technology

Qualcomm recently unveiled the Snapdragon 810. The reason to care is that Qualcomm’s chips are what’s powering all the mid to high end Android phones — if you have an Android phone, chances are it has a Snapdragon variant. The Snapdragon 810 will be the flagship chipset for phones early next year; the Samsung Galaxy S6, the new HTC One, etc. will all likely have it.

It’s a good sign is that Qualcomm did not spend much time talking up performance improvements. Today’s top phones are already roughly on par with laptops from 2010 in terms of power, and it’s questionable whether more is needed. Phones simply don’t need laptop-level performance — it’s not like you’re going to need CAD on your phone.

Just as netbooks and cheap laptops invaded PCs, so too will low cost phones that are “good enough.” We reviewed one just a few weeks ago (see the Moto G review here) and found it impressive for the price.

In the first few years of mobile, paying premium was worth it because the base experience on cheap phones wasn’t good enough. Buying the iPhone 3GS instead of an iPhone 3G made a big difference for example; whereas you’ll be hard pressed to tell the power difference between an iPhone 6 and iPhone 5S.

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Instagram is now used by more people than Twitter. Let’s talk about why. This post is a continuation from yesterday’s, which explored the evolution of how Twitter is used.

Twitter is great for getting news and opinions about the things you’re interested in. For example, Marc Andreesen is a fantastic person to follow if you’re interested in technology and business. Finding those people, however, is hard.

Instagram’s appeal is more immediate and more universal. It’s easier to create and find good content on Instagram, better for conversations and great to use with friends.

Getting “into” Twitter is difficult. I love my friends, but I don’t care about what they do on a real-time basis. I also love Duke basketball, but few Duke basketball players are actually interesting enough to listen to on Twitter. Finding great content on Twitter is hard.

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When people think about ranking social networks, it’s usually Facebook #1 and Twitter #2. Well, there’s a new #2 in town and that’s Instagram, who with 300 million monthly active users recently supplanted Twitter’s 284 million users.

Twitter was a compelling solution to a problem few understood. I’m not a big Twitter user by any means, but I’ve kept close tabs on it ever since its debut on SXSW, and my own understanding of Twitter has evolved a lot over the years.

Like most, I didn’t get Twitter the first time. It felt like a feature Facebook already had in status updates. Moreover, did I really want to know that people were doing on a real-time basis? Having lunch or going to the gym or feeling sad?

I soon realized it was a precise way of getting updates of only the people you’re interested in, which was/is different to Facebook’s algorithmic approach of getting updates from all your friends — who you may not actually be interested in following on a real-time basis. That was my first take on Twitter’s purpose.

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Probably because it has a 50% fatality rate. This is from a list of the most popular global topics on Facebook, which the company just published yesterday in its Year in Review.

What’s the #1 topic? Thankfully, it wasn’t something as vapid as Kardashian. The top topic on Facebook is the World Cup.

Here’s the full list:

  1. World Cup
  2. Ebola virus outbreak
  3. Elections in Brazil
  4. Robin Williams
  5. Ice Bucket Challenge
  6. Conflict in Gaza
  7. Malaysia Airlines
  8. Super Bowl
  9. Michael Brown/Ferguson
  10. Sochi Winter Olympics

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One of the best things about the Surface Pro 3 is its pen. It’s changed the way I take notes, brainstorm and review PDFs. As useful as the pen is, however, I can’t help but think its implementation in Windows is a half-measure.

Currently, the pen’s behavior is different depending on where you use it. In the operating system parts of Windows and in programs like Word, the pen is a mouse replacement. Then in certain apps like OneNote, it acts like a pen that you can draw with. You can mark up PDF files, but not JPG or DOC files.

This specificity is fine for knowledgeable users, but for casual users it’s confusing to remember what the pen can be used for where. If there’s no clear sense how a tool will be used, chances are it won’t be.

For the pen to ever have mainstream adoption, it should be used consistently no matter where you are, like the mouse or keyboard. Ideally, you should be able to write, draw and mark-up with the pen everywhere. The pen doesn’t ever need to be a mouse replacement.

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I’ve long maintained that the real competition for Chromebooks aren’t Windows PCs, they’re tablets. Here’s what I wrote:

[The Chromebook] is a device people with low computing needs might deem good enough. It’s capable for mail, web browsing and light office work; and for most people, that’s all they ever need…You know what else is excellent for low computing needs? Tablets, which have already been eating into the PC market for years for precisely that reason. If Chromebooks didn’t exist today, I suspect more tablets would have been sold in its place instead of Ultrabooks.

Chromebooks so far have found most success in the education market, where the device has gone head to head with — you guessed it — the iPad. I also wrote how ridiculous it is for schools to choose iPads over Chromebooks:

Education for children of that age is also relatively basic — it’s about teaching them where and how to research information (browser), how to type (keyboard) and how to write reports (Google docs) — and for that Chromebooks are perfectly adequate. You don’t need anything more advanced (Office) until later, where a similarly priced Windows machine might make more sense.

What doesn’t make any sense are iPads. iPads are consumption devices — what would you need to teach about consumption to kids? Here’s a videogame you should play? Here’s how you watch videos? Here’s how you use Facebook?

Why would you teach a child how to type with an onscreen keyboard instead of a real one?

Add to it the fact that iPads cost nearly twice as Chromebooks, and it just boggles the mind that iPads are doing well in schools at all.

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Xbox’s Japan chief resigned recently due to lackluster sales of the Xbox One in Japan. Only 39,000 units were sold to date; 24,000 of which at launch. That’s horrible.

When it comes to console games in Japan, Microsoft needs to realize it is David not Goliath. Microsoft can’t fight Sony head-to-head, sword-to-sword in Japan. It needs to go guerilla warfare and use a slingshot.

Here’s what I would do if I was chief of Xbox Japan:

Scale back operations. Forget the huge office, the army of people, the national distribution networks. Xbox Japan should think like a start-up and go lean. This will allow them to shift resources to initiatives that actually work, instead of pouring money into hopeless battles.

Embrace the outsider identity. Position Xbox as anti-establishment. Make fun of regular Japanese people who only play regular Japanese games. Paint the Playstation 4 as conformist — you probably wear a suit and bow a lot if you have the Playstation 4. The Xbox One, on the other hand, is about being free. About giving the middle finger to the rigidity of society; basically, American values. 🙂

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