Thursday, January 13, 2011

RIM Still Doesn't Get It

As much as I'd love to cheer for my Canadian compatriots, there ain't much to cheer about. BGR just posted RIM's upcoming line-up and it is uninspired, underpowered and destined to keep RIM pointed firmly in the wrong direction.

First up is the new Blackberry Curve, it gets a higher resolution screen an 800mhz processor of unknown micro-architecture (guessing A8) more RAM and NFC. It also comes standard with a 2.x" screen. Which is why most people won't consider it.

Next is the Blackberry "Dakota" which looks to be the next iteration of the Bold, it's pretty much the same as the curve but with a VGA 2.8" screen and wireless hotspot capability. That would be strike two.

Finally, details of the Torch 2 include a 1.2ghz processor (again unknown micro-architecture) a 3.2" VGA screen 512mb of RAM and 8gb of built in storage.

Of these devices the best is the Torch 2. If the Torch 2 launched today it would only barely be competitive with Android and Apple devices that launched last summer. Disastrously the Torch 2 is scheduled for release in "late Q3 on ATT" which means it will be competing with the iPhone 5 and an armada of dual-core Cortex A9 wielding Android phones. RIM's latest salvo is even more pathetic than its last, mainly because it's not much better than the last and its competition has gotten much better. The strategy that worked so well for RIM from 2002-2007 must be abandoned, RIM's management needs to wake up and smell the new smartphone paradigm, email alone isn't enough to sell a phone, hardware keyboards are only suitable for niche products, and if you don't have a great web browser don't even bother playing. I'm trying to think of something positive to end this post with but I can't think of anything, maybe I'll go look at pictures of my nephew to cheer myself up.

EDIT: 1/14
Details of the next Blackberry Storm have now been leaked as well, the hardware is a mix of current and last gen relative to Android devices which is good enough to at least be respectable, with that minimum hardware spec now met it will be down to software. RIM is currently not competitive in software but they have 3 quarters to catch up, fingers crossed.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

10 Predictions for Technology in 2011

1. People come around to WP7 and Microsoft makes slow but steady gains.
Nothing saves a product like being good. And WP7 is good, their browser is still behind Google's and Apple's but the OS itself is world class and their app store will eventually catch up. If Microsoft hadn't (rightly) acquired such a poor name in the mobile sector they would probably be doing at least twice as well (from a sales perspective) as they are now, ahh how the sins of the past come back to haunt us...

2. RIM's "meteoric" descent continues.
I've been saying it for a year and half and it's still true. RIM's smartphone OS is not competitive with Google's, Apple's or Microsoft's. Their hardware is not competitive either. I expect them to end 2011 with less than 17% market share in the American market.

3. Wireless carriers will suck.
This is not so much a prediction as it is a complaint or an observation. The wireless carriers all suck and I see no reason for that to change. Because they have customers that are locked in and largely ignorant they can force their MBA shenanigans down the consumer's throat. Take for instance the consistent and intentional sabotage of Android through pointless restrictions (no tethering in 2.2? why can't I do whatever the heck I want with the data that I already bought from you? Oh. so you can charge me separately for that, I see) and undeletable junkware like VZW's browser favorites and "AT&T Music."
Hey carriers, stop trying to "diversify," you exist to provide wireless transmission of data, focus on doing that better if you want to make more money.

4. AMD loses more market share.
It's not that I don't like AMD, but Intel's micro-architecture is now at least 35% better on a performance per watt per dollar basis and their process technology has a similar advantage. Combine that with endless delays to Bulldozer and the situation just doesn't look very good. Intel could probably snuff the life out of AMD but they won't... because then they'd be a monopoly and get hosed by the gov, so expect Intel to allow AMD to limp on forever and ever amen.

5. Operating systems become Instruction Set Architecture agnostic.
It used to be that Windows and x86 dominated computing but as computers move to different form factors and different thermal requirements and a greater number of companies move into processor and OS design this once homogeneous market will become much more complicated. We already know that Intel has a version of Android that runs on x86, plus Microsoft has announced that Windows 8 will run on ARM and nVidia has announced a project to create an in-house processor that runs on the ARM instruction set. There is also much evidence that Apple is designing it's own CPU's, likely for iOS devices, likely ARM based, though I doubt that this effort will be announced by Apple until 2012 or beyond.

6. Chinese smartphone design firms break into the American market.
There's no reason it won't happen, so it will. The top suspects are Meizu and Huawei. Expect them to pull an HTC and start at the low end of the market and go up from there (though Huawei just introduced a mid-range device at CES so maybe it will be more interesting).

7. Electric cars will not achieve cost effectiveness.
They will replace gas cars, but 2011 won't be the year it happens. Batteries are still too expensive to manufacture.

8. HPalm will launch a bunch of medicocre WebOS devices.
Considering that Palm's top talent largely left after the HP acquisition and that we haven't heard a peep out of them since, I am going to bet that they come out with a bunch of devices that are better than RIM's but worse than Google/Apple/Microsoft's. WebOS was once so promising but alas... no longer, way to scare off the people that made it great HP, I'm sure your management knew better than they did (<-- yes that is sarcasm).

9. A high percentage of OECD countries intentionally jack up inflation and devalue their currencies.
This assertion would take way to much text to back up, so I won't even try. Just watch the price of raw materials to see if I'm right. I expect Australia to be an exception. 

You: Hey this isn't about about tech
Me: Neither is the next one

10. Hugo Chavez, Kim Jong-Un, Vladimir Putin and Mahmoud Ackmydinnersbad, will unite to create the new technology conglomerate, Supervillains Incorporated.
Their secret underground labs will devise one technology that makes their voices sound even more disingenuous they already do and another that allows their egos to inflate unrestricted by the world's free press.

Time will tell...