Thursday, September 23, 2010

a hit and a major miss

I've been feeling more and more fed up with the dropped calls on AT&T and the sluggish speed of my 3G iPhone. I popped into a RadioShack to check out the HTC EVO 4G phone. Found it on a display, picked it up to play with it and guess what... the display was just a static sticker. You could not actually EXPERIENCE the device.

RadioShack, friends, that is a miss. A major miss. Perhaps the Shack doesn't have the dough for the electric juices to power every phone in the store. Ok, understandable. But it's frustrating for me, as a consumer and a fan of technology, to see products that I think have huge potential be treated in-store like the same old crap on every other shelf. If you haven't seen the ex-Best Buy employee video about why EVO is better than the 4th generation iPhone, check it out.

If you're going to launch a new product that huge, you have to let people experience it. When you are shopping for a phone it's like you are shopping for an external organ. You are shopping for a critical piece of machinery that connects you to your world. The commercials can list off the devices' capabilities until robots take over the world. What it comes down to is the phsycial interaction for the user and the ease with which they can use those marvelous capabilities. 

Come on RadioShack and HTC. Put your heads together on this one.

Friday, September 17, 2010

skip the new new

Why is it that all social networks all trying to become more robust versions of each other? Facebook and Google are like dogs chasing one another’s tails. Google bought Aardvark which allows users to ask questions and gain answers from the communities’ self-proclaimed experts. Now Facebook has Facebook questions. Where are the true originals?

Sam Altman, founder of Loopt, was interviewed by BusinessWeek about his competitor, Facebook Places:

“How will Facebook change the market?

This is going to be the best thing ever to happen in the history of Loopt. Facebook is going to educate lots and lots of people who have never heard of these services before. Given that Facebook takes the approach that it’s going to be the platform for the entire Web, we now have access to 100 times more data than we did before. If we could show you where 11 of your friends were before, now we can show you where 110 of your friends are. So Loopt will offer unique services on top of what Facebook is offering. It would be suicidal for anyone in this space not to integrate with Facebook, and I expect them all to do it. Then the question becomes which of us can build the most differentiated user value experience on top of this very basic data layer.”

I like how he sees the goliath of a competitor as the greatest opportunity for his company yet. Very smart sense of optimism.

So is it that these companies will make enough money riding one another’s coat tails? Is chasing the newest new thing not really worth the long struggle? Should they all just wait until enough consumers have adopted the new idea and follow by introducing their own souped up version?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

asking questions

The ability to ask provocative questions is a gift. Just discovered this tumblr via @kthread. Guess it’s a part of an ITP class. Full of great questions that really make you think.

Check it out:

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

mystery of possibility

Something that has been spinning through my head recently is the realization that I am more interested in what isn't possible than what currently is. This came to me in part as I shifted through my favorite TV shows and movies (e.g. True Blood, Lost, Avatar). And maybe that makes me a fantasy/sci fi geek, I'll have to hit up next year's Comic Con to know.

I was watching this old TED talk featuring JJ Abrams and I feel like he really hits on why using our imaginations and considering what could seem ridiculous is so exciting. He says that the thing that he realized is that perhaps there are times when mystery is more important than knowledge.

Mystery allows the creative side of the brain to fill in the gaps where the knowledge is absent. That small exercise of gap-filling one could argue helps the brain grow more so than the knowledge that was possibly a given and memorized fact. Time recently wrote an article about great schools and in it they talk about schools who assign projects which require both convergent and divergent thinking. Solving a mystery is when the brain takes the hard evidence, convergent thinking, and uses conjecture, divergent thinking, to figure out who done it. Considering what could be within reason is where the brain really gets to explore and grow. It breathes possibility and allows us to create and invent.

Check out the TED talk: J.J. Abrams' mystery box | Video on