Month: July 2010

Conference: Games Convention Online, Leipzig

Yes, yes, do we remember the good old days in Leipzig? Yes, we do. Since the German games industry did however decide that the travel connections weren’t up to scratch, they moved on to Cologne (in August) but did this bother the good folks in Leipzig? No, it didn’t. Not in the least. Instead they set up their very own Games Convention (with the added “Online” bit) and stage a very successful show in spite of all the adversaries.

I will be giving a talk on “Gaming with the World” (yes, I know, it sounds a bit grand) but there is also (!?) a lot of other good stuff to look forward to, i.e. valuable insights from leading players, such as:

  • Mindmatics
  • Nokia
  • Bigpoint (they of 100m+ online gamers)
  • VZNetzwerke (who successfully took on Facebook)
  • Playdom
  • Digital Chocolate
  • and many, many, many more.

So make your way to Leipzig, one of the prettiest German cities and home to Johann Sebastian Bach (who was cantor at St Thomas) and host to some venues of Goethe’s famous Faust (Auerbachs Keller). It is well worth it. Bach thought so, Goethe thought so. So who are you to doubt them? 😉 Register here and be quick…

I hope to see you there!

Carnival of the Mobilist # 228

This should have come a week earlier but, alas, I was on the road – quite literally – en route to San Diego and Qualcomm’s most excellent Uplinq conference.

Life of course did not stop, and amongst the things you should not miss was (and is!) the last iteration of the formidable Carnival of the Mobilists, hosted by our very own Peggy Anne Salz on her award-winning MSearchGroove blog. Amongst the gems not to be missed were:

  • An interview of a company focused on Windows Phone 7 (yes, you read that right!);
  • Tomi Ahonen with another go at the app economy (which he claims isn’t much of an economy; read my comments on this here);
  • A look on web bookmarks as an alternative to apps (to which I still not agree; cf. here);
  • A couple of posts on Android, and specifically Motorola’s Droid X (and the future, if any, of Motoblur);
  • And many, many more…

Finally, my post on Vodafone’s pondered changes to its revenue share structures featured, too.

The carnival is here, and well worth a read! And, again, my apologies for the late posting of this. But the old Highway 101 along the Pacific just had me in its grips… 🙂

How Apple Got it All Wrong

Sluggishly reacting applications, latency in almost everything you do, crashes, blank screens, long lag to pick up networks, buggy settings. Do you remember any of this? Sounds like some old-fashioned feature phone that was somewhat overloaded by its ambitious maker, doesn’t it? But, alas, no, it is not. This is the user experience with a one-year-old iPhone 3G, 16GB since 24 June 2010. Do you recognise the date? Then luck will have it that you have experienced the same: the grandly titled “iOS4” update that was being pushed down your throat (or rather iTunes) to your iPhone 3G.

Apple has been hailed for poking everyone else making handsets in the eye when it came out with the iPhone: here is a newbie that got it all right and venerable industry leaders found themselves with cartons full of ostrich egg on their faces: here was someone who got it all right: combining great build quality, maybe only OK-ish specs and unsurpassed UI with a vertically integrated publishing and distribution system that made for a leap in usage of mobile devices. It was a bad slap for the Nokias etc of this world and a revelation for millions of users (even if they were not Apple fanboys).

Software and hardware need to blend well

And then it came back to bite them! I am not a techie but iOS4 on the iPhone 3G feels like someone put a little too much luggage onto too frail a porter: the things creaks and aches at every corner. Gone are the days where one could switch from one app to another in seconds, where the iPhone – in good Apple style – did what you wanted it to do without much ado but breathtaking efficiency and speed. Now, it is clunky and, well, very old-fashioned. It could of course all have been avoided: just don’t push iOS4 to the iPhone 3G (or older models). No one would have cried, you should think: if the hardware cannot handle it, it cannot handle it. Users understand such things one should think. Keep iOS4 to the iPhone 4 (even the numbers match, doh!).

Allowing iOS4 to be pushed to the iPhone 3G was one horrendous mistake!

So is this the latest marketing trick of Apple? Go and spend another £600 to buy a new one, you say? This would be utter and incredible cynicism on a scale that would put Apple right on top of the current bad-boy scale! After all, I am not talking about an old, well-worn something-or-other device; I am talking about something that was only a year ago (which is short in terms of device replacement even in the mobile space) for a considerable amount of money!

However, I think that is not it. My suspicion is rather more frightening. It very much feels like Apple starting to overextend itself and learn how complex and fragile it is to deal in the mobile space. Pushing iOS4 to devices that obviously (not only under some special and hard to find circumstances) cannot cope with it is just shoddy. Every game or app developer in the market for more than 2 years would have caught this in QA. Does Apple not have QA? Or not anymore? Or at least not enough? It might happen to you when you try too much too quickly. Apple’s passion (or paranoia?) that drives it to try and do everything itself appears to haunt it now: I mean, QA is really simple. You don’t need cohorts of phDs in elementary physics to do this. It doesn’t take you 3 years to build it up. And – last but not least – Apple appeared to being very much on top of this in the past. So what happened?

A great showcase on the importance of User Experience

I have been throwing this into the faces of Nokia lovers who never fail to point out how technically superior Nokia’s hardware is: users do not give a toss about hardware specs. They care for the overall user experience. The unhappy marriage of the 3G with iOS4 shows what this does when it goes wrong: all the fun of using an iPhone is gone. What good is it when my phone lets me down every 10 minutes? What fun if my e-mail doesn’t open for 20 seconds? How exciting if applications appear to be frozen only to open just seconds after I pressed the home button (that will kill them just in time after I saw that it did, at the end, react)? Utter frustration. Rotten user experience. Complete fail.

Apple shows us, hence, accidentally how important the overall user experience is, and this may well be my final example on this: a simple (well, maybe not so simple) piece of software turns the most coveted consumer device of the day into a somewhat lame brick! However, it also shows how incredibly important it is to match the hardware (and network environment) to what the overall product (here: iOS4) promises to deliver (non-Apple case in hand would be video-calling on the Nokia N70 back in 2005: there was just no way this would work in practice; the experience was just too horrendous).

So, dear Apple, back to the drawing board. And if I may make a humble suggestion: just push the last pre-iOS4 version back to the older devices tomorrow! First thing! Promise! Please!

To all the others: this is a great opportunity! Catch up! Double your efforts! But don’t forget that the coolest frigging hardware (12 MP cameras anyone) is useless if the UX is not matching it either!

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