World’s First HTML5 Web App Browser Launches – Could Be Game Changer For Developers
By VezTek USA – the mobile solutions company.
App developers rarely consider wide spread marketing and deployment. The investors seek to invest in the apps that will become utilities in everyday life, and apps that will help business grow. App Fund brings together the app inventors and investors.
VezTek, the Los Angeles based mobile solutions company, launched today the App Fund – the latest addition to the company’s portfolio of mobile apps related services. The primary purpose of the App Fund is to enable mobile apps inventors and investors to team up for bringing revolutionary app ideas to market.
App development is capital efficient and doesn’t typically require large scale investment upfront. For the most part, App developers have focused on the development and deployment of the App, very few have the resources for wide spread marketing and consumer deployment. Brilliant entrepreneurs and smart development teams need access to capital for the seed development and proof of concept stage of their application ideas.
“Our investment partners are looking for Apps that will become utilities in everyday life and Apps that will help business grow.” said Sani Abdul-Jabbar – the managing director at the company’s Los Angeles offices.
During the first phase the company plans to give priority to the app ideas focused around:
- Enterprise, Small business B2B, and B2C solutions
- Collaborative entertainment consumption
- Platforms for original content distribution
- Social networking around location based connections, dating, shared experiences, and shopping
- Utilities for everyday use around the house, car, and office
Mr. Abdul-Jabbar said that, “We are looking for Apps that will become utilities in everyday life and Apps that will help business grow.”
The app inventors can submit their preliminary ideas, and the potential investors can send an Investment Letter of Interest by email to AppFund@veztekUSA.com.
About the Company:
VezTek USA is a mobile solutions company.
VezTek specializes in the design and development of smartphone apps, 2D / 3D iPhone games, and websites. With its 43-person development team expected to double by the end of the year, the Los Angeles-based IT firm is clearly on the rise. Established in 2001, VezTek has sales offices in Phoenix and an offshore development center (ODC) located in South Asia.
Call 310.928.3514 or email info@veztekUSA.com to discuss or to request a price quote for your mobile app project.
Ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to introduce you to theBlackBerry Porsche P’9981 — the ugliest BlackBerry I’ve seen in years.
Unveiled at RIM and Porsche Design’s Dubai event, the new BlackBerry Porsche is clad in equal parts stainless steel and leather. While the device’s shell has gotten quite the facelift, the internals aren’t a far cry from the standard: it sports a 1GHz processor, a 5-megapixel camera with 720p HD video, and an NFC chip.
Even the BlackBerry 7 OS has undergone a bit of a makeover, as it’s been tricked out with a custom Porsche Design font and icons.
Yesterday I pegged my hopes on a slightly more traditional design getting the Dubai limelight, but I should’ve realized that Porsche would never put their name on something so pedestrian.
Maybe I’m being a bit harsh on the Porsche P’9981. RIM has contented itself with recycling their design language, so a huge shift from the norm like this is sort of reaffirming. Still, I can’t help get the feeling that it’s been over-designed, leading to a device that’s meant to be less of a business tool and more of a gaudy status symbol.
Then again, it’s very clearly not meant for run-of-the-mill users like me. The Porsche P’9981 manages to transcend the concept of limited edition, as it’s availability has been referred to as downright “restrictive.”
If you’re a sucker for all things Porsche Design, then you’ll be pleased to know that the P’9981 will be making its way to Porsche Design stores and selected retailers for a scant $2,000 (!) before the year is out.
A report being released today from mobile analytics firm Distimo finds that the majority of the top 100 brands (91%) now have a presence in at least one of the major mobile application stores, usually Apple’s iTunes. This finding is notable because just 18 months ago, only half (51%) of the top brands even had any mobile applications published.
The “top brands” in Distimo’s new report are those defined by the Interbrand 2011 Best Brands report, and include household names like Coca-Cola, BMW, Disney, GE, IBM, etc.
These brands, especially those operating in the media, business services and the automotive industries, have realized that having an app store presence helps them to promote their brand to consumers, and, for some, even to sell content. Most brands, though, are not looking to making money with their apps, but give them away for free.
What’s even more interesting is that the brands that ranked higher on Interbrand’s report actually have more presence in the various app stores in terms of the volume of applications. The more apps, the higher the ranking. That’s not to say that the apps caused the brands to rank higher, to be clear. It’s more likely a reflection of the increasing importance for the world’s largest brands to maintain an App Store presence.
Many of these brands are heavy app publishers, too – the average number of apps per brand is 24. That average, it should be noted, is due to outliers like Disney (636 apps!) and Sony (285 apps), which are very large publishers. However, even if you remove those two from the average, it’s still high at 15 applications per brand.
In terms of where to publish, Apple’s App Store is, not surprisingly, the number one pick. 86% of the top brands have a presence in Apple’s iPhone App Store, 66% are in the Apple iPad App Store, 59% have a presence in the Android Market and 26% are in BlackBerry’s App World.
Of those, Google’s Android Market is gaining the most ground as a preferred place to publish. Meanwhile, Nokia’s Ovi Store is becoming less import.
We’ve already gotten a glimpse of what Microsoft hopes the future will look like, but how about a different take? PocketNow was able to dig up a pair of videos created by RIM that offers yet another glimpse at our device-driven tomorrow.
RIM’s vision of the future, like Microsoft’s, is one that’s heavily powered by touch — good luck finding a keyboard or physical button anywhere. Meanwhile, BlackBerrys have grown to be considerably more robust, and are able to seamlessly integrate with screens and surfaces that extend their functionality. Working on a long email and need a keyboard? Set your phone down on a table or a countertop and a keyboard pops up next to it.
As you’d probably expect from RIM, most of the scenarios they’ve dreamed up deal with business, from a new hire having her device remotely set up to a repairman using an augmented reality display to find a certain house. Even classic RIM focus points like device management make an appearance, albeit with a futuristic twist.
If some of that stuff sounds familiar, well, you’d be right: a lot of the things seen in the videos are already possible with current technology. NFC-enabled phones work great at (some) train stations, augmented reality keeps getting more sophisticated, and video conference calls happen everyday.
RIM’s thinking here isn’t quite as blue-sky as Microsoft’s; it’s more a refined extension of what we already have as opposed to a wild vision of what we could have. All I know is that the sooner RIM makes this future a reality, the sooner people will stop forecasting gloom and doom for them.
via RIM Offers Up A Device-Driven Look At Tomorrow | TechCrunch by CHRIS VELAZCO.
Apple’s Siri Is as Revolutionary as the Mac
The initial reaction to the iPhone 4S was cooler than Apple might have hoped. Expectations had been hyped to such a point that people were looking for a leap forward equivalent to the first iPhone. When they couldn’t immediately see it, many were disappointed. But that leap was there — it’s just not one that is easily seen. Siri, the new iPhone’s voice-control software, is going to have as big an impact as that first iPhone did. It’s going to fundamentally change our relationship with computers.
Almost everyone referenced the Mac when they wereeulogizing Steve Jobs last week. There’s no doubting the importance of that little machine — it revolutionized computing, by making it accessible to those without specialized knowledge. Traditional human/computer interaction was turned on its head: not only did the Mac represent the first broad adoption of the mouse, but also of the graphical user interface. No longer did you have to type commands into Unix or DOS to get a computer to do what you wanted it to do. Instead, the Mac used a desktop metaphor — you moved the mouse and the cursor around the screen, like your hand moving across your desk.
And yet as great an advance as it was, the keyboard and mouse is still a relatively unnatural way for us to interact with anything. Computer interfaces have, at best, tricked our body and our minds into familiarity. They’ve relied on concepts like muscle memory — where we associate gestures with an outcome to the point where we don’t even have to think about it — to try to help us locate commonly used tools, such as the Start or Apple menu. But these only paper over the problem. As more and more features have been added to our computers, the desktop metaphor — that the Mac introduced all those years ago — has long been stretched past breaking point. Novice users often don’t know where to begin. The touch paradigm introduced in the iPhone began to change that: it removed the intermediary of the mouse and the cursor. But even still, unnecessary complexity remains. Why does a user care whether a message from a friend is an email or an SMS? Why should they have to concern themselves with opening a browser or a specific app to find out what the weather is going to be tomorrow?
And try as we might to design hardware that is ergonomic, there’s no denying the impact this technology has had on our bodies. Repetitive strain injury, degradation of eyesight — these are the result of using existing computer and phone interfaces for hours on end.
Siri is the first serious step in changing all that.
In true Apple fashion, there is little that is technologically novel. The original iPhone was much the same — the touch interface; pocketable computers that could do email, web and music — these all existed when the original iPhone was released. Same with the Mac — it wasn’t the first mouse or graphical interface to be introduced. They all existed before. What made these devices successful was the way in which they were put together so centrally around the user.
It’s going to be the same with Siri. Very accurate speech recognition systems have been around for some time. So too has advanced artificial intelligence — Watson has won Jeopardy, and every year, the entrants to the Turing Test get better and better. But until now, nobody had put speech and artificial intelligence together in a compelling way: which meant that the voice systems on our computers and our phones have been clunky to the point where it was just easier to avoid them.
That’s what Apple has fixed. Rather than simply roll out technology for its own sake, Siri starts with a deep understanding of the job users have for their devices — and then deploys speech and AI technologies in a way that actually helps them accomplish what they’re trying to do.
The advantage of using speech over other interaction paradigms is that we have honed its use over thousands of years. It is entirely natural for us to talk to one another. Talking is one of the first things we learn how to do as children. It’s second nature for us to ask a colleague or a friend a question and for them to answer the same way. Being able to talk to a phone like it’s a personal assistant is something that people are going to get very used to, very quickly. It’s a much more natural approach than using a mouse on a desktop. And I highly doubt the impact is going to stop at phones. Of course, the computer is going to benefit, but the potential hardly stops there. Take television. Why bother with remotes and complicated TV guides covering hundreds of channels? “Siri, is there any football on right now? When is my team next playing? Could you record it for me?”
That’s not to say this is the end of the keyboard. There will always be instances where a keyboard will be superior; just as there are still instances where using a command line interface is a more effective way of computing than a graphical user interface. That being said, a surprising amount of the time, it simply won’t be necessary. Speech is going to replace it.
Jobs described the original Mac as a bicycle for your mind. Siri deserves some equivalent description — I think it’s going to take devices and turn them into assistants for our minds. It seems crazy right now, but I don’t think it will be long before we view this technology in the same light as we view the iPhone: we won’t quite be able imagine life without it.
iPhone 4S review
This isn’t the iPhone 5. No matter how badly you wanted something slim, sleek and wedge-shaped, this isn’t it. If you went ahead and got your hopes up ahead of Apple’s “Let’s Talk iPhone” event, hopefully you’ve gotten over the pangs of discontent by now, because this device pictured front and center is the iPhone 4S. It’s a new spin on an old phone that will shock none, but give it half a chance, and it will still impress.
The iPhone 4S comes with a faster processor, a better camera, a smarter virtual assistant and twice the storage of its predecessor — if you don’t mind paying for it. Like the iPhone 3GS did before to the 3G, the 4S bumps the iPhone 4 down to second-class status, leaving those Apple fans who must have the best aspiring to own its decidedly familiar exterior. Apple says this is the most amazing iPhone ever. Is it? Yes, of course it is, but read on to see whether it’s really worth an upgrade.
Familiar is a good term for the exterior of the iPhone 4S. When the 4 was unveiled in the summer of 2010 it was a strikingly different design from anything else on the market — glass on the front and back, exposed screws holding together a deliciously clean ring of stainless steel. It was kind of chunky and industrial, like a tastefully refinished factory loft — a big contrast to the smooth and nondescript models that came before. The iPhone 4 was something truly new and, for the days and weeks after its release, just spotting one in the wild caused a sensation. It was so different that people wanted to touch and hold the thing, to see how it felt in the hand.
Few are going to go out of their way to touch and hold the iPhone 4S, but that’s not to say it isn’t very nice to grasp. The iPhone 4 felt like a finely crafted piece of machinery and there’s no doubt this one walks in those very same footsteps. Compared to your average modern Android wunderphone the 4S feels small, dense and heavy, a very different sensation than the occasionally lighter but frequently more plasticky competition. The 4S does actually have slightly more heft than the 4, but only by carefully holding one in each hand can you notice the increase from 137 grams (4.83 ounces) to 140 (4.94 ounces).
Save for a few tweaks that even the most dedicated Appleista wouldn’t be able to spot at a distance, the 4S is identical from the exterior. A few of the controls have been shifted by fractions of a millimeter and this uses the same exterior antenna layout as the CDMA iPhone 4 that hit Verizon earlier this year. Rather more significantly, though, how it works with those antennas has changed.
The iPhone 4S can now intelligently and instantly switch between those exterior antennas, in real-time, even while you’re in the middle of a call. Will this successfully put to rest the iPhone’s reputation as a call dropper? That we’re not able to say conclusively at this time, as you really need masses of people hammering on a device to bring out its worst. (“Antennagate” didn’t come to light until a few days after the iPhone 4′s release.) But, in testing a Vodafone 4S against a 4 we found the 4S to be consistently one bar higher, and did a far better job of holding on to 3G data. Here in the States, our Sprint 4S kept right up with another device we had handy from the same carrier: the Nexus S 4G.
There have been a fair number of other tweaks on the inside. In fact it’s safe to say Apple threw out the lot of the iPhone 4′s guts and stuffed in a whole new batch, starting with the A5 processor. Yes, it’s the same dual-core chip that powers the iPad 2 and, while Apple isn’t saying, it’s running at 800MHz — a bit of a step down from the 1GHz it’s clocked at in the tablet. RAM unfortunately stays the same, at 512MB, but maximum available storage has doubled, matching the iPod touch by maxing out at 64GB.
The other major change to the internals comes in the wireless network support. This is a quadband UMTS / HSDPA / HSUPA (850, 900, 1,900, 2,100MHz) and quad-band GSM / EDGE (850, 900, 1,800, 1,900MHZ) device, while also offering dual-band CDMA EV-DO Rev. A (900, 1,900MHz). All that naturally means you’ll be getting 3G data on nearly every carrier in these lands and abroad, though those providers are still being cagey about just how much success you’ll have at porting the 4S from one to another — at least until the unlocked model shows up in November. There’s no 4G on offer, though AT&T’s 14.4Mbps HSPA+ service will leave you feeling a bit less out of touch.
Up front is the same 3.5-inch, 960 x 640 Retina display that wowed us 16 months ago on the iPhone 4. That 326ppi density is still quite a lovely thing to behold, surely one of the highest quality panels currently available today in a phone, but in nearly a year and a half the world has moved on. Smartphones are bigger than they were in 2010 and 3.5-inches seems on the small side of average. It’s a great size for those with moderately proportioned hands, and opinions certainly differ when determining what is the optimal girth for a smartphone (if, indeed, there is such a thing as optimal) but, after living with a 4.2-inch or larger device, looking at the digital world through a 3.5-inch portal feels just a bit… narrow.
Though it comes a few days after its release, the iPhone 4S ushers in the world of iOS 5. This latest revision of Apple’s mobile operating system helps to clean some of the dust off of what was starting to feel a bit dated without actually changing any fundamentals. iOS 5 introduces a slew of improvements and enhancements, some minor and some rather more major. We’ve already posted a particularly comprehensive iOS 5 review, so we won’t blather on about it any longer here except to say it’s a very solid update that will make your smartphone an even more seamless, integral part of your life.
The one thing we will blather on about quite a bit more here is Siri, your own digital helper. Siri is an evolution of the Siri Virtual Assistant, a spin-off of a DARPA project called CALO. Apple bought the company in early 2010 and now that functionality is baked right into the OS. Sort of.
Siri can only be found on the iPhone 4S, a curious and seemingly arbitrary shunning of the other iOS devices. We’ve heard that’s due to the processor demands required for voice recognition, but since you need an active data connection to use Siri we have to imagine that the heavy lifting for voice recognition is happening somewhere inside Apple’s massive data center, which would seemingly allow lower-spec devices to do the same. And, since the iPad 2 is running the A5 at an even higher clock speed, there’s just no good reason we can think of for putting Siri exclusively on the 4S. Let the poor girl out, we say.
Should you find yourself owning the requisite hardware to give Siri a shot, you’ll probably be pretty impressed with what she can do. Of course, “she” is a characteristic bit of anthropomorphism that we’ll apply to the same voice you’ve probably heard in a half-dozen GPS devices in the past, but still, calling her an “it” just seems a little wrong. Siri herself, though, wouldn’t mind. Ask her “Are you a man or a woman?” and her response is a curt “I was not assigned a gender.” We think she’s just playing hard to get.
Siri can do a huge number of things, from sending texts and emails to finding restaurants and getting directions from one place to another — things that, it must be said, could largely be done before by voice on other devices and platforms. It’s really the enhanced ability to understand casually spoken English mixed in with the notion of context that sets this apart.
Let’s talk about the context bit first. Say you want to send a text to your wife to remind her to pick up the dogs from boarding on the way home from work. You can just say, “Tell my wife don’t forget the dogs.” Siri will send your wife a message saying, “Don’t forget the dogs.” How does Siri know who your wife is? Well, she doesn’t at first, but she’ll ask, and once you tell her she’ll remember — until the end of time.
That context works in other situations, too, like receiving a text message from someone, asking Siri to check your calendar, and then just saying “Reply, I’ll see you then.” You don’t need to say who to reply to, Siri will remember. For the first time we feel less like we’re giving stiff commands to a device and more like we’re actually having a conversation. That said, you can still be as commanding as you like. Siri won’t mind.
And then there’s the other part that makes Siri good: you don’t have to remember the commands. At least, not as much as you do with Android. If you want directions on Google Navigation you have to specifically say “Directions to X.” With Siri you can say “Get me directions to X,” or you can say “Tell me how to get to X,” or even “Directions to X.” It’s a minor difference but it feels more like Siri is smart enough to figure out what you want, whereas the voice recognition elsewhere feels more like you have to be smart enough to remember to say what it wants. (Even so, we’d certainly prefer to use the far more polished Google Navigation than IOS’s Maps to get around.)
Still, this isn’t exactly unprecedented, apps like Vlingo do similar things elsewhere. Also, it should be noted that Siri isn’t necessarily any more accurate than other offerings. We did a side-by-side comparison of the dictation abilities of iOS 5 vs. those built into Android and Windows Phone and found them to be similar. Android’s dictation services, though rather less friendly than Siri and requiring a few more taps on the display, were every bit as accurate. Windows Phone, however, struggled to provide consistently accurate transcriptions, often missing words and getting more complex statements wrong. For example, the spoken text “Kurt Vonnegut lived near Schenectady, New York,” one time resulted in the message “Could I get laid in your Schenectady New York.” An interesting message that Mr. Vonnegut would have likely approved, but wasn’t exactly what we had in mind.
It’s in going the other way that Siri has even more potential, saying that you have a new message and then promptly reading it to you — then letting you reply by voice. The biggest issue here, though, is that you can’t have emails read to you, which means you can’t fully reply by voice. (You can do voice dictation, but you’ll need to trigger that with your fingers.)
This potentially could be a boon for people who would rather listen to their inbox than NPR on the commute home from work, and indeed it is, but the functionality here is a little more limited than we’d like. For example, you can tell Siri to look up something on Wolfram Alpha, and that she’ll dutifully do, but she won’t read you the response. You have to look at the phone, likely thanks to Wolfram Alpha rendering its results as images rather than plain text.
A truly good assistant will look up whatever you ask and promptly tell you the answer — not print it out and make you read it. Having to still fish your phone out of your pocket for some things makes Siri rather less wonderful than she could be, but she’s very impressive nevertheless. And, more importantly, this signals that Apple is taking a real interest in improving voice recognition and hands-free device interaction. That should mean some amazing progress from here, and we can’t wait to talk to the next generation Siri.
We also hope that Siri’s siblings will be able to run offline, because today’s girl requires a 3G or WiFi connection to do anything. Even the simple voice commands that were available in iOS before no longer work offline, and if you happen to be one of the few who actually used those commands to change tunes while offline, you’re sadly going to have to find another way. We also hope that she broadens her horizons a bit, as much of Siri’s functionality (directions, looking up businesses) doesn’t work in Europe.
Battery life and performance
The teardown of the iPhone 4S revealed a new battery pack that’s just a wee bit bigger than that found in the 4 (5.3Whrs vs. 5.25) so the promised increase in longevity found here must come from more efficient internals. And that’s a very good thing — we’d prefer to see phones get more frugal than simply progressing on to bigger and heavier batteries.
Apple promises up to eight hours of battery life on an active 3G connection, which is up one hour from the 4. Curiously, though, standby time has dropped from 300 hours on the 4 to 200 on the 4S. (This phone is, apparently, something of a restless sleeper.) Other stats remain the same: 14 hours on GSM, 10 hours of video watching and 40 hours of listening to tunes. Alas we’ve not yet been able to complete our full suite of battery tests (we’ll update this when we do).
But it’s not all about the benchmarks, and we’ve been overall quite impressed by the performance of the 4S in general tasks. We remain continually impressed by the performance of the iPhone 4 — despite its aging assets, it still performs like a young smartphone in its prime. In other words, we’re not seeing aparticularly strong difference between day-to-day usage of the two devices. Yes, your apps will load a little more quickly and react more responsively and your webpages will render more snappily, but Apple already did such a good job of ensuring solid performance on the 4 that this upgrade seems rather less than necessary.
Of course, that could all change when we start to see some games able to make use of the extra firepower the iPhone 4S has at its disposal. At the phone’s coming out party Epic showed off Infinity Blade 2 and wowed us with very impressive graphics. The problem is, that game isn’t due out until December, and we’re not aware of other similarly eye-popping 4S-exclusive titles in the pipeline that will be dropping before then.
The final aspect of performance is network speed and, as ever, your mileage can and will vary greatly depending on the relative strength or weakness of carriers in your area. But, regardless of carrier, the lack of LTE here is a definite disappointment. Top-tier phones on Android almost universally feature a fourth gee and, with Verizon, Sprint, and AT&T all finally onboard the LTE train to 4G Town, it’s about time the iPhone hitched a ride too. Its omission surely helps battery life but hurts this device’s status as a world-conquering wunderphone.
We tested a Sprint version of the phone and found that, with full bars on 3G, download speeds were averaging about 1Mbps down and .9Mbps up, with pings hovering around 70ms. Comparing that to a Nexus S 4G (with WiMAX disabled), also running on Sprint, we found download speeds to be quite comparable. Signal strength between the two phones was comparable as well.
Apple is quite proud of the iPhone 4′s status as the most popular camera on photo sharing sites like Flickr, and now the company is finally giving all those guerilla photogs something good to capture pictures with. As was long rumored, the iPhone 4S steps up to an eight megapixel, backside-illuminated sensor that sits behind a new lens array with an f/2.4 aperture (improved from the old phone’s f/2.8). More megapixels certainly don’t equate to better pictures, but it’s safe to say the new camera package here impresses.
But, what will impress you first is the speed. Apple is quite proud of the speed improvements for bringing up the camera app and taking the first picture, and it is a noticeable improvement over the 4 — except when using the HDR mode that was introduced in iOS 4.1. Here it doesn’t seem to be much if any quicker at all. Leave that off, though, and you’ll be hopping from one shot to the next like someone who hasn’t got time for shutter lag.
In our initial camera testing, we put ourselves into tourist mode: walking around, taking random pictures of things that tourists would. The quality of the resulting shots is definitely good, among the top top tier of shooters we’ve tested. The phone doesn’t seem to be bothered by big differences in contrast (like the Galaxy S II) and does a good job focusing quickly and accurately — we only had one or two missed macro shots.
Video quality is also top-notch. The iPhone 4S will record at 1080p30 and we found the footage to be clear and bright. Auto-focus happens quickly and we didn’t detect any obnoxious focus-hunting.
Overall the improvements on the camera are tangible and appreciated, but there’s one thing Apple sadly failed to fix here: its location. The peep-hole for the lens is still too close to the edge of the device for our tastes, which resulted in many a stray finger sneaking into our shots. We’d have liked to see it sneak its way a little further toward the center of the phone.
Is this the best iPhone yet? Yes, of course it is. The iPhone 4S takes the previous king, gives it some more pep and adds on a better camera to boot, all without really gaining any extra weight. This is, then, the best iPhone on the market, but that still leaves us with two unanswered questions: is it the best phoneon the market, and is it worth the upgrade?
The first question is hard to answer. If you’re into iOS, have a wealth of App Store purchases you’d like to keep using and in general are down with the Apple ecosystem then, yes, this is the best phone out there. If, however, you’ve been shopping around, or are already tight with Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry or Meego (hey, the N9 is pretty great) then it’s hard to see this as a truly forward-looking device. The 3.5-inch display and abject lack of 4G connectivity alone make this phone feel a little too conservative to really tickle the fancy of those looking for something a bit more progressive.
So, then, is it worth the upgrade? Well, if your contract happens to be up and you want an iPhone andyou haven’t already jumped on the iPhone 4 then yes, this is the one you want. It does come at a $100 premium over its predecessor, but in the long run that premium will be worth it as the 4S will surely be supported by Apple for a good bit longer than the 4 (as the 3GS continues to be, while the 3G is now fading into obsolescence). But, if you’re mid-contract or haven’t quite yet been wooed by all that iOS has to offer, we’d recommend sitting this one out. The iPhone 4S does everything better than the iPhone 4, but it simply doesn’t do anything substantially different.
Zach Honig and Mat Smith contributed to this review.
Going forward, eBay has just released information about a new mobile photo feature, where users can take pictures of products they like the look of and the app will suggest similar products available on the site. Innovations such as this are revolutionising the way people shop and unifying in store, online and mobile retailing experiences.
For the makers of the device whose name became synonymous with messaging, it was a deeply embarrassing 36 hours.
Untold numbers of Blackberry users, first in Europe then in much of the rest of the world, found that their email either slowed or ground to a halt and the BBM service became unavailable.
Worse, the whole incident turned into a business school case study of how not to communicate with your customers – Blackberry simply failed to get its message out. When the problems started to emerge around lunchtime on Monday, social networks were quickly populated with angry and confused customers.
Customers who turned to their mobile phone networks for advice were all directed back to Research in Motion, the Canadian company behind Blackberry. After some hours, RIM used one of its Twitter accounts @Blackberryhelp to send out this tweet:
“Some users in EMEA are experiencing issues. We’re investigating, and we apologize for any inconvenience.”
EMEA? Where on earth is that? I know, because marketing speak floods my inbox every minute, that it stands for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, but many people will surely have been mystified.
Of course, journalists were bombarding the Blackberry PR team with calls, demanding to know what was going on, how many people were affected, and what was the root cause. By Monday evening, we had nothing more than the brief line already seen on Twitter.
At a technology awards event in London, reporters spotted a gaggle of RIM PR people clustered around their Blackberries – they promised us more news imminently. And at 21:00 this arrived in our inboxes:
“Earlier today, some BlackBerry subscribers in the EMEA region experienced delays with BlackBerry services. The issue was resolved and services are operating normally. We apologize to those customers who were impacted for any inconvenience.”
No information then about the extent of the problem or what had caused it, but reassurance that it was all over now, please move along, nothing to see here.
Then late on Tuesday morning, I started getting messages from Blackberry users that the problems had returned – emails weren’t arriving, and BBM had ground to a halt again. Worse, it then emerged that users in other parts of the world were now suffering the same experience.
A one-day shutdown might just about be forgiven – especially when the company tells you it has all been sorted. But when it returns on a second day, and there’s still no explanation you are trying customers’ patience with your product to the limit.
Finally, at 21:53 on Tuesday evening, this arrived from RIM:
“RIM update: The messaging and browsing delays being experienced by BlackBerry users in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, India, Brazil, Chile and Argentina were caused by a core switch failure within RIM’s infrastructure. Although the system is designed to failover to a back-up switch, the failover did not function as previously tested. As a result, a large backlog of data was generated and we are now working to clear that backlog and restore normal service as quickly as possible. We apologize for any inconvenience and we will continue to keep you informed.”
In other words, a pretty serious failure had occurred in the infrastructure on which the whole Blackberry ecosystem depends. This morning, a new statement tells us that the issue has finally been resolved.
But it took 36 hours for RIM to give the world any explanation of what had happened – and as far as I know the company still has not put anyone up for interview. I’m hearing that some PR executives argued for more openness from the start but were over-ruled by headquarters in Canada.
This strategy – say as little as possible, ruthlessly control the message from the centre – is similar to the one adopted with such success by Apple over the years. But when things go wrong, it looks like a textbook example of how to lose friends and alienate people.