Monday, August 8, 2011

RIM's Experience Woes

Rumors have been circulating for a while now that RIM is having trouble setting up their Blackberry Enterprise Server software to support their new QNX-driven devices. This doesn't surprise me as it's a symptom caused from a bigger issue: the experience isn't their primary concern. As RIM faces growing pains due to their OS software transition, they're not making the effort to shield their customers from the effects.

QNX devices are unable to get email, calendar or contact information. The customers suffer. When QNX is available for the Blackberry, there is no guarantee the existing apps will be available. Again, the customers suffer. How will existing customers react to their transition? What type of experience will new Blackberry users feel as they wait 9 months for apps to show up on the app store?

What exactly could RIM do in order to offset these problems?

  1. The priority should have been to get the basics working flawlessly (email, calendar, address book). RIM should have focused on video and cancelled their purchasing of the 3rd-party video-editing software company. Communication takes priority over video editing.
  2. You cannot put together a software dev team overnight and expect magic to happen. Developers who understand the Blackberry framework are an asset to the company. Laying off your existing devs to hire new ones? The folks in finance might see this as smart, but for the health of the company? It's bad.
  3. Secure quality apps. Find the top app developers and offer incentives to produce QNX versions. Quality apps need to be available on the QNX platform. My favourite app on the BB was "BB Alerts". How ridiculous is it that RIM doesn't know whether this app will even exist?

I don't claim to understand the inner workings of a multi-billion dollar IT company, but from these seemingly minor incidents, I'm not even tempted to consider any RIM devices.

Saturday, July 23, 2011


My coworker and I were discussing software development over some beers and the question arose to whether we should be building work intended on catering to novice users and by doing so, are we helping to create a “dumber” internet. There are two examples to validate both sides:

  1. Back in the day of the VCR, very few people ever “programmed” these devices to record TV shows due to the complexity of the procedure. When TIVO simplified the process, it changed the way people watched television because they no longer felt the need to watch in real-time.
  2. One of the reasons for creating so many restrictions with the iPhone is to ensure that “advanced” features won’t complicate the device. Can you send multiple photos in a single email? No. Why? Because Apple feels this may be confusing. This in itself is limiting because sometimes the features aren’t really advanced at all.

The most obvious answer would be to find a sweet spot in-between the two, but how exactly does one go about doing this?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Innovation over features

I’ve seen a number of different startups and businesses that focus on bookmark management for browsers. Most recognizable is “Instapaper” which offers a combination of both managing your browser’s bookmarks and viewing pages offline on different platforms. These startups had always tread on very thin ice.

The idea of a “persistent desktop” isn’t new but it’s slowly becoming a reality. The concept is to make your desktop exist in the cloud so that no piece of hardware or platform can dictate which desktop takes precedence. “Synching” your bookmarks had always been just an interim solution to a greater debacle.

As cloud computing ramps up with Apple’s iCloud, these startups will slowly die off because their service offerings were never meant to be a permanent fixture. Did Apple “steal” these features from Instapaper? No. The features that Instapaper offered were a quick-fix until technology caught up with the real idea.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


It's been a while. A long while. Almost exactly a year, in fact. I should first start off by stating that since my last post, I've relocated from Vancouver, BC to Amsterdam, Netherlands. Having spent the majority of my life in Canada, the European culture is definitely something to behold and having the chance to experience the lifestyle -- rather than being a "tourist" -- here has been very educational.

Some quick notes regarding Europe:
  • Depending on our clients' audience, IE 6 users make up less than 3% of traffic.
  • Opposed to iOS or Android apps, mobile web apps are HOT.
  • Developing work with the intention of supporting 10 different languages is the standard; not the exception.
  • Practically everyone is bilingual, while others are tri, even quad-lingual!
  • The BR Amsterdam office is comprised of a lot of Sweds!
As the tablet market is heating up, I'll probably be posting more information on development for these platforms. What I can say, currently, is that tablet usage in Amsterdam is still relatively low. Will that change in the next year? Most definitely.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Google Wave

Six tiny words that adequately defines my opinion of Google Wave: "too many features with no direction".

When I was first invited to play with Google Wave, I was all excited about it but immediately became overwhelmed with the sheer amount of features it had. It had features like my instant messenger. It had features like my email. It had features like a PowerPoint presentation. The problem? I needed to relearn everything. Again.

Then came the question of who the software was built for. Who were the target demographics? Who benefits from using this software? These things are relevent because the majority of people aren't creative enough to figure out how their lives can be enhanced by these tools.

To this day, I've yet to figure out the full benefits of Google Wave. Perhaps I will play with it again some time, but by then, it probably won't be around.

Saturday, June 12, 2010


Since I come from a background of several different cultures, it shouldn't be any surprise that the music I listen to and the films I see aren't necessarily isolated to North American media. My iTunes has an array of music spanning North America, Europe and Asia. From my experience with iTunes, there doesn't seem to be any simply way of organizing my media based on my chosen preferences.

I have jazz music performed by Taiwanese artists. I have pop music from Hong Kong, Hiphop in Korean, and even triphop where the lyrics are a mixture of Japanese and French. iTunes will only allow the music to be categorized into one "genre". How silly is that? Is it possible to organize the film "The Dark Knight" into just one category? Science fiction? Suspense? Crime? Drama?

At the moment, there are independent taxonomy projects on the web where groups of developers are forming standards that can allow developers to create software which will easily talk to each other. iTunes hasn't changed much in terms of features but I'm hoping Apple will consider giving users the ability to organize their collected media.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Scaling strategies

One of the things that upset me when reading articles written by "social media experts" is how they look to established platforms, like Facebook, and derive strategic conclusions that only work for powerhouses like Facebook. Rarely will I find authors who take into account the size of a company.

A small web development studio creating simple scripts can be seen as an independent startup trying to provide frontend tools to the public. A large web development company, like Facebook, developing the Javascript behind the "Like" feature? They're not creating tools; they're creating a search engine.

With the successful proliferation of Facebook's "Like" feature on tens of thousands of websites, I'd say they now have a very rudimentary search engine which is driven by user promotion rather than (Google's) keyword ranking. Regardless, Google has some insanely smart people on their team. I'm waiting to see whether Google retaliates.