Free internet, Fire flops, and iWork for all

“The internet is the ultimate vehicle for free expression. It is simply too important to allow broadband providers to make the rules.”

Yesterday an historic decision was made by the FCC. In a 3-2 vote, it was decided that the Internet will be reclassified as a utility under Title II. If you’re not sure what that means, check out our handy primer. The debate itself was incredibly interesting, though the dissenters hauled out the same old arguments that Net Neutrality will ultimately mean higher prices and worse service for consumers. An estimated 4 million people wrote or called the FCC to voice their support of Net Neutrality, and it’s heartening to see that the FCC listened.

Mobile was a major point in the proceedings. FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, in her fantastic speech (in which even MC Hammer earned a mention), she said, “Users of mobile devices should not be relegated to a second-class Internet”. FCC Chair Tom Wheeler added, “Mobile is a critical pathway, and it must be open and fair”. We couldn’t agree more. For an ever-growing  number of young or lower income users, mobile is becoming the primary (and in many cases only) way they access the Internet. For mobile Internet to remain open is critical for those users.

Unsurprisingly, the reactions from service providers came quickly. Verizon responded with an incredibly clever and awfully snarky press release written in Morse code. AT&T’s response was significantly more serious. Head of Public Policy Jim Cicconi wrote on his blog that, “Instead of a clear set of rules moving forward, with a broad set of agreement behind them, we once again face the uncertainty of litigation, and the very real potential of having to start over – again – in the future.” We can undoubtedly expect federal lawsuits and fights over this for the foreseeable future, but we can only hope that cooler heads prevail and that Net Neutrality continues to have its day.

Developers? What Developers?

Well, the Fire phone continues to be an embarrassment to Amazon. Not only did it sell only 35,000 units and earn some cringe-worthy reviews, but it looks like the few app developers that were on board are quickly rowing their dinghies to shore. Geek Wire reports that developers who had made apps for the phone’s launch don’t plan to do so again, citing the lack of payoff in consumer adoption as the reason.

We’ve talked about Amazon’s struggles to find its voice, and this resounding flop just underscores the fact that Amazon is a logistics company, not a hardware manufacturer. So what’s Amazon to do? We suggest they just let this one die quietly, though that does leave the very few people who did adopt the Fire phone out in the cold. 

Apple v. Google: It’s On! (Again)

Another day, another spar between Apple and Google. This time, Apple is taking on the juggernaut that is Google Docs, and releasing a cloud-based version of iWork. Using just your Apple login you’ll be able to access Pages, Numbers, and Keynote, all without owning your own Mac or iOS device. This is an incredibly smart move for Apple, bringing their products to people who might not necessarily be able to afford an iPhone or a Mac.

Google has done an amazing job with Google Docs but they are not known for design or usability. I for one would love to see how Apple brings its keen UX skills to bear on cloud based document collaboration. Very excited indeed.