The Apple iPhone wasn’t a miracle just a repurposed design from arrogant salespeople

 

It really needs a glove with the case built in for the left hand.

It really needs a glove with the case built in for the left hand.

I just got an iPhone.

 Since all the hype has died down about these iPhones 2 years later, and people have accepted this device as the most amazing thing ever I thought I would post my reactions to this nice but not miraculous device.

The first thing that I realized when I got this iPhone was that its a video iPod. (of which I also own) It is a repurposed design of a former product. That isn’t revolutionary at all.

It’s like someone at Apple said, wow I like my iPod so much I’d like to make calls from it and ditch my phone. And they did it. All the technology was already developed for a former device. Some new things did have to be added and re-engineered. But there is so much re-purposed from 5-7 years ago, the development costs were probably not that high because they knew pretty close how to use the materials to do this from past experience.

Now I see this Apple tablet image in the news and think they are re-purposing it again on a larger scale. I get the if it’s not broke don’t fix it idea, but their marketing and PR hype is a bit off.

I think these functions work really well:

  • The touch screen is better than the old Palm Treo one and more intuitive. I am impressed at how they solved the QUERTY problem with a touch screen.
  • I think the apps are also very good and its nice that they share the love with the app companies that develop them. I don’t think $5 an app is a bad price for what they deliver and plus you should think before you download a ton of apps and a cost helps you do that. The alternative is that your HD gets full and crashes quickly.
  • It syncs with Yahoo email very well, which is what I use for one of my accounts. It turns out that email is very doable on a small screen.
  • I like the pull the corners effect to read web pages and increase the size of the fonts so you can click a link. This is very intuitive.
  • The GPS is pretty good. I watched my phone show a blip of my location on a map that was about 2 seconds behind where we really were as we drove home. That is pretty good bouncing off a sattelite that fast. I think the directions from where we are to an address will be very helpful in the future.
  • Doing the convergence thing and having the phone, music player, GPS, camera and email all together works great.

I think these things need work:

  • The rss feeds don’t always work on the iPhone. Not that it doesn’t literally work, but these are items I’d like to read in more depth, and on a tiny screen its hard. Also all the links go out to the web and I am finding that I can’t get that data very easily in Chicago.
  • The web issue is still an issue with web enabled phones. I hated that things took so long to download on my old Treo 650 and 4.5 years later its still an issue with the iPhone. (heck its an issue on my computer sometimes with Google reader)
  • I think people who have iPhones use them on the go a lot and the backup for the wireless network are free wireless networks. Which means you’re in trouble if you want to download an rss feed in google reader online. (meaning the bandwidth exceeds the ATT mobile network and that is sometimes spotty with its coverage)
  •  The Metra commuter train and Chicago CTA don’t have free WiFi on their trains and busses and you can’t always find one when you are on the street either. (neither do our cars) So, there are a lot of times/places I look down at my phone and can’t connect to anything (phone or internet network). fail.
  • I feel like we’ve developed content and a device for reading things in real time that wants to be downloading info/updates 24/7/365 and the networks still look like swiss cheese or a spider web, with gaping holes in them. We need more ubiquitous universal access before these devices can really be life changing.
  • The touch screen is great but then switching to a physical button for on/off seems counter intuitive. Why not make all the functions be a part of the touch screen? I keep looking for an off button in the screen itself. 
  • The battery life is horrendus. If I read email and rss feeds on the train and bus between home and work I use 50% of my battery life. Holy Monkeys, this needs a better battery or a plug that pops out the side that you can stick in any outlet you find.
  • I also like that Steve Jobs has the kind of what I say goes power and involvement in the details to make his products good on many levels and keep the design level very high. It’s impressive he has been able to hang on to that power in a large company, it is rare to see and keeping one person in charge makes decision making faster, easier and true to the original purpose. Its how things get done if that person is well rounded in knowledge and willing to enforce what they preach.
  • There is also the annoying problem that on any field you need to enter text you can’t click to put the cursor anywhere on the field to start typing except the end. If you want to change one letter you have to backspace the entire field until its blank and start over. We need to have a click to cursor ability/function, do apples just not do that?
  • The me.com thing they sell as an add-on is cool but way way overpriced. I cited that 1 yr of Flickr unlimited access is $25 and 1 yr of full LiveJournal access is $25. Why is syncing my phone to the web $100 for the year? Assholes. I did get a small discount and got it for $65.
  • The Apple sales guy was over the top. I really hope I never have to go back to that Naperville Apple Store again. He was about 18 and very arrogant. He made me (age 34) feel stupid for not knowing everything about the iPhone or web phones and his Apple Brand Arrogance and demeaning tone was disgusting. Why ask us about our computers at home? Why rip on them in front of us? When you don’t even own one? Admit most people have windows machines and then say why you might consider the Apple, don’t just say everything else sucks. OMG, and don’t explain everything for 2 hours when I just want to buy the damn phone. Dragging things out forever and then asking 7 times if we want to buy the apple care program that I didn’t want. And when someone says they will look it up online and then decide later, don’t say look it up now on this Apple, that is a high pressure sales technique and if I didn’t need a phone that day I would have walked out of the store at that moment. Totally unethical and wrong to do to a customer while you are looking over their shoulder. So, at all costs avoid Apple sales assholes that admit they don’t even own any of the Apple products they sell.  Just buy stuff online if needed. 

The basic thing is that the phone was worth the $288 that I paid (for the 16 gig). I paid like $300 for the Treo 650 in 2005. I think if this works for a few years it will be ok, and worth the purchase. But it really doesn’t need the hype or the arrogance.

Why the Microsoft & Yahoo Search Deal Sucks

I blogged about why I thought that the Microsoft and Yahootalks were not going to yield anything useful last year and was satisfied that they stopped wasting time trying to buy each other out of financial trouble. Now it has been widely reported that Microsoft has gained access to Yahoo in a search partnership deal. This is somewhat better but again, the executives have not listened to the public.

1. This Yahoo-Microsoft deal still sucks for several reasons. One being that Microsoft Ad Center is the ad display engine being used in the partnership and not Yahoo’s Panama. Neither have the depth or ease of use of AdWords. Anyone who has ever placed any pay per click search ads in their life would choose Panama over Microsoft Ad Center as the system to use. Maybe MAC makes more money but there are too many limits on bids, keyword availability and restrictions on running your ads to make it widely accepted.

2. The recent Netflix prize showed how much collaboration benefits organizations rather than competition. The revenue share partnership deal usually shares no information about technology or business strategy at all between companies. Its a you win, I loose, I’ll just pay you for handling this for me-approach to solving a problem, that doesn’t work in the long term.

The Netflix prize was recently awarded when a group of individual competitors and small teams banded together to use all their ideas in combination to finally get above the 10% improvement mark in matching/suggestion technology and submit their top result. In the last day before the time was up, another group of researchers banded together and topped the previous best submission also by combining all their ideas together at once.

Then in the last 12 hours the first team did come back with another submission just slightly better,  to win,  but the overall idea/lesson is still the same. If you really want to improve on consumer products and experience with really complex technical problems like search and suggestions, you have to collaborate rather than compete.

Yahoo and Microsoft would do a whole lot better against Google if they got the Bing folks together with the Yahoo search folks and started collaborating on this daily via videocam rather than doing an affiliate marketing type deal. This deal is evidence that Microsoft is being run by the lowest common denominator these days (and loosing a lot of money that way) and Yahoo’s CEO won’t be around long. She has made a decision that helps her contain and cut costs of running her company in the short term and that decision has sacrificed the long term marketability of her product.

In fact Yahoo was a search company primarily. People only used email, Yahoo news and other functions like Yahoo Answers because of the search engine they knew. If you take that away you don’t have an identity as a company. And they will lose a lot more search market share and preference by outsourcing to Bing even if they get paid a little bit more profitably in the next 2 quarters. This is pretty much the death of Yahoo. It is really sad.

Hallmark Keepsake Christmas Ornaments & Website Issues

I have been a Hallmark Keepsake Christmas Ornament fan since the late 1980’s when we discovered them. I was in Jr high at the time and the thought that a Christmas tree ornament could commemorate anything you want it to was liberating and fun. We ended up buying several ornaments each year until we had a full Christmas tree of just Hallmark Ornaments and white lights. We still buy hallmark keepsake ornaments every Christmas if they continue the series that we like. The classic cars, classic trucks and classic historic airplanes are three that my brother collects. He is determined to have a transportation only tree at some point, and after 15 years he is getting close to that. My mom and I prefer more winter and holiday themed ornaments and have bought some of the light and magic hallmark Christmas ornaments over the years.

This year might be the one exception to the rule, and it is mostly Hallmark’s fault. For some reason they don’t carry hallmark Christmas ornaments at Jewel food stores anymore. Maybe they aren’t as popular anymore? Maybe people have gotten tired of collecting them? Anyway there are also no Hallmark stores in downtown Chicago where I work and none in Oak Park where I live. So, trekking out to get these is getting more complicated. I wanted to order them on the Hallmark Website and in addition to the site being horribly organized and impossible to finding things THEY DON”T EVEN SELL THEM ONLINE!!! (what kind of organization system classifies ornaments by which series is starting and ending when everyone else just knows them by the cars theme? or their subject matter)  WTF? Why wouldn’t a site like Hallmark have an ecommerce site? After all they have done to promote their brand they use the website just to drive people to an offline store? Have they learned nothing about the Internet since 1996??

I am an internet marketer so this is my business to know how people use the internet and what they want, and I can tell you for sure they do not want to have to shut off the computer, find their car keys and drive an hour to a flipping store. It is called point and click buying and last year more than 31 BILLION dollars were projected to get exchanged for goods online at Christmas. Why would Hallmark not want a piece of the pie? I think old people making risk averse decisions like this for a large company (who don’t know how or want to spend money to develop a website) end up screwing the company in the long run as they totally alienate the younger demographic. I can’t see the myspace or facebook generation being lured to a store to buy something when they twitter that they have to go to the bathroom online. I wish Hallmark would wake up and smell the propane and get with the way real people do business and shopping online.

Google Search Box on the Search Results Page Sucks – Site Search

google search box, web results sucksI noticed this search box on the Google search results page beneath the Amazon.com listing a few weeks ago and thought, cool. Lets see if it gets me past the home page amazon and to the search results page on Amazon.com. It would take me one step closer to what I am looking for on this site if it worked.

But instead it just brought me a list of pages on Amazon while still being in Google’s search results. YUCK! That sucks. I don’t want to stay on Google longer, I want to get to the book/dvd/whatever I am looking for and it’s on Amazon. This added another step in my process and I hate when sites do that for profit. It’s like a big interstitial ad that interrupts your log-in process on Monster or those stupid interstitial on Forbes articles. It is bad usability and bad user experience and people should complain about it so they remove this feature. (and of course don’t use the feature because if they see usage numbers in their stats they will think people like it and keep it)

It doesn’t surprise me that Google would want to keep you on their site longer so they can serve adwords against the results and possibly distract you away from what you originally intended to do or find but what I was surprised about  was that they thought they were better about finding products/pages on amazon than amazon itself. And that is a self centered conceited view to think you know Amazon’s business better than they do and to use that as justification to poach their traffic and users. Ouch.

I think Google also may be looking at this new search box in the search results as a way to get more into vertical search using their main search box as a starting point for picking your vertical and then the second search box to search within the site or specific vertical you choose. Google probably thinks they are prime for this kind of use because they already index everything and just need to figure out a hierarchical interface to display it all and make the difference in level of detail in the results visual. Then they can conquer the world…muhahaha…The only problem with that idea is that I don’t know an real live humans that like or look for vertical search. The sites that create content around a vertical are brands and have a real product that cost money to produce so they aren’t just web companies that crawl, slurp, scrape and steal other people’s original content and display it with advertising along site like Google.

So, overall I give this search box in the search results change a thumbs down, grade F for bad user experience keeping people away from what they want longer while displaying more ads and bad traffic poaching from genuine product sites. Google should remove this feature as it does no one any good and will deteriorate their relationship with real publishing and product sites over time. And if Google thinks they can play hardball and corner companies into accepting this, think again. I am sure there are some legal eagles out there that will be happy to bring this to court.

TopGear is Pissing me off! (BBC America Edits a Lot Out)

topgear, BBC AmericaOk TopGear and company, I thought you had finally come to your senses and finally decided to broadcast TopGear to the United States via BBC America. I was glad the US Pilot was scrapped (because there was no open audition for it) and people would stop uploading your videos to YouTube because they would be able to tune in and see it on TV like 350 million other people around the world do every week. But NO, I saw it for the first time this weekend and I am sorry to report that it’s screwed up again. Here’s why:

1. The season is off for broadcasting to America. They show season 9 on BBC America and Season 10 is airing now. Why do they make the US wait 6 months behind everyone else? See reason 2.

2. They cut out 1/3 of the program!! WTF!!!@!>? I know the BBC America’s monetization format is from subscriber fees AND commercials but jesus, why can’t you just leave all 60 minutes of the show intact for just this one show? Or extend it to be an hour and a half? Putting 20 minutes of commercials in and taking out 20 minutes of content ruins it. It is no where near as good if you chop it up and put commercials for razors and beer every 5 minutes.

3. WTF is up with the promos showing the big funny moments before each commercial break?? You’re spoiling it. It’s not supposed to work like US TV where you bait someone along for 3 hours for a payoff after you have monetized them to death. Just let it run for 60 minutes and then play commercials for a 1/2 hr before or after.

Seriously. This is awful. And it’s not really TopGear. You can’t ‘get” TopGear in bite size pieces. You don’t get the relationships or the references that are particularly UK or European unless you sit and watch the whole thing and then think about it for a while and watch it again. And duh, that is why we LIKE it. We want to learn about how things are over there, and see what they have to say. It’s entertaining because it’s worldly and different.

Please, I beg you to just sell the full format shows in a DVD box set that is in it’s complete 60 minute format.  Start releasing season 1 now and roll out the rest over the next 2 years. Seriously it is the only way you will ever really win over the Americans, by showing us the same program the same way you show it to the rest of the world. Jipping us by selling a 1/2 assed version just sucks.

At this point I recommend only watching the full versions on YouTube and not watching it on BBC America at all.

Wake Up WalMart – Chinese food product recall update

I just got this information in an email from Wake Up WalMart and wanted to pass it along because more people should know about what lengths WalMart will go to in order to make more profit. Nothing is sacred, so don’t spend your money there if you want to have any control over our U.S. Economy at all:

Wal-Mart is the #1 importer of Chinese goods. So, after the spree of high-profile recalls and outright bans on dangerous Chinese products, wouldn’t it be logical for Wal-Mart to take the offensive against unsafe imported goods? Shouldn’t Wal-Mart stand up for the safety of American consumers?

Wouldn’t you?

The truth is that Wal-Mart is putting profits over people – again – by blocking laws requiring disclosure of where food comes from. Instead of looking out for consumer safety, Wal-Mart is watching its own bottom line.

That’s why we put together a new ad to expose the truth about Wal-Mart and China.

Click here to watch our new ad and send it to five friends:

http://www.wakeupwalmart.com/feature/foodsafety

Even among nations, Wal-Mart is China’s sixth largest trading partner: it buys more Chinese goods than industrial giants like Germany and Britain. This gives Wal-Mart the power to demand safer products from its Chinese suppliers. Unfortunately, it has demanded nothing more than lower prices, and has tried to cover up the consequences of its race to the bottom.

As consumers, we have the right to know that the products we buy are safe. Don’t let irresponsible corporations like Wal-Mart cut us out of the loop. Please watch our new ad today, and send it to five friends:

http://www.wakeupwalmart.com/feature/foodsafety

The more people learn the truth about Wal-Mart, the more public pressure grows for Wal-Mart to change.

You – together with more than 402,000 fellow supporters of WakeUpWalMart.com – have the power to make Wal-Mart put people first.

Amidst seemingly endless recalls of dangerous products, Wal-Mart has tried to keep American consumers in the dark.

Let’s shine a light.

http://www.wakeupwalmart.com/feature/foodsafety

Thanks for all that you do,

The Team
WakeUpWalMart.com