Four and Half Years On

That aside, Swiftkey is a great British success story. 6 million downloads and counting. Of course its interference with the keyboard API isn’t something Apple would allow, nor MS with Window Phone at the moment. So one of them will probably end up buying the company.

To go back to the beginning…

Each morning then, to return to the second question that opens this inexcusably long blessay, I rub my chin and ask myself this question. The Note or the HTC XL?

As a matter of course, the iPhone goes in one pocket; the Lumio or HTC HD7 Windows Phone into another (I can interchange happily there, whichever is charged and simmed up will do); the BlackBerry (bless) Bold into one more and then I have to choose an Android handset.

Samsung or HTC?

Lately I’ve been using the Note more and more and, as so often happens when you give a worthy device time, you start to like elements that before were an annoyance.

Alternating between both can be a bit like alternating between two cars which have indicator stalks on different sides of the steering wheel, causing you to switch on the windscreen wipers when you want to turn left. The HTC and Samsung have the volume rockers on opposite sides, so I’m always messing up there. But these are minor things. Android is a perfectly viable alternative to iOS as is Windows Phone and these two devices have plenty to recommend them.

Post 2007 trauma

The aftershocks that rippled out when the iPhone was launched are still being felt. Palm and Sony Ericsson have ceased to be. BlackBerry has effectively bowed and left the stage, billions of dollars poorer. Nokia and Microsoft are making a recovery after a very, very rocky few years in this sector. Google thrives off everything, off the Apple ecosystem and its lion’s share of the Android world. HTC and Samsung continue to lead the field as original equipment manufacturers, with Sony Mobile Communications, LG and Motorola as blips on the OEM screen that may be fading or growing. It is hard to tell. As mentioned, Intel has now staked a claim in the territory too.

Ding Dong Dell

It’s worth risking a nasty taste in our mouth as we stop for a sidebar on the unsavoury topic of Dell. The Emperor of Ugly and King of Customer Disservice, Dell has now entered the market as a manufacturer of both Windows Phone and Android devices. That’ll be the company founded by the same Michael Dell who in 1997 thought Apple should be shut down and and then five years later in 2001, when Steve Jobs opened the first Apple Store, stated that he “saw no future” in such a move: “Physical stores have been tried by a number of our competitors, and generally, actually I would say universally, that strategy hasn’t panned out.”  Over 360 Apple Store openings later, with sales exceeding $4,000 per square foot (as against US tech supermarket giant Best Buy’s $930 psf) this characteristically useless statement from the Beigemesiter seems more than a little embarrassing.

Control • Alt • Dell

He has since back-pedalled on that infamous 1997 comment, saying that he what he meant was that if he, Michael Dell, were in charge of Apple he’d have closed it down, because he, Michael Dell, only wanted to be in charge of Dell Inc. Yes, we’re convinced that’s what you meant at the time, Michael baby, of course we are, and it could just as easily have been Microsoft or McDonald’s as Apple you made the remark about, couldn’t it? Hmm? Naturally it therefore follows that your other proclamation was prescient too. Because if you had been in charge of retail for Apple, it absolutely wouldn’t have “panned out”. It would have belly-flopped like the Dell shopping centre “kiosks” that were installed in US malls in 2002. Every one of these has since been closed down.

Dell boy

Profit is all this hopeless prophet seems to care about, it certainly isn’t innovation, and the reward for his obsession with the bottom line? He produces the bottom line of devices. But then, I dare say he’s happy with his $15 billion and his place in the history books only as a dreary cut-price re-badger and knocker-off of boxes and a master of tax breaks, campaign palm-greasing and not noticeably patriotic offshoring. For more information on this almost uniquely unappetising ornament of the digital world, ask Mother Jones.

Here’s a sample:

“2005 — Michael and Susan Dell give $250,000 for President Bush’s second inaugural celebration.
2006 — President Bush: “It’s tough in a time of war, when people see carnage on their Dell television screens.”


The Future

So what, at the risk of making a Dell-like arse of myself in the prognosticator stakes, does the future hold?

In another four and half years, the power, memory, capacity and functionality of the computers in our pockets will have transformed these fascinating devices yet again. Near Field Communication and other forms of interactivity will doubtless cause a revolution in the way we work, play and shop in the real world. For I think the next step, as we continue to reap the rewards of Moore’s Law, will involve integrating small devices, quite as powerful as today’s most top-spec smartphone, into elements of cars, fridges, shop counters, airports, railways stations, art galleries, sports arenas and restaurants, whether through NFC or biometrics, which will mean that we will be able to take our Cloud with us and our bank account too, wherever we go.

But what do I know? I thought I’d never type as fast on a virtual keyboard as on a physical one. I thought that green shirt would look good on QI. I thought so many things…






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This blog was posted in Techblog

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