Feeds

When 'God Machines' go back to their maker

All that glitters doesn't stay sold

High performance access to file storage

Mobile data services simply aren't very compelling - and are almost always beaten by "real life". Need directions? No mobile service can compete with a good dedicated GPS - they don't know where you are precisely enough - and you'll typically find it's quicker and more rewarding to ask. The same applies to asking for recommendations for local bars or restaurants. Again, local knowledge beats "virtual" information.

That's not to say mobile data services haven't come a long way. Google Maps and Opera's Mini Browser are two excellent services - Omnifone's forthcoming MusicStation a third - which run on almost any mobile today. They have their place in certain situations. Let's see what they are.

You may be caught alone in a remote location and are anxious to check your stock portfolio, the footie scores, or do a map lookup where you are. They come in useful there. Or, you may suffer from a crippling social condition where it's simply too terrifying to ask someone for directions. Or you may have no friends and simply like playing with toys. Mobile data services all fill a need in these situations.

But they're very peripheral. In short, making some slightly irrelevant, and generally useless data service easier to use is a strange justification for hype.

Now let's compare this to the useful role performed by Apple's original Mac. The Mac UI appeared at a time of character mode interfaces where even getting the simplest job done required considerable investment and study. Computers at the time had several problems with accessibility, interoperability, and general ease-of-use - not to mention getting any kind of print-quality graphics work done - and the Mac provided an elegant interface to them all. By contrast the iPhone, along with so many smartphones, is classic technology "push" - an answer to a problem that doesn't really exist.

(Readers with long memories will recall how even the original Macintosh flopped when it was sold on the basis of its UI: it was Postscript, and the graphics niche, that created an enduring business for the Mac. What's the DTP for the iPhone?).

As the Reality Distortion Field begins to disperse, network operators who are currently locked in negotiations with Apple may take great comfort from this.

The iPhone may yet, as I hoped back in January, give the established manufacturers a long overdue reality check. Both Nokia and Sony Ericsson have made their smartphones overly crufty and complicated as the years go by - while Windows Mobile remains a collection of cracks that defies any plaster. Reg readers long for simplicity.

The iPhone, however, doesn't look like the future of phones. If Apple permits it, the iPhone should make great inroads into the "second phone" market occupied by Windows Mobile and RIM's Blackberry today. But the tablet market is pretty small at the end of the day. And there really isn't much Apple, or anyone else, can do about mobile data services vs real life. Perhaps no one ever will.

Less than a month after the launch we can look back to the hyperbolic ventilations of Apple's Poodle Press - the Pogues, Levys and Mossbergs - and ask ourselves, "what on earth were they thinking??" ®

SANS - Survey on application security programs

More from The Register

next story
A black box for your SUITCASE: Now your lost luggage can phone home – quite literally
Breakfast in London, lunch in NYC, and your clothes in Peru
Broadband Secretary of SHEEP sensationally quits Cabinet
Maria Miller finally resigns over expenses row
AT&T threatens to pull out of FCC wireless auctions over purchase limits
Company wants ability to buy more spectrum space in auction
EE dismisses DATA-BURNING glitch with Orange Mail app
Bug quietly slurps PAYG credit - yet EE denies it exists
Like Google, Comcast might roll its own mobile voice network
Says anything's possible if regulators approve merger with Time Warner
Turnbull leaves Australia's broadband blackspots in the dark
New Statement of Expectations to NBN Co offers get-out clauses for blackspot builds
Facebook claims 100 MEEELLION active users in India
Who needs China when you've got the next billion in your sights?
Facebook splats in-app chat, whacks brats into crack yakety-yak app
Jibber-jabbering addicts turfed out just as Zuck warned
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a defence for mobile apps
In this whitepaper learn the various considerations for defending mobile applications; from the mobile application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies needed to properly assess mobile applications risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.