Wednesday, September 28, 2011

All Good Things Come to an End (for now...)

After taking the summer off, I thought I would write one more post.

Today marks the introduction of the Amazon Kindle Fire. This iPad competitor stresses services over hardware. As such, they could charge $499 and do well. Instead they're charging $199.

This contrasts with HP, RIM and others who offered only hardware with NO services and STILL charged $499. They should have charged $199 for these 'hardware only' products. Now they can't even do that thanks to Amazon.

The next move is RIM's. Will they add services and become a premium tablet? Or will they just sell basic hardware and be happy as a commodity tablet? As of today, 'hardware only' tablets need to sell for much less than $499.

Bye for now - and enjoy tablet computing.  We are just getting started.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Post-Mouse Era

Apple has declared we are entering the Post-PC Era.  Previews shown at WWDC 2011 suggest we are actually entering the Post-Mouse Era.

Finger Gestures Rule! 

I am not talking about the gestures we were so proud of in high school.  Tablet and trackpad gestures are in our future.

RIM has made a good start with PlayBook margin gestures. The most common ones are familiar to PlayBook users.

Power on gestures are 1. side margin to margin and 2. vertical margin to margin:

Other common gestures are 1.  Show application menu  2. Show task picker  3. Switch to next task on left  4. Switch to next task on right  5. Show system menu  6. Show keyboard:

What else can RIM do?

First of all, gestures need to be customizable by a user. My preferences will likely be different than yours.  RIM needs to accommodate such preferences.

The power on gesture could be split to allow 1. ON = side margin to margin and 2. SLEEP = vertical margin to margin:

RIM can also address problems with the gestures that open the application menus or switch tasks:

What's problem?  Inexperienced users invoke these operations by mistake and get confused. I have seen many people inadvertently switch tasks when flipping through pictures or pages in an application.

A simple configurable preference provides a solution.  Use two part, out->in gestures to invoke these functions:

Now we have slightly different gestures in an application for paging and scrolling versus those used outside the application for task switching.  I have tested this new gesture with many users. They like it!

Other functions can leverage a left or right turn in the gesture.  For example, the following multipart gestures could be configured:

1. Open Camera  2. Open Browser  3. Close this task immediately 4. Open new file.

The specific functions don't matter.  RIM simply needs to use the margins more effectively to compete with the newly announced iOS 5 multitouch gestures.

Here are some special examples that could be used for things like: a secret login password gesture, initiate a system restart, verify a credit card PIN or do anything the user wants to make less than obvious.

What do you think?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Apple iCloud Postmortem

Apple announced their iCloud initiative a few minutes ago at their developer conference.

Here are some summaries:

CNET iCloud Summary

Engadget iCloud Summary

Gizmodo iCloud Summary

Apple Insider iCloud Summary

Hey!  I was pretty much correct with  my predictions a week ago:

My iCloud Predictions

I even got the death of MobileMe right :)

My Postmortem:  YAWN.

My Next Prediction:  Apple will do much better than it did with Mobile Me.  The differentiator  between cheap $200 tablets and premium $500 tablets will be the underlying services like those provided by Apple iCloud.

The Ramifications for RIM:  Want do you want to be?  One of the many $200 cut-rate, commodity tablets or one of the few $500 tablets that will dominate mobile computing for the next decade?

Up Next: Back to our regularly scheduled blog with some original suggestions for RIM on how to improve the PlayBook.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Apple iCloud

Anyone who has read my blog knows I have a certain dislike for the Apple iPad.  For me, it is more toy than technology.  And I think the Apple jihad against Adobe Flash is disdainful and bad for all of us in the long run.

Yet, I have respect for Apple in other areas. I use my MacBook Air more than any computer I have ever owned. After using Adobe media editing products for more than a decade, I switched to Final Cut Pro in 2007.  It is a tremendous video editing product.

Apple will announce its iCloud service next Monday. Leveraging its South Carolina Data Center (see satellite image below),  Apple is going to shake up the world again.

View Larger Map

Why should we care?

Apple is making another of their signature BIG bets on a technology that everyone else has just been talking about.

In the past, I have complained that you need another computer to synchronize and backup the iPad.  This tethering requirement never made much sense to me. Starting next week, the iPad will lose its umbilical cord.

Storing your digital life on the web is an obvious path for Apple. They will subsequently use the iCloud to leverage greater dependency on iOS devices

How will it work?

iCloud will be like Facebook for data. Or for those who have been around long enough: It will be the 21st century equivalent of AOL.

You want some music?  It's on the iCloud. But music is not the only part.  Want to rent a movie? iCloud. Want to start watching that video on an Apple TV and finish watching on your iPad? iCloud.  Update your software? iCloud. Want to share the pictures you are looking at in iPhoto? iCloud. Want to make a video call to Grandma? iCloud. Want to make a free phone (a.k.a. Skype) call to another part of the world?  iCloud will eventually be there to.

Apple is going to make the iPad the Control Window to everything you have on the iCloud. A computer will be completely optional.

(Aside: expect to see to see iTunes and Mobile Me branding fade with time. iCloud is the new brand)

Cloud Storage for Dummies

I never understood why Apple outlawed files and folders on the iPad.  Now it is clear.  iPad content will seamlessly move from iPad to iPad to iPhone to desktop using the iCloud.  Newbee users won't know that it is just a synchronized file system. Apple will call it 'magical' - and many users will buy it.

What About RIM and everyone else?

Amazon, Google, Microsoft and RIM need to get serious and provide some coordinated competition.  Each has strengths that beat Apple in particular areas. Individually, they lack the breadth of solutions to match Apple in the consumer oriented application space. They need to seriously consider a more unified response - or at least - a less proprietary approach.  Either way, they will need to back their bets with significant investment.  Will they do it? That is a good question.

The iPad will be less about hardware and more about the underlying services. Just like the iPod was never really about MP3. It was always the vehicle for weaning users onto iTunes and thereby locking them into iPod hardware. iPads will now wean us onto the iCloud. It's Déjà vu all over again


UPDATE: Based on question from forum

Hardware Paradox

Apple is primarily a hardware company. Yet iTunes is more important to them than hardware. 

Here's why I say that: To continue selling hardware, Apple needs barriers that stop others from offering alternative hardware that just costs less. iTunes is that barrier.  Mac Computer buyers are offered exclusive iWork and iLife applications.  Where do they by these apps today? iTunes!

Now Apple is doing the same with the iPad. You can buy cheaper hardware (Soon to be 200+ Android tablets available - many with attractive prices). You can buy better hardware (the PlayBook). But you cannot get Apple services any other way.

iPads are no longer just about hardware.
Competitors need to take note.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Apple Religion: Apple tells a few lies - That's OK


"We will have android support and an email client later this summer."

Press response: Punish!

Steve Jobs:

"No one will ever watch video on a phone."

"We are not working on a tablet."

"We are not interested in making phones."

"There is nothing wrong with the iPhone 4 antenna.  You are holding it wrong."


Press response: That's OK.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Apple Religion: Hear No Evil - See no Evil

Recent studies have equated Apple buyers to being members of a religion.  I am sorry to say: this cult appears to extend to journalists and writers. Here's another example...

You can't copy a @#$%^&* file on an iPad and no journalist seems to notice!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Apple Religion: No Thunderbolt Devices = Just Great!

Recent studies have equated Apple buyers to being members of a religion.  I am sorry to say: this cult appears to extend to journalists and writers. Here's another example...

RIM Playbook Apps: Unusable

Few PlayBook applications were available at launch. More will be available this summer. Journalists decreed PlayBook is unusable.  

No Apple Thunderbolt Devices:  That's Terrific

No Thunderbolt data devices were available at the launch of the latest MacBook and iMac computers. Some may be available someday. Journalists said: That's just fine! Give us more!  

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Apple is a Religion

Recent studies have equated Apple buyers to being members of a religion.

I am sorry to say: this cult appears to extend to journalists and writers. For the rest of the week, I'll share some examples...


RIM Reality: Negative Press on Minor Issues

RIM recalls 1,000 PlayBook tablets due to buggy OS build
RIM has decided to recall about a thousand of its PlayBook tablets thanks to a buggy operating system, the company has confirmed.

In other words: A A problem with 1000 devices that was fixed before anyone bought them was negatively reported.

Apple Reality: We Forgive You

Apple AntennaGate
Apple is temporarily giving away free bumper cases to iPhone 4 owners to address phone reception problems. The defect was never fixed. Every GSM iPhone 4 still has the problem.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Whitespace: I want a computer for the 'Post PC Era'

I think Steve jobs is the only CEO on the planet without ADD. The iPad is a great device for doing one simple thing at a time. But I don't work that way! For me, the web is all about: What else is out there? 

Whitespace: A tablet computer - not a big phone

The iPad evolved from a phone. The iPad is virtually identical to an iPhone - just with fewer features.

RIM has the opportunity to be the dominant Computer in (as Steve Jobs calls it) the Post PC Era. Building on QNX is a real advantage that no one else can leverage.

In technical terms, QNX is a mature real-time operating system designed to run on embedded devices. It is fast, efficient, technically advanced and robust.


In contrast, Apple's iOS is a phone-oriented task swapper that is remarkably similar to the 1989 version of Windows 2.0.

Apple IOS

From the consumer point of view, QNX let's you do many things at once. It's the opposite of the iPad, where focus is limited to mainly one activity.

I like to watch a movie, browse the web and read a book in rapid succession. If you think that's a stretch, just watch a teenager use a computer and you'll get a glimpse of the future. Either way, I have little interest in doing just one thing.

With my PlayBook,  'human directed multitasking'  is easy. Videos automatically resume when the player comes into view; and pause when they seamlessly move to the background. I can build up a reading list of web links while listening to music and then switch to a book or two. Trying to do the same on a iPad is an exercise in frustration.

I don't want to go back to 1989 with my tablet. I want to move into the future. And so do my teenagers.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Whitespace: Privacy

General Motors used to say "no one buys based on safety".  Times change.  How's that workin' out for ya? Ask Sony about hackers.  Their PlayStation business took a big hit the last few weeks.

RIM and the PlayBook are well positioned with their BlackBerry Enterprise Server Virtual Private Network technology to lead us toward safer web access.

When Apple has this kind of lead, they invest heavily and further solidify their leadership position.  They have done this numerous times with LCD's, Flash memory and even Intel processors.

The next whitespace: Safe Open WiFi

Open wireless hotspots cannot be secured without using passwords that effectively remove the open part of the equation. Creating a Virtual Private Network (VPN) over an open WiFi link fixes the problem.  Data is safe; and the connection is seamless.

Here's the challenge for RIM:  Invest in a large scale VPN that leverages the BlackBerry Enterprise Server  for all RIM users. It won't be cheap but it will create the world's only safe solution for wireless.