Apple has some interesting decisions to make about the iPad 3. It’s a balance between extreme tech bleeding edge and high costs vs. what’s needed to compete for the next 12 months. Or eight months, if you believe my thesis. Plus interesting snippets on Mountain Lion, Windows 8, a Linux family scuffle, and the relaunch of Ze Frank’s amazing show.
We’re all waiting with great anticipation for the iPad 3. Some are calling it the “iPad HD.” Even fewer are calling it the iPad 2S. Whatever it turns out to be, the real question is the fine line between what Apple has to do and what customers wish for.
Credit: Aatma Studio concept video
The higher resolution display, almost a given, and a customary CPU upgrade will easily accommodate 1080p. But other fronts are more problematic. Apple hasn’t shown signs of being enthusiastic or creative about how to handle stereo speakers because the iPad can be held in different orientations. If anyone can figure it out by now, Apple can.
(The screen shot from the iPad 3 concept video above is cool, but I don’t think Apple can go full edge screen yet. But it’s fun to ponder.)
Also, it has been customary for Apple to let the iPhone be the technology forerunner and then implement those technologies in the iPad. However, I don’t think it’s wise for Apple to wait until March of 2013 to include 4G/LTE, and I think Apple will want to use a chip that has 3G for data, but lets them and their carrier partner turn on 4G/LTE data as needed. Articles like the one about the Qualcomm Gobi chip make me think the technology to do that is upon us.
Of course, we’re expecting respectable cameras. No one, so far as I know, has ever explained the terrible cameras in the iPad 2. Other than Apple’s unwise attempt to discourage their use. But I think Apple has seen the light.
I’ve said before that I don’t think Apple will release a 7.x inch iPad next Wednesday. It’s not necessary at this point in time. Rather, Apple will sell a version of the iPad 2, perhaps the 16 GB model for a price that’s just low enough to lure potential Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble Nook purchasers over into the Apple camp, pulling them up from the US$199 price point. Just where that price point is is very interesting. If it’s too low, it devalues the Apple brand and the sales prospects of current iPad 2 customers. If it’s too high, the percentage that can be lured upwards is too small to be worth the effort. My guess is an iPad 2 w/16GB, Wi-Fi priced at $299 to $349 That would make Amazon and B&N squeal with pain.
Now that Tim Cook is in charge, I think that the momentum to eliminate the “Home” button, if there ever was any, rumored to be born of Mr. Jobs’s distaste for physical buttons, is gone. For the sake of reliability and error recovery, we need a few physical buttons wired to the hardware. Just a few. Apple, we like that part just the way it is.
Finally, while Apple, I surmise, is still sizing up the prospect of avoiding another Christmas embarrassment by not having a “gift-worthy,” 7-inch iPad, Amazon may be taking a different approach. If commodity parts are becoming more available, thanks to the worldwide demand for tablets, Amazon may be thinking about becoming a serious, the only serious, competitor to Apple’s 9.7-inch iPad with one of its own. In fact, the the 7-inch Kindle Fire may simply have been a warmup. Check this: “Was the Amazon Kindle Fire a Beta Release?”
The Last Chance Saloon
On a similar front, as we know, Microsoft is probably a bit tense about its prospects for tablets and mobility based on its upcoming release of Windows 8. This is Microsoft’s last chance to be a player in the tablet market, and Tom Krazit lays it all out. “Why Windows 8 is Microsoft’s most vital launch in years.” I think Mr. Krazit nails it.
Windows 8 (credit: Microsoft)
You can now find a ton of articles about Windows 8 technology and its market prospects, but the one that caught my attention was at ars technica that compares the e-mail client in Windows 7 to WIndows 8. “E-mail shines in Windows 8 with radical overhaul of mail client.” This new email approach, essential for the mobile user, tells me that Microsoft has buckled down and is getting serious about mobility. Jon Brodkin brings the point home with his screenshots. And David Pogue agrees.
Apple isn’t standing still either. With tongue in cheek, I have occasionally referred to Lion as Apple’s Vista. This happens because phase I for new OS thinking is getting the basic technology down. Then, when customers scream and fuss, it takes another year to iron out the UI wrinkles. That’s what I think Apple has done and will do with Mountain Lion. For example, ML eliminates some of the historical limitations on renaming files and some of the irritations introduced by Auto Save. Here’s a taste of good things to come: “Inside OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion: a Preview of how Apple is improving file renaming.”
Mountain Lion Pounces (Credit: Shutterstock)
It’s sad but true. That days of building operating systems solely so that users can achieve personal goals and conduct technical work are gone. In 2012, an operating must also achieve corporate agenda so that a company can sustain growth and remain on top. Whether that compromise will create trouble for Apple remains to be seen. For some background on what Apple’s is trying to achieve with Mountain Lion, see: “Mountain Lion threatens Facebook and Microsoft.” Apple is always competing against Microsoft; it’s the Facebook part that intrigues me. This infighting is why scientists, especially those with a special need, say, to modify the kernel, lean towards Linux. Linux is the low-key, technical, button-down OS designed to get technical work done, generally free of Imperial Entanglements.
The other side of that double-edged sword is the usability of Linux by people who need it to be a friendly OS. People like, say, Linus Torvalds himself. This is funny in a geek snort, coffee through the nose kinda way. “Linus Torvalds snarls at openSUSE desktop Linux’s security.”
The lesson from these last two paragraphs is from the three laws of thermodynamics: “You can’t win, you can’t break even and you can’t even get out of the game.”
One of my favorite projects of the past (2006) was Ze Frank’s “The Show.” As I recall, each week, Ze Frank produced a witty, zany, satirical video by, gasp, pointing a camera at himself. It was outrageous and outrageously good. But, with all things, it had to come to and end. Now, Mr. Frank is going to dust it off and resurrect The Show, but he needed kickstart funds. He asked for US$50K to guarantee the relaunch. Right now, donations have exceeded $116K. The next edition will be “same same but different.” Here’s the reference: “A Show with Ze Frank.” Can you spare $1? It’ll be worth it.