Woz: Loves the iPhone but wishes for Android’s features

I love how Woz doesn’t force Apple’s products down your throat just because of his past connections with the company. In a recent interview he described how he loves the simplicity of the iPhone but wishes it could have the features of Android phones.

It amazes me how passionate some people can be in online forums almost to the point of ridiculousness. People – everything has it’s pros and cons. Pick what works for you and go with it. And just because it’s the best thing since sliced bread for you, doesn’t mean it has anywhere near the same appeal for someone else.

When successful companies fail to innovate

In last few years we’ve seen quite a few companies who at one time were at the top of their game but then they got left behind because they failed to innovate and renew as fast and/or as effectively as their competitors.

I’m sure there’s many more examples, but it’s interesting to think that being at the top of your game is no guarantee that you’ll maintain that position. You need to keep renewing with new strategies, new products, new directions, new services to keep in the game.

Palm – at one point Palm was the king of PDAs, the PDA was a Palm Pilot. There were others on the market at the time, but THE personal organizer was the Palm. They went though many model revisions from the original US Robotics Palm Pilot, iii, v, vii (one of the first wireless data devices?). There was even HandSpring, another company who made Palm compatible devices competing with Palm, licensing the Palm OS. Then came the Treos, combo phones plus built-in Palm PDA. The Treo phones were original made by HandSpring and later bought out by Palm. The Treo was the smartphone of their time.
Their killer? The Blackberry. The first iPhone. To continue with the same Palm stylus based ui at that point was a lost cause, since Blackberry had captured the market with their incredibly easy interface and ability to easily keep in sync with your office email, and with the iPhone’s touch based interface and UI optimized for touch input shifted the goal posts in terms of usability. Thinking back now, the odd shorthand on the Palm for entering characters with single strokes was kind of odd, but also effective given the technology constraints at the time.

Palm’s biggest chance to stay relevant in the market was webOS – a neat idea but probably came too late. Palm got bought out by HP. The webOS TouchPad was initialially too expensive to get any consumer interest, but flew off the shelves when the price was dropped to $199 to clear stock. HP’s strategy for webOS just wasn’t right to make it work.

There’s been talk of webOS being opensourced, but at this point Palm is pretty much dead.

Prior to the success of Palm, the most popular PDA in Europe was the Psion devices, running the Symbian OS. Psion eventually died but Symbian lived on as a popular OS for many (feature) phones, particularly Nokia based phones.

There’s plenty of other examples in the IT industry, I guess because things change so fast you’ve got to keep the continual innovation to keep in the game. Some I can think of: Sinclair – in the 80s in Europe, Sinclair was ahead of the curve in terms of cost-effective home computers but they didn’t stay ahead long enough to get lost by changes in technology, particularly 16 bit home computers from Commodore and Atari, themselves who both also failed the same way (although Commodore stayed around producing PC clones for a while before disappearing, and then recently reappeared again as a brandname for PC-clones in a C64 style keyboard case).

Industry (particularly technology) and consumer trends are short lived. As something new comes along, you’ve either got to be already on that train, you’ve got to be the one driving the train, or building the next ‘train’, whatever that might be. If you’re still standing on the station and you watch the train go by, then it’s already too late.

Apple to ship 30.3 million iPhones this quarter… but only half the expected volume of Android devices

According to investor estimates Apple are expected to ship 30 million iPhones this quarter. That sounds impressive, but to put this in perspective in relation to Android device activations, the current numbers from Google say as of mid December, they’re seeing 700,000 new Android device activations A DAY.

That means in a quarter, there’s more than 63 million new Android devices activated. Now that’s impressive.

Apple lawsuit against HTC over linkable phone numbers

This has to be one of the most ridiculous patent infringement lawsuits possibly ever. Apple hold a patent for a feature that turns phone numbers and other recognizable data structures (e.g. addresses) into clickable links that when clicked call the linked phone number. Hmm. That seems kind of obvious nowdays right? Don’t all smartphones do this? I remember seeing this a few years back with the Skype client on Windows too – it would turn all phone numbers in a webpage into clickable links that would call the number using Skype if you clicked the link. My Windows Mobile phone four years or so back did this too.

So Apple has sued HTC over a number of patent infringements (why HTC specifically?) and this is the only one that the court ruled that HTC was infringing. The ruling states HTC has until April next year to remove the feature or HTC phones will be banned from being imported into the US. So, HTC responds and has said they’ve removed the feature already for future Android releases on their phones. Ok, good, end of story, that was easy. That wasn’t very exciting was it? The press are of course having a field day with this one.