Category Archives: iphone

Defining cloud computing

I liked this post by Larry Dignan on the cloud computing buzzword and how meaningless it has become.

Writing on the subject recently, I was struck by the gulf between what some people mean – online apps like Google Apps and Gmail – and what others mean, on-demand utility computing such as that delivered by Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud or Flexiscale. These things have little in common.

Dignan has even more examples.

Should we abandon the term? Maybe, but I find it useful if only as shorthand for describing how the centre of gravity is shifting to the Internet.

Some services are more cloudy than others. Dignan refers to this Forrester report (though you’ll have to look at the blog post for the extracts, unless you want to buy it) which has a table of “six key characteristics.” I don’t agree with all of them; the business model, for example, is not an inherent part of cloud computing. I am interested in number two:

Accessible via Internet protocols from any computer

Any computer? OK, probably not the Atari ST which I have in the loft. Any computer with a web browser? What about requiring a “modern” web browser, is that OK? Java? Flash? Silverlight? A specific version of Java or Flash? What about when we need a runtime like Adobe AIR or Microsoft Live Mesh? What if it doesn’t run on Linux? Or on an Apple iPhone? What about when there is an offline component such as Google Gears? All these things narrow what is meant by “any computer”.

This is the old “rich versus reach” debate; it is still being played out. My point: cloud computing isn’t a boolean characteristic, but a continuum from very cloudy (NTP) to not cloudy at all (Microsoft Office).

Apple rapped by ad standards body for not supporting Flash and Java

The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority has upheld a complaint (from all of two viewers) against an Apple ad which stated that “all the parts of the internet are on the iPhone”.

In its adjudication, the ASA stated:

The ASA noted that Java and Flash proprietary software was not enabled on the iPhone and understood that users would therefore be unable to access certain features on some websites or websites that relied solely on Flash or Java.  We noted Apples argument that the ad was about site availability rather than technical detail, but considered that the claims "You’ll never know which part of the internet you’ll need" and "all parts of the internet are on the iPhone" implied users would be able to access all websites and see them in their entirety.  We considered that, because the ad had not explained the limitations, viewers were likely to expect to be able to see all the content on a website normally accessible through a PC rather than just having the ability to reach the website.  We concluded that the ad gave a misleading impression of the internet capabilities of the iPhone.

Nobody comes out of this with any credit. Apple’s point, when challenged, was this:

Apple said the aim of the ad was to highlight the benefit of the iPhone in being able to offer availability to all internet websites, in contrast to other handsets which offered access to WAP versions or sites selected by service providers.

Somewhat misleading I’d say. All the smartphones I’ve seen recently support HTML as well as WAP. Still, Safari on the iPhone has a larger screen and more complete standards support than other mobile browsers, and on these points Apple is on firmer ground.

What about Flash and Java? Apple apparently said:

They said they could not ensure compatibility with every third party technology in the marketplace and, in order to create the best customer experience, had created their platform on open standards.  They said Java and Flash were examples of proprietary software they had chosen not to enable on the iPhone.

A reasonable point, surely. But the ASA says:

…viewers were likely to expect to be able to see all the content on a website normally accessible through a PC…

Naive viewers, perhaps. Most would figure out at least that a much smaller screen will introduce limitations. And why stop at Flash and Java? What about ActiveX, Silverlight, Real Player, or any site that needs a plug-in to operate correctly? Of course the ASA doesn’t say that Apple should enable all that stuff. It merely says that the ad implies it. That strikes me as a fragile argument. I’d back Apple here.

Nevertheless, it is interesting to see this pressure on Apple to support proprietary plug-ins. I wonder who complained?

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The sad story of the LG Viewty – case study in Web 2.0 failure

The LG Viewty (KU990) is a decent camera phone which came out last year in the wake of the first iPhone; yes it is me-too product but it has a few advantages over Apple’s product, like an 5 MP camera.

The trouble is, there are niggles, some minor, some major – like video recordings losing sound. A little over six months on, and users are posting messages like this:

I have to admit that I hate this phone. I have had mine six months now and I have regretted it for some time. It’s unresponsive, the camera is poor most of the time, it’s really awkward to use. It’s very slow at taking photos. It can’t hold a signal. The battery life is getting poor. It won’t handle many music file types very well. It feels like a Beta phone. The support from LG is non existent. I’m so disappointed. I look at apple, and yes, people did have to fork out for their phones, but look at the level of support and development they’re getting – new stuff is being added all of the time. It almost feels like they built this phone as a test for some of the features to go into other products.
The best thing about this phone is the video, and I love that part of it. I have some real magic moments captured and I’m grateful. But that is it.
I speak for myself, but I will never get another LG phone, period. As soon as I can get bought out of my contract the better.

It is a big change in mood from when the Viewty was released. This huge thread on the What Mobile forum has the story. Early adopters loved it – except for a few niggles which they hoped and expected would be fixed by a firmware update.

There has been no firmware update. Presumably all the software folk at LG have moved on to the next shiny device. Viewty users feel abandoned.

This seems like a good case study about not getting Web 2.0. Ironically LG made an effort to exploit social networking when the Viewty was launched. LG contacted bloggers and and offered phones for review; I reviewed it here. There is an official LG UK Blog – which sadly is pure marketing fluff and has done nothing to engage with the community over the issues which have been raised. There is an official Viewty website that has lots of Flash multimedia but little substance.

Yesterday I wrote about purchase decisions that begin with a Google search. Mobile phones are a good example. Anyone who does their Web homework will be put off the Viewty; and indeed deterred from newer LG models because the same thing will likely happen again. Network effects work both ways; even those who do not live on the Web will be influenced by opinion-formers who do.

It seems to me that a relatively small investment in communication and post-release software update and support would yield significant improvement in sales.

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