Three Companies I Like
Apple. The whole culture around Apple is simply amazing. People make fake photos of press events and upcoming products. Press events are covered live by several web sites. Geeks have finally embraced Apple and Macs are becoming much more mainstream. Apple's products have always been innovative and set the bar for design (and now with the switch to Intel, performance) that everyone else seeks to reach.
Microsoft. I was originally going to put Microsoft in the "Three I Don't" side, but couldn't really think of anything more to say about it than "I'm not excited about them as much as I was 6 months ago." I think in large part that has to do with Scoble (and Niall Kennedy) leaving Microsoft, leaving me with 0 Microsoft bloggers in my blogroll. That said, Microsoft still has some great products coming down the pipe, notably Vista and Office 2007. They will, however, face a lot of competition in the next year, particularly in the video games division with the Wii and PS3 releases imminent (not to mention against Apple's Leopard in the OS space). Still, Vista RC1 seems to have gotten a lot better than Beta 2; the new Office Ribbon has also had good uptake; and the XBox 360 (with XBox Live Arcade) has been a wonderful platform for both mainstream and casual games and will have had a year's worth of experience before facing the Wii and PS3.
Yahoo. Things have been coming along, albeit slowly, in terms of the integration of Yahoo's Web 2.0 acquisitions into it's mainstream content. We now have "Add to del.icio.us" links on every Flickr page and Flickr thumbnails on del.icio.us bookmarks. Also, not only is Flickr's geotagging feature is great as a standalone feature, it also does a great job of showing off Yahoo's new map technology. I hadn't known that Yahoo had finally made the switch to AJAXy maps, but after using it with the geotagging, I almost like it better than Google Maps. There's only so much that can be different in the two map services, but I feel like Yahoo's does a better job of labeling minor roads and landmarks.
Three I Don't
Google. The "throw a bunch of stuff at the wall and see what sticks" defines Google's strategy and I don't like it. I feel that it's hard to build a following for a company when you haven't given your fans enough time to really like your products before throwing something new at them. I think it's also going to be tough for Google to balance monetization of user data and easing privacy concerns. You can either piss off investors by not adding context-sensitive ads to Writely (as an example), or you can piss off your users by making them question your commitment to privacy when they see ads related to their top-secret business plan show up in a sidebar. The features of Google that I use have been around for at least 2 years, meaning that in my eyes (and probably the eyes of many others), the company has done very little in the past two years, a long time in any industry, but an especially long time on the internet.
Sony. Talk about a lack of ability to listen to one's customers. Sony has been stalwart in their approach to the PS3. They've defended their outrageous price tags to the death and really think that more graphics and more power will make for a better gaming experience. The success of XBox Live Arcade (and the Nintendo DS for that matter) point more accurately to the future of gaming: simpler, casual and more fun games. Case in point: despite having Madden 07 at our fingertips, I think we've spent more time trying to get 6 black pearls in Hexic. Grand Theft Auto or Zuma. What would your mom rather play? What would you rather your 9-year old play? Gaming aside, Sony bills the PS3 as the cheapest Bluray player on the market. While $600 may be cheap for a Bluray player, I don't know if many people will pay anything for a Bluray player unless it can also play HD-DVD or until the dust settles in the format wars. By pricing their gaming system at $600, they've effectively created an alliance between Microsoft and Nintendo. For the same $600, one could pick up an XBox 360 and Wii and have access to both system's libraries, plus everything on XBox Live Arcade and whatever Nintendo releases out of their back catalog.
Palm. Since the release of the Treo 600, we've had only minor improvements in Palm devices. I love my 650, but is there really a viable upgrade path from it right now? The 700p has only minor improvements over the 650 and not something I would consider worth waiting two years for. In the meantime, RIM has introduced a more phone-like, "less wide" form factor for it's Blackberries with the 7100 and refined it with the Pearl. Even on the Windows Mobile side, we've gotten a slew of phones, both of the Smartphone and full handheld variety. The Motorola Q and HTC's lineup have made keyboards the norm for Windows Mobile phones. Windows Mobile has been updated just about every year since 2002, in comparison to the Palm OS, which has had no real improvements since 2004. We've simply seen far too little in the past few years, from what was once the overwhelming leader of the PDA industry.