A Frustrating Experience

I thought I’d share a frustrating experience I had yesterday in a Three shop in Sutton. I had gone in with my dad in search of a new phone for him and for my sister. I currently own the HTC 8X and was keen to suggest to them the similar phone the 8S. My dad wasn’t keen, but at the very low price (only £180) it was definitely a possibility for my sister. Anyway, a woman who worked at Three came up to us and asked if we wanted any help. My dad asked about the HTC One S, which is certainly still a good phone. She told us that HTC are no longer pushing the One range, opting to put more money behind their ‘Windows’ range.

I was already slightly annoyed that she didn’t even know the name of the OS.

However, after my dad joked that they would be foolish to put all their money behind ‘Windows’, and I whipped out my lovely HTC 8X (in my opinion the best phone out at the moment) and she looked disgusted, and proceeded to tell us that she ‘hates Windows’. That’s a good start then – the people supposed to be selling Windows Phones claim to actively hate it.

However, the real outrage came when she tried to justify herself to me. She said that she thinks the look and feel of the OS are both good, but that (and I quote) ‘hate the app store’ because it doesn’t have enough apps. What an excellent reason to hate an entire OS. One can only imagine what she thinks of Blackberry OS. In what world is 115,000 not enough apps? If people like this woman are supposed to be selling these phones, it’s not a surprise they’re not selling well. Microsoft seriously need to address this issue in the UK, stopping the ridiculous prejudice against Windows Phone despite it’s underrated Store, and the phone companies should take some of the blame too for not educating their biased workers.




What’s Going to Happen to RIM and the BlackBerry Brand?

With Research in Motion falling dramatically in influence in the US, and even seeing signs of slowing in the UK, one of its crucial markets, it begs the questions of what the Canada based company will do next.

RIM certainly have a large number of assets, and these are things that could prove important in its future. It has been speculated by many that Microsoft may attempt to buy the large smartphone manufacturer, for they have a significant amount of money to spend, but I am not sure they would do this. I do not think Microsoft look to purchase competitors in order to gain marketshare, certainly not ones losing significance  as fast as RIM are. However, I think it’s certainly plausible that RIM moves OS from BlackBerry 10 (whose release was set back a number of months to early 2013, further cause for concern for its future) to Windows Phone 8, when it comes out in Autumn. A company as large as RIM must have checked out all its competition, and it’s the case with most Windows Phone users that they don’t want to leave the platform. Even Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, has stated he thinks the Nokia Lumia 900 and Windows Phone 7 OS are beautiful – he’s not wrong. I think RIM are well aware of the potential of Windows Phone, certainly considering Windows 8’s pending release, and so may make the risky move to the platform. This would very much put RIM in the position Nokia is in, fighting for its life and heavily dependant on Microsoft. Having said that, with the added backing of another huge brand name, Windows Phone could benefit greatly and perhaps it would mean BlackBerry Messenger would become standard for Windows Phones as RIM and Microsoft become closer integrated. I certainly think the help of RIM would have a large effect, even though its marketshare is diminishing. I think the diminishing marketshare is more to do with the outdated OS than the hardware or company. RIM made an ambitious move into the tablet market with the BlackBerry Playbook, and I must admit, whenever I’ve played about with the device, I’ve been very impressed. But it’s just not caught on in the market. Windows 8 could change all that, and forming a partnership with Microsoft would be the first step towards this. Furthermore, Microsoft wish to establish a powerful business presence with Windows Phone, and BlackBerrys are traditionally the business phone of choice, so I really see many potential gains from this move. I do not personally like BlackBerry phones, due to the clunky interface and the outdated trackerball and keyboard. I would expect most WP8 BlackBerry phones to have no physical keyboard. Although this makes the phones less distinguishable, I think it’s the best tactic and that’s the way the world is moving – touchscreen, touchscreen, touchscreen. It would certainly be an interesting move on RIM’s part, but I honestly think it may pay off for both companies in their attempts to at least snatch some marketshare back from the abusing clutches of Apple and Google.

There is a case for RIM to switch to Android as well, and this would be cheaper for the company (as it is open source) and would allow more customisability and product differentiation, although I would be concerned that the Android space is already so heavily dominated by the titans that are Samsung and HTC. Windows Phone is still in relatively early development, and so any entrant will be able to have its unique effect. I do think Android would provide instant sales for BlackBerry, but Windows Phone would be a longer term effort. I think firms should always think long-term, especially if they’re in such a rapidly changing market as smartphones – that’s why I am of the opinion that they need to move away from their current BlackBerry OS, because consumer tastes have changed and they need to keep up with them or they’ll be out of contention completely.


Decisions, Decisions… Laptop, Tablet, Phone?

I am in a bit of a tricky situation at the moment. Unsure of where (of if) I will be going to university next year, I need to think ahead in terms of electronic devices as well as accommodation (which was not yet been organised). My current laptop is 4 years old and in a bad state of disrepair (although currently running better with Windows 8 Release Preview). If I get into my firm university choice, UCL, I will be staying at home and so would have a powerful desktop available there and need something more portable that I could take every day on the tube, preferably without huge fear of having is stolen, or at least if it was it wouldn’t cost too much to replace. If I get into my insurance choice, Southampton, which is looking more likely, I will need a more powerful laptop to replace the desktop, and so have been looking into laptops with i5 processors, 6gb of RAM and about 750gb of HDD (despite already having a terrabyte portable hard drive…) running Windows 7 with the expectation of receiving a Windows 8 upgrade for £15. This would frustratingly occur just when I’d be settling in at the uni though (in October), and so I’d have to start again from scratch. Anyway, I think this sort of PC is as powerful as I would need, as I do not have enough money to afford a game playing PC. If you disagree, you’re welcome to leave a comment below. But wait, I badly want to own a Windows 8 tablet and I want a Windows Phone 8 (mid-range) phone when they come out. Do I have enough cash to buy all three, and are they different enough to warrant the purchase of all three? I must admit, I don’t think I should be getting two Windows 8 devices, but I really really want a tablet, so would I have to give that a miss if I go to Southampton? I hope not. I had hoped that a tablet like Microsoft’s Surface would get rid of this fear, because it’s got the attachable cover/keyboard, but it lacks a few things I use a lot, including multiple USB ports (it only has one) and a DVD/CD drive. It looks to be the best tablet I’ve ever seen, but not quite a laptop just yet, so I don’t think it will do. Perhaps I could keep my old laptop for those things and use a Surface for everything else? That’s a possibility, but the Surface won’t be available in time for the start of the course, so I’m not sure it’s going to work.

Of course, many questions still remain about the specifics of the Surface and indeed other Windows 8 tablets, but the basics have been lain out on the table, and I don’t think it’s enough.

There is also a third possibility, that I don’t go to university at all. In that case, I would seek a job up in London and possibly carry a tablet around with me, similar to if I went to UCL I suppose.

What do you think? Should I wait until I know where I will be going, and then, what is it worth me getting? I have ruled Android tablets out of the equation after owning one in the past and seeing they really aren’t worth the trouble.


New Windows Phones

It’s about time Microsoft push for a few more phones for its Windows Phone platform. We see endless numbers of models being released by all varieties of OEMs running Android, and the only time a new WP7 phone is released, it’s so rare. I would have thought all the incessant advertising of the Lumia 800 (which I think is fantastic, by the way) in the UK would get WP7 noticed a bit more, but it hasn’t had much of an effect yet. It seems clear to me, however, that only time will tell before people actually start to try WP. And when they do, they’ll be sucked into its incredible interface and ease of use, as well as its ever increasing marketplace, Xbox Live games, Microsoft Office, SkyDrive functions, and overall fantastic user experience. I cannot sing its praises enough. The Nokia Lumia 900 looks an absolute beast.

Also, WP7’s share in Germany has reached 6%, which is very impressive for a relatively new OS trying to crack a huge duopoly in one of the markets that doesn’t usually favour Microsoft products. However, in the UK the marketshare remains about 1% or so, while in the US it’s reaching 2%. Not groundbreaking my any means, no, but it’s a start. There’s certainly more to come, especially when Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 come about.

So I’d like to see a few more additions to the current roster of Windows Phones. The HTC Titan II NEEDS to come to the UK. As does the Lumia 900, it should arrive in about a week. The Samsung Focus 2 is also supposed to be good. LG are not committing to WP7 for the forseeable future, which isn’t the greatest shame as their company’s going down anyway. Samsung and HTC are by far the most powerful OEMs to have on your side, apart from, of course, Nokia.

Furthermore, I want to see retailers actually push sales of Windows Phones. Too many of them are resistant to talking about them when I ask. They have none of it, they’re too busy explaining why the HTC One X is what I want. I’ve tried it, and it’s good, but it’s no Windows Phone. The reason they don’t push Windows Phone is that even they haven’t tried it. Especially in Phones4u, apparently the biggest UK seller of Windows Phones, they need to educate their staff on the full range of OS, because otherwise they’re sure to have pre-determined opinions. People fear change, when really, change is what keeps things interesting.