Where will this go?
7-inch Tablets: How Low Can They Go? -
Roger Cheng and Steve Musli:
Despite speculation that Amazon was preparing a larger 8.9 or 10-inch version, the company will only unveil a new 7-inch Kindle Fire and a slightly revamped version of the original tablet in an event scheduled for next week, according to a person who has seen the products.
As I reported a year ago, Amazon has been thinking about and testing a 10-inch tablet for a long time. They initially planned to release it alongside the Kindle Fire, but the plan quickly changed to early 2012. Then they pushed it again. Now they’re balking again, apparently.
Hard to know for sure, but my guess would be that Amazon more than has their hands full just trying to compete in the 7-inch tablet space. Google is now their main competitor there, and Apple will enter soon. No point in launching a new offensive against a deeply entrenched product (the 9.7-inch iPad) and a soon-to-be huge challenger (Microsoft, with the Surface) when you’re playing defense on the other front.
Put another way: try to win one war before you find yourself in the middle of two (or three, with a smartphone).
The Kindle Fire is not nearly as good as the Nexus 7 — it’s just not even close, really. The updated one? We’ll see. But if Apple is entering the space as well, you know they have to believe they have a winner too.
So instead, it appears Amazon is going to take a different approach — the approach they know well: discount, discount, discount. A $150 ad-supported Kindle Fire would be very attractive this holiday seasons for two reasons:
If successful, it could force Google’s hand to further eat costs with the Nexus 7. And the race to the bottom will be on. (Apple, of course, won’t play that game — I’m still betting the iPad mini comes in closer to $249 or even $299.)
How long do investors in companies put up with these kind of money losing proposals? Look at what happened to the large PC vendors of the ’90s who tried to thrive on razor thin margins. And, they tried to live on razor thin, positive margins. How are these companies going to survive on negative margins?
And about the “Ad” supported thing. I thought people hated this? I know I do.
Imagine You're an Android Developer at Google... -
Really, just take a moment and imagine that you were a lead programmer that helped implement some of the headline features in Android 4 or Ice Cream Sandwich. You did some cool stuff, created some software that you thought would be good for the users of Android, you might have even put in extra hours just to make sure your code was up to snuff by the launch date.
Then, your code got passed onto the businessmen and various corporate types who for one reason or another didn’t or couldn’t get your code into the hands of actual users in a reasonable amount of time.
Now, over half a year later, you’re looking at these stats. You’re being asked to write code for the NEXT major release, Android 5. Are you going to want to put in any late nights at work making sure your code is ready to be released on time? I honestly don’t know how any of them could still work for Google. To know that your hard work has been massively devalued by the company you work for would make it very hard to get motivated.
Maybe, just maybe Google should have a re-release party for Android 4, after all, it is light years ahead of iOS, right? But this time, they could do it for real, you know, release it to actual phones and real users. Send all the Android programmers to Hawaii for a couple of months while the rest of the business gets its act together.
Found this at parislemon
The Fundamentals of the Mobile OS Game -
I’m talking about APIs. This really matters. I’ll talk later about some specific places where it matters a lot, but it matters generally because the the APIs define the power available to third-party developers.
The Android platform is currently stuck in second gear because Google, their OEMs and the carriers can’t, won’t or simply have no incentive to get the installed base past the Android 2.x API set. There are better and more powerful APIs in Android 4, and there will be better ones again in the future, but developers can’t take advantage of them because almost nobody is running the latest OS.
For example, Google recently shipped Chrome for Android which, by all accounts, is a pretty great mobile web browser. Unfortunately, it requires Android 4 and around 1% of the installed base is currently running that release.
This means that iOS apps are not only better than Android apps today, they’re getting better faster than Android apps because Apple is deploying and the installed base is rapidly upgrading to much more powerful APIs on the devices in consumers’ hands.
This is what I talked about in a post back in September. APIs matter most. Not the APIs themselves, but how fast the vendor can get those APIs into the hands of developers and how fast they are used in applications that are used by many users.
Why are Android phones selling but not Android tablets? Android phones are pushed by mobile carriers because they produce a nice profit for the carrier. Android tablets are pushed by the device maker and sold on their own merit. And what merit do they have? They lack applications that make them appealing to consumers. They lack consumers to make application development profitable. Device makers lack the ability to put the latest version of the Android on every tablet, so they can’t lure the best possible appls. To be honest, it is just a huge mess.
Odds are Windows 8 will not suffer this problem. Microsoft is far smarter in working with hardware partners than Google is. Microsoft is going to want the latest version of Windows running on hardware because that will mean more sales of its OS and, hence, more profits.
I suppose what all this means is that in about 5 years, unless Google and its partners can get their act together, Apple and Microsoft will be two dominant players in the tablet space, and, unless Google gets their act together, Windows Phone will become ascendant while Android will stagnate or start to decline.
Spend an hour a day making something? -
Starting at the beginning of February, I made a change. Each day I blocked off a precious hour to build something.
Every day. One hour. No matter what.
Every day? Yup. Including weekends.
A hour? Yup, 60 full minutes. More if I can afford it.
In the olden days, this was spent making supper.
Samsung is About to Release Another GIANT PHONE! -
What is the difference in size between this and the Samsung Galaxy Note? Not much.
“2012 is going to be the year that we double down and make sure we’re winning in that space.”
That was Andy Rubin talking about Android’s tablet strategy at Mobile World Congress, as relayed by The Verge.
Across all the various OEMs that make Android tablets, 12 million have been sold in total. Ever. For context, Apple sold 15 million iPads last quarter.
Obviously, Google needs to do better in the space. And they should be able to. Quite honestly, it would be hard to do much worse given the interest in the space (thanks mainly to the aforementioned iPad) on both a consumer and OEM level. But Rubin’s excuse as to why the Android tablets are selling so poorly is suspect at best.
I think first and foremost, Google needs a killer tablet for Android. Something people actually want. The Kindle Fire and the Nook don’t count — at least not for Google’s purposes. I suspect Motorola may come into play here more than Google is letting on. But that may take a while. First, maybe we’ll see some kind of super-cheap flagship tablet. A $199 Nexus tablet?
There have been a lot of tablets released that are just as good hardware-wise as the iPad. The problem is not that some company has not been able to build a killer tablet. Samsung has done it with the Galaxy 10.1. The problem is that the software on all these tablets has been crap. It isn’t as responsive, it isn’t tailored to the device, and the Apps suck.
Really, the entire blame should be placed on Google for their problems in the tablet space. The hardware manufacturers have done their part. They have built decent hardware for tablets. Google has not built good software for them. Google has not advertised its software very well, and I understand why, Android is not photogenic.
Compare this with how Apple advertises their products. The hardware doesn’t matter one bit. Apple shows the software and what it can do. People don’t buy the hardware because the specs are better than the competition. They buy it because the software will solve some problem of theirs.
The Kindle Fire is successful not because the hardware is good, nor because the software is good. In fact, the skinned Android software is most likely not that good. They buy it because of the content available and the easy purchase. Actually, most likely, most people probably bought it because it was cheap.
Maybe Siegler is right, maybe the only thing that Android can have on the iPad is price. Maybe that is the only way to build a successful competing device. The thing is, the cost of that is born by the hardware manufacturers and NOT by Google. Google will get the same revenue. I don’t think the hardware manufacturers are going to want to take on this burden.
If Google wants to succeed in the tablet space, they are going to have to produce good software for the tablets and start showing people why buying an Android tablet makes sense. Take responsibility for your own products already.
The Third Leg on the Stool? -
But Windows 8 is a big bet. We’ll see how that bet turns out, but I’m feeling pretty good about it. More important, I think, is the evidence of actual life we’re seeing from Microsoft, that this company, for all its size and age, actually seems to give a crap.
It will be an exciting time to see three platforms begin to coalesce into competition for the future of computing. Apple’s OS X, iCloud and iOS vs. Microsoft’s Windows 8, Phone, xBox, and Google’s Apps, Android and Chrome. More competition will mean better products no matter how you cut it.
It is too bad those Open Source guys haven’t come up with anything compelling to these three platforms.
Smarterbits: The Allure of the Galaxy Note -
While everyone’s response to the Samsung Galaxy Note has been a resounding “no thanks” combined with a healthy dose of absurdity and skepticism regarding the device1, something inside me keeps coming back to the idea that its existence isn’t entirely unwarranted.
Thing is, there’s a…
Some day, we will have to carry at least four devices, each for four different screen sizes, each tailored for different tasks. I can’t wait for that day.
Death of the General Purpose File Manager -
During a recent episode of The Talk Show, John Gruber talked about how OS X is stuck with the “Desktop” whether they like it or not. Twenty years ago the Desktop as a folder for quick access to your files and your file system made sense. But that was when people predominantly interacted with files first before launching an app. Apple is now steering people away from the need to interact with the file system. With iCloud, automatic and in-app document saving, and versioning, we are seeing a shift in personal computing where people interact less with files first and more with apps first.
The general purpose file manager has been dying for years. For most types of files, a typical user only ever has to deal with ten, twenty, maybe thirty files. Think about how many Keynote files a person might actually have. The Finder works well for this.
It has been well known that the Finder is inadequate for dealing with hundreds or thousands of the same kind of files. That is why we have iPhoto for the thousands of picture files and iTunes for the thousands of music files. You can look at them in the Finder if you want to, but, why bother? The example doesn’t end just there, look at mail messages, each message could be a file you can see in the Finder, Apple even tried it with PowerTalk in the 90s. But, it is much easier to manage them in their own file manager.
There are more examples of what are basically custom file managers for specific types of files. Any time a person has more than twenty or thirty of a given type of file, a specific file manager is more productive than the general purpose Finder.
And so we see this trend continue. Apple includes methods for dealing with the filesystem in the Cocoa APIs. They expect app developers to manage the filesystem from within the app.
Where does this lead to? First, every application will eventually manage its own files. Each application will need to keep track of where the file is stored in OS X, the different versions of the file, and how it is synced to iCloud. Sharing files among applications is going to need to be worked out.