Buying a Cell Phone is Worse Than Buying a Car!

These days it seems that all I ever talk about is Cloud computing and Cell Phone operating systems.  As a contract-free AT&T customer, I should relish in my freedom to choose a new carrier or smartphone, yet instead I revel in cell phone indecision.

While Apple makes a wonderful and polished operating system (iOS), their ecosystem is both closed and proprietary.  After all, these are the same guys that won’t let me change a simple battery!  Another problem with the iPhone 4S is that the form factor.  It just isn’t very pleasing, especially when compared to its alternatives.  How about all those cracked screens out there?  Of course, iTunes is awesome and iCloud has some exciting possibilities.

Meanwhile, Android has come a long way in a short time.  It’s not nearly as polished as Apple’s iOS, but has many innovative features and is open source (kind of).  However, Android is experiencing tremendous fragmentation and is at the mercy of the Cell phone makers themselves.  While Samsung makes great phones, they have been slow to upgrade to the latest Android versions.  Also, what will they do now that Google is purchasing Motorola?  Speaking of Motorola, they seem like a safe bet since Google is purchasing them, but their less than stellar earnings results don’t instill confidence in a purchaser.

Finally, Windows Phone 7 Mango is lurking around.  It’s a blend of Apple’s polish with Android’s innovation, but has suffered from lackluster hardware and non-existent applications.  However, with Nokia’s recent announcement of 2 new Windows Phone 7 phones, there is some excitement that this may change.  What Microsoft needs to do is focus on the development community.  I’m not just talking about porting over existing applications, as they need some originals too. Of course, Microsoft has a really nice integration with iTunes, Office, and a slick SkyDrive offering.

Some would say I need to add Verizon vs. AT&T vs. T-Mobile vs. Sprint to this discussion, but I’m not really dissatisfied with AT&T.  In fact, the ability to use both data and voice is something I wouldn’t want to live without.  For now, I’ll leave this for a later discussion.

So, do you buy a new Samsung Galaxy S II, Nexus II, or Motorola Droid Razr or wait for the iPhone5, Nokia 800, or whatever else is yet to be announced?  Of course, in technology you can keep waiting and waiting and waiting because what you buy today is obsolete tomorrow.  Any thoughts?

MicroNokiaSoft For Broke In The Cloud

It is quite amazing how much bad press Microsoft and Nokia generate.  If you didn’t know any better, then you’d think Microsoft was broke and Nokia had been left for dead.  While Google and Apple are the darlings of the industry, Microsoft and Nokia are abhorred.  Why?  Do we always need to create winners and losers or heroes and villains?

Amazingly, the haters love Apple; a company destined to repeat the mistakes of their past.  While iOS is a wonderful and polished operating system, it as closed and controlled as anything Microsoft could ever dream up.  From iOS to iTunes to the App Store, you only get what Apple wants you to have.  For goodness sakes, they even try to lock you out of the hardware that you purchased with their crazy pentalobe screws.

Of course, you have Android an operating system only Google could create.  On the surface it’s open, but in reality it shares many of the same characteristics of its archrival.  Devoid of any real challenge by Microsoft, Google was the only company that could stop Apple.  By diversifying their hardware, Android quickly gained on Apple and created a vibrant development community.  However, Android’s tragic flaw is its reliance on Google and their appetite for advertising dollars.  While Apple innovates and focuses, Google follows and is schizophrenic as their core business is under attack.

Alas, here comes Microsoft the old man of the crowd as Microsoft was founded in 1975 while Apple was founded in 1976.  Microsoft has been remarkably quiet in the mobile / Smartphone market.  Perhaps Microsoft took their eye off the ball, as they too had to defend their core business from new and disruptive technologies.  Microsoft responded, as a dominant software application provider should, by creating new and innovative applications and operating systems while investing in cloud technologies.

Fresh off the release of Windows 7, a pretty nice operating system, Microsoft has its eyes set on the mobile business it surely wants to dominate.  Windows Phone 7 is a decent first attempt by Microsoft to reinvent the Smartphone.  It has some disruptive features and some product weaknesses; I’d put it somewhere in-between iOS and Android.  While they don’t have the developer community of Apple or Google, they have applications (Exchange, Office, etc.) and now they have Nokia.

Remember Nokia?  They were the company that had beautiful designed phones with the easy to use operating system.  Somewhere along the line, they became the company with the so-so designed phones with the “ I don’t want to use operating systems”.  Nokia, like Microsoft, lost focus and tried to buy their way out of their mess with Symbian in 2008.  Dubbed the “open-source Android killer”, the operating system was lacking polish and failed to cultivate a developer community, not to mention the woefully underpowered phones.

Faced with the reality that the market has rejected Symbian in favor of Apple and Google, Nokia was faced with an unthinkable choice; create a new OS or become an Android drone.  However, like a perfect storm, a third choice emerged as Microsoft’s lagging Windows Phone 7 sales created an opportunity for a new partnership.

At last, Nokia has the opportunity to concentrate on their core competency and get back to building world-class phones.  These new designs will be powered not only by Microsoft’s software but also their desire to trump both Apple and Google.  Nokia gains access to Microsoft’s best and brightest doing what they do best, creating software and applications that are polished, user friendly, and innovative.

Will this partnership work?  In reality, it may be both companies last chance.  Think about it, if Nokia can create new high-powered phones that are beautifully designed and Microsoft can continue to polish Windows Phone 7 while adding deep integrations with Microsoft Office, Exchange, Live, and Azure then this may work.

Finally, don’t count out a 4th operating system from entering this mix as HP is making some noise with webOS.  Amazingly, they’ve escaped a tongue lashing by the press for not going Android but that’s another topic for another time.

For now, its MicroNokiaSoft for broke in the Cloud.

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