technology

I’ve heard some depressing things as an entrepreneur in the mobile space.

  • This app has too many animations which drains battery, so I don’t use it.
  • Using Wi-Fi drains battery life, so I just rely on 3G.
  • Bluetooth drains a lot of battery life so I turn it off, even though I wear a Fitbit everyday. I just turn it on once a day at home to sync.
  • I don’t download apps because I’m afraid they will kill my battery.

The first is clearly ridiculous, yet came from an intelligent person. Your phone will actually last longer with a stable Wi-Fi connection, and Bluetooth doesn’t drain battery at all unless used. Even then, it’s minimal. The last complaint is such a sad thing for us in the industry to hear.

The fear of running out of battery wields such an extraordinary influence over how we use smartphones. We benchmark every task according to how much battery it takes. We are never too far from a charger, and many of us carry a heavy, cumbersome power bank.

I have good news: we are on the verge of true all day battery life.

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The HTC One is one of Android’s best phones — it came second in our list of recommended flagship phones — and it is now available for Windows Phone. Windows Phone 8.1 is a mature platform and mostly on par with iOS and Android, and now it also has top notch hardware. The HTC One for Windows Phone is cheap too at $100 on contract in the US.

Unfortunately, it won’t be enough. This fair review from the Wall Street Journal sums it up best:

In the smartphone market, people tend to join in the biggest crowds. By the time Microsoft got its act together, the masses had chosen sides between iPhones and Android phones. For most, a switch would be like being uprooted from a comfortable home for a comfortable home across the street—it just isn’t worth it.

Microsoft probably has only two plays left before Windows Phone is dead for good. Maybe three: making Windows Phone free, utilizing apps from Windows 9 “Threshold” and waiting for web apps to become mainstream. But really it’s just two.

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There is an interesting back and forth at The Verge, where Nilay Patel and David Pierce have a Google vs. Samsung argument. Of course, the reality is they need each other, and there is no practical outcome where one is better off without the other.

For the sake of discussion, let’s accept the premise that Google and Samsung ought to be pitted against each other in battle. Who wins? Pierce has the dilemma boiled down to one question:

Google needs Samsung more than Samsung needs Google. Samsung has its own platforms, its own services, its own software. It’s vertically integrated, reliant on no other company to make its products. Android could disappear tomorrow and Samsung would just switch to Tizen — and I’m not sure how many consumers would even notice the change.

I agree this is the right way to decide the debate. But I disagree with the conclusion.

We all know what would happen if Samsung switched to Tizen: Samsung would end up just like Microsoft-Nokia.

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Speaking of videogames, Electronic Arts announced an interesting offer in EA Access: for $5 a month or $30 a year, Xbox One owners can play all the games in EA’s so-called Vault, which currently consists of FIFA 14, Madden NFL 25, Peggle 2 and Battlefield 4; with presumably more in the pipeline.

You can also get 10% off EA titles purchased through the Xbox One game store.  If you’re planning on buying even one EA game, it’s worth getting EA Access for the 10%.  Essentially, EA Access comes free for one month with every >$50 game purchase.

This appears to be a modified approach of in-app purchases on mobile; i.e. lower barriers to adoption, create stickiness once adopted and monetize later via downloadable content.  If successful, it might even create network effects.

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I haven’t played my Playstation 4 much since finishing the excellent Tomb Raider Definitive Edition.  So I was excited to blow off the dust and purchase The Last Of Us Remastered, which I had started for a few hours on my Playstation 3 and is supposedly much better on the Playstation 4.  The lure of 60 frames per second is enough to get my money again.  I saw that Playstation Plus members get a 10% discount in addition to in-game benefits — perfect.

To my surprise, the same credit card I used to purchase my Playstation Plus subscription a few months ago failed to work.  “The credit card information is not valid. Please check your entries carefully.”  Huh?  I double checked just in case I was suffering from memory loss.  Nope, perfectly valid.  Tried my other credit card, same message.

Googling revealed this problem existed since 2007, all the way to July 2014!  Holy smokes, how has Sony not fixed this yet?  Over the next hour plus, I tried all the tips suggested:

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Mac computers have been steadily eating away at Microsoft’s share of the PC market the past few years; enough so that Panos Panay appointed the MacBook Air as the Surface Pro 3’s competition.  As PCs become increasingly lifestyle products, the Mac will continue to gain share.

When we say Macs are amazing, you’re probably thinking about its sexy look and premium finish; it’s proprietary software; it’s reputation for reliability (sometimes undeserved); the slick commercials; the aspirational Apple brand; or perhaps even unwarranted PR hype.

But you’d be wrong.  The most amazing thing about the Mac isn’t all those things, things that drive market demand; it’s Apple’s peerless ability to convert demand into profit.  And that’s about good old fashioned operations.

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As a Duke alumnus, it’s weird to be excited about college football; but after last season’s phenomenal 10-2 run here I am hopping on the bandwagon.  Yesterday was media day for ACC football, and one of the topics ACC commissioner John Swofford talked about is showing ACC games nationally on digital.

Given the ACC’s attractive footprint, I can see the potential.  But I can’t help think there’s a huge, missed opportunity: international.

US college sports is classic long tail content.  It’s content meant for a very specific person: the die hard college sports fan — already niche in the US, miniscule outside it — and alumni from the two schools competing in any particular game.  I follow college basketball quite closely but even I don’t really care about Missouri playing Arizon State.  During the regular season it’s Duke first and foremost, and perhaps ACC games second.

Any business model predicated on showing me multiple “Missouri vs. Arizona State” type games for the occasional game I really want to watch are bound to fail.

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