Particle Debris (wk. ending 2/25) Awakenings


I debated whether or not to point to these two articles, but I shall because of the questions that are raised. We all know that the iPad is changing the way we live and work. In this first, slightly incoherent article at the New York Times [subscription may be required], with a slightly deceptive title, the author explains how the iPad is penetrating business. In the second, much more coherent article, “Electronic tablets break down educational barriers in R.I. schools,” the author explains how tablets are being used in education in Rhode Island.

In part, these are fluff pieces, but they’re important because they give us a feel for how people are reacting to tablets and the imaginative things they’re doing with them. Once you read about how hotel concierges are using them to greet guests or how school children are using them to watch, live, the revolutions in north Africa, it makes you think.

What are the enabling design features of an iPad? Is the presence of the iTunes and app store a component of that enabling? If not, then one can expect that competing tablets will be just as successful because of their size and basic utility. On the other hand, if consumers in general don’t take to the competitors because of their branding or unfortunate technical choices, then will the iPad emerge as the leader for much longer time, even if the basic utility is the same? In other words, did all these people seize on the iPad because it was first? Or because Apple was the first to get it right? Because it’s cool to use Apple stuff? What features and functions and branding are essential for competitors to be on equal footing in schools and business? And is that a different question than what it takes to be successful overall with app-happy, Apple-happy consumers? Food for thought.

Horace Dediu asks an embarrassing question of Nokia: ” What is the value of a quarter billion Symbian users?” in this article with a telling graphic, Mr Dediu looks at the sunken costs in the Nokia Symbian system, at how quickly Nokia seems prepared to dump it and 250 million customers that have come to depend on it, and concludes:

The disposal of such a large installed base must count among the largest divestitures in technology history and, when coupled with the adoption of the least-tested alternative as a replacement, [Android] elevates platform risk-taking to a new level. It may seem bold, but there is a fine line between courage and recklessness.”

Intel has been a little bit embarrassed as they’ve been bypassed in many case as the supplier of CPUs for mobile devices. The company hopes to remedy that, and this article reveals some of the thinking on how to regain the initiative.”Intel aims to reshape chips for next-gen mobile devices.

In this video of Steve Jobs, from the Santa Clara Valley Historical Society, that I found this week, he describes how Apple may not have existed if he and Steve Wozniak hadn’t gotten into the business of building illegal “Blue Boxes” in the 1970s. What’s a Blue Box? Check it out, especially Mr. Jobs’s whimsical feelings about engaging in illegal activity because the technology he discovered was just so darn cool.

Daniel Eran Dilger had some fun recently comparing Android and iOS enthusiasts. I especially like the first graphic. (Click to enlarge each graphic in his article.) Oh, all right, go ahead. Have some fun. “Apple’s iPhone and the Curious World of Android Enthusiasts.

Dan Dilger Chart

 Source: Daniel Eran Dilger

If you have a MacBook pro that’s new enough to have two graphics units, then you need gfxCardStatus. Check out this description over at Tidbits and you’ll be convinced.

The contrast between Barnes & Noble and Borders continues to amaze me as I read more and more about the two companies. Here’s a note on how B&N’s sales through their retail stores rose almost 5 percent last quarter and some commentary on their business practices and philosophy. “Barnes & Noble Sales Jump Led By Digital Products.

I often think about that photo of Steve Jobs and Eric Schmidt at that coffee shop in Palo Alto in March of 2010. I fantasize that they were talking about how to compete, head-to-head- so strongly that they would leave the rest of the planet in the dust. (translation: Microsoft) I could never prove this or even editorialize on it, but now a second observer has come up with the same idea. Yes, Horace, what you said!

Just before the Verizon iPhone shipped, there was a lot of hysteria about how millions of customers would forsake AT&T, totally disrupting the balance of power between the two companies. I thought otherwise: that AT&T’s loss might be a percent or two. Market forces tend to damp out such radical swings, and many cooler heads pointed out why AT&T wouldn’t lose a quarter of its customers. Here’s some supporting analysis that lists the reasons why the iPhone at Verizon hasn’t been a transformational event. It’s a good list, even if the attitude and article title are somewhat questionable. “Why aren’t people buying the Verizon iPhone?

I read a lot of reviews of the Motorola Xoom this week. Here’s the best one by Harry McCracken at Time. (Yes, amazing. But smart that they have Harry.) “iPad Gets Competition: Meet Motorola’s Xoom.” I noticed there was no mention of specific book readers in any of the reviews I read. Something to look into.

Moto Xoom

Source: Motorola

I have several concerns about the Xoom.  The first is, why pay more and get less? Next, what about infrastructure? App and music stores? Third, what about the Moto brand?  The company isn’t going to appeal to a broad audience with ads like this:

I can see trying to differentiate youself from Apple.  But seriously?  What’s your wife going to think when she sees this ad? Good luck getting her to sign off on US$799.

I wouldn’t normally direct you to an article at only because 1) You’ve probably read it, and 2) this kind of site isn’t known for deep technical details or insights. But this article by Jason Chen, drawn from Gizmodo, is really quite good because, in a nicely laid out article, Mr. Chen lists what’s wrong and needs fixing in the first Apple iPad. Short, sweet, succinct and right on. See what you think in: “What iPad needs to steal from Android and HP.

On Thursday, CNET reported that Apple has provided a pre-release of Mac OS X 10.7, “Lion,” to security experts for their review. That’s a welcome move by Apple, and according to security expert Charlie Miller, has never happened before. This decision by Apple deserves more attention. “Apple shares Mac OS X Lion with security experts.” Hooray, Apple!