About Kfir Pravda

Posts by Kfir Pravda:

Android Apps: From Open Market to Flee Market

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nokia e61i symbian v google nexus android
Image by osde8info via Flickr

Google released their Android app inventor, an intuitive development tool for non developers, that enables anyone to develop and publish an android app.
Open ecosystem followers rejoice!
Well, sorry, but it seems that instead of improving Android’s ecosystem, this latest move will only harm it.
You see, Android is becoming the new Symbian. Too many devices, too many different features in each phone, and not enough standardization. We are back to square one, explaining to our customers which phones are supported by the apps we develop for them.
And now things are going to get worse. Instead of improving user experience and providing better apps, Google are opening their app market to a flood of poorly written, mostly useless and probably badly designed applications.
When deciding between “open” and “just works” I chose the later. Ecosystem should cater consumers with easy to use, high quality, and screened apps.
Google will win the smartphone market. The sheer volume of new android phones will eventually eclipse Apple‘s production power. But at the end of the day, Android Is heading towards lower consumer satisfaction, bigger headache for developers, and a clear decision to chose quantity over quality.

A year later, Iran Proves that the Gun is Mightier Than the Tweet

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TEHRAN, IRAN - JUNE 17:  Iranian supporters of...
Image by Getty Images via @daylife

Last year, brave citizens of Iran decided they had enough. After a suspected rigged election, thousands of young Iranians started protesting against the elected government. The movement, called the Green Movement, arranged mass demonstrations, and clashed with security forces.
And while the government controlled the media, it couldn’t control Twitter.
Protesters, Green Movement activists, and ordinary citizens, used Twitter to coordinate protest efforts, and tell the world what the government was trying to hide.
Blogs, magazines, and newspapers, were full of articles about the power of Twitter, and how important it is in such events.

Year later, the green movement is crushed. Iran’s Basig, the ever faithful Republican Guard, crushed the resistance. Demonstrators were shot and killed. Some were jailed and tortured. The first anniversary of the biggest uprise against Ahmadinejad regime ended quietly.

Twitter is an amazing network. I use it every day.
But we should remember that it is just a website, a social network, a communication medium. At the end of the day, Twitter won’t bring democracy to countries under dictatorship. It might prove a film distributor that it is worthwhile to bring the latest horror flick to the theater near you. It could help raise funds for nobel cause.
But at the end, as Iran case proves, the gun is mightier than the Tweet.

iOS4 – Multitasking done wrong

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After couple of days with iOS4, the new iPhone/iPad operation system, I find myself a bit confused. Yes, it’s that multitasking feature that everyone were waiting for it, if not due to its usefulness, then in order to shut all those Android lovers mouths. But it was implemented wrong. Here’s why:
1. I still don’t get it – which app supports multi-tasking and which just freezes? The main difference is the experience. The ones that don’t really support Multitasking just start again when you chose them from the open apps menu. The experience isn’t consistant, which is pretty annoying.
2. Who the hell decided to use the home button to reach the open apps? Sometimes clicking the home button works as intended, but in some cases I reach the search screen.
3. The apps don’t quit on their own. Now I have gazillion open apps. What am I supposed to do now?

I’d like to have file upload, VoIP calls, and IM sessions open in the background. But who needs this app cacophony?

2 thoughts about iPhone 4 and FaceTime

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Steve Jobs is going to revolutionize the video telephony market. Here are 2 posts discussing how it would affect the market and what does it mean that it is based on open standards:
Thank You Mr. Jobs
The Technology Behind  FaceTime

These posts were published in IMTC‘s blog, an international consortium of visual communication companies,  and were written by me and Anatoli Levine, President of IMTC and Director of product management, Americas  at RADVISION.

Affiliate Marketing, Brands and Social Media

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A lot of exciting things happened recently, and can’t wait to tell you all about it. However they affected our blog updates, and we are now getting back to speed with that too…
The incentives of Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is an important tool in online marketer toolbox. Companies big and small use this method to reach new audiences effectively. The principle is simple – Company A provides incentives to everyone online to promote their product. Usually a cut of the deal is paid to the affiliate. Companies such as Amazon provide dedicated links and widgets for these partners who in turn distribute them to their audience.
Besides Amazon and other well known brands, many found affiliate marketing a profitable business in other business line such as diet and nutrition and investment tools . In many cases a small operation of two to three smart people, with strong knowledge in SEO and PPC can make a lot of money in these activities.
Affiliate marketing is in many cases more a science than art. Where everything can be measured, smart affiliate marketers optimize their efforts again and again to reach the best conversion rate possible. The ability to instantly measure every activity as well as reassign resources makes it a very dynamic business.
Some in this business are using tactics that are ethically questionable such as fake blogs and spam.
Brands are interested in creating meaningful relationships with their audience, in order to make their brand affect buying decisions.
In short, while affiliate marketing is all about one night stands with customers, branding is more like a long term relationship. More

OMG! Twitter wants to make money!

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Twitter announced that it will stop 3rd party apps from injecting ads to users streams without its permission. The reason is simple – they are going to launch a new ads products that, well, injects ads to user streams ( that’s the idea behind promoted twits).
And immediately the blogsphere starts with it’s almost knee jerking response: they are alienating developers! How can they do these? Another post describes the tearful eyes of a developer whose company is ruined by this move.
Come on guys, let’s stop the bs. Twitter is a company. With board of directors. And investors. And bills to pay. And this company managed to accidentally create an amazing service. So they need to pay the bills. Simple. Easy. They could improve the way they interact with developers, but nothing more.
Let’s grow up. Social platforms change the world. And should make money for their owners.
The dumbest thing ever is to base a business model and a company entirely on someone ELSE’s platform.
Enough said.

Tonight, Dr. House Will Redefine Filmmaking, and HDSLR Market

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LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 25:  Actor Hugh Laur...
Image by Getty Images via Daylife

If I told Dr. Gregory House that his season finale will affect the world of photography and film making, he’d probably answer with some witty-yet-rude comment about my possible film maker wonnabe frustration, and go to annoy Dr. Wilson.
But strangely enough, House MD 6th season finale, aired tonight,  will be one of the most important events in the history of HDSLR filmmaking and affordable filmography as a whole. More to it, the debate that started due to the show’s  Director of Photography  decision will affect not only these markets, but could be also a game changer to the whole filmmaking and TV industry, as well for the innovative camera company RED.
The reason is simple. House MD’s season finale was not shot on film as usual, but on a $2,700 camera from Canon, 5D Mark II. And that’s pretty damn affordable, in comparison to the cost of high end cameras.
This is the story how simple cameras are changing the way stories are being told, how money is lost and gained, and how the filmmaking industry is changing forever.

The Beginning of a Revolution?

As I’ve laid out in a previous post, HDSLR, stills DSLR cameras with video capabilities, are slowly changing the world of video and film making.The ability to use a wide varity of lenses, the high quality image, portability of the cameras, and high quality sensors, sounds like an indy filmmaker dream.
Therefore it is not a huge surprise to see online forums full with enthusiasts, as well as Vimeo groups with stunning videos made on a budget. Vincent Lafouret, LA based filmmaker was one of the first people who advocated these cameras, in the best way possible: creating this stunning video:

Not too long after that Canon introduced its 7D model (which I proudly own), that introduced new key features (such as the most coveted frame rate of 24 frames per second – the same as film), in almost half the price of the 5D Mark II. And then the 550D, half the price of the 7D.

The ability to produce amazing looking videos was quickly advocated by the gear company Zacuto and Philip Bloom, a gifted video maker who contributed a lot to the community through his blog and videos explaining how to best utilize these cameras.
Even my filmmaking hero Robert Rodriguez, was caught using these cameras for some of his productions.

Money To Be Made?
Using an HDSLR camera for video requires more than just a camera. As these cameras are built for stills photography in mind, their ergonomics and features don’t answer some key needs of video makers. And where there is a void in the market, there is money to be made. A new market for support gear and rigs was born, with companies such as Zacuto and RedRock Micro leading the pack. These companies, originating mainly from the film and video industry, price their equipment accordingly. And while cameras cost less and less due to mass production, HDSLR video makers find themselves spending more money on rigs than on their camera. Still, price point of a fully equipped HDSLR camera provides amazing production value for fraction of the price of comparable equipment.

From Hobbyists to Mainstream
In the last months two important announcements changed the way HDSLR cameras are perceived:
George Lucas, the visionary filmmaker, announced that he will use 5D Mark II in his next film. We are talking about theatrical release. The real thing. With Lucas. The guy behind Star Wars.
AND Greg Yaitanes, Director of House MD, announced on Twitter that the season finale, airing tonight , was shot entirely on 5D Mark II.
These announcements have a huge impact on the HDSLR market, and filmmaking as a whole. HDSLR cameras are ready for prime time TV and feature films. And they cost a fraction of a professional HD video camera, not to mention film equipment.

Since the birth of YouTube, indy filmmakers and budget productions could easily distribute their content, but couldn’t afford to get the production value of high end films. Now they can do it.

It is all about talent now.

In the next post we’ll cover the reactions and backfire against the HDSLR movement.

iPad Chronicles (2): App Store – Home of Overpriced, Buggy Apps

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iPad blurs the line between traditional devices
Image by myuibe via Flickr

After spending tens of dollars on iPad apps, I can tell you one thing – developers are still in the dark re the UI of this device. However it doesn’t stop them from charging more than $10 for an ever crashing app.
While iWork apps prove to be stable and usable, others are just riding the hype. I couldn’t finish a 2 minutes session of Elements, without a crash. It didn’t stop the developers from charging $14 for it. And yes, I am talking about a periodic table, with fancy pictures. Compare it to an amazingly useful GoodReader, that costs $0.99, and you start to see how misguided the iPad apps pricing is. SocialReader is another great idea done wrong, that cost $1.99.
And while Things is overpriced but useful ($19.99), the guys from Omni Group are asking for $49.99 for OmniGraffle, a diagram application.

I have to admit that some of the best applications are the free ones. NYT is awesome. The same for Bloomberg and BBC. Gaurdian’s Eyewitness app is great too.

Now, I am all for pricing applications based on their value. But many of the apps on my iPad are simply unstable to the point of unusable.

I have a short list of apps that I really like to use. But I will wait until sanity regained in the pricing of iPad apps.

The Myth of Openness- Response to O’Reilly

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Windows v0.0
Image by . SantiMB . via Flickr

Apple is continuously under fire for lack of openness. Once the industry’s underdog, as it’s market power grows, Apple slowly becoming the target of many attacks, the latest one from Tim O’Reilly.

Interestingly enough, Apple never claimed to be open. Or nice. Apple claimed one thing only – that it knows how to create great innovative products. They aren’t cheap. They are good. and that’s how the Cupertino based company mange to have 10% market share with 83% market cap in comparison to Microsoft.

The myth of openness
Being open is a business decision. Nothing more and nothing less. Some companies harness openness to cut development cost (open source companies are great example). Some do it in order to cultivate a vibrant development community that in turn increase its value and market power (Google is a good example). But there is nothing sacred or better in openness.

The irony is that one of the most so called open companies in the world, Twitter, just dropped an A bomb on its ecosystem, when it announced the development of desktop and mobile clients. While the blogsphere is attacking Apple and praising Twitter, the industry darling itself single-handedly sent the companies that made it so succesful to the deadpool.

So, let’s stop being naive. At the end, it is all about business. The rest is fluff.

Last Chance to be in Think Next 2010

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I’ve written about this event here – and you should be there. I know I will. And because I’d like to see you, here are some last minute codes for free exclusive invitation:
Each code is limited for 1o invitations only, and some of them were already used – so time is NOT on your side.
See you there.