Saturday, September 22, 2012


It has been a few years since I got a phone and its time to upgrade. I've been watching the new phones get announced the last few months and I have been excitedly waiting for a cool Windows Phone 8 device. WP8 is a gorgeous platform. So far we have seen a few good phones that utilize WP8, but all are heavy and bulky with large screens. /Sigh. I really like my 3.7" Droid screen. I don't want to 'upgrade' to something that is larger and weighs more. The Lumia 920 looks awesome. I love its features, I love its look. I would recommend it to others. Yet I am almost certain when I hold it in my hand next month I will hate its size. That leaves me with the iPhone 5. Oh Apple, how many hours has your terrible iTunes program wasted of my time? How many iPods have broke shortly after purchase, to be returned broken to me after warranty replacement? 4. That is how many. I have had bad experiences with Apple, their excessive marketing annoys me, their culture of greed annoys me, and the way people look up to Steve Jobs (a rather bad person) annoys me.

That being said, I recently bought some Apple stock and will probably buy an iPhone 5 this holiday season (to my possible regret). Why?

Their stock resembles a bubble, but even when it bursts the company will continue making phones, tablets, TV boxes, and computers. The company will survive. How much longer the bubble has left is hard to say; it might never pop as long as things continue the way they are now.

With phones, Apple doesn't have to innovate anymore. It is the standard. This quarter, innovations from other phones just seem like gimmicks. Features like NFC, image stabilization and wireless charging are just not important enough to people and won't be until Apple joins in. The Nokia Lumia 920 is awesome, but Apple controls the playing field, and this years rules are that we don't need new features all we need is a nice slim phone.

Apples competitors don't seem to be able to compete directly with the iphone. There is no AAA 3.7"-4.3" phones coming this season except the 4.3" HTC phone, which is much larger and heavier than Apples phone. Apple has obviously invested in making their phones small and light while competitors fail to keep up and/or choose to add bulk with new features. But Apple tells consumers what features (if any) are important, so Apple will continue to dominate the phone market during the next 2-3 years until competitors compress their devices.

Intel vs ARM
Right now Intel is on the path to building smaller, faster chips than ARM by around 2014. ARM is investing in the next thing in microprocessing. Intel is investing in the thing after the next thing. When this happens, if Apple is not an early adapter of these new chips, there will be a huge opportunity for Apple to lose control of the market. Or maybe intel will never make a comeback, but that is unlikely.

Meanwhile in the tablet market, iOS as is is no match for Windows RT as a productivity and consumption platform, and I am interested to see where that goes. It is so hard to tell though, because Microsoft has so many hurdles to pass (start screen pushback on W8, lack of RT apps, lack of tablet branding, new interface people don't want to learn) despite having an amazing product. In the end the branding could make this a huge struggle for Microsoft. Everyone thinks apple 'just works'. Even if RT works better, there is always a learning curve when switching to new devices and almost everyone has used iOS and gets it now.

Finally, Apple is likely to release a new iTV product and if they can wrestle good deals with cable networks the way they have dominated deals with the music industry and wireless carriers (Carriers give Apple a $400 subsidy for every phone, compared with just $250-$300 given to other smartphones) then iTV could be really popular. Right now there are some good TV devices out, but none that are truely polished and well known. There is a lot of opportunity. It is prime for Apples strategy of placing their brand on an emerging market and pushing their excellent marketing until their brand is synonymous with that market. I wish Microsoft would re-brand xbox more completely into a media center and add more cable network deals to their xbox service and they could prevent iTV from being Apples next big product, but they probably will not. Xbox is a great media center right now for TVs but it is still seen as a gaming console. The next media centers (iTV) will be seen as a REPLACEMENT to CABLE.

What does this have to do with programming multiplayer RPGs? Not much. I do think that the future of gaming relies heavily on Windows RT tablets and these TV/media center boxes though. As for my game, I have not had time to work on it over the summer.