Image via CrunchBase
My friend Mason Sexton is the co-founder of Moonit, a social app/service that predicts the strength of your relationships based on its own private algorithm. While I may not understand how they come up with the predictions, I know that reading them is absolutely addictive. It’s hard to resist seeing an analysis of your chemistry with friends, love interests and family members. But you don’t have to take it from me, Techcrunch thinks so too. The service was pretty great as a web site but I have seen the designs of their upcoming iPhone app and it is going to be amazing. If you have an iPhone, head over to Moonit’s early adopter signup page and leave your email address so they can ping you when they launch the app.
Image via Wikipedia
Imagine a store where you could only buy one thing at a time and as soon as you made a purchase, they threw you out. So if you wanted to buy something else, you’d have to go back in. And if you wanted to buy ten or fifteen items, you’d be basically screwed and have to spend a long time navigating your way back to where you last spotted the next item you want. Sounds terrible, right?
Well, inexplicably, that’s exactly what the App Store does. Every time you download an app, the store force closes itself. So when you’re looking to download a few games, it’ll take you quite a while. Why on earth has Apple let this joke of usability go on for so long?
Here’s a scene that happens every day with my new iPad: I wake up late, gather my stuff together and rush out of the house on the way to a meeting/class/appointment. I hop on the the subway, pull out my iPad, open up Pulse, Flipboard, NYT, WSJ or any other news app only to discover I forgot to open them up while I still had 3G or wifi service. So now I have a shiny new iPad loaded with great news apps that are full of yesterday’s news.
I know I’m only complaining that the iPad doesn’t have true multi-tasking, which has been a sore point for iPhone and iPad owners since they debuted. However, for New Yorkers, this is a huge drawback as many of us probably turn on our iPad or news app on our iPhone for the first time every day while on the subway. It’s a huge problem and I wish there was a way around it.
When I used to have a Droid (before it was stolen), I would keep all my news apps open in the background. Sure, it drained the battery a bit, but every morning I had all the news I wanted at my finger tips, whether or not I was 30 feet below the streets of New York hurtling downtown on a 3 train.
On Saturday I went for a short 2 mile run and I brought my Blackberry Curve along to stream Pandora while I ran. Big mistake. As soon as I opened the app, it froze (or gave me that spinning hourglass that is so familiar to Curve users everywhere)…and it stayed frozen…for the entire length of my run. Mind you, a few times it would unfreeze and I would try to exit the Pandora app, which of course would cause it to to freeze again.
I finished my run determined to warn everyone I know away from the Blackberry, but then I remembered that my girlfriend is having trouble getting used to the Droid 2 after using a Curve for years. She brings up a good point to explain her frustration: the Blackberry is a near ideal communication device. Typing is easy; BBM is strangely addictive; the email app is dead simple; etc. My problem with it is that I want it to run 3rd party apps and it absolutely sucks for that purpose.
Which brings me to the point of this post. I am using my Blackberry for something it was not designed to do. However, if there was no option of downloading apps that only slow it down, I would have to concede that it was a pretty damn good communication device. RIM has let itself be dragged into offering an app store which has crippled the Curve and led users like me to think it’s a terrible phone, which it of course is not. RIM is competing in a game that it cannot win. If all phones compete based on apps and touchscreens, RIM is always going to lose.
However, if RIM focused on improving the communication and security abilities of its line of smartphones and let Apple and Google kill each other over App Stores, they would be competing in a game they could win. Would they lose some share to Google and Apple? Of course. But trust me, no one buys a Blackberry when they prefer a good apps to excellent communication abilities. On the other hand, would they have been forced to lower the price of Curve ($20 with a 2 year contract after rebate from Verizon) because it was obviously inferior to the $200 iPhone? Probably not.
While RIM kept the Curve app-free, thereby insuring its continued good reputation for communication, it could have released a line of phones that really had the processing and memory capabilities to handle apps. The Bold could be a contender for this. It seems to handle apps a bit better than the Curve and it maintains Blackberry’s reputation for great communication devices. Apps may be all the rage but that does not mean that every smartphone has to offer them. Companies need to compete in games that they can win. RIM should probably heed this advice before we all forget what makes Blackberries great in the first place.