The Orange View (on hiatus) Because Apple is great but it isn't perfect


Kindle Fire selling fast, factoid edition

Posted by Aaron Pressman

A datapoint about fast sales of Amazon's Kindle Fire tablet out of the gate  -- this report just covers November and the Fire wasn't delivered to customers until the 15th.

Millennial Media's November Mobile Mix report found that the number of ad impressions on the Fire grew at an average daily rate of 19 percent, slightly outshining the growth of the first iPad in early 2010.

"We're not just seeing millions of impressions, we're seeing a monthly run rate of hundreds of millions of impressions," said the report of the Fire.

-CNET News, December 20, 2011

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Apple as the Don Quixote of patents

Posted by Aaron Pressman

Apple scored an incredibly narrow victory over HTC in the ongoing smart phone patent wars yesterday, though you wouldn't know it from some of the more overblown coverage. A ruling from the U.S. International Trade Commission will bar the import of future HTC phones that violate a piece of a patent Apple owns about converting a phone number into a variety of actions - that little menu that comes up with choices like call, text, add to contacts. Three other patent claims were rejected.

Sometimes lost in the fact that hundreds of thousands of patents have been issued which are possibly related to smart phones is the incredible narrowness of many of the filings. Sounds like Apple's victory here will be rendered irrelevant by a minor software change.

HTC just revised its statement on the case, saying that Apple's patent covers only a "small UI experience" and saying it will be completely removed from HTC phones "soon." We'll see how quickly that happens; any changes would have to first be deemed compatible with Android by Google and then approved and pushed to customers by HTC's carrier partners.

-The Verge, December 19, 2011

And that's without even getting into the fact that this is just the kind of software implementation of an obvious feature that should not be patentable in the first place.

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More daily Facebook users from Android than iPhone

Posted by Aaron Pressman

Josh Costine notes that the number of "daily active users" to Facebook from Android phones just surpassed the number from Apple iPhones for the first time. Another sign of Android's growing importance -- Facebook developed new features for its Android app first.

Facebook for Android‘s monthly user count of 85.4 million still lags behind the iPhone app’s 99.1 million MAU. However, this stat isn’t as important as DAU, or stickiness — the percentage of monthly active users that return daily. Android’s stickiness is 68.2%, compaed to iPhone’s 57.9%. This could indicate that Android devices appeal to a younger, more Facebook-engaged audience, or to more hardcore technology users in general. The iPhone’s role as a fashion and status symbol may be drawing less engaged users.

-TechCrunch, December 18, 2011

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Murky outlook for Android’s update pact

Posted by Aaron Pressman

The mixed track record of Android phone vendors offering software updates for their devices has been one of platform's weaknesses, overblown as it may be by Apple fans. Back in May, Google tried to address the problem by getting handset makers and carriers to agree to update all phones for at least 18 months.

Now, with the major Android "Ice Cream Sandwich" update upon us, PC Magazine's Jamie Lendino says phone makers are failing to live up to their commitments and the May promise is "dead."

The thing is, while the Google Update Alliance ended up being one of the biggest stories to come out of Google I/O, we've heard almost nothing about it since then. You can bet we weren't just going to forget about it and pretend it never happened—especially after the release of Google Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich), which is a huge leap in UI design and overall performance.

So seven months in, we thought we'd circle back and ask all those vendors an important question: How's it going? Here's what they had to say—and unfortunately, it's not at all good., December 16, 2011

It's a fair topic for a hard-hitting story and it's a great idea for a high-profile publication like PC Magazine to press manufacturers and carriers on this issue and publicize their vague non-responses.

On the other hand, if a big player like Samsung offers no information about which of its four recent handsets will get the "Ice Cream Sandwich" upgrade, it's hard to conclude much about the state of the company's update commitment yet. Furthermore, Sony and HTC have already announced they plan to update all their recent phones. I'm all for holding Samsung's feet to the fire. I'm just not sure it's time to declare the whole effort "dead" yet, as Lendino does in the headline.

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Only a Sith deals in absolutes, Darth Siegler

Posted by Aaron Pressman

MG Siegler has it exactly wrong in his latest attempt to explain his wacky review of the new Galaxy Nexus phone. Siegler's iOS goggles make it difficult for him to write a real review. He's ended up more with a list of debating points for iPhone lovers to cite. Worst of all, the piece was dripping with condescension, hubris and confirmation bias. After getting called out by The Verge's Joshua Topolsky, Siegler went off again:

"I don’t know about you, but when I read my favorite technology writers, I want an opinion. Is the iPhone 4S the best smartphone, or is it the Galaxy Nexus? I need to buy one, I can’t buy both. Topolsky never gives us that. Instead, he pussyfoots around it. One is great at some things, the other is great at others. Barf.

Fucking pick one. I bet that even now he won’t.

This is the problem I have with most technology reviews these days. Everyone seems so afraid to say how they really feel about the device. And more often than not, that’s exactly what readers want."

But Siegler's got it exactly backwards. The least useful gadget reviews declare a product as the best or the worst. Does he seriously think there's one best phone that everyone should own? Insane.

Topolsky had it exactly correct when he said the world is full of shades of grey. I need this camera because I take a lot of pictures in low light but you want a big zoom lens. I prefer a car with simple radio controls but you want satellite radio, video screens in back for the kids and a Bluetooth iPod connection. I have a big budget for a fancy stove but you almost never cook at home so you're going to scrimp.

The very best reviews help you understand a product's strong point and weak points, answering the question: who would get the most out of this phone/car/movie/bathing suit and who would find it lacking? And it's quite difficult to do well.

Think about people's opinions of New York City. It's the greatest city on earth to some and a dirty hell hole to others. Both sides use facts to make their case -- both sides are "true." How can that be? It all depends on your individual perspective, your needs and wants and tastes and tolerances.

I lived in New York for a decade, spent six years in Washington DC and then the past 10 years up here in Boston. One thing I learned was that if you tried to be a New Yorker in DC, you'd be pretty unhappy. And Washingtonian's don't thrive in Boston. By which I mean, each city has completely different strengths and weaknesses, attitudes and atmospheres. I liked DC a whole lot better when I stopped trying to find late night diners and started using the parks more. Boston favors smaller, private gatherings against DC's sprawling spectacles and black tie dinners.

One of the most boring aspects of gadget writing by people like Siegler and DaringFireball's John Gruber ¹ is that they're just like the people who hate New York City. It's so dirty, it's so noisy, there's so much crime. And every time you run into them, they want to talk your ear off with another anecdote about the litter or the muggings or whatever. But it's not black and white. New York is the perfect place to live for some people, the worst for others and something in between for everyone else.

So please, Darth Siegler, stop hitting me over the head with your condescending, know-it-all, b.s., Sith-laden crap.

¹Gruber amended this post after the controvsey erupted. Instead of just reiterating Seigler's black & white sentiments ("You either see it or you don't"), he later added: "If you don’t, that’s cool, enjoy your Nexus. But I think the reason Apple Stores are so crowded, and getting so big, is that there are an awful lot of people who do see it."

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