Posted tagged ‘Apple’

Bad Technology

12-13-07

Popular Mechanics has released its 10 Worst Gadgets of 2007. I don’t think everything on the list belongs there (like, why is everybody picking on Pleo, that cute lil’ robot dinosaur?), but some of them make you wonder — who is running these companies?

nabaztag-470-1207.jpgTake, for example, #6, the Violet Nabaztag:

Meet Nabaztag, perhaps the world’s first toy that purports to be a Wi-Fi-enabled rabbit that beeps, moves its ears, reads your e-mails, says snarky stuff and responds to voice commands. Of course, when we say “rabbit,” we mean a white plastic cone with plastic oblong ears that tend to fall off a lot. So if your idea of what a hare should look like comes from watching animals in the park, or even watching old Bugs Bunny cartoons, you will be sorely disappointed. Also, it often ignores your requests and kind of doesn’t work.

Nabaztag is essentially France’s answer to Japan’s alchemical ability to turn cute into cash. It costs $165, and getting it to actually read our e-mails was more harrowing than setting up a wireless network (our old Teddy Ruckspin could have done a better job). We’re honestly stumped why anybody would ever want a device like this to read their e-mail out loud. Most of our messages are along the lines of “Vi@Gra 4 Cheap!” and “Sounds good, see you at 7”—not exactly the kind of thing that needs to be spoken aloud by a frightening doll.

Or how ’bout Microsoft’s new version of the Zune music player, which comes in at #8: (more…)

Advertisements

Verizon’s “Berlin Wall Moment”

11-28-07

In what was regarded as a surprise move, Verizon announced Tuesday it would give consumers more choice in what phones they can use on its network, perhaps hastening the day when Americans can buy the mobile device they want, then choose a carrier instead of having it chosen for them.

In its press release, Verizon said the “new choice” would not be available until the end of 2008, and described the process between now and then:

In early 2008, the company will publish the technical standards the development community will need to design products to interface with the Verizon Wireless network. Any device that meets the minimum technical standard will be activated on the network. Devices will be tested and approved in a $20 million state-of-the-art testing lab which received an additional investment this year to gear up for the anticipated new demand. Any application the customer chooses will be allowed on these devices.

The news has got everyone thinking about two companies not mentioned in the press release, Apple and Google. Apple, because the iPhone is such a sexy product but its appeal is weighed down by the required two-year AT&T/Cingular contract that comes with it; and Google because of its recent announcement of plans to create an open platform for a Linux phone that can run Google applications.

The commentary on Verizon’s move comes in two flavors: Laudatory, and intrigued conjecture. If anyone really doesn’t like it, they’re keeping it to themselves. Here are lots of samples:

“We’re seeing a sea change here. If you go back a year ago, there was absolutely no sign anyone was interested in pushing opening wireless networks,” said Harold Feld, senior vice president of the Media Access Project, a nonprofit telecommunications law firm. “This is like a Berlin Wall moment, where the pressure is too much for these guys.” (SF Chronicle)

Atlantic Monthly blogger Megan McArdle, a libertarian-leaning economist, agrees: (more…)