But there's a problem. As odd as it may sound, watch Demi Moore's GI Jane for a rather parallel depiction to what I think will happen in these next few years.
The society of the United States, as progressive as some of us might like to believe that we are, will have serious issues with women on the front lines. Expect pushback and manipulation from Governors, Senators and other elected officials who are in turn being weighed upon heavily by their electors.
Though the bigger problem is the society within the armed forces. The opinions of a few, individual soldiers notwithstanding, there are going to be many who will do absolutely everything in their power to see that a female soldier, airman or marine never hits the trenches.
Secretary Panetta's move is admirable, and far overdue. But now the problems will begin.
There's a lot to be said for being incredibly good at one thing. When someone fits that description, the results are stunning.
From the standpoint of being a competitor, I love it when our competition decides to attempt a thousand different verticals because I know (from experience) that they will ultimately fail.
From the standpoint of a potential user I loathe that behavior because I know (from experience) that they will ultimately fail.
It's perfectly fine to locate that one thing at which you excel above all others and then capitalize upon it.
But the adage remains true – More does not always equal better.
What are you good at? Is that what you're doing? If not, then stop it. You're going to fail. You can challenge yourself to become better at something that's not your strong suit, but throwing all of your time and money into it is a fool's game.
Focus on your niche. You'll win every single time.
Anand Lal Shimpi is smarter than me. Chances are he's smarter than you too. His site, AnandTech, is inarguably the go-to source for in-depth, highly detailed reviews of new products and technologies.
I got to meet Anand last year at CES, and we had the chance to speak again this year. We were discussing the successes and failures of Microsoft when he dropped this bomb (which is not a direct quote, but as close as I can remember):
“Now imagine this. Let's say that the next Xbox falls in line with Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 where you can write once, deploy anywhere. A game developer could create a single title, then deploy it across three different devices at once.”
Given the continued, simply amazing success of the Xbox, there's positively no doubt in my mind that we would see Windows Phone immediately jump in popularity. I can't even begin to imagine the growth that the platform would see if game developers could push Xbox, desktop and MOBILE versions of their games, all of which are based on the same method of creation.
Gamers are a loyal bunch. Just try getting a hardcore PC gamer to move to an Xbox. But just imagine the reach that developers could have. Imagine the money that could be made when their biggest fans can play their favorite games on the Xbox at home, their laptop on the road or a mobile version on the train.
I was on a panel the other day, talking to a number of large companies about tech trends for 2013. But before the panel started, the moderator was chatting with those of us seated at the table. He asked where I lived, to which I replied “just south of Nashville.”
“How did you get that job, living in Nashville?”
Which job? The writing job that I used to have, or the Business Development job that I now carry? “Both”, he replied.
My immediate answer was one of somewhat cocky confidence, because the tone of his voice though our entire interaction was condescending. “I'm exceptionally good at what I do.”
But the more I think about this interaction, the more it bothers me. You see, the person who asked me this question is a pretty big name in the world of blogging/new media. He's done well for himself, created a quite profitable business and he's worked hard.
So have I. I just don't happen to live in New York or San Francisco. I've been asked to move to either of these, on numerous occasions. I've (sometimes not so) politely declined because I have a hard head about the benefits of not living “in the bubble”, so to speak.
Why is it that people who live in these areas tend to believe that those of us who don't are somehow less capable? The entire TNW team works remotely, from wherever in the world we happen to be. We've built a wildly successful company by doing this, and yet people still seem to believe that we need a single office, in a single city, with us all sitting in a big, open room in order to accomplish what we've done.
So here's what Nashville offers me that New York and San Francisco never could:
– My 3 bed, 2.5 bath, 2,000 square foot house costs me less than renting a studio in San Francisco. I have a family. This is important.
– I can be on a plane in 30 minutes. In NYC in 2 hours, or in SF in 5. I could do this every two weeks and still spend less than the salary that I'd require if I moved to either of these cities.
– The average salary for my position in NYC is $115,000 per year. In SF it's $113,000. TNW is a startup. I can afford to work for far less money because I live in Nashville.
The Internet allows me to have direct access to the smartest people in the world, with only a couple of clicks. I don't need to be in NYC or SF to do that.
It's far beyond time for us to break this mentality. The world is a very big place. Believing that success can only be achieved in one or two areas is painfully stupid at best.
Over the past couple of days, I've had the opportunity to play around with a BlackBerry 10 dev alpha device in advance of RIM's unveiling of the OS later this month. Here's a shocker – BB10 is very good.
I won't go into a review, because I've been asked nicely to not do so. I have the device in hand for a specific purpose, and reviewing BB10 is not included in that. But what I will say is that RIM has taken some of the best parts of iOS, Windows Phone and even the once-stellar WebOS, rolled them all together and produced an operating system that is simply a joy to use.
The smartphone market right now is dominated by iOS and Android. That's a fact that we all know. As you might have read, I'm quite a big fan of Windows Phone, and I honestly think that it has a very good shot at being a big player in the market.
RIM has done its homework. And it has a loyal base of fans. There are millions of people who have either hung onto their BlackBerry devices or they've only parted with them begrudgingly. These people are the ones who can help the company to experience a rebirth.
The question that remains to be answered is whether or not three years of lagging innovation has driven a permanent nail into an already-precarious coffin lid.
I don't know the answer to that. What I do know is that BB10 is deserving of attention and consumer wallets.
In case you missed the previous post, I've stopped visiting Facebook. I'm not deactivating my account, because I'm sure it will come in handy at some point. But I'm just not going to the site anymore.
One important thing that I've noticed is this – I wasted a ridiculous amount of time on a site that I couldn't wait to leave. Since I've stopped visiting, I've actually noted that I have more time in my day.
It's scary to realize that I spent enough time on that single Website for it to make a notable difference when I stopped.
It's time for more downsizing. I just have to figure out what's next. Because as a bit of a happy accident I'm finding that I have more time in my day. That leads me to this hypothesis – If we cut out all of the meaningless crap that we do, and we focus only on the things that truly bring value to our lives, I think we'd all have a lot more time.
My wife is a smart lady. The other day, my son commented that one of his friends in League of Legends was talking to him, and Candace asked how well he knew the person. The reply from my 10 year old was pretty predictable, but I was glad to know that he's careful to carry out the rules we set for him. Don't share personal information, don't tell your last name, etc. He's got the basics down well.
But what got me was my wife's further commentary on the subject, about how she has two distinct groups of people and only calls one of them friends. They're the real ones. The other, Facebook-style “friends”, she has taken to calling contacts.
It's more than just nomenclature. It's a mentality that goes along with the devaluing of what we've traditionally known as a friend. We throw around that word far too easily these days, just as we have with love, passion and other groupings of letters that have far more meaning to them than we care to admit.
When I quit writing for TNW, I spent a couple of hours really paring down my following list on Twitter. It was important because I needed my signal to noise ratio to get into better control. I still have a super-secret account that I use only to follow for work stuff, but I otherwise never pay attention to it.
But what I've found is that I've had that same screwed up ratio when it came to friends versus “friends”. While I was never someone who added just anyone on Facebook, I was “friends” with over 300 people. There's no way to maintain a real relationship with that sort of number.
As we're moving into the next year, I decided that I needed to do more than just pare down the list. I needed to remove Facebook from my life completely. It's been nothing but an annoyance for ages, yet I needed to keep it for work. Now that my work life no longer includes checking Facebook for new features, I don't have any reason to keep going back.
So today I cleaned out the list for good, removed the bookmark and I won't be going back.
That feels really good. It feels like I'm well on my way to regaining the nomenclature of friend as it's intended. That's a good way to start a year.
Boris had an interesting announcement today that our TNW Magazine was no longer going to be published on Android. The short version of the story is that the download numbers are minuscule in comparison to the iOS counterpart, so it's not worth our effort at this point.
But there are apparently some great magazines listed on Google Play, at least according to their reviews. Quite a few of them have hundreds of reviews, but they're of course larger names such as GQ, Popular Science, et al.
Obviously someone is downloading and reading them; but who? Our findings were along the lines of an 80:1 ratio of iOS to Android downloads. Though that is probably more representative of the tablet market as a whole, it leaves a lot of questions to which I wish we could find answers.
Footnote: It positively blows my mind to see the reactions from some of Android's more vocal fan base. Instead of offering real suggestions or any sort of constructive discussion the comments immediately turn to (generally poorly-written) insults.
Though, such is life on the Internet, I suppose. It's the same type of behavior that you see in any comments thread relating to a subject about which people are passionate. What's depressing is that this is what discussion is becoming. Or has it already happened?
Nokia was kind enough to loan me a Lumia 920 for a couple of weeks, so that I could get a better feeling for what's going on across the Windows Phone market. It arrived today, and I've spent about five minutes with the device.
It doesn't take long to notice problems.
If there's one thing for which I'm eternally grateful to Apple, it's that the company has (almost) unfailingly stonewalled the carriers out of the equation. “Here's a phone. It works on your frequencies. Sell it.” As such, there has never really been much of a difference between an AT&T iPhone and a Verizon iPhone. They're both iPhones, made by the same company.
Where I'm hoping that Microsoft steps up (a la Surface) is in providing the same type of device experience. Heck, it doesn't have to be manufactured by Microsoft. Google has had great successes with the Nexus line, and they've been made by a few OEMs.
The problem at hand with Windows Phone is that there are significant tradeoffs to be made, depending on which device or carrier you want. What it leads to is muddy waters, and a disparity within the ecosystem that's going to leave a bad taste in the mouths of consumers.
Let's look at the highlights for a moment.
HTC 8X - Verizon - Thin, light, great battery life. Good camera in well-lit conditions. More narrow than the Lumia 920, thus easier in the hand. But terrible buttons and a lack of an OS-level navigation app really hurt.
Lumia 920 - AT&T - Feels more solid in the hand, but also considerably heavier than the 8X. Amazing feel to the buttons. Great Pureview camera. Nokia Drive navigation.
In my case, my wife and I are both with Verizon, on a family share plan that includes my iPad. Just because I like a phone is no reason to have us paying considerably more money every month to split our plans. This disparity between carriers, with exclusive lock-ins, might somehow be good for the bottom line but it's bad for consumers.
For Microsoft, it creates a conundrum that's directly anti-consumer. It's carrier-centric, and that's an issue. We're already in a position where the carriers have an enormous amount of power with Android, and it appears that Windows Phone is headed down this same path.
There aren't many times when I would suggest that any company follow in Google's footsteps, but I honestly hope that Microsoft does when it comes to Windows Phone. Call it a Surface Phone, have Nokia build it, but make it as light as the 8X. Sell it yourself, and make it available all Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile in the US.
The more notes that I continue to write here, the more I'm thinking that I need to do a full-length post on TNW about my thoughts on the whole. I've been using OS X and an iPhone for so long now that making this switch has been an interesting exercise into maneuvering outside of your comfort zone.
But just as it came as a surprise to me that I'd consider moving to Windows Phone from my iPhone, I'm equally surprised to say that I'm starting to like Windows 8 a lot more…and it has everything to do with the device in my pocket.