The Omnibus AFB Surface Topic

  • Posted: 25 June 2012 02:55 AM #286

    Ok, I’m about to merge the topics.

         
  • Posted: 25 June 2012 02:59 AM #287

    LStream, FalKirk:

    The iPad is not replacing PCs as such. It’s replacing paper and enabling on-the-move computing. FalKirk cites some cases that are “replacing paper”. Other cases that have been cited here are mostly “on-the-move computing” such as bedside data collection in a hospital.

    In the cases where it is replacing PCs it seems to be largely because the PC was never a good fit. Example: the iPad is replacing my parents computer. They travel a lot, and used to cary their Internet with them as a 3G stick with a hotspot. That was a colossal bother. Now they use an iPad with 3G and enough memory to suck up their digital pictures. iPhoto for the iPad was the missing link.

    They still have a computer, but now it’s a Mac Mini rather than a laptop.

    I guess I’m largely in the “iPad is a different beast” camp, but not entirely.

    [ Edited: 25 June 2012 03:06 AM by dduck ]      
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    Posted: 25 June 2012 04:13 AM #288

    dduck - 25 June 2012 05:59 AM

    LStream, FalKirk:

    The iPad is not replacing PCs as such. It’s replacing paper and enabling on-the-move computing. FalKirk cites some cases that are “replacing paper”. Other cases that have been cited here are mostly “on-the-move computing” such as bedside data collection in a hospital.

    In the cases where it is replacing PCs it seems to be largely because the PC was never a good fit. Example: the iPad is replacing my parents computer. They travel a lot, and used to cary their Internet with them as a 3G stick with a hotspot. That was a colossal bother. Now they use an iPad with 3G and enough memory to suck up their digital pictures. iPhoto for the iPad was the missing link.

    They still have a computer, but now it’s a Mac Mini rather than a laptop.

    I guess I’m largely in the “iPad is a different beast” camp, but not entirely.

    It’s a classic disruptive product - both disrupting a current market, and creating a large new market. So many use cases were underserved, and once the tech was cheaper enough it was low hanging fruit for the first company that could provide the solution.

    A fruit company of course.

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  • Posted: 25 June 2012 07:59 AM #289

    Mav - 25 June 2012 05:19 AM

    As I’ve said, look at the Surface about page on Microsoft’s website.

    First photo says it all.

    http://www.microsoft.com/surface/en/us/about.aspx...

    scroll down: Images are design renderings and not photographs.

    omacvi - 25 June 2012 05:42 AM

    I wonder why we are spending so much time discussing a product none of us has touched?

    It’s not a product, it’s a fantasy visualisation that hasn’t even been worked through in detail. “Microsoft’s ClearType HD Display technology delivers a great picture for movies.” Cleartype is font rendering software, nothing to do with movies. It has no meaning here. VaporMg is a meaningless invented name, together with the video, intended to make you think liquidmetal, even though it can’t be. “Micro HD video connectivity” is equally meaningless - Micro HD is a file format for video, not a connection method. “actual size and weight may vary”

    Unknown size, unknown weight, unknown screen resolution, unknown WiFi support, unknown 3G support, unknown Bluetooth support, unknown GPS support, unknown video/audio out support.

         
  • Posted: 25 June 2012 08:54 AM #290

    See comments below.  My perspectives come from being in Enterprise Mobility for quite a while, which involves the types of applications mentioned below.  This included a stint at Symbol Tech, which is part of Motorola now.  While there, I was involved in delivering solutions into the types of use cases you mention below.

    One of your posts mentioned that iPads hurt Netbook sales.  That makes sense to me.  My prior posts in this thread have an Enterprise and higher end consumer bias. 

    FalKirk - 24 June 2012 09:57 PM
    Lstream - 24 June 2012 07:53 PM

    My main point above is that the iPad and PC’s are distinct markets, and therefore the iPad cannot be held responsible for declining PC sales.  At least not without some more convincing evidence, which we do not appear to have.  I think what Tim and Tony are saying is consistent with this point of view.

    Here, in my opinion, is the problem with your thinking. You’re making the same mistake that all the anti-tablet people were making when the iPad first arrived. You’re thinking that tablet and desktops (and notebooks) are distinct and are different and therefore you’re assuming that desktop markets will be safe from tablet incursion.

    Just because the tablet cannot replace the desktop does not mean that the tablet cannot replace the job that the desktop was doing. Examples abound: I admit that some of what you say below is possible.  However, most of your examples below are in the “could happen” category.  As such, they cannot account for the current drop in PC growth rates

    - There are probably 500 million small retail stores that use ancient PCs to handle their accounting, store inventory or act as a cash register. Cheaper, simpler, smaller, more mobile, more versatile tablets can replace them with aplomb. Possibly, but not yet.  At least not in enough quantity to impact PC sales so far.  These apps are deceivingly complex, and so far not deployed in material quantities on anything but PC’S.  I actually think the first casualties will be purpose built hand helds in some cases, not the PC’s in the back.  Much like you see how iPhones are being used in the Apple store

    - Tens of millions of people need to do their computing while standing up. Realtors, inventory managers, maitre d’s, order takers and sales people of every kind come readily to mind. Many of them used to shoe horn notebooks into their tasks. No more. Sorry, but this is just not true.  Sales people might be the one exception in some circumstnsces.  This class of worker currently uses purpose built hand helds from the likes of Symbol/Motorola.  Mobile workers that use notebooks almost always use them on carts, which is a tiny market.  The notebook PC is simply too awkward in this use case.  I agree that this is a huge market for iOS, but the victim is not PC’s.  It is other hand helds, plus pen and paper.

    - The President of the United States, the Queen of England, the entire British Parliament now use iPads for tasks that were formally done with desktops and notebooks.  Thankfully, politicians and Queens are a tiny market, so this has not moved the needle in any material way

    Stop thinking in terms of computers and start thinking in terms of jobs to be done. I feel that this is how I am already thinking.  The vast majority of PC’S in use today have been hired for stationary or limited mobility jobs.  One of your examples has been the physician.  I have watched wave after wave of technology attempt to meet their mobile needs.  Everything else has failed miserably including slates and PC’S.  The iPad is the first device they have embraced.  However the victim in most cases will be the paper chart, not the PC.  That PC will run their practice still.  There is no real need to replace that function with something else like an iPad.  So for this class of worker, the iPad is meeting a distinct need that will not displace a PC.

    The desktop computer is moving to niche status because, like the backhoe, oven and train, we only need them for the really big jobs. Right now 90% of our computers (not counting phones) are notebooks or desktops but 80% of our jobs can be done and done better on a tablet. Tomorrow, that balance is going to redress itself. In the very near future, most people will be buying tablets because tablets will be the tool best suited for the job it is being hired to do. 80 or 90% of jobs does not equal 80 or 90% of customers.  If a particular customer has a 10% or 20% need that must be done on a PC, then they cannot replace their PC with an iPad.  They can add an iPad as a supplemental device and spend most of their time on it, but they cannot get rid of their PC altogether.

    I know that you have a very different point of view on this than I do and if you can see logical holes in my argument, I encourage you to (gently) show me the error of my ways. I feel pretty confident about this and I’dl like to know if there’s something I’m missing or if I’m somewhere made a misstep.I agree that the iPad market is huge.  My belief though is that the lions share of growth is going to come from doing entirely new jobs, and not by replacing the job that is currently being done by the PC.  I see this first hand in my business.  I know of a utility that intends to give every one of their linemen an iPhone.  The use case is new and does not replace the PC.  I see this happening over and over again in the Enterprise at least.  iOS devices being hired to do entirely new jobs I look forward to your (and to all of your) response(s).

    [ Edited: 25 June 2012 08:58 AM by Lstream ]      
  • Posted: 25 June 2012 09:35 AM #291

    Burgess - 25 June 2012 04:54 AM
    FalKirk - 25 June 2012 04:32 AM
    Drew Bear - 25 June 2012 03:37 AM

    They’re making a big deal about these keyboard covers. They better live up to the hype. My guess is people who spend a lot of time on keyboards will not be happy with anything less than a full-size keyboard with full-travel keys.

    Microsoft has no confidence in the tablet. Think about their presentation. First, they show us a tablet. Then they try to turn the tablet into a notebook.

    - They make a big fuss about the integrated keyboards. Keyboards are great, but if they were essential, then people wouldn’t be buying tablets in the first place.

    - They have a kickstand. They think its important enough that they build it in and spend tremendous amounts of resources on it in order to make it feel and sound just right. A kickstand implies that that the device is sitting on a table. Tablets are occasionally propped on tables. But their primary purpose is to be held. The kickstand is trying to make the tablet into a desktop device.

    - The camera on the back of the Surface angles up an 22 degrees. This means that it works great when the Surface is on a table leaning back on its kickstand. But its pretty awkward to use when you’re holding the tablet in your hands. Again, Microsoft wants this to be sitting on a table, not held in your hands.

    Think what we’re talking about here. Microsoft has taken its focus off the tablet and they’ve put all their focus on making the tablet into a hybrid by adding a kickstand, a pen and a keyboard. These are peripherals, not the main product. They’re the garnish, not the meal. It would be like Apple creating a new iPod and then spending all of their presentation time on the the smart cover. Take a look at how Microsoft displays the Surface. You will never see it without it leaning back on its kickstand with the keyboard in front. They want you to think of it as a notebook resting on a flat surface first and foremost.

    Microsoft is not selling a tablet. They’re selling a light, portable notebook that you can use as a tablet, in a pinch.

    great post - the point about the camera angle not working unless on a table is rather obvious now that you have said it - what a rediculous decision to make for a tablet product (unless they are thinking exactly like you suggest - its really a laptop).

    You know, I put all the pieces together last night, but it just now occurred to me that the word “Surface” could be a double entendre. Obviously the word “Surface” is meat to describe the device. But the word “Surface” may also, unintentionally, describe where Microsoft expects the device to be used - on a flat “surface”.

    Freudian slip on the part of Microsoft?

         
  • Posted: 25 June 2012 09:39 AM #292

    Mav - 25 June 2012 05:19 AM

    As I’ve said, look at the Surface about page on Microsoft’s website.

    First photo says it all.

    http://www.microsoft.com/surface/en/us/about.aspx.

    Man alive, if that picture doesn’t drive home the fact that Microsoft thinks that the Surface is really a notebook, nothing will.

         
  • Posted: 25 June 2012 09:46 AM #293

    omacvi - 25 June 2012 05:42 AM

    I wonder why we are spending so much time discussing a product none of us has touched?

    I spend a lot of my time talking about money and women that I’m never going to touch. So what’s your point?

    Seriously, the reason we’re talking about it is two-fold. First, this represents the future of Microsoft. If they don’t break into tablets now, they’re likely to be shut out. And if they’re shut out of tablets, they’re shut out of the future of computing.

    Second, we’re trying to see if we can clarify Microsoft’s thinking and the thinking of the market. Clearly, if Microsoft doesn’t execute, then the product is dead. But is it also dead if they do execute? In other words, it doesn’t matter how well they do a thing if they’re doing the wrong thing.

         
  • Posted: 25 June 2012 09:54 AM #294

    FalKirk - 25 June 2012 12:46 PM
    omacvi - 25 June 2012 05:42 AM

    I wonder why we are spending so much time discussing a product none of us has touched?

    I spend a lot of my time talking about money and women that I’m never going to touch. So what’s your point?

    Seriously, the reason we’re talking about it is two-fold. First, this represents the future of Microsoft. If they don’t break into tablets now, they’re likely to be shut out. And if they’re shut out of tablets, they’re shut out of the future of computing.

    Second, we’re trying to see if we can clarify Microsoft’s thinking and the thinking of the market. Clearly, if Microsoft doesn’t execute, then the product is dead. But is it also dead if they do execute? In other words, it doesn’t matter how well they do a thing if they’re doing the wrong thing.

    +1.  As a long term investor, I think there is a lot of value in this discussion.  When Microsoft makes a new play in mobile, it is important.  There is lots of air time in other threads about more short term stuff. You don’t see most of us showing up on those threads questioning why they exist.

         
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    Posted: 25 June 2012 10:01 AM #295

    Programmers are most at ease in RAM.    RAM is spacious and flexible.

    Programmer are least comfortable with
    1. user input
    2. user output
    3. device compatibility
    4. file compatibility

    User input
    1. Stylus—I have actually might like a stylus more than touch.  I may change my mind if I lose the stylus.
    2. Keyboard ...  same old same old.  I have a keyboard and a Mac.  No value proposition yet
    3. finger input ———

    You know, a good program can be written very well the first time.  But what if there’s a bug deep in the OS that has to be worked around.  Now the programmer has a lot UI checking to think about.

    What if the customers push for a different UI ?  Same thing but worse.  First one must placate the customers.  Meanwhile and thereafter a new UI is decided, programmed, debugged and put on the market.

    I doubt the programmers will get any sleep if MS is serious about a Surface push.

         
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    Posted: 26 June 2012 08:36 PM #296

    Surface is inextricably connected to Windows 8. That’s probably not a good thing.

    One of the biggest problems Microsoft will face with the Windows 8 platforms is that they?re effectively starting from zero apps. What can Microsoft do to encourage developers to create great Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 apps?

    http://www.marco.org/2012/06/22/microsoft-developer-problem

    The author, Marco Arment, addresses both RT and x86 apps, but we’re concerned only with the former.

    The even bigger problem, I think, will be the lack of dogfooding: most developers of the kind of apps Windows 8 needs don?t use Windows.

    The term ?developers? includes quite a lot of fairly different professions, but the kind of developers that Microsoft needs to consistently build killer Windows 8 and Windows Phone apps are generally developers who enjoy working individually, in smaller companies, or in startups, building consumer-facing apps or services.

    By 2005 or so, most of those developers were working on web apps. The web was the platform for that kind of work for most of that decade.

    And during that decade, almost every such developer I knew switched to the Mac if they weren?t already there, partly because it was better for developing web apps.

    ... the success of Windows 8 and Windows Phone in the consumer space requires many of those consumer-product developers, now entrenched in the Apple ecosystem, to care so much about Windows development that they want to use Windows to develop for it.

    How likely is that?

         
  • Posted: 27 June 2012 09:12 AM #297

    A business strategy view of Microsoft Surface move

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/25/technology/companies/with-tablet-microsoft-takes-aim-at-hardware-missteps.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all

    Around the time the iPad came out more than two years ago, Microsoft executives got an eye-opening jolt about how far Apple would go to gain an edge for its products.

    And some cues from Paul Krugman

    The Hart of the Matter
    And now for something completely different: I haven?t seen anyone point this out, but the very interesting Times story on why Microsoft is building its own tablet was a perfect illustration of Oliver Hart?s theory of the firm.

    Just briefly: the theory of the firm asks why we sometimes rely on contracts ? I sign an agreement with your company to make my widget ? and sometimes go for direct control: I employ people to make widgets. Hart (and others) argue that such things depend crucially on our inability to write complete contracts, specifying all details ? and that the incompleteness of contracts can pose problems for investment decisions. For example, if you contract with other people to build equipment, they may be unwilling to invest in quality in the belief that you will use your sole-buyer status to extract the benefits.

    And that, apparently, is exactly what has been going on with Microsoft; its reliance on other people to build computers using its software worked very well for a long time, but lately Apple?s control-freak approach has been winning out.

         
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    Posted: 29 June 2012 03:10 AM #298

    My favorite from FalKirk’s latest tech.pinions article:

    Why is Microsoft?s Surface obsessed with Keyboards?

    This week marks the fifth anniversary of the iPhone. The iPhone now generates nearly $25 billion in revenue per quarter or over $100 billion per year. And ? are you ready for this ? the iPhone, all by itself, is bigger than ALL of Microsoft. That?s right, one single product, that didn?t exist five years ago, is now bigger than Microsoft?

    ?and it doesn?t even have a keyboard.

    http://techpinions.com/why-is-microsofts-surface-obsessed-with-keyboards/7431

         
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    Posted: 29 June 2012 03:21 AM #299

    Mr. Kirk looks…different than I’d envisioned him.

    But the man can write!

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    Posted: 29 June 2012 03:23 AM #300

    Keyboard are important.  Even in the latest Star Trek movie—- oh forget that.  It looks more iPad or giant Surface touch pad than a keyboard.

    I need a keyboard, I swear.

    I’m glad Microsoft likes keyboards because I do.  I wish it was as light and good looking as my Mac keyboard.  MS and Apple should cooperate in this issue.

    Back to the design of the Surface.  I bet the majority of designers of the Surface dont want their names in public.