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Technology

Why Windows Phone Has No Future

I’m a Windows user and have been since Windows 3.1. I have stayed away from Apple, with the exception of the Newton (go ahead and laugh if you want), in all forms because of one main reason. Lock-in. Apple locks people in to their ecosystem and you have to work hard to get out of it if you don’t like the way some of their systems work. Windows, from a user’s perspective, never locked you in to anything until the development and release of Windows Phone 7. This is a strategy that I can’t get behind and will keep me from buying a Windows Phone in the future.

I’ve owned laptops from Digital Equipment Corporation, Gateway, Dell, Sony, Samsung, and Alienware. I’ve owned desktops from Epson, HP, Packard Bell, IBM, Gateway, Dell, Alienware, and Sony. I’ve used all kinds of software created in all corners of the Earth obtained from mail order and web sites of which most people have never heard. The hardware has come in all shapes and sizes and the software has been everything from easy to use and beautiful looking on screen to unusable and butt ugly. Over the past couple of decades I was able to use and experiment with all kinds of cool stuff thanks to the nature of PC hardware and Windows compatible software.

Apple locks the user in to the Apple universe. If you have an iPhone, iPad, iPod, or one of the few flavors of the Mac then you have the same device as everyone else in that universe. If you want a phone with a bigger screen or keyboard you can’t have one. If you want a Mac that is a different color than silver you have to pay extra to have a company paint it for you. Even then you can’t get a 14″ Macbook Pro if that’s the screen size you’re most comfortable with. The lack of choice in the Apple universe is fine for a great many people. And that’s okay. Not everyone likes to tinker and experiment. A great number of people want their computers to be like toasters where they just use it without having to think about it at all. I’m getting used to the notion of computers for normal people but I haven’t totally accepted it yet.

The difference in the type of customer that exists in the two universes of Apple and Windows is why I think Windows Phone 7 is doomed for failure (or at least it will remain a distant third). People like me that don’t want lock-in will continue to mover towards Android. With Android I have the freedom of using a variety of software to listen to music, watch videos, take and upload pictures and all the rest of the fun things people are doing with their mobile devices. And choice in hardware? Sheesh. Android gives you more choices to find the right device that fits the way you like to use it. For example, I’ve been using an HTC Incredible for the last couple of years. Out of everything that was available to me at the time it fit the way I wanted to use a smart phone.  And let’s not forget price. If Android phones were priced the same as the iPhone we would not have seen the wide adoption of Android that we have. Sure Android has it’s problems. The biggest one is that you have no idea what version of Android you’re using. Google iterates too quickly and the manufacturers and the carriers can’t keep up. Android is also a little rough around the edges. That gets me back to price because if an Android phone costs as much as an iPhone most people would just buy the iPhone because it lacks those rough edges.

The bottom line of all this is that if I want lock-in there is a choice for that. Apple. Their ecosystem is complete and fantastic if you don’t mind being locked-in. If you can’t beef up your ecosystem to match that then don’t lock-in your users because they’ll need to get outside your universe of software and/or services. Windows Phone 7 is going the lock-in route and that’s why it has no future.

I’m hoping Microsoft is not moving in this direction with Windows 8 because if they are then you’re going to watch Microsoft go the way of IBM. They’ll eventually have to leave the consumer space and concentrate solely on the enterprise market.

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Technology

Google’s Project Glass Is Freaking Cool

If Google can pull this off this would be incredible. Here are  my initial thoughts after watching the video below:

  • How much would this cost
  • How many people are going to get hit by cars watching the screen in front of their face
  • Obviously it’s bluetooth or something like it otherwise you can’t connect to your phone which must be handling the connection to the web
  • When will the joke pop up of, “It’s like Siri sitting on your face”
  • Can they incorporate this into normal glasses or sunglasses
  • I don’t care about all the thoughts above I WANT IT!

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Technology

Can We Trust Bitcasa?

I finally received my invite to join Bitcasa. I couldn’t even remember that I had signed up for the beta. In fact, it has been so long since I signed up that I had to research them to make sure the invitation wasn’t a scam.

If you don’t already know, Bitcasa purports to be a service that will allow users to have unlimited storage space for anything you would save to your computer or mobile device. Their technology somehow allows you to “save” things to a folder or removable drive without limit. I put the word save in quotes because you are not actually saving anything to the folder or removable drive that you designate to use with Bitcasa.  When saving a file Bitcasa puts a shortcut that points to the file that is stored in Bitcasa’s cloud.

Initially this sounds fantastic. No more storage limitations. There is a giant problem though for users with terabytes of storage. For example, I have terabytes of photos, music, and videos. I currently store them on two Drobos with a total of 10 terabytes of capacity. If I wanted to use Bitcasa for these files it would take an enormous amount of time to move those to the cloud. Once it was fully synced to the cloud any new files that I add to those drives would not actually be saved to those drives. Instead it would salve them to the cloud directly and just put shortcuts where the files would normally be. Let’s say I add another terabyte worth of data over the course of a year but then want to leave Bitcasa. I’ll have to download all that data back to my computer and who knows how long that could take.

With services like Dropbox all your files are saved locally AND to the cloud. The storage is not unlimited but it is more distributed. If I choose to leave Dropbox today all I have to do is leave. All my files are already stored on multiple machines. There is no downloading necessary to access them.

The concept of Bitcasa sounds great. Unlimited storage for a small fee.The problem is trust. Do I trust them to be around a year from now? Do I trust them to not lose my data? I just feel very uneasy putting all my stuff in the cloud without a copy held locally too.

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Technology

Loyalty Program Via Facebook App – Good or Bad Idea?

is looking to enter the US market with a loyalty program for smaller retailers that’s tied to a customer’s Facebook account. Seems like this is a good idea for Facebook and the retailer but is this is good for the consumer?

The way the system works is this: the online retailer integrates BonusBox’s software-as-a-service tool into their store. That means customers who are buying goods are then asked if they want to join the store’s loyalty scheme. They can only do so with their Facebook login.

Once they’ve installed the BonusBox Facebook app, they can then check it from time to time to see what deals are being offered by the various e-tailers that use the system. Those deals can be targeted by examining what the customer has bought from various stores that use the scheme, and how that tallies with their age or other personal data.

Facebook already has so much of your personal information. They know your friends, family, what you did last week, what you ate for breakfast this morning (if you post this type of detail), and if you sign on to this service they’ll know what you buy and from where. Allowing one company to know so much about you might not be the best thing in the world.

On the other hand, if companies like BonusBox can sign on enough retailers with their app this could be a boon to customers too. If the app is written correctly you’ll get notified of deals and discounts for things and places that you may not have considered before.

Amazon’s recommendation engine kind of stinks. I’ve been an Amazon customer from early on and the only thing Amazon ever recommends to me are things I’ve already purchased or have already examined. I can’t think of a single time their recommendations to me lead me to purchase anything.

Mom and pop stores don’t have the resources to build their own apps and usually don’t have the customer base to get into recommendations other than in face to face interactions. With a service such as BonusBox and their Facebook app a small shop can join and potentially get their products and services in front of people that otherwise wouldn’t know they exist.

If you’re not squeamish about putting more personal information into Facebook then BonusBox might be just what’s needed to help connect people with small retailers. This could keep local economies humming.

Read more via GigaOm