Monday, February 18, 2008

Desktop Virtual Reality with Head Tracking (using Wii Remote)

This is really cool. Is this guy working for us, yet?

I bet they're adding this to Duke Nukem Forever, which is why it's taking so long.

Woz hangin' with self-proclaimed "D-Lister" Kathy Griffin

Woz, Dude.

What's Hot:
Kathy Griffin a smart, and Pentium-hot red head. Some people apparently think she's funny, because she makes her living in comedy. I've never really understood most comedy myself, but I've been told that I'm not unique among high functioning autistic geeks.

Kathy is bold hot genius Über Frau smart. Like off the charts for the bold part. Like she dissed Jesus, and managed to get her brief Emmy award acceptance speech censored, bold.
Kathy Griffin's Jesus remark cut from Emmy show
A lot of people come up here and thank Jesus for this award. I want you to know that no one had less to do with this award than Jesus," an exultant Griffin said, holding up her statuette. "Suck it, Jesus. This award is my god now."

What's not:
Kathy Griffin is not even a real D-Lister. She's an Emmy winner for crying out loud. Even if she ever was a D-Lister, which is doubtful, she certainly isn't any longer. It's time to get a new schtick. She had to call herself that, what, like a million times before anybody caught on, "Oh, you mean like Paris Hilton's friend in that home made movie, the one where it's mostly her head bobbing and the lighting sucks?" A D-Lister. Not on the A List, nor the B List. I get it. Ha.

What's Totally Not Appropriate:
Like dude. I know you were trying your damnedest not to ask the hot little Holly Scoop babe for her number. Kathy was digging her, too, man, and she clearly worships Kathy. Get Kathy to invite her to your next pool party. You know. Forget to invite the other guests. Party on, Woz!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Why People Continue to Exclaim Surprise, Upon Seeing iPhone

OK, so I can't really use my iPhone in front of other people, for reasons you can guess. However, a few of my friends have mentioned to me lately that when they show their iPhone to people who haven't seen one yet (there are apparently still a few about) they get a reaction that surprised them, the first time they heard it. First timers, apparently, very often exclaim, with a note of genuine excitement,

"It works just like they show on tv!"

I've been thinking about why this should still be happening. It's been over seven months since the product hit the marketplace, and just over a year after it was announced, with great fanfare, and an unprecedented wealth of detailed online information and demonstrations at

The continued amazement people exclaim when they first see an iPhone is a direct result of the way other companies advertise their phones. It causes people to simply and subconsciously dismiss what they see in the iPhone commercials. It can't possibly be that simple. It can't possibly do that much stuff. Those animations have got to be mock-ups, the real phone never works like you see in commercials.

In both television and online ads, and at vendor web sites, there is a tremendous amount of Exciting Animation!!! In marked contrast to Apple's approach, almost none of the animation from any other phone vendor actually shows you what happens on the phone.

What's revolutionary, really remarkable for any kind of tech advertising, really, is that in the iPhone commercials, the iPhone doesn't move.

Look at every other ad, even older iPod ads, and you'll see lots of dancing and jogging and flying gadgets. In iPhone commercials, the iPhone is big, and clear, front and center, and above all, stationary. iPhone doesn't move. All the motion conveys information. A finger flicks, a screen slides aside to make way for another. A finger pokes a button on screen, and weather information rises out of it, the "Djinni Effect", named by Apple for the cloud of smoke emerging from the lamp, from which the Djinni solidifies.

Notice the homage to the classic phone industry's "flying gadget" commercials, at the very end of every iPhone commercial. The only time the device is in motion is when the phone rings, and it's answered. The iPhone, in hand, slides to the side of the frame, similar to how you would see it as you lifted it to your ear. That is the only time in any iPhone commercial when the device moves.

The entire conceptual frame of the iPhone commercials is intentional, and derived from a design philosophy that Apple several years ago named, "User at the Center". The user is inside the iPhone commercial, as a viewer, it's easy to get pulled in, imagining it's your hand holding the phone, your finger that flicks the scrolling list, your ear to which the phone is lifted at the end when your friend calls.

Contrast every other phone, every other advertisement.

A year after Apple's approach to this product became clear, Nokia has just released the N96, which they hope will hold its own against iPhone. Click on the "Take a look" button for a peek at the very latest high tech pocket phone gadget, the Nokia N96. You'll be treated to an explosion of commotion, but really none of it giving you a sense of how to actually use the device, or how it might respond.

Why? Symbian, the system software on the Nokia phones, although it's undoubtedly improved over the N95, still sucks. Using the device is cumbersome and clunky. They can't show it to you in detail, because it would just point out how far behind they really are.

This same problem now haunts the other vendors, as well, regardless of which family of system software they're using, PalmOS, the Symbian variants, Linux, or Windows Mobile.

Blackberry takes the same basic approach in both their online animated gif ads, which basically show an updated variation of a "dancing line" style screen saver, which isn't something that actually runs on the phone, and also in their television ads, which use a tremendous amount of motion and animation, none of it related to what the phone actually does.

Blackberry's internal name for this ad campaign is "Hollywood Musical".[1] That's a cynical reference to the tendency in Hollywood musicals to substitute distraction and commotion for advancing a plot or developing characters through a story-line in any discernible way.

Seen on television by the same people who see Apple's iPhone ads, these "distract them with commotion" ads serve only to make Blackberry look impotent. They point out, in glaring brilliant white spotlights, the dramatic contrast with the obvious sexual potency of iPhone, a device from a future so bright it was only hinted at in science fiction before it actually arrived, a device that responds instantly to the slightest touch of your finger.

Sprint takes the gold star here, with a brilliant ad campaign. They realized how lame it was to try to fight back against Apple on Apple's own turf while Sprint was handicapped, with their only weapons being flashy animation and distraction.

Sprint said, no, we've got to move the game to another field altogether. We can't win a head-to-head against commercials showing real things really happening on a real iPhone. We just wind up looking lame if we take the Blackberry approach to using animation as a distraction.

Sprint moved the game. Their brilliant series of "Flashlight" commercial focus not on the service, and not on the devices. Instead, they focus the commercial on the commercial itself, the unusual, beautiful, and cool advertisement, a moment of curious and pleasant art, brought into your life by the benevolent and generous multinational corporation, Sprint, with just a dash of fantasies, hopes, and dreams thrown in for good measure.

Of course, it remains to be seen if these feel-good commercials can really do anything to stem the tide of smart phone users flowing from Sprint as their contracts expire, to AT&T. But they definitely get an E for Effort.

What Sprint is Selling (Dreams)...

What You Actually Get From Sprint...

And a nice little documentary, The Making of the Sprint Flashlight Commercials...

NOTE 1: OK, I made that up, about Blackberry's internal code name for their ad campaign. But it could be true. It should be true. In a metaphorical sense, it is true. I have no idea what their internal code name for this ad campaign was. Maybe it's "Surrender" or "Horked" or "Desperado".

Thursday, February 14, 2008

iPhone - used 50 x more than any other handset for internet

Yesterday Google said that it sees 50 times as many searches from Apple's iPhone as from any other handset. Yes, iPhone is so much better at accessing the internet that people actually do it, on their phone.

Heck, I use my iPhone sometimes when I'm in the same room with my laptop, and I've seen other people do it, too, without thinking about it. It's automatic. They want to know something, out comes the phone. I've even seen this happen once or twice when people are sitting in front of their computer. Their Windows computer. Sigh.

Even though Google is talking about it this week, (See: Google homes in on revenues from phones) please remember, you read it hear, first, several months ago: The Case of the Missing Browsers (Why the iPhone Can't Fail, Even if it Flops).

iPhone was already ahead in share of the phone based browser market by November, only five months after it went on sale. (See: iPhone Tops All Windows Mobile Devices, Combined, by November 2007)

There are roughly 4 million iPhone in the world, as of early January, 2008. By that time, iPhone web traffic from those 4 million iPhone was a little more than double the amount of web traffic from all Windows Mobile phones that have ever been sold.

Granted, iPhone are now selling in slightly larger numbers than all Windows Mobile phones combined. (See: Windows Mobile Falls Behind iPhone in Latest Mobile-Market Numbers) However, that's only been the case for a few months, and iPhone has only been on the market since June 29, a bit over two quarters.

Wanna guess how many other "smart phones" there are in the world, apart from those 4 million iPhone? According to Gartner, (quoted in this recent story at the New York Times: Sony Ericsson to Make Windows Mobile Phones) there are 123 million.

That's right, there are 30 times as many other smart phones, as there are iPhone in the world. Windows Mobile, Symbian, PalmOS and Linux all had a huge, hundred million phone and multi-year head start. iPhone is kicking our butts.

Of course, this is good for those of us here at Microsoft. The other vendors are so freaked out by iPhone that they are lining up behind Windows Mobile as their Last Best Hope. The last hold out is Nokia, and I expect Ballmer will be getting a call from them any day now.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

iFob - Social Networking for Your Real Life

OK, so everybody knows I quit FaceBook. The Register has half the story, which is basically that FaceBook, and MySpace and all the other social networking web sites, suck. I found something better, iFob. Ballmer, if we have any money left over after buying Yahoo, we oughtta buy these iFob guys. The next generation of social networking is actually gonna be, well, social.

MySpace is desperately trying to catch up with last year's state of the art in social networking sites. Meanwhile, people are getting bored with poking virtual people they never actually make eye contact with, and weary of the privacy-invading policies of these sites, which make money from advertising, and mainly by selling information about their users to advertisers.

iFob is showing the way to the future of social networking. Much to the dismay of advertisers everywhere, it's taking place in real time, in coffee shops, between people.

iPhone 3G

The Mac Rumor mill hasn't yet jumped on this, but they will soon enough. Broadcom's ( highly anticipated) next generation highly integrated SoC for 3G phones will be showcased at the 2008 Mobile World Congress trade show in Barceloona, Spain, next week. Although the chip being pre-announced and talked about publicly doesn't appear to have quite the right feature combination for a 3G iPhone, you can expect that an iPhone version of a chip like this is right behind it. Or ahead of it. Recall this was the case with the specially packaged Intel chip for the MacBook Air, which may show up in laptops by other makers later.

When iPhone 3G hits the market, expect David Pogue to get one at least a few days before you can get one, so he can do a product review.

Expect Walt Mossberg to get one after you get one, and after all the early adopters get one, and probably after John C. Dvorak gets one. My sources tell me that Walt's unit will be "lost in shipping" for several weeks, as a gentle lesson in the fine art of maintaining early access to cool new products by not trashing them like he did the MacBook Air.