Digital rights management get a bad press. To most of us, as consumers of music or video it's something which limits what we do. We can tell right from wrong, we don't need stuff to limit us ... right ?
Of course People who create "intellectual property" have a different view. And that's not just record companies, it's us with mail and documents. People do daft things with content. They send company confidential information to the outside world (in Microsoft lore there is the tale* of a message from Brian Valentine entitled "When I find out who you are I will come to your location and fire you myself" after one of his mails appeared on the Register.) They forward stuff to people who shouldn't be included. I still recall telling my (then) manager about a customer situation and saying "part of the problem the way [their account manager] is handling the situation". Various other people got added as the discussion of what to do rambled on, until finally someone added the account manager ... ouch. Then Rights Management becomes your friend - it's protecting what you say, your content - it has to be used with care: sending something with a flag of "This is serious, really not to be shared" which DRM implies is helpful, but "I don't trust you." isn't. We already provide Windows Rights Management - though I'm surprised how few people use it. In Longhorn server it will be integrated with Active Directory
Whether we're talking DRM for music, or Information rights Management for documents, the content is encrypted, and decoded by client software which allows the reader only to exercise only the rights they are given. (Which is why you don't see Open source DRM software - people would quickly turn on all rights, regardless). Everything depends on the client - and that's been the trouble with protected mail there hasn't been the client support so it doesn't work on a mobile devices. Until now that is but something magic has happened with Windows Mobile 6. Look at the left picture below.
So... Mobile 6 not only understands IRM, but it gives you instructions on how to use it on the device. Being on Vista I have the Windows Mobile Device Center, not running active sync, and you might go running to your version only to try to find this function is missing. You'll have to guess whether the Right picture above is a mock-up or if I have been able to set my phone up with something internal. But either way the ability to do something like what you see on the right isn't far away.
By the way the screen shots are made with Soti Pocket controller pro
* I was going to say - In the Lands of the North, where the black rocks stand guard against the cold sea, in the dark night that is very long, the men of the Northlands sit by their great log fires and they tell a tale... they tell of a Man called Valentine who sent a great letter to all the people of the Northlands ... I wonder how many people would get the reference without resorting to a search engine.
I've not recorded that much using Media Center on my laptop, but I did record Dr Who on Saturday (and it looks fantastic at 1200x720 resolution on my TV.) What happens if I drag it into the sync column on my phone ? It converts and syncs. Normally I'd view it full screen, but just to show you it works... look left
I wouldn't watch all my TV on something that small, but to while away time at the airport, or catch up on TV on the bus/train to work.. sure. And 52 minutes of TV took 60.3MB of space, which means I've got room for quite a lot in 1GB. Now to figure out how to automate the sync process.
Teething troubles with the new phone have proved to be pretty minor. I'm finding more things to love about this phone.
I've got one major annoyance: on the C500 with Mobile 2003 I could go to Settings/Phone/Call options and program the Microsoft voice mail number with my account code and Pin as +44118909xxxxPyyyy#Pzzzz# (where xxxx is the voicemail number, yyyy is my extension and zzzz is my pin, so dials , P inserts a pause and then it enters my number followed by the hash sign, pauses for the password prompt, enters the pin and another #). On the E650 with Mobile 6 only + and digits are allowed.
I'll forgive the device this for a four of it's mail features. Here are the first three, I'll save the other one for another post.
On the left we can see a Rich Text mail ... I like the way Exchange 2007 does these mail notifications - and I let deleted items build up it had got to 5660 items by this afternoon. In the middle - I've gone back to the tools menu at my inbox: notice I can set my Out of Office from my phone. The number of times I've set off for a trip and realized I've forgotten to do it doesn't bear thinking about. I selected Empty deleted items from the tools menu and on the right you can see the warning I got. It was interesting to watch the deleted items folder in Outlook as the messages drain away. About this time of year 2 years ago, I was on holiday, without my laptop checking (and deleting) mail from my phone and my mailbox hit its limit. I had to pay to clear my deleted items from a cybercafe.
Bias declaration: I've been a fan of Windows Mobile since before we started using the name. But having picked up my new Orange E650 aka HTC S710 codename “Vox” I'm left thinking "Boy oh boy Mobile 6 devices are a jump forward". You could dismiss some of the changes as cosmetic, but I find they really help readability especially with the new screens – as with my new camera, small screens seem big step in the last couple of years. Jason’s got a run down of the changes in mobile 6 and a demo on youtube. Instead of repeating his work,here's a run down of my first few hours with the E650
Orange activated my existing number on the new phone less than an hour after I collected it - about 12 noon. Vista’s Mobile Device Centre set itself up automatically when I plugged the phone in. That walked me through setting up Server and let me get the certificate needed for corporate WiFi access (a bit of a fiddle), and I installed OneNote mobile and Communicator mobile: both worked first time (although communicator was wrongly configured). I had to do a telephone interview at 4PM – when I was sorting out a problem with my car. I needed the other interviewer to set up a 3 way call. I tried to IM him (and discovered the configuration gremlin). So I used the (new) GAL look-up to find his phone number and call him. The candidates CV was in a word document in my inbox, so I downloaded that and was able to view it on the phone while we were talking to him. I wanted to make some notes, so I switched to speaker phone, slid out the keyboard and tapped them into onenote. Fantastic. When I got home I setup the Bluetooth pairing with the laptop, syncing my interview notes into OneNote on my PC, and put together my own home screen layout, finally I tried to charge the phone with a standard cable and my Swiss Word Adapter – success! no more special cables. I picked up mail over the home WiFi network – including one from expansys saying they’ve shipped my memory card, Y adapter – which will live in the car with a double USB car power adapter (which will also power my GPS puck with the lead pictured here), and. All I have to do now is sort out a satisfactory Bluetooth hands-free solution – the result of an unsatisfactory one is pictured here
I compared the amount of stuff I used to carry and what I have now. So I’ve taken 4 points.
Phone Model and size(my reaction)
Nokia 7110141g, 125cc(125 x 53 x 24 mm) (Reputedly Nokia's worst phone to date)
Ericsson T39.94g, 108cc (105 x 49 x 21 mm)(Great battery life, but dreadful UI)
SPV C500103g, 86cc 107 x 46 x 18mm(A proper smartphone not a prototype)
SPV E650 140g, 90cc101 x 50 x 18mm(WOW !)
PDA Model and size
iPAQ 3650170g, 173cc130 x 83 x 16 mm
iPAQ 3650 + CF/Bluetooth jacket 235g, 320cc (139 x 92 x 25)or PCMCIA jacket 270g, 383cc (139 x 92 x 30mm)
Phone: "multi tap"PDA: Stylus only
Phone: T9, PDA: Stylus or Targus keyboard 335 g 367cc140 x 105 x 25mm
T9 or Bluetooth Freedom keyboard204g 278cc(145 x 99 x 19mm)
T9 / Integrated Mini Qwerty
Memory + Expansion
32mb + CF via Jacket*
32mb + Mini-SD
64mb + Micro-SD
CF/PCMCIA available for Jacket*
Works in US
Word & Excel
Power Point & PDF
Onenote and Communicator
Yes (Orange require developer unlock)
PDA: plain-text sync with PC,
PDA: plain-text sync with MIS Server PCPhone: WAP (MIS)
Plain-text sync with E2K3 Server
Rich text sync + mailbox search with E2k7 server
Sync PC-PDA (MIS sync broke addresses)
Sync E2K7 Server- phone
Corporate Address book
Via WAP on phone
Add on Application
Offline sync or On-line WiFi
Online, WiFi or GPRS
802.11b via PCMCIA Jacket*
Yes + Edge
Yes (phone)Via Jacket*(PDA )
Yes, with stereo support
Connection to PC & charger
Bluetooth or Mini USB (non standard charger)
Bluetooth or Mini USB (Standard charger)
Proprietary or Bluetooth
So is anything wrong with the new phone ? I don't like having to buy an adapter to connect headphones or changing my memory card again – what was the point of mini-SD? At 140g it is a shade heavy (conventional wisdom says the optimal weight and size for a phone is about 100g and 100cc) . Installing communicator doesn't enable IM functions from Contacts or Mail. And Mail doesn't support voting buttons ... not much really.
In a couple of hours I fly off for week working in Athens. I've been talking to prospective evangelists this week and I've been saying we have a better work/home-life balance than some other parts of Microsoft. .I've already spent 20 nights away from my family for work already this year but I'll spend 20 away scuba diving too. This trip should be worth while (I had the option to say "No" so if it turns out otherwise, I only have myself to blame), but 'planes and hotel rooms and the packing and unpacking of bags hold no attraction for me.
I've mentioned before, that packing up all the gadgets can be a chore. Hopefully my new Orange SPV E650 will arrive soon after I get back. With it's slide out Keyboard, my Freedom keyboard becomes redundant – I never got in the habit of carrying it which is shame. Steve picked up on a post of Jason's about internet connection sharing, I've been doing this the hard way since I first had GPRS in 2002 (configure phone as an Bluetooth modem, and tell the PC to dial *99#) and it did make wonder if I should wait for a 3G version but I haven't felt the need for 3G so far. Orange's page for the E650 says it IS 3G – I have the details on that page to be right, but Jason has confirmed that it doesn't have UMTS and I'll need to buy a new memory card for it. I'll probably treat the memory card a permanent fixture as I do with my diving camera. It still annoys me that the 4 windows Mobile devices I've owned all use different memory. I've mentioned previously that my current C500 phone doesn't charge from a standard USB charger – it needs the normally unused pin 5 on the mini USB connector shorted to the neighbouring Pin 4, and I soldered my own adapter together. It also needs a 2.5mm-3.5mm adapter to plug my headphones in. The C500 is an HTC design and game of "guess what connectors they'll slap on this one." has been going on since they did the first iPaq for Compaq. The E650 (a.k.a HTC S710) delivers audio from a proprietary USB connector needs a Y cable to output to headphones and charge from a standard cable.
I've more-or-less ruled out Bluetooth headphones as a solution to the connector problem. I don't know if can listen to music on my laptop and then take a call from the mobile. They don't seem that great for travel, The C500 turns Bluetooth off in flight mode; even if the E650 turns WiFi, GSM and Bluetooth on or off separately, using Bluetooth in flight is a bit of a no-no. Using one in car doesn't seem very smart either. I dumped my Bluetooth earpiece after a road accident, a call didn't come through when I pressed the button, I looked down at the phone to figure out what had happened, and looked up to see the back of another car closing at about 50 Miles per hour. I've recently gone back but my current Bluetooth setup is more dangerous than holding the phone. The earpiece won't turn off any more, and it beeps it's incoming call beep when the phone finds "NO SERVICE". So old, wired, headphones and a new earpiece looks like the way to go. Hopefully any new earpiece will charge from USB – or failing that at 5 Volts- I put a USB connector onto the "tail" from an old universal transformer to power various 5 Volt devices (primarily my GPS Puck).
I've been carrying a USB A-Male to A-Female extension cable -I can plug a memory stick or my Hauppauge TV-Stick in for flexibility or use A-Male to B-Male, Mini-B Male or Camera adapters to avoid carrying 3 different leads. (Incidentally for any Pentax users, K10D connector that the I-USB17 cable plugs into is known as a Sanyo connector at Direct USB). Then I have my home made power adapters for the C500, and universal 5V supply. Unfortunately the USB B and Mini-B adapters both came apart. The Dell D820 had a tighter grip on the A end of the mini B adapter than the body did, and the two parted company. My WD external drive pulled the outer sleeve off the B adapter. I decided I'd get a travel kit with a retracting cable and direct replacements for the broken connectors. I found one from Lindy which had the bonus of connectors to turn a USB cable into a phone or Network (RJ11 or RJ45) lead. I can pop my headphones and extra connectors in a pack which takes the same space as the LAN cable I had in my bag. It comes with 10 year warranty, which is just as well because the first time I plugged in the phone connector it pulled apart. Lindy were very good about replacing it, but there do seem to be a lot of badly made connectors out there.
I'm taking the SLR camera on this trip. It's battery charger can share a mains cable with the Laptop's power brick, but I'll just take the spare battery – I'm getting about 750 shots to a battery and I won't shoot that many this week. Camera, lenses, laptop, cables all fit into one carry on bag with 5 days clothes and toiletries . Who says I can't travel light ?
Update: I had to leave the SLR behind - for the stupidest reason - no body cap. It only fits in my carry on luggage if I take the lens off the body and the body cap is off leading a life of its own. So I took the "diving" camera ad its charger. The Lindy USB kit has proved its worth - there have been huge problems with the wireless network here, but plenty of wired ports - providing you have a cable. I do - for once.
I'm on my third Orange C500 phone. The first got lost on a flight home from the Channel Islands at Easter 2005. It's replacement died last November. I've got the phone pretty much how I like it.
However the design is 3 years out of date. New phones have better screens, support push e-mail, have Wifi. I expect to see a lot of Microsoft people toting the newly announced Orange E600 before long. My dilemma is do I get one too ? Why ? Because there might be something better around the corner. As a major customer Orange give us some hints about what they're thinking, but often that is "We haven't ruled it in or out". Lots of different form factors are coming out of HTC, but unless and until it goes in the right bit of Orange's catalogue nothing is certain. And it's what you can do with different form factors which has interested me since 2000 when I got one of the first iPaq devices in the country. I think about this as six axes.
Phones and PDAs have converged, and in the Mobile 6 there is precious little difference (a touch screen and Remote Desktop client according to this post of Jason's). The only Windows Mobile devices that Orange have with 3G (today) are PDAs, but for me the greater portability of the phones is more important. Orange's page for the E600 says it is "only" Windows mobile 5, they haven't said anything about upgrades to 6 - otherwise I'd take it and that would be that. If I don't, the HTC S710 (aka Vox), isn't far away; a search for 'Orange HTC Vox' showed HTC have already announced that Orange will introduce it as the "E650". Would it's slide out keyboard be better ? It's too small to touch type and the E600's thumb pad might be better besides, if that's important, why not go for the PDA Option) . How long would I have to wait... by the time it's available the 3G version will be imminent (the Wings or S730) with GPS receiver built in. This shower of questions shows that things are getting silly: I'm on point of saying I'll wait for a device which might never be available, for the sake of 3G - which I said I could do without and integrating GPS which I've got already as a standalone device !
Choice is good, of course - but doing nothing offers the chance of better choices in the future, and always will. Too many choices can result in the inability to decide...
I don't know what has happened between Steve Jobs' company and the one owned by the Beatles. It was always the case that the guys from Cupertino had to call themselves Apple Computer to keep themselves distinct. Not anymore.
Scoble got it from Om Malik who thought it was of the noteworthy part of Jobs' keynote. I couldn't face watching another whole Keynote at Midnight after watching Bill last night, but about 1hr 40 into the speech Jobs explains that they're not really a computer company any more, what with the iPod and the new iPhone and Apple TV (formerly iTV which wouldn't work in the UK. That device seems a bit weak I'm not the only one who thinks an Xbox does more.) . They've been the Mac company for 23 years - but their Computer has been eclipsed by their other offerings, so from now on they're just plain Apple.
Back in April I wrote
Apple is a leader in industrial design: which is why my wife has an iPod Nano - the iPods have a magic to their design which no-one else seems able to match. The number of things which borrow from the original iMac design shows how other designers admire it. I’ve just bought a new Samsung TV and I didn’t consider Dell’s offering but I'd look at an Apple TV. As well as design, Apple has brand kudos that Samsung, Dell and (yes) Microsoft lack, so the idea of Windows on Apple hardware is seductive.
iPhone has that magic. I've got to hand it to Apple: it's beautiful, even if it does less than my 3 year old smartphone - Jason's more neutral in his analysis.
Steve quoted some interesting numbers. 26 Million Games Consoles sold world wide in 2006. Robbie Bach said at the CES keynote that we'd sold 10.4 Million Xbox 360s. If those numbers are calculated on the same basis then Xbox 360 has a 40% share of the market. I don't know what the original Xbox sold in 2006, and what the rest of the non-Sony Market is. Steve compares this against 94M digital cameras, 135M MP3 players, and 209M PCs. And about 1 billion cell phones.
But iPhone is $499 US with a 2 year contract. Now I've no idea what the world market in $499 designer phones is, but it sure ain't a billion - and it doesn't look like it has the things which business users demand (like sync to the corporate mail server). I wouldn't buy a $499 phone any more than I'd buy a pair of $499 shoes. But Steve want's 1% of the whole market - 10 million phones in 2008. A man who wants to create a $5 bn market in it's first full year: what can you do but be impressed ?
Postscript. I might have guessed that Hugh would have something witty to say about this
Jason is seems to be bugged by the same things as me...
I got my new Pentax just before Christmas. I've owned three of their digital camera and each needs a specific USB cable - used on other cameras; the camera I take diving has a standard "Mini-B" and the old camera used something totally proprietary. In all I use 7 different USB cables. Some devices block the neighboring USB port so I connect them with an extension cable. My portable hard disk / card reader uses a "Y" cable with a standard "Mini-B" end and 2 "A" connectors to the PC (wikipedia explains the connector types). My wife's Ipod has its own proprietary USB connector. Phones are starting to use a single connector for USB and audio, which needs an audio adaptor, as Jason has pointed out, my old phone has a 2.5mm socket so that needs a different headphone adapter for MP3 use.
Traveling with a handful of gadgets is a pain. My laptop is a given: next into my bag goes an Inverter from APC to give AC power from the car or on a plane (fortunately the APC unit has an adapter for the 12V connector used on planes). I used this a lot in my previous job - where there was pressure to bill 10 hours work, done in premium economy: these days I idle the time away in the cheap seats where British Airways don't provide power. When I'm abroad I have a Swiss Word Adapter which has doesn't just act as mains plug adapter but also has a "cap" which is a USB 5volt power supply. Jason is pretty keen on the Power adapters from I-GO which are sold by Expansys among others. At the very least that could reduce the laptop power brick and inverter to one device, and should power the USB devices... APC have a similar device with a USB socket.
If you didn't know already - USB has only 4 pins, 2 data, +5V and ground. PC USB ports rarely deliver more than 500mA of current not enough for the external hard-drive: hence the "Y" cable. That cable will connect one of the cameras and my phone to my laptop. However: just plugging the phone's data cable into the USB power won't work, it needs a computer - with drivers installed - sending data or a power cable which grounds the otherwise unused pin on the USB Mini-B plug.
At least the phone and drive can charge when connected to the PC: the cameras don't charge via USB at all, and each has a different battery. The change of camera needs an extra charger, the Pentax I've just replaced shared AA batteries and a (USB-Powered) charger with my flash gun. That charger has a "full B" connector like my printer, scanner and mains powered hard disk - which means packing a USB cable! I found out about AA form-factor, USB-Chargeable batteries but charging 4 at once sounds worse than taking multiple battery chargers: "universal" chargers use swappable battery holders, so there are just many bits to pack/lose, although all my chargers are mains only and the Universal ones tend to be mains or car. If they could be run from the APC or I-GO universal PSUs that would be be a help. I was getting so annoyed with the mass of cables that I wired my own to let me use the Swiss adapter to charge my hard disk , phone (modified mini B connector) AA battery charger (full mini B) and my 5V powered Bluetooth GPS "puck". I'm on a quest for the perfect adapter which would let me use just the "Y" cable or an extension lead to connect any device for data and/or power; none of the kits on the market seem quite right - the "Universal" adapter by Hama is close (and cheap right now on 7DayShop), but lacks a Mini-b socket and "A" and full-B plugs
Here are three things I'd like to see
This is pretty close to what the Chinese government is mandating for phones - according to the People's Daily article which was the source for Jason's blog post . Jason got his info via Techdirt, who reported a similar initiative in Korea. Korea to me means Samsung, who have a tie-up with Pentax. With luck Samsung will standardize their cameras as well as their phones, and tow Pentax along behind them. But too late for this purchase.
Manufacturers (and cell phone carriers) see proprietary cables, batteries and chargers as a way of selling more accessories. Maybe they'd look at the other way round. They have to put one in every box which increases cost but they don't add any value to a cable. I'd rather Pentax didn't give me a cable and let me use one I had already. It wouldn't move the camera to a lower price point so that's margin for them. My retailer would get the chance to sell me one as an accessory - without stocking half a dozen different cables. The same would happen when I bought a phone. No need for Orange to put the charger in the box with my new phone if I've got a perfectly good one cluttering the place up already, no need to supply chargers to people who will only charge the phone from the computer etc. And if you need a charger you can pick one up anywhere .
I must admit that until the Chinese initiative I was resigned to losing a never-ending fight to control the array of bits needed to support my gadgets. Now there is a chance things will move in the right direction, but I'm not getting carried away.
Technorati tags: Photography, Pentax, USB, Mobility
Or "Le Phone est mort, vive le phone"
I now have my 3rd C500. The first one got lost on a plane in May 2005, second bore the scars of a hard life, but died on it's charger last week. Although Orange got me #3 pretty quickly, switching phones isn't totally smooth
However it's a pretty quick process to set up sync with a server - typing in the server name takes about 50% of the time - then whoosh I have my contacts and appointments on the phone. Being without my phone for a couple of days was a reminder of just how dependant on that. I'd got the old phone to a state where it couldn't be upgraded to sync with the Vista media player, the new one has the upgrade, so that's a bonus.
This Friday the BBC carried a story Microsoft has said reports that the company is planning an MP3 player to rival the iPod are based on "speculation and rumours". Indeed, they are. Speculation and rumours aren't always wrong. It made me go back to something I started last Friday after reading a story French lawmakers pass 'iTunes law' from Associated press which was carried in Business week.
Microsoft has also heard a French accent delivering bad news about media players and opening up secrets. The EU action against Microsoft stems from a complaints by the self styled "European Committee for Interoperable systems" - their membership includes only one European company in a rag-tab and bobtail collection of Microsoft opponents. Adobe Systems, Corel, IBM, Linspire, Nokia, Opera, Oracle, RealNetworks, Red Hat, and Sun Microsystems. Call me biased but interoperability isn't a word I associate with IBM or Oracle. But then I thought that the people who made a product decided what went in it and customers chose to buy or not: ECIS's lawyer complained that "Microsoft chooses itself what users will have as product."
Apple are used to being a minority player, and choosing what users will have. The French say Apple's share in the Music player market means they can't be allowed to do that with Digital Rights Management. DRM can't be truly open, the player enforces the license as it decrypts content: open up the code you'd soon have a version which saved the decrypted content. Even so, anyone can license Microsoft DRM technology and make their own player or start a music store. I wrote earlier about, making it easy for other people to use your product in their solution, there we are, doing it again.Conversely downloads for the iPod must come from iTunes (or be available unprotected). And once you have licensed content from iTunes, no other player can decrypt and play it, so customers are locked in to Apple.
According to the AP report, the French law "states that companies are expected to share the required technical data with any rival that wants to offer compatible music players and stores". If iTunes customers are to switch brands and take the content they've paid for, then Creative, Phillips, Samsung and the 20 other Microsoft's licensees must opt to license Apple DRM.
A compromise for Apple would be a "DRM transcoder" which replaces their protection on files with Microsoft style protection - allowing playback on other peoples' players. They could also license the Microsoft playback technology so iPod owners can play music from other stores. Customers would need to want to change, but the ties would be loosened. This might not satisfy people like the EU or ECIS who seem to think that once people have something they are too stupid and/or lazy to move on to a better alternative. The failure of anyone to take up Windows XP-N (no Media) gives the lie to the idea this. People didn't buy Real Networks product because Microsoft included media player: they didn't buy it because they didn't want it.
AP quoted the French culture Minister saying "Any artist's work that is legally acquired should be playable on any digital device." Very laudable, but no-one has said why this should be true for digital music. It's not true of DVDs thanks to regional encoding, it was physically impossible with VHS and Betamax tapes. And it isn't true of software (unless you invest in virtualization) - Mac owners can't move to a Dell or HP or Toshiba PC without changing their software. The EU has done nothing about the high prices which stem from region locking of DVDs, the market dealt with Betamax and Mac owners understand the software situation before they buy. Apple might conclude that if a product doesn't win much market share it can be as closed and proprietary as you like: but if you win lots of customers your competitors lobby governments to interfere to give them access.
It's interesting to ponder how much technology Apple would license to stores and player makers, and how much Microsoft technology they would license for themselves. Would iTunes sell onto other players ? Could both iTunes and the iPod end up supporting the Microsoft format - meaning the French makes everyone license the same (Microsoft) technology. That would be ironic, especially if we are working on a player.
No information I can find tells me that we are working on a player - but if we are it would be under wraps, so that's no surprise. My gut feel is that if we are, it won't be branded Microsoft. Reports that a player with integrated Wireless networking is being hawked around may be a bit like the reports about Origami - also reported as a Microsoft branded "iPod killer" before it launched. We went as far as making production samples of "Stinger" phones, and I hoped we'd see a Microsoft branded phone, but the strategy of design but don’t implement seems to have worked and I think the same attitude will hold for players.
My wife has a Nano because it is beautiful object, not because it is better at playing music. Anyone who wants to take on Apple needs to start by hiring great design talent and building a product that people want more. Apple also has brand chic, and I doubt that a Microsoft label will combat that – even if we called it the X-Pod. Personally, I don't understand why anyone wants a phone and an MP3 player when they can have a device that does both. Back in 2000 I was using my iPaq as a music player and for the last 4 years I've been using a smartphone to do the same job. Some of the wider ranging reporting (like Gizmodo) suggest that's where Microsoft - at least Steve Ballmer - sees the future. But Steve, It needs to be SMALLER !
Tagged as Microsoft ipod Mp3 France
Last week I followed up on Jason Langridge's posts about new HTC devices and the Motorola Q. , which gives a clue that I have an enduring interest in Mobilty
Windows Vista inserts has components to handle syncing devices but the complete package isn't included with Beta 2. I had advance access to the missing parts, and I was waiting for them to become generally available before writing about them, and they have now appeared on Windows Update. Kris Kumar at SmatphoneThoughts has saved me the trouble of writing a piece, and his page includes information about how to get the update.
Thanks to RSS, I read Jason Langridge’s blog, I’m a bit nervous about posting two back to back articles about things he’s said for fear of looking like I’ve become his “Bloggleganger” or “blog stalker” or whatever you care to call it...
There are quite a few interesting rumours about new devices, Jason mentioned recently that HTC have two new devices about to hit the market. HTC have made devices for other people and also put the some out under the QTek brand. HTC-Europe now have a web site, with details of the new “MTeoR” (formerly code-named ‘Breeze’) and “TyTN” (‘Hermes’), as well as the Razr-like device code named (“Star-Trek” – a really bad choice as that name belongs to someone) which is being called the QTEK 8500. Every mobile device site seems to have some rumour or unconfirmed information about carriers who will carry one or other of these, when, and how they will name them. 5 Minutes with a search engine will let you know all the rumours that I know, and you can judge which are credible and which aren’t :-)
Like the Q, the MTeoR is a slim smartphone, but with a 320x240 display (pocket PC resolution, but phone sized) and jog dial for scrolling through mail. It has a phone keypad where the Q has a QWERTY one. But the MTeoR is a 3G phone. Interestingly after things I’ve said about Adobe recently, it has a PDF support as well.
I think all Q and all 3 HTC devices will sell by the truckload. Which is more than I can say for HTC’s bluetooth stereo headphones. Chaps, the thing about Bluetooth is it is a Wireless technology. Wireless, without wires, sans fil – HTCs seem to be preparing a blue tooth receiver into which you can plug WIRED headphones. The receiver is about the size of an MP3 player ... They need to see how HP have done it
Talking of HP, I mentioned their Mobile Messenger devices yesterday. When I was out in Oxford this morning I noticed some of TomTom’s sat nav units were on display with a price tag of £399 (including Value added Tax) – compared with a list price HP’s IPAQ HW6515 of £370 (including VAT) – there are cheaper sat nav devices than these, but the HP device is fantastic value for money.
Who wants to carry a blackberry, a camera-phone, a sat nav device – they’re hugely popular with thieves right now so you can’t leave it in the car – and an iPod as well ? The HP device gives you all these, and the ability to work with Word, Excel and Powerpoint files. For a slightly higher price you can add WLAN access, and you can save a few pounds by dispensing with the camera. These aren’t 3G devices – which the TyTN is: but different people will want different things and HP will sell tons of these too.
Jason Langridge likes the Motorola Q. – he keeps lamenting the fact that only works on US networks. I was at a meeting last week where someone had brought one over from the US. I when Motorola produced one of the first Tri-band phones and it was has to go down as one of history’s design disasters. Their industrial design today is just fantastic. (I’ve written before about the quality of Apple’s design work). The Q is going to sell in huge numbers, and Expansys are taking pre-orders for the European version.
I've been in London for the technet roadshow for the last few days and I keep seeing adverts for HPs 69xx and 65xx Mobile messengers, these are Pocket PC devices (the Q is a smartphone). But do HP market it for Excel, Word, Powerpoint or even the fact it has GPS and GPS software ? The name mobile messenger tells you a lot.
I wonder what niches Blackberry will be left to fill ...
One of the nice things about the new job is I get to walk round and bump into people I haven't spoken to for ages. Sharon left Microsoft a few months ago, and was sitting in the coffee bar when I walked by on Thursday. Her web-site is called "joining dots" because she brings ideas together to "make sense of emerging trends and understand their potential.". She has an interesting blog too - this piece on instant messaging is a must read - partly because of the way it brings ideas together. I like to weave themes together as well, this post is an example of that.
My daughter's school is trying to encourage people NOT to drive right up to the gates, and instead park in a pub car park 400 yards away "to be kind to the environment". If I driving 3/4 mile to the pub, drop my daughter at school and then drive 40 miles to the office, it makes very little difference if we walking 400 yards or not. It's walk the full mile from home to school or park at the gates. So on Friday we did the walk, and enjoyed it.
Microsoft is about to build another building here in the UK - part of the information that has been circulated internally was an energy assessment done on the existing buildings by the Carbon Trust. Although the details of the report are confidential, what amazed me was the heating bill per unit area for these modern buildings is much higher than my house - which was built about 150 years earlier. I forgot all about it until I read something on Sharon's site which said 50% of carbon emissions come from the work place, 23% from travel (20% from cars and 3% flights) and the rest from homes.
Wouldn't it be better to use less office space by working from home more ? It's good to see the people you work with, but seeing them on 5 days of a week is NOT 25% better than seeing them on 4, or 66% better than seeing them on 3. Having only a proportion of people in the office - and sharing the space among them with compact "Hot desks" is environmentally good, even though I've said hot-desking is the only thing I dislike about the working environment at Microsoft. Still, I'm sure that it's postponed the need for a new building. I can save a lot of travel too: my car is 50% more efficient than the one I had 6 years ago but even so, saving one trip per week to the office will save roughly a ton of C02 over a year (and about 2 working weeks worth of time spent in the car).
So I'm, going to try to have a car free day per week - Mondays preferred. I'll walk my daughter to school, and work from home, and today is the first of these days. I'll try to collect ideas together about how technology helps (or hinders), and post them here. Things like the use of Outlook or Communicator without VPNs, Groove and so on. It doesn't matter where we are if we have good collaboration software. And collaboration software was Sharon's interest when she worked here. That's joined a few dots of my own.
If you use Live Communications Server and have a Windows Mobile device you need to have a look at Communicator Mobile.
A cell phone is not the ideal thing for a long IM conversation - even if you have a Bluetooth keyboard (as I do).Sometimes, your phone is your only connection. Once in while I find it enormously helpful to check presence before making a call – usually when I’ve failed to reach one person and I’m thinking about who to call next (you can start a call or message from Communicator Mobile as well as IM). It’s one of those tools that you don’t use every day but it’s very useful when you do use it, a bit like the >Sat Nav software I also have on my phone. I’ve even had someone IM me the address where we were due to meet, and fed it into the Sat Nav.
It does make me wonder who wants to carry an iPOD, a Blackberry and a phone, AND have a sat nav device in the car.