An often irreverent look at this week's other news ...
Nokia to Shareholders: No, Seriously, We Do Have a Strategy
Nokia Chairman Risto Siilasmaa appeared before angry shareholders on Thursday to further explain the company’s turnaround strategy, which thus far has been more of a reversal than an actual turnaround. Siilasmaa said he was confident in the company’s executive team, strategy, and product lineup and that Nokia would “get through this transition period.” The worrying isn’t theoretical: Nokia stock has fallen 90 percent over the past 5 years, and the company’s share of the handset and smartphone markets has likewise nose-dived. And Nokia’s credit rating was recently lowered to “junk” status by both Fitch and Standard & Poor's. As one shareholder told Siilasmaa and other executives, “The situation is close to catastrophic ... Nokia is fighting against time.” Well, Nokia is actually fighting against time and both Apple and Android, as it turns out, and also against perceptions that its products and the Windows Phone OS software they use are somehow lacking when compared with the competition. As we’ve seen so often, overcoming undeserved perception is difficult.
Wozniak Just Loves Windows Phone, but He’s Wrong About Why It’s Great
Apple Cofounder Steve Wozniak loves Windows Phone, but then Woz loves everything, so I’m not really sure why this is particularly newsworthy. I mean, Woz is a lot of things, but number one on the list has to be “a nice guy,” and let’s face it, Windows Phone is clearly more usable and efficient than the iPhone or Android, so his confirmation is somewhat interesting but, in my mind, unnecessary. More interesting, however, is that Woz has a theory about how Microsoft was able to out-innovate his beloved Apple: He “surmises” that Microsoft “hired someone from Apple and put money into having a role in the UI and appearance of some key apps.” That is amazingly clueless. The Metro UI that he’s referring to is the digital reincarnation of a long-understood, grid-based, Swiss design model that Microsoft has been evolving over many years, and as used in Windows Phone and Windows 8, it harkens back to a full decade of such previous Microsoft products as Media Center, Portable Media Center, Zune, Zune HD, and more. This isn’t Microsoft “copying” or “stealing” from Apple, this is Microsoft using well-understood design techniques rather than having design dictated by a monomaniacal non-designer. I love Woz, really. But this guy’s insights into what’s happening today in technology are a bit off, sorry.
Kindle Fire Sales Haven’t Slumped ... iPad 3 Sales Have Surged at Launch, as Should Be Expected
Riddle me this, Batman. In the quarter in which Apple launched its highly successful iPad 3 (sorry, “all new iPad”) and the iPad’s share of the tablet market jumped by 13 percentage points while the Amazon Kindle’s share of the tablet market fell by a remarkably identical 13 percentage points, how do you report this story? Do you note that Apple is obviously experiencing a launch-quarter bump, as it did in Q4 2011 with the iPhone 4S in the smartphone market? Or do you write that Amazon Kindle sales have “slumped”? Apparently, it’s the latter, if my feed reader is any indication. But as I gaze on the numbers, all I see is the iPad rising by the same amount that the Kindle is falling, from a “percentage of the market share” perspective. So we know that iPad sales jumped dramatically in the quarter. It’s possible that Kindle Fire sales also went up (quarter over quarter in this case; the Fire wasn’t available a year earlier) but that the iPad gains were just that much higher. I don’t see this as a big issue at all. What’s more concerning is why no non-Fire Android tablets are selling at all. Android is number one in the smartphone market; why is it getting killed in the tablet market?
Further Proof that iPhone Users are Lemmings
I used each iPhone in succession until mid-2010 when I got a Windows Phone handset and never looked back. Windows Phone taught me all kinds of things about smartphones, including that Apple’s devices have fallen far behind from a usability perspective. But the most important thing I learned was that all those phone-calling issues I had with the iPhone weren’t AT&T’s fault after all: They were Apple’s fault, and suddenly with Windows Phone, I stopped dropping calls. So this week, I’m kind of laughing to myself about a report from Rebtel, which is the largest VoIP provider you’ve never heard of. According to these guys, iPhone users love their phones so much that they’re far more likely to stick with their service provider than users of other smartphones. Why is this funny, you ask? Because I bet a huge percentage of these overly loyal users could get much better service ... if they just stopped using the iPhone. It’s funny how the solution is staring you right in the face and you can’t see it.
Wait, Wait, Wait—This Is the New Android Flagship Phone? Pffft ....
Would someone kindly explain to me why the release of a new Android “flagship” phone is a big deal when it happens every single month, almost as if on cue? It seems like the entire tech world was waiting on news of Samsung’s coming Galaxy S III smartphone. But unless I’m missing something critical, I just don’t see the excitement. Yes, it’s got a high-resolution screen, just like other Android phones. Yes, it has a lame ripoff of the iPhone 4S Siri feature, which is pretty much all the intellectual honesty one should expect of such a device. It’s got an 8-megapixel camera; nothing surprising there. It’s humongous, with a 4.8" screen, so it’s not for everyone. And it works with LTE-type networks, obviously. Why is this a big deal?
Target to Stop Selling Amazon’s Kindle Devices
US retailer Target this week announced that it would stop selling Amazon’s Kindle ebook reader and tablet devices. No, not because they’re not selling like gangbusters, but because it’s tired of Amazon—a retailing competitor with no physical stores of its own—using Target as a showroom for its own products. The issue is that many customers come into Target to see and touch the Kindle but then order it online from Amazon. Not helping matters is an Amazon promotion in which the online retailer actually provided a 5 percent discount on any Kindle sale that was first scanned via smartphone in a physical retail store. Now that’s gumption! But then what did Target expect from the aggressive online retailer? Target selling Amazon products would be like Borders selling books published by Barnes & Noble’s in-house publishing company, Sterling Publishing. Oh wait, Borders is dead. And the publishing industry is somehow rallying around Barnes & Noble. What a world.
Listen to Paul. No, Really Listen. Or Watch. Or Both!
Andrew Zarian and I recorded the latest episode of the What The Tech podcast on Tuesday, and Leo Laporte, Mary Jo Foley, and I recorded the latest episode of the Windows Weekly podcast on Thursday. As always, these episodes should be available soon, generally in both audio in video formats, on the web, and via iTunes, the Zune Marketplace, and wherever else quality podcasts are found. You can also find all of my podcast activities on the SuperSite for Windows.
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