5 Companies – One Product?

I was reading this article just minutes ago. Actually, I was scrolling down the page looking at the titles throughout the article. (It was a really long and rather old article, btw.) Then, I got to my favorite part: the comments. I find the comments to be more informational than most articles I read. I also find them to be simultaneously frustrating and hilarious. First you get the “professional’s” point of view, and then you get view points from people who actually know what they are talking about (for the most part). These are people who have been using the products for years. They have been in the fox hole. They have taken hits and won battles. The war is far from over, and the fun continues through web-news article comments.

Now, every so often I read a comment I do not like. Why? You would probably guess that I am a conservative know-it-all who thinks I know more than you because I went to Harvard, have two Ph. D’s , and have studied civics for the last 25 years. Well, 25 years ago I was 3. So, no, I¬†have not been studying¬†civics since I was 3 years old. And if you know me you know I did not go to Harvard. (Who would want to anyway?) To top it off, I don’t even know what civics is. Here is the comment, for reference:

“And yet another OS that has mimicked webOS “cards”. How could palm and hp drop the ball so bad.”
J McDouche

The reason I did not like his comment is the fact that pattents and copyrights have all but staggered the development of some pretty cool technology over the last few years. Don’t believe me? I don’t care. And I’m not gonna waste my time explaining it because it’s just too difficult for the average person to understand.

So here’s the lowdown: Apple makes something. Tech ‘r Us makes something that is similar to Apple’s. Apple sues Tech ‘r Us for stealing their intelectual information (because heaven forbid someone else¬†use icons to signify applications). Apple usually wins because they are paying off the courts they have more money than the little companies they pick on. So, this technology which usually isn’t being used in any sort of phenominal way, just sits on Apple’s devices with no further development. This technology does not enjoy the fruits of innovation. Sure, maybe Apple ripped everything off of Palm is the first to put this all together, and we count that as innovation, but let’s be honest: Apple, and companies like them, stiffel innovation by taking “intellectual property” too seriously.

For example: Apple sues HTC, Samsung, and a few other smartphone companies for, among other reasons, arranging icons in columns and rows… W…T…F…?!? Are you kidding me? Now, watching things like this happen how can anyone say Apple is legally and logically protecting property? I saw a cell phone company arrange their icons differently. Besides being confusing, it was utterly disgusting to look at. And I’m not even going to mention how Apple is a big, giant chicken; sueing the cell phone hardware manufacturers who just so happen to be running the Android OS, instead of sueing the developers of the Android OS which supposedly infringes on their intellectual property. (oops, did I mention that?) Why would they do such a thing? Oh ya, because Google is the developer of Android and sueing them could be bad for business, cost a lot of money, and it’s not really certain just how things will turn out. At least Apple is pretty sure they can beat a smaller company like HTC into submission (although, they only won a handfull of the suits they brought towards HTC, Samsung, etc.).

I was thinking about this “intellectual property” nonsense and began to develope my own plan for fixing the world of patents, copyright, and intangible property. I began thinking about my computer class.

Let’s say a teacher from another school visits my computer class. She’s heard good things about my computer lab, the curriculum, my games, the technology I use, and the innovating way I use technology. There’s obviously someone talking me up out there, ’cause I don’t do anything terribly interesting. Even still, this teacher wants to see what’s up. Her school could use some new ideas. So she visits my classroom and sees some contingencies she likes, some projects she thinks her kids would enjoy, and some technology (she actually has) being used in new ways. After she has watched my classes all day, taken her notes, and liked what she saw, she asks if she can borrow some of my ideas…

If, at this point in time, I tell her “no way” unless she wants to pay me for them, her computer classes will continue to be bland, uninteresting, uninformative, and not the least bit educational. Her students will become bored, and tire her into letting them play games on the Internet, when they should be learning about Internet safety instead.

However, if I let her use some of my ideas, it’s possible her class will be come more educational, informative, and fun for her students. They will learn more about technology, be more excited about technology and using it properly. The students may even want to learn more, and play games less. All I would ask for is credit for my ideas and credit for showing her other readily available lessons.

But this would never work with patents and copyright. This would require companies like Apple to allow others to use their techniques and simply give them credit (not payment). You would put certain limitations on this:

  1. Point one: certain items would be considered common sense (such as the representation of apps with icons, and the sorting of apps and files in lists, and columns and rows).¬†Companies would just have to get over it. Once something has permeated the landscape as much as pinch-to-zoom it’s just too common place for a company to assume control of it’s placement in devices. Everything does pinch-to-zoom and similar¬†gestures and if you can figure out how to do it on your device, then go ahead, you don’t owe anyone anything.
  2. This takes us to the second part: The true innovators get the credit for developing the technology or software. Everyone else gets to copy them if they can figure it out for themselves. You can’t tell me Apple and Microsoft have teams which would never come to the same conclusions or create the same technology without ever knowing what the other company is doing. That’s just stupid. Now tell me that HTC, Samsung, Apple, Google, Microsoft, RIM, Nokia, and Palm/HP (who all have separate developer teams) would never end up with similar technologies as each other and that’s just insane. It may be a form of copying, but if I develop a program, and someone else develops a similar program all on their own, who am I to say their hard work should be for nothing. And if this new guy creates a better program than me? That pushes me to innovate. Sueing him because I’m jealous causes his better tech to suffer and fall wayside.
  3. The third point: the true innovators are writers of¬†sci-fi. Apple didn’t develop the iPad, Star Trek developed the iPad. Apple didn’t make a lot of the product you buy. They made a lot of the products you buy shinier. And somehow that means they are innovators in the mobile space? I don’t think so. Just about every technology we have and wish to have in the future is already a real item in sci-fi somewhere. The bad dude from the original Tron movie had screens and a keyboard in his desk. Years later,¬†Microsoft builds the Surface. Microsoft cannot be credited with the concept, but they can be credited with the device they produced, and the software which makes it work.
  4. Last Point: Give credit where credit is due. Even though a company might not be the one to come up with the technology, if they are the first to make it real, then they get credit for doing so. No stealing. If two companies are working on the same tech and one comes out with it first, they get credit. However, if one company shows off their tech in a ridiculous, unfinished form, and another company then releases a finished product, this second company would obviously get the credit for having a useable product first.

Now, I know some people are thinking, “the only way to know who had it first is to show it to someone and have them record the date and time and we already have something like that it’s called the patent office.”

My response: STFU, fool! Patents for physical devices or parts thereof are fine as long as something is to be done about it. Then, if I spend my own time and money making something from scratch that you just so happen to have patented recently, I should be able to go on with my device. Why? I’m not copying you. I did my own research. I did my own work. You’re not telling people what you’re doing so how am I supposed to know? Why should I suffer because you got their first? Everyone knows you got to it first, so why can’t I have a go at it now? You think because you built it and patented it you own the idea forever? Like no one else on the planet could have thought about what you did? You’re the only original thinker on the planet?

w/e

If people worked together more, we’d probably have flying cars by now. Or at least cars which run above 50mpg… oh wait, we had those once. I wonder what happened to those?

It‚Äôs Official: Xbox 360 Is the Best Console of This Generation – SlashGear

It’s Official: Xbox 360 Is the Best Console of This Generation РSlashGear.

Mr. Don Reisinger has given his opinion. The Slashgear¬†crowd has weighed in. Now it’s my turn.

How about some objectivity.

Mr. Reisinger’s article begins with a catching title. “It’s Official,” he claims, “Xbox 360 is the Best Console of This Generation.” However, it’s not official. It may not even be true. It’s simply Mr. Reisinger’s opinion. As one commenter¬†points out, you can’t really say which console is best until the next generation comes and the previous is out of style. Remember, hindsight is 20/20. Mr. Reisinger even admits this is only his opinion and invites the reader to leave their opinion in the comments.

But then, one commenter¬†leaves a rather annoying post; one to which I almost replied. This commenter¬†(let’s call him Darby) begins with a figure for “the infamous hardware¬†failure rates” of the Xbox 360, which he claims are reported to be as high as 45%. He doesn’t cite any sources, but I guess he assumes we’ll just believe him. After all, he didn’t say the failure rates were “very high” he said they were “45%!” Why would he make up a number when he could say “really high?” Anyway, Darby goes on to list a number of games which provide better experiences and game play¬†and are¬†more fun than the other consoles. He finishes his comment by saying Mr. Reisinger has no right to declare any system (much less the Xbox 360) as the winner, nor to hand any system the crown. This should be left to the gamer; it is the gamer who should decide which system is best for him/herself. Everyone should give the crown to the system which they determine the winner. There’s just one problem with this Darby: that’s just silly. Every gamer already determines which system is best for their own needs. You can tell by reading the comments. That’s not what the article is about, though. The article asks which console would be the winner of the title “Best Console of the Generation.” Clearly, there has to be a winner. But to find this winner we must be objective. That means no fanboys aloud!

The idea is to explain the three systems as if you’re talking to someone who knows nothing about them, but needs to know which one to purchase. As I read the comments I learned much about the three consoles. I also learned a lot about how gamers perceive the three systems. I also learned there are more than three systems. I don’t know what the others are, but one commenter put the Xbox 360 in his “top 3.” Why not tell us first, second, or third unless there are more…?

Anyway, here’s the basics of what I can gather:

The Nintendo Wii

  • innovative
  • fun & engaging
  • easy for children and adults alike
  • low on graphics power
  • still no “real” online gaming network

The Nintendo systems seem to be systems you buy because you love Mario games. The Wii is no exception, although it did have the allure of a different type of interface to go with it. But, let’s face it: Most of the Nintendo hardware recently has been filled with novelty. (I even see this novelty factor hitting the PS Move and Kinect… more on that later.) Once that novelty wears off, you’re left with a system that lacks functionality, power, graphics, and overall useability compared to it’s generation¬†buddies. The system remains popular with kids (or should I say, popular with parents of small kids). This might be due to the fact that any kid without one finds himself getting one for Christmas or a birthday; seeing as they aren’t that expensive anymore (a second price drop usually means the new one is on it’s way. yay!). No one would say the Wii sucks.¬†Likewise, no one would argue it has a place at the top.

There are some people who wouldn’t even put the Wii in the same category as the other two. Besides sheer¬†fun, there’s really nothing comparable about the three systems together. The Wii can’t compete graphically, functionally, or spiritually. It’s innovation put it on a road of it’s own. But it took it’s time driving the speed limit, and taking in the scenery.¬†Eventually Sony and Microsoft came racing by. It’s at that time we realize, in the motion control arena, all three companies have the same top speed.

Sony’s Playstation 3

  • powerful – in processing power and graphics capabilities
  • free online gaming network, with “plus” pay version
  • high functionality
  • undoubtedly has good PSN extras

I remember back in the day when Crash Bandicoot stood outside the Nintendo building with a megaphone, taunting the mother company. Why help Nintendo make stuff you think is stupid when you can branch off on your own (or use your already famous company) and make a new gaming system? Well, that’s exactly what Sony did. They came out with the Sony Playstation. Some people liked it and some people didn’t. The real reason it caught on was the capabilities it had due to the use of a CD-ROM instead of cartridges (something Sega did years before). You could listen to a music CD on your gaming console! The Playstation 2 is usually called a great system, and many people have hung on to it to this day; even though they have purchased the new¬†PS3.

The PS2 hit a snag, though, which seems apparent to me in the PS3 as well: the games for the PS2 never hit the graphics ceiling until the end of the run. Likewise, the PS3 touts it’s awesome graphics capabilities, but the games just don’t take advantage of them… yet. Many system exclusive games are just beginning to give gamers the full effect of the power of the PS3 system.

I’m going to ignore the PSN down-time for now. The only thing I’m going to ponder is if Sony could have protected the network better¬†if they had some revenue coming in the whole time like XBL. I’m not saying that’s the reason, but some of the Slashgear readers assumed this was at least part of the issue. Now, I know I just mentioned the PSN fail and a reason for it, but in reality, this has little to do with the system. Maybe Sony lost some fans during the hacking outage, but it’s probably just an identity issue those people take no joy in experiencing again (and they think if they simply quit playing games on the PSN they can avoid this in the future). Besides, you can pay for PSN+. You get some extras, yet nothing beats free.

Last, but not least, let’s talk about the Playstation Move. I’ve played (all three of these systems) the Move and it was quite fun. It was even a little more responsive than the Wii, while also having some characteristics of the Kinect¬†(as far as tracking). However, it does seem like Sony was just trying to offer it’s loyal gamers¬†the same game play they could get if they bought a Wii. The only real down side is the cost of having a Move system you could play with all your friends. You need four Move controllers to get the maximum amount of fun out of the system, and that’s expensive. No, Wii controllers aren’t free; however, they are cheaper.

(Most people consider the whole BluRay aspect to be moot. You can get a good BluRay player very cheap.)

Microsoft Xbox 360

  • free when you buy a new PC
  • pay gaming network
  • high functionality
  • interconnectivity with other devices

The first thing I’m going to mention about the Xbox is the most important aspect of the system: the controller. Many commentors spread word of the ergonomic comfort of the Xbox 360 controllers. Something I never really paid attention to until I considered just how much time I remember having the other controllers in my hands. I do not recall suffering from hand fatigue while using an Xbox 360 controller. Although, that could be for the fact I don’t have nor play a PS3. However, the Slashgear community seems to think the Xbox controllers are the best: whether it’s because of comfort or the fact that batteries can be changed out when they die (instead of being forced to wait for them to charge).

Since I got the big stuff out of the way, let’s talk about the little things like the Xbox Live network. If I had to pick one feature which propelled the Xbox to the top it would be Xbox Live. Why? Only PC gamers enjoyed that kind of experience before XBL¬†came out. Even though Microsoft hemorraged¬†money from XBL (and the original Xbox) for a while, they created a standard. One which people prefer, even over the free PSN.

The Xbox does not match the PS3 in terms of power and graphics capability. That’s just how it is. Even still, Xbox games just look nice. They play nice, too. According to the Slashgear¬†community updates on the Xbox are quick, simple, and allow them to get on with their gaming. The dashboard is a little more complicated than that of the PS3 and the Wii. It’s kind of cluttered. And while the Xbox likes to point out it has the capability¬†to access Facebook and Twitter, Hulu and Netflix, the Zune Marketplace and Last.fm, the dashboard layout is just odd when trying to use these apps. Not to mention, you need to pay for an XBL Gold account to do anything else on the Xbox besides play games and download Zune content.

“What about Media Center?”

Well, Media Center is pretty cool. Not only that, but you don’t even need to use Media Center to access media on your home network. As long as it will play natively in Windows Media Player, it will pay on the Xbox. You can stick a thumb drive into the 360 or even plug in¬†your Zune (you can’t even plug the Zune into anything else and use it for squat). The Xbox 360 will connect to your PC, Zune, and even your Windows Phone 7 device.¬† Oh ya, you can take the XBL¬†network with you on your WP7¬†device. This type of connectivity is not duplicated anywhere unless you consider the limited connectivity the Wii has with the Gameboy and DS lines.

But the icing on the cake? Kinect! Actually, like I said earlier, all this motion control is beginning to feel like a simple novelty. Whether it’s the PS Move, the Wii, or the Kinect, motion gaming is really only fun in one condition: as another Slashgear¬†reader points out, all that jumping around is no fun if there’s no one else to laugh at you. I think this might be true, as I don’t play the Kinect¬†when no one is around… interesting. Anyway, the Kinect¬†and the PS Move are in the same boat. They are really cool, but there aren’t any really cool games for them… anymore. There’s some cool things going on with the Kinect¬†in the dev circles, and even cooler things coming from on campus. But that has very little to do with the 360. As far as the console is concerned (the reason MS created the Kinect… right?) the Kinect brought some awesome fun to the system, but like the Move and the Wii itself, the novelty is wearing off.

Where does that leave us?

I’m no official technology expert, just a self proclaimed¬†official technology expert. And until¬†the emergence of the next gen¬†consoles, we’ll never really understand which console was best of this generation. However, it seems fairly clear to me that the Xbox offers the best experience overall. When you compare the gaming networks, the games, the system performance, ergonomics, connectivity, and functionality the Xbox most definitely comes out on top. But if I’m no expert, how can I say such a thing? Easy.

I work at a local teen center. They literally have every configuration of each of the three current generation consoles available for the kids to play. No one ever plays the Move. They will play the Kinect, but tend to play only the dancing game. The Wii is always on, but never touched. The PS3 and the Xbox 360 (with good, old fashioned controllers) are the systems of choice. And even though we have the same games for each system, the kids prefer to play on the Xbox. They will literally wait for someone to get off the Xbox instead of playing the same game on the PS3. And to top it off, more people play Forza on the Xbox 360 with a driving wheel and pedals than the PS3, Move, or Kinect.

That, along with the fact that even though RROD¬†ruined many teens’ Friday nights, people continue to purchase the Xbox 360. As one commenter pointed out, you don’t buy another one if you are fed up with the system and prefer something else.

The only thing that could make the Xbox a definite winner would be giving the Kinect the capabilities Microsoft promised: I want to duck behind my couch to avoid getting shot at in (insert favorite fps here). But even without Kinect fps compatibility,the  Xbox 360 continues to be the console of choice. Even people who have the other two consoles have an Xbox. If the PS3 is good enough, why buy the Xbox? Or maybe you bought the Xbox first. But then, why play the Xbox anymore when you have the awesome power of the Playstation 3? All joking aside, I cannot ignore the popularity of the Xbox 360. A popularity which is almost sufficient enough to carry the Xbox to the top. Powered by XBL, ergonomic controllers, and interconnectivity the Xbox 360 soars above the other consoles. But if the news is anything to be believed, boy have we got some awesome consoles coming at us in the next couple of years.