Archive for January, 2010

iPad: Image from Engadget.
iPad: Image from Engadget.

Earlier this morning, Apple unveiled the iPad, a 10 inch, 1.5lb  “tablet PC like” device that Apple promises will revolutionize media. You’ve probably heard a lot about the iPad already but I wanted to share what I thought about the device and what I think might actually make it a success.

First, the bad:

– It’s basically a larger iPhone (or iPod Touch if you are looking at the lower priced wifi only version)

– No multi tasking capabilities at all, no looking at email while working on a document, no multiple windows of things running etc: this ones a bummer.

– Still running a version of iPhone OS, so if you had hopes of a more general version of OS X, you’ll be disappointed.

The pluses:

– The biggest positive for the Apple iPad is its pricing. The pricing is REALLY aggressive. Starts at $499 and costs $830 for the high end 3G model. On the face these do look like much higher numbers than the iPhone, but what makes this remarkable is that there is no required contract with a wireless carrier. With the iPhone you would basically be putting thousands of dollars into a cell phone carriers pocket and would be locked into a long-term contract, no longer the case!

– Amazing battery life: if we believe Apple, it’s 10 hours!, and Apple seemed to suggest that you could get significant numbers of hours for just video play as well. The new A4 processor seems very power efficient while providing very responsive performance levels.

– AT&T is offering it’s $30 unlimited data plan on the iPad. I’m really curious to see how that will work out. If the iPhone put strains on the network, this device with a 10 inch screen will really tax AT&T’s network. It’s aggressive, but they probably see how much the iPhone did for them as a company and are hoping for more of the same from the iPad.

– So, although this runs iPhone OS (apparently version 3.2..), the larger screen does open up the App market for much more “serious apps,” as Apple showed with the iWork app for the device. And this could really be the market that Apple is going after. When you think about it, the Kindle DX costs only $10 less than the basic iPad and provides drastically fewer features and services. Possible markets based on what Apple showed could include: iWork/Office type stuff, graphic design/photo editing (using the multi-touch screen)

– This could be the dream gaming device. With 10 hours of battery life (according to apple), think of Starcraft or Warcraft running on this, with the touch interface. This thing was made to run real time strategy games. With the web connectivity MMORPG – massively multiplayer online role playing games could also find that suddenly their addressable market is much larger if these sell. Obviously, there’s also a lot of more traditional action games that will run comfortably on this device as well.

– ebooks: Apple is really going after Amazon here, anyone who looks at a kindle for a few hours and then looks at the same book on the iPad will be wowed by the color, the vibrancy etc. I still love my Kindle and the eye strain that comes from looking at a non e-ink screen I think will be overlooked by consumers who largely spend all day looking and reading things on computer screens anyway. Pricing here was a little more iffy, it sounds like Apple will not be pricing books to compete with Amazon (they seem to be targeting a $15 price. But because of the additional functionality, the color displays, ability to display textbooks correctly etc, they might be successful there too. We’ll have to see what the software looks like, but any problems can easily be corrected with updates to their book reader software so, this will be big on the iPad I think.

– docking capabilities: including a full physical keyboard. Apparently this will also work with standard bluetooth keyboards. I think this is a big positive as well. Also includes a “camera kit” that will allow you to transfer photos from camera SD cards to the iPad.

The bottom line is though, the price is low enough for consumers to bite at this thing, and it will have enough to keep early adopters satisfied. I for one, plan to line up for this when it releases in two months (three months for the 3G version).

For those who are willing to wait, faster online connections and multi tasking can’t be that far away.

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Apple Tablet? Image: Slashgear.

Apple Tablet? Image: Slashgear.

In an article today the NY Times positioned the new device Apple is expected to announce tomorrow as the last hope for old media. The article also revealed some details about the device that had previously only been rumor.

Quoting “analysts and others who have been briefed on the device” the Times laid out the following:

– Persistent wireless connection over 3G and WiFi

– 10 inch color display customized for “newspapers, magazines and book publishers”

– It will run all current iPhone and iPod Touch applications  (which would suggest some form of the current iPhone OS running on the device)

– Quoted EA as saying: “Big media companies should be all over this like a cheap suit”

– NY Times is building a version of its newspaper for the tablet already

– Apple will market it not just as a way to read news, books and other material, but also a way for companies to charge for all that content through iTunes

– The Times has considered this an important enough device to create a special segment called “Reader Applications” for it with Yasmin Namini as head

Some interesting quotes: “Steve believes in old media companies and wants them to do well” but also “This opportunity, however, comes with a sizable catch: Steven P. Jobs”

Anyway, we only have a day to wait for the announcement: tomorrow should be exciting!  I for one am hoping for something a lot better than just a gigantic iPhone.

Outside of the NYTimes the rumor mill is still churning:

One strong rumor is that Barnes and Noble will be the book provider for the tablet, and this has Barnes and Noble stock going through the roof today. After B&Ns recent attempts to defraud the consumer, I hope this one is NOT true. Partner with the kindle store! please?

Also, apparently Verizon is the provider of choice, hmm.

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Facebook Logo.

Facebook Logo: Copyright Facebook.

Yesterday, I gave my Facebook password to my wife and asked her to lock me out of Facebook for a week.  I was spending too much time on Facebook, it was all too easy to spend hours online catching up, especially during exam season or recruiting season where there’s plenty of other things to do.

As I was thinking about this, I was wondering what would happen if the disgruntled parents of teenagers or employers unhappy with unproductive employees got together and a social resistance emerged against Facebook kind of like the way smoking or illegal drugs etc are looked down upon.

The more I thought about this, the more realistic the possibility seems. How many of us thought we would spend this much time on Facebook, even two years ago? I for one did not. The growth is still exponential, and Facebook has added in a lot of new claws to keep you engaged once you are on, games, apps, etc. How dissimilar is it really to lets say smoking? Can we quantify the benefit we get from our 600 online friends? What it takes away can definitely be quantified.

Anyway, this is not an anti-Facebook post, I love Facebook, it’s just that it just feels a little uncontrolled right now. And with anything uncontrolled, anything is possible.  I can’t imagine this is not something that Facebook has thought about as well, as “Facebook Addicts Anonymous” type groups have sprung up. How then would they tackle this? Would they take away the little social apps and games that everyone loves and have a 1,000 startup companies excited? I can think of a lot of people cringing at that idea. What then?

Let me know what you think.

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Improved economic performance, GDP growth, peace, and stability in Sri Lanka has led the IMF to change Sri Lanka’s status from “Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust” to “Middle Income Emerging Market,” an important landmark as the island nation makes its way down the path of development and reaps the benefits of peace.

The improvement in status is expected to further open up international capital markets for the country and bring attention from investors targeting emerging markets with strong projected growth. Sri Lanka reached this landmark just days before a highly competitive presidential election between two of the architects of the current peaceful era in Sri Lanka: Current President Mahinda Rajapaksa who stood firm in the face of international opposition and brought the country to the end of a long drawn civil war and the unlikely opponent General Sarath Fonseka, largely credited as the military mastermind of the end of the war, without whom the conflict may still be ongoing.

President Rajapaksa who has faced charges of corruption since the end of the war will hope that his rural power base will help him overcome a strong opposition alliance that has stood firmly behind General Sarath Fonseka. The result of the election of the 26th should be interesting and will hopefully set Sri Lanka up for an era of political stability as well, regardless of the winner.

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa

President Mahinda Rajapaksa

General Sarath Fonseka

General Sarath Fonseka

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I wanted to write a couple of words about my experience with Amazon VOD on my Panasonic Viera Cast TV.

I used an HD episode of Dexter to test things out and came away very impressed.  Obviously, I’m connected to the Stanford network which I’m sure has a lot more bandwidth than most home connections do, but even then Amazon delivered pristine picture quality that I could not tell apart from OTA HD delivered to my TV. The sound quality was great too. Viera Cast did change my color/display settings on the Panasonic G10 a little bit but I was able to manually tweak it back. I wasn’t super happy to see that the “THX”, “factory configured” display settings were not available for Viera Cast videos.

The user interface for Amazon on Viera Cast is not amazing but it’s functional enough, with links to my video library and previous purchases available.  The reason I decided to check Viera Cast out now was because I was told that Netflix was now available on Viera Cast. Unfortunately it appears that at least as of now, there is NO viera cast Netflix support for pre-2010 Panasonic TVs: hopefully this will be remedied very shortly with a firmware update, fingers crossed!

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Apparently, the Nook is almost 2 ounces heavier than the Kindle and Barnes and Noble decided that was too large a difference and shaved an ounce off the specs!

Wow, it’s great that David Pogue of the NYTimes managed to find this, I’ve always wondered if manufacturers play these kind of games.

Link to the Times: http://pogue.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/01/21/bogus-tech-measurements/#comment-224465

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I recently had the opportunity to play with a new Google Nexus One. On the face of things, it’s a beautiful phone with great graphics and a very responsive UI (the responsiveness definitely puts my iPhone to shame). I also love the speech recognition that is embedded within the OS.

But I didn’t end my session with my usual, “oh, I have to get one of these” for a couple of reasons.

– For browsing, not having multi-touch really sucks.

– From what I heard from the owner, the battery life doesn’t seem that great.

– Most importantly, I’m skeptical about how much developers will be able to fully develop Android apps without customizing for each phone because of quite significant differences in Android phone models. trackballs, keyboards, or lack of etc.

– I’m not sure what Google is doing with selling the phone independent of Carrier/contract is really that radical. This has been done by lot’s of other phone manufacturers like Nokia for many years.

– The phone will not work on AT&T’s 3G network, so you’re stuck with T-Mobile who has a long way to go with their network coverage.

Overall though, it’s great to see some alternative multimedia smart phones out there. I’m tired of every single person I meet on campus having an iPhone.

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