No dice for Skype & Netflix on BlackBerry PlayBook

It’s crystal clear that the BlackBerry community want both Netflix and Skype apps on either (or on both) their BlackBerry smartphone or PlayBook but their wishes and requests have always gone unanswered and for reasons that are still unknown.

We keep hearing from BlackBerry (unofficially) that they are willing to help Netflix or Skype to build those apps on their BlackBerry PlayBook QNX platform if they just asked but still their tweets get no replies (as far as we know). Why? Why is it almost impossible to get Netflix and Skype on board the BlackBerry platform considering that BlackBerry has been around way before iPhone, Android and Windows Phone? This might come as a shock to all of you but even Nokia’s old, slow and outdated Symbian OS has an official Skype and Netflix apps.

The BlackBerry community has been very vocal about this issue through tweets, Facebook posts, petitions and even sending letters to Netflix and Skype’s headquarters to spread the awareness hoping it gives them the push they need to start the development but we haven’t heard or seen any positive outcome.

Look, before I say anything more I would like to mention that as a Canadian I am proud of the BlackBerry brand and support RIM. If it wasn’t for them we would probably still be using dumb phones today. That being said, I must say that I believe it isn’t completely Netflix or Skype’s fault for not building apps for the PlayBook’s QNX platform, RIM is to be greatly blamed as well.

Ponder about this for a minute. Those Twitter and Facebook apps on BlackBerry smartphones weren’t even created by Twitter nor Facebook, respectively. They were built by RIM. So it isn’t just Netflix and Skype that aren’t interested in developing apps for the BlackBerry OS (or the PlayBook’s QNX platform), it seems that both popular social networks aren’t interested either which is probably why RIM took it on themselves to create Twitter and Facebook apps.

Here is another point to think about. As I mentioned above, BlackBerry has been around way before iPhone, Android or Windows Phone, yet all those mobile platforms got official apps from Twitter, Facebook, Skype and Netflix either at launch or during a period of at most one year after launch yet BlackBerry still gets neglected. So how did, for instance, Microsoft get Netflix and Skype to develop apps for their Windows Phone platform even though Windows Phone’s market share is below all mobile operating systems on the market? The BlackBerry PlayBook is in this same spot right now with a small market share (just like Windows Phone) yet, a year later, there isn’t a single evidence that says both Netflix and Skype are working on a PlayBook app. Why is that?

Microsoft, Google and Apple all seem to have that power or influence (or whatever you want to call it) that pushes third party companies to support their mobile platforms. Microsoft definitely did something behind the scenes to get those deal breaker apps on board the Windows Phone platform before the OS had any decent market share. So it is obvious that RIM has a role to play to get those ‘must-have’ apps on their PlayBook as well.

In other words, we can’t just blame Netflix and Skype for not developing apps for the PlayBook or the BlackBerry OS. RIM, just like Microsoft, Apple and Google, has to play their part of the game or else it will always be ‘no-dice’.

Microsoft Xbox, it’s all about entertainment

My problem with Microsoft at the moment is with their entertainment division. Xbox, Zune, Games for Windows, Windows Media Center, Windows Media Player, etc. They are scattered everywhere and each has its own store or software that runs of it.

Why not consolidate? I mean, it’s all about entertainment in the end.

My suggestion is a unified experience and software across multiple platforms (Xbox, Windows and Windows Phone) that is simply called Xbox. Yes, Xbox. It’s time for Microsoft to piggy back on the Xbox’s success and make it the official place and store to download and play movies, TV shows, music and games.

Windows Phone Feature Suggestion

It’s great that Microsoft gave their customers the ability to share their ideas through UserVoice to help improve Windows Phone. But is that enough? Absolutely not.

Microsoft allowed Windows Phone owners to add feature suggestions on the website since the product launched (or maybe a few weeks after) but never really showed us how those features are ever taken into consideration or even being talked about among the Windows Phone development team.

There are feature suggestions on the website that have been at the top of the list for over a year without any indication that they will be added in a future release or that they’re being discussed yet Windows Phone received several updates since it launched without including those items. There is a clear missing link between those feature suggestions and the development team.

Just like Windows 8, the team shows the world how they’re taking customer feedback into their next major release through Twitter, YouTube and even adding many detailed blog posts. Why isn’t Windows Phone following the same approach? In the end, Windows Phone is an operating system that is currently powering more than a million of smartphones today.

All I am saying is that Microsoft can’t just tell people to go and add their ideas on another website and then be completely silent about it. They need to engage and converse closely with their Windows Phone customers just like the Windows team are doing with Windows 8.

Should the mobile industry look for a new USB standard?

I remember when the world turned to micro USB ports as a new standard for cell phones and everyone, including myself, was glad to finally use a standard port. The conversion was quick specially with the cellphone manufacturers and consumers started using a single charger and the world seemed to be a better place.

But now, cellphones aren’t like before. They aren’t dumb phones with small screens that require little power. They are smartphones with larger than 3.7″ screens (now up to 5″ for smartphones and up to 10″ for tablets) and they get charged mostly everyday. Once you start holding your new smartphone to plug it in, you might start seeing a problem.

The micro USB port on your mobile device, whether it’s a smartphone or a tablet, is tiny. Once you’ve connected the cable it might feel loose and most of the times you could hold the micro USB connection while it’s connected to your mobile device and wiggle it from side to side. It’s not a solid snappy connection anymore.

To make my point even clearer, compare the thin micro USB connection with the iPhone’s 30 pin connection. Which one would you think has a better, solid and firm hold to the mobile device? Without any doubt, Apple’s proprietary connection wins this argument.

The problem is that our smartphones and tablets are large these days that they cannot continue using these tiny and flimsy micro USB connections. The industry might have to look for a new USB standard.

Windows 8 on ARM

The thought of Windows on ARM based devices is great and opens up a lot of new areas for Windows to live on. But will it be a real competitor to other popular tabular based computing devices (shall I say iPad, Android tablets)?

The new Windows on ARM may definitely prove worthy but it could be for a niche market (initially), but then again we did say the same when Android started to show up on tablets.

I must say I always wanted to use Windows through a touch experience but it never did work out the way it meant to be through all the iterations of Windows and including Windows 7. Now that Windows 8 is ‘reimagined’ for an elegant metro style touch experience, I couldn’t be more excited to get some serious hands-on experience.

Having said all that, maybe Windows is finally at a stage where people need it on ARM hardware. Something super light, highly portable, consumer based and (most importantly) FUN to use for all ages. I mean when you think about, it’s all about the experience in the end.

Where is the BlackBerry Development Environment?

There isn’t any. Microsoft has Visual Studio for developing all sorts of applications including Windows Phone apps and it is simple, elegant and a 10 year old could probably do it. And Apple has their own Coco development IDE for creating Mac and iOS applications.

What about BlackBerry? Why don’t they have a complete development environment?

It’s always a massive inconvenience to me when I have to download, unpack, and install several SDKs and JDKs and configure them just to be able to create a simple ‘Hello World’ java application. But BlackBerry has a platform running on millions of devices and even an upcoming new platform (BlackBerry 10) that’s suppose to change the industry. Yet, they still haven’t got a single and complete development environment.

How is that suppose to attract developers? If anything, it will just continue to differ them to a simpler solution that doesn’t require a master’s degree to start creating apps.

When will the selfishness end?

Where did common sense go from the new generation? Is it ‘uncool’ for the new generation to think rationally anymore? When did, for instance, hanging out with friends till five in the morning become OK? Not just that, but arguing with them about it makes us look wrong and crazy.

You see, I was brought up by parents who had rules for living with them under one roof, and that to me makes sense. They gave birth to me, they provide shelter, they provide food, care, love, etc. They are my parents. Why wouldn’t I obey them? Try convincing a teenager these days using those arguments without them turning the whole argument on yourself and accusing you for making a big deal out of nothing. Nothing!

Personally, I can’t tolerate such behaviors if it was happening in my house, specially from people who aren’t even paying their own cellphone bill and aren’t doing their house choirs. Is it really that hard for teens to open up their eyes just a bit and realize their wrong doings? Why can’t they see that their behaviors might, in most cases, affect other people negatively who live with them under one roof? Are they completely blind to not be able to see their selfish actions towards other family members?

Many people say it’s a phase that every teenager goes through, but some teens seem to take forever to grow out of it and start thinking rationally and taking into account other people’s feelings. Sometimes it simply feels that their selfishness will never end.

Tuesday, August 9 2011

As mush as I love the original concept behind Windows Phone’s start screen, I still have a few things to complain about.

There just seems to be a lot of wasted space on the start screen. You will notice there is a quite spacious black empty space at the top and at the right of the tiles. I understand why the top was left blank (for toast notifications) but it just doesn’t look right with all that space left blank.

The same thing applies to the empty space to the tight of the tiles. It just doesn’t make sense to me to see all that wasted space for displaying an arrow.

I don’t know if you also noticed, but the length of the home screen doesn’t fit the amount of tiles it can display. When you first see the start screen in its default position (scrolled all the way to the top) you will notice that your screen will only show the complete length of 3 tiles with part of the 4th tile covered where you have to scroll to see the rest of it. Even though it’s only a tiny part of it that is covered, that still feels like a flaw in the UI design.

Apart from those three design flaws (in my opinion at least) Windows Phone has proved itself to be the most enjoyable experience you can get on a mobile operating system.

Saturday, July 16 2011

Looks like RIM is taking a lot of heat from the press lately. Not just the press, but bloggers around the globe are firing negative opinions at them since RIM’s last shareholder meeting. Personally, I understand why all this is happening. They company have become more of a reactor than an inventor. They went from being smartphone leaders to followers. This makes both shareholders and consumers frustrated.

What’s mostly depressing is RIM’s ever lasting love to their outdated and mostly hated BlackBerry OS. Don’t get me wrong, RIM makes great BlackBerry devices from a hardware side. But when it comes to software, RIM is way behind. You could even say Samsung’s BADA OS starts to look like a better alternative.

Monday, July 4th 2011

I never understood why HP called their tablet TouchPad. Don’t they realize that a lot of manufacturers are just appending the word ‘Pad’ to their crappy tablets to lure in unfortunate customers? This is simply bad marketing which isn’t a surprise since HP is now the owner.

What pissed me off the most after reading the first reviews of the TouchPad is the negative feedback about the device’s physical hardware. The bulky heavy plasticy smudge-magnet they call a TouchPad. This is all HP’s non-creative dirty work. I am sure Palm’s team had absolutely no hand in the design of the tablet. This has HP’s crappy design signs that we’re all used to seeing all over it.

Haven’t they even compared the size and weight of their TouchPad to whatever is leading in the market (iPad, Galaxy Tab, etc) while the TouchPad was just a blue print? Who ever managed the hardware team should be fired cause he’s dramatically affecting TouchPad sales.

This is really sad news for WebOS. The operating system, as everyone including me always said, has great potential but the hardware has always been pulling it back.