Leaked iPhone 6 Photos

The Verge has photos supposedly of iPhone 6 that were leaked via Twitter. Most are guessing the iPhone 6 will pack a larger display by pointing to the really thin bezels on the left and right. The gap between the Home button and the bottom of the display is also really small. But I don’t think so.

If these photos are really those of iPhone 6, Apple has managed to figure out how to pack a 4-inch display into an iPhone that’s close to the size of an iPhone 4, but much thinner and designed like the back of the new iPads. What does that get us? We get back one-handed operation. Having to reorient the iPhone 5 in my hand to get to the icon at the far corner has been a thorn on the side of an otherwise solid experience. Getting a 4-inch display and one-handed operation would be like having your cake and eating it too.

And I can’t be sure, but the fingerprints on the display seem to have similar characteristics to the fingerprints left on the Touch ID Home button made of sapphire. I’m betting the cover glass will be made of sapphire.

Flappy Bird

Christina Warren has a nice writeup on Mashable about the rise and fall of the game Flappy Bird. At the end Dong Nguyen, the Vietnam-based developer of the game, chose simple and quiet over craziness and success. Dong Nguyen tweeted on February 8, 2014:

I can call ‘Flappy Bird’ is a success of mine. But it also ruins my simple life. So now I hate it.

It wasn’t the game that ruined Dong Nguyen’s simple life, it was how the way the current system is set up: a certain level of popularity becomes overwhelming to the point of destruction.

PS: I was recently at a local Sprint store and it was there I was introduced to Flappy Bird. A few weeks before a good friend introduced me to Candy Crush. I spent about an hour playing the game and quickly realized how addictive it was and how much time I would waste playing it. So I deleted it off of my iPhone. I played Flappy Bird on an Android tablet and after about five minutes I realized the same thing I did with Candy Crush: The game is frustrating, but in an highly addictive way. I could see myself wasting my life away making this bird flap its wings. So I stopped. But to my surprise, after I found out Dong Nguyen was pulling Flappy Bird from the App Store and Google Play, I downloaded them. I’ve spent another five minutes (total) flapping the wings of the cute bird. I don’t think I will be playing Flappy Bird much, but I am glad I can when I want to.

“Windows 8 is a disaster. Period.”

Paul Thurrott:

The reason this happened is that while Sinofsky had the maniacal power and force of will of a Steve Jobs, he lacked Jobs’ best gift: An innate understanding of good design. Windows 8 is not well-designed. It’s a mess. But Windows 8 is a bigger problem than that. Windows 8 is a disaster in every sense of the word.

This is not open to debate, is not part of some cute imaginary world where everyone’s opinion is equally valid or whatever. Windows 8 is a disaster. Period.

While some Windows backers took a wait-and-see approach and openly criticized me for being honest about this, I had found out from internal sources immediately that the product was doomed from the get-go, feared and ignored by customers, partners and other groups in Microsoft alike. Windows 8 was such a disaster that Steven Sinofsky was ejected from the company and his team of lieutenants was removed from Windows in a cyclone of change that triggered a reorganization of the entire company. Even Sinofsky’s benefactor, Microsoft’s then-CEO Steve Ballmer, was removed from office. Why did all this happen? Because together, these people set the company and Windows back by years and have perhaps destroyed what was once the most successful software franchise of all time.

I like Windows 7 better.

“People want a bigger screen iPhone. Are you against that?”

The Wall Street Journal’s Daisuke Wakabayashi asked Tim Cook. And here’s Cook’s response:

What we’ve said is that until the technology is ready, we don’t want to cross that line. That doesn’t say we’ll never do it. We want to give our customers what’s right in all respects — not just the size but in the resolution, in the clarity, in the contrast, in the reliability. There are many different parameters to measure a display and we care about all those, because we know that’s the window to the software.

Until the technology is ready? Very interesting.

1920×1080 LCDs start a 4.7 inches. Is Apple waiting for more pixels? Could be, because clarity, contrast, and reliability are all there. Or perhaps Apple is waiting for OLED. Contrast has been there for quite some time, but not the other three. RGB-striped 1920×1080 allows for class-leading clarity for text, but a 5.x-inch RGB-striped 1920×1080 OLED is still difficult and can’t be found on any mass manufactured smartphone available today. PenTile OLED displays with 1920×1080 equivalent pixel formats are more than good enough for most, but maybe not for Apple, not yet anyway. OLED reliability is also limited relative to LCD, only because the blue doesn’t last as long. But soon blue’s lifetime to half brightness might be good enough, for Apple too.

But there’s one other important consideration. And it depends on how we will be using larger smartphones in the future. RGB-striped OLED consumes more power and less power than LCD, depending on how you use it. If you watch video, which is generally darker than non-video, OLED will consume less power than LCD. The exception might be some computer animated features — such as Frozen — that are bright. If on the other hand you’re playing Flappy Bird on your 5.x-inch OLED smartphone the LCD equivalent will consume less. The only sure thing is with a large 5.x-inch OLED smartphones we’ll be doing a lot more of what we’re doing right now.

Apple, along with other companies wanting to incorporate large RGB-striped OLED displays into their smartphones, will need to wait until battery technology improves to a point where large 5.x-inch OLED smartphone usage models point to the battery lasting at least an entire day. That might not happen for a while, but I’m looking forward to what Apple has in store with the iPhone 6.

Nokia Releasing First Android Smartphone

Sven Grundberg and Shira Ovide, The Wall Street Journal:

Nokia engineers had been developing the Android phone before Microsoft struck the €5.4 billion ($7.4 billion) deal last September to buy Nokia’s handset business and license the Finnish company’s patents. It hasn’t been clear before now whether Nokia would move ahead with the Android phone, expected to be introduced at the Mobile World Congress industry trade show starting Feb. 24.

It looks like Nokia will fork Android, similar to what Amazon did:

The Nokia phones will differ from most other Android smartphones, and won’t access some Google-developed features or Android apps from the Google Play storefront, said the people familiar with the matter.

But Amazon had something unique to offer: access to the largest online store. I’m not sure there’s something as unique Nokia has to offer. But maybe Nokia is targeting the entry-level smartphone market where it will be mostly used to call and text. A simplified Android OS with solid hardware could be a combination that could sell.

Barnes and Noble Fired Entire Nook Hardware Engineering Staff

via John Gruber. Jay Yarow, Business Insider:

The Nook was its answer to the Amazon’s Kindle. Barnes & Noble tried making a Nook e-reader, and a Nook tablet that competed with the iPad, and the Kindle Fire. It was a bold, and aggressive attempt to fend off the rise of Internet companies that were destroying booksellers.

Internet companies that were destroying booksellers. Yarow’s wording is interesting in that Amazon is a bookseller; Amazon also happens to be an Internet company. And Amazon is hardly being destroyed. I guess Yarow was referring more to Apple, an Internet company destroying booksellers like Barnes and Noble. I don’t think the success of Internet booksellers equals the demise of physical booksellers. I miss my local Barnes and Noble bookstore. My kids miss it too. Amazon hasn’t replaced the experience of going to a B&N bookstore. Nothing has.

I can’t stop wondering: What if Barnes and Noble focused only on developing a fantastic iPad app that allowed downloading cheap/free digital versions of the physical books you bought at the brick and mortar stores? And what if the B&N iPad app allowed unlimited free browsing of e-books when you’re connected to WiFi at a B&N brick and mortar store? Just like with real books. Groupon-like discounts at physical locations? Free use of iPads — tethered and limited to the B&N iPad app — on WiFi at B&N stores? Sign-able e-books? E-book signings at B&N stores? A significantly discounted used book section where you can buy and sell used books? There are so many possibilities…

Experience Innovation

Rick Wise writing for Co.Design:

Don’t ask customers what they need, but observe how they behave and what makes them happy or sad. Then assess what people could do. Think about what they will notice, and what they will remember.

To do this right a company needs to hire people who have expertise in psychology, anthropology, game theory, etc. and have them work together with those who have traditional skills such as industrial design, UI design, software engineering, etc. The person who manages this hodgepodge of people will need to be somewhat of a renaissance man who knows something about almost everything.

How Sony Is Ushering In a Golden Age of Photography

David Pogue, Yahoo:

Well, Sony has certainly been doing interesting things. A 1-inch sensor in a pocket camera? Never been done. A premium superzoom? Nobody else is doing that. A full-frame sensor in a coat-pocketable body? Unheard of.

Interesting, yes, but if Sony squeezed that 1-inch image sensor found in the company’s excellent RX100 compact camera inside an Xperia smartphone, I’d be thoroughly impressed. I’d also be severely tempted to ditch my iPhone as my primary camera.

The problem with lumping Samsung and Apple together…

Ben Thompson:

Samsung is being challenged by lower-cost competitors; the company’s average price per phone fell by $30 last year, and its share of >$400 phones slipped from 40 percent to 21 percent. This kept up Samsung’s volume – they now account for one in three smartphone sales – but the result was their first profit decline in nine quarters.

Apple had the exact opposite problem: the iPhone’s average selling price jumped from $577 to $636 quarter-over-quarter, and was only down $6 year-over year. Apple also increased its share of the >$400 market from 35 percent to 65 percent. Growth, though, was meager: a mere 7%, despite the addition of NTT DoCoMo and a much earlier China launch for the iPhones 5S and 5C as compared to the iPhone 5.

I can see Samsung’s top end Galaxy line being compared to Apple, but not the other models geared for customers who want the cheapest money can buy. If I were to choose between the two problems I would pick Apple’s problem of selling to those with more disposable income, those who value design thinking, and those who are generally more loyal to brands.