"The Watch is far, far short of the brilliance I expect from you."

Twenty-five minutes later, without fail, the Watch gently taps me on the wrist and emits a pleasingly soft sound of chiming bells. As I wade my way out of the mists of sleep, I twist my wrist over and up to my face so that I can dismiss the alarm. The screen, normally so eager to illuminate, remains dark. I put my arm down to my waist and repeat the motion. Still dark. I try a third time. Nothing. I then sit up and flick my wrist yet again. The screen finally lights up, but just as I’m about to hit the “dismiss” button, it disappears. Desperate, I now hit the wheel thingy. The screen appears. I push the “dismiss” button. Nothing happens. I go to push the button again, but the screen goes dark once more. All the while the haptic feedback and the chiming continues, transforming now into a throbbing Chinese water torture of taps and ringing bells. How do I turn this thing off? Another wrist flip, another push of the wheel thingy, and the screen finally reappears. Ready for it this time, I move my finger to the screen in a flash. I hit the button. The chiming continues. I hit it, didn’t I? I push it again. The Watch finally succumbs.

I revel in the silence, fully awake, and completely enraged.

The Watch is far, far short of the brilliance I expect from you. It feels like a product that has been designed by committee, with little attempt to imagine how it would be used, and too much deference to reasonable expectations and compromise. You can do so much better.

The rest of the above article is at Pulse and despite some reservations, I feel roughly the same. Paul, who sent over the link said that "It seems all wearables suffer from high abandonment rates, and Apple Watches are now losing their 'shine'."

For all of my negativity towards the whole smart watch idea (I am currently testing and Apple Watch and a Sony Smartwatch 3), one emotion prevails above all others. When I stop wearing a smart watch for a couple of days, I never miss it at all. It simply does not offer any compelling use case to make it worth wearing and charging so often, and I believe that we have a long way to go before the genre could reach the mass market. I'm not even convinced at this stage that this will ever happen, but to say never would likely be jumping the gun a bit.

Content is King… Again

Looking at the chart above, today only 10% of the time spent on mobile is spent in the browser, down from 14% a year ago. The rest of the time, 90%, is spent in apps. Effectively, the browser has been sidelined on mobile. This has major implications on the digital industry in general and the content and media industry in particular. Historically, the media industry has relied almost entirely on search for user and traffic acquisition, building entire teams around SEO and SEM on the desktop web. But search engines are predominantly accessed from a browser. If mobile users aren’t using browsers, the media industry will have to look for new approaches to content discovery and traffic acquisition.

An interesting study and one which offers a few surprises.

The world of fake Apple Watch bands

One aspect of the Apple Watch that caught the eyes, and derision, of many was the price of the various watch bands that Apple offers to add a sense of originality and personality to the experience. It was, and is, a crucial aspect of owning any watch and so Apple went for it with a series of cleverly designed straps that retail for what many consider to be far too high a price.

The cleverness of the new bands has been praised by many, but they are not as original as you may think. Cult of Mac covered the various bands here and as you will see, Marc Newson appears to have used very similar designs in past watches.

Anyway, that is not the point of this article because the main premise here is that Apple is charging extraordinarily high prices for the Apple Watch bands and this has given others the opportunity to create replicas at much lower prices. Here are some good examples-

The Sport Band

£39 from Apple and £6.99 from eBay (saving £32.01) 

Obviously these eBay bands will not use the same material as the original, but in the real world I suspect that few will worry about that.

Milanese Loop

£129 from Apple and £6.99 from eBay (saving £122.01) 

Again, these bands are likely to be of lesser quality than the Apple ones, but a price difference of more than 94% is almost impossible to ignore and I can say from experience that the slim eBay band is actually quite impressive. I own one and it looks good and works exactly as any other milanese band should.

Classic Buckle

£129 from Apple and £13.94 from eBay (saving £115.06) 

You can choose from a vast range of leather-look bands for the Apple Watch on eBay and they range from £5 to £50. For a unique look, these make a lot more sense.

Leather Loop

£129 from Apple and £22.90 from eBay (saving £106.10) 

Possibly the strap that is closest to the quality that Apple is offering. The fact is that the official Apple strap does not feel like leather at all, but instead offers a sense of plastic that has been softened in a factory. This one is a no-brainer.

Modern Buckle

£209 from Apple and £19.79 from eBay (saving £189.21) 

It’s a little more difficult to find bands that exactly replicate the Modern Buckle on eBay, but they are available and cost significantly less. Of all the official bands, this is the one I have the most trouble with in understanding how the price was calculated.

Link Bracelet

£379 from Apple and £79.99 on eBay (saving £299.01) 

I have chosen the most expensive option on eBay for the Link Bracelet because it offers the same clasp and a near identical look to the official version. A price difference of £300 is hard to ignore.

Untimately, Apple has tried to create a luxury mini-market in watch bands and it is likely one that will pay off handsomely. For every band the company sells, the margins must be huge and if you want to buy in to the sense of luxury and kudos they offer then go for it. What I don’t get is that the Apple Watch is a mass market product and so there is no real sense of owning something unique, special or individual. And with that thought I am convinced that the eBay bands make much more sense that spending a fortune on the originals.

52 Blue

The whale that Joe George and Velma Ronquille heard was an anomaly: His sound patterns were recognizable as those of a blue whale, but his frequency was unheard of. It was absolutely unprecedented. So they paid attention. They kept tracking him for years, every migration season, as he made his way south from Alaska to Mexico. His path wasn’t unusual, only his song—and the fact that they never detected any other whales around him. He always seemed to be alone.
So this whale was calling out high, and he was calling out to no one—or at least, no one seemed to be answering. The acoustic technicians would come to call him 52 Blue.

A fascinating story about a creature none of us know or really understand. More here.

"Found it!"

When I was a child, my father used to wear a Bulova Accutron Snorkel 666 feet which I was always fascinated by. He treasured it a lot and I remember watching him staring at it for much longer than he needed to when he was checking the time. It was there when we played in the garden and when he helped me with my homework. It was there when he played football in the park with me and when we did everything else together, including letting me put it to my ear to listen to the familiar electronic buzz of the movement. This watch is such a distinct reminder of my father that it became my grail watch a long time ago, but there is a problem...

...For a father to pass down a watch to his son that is a big thing, but unfortunately my mother cannot find the watch. My father is in the latter stages of Alzheimer’s and many possessions have sadly gone missing, along with his oh so brilliant mind, and so we continue to search for the one thing I would like to be handed down to me. It is the perfect memory of my father and one which I dearly hope to retrieve when he passes, which is expected to happen soon. Maybe I am grasping anything to remember him by, a small trinket to keep him alive, but the reality is that his personality died long ago and so we are left with the shell of a man who we watch decline month after month.

The quote above is from this article which was the first one I posted on the new site.

Never have the words "Found it!" meant so much to me. Oh yes, it arrived this morning and it is just so wonderful to look at and to hold. It does not work at all and will need a lot of restoration, but this will be the watch I wear for the rest of my life until it is passed to my son. I will just make sure that my wife knows where it is and that he can enjoy it without all of the searching and stress. 

The Agonizingly Slow Decline Of Adobe Flash Player

The idea was to talk with some of the biggest websites still using Adobe’s browser plugin, which has fallen out of favor within tech circles for its constant security issues and thirst for system resources. Maybe they could explain why Flash is still necessary, offering a counterpoint to the resounding calls to end its existence.

Instead, most of the proprietors of Flash-reliant websites I contacted didn’t want to talk at all. HBO, NBC, CBS, Zynga, King, Showtime, Pandora, and Spotify—all of which require Flash on their desktop sites—declined to comment. Major League Baseball, Slacker Radio, Hulu, and the BBC didn’t respond to inquiries.

My attempted survey wasn’t a total failure. Among the sites that were willing to talk, all of them are planning to move beyond Flash Player within a year or so. But even if the era of Flash is winding down, it will be a while until it’s completely wiped from the web.

More at Fast Company. I don't tun Flash on my Mac which can be troublesome at times, but no way near as bad as actually having it installed. Die already!

Authentic, older than me and technically brilliant

Technology today is quite wonderful and it always has been. We are getting used to letting computers do things for us and are starting to trust the internet and the companies that dominate it with our data. It is all around us and feels more like mere software every day. 

It used to be that the TV remote control was a thing of wonder and that stereo systems containing record players, radios and cassette players were must have items, but 'objects' no longer seem to hold such a reverence today. This is not a bad thing because it is arguable that the demise of physical music and movies save money, the environment and makes every easier, but there are examples of objects married with technology that still grab my attention today.

I recently bought an Avia Swissonic electronic watch which is dated as produced in 1968 for an extremely good price as it is a type of object that has fascinated me for some time. This particular one is in pristine condition and looks as good inside as it does out. It offers a genuine sense of late 1960's fashion thanks to the gracefully sculptured case and glass which protrudes like few watches would dare do today. The strap is also striking in appearance, looking like something an astronaut would attach to the outside of his space suit in times of need. There is something so unique and special about late 1960's and early 1970's watches that draws me in, but there is something even more special about the Avia Swissonic.

It is one of a breed of watches that took the mechanical tradition and turned it on its head by being able to keep time more accurately than ever before, and this model loses approximately 1 second a day. That is incredible for a watch that is close to half a century old. And that is what attracts me to the Accutron watches and variants of this age. They are the only pieces of technology I can think of that are authentic from before I was born and which can satisfy my needs today. I can think of no other mechanical or technical object that can do that- only these particular watches offer the best of both worlds to me.

In 2015, the entire mobile industry is the iPhone and nothing else

The title of this article may sound a bit extreme, but it is something I have been thinking about for some time and the more I think about it, the more convinced I am that the iPhone is the only 'thing' in the mobile industry that is heading in the right direction. 

We shall start by looking at the minor players in the industry-

PHONES

BlackBerry

It is no secret that the company has been floundering and that it has not produced hardware or software that has captured any significant proportion of the population for a long, long time. The rumours that it may be looking to Android make a lot of sense, but if you read on you will see why that path will only continue the demise of what was once the biggest mobile phone company in the world.

Windows Phone

Where to start? It has been in existence for a long time and has somehow found its way heading down to the budget market further every year. It has a passionate following and some of the hardware is brilliant, but low single digit market share has stuck to it like a rash that will not go away. The fact that Microsoft now appears to be concentrating on services, especially those for more popular platforms, only emphasises that the phone is a small proportion of the gigantic company.

Windows Phone, as a platform, deserves to do well, but it never has and doesn't look likely to either in the near or distant future.

Android

This has to be broken down because there are so many players in the Android ecosystem that it can be difficult to know who is doing well and who is languishing.

Google

With the resources and employees to continually push Android forward, Google (Alphabet or whatever) can continue to spend money and time on the platform, and it really does not have a choice. Mobile is where it is at and while the internet and phones exist, Android and Google will remain and will continue to do just fine.

Samsung

The story here seems to be getting worse as each quarter passes. Dwindling sales, overpriced hardware and a sense that the company is always following does not help, but the irony of the biggest mobile company of all failing should not be ignored. Samsung makes some great hardware and is heading in the right direction by simplifying the software, but for whatever reason it is not working. It is hard to know what the company should do next.

HTC

I think it would be fair to say that we are close to the end for HTC. Like Samsung and BlackBerry, the company cannot get a break and cannot seem to climb out of an ever deeper financial hole.

LG

Great phones, good prices, but low sales and the fact that this is an insignificant part of its portfolio suggests a withdrawal from the market until the landscape changes.

Sony

The company has never really succeeded in mobile despite some excellent hardware going all the way back to the glory days of the Clie PDAs. However, with so many areas of the business struggling, it could be worth hanging in there and waiting for the tide to turn.

The fact is that not one Android manufacturer is growing within the market it is serving and this must surely be a concern. Google will continue and could come to dominate with licensed hardware, but the overall picture for Android looks fragmented and unclear at this time. Then again, it is a huge platform and just maybe this is how it should be.

iPhone

Apple sold 47.5 million iPhones in quarter 2 of 2015. It is a phenomenon that is unprecedented in any industry and in particular in mobile tech, and one which is growing as each quarter passes. The numbers are not the biggest, but the profits are (by far) and there seems to be no stopping it. The more you look at the financial and cultural history of the iPhone, the more apparent it becomes that it is unique and this could actually be a bad thing for Apple.

SMART WATCHES

It's no secret that the smart watch industry has not taken off yet and that even Apple is not selling gazillions of its latest product. The Apple Watch feels like the Palm Treo 650 in the early days of smartphones as we wait for that breakthrough product to capture the imagination of the industry and kickstart the genre. For the life of me, I still cannot see where smart watches are heading and remain convinced that they are not the right form for any time, let alone 2015.

TABLETS

iPad sales are dropping extremely fast and so is the rest of the market, as described perfectly at Above Avalon-

The tablet market is in complete disarray. Only five short years ago, the iPad helped jumpstart the category, ushering in multi-touch computing and the modern-day app revolution to large-screen devices. Today, there has never been a time when the tablet market faces so much unknown.

A quick look at iPad and tablet shipment data would show that things have gotten bad in recent quarters. However, in reality, things are much worse than quarterly shipment data would suggest. The seasonality found in the tablet segment makes it difficult to see these long-term problems. A much better way at understanding what has been taking place is to look at the year-over-year change in shipments on a trailing 12-month (TTM) basis, highlighted in Exhibit 1. This smoothing effect highlights that the iPad and tablet have been on the decline for years and things continue to worsen with the overall tablet market hitting negative territory for the first time. All momentum has been lost.

I remember someone once saying that tablets are a fad and that they will drop away within a few years in deference to more portable devices (that was me by the way) and many people laughed at him (me). The argument that tablets are not like phones and that people keep them for longer is valid to a point, but from people I know and from the prevailing financials, much more than that it happening. Tablets are being eaten by bigger phones running apps that are getting better at doing tablet-like things in smaller spaces.

CONCLUSION

The mobile industry is huge, absolutely huge, and millions of us have realised that we do not need full-sized computers to get things done, but we are in a time where the so called Post-PC era is dominated by just one device. As I said before, the iPhone is a phenomenon and it stands alone which should be a concern for all of the other companies who are struggling in this market and even for Apple itself. If iPad sales are sliding and Apple Watch sales are not gaining traction, and Mac sales are only increasing marginally, where does Apple go next?

It is arguable that the iPhone is Apple's only huge and continually growing success in the last decade when judged over a period of time and that the rest of the industry is struggling to get close to the revenues it produces. Indeed, we probably need the iPhone to start failing for the rest of the industry to grow because it is so dominant in the areas that really matter.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ and Galaxy Note 5 unveiled

Samsung has announced two new large high-end Android handsets: the Galaxy S6 Edge+ and the Galaxy Note 5.

Both phones have 5.7in (14.5cm) screens and are going on sale earlier in the year than their previous generations.

In a change of strategy, the South Korean firm has no plans at present to release the Note 5 in Europe - a decision it says is purely for marketing reasons.

More at the BBC. I'm surprised the Note 5 is not initially coming to Europe and even more surprised by the keyboard case- what is that all about?

Rolex: Going Where Few Have Gone Before

There is and was a distinct difference between the Rolex of today and the Rolex of yesterday, and I don’t think it would come as a surprise to anyone if I said I preferred that of yesterday. But, that doesn’t mean I don’t have great respect for Rolex of today, nor would it prevent me from encouraging family, friends, and readers to look to the Crown for a new watch today. When my only sister gave birth to her first son, my first nephew, I purchased him a brand new Rolex and engraved his initials on the back. He will get it the day he turns 18 (or 25, depending on how moody he is at 18) after years of wear by his mother. It will, I can guarantee, still work flawlessly, and look even better. And that’s indisputably the most wonderful thing about a Rolex from my own perspective – they are unbelievably accurate, incredibly cool, and supremely lasting.

More at Hodinkee. I have always been indifferent when it comes to Rolex, largely because of the reasons many people buy one, but this is truly a stunning article in terms of the history it describes and the way it finishes. It's a bit of an advert actually, but the information is accurate and very informative.

Daily Mail comments

So as a social experiment, @DMReporter and I wanted to see what level of support the comments would get if we took some famous pieces of Nazi propaganda and changed the word ‘Jew’ with ‘migrant’. For disclosure, a few of the comments we made were blocked by the Mail’s moderators however most of them made it through.

More at Medium. Trying to kickstart homophobic, nasty, selfish and racist comments on the Daily Mail website is really not difficult. Occasionally I visit the site to see if humanity has improved, and it never has...