Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Archive for February 2nd, 2012

Peek Killing Off US Email and Twitter Devices

Sharif Sakr:

There’s an old saying that eternal love lasts for two years. Apparently, that also applies to Peek’s bare bones email and Twitter devices, which launched in 2008 and 2009 respectively. We’ve received emails from users anxious that their handsets — all running on T-Mo’s network — stopped working on January 30th, despite them having paid up to $299 for “lifelong service.”

The devices were clearly not going to be a success, and there’s simply no way that they could have provided lifelong service. Despite this, the few customers that Peek did have are now left with a totally useless device, instead of a mostly useless one.

Hear That Noise? That’s Violet Blue Back-Pedalling…

Shawn King:

Again, Blue’s attempt at redefinition of the term notwithstanding, the term “Booth Babe” has always been used to refer to scantily clad women used to lure people into a trade show booth. I’ve never heard anyone ever claim anything different. Until now.

While King doesn’t quote the revision Violet Blue added to her crass article on ZDNet, it shows a clearly idiotic attempt at back-pedalling:

“Booth babe” is a job description. Some people (none of whom are booth babes) seem to think the term indicates a gendered insult.

It isn’t an insult—it’s just a pejorative, demeaning description of what many consider to be a blatant attempt at sexualised marketing where it isn’t even relevant. It’s an Apple-related trade show, not AVN.

I have no problem with booth babes and women that want to be sexy in tech […]

She’s a developer, not a “booth babe”. Why is this so difficult?

[…] – unless they don’t know anything about their products or are unapproachable. The problem I have is with booth babe culture is the way men treat them, and the way men see and define booth babes.

You saw, defined and treated a non-booth babe in the way that you claim to despise.

This article is impressionistic, and not review or investigative.

As King put it in his article, someone on Twitter who wasn’t even at Macworld was able to find out who she is.

As it happens, the woman described in the beginning of this article was one many thought was a hired model in a sea of hired models.

Many? Again, as King points out, you were the only one.

She was, in fact, the unhappiest looking female company rep at Macworld. After that, how you view booth babes is up to you.

She isn’t a booth babe.

Apple Was the Only Mobile Phone Maker to Grow U.S. Market Share in Q4 2011

Matthew Panzarino:

Almost every overall mobile phone maker lost marker share in the final quarter of 2011, according to the latest Comscore numbers. Almost every one except Apple, that is, who grew its market share among all US mobile subscribers 2.2% to a 12.4% share of the market.

Overall, Android grew as a platform, but not one of the manufacturers grew market share. Apple had a scarcely-believable quarter.

Reported iMessage Bug Isn’t a Bug

Jim Dalrymple:

It was like the perfect storm of circumstances. If the employee had of simply toggled the iMessage on and off, or if the customer had of put in a different SIM card, none of this would have happened.

“This was an extremely rare situation that occurred when a retail employee did not follow the correct service procedure and used their personal SIM to help a customer who did not have a working SIM,” Apple representative Natalie Harrison told The Loop.


PocketNow obtained a copy of a Windows Phone 8 video only intended for partners, and the list of new features is long. Some of the features sound fantastic:

Similar to Windows 8, seamless SkyDrive integration will also play a big role with cloud syncing.


However, the biggest app details revealed are related to Skype integration. It is said to be fully integrated at the OS level.

OS-level VOIP is huge. If I recall correctly, there was a dedicated Skype cellphone released a number of years ago, and it was a spectacular marketplace failure. The difference here is that Microsoft’s platform is on phones that are shipping in volume. Not enormous volume, mind you, but they are selling.

On the other hand, a few of the features seem painful. For example:

Not only will Windows Phone 8 share the same Metro style user interface as Windows 8 for tablets and PCs, but developers can reuse the same code for both operating systems.

I assume this is related to the ARM processor compatibility in Windows 8, but it seems like a recipe for horrible ports. It’s worth keeping in mind that Microsoft sees the tablet and PC as more similar, therefore the OS can be shared between the two. This is in direct contrast to Apple and Google, both of which see the tablet and phone as more alike, as made evident by the use of iOS and Android on both platforms.

Brazil’s New Overtime Law

Sheena Rossiter for Monocle:

Brazil’s Superior Labour Court is looking to take up a new law this month that will allow employees who check emails or answer phone calls after work to apply for overtime.

The article makes a number of good points, but the facet I’m most interested in relates to Foxconn’s new factories in Brazil. If the government there is this stringent about overtime, perhaps the working conditions at those factories will be dramatically improved over those in China.


Apple has lept to third place in terms of total phones shipped. That’s not smartphones shipped, just phones. First-placed Nokia and second-place Samsung both ship enormous quantities of basic cellphones; Apple only ships smartphones. Also, take a look at the third chart, where you can see both Motorola and Sony Ericsson—the two grandfathers of the cellphone market—both getting squashed out.

Dixons Apparently Sucks

John Gruber linked to this Wall Street Journal post by Ben Rooney, who writes:

It would be safe to say that eyebrows were raised at news that Apple is hiring John Browett, the chief executive of British technology retailer Dixons, to head Apple Inc.’s global retail division.


Apple stores are the epitome of tasteful design, with no visible cash registers, highly trained staff and an exacting attention to visual appeal; think gleaming white counters, bleached wood floors, minimal and tasteful signage.

Currys and PC World (Dixon’s face of retail in the U.K.) are more in the “stack ‘em high, sell ‘em cheap” end of retail, with all of the associated aesthetic appeal of that school of selling: garish purples, violent yellows, stacks of products, cluttered, aggressive, frenetic.

Someone, and I can’t remember who, commented that Dixons was like the worst of Best Buy and Radio Shack combined. This is certainly the vibe I get from British relatives and friends. Gruber astutely commented:

I’m not implying that Browett was hired to or intends to Dixons-ify the Apple Store experience — just pointing out that it’s a curious hire, also given how rarely Apple hires executives from outside the company.

It certainly is baffling. Browett was the CEO of Dixons, a very shitty retailer, and left to persue an SVP position at Apple, arguably one of the best consumer retail experiences anywhere.