Samsung Galaxy Note. First Look
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Spillikins є134. The King's Quit Ц Long Live The King Ц Steve Jobs
I think it would be easier to just start inserting maps of my travelling instead of saying that I'm hitting the road again. Last month took me through Europe, Asia and back to Europe again. In Estonia I tried a local SIM for unlimited Internet. The first store I bumped into was Tele2 and for И0.90 a day I was promised a limit free Internet and it was so Ц I was downloading about 200-300MB or more on my Galaxy Tab 10.1 a day. I tried using a torrent client but even with an HSDPA connection the download speed could not go higher than 3-4KB/s. I got a feeling that the carrier restricted the use bit torrent to slow down traffic hungry users. But there were no restrictions for other types of content and downloads worked fine. Unfortunately, the general quality of Tele2 network in Estonia was so great Ц repetitive log-ins and limited speed. I must note that I have been using the network outside the capital on Lake Peipus, in Tartu, Toila, Narva. My general impression is that the speed was on a par with the falling behind Russian Beeline networks and far behind Megaphone which offers spectacular speed even if compared with the world's biggest carriers.
During the Universiade in Shenzhen the load on networks was immense but the networks worked fine and 3G had a decent speed. The network peaked and went off a couple of times but I'm not sure whether it was security measures due to the arrival of a government big shot or something else. As for the rest the network quality was very good but not as good as Megaphone and I can prove with solid numbers.
My last observation from the trip Ц the security measures of in regard to highest officials are similar in Russia and China. The hotel I was staying in was honored by a visit by the third man in China which caused a lot of inconveniences to the other guests: security screenings, elevators were halted whenever he was moving in or out, and the encryption of mobile networks was always off. I think you can say where a high official is by seeing the open lock in the system tray which means that the encryption is off. Let's now move on to the main part of the Spillikins Ц there have been lots of interesting stuff lately.
When most of the world's population knows your name, your products are used on spaceships, submarines and just everywhere you can as well forget about privacy. Public attention can be dangerous and it has ruined a lot of lives. But it can be even more dangerous if the credibility of your company is based solely on your name. it may seem that without this one person nothing can work Ц this is how an average Joe thinks and this is how a Wall Street trader thinks. They never consider what kind of people you have been working with to achieve success. They only remember your personal achievements and failures, they take equally a well-rehearsed presentation and an accidental slip. I think Steve Jobs must appreciate "Being John Malkovich" starring John Malkovich as himself. For many people Apple is just one person, there is only one man for them behind the bitten apple Ц there is no team of professionals, no one remembers them. Try asking IT journalists to name Apple's top managers and he will name two or three max, some will mistakenly name Wozniak , as for the rest Ц Apple is Steve Jobs.
This is why on that Wednesday night the news about Steve Jobs' resignation from the CEO post caused such a stir. It is hard being an icon for a whole generation of users, businessmen and fans. In a short letter to public Steve Jobs explained his decision. I quote a passage:
"I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple's CEO. I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come".
Steve Jobs has been fighting cancer for several years. He took a sick leave several times and we could not see him in his polo neck on stage launching new products. The disease wouldn't let him go but he came back this time to leave for good. I won't enumerate everything he has done Ц plenty was said already. And the close attention that was always drawn to his every move is enough to be familiar with the milestones he has passed.
Steve Jobs is no longer the CEO but he got the newly created position of the chairman of the board. Apple has never had one before. But no one can be fooled by this title Ц Steve Jobs is no longer in charge. Why he did it? I think he just wants to rest from business. It may sound untimely and rude but Steve Jobs is mortal as all of us. The resignation is not death but he always had good timing. He is giving time to his successor Tim Cook, Apple's former COO, to get used to the CEO position. The team I am talking about is the team Steve Jobs assembled personally. During his second coming Jobs avoided the mistakes of the past and carefully selected the managers, designers and even engineers. All key figures in Apple were selected by Jobs personally including his successor Tim Cook.
The Apple team remains in shadow but we were introduced to a new face who we will be comparing to Steve Jobs. Of course, no matter what Cook is going to do it is unlikely that he will become as charismatic as his boss. But then, he does not need to, he should be different to prove that the company can operate without Jobs.
There will be no consequences whatsoever to Steve Jobs' resignation. In the mid-term perspective (2011-2013) we won't notice a difference in management. Why? Because the company is on an unprecedented lucky streak. Whatever happens Apple will be on top for several years, the tablet market will be growing very fast, iPhone sales will be stable and the new products are very competitive. The Jobs legacy will kepp the company going unless they invite Stephen Elop from Nokia or Leo Apotheker from HP. But I don' think Apple is mad enough for that.
Jobs is buying time for his team to show what they are capable of on their own. It is not just a right move in terms of business but also a difficult decision for anyone who devoted his lifetime to one enterprise. Many founders are tempted to stay in management until the very end. Jobs has shown us that he is strong enough to let go of his beloved company. It is a wise move but also an emotionally hard one.
I want to conclude this by saying that Apple is safe for the nest years or maybe even a decade. There are no serious threats to the company if it is handles with care. Jobs' resignation ends an era but a new one starts. We are afraid of change but life means change. I want to wish many happy returns to Steve Jobs.
I gave my four year old daughter my Galaxy Tab 10.1 after having installed a number of free apps from Android Market. I could have never imagined that something can go wrong. But some time later my bank informed me of a $99.99 and later of $19.99 payments. The message contained congratulations from TeamLava for purchasing 580 crystals for $100. The Fashion Story game went on surprising me. It turns out this free game allows purchasing crystals you can use to acquire in-game clothes, designer items and stuff like that. How could a four year old buy all these crystals when she cannot even read? She was simply pressing the OK button which she understands. Amazingly, a day after that happened Android Market was updated and now requires PIN to authorize purchases. But the security of transactions is far from perfect. Look at this Android Market screenshot.
In the app menu you can choose whether to require PIN or not. PIN authorization is on by default. I like the way Apples App Store works much more Ц you are required to enter your account password every time you make purchase something. This works and I have been saved by this feature several times from accidentally buying apps I thought were free.
Now back to TeamLava and crystal pushing. The company has had the problem of children accidentally buying crystals and they have been refunding clients. In my case, the correspondence with the company has gotten as far as sending my bank account information but TeamLava's support has been silent since and I havn't received any messages from them for two days now. I hope I get my refund and I'm thankful to my daughter for drawing my attention to the problem of security of transactions on Android Market and especially in apps. I think it's Googles fault and all victims of such apps and their authors can demand refunds from Google also. There is plenty of room for fraud when it comes to carelessness of children and their parents. Parents, be aware. I can suggest turning off data transfer (including Wi-Fi) when you child is playing with your phone or tablet.
In one of the previous Spillikins I described an external battery purchased on eBay, which I used for several months.
The end of the life cycle was sad, because the jack got damaged, so that I could charge the battery, but not the phone. I threw it away in Berlin and at one of AMD functions I received a similar one as a souvenir. Its capacity is limited and charging from USB takes hours. In other words it is a step down for me.
In Hong Kong I was looking for this kind of battery and I purchased in the street market an unknown Vtank model, which promised 6000 mAh and charging of tablets. It sounded attractive and the looks of the gadget were respectable. A metal case was accompanied by a bag full of various connectors. A dream of a package!
This model is a good example of difference between established companies and relative newcomers. The battery was created with nice exterior and package in mind. On the box is the explanation how to use the gadget. Unfortunately, the box is likely to be disposed of quickly. At the same time there is a small brochure inside. The device itself has no symbols on it, especially near the jacks you see no maximum voltage and power, which is a serious disadvantage to my mind. The second obvious drawback is a plug used instead of a standard microUSB. In other words if you leave a connector somewhere, the charging will not take place. It is a serious concern. Even if you can find a standard cable it will have to be treasured and carried in the pouch.
Finding a website of the manufacturer via Google proved to be difficult and I gave up after 15 minutes. Almost all returns were links to stores in Asia selling the product. I have not come across this phenomenon for a long time.
An inquisitive reader should ask about the product itself now. I have no complaints whatsoever. My iPad was charged by 60%, which is not bad. One charge is enough for two or three phones and it is better done in a row. For example my Galaxy SII can be charged two times and a half within two days. Occasionally the external battery loses its charge without any apparent reason. I think that one button may be pressed, but what happens next is not clear. All in all I was happy with this battery and in future I will tell you about its fate over a period of time. The price is typical for such a gadget and stands at around $100.
In a duty free zone of Hong Kong airport I saw several other battery variants, which I liked. There was no reason to buy them, so I had to walk by. My colleagues suffering from similar charging problems in phones snapped up external batteries too. As you might have guessed they have Apple iPhone 4. Nice looking batteries boost the phone size and make it inconvenient to carry. After one attempt they started carrying the battery in the bag. When required batteries could be charged due to the switch on the body. Surprisingly, to charge the battery you need a microUSB cable. A proprietary jack from Apple was not included. I do not think it is logical, but on the other hand such a cable is easier to find in comparison with the one from Apple. Some may disagree though. In one company I could not find a microUSB cable, because Apple gadgets were a standard there. I found a miniUSB cable from a camera, but a standard microUSB cable was impossible to get.
The multitude of products helping to charge tablets, phones and similar devices testifies to the proliferation of the issue during the last year. A modern phone capable of 6 hours of operation when used to the full is quickly becoming a norm. What is going to happen next?
My friend even labels it as the move back to land line models dependant on the charger cable. I hope our gadgets will soon get reliable and powerful batteries. Otherwise the future will be like a step back into the past.
We often discuss difficulties in RIM, while the company is trying to show it is still moving forward. Often it is much ado about nothing. I will not dwell on the new Curve, as it is inexpensive and not interesting for me. There is an impression that the phone was unveiled for the sake of information opportunity. The phone is unlikely to attract many new customers. It will be a corporate model purchased due to a low price. It is a compromise, which does not give RIM any competitive advantage.
The official description of Curve 9350/9360/9370 is available here.
I paid more attention to BBM Music, which is a strange mix. RIM decided to enter the services market with such a trivial segment as music. The company decided to add music to its tried and trusted Blackberry Messenger. I think it is not a viable solution to connect everything you can to one popular service.
For $4.99 a month you can create a play list of 50 songs to listen to. Every month up to 25 tracks can be changed. You can join lists of other users of BBM Music (also known as friends similarly to social networks). By joining forces you could listen to the tracks of each other. The more friends you have the more tracks will be available for listening. It is a little bit complicated, so RIM decided to make it more simple. Play lists can include all tracks of your friends. This way you create a bigger play list together. The tracks you have already listened to are stored in the cache of the memory card (and cannot be used for permanent playback). The rest of features include charts and other standard offerings.
Music library from RIM has more than 10 million tracks, but the company still believes that the social component is the key here. I think that it is a mistake to position the service this way and it may only lead to another failure for RIM. I remember when Apple and Motorola launched the first ROKR. Users complained that on the memory card you could have no more than 100 tracks. Many years after RIM offers only 50 tracks, which is almost nothing.
Then we have many new music services allowing buying music and downloading it on any device (DRM Free). It is more convenient because you buy what you need and then can give tracks to friends and relatives. It can be a licence agreement infringement, but no one enforces them, especially when there are so many torrent tracks with stolen music. May be Blackberry users are very conservative, but remembering the failure of OVI Music I can say that BBM Music is an attempt to show that the company is working and may distract attention from all troubles of RIM.
Nokia is falling apart so quickly, that even the management is in awe. All internal troubles are manifested in PR actions in desperate attempts to generate interest around Nokia products. The market share of Symbian smartphones and ordinary phones is falling thick and fast. I will use the example of Kenya where Nokia used to reign for years by offering inexpensive solutions. Nokia announced two extremely accessible models Nokia 100 and 101, which were unveiled in Kenya targeted alongside India and China.
Nokia 101 supports ћр3 tracks, memory cards of up to 16 GB and two SIM cards. In other respects both S30 models are the same and feature FM radio. The junior solution has no headphones in the box, but it is not crucial as we have a standard 3.5 mm jack here.
The price of phones before taxes is 20 Euros and 25 Euros as they are stripped down versions of X1-00/X1-01. Subsequently, the model with two SIM cards may be quite faulty when the second card fails to work. In Russia the defect was pandemic and clearly shows that Nokia is struggling to provide appropriate quality.
A day before Nokia unveiled three devices on S^3 Belle. Boosted by a 1 GHz processor they are a breakthrough for Symbian, but old-fashioned for the rest of the market. It's awful how slowly Nokia adds features to its newest OS. We have 6 desktops for widgets and the status bar copied from Samsung and Android. Such "innovations" are not numerous as Nokia is languishing in the past incapable of coming up with genuinely new products.
The quality in Symbian is a particularly painful issue. As a user of Nokia E6 I can assure that it is the most unstable and unreliable phone I have had for a long time. Prior to that Nokia E7 was the prime contender for the title of the worst smartphone, but ≈6 is a much better challenger now. The review will appear soon, but I am afraid it will be an epitaph for the Eseries.
I had a survey on Twitter if people were interested in the Belle. Almost everybody plans to ignore Belle and Symbian pointblank. Solitary voices praising the OS were faintly heard.
Watch this video from Nokia dedicated to Belle. It features all innovations the company managed to offer. This is really depressing.
It is a waste of time to discuss new smartphones from Nokia. You have to love Nokia very much to buy these models. The quality leaves much to be desired, Symbian is faulty and you get no value for money.
Incidentally European carriers share my sentiments and new Symbian smartphones from Nokia got only 35% of shipments from the year ago for comparable handsets. Windows Phone 7 orders from Nokia are also not impressive, because companies prefer handsets from LG, Samsung and HTC.
The market of Kenya is not too developed as the country is poor and the majority of consumers cannot buy expensive phones. Historically the region was dominated by Nokia 1000 series. The cheaper the model, the better it is for Kenyan customers. Huawei managed to prove that even in Kenya you can sell smartphones if you are smart enough. In the first quarter of 2011 the company became the market leader with the only model Huawei IDEOS offered for around $80. According to GfK the company occupied 45% of the smartphone market in Kenya, while in February this indicator stood at 73%. Within 5 months Huawei sold 60,000 devices. It is a record, which emphasizes that smartphones can be sold even in such markets. We have not Symbian, but Android here. Interestingly the next bestseller in Kenya will be based on Android and the manufacturer is not important. Android conquers new markets with relative ease.
P.S. This article happened to be large again though I had no space for several important topics. Enjoy your week!
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Published 02 September 2011
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