Nokia’s renewed design impact

How can you tell the Lumia 920 has made a big impression even before launch? Even though the HTC 8x looks quite different (and slimmer) than the new Nokia flagship, people accuse HTC of copying Nokia. This is particularly interesting since colors were a relatively small part of the 920’s proposition, the 8x has a slimmer appearance, and the lower-end 8s has an even more differentiated two-tome “dipped” design (that I prefer to the 8x’s). A senior HTC executive described the coincidence as “unfortunate.” The anti-Apple crowd has also accused Apple of copying Nokia with the new iPod nano even though it’s easy to make the case that that design is a hybrid of the rolled aluminum sides that Apple has been using (as opposed to the polycarbonate on Nokia’s 800, 900 and 920) on the nano for years and the front face of the iPod touch/iPhone.

Apple’s map woes go beyond one app

In an epiphany regarding the  problems with Apple’s iOS 6 Maps app, David Pogue notes that “Apple has written a beautiful, well-designed app — and fed it questionable data.” That’s a problem, of course. But it’s not the worst problem for Apple. The real issue is that, as long as Apple’s maps are deemed untrustworthy, iOS developers are going to have a much harder time justifying integration with that data. After all, as compelling an app as a general maps app may be and as appealing a feature as turn-by-turn directions are, these can be replicated or substituted.

The ultimate reason Apple wanted to do its own maps was to be able to control  a robust location-based facility for tis app developers. These services are such an important ecosystem lynchpin that Google’s refulsal to adopt Nokia’s location-based offerings was a dealbreaker that scuttled any possibility of Nokia adopting Android and which resulted in Nokia powering parts of the Microsoft mapping solution.

This is why allegations of Apple putting its own self-interests before those of its customers do not ring true. The appearance of Apple forsaking its users to spurn Google is no more than an accident of timing; no such accusations would be raised if Apple had decided to launch the iPhone forsaking Google just as it did Flash or, for that matter, microUSB, MicroSD cards, NFC or physical keyboards. In all these cases, Apple made decisions that had at least short-term disadvantages for users, but which also had benefits, some of which took time to materialize.

These notions throw out everything we know about Apple’s historical attention to detail and concern with the user experience. Apple knows that when the customer experience suffers, it suffers — clearly in the short-term but, if not resolved as quickly as possible — in the long-term as well.

Update: Tim Cook has posted a letter to customers that affirms Apple’s dedication to its customers and pointing them to alternatives in the interim.

Scrollbars through the years

It seems that 1989 was the pinnacle of scrollbar design.

via Daring Fireball

Cisco: Set-tops on death row

De Beer, senior vice president of Cisco’s Video & Collaboration Group, predicts that Internet TVs and other consumer IP devices will be powerful and ubiquitous enough within about 10 years to receive any pay-TV service directly — eliminating the need for service providers to deploy set-top boxes.

This would be especially true with multi-room, multi-device home pay TV servers. And what of Cisco’s main set-top rival?

Google is said to be actively looking to sell or spin off Motorola Mobility’s Home division, having selected Barclays Capital to explore a potential sale.

It’s a tough business, but t wouldn’t be too surprising to see Google put the rest of Motorola Mobility on the block, minus the  patents, of course.


Google working on Maps for iOS

Publicly, Google has been cagey about whether it will provide Google Maps for iOS devices as an app, beyond saying that it wants to provide its maps to users on any device they use. On Tuesday in Tokyo, Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google, said the company had made no move to submit a Google Maps app for the iPhone.

But Google does intend to build a Google Maps app for iOS, according to people who have been involved in an effort to create the app.

What Schmidt said earlier does of course, hold true. It is Apple’s decision whether to let a revamped Google Maps in the app store. On one hand, doing so might steal usage away from its own Maps application, usage that it needs to help improve its maps. On the other hand, the dictum against competing functionality is long dead, and Apple allows other mapping and mavigation apps in the app store so it seems Apple would more likely approve a new Google Maps app than not. Hopefully, it would not turn into another prolonged decision like the one that delayed Google Voice for iOS for so long.

Looxcie’s digital deke

When hands-free video pioneer Looxcie announced that it was going to open up its Looxcie Live software to smartphone video, it seemed like another proverbial pivot wherein a hardware company dumps its atoms. Looxcie is still not only continuing to produce devices, though, but that remains its main revenue stream.

Looxcie will look to capture more revenue in addition to higher resolution when it releases the Looxcie HD Explore, which it will kee . While it is the largest of the Looxcies to date and drops the integrated Blutooth (as it would look quite unmanageable danging off one’s ear), it adds 1080p video recording and integrated Wi-Fi, starting at $279. Looxcie seems to be straddling two hot spaces — social video sharing services such as those from Color or Socialcam and the “POV” camcorder market. Companies such as GoPro and Contour have helped build that market for those who sek to capture their scenic outdoors activities. But recently Sony stepped into the market with its Action Cam, which is $269 with Wi-Fi and under $200 without it.

Still, there are a few advantages to Looxcie’s approach. The product has an easily detachable battery and, of course, can continue to stream va smartphone cellualar connections, and its battery is easily detachable and can be replaced with different add-on modeules. Also, because it is looking to a broader market than just extreme sports brag clip collectors, Looxcie opted to go with a moderately wide angle instead of the pronounced fisheye lens like most of its competitors. Those who want the fisheye effect, however, can use an add-on lens to create a wider angle.

The hands-free imaging space continues more diverse attention. This IndieGoGo campaign seemed to offer a pretty promising, low-riced device and had a $15,000 funding goal. But that can be a stretch for many products, much less those outside the Kickstarter

Reconciling the Windows brand

There’s not much said here that couldn’t have been said for previous versions of Windws, e.g., a window to the backoffice, a window to the future. But Windows 8, from a more literal interface perspective, is actually the version where the name Windows makes the least sense.

Connecting newsprint to the Internet

This seems like a well-dome implementation, but the idea didn’t go over so well the last time there was a major effort behind it.

On Apple’s new iPods

Apple does not seem to be too concerned by the new economic disparity facing the new iPod touch. In fact, this will be the first time that Apple has offered the iPod touch in six hues. That’s not so unusual for a mature product line, but it has been something that Apple has tended to confine to the lower-end product and a move that indicates confidence in healthy sales volumes.

My latest Switched On column talks about the changes to Apple’s iPod lineup.

On Slacker and Nokia Music

[A}s digital music has come to be delivered through broadband pipes, it has blasted through the walls dividing discrete modes of obtaining entertainment and opened up new ways of obtaining and enjoying songs virtually anywhere.

This was my first column for In the Boombox, where I will be an occasional contributor.