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Posts Tagged ‘ipad’

Amazon recently acquired the New York based start-up Touchco, which was working on a revolutionary new touch screen technology at the time. Coming right on the heels of the iPad announcement, it’s easy to assume what this means for the Kindle: potentially color and a touch screen.  If Touchco’s technology is what it was promised to be, this could also come at a relatively low-cost (apparently the touch screen technology only costs about $10 a square foot and is remarkably power efficient as well). In addition the technology can distinguish between finger touches and pen marks, which may lead to a device that incorporates handwriting recognition as well as gestures.

There’s one catch. As of last year Touchco was a small company with a technology that seemed promising but not quite commercial yet. So, how soon can the benefits of the acquisition be realized? The iPad as we know will be in the hands of consumers in about 60 days.  It’s important that Amazon not give up the momentum that it has built-in the e-reader space and allow the iPad’s ebook marketplace to take market share.

This depends on how Amazon plans to use the acquisition and Touchco’s technology. If Amazon was already working on the next generation Kindle at its Cupertino based Lab126, and is really looking for some final touches and people from Touchco, we could see a new product relatively soon. Lab126 which introduced us to the Kindle and has played a significant role in revolutionizing the e-reader market, has been recruiting aggressively over the last few months. This suggests that something big is definitely in process.

If I were to make a guess though, I would guess that Amazon was not working on the touch aspect and this is an attempt to get up the curve quickly there. Unfortunately, that would put the development of a touch screen based Kindle at least an year away (likely longer).

I think from Amazon’s perspective, it’s important to get this right. We’ve seen what poorly implemented touch screens can do to the reading experience with the Sony reader. I for one am interested to see what the new device looks like. Lab126 has several former Palm and Apple executives in its ranks, so they should be able to come up with something that competes with Apple’s world class industrial engineering and user experience focus.

Amazon is probably also working hard to improve its Kindle for iPhone app to work on the iPad. Although the app should work as is, almost with no changes at all, it’s important that the company focus on the demands of a big screen. Users are unlikely to be happy with the current blog, magazine and newspaper reading layouts when they have flashy competing apps on the iPad. Amazon must come up with something like what the New York Times did with the great Times Reader app which is an amazingly cool way to show newspaper content on a computer screen.

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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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