Friday, October 28, 2011

Possible way to make revolutionize TV

So I was reading about how Steve Jobs "cracked" the TV industry but what could they possibly do at Apple (or other companies) to do this? Here are my ideas.

The only way I would see TV "revolutionized" would be if 1) cable companies lost the ability to package channels and the consumer can choose INDIVIDUAL channels. For example, I love Comedy Central so I would love to have that as one of my core channels but I don't give a damn about MTV and Jersey Shore (or infomercial etc etc). This has already been done in Canada but by the government and people can just pay for the channels they want and are not forced to buy 150 channels to watch 10 of them.

2) instant demand of the shows and integration of social networks into the TV set. In today's world of instant gratification, TV is way too slow. We have to conform to the TV's and the network's demands, schedule, which is a concept that is completely outdated. The only way TV can beat the internet is through instant delivery of TV shows (i.e. live sports games, live concerts, etc etc) and their replays. Let's say you want to watch a football game that starts on 7 pm but you were late to get home so you're back at 7:30. Of course you want to continue watching it but you want to see it from the beginning.

What if, you could watch the beginning of the game at 7:30 pm and just continue watching the replay until you catch up to the whole show till it ends? This way, you don't have to watch part of it now and then rewatch the beginning later. And of course, it would be great if somehow this content was available to you after the show is over for replay value and accessed by computer, iOS device etc.

Also, if they integrate social networks into the TV, that would be amazing too. Imagine if you're watching a basketball game and Lebron James just dunked over two defenders; the right hand side will show real live comments from Facebook and Twitter users commenting on it. You can even comment on it and if it's too distracting, you can put it away as well. This integration allows you to see feedback from others around your community, your country or the world and makes TV a more social experience rather than simply a one to one experience. Imagine the TV can listen to your voice if you and some friends are physically away from each other (i.e. you are watching TV at home, your friends are watching it in Florida)  and you can communicate through the TV through VoiP most likely to comment on the game, etc.

Touchscreen doesn't make sense for a TV because no one stands in front of the TV to use it...they sit down far away from it. Integration with a touchscreen device however would be great i.e. an Ipad app that allows you to use a remote. Not just a remote, but also the TV guide on the Ipad as well; I hate watching TV because it's so goddamn annoying trying to find that ONE show in the hundreds of channels. The interface sucks using the remote and the TV; it needs to be simplified and using the iPad to do that would be great.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Google Buys Motorola Mobility! Googlerola?

Wow so apparently Google just bought the mobile division of Motorola for 12.5 billion dollars, which was splintered off from Motorola before into a separate company. That's really big news because before Google only provided the software for Android phones and allowed their partners to do the manufacturing. Now Google is competing with its partners as well, which would cause a sour taste in their competitors such as HTC and Samsung.

Some people are saying it's a good deal while others aren't. The pro is that you can finally have Google provide more original support, design and development in Android phones, hopefully making the fragmentation problem much less of a problem. This seems to confirm that Apple's unified approach of creating the software and hardware is the best way instead of just sending out the software to a multitude of partners. The con is that you just messed up your previous business model and probably burned a few bridges with your partners. The biggest reason though is that Google is buying up Motorola for the patents it has (17000 or more i believe) because Google has been dealing with a lot of lawsuits regarding patents (as well as everyone else in the tech world it seems) over mobile patents. At the very least, Google acquired the patents to protect itself but will it's 12.5 billion dollar acquisition amount to anything profitable or useful in advancing the Android platform? That is the million (or billion I guess) dollar question.

Isn't it interesting that both Google and Apple have now messed with Samsung (referring to Apple's lawsuit against Samsung for copyright infringement on their galaxy tab and phones)? I'm sure Samsung's not too happy about it.

For more on the news,

Sunday, July 17, 2011

What Android Needs To Compete Against Apple

Google's mobile operating system, Android, clashes directly with Apple's iOS. Whereas Apple's model is built upon a strong centralized authority (Apple), Google chooses to license its software to hardware manufacturers such as HTC, Samsung, Motorola etc. In essence, it's just following the PC strategy of creating solely software and relying on partners to create the  hardware. The great thing about that is that it allows Google to focus on the software only and not worry about hardware sales. The con is that this creates a very confusing experience for all the users who may want to use Android but are just way too confused.

As many critics have pointed out, Android has a fragmentation issue, where so many partners are creating their own version of Android hardware and software wise. For example, the buttons for different manufacturers for home, exit, menu and search can be completely different. The quality is also very different too; while iOS can only be installed on iPhones, a premium product (at least until it becomes obsolete), Android can be put onto any device that will accept it. You can have the best flagship phones from Verizon, such as the HTC Thunderbolt, with very impressive specifications and high price that clearly show it's a premium product and you can also have Android on the cheapest or free phones. There is a lot of complaint that compatibility issues abound with Android apps; i.e. an app may work for one phone while it does not work for another phone. Another issue I think is a problem is that there is way too much noise in the environment concerning branding. For instance, the Droid X by Motorola can be confusing because I remember when people I talked to about it couldn't understand the difference between Droid X and Android.  The marketing is also pretty terrible imo, especially in the beginning. I remember watching a commercial for the Droid phone and it just had a strange looking robot that was moving around its arms clicking on images. It didn't really help people understand WHAT the Droid X was; all I could tell was that it's name was Droid. Plus, it tried way too hard to be futuristic and "cool"; it looked like it came out of the brain of a 60 year old advertising executive.

Now that the problems are identified, what does Google need to do?

I believe that Google needs to push itself more into Android. While I'm not advocating for an Apple like vice over everything, Google should be more of a guiding force that unites and integrates the system. For instance, they should definitely create a benchmark for the minimum amount of hardware quality (such as processor, ram etc). 2) They need to create a universal standard for the user experience; this includes button placement and a unified stock experience so that users can move from one device to another seamlessly and not have to worry about a new learning curve. Of course, I do think that manufacturers can offer an option of their own UI design so that they can create what they feel is the best representation of their company. This offers choice to users; if they wish not to be hassled with learning new interfaces and what not, they can use the unified stock experience. If they want to try out the manufacturer's tweaked interface, they can select that as well. It's quite simple; there are apps out there now called "Launchers" that can change the interface visually but doesn't change anything else.

Regarding the app store, the app store needs to be more developer friendly and have Google be a central authority to take care of the annoying administrative and business aspects of the transactions. I remember reading an editorial who complained that developing for Android apps was annoying because he had to take care of so much of the customer support and financial aspect when he would much rather be just developing the app, which he does on iOS. Apple handles all those issues for him. Google can do the same thing. Google should also be trying to entice iOS developers to develop their apps for Android as well as iOS. To go even further, if they find promising developers, they should definitely put them on a preferred list of some sort, whether they means they get access to new hardware, development kits, code w/e. They can also pay them to develop exclusively for Android; if the app is successful, then it's a win win situation for both.  Google gets a great app on Android to brag about and the developer has revenue from successful sales. Lastly, Google needs to clean up the app store to maintain a certain quality for its apps. It can do this by example, by developing some more quality apps so developers know what the bar is. They can also just take out the apps they feel are poor quality and weed them out or help them become better. Or they can just put a warning saying that this app has not met the standards Google believes to be fit etc etc.

In terms of marketing and advertising, Google needs to put the Android brand out there to make sure everyone knows what it is, just like how everyone know what Windows is. It needs to lose the "nerdy" image and create a new, cool chic branding feel. It doesn't mean it has to abandon all the "geeks" who are really proficient in Android and like to tweak around. That would be unwise. But at least in the public sphere, Google and friends need to learn how to make their products desirable like Apple and marketing is an important aspect of that. They need to sell that the Android experience is preferable to Apples because of XYZ (i.e. you can still get unlimited Data on Sprint but if you got an iPhone from ATT, you have to pay more to get less data), the hardware is much more up to date etc. Also, I think that these manufacturers should think outside of the box; why is every Android device like a Ford Model T? No one said that black was the only color allowed right? Be a little more creative and try out red, blue, white, green etc...

That's about my views on Android tonight...feel free to reply