Author page: Mike Mansell

Firefox Losing Market Share Quickly to Rival Browsers

June 18th of 2008 was a very big day for me and millions of savvy Internet users around the world.  Although never being the kind of person to get overly excited for release dates, I took a special exception for this event; getting up early and immediately firing up my computer in sheer anticipation of the release ahead of me.  What was I so excited to get my hands on?  It wasn’t a video game, it wasn’t a fruit-branded mobile handset, and it wasn’t a new album.  I was waiting rather anxiously for the 3.0 release of the Mozilla Firefox web-browser, which many at the time saw as the best browser for hardcore and casual Internet users alike.  Having freed myself from the shackles of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer only a few months earlier, getting my hands on the latest Firefox release was the only thing on my mind that morning.

Now, since then my love for Firefox has definitely dimmed down quiet a bit, and with the obsessive phase behind me I really don’t get excited for any releases of anything anymore.  But when it comes to Firefox, my care about each update is night and day from what what it was only a few years ago.  Especially with the new rapid-paced release cycle that has drawn criticism from all sides, no single update of the browser feels as “special” as it once would have.

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The Kindle Fire: This Season’s Hot Tablet?

What do you get when you combine Amazon’s well-established “Kindle” eBook reader with the power and flexibility of Google’s Android mobile operating system on an elegantly designed seven-inch full-color touch-screen tablet?  As this week has shown us, the answer to this question is Amazon’s new “Kindle Fire”; a much awaited tablet computer that offers a competitive (yet not cutting-edge) set of features for an almost irresistible $199 price-point.  Sure, users who order this device on November 15th aren’t going to be able to lug their entire media library with them using the relatively small 8GB of storage, and users looking for a camera or 3G connectivity are going to be out of luck, but nonetheless Amazon has really pulled together to create what may very well be a killer product.

While the mobile industry is starting to become somewhat occupied with low-end tablets, what really makes the Kindle Fire an interesting device that stands out from the rest is the fact that Amazon has built an entire infrastructure over the last year or so that helps to make the Fire a very well-connected and attractive device for Internet-centric users.  The little things like Amazon’s music store, application store for Android-based devices, video rental services, and of course the legendary eBook service that served as the foundation for the original Kindle line’s success more or less puts Amazon’s new tablet offering up to par with Apple’s concept of having everything built into the device as a native offering.

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iPhone Sales Down Pending Release of iPhone 5

As a blogger I rely heavily on numbers and solid facts to be able to form the opinions, viewpoints, and commentary that I share with readers like yourself.  Even though my job as a blogger doesn’t typically ask me to prepare numbers and statistics on my own, the fact of the matter is that without the flow of information that is readily available from the Internet I wouldn’t have anything to base my writings on, as the changes in statistics, information, and developments each and every day are what make the news that I report.  No better example of this concept is the constantly changing market-share in the dog-eat-dog mobile industry where competitors are constantly one-upping each other and releasing better and more powerful products.

This week a new statistical figure from Nielsen has concluded that in the last three months sales of Android handsets have been double that of Apple’s iPhone.  But while this number makes it sound as if Apple has really fallen behind in the mobile market, really following the ups and downs of the mobile industry really does prove that while Android-based handsets are definitely gaining in popularity, Apple is still an incredibly strong player in the industry.  And even though Apple’s sales of iPhone handsets are indeed down right now the numbers aren’t as bad as some people may make them out to be.

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The AdSense +1 Button is a Win-Win for Everyone

When Google announced that their AdSense service, the ad platform used by thousands of advertisers and implemented on countless websites throughout the Internet, was going to add the +1 button for social recommendations on advertisements, I was initially very critical of the move.  Sure, Jeff had previously made a very good point when writing about the need to build social features into modern advertising on the Internet, but I myself was still very skeptical about the whole concept.  I mean, while I realize that online advertising is an important component that allows the Internet as we know it to exist, but I simply could not see how “social” advertising would take off and why any user would waste their time with socially built ads knowing that all they were doing was helping Google and its advertisers.

But after thinking about it a bit more, I have personally come to the conclusion that the +1 button in advertisements is going to be a killer feature.  Not only do I think that this new feature is going to pay off for Google, but in the long run I think that everyone will be able to benefit from this new feature, including Google’s advertisers and even end-users like you and me.

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Despite Lackluster Performance RIM Is Still King of the Enterprise Market

The other day I came across an article that immediately caught my attention.  The article discussed the fact that RIM’s BlackBerry product line has begun to fall behind in the business mobile sector.  While I’ve been pretty critical of BlackBerry devices in the past, this article has definitely given me a bit of a new perspective on things.  The article focuses around the concept that BlackBerry’s market share in corporate and business environments has fallen below both iOS and Android combined.

What this means is that even though iOS and Android are (slowly) catching up to and beginning to threaten BlackBerry’s presence in businesses neither mobile operating system has been able to beat BlackBerry’s presence as of yet.  And with the productivity and functionality of employees being ever so important to businesses, I honestly think that it’s somewhat shameful that neither Apple nor Google have been able to, despite all of their innovations and shiny new bells and whistles, become a real challenger to RIM’s BlackBerry platform in the enterprise world.

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Windows 8 Will Impact Microsoft’s Presence Even Outside of the Desktop

Considering Microsoft’s on-off history with releasing successful operating systems it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that Microsoft’s success with the Windows platform from here on out (in a world where Apple is thriving and consumer-focused Linux distributions are popping up like advertisements for Internet Explorer users) rests on their ability to make another successful release this time around.  Of course, I’m pretty impressed with Windows 7 as it is and believe that Microsoft has made a very solid comeback after the miserable failure that was Windows Visa, but when it comes down to it Microsoft is really facing quite a bit of competition now and in order to hold its position as a driving force in the software industry they’re going to not only meet the current standards in operating systems but rather blow everyone away.

As simple of a concept as this is, I recently read a very interesting and thought-provoking article on ComputerWorld that discusses how Windows 8 will affect Microsoft’s Windows Phone line; a mobile operating system that despite being incredibly promising simply hasn’t gotten the traction in the mobile industry that we’ve seen with Apple’s iPhone and iOS or Google’s Android mobile operating system.  So the question is poised; will Windows 8 help Windows Phone’s presence in the mobile industry.

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Qwikster: A Rushed and Reactive Launch

With everything in our day-to-day lives having become focused more and more around our connection and utilization of the Internet in the last few years, there’s not a single part of me that thinks Netflix – the online streaming service that started its venture with DVD-by-mail service – would still be around today had they not implemented streaming service over the Internet years ago.  Even as someone who doesn’t spend a ton of time watching television shows or movies, I must say that I can really appreciate the convenience of queuing up a show instantly and watching it right then and there without having to run to one of the few remaining DVD rental stores or waiting for a DVD to arrive in the mail.  And in a world that caters to instant gratification, Netflix’s Internet streaming is, I think, the key component that has allowed them to be successful up to this point.

That said, television and movie streaming isn’t flawless.  Netflix has had downtimes in the past which have proven to be more than frustrating for users who put their faith in the availability of Netflix’s services.  Beyond that, streaming simply isn’t for everyone, and with so many areas not having access to stable and fast Internet connections there are a lot of users who simply cannot fathom streaming an entire movie over the Internet.  And in reality even when everything is fine and dandy and users are capable and willing to stream from Netflix, the chances of all the movies an individual wants to see being available on Netflix is next to nothing.  I mean, when I was a Netflix customer it seemed as if any remotely recently movie was only available on DVD or BluRay and never via streaming.

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Rumor: 3G iPod Touch Coming This Year?

If there’s one thing that I’ve learned from following Apple over the last few years it would have to be the fact that the company seems to plan everything (unless you count suppliers for white iPhone components) extremely strategically.  Unlike other companies that try to make their innovations as rapidly as possible, Apple, from what I’ve seen has focused less on the swiftness of their moves, but rather the overall smoothness of their innovation.  Sure, that means that the company isn’t able to put their ideas on the market as rapidly as some would like, but when it comes down to it Apple has a pretty good strategy of making small innovations and improvements that they build upon and compliment with other additions down the road.

If you’ve been paying attention to the rumor mill recently, you might have heard about the speculation regarding the potential of Apple releasing a 3G version of the iPod Touch handheld this year.  In essence, this device would be an iPod Touch with the option for 3G coverage or an iPhone without the phone depending on how you look at it.   Now, when I first read about this concept this weekend, I admittedly thought it was a bit of a silly idea, but when looking at Apple’s new features in iOS both in iOS 4 and in the upcoming iOS 5 release as seen in the WWDC overview, it has become apparent to me that this move has been a long time coming.

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Why Hasn’t Google Shut Down Orkut Yet?

During the Google+ hype a few months back it seemed as if everyone was so excited that Google finally had a social network.  And while I agree with the fact that Google+ was a substantial milestone for the Internet giant, I couldn’t help but to chuckle at the fact that next to nobody seemed to recognize the fact that Google had a social network already and had been somewhat quietly been holding onto it for several years.  No, I’m not talking about Google Buzz, Google Groups, or even the thriving community that Google has in YouTube.  Rather, I’m talking about a site that Google launched in January of 2004 – nearly eight years ago now and one that despite being virtually unknown throughout the United States is incredibly popular in Brazil, India, and the Philippines.

With an estimated 66 million active users, Orkut is probably about one-tenth the size (in regards to user-base) as Facebook.  Nonetheless, Orkut, an independent project started by a Google employee has been around longer than Facebook, albeit only by about a month, and has a very loyal group of users.  Sure, it’s not anywhere as large as Facebook or Twitter right now, but in retrospect to the Internet as a whole Orkut is incredibly popular, currently holding Alexa rankings of 119 (for orkut.com) and 114 (for orkut.com.br) worldwide.

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Facebook Launches Subscriptions. A Jab At Twitter?

As similar as Facebook and Twitter are in the sense that they’re both social networks that allow users to communicate between, interact with, and stalk follow one-another online, the fact of the matter is that the two sites are entirely different.  While Facebook is meant to serve as a mechanism for more “intimate” connections such as real-life friends and family, the fundamentals of Twitter are built around a much more open concept where users can choose to follow whoever they deem to be interesting or worth keeping up with.  While even those classified as “socialites” typically don’t have more than a few hundred friends on Facebook it’s not uncommon at all to see Twitter users that have follower counts up in the thousands.  Similarly, it has been my experience that Facebook postings typically are done much more sparingly – giving each post a more significant importance – while some Twitter users have posted tens of thousands of “tweets.”

Being a simple person, I personally do prefer Facebook over Twitter.  Even though I am friends with a much larger group of people on Facebook than I follow on Twitter, I still feel somewhat overwhelmed when I look at the hundreds of posts that take up my Twitter feed.  On the flip side, my Facebook newsfeed has always seemed far more manageable, and even after “liking” and getting updates from businesses and organizations (pages) on Facebook I still feel that Facebook offers a more “personal” network than what Twitter has, and that’s the key aspect that has always attracted me to Facebook.

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Verizon Introduces Less Than Impressive Pre-Paid Unlimited Service

As much as I know the word “unlimited” is really over-used in marketing and advertising, I really must admit that I do like the concept of not being tied down to fixed limits with services that I subscribe to.  Of course, I understand that even with “unlimited” services there is always some sort of limit or cap to avoid abuse of a particular service, but when it comes down to it I simply enjoy the flexibility of being able to really use a service that I subscribe to without having to worry about incurring additional fees of overage charges.  Especially in an economic climate such as the one we’re in now, “unlimited” services really are beautiful when it comes to budgeting.

But as I discussed just the other day, the concept of “unlimited” plans when it comes to cellular data really has been dwindling away over the last year despite the fact that unlimited mobile airtime and unlimited mobile text messaging has become more and more of a standard, and as it stands now there are only a couple of major carriers out there that still offer “unlimited” data plans.  In my article yesterday, I questioned whether or not mobile carriers AT&T or Verizon – both of which having discontinued their unlimited mobile data plans somewhat recently – would bring back such plans down the road given the competition from Sprint, a carrier that has been seriously pushing unlimited data in recent months.

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