Two thirds of these guys busted their butts at CTIA in New Orleans. One of them was not me.
Another CTIA has come and gone. I'm not usually one to gripe about the pace of a show, given that at these things we're essentially on a working vacation in cool city. But this spring's CTIA was pretty meh. The biggest announcement was, what, Verizon's Droid Incredible 4G LTE? Not an unimportant phone, I suppose, and it should sell just fine. But while Sprint and AT&T and T-Mobile are rocking phones from the new-and-improved HTC One line, with much-improved cameras, Verizon's missing out.
Samsung missed a pretty big opportunity in New Orleans, too. Not even a week after it unveiled the Galaxy S III to a worldwide (or at least European) audience in London, Sammy squandered a great chance to get the U.S. even more excited about it, and to get CTIA attendees (mostly of the American variety, we wager) proper looks at the new flagship phone. Strike while the iron is hot, they say.
Of course, the U.S. carriers will put their own spin on the Galaxy S III. And it's pretty likely that we'll see some sort of event to show them off, just like what we had with the Galaxy S and Galaxy S II. But it was pretty surprising to see a minimal showing from Samsung here in New Orleans. No both. Just a brief appearance at the Mobile Focus event, where journos and companies cram into a ballroom for food, drink and a slightly more intimate look at products than on the show proper. The Galaxy S III is an important phone that was mostly kept off the floor, and that's a shame. Good thing we went to London to get a proper introduction. (By the way, if you haven't read Alex Dobie's piece -- "Hype, expectation an the Galaxy S III" -- you've missed out.)
The roundtable keynote featuring the CEOs of Sprint, Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile, moderated by CNBC's Jim Cramer, was entertaining if not overly substantive. (It also went a bit long, with each of the four's intro remarks taking more time than many of us would have preferred.) But Sprint CEO Dan Hesse hit home a little bit with a renewed push for mobile privacy, security and safety. Those are three things that will only become more important in the coming years. The Sprint Guardian program, which covers all applicable lines on an account for a relatively small fee, should be an interesting way of going about it.
Otherwise, no real showstopping announcements. No real major releases. Will CTIA in the fall (back in San Diego) make up for it? Or is the usefulness of trade shows starting to run its course for manufacturers?
Oh, by the way. Those two guys in the picture above -- Jared "The Body" DiPane and Anndrew "Yes that's how it's spelled" Vacca kicked some serious ass last week. Cheers, boys.
Whose app is it anyway?
Had an interesting discussion this past week over the ripping and release of the Flipboard app. As you'll recall from our first look in London, Flipboard is an exclusive on the Samsung Galaxy S III. It probably will see a general release on Android, and, yes, it most likely will be free. But for now it's an exclusive for the SGSIII.
There's this sense of entitlement when it comes to apps. That we should be able to do anything we want with them. But there's a difference between "free" and "free to distribute." Even if an app is free, you don't necessarily have license to distribute it. Do folks just not care about that anymore? To that end, it was a bit disappointing to see reputable sites promote the leak as if it was just one of those things that happens in the Android community. As if it's inevitable, so we should all just jump on board and get to downloading.
Maybe it is inevitable. The hacking and modding culture lends itself to things like this. Will it happen again? Sure. Have I (and by extension, this site) crossed that line before? Most certainly. But we're allowed to grow. Our ethics are allowed to mature. But, again, "free" and "free to distribute" are not the same. What happnend here was stealing, plain and simple, akin to last month's Dropbox hackery.
I think Garrett Keating summed it up nicely on Google Plus:
Regardless of how you choose to interpret the legality of pulling out the APK, posting it and/or downloading it, I don't think you can honestly say it's the right thing to do. Legally it may be grey but morally, it's wrong. Period.
As a developer I know that it's not easy to make a good app, Android or otherwise. And as a developer, it's my place to choose how I wish to monetize my apps. It doesn't matter if the way I do that somehow seems unfair to you, life is unfair. You have zero claim to my work until it's sold to you, directly or indirectly.
Are there issues with exclusivity agreements? Does it adversely affect the eco-system as a whole? Yes, but that doesn't give anyone the right to work that isn't theirs. That attitude hurts things way more than any exclusivity agreement.
Garrett and I (and others) probably are in the minority in this way of thinking. But that doesn't mean we're wrong.
Turntable.fm finally on Android
This would've been awesome, oh, six months ago, right? The app itself is pretty disappointing. Buggy, even for a 1.0 release. And, again, something has to be done about apps still following the ICS design guidelines.
But the bigger question is whether a service like Turntable.fm translates to mobile. Whereas on the desktop side I like to see who's bobbing their head, or where the needle lies on the skip song/rock out meter, I don't want to constantly be checking things on the mobile side. Scratch that -- I won't be checking things on the mobile side.
The EVO 4G LTE
The review's on its way. As I stated earlier, we have this crazy idea of actually using a phone before reviewing it. But it's been fun to see folks come to the conclusion that it's nowhere near as big a catastrophe as they thought before actually touching it. (Same goes for the SGSIII, now that I think about it.) Funny how that happens, eh?
Here's the tl;dr version: It's the HTC One X. On Sprint. With a different design, some improvements that might actually make it "better" than the One X, and some software tweaks.
Oh, and Sprint's implementation of LTE and an improved 3G network -- all part of its "Network Vision" plan -- can't come soon enough.
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