26 Jan

Apple Outsider – Hollywood Still Hates You

Hollywood continues to completely ignore that lesson. It continues to punish the people who play by the rules with an insufferable customer experience. This is the sole reason piracy is up and profits are down: because doing it right totally sucks. And that’s apparently how the studios want it.

via Apple Outsider – Hollywood Still Hates You. It bears repeating, the vast majority of piracy is people just trying to get content the easiest way.

24 Jan

inessential.com – Fantastical and language detection

I like this. The best Mac developers have been famous for taking the extra steps. Most people won’t need this — but those who do it will delight.

via inessential.com – Fantastical and language detection. That is practically the definition of great software, causing your users delight in the everyday workings.

01 Jan

Subtraction.com – Subscribing to The New York Times

The total customer experience here is haphazard at best, and, at worst — I hate to say this because I am still friendly with many people at the company, but in truth there’s no way around it — it’s insulting. It shows a certain amount of disrespect to customers for a company to choose not to present a full accounting of available offers, displayed plainly and in an easy-to-compare chart, so that anyone can fully understand all of the options and decide quickly.

Why would it be so hard to be as explicit that? I ask that rhetorically, but from my experience as an employee I remember exactly why: The Times as a business remains both in thrall of and a prisoner of its old print mathematics, wherein pricing for delivery of the physical newspaper was complicated and subject to frequent and fleeting special promotions. By design, print subscribers were never sure if they were getting the best deal on their subscriptions, and that mentality has transferred over to its digital business. The result is sadly hostile to those looking to subscribe digitally, and gives the unmistakable impression that the company is gaming its customers.

Just for comparison, here’s how some other digital businesses price their products: Netflix is US$8 a month. Spotify is between US$5 and US$10 per month. Evernote is US$5 per month or US$45 per year. Birchbox is US$10 per month. Hulu Plus is US$8 per month. Flickr is US$25 per year. MLB.tv is US$25 per year. And so on. There is really no good reason that pricing for The New York Times couldn’t be as simple as that.

via Subtraction.com – Subscribing to The New York Times. Media companies respect their customers or maybe not.

23 Oct

Marco.org – What’s Next for Apple

It’s painful for me to see the sad state of consumer electronics. People are so shamelessly ripped off by low-rent retailers to get such low-quality products.

One of the reasons people get so emotionally attached to Apple is that the entire experience, from walking into the store and buying something to using it at home, is so starkly different that there’s a strong feeling that Apple is saving us from the Best Buys of the world.

via Marco.org – What’s Next for Apple. Too true.

17 Oct

My Dinner With Android – Four months with Android: reflections, grievances and some tenuous metaphors bundled up into a weighty tome

If I could simultaneously re-experience my first time using iOS and my first time using Android, I don’t know how the two instances could ever reconcile. iOS feels like technology that’s years ahead of Android just through polish and design. And while a lot of Android users have told me that stuff doesn’t bother them, I can’t get over it. Why choose the tool that feels worse?

via My Dinner With Android – Four months with Android: reflections, grievances and some tenuous metaphors bundled up into a weighty tome. That pretty much sums up every bit of experience of Android I’ve ever heard.

20 Sep

Online Video News – Netflix’s DVD business: Does Qwikster have a future?

Netflix announced in a blog post Sunday evening that its DVD-by-mail operations would soon be rebranded “Qwikster,” and that the service would be separated from the streaming service that the company has been pushing for the last several years. Doing so clearly grants some independence to the unit, and will help it to operate without dealing with fast-growing streaming business. But it also raises questions about the future viability of a standalone DVD-by-mail operation.

Netflix isn’t completely abandoning the new DVD business — at least, not yet. After all, Qwikster will have the same characteristic red envelope and the same legacy infrastructure and library supporting it. However, it seems clear that Netflix is creating a wall between the two businesses as a way to smartly manage its profits and losses, and to help Wall Street better value the separate operations.

via Online Video News – Netflix’s DVD business: Does Qwikster have a future?. Most people have complained primarly about the price increase Netflix brought about with splitting up it’s DVD and Streaming plans. That’s a side issue, licensing fees for streaming have most likely increased as the popularity and catalog of streamed movies increased.

The thing that bothers me about this decision is it makes a worse experience for those customers who straddle the line (using both the DVD and Streaming plans). All of sudden we have multiple queues, websites, rating systems, etc. One side aspect of this is who gets the core of the team that works on predicting what movie you’ll like after ranking this other movie (Netflix’s real golden goose). Will my rankings on one site generate better results? It also begins to sound like Netflix is planning to sell off it’s DVD side of the business. Never outside the realm of possible options but now it feels like it could happen in the next 6 months and Netflix couldn’t be bothered otherwise.

How long until Qwikster becomes just another forgotten piece of internet real estate?

20 Sep

Daring Fireball – The Case for Going Metro-Only on ARM

Read the whole thing. His take is reasonable. If Windows 8 does ship with support for classic non-Metro apps on ARM machines, these will be the reasons why.

But there are other good reasons, I think, for why Microsoft should cut the cord cleanly and go Metro-only on ARM.

via Daring Fireball – The Case for Going Metro-Only on ARM. When I posted the link about Windows 8 being able to run normal desktop apps, I somewhat flippantly said that it “could keep Win­dows 8 from being truly awesome”, this is why.

14 Sep

Write for Your Life – Why the Amazon Kindle might be the new iPod

In the future, owning a Kindle might mean a number of things. When you tell people you own a Kindle, you’ll have to say which one. The e-reader or the tablet. Maybe something entirely different, eventually.

Just like the iPod evolved and had its variations to fit different customers and lifestyles, from the iPod Shuffle to the iPod Touch, I can see Amazon building a similar type of product line. There will be no one Kindle, just like there is no one iPod.

Customers who want to read will choose an e-ink device, an improved Kindle 3, or whatever they decide to call it. Those who want to do more, or access all the other content that Amazon offers, they will go with the tablet.

via Write for Your Life – Why the Amazon Kindle might be the new iPod. That’s a key point and possibly the only reason why I might instead stick with buying the current Kindle as opposed to the new tablet Amazon is most likely going to introduce. I want something better than the Kindle, but I primarily just want to read books when you get down to it.

01 Aug

Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox – Defer Secondary Content When Writing for Mobile Users

Mobile devices require a tight focus in content presentation, with the first screen limited to only the most essential information.

via Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox – Defer Secondary Content When Writing for Mobile Users. Wikipedia’s mobile version while typically not known for it’s usability is used as a good example of hiding information until needed.