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Comment USER EXPERIENCE!!! (Score 1) 716

Why is Apple on top of the tablet market? Is it because of Apple Stores? A high quality "good" product? The air of exclusivity/cool? Ease of use? Marketing? Packaging? Word of mouth? The Cult of Apple? An abundance of apps?


Apple is king of user experience from the point where you see the product for the first time on TV, in a store, or hear about it from a friend to the time you open the package up and turn on the device. They know how to create an emotional connection with the user. They create that emotional connection much more often and consistently than other companies. Their retail locations are part of the equation, but not the lone reason they are successful.

They've engineered a user experience where:
1. They show you the product
2. They show what the product can do
3. The things they show are a mix of things you really do (e.g. play games, send e-mails) and the things your fantasy self does (e.g. view tropical vacation photos, mix your latest hit CD)
4. You can see and use the REAL product at a retail location (versus a plastic mockup)
5. Everyone can do the top 5-6 things they do every day (e.g. internet, e-mail, music, photos, video, games)

Why do other companies fail? Other companies have a lack of organization around the product. It's like one area designs it throws the specks over the wall to people who market it and then another set of specks over the wall to the people who do sales and support. There's no consistency, no direction, no defined user experience.

Take the Motorolla XOOM as an example. The commercials are too abstract. They make a comparison to replacing your laptop, when many people in the target audience might not even have a laptop or might not use the product in the same way they would a laptop. They put some guy on a roof with the tagline "unhinged" and people start worrying that he might be jumping. They don't show what it can do. They don't appeal to the user's ego. Then you go to the retail location and try to find it. There it is at the end of the netbook lineup with ZERO marketing material and no demo/walk-through software running on the device. Plus, because of it's level of customization and the widget metaphor - the 50 other people who managed to find it before you have moved so many things on the screen that you can't make sense of what all the elements are for or where to even get started. The price tag has made it outside of the realm of justification for a casual purchase, which means you won't be getting a lot of word of mouth from average users, you'll get geek speak from early adopters and fan-boys.

HP/Palm - similar issue. GREAT website material, great packaging, great first user experience, HORRIBLE commercials, poor first release of hardware creating a mixed word of mouth message, leaving no cohesive end-to-end user experience.

Rinse and repeat for any number of other devices out there that use almost the same marketing tactics. They have learned ZILCH from Apple's past few years of dominance.

It's really a stupid simple formula - "simple trumps complex"
1. Have simple commercials (see Apple, Progressive - Flo, Sony PS3's latest commercials as examples)
2. Have simple product displays, signage and in store material
3. Have the simplest UI ever or barring that a hands-on quick-start guide or demo on the retail unit to show off the capability
4. Train the sales staff (or alternately the product booth/display becomes the staff's training tool with repeat exposure 8 hours a day)
5. Hit a price point that is high but not unreasonable for a casual non-aficionado (at the lower end of PC/Laptop pricing, but above Netbooks)
6. Have simple packaging with zero or next to no manual or marketing fluff
7. Align every aspect of the company to the user experience

Comment Re:Its a done deal (Score 1) 367

AT&T would. They've already bought up most of the baby bells that they originally spun off, Cingular, and plenty of others. This spin-off and re-buy happens all the time. Either companies are forced to spin off as part of a merger agreement, or because of poor performance or just to spin-off some debt to make the core business look better. Then when everything has calmed down they snatch the businesses back up.

Comment Re:Should've kept him (Score 1) 301

That's sort of the point of the large exit bonuses. The ex-executives get enough cash to allow them to take a couple of years off, or seek less lucrative employment outside of the industry they were originally in. Then after a couple of years they're usually safe to come back. They also have the option of working for a company that's not a direct competitor or looking for employment with partner companies. It's not like they CAN'T work anywhere without a lawsuit.

Comment Re:Leasing Infrastructure (Score 1) 276

How about this. broadband, tv, phone, electricity, water is all taken care of by the government. no private companies trying to make a profit from them. It's part of our rights as american citizens.

But then you lose all competition. The costs would rise and eventually exceed those charged by the greedy corporations.

Now I'm all for the government building the infrastructure - just so long as they do not actually do the work themselves. Let them contract out - and ensure there is some diversity in handing out the contracts so that competition remains healthy.

With the government (ie, us) owning the infrastructure we can ensure that people will not be stuck with only one provider. The data might all go through the same lines, but different providers would all have an equal footing thereby ensuring that there is no price gouging.

With limits to the amount of infrastructure that can be built this system actually makes sense. It would maximize the amount of competition resulting in both better prices and service. Probably too socialist for most in the US, but it is still a good idea...

In a situation where multiple vendors can share the same infrastructure (e.g. telecom) you might be right about competition. However, when you have infrastructure that can only be reasonably used by a single entity (e.g. power, gas, water, sewage) creating a geographic monopoly then you lose the power of competition. The consumer in that case doesn't have the option of switching to a lower cost competitor or shopping around. An additional problem with corporations holding these local monopolies is the fact that the shareholders are often geographically dispersed and are not themselves receiving services from said company. They have a single stake in the output of the company - profit. Having a local monopoly they can set pricing to what they want without having to worry about losing customers to a lower cost competitor. The only thing that keeps those prices in check is local regulation. It then becomes a battle between the corporation to prove that it needs to raise rates and the regulator needing to prove that it doesn't.
There are also examples of companies reducing output or creating false shortages in order to manipulate regulators and the market and thus prices and profits.
In one example I read the privately held utility divested itself of equipment and facilities and instead purchased power from other companies while market rates were low, however as the divestment occurred and there were fewer facilities producing power and increasing demand, prices increased too. The corporations having already divested themselves of power generating facilities and investors not wanting to invest in new facilities because of fears of market volatility left the corporations with only one option, raise prices. They continued to raise prices until pricing was almost twice the national average. Local government was then forced to step in.
When it comes to services that require local monopolies and/or services that EVERYONE MUST use, we have to find the right balance between corporate ownership and government involvement.

Comment Leasing Infrastructure (Score 5, Interesting) 276

Why can't we do this in a logical organized manner.

1. The government builds out infrastructure
2. The telecoms lease infrastructure
3. Individuals buy service from the telecoms at a regulated rate
4. The regulated rate has enough buffer to subsidize service to those under the poverty line
5. The lease rate has enough buffer to pay for the original build out, maintenance, plus further innovation
6. Innovation money is funneled back into colleges for research into next gen technologies

The build out could be done with contractors through the telecoms, or contracted on a state by state basis giving states control of where and when to build but the federal government own the spec of how to build out so that it remains consistent and interoperable from a interstate trade perspective (i.e. some broadband may be shared over boarders like in the case of St. Louis). The telecoms still get to profit from the infrastructure albeit at a reduced profit due to regulation and people below poverty get the opportunity to take part via subsidy, library, schools, etc.,. You could even due partial regulation where it's regulated up until some minimum standard and anything over that is considered "gold plan" allowing the telecoms to charge higher rates for higher usage.

Comment "... and then any moron can do it." (Score 1) 415

Well yeah, isn't that the point. Isn't the whole concept underlying the internet is that anyone can get on and anyone can contribute. Isn't this shared experience about offering people knowledge, helping them learn a new skill, try things out and possibly contribute what they've learned for other people to use and learn from. Then we as a collective get to rate, tag, comment, sort, and share those bits of knowledge allowing the cream to float to the top and the less useful bits fade into obscurity.

And let's give up on the elitist snobbery thinking that more "advanced" programming languages create a barrier for morons. There are plenty of morons programming in Java, .Net, C, C++ and other languages. Take a look at TheDailyWTF or talk to any programmer in the business and they can point out moron after moron developing absolutely shit products. Just because it's harder to do doesn't stop people. So it's JavaScript, HTML and CSS, big deal. I've found that the biggest reason programmers don't want to switch over isn't because of limitations in the technologies, but because it's outside of their comfort level and they want to stick with [insert favorite programming language here]. Done right, the API can provide hooks into more robust features in the OS and Browser callable from JavaScript. Plus with HTML5, newer improvements in JS, and CSS, plus Canvas we should see a boon in RIAs and widgets built off of just JavaScript, CSS, and HTML.

Comment Re:Just watched the CES Presentation (Score 1) 91

The main draw of the Pre and more specifically the Pixi is simplicity. The UI is simple, uncluttered, and easy to use immediately - no flipping through manuals to find what you need and if you do want to dig deeper the help file and Google are just keystrokes away. The Pixi form factor is familiar to anyone coming from previous Palm or Blackberry devices and familiarity is a big draw. It's also lightweight and the form factor just feels better in your hand than any of the Android phones I've held. These are both great phones for anyone wanting to make the transition to Smart Phone because you don't have to be a geek to figure out how to use all the features. The Pre and the Pixi will succeed in the consumer space for exactly the same reason Apple did with the iPhone. Simple uncomplicated design.

Android really draws in the more technical crowd. This includes people who've already gone through several rounds of Smart Phones and are ready for something different. These people have already dealt with the complicated ins and outs of other smart phones and don't see the extra time spent as a big deal. They typically also don't mind spending a little more for a phone and they're willing to sacrifice form for function. The UI is more powerful than the iPhone and WebOS UI in some respects, but with that comes a certain amount of awkwardness that might put off your average user. I know that when I've tried Android over the last couple of years I've struggled a couple of times where I shouldn't have had to.

Comment Re:No, It's a $1M pool for the top 442 developers (Score 1) 91

1066 apps in the official catalog as of today.,

393 apps in the homebrew section.

There's some overlap as things from homebrew eventually go into the official catalog.

The one thing that people forget though is Classic. The Classic app allows you to use the thousands of apps made for PalmOS or your WebOS device.

Comment Re:That works! (Score 3, Insightful) 91

You mean like Google's Android Developer Challenge -

Apple had a little bit of an advantage with the iPhone since it had been out for almost a year with the iPod, had tons of units already in circulation when they initiated their developer program and don't kid yourself into thinking that Apple doesn't offer it's own incentives with their "partnerships" and such.

Comment Re:Useless (Score 3, Interesting) 91

You're making an assumption that the goal of every marathon is to win 1st place.

I'm not sure what you mean by letting go of a dieing technology. Linux? Web Standards (JavaScript, HTML, CSS)? C, C++? I haven't seen any signs that any of those are dying. In fact Gartner had a paper on how Web Apps are the next big economy. That would suggest that Palm has positioned itself very well, especially considering how HTML5 and Canvas are poised to change RIA development.

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