Thursday, 13 December 2012

How the booing culture is ruining the modern game

A non-tech post here but give it a go :)

As Arsenal were roundly booed off at full-time after their defeat to Swansea a couple of weeks back it struck me that I'd heard plenty of booing this season - and far too much of this has been directed towards the supporter's team. Is it just me or did we rarely hear the noise with that intention at games 10 years ago? It has become commonplace to boo a side for losing to a team that common-sense suggests they should beat. We've seen this with Spurs, Chelsea, Arsenal and even my beloved Newcastle recently and I believe it's a bigger problem than we think.

It's a difficult area. Obviously when you pay your money to watch a game you have every right to behave how you feel appropriate - assuming its legal. The cost of a football ticket in the Premier League - especially in London - is astronomical. For a Dad and his Son, a matchday experience at a London-based Premier League ground can easily cost £100. And maybe the money is key behind this booing culture. After all, who's going to be more annoyed - someone who has paid £60 to see their team lose, or someone who has paid £30? The majority of the time it will be the former. With heightened expense comes heightened expectation and therefore more irritation when that expectation cannot be matched. Do lower league teams experience the same reaction to a defeat? No. So that would suggest that the key variable is money. 

Unfortunately this leads me to suggest that the emotional connection to our clubs, especially in the higher leagues, is reducing. Brutal - yes - but I believe a reality. The idea of supporting your team through thick and thin is threatened when you expect a certain amount for your money. No longer is football about enjoying a game when that expectation is so prominent.

I suppose it can be likened to a bad restaurant experience. If you feel you have received far below the quality you have paid for - then you complain. Fine. Absolutely no problem with that. There is however a key difference between the restaurant analogy and booing at a football match: There is an end goal with a complaint to a restaurant - be it a refund or a meal for free. This end goal is not so apparent in a football match. Which begs the question: What does booing actually achieve?
     If you boo your own player, manager or team - what are you hoping it will do? The argument that it is 'letting the team know what is unacceptable' doesn't wash with me. All of us have played - and you know full well when it's not going as you'd hoped. Booing simply applies pressure to a team who need support; however hard that may be. Fans are very fickle and quick to forget the recent history of their club. As a Newcastle fan I should be supportive of a team that have been going through a bad patch after delivering us such unexpected success last season. Andre Villas Boas and his Tottenham side were roundly booed after just one half at White Hart Lane and Chelsea... Well, what can you say? All of these clubs have experienced change that will affect what happens on the pitch.

I understand it's difficult because fans don't get the chance to interact with players on a personal level and if a team is underperforming then how do we as fans get that out of our system? That is up to the individual - be it on social media (although not by abusing the players on there - that is a different irritation of mine), down the pub or wherever. Just before you boo a team next time, don't follow the crowd, just stop and think whether it will help and if its justified. I think you'll find that the majority of the time - it isn't.

If you wish to complain, seek other channels and leave it away from the 90 minutes we all enjoy each week - it doesn't help anyone.

Google summarises 2012 - in epic fashion

If you haven't seen it so far check out Google's "Zeitgeist 2012: Year in Review" video below.

Warning - It's epic.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Windows Phone trys to fight Android - and fails miserably

I saw a few tweets appear on my Twitter stream this morning all involving "#droidrage" and "#windowsphone". Intrigued I searched deeper into the topic and discovered thousands of sarcastic tweets from happy Android users trolling the hashtag.

Yes, this was another Twitter campaign #fail. The perpetrators this time were Windows Phone. 

Following in the footsteps of MacDonalds and RIM, Microsoft encouraged all Android users to tweet the malware irritations they had with the Android OS and phones. Yep, you know the rest... Compared with Windows Phone there are few weaknesses and this came through in the sarcastic tweets that ensued. Popular topics were Instagram (which Windows Phone doesn't have), widgets (which Windows Phone doesn't have) and Windows Phone popularity (which... You get the idea!!).

If you read my blog regularly you'll know that I have plenty of time for the Windows OS. It's crisp, clear and intuitive. However, the marketing teams are in the precarious situation of taking on iOS and Android, the latter of which is at an all-time height of popularity and strength. With the best spec handsets and Android 4.0 onwards - Windows Phone really has misjudged this social campaign.

When running a campaign like this it is important that the gamble you take does not get trolled and backfire in making you look more stupid. This is exactly what has happened here.

Windows Phone is a good product being dragged down by stupid stunts like this.

UPDATE: I was later informed that this was the second failed attempt at the campaign - the mere fact I hadn't seen the first one speaks volumes. To attempt this for a second time and fail again is dreadful practice and shows just how out of touch Windows Phone is from the buying masses.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Google Music - What is it and should you get it?

I've been using Google Music for a couple of weeks now and thought it best to share my experiences. Few people I know have heard of Google Music, let alone use it. This is bound to be different in the US (let me know) but either way Google Music is still very fresh and young into a established market despite being around for about a year in the US already. Anyway, for those that don't know - what is Google Music and why should you be interested?

Google Music is effectively Cloud-based music. It allows you to listen to one collection of music - wherever you are. Google Music is giving further purpose to the ever-growing Android Play Store and you can also upload music on your computer and almost instantly listen on your Android tablet or phone. Google limits you to 20,000 songs initially.

It got off to a good start in my eyes because the app put a 'next track' option in the notification bar on my HTC One X. (something HTC inexcusably forgot!) The app is clean, clear and has a nice UI which adopts in a Android-style 'slide across' function which works with beautiful efficiency.
      Setting yourself up on Google Music is a bit of effort, but it is effort worth putting in because once everything is in place - the system works beautifully efficiently. The 'music manager' that needs to be downloaded on the desktop is effectively just an uploader to the cloud but works quietly and effectively in the background.

So far I've been frustrated that the music on my phone and tablet does not seem to be easily synced the other way but that is a minor inconvenience at the moment. Despite this and a few other teething problems the future looks bright for Google Music and competitors should be wary. With the continuing growth of the Android OS - the cross-platform liquid syncing is very appealing.

The beauty of Android is that it's not hard to move music around (take note Apple) so Google Music, for the moment at least, is really just for those with multiple Android devices. There aren't loads of us at the moment but the Nexus range will do a lot to change that. That doesn't mean for one minute that you should avoid Google Music - just that to really see the benefits you need to stretch the Cloud! Obviously if you're using other devices or platforms, Google Music probably isn't for you - yet.

Oh - did I mention - being Google, this is of course all free!

Thanks for reading. Have you used Google Music - or will you be in the future? What are your initial thoughts?

Stay tuned - my next blog will be a technology guide for Christmas...

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Living with Windows 8: A month down the line

So its been about a month since I excitedly installed Windows 8 and whilst it's by no means been a nightmare, it's not been revolutionary.

Let me clarify that: I really like Windows 8. I love the interface and the OS is quick and intuitive but I just can't say that Windows 8 has changed the way I compute in the way I thought (and strangely hoped) it would. I just find myself using the very practical and familiar 'Windows 7 face' of Windows 8.
     The apps (People, Messaging etc) all work, and have lost the lag I was concerned about in my first review, but I honestly never use them. When I use them - they're great but I'm too stuck in my ways and they haven't really offered me enough of a reason to change. I also appear to have a subconscious resentment towards the apps for pushing me towards Windows Live, which I just don't use.

Now all of this needs to be understood alongside the fact that 90% of my laptop use is for work - where I can't afford the time to play around with new features. If I'd had the time to engrain the new features into my psyche then things may be different but my concern is that most people are like me and don't have the time to 'teach themselves new tricks'. I've loved exploring the new interface and I will continue to do so, but it hasn't immediately made my computing use obviously easier and for the everyday user I believe my experience will only be amplified.

In a few years time we shall see the first generation of those growing up with Windows 8 and that will be the telling time for the success for Microsoft. I will be intrigued to see how that generation use the Windows 8 face in conjunction with the Windows 7 face. As a hardened Windows XP - Windows 7 user (not Vista because that was the biggest joke of an OS and I made sure of avoiding that nightmare) it is always going to take longer to change my mindset. I understand that and won't be giving up on learning more about Windows 8 but as we are in a rapid technologically advancing time - I am impatient :)

Comments and thoughts welcome. If you like what you read I would love a follow!

Thursday, 15 November 2012

The good and bad from the UK launch of Google's Nexus range

So Google's new Nexus range went on sale in the UK on Tuesday and within 20mins - they'd sold out of the Nexus 4. Great yeh? Not so fast, it was a bit of a Google Play Store cock-up. However, the items went out on sale again and this time they did sell out - properly. Now obviously we don't know exact figures as yet but it certainly is a good start and a good piece of PR for Google.

Should we be surprised by this? I don't think so. I blogged before about the quality and potential of the range and without gloating too much - it seems I was right. Consumers are being offered a brilliant, high-end phone at an extremely aggressive pricing - where's the decision? The projected flaw (over-analysed by the likes of TechCrunch) was the lack of 4G in the Nexus 4, however, with 4G still young in penetrating the UK market most are happy to continue at current internet speeds.

Don't forget that it is not just the Nexus 4 that has sold out. Unsurprisingly the 3G Nexus 7 and other Nexus 7 models at the reduced price sold out inside 24hrs. Perhaps more surprisingly the Nexus 10 has also sold out, again inside 24 hours. This is brilliant news for Android and suggests there is a positive word of mouth around the Nexus 7. Importantly for Android it seems we could be seeing the Android OS finally gain traction in the tablet market and against the might of the iPad don't they need it! Whilst Apple have put up little fight to the Nexus 7 with the iPad Mini, it will still sell and this is by no means the beginning of the end for the iPad.

It's a shame Google couldn't get it spot on with a smooth launch but that doesn't hide the fact that the Nexus now appears, for the first time, to be in the mass-consumer range. The timing couldn't be better either, and with Christmas fast approaching we could be in for some monstrous sales figures.

Thanks for reading. All thoughts welcome. Considering buying any of the Nexus range? Already have done? Or no interest at all?
If you fancy it, why not give me a follow in the top right!

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Google's incredible new Nexus range

Much of the tech world waited in anticipation for Google's launch event on Monday only for it to be postponed because of Hurricane Sandy. We weren't left hanging though. Google gave us plenty to talk about by announcing the new Nexus range. And even the most optimistic Android fans were rendered speechless by what was announced.

Okay, our expectations were high but, in short, Google announced a series of the best spec models available, for an outrageously reasonable price. I mean, beyond anything we could have imagined.

Let's start with the Nexus 4 Phone - by far the most exciting announcement on Monday.
This phone packs a quad-core processor, 8 megapixel camera, 2GB RAM and a 4.7" high-res screen with Gorilla Glass. That's not all either; the Nexus also has NFC capability alongside wireless charging and HDMI output. All this for £239 (8GB version) or £279 (16GB version) - less than half the cost of the now inferior Samsung Galaxy S3 and iPhone 5. Seriously, I'm not joking about those prices!
Sold? You should be.

It's not all amazing though, Google have missed off LTE (4G for us in the UK) on the Nexus 4. A shame considering everything else is brilliant but that it wont matter too much. I'm also not a huge fan of Android devices following the Apple-route of not offering expandable memory. This is the situation with the Nexus 4 and whilst the memory won't be a problem at 8GB or 16GB, I like having the option. Let's be honest, for the cost of the Nexus 4 we can have few complaints over what are absolutely minor faults.
       Il be the first to admit I was slightly disappointed to see LG given the Nexus phone but every LG weakness will be covered for by Google on the Nexus Phone. LG make superb hardware and that is what they are being used for here. What's not to like?

So what else did Google announce? Well they've released the 32GB version of the Nexus 7. Okay - not particularly exciting but again the excitement comes through the subsequent pricing. Google have hit bang on the pricing note with the Nexus 7. A few days after Apple announced the iPad Mini at a premium price, Google drops the price of the superior Nexus 7 (16GB) to £159 - £110 less. All of this right before Christmas. In my eyes it's gone from being a contest to Game-Set-Match to Google in the 7" tablet sector. Why would you buy an inferior product for closing in on double the price? Okay, it's not that simple. I'm not including convenience of staying with iOS for example, but the pricing will really make consumers take a step back and consider whether it's worth £110 for convenience, especially on the 7" tablet.
      The Nexus 7 32GB version is £40 more - and if you want one compatible with mobile internet it will cost you £40 more. That is still only £239! An absolute dream. Complete bargain.

I guess the weakest launch in the new Nexus range is the Nexus 10 tablet. Now let me clarify, this is not weak because the Nexus 10 is a poor product, far from it. This is a spec-packed piece of kit but my disappointment is that it's been priced at the same as the iPad. When they've priced the Nexus phone SO competitively, why not do the same with the tablet where, let's face it, Android is still struggling. Anyway, consumers should still be wowed by what is on offer: Dual-core Exynos 5 chip supported by 2GB RAM. In addition the Nexus 10 has an extremely high-res screen with Gorilla Glass alongside NFC, both-facing cameras and a 9hr battery life.

Now its over to Google to market the Nexus range effectively. Up til now the Nexus phone in particular has been the toy for the more tech-minded. Google needs to convince the mass-population to join in. Given what is on offer and the price listed; this should not be difficult. I'll be sitting on my hands for a little while to stop me from buying the set!!

Comments and thoughts welcome. Will you be buying? Which item are you most impressed with? Have I been too positive about it all? 

If you like what you read I would love a follow!


Sunday, 28 October 2012

Windows 8 - My initial impressions

As soon Microsoft launched into the their biggest keynote for 10 years, I was downloading Windows 8. Why? Intrigue mainly. Windows 8 is, if you want it to be, different - fresh and I was excited about experiencing a new OS. After the fairly lengthy update I was thrown into colour, vibrancy and simplicity. The OS is clean, crisp, slick and sleek. To say I was excited by what I saw is perhaps an understatement. In this blog I will briefly talk through my initial impressions, thoughts and difficulties.

One irritation I've had so far is the integration with Hotmail and Microsoft accounts. I, like many others, lost faith in Hotmail and although I've heard they've upped their game (and the new interface in is nice) I'm not going back from Gmail. However, once synced with your normal accounts the OS lends itself beautifully to instant interaction. I also found some of the Microsoft-specific apps (photos, people etc) felt slow to begin with but it seems that was mainly because they were syncing. After that, they have been quicker, but the loading still seems a bit laggy. I haven't had time to look into it yet but I'm sure there is a way of changing this. I think its simply a long 'loading screen'. The good side of this is that what lies behind this wait is great. The music 'app' is wonderful, as is the new 'people' section.

I will admit to being a bit bemused initially. Don't get me wrong, everything is very accessible, but as a hardened Windows-desktop user, the new formats and locations were a bit confusing. I also haven't had the time to delve into the Windows Store but the ability to include 'apps' and tools (not too dissimilar to those on a mobile device) on a PC is an exciting prospect.

The real beauty of Windows 8 is that it genuinely satisfies the inner explorer whilst allowing you the safety and familiarity of the Windows desktop.

It's too early to properly judge Windows 8 but I can honestly say that I can only see myself enjoying it more and more. There will definitely be teething problems for consumers trying to adjust but it won't take long before it becomes engrained and actually the accessibility is at your fingertips. I wouldn't urge everyone to instantly upgrade just yet though. Take your time and test it out, it may not be for you and Windows 7 is a brilliant OS anyway.

Early days but the future seems bright for Windows 8!

Have you downloaded it? What are your thoughts? Or are you considering upgrading? Would love to hear your thoughts or questions. Give me a follow if you fancy it!

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

The iPad Mini and Apple's other surprises

(Anyone think it looks a lot like the Galaxy Note? Also - these slogans are getting ridiculously bad)

A friend of mine (and big Apple fan) said - before the launch - that he believed the iPad Mini was pointless. I didn't agree. I believe a 7" tablet does hold a practical and financial benefit to a consumer and Apple offering a cheaper alternative to the iPad for consumers is the right move. If you've got an iPad you don't need the Mini but for many, the iPad Mini should be the affordable option. However - £269 at the cheapest end!? What were they thinking? Many consumers were waiting around for the iPad Mini before buying the Nexus 7 and I would assume that they had expected a more competitively priced option - perhaps up to £200. It smells of Apple just grinding out another £70 because of the label. In my opinion consumers willing to spend £269 should seriously consider go the whole way and just buy an old iPad 2/3. It seems the investors agree. Kevin Cook from Yahoo Finance summarised

"But when the slide of pricing schemes for the iPad Mini were shown, the stock dropped hard and fast, trading from above $629 down to $622 in only 3 minutes on over 800,000 shares."

What is good is that we now have a direct comparison and competition to the Nexus 7 which I said we needed before it could be judged properly.


So the Google Nexus 7 has more power, an HD screen and a quad-core processor - all for cheaper. Okay, the iPad Mini has a bigger screen, offers more storage (at about £100 quid an upgrade) and is a bit lighter but still; is that worth the hike in cost? That's up to you to decide I guess.
     We all know it'll sell, and it'll sell well, but, in a straight up comparison with the Nexus 7 - it loses in my opinion.

Anyway what else did Apple announce? Controversially Apple have unveiled a new 4th gen. iPad which also ceases all production of 'the new iPad' which was just 6 months old. This has angered many consumers who, after investing a lot of money, have now seen a newer model soon after their purchase. Now with any other company this wouldn't necessarily be seen as controversial but because of Apple's 18 month 'cycle' this is peculiar. So what does the iPad 4 boast? Apple is shouting about the new iPad having retina display...even though the iPad 3 did as well... The processor is apparently twice as fast without affecting battery-life, 4G is now for everyone and the cameras have improved. All round, good improvements.

Apple also announced an impressive new 13" MacBook Pro (good specs but for a whopping price) and a beautiful new iMac (it really is beautiful):

Lots of excitement! Next up Microsoft take the stage on Friday....

As always, thoughts and criticisms encouraged! If you enjoyed my blog or want to follow for more debates, please do so! 

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Microsoft Surface: How good can it be?

Microsoft have just released the pricing for their iPad competitor - 'Surface' and it makes good, but not great, reading for consumers. For around 399 quid users can pick up a keyboard-less Surface tablet (available for another 60-odd quid) which boasts a 32GB hard-drive, and 2GB memory - both are double that of the new iPad and for cheaper. A 64GB model is also available for another 60-70 quid.

But is it worth it? The tablet itself is powerful, durable and the OS will adapt well for use on a tablet. Microsoft have clearly looked at the tablet market and tried to place the Surface directly between a smartphone and a desktop - almost to the point of it functioning like a laptop. In fact, much of the Surface speaks 'a new laptop'. The screen is 10.6" corner to corner but the resolution is basic. The Surface has a USB port, can host external hard-drives and can charge your phone! It is also compatible with everyday-use items such as printers etc. The little built in kick-stand is a great, practical addition. In fact, much of the Microsoft Surface screams practicality.
      This brings me onto the cover - that doubles as a keyboard. Now I brought a foldable keyboard for my netbook a while back and it was just a nightmare to use but I will reserve judgement on the Surface keyboard-cover until I can have a go. If it can match the responsiveness of the keyboard on my Motorola Xoom then it should be pretty good!

(That is the head of Windows using the Surface RT as a skateboard... Yeh...pretty strong!)

Pre-orders in the US for the $499 model have sold out - but that doesn't necessarily mean anything. We need to wait until the launch of the Surface on the 26th October before we can see how the Surface is selling - and indeed how well it can be used on a day-to-day basis. What is important to note is that Microsoft are going for this. They are ambitious - apparently trying to build 5 million of the Surface before the end of the year... That is ambition, especially with Apple releasing the iPad Mini soon.

Simply, the success of Microsoft Surface rests largely on the consumer adoption of Windows 8. As I've blogged already - I think this will be a slow but steady process and it may surprise a few with adoption rates but it wont be overnight. If Microsoft can encourage more consumers to upgrade and test out Windows 8 then all devices running the similar operating systems will benefit because the familiarity with the OS will allow more consumers to take the plunge into Windows phones and, the Surface. 
     This is where I think Microsoft have done fairly well. I will certainly be upgrading my new Asus X501a (along with doubling the RAM to 8GB!! :) ) as soon as possible mostly for intrigue but this is helped because of the offer to upgrade new Windows 7 computers for £15 is too good to miss. However I would completely understand many with older Windows 7 cpus not bothering spending the 25 quid as Windows 7 is a very good OS anyway. I believe that £25 may be pushing it for many people who don't want to bother with the hassle. Anyone running anything older than Win7 should definitely look at upgrading, especially if you're running Vista. 

If Microsoft could have offered an even wider, cheaper upgrade to Windows 8 then, although they would take an initial hit, they, and the Windows 8 platform, would be benefiting in many other ways. Give everyone the option to upgrade for 10 quid and most would go with 'yeh, why not'. That would certainly rapidly help the much needed adoption of the Windows OS on mobile devices such as the Surface.

(The Surface advert - "The Surface Movement")

As always - thoughts and challenges encouraged! Also, I'd love if you could give me a follow - check the follow options on the right!

Monday, 15 October 2012

Nokia and Samsung poking at Apple: Is it pointless?

Recently Nokia released a video mocking Apple fanboys:

I like this video; I think its creative and pretty good but it got me thinking: Is this anything more than a bit of fun? And, does it do the brand any good?
     Samsung are the trailblazers in this field. Their mocking videos are becoming somewhat a tradition around the release of each iPhone. Here are the 2 they've released so far:

The Galaxy SII (wonderful phone) mocking

And "It doesn't take a genius" (the better of the two in my opinion - more witty)

The videos all target the queues and the lack of change from one iPhone to the next which are easy target points but do consumers look at this and think favourably upon the company producing them? More importantly, do consumers think 'oh, that's true, maybe I'll buy a Samsung Galaxy SIII or a Nokia Lumia'? I just don't think so.
     Personally, I enjoy these videos. I find them funny, sometimes lacking in class and not as witty as I'd prefer. But my feeling is that these videos simply highlight the superiority of Apple as a brand. Ouch, that hurt to say... but its true. How often to winners find it necessary to poke fun at those behind? Companies like Nokia are not really in a position to poke fun at the hugely successful Apple ecosystem.

Whilst I agree with the videos, and chuckle whilst watching them I'm not convinced on their use as a marketing tool. Then again, perhaps I'm just missing the point all together.

As always, I'd love to here your thoughts!

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

The Perils of Forcing Mobile Market Saturation

It's been a while since my last blog so apologies for that! I have little excuse but a short holiday as distraction.

With the release of the iPhone 5, the Android vs Apple debate has intensified with both parties feeling more superiority than ever. It made me think of the perceptions of different company's and the impact of an attempted market saturation on this perception.
      Apple famously release a single phone every 18 or so months and this makes its sales success even more impressive. Their 'one size fits all' models have captured an audience and got it hooked. Considering the competition, it really is an incredible feat. Regular readers will know that I'm not the biggest fan of the Apple ecosystem and its 'no way out' virtuous loop but you have to admire their success in the execution of that model. HTC initially followed this model with the the flagship HTC Hero. This has limited, and steady success but they wanted market share so they embarked on an old-school Nokia process of attempted market saturation bringing out the Desire, Desire HD, Desire S, Desire Z, Wildfire etc etc inside not much more than 18 months. Does this cheapen a brand in the eyes of the consumer, does it confuse the consumer or does it give the perception of power for a brand? Could the iPhone be successful because it is the simple option?

So has this attempted market saturation affected the perception of the likes of HTC and Samsung? Do people look at both company's and too readily remember the perhaps negative experiences of their friends who used each company's budget models and automatically dismiss the higher-end models on that basis? Perhaps that was poorly worded but I hope you see what I'm getting at. I've heard friends turn their noses up at the HTC One Series because of a friend who had the Wildfire and didn't like it. They then compare the Wildfire with the iPhone being completely oblivious to the sizeable difference in price.

I guess there is a big difference between HTC and Samsung. Samsung is a reputable and long-established, wide-ranging electronics company, HTC do not have that luxury as they joined the smartphone race as a young company. Their meteoric rise and fall in stock has been well publicised and that greed of shareholders could well be behind HTC's eagerness to grow at a rapid rate instead of focus solely on a good reputation. For many the first impression of HTC would have been the budget models and that affects long-term image. However, the counter is that HTC would not be in the public eye. Is the cost of image repair less than the cost of public awareness? And is that completely outweighed by impatience?

I would love to hear views on your perceptions of these brands and if you view either brand negatively because of their budget models after market saturation attempts?

Friday, 14 September 2012

The iPhone 5: Where has Apple's 'famous' innovation gone?

Apple, rightly or wrongly, is famed for being a wonderful innovator; a company that is at the forefront of technological advancement. I can't help feel like that innovation seems to have deserted them recently, with the launch of the highly-anticipated iPhone 5 being testament to this.

The recent big announcement in short has produced an almost identical iPhone (yes its a bit bigger, thinner etc), some more iPod touches which are again far from revolutionary, and some new iPod Nanos which have circular icons instead of square (and that's pretty much it...). In fact arguably the most revolutionary announcement was the headphones, which have been changed and do look good, and apparently sound good. It all echoes the release of the iPhone 4S, and the 'New iPad' with many consumers responding with a resounding "Is that it?".

Features-wise the iPhone 5 is 4G capable yet without a hardware change O2 and Vodaphone users won't be able to access 4G speeds. The new camera now includes panoramic mode (which has been available on most Android handsets for about 2 years) and an option to capture photos during video (just blatantly ripping off HTC). Now, I don't want to turn this into an Apple-bashing but Apple immediately attacks other companies (mainly Android) for 'stealing' Apple features and too often gets away with doing the reverse. Thinner, lighter blah blah blah. It's simply another tweaked upgrade to squeeze money from the consumer. This is highlighted by the new accessories. So to charge the new iPhone you need this new 'Lightening adapter'. Great, it looks nice, but it'll cost a bomb. Just unnecessary. The prices STARTING at $649 (!!) for the 16GB version and ending up at a ridiculous $849 for the 64GB edition. (Yes, that is $200 more for 48GB storage... Go figure...).

(Spot the difference)

Now before you start saying "oh you just hate Apple" - I'm the first to admit I'm not the biggest fan of Apple but I would've liked to see Apple do what they did in 2007 and revolutionise the Smartphone market but they just haven't in this case. Success for any tech company forces other to up their game and continues technological advancement.
Is it time for Apple to acknowledge that they are now playing catch-up to Android devices? If not, then they will be doing in the very near future. Many may deny this, and they will probably come up with a convincing argument but it has reached the stage where the line "because it's Apple" does not cut the mustard. After all the criticism of Microsoft and Nokia becoming complacent in the tech world; have Apple done the same? I wrote previously about the importance of the iPhone 5 to Apple and it appears that they've fallen into the trap I was concerned they would do. Apple are better than this, just as Microsoft and Nokia were back in 2000. As Adam Leach, analyst for Ovum, correctly summarises -

“Without the continued innovation which we are accustomed to with Apple, the company risks losing consumer appeal. The iPhone re-defined the Smartphone category in 2007 but it cannot reply on past success to guarantee its future or rely on litigation to keep its competitors at bay.”

I would almost go as far as saying that Apple is cheating consumers into splashing even more money on a product, and indeed series of products, that are far from revolutionary. With that in mind, In my opinion, you would be far better off going for an iPhone 4S or even an iPhone 4 which have now been massively reduced in price. Get something for free/a small amount instead of spending £520+ on what is effectively the same product (just bigger, thinner blah blah blah...)

I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic in particular. Debating this topic with people is always fun and I certainly have my view and am open to hearing the thoughts of others.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Windows 8: The Saviour of the Old Guard - Microsoft and Nokia?

Nokia has just announced the next in the line of its original and slick Lumia series, (this time operating the full Windows 8 instead of the similar Windows RT) - the 820 and the 920, and wow, do they look good. (Well in my opinion anyway!)

But regardless of how much the critics rave about the UX and Win RT OS the sales are still uninspiring. Perhaps it a similar problem that many companies suffer from; that you have to experience, and live with the product before you can be convinced, and then perhaps you will be a convert for life? If this is the case then Nokia and Microsoft are well placed to enforce this. But can they combine, with Windows 8, to reign once more in tech fashion, innovation and popularity? The Nokia launch of the next Lumia phones precedes Microsoft's upcoming release of the widely anticipated release of Windows 8. This is a significant period for both companies and what is fascinating is the similarities in the paths taken by both companies. It simply highlights the dangers in complacency, especially in the tech world. I believe Apple have also fallen into this trap in a way. It is a very difficult trap to avoid. Why try and fix something that isn't broken? And by the time you realise it is broken, someone else is ready to topple you as market leader. With Windows 8, Microsoft has undertaken the mother of all transformations.

As can be seen - the block-style UX that is used on Windows RT can be used on a machine running Windows 8, but there is also the option to revert to the familiar UX Microsoft is famed for, simply looking sleeker, and glossier. There is a commitment from Microsoft to use this new UX and they clearly trust that the consumer will eventually revert to this thinking. By linking all platforms; the hugely successful XBOX, PC, Windows Phones and the upcoming 'Slate' with Windows 8, Microsoft is trying to dominate all aspects of tech life in your home, and although they've been late to the party I wouldn't bet against them. Microsoft lost it before. Very little denying that. The company fell into the very same trap of complacency that Nokia did. Both companies were comfortable market leaders having saturated their respective markets. In this position, as aptly demonstrated by this example, it is necessary to continue to dictate by controlling the market. This means continuing to innovate. Microsoft and Nokia missed this. Microsoft missed the fashion wave with computing, and Nokia missed the smartphone wave. Both mistakes cost each company greatly.

But what does the future hold? Well Microsoft are in the fortunate position of continuing to hold a market share with the Windows platform on PC. The shift to Win8 is dramatic, as dramatic as the technology world has seen from a major player but I admire this gamble. Microsoft have recognised (late, il grant you that) that the platform was tired and in need to rejuvenation. So kudos for that. Will it work? It certainly won't be an overnight shift but I believe it will work. Whilst many tech bloggers, reporters etc have found an easy target for ridicule in Nokia and Microsoft, we're still talking about giants of the technology world. The power Microsoft have at their disposal is still hugely significant. With over 700,000,000 PCs in operation and Windows 7 having recently taken over as the most used OS, there is the market still for Microsoft. Not only this, those priced out of the Apple market (with computers that is A LOT of people) will be looking towards Microsoft and the new Windows 8 platform. This will help adoption rates early on.
     Nokia face a different, more treacherous path. Win8 on the Nokia Lumia series is a joy to use. But will consumers give it a chance? Nokia have taken the correct steps by following the HTC 'less is more' route. Their recent release will no doubt be overshadowed by the hype of the New iPhone (or whatever they try and call it) and to a lesser extent - the Galaxy Note II. Does that matter? Perhaps the timing was well judged by getting in just before the hype becomes unbearable but at the moment especially, Nokia cannot attract the clamour that Apple can produce. I like their forward thinking though, and being a fan of social media I recommend you check out which is another interesting investment.

Either way, these two juggernaughts have found strong partners in each other, and it will take time plus a lot of effort but they will get there. By combining, familiarising the public with a new Windows, the adoption will snowball and it won't be long before Microsoft and Nokia are fighting back on a positive sales incline once more.

Thanks for reading, if you fancy it just click the follow button up on the right! As always, thought, criticisms etc are most welcome!

Monday, 27 August 2012

How HTC got it right with Customer Service

Its been a while since my latest blog but the reason for that has been the inspiration behind writing this. Over a week ago I dropped my HTC One X causing the screen to smash. I was just unlucky but still, I nearly sobbed on the side of the street... (restricted blogging, no mobile internet and worse still, less Twitter for a week!!) anyway, this leads me on to a bit of a story about customer service. In the same way that is important to highlight when a company treats you poorly, it is equally important to highlight when a company does something right and impresses a consumer.
     Now we all know about bad customer service. We have all experienced it, and we all complain about it but more as a moan to each other. I've had my fair share of bad experiences (Virgin with their broadband and Orange contribute to the majority!!) but what do we expect from customer service? If you get what you want are you satisfied and content? Or are you happy? Conversely, if we don't get what we want, do we then give up too easily because it is what is expected?

My journey with HTC began in 2008 where I got the first HTC flagship phone, the phone that put the Taiwanese company on the map - The Hero. Since then I have owned the HTC Desire, and the Desire HD before in June, I purchased the HTC One X. Am I an HTC fanboy? I wouldn't say so. Although interested in all new HTC releases I do not queue in anticipation and upgrade immediately. I would be more than happy to select a different phone if I believed it was better. For example, I could have gone with the Samsung Galaxy Series, or I could have gone with the Sony Xperia for example but I love HTC. I love the quality that HTC produce, but without the pretension.

(Sidenote: I wasn't a big fan of the attempted period of market saturation by HTC, even though they still managed to produce  high-quality budge phones like the Wildfire, but that is a different story.)

I digress. So what happen to me when I dropped my phone? As someone who recommends HTC to everyone, alongside having owned a succession of HTC phones without any problems or requests for repair, I decided to make a point of a couple of issues in addition to the smashed screen and send them to HTC. I had been previously told that it would cost between £125-£150 to get the screen repaired which is, in anyone's books, a large amount of money. I voiced my concern about the amount, plus explaining that the phone was occasionally refusing to automatically recover coverage after it was lost and occasionally overheating. In the greater scheme of things, these were minor issues, certainly not affecting my enjoyment and delight with the One X but I felt it necessary to point these out when considering repairing the phone. In the main, I was hoping to get a bit of money off the repair!!
     I forwarded the email to the Head of UK Customer Care and very quickly received a phone-call back. The woman was delightful. Apologetic, helpful and understanding. The major difference was that I felt like my case was important to HTC; I felt like a valued customer. This is a theme that continued. HTC offered to pick-up my phone, free of charge, so that the technical team could look it over. Quickly, efficiently and conveniently my phone was collected. Following this, I was informed that HTC would repair my screen, look at the phone and provide me with a complimentary case, all free of charge.

Now, obviously I was delighted by this news but what should be taken from this was the professional and entirely appropriate way that HTC handled my situation. For that, they need great praise. They didn't have to do this but they valued me as a customer and it showed. What they have guaranteed is that I will continue to buy HTC phones, continue to praise HTC and encourage others to choose their devices, all of this from a small screen repair and a friendly yet professional employee. Not much eh!

The point of this blog is certainly not to encourage people to cause a fuss for no reason but to give due praise HTC where I believe it has been earned. Whilst it isn't what happened to me, it is almost customary for the British to moan about customer service without trying to rectify it. It is really important for consumers to get what they deserve from a company. If you have paid good money for a product, and it doesn't meet those expectations, then talk to the company. Give them a chance to help you out. I did with HTC and look where it got me.

P.S: As another positive sidenote for HTC, even with a badly smashed screen, the One X was exemplary and performed without fault. Just another reason why it is one hell of a phone!!

Friday, 17 August 2012

The Importance of the iPhone 5

The iPhone 5 will be one of the biggest, and most important announcements in the future of Apple.

Okay, perhaps slightly melodramatic. Or is it?

The iPhone 5 will spell rejuvenation or regression for Apple, especially in the mass market. With so much competition, especially from Android considering recent statistics, Apple need to get it right. If they don't then expect the 'Apple 18 months' showing a continuing drop in market share and rise in Android stock.

With consumers already stopping to consider Android devices over the iPhone 4S for example, Apple need to produce something to redirect that thought process. However much Apple fanboys will say otherwise, more and more Android devices are superior in hardware, and arguably design to the iPhone 4S. The Galaxy SIII, the HTC One X (and arguably the One S and the Galaxy Note) are examples of this. If the iPhone 5 doesn't address these inferior aspects (the screen size being the key one) then those that love the iOS ecosystem will start to begrudge the hassle of staying within an ecosystem with poorer hardware.
For me, Apple need to show that they can do more. We know that they can regenerate the same model, slightly slimmer, better quality screen etc but can they offer something different? Can they provide a bigger screen for example? Apple's 'if it ain't broke don't fix it' has been fine until now, and it certainly isn't going to spell disaster without a change, but Apple need to be more creative and ambitious because consumers don't only get bored but they need an incentive to upgrade. For the last few years, each new generation of iPhone and arguably the iPad offers fewer and less significant improvements over the prior generation, and, thus, gives consumers less reason to upgrade. Apple  cannot afford another 'iPhone 4S opening' where consumers gave off the overwhelming scent of 'is that it?'.

What does it sound like they're doing?

In true Apple fashion any iPhone 5 details are extremely tightly locked away. This results in an ongoing rumour-mill citing anything from transparent phones to the almost identical to the iPhone 4 and 4S. Most rumours and leaked images seem to suggest that the design will stay more or less the same. Some rumours and leaked images are showing a larger phone which would indicate a screen around the reported 4".

Is this the new iPhone 5?

This would be an increase of about 0.5" over the 4 and 4S. In my opinion this is a step on the right direction but I can't help but feel that something along the lines of 4.2-4.3" would be more appealing. The beauty of the larger-screened phones running Android has won over consumers who are spending increasing amounts of time on Smartphones and attempt to appreciate a multitude of functions. For most of these a bigger screen is simply better.

However, if the below image dictates where Apple are headed then I think they are in trouble. Most importantly, the aesthetic differences between the 4, 4S and this are, let's be honest, non-existant.

                                                 possible iphone 5

Let's be clear, regardless of what is announced, millions of iPhone 5s will be shipped come September. There will be the same people sleeping out for days in anticipation of the release. Apple will, as usual, do a brilliant marketing job and hype up the event. BUT if they have misjudged this, then the after the hype has died down we could be seeing real disillusion surrounding iOS, and Apple. The adverts (if unchanged) will begin to grain on consumers and the famous 'Apple innovation' will be placed under serious scrutiny.

But hey, what do we know, this is just musing! I'm going to sit back and enjoying watching it unfold. Over to you Apple.

P.S -I'm speaking through the eyes of someone who doesn't do Apple but I've tried to be impartial here...maybe I've failed.... In all honesty I would like the iPhone 5 to add significantly to how smartphones are viewed because all manufacturer competition is good for the consumer.
Either way, I'd love to know your thoughts.....

Monday, 13 August 2012

Football through Olympics-tinted glasses.

Before the curtain fell upon the world's greatest sporting event, some eyes had turned towards Birmingham. Inside Villa Park we saw Chelsea, a team of vastly overpaid footballers, face Manchester City, another set of individuals on an equally sickening amount of money. All this was watched by the billionaires that fund it. Once again, individuals like Carlos Tevez (who refused to play after getting into a strop), John Terry (charged with racially aggravated behaviour) and Ashley Cole (....) pranced about for 90 minutes thinking of little more than the £100k+ that will be deposited into their bank accounts each week.

Let me start by saying; I'm a huge football man: Played my whole life, Newcastle United supporter, go to as many games as I can afford, watch any broadcast game, check religiously for even the slightest news, spend far too much time tweaking my fantasy football side (with very little end product) and have contributed many an hour to football manager (certainly not wasted..). After the heroism we viewed almost every single day for two weeks, I felt strange for becoming excited for the football season but I can't help it. The tribalism, the drama, the weekly entertainment followed by detailed analysis with back and forward jibes makes football enthralling.

This post may sound anti-football (and in a way it is) but its just me being honest about the state of football and how it deeply contrasted with the magic we have witnessed over the past two weeks.

It's difficult to explain how I felt on Sunday morning. I felt real guilt because of my excitement for the Community Shield. After being excited to watch real role models; Mo Farah, Chris Hoy and the Brownlee Brothers amongst many more, I found myself experiencing, albeit a different excitement, at watching the pre-season curtain raiser. What was ensuing was the start of the farcically dramatic Premier League season. A 9-month tournament which displays no consideration for supporters, where player agents are king and where grown men throw themselves to the floor without a second thought to dignity or blatent cheating. It's a culture that is accepted, and more scandalously, encouraged.
But for the first time in my memory, the stadium was not sold out, the crowd jointly booed when Edin Hazard attempted his first dive. Are others feeling a bit like me? There were certainly commentary mentions throughout the Olympics, even from the likes of Gary Lineker, drawing comparisons with footballers and Olympians. Did hosting the Olympic Games make others stop and think what we are supporting, and what we are encouraging?

The Olympics allows athletes who love their sport, dedicate their lives to a goal and often receive very little financial remuneration, a stage to display that hard work. We watched men and women leave every bit of their bodies on the track, run with broken legs and play with broken jaws. This is what football should be. Instead we return to a scene where abusive behaviour is accepted and sportsmanship does not exist. What a far-cry from the Olympic spirit the country has adopted and reveled in over the last two weeks.

That being said, I cannot wait!

As always, all comments welcomed and encouraged.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Google Nexus 7: iPad killer?

Simple answer; no. But the most significant competitor? Absolutely. The problem with the natural comparison with the iPad is its unfair on the Nexus 7. This is not supposed to compete in the same bracket as the iPad but a comparison has to be made to make it relevant in the eyes of the consumer. I'm going to try and focus as much as possible just on the Nexus 7 without doing much direct comparison.

What has been made clear with the launch of the Nexus 7 is the importance of price point. Apple have been undercut, significantly, by a good product. It's targeted, and clearly engaged with the large numbers of consumers who have, thus far, failed to justify the £400 cost of a tablet. The size of the tablet isnt the key feature. The HTC Flyer, initially priced at around £600, proves this. Consumers need to feel value for money. With the Nexus 7 the value is there, and more. It was the same with the Kindle Fire's success. This is also key behind the failure of any other Android to mount a serious challenge to the iPad. The Motorola Xoom, Asus Transformer, Samsung Galaxy Tab have all fallen simply because if someone is going to part with £400 then they feel more comfortable doing that with the iPad.

Does the quick adoption of the Nexus 7 also say something about the development of the Android platform? I believe so. Jelly Bean has the slick, but reliable base that iOS fans crave, yet it adds customisation; Particularly with widgets. It's this reliability that Android has added to the platform from 4.0 (ICS) to Jelly Bean that is winning over consumers in both tablets and mobile phones.
     The other interesting positive review that we're seeing is the size and feel. Il be the first to admit that I've always thought the best size for a tablet is around the 10" mark but the Nexus 7 has made me consider differently. Not only this, the sleek, metallic body that has become synonymous with the iPad has been exchanged for a fascinating rubbery rear casing. It's more practical. Doesn't scratch, easier to hold etc.
     Ive heard complaints that there is no option for 3G capability. I fail to understand the concern. With Wireless Tethering a phone acts as a router. Hey presto, no need for mobile data on the tablet! (Also, how many of us can afford an extra, largely unnecessary, contract?) I can't help feel these criticisms are emanating from an Apple fanbase who harbor concerns... (TechCrunch take note...).

The Nexus 7 has quite rightly been gaining rave reviews. And for £150 its hard to complain. This clearly worries Apple hence Apple's response with the apparently imminent launch of the iPad mini. That is when the real battle commences. But until then, the Nexus 7 is a practical tablet option in all senses of the word as it has avoided the temptation to head towards the excessive, greedy features of other tablets. It is a practical size, its practical to use and importantly its a practical price. If you want a tablet primarily for media and entertainment, maybe the Nexus 7 isn't for you. The screen quality doesn't match the 'New iPad' for example. But if you want a tablet for surfing the net, reading, casual gaming etc, then the Nexus 7 is a sensible choice.

If you are happy to part with <£600 for a tablet, then the iPad is still the best choice as a high-end tablet. But few could blame you for saving a few hundred quid and buying a practical alternative in the Nexus 7.

Thoughts, comments, criticisms all encouraged!

Friday, 27 July 2012

The Olympics - Fun and Games?

Tonight, the lights go up and the UK opens its doors to the world's oldest, and greatest sporting event - The Olympic Games. But what does it mean for the sports and the athletes that represent them?

Before I get onto sport I must start with the laughing stock that LOCOG has become. If you've missed the talking points, where on earth have you been?? Due to overwhelmingly, laughably strict regulations on sponsorship and advertising, LOCOG and the companies it represents, have reversed a manageable situation into a PR nightmare. McDonalds for example have paid to be the official food provider? Anyway, that's fine. It's a bit odd having a sporting event which involves the world's elite athletes, paired with a chain of fast food restaurants, but its a free market! When this is a problem however is when the a builder is asked to remove the Greggs wrapping from his pasty in case the news channels catch a glimpse. Seriously. The overly strict measures have encouraged unsurprising responses; Paddy Power for example pushing the boundaries in every conceivable way.

Or how about the banner below that went viral very, very quickly. Simple. Ambush marketing tactics have been adopted by the likes of Nike as well. 

Now I understand why these regulations are in place - the official sponsors plunge a vast amount of money into the Olympics and they need to be convinced to do so.
     After London 2012 however, I wonder whether these providers will need more convincing as to whether the sponsorship of the Olympics is indeed a worthwhile investment. Aside from the billions they spend to be a sponsor. Is the Olympic footfall and exposure (which let's face it is probably unnecessary for many sponsors) enough to counter-act the damage to brand image that many sponsors are experiencing?

The exclusivity of pairing with the Olympics is obviously a tempting proposition. However, given the PR issues these companies are facing, LOCOG would be well advised to consider alternative, less invasive restrictions ahead of Rio 2016.

But what about for some of the sports involved? For the development of Women's football I believe the Olympics means a great deal. An extended run in the tournament could see Women's football recognised as a far more prominent part of the commercial sporting Britain. It would bring the whole UK to their feet in cheer and support for British women's football. The emotional importance to this link cannot be underestimated. Opposing that however is the prospect of failure, and whilst not harming the development of the Women's game in Britain a great opportunity would have been missed. So in that respect there is a great deal of pressue on the women's football team to represent not only their country, but their sport.

I read the news that Gareth Bale had exaggerated his injury to avoid playing in Olympics, not with surprise, but sadness and anger. The actions of Bale is simply the tip of an iceberg that simply devalues the Olympics - "The World's Greatest Sporting Event". In my opinion, sports such as football and tennis should be dropped from the Olympics. Sports where the Olympics is not viewed as the pinnacle should remain separate. The British view the World Cup as the biggest footballing stage; Wimbledon as the Tennis equivalent. Is Andy Murray psyched about playing in the Olympics? Is Craig Bellamy? Those that are excited are the younger players, or those from countries that would view the World Cup as a distant dream. If either of these groups had a shot at Wimbledon or the World Cup, would the Olympics pale into insignificance? Unfortunately the answer is probably yes. For runners, jumpers, throwers, swimmers, cyclists and many more, the Olympics is the pinnacle. The outstanding stage that they train for years to reach. The stage should be saved for these people, not those that join the bandwagon to boost viewing figures.
     The Olympics offers a platform for an expansion of interest. In my old sport, athletics, there is a potential for a sport that has slid from public attention, in as dramatic a way as county cricket, to be rejuvenated. All it takes is for success - Jess Ennis perhaps, or Holly Bleasedale. For one moment, the attention of Britain, and the world will be on them. Success results in interest. In youngsters wanting to imitate heros. Maybe Adam Gemili? Not necessarily winning, but perhaps making the final or running under 10 seconds. These moments, and events, are once in a lifetime and the knock-on effect is potentially staggering. In a similar way to Women's Football, a strong performance from Team GB athletics team can inspire generations, and put the sport of athletics centre stage once again. A weak performance and athletics risks further falling away from public attention. No pressure...
     I've focussed on these sports, not because they are the most significant, absolutely not; but because they are where my knowledge base lies.

Whatever happens at the Olympics; be it a flag-based fiasco irritating the one country one would advise not to piss-off, or the return of the wettest year in record. British cynicism doesn't endure events like these. The country will get behind it, and make it The Greatest Show on Earth.

Let the Games begin!

P.S All comments encouraged!

Monday, 23 July 2012

An Apple a day? Not for me!

Someone asked me recently; "How can you be a tech person, and not like Apple, or own anything 'Apple'? The question surprised me and made me think: Why don't I like Apple and its products? Furthermore, can you be a tech person and dislike Apple? The simple answer is, of course, yes.

But what is my problem with Apple and its products?

Apple, quite unashamedly places the majority of its products at the high end of the pricing spectrum which, in my eyes, requires a justification for that expenditure. Now don't get me wrong, I am happy to pay good money for good technology however I simply struggle to justify the extra cost for those Apple products. I can just about get over the extra for the iPad (which as a sidenote is still the best tablet, but the Nexus 7 is going to be the first Android tablet to test it), but the extra for iPhone contracts, iMacs and MacBooks seems extortionate. Here's an example; a friend of mine purchased an iMac (27") for £1500. We were playing FIFA on it but it lagged, and lagged. Why? Because Skype was running in the background. Now come on - the equipment you could purchase (minus the Apple logo) for that kind of money would by far exceed the spec on that iMac. But unforunately most won't do the research. But those costs pale in comparison to my bewilderment at the cost of the accessories. However good the quality of materials in a charger, surely it cannot justify anywhere near £60? How?!

Maybe it is because of this cost that Apple has become so very clichy. There is no argument against it - Apple is clichy. (Thumbs-up to the marketing team). Now I'm certainly not clumping all Apple consumers into this category but those that do fall into the 'fanboy' group do wind me up. It's these people who were outraged that Instagram became available on Android and continue to insist that Android have copied iOS every step of the way (and happily ignore when iOS copies Android). It's this feeling of being in an exclusive group which provides some consumers with some sort of meaningless superiority. But let's be clear once more. Apple products certainly are not flawless. One thing that bugs me when I discuss Apple products with people is the 'Apple products don't get viruses' line. Let's put this straight; Yes they do. That is why Apple install, or at least recommend, extra virus protection. Apple's reputation has carried from their 'pre-boom' days when Apple was less popular. Microsoft had problems with viruses because of their popularity, they were an obvious target. Apple - less so. However, given the rapid increase in the popularity of Apple, they are now being targeted, and infected. In fact, in 2011, the Pwn2Own conference discovered Safari to be the easiest browser to hack. It took just 5 seconds. One other thing, (which in the same token indirectly complements Apple's marketing team), is this 'sequences shortened' hidden extra on an advert. Haven't spotted it? Have a close look because it only flashes up for a second. This prompted suings in Australia for misrepresentation of the workings of the iPad (Yes, its not quite so quick to sync etc!) Brilliant advertising, minus the music which style is beginning to grain...but essentially fooling consumers.

Its the focus on design (and Apple products do look fantastic) over substance which I take issue with. I see it as a matter of preference, and unfortunately, fashion. My focus when purchasing a computing device is on spec. For example, I like a good camera on my phone, my HTC One X has a greatly-superior camera to the Apple iPhone 4S. I believe the One X looks good but more importantly it has fantastic hardware - and software. It would irritate me if every 18 months another slightly different version of what I have is released. Not different in design (if it is, it isn't noticeable) but in minor hardware or software changes. Apple owners - doesn't that irritate you? Do you not get bored? To me iOS is tired and dull. I would be interested to hear your thoughts. I guess I like to have choice. not between 32gb and 64gb but between manufacturer and style, with the option of customisation. For example, I like the large screen phones. Not quite Samsung Galaxy Note, but not million miles off. Apple does not offer consumers this option.

Many reading this won't agree with me, and fair enough. It's become quite a vicious battle between the Anti-Apple brigade and the Apple-fanboys. The fact of the matter is that the people who are benefiting from this competition is the consumer as the companies are pushing, as quickly as possible, the limits of tech knowledge. I love my HTC One X and I wouldn't change it for anything right now. I'm sure that some readers feel exactly the same about their phones, be it an iPhone 4S or Samsung Galaxy Note etc (not a BlackBerry though, we all know that would be a mistake.)

Do I hate Apple products? Not particularly, no. I appreciate that they offer the consumer a solid piece of kit that is functional. What I do hate is the 'Apple World' where as long as an 'i' is placed in front of a product, it is often blindly considered superior. It is simply not the case. The purpose of this blog is to open peoples eyes to the prospect of other manufacturers producing better equipment and dispell the myth that in mobile phones and computing, Apple is in its own league.

I anticipate, and encourage comments. I look forward to a discussion!