Tag Archives: commentary


Tablet Punditry


I was lamenting the lack of an iPad competitor (if only to spur Apple on) when I got into an friendly argument with a co-worker about whether or not the popularity of the $99 HP Touchpad proved there was a way to compete with the iPad. I was on the side that said the $99 Touchpad proved nothing except people like a deal. He said it proved people wanted an alternative to the iPad.

First, the HP Touchpad is not a $99 tablet. It’s $318 worth of parts (per iSuppli) that was being sold for $99. It sold for three reasons – people love a deal (or perceived deal), it was a challenge to get one (therefore a victory when obtained) and geeks love hardware to play with. While I had no interest in the Touchpad, I’ve certainly bought things for the curiosity factor.

A $99 tablet is not iPad competition. There are already $99 tablets, and they’re crap. They are not iPad replacements.

The main argument I heard was HP (or someone) should sell the tablet for $99 and make up the difference in products and services, For example, selling apps. I don’t see anyone doing this. At Apple’s 30% commission HP would have to sell $730 worth of apps (or anything they can get a commission on) just to recoup the hardware costs. This doesn’t include the costs of setting up the app store not to mention the overhead and development. A company like Amazon or Microsoft might be willing to feel a device at cost or at a slight loss while they build a critical mass and ecosystem. But Microsoft doesn’t seem to want to build the tablet themselves, Cut hardware costs and we’re back to $99 tablets are crap.

While not a $99 tablet, my best hope is for the Amazon tablet. I admit that I was assimilated by Amazon long ago, having Amazon prime and easily doing more shopping with them than anyone else. I was already in Amazon Prime when they added movies and I’ve been enjoying the movies and TV. Add to that my growing collection of Kindle and Audible books and I may be a Amazon Tablet owner when it’s released. Although I suspect I would be one of the few iPad owners also buying a Amazon tablet. I’d get it for one of the reasons I mentioned that people bought the $99 Touchpad – hardware to play with. I’ve no doubt Amazon would design their tablet around selling their other products, but I would expect that even they would price the hardware to at least break even.

I would agree with those that say there isn’t a tablet market, only an iPad market. Even the Amazon tablet won’t be an “iPad killer”. The iPad will continue to do just fine. Hopefully it will be enough of a threat to spur Apple to speed up their enhancement,


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My WWDC 2010 Keynote Comments

Quick Bits - Commentary placardAs I previously mentioned, I wasn’t expecting much that would be personally exciting from the WWDC keynote. And I got what I expected. It was a developers conference so I shouldn’t be hugely surprised that the main topic was iPhone apps and all the things they can do and money to be made.

iAds scares me a bit. If the limited screen real estate of the apps becomes cluttered with ads then it becomes a lot less useful to me. I realize developers need to support themselves and families so I’m not about to say I won’t use any app with ads in them. I just don’t want the UI to suffer so that the ads can be placed. But the test will be in the implementation.

The addition of PDF support to iBook may be enough to get it back on my iPad, but since I already have GoodReader it probably won’t be back. Still, its a good added feature to the app. The ability to sync books between devices (a la Kindle) is also another necessary feature. Still, the Kindle platform will be my primary e-book source since it’s not dedicated to Apple devices. Amazon took the right approach in separating the Kindle hardware folks from the Kindle books folks. There’s no incentive for the books people to limit devices.

As for the iPhone itself – every time there’s a keynote the reality distortion field hits me and my AT&T loathing weakens. But then true reality takes over and I’m able to resist. The new screen seems sweet. Building in the antennae as part of the case design (it’s wrapped around the phone) looks cool but freaks me out. I’m old and remember all those warnings about keeping cellphone antennas away from your head. While my brain can logically understand it’s no worse than having the antennae inside. Still, that same brain would freak out about being cooked since I’m not a borg that wears a Bluetooth headset all the time.

I was happy to hear my iPod Touch would get a free upgrade to the newly renamed iOS as would my iPad.

Going on at the same time is Microsoft TechEd but it’s gotten almost zero play in the news. The news from there that caught my attention was Windows 7 SP1 beta in July and it would be just a patch roll-up, no new features.

Apple has created yet another video calling standard, FaceTime (only iPhone to iPhone and on WiFi at first). Apple says they will make this open but I haven’t seen open defined. If it’s an open api controlled by Apple it may be problematic for other vendors. On the other hand I’m not sufficiently up on the technology to know if there was a good open standard already in existence.

I guess the business community was underwhelmed by the keynote because Apple stock was down almost 2% today.

Pet peeves:

Apple keeps calling HTML5 and open standard. It’s more accurately and open standard to be since it’s still a working draft. All HTML implementations (including Mozilla’s and Google’s) include proprietary tags because the standard isn’t defined and the developer has no choice. Like all marketing, these claims (on all sides) contain a significant amount of self-serving spin. Apple’s own HTML5 demo gallery is coded to only load in Safari which seems unnecessarily self-serving but speaks to the fact that the HTML5 standard is still be written and Apple must write to their vision of the standard.

Apple says they didn’t go after Google’s business but Google came after theirs. Apple defined Google’s business as search. Google isn’t in the search business, it’s in the ad business. And Apple is going after the ad business.

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WWDC Kicks Off

Quick Bits - Commentary placardApple is kicking of WWDC today so naturally the Apple rumors are flying. I find it hard to get exited about anything that might happen there. Apple is primarily a consumer products company these days and while important, computers are just one component of their business.

Naturally there will be a new iPhone announced along with iPhone OS 4.0. I don’t really care. As long as the iPhone is locked to AT&T I will never have one as long as they’re the telco provider. Rumors of the iPhone arriving on Verizon persist but I don’t put much stock in them.

The rumors of the Apple TV changing into a streaming device that includes apps (iPhone for the TV?) also don’t interest me. I have one of the early Apple TVs and still use it occasionally, but not to stream. If I was to replace it I’d be hooking up a Mac Mini or PC to my TV. While it’s possible Apple will stop treating the Apple TV as a hobby and try to make it the centerpiece of the living room. Even if they do I won’t be running out an buying one, even for the rumored $99 price.

I haven’t really been hearing he usual rumor about the Beatles coming to iTunes. But even if they do it’s too late for me. I went with the re-released physical CD’s.

If MobileMe becomes a free service I might bite for the iPad specific stuff. I still have memories of the .Mac to MobileMe conversion disaster. That experience turned me off of trusting Apple in “the cloud”. It was 2 years ago but I still haven’t forgotten or forgiven.

I’m not looking for new Apple Computers so the inevitable hardware upgrades don’t interest me. And word is there won’t be any OS X 10.7 introduced.

The good news is that while the tech news will be packed with Apple stories next week I can safely ignore them all.

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Google’s “Hack”

Quick Bits - Commentary placardThis is the non-story that just won’t go away. The big bad Google drove around stealing data by “hacking” people’s wireless network. Articles such as those at the Huffington Post contain quotes such as “one of the most massive surveillance incidents by a private corporation that has ever occurred.”

Google collects a hell of a lot of data that concerns me more than this. In this case what seems to have happened is Google collected data from unsecured wireless networks as it’s street view vehicles drove around. The real lesson here is Secure Your Wireless Networks! Even if the network was protected by the easily breakable WEP encryption Google would not have gotten the data.

Of more concern than the actual data being collected was that Google used some library code in a project without knowing what it did. I have concerns about how Google collects and uses data along with a big concern about mistakes that could expose that data.

Google’s explanation rings true. It doesn’t make me feel any better about Google’s ability to avoid mistakes, but it doesn’t make me any more worried about Google’s intentions. But our politicians now have an event they can latch onto and appear to be cracking down on privacy. What would make me more concerned is that some governments have requested copies of the data rather than telling Google to destroy it. Luckily some governments (Ireland) have it right and have had Google destroy the data.

Google’s bungling attempt to try and make email social via Buzz concerned me. Google using code they didn’t understand concerns me. Google collecting data that’s already flowing wide open in the air doesn’t concern me.

Sure, they couldn’t do it on the scale of Google, but criminals could drive around doing the same thing, and then using the data they collect.

Update: Well, it looks like Google was throwing away encrypted data and keeping the unencrypted stuff. Still, it’s more worrisome to me that seems to be a mistake or careless rather than some attempt to collect info.

Bad Monster

While there are companies I won’t do business with due to poor experiences with them, there are very few companies I refuse to due business with for reasons that have nothing to do with their product.

Monster cable is one of them. For awhile I didn’t buy their products simply due to their price and lack of value. But theses days I wouldn’t buy their stuff even if there were no other options. I’m happy to say I’ve never purchased any of their products.

They are a greedy company using a legal form of extortion to supplement their income. Their latest extortion attempt lawsuit is against Monster Transmission. This is after Monster Cable sued, then dropped the suit (after much negative publicity), against Monster Mini-Golf. It appears Monster Cable has returned to their old ways. The world would be better off if this company just went bankrupt and ceased to exist.

The are plenty of alternatives to Monster’s overpriced cables, my favorite is Monoprice.com. It’s not like Monster’s premium prices go into better cables, rather they pay for their attack attorneys.

As the Audioholics article points out, Monster Transmission is a family owned business that actually builds their stuff in the U.S., while Monster Cable’s products are almost all imports. Even a moron in a hurry isn’t going to confuse Monster Transmission products for Monster Cable products. This frivolous lawsuit just puts added pressure on a small company in this tough economy. Monster Cable’s claims of just protecting their trademark just don’t hold water.

Let’s hope Monster Cable doesn’t find out who owns Halloween. Or will they sue kids wearing monster consumes next?