Thursday, April 30, 2009

Should Sony And Nintendo Worry About Apple, Now?

I've long been in the camp that doesn't believe the iPhone platform is a threat to Sony or Nintendo.  I'm a little less so now but there have been moves by Apple in recent months to position the iPod Touch as a gaming machine in addition to being a great iPod.

Here's the number to consider:  37 million iPhones and iPod Touches sold through the latest quarter.  And the momentum is set to increase as Apple is due to release their next iPhone, iPod Touches selling better than expected, and over 9,000 games in the iTunes App Store.  Oh, did I mention how easy it is to download a game?  Any game?

At last count, PSP stands at 50 million while DS is at 100 million units sold.  Granted that DS and PSP has about three years' head start on Apple, we also have to be mindful of that fact.  PSP and DS are dated technology as far as gaming goes.  We can pretty much be sure that Apple will refresh its hardware on an annual basis.  

Those are just the facts that I want to point out before going further.  So, let's ask again:  should Sony And Nintendo Worry About Apple, Now?

Well, they definitely have to keep an eye on Apple.  And once DS2 and PSP2 comes out and Apple continues to hold its own, then they need to worry big time.  At issue isn't just gaming but what these gaming handhelds are capable of achieving.  Let's examine each issue that Apple has done right to make the iPod Touches and iPhones potential gaming competitors to the DS and PSP:
  • iTunes App Store.  Just about everyone's making one.  And in a few months, we'll know where things stand for RIM and Android since they've got the only viable operating stores for their platforms.  In about a year, we'll see Microsoft and others join the party.  But I have a feeling things won't be as rosy as iTunes.  Sony and Nintendo will have to take a hard look at how their handhelds and games ecosystem best fit their fans.  I've got a lot of confidence in Nintendo to innovate but over the years Sony has failed to challenge Apple in media and hardware design, particularly with their unfocused attempts at dethroning the iPods.
  • Ease of creating apps.  35K Apps as of today.  Over 9K are games.  In about six months, I can see that number move up to 15K.  One of the biggest complaints developers have about developing for the PS3 is how difficult and cumbersome it is.  Nintendo and Sony would have to match the support, tools, and appeal that developing for the iPhone has.  Here's one thing they can start from the beginning:  learn from Apple's insane-make-no-sense approval process.  That'll go a long way in making developers feel secured.  And as it traditional in the gaming industry, Nintendo and, in particular, Sony will need to secure exclusive titles.  Mario and company will need to really step it up.
  • Multimedia functions.  Forget about out-mp3ing the iPod function.  However, they will need their own libraries of music and video.  
Here's what Sony and Nintendo has to focus when Apple becomes a real threat:
  • Go where Apple won't go.  You've got buttons.  Use them in ways that Apple can't.
  • When the new systems come out.  When your app store start chugging along, stop playing defense.  Nintendo will do whatever it wants.  I love that fact.  Sony will be tempted to react.  It needs to make Apple and Nintendo react for once.  
  • Add ebook and TV functions to the systems.  
  • Add wireless connection.  I'm not just talking about Wi-Fi.  Change hthe dynamics of mobile communication and gaming are today.  With rumors swirling about Apple's iPhone-less device for Verizon, this is something that Sony can excel at as well.  A gaming device with always on connection to the Internet and the Sony gaming network will go a long way in getting gamers hooked.  
  • Leverage the Mii and Playstation networks.  What's Apple got?  MobileMe?  Right...
In examining Apple's advantages and how Sony and Nintendo can continue to put distance between their respective gaming handhelds from Apple's mobile devices, we can sort of see the different visions each company sees for mobile gaming in the future.  Each will leverage its own technology and properties neither the other two cannot duplicate.  

At the end of the day, there is likely going to be little change in the mobile gaming industry even if Apple manage to insert itself as the third wheel in the market.  Apple is about selling hardwares.  Nintendo will try to appeal to a larger gaming audience.  Sony will like fits somewhere in the middle.  

Perhaps not in a year or two.  But somewhere down the line, Apple's gaming potential will need to be taken seriously.  By the end of the year, the number of Apple mobile devices may well reach 60-70 million.  The next billionth app downloaded isn't going to take 10 months.  

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

(Repost) Natural Disaster Tips for Mobile Workers

From time to time, we are reminded that no matter we who are, where we are, nature does not play favorites nor are odds stacked against us in one way or another.  Sometimes life just happens, good or bad.

Besides blazing heat in Los Angeles last month for all of a week, we've been fortunately and devoid of natural disasters.  But our moderate quake yesterday reminded the whole city that we can have the BIG ONE happen at any time, between now and 32,000 years from now.

So, being prepared is a for any situation is key to waiting out natural disasters and some man-made ones.  How do mobile warriors and gadget lovers cope and prepare?

Lighting:

Earlier this year, I purchased a hand powered flashlight that requires no need to for battery changes. All that's needed is for the user to crank the handle for about half a minute to generate power for about 15 minutes.  This is very important in an environment where you could be out of power for hours if not days.  And it's durable.  You can pick up one of these at Brookstone.





Staying informed:

Outside of my Samsung Trace and iPhone, they are my online wireless link to the world should my DSL access ge knocked out along with telephone line.  But we found out yesterday that while one of oldest and most reliable form of communication isn't so reliable when everyone tries to use it at the same time, texting, IM, e-mails, and, possibly, video conferencing was still chugging along quite nicely.

I cannot stress the need for a portable powersource.  I'll admit that besides a solar charger I bought to power my mobile phones, I have no other reliable source of power.  I'm still a few years away from installing solar panels and, even then, I'm still not 100% sure about being able to be completely self-sufficient then.  So, if what other options do we have to stay in touch?  The answer?  The radio.



I'm looking for just such a device.  It's a solar powered radio that is powered by a solar panel during the day and, if needed, it has a hand crank as well.  Also, it does take batteries as well.  You can also pick up one of these at Brookstone.  Although there are other similar options at Amazon.



Food, Water, First Aid:

Still gadget lovers can life off his or her mobile devices.  You still need to make sure you've got plenty of good and water.  Not to mention a first aid kit.

I'll be polling readers and good folks I know to see just what mobile warriors need to do and create a guideline to share with everyone.  It'll be an "open source' project of sort that will continue to be revised over time as we get more and better information.

Note:  I'm looking for solar information to my Powerbook/Macbook.  I would appreciate any suggestions.

Mobile Users Dealing With Public Health Crisis

Virual or bacterial outbreaks in movies are likely the closest thing most of us have ever experienced.  However, with the swine flu advancing and scaring the pants of the WHO, how are my fellow mobile warriors to take this?

As of this morning, there are additional confirmation of the swine flu in Asia and Europe.  This has the making of a pandemic, at least that is what governments including the Obama Administration is taking it as.  So, that's good.  But never the less, we need to be prepared.

And technology had advanced far enough for people with smartphones, laptops, and other mobile devices like the iPhone to stay connnected and get the right information they need.  For instance, CDC is now twittering (CDCemergency).

Of course, we have our fill of information on the Internet with the news on the swine flu.  The best source right now is either Yahoo News or Google News .  They seem quite up-to-date with the latest information without other sites trying to sensationalize it too much.

Now, with that out of the way, let's go back and focus on technology.  I've got a couple of laptops, phones, iPod Touch, etc.  But how do I use them in the event of a wide spread pandemic?  The goal I'm looking for is that if you had to stay in your home for days at a time, I want to examine how folks will mitigate the effect of being couped up in a confined space.

We'll look at it in the next post.  Meanwhile, any suggestion and ideas you can share with everyone would be terrific.  We've seen earthquakes, hurricanes, and other forms of natural disasters over the last year.  We get fires in Southern California.  However, it doesn't affect all of us directly (except for the ash-laden air).  But this swine flu does.  This is a global event.

How have our international readers dealt with events in their countries?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Friday Movie

Lazy. Friday. Call it what you want but here's another Colbert clip for our Friday movie segment.

Biz Stone, co-founder of Twitter, braves an interview session with Steven Colbert.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Biz Stone
colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorGay Marriage Commercial



Have a great weekend!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Apple Apologized For Stupid Baby Shaker app

Well! Apple apologized the stupid app that we covered yesterday here and over at On Apple.

And it's great since I had thought they'd take a while longer if they apologize at all. I hope whoever is in charge of the app approval scheme is fired or at the very least gets a lonely elevator ride with Steve Jobs.

I don't know, guys. Apple's app store approval mentality reminds me of Michael Jackson. You know, behaviors that no one can explain.

More at CNet.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Apple: Baby Shaker - Worst App Approved Ever!

Update (3:22PM) Apple has removed the app, which never should have been in the app store to begin with (CNet) - I believe an apology from Apple is still warranted. Somebody should have asked that at the financial call this afternoon.

Update (8:37PM) This is not front page news. Well, it's on the front page of ABC News. I'll say this again. Of all the moronic things to do, Apple can't do worse. RIM, Palm, Sony, Nintendo, Microsoft, Nokia, Google, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon, and China Mobile thanks you, Tim Cook. Of course, it'll be stupid if anyone of these companies try to capitalize on this. Apple needs to make a statement on this.


Of all the fucking stupid things Apple can do, this is probably the worst. I'm talking about an app called "Baby Shaker". It's an app that allows you to shake the iPhone until the baby in the app stops crying.

Slingbox Player, not approved but this app is?!?! What the hell are these people thinking?!

The company, Silakosoft is selling it as "See how long you can endure his or her adorable cries before you just have to find a way to quiet the baby down!"

Apple, I want this app gone and it has to be done today, you morons!

Via: CNet, Krapps

You can contact Apple with this link about their stupidity and taking down this app.

Note: As of noon PST, the app is still there. Everyone needs to let Apple know how stupid they are for letting this through and it needs to be off the app store by the end of the day at the latest! I wonder how stubborn Cupertino will be in the face of this.

Another note: A reviewer actually complained about the lack of features for the app and that it wasn't dramatic enough. Geez...

Friday, April 17, 2009

Dear Game Developers


Hello.
We're fans of mobile technology, its way of life, and we are also gamers. And we're writing you this letter because we want to let you know what the mobile warriors Onxo represent, the ones who also like to play games on their Blackberries, G1s, and iPhones, and others, want from you.
Traditionally, you develop for the Nintendo's DS (now DSi) and Sony's PSP. Both great platforms. Millions of fans. Including a lot of us by the way. You've given us hours of fun and, in turn, we've made you rich (billions in capitalization). And over the years, we've grown together.
Now, there is a tech evolution going on with smartphones and mobile devices that are capable of a lot of computing and graphic crunching powers. And increasingly, folks are playing games on them. This is very evident with the iPhone platform where games dominate the app store. Apple recently released a list of top downloaded apps. Wanna guess what kind they are? Games. All games.
So, going forward, we like you to consider this when you develop games for us. Give us quality games. Don't short change us. Here are some pointers to start you off with:
  • What you give the platformers, we want it too. EA, let's use you as an example. Spore is pretty good on the iPhone. But we would love the depth you've given for the DS version. It got boring after a while. Still a great game and I go back to it often enough. Depth.
  • Don't use your flagship names to sell watered down games. Here's why. A lot of mobile users are new to the gaming scene and may for the first time be introduced to your titles. And with a dumbed down game like Metal Gear Solid for the iPhone, it makes the whole franchise look bad. Needless to say, the game got a little boring for us.
  • Charge us more. If it's a great game, we'll pay for it. Honest. One of you give it a try. You'll see.
  • But don't rob us either. Digital distribution is nothing like having to deal with the packaging, memory chips, plastic covers, and printing. There was a rumor going around that Apple might offer a premium gaming section. It's not happen. Make compelling games and we'll buy them.
  • Releases. Simultaneous releases would go a long way in tell the mobile warriors I represent that you care. And in turn, you'll have earned our respect.
  • Be innovative. Some smartphones have buttons. That makes it easier for you. But like the iPhone where there are no button, it might drive you a little crazy. Well, that doesn't seem to stop the two-man teams from coming out with great schemes for controls.
Listen, take it from Gameloft. They're developing more and more sophisticated games and they're making tons of money. I know you can do it. A lot of your developers are mobile gaming fans just like us - so set them free!  The mobile market is ripe for rich, sophisticated, and fun mobile games.  
Soon, there will be like, you know, a lot of different app stores. Build good games for them and the sky'll be the limit.  That means "$$$$$".
Regard.
PS. Keep up the good (generally) work on the DSi and PSP. And really wow us with the stuff you've got cooking for DS2 and the PSP2 when the time comes (later in 2009).

LTE: Verizon Gets Serious

It must feel like the excitement we all get at the start of a ball game. The pregame show. The discussions among fans about matchups. All that's missing is the beer, snacks, and assortment of red meat.

Well, for Verizon's recent talk about LTE, that's what it's like because it's months away from LTE turning on LTE for testing as ATT and Verizon continue to deploy the next generation wireless data network.

Both Engadget and MacNN (Electronista) reports Verizon has unveiled the LTE specs. Verizon has earlier indicated they would have the network up and running, a few months before rival ATT. And though we have to take the word of any wireless provider with a grain of salt, well a lot of salt, this announcement comes under Verizon's Open Development Initiative (Macworld has more on that).

Remember the auction of the 700Mhz spectrum earlier this year? Well, Verizon won. And they'll be building their LTE network on it. So now, VW has issued specs for devices to run on this network. And it's not just Verizon sanctioned devices but devices that are approved. Honestly, the difference is lost on me until we get closer to game time but suffice to say, mobile warriors are expecting a completely open network.

In past year, the wireless providers have public said they want to be the gatekeepers for wireless data and that we need them to be our gatekeepers. Now, VW's LTE announcement is encouraging but we'll go through their fine print to see where they're going with this.

Another interesting note is that some believe the LTE plans wouldn't necessarily have to be linked to a voice plan. It may be pure speculation but I think wireless providers are talking note that advances in VOIP and other mobile applications and changing social behaviors of an increasing number of wireless data hungry users would require them to rethink their business model.

It may be that device exclusivity and multi-year contracts will go the way of the dinosaurs. However, as hopeful as we are at Onxo, we think that's still years away.

Link:
  • Engadget
  • Macnn
  • Macworld - to sum it up, Verizon "pledged" to allow outside devices access to its network. This means folks can bring their "pre-approved" devices and not have to suffer through any of their phones or devices.
  • Open Development - you'll need to register to see the specs. It's a PDF file you'll have to download and it's a very dry read.
Note: As all mobile warriors who read my rant knows, I try to be fair to the wireless providers but time and time again, their double-speak just irks me. One, we don't believe a word they say and, two, they think we're stupid enough to believe what they say. However, I'm willing to see how this plays out. And without Google pushing the FCC to make sure the winner of the 700Mhz spectrum would open up their network, this might not be something Verizon is talking about. Now, let's see if the rest of the industry follows.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Zune Not Dead

The last time Microsoft updated their Zune hardware, it was like "this is it?"  Onxo had always to watch out for Redmond.  They were not going to go down without a fight and give Apple the whole market.

On that basis, we said look for a potential surprise from Microsoft.  Engadget appeared to have scooped new marketing market for an unreleased Zune.  Zune HD.  Currently, there is no details beyond the screen capture but the timing, if time means the next couple of months, for a release could be excellent.

All eyes have been on Apple, iPhone, its 1 billionth app download, and Palm Pre.  New iPhone from Apple won't happen until June at the earliest and Pre is nowhere to be seen.  So, the next couple of months, April and May, give Microsoft the perfect time to bring out new Zune hardware.

It will not have to go up against the iPhone or the Pre and it will have an iPod Touch that's 5 months old already.  Zune HD, or Zune phone will look fresh during this period and it'll have the media all to itself.

Need to say, it'll have to offer something spectacular.  Zune to iPod, iPod Touch still wins hands down if a touch-screen Zune is all that Microsoft brings to the market.  There's no mention of apps, games, or something that Microsoft can offer beyond what Zune can do now.

Time will tell but most folks still believe that Zune functionality will be incorporated into Window Mobile 7.  If Microsoft does release new hardware to compete with the iPhone and Touch, that belief may need some rethinking.  It is a danger after all for Microsoft to merge two flagship products, no matter how successful (or lack of), into one and fail to gain acceptance in the market.

For the sake of all mobile warriors, I hope Microsoft do continue to compete in the MP3 and touch market.  Basically, it comes down to competition, competition, and competition.  That translate into innovation, pricing, and continued push for mobility.

Via Engadget, MacNN

Update:  Appleinsider has provided a pro-Apple analysis of this potential touch-based Zune.  It's their belief that Zune will sit on top of WM.  I maintain that is a route Microsoft has certain entertained.  And while only time will tell, it is something that analysts and tech watchers may need to reevaluate.  Mcirosoft is certain capable (and cash rich enough) to try to advance Zune without using WM.  Keep in mind that Microsoft has demonstrated technological breakthrough with its tabletop Surface.  Boy, this getting exciting.

Work Computer: Desktop or Laptop

We're at the point today where the desktop cost advantage over the laptop is negligible. Sure, the desktop traditionally feature faster CPU, mower powerful GPU, and maybe even more ram. For pros who work in field that require more processing power, desktops are the way to go.

What about the rest of the office workforce who don't need those kind of power? Does it make sense to have a power hungry desktop when a laptop will suffice?

Increasingly, more and more folks I've talked to, from folks who crunch Excel files to developers at high profile Internet companies are moving away from desktops. A couple of mobile warriors were given a laptop as well as a desktop but they almost never use the desktop.

Perhaps for some of you, maybe it makes sense to request a laptop in the next round of upgrades. For employers, giving their employees laptops said something about trust and ownership of work that does along with it. Employees can take the laptop with them wherever they go.

And we all know that on some level, employees use their company laptops for personal use. That's entirely acceptable in my book.

And beyond the cost, productivity, and changes in technology, we are an increasing mobile workforce. Being tethered to a cubicle is no longer acceptable for a lot of companies and their employees. And it's a trend that cannot be denied.

So, what do you prefer? And how have mobile warriors out there convinced their employers that a laptop, smartphones, or mobile devices is better for them than a desktop?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Coming Rate War

In the last couple of months, I've noticed a lot of people talking about monthly wireless rates. And they've gone up as more and more people sign up not just for their monthly talk time rates but also a data plan as folks snatch up mobile devices and smartphones.

Right now, we're looking at around $75 and up. Some mobile warriors will argue that it's more like $70 but keep in mind that the wireless providers don't tell us about the variety of taxes. However, I get the sense that in these harsh economic times, these monthly rates are about to change.

And in a good way. It's my belief that with a shrinking pool of subscribers, economic uncertainty, parity in services and devices (okay, this point is very arguable), and a change mobile society, wireless providers like Verizon and ATT in the US are going to have to go that extra mile to get people to sign up or extend their contracts.

My advice to mobile warriors - hold for a couple of months. Not only do I believe these rates should go down a bit, we might see additional flexibility from all quarters as competition for you heat up.

And we are also expect a plethora of Android devices, Palm Pre, and the next generation iPhone to come around June. I'm sure others are like to get in on the act with Windows Mobile devices. And this may also help everyone in terms of their checkbooks. As more mobile device makers offer certain models exclusively for specific models, they are competing with one another as well.

So wait until June. Maybe even July. Look to save on the cost of the mobile devices as well as monthly rates. We'll know this summer if our assessment is correct or not.

Note: The market leaders like Blackberry and Windows Mobile will obviously offer great selection and prices. While the iPhone and Pre may appear more "shiny", Onxo believes mobile warriors should be looking at all the devices to see which best suit their needs.

Another note: Wireless providers likes to lock folks up for two-year contracts. I think they may be flexible enough to offer 1-year lockups. And to make things interesting, 3-year plans are also possible. Instead of paying $199 for a two-year contract, ATT can offer the iPhone for free if you sign up for 3-years.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Friday Clip

Alright, this is this week's Friday movie.

It's from college humor. I've heard about it and my friend showed it to me today.


Have a great weekend!

Gizmodo Got It Right on Conficker

Gizmodo of hate seems to have a new blog feature where they explain things rather than just report new gadgets and regurgitate rumors from other sources. And this post on the Conficker virus is pretty good that all mobile warriors should pay attention to. I agree with their assessment on the future of virus.

In fact, with such a network the virus author(s) seems to be creating and no security expert appears to know what it is suppose to do scares me. It doesn't matter if you're a OS X or Windows users, this affects everyone.

What also is frightening is the rule of "one up". Someone will always be around later to do better (in the virus sense, I mean "worse"). Could there be a day when a virulent computer code appear on the Internet or network without attracting anyone's attention?