Resolutions (and disclosures) for 2012

A few mobile and wireless rules and admissions before the new year

I’m going to take a break from getting worked up about Android and other big-picture mobile concerns. As we close in on 2012, I figured it was time to make some resolutions about what this blog, and its author, aims to do in 2012 to make it a better read. There are lots of places to read about mobile technology. A blog like this must have a viewpoint, a mission, and a few rules.

1) Don’t take actual glee in BlackBerry’s descent

Sure, the company couldn’t have had a worse 2011, unless it all turned out to be some kind of Marxist performance art. And very few would bet against a bankruptcy, sale, or some other kind of cataclysm for the BlackBerry maker in 2012. But we’ve already learned everything we can from Research in Motion and the BlackBerry platform in 2011: when you refuse to innovate, confuse your customers, and do nothing to help the app developers who want to do something neat on your platform, you’re going to fail. And fail, and fail, and fail.

2) Treat every statistic as suspect

It’s relatively easy to measure how many apples were sold in the U.S. in a given month. They’re grown by producers, shipped to distributors and stores, and then sold, lost to spoilage, or otherwise repurposed. Relative to smartphone sales, that is. There are numbers on how many phones were shipped to carriers and stores, how many were sold to customers, and numbers on phones that were activated, returned, and given as free upgrades. Each of those smartphones has avenues for buying music and apps, which can be downloaded, purchased, downloaded again, and so on.

So here’s a resolution to poke holes and question the variables of every number quotes in any analyst report, press release, or fast-spreading news story. Smartphones aren’t apples. At least not the kind you can eat.

3) Lay all disclosures on the line

I believe a writer has very little to lose in letting their audience know where they’re coming from. In the very competitive mobile space, I think this is especially true. So I’ll lay out a few disclosures about my relationships with the major smartphone and mobile players here, and maybe in a more easily linked spot in the future:

  • Android/Google: The G1, or HTC Dream, was the first smartphone I ever purchased (though I brought my iPod touch with me almost everywhere, as noted further on). I have used one or another Android phones (G1, Nexus One, HTC Thunderbolt) as my personal phone ever since that G1 purchase. Most significantly, I wrote an entire how-to book about Android, and as part of that process, I was loaned three different phones by Google or its PR representatives (a Droid X, an HTC Evo, and a Nexus S).

As for Google itself, my most recent book is about Google’s social network, Google+. I’ve received some freebies from Google, too, none of them solicited. I was one of the testers to receive a Cr-48 early-model Chromebook, and as an attendee of Google I/O in 2011, I also received a Galaxy Tab 10.1 and a Samsung Series 5 Chromebook.

  • iPhone/Apple: As noted above, you could say that the first-generation iPod touch, bought for me as a gift, was my first real smartphone, just without the phone bit. I was a big fan, and used it extensively until I picked up my first Android.

In general, close friends and relatives of mine use MacBook Pros, iPads, iPhones, and lots of other devices, some of which I’ve recommended, repaired, and set up. I used almost exclusively Macs at the newspapers I worked for over five years.

  • Windows Phone/Microsoft: I was sent, without solicitation, a free Windows Phone unit around the holiday season of 2010. I played with it for a few days, and I soon after wrote about Windows Phone apps, but mainly because I was the only editor at Lifehacker that had access to a Windows Phone (then called Windows Phone 7). My wife used the same Windows Phone unit as her primary phone for around six months or so, so it’s fair to say that her complaints and troubleshooting issues had a private audience.

As for Microsoft and Windows in general, I was born in 1981, so I’m very familiar with Windows as a desktop operating system. My main computer usually dual-boots Windows 7 and Ubuntu (Linux). I think Windows 8 looks neat, but I’ve only played with it for a few days.

BlackBerry/RIM: I, nor anyone who lives with me, has ever owned or extensively used a BlackBerry. I know people who own BlackBerry phones, and some of them find the physical keyboards and BlackBerry Messenger crucial to their jobs and to keeping in touch. I believe I have driven by a Research in Motion facility near Waterloo, Ont., on the way to Toronto. That is about all I have to say about BlackBerry and Reasearch in Motion.

Palm/webOS/HP: I know many people who think WebOS is a highly underrated platform for smartphones and tablets. I would like to try it out some time.

Photo by Bopuc; teaser/thumb photo by bibliojojo.

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