There has been endless coverage of the iPhone, but one of the most interesting sites is iFixit's coverage of disassembling the iPhone. They got to the store early, bought two of the 8 GB models and brought them back to the studio to dissect them before an online audience. However, it's now 7:10 pm and they still haven't figured out how to get it open.
There was a time when all the cool people had a Palm Treo, or maybe if they were in finance, a Blackberry. I've been a fan of Palm since the Pilot, but lately Palm seems to have given up. With the Apple iPhone due to ship in a few weeks and every handset manufacturer coming out with something new, you would think that the company that invented this category would come out with a phone that met at least one of the two value propositions of the iPhone:
cool new features
Instead, Palm gives us tired retreads of the same old phone. Consider some of my recent experiences with the Palm Treo 680:
Attractive copper-colored case - made some VC's drool over it. I wish I could say the rest of the phne lived up to its appearance.
Phone reboots at random. I thought this only happened to Windows Mobile devices but on more than one occasion I reached into my pocket to answer a ringing phone only to discover that the phone had decided to reboot. Needless to say that call went to voice mail. You would think Palm would do a little QA before they shipped these suckers.
Bluetooth is also random. Sometimes I get in my car and it recognizes the phone, sometimes not. (Please don't tell me it is BMW's fault - how many car manufacturers are there in the world - go talk to them!). Sometimes when I am not in the car, the phone insists on connecting to the "headset" even though there is no handset in sight. While I am looking for the button to turn of the headset the party on the other end doesn't hear anything and hangs up.
The speakerphone is anemic. My wife's Samsung phone is half the size and twice as loud.
Battery life is a joke. I'm lucky if I get two days before I need to recharge.
When the keyboard of my 650 failed, the tech support people tried to slime out of it by claiming the keyboard was on the exterior of the device and thus wasn't covered by the warranty.
No task switching. I understood this when the Palm Pilot came out ten years ago, but in 2007 is there any good reason for the navigation software to forget the destination just because the phone rings?
None of this is rocket science, but if Palm can't get its act together it's toast.
Om Malikpoints out how Vodafone has created two tiers of pricing for Internet access: Web browsing costs £7.50 a month for 120MB (plus £1 a day once that limit is reached) while "Voice over IP services such as Skype and Peer to Peer services,
including ICQ, Windows Messenger, Yahoo messenger, Hotext and Tex2" are billed at £2 per MB which is more than 30 times the price. This was one the heels of Truphone complaining that wireless operators had disabled the VoIP features on the Nokia N95.
While it’s unfortunate that we will not be able to benefit from the
innovations of scrappy, new companies like Truphone while the big, old companies like Vodafone
engage in this short-sighted behavior, we really can’t expect
governments to intervene after they raked in billions selling 3G
licenses. It would be disingenuous to take the money and then dictate
how the operators can recoup their investment.
John Landry came by yesterday. In the years since I worked with him at Lotus he's gone on to become an angel investor and hands-on entrepreneur in many ventures. His most recent company, Adesso, was recently rechristened Tubes and has repositioned itself around an application built on the Adesso platform.
Tubes is basically a file-sharing application. Once a user has downloaded and installed the free software from the Tubes website, dragging and dropping a file is sufficient to share it with other Tubes users, subject to whatever permissions are assigned. In this way it is similar to Microsoft's FolderShare but with some powerful additional capabilities. The system works on or offline (like Groove or Notes), such that a user can drag and drop files while disconnected to the network and then have everything automatically replicate when he plugs in. Whenever a file goes in or out of the system, a "watcher" extracts the metadata and puts it in a database and a "factory" module can be invoked to make transformations to the file. John showed us how he can set up a snapstream to capture a TV show at his house, as soon as a show is finished, Tubes automatically creates a low-resolution version and ships it to his laptop, where he can watch it at his leisure. Another application they did for Mother's Day sent pictures from family members' computers to Mom's, where they were turned into a screen saver.
Tubes does a lot of clever things behind the scenes, such as making a hash of each file so it doesn't need to store multiple copies, and can recognize if an old file has a new name. It also makes a unique URL for each file so they can be shared with non-tubes users.
Landry says Tubes has gotten 60,000 users since they launched the new service. I hope they do an interface to Flickr, TypePad, and Linux, so I can upload pictures from my camera and have them automatically converted to the proper resolution and posted to all my favorite sites at once, according to the tags I set.
This is the final post from our travels in California. On the way back from Monterey, we spent a few days in the Santa Ynez area. This area was not as well-known as California's other wine-growing regions until the indie film Sideways put it on the map. It is still not as built-up or overrun with tourists as Napa Valley, at least not during the week when were there. We were told that it can get quite busy on the weekends since it's only a two hour drive from Los Angeles.
The major nearby population center is Santa Barbara but we stayed in Santa Ynez, which was much smaller and right in the middle of the wine country.
The hotel was the Santa Ynez Inn, a well-maintained and spacious property that included a generous hot breakfast and evening wine and hors d'oeuvres and dessert in the rate.
We had drinks at the Los Olivos Cafe & Wine Merchant which turned out to be first of many locations that were featured in the movie, although we noticed that the wall of wine bottles that were behind seated diners in the movie were actually on the opposite side of the room in what is usually the wine shop.
We had dinner at Mattei's Tavern. The steaks were large and flavorful, especially when accompanied by an excellent Foxen Cabernet, motivating us to visit Foxen the next day.
In the morning we had signed up for the Back-Country Wine Tour given by Cloud Climbers Jeep Tours. Our guide, Arturo, picked us up in an open Jeep and drove us around the area, sampling the wines from Kalyra (where Sandra Oh first appeared in the movie), Artiste, Carhartt, and Bridlewood. He explained how the climate in the valley was too cool for Cabernet but just right for Pinot Noir and how Sideways had greatly increased the profile of the area.
We picked up lunch at Panino in Los Olivas and we ate it outdoors at the table in back of Carhartt's tasting room. We also tasted some olive oil from Global Gardens which unlike our wine, we could ship home to Massachusetts, a state with very weird laws about importing wine.
After our tour, we drove ourselves to Foxen, which we recognized as another location in the movie. It is out on Foxen Canyon Road, well past any place where you would expect to find a winery - just keep driving long after you think you must have passed it. You can also get the Sideways Map from their web site.
For our last dinner in the area, we took Arturo's recommendation (in addition to working in the wine industry he has cooked in some high profile restaurants) and had a delicious meal at Trattoria Grappolo. Be sure to have it with the 2003 Stolpman Poetry Red.
After spending the weekend in LA, we had the pleasure of driving up I-5 through the San Joaquin Valley to Monterey.
We stayed at the Marina Dunes Resort, a beautiful property just north of Monterey. The rooms are spacious, have gas fireplaces, and open right onto the beach.
On the recommendation of a friend who lives in the area, we had dinner at Hula's Island Grill and Tiki Room. The place is decorated in an over-the-top Hawaiian theme, complete with Christmas lights and surfer videos playing behind the bar and seems to be a favorite with the local population. We had the Seared Ahi Wontons on wonton chips with a wasabi-ginger cream sauce ($8.50) followed by Ono - Pan-Fried with shitake mushrooms and our miso soy glaze ($19.95) andMahi Mahi - blackened, with wasabi mashed potatoes, wasabi cream sauce ($20.95). The wines are all reasonably priced from $20 - $50.
The next night we ate at the considerably more ambitious Stokes Restaurant and Bar. Make sure to have the Duck Flatbread and the Carmelized Onion Tarte.
Santa Monica may have a Starbucks (17), Peet's(2), or a competitor on every street corner, but the best place to get an espresso or cappuccino is unquestionably Caffe Luxxe on fashionable Montana Avenue. The cups may be small but the flavor is concentrated - with a small amount of water and a lot of coffee. If you like coffee it's worth a drive from anywhere in LA.
When Apple announced the iPhone the world instantly divided into two camps: those who thought the iPhone would redefine the mobile phone and be an immediate success, and those who thought there would be a limited number of people who would shell out $500 for a phone that didn't even use the fastest 3G data, was only available from AT&T, and was hermetically sealed against any applications not personally approved by Steve. I was leaning towards the latter camp, but after hearing Jobs at D, I have new reasons to think the iPhone may just live up to expectations. Among them:
In addition to the three previously announced functions of phone, music player, and web browser, the phone will include Google Maps. I've been trying out Palm's GPS Navigator recently and am convinced it's the fourth "killer app" and the one that might justify the steep price.
Jobs stated that the iPhone implementation of maps was not just the usual web browser version but had been reworked to be a true client server app. Apple's willingness to exploit the power of the platform and, significantly, to say Apple would open up that platform later this year, would make the iPhone an attractive alternative to other high-priced phones.
Jobs admitted that it might take a new user up to a week to adjust to the touch-screen virtual keyboard. While that sounds like a lot, Apple has sufficient brand equity to cause its fans to stick with it through this adjustment period, similar to what happened with the IBM Thinkpad's Trackpoint pointing device.
Never underestimate the power of Apple's industrial design. See the latest Technology Review for an interesting account of how Apple will often work with manufacturers to push the state of the art of its packaging.
Let's hope Apple lives up to Job's promise to open up the platform for independent software developers.