Friday, October 12, 2007

The iUnbrick to my iBricked iPhone

iUnBricking solution for iPhone: an Apple planned marketing strategy?The saga of (unlocked + application loaded + virgin) iPhones getting generously bricked by Apple (my thoughts covered here) continues.

Gizmodo today reports that iPhoneSIMFree, the company that "released the first GUI iPhone SIM unlock, has just provided an updated version of their SimFree unlocker for iPhone".

One thought is that the likes of iPhoneSIMFree are extremely competent people. Their intentions aside, they are quite talented. if I were Apple I would seriously consider hiring them.

Another thought, and call me crazy, but what if all this is an Apple marketing buzz exercise? Wouldn't that be perfect? get everyone talking about iPhone this and iPhone that. Nothing like good controversy to keep product sales going.

The Gizmodo post has some length comments. Here's one guy that commented on this:

"Perhaps it was because Apple did it on purpose!"

Or maybe they tested it!!! Let's see which makes more sense!

Scene 1: Apple tests their new firmware with AnySIM unlocked iPhone -> brick -> warn people of the fact

Scene 2: Apple tests their new firmware with AnySIM unlocked iPhone -> works fantastically -> "Oh SHIT! Let's add code to make sure the firmware bricks these things! Work harder, coder slaves! This is why we pay ya!! We don't care if word gets out about this after we lay one of you guys off, and cause all sorts of backlash and lawsuits in the future, cuz we're stupid! "


Indeed Hmm.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Connected Cars

Ford Sync integrates in-car PC for infotainment and connectivityHave you ever had the feeling: "Hey! Cool, I thought about this!". Perhaps common sense or a combination of technical / market knowledge and life's reality, sometimes you think of something and a while later you hear there's innovation happening there. By someone else, ofcourse :-)

So this is a concept I really like and think could go ways: Intelligent cars. Actually, this is a private case of a larger thread of 'Integration'. And what it is, is that you see smaller consumer gadgets first being introduced in their independent form, and then usually, once the interest and the money equation make sense, they get integrated into larger, existing computing systems.

That trend is true for mobile: take the obvious case of music integration onto the phone: people would buy a certain phone if it has MP3 playing feature integrated instead of buying a separate MP3 player.
It is true for PCs, now having TV connectivity and control modules.
And last, it is definitely true for vehicles, getting all kinds of gadgets on the dashboard that you know, will be integrated into the vehicles capabilities.

So it only makes sense for car manufacturers to "simply throw" an off-the shelve PC onto the car to manage informational data, entertainment center, vehicle condition etc. People can install more applications like in facebook, they can download content, surf the web. Anormal connected PC can be upgraded.

You also want to make sure that PC is completely disconnected from the driving functions that affect safety. I was once told by a product manager at Trimble: "Vehicle manufacturers are used to 100% quality products, and software just isn't there yet. They trust their breaks more than they trust the onboard computer".

So I came across Popular Mechanics 2007 Breakthrough list and one of them is Ford's Sync:

"Ford has elegantly and inexpensively leap-frogged the competition when it comes to in-car infotainment systems. Ford’s $395 Sync is essentially a small computer running the Microsoft Auto operating system that wirelessly integrates all of your mobile gadgets. It enables hands-free phone use and has a universal music player that pulls songs from virtually any MP3 player. The voice-recognition control is simply the best we’ve ever tried. So far, the most impressive trick Sync offers is its ability to receive text messages and then read them to you. And Sync’s flexible software platform means it should be easily upgradable in the future. Sync will be available in 12 models by the end of the year and on nearly all Ford vehicles within two years."

Few comments I'd like to make:
  • the term "Microsoft Auto operating system" causes me to screen while driving 60 MPH...
  • It's cool that they have thought of the ability to upgrade (don't we do it every day on our PCs? why not on the onboard PC?)
  • It's cool that the PC is connected to the wireless networks as well as to mobile devices in its proximity

Here's my addition:
  • Allow car (passengers) to connect to each other: you have a connected PC onboard, why not connect cars to each other. Create a "facebook" network of moving cars, sharing real time road information, fun recommendations, people can talk, share content and much more
  • Allow seamless web connectivity in the car so that passengers can provide feedback, for example, dictate to their blog or listen to radio and tag/comment/share their interests / play lists etc., just like Bijan in his blog talks about Radio 2.0

Overall, cool stuff. There will be some safety concerns but you know more is coming. Did anyone mention location-aware advertising?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Something funny for a change

Just came across this video of Johann Lippowitz who completely cracked me up. It's a must see.

Here's the same thing but now with the unbelievably hot Natalie Imbruglia joining the gig herself (if you want to see Natalie do the mime fast forward to 1:30):

And here's a couple more:
That's my home and Don't Look back in Anger.

Great laugh, enjoy!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!

FAA Nixes Mobile Phone Usage For Planes in US Air SpaceRecently the FAA has announced that they will not allow mobile phone calls on flights (read here). There are some sensible people out there after all. Only problem, FAA governs US air space only...

This is one thing I really hope can be avoided.
For a while I knew that there was nothing really stopping cell phone usage from a safety perspective, but the prospect of people making calls in a very intimate space on a red eye into another hectic day was just one step too far for me. It's exactly that kind of technologically-doable service that is a terrible idea.

Also, this is a good time to add, the argument that arises in many situations: "people can make calls on their WiFi enabled PC while on board, so what's the difference?" is a non-argument. This is an annoyance to everyone around you, so there's no point in encouraging it.

Thank you FAA, for demonstrating leadership and sensible thinking: Will airlines outside the US adopt this? PLEASE?

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Some really interesting creative work on codes

Stephen Chasey's QR code for Depna, a mobile marketing blogStephen Chasey (Depna) is an asset to the mobile code scanning world.

First, he's spent time in Japan, capital of real-life code scanning. He knows first hand what it is, what people think about it, how it's being used and all of that.

Second, he is not biased towards one technology or another, or so it seems from his blog. He seems to be open to what works and makes sense to the audience requirements, independent of marketing spins.
Third, he is well aware of other mobile marketing methods and in fact proposes a good consumer view summary here.

Stephen Chasey's hybrid aesthetic mobile codeAnd last, he has some fabulous work done on codes for aesthetic features and use cases. Extremely creative.

Any code scanning player should consider how they could harness his energy!

Monday, October 1, 2007

Market Fragmentation (BMW Mobile code scanning campaign with Semacode in light of the One Austria & Beetagg launch)

BMW launches integrated mobile marketing campaign involving mobile code scanning, now One and Beetagg launch Beetaggs symbologyA great example of what can make, or break the mobile code scanning market:
Do you remember BMW launching mobile code scanning campaign with Semacode?

As much as I'm happy at the launch of code scanning at One by Beetagg, there is the cost of different symbologies and risk of over fragmentation (please feel free to comment on my LinkedIn question): What is BMW supposed to do now? change symbologies?

It's just worth keeping in mind that at some point, code scanning market players had better start deal with the fragmentation or else...

What's going on with Skype?

Anyone noticed a quality drop in Skype? We've been using Skype quite a bit and it seems that something's changing. Perhaps the load of all users overloads their systems?
Here's some of what I'm seeing:
  • After 10 minutes or so of a call the quality would drop into shuttered fragments of voice
  • It seems Skype implemented a new algorithm that tries to repair the lost voice frames, so there's a long gap and then the other side is heard in fast-forward mode, making it impossible to understand. That's useless. get it right the first time and if you can't, drop it (and drop this business)
  • On a number of PCs, I've seen that sometimes Skype loads the processor to 98% and stays there. The PC then starts to crawl in a very visible way. I had to restart it
  • On some days calls come in but are only displayed for a fraction of a second before a call disconnects (I know, nobody wants to talk to me)
Hey skype folks, you were good so far and I've been loyal...get back in shape, please.