Posts Tagged ‘mobile’

The cost of an "Always On lifestyle"

Sunday, January 22nd, 2006

About a year ago, a man I’d never met before showed me pictures of a dramatic episode in his life. These showed him driving his wife to the hospital, where she was about to give birth. There were dozens and dozens of these pictures, and in each one his wife was looking progressively more grumpy.

As you’d be, too, if your waters had broken, and your husband had only one hand on the steering wheel.

He was as proud of this act of obsessive recording as I, a total stranger, was embarrassed.

The man then enthused at length about “emerging technology”. Shortly afterwards, I was not surprised to hear that he’d decided to start a new life in California.

The fellow was Christian Lindholm, and the irony of this review is that while he was at Nokia, Christian helped make a hostile technology usable for ordinary people. Mobile phones are indisputably the one technology success story over the last decade, and Lindholm’s team developed the Navi-key user interface, which I believe has never been surpassed in terms of grace and simplicity.

Now’s he’s at Yahoo!, Christian is helping make technology hostile again – something he’d already begun to do with at Nokia, with his work on the Series 60 user interface for Symbian smartphones.

I’ve been testing Yahoo!’s Go! software for mobile phones for six weeks now, and it’s the most presumptuous and irritating piece of software I’ve ever used. I value some of Yahoo!’s services, and I’m more forgiving of my phone’s idiosyncrasies than most people. But Yahoo! Go is a poster child for what happens when scientists or technologists lose sight of the needs of ordinary people. Judged purely on some narrow technical parameters, it’s amazing. Judged by how well it fits into a corporate Yahoo! marketing strategy, it fills all the tick boxes. Someone’s even created a Yahoo! theme and bundled it in the package.

The problem is much deeper than that, and as a result, everything that made Navi-key a success has been forgotten, or thrown away, in Y!Go.

I don’t mean to pick on Christian personally, he’s a super fellow. The Y!Go project was underway before he joined Yahoo! as its VP of Global Mobile Products in September. It’s much more about what misinforms corporate technology decisions.

There’s something about people who, once they get smitten by the idea of a “Hive Mind”, often lose their own (usually it’s temporary, but sometimes it’s not). When the basic philosophical assumptions are misguided, then the plumbing is wrong, and that takes a lot of fixing.

read more at The Register

Mobile data too complex, too flakey – poll

Thursday, November 17th, 2005
But still we do it. Actually, we don’t – even with 3.5G networks it’s almost always quicker to ask a stranger than it is to look something up on a mobile phone. And more fun.

Punters are giving flaky mobile data services the cold shoulder, a survey has revealed. 64 per cent of those surveyed gave up after one or two attempts with the services, while only two per cent said they’d seek help from the carrier. Asked what would encourage them to use more mobile data, 53 per cent said lower pricing, 43 per cent cited greater ease of use, and 32 per cent better help and advice.

The survey was conducted by NOP and commissioned by mobile infrastructure software supplier Olista, and polled 1,000 adults in September.

An earlier Olista-commissioned poll found that 77 per cent of phone users have never tried any data service, and of those who had, only 12 per cent were happy with the mobile data experience.

That’s grim reading for the carriers, who need to invest more in ease of use and reliability, Olista CEO Oren Glanz told us. Olista sells network diagnostic tools to the carriers.

“We’ve mapped hundreds of thousands of different problems with mobile data services,” he said. “Some have different problems the second time they attempt to use a service.” Amongst the most common problems were content not being accessible on specific handsets, and the failure of different service elements to interoperate.

Glanz also said carriers should use more predictable pricing models.

“When prices have been reduced it’s not apparent that usage has increased. There’s price confusion – a lot of the time you’re not sure how you’ll be charged. It’s not like making a phone call.”

Mobile data services are often an impulse decision and need to work first time, he said.

What sealed Palm's software fate?

Saturday, September 10th, 2005

So, PalmOS ends up in the hands of an Japanese mobile browser company that almost no one has ever heard of. It’s a sad sign that expectations for PalmOS software have been so low, for so long, that PalmSource stock leapt 70 per cent on the news.

The origins of this decline have been well documented here at El Reg, we’ll only recap the key mistakes before raising a spectre that haunts this tale of Silicon Valley history: a spectre called Apple. 

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'We must now embrace the tele-phone' – dotcom pundit

Thursday, March 17th, 2005

A year ago Intel demonstrated a small contraption that allows people to talk to each other – even if they’re not in the same room, without using wires or string. At the time we saw no possible use for such a device. Dogs, as we know, love fetching sticks – but this seemed to be much too fragile for robust outdoor activity. Intel called this the portable ‘tele-phone’.

But now we must mend our ways, shift our gears, and adjust our paradigms once again – for the concept has received a powerful endorsement from one of the dot.com era’s most lauded “thinkers”.
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