Since I'm currently using a Blackberry 8310 as part of the Round Robin this week, a cross-platform dig from RIM's CEO Mike Lazaridis is something I absolutely have to comment on:
“The Apple iPhone has severe limitations when it comes to effortless typing. Of course you have more screen space, with more artistic interactions, but that’s not enough. We’ve seen this before when Palm tried virtual keyboards. When they launched the Treo they licensed our keyboard,” Lazaridis said.
Moving on, Lazaridis had a few choice words for this site's platform:
“Windows Mobile isn’t that big a competitor…They are a modest force to RIM. Microsoft should be working at services, not at distributed PCs, which is what Windows Mobile actually still is.”
Microsoft should be working on services, eh? Maybe you weren't paying attention, but the day before your keynote at CTIA, Microsoft had a keynote of their own, announcing Microsoft System Center, Mobile Device Manager 2008. MSCMDM basically allows admins to manage Windows Mobile devices from the exact same interface they already use to manage Windows PCs. Frankly, having a mobile platform that's actually a “distributed PC” doesn't sound all that bad to me - Mo Power Mo Better.
I think “Your overconfidence is your weakness,” there, Lazzy. I'm sure you'd reply “Your faith in your friends manufacturing partners is yours!”, but then we'd be calling RIM the evil Empire and Microsoft the Rebellion and that might get a little confusing for everybody. Moving on.
Yes, yes, I'm just stirring the pot here, but it's fun and everybody loves a little smacktalk. I'll have my initial thoughts on the BlackBerry 8310 up tomorrow, so be sure to check back. Here's a hint, though: I'll be nicer to CrackBerry fans in that article, but not entirely nice. Meanwhile, we'll call this a Round Robin Official contest post here too - let's have some more lighthearted trash talk, eh?
That's a bit of a shocker - T-Mo has been king-of-the-customer-service hill for a long time now, but a recent JD Power study shows they've been bested by Verizon. The other piece of news is less surprising - satisfaction with carrier customer service is down all around and has been trending steadily down for years now.
As a part of this Smartphone Round Robin I've been making weekly calls to AT&T to change up my plan to reflect my phone - since both the iPhone and the Blackberry have their own special data plans and services to deal with. I don't know if AT&T has been putting something in their water coolers lately, but the support I've been getting has been absolutely stupendous. Hold times: short; representatives: friendly and smart; phone system navigation: still crap, but really - whose isn't these days?
My biggest complaint with most carriers these days is their data packages are byzantine and surreal. T-Zones, BIS, iPhone data, MEdia Net, Dial-up packages: I doubt even Kafka could have come up with these varied, conflicting, and mysteriously priced plans.
How 'bout y'all: happy with your provider? Are you thinking the grass is greener on the other side? If it's Verizon on the other side, apparently it just might be.
Verizon Wireless ranks highest in customer satisfaction among major wireless carrier-owned retail stores, performing particularly well in store facility, store display and price/promotion. T-Mobile closely follows Verizon Wireless in the rankings.
Update: Looks like out intuition that it was the same clueless person who used a PalmOS screenshot on the image at right who also dubbed the Sprint Q9c the "Q2." Both have been fixed at Sprint's promo site. It will indeed be the Q9c, so we can breathe a sigh of relief about that. Then take another breath and hold it until Sprint releases the sucker on Black Friday.
Alright, I've had it. Motorola, listen up: You are not HTC. If you want to be HTC, you need to crank out a ton of different form factors. Just because you can't develop a coherent naming strategy doesn't mean you're competing with HTC. It's just silly.
I'm referring, of course, to the Smartphone-Formerly-Known-As-the-Motorola-Q9. Sprint's version is now apparently going to be known not at the “Q9C,” but as the “Q2.” Take that with a grain of salt, however, because the promo site that names it as such also slaps a PalmOS screenshot on the sucker. So what I'm saying is we can still believe in a Christmas miracle - Motorola and Sprint not confusing things by slapping a “2” after the “Q” instead of a “9.”
In any case, it's rumored to hit on Black Friday for $149.99 after rebates.
It looks like the folks who were making ZenZui (which we wrote about before) decided that “ZenZui” doesn't mean much - so ZenZui becomes Zumobi. That's “Zoom” and “Mobile” crammed together - which is awfully clever.
Nothing else about the “display web content in zoomable tiles instead of traditional browser windows” idea has changed if their snazzy flash demo is to be believed. What is different (and what's actually news here) is that they're finally going to be offering a public beta on December 14th.
They'll also be offering a “Zumobi SDK” so developers (and hopefully sub-developed-developers like little old me) will be able to create their own tiles for the platform.
The Touch Cruise is looking to be the new king of the GSM hill - Quad-band GSM/EDGE/UMTS/HSDPA, WiFi, GPS, FM Radio, HTC's TouchFLO interface, and a decent amount of processor power and memory all wrapped up in a pretty slim form factor. That's 'slim' as in “no physical keyboard” slim, 15.5mm, just about 1.5 mm thicker than the original HTC Touch.
Actually, comparison-wise, the Touch Cruise pretty much beats up the original Touch in every conceivable category except size. The little guy even is going to come pre-loaded with TomTom GPS software (with maps for Europe, though). That “European map” bit is your clue that HTC is going to start selling it SIM-free in Europe and we don't have any US carrier info yet. We called up AT&T and they said something about front-facing cameras giving them an inferiority complex about their network and would we please stop bringing it up.
PC Magazine has come out with their best WM Phone List….is yours on it? Each phone on the list has a link to read a detailed review of it. Windows Mobile has been taking a beating lately, from David Pogue and also in the (I humbly admit, pretty accurate) feedback from the Round Robin over at Phone different and CrackBerry.com In my totally unbiased point of view of being a writer for WMExperts.com, I thought PC Mag's take was important as well:
We've taken Microsoft to task for the company's various faults in Windows Mobile 6. But despite our qualms, it's still our Editors' Choice for the best mobile operating system [...] What does Windows Mobile 6 offer compared with, say, BlackBerry, Palm, and Symbian operating systems? For starters, it integrates beautifully with Microsoft Outlook and Microsoft Office, including out-of-the-box connectivity to corporate Exchange servers. Handsets running WM6 also serve as nifty portable media centers that synchronize well with Windows Media Player.
With praise like this I am sure some Palm, iPhone, & Blackberry lovers might be asking how much did Microsoft pay for advertising in this month’s PC Magazine! =) But here at WMExperts we all know that it is well deserved (setting aside, of course our must have list of improvements for the next version of the OS).
But as I mentioned above the best part is the list of their best choices of the current WM Phones. Whether you already own one of the phones on the list or are drooling over getting one of them, you will find their individual phone reviews very interesting to look at as well. You can find the full article and reviews here.
If you missed Mike's first take on the AT&T Tilt, you should go take at look at that first. He mentions there that Windows Mobile is awfully darn customizable - and with his “fond farewell” he gets into it even more:
So David Pogue put up a review of the T-Mobile Shadow (Video First Look of the Shadow here) - I'm jealous because the Shadow is the device I'm itching to try out for real once the Smartphone Round Robin is over. He gives the hardware and the specs very high praise, but spends the bulk of his review railing against Windows Mobile.
Frankly, Windows Mobile 6 is a mess. Common features require an infinitude of taps and clicks, and the ones you need most are buried in menus. Apparently the Windows Mobile 6 team learned absolutely nothing from Windows Mobile 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5.
I have a few thoughts on this (including a Zuney zany idea!)- read on after the break.
Fair 'nough, I suppose, that Pogue is frustrated by extra dialogs, menus, and wait times. CrackBerry Kevin and iPhone Mike expressed similar complaints in their Round Robin posts. A lot of that is, as Pogue says, the manufacturer “punting” their responsibility to tweak Windows Mobile a bit to match the hardware. But a lot of it is stuff that I might be blind to - I pop up menus to do things and it doesn't often bother me because I have the shortcuts built into my “lizard brain.”
What I mean is that Windows Mobile works for me in large part because I 'grok' it. I encourage other power users to try to 'grok' it too so they can access the incredible functionality squirreled away inside Windows Mobile. With non-power-users, though, I often find myself just suggesting they get something simpler, which is a real downer.
I'm sure there would be a lot of support for a complete User Interface overhaul of Windows Mobile. In fact, I'd say most people keeping an eye on this space are expecting just such an overhaul from Photon / Windows Mobile 7.
In an IM conversation with our very own Merlyn3D, I had a surprising thought. The Zune isn't doing all that well in the market of MP3 players (and that's not too surprising), but what if Microsoft doesn't care? What if they're using the Zune to build up their “interface chops” and using what few buyers they've gained as secret beta testers? We know that we won't see a “Zune Phone”, but we also know that the Zune and Windows Mobile share the CE Platform underpinnings.
So how about it? If we want to know how Microsoft is going to simplify the User Interface of Windows Mobile in Photon, do we need to look no further than the Zune?
The biggest knock I have on the HTC Touch (Video first look here) is that it's pretty short on memory. I spent way too much time uninstalling apps and managing what was open - it was just too small. Fortunately, the Sprint Touch doesn't look to have that issue. Now HTC has announced that they're giving the GSM version a bump - 256 MB of ROM and 128 MB of RAM. They've also added two colors to the already available “Elegant Black” and “Wasabi Green” -- “Burgundy Red” and “Immaculate White.” The Red version looks pretty awesome, me want.
There's also apparently another version of the Touch coming from CarPhoneWarehouse, designed by Ted Baker and called The Needle. It looks to have the same functionality, but with slightly redesigned buttons and a slightly slimmer shape. New color too - a purple/pink - and apparently comes preloaded with a cuckoo clock wallpaper. Yeah.