Tag: HTC

If only Apple had been around in the 1880s, We’d have the fastest, prettiest iHorse ever by now.

I haven’t had an Apple rant in about a year, so those fanboys out there can look away now, you know what to expect. Except the next line might surprise you.

Apple’s NEW iPad went on sale last week to rapturous acclaim from all the Apple acolytes around the world, and for the first time ever, I wanted one. I’ve never truly desired any product made by Apple, (I know, I’m weird,) but when I saw this NEW iPad I had an irrational urge to own one. Well for about 5 minutes anyway.

After a period of soul-searching to try to understand this deviation in my character I realised that it was just one simple thing –

It’s “more” pretty.

That’s it.

OK if you are going to push it, it is prettier due to a really impressive high-resolution so called “retina” display.

And that is it. Just like the iPad 2 (and the original iPad) but a bit “More”

As far as I can tell the NEW iPad is nothing except a series of incremental improvements to the iPad 2 with one big incremental improvement to the screen. All the other improvements to camera and processing power are just to make sure that the experience of using the NEW iPad lives up to the experience of using the old one (because 4 times as many pixels requires a lot more processing power to render and photos from a 3 megapixel camera would look pretty crap on that screen)

As far as I can tell, there is absolutely nothing new or inventive or innovative about the NEW iPad. And yet people will buy it in their droves because of that screen. It is a truly breathtaking piece of technology with images displayed in the usual slick Apple way and people will have a visceral gut reaction to it that will overcome any rational objections to the rest of it. Apparently 16,000 iPad2s recently landed on ebay as all the leading majority decided that they just HAD to upgrade.

And that in a nutshell is what Apple do best. They make faster horses, because that’s what everyone wants. They’ve realised that they could spend vast amounts on R&D creating completely new product functionality 90% of which would be a commercial failure, or they can just wait for Samsung or Sony or Acer or Archos or HTC or even Nokia to develop something new that is a commercial success and then they’ll spend a couple of years thinking about it and eventually release it (in an admittedly perfect incarnation) as a great new innovation.

What they would never do for example is release something like the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1.

This is a new Android tablet from Samsung that incorporates a true digital stylus with a digitised screen (the technology used by CAD Draftsmen to design pretty much everything). It looks pretty amazing and I can see a huge amount of potential functionality that it provides that no other tablet can do. I also think that there is a good chance that it will be reasonably commercial successful. The original Galaxy Note has seen pretty respectable sales (after an admittedly slow start) considering that it is a fairly niche product that sits half way between a phone and a tablet and I actually think that the market for the 10.1 is significantly bigger. I’m pretty sure that I want one.

The thing is, it’s fine to have a corporation that just make perfected, more expensive versions of products that other companies invented. It’s absolutely fine and frankly we deserve products that just WORK the way that Apple products do. It was absolutely great for Apple to be the way they are when they were the challenger brand, forcing Microsoft to stay honest.

The problem comes when that corporation becomes the biggest company in the world.

It’s a problem when they move from being a niche minority product for rich people to being the market leader that has a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. It is a problem when their sales volumes are so high that they can actually price traditionally cheaper more innovative competitors out of the market. That is when you start to see a stagnation in innovation.

And I think that we are already seeing it. Take a look at the new HTC range. HTC has been a really interesting challenger to Apple’s domination over the past few years, but their recent showing at the technology expo’s is worrying. The new HTC One X is their new flagship phone and what does it actually do that is new? More pixels on the screen, better camera, faster processer. Sound familiar? It’s just another faster horse.

The problem also is an issue for Apple itself: Apple are the most valuable company in the world and yet they only really make about 4 products. There is zero room for failure in that model. If the next iPad or iPhone or Airbook came out and bombed, that would be 25% of their business in serious jeopardy. So they will always err on the side of caution and keep making faster horses rather than take any real risks. They’ve tried it once or twice with products such as Apple TV, but there was very little conviction in that effort. Apple are stuck in a cycle where they have to keep making the same product with just a bit “more” over and over again. They actually need the other companies to test new innovations on the public or they will have nothing to copy!

Well I for one will be supporting the true innovators, the companies that are willing to take a chance, that accept the fact that with true progress comes the chance of failure. I might end up buying a shit product, true, but I might just end up supporting something that actually moves the pace of technology forwards a tiny bit and I can feel good about that.

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Introducing the very aptly named HTC Sense

So the follow up to the HTC Desire is nearly upon us – the HTC Desire HD. Not very imaginatively named I know, and you could be mistaken for thinking that this was just another iterative update, but I think that this new phone actually represents a landmark in the smartphone market, a quiet changing of the guard even.

HTC have been around for a while making loads of different smartphones of consistently high quality, but they’ve never really managed to get people excited about them as a brand.

The first HTC Desire started to change all that. It was the first phone that really started to compete with and even outdo the iPhone. One of HTCs biggest problems however was one of branding. HTC isn’t a brand it’s an acronym – the High Tech Company. And each phone they brought out tried so hard to sound exciting, but just ended up sounding a bit naff – the Hero, the Magic, the Legend, Nexus One, the Desire.

None of these phones quite lived up to their names, none of them was the giant killer that they were supposed to be (even the Desire) and none of them managed to become a brand in their own right. There’s nothing that was able to compete on a brand level with “iPhone”

So what is different now?

1) The first thing that has gone right for them is that they managed to land during a lull in the Apple marketing machine and indeed when Apple did come back into the frame it was a with a bit of a mixed bag. Bias aside, the iphone 4 is a admittedlygreat bit of kit, but not without it’s highly publicised technical flaws, and the iPad, though a joy to use is always going to have the “It’s just a big iPhone” type comparison. In this context, HTC and the Desire have managed to compete on a more level PR playing field with Apple, which would just have been unheard of 18 months ago

2) They’ve stuck with the Desire name and turned it into a franchise – the Desire HD and the Desire Z both come out in the next few weeks and their respective marketing campaigns will start to generate significant recognition for the name. This might not seem significant, but when you look at all the different names they and their competitors are using, it’s probably the first non-apple phone since the Motorola RAZR to achieve such a thing.

3) They are bringing out different models for different consumers – the Desire HD is clearly aimed at the entertainment focused user, the Desire Z (with a slide out Qwerty keyboard) is aimed at the business user and frankly I’m surprised they didn’t call the Wildfire a Desire Mini to appeal to the financially challenged teen market. This enables consumers to buy into a successful franchise without having to make compromises and represents a significant departure from the iPhone way of doing things.

These are all interesting developments and important for establishing HTC as a brand, but I think the most exciting thing they’ve done is not to do with the actual phone but instead is a piece of news that I just found out about

With the launch of the two new Desire models they are also launching a website called http://www.HTCSense.com . This website, (named after the highly acclaimed “Sense” user interface that HTC have created for their windows and android phones) will provide some really compelling functionality for all users of HTC phones. Examples of this functionality include:

– The ability to make your phone ring loudly if you have lost it – even if you have it on silent.

– The ability to find your phone on Google Maps if you have lost it further afield

– The ability to post a “REWARD” message onto the screen of a lost phone for anyone who finds it

– Not just limited to finding lost phones, if you leave your phone at home, you will also be able to send and receive text messages and see any missed calls that you have

As people become more and more dependent on their phones these are all highly valuable functions and services that will really start to make the HTC brand really sticky. I assume that the services will also include an automatic syncing of their contacts with their online account.

This is HTC really planning for the long term. When consumers come to upgrade their current HTC Sense driven phones, they will be incredibly reluctant to have to leave all of those services behind and have to install them in a new device. The HTCSense.com can expect to generate a powerful sense of loyalty and stickiness that only Apple has come close to so far

This is the first time since the launch of the first iPhone that I’ve seen a mobile technology provider really start to do something different for it’s consumers. I for one really hope it works