Sunday, November 30, 2008
Death of Deadline driven mobile development
I recently realised a fundamental subtle change that the iPhone has caused. It has literally killed deadline driven product creation. A classic way to develop products is to launch them early, the moment they somehow work and then promise a shipping date in the future. It can also be done privately in deals. This tactic by management to leverage public promises to get the engineers to work harder is used world-wide in product development. The problem is that it does not work anymore when Apple started to making phones. This insight and thoughts emerged from two widely expected terminals, which both are disappointments among early adopters. The Google G1 phone and the Blackberry Storm both started shipping for the Christmas market. The Google G1 phone was not announced when the Android platform was announced, but it was announced that products would ship in October, a promise that was kept, but was shipped was not mature enough. The G1 is ready by classic mobile quality standard, but not by the new standards set by Apple. The experience is simply not polished enough. Let me use three examples to illustrate this point:
1. When one opens the device and starts typing the device performs a search in the phonebook, there is no opportunity to extend it seamlessly into the Internet. Such a simple idea, and one I certainly would have insisted on leveraging a search brand as basis.
2. When the user is in the idle experience and presses the Menu key it highlights an add function on the left. The thumb is naturally leaning on the black pearl and the most ergonomic action would be to scroll to the left, but this little menu does not loop. I would certainly have demanded that the design made such that the highlight is on the right most item, it would be add and one could then easily scroll left and provide looping of the menu. This however breaks some interaction design rules, but it would be elegantly simple, the type of design we aspire to do at Fjord,
3. When one opens the market place app and put down the finger to scroll the among the apps, an irritating flicker occurs, when the OS thinks the finger wants to select an item, rather than scroll. These kind of issues take time to polish, but they are crucial in the new mobile world. Thinking that users will not notice is naive, as some users will notice and as their benchmark is iPhone they expect nothing less from premium suppliers like Google.
The G1 one phone is designed by geeks for geeks or like my friend who worked on lots on Microsoft mobile stuff “This is what Microsoft would have done” The good news is that now there is an Android phone out and next year several more, of which one will be a stellar success. Google seems to have some kind of Japanese genes with Kaizen style continuous improvement. I sure that Android will be successful, but it will take longer than people think, and in the meantime Apple will make a lot of money.
The other example is the Blackberry Storm, the first touch screen solution from RIM. I think this was rushed to market. I think they promised Vodafone, that they would be ready for the Christmas market and now lots of somewhat negative press is emerging, which certainly will tarnish their reputation, which has been built on excellence. I actually think this device will hurt the self-esteem of some RIM product makers, the qwerty fanatics. I am sure that there was a giant debate about killing the qwerty for a touch screen, I do not think that the Blackberry users will dare to buy another touch Blackberry in the near future after being burned by the Storm. Storm is an appropriate name for what I think is happening inside of RIM. Keys are good! Don’t let Steve Jobs fool you. Focus on making the world’s thinnest slider and you have best of both worlds.
L'Autre Pied restaurant does not come with foot in the mouth
It has been a while since I was blown away by food in London. It happened decisivly at L'Autre Pied. The cuisine was very fresh, architectural and light. There was fun combinations, rich colour and the attention to detail was great. We were met by very friendly service. I ordered some wine for the table and the red I was recommended was not tasking good. We passed the glass around and concluded that the wine was not to our liking, yet we agreed it was not spoiled. They took it out and brought another. I was impressed, no fuss truly professional service. I have never sent out a bottle that I did not like before, but I am convinced it would have ruined what became a wonderful dining experience.
We had most of the dishes on the menu as we were a company of 7 and I tasted most and it was one delight after another. I loved my Risotto, served in a small casserole on the side, a clever move as risotto generally is not so decorative.
The food was filled with aroma and the air was clean enough to let it savor into the nostrils for a rich moving experience. I have lately become a bit sceptically with over designed dishes, but here the high design was followed with a warm rich taste and finally a light feeling in the stomach. This kind of sensations I think one only has in very classic two star type restaurants, kind of culinary palaces like the Palme D'Or I wrote about some time ago.
The big difference between L'Autre Pied and Palme D'Or is that the wallet will feel the diet. L'Autre Pied is a restaurant in upwardly motion and I bet it will have a star in Guide Michelin in the next year of two, if they keep up the good work.
The only disappointment was the Crumble which I think was over designed and too crunchy for my taste. It however brought my thoughts to the Danish desert Able kaege my mother makes, which does beat that desert flat out. On the other hand if a desert makes you think of your mothers and grand mothers cuisine that is an achievement in itself.
Sunday, November 09, 2008
My new iPod Touch going Rogue?
The strangest thing happened yesterday. I was demoing the new generation of iPod Touch to my friends and for some amazing reason most of the apps did not work, they simply do not start. This got me thinking. I have not registered this iPod. The reason was I was thinking to give it to a friend, but in the end he was getting a new one so I will keep this one, I sold my first gen one.
I restored an older copy of my iPod Touch onto the new touch from my MacBook Air, which itself is a gigant MacTouch, so not my content mothership, which is at home in London, since travelling I have not had a chance to sync it to that. It has been more than 10 days since I set it up. I wonder if the iPod Touch goes rougue if one does not register it to the iTunes?
UPDATE: Thanks for the tip of downloading another app, it did not do the trick ;-( What did the trick was registering, so seems that Apple really want you to register the device. I don't mind.
Monday, November 03, 2008
Marek Pawlowski writes up his very negative G1 Experience - well worth a read.
Marek Pawlowski got a Google phone from T-Mobile, it was not a pretty experience. I hope this was a one off mishap. Looking forward to geting one.
"It took 18 hours and 4 phone calls to technical support for me to activate my G1 in the UK. However, once the device was finally working, I needed just a few minutes to conclude Google and T-Mobile have missed a huge opportunity to demonstrate a genuine commitment to improving the mobile user experience."
Read his full story here. Considering that he was on BBC talking about the Google phone, I found it utterly amazing that T-Mobile had not seeded him with a phone to avoid this exposure. As I know Marek, he is not out to haunt anyone, or generally negative, making this so much more serious.
I recently did a two minute touch the Google phone and it seemed promising, so looking forward getting one.