Category Archives: Ask Juan

The Post Where We Say Goodbye to Blackberry?

blackberry stock slideI’ve been staving off writing this for some time now. Even among all the reports of potential buyouts, I kept hoping the company would start to turn itself around, find some momentum. It looks like that wont be happening.

Blackberry is warning investors ahead of their official call on September 27th that revenue will be more than a billion dollars below expectations. Yup. Expectations were hovering around $3 Billion, and BB will be reporting $1.6 Billion. Ouch.

Of course these are analyst predictions, and analysts are notoriously bad at predicting the future, but this will obviously hurt BB’s image (under-producing) more than it’ll hit any market watching “guru”.

Reactions to the news has caused a stock slide of almost 20 percent. Another blow to the company, and now CEO¬†Thorsten Heins is announcing the first measure to be taken will be a round of layoffs to the tune of 4,500 axed jobs. They’ll also be streamlining future handset launches. Instead of the six phones they were planning on introducing over the next year, they’ll be dropping down to four, two high-end and two entry-level.

blackberry os 10 handsets z10 q10 smartphonesIt’s this combination of expectations and time which is going to put a hurt on upstarts and smaller companies moving forward. Yes, BB once ruled the smartphone landscape, but they didn’t properly focus on the consumer experience. Sure they have great mind-share and brand recognition, but they are also creating a new product line from scratch. New OS. New devices. Customers are wary of “new” right now.

Apple found success in smartphones based on years of consumer trust built on iPods. Android needed about three major revisions before it started gaining traction outside low cost, entry-level gear. HP bailed on Palm before it had a shot when it wasn’t immediately successful out of the gate (they’re currently floundering with half-way attempts at Android, with rumors pointing to a possible Windows Phone in the works). Microsoft is just now starting to be taken seriously in mobile, now that we’re looking at a third generation of Windows Phone hardware about to hit the market.

BB is on that “new” list. The bummer is, BB OS10 is pretty great. It’s a refreshing spin on a mobile UI. Gestures are clean. It looks good. It’s a nice experience. This means almost nothing right now. Customers don’t want “new”, they want an established ecosystem. They want to trust that their devices will get updates and that they’ll see new devices in the future. They want apps, and they want to see cases they’ll never buy at Mall kiosks. Those things only come with time and sales. Those early sales are going to be harder and harder to come by as every player that fails in this market will only reinforce why consumers should only buy something established. Why they shouldn’t take a risk.

Years. Blackberry needs years.

GTA 5: Chatting Violence in Media and Breaking Sales Records – Arlene Bynon SiriusXM Radio appearance

ArleneBynonI always enjoy my appearances on the Arlene Bynon show. She’s a savvy business commentator, and she had me on for a segment covering the release of Grand Theft Auto 5.

We discussed the popularity of the game, its passionate following among gamers, the business impact of breaking $800 million in one day, and some of the controversy surrounding violence in media.

Originally Aired September 18, 2013.
Arlene Bynon: SiriusXM radio ch. 167, weekdays 4-6pm ET.

Pick Your Poison: OS Fragmentation or Feature Fragmentation?

One of the most impressive aspects of owning an Apple phone or tablet is how good Apple is at rolling out OS updates. With very few meltdowns, MILLIONS of devices are updated on launch day, and the entire ecosystem moves forward very quickly. Early estimates point to almost 30% of iOS users are now on iOS7. By controlling the hardware and software environment, Apple has created a process Google will probably never be able to approximate.

TheAppleLounge iOS-7-Comparison-ChartWhile even older devices will get these OS updates, iDevices like the iPhone 4 and iPad 2 wont be getting all of the new features of the OS. This makes sense as it’s older, under-powered hardware, and Apple is ruthless about protecting the user experience. However, as what we get excited about during an OS update are new features, claiming the iPhone 4 “also gets iOS7” is a very small touch disingenuous. It does get iOS7, just not ALL of it.

The Apple Lounge built this great graphic detailing which devices would be getting new features, and which would be left out. On the whole Apple has done a terrific job of moving things like Control Center and Multi-tasking forward, but some lost features might be a touch frustrating.Things like panorama photos and in-camera filters might be kind of a bummer for folks who prized the iPhone’s camera. Also, for as frustrating as it can be to transfer files on and off iDevices, the lack of AirDrop on older hardware might be frustrating for some.

This also brings up weird splits in product lines. The iPad Mini is largely the same internal hardware as the iPad 2, but the iPad 2 will not be receiving Air Drop support while the iPad Mini will. Ditto the “iPad with Retina Display”. If you have the iPad 3, no Air Drop for you, but the iPad 4 is good to go. Definitely a bummer as we would imagine the hardware in the iPad 3 is probably more robust than in the iPad Mini.

Contrast that with the scattered OS update path on Android, and Apple still has the cleaner process, but Google is taking steps to improve the Android ecosystem. They wont be able to corral all of the various manufacturers, they’ve been trying to do that for a while now, but they can go around them to a degree. Over the last several months we’ve been watching Google slice pieces off of Android and putting those pieces up as stand alone apps. While it might seem like a small thing, it shouldn’t require a full new OS update to install a small improvement to something like the keyboard, and now Android users can install the stock Nexus keyboard as a separate app.

google settings app screenshot somegadgetguyTaking that idea a step further, the new Google Settings app shows up in your app drawer now and gives you a lot of control over gaming, Google+, and remote device management (like tracking your phone if it gets stolen). Google Play Services is also updated through the Google Play app store. Rather than waiting out full OS updates, all of the peripheral services and controls, things that developers interact with for instance, can all be updated independently of the OS.

While most services like G+, Play Music, and Maps have always been this way, and people are somewhat used to them being one part hardware and one part cloud, I hope this idea extends soon to other features on our phones like the camera. Taking a cue from the Nexus Keyboard app, it would be a nice way to unify the camera experience on Android handsets, that there would be one simple Android camera experience if people want something simple and familiar. Ditto the photo Gallery, as it can be jarring moving to a new phone and having a completely different experience for organizing and sharing photos and videos.

This solution isn’t perfect either, as some improvements will still require that full OS iteration, and things like hardware controls have to be buttoned down (hello Bluetooth funkiness), but as Google implements more individual component updates, fewer and fewer Android users will be left out in the cold as app developers and services move forward.

I’ve come to the opinion that there really isn’t a “best” phone, tablet, or ecosystem anymore. For a couple years now, the question you have to ask yourself is: What compromises are you willing to live with? As even low end phones now can be surprisingly capable, I think service and support will become even more meaningful to the end user.

So pick your poison. What kinds of updates work better for you?

Live Ask Juan: Upgrades to help an older PC with Video Editing?

inside computer pc hardware upgrade videocard ram cables somegadgetguyGot another great reader question. Thought I’d take to the Youtube’s to answer it!

From Youtube viewer TableReadTheater:

Hey Juan,
I have an older PC, like 3 or 4 years. It still runs ok, but I want to start doing some video editing. I can’t buy a new system yet, but I can spend a little on a few parts. What kinds of upgrades can I do to help it run better for video?

Pro Photo Tip: Get Closer Macro Photos Using Extension Tubes on Your SLR!

macro close up photography kenko extension tubes somegadgetguy ask juan tips tricks help how toI’ll be covering more semi-pro photography and audio gear on this channel in the coming months. To start, I wanted to jump in with one of my favorite hobbies. Macro photography! I like taking pics of thinks super close up, but I haven’t yet been able to afford a proper macro lens. Extension tubes are a solution which have helped improve the quality of my shots, so let’s go hands on with a set!

Kenko Extension tubes on Amazon.

Ask Juan: How useful are 41MP pics from the Lumia 1020 when uploading to Facebook, Instagram, etc?

nokia lumia 1020 pureview camera test video samples somegadgetguyA wonderful question from one of my YouTube viewers, Will F.

“What are your thoughts about the images with respect to sharing? At sharing size (Facebook, etc), only so much detail is really visible. It seems like the 1020 would be overkill in these situations, especially since you have to do a little extra work to get the full size images off of the phone. My only real gripe about this phone is the slow shot-to-shot time.”

Let’s take a look at some pics from the 1020, and see if we can address Will’s concerns about the camera!

Click here for high definition video samples from the Lumia 1020!

Reactions to Apple’s Keynote. Enobong Etteh from BooredAtWork joins us to talk iPhone 5C and 5S

enobong etteh booredatworkEnobong Etteh from Boored At Work joins me to talk about the Apple September 2013 Keynote which introduced the new iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C and iTunes Radio. We’ll also take a stab as to why the stock market wasn’t very excited by the news, with Apple stock falling 12 points after the unveiling.

Boored At Work on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/user/booredatwork/

Real Person Video Review: Tom Costello chats about his Nokia Lumia 521

nokia lumia 521 review hands on somegadgetguy smartphoneMy friend Tom Costello is a working actor in LA, and he was kind enough to sit down with me to chat about his experiences using his Nokia Lumia 520.

I hope to continue this as a semi-regular series on how real people (not tech bloggers) incorporate tech into their daily lives. You can catch our first Real Person Review of Marie talking about her Galaxy S4.

We had a few teething pains with Google Hangouts getting the interview started, but it settled down once we got to talking.

I really want to thank Tom for sharing his experiences, and to keep track of his projects, please check out his IMDB profile: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1843641/