iPhones and Droids and Macs and PCs OH MY!

Almost three years ago, Apple really gave the smartphone market a jumpstart with the iPhone. Since then, the iPhone has completely changed the public's idea of a smartphone. Long gone are the days of the Treo. In the last year, Google has thrown their hat into the ring with their Android operating system. First there was the Android G1, and then more recently the Droid, with some less noteworthy phones in between. Earlier this week, the first Google-branded phone was unveiled: the Nexus One. This phone is available "unlocked," which means that you can buy it directly from Google and use it with your existing cell plan (though it's not available on all carriers), or you can buy the phone at a lower price with a contract from your cell provider. The big question on everyone's mind is whether Android can be an "iPhone killer." Many thought the Palm Pre would be the phone to slow Apple's iPhone momentum, but six months after its release, it seems the Pre was nothing but a blip on the tech radar. In the last few months, especially since the release of the Droid and Android version 2.0, Google has begun gaining a lot of ground in the battle.

But hold on a minute, haven't we seen this story somewhere before? Think about it. In one corner, we have Apple developing not just the OS, but the phone hardware to go with it. And in the other corner, there's Google, who is developing the OS and making it available to any manufacturer willing to license it. (Yes, the Nexus One is Google-branded, but it is actually manufactured by HTC for Google.) To me, this seems awfully similar to the Mac vs. PC debate. Apple makes both Macintosh hardware and the Mac OS, while Microsoft only makes Windows (and other software) and licenses it out to manufacturers. In the case of Mac/PC, there is arguably no real winner. Windows enjoys greater market share at a lower price point, but Apple offers a more aesthetically pleasing environment and better customer support. Apple was out of the game for a good portion of the 1990s, but since Steve Jobs's return, the company has been on a giant upswing. Many Windows users are making the jump to Mac because to them, the ease of use and quality of Apple products outweighs the (outrageous) price tag.

So in the smartphone scenario, does Google represent Microsoft and Apple represents... Apple? You could certainly make that argument. But who will win? That's a little more difficult to answer. Though the iPhone is widely considered the best phone on the market, there have been a number of complaints about the closed nature of the App Store. Apple has a very strict, yet at times seemingly arbitrary approval process for apps that are submitted to their store. Speaking as someone who actually has an app in the App Store, I can tell you that the process can be pretty bumpy, and sometimes things are rejected for no reason whatsoever, and then accepted when resubmitted without revision. So apparently, depending on whether or not Apple's App approvers had a good sandwich for lunch, the same app might be rejected on Monday and then approved on Tuesday. That's very discouraging for developers looking to monetize. If a company dedicates resources to developing an app, only to have that app rejected by Apple at the last minute because the approver has a headache, they would be better off saving their money and not developing the app in the first place. Android, on the other hand, is an open platform in nature. It's one of many flavors of Linux, the free, open-source operating system. While there is an Android Market for apps, users can get apps from anywhere, even from the developer's website. Also, updates are available directly from the app developer. So once you've downloaded an app to your Android phone, you can get updates whenever they are released by the developer. Apple requires that updates be submitted for approval before they are distributed to users. Again, developers fear that updates might be rejected. Plus, the fact that Android offers seamless Google Voice integration while the iPhone offers none at all could be a real turn-off to some people. I know it's a factor I would consider.

However, things aren't perfect in Androidland, either. While the openness of the platform allows for lots of great apps, it also allows for terrible ones. Apple exercises some level of quality control over the apps it approves. Google makes it easy for anyone to develop and distribute an app, regardless of how good or bad it is. In addition to this, different Android phones have different capabilities. For instance, the G1 doesn't have multi-touch capabilities, but the Droid does. How is a developer supposed to deal with something like that? iPhone developers deal with a more-or-less level playing field. Most apps work on all iPhone and iPod Touch models because Apple controls the hardware. But Android developers have to deal with many different handsets running different versions of the Android software. People like Alex Lindsay would rather stick to iPhone development because they know their software will run on all of the hardware it was designed for.

Still, there is something to be said for hardware options. When you get an iPhone, you only have a choice between the 3G or the faster 3GS. And you're stuck with AT&T. When you opt for an Android phone, you have a wide range of options before you. The Droid offers both an on-screen keyboard as well as a physical one, but the Droid Eris only has the on-screen one. Some phones offer multi-touch, others don't. You can pick the phone that's right for you, on the network that works best for you, whether it's AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, or Sprint.

I've wanted an iPhone since the day it was announced, but I just can't afford a data plan right now. On the other hand, I wasn't really excited about Android at first, but the increase in positive feedback since the Droid's release has me very interested now, especially in the Eris and Nexus One, though again I wouldn't be able to afford the data plan. While Apple has a bigger App Store, I think Android's open nature could allow for all sorts of apps that Apple would never approve under the current model. I expect Android will continue to grow as a greater variety of phones running the platform become available. It might even dominate the smartphone market for some time. But I'm sure Apple has something up its sleeve with the next iPhone model, whatever it may be. And eventually, just as many people are abandoning their Windows PCs for Macs, I think we might see Android fall out of favor in a couple of years as the public turns back to Apple. But we shall see. The smartphone is still in its early stages. This week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, many new Android models will undoubtedly be introduced. How successful they will be is still a mystery. The really interesting discussions will come about a year from now when significant hardware and software modifications have been made to both iPhones and Android phones and few ideas have been shared (or stolen). At that time, we'll have a much clearer picture of the better phone. Right now, I'm just glad to see that Apple finally has some serious competition in the smartphone market and I will eagerly and attentively continue to watch how the battle unfolds.

2009: A Year of Growth

So as I've been reading Twitter the last couple of days, I've noticed that a lot of people are bidding "good riddance" to 2009. I'm a little surprised, to be honest. It was actually a pretty awesome year for me. I really feel like I grew a lot this year as a person. My horizons were broadened on a number of levels and my eyes were opened to new points of view.  I fell in love with technology all over again. I really embraced my geeky side more than ever before. I enjoyed more genre TV and movies than I ever have. I recorded hundreds of podcasts. I made dozens of new friends. And I took some pretty big steps on my journey towards a new media career.

I'm very thankful for the experiences I had this year. Between the awesome classes I've been taking in school, the dozens of podcasts I listen to, and the tweets and blogs I read every day, I've become even more aware and interested in new media and emerging technology than I already was. It's been an incredible year.

Most of all, I'm thankful for the great friends I've made this year, especially on Twitter. I was always skeptical about making friends over the internet. I didn't understand how a friendship could really develop if two people weren't spending time together. And yet, I'm now a big believer. Some of the people I've met on Twitter are as close or closer to me than some friends I've made "in real life". So thanks to all of you. You know who you are. Of course, I'm just as thankful for old friends as I am for new ones. My long-lasting friendships grew and became closer in 2009 than in previous years too. My sincere thanks go out to those friends as well.

Overall, 2009 was a huge year for me. It's a year I'll remember for a long time. I feel that I grew more as a person in 2009 than in any other year of my life to date. I look forward to the amazing ride that will be 2010. I'm really excited to finish my Junior year of college, to start working at a new job, and to experience all the new challenges that are headed my way. I can't wait to look back on 2010, and when I do, I hope I will remember it as fondly as I remember 2009.

Team Fake Comic Con FTW!

Obama's Victory--A British View

Thanks to my friend Andrew for bringing this to my attention:

An editorial from the London Daily Mail 1/6/09

Obama's Victory--A British View

A victory for the hysterical Oprah Winfrey, the mad, racist preacher Jeremiah Wright, the U.S. mainstream media, who abandoned any sense of objectivity long ago, the Europeans who despise America largely because they depend on her, the comics who claim to be dangerous and fearless but would not dare attack genuinely powerful special interest groups.

A victory for Obama worshipers everywhere. A victory for the cult of the cult. A man who has done little with his life, but has written about his achievements as if he had found the cure for cancer, in between winning a marathon and building a nuclear reactor with his teeth. Victory for style over substance, hyperbole over history, rabble raising over reality.

A victory for Hollywood , the most dysfunctional community in the world. Victory for Streisand, Spielberg, Soros, Moore, and Sarandon. Victory for those who prefer welfare to will, and interference to independence. For those who settle for group think and herd mentality rather than those who fight for individual initiative and the right to be out of step with meager political fashion.

Victory for a man who is no friend of freedom . He and his people have already stated that media has to be controlled so as to be balanced, without realizing the extraordinary irony within that statement. Like most liberal zealots, the Obama worshipers constantly speak of Fox and Limbaugh, when the vast bulk of television stations and newspapers are drastically liberal and anti-conservative. Senior Democrat Chuck Schumer said that just as pornography should be censored, so should talk radio. In other words, one of the few free and open means of popular expression may well be cornered and beaten by bullies who even in triumph cannot tolerate any criticism and opposition.

A victory for those who believe the state is better qualified to raise children than the family, for those who prefer t eachers' unions to teaching and for those who are naively convinced that if the West is sufficiently weak towards its enemies, war and terror will dissolve as quickly as the tears on the face of a leftist celebrity.

A victory for social democracy, even after most of Europe has come to the painful conclusion that social democracy leads to mediocrity, failure, unemployment, inflation, higher taxes and economic stagnation. A victory for intrusive lawyers, banal sentimentalists, social extremists and urban snobs.

Congratulations America !


Obama Gave Biden Choice: VP or Secretary of State

Jill Biden let it slip on the Oprah Winfrey show that President Barack Obama gave Joe Biden a choice between being Vice President or Secretary of State. This would indicate that Obama wasn't particularly enthusiastic about having Biden or Senator Clinton filling either of their respective roles in his administration.

The 30 second version for the impatient...

...and the full version for those with a bit more patience. The relevant part begins around the 0:45 mark.

But here's the best part. Though Biden didn't deny his wife's comments on the air, a spokeperson released a statement denying Jill Biden's remarks just three hours later. Change we can believe in?


TV & Movie Update

So a while back I listed some TV shows and movies I planned to watch. I'm not making as much progress as I'd hoped, but here's how it's going so far:
  • Terminator -- DONE
  • Terminator 2 -- DONE
  • Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles -- DONE
  • Firefly -- IN PROGRESS
  • Serenity
  • Supernatural
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  • Angel
I watched T1, T2, and the first several episodes of T:SCC in a single day. I finished the whole series in just a few days. It was glorious. AMAZING show! Definitely the most underrated and best-written show on television. Not my favorite (that would be Smallville), but it is the most well-written.

Then I got started on Firefly and hit a brick wall. I haven't been able to watch more than 1 or 2 episodes in a sitting. Things seem to keep getting in the way. It's an awesome show as well, and I can't figure out how it got canceled other than the fact that FOX has an itchy trigger finger. I'm halfway through it now and I plan to finish it and watch Serenity, the movie that accompanies it.

However, at the suggestions of several people, especially my friends Tim and Faith, I've added the CW's Supernatual to the list. The show is ending soon, so I'd like to get caught up before it goes off the air. Once I'm caught up, I'll continue with Buffy and eventually Angel. To be perfectly honest, I'm not really pumped for Angel, so depending how I feel about Buffy, I may or may not go through with Angel. We shall see.


What does 2009 hold?

Well another year has come and gone in what feels like the blink of an eye. How does this always happen? Even when you try to slow down, take it easy, and enjoy things, they manage to rush past you anyway. Well, 2008 was a pretty good year. I'm not about to sit here and count down the Top 10 Best [Insert Category Here] of 2008; I'll leave that to Oprah, Barbara Walters and their ilk. Nor will I list a number of resolutions I don't intend to stick to. So heave a sigh of relief.

Instead, I'm just giving you a few things to look forward to in the year 2009. Here's what I'll be watching out for in the new year:

  • The return of Smallville - Two weeks from tomorrow, the CW's Smallville will return to the airwaves with what promises to be a story of epic proportions. DC Comics writer Geoff Johns has penned an episode entitled "Legion" that will introduce the Legion of Super-Heroes to Smallville continuity. It should be amazing. If you don't watch the show, you are missing out big-time!
  • The DTV transition - Okay, so I'm a dork. Sue me. As someone who has never had cable at home and doesn't really care, I'm looking forward to this. I've had my converter boxes set up for a few months now, and let me say wow! First off, I had no idea broadcast television could look and sound so amazing! It's quite a thing. Second, I get some very interesting digital channels that I didn't have before. It's pretty cool. I'm looking forward to new channels once the switch is complete.
  • Watchmen, Star Trek & Terminator: Salvation - These movies top the lists of most geeks this year. How much awesome can one year contain? We shall see. Recently I was disappointed to hear that Watchmen will not end the same way the graphic novel did, but I still really want to see it. Star Trek, while also straying from its source material, also has me excited. Terminator, on the other hand, is an original story, so I look forward to seeing where they take the franchise.
  • Superman: Secret Origin and The Blackest Night - It's a coincidence that both of these comic book events are written by Geoff Johns and that they will both be awesome. Oh wait. That's not a coincidence at all! Johns is the best writer in the business right now. I really believe that. The former is supposed to be the definitive origins story for the Man of Steel. It will help DC out of any corners they may have written themselves into. The latter will be a Green Lantern story dealing with the fundamentals of good versus evil. Such an epic year for comics!
Well that about sums things up. Obviously there's a lot more I'm looking forward to, including Heroes, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, and catching up on shows like Supernatural and most of, if not all of the Whedonverse. So stay tuned, it's going to be one hell of a year.

Also, make sure to check back here at frankramblings.tk and over at frankpodcast.tk for a VERY exciting announcement in two weeks. It could mean very big things for the future of Frank's Music Free-For-All!

Happy New Year and God bless you all in 2009 and beyond!