I didn’t really have anything planned for today, a first for me in this holiday. I usually try to plan at least one thing to do so I don’t spend the whole day in the hotel rotting my brain with TV and bad food. Still I wasn’t in any hurry to plan anything so I decided I’d finally hit up the cafe on the 15th floor for breakfast. The food there was so-so and the coffee was utterly terrible but the view was nice so I slowly made my way through it whilst looking over my Twitter feed. About 10 minutes later I read this tweet which told me that STS-133 would be taking off no sooner than Tuesday next week. As I’d be leaving on Wednesday I immediately flew into a panic knowing that my chances of seeing a shuttle launch were now resting on a hair trigger.
I rushed back to my room and waited patiently for the press conference to start. As it unfolded it became clear that whilst the shuttle had been delayed by one day they were confident that it shouldn’t be delayed any further than that putting the launch time at around 4pm on Tuesday. Relieved I set about finding something to do and over breakfast I had read my good mate (and recently returned blogger)’s post on his recent travels to China. Based on the fact that I had planned anything nor could I be bothered to try and eek something out I took a leaf from his book and decided to just get lost in the town that I was in, taking my camera along for the ride with me.
It was an eye opening experience.
Striding out of the hotel I decided I should go the way I hadn’t really looked at yet, south as far as I could tell. I walked for a little while doing the annoying tourist thing of taking pictures of all the pretty buildings but no less than 30 minutes later did I come across what amounted to a small tropical rainforest, right in the heart of Miami:
Whilst there was little wildlife to speak of (apart from spiders that stretched their webs across every fricking pathway) there were a myriad of different tropical trees, ferns, grasses and other plants that coated this area. Right in the middle of it you’d have trouble remembering that you were in the middle of a metropolis as the dense forest blocked out any sounds of the outside. I spent a good half hour in there just wandering around, well worth the price of admission (free!).
After that I started walking around outside again taking some more pictures of pretty buildings, including one that strangely resembled the dream home I have been building up in my head over the past couple years. It was still well above 30 and 80% humidity so I was quickly becoming dehydrated. Stumbling around I couldn’t find anywhere that was selling bottled water so I made a trek back to my hotel room to cool off and get hydrated again. Once I had done that I thought I’d go and explore the other direction to see what I could dredge up. Realistically I was just going to walk along the shoreline to see if there were any cool shops but what I ended up finding was the Miami outdoor market.
It wasn’t anything special in its own right but it completely blew me away that I had driven past this very spot, twice, and failed to notice it. After purveying the local merchandise I thought I’d grab some lunch. Being a picky bugger I spent the next hour trying to find something finally settling on this place called The Knife which did steaks like Maccas does burgers. I had me a sirloin steak with mashed potatoes and vegetables all for $13. It kind of upset me that that meal was as good if not better than the $40 dinner I had the night before.
Thinking that I had lucked out thus far by just walking randomly I gave it a go again, heading west away from the markets towards what looked like some kind of business centre. On the way I passed the bike rack for an upcoming triathlon with around 500 competitors either bringing their bikes in or getting them repaired at the nearby tents. Off in the distance I spotted a building that looked rather out of place. It was tall but the architecture was nothing like the buildings that surrounded it, I went in for a closer look.
Turns out it’s the high courts of Miami, nothing as amazing as I had made it out to be in my head. Still thanks to the birds circling it and the deliciously climbable exterior I had one of my “Assassin’s Creed” moments where I imagined climbing it and then diving off the side into a bale of hay. With all the lawyers and police present though I didn’t get much closer than the other side of the road, but that didn’t stop me ogling it until it faded from view.
After wandering around for a bit more I headed back to the hotel to workout and then get ready for dinner. I had hunted down a sushi place through Yelp about a 10 minute walk from me. The reviews were good and it wasn’t too pricey so I thought it would be a nice place to have my last dinner here in Miami. The restaurant was well decked out with a giant waterfall feature piece right in the centre of it. The only thing that out did it was the food and the way it was present. Check out how I got my sushi and sashimi combo:
Yeah that’s right, it’s a freaking BOAT! 😀 The sushi itself wasn’t bad either and the wasabi was some of the most potent I’ve ever encountered, and I’ve been to Japan. They also had a good selection of Japanese beers from which I selected a Kirin Ichiban. I’ve had this particular beer before but this one was a little different to those I’ve had back in Australia. Similar nose and mouthfeel but there was a distinct aftertaste that I don’t remember from the Australian version. I may just have to get me some more to compare 😉
Tomorrow I’m making the trek back up to Orlando in order to get ready for the Shuttle launch. I had planned it so I got settled one night and then headed out to see the launch the next day but that won’t be happening now. Fortunately I’ve heard that there might be an air show on so that might replace fill the time that I had originally planned to spend gawking at the shuttle but I’ve had trouble finding info on it. Anyway failing that I’ll just do what I did today in Orlando as it has served me so well today that I’m very keen to repeat the experiment.
I haven’t really blogged a lot about Android handsets mostly because I’ve never owned one of the beasts. My checkered past with the dominant supplier of hardware for the devices had me casting skeptical looks their way for the first year of Android’s existence but it’s become quite clear that since then they’ve managed to release some solid hardware backed up by ever improving software in both the platform and the applications that are being developed for it. The current Android darling (HTC EVO 4G) has been selling out with an almost Apple like fever across the United States. It seems that the Android platform has finally hit critical mass, and people are starting to take notice.
The most notable data points I have to support this view is the often quote number of Android handsets sold per day. Back in February Google announced, much to everyone’s surprise, that they were shipping around 60,000 Android handsets per day. It took another 3 months before they’d quote that same metric again where upon they stunned everyone by saying that their shipped volumes had grown to over 100,000 per day. Two days ago saw them quote this metric once again albeit with the staggering figure of 160,000 sold per day:
Android cofounder and Google vice president Andy Rubin just announced at the Droid X event that 160,000 Android devices are being sold per day. That’s up sharply from last month when Google announced that 100,000 Android devices were being activated each day.
As recently as February the number was just 60,000 per day. The Droid X will begin shipping on July 15 for $200. Given how hot the EVO is selling on Sprint, we can probably expect another jump in those Android sales numbers soon.
If you take those numbers as an average then you get Android sales of approximately 14.4 million per quarter. Compare that to the most recent figures from Apple on their iPhone at about 8.8 million per quarter then it becomes clear that Android is now a very serious competitor in the mobile space. Apple might not be worried though and there’s a good reason for that, they’re taking a leaf out of Nintendo’s book (hear me out here people).
You see long before the Wii was released Nintendo was struggling to keep up with other 2 of the major console gaming giants. Sony was dominating the market with their Playstation 2 and Nintendo’s current answer, the GameCube, wasn’t the smash hit that its past generations were. Knowing that they had to innovate or die Nintendo began the process of identifying their market and began to reform themselves around this idea. In essence their target market, the loyal customers of decades gone past, had grown up and now saw Nintendo’s offerings as childish. The now grown up gamers were more happy with the offerings of Sony and Microsoft respectively and Nintendo, not wanting to lose the family friendly title they’d earned themselves, began to look beyond the gamer title to discover their biggest untapped market: people who didn’t play games. The result is the Nintendo Wii a console that was so wildly popular that they were sold out constantly for months at a time. Nintendo knew that some of the biggest markets are the ones with people not using your products.
Contrasting this with the Apple vs Android battle the similarities to Nintendo start to become apparent. Apple only makes two handsets both of which are really the same product. Granted it’s a pretty good product that is arguably the cause for the creation of its current competitors. Android on the other hand is now available on a multitude of devices with plenty more in the pipeline from multiple manufacturers. For Android sales this means that there’s a handset to suit almost any mobile phone user out there opening up a much wider market than that of the iPhone. Thus many of the features reserved for the annals of the smartphone users have now trickled down to the lower end of the market. This is simply a market that Apple won’t capture because realistically, that’s not where the money is for them.
There are of course pitfalls to capturing such a wide market. Platform fragmentation is something that all developers wanting to bring their application onto Android handsets have to deal with. For good programmers it’s an easy but time consuming task to overcome as you either aim your application at the lowest common denominator thereby limiting its capabilities or you deliberately shut out a segment of the market, potentially damaging your revenue streams or potential user base. Whilst this could be overcome with faster response times from handset manufacturers with software updates it still stands as a barrier to developers adopting the Android platform and it remains to be seen how Google will cope with it.
Realistically even though I expect Android to become the dominate player in the smartphone market I don’t think Apple will be affected that much. They carved out their product niche a long time ago and the users they courted back then will remain loyal to them for a long time to come. Android with their shotgun approach to market domination will capture more users overall but I think that for a long time to come they’ll still be playing catch up with Apple in terms of market potential. In the end though the smartphone war means better products and a bigger catalog of handsets to choose from, a boon to consumers everywhere.
It’s one of those rare occasions where everyone wins. Apple gets their profitable niche, Google creates an open platform that anyone can use and we get ever more capable phones. Isn’t that just plain awesome?