Fall 2010 consumer technology commentary
I know, no one probably cares or even will find out what I think of the technology scene, but hey, I have to keep notes for myself, so here's a copy for the benefit of you, my 700 monthly visitors, too. Hope you'll find it at least marginally useful :)
Yesterday's big news first, Apple backtracks on their ban of third-party developer tools, ie Flash, on the iOS platform. The timing is interesting, I certainly wasn't expecting it just at this moment, but in the long run it was always coming - Apple wasn't enforcing the rules against Unity and others, so they were just playing time, trying to convince developers to target native iOS instead of cross-platform tools. Well, that part of the game is over, and they handed out quite a lot of mindshare for Android. Now, consumers and developers alike are going to benefit from a pretty even game between several mobile and tablet device platforms with great apps on each. So, good news, all around.
The other drama unfolding over the year, at least from this Nordic perspective, has been Nokia's failure to respond to the competition. N900 was a disappoinment, N8 is late, Meego devices are slipping further (apparently not to be introduced in next week's Nokia World either), and so on. Then you get these brilliant analyses explaining Nokia won't use Android because that would mean loss of control. I'm sorry, what control? First Meego devices have been spotted, but not with a Nokia logo on them. No one else is doing anything interesting with Symbian, but that's not because of Nokia's control -- Symbian just isn't interesting. No, Nokia hasn't been in control of the only thing that matters, timely, focused development, ever since they hitched onto to the Symbian horse. Their process isn't one of software developers, and until they learn that, don't expect anything breathtaking out of Espoo. Sorry, guys, I would love to see you succeed.
Still, as an application developer, Nokia remains interesting as long as they offer a compatible platform, thanks to their wide reach on the market. Unfortunately it seems even they have given up on supporting any older generation device, and have not heard the cries for less fragmentation, so my advice: for new software, S60 is as good as dead, and on Symbian^3, don't even look at Qt. Web applications are the way to go, and I keep hoping Nokia will pay up for Adobe to put AIR also on their devices. Having the same Flash-based, touch-enabled rich API and runtime on Android, Nokia, Palm, Apple and Blackberry would be the dream come true.
On the consumer side, tablets are coming even faster than I was expecting back in the beginning of the year. That'll be the hot electronics product for this Christmas, for sure. Homes were rapidly shifting from desktops to laptops for convenience of living room use when netbooks came along, but netbooks were in this uncomfortable corner between computer shape and mobile performance. Tablets are a MUCH better fit - convenient, one-piece construction, easy to pass around. Long battery life, enabling a full afternoon of entertainment. A UI perfect for casual interaction. Even easier to take along on a trip than a netbook. Plus, thanks to the simpler construction and mobile-inherited technology, they can even be cheaper than the folding/keyboard netbook form factor. Who doesn't want to have one? I'm even anticipating shifting my professional computing onto one (with all heavy lifting on a data center-hosted virtual desktop, of course).
Well, that's it for this morning - meetings call. Feel free to leave feedback!