The hyperbole of gadget marketing

Windows Phone 7 funeral.It’s no secret that gadget marketing is way over the top. There’s always this-killer and that-killer that everyone just has to have. It’s incredibly uninteresting, especially because none of the “killers” actually kill anything. They’re typically competitive in their respective markets, but that’s about all we can say.

That didn’t stop these Microsoft employees from throwing funerals for the iPhone and Blackberries to celebrate the release of Windows Phone 7 to manufacturing (maybe “throwing” isn’t the right word where funerals are involved). The group carried giant dead iPhone and Blackberry models down the street and threw a New Orleans-style wake, replete with a coordinated ‘Thriller’ dance.

This is all well and good, guys, but for these kinds of stunts, you better put out a kickass phone. The things I’ve heard are things like “underwhelming,” in which case I wish you would have put the Thriller energy into the phone. Congratulations on a finished product. I hope it lives up to the hype.


Windows Phone 7: Microsoft makes the Palm mistake

wp7_startLet me start by saying this: Windows Phone 7 is the best thing Microsoft has done in the mobile market. It is the company’s first serious entrant in the smartphone category and a real and viable competitor with the iPhone and Google’s Android platform. There, I said it. Now let’s do that thing people love to do and talk about where Microsoft went wrong.

The Windows Phone 7 (I’m going to leave that god-awful name alone for a moment) is late to the party. Just as Palm did with the Pre, Microsoft waited too long for the Windows Phone 7. It’s three years after the iPhone, three years during which Redmond was constantly lambasted for its terrible mobile experience. Three years Apple took to entrench users in its iPhone OS experience. Three years that include millions of handset sales and billions in profits. Three years Apple used to build the world’s biggest mobile development community. Microsoft is way behind. The question is, can this platform make the comeback?

I’m leaning toward yes. Everything I’ve seen so far shows a beautiful user interface that looks highly intuitive. Microsoft borrowed a page from the Apple handbook and made the Windows Phone 7 experience as similar as possible to the Zune HD. It gives Zune users a level of familiarity they will appreciate. The phone also integrates other Microsoft services that have been points of criticism for other platforms. Office, Exchange, Outlook, Windows Live, Xbox Live – they all have a home with Windows Phone 7 and have been designed to function well in that platform. Any serious Windows user will feel very at home with this platform.

That’s also the platform’s biggest downside. While most of the world is using Microsoft’s operating system, I would call a very small margin of that user base “serious.” The rest are there because of a lack of options, and a lot of people, especially young people, having been drinking the Apple kool-aid of late. How do you convince a generation of Apple students, people who have grown up playing with the iPod Touch, that Windows Phone 7 is where it’s at? The features that set this experience apart from the iPhone are business oriented as I see it. Sure, the interface is organized differently, but people are already familiar with and seemingly in love with the app system – will content hubs be enough to break that paradigm?

Windows Phone 7 has a lot stacked against it (and the name isn’t helping), a problem compounded by the release schedule. The first Windows Phone 7 series won’t launch until the holidays of this year. If you’ve been paying attention to the industry, you know that “iPhone 4G” rumors are cropping up, which means we’ll probably see the next iteration of the iPhone before the Microsoft launch. While the promise of the Zune Phone be enough to keep anxious consumers from getting Apple’s latest?


The Woz plays nice with the Nexus One

Steve Wozniak is a little manic.Steve Wozniak is known for being a little eccentric, but he’s so much like a big, nerdy teddy bear that it’s hard not to like the guy. He’s also one of few corporate faces that will drop the marketing schtick and admit where his company has gone wrong. Most recently, he told NBC that his favorite gadget isn’t the iPhone, it’s the Nexus One.

It’s a strange thing to admit to someone like NBC, who will take that story and run in any direction that will get attention. He did say, though, that he hasn’t ditched his iPhone. The Apple product is still his cellphone of choice. My guess is he likes that Android is a little more open, that it doesn’t restrict extremely tech-savvy people like himself from doing what they want with the phone. He’s often criticized the iPhone for it’s rigid user interface.

Whatever the reason, you can bet there’s an Apple fanboy weeping somewhere at the news.

Source: NBC


iPhone vs Nexus One cost of ownership

Superphone lineup.Shortly after the announcement of the Google Nexus One, BillShrink put together one of those nifty little charts as a cost comparison for the “next generation of smartphones.” (I’m glad to see it didn’t adopt Google’s new term: superphone.) The results read like yet another reason the iPhone needs to get off AT&T.

The cost of ownership for a top tier plan on the iPhone runs $3,799 over the course of your two year contract. The Nexus One, by comparison, is just $2,579, and that’s without the 5GB data cap. It’s an ugly stat for AT&T, which doesn’t even compete when you step down to an average plan. The total cost is still $500 more than the Nexus One.

The chart also throws in the Palm Pre and Verizon’s Motorola Droid, but now that the Nexus One is out I think we can pretty much forget about the droid. And the Pre? What’s that again?

Source: BillShrink


Google dogfood testing the Google Phone

The Google Phone from HTC.Earlier this weekend, tweets started showing up from Google employees about a new phone. The new phone. The Google Phone. I wrote about it last month, based on a report from TechCrunch that claimed we’d see it in early 2010. Google has given the phone, which is made by HTC, to wide array of workers to field test it, or as the Google blog calls it, dogfooding.

From what few pics are available, the phone looks great. It’s got a sizable OLED screen, runs on a Snapdragon, and thankfully has no hardware keyboard. I’m not just excited about the hardware, though. Google has designed the entire experience here, something I’ve waited for them to do since Android launched. Sure, they’ve contributed on the UI for the G1 and the Droid, but this is the whole package, all from Google. They’ll be selling the device directly as an unlocked GSM device. That means T-Mobile or AT&T, to be released some time in early (likely January) 2010.

One of the earliest tweets says this: “Google Phone = iPhone + a little extra screen and a scroll wheel. Great touch screen, and Android.” Is this really comparable to the iPhone, or is it something completely different?