My daily readings 07/04/2010

  • InstaFetch

    tags: instapaper Android

  • tags: no_tag

    • During our show, Jon Johansen got a chance to elaborate on his recent post, “Google’s Mismanagement Of the Android Market.” On Sunday, the co-founder of DoubleTwist (a music service often described as the ‘iTunes for Android’), ripped Google for failing to curate the Android marketplace— leaving it vulnerable to clutter, less-than-legal apps and making it difficult for quality apps to surface.
    • “Here’s a few things Google needs to do:

      1. They need to expand the number of countries that have access to paid apps (it doesn’t seem to be a big priority as they’re adding them at an extremely slow rate)

      2. Developers need to be able to respond to user comments (perhaps through a proxy email to preserve the anonymity of the user)

      3. Illegal apps need to go. They’re unfair competition for legitimate apps.

      4. More payment options (subscriptions, in-app payments, etc).”

  • tags: no_tag

    • Maier enacted an edict to enhance group problem solving: “Do not propose solutions until the problem has been discussed as thoroughly as possible without suggesting any.”  It is easy to show that this edict works in contexts where there are objectively defined good solutions to problems.
    • I have often used this edict with groups I have led – particularly when they face a very tough problem, which is when group members are most apt to propose solutions immediately.  While I have no objective criterion on which to judge the quality of the problem solving of the groups, Maier’s edict appears to foster better solutions to problems.
    • I’ve just finished a 3-day training course on TRIZ ( a problem solving technique, one of the recurring themes throughout the course was what to do about all the solutions that come out even before you’ve figured out what the true problem is you’re trying to solve. The advice was to write the solutions down (rather than be diverted by them or try to bat them away), use them to help examine the problem a bit more and then carry on until you have enough information to make useful judgements about all the solutions you’ve generated; this was very helpful advice. You need to have a sound way of formulating and exploring the problem space, as well as generating solutions, otherwise you’ll become too distracted by all the great solutions your brain is generating.
  • How to do meeting, problem,solution 

    tags: no_tag

    • This also holds true for user feedback. Users are great for identifying problems and pain points. They’re absolutely terrible at recommending improvements, for a plethora of reasons. They can’t see past their own issue, they can’t see far beyond the present design, they have no idea of the internals, they don’t realize or properly value unintended consequences of their suggestion, and they often quite simply don’t have a good sense of design. Making the most of user feedback requires filtering out the feedback itself and identifying the underlying issue that’s generating the feedback. Even if your solution ends up resembling one of the suggestions, it’s most helpful to understand the issues driving that suggestion.
  • tags: no_tag

    • Here is a suggestion for you.

      I know I, and at least 15 other people will immediately switch if you make Citibusiness Online support work. Check out this thread from Mint’s support forum:…?

      To make a long story short, Citibank for business is a major bank and there’s a lot frustrated people that would love to use Mint for their business, if only they made it work. Meanwhile, Mint has marked this issue as “complete” and doesn’t look like they worked on this in 4 months.

      I tried using it on your site and it also didn’t work.. (stuck on 80% authentication). I realize this feature is in Beta but it looks like you guys already got further than Mint did – their interface doesn’t even ask for right information.

      I will sign up my business the second you make this work 🙂

  • tags: HTML5

  • tags: API design

  • tags: Acquisition Case

  • tags: enterprise

  • tags: Android iPhone

    • To be honest, as a user, iOS 4 adds nothing that truly stands out as “THIS is why I must have the iPhone” except for Facetime and the Retina Display. Being a long time Apple loyalist and enthusiast, it both worries and saddens me to see Apple so blatantly miss the boat. So my question is, has Apple dropped the ball after a solid start and fallen behind so much that the trickle of developers will slowly become a full flow which they won’t be able to stop?
    • As a developer I think you’re obsessed with features. Whereas users don’t necessarily want those features. Apple’s bet is that users will reject the platform with more features in favor of the platform that works better.
    • Mac OS X is actually pretty feature devoid, out-of-the-box. First thing I have to do when I get a new machine is install Google Search Box, Growl, Skitch, MarcoPolo just so it feels like it works right. I don’t count these as applications; I think of them as base OS features. By laundry list of features, Windows comes out on top.
    • Go tell your mom about the new features that Froyo has. Watch her eyes glaze over as you talk about “cloud-to-phone messaging APIs” and “APIs to make app data searchable”.

      Now show her the iphone 4 retina display.

    • After you show her the retina display, show her the HTC Evo display.

      “OOooo… I can actually read some of the text on that one!” she’ll say.

      Pixel density is nice and all, but a lot of people would rather have a bigger screen.

      This illustrates Android’s biggest advantage and biggest weakness versus iOS. Choice.

      The trick for Google is to introduce some standards that will make different Android phones more consistent. Hell, they could do the same thing for the hardware. Crank out a cellphone chipset that manufacturers can customize instead of rolling their own and then being 8 months behind the latest Android release, if even that! Then the variety of Android phones out there will be a true strength and not a weakness.

    • Those features obviously don’t appeal to the general user: they appeal to the developers. The developers are ultimately responsible for creating apps which speak to the general user. The iPhone without apps would at most be 50% of what it is now. Cool features to developers attract developers, and they in turn purify those raw features in to cool easily understandable applications. Cloud to phone Apis is not meant to be a marketing point for your mother.
    • Many of those uses already have specialized apps, which do search within their context-relevant data, in context-relevant ways. iPads in medical environments are a perfect example. Why, if you’re searching for symptom X, would you want to find emails with X, text messages with X, and that image which just happens to contain X in its filename?

      Essentially every laptop / tablet / whatever-PC in use in the medical field works similarly – they use one application which handles all relevant data, and it doesn’t search outside that. And this is on a PC, which is essentially wide open to application interoperability (if not as easy to do). Developers and users have already apparently decided that it’s not as important / desirable as many would like to believe.

      Granted, there are cases where this is useful, but it’s a fundamental iOS / Android(/Unix) design choice. Android favors interoperation through APIs, iOS favors using one application for the job at hand.

    • I’ll say it again. Apple iOS and the platform is at least 5 years ahead of all competitors.

      Keep this in mind, noone has an answer for the iPod Touch or the iPad yet. The iPod Touch outsells the PSP and nearly the DS in devices and in terms of content sales via iTunes (games and entertainment, none come close).

      The iPad is another gaming console in a way and a pretty cheap laptop replacement. Not to mention the book market.

      The iPad and iPod Touch make up over 65%+ devices sold by Apple and brings the total iOS devices to over 100 million.

      Other companies keep thinking this is a Phone only market. When in fact the iPhone is only about 35-40% of Apple’s devices that use the iOS and the iTunes/Appstore platform.

      Where is the response to that? How many years will it take others to understand this. Apple is owning the mobile and handheld market and is making a ploy for all entertainment devices not just phones. Apple has to love that the competition looks past 65%+ of their market every new device.

      The iPod Touch and iPad are the equivalent of Apple II’s in schools and candy cigarettes when it comes time for kids to grow up and buy a phone. All their apps and games will be there waiting for them when they get one. This market is about so much more than phones…

    • The one problem with that is that the iOS is actually more like windows creating a common platform, similar form factors and simplifying the features and complexity of the consumer handheld devices. That is actually the same approach Windows took to get your mom on the internet and using office.

      For far too long the mobile market was fragmented. Windows consolidated the desktop market to create many more platforms and markets for people. Apple iOS is a common platform in mobile while the others are still pretty fragmented. Apple is looking to do the same for entertainers, developers, marketers etc. Once they open it up by selling at Wal-mart and get other carriers it will be a true test.

    • While Joe Consumer may not grok fragmentation, it definitely impacts his experience. E.g. the official Twitter app not being available on Droid or the Incredible, last I heard.

      I don’t see Apple as missing the boat so much as taking their time to do things right. Just like copy-paste and multitasking. Patience for the polish, or yeah, go to Android.

      To answer your question, iPhone will, yes, always lack features Android has, for the foreseeable future, but the experience is smoother and more consistent. Strictly in this sense, it it Android that will never catch up.

    • I was also one of the many loud voices complaining that I couldn’t run backgrounded apps, but when you look at the HTC phones coming out right now running Android and full backgrounding, and you hear the stories of how the battery runs out by the early afternoon, you start to realize that, it is true, “it is easy to add <feature x>, but it is hard to get it right” (or whatever it was that jobs said in his announcements)

      I’m not saying that the features in Android aren’t impressive, they very well may be, but Apple’s design decisions don’t just go after “impressive”, they try to go after “perfect”, and sometimes getting features perfect means cutting them until you’re ready

      Your entire post is targetted as “features that developers want” and you’re right, you need a healthy ecosystem of developers, and Google is certainly building one. However, you also need a healthy ecosystem of consumers who love the product, and at the end of the day, I really think most developers will go to the platform where they can reach the widest audience. Apple cares about their consumers first, and their developers second (and sometimes it feels like second last), but it seems to work for them…

    • I was at WWDC. There are a lot of things I saw there that I’m not supposed to talk about. Suffice it to say that the cool stuff was NOT in the keynote.

      I came out of WWDC thinking that Google may very well never catch up. They don’t seem to care about Android like Apple cares about the iPhone. Apple cares enough about the iPhone to learn how to do cloud services (see Push) and advertising (see iAd) better than Google, things that Apple has no experience doing well. But Google doesn’t care about Android enough to invest into build quality or UI, things that Apple does well.

    • 5. The phone companies are absolutely destroying Android. They’re still launching devices with hacked-up versions of 1.6, with no promise of when Froyo will ever make it on there — that is if the carriers decide to allow it. Imagine if Microsoft had been launching XP but Dell decided it would keep on shipping Win 98, and AOL wouldn’t let users even upgrade to Win 2000. Ludicrous.
    • I think the market share challenges in the mobile space are less about OS feature capabilities like you describe than the more basic requirements like battery life, screen quality, design and brand perception.
  • tags: iPhone case pandora

    • “It is impossible to overstate” its impact, saays Westergren. When the iPhone app launched in 2008, it was an instant hit, and it “almost doubled” Pandora’s growth rate “overnight,” says Westergren. But more than that, it freed up Pandora users from being chained to their desks. Now with the ability to run in the background, its usage on the iPhone should continue to soar. In the first clip below, Westergren talks about Pandora’s iPhone and the iPad strategies. In the second clip, he explains to Rose, Pandora’s underlying Music Genome project.
  • tags: Acquisition Case

    • The purchase price was somewhere between $22 million and $50 million, we’ve confirmed via multiple sources. Employees, say one source, appear to be getting paid based on that lower number. But there is clearly an escrow and an earnout as well that is bumping the total price, if that money is paid out, to something over $30 million. Our best guess is the total price is somewhere around $35 million.

      That’s not bad for a company that’s raised just $2.8 million in funding. But Tapulous was profitable almost immediately and didn’t need to raise a lot of money to scale. Revenue comes from multiple sources – ads, song downloads referred to iTunes, song downloads into the game, among others. Last year revenue was around $5 million. This year they are already hitting $1 million/month and will likely have $15 million of so in revenue for all of 2010.

  • tags: PM

  • tags: iPhone strategy

    • The success of iPhone 4 has been astonishing to witness, despite the antenna issues, proving once again that Apple has a unparalleled ability to differentiate around design and integration, not simply “features.”
    • But FaceTime is just a teaser of Apple’s deep integration capabilities. Below the surface of hardware / software, Apple is on the cusp of differentiating on a much deeper level, a result of its strategy to vertically integrate at the component level. The advantages of integrating so deeply are subtle but incredibly powerful.
    • The temptation for companies to differentiate via features is a virtuous cycle: component vendors (Broadcom, TI, Qualcomm) compete aggressively based on integration levels. Handset OEMs like HTC push vendors to release features prematurely, and they make component decisions based on availability of bleeding edge (but often buggy) technology.
    • Right now this virtuous cycle of feature bloat is accelerating in system-on-chip (SoC) development for the reasons I outlined above. And Apple is


      poised to sidestep it by vertically integrating and producing chips which mirror its minimalist product strategy.

    • How? Every component vendor in the world visits Cupertino to share its “secret” roadmap—despite the fact that Apple now competes in SoC development. The


      dangling carrot of an Apple design win simply outweighs any aversion to sharing. This transparency from other chip makers is extremely powerful, since handset OEMs plan several generations out (e.g. Apple is undoubtedly in concept stages with iPhone 6 and the A6).

    • By extracting data from suppliers, Apple’s chip team has a feedback loop into product planning. All of this collective wisdom adds up, helping Apple decide what to roll-up, buy, license, or outsource. Imagine seeing your competition’s entire feature roadmap, and then planning your own SoC strategy. It’s like seeing your neighbor’s wife naked, and deciding afterward whether you’re interested, even though you’re already married.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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