Monday, June 27, 2011

Is your cell phone the mark of the beast?

Watching my 12 year old daughter exchange over 10,000 text messages a month:

I started thinking about the role of the cell phone in our culture. Its how we communicate. Whether its the old phone call approach (look at her minutes used though), or TXT messages, facebook, twitter etc its always with us. Whether or not we have GPS features enabled on the phone the phone can be triangulated by the cell phone towers which is a feature companies like Apple and others have used for better maps/GPS/navigation support. So you can be tracked unless you turn it off. 

In the last year or so an increasing number of companies have begun working on the ability to make payments with your cell phone. You can already do this in a very limited manner at some places like Starbucks. There are speculations that Apple's upcoming iPhone 5 will have this ability (my bet is that it wont make the cut since its more like an iPhone 4gs than a true iPhone 5). Either way the day is coming. And from a commercial point of view it makes a ton of sense. Kids get cell phones LONG before they get credit cards. Turn that cell phone into a payment device and you've just created a whole new class of payers.

But, I have to ask, is the cell phone the mark of the beast? 

From the Christian Bible, Revelation 13:16-17:
The second beast forces all people—important and unimportant, rich and poor, free and slaves—to be marked on their right hands or on their foreheads, so that no one may buy or sell unless he has the mark, which is the beast's name or the number of its name.

Most people are right handed. They have this cell phone thing in their hand or attached to their head (bluetooth headsets etc). You may someday not be able to buy or sell without it and you can be identified at all times by it. 

Am I crazy? Either way where things are going is a bit frightening.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Google Reader - The Web App is winning

For the last couple of months i've been using the free desktop app Reeder as the client to read my RSS feeds. I've tried several desktop apps but to date Reeder was the one I liked the best. It wasn't perfect, but it was free and it seemed a little less clunky than the native google reader interface. Regardless of what tool I use, its always connected to my google reader account these days. That allows me to pick the best app on each platform but still maintain consistency in keeping up on the news.

The Reeder beta finished and now they want $10. Thats a reasonable price for good software, but since it didn't just switch on ads or cripple the app but literally disabled it I jumped back to the native google reader interface until I could make a decision. And you know what? The native google reader app improved and its hard for me to say the local app is better. So I uninstalled Reeder and went back to the google reader interface wrapped in fluid to make it an app and I haven't missed Reeder yet.

The killer will come when I need to read RSS offline, but these days I don't travel with my mac but with an iPad and iPhone. The other killer is when you buy an app like Reeder on one platform they don't give it to you on the others. I have no idea what Reeder looks like on the iPad or iPhone since they don't have a lite/free version and i'm actually quite happy with the free MobileRSS. If Reeder sold the desktop app on the Mac for $10 and included the mobile versions with that i'd consider it, but otherwise its not going to happen.

When vendors really make their apps work offline with HTML5 it will really but a strain on the local desktop app vendors. And competition is good for the consumers.