbooks and Intel’s Atom.

While listening to the interview and reading Rahul’s post I’ve considered my own experiences with the Samsung NC10
and I would have to agree with the general assessment here. Netbooks are killer machines, but they are also limited in what they can really do well. As long as you understand how they really work, you’ve got a very capable system in your hands.

As Rahul points out, the confusion with Netbooks started with how they came to be. Initially designed for the lower end and emerging markets, they quickly found greater success as supplementary systems in more developed markets due to lower costs and pretty solid specs. What’s happening now is a fairly vast commoditization of systems. Looking at the spectrum of netbook news as I’ve been since becoming interested in the category, the specs across the board are essentially the same. The main differences tend to be based on size and how much standard RAM, HD and whether you get a 3 or 6-cell a battery. Just about every brand is using the same 1.6Ghz Intel Atom chip running Windows XP. Aside from a few players the category is pretty vanilla.

The more I’ve used and enjoyed my netbook, the more annoyed I also get with things like flash video stuttering or that I can move faster in google reader than Firefox seems to want to go. I know I bought a “cheap” system but because I’m running standard operating systems and applications it’s easy to forget … The danger here is that the we see a crossover in the types of products in which Atom gets used and as we go bigger, the worse the result.

I’m far from sold on new operating systems or start up modes for netbooks as interesting as Jolicloud does look. Instead I’m sold on the longer battery life, ultra light and mobile systems we currently call netbooks. I hope we see innovative ways to bring the power but keep the size – just like the good old days of Moore’s Law! Now that I’ve experienced the potential power of ultra mobile computing I just want more … absolutely not less. I don’t think netbooks are bad for the industry. Sure these are interesting financial times, but look at how many people are talking about and more importantly buying these PCs. So Rahul, if you are thinking of a Voodoo machine in the 10″ range with at least 6 hours of battery life (though perhaps not a netbook), I’m definitely interested.

What we can learn from Android – looking at YOU Nokia!

I’ve been playing with the Android G1 phone for about 24 hours and while I’ll have some thoughts to share on it in general soon, there’s one striking thing I thought was worth mentioning right away. The Android G1 has without a doubt the most straight forward and simple initial user experience of any device I’ve used.

When the G1 powers up you are prompted to either create or login to your Google Account. Signing in with my creds then began the sync process which brought my Contacts and Calendar down, and also configured my email and IM accounts for use. WOW! One account with so many benefits. I’ve been told it should have also signed me in through the web services so the mobile google services I use would also be connected though that did not happen for me. Perhaps due to my trying to use things before the sync had completed…

Apple still has a very desktop centric view of the iPhone and the reliance of iTunes is a core strength. The sync works very well though configuration requires a bit of effort /tweaking through iTunes. This bit of effort is actually a lot more than the G1 requires as you’ve been long since configured your Google stuff … assuming of course you use Google services and that’s really who the device is targeted.

On the Nokia side, you don’t actually benefit from any PC side configuration though some things can sync through the PC or Ovi Suites. No accounts are configured unless you choose to sync to an exchange account through PC Suite. Without getting into the complexities there, I would not advise fully syncing to your exchange server in PC Suite. I only sync the Notes there as that apparently was not important enough to be considered a part of Mail For Exchange. I digress …

Nokia handsets are largely PC independent, meaning you can and in most cases need to do it all on the handset. As Nokia looks to rely on services for growth and revenue, enhancing the consumer experience needs to become a core strength. Take a look at what’s currently connected to my Nokia Account:

Nokia Account Configuration

There are 9 things listed including applications, web services, and communication preferences. Instead of enabling the experience however, I have to actually log in to each bit separately when I use them. My browser does not even necessarily remember me even though it’s configured to save login details. This sucks. I know the Nokia Account system is new, but there’s such a massive opportunity for change here. Looking at the experience on the G1, there is so much to borrow from. I hope we see changes like this in the N97 and other devices this year, but the S60 system does not feel as smooth as some of the newer systems like Android.

Why can’t I just upload to Ovi out of the box without having to change anything after logging in on first power up? My email could be configured automatically as well if Nokia Email connected to the Nokia Account system and I can’t see why it won’t either. IM, Maps, etc etc. All this stuff could just work because you’ve already logged in!

I saw no mention of how things work on the Palm Pre, but given their desire to link external accounts to the core applications it would make a lot of sense to enable people to quickly authorize on the web and pass that through something like a Palm account.

Google has really pushed things forward with their account configuration and it’s something everyone developing mobile devices and services can learn from. Using anything else after having this experience will just highlight the old way of thinking — when consumers were made to work for it instead of encouraged by having pre-enabled services. Just consider how the iPhone’s unlimited data package contributed to usage and think about what pre-connected services would do to the usage figures. Retention of course will still be up to the service provider to put forth something of considerable value.

Cisco Visual Networking Index, Runs on Windows, Sold on a Mac

As someone who works in marketing, primarily for tech companies I take pride in the accuracy of how things are represented. When I’m involved in a technical demo, it works like it is supposed to or (if not developed yet) is animated in a way to simulate reality. What I can’t do though is show something functioning in a fictional environment which is why I get so frustrated when I see things like The Cisco Visual Networking Index

Cisco Visual Networking Index Free Application

Sure it’s possible that a Windows user has a DVI connection hooked up to their Apple Cinema Display, but the chances of that being a reality are pretty damn slim. This seems like a classic case of the art director just doing what they felt looked best and in this case it’s lame. My eye saw the monitor and the application before I realized (a moment later) that I was looking at a Vista desktop.

hat tipNextNY

No serial for Apple’s iWork seems like a marketing move

I was reading about the lack of a serial key for iWork via Obsessable this morning and it occurred to me that while that is actually a pretty standard Mac thing, it could also be a way to encourage distribution and trial.  Sure you lose a bit, but more Mac users using iWork (which looks sweet) is a good thing and Apple can certainly afford the full “trial.”

Planning for the digital TV transition – do it now!

So I was just reading this NYT piece on the Digital TV cut-over and am somewhat shocked that it seems people still don’t know what’s about to happen… not. I would imagine that most people reading this are like me and well prepared for the transition. We’ve had HDTV for many years at home now and only have digital HD cable boxes. I’m sure not too unlike many of my tech centric friends…

The poor normal consumer though is about to have their television experience completely broken because we can’t figure out how to tell people effectively. Here’s a thought …

NASCAR was an interesting idea (sorry you crashed twice) to complement the regular commercial broadcasting, but how about getting out there and actually explaining the situation to people in the community. The digital transition is a big deal and instead of leaving it to chance, let’s actually make sure people are prepared. Walmart seems like a great place to have someone standing at the door handing out the government voucher so it’s a $10 purchase RIGHT NOW. Why make someone mail it in and wait … just do it. This process could be easily replicated in malls and big box stores in the markets our crack government researchers feel will be most impacted.

iPhone opening new market opportunities

One of the things most people assume is that the iPhone is a luxury device and while that was true initially based on both the cost of the hardware and the data plan you are required to add, things appear to be evolving. According to a recent Comscore study:

“These data indicate that lower-income mobile subscribers are increasingly turning to their mobile devices to access the Internet, e-mail and their music collections,” said comScore’s Mark Donovan. “Smartphones, and the iPhone in particular, are appealing to a new demographic and satisfying demand for a single device for communication and entertainment, even as consumers weather the economy by cutting back on gadgets.” Comscore via

While in markets like India and China people tend to have fewer options for connectivity and digital entertainment, in this case people are proactively cutting back to cut costs as the mobile / portable experience is quite good. Apple continues to show that the user experience is THE key factor over just features and specs. A great deal can be achieved within their toolbox that suits a very mass audience. I hope others are paying attention …

Nokia Legends

08052008127 - Share on Ovi

In the beginning of August, Nokia invited me along with Alec Saunders, Jim Courtney and Jason Harris to Toronto for a behind the scenes look at a new project called Nokia Legends which launches today.

From our briefing doc:

Nokia legends are engaging stories of future innovations and technologies, which may sound far-fetched today but will be reality in the future like urban legends. The technologies are the source of tomorrow’s legends – the unprecedented stories, events and opportunities that will become true when people get the new technologies in their hands.


What I like the most about this campaign is that it highlights Nokia’s tech leadership and future forward perspective on how technology is infused with our lives. This is not about a particular device or a service, but thinking that’s starting to find it’s way into various products and will certainly be something we’ll experience near term.

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09/16/2008 - Share on Ovi

Setting up a shot

The technology innovations on which the stories are based include: Traffic Works Research, Indoor Positioning, Connected Home, NFC, Multiscanner, Personalized Widgets, Mobile Journalism, and Sense your Location. Each is told in the first person by actor and writer Ron McLarty who was really great to watch in action. Ron is a skilled pro and was able to offer many different options for each story he shared.  You’ll only be able to see the final selects, but we were there from the start and can better appreciate the process. I’m fortunate to be involved in the creative process through my day job and while this was not my first time on-set, it was still a very unique experience.

I had a great time on this trip and enjoyed the time with my fellow bloggers, Nokia and Bob Helsinki the agency behind the creative idea.

09/16/2008 - Share on Ovi