Love Barometer for iPhone Addicts

Sean absolutely nails it.

Twitter

 

…and the saddest part is how I’m really considering sending future people I date when the time comes to ‘talk about feelings’ to this post.

My goal this year is to be more human — must. knock. it. off!

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Why Aren’t More Tech Journalists Talking About This? #Apple

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…this was my stance after the Apple announcements of iPhone 6, 6+, and the watch but all jokes aside, there is good reason Apple is the most valuable brand on the planet and simply “mind-blowing“.

Personally, the Watch does nothing for me. I would never own one. The app screen (points below)

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triggers my trypophobia (yes, trypophobia is real) and the design is just outdated — totally 80s.

However, what Apple did with the watch, as well as all the iPhones after the 4, is create a problem then solved the problem for us. First world problem-ing in the highest order. Or in scientific terms: they tap into the last triangle of Maslo’s Hierarchy of Needs, by making us need things we didn’t know we needed.

This deep understanding of human behavior and finding ways to hook people with design and hardware is something very few companies can achieve. Apple consistently creates problems then seamlessly and elegantly solves them for us — truly, one of the most innovative companies of our time.

People say now, things like “why do we need payments on our wrists, when we can do them on our phones?” Or, “why would we need payments on our phones and wrists?” I say, just wait – people will start getting lazier because they’ll adopt to the convenience of phone functionalities on body parts (wearables) and soon, it’ll be the norm.

Think about it: everything about technology is creating and solving more convenient ways of living. Telephones, email, computers, laptops, mobile phones, smartphones, tablets… and the next: wearables.

With the Apple Watch, Apple is now giving us 1) predicted text so we don’t have to type. 2) a way to transact without the extra effort of pulling out our phones. 3) a new type of push-pull notification system in a way that no other product or software does.

Which to me, is the most exciting part of the Apple announcement – all personal thoughts about style aside. It’s a bit peculiar to me how a lot more people aren’t excited about that vs the new and shiny hardware.

Asia Lacks iOS Talent

This morning, LINE had a major update.

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Their new features are only part of the reason LINE differentiates themselves from the other messaging apps. They are truly, the leader in this space when it comes to long-term product and business strategies. Man, they are so smart.

The one thing that really blows my mind is how the iOS app is so much crappier compared to the Android app.

I only user banner notifications for apps because the little red circles drive me batty. Before, the banner notifications used to tell me who sent a message with a preview.

After the update:

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What is ‘MT’? Manual Transmission?? More Text??? Mt. Fuji???? Margaret Thatcher?????
This just makes no sense.

Hoping it was a bug, I switched the notifications to alert style and…

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Ummmm same thing. I really wonder what MT means.

Check out the notification for the Android though:

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Legit.

I don’t understand the thinking behind the iOS notifications but that’s neither here nor there. This only goes to show the dominance of Android over iOS in Asia, and how more emphasis is placed on developing on the former than latter.

Living in Asia makes me really want to switch to Android.

Smartphone Penetration in Japan: WTF

I know I shouldn’t be surprised. I know I shouldn’t. And I get it, I really do. Feature phones (flip phones) back in the what? the 90’s in Japan had mind-blowing technology. I remember being in awe every time I visited Japan from the states. I couldn’t believe what flip phones could do. How beautiful the large screens were. How colorful everything seemed. Even ringtones, were better on Japanese phones.

Japan always felt like I time warped into the future.

Fast forward to 2007 when Apple introduced the iPhone and the world USA* adopted to smart phones. While Sony and NTT Docomo and Sharp and Panasonic and the rest of the Japanese portable electronic giants looked the other way, iPhones now have the largest market share in Japan.

But still. The rate of smart phone market penetration is just insane. I look at the numbers and can’t help but be awestruck by how behind Japan is…

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I mean… really????????? (chart via here)

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And I look at most recent figures of people who purchased a smartphone from April to September of 2013. 82%. Of those, 68.5% of people switched from a feature phone (flip phone) to a smart phone. (chart via here)

I have no words…

But the good news is, because Japan is slower to adopt to smart phones than other developed nations, there is massive room for disruption. The Japanese are just now getting accustomed to visually appeasing, gesture friendly user experiences, so think of all the possibilities.

You know? I am so so so glad to be here right now.
This is one of the most exciting times to be in Japan.

*edited — Karl, you are correct indeed :)

Cell Phone Carriers in Japan are Weird

On Sept. 10th, Apple announced the iPhone 5s and 5c (yay). I’ve been waiting since I arrived to Tokyo in June to sign-up for a Japanese mobile because of the iPhone.

Japan has three major carriers: NTT DoCoMo, KDDI / au and Softbank.
KDDI and Softbank have carried the iPhone and the only major carrier that was holding out was DoCoMo — which according to everyone I’ve asked around me, has the most superior network.

In the US, I think DoCoMo would be Verizon. KDDI is AT&T and Softbank is Tmobile or Sprint.
I found market share charts over on a Mobile in Japan blog (thanks, Paul) and took screen shots of the pie charts.

This is what the market share was like in 2006:

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Then, in August 2013:

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As it’s pointed out, a lot has changed and following this trajectory, DoCoMo had no choice but to carry the new iPhones or their market share would keep decreasing.

Whatever — that’s fine. I’m not really interested in Japanese mobile economics.
I mean, if you ask me, all three carriers have major sub numbers, considering the population in Japan.

What really annoys me, is that everything in Japan is backwards. For example, in the US, carriers give new subscribers incentives such as special pricing or handset discounts…makes new customers feel welcome. In Japan, mobile carriers reward returning subscribers.

In particular DoCoMo is a bit bizarre as they are only allowing returning VIP customers to reserve the 5c online. New customers or non-VIP customers are treated like second class citizens and I guess we have to wait in line or something. Fine, whatever. I’m planning to get the 5s which can’t be reserved so it doesn’t matter too much.

Then when they announced their pricing plan*, it made me not want to choose DoCoMo, even if apparently they have the most superior network.

New customers have to pay a monthly fee of 6,030 yen (apprx $60 USD) plus voice, while returning customers only have to pay a monthly fee of 4,200 yen (apprx $43 USD) plus voice.

That’s almost a $20 difference. WTF.
Oh well, I guess I’ll wait until the 20th to see which carrier offers the best price plan to decide which company to go with.

*source (in Japanese)

[EDIT] Update: the news article I got the pricing from, updated the post and apparently this is only student pricing. I feel a lot better now!

Step Aside, Flickr. Instagram is Replacing You.

Poor Flickr.

For years, photographers and amateur photographers had only one hub: Flickr. I also used to be addicted to Flickr and made many great friends on there. It’s a huge bummer they became stagnant and really hard to use. I don’t even remember the last time I logged in…  And I noticed more and more of my friends using Facebook as their main outlet for photographs.

Enter Instagram.

Now I didn’t understand Instagram either, until I actually created an account and started using it. And the more I use it, the more it’s clear, Instagram is the next social platform for photographers. There are already ridiculous amounts of insanely talented photographers on there. I can’t wait to see the community keep growing.

So what makes Instagram so great? Well:

  • discoverability with solid filtering. The noise to signal ratio is on. point.  From the popular page to following your immediate friend’s photos, to even seeing activities from your friends (what they liked, what they commented on, etc.) Reminds me of the FriendFeed friend of friend feature, but it’s filtered, so you can choose to look any time you want to and doesn’t clog your feed. (News -> Following)
  • community: interaction is pretty much like Flickr, where people can talk to each other without reservations. Plus, you can use handles, which is rare for newer sites these days. Part of the reason so many Asians are on there, to protect their identities.
  • shareability is seamless — such a smart implementation, perhaps the best out there.
  • MOBILE — it’s in all CAPs because that’s how important mobility will become. I’m excited to see how Instragram will keep iterating its product. And when the Android app comes out? I think the adoption will snowball, trickling down to the mass.

Hopefully, the Instagram team is working on an archiving system with option to store photos at higher resolutions. But I still stand by my statement from a few weeks back: “Finally get Instagram. It’s like Flickr (community and discovery), Myspace-Livejournal (hot girls posting self portraits) but way better.”

If you’d like to connect on Instagram, my user ID is ‘monagram’

Bonus: Check out these two photos from me and Christine. We were at the same place, sitting next to the other, drinking the same thing but the photo, well, take a look.  It was so neat when it popped up in our feeds — we both said WOW at the same time.