Sunday, September 23, 2007

Why is Immaterial

This week, there was much discussion about this ad in the NY Times from All the media and talk shows were debating it, congress was putting up resolutions addressing it, and the Democrats were carefully side stepping around it.

I have to ask, why? has very little wewb traffic and influence. They've obviously over exaggerated their web traffic (they say they have 3.5M members, which I don't believe for a minute, given their very meager traffic), so I'll assume they've also exaggerated the amount of money they've raised, etc. They're way out there on the fringe.

Someone needs to explain to the Democrats how Alexa works, so they can judge which groups they should be pandering to, and which ignoring.


Saturday, September 22, 2007

Lest You Think I Love iEverything from Apple...iDon't.

After my blog about my belief in the iPhone, some may think that I am under the hypnotic spell of Apple. Not at all. Just as I predicted when the iPhone was first announced that it would be a big hit, conversely, when Apple TV was announced, I predicted it would be a big flop. I felt this way because, unlike the iPhone which leap frogged past all other smart phones with its innovative UI, I didn't see Apple TV adding much to what was already being locked up through HD DVRs from Satellite providers, Cable companies, Tivo, and others.

According to Forbes, "Six months later iTV is a flat-out iFlop. Renamed Apple TV upon launch, the ballyhooed box has sold perhaps 250,000 units--far behind the 1 million sold for the iPhone, which was priced twice as high and has been on the market less than half as long."

So far I feel pretty good about my predictions. iPhone a hit. Apple TV a flop.


Monday, September 17, 2007

Walt Mossberg Reviews Ubuntu Desktop Linux

You can read his review here.

After six years of working on desktop Linux full time myself, unfortunately, I still have to agree with Walt's conclusion: "But for now, I still advise mainstream, nontechnical users to avoid Linux."

Ubuntu and other Linux companies are doing a lot of good work, but it's a big hill to climb. As much as people may dislike Microsoft and Apple, they have an enormous head start on hardware and software compatibility. It's tough to catch up. It's happening, but on the desktop, its still a slow, long and arduous journey.

However, as big of a technical job as it is, the REAL challenge is more with the mentality and dynamic of open source development. This is why articles like Walt's are GOOD for desktop Linux, because they helps the open source Linux community to understand that the average person has a very different definition of "ease of use" than a technical user does. During the last several years, desktop Linux has made big strides in basic functionality, but as Walt points out, it will take that next layer of polish to be ready for the mainstream. (By the way, here is what a mainstream market looks like.)

The REAL challenge is that desktop Linux was developed by, well, developers. Once the open source community has scratched THEIR itch, they often turn to other projects. It will take leadership from companies, such as Canonical, Novell and Red Hat, to keep the development going to scratch the itches of the mainstream nontechnical user, which are very different than those of developers.

There will be enough inherent incentive for the open source community to get Linux "to work," but it will take additional incentives to get that same community to continue making it easy for everyone. That incentive will be, as it is with most things, money and the power of a free market. It's no cooincidence that the most popular Linux distributions are from companies with serious financial dollars behind them (Canonical, Red Hat, Novell).

Will Desktop Linux ever be ready for "mainstream, nontechnical users?" I honestly don't know, but if it does happen, I predict it won't be for at least another five years, and it will come from the commercial companies with incentives to take it to that next level.


PS: You can read more on my views of the free market and open source software in this previous blog.

Phil Hendrie is Back!

About a year ago, Phil Hendrie left "terrestrial" radio and vowed never to return. Well, it didn't take long for him to change his mind, he's back, and I couldn't be happier!

You can listen to him here in San Diego on 760 AM, all be it from midnight to 3:00 AM. Phil is best listened to on a podcast anyway. =)

I guess this just goes to show, never say never.


Wednesday, September 5, 2007

I Love My iPhone

Apple just dropped the price of their iPhone by $200. Go get one.

I've been a believer in Apple's iPhone from it's announcement in January of this year, months before its release. While others, like Michael Robertson on his blog, were predicting it's failure, I was confident it would be a success, so much so, that I purchased a large amount of Apple stock that very day and recommended that others consider doing likewise. (Apple's stock was $85 before their iPhone announcement in January of this year, and is at $142 as I write this, up nearly 70%. ) While Robertson was decrying the iPhone for not playing with his other start-up ventures (SIPphone and MP3tunes), I knew the average consumer wouldn't care. Would they care they can't use MP3tunes, when they CAN use iTunes and mp3 files? (BTW, you can use Skype on the iPhone.)

What would matter, is that the iPhone completely tore into the mobile phone paradigm, leapfrogging past anything else on the market. The very thing many complained about (most without ever touching an iPhone), is the very thing that revolutionized the user interface for mobile devices...the lack of a keyboard.

Everyone knew you could make a better device if you didn't need to use up real estate for a keyboard, but rather than just follow the conventional wisdom that you simply MUST have a keyboard, Apple set out to innovate and figure out how to make a device work without one. They solved the problem with artificial intelligence which calculates, based on your typing and location of the keys, what words you were meaning to type, automatically correcting words as you go. As Walter Mossberg said, "My conclusion is that the keyboard issue on the iPhone is a non-issue." Walter said that within five days of using the iPhone, he could type as fast on it as he could on his Treo, which had physical keys and he had been typing on for years.

As the Vice President of Technology for Franklin Covey back in the early 90's, the largest time management firm in the world, I started using PDAs long before the cell phone was ever popularized. I have owned dozens of handheld devices, PDAs and cell phones over the years, and ended up using several versions of the Treo over the last few years. Today, I look at the Blackberry, Treo, Nokia, etc. phones, and they all look so outdated to me. It reminds me of how I felt looking at at typewriter, after I had started using a word processor.

I believe Apple has changed the rules for the UI for mobile devices, and Nokia and others better scramble quickly to catch up.

In my next blog I'll explain why I wished I had an iPhone years ago, so that I could have learned an important lesson for desktop Linux.


PS: There are hundreds of apps for the iPhone, with more being written every day. Here are just a few of my favorite iPhone applications:

And one I wrote in minutes:

Great program to use your iPhone's MP3 files for ring tones:

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

The Beginning...

As the CEO for Linspire, Inc. the last two years, I penned most of the "Linspire Letters." Now that I've left Linspire, I wanted to have a place to still share some of my thoughts and ideas. So, here it is.

What will I blog on about? I'm sure I'll share some of my thoughts about desktop Linux, Linspire, why I left, do I still run Linux today, and what I think the future of Linspire and desktop Linux will be. More importantly, however, I'll share information about future ventures.

Stay tuned,