July 4, 2011

A Splurge of Thoughts


On a BMI flight destined for Vienna, I am writing on my iPad while listening to old greats such as the Beatles and Johnny Cash. Looking through my notes app, I find many topics, some old, some new, that I would like to write about. There I find 3 topics I would like to write about, however, there is no way I can write 800 words on a mundane topic such as iTunes Ping or the Microsoft acquisition of Skype, so I will talk about all of them in the style of my ancient "3 More Thoughts" post. Let us start with Ping.

Back in September 2010, Apple released iTunes 10. A new logo, new music browsing services and many other UI fixes, but they made a huge deal about their new music social network, called Ping. Ok, so, you might think that apple would have social sorted by now, but they have not. Look at Facebook, they rule at social, but they are inept at anything else. Now look at apple, they can do everything, but not social, right? Ping was a doomed concept from the start. Remember MySpace? Yep, that small little deflated service sitting in the corner of cyberspace, where nobody ever dares to venture. Well, they tried this exact thing. They realized that they were doing terribly compared to Facebook, so they changed the meaning of their social network to be based around music. This failed, again, and now they have been bought out for a measly $30 million, when they were once worth much, much more.

The concept of music + networking never, and will never, work, for the simple reason that people, like me, do not want others seeing that they listen to something embarrassing. Take an example; if one of my friends started listening to Rihanna, I would laugh at them, as I do not like Rihanna. It's just personal taste, but come on, how does Rihanna compare to the Beatles?

See? Now I have embarrassed myself as well as the person listening to Rihanna.

Now that we have that small argument starter going, let's talk about the Skype acquisition. Most of you will know that Microsoft bought Skype for $8.4 billion, even though they are only worth $4.2. Microsoft clearly wants to get rid of the competition for Skype by paying double out of their already decreasing funds. Why, you ask, did they do this? The simple reason is, they want to be Apple!

Think about it, when Microsoft started building their devices, they did not even consider how they would work together, proven with vista + windows phone 6.4. A complete mismatch! They have not built up an ecosystem very well. Let me explain what I mean by ecosystem. It's when all devises work and integrate seamlessly together to be able to share content and settings. Apple has done this very well. Over 10 years, they managed to build an ecosystem of products that work amazingly together. Apple’s more recent addition to the ecosystem was FaceTime, their video calling service.

This is what Microsoft failed to realize, and now they want to do the same thing in the shortest time possible, before the Apple virus takes over. As they do not have that much disposable income now, they buy Skype to set up one service for them. They are doing this in many areas now, but the only problem with this approach is the fact that you cannot possibly support all these different services, build by different people, within one operating system. Microsoft has had this problem for a while now, with hundreds of manufactures building thousands of different machines with millions of different configurations for software built by them. Fragmentation is what it's called. Apple does not have this problem as they build the software and the hardware together.

The last thing I will talk about is Google. There were two things I wanted to, but could not, talk about in the previous "A Google State of Affairs" post, namely the Google Chromebooks and the “Dear.Hollie” advert.

The Google Chromebooks are cool! I like the concept of having everything online and having a cheap & cheerful computer to access them. Whenever I turn on the computer, almost like an immediate reaction, I click on the browser, even if I do not want it! So Google have the right idea here; however, there are a few major problems with this approach. You have to be “all Google” to use them. What I mean by that is that I need to have everything stored on the Google services, including music, for the Chromebook to be of any use to me.

I like my current desktop experience, as I often do not have Internet access. I can still work with my documents locally and then when I have a connection, I upload them to my [soon to be deceased] iDisk or Dropbox. That does not work at all on the Chromebooks, unless Google stick to their promise of offline docs and calendar, which I highly doubt!

To lighten the mood after that "in-depth analysis", let's look at this ad. As many of you will know, I am very into interesting adverts. Whenever this is on, I tell everyone in the room to shutup and listen! So, shutup and listen!


Nice, isn't it! Google are toying with our emotions here, to a very good effect! Reading through the comments, many actually cried! 

They are advertising a productive use of the Google products and services in a new and interesting way, that I bet none of us ever thought about! The tag line "The web is what you make of it" is very true. You can do almost everything online now: hold meetings, connect with long lost friends, "entertain" yourself or even write an online diary. Google is saying that Chrome is our access to the world, and none of the Google services will ever integrate with other web browsers as well as they do with Chrome. See? Google are building an ecosystem, but the difference to Microsoft is that they are doing it slowly and properly now (contrary to what I said in one of my previous posts).

The web has manifested itself into something totally unrecognizable compared to the old web 1.0. I shall let you make up your own mind about the advert, and if you have anything interesting to say, leave a comment. I shall be waiting and reading eagerly!