Chris Hannah


Being Late to the Party - Chris' Column Issue 2

Last week in the second issue of my Column, I shared my thoughts on being late to the party in regards to launching a new product/service, and what that means. pockets).

This is something that happens to a lot of companies, that release a new product, when there are already multiple competitors already out there. The situation that made me think of this article was the new messaging app by Google, Allo.

There are tons of different messaging apps out already, with the most notable being Apple’s Messages, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Twitter DM’s, SnapChat, and loads more. And with all of these, they come with a basic foundation of features.

This is the problem with Allo, as it’s a new product, that clearly has competitors on the market already, but it hasn’t really done enough to become a worthwhile replacement. Because even if you’re using a certain app/service, if a new rival comes out with something functionally the same then you’re most likely not going to swap. And if the new product has a lower level of functionality, then I’m pretty sure that number will be a lot lower. Sure you can send fun messages with stickers, emojis, and cool effects. But what you don’t get is at least a basic level of privacy and security, support for devices like the iPad, Mac, and PC, and anything special to make a switch worthwhile.

I think this is down to being late to the party, in that this app may of been a decent messaging competitor a few years ago, but now the common level of features have grown so much, there’s a higher standard needed for new products.

I think you narrow the main things a new product/service needs to be successful are:
Include the basic level of features that the current competitors have.
Add something special so that you stand out, and actually provide a different experience.
Ensure that the switching process is as smooth as possible.
These obviously won’t make something successful, but in my opinion they are three rules you have to follow, in order for your product to not be unsuccessful.

Sometimes you look at a certain market, or a type of product and you think “I can do this much better”, but normally all you’re doing is branching off a mainstream product and creating a more niche experience.

It’s all down to there being loads of people around the world making great products, and with so much quality competition, the hurdles for a newcomer are far greater. So as products evolve, the quality of user experience increases, and generally as users do things differently, it means new products have to do so much more, and take a lot longer to develop than before.

You could even relate this problem to my column from last week, “Diversity in Tech”, where I wrote about the lack of choice in mobile phone technology. And this could be down to the fact that the current devices are of such a high quality, and the services they come with have matured to be stable and also relied upon, that the cost of switching is always increasing.

Every week I send a new issue of my newsletter "Chris’ Column", where I write about technology and everything related. I try to keep it short, and only one story per week.

You can subscribe to this via the Column page, or on TinyLetter (where you can also find the full archive).

Every Friday I send out the new issue, and also the previous issue will be posted to this blog at the same time.

Diversity in Tech - Chris' Column Issue 1

Last week in the first issue of my new Column/Newsletter, I shared my thoughts on diversity in tech. Not the people in the tech industry, the actual technology that surrounds us every day (usually in our pockets).

I’ll start off by asking you to look at your phone, most likely it’s a large rectangular shape with slightly rounded edges, a display that nearly covers the device, and a few buttons. On top of that, there’s a good chance it’s black as well.

So, could they be any different? Or have we reached simply reached peak phone design?

I personally think that we should be moving in the opposite direction. Companies now know how to develop decent operating systems, and with Android being open-source, and other manufacturers providing a lot of the components, you’re really just putting it all together with a nice design.

I remember when a phone store had endless amounts of different models, which came in different colours, sizes, functions, and even completely different shapes. You could get a flip-phone, a phone for music, a phone with a physical keyboard, or even a really weird square Nokia phone.

You had a choice.

These words may seem odd, especially coming from an Apple enthusiast myself. But I too sometimes think to myself would I be better off moving to another ecosystem, It’s just that there isn’t much choice available. And when something does pop up, it never gets far enough to stabilise and catch up with the current technology in the market.

It could be that as technology is advancing, the step for a new phone manufacturer/company is too high, and the risk just isn’t worth it.

I was actually searching recently to see how many (reasonably modern) “smart” phones had a physical keyboard. I found one, the BlackBerry PRIV, and while it seems to be a very well made device, it’s still just the one phone.

So when companies like Microsoft are thinking, “how can we grow our mobile phone business?”, why not take a leaf out of Apple’s book, and just think different (not that I’m saying they are the exception) . Nothing needs to be the same, and as much as the Android adverts say it, the devices may have a slightly different screen size, or curve radius, they’re still pretty much the same phone.

Because there are very few big phone manufacturers, the average consumer will most likely buy either an iPhone, or a popular Android phone (usually Samsung). And because of this, people expect the same amount of innovation and diversity they used to get, but from a way smaller amount of companies. In my opinion, we need less market dominance, and more choice.

I can’t say what differences the phones need, as I’m not a product designer. But as a consumer it certainly does get boring looking at all the “innovation”, which has really just been years of iterative design. It’s not just your mobile phone either, most laptops nowadays look like the MacBook Air, game consoles are just black boxes, and I’m sure there’s a ton more.

I do however see a few companies taking the first step towards my ideal of technological diversity, with Nextbit and their Robin phone, the new “Moment” wearable, and you can even squeeze Tesla in here as a company striving to do things differently.

The big hurdle I think the tech industry needs to overcome, is when a company does do something different, not to directly copy them. Because that’s not really helping anyone. If someone comes up with something original, great, so should you.

I’ll end the first issue with a slightly modified version of Apple’s well known slogan:

“Think Different. And when you’re done with that, do it again.”

People deserve choices.

Every week I send a new issue of my newsletter "Chris’ Column", where I write about technology and everything related. I try to keep it short, and only one story per week.

You can subscribe to this via the Column page, or on TinyLetter (where you can also find the full archive).

Every Friday I send out the new issue, and also the previous issue will be posted to this blog at the same time.

Weekly Column

I’m starting something new, again.

I’ve always wanted to do a regular piece of writing, be it on a tech blog, magazine, or anything where I can cover a specific piece of news or opinion. But opportunities for this don’t come around very often, so I thought why not just start it myself?

So I’m going to now try and write one piece every week (separate to this blog), and share it via an email newsletter.

It’s all powered by TinyLetter, and I love how everything is very minimal, and focuses on plain content. I don’t want to create more junk for your inbox, so hopefully a small email every week will suffice.

I haven’t got any guidelines for myself yet, but I will aim to keep it around 500 words.

It would be awesome if you subscribed, I will get writing the first column and it will go out every Friday for your weekend reading.

You can subscribe using the form below, or by going to the TinyLetter page.