I wanted to love it for a number of reasons. Open app model, Verizon network, promise of a great browser and integration with google apps (which I rely on more and more). In full disclosure, I’m personally friends with Andy Rubin & Rich MIner, the founders of Android that sold their company to Google — and I like using my friends products.
But last week, I decided to return the Droid.
With all due respect, I disagree with Stewart Alsop’s opinion that the Android software doesn’t work. In my experience the software is sweet as is and at the same time extremely promising. I was pleased with the apps and the integration with Google is great (one example, gmail on the Droid supports threading and archive. Gmail on the iPhone doesn’t have those things which are a big deal for me). The browser is solid.
But that Motorola hardware just didn’t do it for me. The battery cover kept falling off. I couldn’t get comfortable with the keyboard. The buttons don’t feel right and it was awkward to keep rotating the phone 90 degrees depending on the use case. The camera isn’t great (even well focused photos didn’t look nice). At the end of the day, I decided the Droid is too big and chunky for my taste.
I am bullish on Android and what’s coming next. I’m waiting for great hardware to match up with Android’s software.
Much has been discussed about the “death of journalism”.
I won’t get into the full story but many of you are familiar with the issues. In a world of low cost distribution, google search, aggregation, freemium, fragmentation of classifieds and an increased supply of content, the traditional way of producing news (with layers of management, layers of costs and layers of rules) just isn’t as compelling (economically or content-wise) as it once was.
We all care about favorite sources of mainstream media. I love the New York Times. I’m sure many of you feel the same way about your favorite traditional media source. I believe the best ones will survive with a cost model and content model that is rationalized in the current world we live in. There is no going back.
As we all try to figure this stuff out there seems to be a backlash against bloggers. Maybe it’s been out there for awhile. I don’t think this backlash is healthy or accurate. The anti-blogger feels that quality, honesty and lack of bias are missing in our blogs.
This assumes that mainstream media gets it right which we know isn’t the case. Let’s not forget, there are many examples where mainstream media gets it wrong.
One of worst examples of this was the rush to war in Iraq. The drumbeats were on full blast on mainstream media after 9/11. When President Bush decided to go after WMD’s in Iraq, our press bought it hook, line and sinker. Generals became advisers and on air personalities. The American flag graphic was overlayed on news broadcast every night. To this day, I haven’t seen mainstream media apologize for fucking this up.
The best part about blogs is the relationship between the writer and the reader. Powerful and vibrant communities build within blogs in ways that doesn’t seem to happen with mainstream media. The blogger doesn’t need to impress or ask permission from their editor. They engage with their readers in comments or tweets. They get feedback with analytics. They have a debate with the community and often they follow up their posts with updated data and opinions. Each learns from the other.
Many bloggers do their best to give us great information. Talking Points Memo (http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/) often breaks stories that mainstream misses. Fact checking is done at a massive scale that shows the power of the wisdom of the crowd. Many bloggers review consumer electronics much faster AND better than mainstream tech journalists.
And we know bloggers are more important than ever. Take a look at the NYT and WSJ online. They both have blogs of their own and link to other blogs. I’m guessing but most of the links i click on from my Twitter timeline go to blogs.
Yes, there are some pretty bad bloggers out there. There are some bad apples everywhere. But the best ones reveal themselves. And the sum of all of these blogs in action everyday is a thing of a beauty.
Long before the itunes app store there was a third party app market for mobile phones.
Ten years ago jamdat brought bowling, tetris and tiger woods golf to low cost mobile phones.
Then the Treo was born and palm os developers were able to bring those apps to a cellular phone.
But now we have an evolved different model for mobile apps and distribution.
The app store model.
There is no doubt the app store model provides tremendous value for the user (aggregation, reviews, discovery). The app store also gives developers distribution and an ability to monetization (advertising, pay per download or in app purchasing). In app purchasing is now delievering a highly scalable moentization system to mobile apps that isn’t easily available in a non app store world. Some iPhone apps are now doing over $0.05 per daily active user (DAU). And some developers have tens or hundreds of thousands of dAUs. That’s a big deal.
This in app purchasing system also gives developers a built on distribution network since apps can be promoted inside of other apps. It’s a new layer on top of a new layer.
But we know there are drawbacks to the app store model. The store belongs to someone else. It’s their rules , plain and simple.
So a number of developers and creators are hedging their bet. Many developers are porting their apps to android os. Many of them are also creating mobile web apps instead of native apps.
Consider the NYT iPhone app vs Techmeme’s new mobile interface for android and iPhone browsers.
Both are rich and compelling.
The nyt app can benefit from a number of monetization models. The techmeme’s mobile version benefits from the ability to innovate quickly and without a gatekeeper.
As the mobile browser gets better it will be interesting to see how this plays out. I’m guessing these browsers will support offline functionality that is beyond read only mode. And they will get a lot more.
It’s interesting to think about what mobile platforms and browsers will look like 5years from now.
One thing we can count on - it will be much different than today.
(pls excuse typos and lack of links. Wrote this quickly on my iPhone).
I am a venture capitalist. I do my best to invest in the best people pursuing their best ideas.
As a result I’m in the people meeting business. I try to meet as many great people as possible and as often as possible. It could be online, on this blog, in my office, in your office, 3k miles away or in the park. The location doesn’t matter much.
I encourage entrepreneurs in our portfolio or outside our portfolio to also be in the people meeting business.
I am often surprised when I meet a founder that says he doesn’t like the VC on his board and he never took the time to get to know this investor beforehand.
Fund raising can be exhausting and a distraction even under the best conditions. But it’s critical to take the time and make sure it’s a good match. That’s true if you are a VC or a founder.
Consider that it could take weeks or months to find that killer vp marketing or engineering. Why shouldn’t it take that long to find the right investment partner.
The best way to get to know people is to meet them early and often (im talking about the ones that are the most interesting or helpful or provacative etc).
That way when it’s time to raise that round you will already have much more data to balance out your gut or basing the big decision solely on the firms reputation.
(excuse any typos. Wrote this post quickly on my iPhone at the airport)
I added my basic vitals (birthdate, weight, height) plus the date of my recent flu shot, my allergies as well as past surgeries.
I shared my profile with my wife so she now has full access.
A few weeks ago I had a routine physical including blood tests to check on my cholesterol. I still don’t have the results. It’s on my todo list to call my doctors office to get the data but thats a hassle.
I wish there was an easy & automatic way to get that data into my profile.
As I’ve said before, the family tree is missing medical history. And while it’s easy to complain about the current antiquated paper based medical records system, it’s exciting to consider where things like Google Health and other web based services are taking us.
In the future my kids (and their kids) will be able to see my medical history. It will help us stay informed. It will help us make better decisions. As patients we will connect with others going through same issues. We can connect each other to new studies, new research, new data.
Powerful stuff to think about .
What else becomes possible once our data is available?
Our portfolio company Boxee is hosting a free event on Monday, December 7th in Brooklyn.
At the event they are going to show the new beta version of Boxee which has an overhauled user interface and a number of awesome new features. The team worked very hard on the beta and it shows.
Last year Boxee hosted a similar event and over 600 people showed up. I know Avner, Boxee’s ceo/founder, and the team were grateful to the Boxee community and so they decided to do it again.
I love these events. It’s a nice way to meet the founders and see the people that are building Boxee. It’s a great way to meet others in the growing Boxee developer community and it’s cool to see all the new products. And it will be a ton of fun hanging out with other Boxee users.
“but everyone involved with the Litl deserves tremendous credit just for having the stones to do this, to say, Hey, maybe computers in 2010 can do better than a user experience that is fundamentally unchanged from the original Macintosh in 1984.”—Daring Fireball: The OS Opportunity
It’s been a pretty interesting couple of weeks since Android 2.0 & the Droid came out.
I’ve been meeting with a lot of entrepreneurs, startups and hackers that are working on mobile apps and services.
Sunday night is my night to make dinner for the family so I’m in a bit of a rush (pls excuse any typos). Here’s a few things i’m thinking about in the mobile world
1. I haven’t met any developers or hackers building Palm Pre apps.
2. Developers are getting extremely frustrated with the Apple App Store (understatement). I’m hearing it can take developers 4 weeks to get an update released. That’s dysfunctional.
3. Yet at the same time the quality of iPhone apps are just getting better. I saw a number of new iPhone apps that use the relatively new in app purchase and it’s paying off big time. Google needs to add this to Android.
4. I’m pretty impressed with the Android Market. It’s fast to navigate and find what you need. A number of iPhone developers are creating Android apps. They like Google’s open app store model, all the new hardware and Android 2.0.
There is an issue with the current review system in the Android Market. Some users will say an app is “sluggish” and others will say “best app ever”. I’m finding its mostly dependent on the hardware. That’s quite confusing to users and needs to be addressed somehow.
5. If I was in charge of RIM, I would be 100% focused on getting a world class webkit browser into the Blackberry yesterday. The blackberry browser is just awful compared to the iPhone, Android or Palm Pre.
7. A number of VCs don’t like the mobile world. They don’t like the carrier issues and some of the challenges with the lack of standards, gatekeepers and other stuff. Put me in the other camp. I can’t get enough of it and I’m more excited than ever about the possibilities.
Brad’s post is about information and data. Brad addresses the typical sentiment about data overflow and how can we manage all of this data. It’s a great post.
Some of my favorite services start by collecting a crazy amount of data. But the reason they are valuable to me is because of the creative products they offer with that data.
When I listen to music on my laptop, sonos or iphone, the history of my music streams are recorded or scrobbled to my last.fm profile. Since I joined the service, last.fm has scrobbled over 19,000 tracks which is about 18 tracks per day. Thats a ton of data.
But that data set isn’t the interesting part. The interesting part is that if you are a last.fm user and you come to my profile you can see if we have similar listening habbits or not. Here’s what happens when I goto Mo’s profile on last.fm
Also, last.fm uses all of that data and offers me a personalized radio station based on my friends and my personal preference.
There is a ton of data on Twitter. I make best use of all of that data by
a) following people that are interesting to me (some I know personally and some I’ve never met). But I care about what they have to say.
b) Twitter search. At this point, I probably use Twitter search 3-5x a day. Sometimes way more than that. It helps me filter the data for just what I need at that moment.
Foursquare is a lot of things to a lot of people. The service captures a ton of data about me and my friends. Every single day we ‘check-in’ & tell foursquare where we are at any moment.
There is a fun game play that uses that data by earning badges, earning Mayorships, and scoring on the leaderboard. There is also a real utlitity that comes from that dataset as well. I receive tips from the service and I have a history of where I’ve been that is super helpful to me.
Plus, I get implicit restaurant recommendations because I can see where my friends are dining, etc.
My iPhone collects a ton of my fitness information thanks to apps like RunKeeper and Nike+. I’m planning on getting Fitbit to collect even more of my phsyical data. I love the applications that come from all of this information.
Brad is spot on when he says in his post:
I don’t believe the issue is too much information. This is an independent variable that we can’t control. For the foreseeable future, there will be a continuous and rapid increase of information as more of the world gets digitized, more individuals become content creators, more systems open up and provide access to their data, and more infrastructure for creating, storing, and transmitting information (and data) gets built.
Now comes the fun part. What other creative products will be born from this mountain of realtime and non-realtime data.
There are plenty of things to do in the world of filtering, analytics, search, aggregation, curation, entertainment, recommendations, and discovery. And the best part is the stuff we haven’t even considered yet.
“I’m making this post because I know the design of this feature will be somewhat controversial. People understandably have expectations of how the retweet function should work. And I want to show some of the thinking that’s gone into it. I’ve been a big proponent of this particular design internally at Twitter, because, while it won’t serve every use case, I think it offers something new and powerful.”—Evan Williams | evhead: Why Retweet works the way it does (via fred-wilson)