Facebook phone – hit or miss?

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The rumours on the net would suggest that the reality of a Facebook phone is more than merely a concept, so with that in mind let’s suggest that it will shortly come to pass and consider how such a device would be received by the mainstream consumer.

Facebook and its fall from grace?

It’s no secret that Facebook has had its fair share of scandal and unhappy users voicing their opinions on the global forum that is the net.  Ironically in many cases the social network set up to provide a communication service has been used to voice the issues users have with it.  A testament to its success? I’ll let you decide.

Looking at how new features are received and the general feeling about FB, I think its fair to say that the honeymoon period of FB is over.  I have always remarked that mainstream consumer loyalty is transient and history shows (MySpace for example) that if you offer a few “new” features, wrap it up in a pretty front end the mainstream will come a running.   Throw a few personality deficient celebrities on there and your rise to the top will be even quicker.

Google plus is already showing that it takes very little to attract the mainstream user on nothing more than a few extra features and a shiny new interface.

We’ve been here before?

Whilst Microsoft struggles to get interest in WP7, its often forgot that the ailing firm from Redmond have already been here before courtesy of the doomed Kin, even proclamations by Microsoft MVPs as it being the “greatest social networking phone ever” didn’t save it from failure, with the lifespan of the device lasting only 60 or so days.  I would like the Microsoft advocates who came to Openbytes when I predicted the failure of the Kin to maybe retract their protestations that they voiced at my views at the time.   That won’t happen, there’s a new Microsoft phone to make claims about and sell, I would think they have forgotten all about the Kin which not only serves as an uncomfortable reminder of failure but maybe also a reminder in  general about Microsoft’s doomed mobile strategy.

Facebook phone a fail?

If anyone is silly enough to take this past a rumour/concept stage then yes, a total failure.  I think the mainstream user (and let’s face it, the only person who would even entertain the notion of buying a phone like this) is rapidly falling out of love with Facebook.  I think the hold Facebook has now is not so much on its feature set but rather more due to mainstream users being reticent to be the first in their social group to make the jump elsewhere.

What is also interesting is that Microsoft is rumoured to be trying it on with another “me too” product by way of its social network Socl, which when you consider that they are still trying to sell WP7 and have an impending release of 8 introducing an interesting new variable especially when you consider that Microsoft invested in Facebook.

On the subject of investments the Inquirer writes an interesting article here, where its suggested that Facebook’s IPO could raise as high as 10 billion dollars.  Am I the only person who is skeptical on tech trends which can drop as quickly as they gained momentum?  Can anyone see Facebook going strong 2 or 3 years from now, or, is it more likely that there will be a new service having the mainstream proclaiming “its the greatest” (whilst the novelty lasts).

I don’t believe a mass simultaneous exodus from Facebook will occur, I think we will see a drip, drip effect over the next year and ergo, a Facebook phone is doomed to failure.  Nice idea, if it could have come out in the honeymoon period where Facebook could do no wrong.  Besides, isn’t a more open, less locked in phone what everyone wants today? – certainly Android sales would suggest that.

And on the subject of phones, this article was written entirely with a HTC Desire running Android!

Tim (Goblin)

If you are new to this blog (or have not yet read it) please take time to view the OpenBytes statement, here.

Skype: tim.openbytes
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NewsBytes – Saturday 28th August 2010

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XP RIP 25/10/01 – 22/10/10

It seems Microsoft is going to retire Windows XP on 22nd October – no, really this time! As reported by one of the few MVP’s I have respect for:

…Windows XP, up to this point, was one of the most popular versions of Windows and continues to dominate the desktop PC market.  However, Windows 7 is making steady progress to eventually overtake it…


To which I would remind everyone that it’s not surprising since the majority of new machines purchased will be Windows 7 OEM whether you like it or not.  (Read here for a related article)

Warner & Disney being original?

Maybe.  Its being reported that Disney and Warner are going after agencies that advertise on “illegal” Bittorrent trackers.  Since everyone else has failed to make a dent on the piracy issue, this latest tactic just won’t work.  By demonizing the file sharer with actions of the past, what has happened is a community has been created.  Just look at the way ACI or TBI are written about on the net.  In fact TBI seems to have pulled out of the file sharing “work” due to the massive bad press it generated.  I would say the file sharing community is now a rather powerful voice on the Net and its all been created (in my opinion) by the tactics of some instead of reasoned discussion at the time to find a solution.

Disney and Warner (I would expect) will find that the community “monster” they have helped to create will further turn against them and even if they were successful, does anyone really believe that in the absence of adverts trackers/indexers would disappear anyway?

Torrentfreak reports:

There have been many innovative anti-piracy strategies over the years, from simple scare tactics to high profile hammer-blow aggression, from ISP pressure to the more recent attempts at domain name seizure. This week, a new tactic has been witnessed in the United States – an attack on those who provide financing for file-sharing venues – the advertisers.


The LHC Lives on!

A lawsuit against the LHC has been rejected by a court in Hawaii.  Concerns in the suit about the dangers of the LHC are reported to have no evidence offered to back up them up.

Softpedia reports:

A Court in Hawaii has just rejected a new lawsuit brought against the Large Hadron Collider. The plaintiffs failed to produce any evidence that the machine is dangerous, the ruling says…….The decision was passed down on August 24, by a Hawaiian appeals court. The judges said that the US Department of Energy (DOE) and the US National Science Foundation (NSF) could not be held responsible for any ill side-effects that may derive from using the LHC.


Microsoft and its phone skeletons?

Microsoft has phone woes? if it can’t sell you phones you want to buy it can jump on the coat tails of those that do (Android) since it doesnt appear that anyone is particularly excited about Windows Mobile 7.

Readers to Openbytes will have read my experiences of WinMob and maybe understand why Microsoft products (phone in this case) are not looked at too favorably.  Just remember, if you are at Redmond….Don’t mention the f’Kin phone and there will be a chair coming towards you on Mobile 7 launch day if you mention it!

Dr Schestowitz says in his report which covers these topics and much more:

…So, why is Microsoft so desperate to make Android Microsoft dependent? Well, it’s because their own phones are failing and market share is falling. Microsoft’s mobile reality is gloomy. Vista Phone 7 [sic] won’t change much, definitely not with its reliance on Silverlight..


You’re all sued! – Paul Allen shows you how to make friends?

Interval Licensing – a firm owned by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen is allegedly suing Google, Apple and Facebook (and others).  No, not to become the most unpopular man in the IT but because its claimed they have violated patents.

The patents involved allegedly are:

— U.S. Patent No. 6,263,507, for “Browser for Use in Navigating a Body of Information, With Particular Application to Browsing Information Represented By Audiovisual Data.”

— U.S. Patent No. 6,034,652, for “Attention Manager for Occupying the Peripheral Attention of a Person in the Vicinity of a Display Device.”

— U.S. Patent No. 6,788,314, for “Attention Manager for Occupying the Peripheral Attention of a Person in the Vicinity of a Display Device.”

— U.S. Patent No. 6,757,682, for “Alerting Users to Items of Current Interest.”

(From Reuters)

Reuters reports that one of the named companies said:

…an unfortunate trend of people trying to compete in the courtroom instead of the marketplace.


Goblin –

If you are new to this blog (or have not yet read it) please take time to view the OpenBytes statement, here.

Microsoft to flog the dead horse with $400 million+ ? – Windows Mobile 7

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Cast your mind back to some of the Microsoft adverts of the past.   Lets reminisce with a wry smile at the shoe commercials that were supposed to be funny.  Let’s remember the Windows 7 party adverts that were so wooden, that they made an episode of Home & Away look like a cinematic masterpiece.   Then we had the “Kin” the f’Kin (sic) phone that must have hurt Microsoft badly when not only did the advertising fail to impress, but the phone itself was dumped shortly after (allegedly after pushing only a few more than 500 units).

It appears Microsoft just can’t relate to people with many products or its advertising in my view.  For example, it’s very easy to tout success with Windows 7, when as my recent article touched on, you get no choice over what comes pre-loaded on your machine when you enter a store.  I could tout millions of deployments of my operating system if I was able to preload it on all the machines at a retailer.

That aside though, its been reported that Microsoft is to stuff 400 million dollars in the war chest to pimp their next experiment (Windows Mobile 7) and it will be investors (I would assume) who are thinking that with this figure, plus the giveaway of phones to Microsoft employee’s should prove very costly if Win Mob goes the way of the Kin.  After all, Windows 7 Mobile is said by some to be its “next of Kin”

When you consider the popularity of Android (with or without the Microsoft tax on it) and Apple’s offering, one has to wonder if 400 million is enough, or indeed if you could put a figure on the advertising revenue needed to rescue Win Mob 7 from the fallout of the Kin and the issues some people had with Win Mob before it.

Don’t worry though, if Windows Mobile fails, they can always try again because as long as people buy into the experiment then there will always be a “next time”.

In the meantime we can wonder if the 400 million will be well spent.  Here are a selection of comments regarding “campaigns” we have seen before from Microsoft:

…The House Party video is so bad I hurled not laughed. It is godawful disgusting marketing…….The video is so 1950s bad and boring, I wonder if there is some hidden revelation about Microsoft corporate culture. It’s all so staid, so contained, so contrived………Wouldn’t you just die if the Microsoft marketing makeover made you look like the people in the video?….

Source: Joe Wilcox – Betanews

…Let’s face it, the Windows 7 launch party concept was a complete and utter failure. The YouTube video Microsoft created to market the launch party concept certainly got attention, but for all the wrong reasons….Microsoft has had many failed attempts at being hip and cool. Microsoft Bob. The Office paperclip character. The Bill Gates / Jerry Seinfeld ads that seemed to require some sort of psychotropic mind enhancement in order for them to make sense. It just doesn’t work……

Source: Tony Bradley – PCWorld

…I just watched the promotional video of ‘Kin’ on Daily Telegraph and feeling disgusted….

Source: Jinnat Ul Hasan – Hasan Online

…In one scene, a young man pulls up his shirt and takes a photo of his bare chest before sending it to a female friend. The clip has sparked accusations that Microsoft is encouraging ‘sexting’…

Source: Claudine Beaumont – The Telegraph

We ought to remind everyone that there is a lot of sex and violence in Microsoft ads, which even had some of the company’s ads outright banned. We gave several examples in this Web site over the recent years.

Source: Dr Roy Schestowitz – Techrights

Do investors need any further proof that Microsoft ad campaigns are not always well received?  Who has faith that Windows Mobile 7 will be any different and even if it is, will it matter?  Sure there are people talking about Microsoft’s future phone endeavour, but these are professional and hobbyist tech enthusiasts.  The average consumer is busy raving about Android (in particular HTC) and Apple.

Microsoft seems to be claiming that many people are rushing to develop for Windows Mobile 7, but even if that’s true, what good is it if people are not buying into its advertising and more importantly, the product?

Goblin –

If you are new to this blog (or have not yet read it) please take time to view the OpenBytes statement, here.

HTC Desire HD to hit the UK in September?

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Rumours are abound that September will see the launch of the HTC Desire HD in the UK.  Based on the same processor as the Desire and shipping with Android 2.2, the Desire HD is rumoured to come with HD video capture (720p) and an 8 megapixel camera.

The announcement (and reveal) of the Desire HD could be made at an HTC event on September 15th which was reported on Engadget, where they say:

Time to get our guessing caps on as HTC has announced it’ll be hosting a little shindig in London in the middle of next month.

It is rightly reported that Windows 7 mobile is due to get its release around October and maybe this event in London will be “showcasing” Microsoft’s latest attempt to break the Mobile Market to the extent of Apple or Android.  Best of luck Microsoft,  since I’ve seen more reports of what isn’t part of Windows Mobile 7 rather than what is and I struggle to see how Windows 7 Mobile will be anything more than yet another costly mistake to shareholders.  Microsoft is after all coming off the back of the disastrous Kin even forgetting the fact that when it arrives it has two giant mobile platforms to take on.


If you are new to this blog (or have not yet read it) please take time to view the OpenBytes statement, here.

Mutiny in the MVP ranks? No freebie for them? & Microsoft wants to gift you!

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No matter how hard the MVP's suck on the Microsoft teat, there's no milk today - or certainly in the case of Windows Mobile 7. Nevermind there other "freebies" for all!

We have regularly covered the “gifting” of companies to those that comment on the net.  For me there can be no better way to ensure loyalty as the receiver of the gift(s)/awards not only showers praise on the giver out of gratitude, but continue that praise in the hope more freebies are forthcoming.

All this is great for the giver, you have a pimp for your products who will flood every forum they visit with comments in favor of your company.  Of course the problem comes when the gifting stops; and we may be seeing an example now.

It’s being reported that MVP’s (of the Microsoft ilk) are a little upset that their sugar daddy is not providing them with a free Windows Mobile 7.  We heard recently that Microsoft will be giving them out to employee’s (no doubt to boost the numbers) and whilst I went on record by saying prior to its release it will crash and burn, there’s nothing like a freebie and some of the MVP’s want a piece of the action.

Unfortunately for them it’s not coming.  Maybe the catastrophic failure of the Kin and the millions lost with it, maybe its because that despite Microsoft implying success with Bing it is reported to still be loosing a lot of money.  Whatever the reason, the Microsoft teat is not giving milk to the MVP’s that are suckling on it greedily and that’s caused more than a few to be rather upset.

Over on it says:

While Microsoft will be giving away free Windows Phone 7 phone to all Microsoft employees, now MVPs want to get them. And there are several MVP groups related to Windows Phone: Windows Phone MVPs (the losers who think of themselves as power users)

But apparently has very little sympathy for them when it says:

Maybe instead of whining like little girls, MVPs who want to get free Windows Phone 7 should make some apps for Windows Phone 7 and then, and only then, demand free handset? Heh?

Oh well.  Bad news….But wait! all is not lost!  Microsoft is gifting something else!  Yep that’s right! Tell them your Microsoft Office story and you could get yourself a loaner PC!  Exactly what the terms of a loaner PC are, is anyones guess.  I filled in the online contact sheet asking that question and have had no reply.  Lets hope its not like the last time:

But then again, why not?  If you can’t get independent advocacy, why not buy it! To read more on the latest “scheme” on Microsoft and Office, you should go here, where its said:

Care to try a loaner PC loaded with Microsoft Office Professional 2010? Do you want to receive free web-based training and free product support as you learn Office 2010? If you’ve a good story to tell, we want to hear from you!

So at least MVP’s need not worry, theres still gear up for grabs!  Ive seen many “good stories” told by those Microsoft advocates who claim “independent thought”……one of them was called Lucy Buntu.

Goblin –

If you are new to this blog (or have not yet read it) please take time to view the Openbytes statement, here.

Two Android Apps of the Week! – FXcamera & Appeak Poker!

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You could spend a career investigating the Android Marketplace, so with an hour or so to play with on my way to work each day, I can usually find one or two gems to highlight.  My only criteria is that they are free.  Lets take a look at this weeks Android discoveries:


My attempt at being creative with FXCamera. This is an example of Andy Warhol "mode". Any use? You decide!

The first app is FXcamera.  Why, I hear you ask should you need another camera app when you have a preloaded one with Android?  Simple, FXcamera offers a few “novelties” some of which work well, some of which are a bit of fun.

Upon running FXcamera you a presented with a screen offering you different effects, these are currently: Andy Warhol, Symmetricam, Fisheye, Polandroid and Toycam.

The package is currently in Beta although updates are regular.  The Polaroid and Andy Warhol “modes” work very well and Fxcamera integrates nicely into your OS offering to save or to send to the Internet.

I am still trying to work out how the Toycam makes your photo look like a toy.  I presume its the saturated colours that attempt to make the subject appear “plastic”, however in this early version, it doesn’t quite pull it off.

The Symmetricam is really quite self explanatory and makes a double of your picture, pasting the two together.   Fisheye, again pretty much says what it does.

So what is the point of this app when traditional photo editors can achieve these results anyway? Well, despite the fact that its “mobile”, you can also alter the effects to produce some interesting results.  Fxcamera costs nothing and is a great little app, that whilst can’t be expected to produce Photoshop like results, its certainly a bit of fun!

Simple and easy to play. Appeak Poker is a must for Android Texas Holdem fans!

Appeak Poker

Im not a gambler but I do like a game of “friendly” poker – especially when its not for cash and it’s played with people from around the world.  I even say this as I lost (17k game credit) in a game in the last hour!  A long time ago I review PokerTH for Linux which provided Texas Holdem with players from around the world.  I still play that game today.

It was only recently that my Android mobile computing experience was complete when I installed Appeak and had Texas Holdem in my pocket!  I won’t go into the rules here, but its a very easy to get into poker variant and incredibly good fun.

So what does it offer?  Appeak have created a very simple way to register and its all done in the package.  You are required to provide an email address (however as I would find out later that would be very useful)  After you have created your account, you can pick one of about 18 avatars.  The game itself plays very well.  Icons of other players are spaced out well so that they are easy to read and do not make the screen seem cluttered.  There is a chat facility whilst you play which I havent seen used much other than to give reports on whats happening within the game.  There is a leader board which shows the top players (based on in-game chips) and as you earn more money you are able to play on the larger stakes tables.

Whilst Appeak Poker is only in Beta, its still very solid.  I’ve seen reports from some users about maintaining a connection to the server, but I think that is more to do with their provider and not a fault of the software itself.  I encountered one crash, which when I reported it (via the in-game option) found that it had automatically called up my email client and sent the report, all seamlessly and without bothering me at all.

A really great Texas Hold Em game.  Whilst the graphics will not blow you away, do they need to?  This is Poker – and its great fun!  Strongly recommended, you can find this within the Market Place.

Goblin –

If you are new to this blog (or have not yet read it) please take time to view the OpenBytes statement, here.

PhoneWars 2010 – Android / Apple / Microsoft

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The Kin has already been thrown on it, will Windows Mobile 7 suffer the same fate? Is the competitions against it overwhelming or is that a moot point since people do not see Microsoft products as desirable?

Who could have predicted that the mighty brick of a phone shoved into cars so many years ago would not only develop into an almost essential day-to-day device, but also cover such a diverse range of tasks – from “traditional” to just about everything else that can be performed on your desktop. Phone calls have become a rather secondary feature to the mobile phone which now seems to handle every aspect of your personal/work life.

So lets look at PhoneWars 2010.  I successfully predicted the flop of Microsoft’s Kin, championed the now hideously popular HTC and went on record (with my colleagues at work) that Twitter would be the next big thing on both the desktop and mobiles.  I feel suitably qualified to write this article (or at least lucky enough in my predictions)

The current market – No desire for Microsoft?

Lets start with Apple and its iPhone.  Whilst I do not use Apple products myself, those that I know who do are very happy with their experiences, so it is with interest that I watch the iPhone 4 saga with interest.

I don’t need to remind people of the already widely reported news of the alleged dropped calls and signal issues of the iPhone 4 and since its been covered in-depth so many times, we will skip on to the solution offered by Apple.  It was reported at an Apple press conference on Friday 16th July that a free “bumper” would be offered for all Iphone 4’s which would solve the signal issues reported by users.  Amongst many other things, Steve Jobs was reported to say:

We love our users. We try hard to surprise and delight them. We work our asses off and have a fun time doing it.

Lets hope this satisfies the customers, Apple has built itself a kingdom and for this one issue to turn the iPhone 4 into what some have described as “Apples Vista” would be rather damaging to the future customer base which is already being eyed up by an increasingly popular Android platform.

So why would I, as a FOSS advocate (amongst other things) want Apple to appease disgruntled customers when I should be using this opportunity to demonstrate the benefits of an Android phone?

The answer is quite simple and goes back a few years to my early comments on this blog.  Diversity.  I said many years ago (and many times since) that despite what some may imply, I do not wish to see the total dominance of any platform or product, FOSS or proprietary.  I think proprietary feeds off FOSS and vice versa with the end result being greater choice for the user and better quality applications.  The same would go for the mobile market, I feel a complete dominance of Android would in the long term be damaging and I would like to see a more balanced deployment of platforms.  Users of the smart phones will mostly be accessing the same online apps, communicating with each other with “traditional” protocols, so the platform of their choice is mostly academic (unless you bought into the Kin!)

With one platform casuality this year already (Kin) I have to wonder what the market will be like come Xmas this year.  With Microsoft rumoured to be releasing Windows Mobile 7 in the autumn, will this change the game for the current hunger for both Apple and Android based products?  In my opinion no.  I think the Kin, coupled with the plethora of established apps for both Apple and Android will mean Windows Mobile 7 will not get a look in and will settle for the “scraps off the table”.  I said before of Microsoft, too little too late and one only has to look how Microsoft were pimping Kin until the bitter end to see that a press release from Microsoft  does not necessarily reflect what users are actually thinking (and I often find myself thinking of this when I see Microsoft PR).  Mysteries of Windows Mobile 7 aside, I don’t see a flock of developers to the platform and in todays 3rd party app driven market, I think a fundamental feature is already going to be absent on release day of Microsoft’s offering and that’s forgetting those burned (like me) by previous Win Mob versions, those who saw the Kin fiasco and those who have seen the Windows Mobile 7 in action making comments such as:

Except for gaming, it is ‘game over’ for Microsoft in the consumer market….It’s time to declare Microsoft a loser in phones. Just get out of Dodge

This was said by analyst Mark Anderson, the writer of Strategic News Service and he’s not alone.    Notably Mozilla is taking a “wait and see” attitude with Windows Mobile 7 with this comment in respect of Firefox having a version deployed to it:

If Microsoft releases a native development kit for Windows Phone 7, we will consider developing Fennec on the Windows platform again.

and also states that development for existing Windows Mobile versions:

Firefox has stopped development for Windows Mobile indefinitely. Thank you to our contributors for their continued support and feedback

You can read a previous Openbytes article on that here. Which I think is a good indicator of current developers feelings in respect of Windows Mobile 7 and if the developers of one of the most popular 3rd party apps on the planet are less than enthusiastic, what about the rest?

Who will be the victor?

I don’t believe Microsoft have a winner on their hands with Windows Mobile 7, I think they are entering a mature market with yet another “new” product at a time when there are already two massively popular platforms fighting for dominance.  I would worry about the apparent lack of developer interest in the platform (and please correct me if I’m wrong there) and think that Microsoft has missed the boat again, this time maybe instead of trying to imply people were wrong about Vista or trying to tell people that the Kin was a good idea, this particular market has slipped through their fingers.  And no bad thing.  We’ve seen what happens when Microsoft has dominance in a market, I personally didn’t like what I saw.  If Apple (or Android) do in fact end up the victor, lets give them a shot at “top dog” instead.  What reward did Windows users get from Microsoft after XP finally became a mature product? Vista.  And still the Zune is offered to a market that flocked to the iPod.  Bing is offered to a market which already sees Google as a household name and IE is seeing a battle for rating as Firefox, Chrome and a plethora of others battle for your usage.

What mobile market share scraps can Microsoft catch from the table of mobile users? – Like I say, Im predicting another failure for Microsoft.

If I was to lay money on the future of the mobile market (certainly for the foreseeable future) I’d go with 50% Apple, 40% Android and 10% others.  Of course “others” would include the Blackberry.

I have gone from a mobilephobic to someone who couldn’t envisage life without a soppy piece of plastic and metal in my pocket.  Many will say that the phone wars (in respect of Windows Mobile 7) won’t begin, I disagree and I think by Xmas this year we will have a good idea of the direction its going.  Kin was the first casualty this year, which just shows how little a timeframe you have to make or break a platform.  If Windows Mobile fails to grasp the imagination of both customers and developers then whilst it will probably be dragged out longer than the Kin, the signs of Windows Mobile death will be obvious come the end of December.

Finally, I’ll end on this.  Putting all the issues mentioned aside, Microsoft seems to have failed to grasp the idea of “status” or “fashion” in the same way as Apple or Android.  Whilst some will dismiss this as superficial, one must consider that a large section of the market buys/mod’s phone for this very purpose.  How many “trendy” people do you know see a Microsoft product sticking out of their back pocket as something desirable? – I’ll let you answer that one.

Goblin – , , Twitter

If you are new to this blog (or have not yet read it) please take time to view the OpenBytes statement, here.