Wednesday, September 29, 2004
The Communicator is finally pocketable
The Nokia Communicator 9300 is finally pocketable
The new Communicator impressed me (Great work guys), I had seen early mock ups, but when I got it, I was really positively surprised, the feel, the design is way better than the past ones. It was one of those: 'it was smaller than I expected kind of products'. I had to back to my gadget sediment to fetch out the reference, the 6110, the phone that propelled Nokia to its phenomenal growth. This phone was heralded and loved by millions and felt pocketable, it became ubiquitous an icon, with that and its derivative the 5110 several hundred million were sold. Now the 9300 is more or less the same size. Thus I think it will be acceptable in bulk, now consumers are now used to smaller phones, well it is not a phone...
I think this will be the Communicator that will cross the chasm, because of three things:
1.) If you want to write on a small device then a qwerty is needed, this seems to become the dominant design, several manufacturers moving into qwerty based messaging devices and users rushing to the shops. Thumbing with a qwerty is about 2x faster than using T9, in many cases as fast as writing with pen on paper which is about 30 words per minute.
2.) Mobile data infrastructure is available GPRS is available almost everywhere. The device supports EDGE, so speed will be acceptable, EDGE networks are being rolled out as we speak.
3.) Finally and most importantly there are several key functions driving form. In Europe and Asia we have SMS, and I see no reason why this form of communication would disappear. What people is not understanding is that SMSis a new complementing form of communication which fills the void between live IM and Chat and E-mail which is answer when ever. When you send an SMS you want an answer soon! I know e-mail is used like that in US, but it is also used as a general data transport ‘protocol’. But these two apps have been around for some time. What now is new is what I think will the ultimate catalyst is IM, Instant messaging is spreading rapidly in the mobile arena.html">Agile Messenger is the best one try it. it is free. I hope they will make one for the S80 it could be fantastic.
The key challenge is that the Communicator is very sophisticated technically and hence the bill of material is high. This will correspond in a higher sales price and thus typically corporate use. This is a shame, the price will scare many consumers away from it. I used all the communicators intensively in my work and I refused to use anything else, it was the best phone (great hands free), it had the most sophisticated calendar and was a great note taking device. These alone justify a dedicated device.
The transition to a camera phone was a challenge for me, I was missing the qwerty like mad. Now I will not go back, I am hooked to my “Life recorder” and my little IBM X40 with WiFi, but that means I will not nearly as productive in doing text based communication as I could using the communicator. So for me the perfect device is a ‘Life Recorder with Qwerty’ and my PC. Fortunately this concept can be made and I just have to wait….
The quest for Autenthicity
I am participating in the ThinkAbout seminar hosted by Jo Pine and Jim Gilmour. Jo Pine has through his books been on my radar for many years. He wrote the legendary book about Mass Customisation which in many respects was 10 years ahead of its time. A Couple years ago I had the pleasure of meeting him at a seminar where he gave a keynote on the emerging experience economy. The thoughts are captured in theirs first joint book. Both of these books are some of my favorite works and his talk was great. Seldom does a non UI guy talk so well about UI. I now use UI in its broadest sense, the experience. This is where I feel I am working; I am in the 'experience making business'. We have since then stayed in touch and agreed to meet, it will finally happen. Their latest direction seems to be about authenticity in experiences and services, something I find very interesting. I am asking myself what can be done to products or services to give them that feeling of authenticity, lets see what I learn. I will post some thoughts and my feedback here for you to read.
Monday, September 13, 2004
Ozumo - Great sushi experience in San Fransisco
Ozumo in San Fransisco is a very cool Japanese avant garde joint. The music is mellow, the crowd is cool and varied. The presentation was very very good. This is the best sushi I have had in SF. They offer a total concept from bar, to a very original Sake lounge. The place feel authentic, created with lots of passion. I was really impressed with the Tempura which was hot, crisp and very well presented. It is a place where one wants to spend a whole night. If you are a crowd of more than 6 people you should reserve the Sake lounge, which is an isolated area covered with different Sake bottles from floor to table.
Sunday, September 12, 2004
Jawbone could push voice communication to new height
I have seen lots of technology and become somewhat picky of what moves me. At DEMOmobile, Aliph, a small San Francisco startup launched the Jawbone, a new revolutionary headset. This moved me in a profound way. What makes is revolutionary is that it enables voice communications in places where one normally could not have them, like in very noisy environments like traffic, clubs etc. It relies on several sensors that will monitor the ambient noise and most importantly when you speak. Since voice communication is now free of ambient noise we are at dawn of a new communication revolution. Let me elaborate:
Headsets have traditionally enabled hands free communication. The Jawbone adds environment free communication. The environment free communication is the critical enabler missing making voice based UI's possible. The ambient noise has always made it impossible to make a good UI. Of course the algoritms are still a problem, but there is solid progress made in the past 8 years I have followed the technology. The Jawbone knows when you are talking and ignores others. What these usability enablers will do is stimulate innovation of a new type of phone, a wearable voice only device, a type of communication jewelry. If you look at Sci-fi films this is the direction voice has been predicted to evolve. It will not be possible in the short term to integrate all this in a device hanging on the ear, but one needs to make an intermediate device something that hangs on the chest, like an amulet, with a smaller ear piece. If one strips out all extra from the phone one can make an amulet for voice communication and this is infinitely better than one-hand use, which I have been a proponent of for so many years.
I am of the opinion that voice and data are in deep ergonomic conflict and the only logical evolution is to split it and here the technology that Aliph has created could have profound implications.
You might wonder why I am not rushing back to the lab and convince my colleagues to make it. That has an easy answer. The communication amulet is a new dominant design and to create that kind of market several manufacturers need to make substitutes. This will require user adoption and that takes time, so I see little point in a first to market advantage ;-)
I am looking forward to meeting the creators tonight for dinner to discuss where they are taking this. I will also take one home and put it through a serious test.
I will continue this post with some conclusions of the discussion.
Raisins from the bush
I just came across some dried grapes on the bush, which technically is raisins. I have very rarely had such a moving experience. Nature is the best at maturing stuff. These grapes were warm having been baked in the hot Napa sun. With most of the water evaporated what one was left with was intense flavours. I have never seen this marketed before, but as it does not look too appealing I think the consumers would reject it. Well atleas I got some and I will cherish it for quite some time.
Saturday, September 11, 2004
Restaurant Bouchon - A little France in the hearth Napa Valley
Thomas Keller has become a legend in the American food scene and his own sactuary next door from his famous French Laundry is a wonderful place. It has alot of France without the typical American affection for surface, without substance. Here the mood is authentic, Thomas Keller proclaims in his book about Bouchon that is is a big lover of bistro food and that this is where he wants to have a meal after cooking the whole evening at the French Laundry.
We had a small table on the tiny patio, it was a beautiful day after doing some wine tasting and discovering 'Graisins' - the overrip grapes, which I blogged about here. The company made the experience extraordinary, thanks Sarah and Steve. We saw the sun set starting with champagne and a set of oysters. I liked the informal environment, the food was good, but there is a clear distinction between haute cuisine and bistro food. The dish I really want to highlight was the soup on fresh corn. This soup was amazing, I like the flavour of corn and with crispy corn in the pureed soup made it a very memorable dish. Sarah picked it, her ability to see through the meny to the dishes makes her excellent company at great restaurants. Thanks for having vision! The three of us later convinced the waiter to bring in a starter sized porting as a taster and that taste is still in my mouth. I even tried to re-create it from memory when returning home. Mine was not as good, but still a good soup.
The service was not the best I have experienced, I felt the name, the heritage brought some stiffness, yet the attention to detail of the servers was not perfect. I am now splitting hair, but at the top margins are hair thin. On the other hand I was scoring a bistro with a haute cuisine criteria, not fair, but the service was not bistro, something familiar, cozy was missing, which is what you find in French bistros.
If you are in the area, I really recommend you visit the place, the bakery next door is great and the whole area is very Americana.
Wednesday, September 08, 2004
Lifeblog will blog to TypePad - some reflections
Our team today announced that we are partnering with Six Apart to make TypePad the preferred destination when you blog from Lifeblog.
To me this is a natural choice. The first time I met Mena Trott and Barak Berkowitz was a dark, cold December morning in Finland. They could not have picked a worse day to come. The chat was warming us all, we chatted about blogging, mobility and ease-of-use. It was really great to hear how Mena’s thoughts had evolved over time. What really clicked in me was her view that blogging will not be a new form for broadcast, but very much a form of communication between small groups of people. This made perfect sense to me. At the time I knew little about blogging. I had a TypePad account before I met them, but I was not happy with the templates, it did not feel like me. Mena offered to help, and with some local designers few weeks later Moving Experience was live and I was e-born.
Their attitude, their approach and above all their platform is amazing. The more we digged into it the more we found. Most things seem possible with TypePad.
Blogs are reflections of personality, when you come to Moving Experiences you do not come to Six Apart or TypePad, you come to me. This is what I really like. If I for some reason want to leave Six Apart I can export my stuff. They are strong advocates of ATOM. One feels save with TypePad, and that was what we wanted to offer our users. We will not enter the service business with the Lifeblog brand, instead we support ATOM and recommend users to use TypePad.
What really got me convinced was the maturity the founders showed when they let the power to Barak Berkowitz. There is a small anecdote on Barak on Boing Boing This story sums up Barak, he is extremely helpful, he is the reason I am doing this post now. My internet settings were broken due to our Nokia personal Firewall ;-( so I could not get online, and when you work in a big corporation one thing you learn do not tinker with your machine. I bribed Barak for a beer after a long night, and with a few confident key clicks I was on-line. Another thing was when Loic Le Muir said he was going to ditch his platform in the favour of TypePad.
I have really enjoyed getting to know these guys, being in their IVY-league blog school has been rewarding and today you saw the first results of it.
We are soon heading down to San Diego to take part in DemoMobile, so if you are there stop by and have a chat.
Our joint dream of sharing personal multimedia from any device anytime to friends and loved ones is a strong motivator to keep us going.
Pancho Villa is Mexico in San Mateo
If you are in San Mateo in California, them stop by and taste these amazing burritos, tacos at this taqueria. The place is really clean, it felt like being in a gourmet store. There was a family mood, but with lots of speed energy and love. It was like a symphony orchestra where everyone knew how to play their part. A really moving experience. The food was good, it was easy to taste the different ingredients. There was a wide range of salsas also made of natures best ingredients. Their prices are really resonable, no wonder it is packed.
When Mexican food is ill prepared all ingredients blend together into an indistiquisible blob, not at Panco Villa. The place is family owned.
Saturday, September 04, 2004
Demo mobile is the focus next week
I will be speaking at Demo Mobile next week in a panel on the need for broadband wireless. It will focus on short term opportunities, my angle is very simple I the more content you have the more you wish to share and hence one can never have enough bandwidth. It is moderated by John Patrick, a longterm internet shaper, the marketing man behind ThinkPad brand! I am looking forward to meeting these gentlemen and try to provoke some stimulating discussion. Our Lifeblog team will also be demoing something cool, so stay tuned. I have heard so much about the Demo conferences, so my expectations are very high. If you are there lets get together and have a chat.