September, a big tech month…

4 09 2013

Ever since Apple started making big announcements in September a few years back, it’s become increasingly popular to be the month of big tech news. Samsung copied Apple a few years back and started making their announcements just a few days before Apple, and often September is the month we also get some form of announcement from Google and or Microsoft. September 2013 has been no different.


Samsung announcements

These have been pretty odd affairs in recent years, and to be honest, I’m not sure they have been that successful. This year we are talking wearable technology and specifically smart watches. Are these the next big thing? Hmmm. I’m not entirely sure, if technology on your wrist was really going to take off, I think my Casio watch with calculator was quite a “killer” back in the late 80s. I heard a great quote today in relation to wearable technology, “people only wear something that looks good”. That means it needs to look equally as good as something like a Rolex, Tag or Omega watch before it really really has appeal. Let’s face it, no matter what the best looking tech company in the world has to offer (which is Apple not Samsung), I’m convinced tech on my wrist won’t get better looking than that produced by brands like Omega.

Obviously there will be a market for wearable technology, I just don’t feel it will be something the masses adopt, especially when we think how much bigger phones are getting (not smaller). Wearable technology like a watch will not replace my smart phone, so why would I have it?

If you are thinking about Google glasses for example, then again, this kind of tech has other pitfalls. For one, if you already wear glasses I’m not sure the tech even works for you. If you, like me, hate having things distract your eye, then again the tech is not going to be for you. Throw on top of that the fact the glasses don’t look great (and there is a massive market in laser eye corrective surgery so we don’t have to wear glasses) I start to think a lot of this is tech for tech sake…

IMHO, wearable tech may have a place, but its not for the masses and no one should be seeing this as the future and the replacement of the phone, not at least a fair few generations (try 15)…


Apple’s big do…

Every September the online media get excited, and I read so much about what will Apple deliver, and what we expect from Apple, and oh, this is what we think this invitation means…I am still amazed at how much coverage a simple invitation gets, and that’s before anything has been announced. Only last night I caught some tech news on the TV and the breaking news was the Apple invitation that had been sent out with colour spots on it! I mean, really, is this massive tech news, especially compared to what really was the ground breaking story of the month, Microsoft purchasing Nokia!

That being said, we are expecting some new form factor iPhone 5s. Now I am not sure how much new tech, if any the new iPhone will have, but it no doubt will be received with a lot of excitement, that’s what brand Apple receives no matter what these days. I personally don’t think we will be seeing anything major in this latest version of the iPhone 5, some colour options, maybe a little more configuration, but there wasn’t any real innovation with the iOS 7 refresh, so don’t expect anything on the hardware front if the OS didn’t offer anything new.


Microsoft and Nokia

No matter what Apple or anyone does in September 2013, the big news must be that of Microsoft purchasing Nokia’s devices division. This is a massive shift away from Microsoft’s original vision, that Microsoft delivers software only, not hardware. This shift may have been on the cards, and for some time – since the Nokia announcing it would go all in with Windows Phone – I’ve been stating it’s only a matter of time before Microsoft buy Nokia.  I think further clues should have been taken from the Surface tablet release. Surface may not be doing as well as Microsoft would like, but it’s been a bold move by them, and is basically a statement that “Microsoft no longer has confidence in OEMs to deliver the hardware and the design to best show off Windows technology”. In many ways I have to agree with this. It should also have been clear that Microsoft would need a devices arm after Google purchased Motorola. That makes Google, Microsoft and Apple now all in the mobile phone devices game, which must be a concern for makers like HTC and Samsung, since they have the hardware but rely on software from other sources. Perhaps they will be moving into the software game (I hope not, but you never know).

It’s also not a bad time for Microsoft to really get aggressive with mobile. It’s had some good news as of late, Windows 8 has gained some traction and now commands a greater market share than Mac OS X, and Windows Phone has moved into 3rd regarding smart phones.

Though Microsoft are now well and truly in the hardware game, I firmly believe that Microsoft will continue to license its software and that Windows Phone will be available to OEMs such as Samsung, HTC and many more, because after all, software is still Microsoft’s core business. What it means though is Microsoft can now ensure there are devices in the mobile and tablet market places that can compete in terms of design, performance and build quality with those delivered by Apple. By ensuring this level of design, it forces OEMs to deliver the same, or surpass Microsoft’s efforts, or simply become irrelevant.

Many people may claim Microsoft is a dying company, that they haven’t done anything in years, blah blah blah and that Nokia is dead and should have gone with Android. To me, these are statements from people who don’t understand the two companies, don’t understand business and require glasses when it comes to looking into the future. These are probably the same people who said Apple is dead only months before the launch of the iPod.

Microsoft is still a massive powerhouse, and don’t think that Windows is a poor operating system. Just spend a few days being totally open minded and use Windows 8, on a PC, tablet or phone. The OS is far from perfect, but it really makes sense. The user experience is very slick, the capabilities of the OS is far more powerful than any of its competitors and Microsoft provides development tools that are simply second to none. Throw into the mix its Windows Azure operating system, its dominance in the business world and you can start to see that Microsoft may know after all how to become popular with the consumer again. If you don’t believe me actually try the OS with a fresh mind. On a mobile phone, the experience is second to none it really is, but I appreciate the look and feel is not for everyone, and nor should it be or ever be. Mobile phones are personal devices, and as such an element of personal taste will always come into play. The big problems for Windows 8, be it on the phone or tablet, is the lack of relevant apps in the market place. Size of the app store means nothing, most apps available on all the platforms are really a waste of time, but what kills Microsoft is currently the lack of “expected” apps. I really believe Microsoft has got to get paying some companies to bring their apps to Windows 8, be it phone or tablet. Only then, once consumers know they are getting at least the same apps on a Windows device will they make the switch…


So, Microsoft and Nokia, a single OS with no compromises across all devices, on hardware that is reliable, looks good, performs well and is innovative, that’s visionary, that’s big thinking. Now all Microsoft has to do is win back love from developers (which its more than capable of doing) and it really is back in business with the consumer…Oh, and controlling your own hardware surely will be a big tick in the additional profits column (if all goes well, if not a rather big drain).

Is there such a thing as a bad Smartphone?

8 11 2012

If you go online and you look for articles on Smartphone’s you will no doubt find loads of reviews of particular phones, operating systems, features etc. and unfortunately you then more often than not get a biased warped view based on the authors preferred device, brand or ecosystem. Unfortunately actual facts and relative information back down to an average user is just lost or not present. Opinion in mobile is, well everywhere, and yet when we think about it, can we really purchase a bad Smartphone these days?


Dumb to Smart

It all depends on what you want from your phone, but many more of us now want our phones to be a useful device, be that just for searching the web, consuming some content or actually trying to carry out some small amount of work on them. This is illustrated by the amount of market share Smartphone’s now command across the globe. But if you are moving from a dumb phone to a Smartphone do we really need to know every feature of that device or ecosystem? Probably not…



My brother-in-law works for a mobile phone network provider here in the UK, and I always like to get his insight into the kind of people who come in and purchase Smartphone’s. The truth is that the majority of us just want a Smartphone, and because we have heard of the iPhone or Samsung Galaxy, that’s what we go in and ask for. We have no idea why we want those phones over another brand or device, just that these are the phones that people are aware of, and that’s great testament to both companies marketing capabilities. It also shows that many of us purchase mobile phones still very much based on brands we have heard of and what our friends have purchased. We don’t purchase a phone like we would a PC, spending time looking at the specification, the pro’s and cons of a particular bundle from the store etc etc. We still see phones as a short term thing which will get renewed in 12-18 months (if on a contract).

Obviously I’m generalising here. There are lots of people who pick their phone based on the quality of the device, the camera, the durability, performance and of course the operating system. But these types of people are the minority (though if you read blog posts or technology articles you would think everyone was a phone expert. We must remember that the majority of phone users do not go near a mobile phone blog or technology magazine).

As a mobile phone manufacturer or operating system, this all means that marketing and relationships with the network are the only way to shift mobile phones. The main audience therefore has to be those moving into Smartphone’s for the first time, mainly because anyone who has had a Smartphone for 24 months is probably attached to that operating system, and therefore more likely to stay with that particular device or brand. (Especially if they have purchased a large number of apps) For the likes of Nokia, RIM and HTC this means all is not too late, since Smartphone users make up just over 50% of the mobile phone market, that leaves another 50% of untapped customers. The battle lines therefore are still being drawn.


Consumer education

The problem for all mobile phone manufacturers, with the exception of Samsung and Apple, is that the 50% of potential new Smartphone customers are not that into the real benefits of a Smartphone device. Rather they are getting one because they can send the odd email, surf the web and perhaps use Facebook. Let’s be honest, any Smartphone therefore is a great purchase, and no doubt these customers will just request the phones they have heard of, so the iPhone and Samsung Galaxy.  That’s a problem…Though customers will be happy, they could have been a lot happier potentially with a different device or a different operating system, especially if they were shown or told about all the options.

An example is my own mother. She wanted a new phone, but was told to get an Android Samsung Galaxy, mainly because that’s what the sales guy had. He didn’t take into consideration any of her needs, requirements, what she was looking for neither in a phone nor from the OS. My mum actually wanted an OS that played nicely with her office work, an OS that potentially would tie up with her tablet that she is looking to purchase and something that was really easy to use, real easy. For me, that meant really only looking at the iPhone or a Windows Phone, of which the sales agent didn’t have much in-depth knowledge of. He could talk about the iPhone, but as for Windows phone devices or Blackberry, nothing to say at all….In the end I got my mum to pick based on the UI, what felt easiest for her to just pick up and use, and she went with a Nokia Windows Phone 610, an entry level Smartphone that does everything she wants and more.

The point here is that my Mum would have ended up with a phone that she would have thought was good, but not one that was great for her. I think that’s a problem manufacturers have to overcome with network providers and sales staff somehow.


Any Bad Smartphone’s?

Essentially, there are no bad Smartphone’s these days, technically. However, there are bad Smartphone matches for users. The problem is that sales staff don’t marry up what a consumer wants to any given device, rather they let the consumer just real off a phone they have heard of, or sell the device they have themselves. This means that a good Smartphone will feel like a bad Smartphone for a particular user because it simply didn’t fit their criteria, or they have since seen another device that better suited their needs….If sales agents and consumers treated phones like a very expensive purchase, one that needed to match to a consumers requirements, then we would see a very different mobile phone landscape of that I am sure, and there truly wouldn’t be a bad Smartphone….Until then though, status quo…

The Android debate

27 10 2011

When anyone talks about Android there is a lot to be said, be it “Android is the most popular Smartphone OS”, to comments that it’s “the stolen OS”.  Steve Jobs even stated he would “kill Android”. But there is no getting away from the fact that Android is a feature rich OS, that it has now almost 40% of the Smartphone market share (though Smartphone’s don’t even make up 30% of the overall mobile market) and that Google owns it, and now a mobile phone company…


There are so many Android devices out there now, and from a range of manufacturers, so much so, that getting your hardware noticed is tough. When you walk into a store and see so many phones all running the same OS, how do you set your hardware out to be different (especially to the average mobile punter). Price…Oh dear…

Poor mans iPhone

So many people who have Andoird have it because they couldn’t justify getting an iPhone. I know many people who have opted for Droids because of price, but they really wanted an iPhone. The same applies to the “kids” that have Androids. Essentially many have them because of price, and once they get a little older move over to the iPhone. That must be a worrying trend. However,
is it a surprise? Probably not since Android feels like a cheap clunky copy of iOS in so many ways…

 It’s free, it’s Google

One of the reason Android has been a success is that is been seen as the free OS, allowing many a manufacturer to ship it on their devices, enabling Android devices to be “cheap” and swamp the market. That is essentially how Android has got it’s market share, and there is nothing wrong with that.

But is it really free? In the past couple of months we have seen a number of patent deals being agreed with Microsoft for Manufacturers being allowed to use Android. In addition to that, we have seen Apple halting many Android devices due to patent infringement. These are problems manufacturers can well do without. Ask yourself, as HTC or Samsung, do you really want to spend a lot of time on R&D only to have your devices stopped from getting to market? Do you want to have to pay a third party company license to use software that essentially belongs to another company? No you don’t…

Throw into the mix that Google now owns Motorola and has effectively secured its own hardware for mobile devices. This must be a worry for HTC, Samsung and all those that sell Android devices. Do you really believe that Google will continue to provide updates to their OS to give away to competitors of their own devices? If they do, then that’s crazy business thinking from Google.



I have read many a comment in the past day or so that Nokia should have opted for Android, or they should be making Android devices as well as Windows Phone. But that makes no sense from a business point of view. The Android market is all ready crowded, and how does Nokia regain its Smartphone market share by entering a dog fight with pretty much every other manufacturer
out there? Especially when all they can compete on is price and some nerdy hardware specs (maybe some design too). That’s just too tough. Throw into the mix the hassles you can have with Android and the fact that Google now owns Motorola, and Android looks very risky…

Windows Phone makes perfect sense to me. In many ways it is the overlooked OS, and that’s because no one really knows about it (phone nerds do, but who else). Not many have actually seen it advertised or ever even noticed it in stores. So for Nokia, Windows Phone market is easier to enter, and they know they can sell aggressively against the other Windows Phone competition.

The Windows Phone OS is good, very good. Pretty much everyone I have seen play with it, likes it, they find it intuitive, they like the live tiles and they love it’s simply integration with social media.  It provides something very different to Android and iOS, and as such, that means making a Nokia device stand out on a shelf is made that much easier.

Finally, Microsoft want to get involved in the mobile world, and they know Nokia are the biggest mobile brand out there (still), and that Nokia can get Windows Phones into the hands of millions of people, and ensure Nokia and Windows Phone grab market share.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see Nokia grabbing Smartphone market share quite quickly, which I am sure will make other manufacturers look closely at Windows Phone and start investing more in that OS. It is already happening to some extent with HTC and Samsung…

To finish…

Android has shocked us all with how much market share it has grabbed, but should we have been surprised? In many respects it’s a free, clunky version of the iOS that DOES cost manufacturers in terms of licensing etc etc. Now that Google owns Motorola are companies confident that they will be given the same OS to compete with Motorola? How many other instances of Android devices being banned can we expect?

All in all, Android may have shot to popularity, but there are many question marks above it, and it seems many more are being raised as time moves on. Will these question marks deter manufacturers from using Android? I believe they will over time, and I believe that Windows Phone will be there to grab market share – and that at the front of that pack will be a company from Finland, a company we all used to love…A company called Nokia…

Why are we not excited by Windows Mobile 7?

25 02 2011

I have read numerous articles now on Windows Phone (or Mobile) 7 which essentially say it’s a failing, dead platform. What’s more worrying is that any blogs and articles I read on Mobil 7 and the Nokia deal are often greeted with comments such as “good, I love the fact its failing”. When we read articles about the Nokia deal with Microsoft, all we read are points that essentially “want Nokia and Microsoft to fail”…Why is this?

Why people hate Microsoft

I think a lot of this is from years gone past and has nothing to do with current products and services Microsoft offers. Many hate the big corporate and as such, Microsoft will always be hated by them as a big corporate. Many claim that windows itself is poor, I still receive jokes about blue screens, which I haven’t actually seen since Windows XP was released. Others hate Microsoft simply because they aren’t Apple and aren’t Google. Then we come to those, mainly tech geeks, who claim they hate all things Microsoft because it’s not “open” or because they believe their products to be second rate, or there is some hidden agenda to bully small companies and destroy them. Finally, it seems many hate Steve Ballmer (I can see why on that one)…

So with this in mind, it makes it hard for Microsoft to launch new products with a bang and to some excitement in the consumer world these days (perhaps the exception is Windows 7).

But, how many of these reasons are actually valid? How many are actually previous experiences or how many are just based on rubbish we read online?

Well in years gone by perhaps you could argue the case for many of these reasons, but if we actually compare like for like experiences, I think most people (when not being biased) would opt for products delivered by Microsoft, and that includes Mobile 7. The issue is, at the moment, they don’t. Most of us now “presume” Apple experiences are better (because they were considerably compared to Mobile 6 or even Windows 3.11 … remember that? I think thats where the blue screen jokes are still coming from). People also presume that “Android” devices must also be cool and great, after all there are so many of them and it has such a great name, “Android”. Anything with that name must be out of this world…But Windows? Huh, we have all seen Windows, it’s nothing new…

The mobile market

It seems many consumers hate Microsoft, and within the mobile market, there are real options to not use Microsoft products. I know there are different platforms available for PCs but if you actually start to use them, it’s like being on mySpace while all your friends are on Facebook, almost pointless. However, in the mobile world, well the smart phone mobile world, we have real choice of operating systems, and because a mobile OS is “limited” compared to a real PC, the providers can really deliver good usable solutions.

I remember my Nokia N95 and I was very impressed with it. But I also remember my Windows Mobile 6 which, to be fair, wasn’t great but was an improvement on my Nokia 95 user experience. Sure it wasn’t a patch on the iPhone, but the mobile market needed a good kick in the bum at that point, and hats off to Apple for doing it…But user experience is king in many ways, and the iPhone and iOS massively outstripped the rest when it comes to usability (if not functionality). Apple here has lead the way and all are playing catch up. This coupled with the real Apple lovers (no matter what Apple delivers they claim is the best thing since the wheel was invented) makes it hard for others to compete initially, or launch with a massive bang and queues round the block.

That being said, we should throw in Android, which many hail as the greatest mobile OS around, but it really isn’t. In many ways it looks clunky and delivers a poor imitation of the iOS. Imitation is the biggest form of compliment, but it isn’t the real deal, and Android feels like it isn’t the real deal. The reason it is so popular is because its available on so many handsets, basically because it costs pennies (don’t think its because manufacturers can tailor it to their needs, they don’t want to, but they need to, to try and differentiate their devices from the competition). Android also taps into the open source bunch of consumers and lovers of Google. So where does this leave Microsoft?

Windows Mobile 7

All this leaves Microsoft launching a product into an environment where Microsoft doesn’t exist in many ways, its an environment with bloggers and tech geeks who essentially hate Microsoft and one that is dominated by the iPhone and Android. This all means it is hard for Microsoft to get real exposure of their platform. An example of this was the launch date. When Apple released the iPhone 3GS or iPhone 4, we had lots of ads on TV, lots of ads online and each mobile store that had hold of the iPhone made the most of it, advertising with massive window displays and billboards…What did we see with Windows Mobile 7? Nothing…O2, Organge etc in the UK didn’t even make it clear it was now available! Thats madness, and makes it hard to actually show consumers what the product is, and what it can do…

In many ways Windows Mobile 7 is the best OS on a phone out there. It delivers a unique user interface, it looks great and its performance is very good. In addition it has an app store in Marketplace which seems to be growing by the minute. All in all, it’s a great platform. When, as an end user, you compare it like for like you soon realise that it’s a big rival to the iPhone, and if anything, is far better in many areas. (Android for me just is too beta and doesn’t compete in terms of look, feel and functionality). But, it’s version 1.0 at the moment, sure there are things still to come and big improvements but that’s part of a platform evolving. Now, many people at this point will be shouting, “it doesn’t even have copy and paste” etc etc etc blah blah blah. They have a point, it doesn’t, but it’s not something I can say I have missed. Sure I want it there and I am sure it will be there very soon, but shall we just forget that the iPhone released without copy and paste, oh and without the capabilities to send MMS or even forward SMS….

So what does Microsoft have to do? Well unfortunately the Microsoft “brand” in the eyes of many consumers is the real issue, so much so that the carriers in the UK I believe are nervous of making a big thing of the Windows Mobile 7 launch and platform, rather trying to see what happens…

Microsoft hatred in many ways has spread opinions about Microsoft products and services without people actually experiencing them for themselves, or even making informed decisions. So much so, that they just presume windows mobile 7 is poor, or they heard it was poor (probably from an Android or iOS lover), and haven’t actually bothered to look at the platform or a device running it. So when people say Windows Mobile 7 is dead, I’m not sure it is, rather they are trying to kill it off. Why? Because they hate Mircrosoft. It has nothing to do with the platform at all…

Nokia deal

Nokia traditionally has a good brand name in the mobile world; it still does, being the biggest player in the mobile industry. However, in the world of smart phones Nokia doesn’t exist it seems. I have to say I believe Nokia has a strong brand loyalty, almost everyone I know who used to have a Nokia would swap back to a Nokia, if they delivered a smart phone that competes with those iPhones and Android devices….For me, this points to the Nokia Microsoft deal as a good thing…

Its a shame that Windows Mobile 7 was called Windows. Let’s face it, it isn’t a sexy name now, its fine for the PC because we expect that to be the name, especially as everything is delivered in a window environment. However, on the mobile device it isn’t Windows. I think Microsoft missed a trick here and should have opted for a different name, shame Android was already taken….

Nokia Windows Phone 7

Nokia and Windows Mobile 7 could be a great match

With Nokia, Microsoft though have the chance to showcase their Windows Mobile 7 platform to more and more consumers. Once consumers start to see that platform and use it, then more and more people will start to say it’s a good platform (rather than forming opinions based on old Microsoft mobile experiences or here say from others). Why? Because it is. Just spend a small amount of time using it, using the live tiles and you will start to like it.  Its also great for business, linking Outlook to exchange, synchronisation with my desktop and working environment and on top of that, the option to store, utilise and share content via the cloud.

We also can expect with Nokias clout to see Windows Mobile devices being rolled out on cheaper contracts, hopefully being able to compete with Android devices, but on superior hardware. Then throw in to the mix that, Nokia has a strong brand loyalty, and you may well find that Nokia and Windows Mobile 7 aren’t dead at all; rather they are a sleeping giant waiting to reclaim the mobile marketplace…


We really should judge solutions based on merit, as opposed to perceptions of a company or particular brand look. It seems Mobile 7 is being reviewed by the masses based on misconceptions of Microsoft, of Windows and previous Windows Mobile experiences…Hopefully with Nokia, we will see more and more people judging based on merit…