Four quick posts: 11 April 2009

[I love Nat’s “Four short links” format and am ripping it off to try to get myself blogging again. Instead of links, these are four blog posts I’ve been meaning to write but haven’t.]

  1. It turns out Facebook is not completely useless if you’re married! And no, I’m not talking about the world’s most overvalued Scrabble platform, and I don’t mean “I’m in an open relationship.” Instead, I was shocked this week to find that Facebook is better than Flickr for sharing private photos. I’ve considered myself a member of the Flickr generation for some time now, but when posting pictures of my daughter, I set them to “Friends and Family” only. My Flickr contacts seem to get pictures mostly via RSS, and since no RSS message is posted for private photos, they never see my shots. Facebook, though, by making their Newsfeed a site-only feature, brings people to their site every day, which in turn lets them see my private postings. I posted a picture on Flickr and wound up with zero favorites and one comment (as it turns out, from a Flickr employee who happens to be a contact); I later posted the same picture on Facebook and got 8 favorites and 11 comments. Flickreenos: you should put a message in RSS feeds that says, “Marc just posted a private photo — click here to see it.” Or, you know, add a Scrabble app.
  2. Is there any doubt the iPhone has totally won the mobile platform war? I don’t really get why Palm is even bothering to launch the Pre. “It’s the App Store, stupid.” It took the original Palm OS about 12 years to reach 50,000 applications developed for Palm OS; in under a year, the iPhone OS already has 25,000 applications available. The App Store promises to fulfill many developers’ dream — to work alone and strike it rich. Palm is competing by trying to match the UI, and that won’t work. The Android team made a smart move recently by working on a home automation platform; changing the playing field is probably their best bet.
  3. Related: the App Store has an inscrutable, time-consuming, whim-dependent approval process. The App Store newsgroup postings are full of angry claims that this is a bug, but I bet it’s a feature. If you can’t get an app approved until it’s working perfectly, and you have to wait a week or two — or more — between approval rounds, you’re much more likely to put a lot more effort in up front to get it right. That raises the quality level across the App Store. Palm is talking about lowering the bar for development of apps, and I bet that will fill their platform with crap-ass, low quality one-offs, and people will learn to distrust apps as being valuable; instead they’ll just be widgets.
  4. Nearly all of the things that have gotten me excited online over the past year involve making media faster and easier to consume over the air (OTA): Boxee, Roku, Kindle for iPhone, even sad-sack Hulu. A lot fewer Amazon boxes are showing up at my house, even though I’m buying plenty of media from them through Kindle and Roku. OTA-media FTW! Now we just need a DRM revolution so I can actually own this stuff instead of getting a lame-ass license.
  • David C-L

    There’s clearly room for more than one winning mobile platform, especially in a world where Apple is married to a single carrier.

    Palm is launching the Pre because they have no choice– they have to evolve or die. And their existing base of applications may put them in an ideal position to catch up with Apple. Or, it may not.

  • harold

    why are they releasing the pre??? because there is so much room from improvement from an iphone. pre is 3x faster, can multitask, has apps, wifi, 3megapixel camera w flash, double the ram, and has so many cool features that iphone “decided” to leave out. As for the palm it looks solid. besides the wireless charging is so cool

  • AP

    From eweek: “iPhone worldwide market share, as measured in units sold, was 1.3 percent in the fourth quarter and 0.9 percent for 2008”. Why do you post that kind of misleading stuff Marc? You know better.

  • Marc Hedlund

    I guess the answer is, yes, there still is doubt, in the comments section, at least. :)

    I think the App Store will prove to be a competitive barrier in the same way application support was a competitive barrier for platforms trying to compete with Windows. Certainly I agree there are other markets for mobile phones and mobile devices, but for mobile phone-based computing platforms, I think Apple has already won for the first generation.

    Predicting the future is hard and I may be wrong. But that’s how it looks to me. If you “know better,” I’d like to know why.

  • Caitlin

    I love my iphone. Never leave home without it, panic a tiny bit if the battery gets low and I’m not anywhere near my charger, have taken it on vacations in lieu of my laptop and been 100% happy with the decision.

    That said: the Pre looks better. And I’m not talking sexy styling. Palm has done a good job of consciously trending away from some of the decisions Apple made in their development of the iphone. Things like apps that truly run in the background. Or allowing their applications to share data.

    If the Pre feels as good as it looks? I’ll switch in a heartbeat. And I’m not the only one of my iphone/android obsessed friends who have said that. In a market this new? There’s always room for innovation, and with how locked down Apple keeps their code, the iphone’s not going to provide all of the services people are going to want.

  • In related historical stories,

    1990: Can there be any question that WordPerfect has totally won the word processor war?

    1998: Can there be any question that Alta Vista has won the web search engine war?

    2007: “There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share.” — Steve Ballmer

    The market will decide, but pretending that any of us can predict the outcome here is silly.

  • Devdas Bhagat

    The iPhone won the mobile platform war? indicates otherwise.

    All that the buzz indicates is that the iphone sold well in the US market.

  • Marc Marc such Bigotry

    LOL It is so funnyy that the Apple fanboys which are generally very left leaning anti- this or that,I am superior to you in everyway(bigoted) and who feel the US is very arrogant(they have to have something to HATE you know) are the same ones so arrogant that think because APPLE has sold a lot in the US that they have taken over the world. Isn’t it Ironic don’t you think?OR is it that they are just so full of shitt in everything they do or think?

  • q

    “I don’t really get why Palm is even bothering to launch the Pre.” That’s a pretty bold statement from someone who just realized facebook is better than flickr for sharing photos, lol. While I will concede Palm will not gain any apple users, there is still a huge pool of people transitioning from dumb phones to smartphones and a number of people who don’t quite fit the corporate WinMo/Blackberry type. I think there is need, but it really depends on Palms execution of its launch. I’m a little in the air about the apps, we’ll have to see how important that really turns out to be.

  • Rex

    facebook won’t give you an rss feed, and you think it is a feature?

  • Marc Hedlund

    q: “That’s a pretty bold statement from someone who just realized facebook is better than flickr for sharing photos, lol.” — Ha! Great one.

    Rex: “facebook won’t give you an rss feed, and you think it is a feature?” — No, I think it sucks. I’m just acknowledging that it has a benefit for the way private (well, stuff posted to a small group) photos make it to my friends.

  • hi marc —
    it’s a great observation / question — “where do you share your (family) photos and why?”. you’re not the only one i’ve noticed that has (perhaps with surprise?) noticed that Facebook provides better traction with posts. it seems nearly(?) that just the *act* of selecting an audience makes that audience itself feel more engaged. with Flickr, these people don’t connect with each other through you, and hence don’t feel as “specially chosen.”
    one “caveat emptor” about sharing pics that MBW @lwaldal and i just discovered: with the advent of twitter, it’s easy to use Twitpic. one thing Flickr does well (and it’s done many) is to integrate with creative commons. particularly when posting pics of your progeny, you want considered copyright control ad infinitum. Twitpic provides none of that; a shame.

  • Rob

    Cell phones barely work at all, with dropped calls and bad audio. I just don’t get the attraction.