Category Archives: Mobile

Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?

As promised, Here are the slides for my talk at the Houston Technology Center’s Web Based Startup School on 6/17/09. The slides aren’t really useful on their own since I only used them as a visual aid in the talk, but they might trigger some memories for those in attendance.

Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? – What it Takes to Become an iPhone Developer


Since the opening of the iPhone app store, many developers have turned themselves into true success stories. While these stories are more exception than rule, their telling has inspired countless others to give iPhone development a shot. The app store is a revolution in software distribution, and it gives independent developers the power to make their own success. If you are considering becoming an iPhone developer, or if you are just curious what it’s all about, this session is for you. You will learn how to get the SDK, how to join the iPhone developer program and some common iPhone business models. We will also look at the technical side of iPhone development and get a look at the tools of the SDK. Since this session falls on the day of the release of iPhone OS 3.0, we will also get a good look at the new features in the OS and SDK that enable even more rapid development and new business models.

[Download PDF]

Virgin Mobile Buys Helio Out of Petty Cash

Helio’s demise does not come as a shock, but that price! [Engadget]( “Two years and half billion later, Helio sells for a song. But why? – Engadget”) says it best:

> We know Helio was burning cash like crazy, but that doesn’t entirely explain why SK Telecom was so absurdly desperate to dump their $500m investment. At a $39m acquisition price, SK didn’t just lose its shirt — it lost that, the shoes, and then the pants. You know, the pants with a half-billion dollars in them.

The [MVNO]( “Mobile Virtual Network Operator”) model seems to be a great idea. Mobile phone users should not care who owns the towers and runs the network. They should care about the phones, the software and the customer service. It makes sense. Let the network details be a [B2B]( “Business-to-Business”) transaction. I really don’t care who my ISP is as long as my Internet service can keep up with my daily [Hot Chicks with Douchebags]( “Hot Chicks with Douchebags”) addiction.

I’m not a marketer, and I don’t know what it will take for the MVNO’s to convince consumers that retail mobile phone service from someone other than the telco is better. I don’t even know that consumers understand that Virgin Mobile is really just a marketing and customer service organization. When looking for mobile phone service, I suspect that most people look for the biggest (aka most reliable) provider. After all, we all hate dropped calls. If any provider can make the MVNO model work, it’s the original one, [Virgin Mobile]( “Virgin Mobile”). Few are better at branding and providing an experience that people want than [Richard Branson]( “Richard Branson”) and [Company]( “Virgin Group”).

I wish Apple would get into the MVNO game. It has already taken the carrier out of the software and phone business. Now, all we need is for Apple to start selling the phone service. A world where I could deal with Apple’s user experience and customer service instead of AT&T’s is a world I would gladly pay a little extra to live in. Who knows, AT&T might get better. [It had the sense to get the heck out of San Antonio](

*(via [Engadget]( “Two years and half billion later, Helio sells for a song. But why? – Engadget”))*

Get Out of Dodge (or San Antonio)!

In an only slightly surprising move, [AT&T announced]( “AT&T moving headquarters to Dallas from San Antonio”) this week that it is moving its corporate headquarters from San Antonio to Dallas. I’m surprised that it took so long.

While I’m sure that there are numerous reasons for the company’s departure, its primary excuse is air travel. I know, from personal experience, that non-stop flights from San Antonio to any major city outside of Houston and Dallas are as rare as a south Texas winter snowstorm. Trying to fly out of San Antonio on a regular basis is an exercise in patience and frustration (and lots of connecting flights). As airlines cut schedules and ground aircraft, this problem will only get worse. Still, I doubt that air travel is the *primary* reason for AT&T’s exodus. I share [Stacey Higginbotham’s skepticism]( “Blaming Airlines, AT&T Takes Flight – GigaOM”):

> Perhaps the lack of good flights is a scapegoat to help Randall Stephenson avoid insulting San Antonio’s technology credentials. Although after a decade and a half in the city, the fact that few technology related startups grew up around one of the top 25 companies in the U.S., is a damning testament to the city and the company itself.

That a sea of tech startups have failed to materialize in the home of AT&T and Rackspace exposes a reality of life in San Antonio: it’s boring. For a city of its size, San Antonio has a remarkably small town feel, and most people are comfortable and content with their lives and surroundings. While admirable, this contentment is a vise that relentlessly squeezes the entrepreneurial and creative spirit from the city. There is nothing wrong with San Antonio being boring. Many people would love to live in a place where they are comfortable and content, but a boring city will not encourage creative and daring entrepreneurism, and a boring city will not attract young, creative talent. I suspect that San Antonians are content with that as well.

Even so, AT&T is not moving to Dallas because it is less boring than San Antonio, or because it is a more entrepreneurial city, or even to make air travel a little easier for its executives. Dallas is bursting with telecom companies and employees, and it makes much more sense for the nation’s largest telecom company to be headquartered there. I doubt that there is little more to it than that.

*(via [GigaOM]( “Blaming Airlines, AT&T Takes Flight”))*

Apple’s Influence on the Smartphone Market is Painfully Obvious

Blackberry 9000 First Look
I met a Nokia developer the other day at a local event. We chatted about mobile phones for a good while, and he showed me a couple of the Nokia smartphones he was working with. While none of them are as blatant a knockoff as [this one]( “Nokia’s iPhone — no, seriously – Engadget”), we both marveled at the strikingly familiar design: shiny and black, surrounded by a chrome ring. RIM’s newest, ([the Blackberry 9000]( “BlackBerry 9000 in the wild – Engadget Mobile”)) is no exception. Look familiar?

It’s no secret that Apple has snagged a huge portion of the smartphone market in the last 9 months. In fact, Apple and the iPhone [catapulted to #2 in the U.S. market]( “iPhone Second In U.S. Smartphone Market Share – Switched”) in its first 6 months on the scene. As a new entrant to the market with a *single device* competing against established players hawking multiple devices, that is quite an accomplishment.

With that kind of success, Apple’s competitors have been scrambling to crack the recipe to Apple’s secret sauce. So far, they have all failed miserably. While they have all failed in slightly different ways, it is clear that no one in the smartphone market “gets it” like Apple does. **It’s the software stupid!** Yes, the iPhone is a gorgeous piece of hardware, but, like every other Apple computer, the true power lies in the software. Steve Jobs understands this, and he has said, multiple times, that Apple is a software company. The company makes its own hardware to complement its software and to allow its developers the control they need to produce amazing software.

Many people have asked me over the past 9 months whether they should get an iPhone or some other smartphone. As much as I love my iPhone, I’ve hesitated to recommend it to everyone. That changed at the beginning of March. Thanks to [Apple’s announcement]( “Macworld | Apple unveils iPhone SDK”) of the iPhone SDK and accompanying [iPhone 2.0]( “iPhone 2.0: Enterprise Ready. Developer Ready.”) software update due out in June, I am now bullish on the iPhone, and I won’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone for business or personal use.

Apple has made the iPhone business ready by adding support for Exchange ActiveSync, Cicso IPSec VPN, and making some much needed improvements to the email client. Also, as it has done with Mac OS X on the desktop, Apple has made building applications for the iPhone simple and accessible to any software developer. The icing on the cake? For $99/year and a 30% cut of sales, Apple will list your application in the ubiquitous iPhone app store, and the company will handle all distribution and billing. The developer is just cut a check at the end of the month. This allows bright developers to do what they do best: build cool applications.

The game is changing again, and I have little doubt that Apple will continue to be a force in the mobile market. The rest of this year is going to be very exciting for those of us who love mobile devices, and I’m ecstatic that I will be able to contribute to it.