Saturday, August 13, 2016

Olympic Comeback

The Summer Olympics come once every 4 years and in the tech world, 4 years is a long...long time. That's because technological innovation is always moving at a fast pace and slowing down is not an option. In the case of this year's Rio Olympics which have officially started last Friday, a lot of things have changed since the last Summer Olympics was held in London.

Back when that happened in 2012, our site just started off as a new tech blog and my experience with mobile technology has just begun. Today's article will serve as a review of what are the big things that have been happening in the last 4 years and how the technology industry has changed.

My biggest memory of the 2012 London Summer Olympics has got to be the special edition Galaxy S III and Galaxy Note smartphones which look plain when compared to the Olympic edition Galaxy S7 edge that Samsung is offering to athletes and fans this year. Both the Samsung Galaxy S III and Galaxy Note have since then matured into bigger and better smartphones.

For example, the Galaxy Note7 which was announced last week is a big leap forward in terms of design and hardware compared to the original 5.3-inch Galaxy Note.

Back in 2012, the hottest games were like Temple Run and Jetpack Joyride. And today, those games still exist on a wide range of platforms and are still decent games to burn time. But the trend for the last couple of weeks has been all about Pokémon Go. In a lot of ways, the arrival of the Pokémon Go game is much bigger than the likes of Temple Run and Jetpack Joyride as it became an overnight sensation when it was first announced.

Plus the fact that it was only available in a couple of countries at launch makes it a more impressive feat. My guess is that the game will soon become like what Jetpack Joyride and Temple run ended up being, a game for only the hardcore fans. Pokémon Go does have the potential to become more popular over long periods due to it's challenge-centric game model.

Moving on to the computer hardware, today we have the GTX Titan X which is based off Nvidia's long awaited Pascal architecture. I can still remember that back in 2012, I was reporting about Nvidia's roadmap for a small GPU that packed a punch and 4 years down the road, Pascal is now a reality. The GTX 680/690 and Radeon R7970 from yesteryear have met their match due to the demand for better experiences which included 4K and VR experiences.
I have not much more to say about the graphics card and desktop processor market because I have evidently lost my enthusiasm for computer hardware. But my focus has shifted to mobile technology and one of the biggest rumors in 2012 was the idea of the Lumia pureview. Back in 2012, the 808 Pureview was a revolutionary device and a lot of people were betting on Nokia to bring that 41MP sensor to the Windows Phone platform.

Nokia did eventually bring their Pureview technology to a modern smartphone but it was in the form of an 8.7MP optically stabilized sensor on the Lumia 920. And if you have been keeping up with Nokia/Lumia news, you would know that a year after the Lumia 920 was announced, Nokia finally released the unicorn phone, the Lumia 1020 with a 41MP camera. The phone itself was actually heavily leaked on the internet before it's formal announcement.
I bought the Lumia 1020 in 2015"the Lumia 1020 was like a dream phone. With 2GB of RAM paired with the 41MP optically stabilized camera with Zeiss optics, the Lumia 1020 was on top of the world when it comes to smartphone photography. But it being a flagship phone, the price for 41 megapixels on a pocketable device did not come cheap." Continue reading.
In the world where picture quality dwarfs the megapixel size, the successor of the Lumia 1020 (dubbed McLaren) was cleared of it's existence once Microsoft bought over Nokia's phone division. Around the same time, Microsoft announced that they will be acquiring Nokia's phone business as well as several key experiences from Nokia like the Lumia brand. The rest as you know is history and the change in Microsoft's leadership from Ballmer to Nadella prompted Microsoft to reverse the Nokia acquisition and sweep it under the rug like nothing has happened.

The Nokia Microsoft deal was never meant to be in my opinion. Microsoft's core business and company type is still categorized as a software company and that is why they have been working hard in the last few months to revert the Nokia acquisition. Fans of the Lumia brand are clearly not happy with what Microsoft is doing but as is, Microsoft is targeting their phones for business and less towards consumers. B2B over B2C.

Speaking of Nokia, there has been recent reports confirming that Nokia will be making a comeback to the smartphone market in 2017 and their return will be an Android one. Nokia did make an android phone when Windows Phone was still the craze but that was just the Nokia X and Nokia X2 which were low end devices with poor software. Some people believe that Nokia's comeback with Android in 2017 is going to be big but I am personally a little skeptical about it.

That is because the people that made the Nokia phones from yesteryear have moved to Microsoft and has since then been disbanded into the wild to numerous different companies. Coupled with the fact that competition in the Android space today is very tough with great hardware from numerous companies, Nokia might not stand a chance with the battle between Samsung. It's hard to predict right now but Nokia does have the brand advantage that people might be willing to compromise on.
That's the Nokia story and back in 2012, people on the internet not only proclaimed that Nokia and Windows Phone were destined to fail miserably but another company was also doomed and that was BlackBerry (formerly known as Research in Motion). Since then, BlackBerry 10 has came out and the launch was not so successful but their efforts didn't go to waste as the launch of BB10 sent a strong message to BlackBerry that a secure proprietary operating system is not the what the market wants.

In a way, the somewhat lackluster launch of BB10 gave us the BlackBerry that we know today. A company that is open to change and people can now enjoy the best of BlackBerry on a modern operating system (Android). This also serves as a proof that things are not as bad as they look. BlackBerry managed to not file for bakruptcy even after the failed launch of BB10.

And finally, we have Apple. The Cupertino based company is still the "innovative" company that made iPhone and iPads in 2012. In the last 4 years, Apple has made bigger iPhones and iPads, introduced a smaller Mac Pro and MacBook and also made a smartwatch that has a maximum price tag of US$ 17,000.

Some things however still remains the same. Apple is still giving the cold shoulder to Google and they are still battling out with Samsung. On the other hand, Samsung is still leading the way in the Android world but they did have some shortcomings with the Galaxy S4 and Galaxy S5. But since the Galaxy S6, the korean based company has regained the public interest as a premier android smartphone maker.

Of course, the smartphone world today is not all about iPhones and Galaxy phones. The spike in cheap and good smartphones have created a new category called the affordable flagship. Companies like OnePlus and Xiaomi in particular are excelling in this category and I am expecting bigger smartphone makers like Samsung and Apple to follow the affordable flagship trend in the future.

Till the next Olympics!