The Mobile Platform Race: A July 2011 Infographic

A new infographic from the peeps at Vision Mobile, showing how the main Mobile Phone operating systems currently compare.

The data is taken from the Developer Economics 2011 report (free download here), sponsored by BlueVia. It’s great reading, explaining in detail developer mind share, the state of the operating systems and how to make money in mobile today.

What a mess, it’s like the browser battles of the late 1990’s, only far more messy…

An infographic using data taken from the Developer Economics Report 2011

Apples Latest Patent Proves the US Patent Law Is Farcical

Apples most recent patent revolves around a new Fitnessapplication. That’s fair enough, were it to contain anything remotely new, innovative or unique.

Looking at it the patent includes: (courteous of econsultancy)

  • Introduces a potential customer to a local fitness center via a “free pass.”
  • Incentivises a potential customer to sign up for the fitness center using “membership promotion[s] and an affiliate offer[s].”
  • Transmits “news, updates, daily promotions, and daily activities” to members and prospective members.
  • Recommends workout buddies based on social network profiles and user-supplied criteria.
  • Upsells personal training sessions.
  • Tracks workout goals and accomplishments.
  • Provides notifications, content and commercial promotions designed to encourage members to “re-energize” and return to the fitness center

Wikipedia describes a patent as:

“a patent application must include one or more claims defining the invention which must be new, non-obvious, and useful or industrially applicable”.

European patent law in contrast neither condones nor executes most business process related “patents”. This on the whole is a good thing, for all the reasons the US patent system is proving a bad one by allowing them.

Wikipedia again: “In many countries, certain subject areas are excluded from patents, such as business methods, treatment of the human body and mental acts”

I in my time of course, have joined the fray of patent applicants. As Founder of Rummble in 2006/7 I applied for a patent around the implementation of a personalisation algorithm based on trust network technology. This is at least partially a “process” but it does contain a unique mechanic and way of executing the processing in the way the mechanism has been coded.

Another Language

Anyone who has read a patent document application after a Patent Lawyer has got their hands on it, will know that it’s a language far removed from the English you and I speak, or indeed write. In anycase, my expertise at describing patents in the appropriate legal manner, is virtually zero.

The patent system in the USA seems to favour those, as so often in legal situations, with all the money and resources to both file and subsequently defend the patents – all the time keeping the well greased wheels of the lawyer industry turning. It’s the biggest weeze out.

Courteous of -click to visit the site

Patents are after all, only worth whatever you can afford to defend them with. You might have a legitimate patent, but unless you can afford to defend it (and actively do so) then it will lapse and you will lose protection – neither will the company or person infringing your patent be liable.

As a start-up then, or an SME, to patent or not to patent? Well in my experience at the very minimum it will cost you £20,000 ($35,000) by the time you’re done with amends, resubmissions and the like; although getting the ball rolling of course, costs perhaps only 20% of that.

Some US patent lawyers might even be persuaded to take equity in your company, or delayed remuneration if you can convince them of the sanctity and quality of your product or service – but in my experience these lawyers are few and far between.

The point is, Apples patent is ludicrous – if it’s granted I shall eat my hat. I guess I might aswell start hat shopping today…

P.S. ..and if you don’t believe me, a renowned US Patent Lawyer who would rather remain nameless, read this post and said “I can’t disagree with a word of it…”. Bowler or Trilby?


19th of Setpember 2011

So since I wrote this article, new laws have come into force in the USA, or rather a change to existing patent law. The details of the changes to the US Patent system are outlined here and a good case is put by Chris Dixon -a founder of a start-up working on topics close to my heart- on his blog as to why the US patent law changes are worse for start-ups.

Blackberry! I Feel The Need For Speed

One of the reasons I believe Blackberry has been lagging in the mobile application download numbers is very simple: speed.

While for some people, the less snazzy interface, a lack of touch across most devices, a poorer selection of apps are the reasons not to use a Blackberry, for many this is not an issue.

In fact:

  • a tangible tactile keyboard
  • and bundled international data roaming

..are the two factors which keep me firmly a loyal and loving Blackberry user (RIM take note: do NOT break either of these things for me, although I appreciate the second is in co-operation with the carriers).

The Blackberry App Store hasn’t actually been at all bad, even since version one. Yes it has had fewer apps to choose from, but in reality most of us spend 80-90% of our time using the same handful of apps. The biggest problem with app stores in general remains discoverability and nobody has done a good job on solving that problem with their app stores.

Maverick’s supersonic – be there in thirty seconds

Speed of response and interaction is an often under-rated factor when building internet or mobile software products. Speedy interaction can mean that an otherwise average user flow, does not necessarily damage the user experience. An extra click or tap here and there doesn’t matter as much if the response is immediate and you still feel progression through whatever task you’re doing. With a fast UI user engagement can be increased. Of all people, Google Search knows this well and it remains a cornerstone of Google design.

I’ve been using the current flagship RIM device, the Blackberry Torch, for 6 months. I have a love/ hate relationship with it. The main problem (apart from the keyboard being far less awesome than the previous Blackberry Bold) is that it is underpowered. Either it has a processor which is too slow or it has some very inefficient software – my bet is the former.

Application downloads are all about instant gratification: see it, want it, install it. Rinse and repeat. This addictive process is broken on the BB Torch, because although the software supports concurrent downloads the hardware can’t cope. The dreaded clock timer appears frequently, browsing for other apps becomes sluggish (and impossible if downloading 2 or more apps in parallel) and when you come to install an app the entire phone is unsuable, with a permanent ticking timing to entertain you instead. Worse, it can sometimes take 5 full mins to install the app then another 5 minutes while the phone reboots.

Contrast this with iPhone or Android where I can upgrade or install multiple apps and happily carry on browsing.

Android can download and install multiple apps without it slowing the device significantly

RIM’s new operating systems may even run Android apps (so goes the rumours). This may confuse consumers as much as it makes some happy – that is another discussion – but one things is for sure: we live in an impatient, want-it-all-now world. As consumers, our expectations are incredibly high. A flagship modern smartphone needs to be passing the instant gratification finish line at full speed, if it wants to win in this market.

Maverick, call the ball

Blackberry is currently failing to feed our glutinous consumption driven side. That is a pity, as for a long time it was the only smartphone which would truly multi-task and it was fast. I loved my Blackberry Bold all the more for that fact; flipping between apps which would maintain their state was a joy.  I could beat my friends on their iPhones and Android devices to a Google Maps place at a cinch. I laughed at the early iPhone users as they swapped back and forth re-opening their email or messaging apps, but I’m laughing no more.

Let’s hope whatever the new range of Blackberrys look like, they put powerful enough processors inside, without compromising famous Blackberry battery life, which still remains best in class.

..apologies for the gratuitous Top Gun references 😉