Smartphone 101 – Prerequisite 2: Setting up a Sync Relationship with iPhone

I’ve been working with mobile devices since 1996. I’ve had nearly every kind of mobile device from near every manufacturer on nearly every mobile OS…ever. The iPhone is by far the easiest to setup and configure. Like the other two mobile OS’ in use today, we’ll run through the default configuration and then see about adding another sync account to your iDevice. Apple makes this pretty easy…

Please note that these instructions were done using and iPhone 5 running iOS 7.1.1. As I don’t have an iPhone 5S, you won’t find instructions on using Touch ID, here. However, as you will see from the screenshots below, the configuration process is very easy. You shouldn’t have any problems configuring it if you simply follow the process and then work with the device when it wants to read your finger prints.

1. Turn on your iPhone for the first time. After the device boots, you’ll be greeted with a welcome screen. Place your finger just to the left of the greater-than sign (>) and slide it over the top of the words, “slide to set up” to begin the configuration process.
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2. Select a wireless network to connect to. If you have Wi-Fi in the house, using it over your mobile broadband bandwidth is preferable. Select your network from the list and tap it.
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3. The wireless network password screen appears. Type the password to your Wi-Fi network and then press the join button.
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4. Turn on Location Services. You’ll want to make certain that they are configured correctly later, but for now, you’ll want them turned on so things like Maps and local search work correctly. Tap “Enable Location Services.”
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Smartphone 101 – Prerequisite 2: Setting up a Sync Relationship with Windows Phone

Now that you have your email account created and your address book populated, let’s get the data on your smartphone.

OK… we took quite a bit of time the other day getting our email account setup on our service of choice. Any of the ones that I gave you instructions for – Google Apps/Gmail, Outlook.com, iCloud – are decent choices and should serve you well. While you’re going to want to make certain you give yourself the best opportunity for glitch free synchronization (meaning it’s not always wise to mix and match devices and services, or more aptly put, I’d recommend using the service that is natively paired with your device – Gmail+Android, Windows Phone+Outlook.com/Exchange, or iCloud+iPhone), it is possible to mix and match if you absolutely HAVE to. If you must put a Google account on your iPhone, don’t be surprised if your experience isn’t as optimized as it would be if you had either Google services synching to an Android phone or Apple services synching to an iPhone. It works, but there may be a couple of glitches here and there…

So, how do you get the information from your email account over to your smartphone? It’s quite simple, really. You have to tell your smartphone that you have the type of account you have and then let the two communicate via the smartphone’s cellular data connection with the internet. As changes are made to either side – on your smartphone or on your email account – those changes will be made to the remaining side so that you’ll always have the latest information, no matter where you look at the data.

The big thing to remember here is that this is likely one of the first things your phone is going to want to take you through when you turn it on for the very first time. It’s going to want to attach itself to your email account so that you get all of your PIM data (Personal Information Management data – Mail, Calendar, Contacts (or address book) and Tasks) to and from your smartphone as the data changes. It will set up a Push Data connection (the same kind as Blackberry made famous, back in the day…); and as a result, your smartphone will always have the latest data and will be considered a “smart” source of information (hence the name, “smartphone”). Any time you want to know who needs to be where at what time, who you can call if for some reason you don’t get the information or can’t make an appointment, or want to message someone about… you can use your smartphone. (This is why we took the time to get your email account set up correctly…). It also makes all of this information portable, mobile and easy to take with you wherever you go.

Ok, so your phone is going to want to setup its default account (if you have more than one email account, you can set up more than one sync relationship) so that it gets all the info all the time. I’m going to take you through some of the default setup steps for Android, iPhone and Windows Phone. This will help you if you have problems.

However, the screens we’re going to review actually take you through, step-by-step and have a pretty good set of instructions. If I gloss over something that you don’t understand or need more information on, let me know in the comments, and I’ll update the instructions.

Please remember that this process assumes that you’re mixing apples with apples. In other words, you’re using the default email account TYPE with a LIKE phone.

Windows Phone+Outlook.com (or your Microsoft Account)
1. Turn your new Windows Phone on for the first time. The Welcome screen below, will appear after it boots.
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2. Sign in to your Microsoft Account on the “Keep Your Life in Sync” screen. If you sign in later, your phone won’t be setup correctly until it has all of this information.
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3. Enter in your Microsoft Account email address. This is more than likely a @msn.com, @live.com, @hotmail.com, or @outlook.com email address, but it could be any email address you have, provided you registered it as a Microsoft Account mail address.

4. Type in your password in the password field. When you’re done, either check or uncheck the “Allow Microsoft to send you information and tips about your Windows Phone,” checkbox. While this will subscribe you to their Windows Phone newsletter, it might have some cool tips in it that you didn’t know about. If you’re new to Windows Phone, I’d check it. You can always unsubscribe later.

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Smartphone 101 – Prerequisite #1: Setting up Your Address Book

This is a cell/ smartphone’s primary use case; but it isn’t as cut and dry as you think…

If you remember my intro from the other day, you’ll remember that what makes a smartphone smart can be summed up in one word – Integration. We’re going to come back to this point a number of different times over the course of this week, just to make certain everyone certain that they understand that missing an integration point can effect more than one app or piece of functionality.

For example – Failing to correctly setup and configure a primary email account will affect your ability to make and place cell calls.

I know. It’s strange except for one very important point – the address book in your smartphone is a universal address book. It has names, addresses and phone numbers in it for everyone that you want to communicate with, in any and EVERY way you will want to communicate with them.  That includes email addresses, Skype addresses, Facebook and Twitter name, etc.  If you don’t get your address book set up right, then you’re going to have issues taking and placing calls. Period.

The biggest thing I want you to do here is to NOT get overwhelmed. Yes.  You’re right…there’s going to be a lot here that may or may not make sense to you right away.  If things are confusing, then the biggest thing you can do to help yourself is

Ask questions.

That’s what the discussion area is for. If something doesn’t make sense to you, ask a question in the discussion area. I’ll check through the comments (if any) and answer your question(s). If need be, I’ll answer it in an article if the answer requires a bit more than a one-two step answer. It’s not a big deal…

So… step one – get an email address if you don’t already have one.  If you do have one, then you need to make certain that it will work appropriately with your new smartphone.  You’re probably also going to want to make certain that this service (remember that word for later…) also has a compatible calendar and task list or to-do list.  You’re likely going to want to keep track of those and your phone makes a great tool for that.  Here are a couple GREAT examples of mixing and matching PIM (Personal Information Management) services that will likely have to be forced to work.

Hotmail/ Outlook.com/ Exchange on Android – it works, but Google stopped supporting Exchange ActiveSync on Android.  All this means is that if you have your email, contacts (address book) and calendar here, getting it to show up on your Android phone just got more difficult. Chalk this up to the smartphone and ecosystem wars going on between Apple, Google and Microsoft.

Exchange on iPhone – Google isn’t the only one who stopped licensing Exchange ActiveSync (Microsoft’s Push eMail Sync System) on their devices. Apple did it too, and now getting the information there for new users of new Exchange eMail accounts is more difficult. It’s still possible, but you may have to configure things manually. I know I do…

Google Apps/Gmail on iPhone – If you have a Gmail account and you want to sync it to your iPhone, it isn’t as easy as it used to be when both Google and Apple were licensing Exchange ActiveSync. Now that neither support EAS, you either have to be grandfathered in via Google Apps, or pay $50 per year, per user to enable the feature. I don’t know many consumers that do this.

Ok… so your next question is obviously, “OK, Chris… What DOES work?”

That’s easy – stick to the ecosystem; or pair like animals together.

If you’re using an Android device, use or get a Gmail or Google Apps account.  If you’re using an iPhone your best bet is to use or get an Apple iCloud mail account. If you’re using Windows Phone, you can use Hotmail/Outlook.com or Exchange email addresses without any difficulty.  All of these will have Calendars and Task/To-Do lists.  You can set them up later.

See how the smartphones and support systems match up?  That’s what each company wants you to do.  They want you to use their SERVICES (I told you to remember that word from before…) with their devices. Google and Microsoft are all moving to a subscription based software licensing model when it comes to many of their software titles (like, Office 365, for example) and supporting services.  They want to lock you in so that you have to get what you need from them (that way, THEY get your dollars). The mixing and matching of devices and services that we did between 2008 and 2012 is ending. It’s getting harder and harder to do that. So, if you have an Android device, you might want to consider using Gmail. If you have an iPhone, you might want to consider using iCloud, etc., even if that means you have to stop using an address you’ve used for a long time.

Your first step, after signing up for a new email address is getting your contacts from the old system to the new system.  You’re likely going to want to do most of the work here on your desktop PC. There’s (potentially) a lot of information to capture, so you’re likely going to want to type things in on a desktop or laptop. Doing this on your smartphone keyboard is gonna suck.

Depending on the number of contacts you have, you can try to use the export system your old account has.  There are up to 9 different sets of instructions here (Contacts, Calendar, Tasks are available in Gmail, iCloud and Exchange); and all three have decent help systems that will show you how to export these items. If you have problems, leave me a comment and I will give you as simple a how-to for your situation as possible; but if you can send email, you can probably figure out how to export these three items into a format that can be used for importing into another system.

The same can be said for importing items. Look to your new email’s help system for importing items. After you get everything into the new system, we’ll setup a sync relationship and then make a test phone call.

However, if you’ve never had a smartphone before, then you probably don’t’ have a lot of contacts. If you have less than 100 entries in your old device’s phone book, you can probably type them into your new email account manually. To update your address book, use the following instructions on the following different systems.  These instructions assume you have already created an account on the appropriate and/or relevant system.
A quick note on importing contacts from social networks, like Facebook and Twitter: Most social networks ask you to input an email address and a phone number into your account profile. If you or your friends did that with, say your Facebook account, then that information will likely be imported into your new email system if it gives you the opportunity to import those contacts.

Outlook.com – These instructions will help you
a) Import some contact records to Outlook.com from 4 compatible social network and/or email sources (instructions included only because the options displayed automatically when the People app main page appeared)
b) Create a contact record for yourself.

1. Open your web browser and navigate to Outlook.com.
2. Log in with your Microsoft Account’s user name and password.  The Outlook.com main email page will appear
Outlook.com - Contact 01

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iDevice Restore Gotchas

Sometimes the best thing to do is to wipe it and start over. Unless…

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I’ve said this before, but I’ve been in mobile devices since 1996. In fact, I cut my journalistic teeth on WindowsCE devices, getting started with a Casio E10 back in 1996. It’s been an interesting journey that got me involved with many members of the Windows Mobile MVP community.  Along the way, I also helped get pocketnow.com and Gear Diary, both of them mobile device sites (though Gear Diary is more of a mobile computing than mobile DEVICE site now-a-days) off the ground.  During that time, I got involved in custom Windows Mobile device ROM’s for a number of different devices. I was even able to make (albeit very basic) mods to some ROM’s so that when I hard reset a Windows Mobile device or PocketPC Phone, custom software would automatically install as part of the process.  During my brief romp in the Android world, I got very good at rooting Android phones with and without rooting tools.

I got my first iPhone in 2008, with the iPhone 3G. At that point, the device was still an AT&T exclusive, which for me was ok. As a Chicago resident, that metro area provided enough dense coverage that I didn’t think I’d have any call coverage issues.  As many found out, that was an incorrect assumption.  3G was still new at the time, and the iPhone 3G was plagued with both battery and call quality/ dropping issues due to radios and radio ROMS that would desperately try – come hell or high water – to keep or find a 3G signal.  As such, batteries would drain faster than you could say, “Bob’s your uncle;” and call quality tanked.  The fledgling iDevice had tower switching issues; and tended to drop more calls than it connected.  I had my iPhone 3G for less than 3 months before I sold it due to too many dropped calls.  I can remember speaking with a writing partner, and during one critical 20 minute call at my desk, my iPhone dropped the call 11 times.  At the end of the day, I had to ask myself if I would tolerate that level of performance from any OTHER mobile device I was using or reviewing, and the answer was a very quick and resounding, “no.”  So, out it went.

So, fast forward to present day…

I’m currently using an iPhone 5, on AT&T again (I left AT&T for T-Mobile, then came back with the release of the iPhone 5).  When it comes to mobile devices, I’ve somewhat changed my point of view and philosophy – I’m a little tired of the cuts and bruises one receives when living on the ragged, hairy, bleeding edge, so I’m very happy to be back inside Apple’s Walled Garden.  No jail breaking for me… I did jail break my iPhone 5 at one point and ventured outside of the walled garden for all of, like, 27 and a half minutes, and quickly ran back home.  Cydia… Oy!!  What a hot mess THAT is! Never again.

Anyway, the point to all of this rambling..?  Very simple – well, perhaps not THAT simple.  But there are a couple things that I wanted to say to everyone about their phones in general, and then wanted to point out something that SHOULD work, but absolutely doesn’t.  I’ll get to that in a sec…

  1. Do NOT Fear the Hard Reset
    I said this in a lengthy column back when I was writing for pocketnow, I think.  If you have a smartphone (back then, they were called PDA’s (personal digital assistants), and they didn’t have cellular connectivity), you’re going to put apps on it, and not all of them work and play well together.  Some developers just don’t produce quality code and don’t test well.  As a software quality professional with 25 years of experience, you have no idea how much that very common behavior just makes my teeth itch…As such, you’re likely going to wind up with a device that gets really screwed up at one point or another. When that happens, your best course of action is not to pull your hair out trying to fix things.  Most of your information is either backed up in your Google account on your Android phone, in OneDrive on your Windows Phone or in iCloud on your iPhone.  Don’t worry about it. Just hard reset the thing and rebuild the device from scratch and be done with it.If you’ve installed a lot of apps and had a good, functional back up of the device prior to things going south, you could also do a simple restore (which may save you time when rebuilding or reestablishing your device’s setup).  Unfortunately, depending on how diligent you are in backing up your device, you may or may not have a good, device back up available. Yes, you can try to trouble shoot the problems, but the likelihood of you pinpointing what combination of apps and/or settings that sent your device south is very slim.  The best thing to do is admit defeat, put on your big boy undies and wipe the device and rebuild. You may find that you’ll not only resolve the problem, but may see a huge performance boost. Your smartphone likes it when it’s clean.
  2. Make Sure you have a Solid Internet Connection
    Back during the jailbreak hay day, one of the things that Apple did to make certain you couldn’t jailbreak your device and to keep it running the way they wanted it to was to insure that it phoned home during a restore or reset operation.  This is fine when you have a decent Wi-Fi or wired Ethernet connection…and this is where things can get ugly – not so much when you’re using your iPhone as a hotspot.  iTunes puts the device in recovery mode before it verifies the ROM – AND, get this – it does it every single time you want to restore the phone to factory fresh.Dear Apple… STOP IT!This is the one thing that I mentioned above that absolutely should work, but doesn’t.  With iOS 8, though, you probably won’t need to do that anymore.  Apple has made it increasingly harder and harder for jail breakers to find an exploit so that they can actually create a jailbreak of iOS 7.x.  They’ve plugged nearly all the holes. I still think it’s important to verify that the restore file I am using isn’t corrupted or tampered with, but there HAS to be a better way to do this than by phoning home each and EVERY time I want or need to restore the device.  There has to be a way to do that ONCE and ONLY once per mobile OS version. Once that verification is done, I shouldn’t have to worry about what KIND of internet connection I have – Wi-Fi, wired or hotspot via my iPhone. I just wanna restore the thing and get it working again.I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to stop myself from performing a restore because I was out and about and was using my iPhone as a hotspot. In one instance during a recent move to a new geographic area, I had problems with my iPhone, started the restore and then realized I no longer had an internet connection when iTunes tried to verify the restore file.  I had to pack up my MacBook Pro, my iPhone and jump in the car and try to find a MacDonald’s or Starbucks so I could have my cell phone – my only connection to the people who were helping me move – back from the dead.Restoring your phone shouldn’t be so complicated…I’m just sayin’.
  3. Don’t Connect your Smartphone to your PC through a USB Hub
    Yeah… I know this one can be hard, especially if you’re connecting through a laptop and don’t have a docking station (can you say every Mac EVER made) and you hate plugging and chugging a bunch of cords in and out of your computer; but don’t do this if you can help it.  I can’t tell you how many different times I’ve had iPhones get stuck in recovery mode because the signal from the PC burps because it’s connected through a USB hub.  Some people have better luck when the USB hub has its own power source and isn’t drawing juice from the laptop to split your USB port. This isn’t always the case. I’ve found that it doesn’t matter if the hub is powered or not.  I’ve had to retry iOS restores many different times on both iPhones and iPads due to weak or poor USB signals when I use USB hubs.  After the second or third failure, I usually just plug and chug USB cables out of USB ports and plug my iDevice directly into the PC. It usually works first try after that.If you’ve got an Android device, don’t try to root it while connected through a USB hub.  Some Android devices don’t recover well if the rooting or flashing process burps.  Don’t turn your cool smartphone into a brick or paper weight. Connect to your PC directly.

I started out making this totally about Apple products, but found out as I went through the process that the gotchas that I’ve pointed out can occur with just about any and all makes, models and mobile OS’.  The iDevice Phone Home thing is all Apple, though; and it really just needs to stop.

Do you have any mobile device horror stories that you’d like to share? If so, I’d love to hear them.  Why don’t you join me in the comments section, below and tell me what happened to you.

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What’s Wrong with this Picture?

There seems to be a huge discrepancy between what the law [seems to] say and what auto makers are introducing…

A short while ago, I wrote a huge article that outlined my vision for iOS in the Car. There had been much speculation that the effort had stalled or had died at Apple, as there had been no real news, development or even concept art that had been introduced or released since Apple originally announced the effort. So, I stepped up and offered up what I thought, at a bare minimum, should be covered in the technology.

I saw an article on Apple Insider early on Monday morning (2014-03-03) where Apple had not only announced what iOS in the Car – now called CarPlay – will do, but which manufacturing partners will introduce the first versions of it. There are even some photos. Whether they are concept or production photos remains to be seen. I just hope that Apple sells the infotainment system so that aftermarket installers can retrofit vehicles with it. It looks like a great setup.

Volvo-Apple-Carplay

However, I have heard of some developments here in the States that gave me what I like to call a V-8 (smack myself in the forehead due to previously missing the point) moment. There seems to be a huge discrepancy between the law and what automakers and technology companies are providing. That’s something that needs to clear up ASAP.

You may be familiar with the Cecelia Abadie case in California involving Abadie’s use of Google Glass while driving. There’s a California law that states that drivers can’t have any kind of video screen playing in front of them while they drive. This is the law that the citing officer used when issuing the ticket Ms. Abadie received. Interestingly enough, another California court also indicated that using a navigation app on a smartphone or other device in a vehicle doesn’t violate that same law.

There’s a discrepancy here that needs to be resolved.

The problem is that distracted driving was already against the law well BEFORE smartphones were invented and became popular. So from a legal perspective, the EXTRA legislation is redundant, and somewhat contradictory. The other problems evolve around the mixed message from the legislature, and the car manufacturers.

Some pretty high end car manufacturers – Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo to start – will join Ford, GM, Honda, Jaguar, Kia, Nissan and Toyota, among others, and will provide CarPlay infotainment systems from Apple in coming model years. Formerly called iOS in the Car, the system sounds a little like what I speced. The system’s main interface is Siri and is accessed from a hardware button mounted on the steering wheel. Vehicles that come with a touch screen will also allow drivers to operate the system via touch. Manufacturers are left to their own devices for creating designs for consoles equipped with CarPlay systems.

The issues here are many :

→ Current legislation prevents users from using video screens in vehicles, yet many popular and high end models, Tesla’s Model S for example, which includes a portrait mounted 17″ screen mounted in the center console, as well as any CarPlay enabled vehicle, include video screens that the driver can not only see, but interact with.

→ Current legislation doesn’t seem to include navigation apps, contradicting laws currently on the books, or at the very least, making the application of those laws more confusing (at least in California, where the above ruling has jurisdiction).

→ According to the current press on CarPlay that I have seen, playing video while the vehicle is moving, on these screens is not prevented. At least, I couldn’t find any information indicating that it was…

→ The car manufacturers I’ve noted, as well as others interested in providing the systems, all do so, apparently inviting users to violate distracted driving laws.

The system will allow drivers to place and receive phone calls, listen to voice mail messages, access contacts and have text messages read to them by Siri. Navigation is an inherent part of the system and includes turn-by-turn directions, likely provided by Apple Maps, and will display on the video screen that is part of the system (and not on your docked iPhone). Video is displayed on CarPlay systems via an adaptation of AirPlay technology. Drivers will also be able to access all iPod content as well as streaming services like Spotify, iTunes Radio and Beats Music, among others. The system will appear in 2014 model year vehicles from Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo and will come to all current iOS iPhones running iOS 7. It will work with Lightning-enabled iPhones, including the iPhone 5s/5c/5.

The issue here is the contradiction between (most of) the distracted driving laws that specifically deal with smartphone use while users operate a motor vehicle and what will be provided by manufacturers supplying CarPlay compatible vehicles. The equipped car by its very nature, violates the law. Its enticing the driver to drive distracted because many smartphone-specific distracted driving laws prevent users from making calls without hands free equipment, but prevent them from using video screens in the car unless that video screen is displaying a navigation app. Unfortunately, the display changes when calls come in to display caller ID information. Notification bars appear on the top of the screen when email, text messages and other events occur. The very nature of the systems functionality seems to violate the law as it attempts to alert the driver to the incoming events, taking their attention away from the screen.

Again, the problem is the SPECIFIC legislation regarding smartphone use in the vehicle. Obviously the solution would be to let the PREVIOUS legislation that prohibited distracted driving take precedence and to remove the contradicting, smartphone specific legislation from the books. However, I don’t think this is going to happen. It’s too logical and straight forward for our legislators to adopt.

Don’t get me wrong. I really like what Apple is going to do with CarPlay. The next big vehicle I buy is going to have the system built in. If I can purchase CarPlay as an aftermarket add-in for my 2003 Toyota Camry, I will; but likely AFTER it won’t send me to traffic court…or jail.

What do you think? There are going to be a great many articles about what CarPlay is and what it can do in your vehicle. I’ll probably write a few more as additional details come out about the system in the coming days and weeks. However, I wanted to post this question to everyone first.

You can see a full demo of Volvo’s implementation below.

Is CarPlay a good idea? Will it cause a legal quandary? Will distracted driving laws get clarified or will they become a bigger mess due to the Abadie case and the ruling by a CA judge that navigation apps don’t violate the distracted driving laws? Can users of these systems successfully challenge smartphone-centric distracted driving laws and have them struck down? I’d love to hear what you have to say. Please join me in the discussion below and let me know what you think.

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BB10 Gives Enterprise Customers a Sour Taste in their Mouths

BB CEO, John Chen admits that BB10 and the Blackberry Z10 left enterprise customers feeling confused

Having a mobile OS that’s intuitive is key to keeping your users engaged. Its key to attracting more users. In short, its key to continued success, in what has become the hottest computing market this side of anywhere in the known universe. Mobile computing… it’s what buys dinner.

Unfortunately, for RIM/Blackberry, despite their best efforts over the past six years or so, their distraction with the consumer market, BYOD and CoIT has damaged them in the eyes of their enterprise customers. According to Chen, previous BB CEO Thorsten Heins’ focus on the consumer market damaged the organization’s reputation.

BB10

“It is not about us leaving the enterprise customers before my time, but I think it is about us spreading ourselves a little too thin,” he said. “We spread ourselves too thin and we were so preoccupied with launching that phone [the Z10] in that market, that we have done some damage, in my mind, to our enterprise focus. That is not going to be any more. That has been done.”

Chen also called BB10, “very good, but too complex for the user.”

I’m not too certain how to take that. I mean, I agree; but how do you recover from that? What do you do? In Blackberry’s case, they are going to focus on their strengths – the enterprise. BES 12 was announced at Mobile World Congress this past week, and should be released before the end of calendar 2014. BES 12 will support all popular mobile OS – iOS, Android, and now, Windows Phone, besides its own OS. Users of rival mobile enterprise servers will be able to trade in their licenses and get the remaining time on that license on BES 12 for a free. Current users can upgrade to BES 12 for free, too. An enterprise version of BBM, Blackberry’s messaging platform, will also be available, “before the summer.”

From a device perspective, Blackberry is staying in the hardware business. Its latest handset, the QWERTY enabled Q20, is said to contain the best classic features most loved by its veteran users. It’s also due for release before the end of calendar 2014.

I’ve been a Blackberry watcher for quite some time, as RIM was THE name in mobile enterprise messaging for a long time before smartphones really became smartphones, leaving the PDA days behind them. They were rugged, high quality devices that allowed mobile employees and busy executives to stay in touch with the office and their teams while traveling or away from their desks. Their Push notification system became the defacto standard that everyone wanted and need to copy in order to be competitive not only in the enterprise space, but in the consumer space as well. The notifications you get on your smartphone of choice today can be traced in some way back to Blackberry’s push notification system.

For me, they are the company you love to hate. I never liked their devices. They were always a bit too rugged, clunky, and just plain ugly for me. Early versions of the device OS was too text-based for me when consumer-based devices like the Treo or any Windows Mobile device had a bright, colorful and inviting GUI. Described to me as an olive-drab army Jeep that just got the job done, Blackberries were the device that nearly every Exchange admin loved to work with; and I just couldn’t stand.

Looking at the information here, I can see a structured, concentrated effort to turn the company back down the road of core competency. This is an excellent strategy; but I’m a bit skeptical. I am wondering after so long, if Chen can turn Blackberry around and get it to be [somewhat] the enterprise darling it was back in the day.

The road back will be long and very tough, in my opinion. I do not see Blackberry making any money with native hardware. I think that ship has long sailed, and think that the Q20 and other devices will be nothing more than a money losing distraction. I think Blackberry would be much better off just concentrating on its enterprise software products. If it must be involved in the hardware business, it could partner with HTC or other hardware vendor and have them foot the bill for making and marketing the hardware. Blackberry has had such a hard time with the Storm, Storm 2, and its more recent Z10 and Q10 devices that it must just be a better idea to leave hardware to a trusted partner that has better experience with it.

My biggest concern with this particular tactic is obviously… partial failure. BES has always been a huge money maker for Blackberry and I think they should be fine there. The added support in their MDM for Windows Phone is going to make that offering much more attractive – BES will then support all the major mobile device operating systems and should offer support to everyone. That should bring a lot of comfort to current enterprise customers and may actually attract new ones.

However, I see Blackberry’s continued dalliance with handsets as a huge risk. Since 2007 – and the introduction of the iPhone – they have not been able to get it right. Their Storm and Storm 2 devices were abysmal, and BB10 was too confusing in an iPhone like body (with no physical keyboard) to attract and retain any customers. While they’re going to give it another go with the Q20, unless the world has some unforeseen epiphany when the device is released, BYOD and CoIT based enterprises aren’t going to bother much with it. I don’t see the Q20 making any kind of impact on the Blackberry world at all. I see it being yet ANOTHER money losing disappointment for an organization that is desperately trying to maintain its relevance in a world that left it behind long ago.

What do you think? Am I totally off my nut, or does this story have legs? Will BES 12 attract new customers? Will its free upgrade cost to existing enterprise users make them want to extend their service contracts? Will the Q20 be a money maker or a money loser? I’d love to have your thoughts in the discussion area below. Please give me your ideas and thoughts and lets hash it out a bit more…

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Tesla Would have made a Cool iCar

Though it’s not going to happen, here’s why I think a Tesla-Apple marriage would have been cool.

The first thing I thought when I saw this story was… iCar.  This is the place where you go when you want to take your iPhone and dock it with your car, and have your car turn into a wheeled version of your iDevice.  This, I thought, would be the one place that my vision for iOS in the Car would find expression.  This could put Tesla on the map!

Then, I woke up.

iCar3

Yes, Apple has a boat load of cash.  Yes, it would be really cool if they could do something cool like, acquire an electric car company where they could integrate all or most of their iVision and bring back the “one more thing” and a little 21st century “ohh” and “ahh” to both the technology and auto industries.  Besides, it would be totally cool to plug your iPhone into the car and have it ask, where you want to go, and then automatically navigate you there.  Along the way, it could (and should) point out necessary charging station layovers, and build charging time into the destination’s ETA.  Ooh-hoo-hooooooo!  It gives me shivers just thinking about the pairing!

See, something like that is where Apple and Tesla are [mostly] DNA compatible. Tesla’s product(s) are gusty, cutting edge and cool. Having Apple branding in a vehicle like that is certain to be a success, and if there is truly an opportunity for some sort of partnership between the two organizations, this is definitely it.  If you can’t showcase what iOS in the Car really should be in a Tesla, then I’m not certain where it can find the expression of its ideal vision.

Elon Musk, is like, the Steve Jobs of automobiles. I mean, by all accounts, anyone who can dream up a mode of transportation that can take you from New York to LA via magnetic vacuum tube has got one HELL of an imagination. This is the kind of product-centric CEO that Apple needs. They need someone with a vision on the future. Someone who can look at the technology of the day, figure out what you can do, and then create a vision of where you should go based on how far the current technology can be stretched before it breaks.

This is the kind of guy that Apple needs, and it may be one of the reasons why Apple and Tesla recently spoke. While neither Apple nor Tesla will comment any further than to say, “yeah… we talked. What of it..??”; the world is excited and intrigued by the possibility that Elon Musk and his vision may meet Apple’s cash and technology and design machines and create something truly magical. This is what made Apple special. This is what Steve Jobs did, and did very well.

Tim Cook is a great guy, but he’s really just a logistics guy. He can figure out how to make the supply chain work. He can figure out how to insure that the current products in production get built, and get built on time; but he’s not the kinda guy to move the company forward…as much as it pains me to say that. He just isn’t…

Since Time took over, that’s all Apple has really been able to do. They’ve kept the supply lines to the current components flowing and have been getting buy with minimal visionary input. Tim is a business guy. He’s not a product visionary like Jobs was and like Musk IS. Again, as much as it really kills me to say it, I don’t know if or how Tim can keep Apple on the ragged, hairy bleeding edge of greatness without a serious infusion of vision. Wall Street is only going to put up with incremental improvements on current designs and product groups for so long before it declares the magic that was Jobs’ Apple gone.

On the flip side of this whole deal is how Apple and Tesla are not compatible.  First, Elon Musk wants to be in charge. Period. I don’t know if Time would give up the big chair without some serious prodding.

And as much as Apple and Tesla may be good for each other, they could also turn out to be a huge train wreck.  Apple has high end products that provide a solution for 90% of the market they cater to and accomplish 90% of what that demographic wants to accomplish.  They’re elegant, well-built products that hold their value and provide life to a number of other industries including accessory companies and a huge resale movement that is pushing older Apple devices, in good shape, to emerging markets.

Unfortunately, you can’t say the same thing about Tesla, well… not completely.  Tesla DOES have high quality products, but they speak to a much smaller market.  Tesla’s products are really what the top 10% (or less) of the market can afford to do, 10% of the time. While on the surface, they do seem like they would fit together very well, you aren’t going to get a lot of market intersection between Tesla customers and Apple customers.  For example, short of hitting a huge Powerball jackpot, most of the people that have iPads or iPhones aren’t also going to be able to afford a Tesla vehicle.

So, kids… you need to give me your thoughts on this. What do you think? Would Tesla and Apple make a good marriage? Does Elon Musk have what it takes to make a good exec or CEO at Apple?  Can the two exist together or am I full of hot air and hype? Why not give me your thoughts in the discussion area below and tell me what you think?

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OS X 10.10 and iOS 8 aren’t that Close

What I mean to say is, they aren’t the kissing cousins I thought they would be…which is a good thing.

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Late last week I saw a quote from an Apple exec stating that total convergence between OS X and iOS was not an organizational goal for the company. I’m very relieved.  The thought of a completely unified OS experience on my desktop and mobile platform of choice had me a tad concerned.  I mean, I use one while I am out and about. I use the other when I want to get serious work done, and need a bit more power.  You aren’t going to get that in a mobile OS and device.

I recently found out that OS X 10.10 (currently code named, “Syrah” – a common wine grape found to be the genetic offspring of two different grapes, Dureza and Mondeuse Blanche, originating in southeastern France) and iOS 7/8 won’t be completely converging. Apple has stated that it’s not a goal for the company. Instead, Apple will insure that the two have the same look and feel.

OS X 10.10 and iOS 7/8 will be related, but not the same. “Syrah” (which is not known to be the desktop OS’ “official” name) will have a flatter look and feel than Mavericks does, but it won’t be as drastic a change as we saw between Mountain Lion and Mavericks or between iOS 6 and iOS 7.  There may be a bit more blur and translucency, a bit more white space here and there.  Its menu bars may be more defined.  Its window controls may be more angular; but you won’t see a complete retooling of every app.

When the public will see it also remains to be disclosed.  There aren’t any developer program betas or builds available as yet. Builds that are available are currently only distributed internally.  However, if Apple remains true to its release schedule between 2011 and 2013 (Lion, Mountain Lion and Mavericks), we should see something soon.  Lion, Mountain Lion were released between July and August of 2011 and 2012, respectively. Mavericks was released between in October of last year. If Apple plans to stick to this rapid release schedule, we should start to hear more news about beta releases in the coming weeks and months.  Currently, there is no such activity in the developer community that I am aware of.

How do you feel about desktop and mobile convergence? Is there a need for a defined line between the two, or are you interested in the whole, “one OS to rule them all” concept that many – including me – thought was Apple’s goal? Should they be separate? Do they have to be?  I’d love to hear what you have to say in the discussion area below.

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