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  Of course, in technology you can keep waiting and waiting and waiting because what you buy today is obsolete tomorrow.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?

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Yahoo: Goodbye Bartz Hello Baidu or Apple

In yet another mystifying move, Yahoo’s board fired Carol Bartz and ended her three year tenure as CEO.  Over the last three years, Bartz has had to clean up after the less than stellar leadership of both Jerry Yang and Terry Semel led to revenue slowdowns, management bloat, product missteps, and who knows what else.

While I’m saddened to see Bartz go, I’m more aggravated by the ridiculous articles and blogs regarding Yahoo’s past, present, and future.  Note to the mainstream press…Yahoo IS NOT Google.  Yahoo is NOT Facebook.

Yahoo IS an Internet icon, a portal destination, an information and communications hub, and is chalk full of popular services and offerings.  Often seen as less innovative than Google, Yahoo has made meaningful contributions to Hadoop and has recently open sourced Traffic Server which was acquired as part of the Inktomi acquisition.

I see two paths for Yahoo; Baidu and Apple.

Baidu has grown into a formidable challenger to Google.  For Baidu to take the next step they must enter the Western marketplace and Yahoo would be the perfect vehicle to make this a reality.  A cash and talent infusion by Baidu would reinvigorate Yahoo giving it new life to innovate and disrupt its way to revenue growth.  It would also mean an end to Yahoo’s partnership with Microsoft (or would it) as well as new competitive efforts across traditional and mobile solutions.

Apple is a dominant force within the mobile/tablet community and Yahoo would make the perfect destination for their users.  With one brush of the pen, Yahoo would be folded under the Apple brand and would change the perception of Yahoo from old/dying to new/exciting.  Apple could use Yahoo as a platform for iCloud services and revamp Yahoo’s offerings to work seamlessly within iOS and OSX.  Additionally, Apple could use Yahoo to offer new and innovative Cloud services and accelerate the adoption of HTML5.

In the end, Bartz will come-up a winner in this mess as her honesty and toughness is refreshing.  However, the future for Yahoo may be bright as long as the Board realizes it’s time to turn the reigns over and sell the company.  Let’s hope they don’t turn down an offer like they had from Microsoft again and Yahoo finds a new home!

Google Must Change Tactics and Android Must Succeed

It is safe to say that I have not been a big fan of Google. I have issues with their tactics, business model, and insatiable appetite for personal information. It will come as no surprise to my readers, that I was delighted by Google’s recent announcement to cancel plans to bring the Nexus One to Verizon. However, my reasons behind supporting this decision may come as a shock to you; Android must succeed. Why?

To put it bluntly; Google may be the only company left that can stop Apple’s dominance in the mobile space. While Microsoft certainly has the talent, I question if they have the will as they continue to chase Google for advertising dollars. Meanwhile, Nokia seems a bit dazed and confused by Apple’s success as they cling to Symbian OS. RIM is stuck in the Enterprise world as they must now fight Apple on their home turf with devices that seem behind the times. Finally, Palm may find a buyer but also obsolescence.

One of my best friends put it this way, “When you buy an iPhone you are buying a device without root access.” In essence, we are forced to use and develop applications on the iPhone via the pleasure and direction of Apple. In the past few months, we have tried to develop more than a few interesting iPhone applications only to find we were in danger of violating Apple’s Licensing or Apple’s iPhone OS did not support or allow what we were trying to build. While some have gone the “jail breaking” route to overcome these obstacles, we would rather stay within the mainstream user population and remain legal.

While Apple controls every aspect of the iPhone, Google has the chance to disrupt this model. For some reason, Google has a tenancy to follow leaders in particular spaces. In my opinion, that is why they created the Nexus One as they thought controlling the hardware and software was key in creating a successful device. HTC and Motorola proved this notion incorrect when they created superior devices with the same Android OS. What Google really needs to do is concentrate on improving and refining Android’s usability and functionality to exceed that of Apple’s iPhone OS.

A refined Android with a vibrant community filled with robust application development has the chance to trump iPhone because it is open (we have root access!) and a killer application is sure to be developed. Google has many different avenues to make money off of Android including advertising, cloud services, and more.

Therefore, Google must change their tactics by concentrating on refining and improving Android while supporting their hardware and carrier partners.

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