Thursday, January 28, 2010

ipad versus ipod touch/iphone .. a bigger display.. thats it!

Apple's Ipad looks very cool but personally I m very disappointed with the ipad and here why:

Yes, it runs on apple's own A4 1 GHz processor probably based on ARM (they probably wanted to maintain more secrecy with their devices this way) but the device is nothing but an itouch/iphone with a bigger display. It only runs the same OS as the iphone/ipod touch.

No webcam (cant do video chats), No flash support and No multitasking (cant have two apps open/running at the same time. Almost every smartphone that has come after the iphone supports multitasking. Say for example you want browse or read books but keep skype or IM open in the background, can do that without multitasking?). Netbooks have webcam, have flash support and can do multitasking. And I don't agree with apple's statements that netbooks are slow (netbooks have the same old boring user interface - yes I agree with that).

I like the one touch power feature of the ipad similar to the iphone (which netbooks lack).

Most of the stuff they demoed yesterday on the ipad were just software (everything could have been a app on the iphone/itouch). The app store for books (ibooks) .. cmon is that a breakthrough? Why is it better than the kindle? Maybe people would still buy this ipad just because its got the apple logo.. As one of my friends pointed out yesterday, maybe apple can sell ice to the eskimos.

Overall, the ipad did not keep up to the hype. Apple spent more than an year working on the ipad and all they could do was just a bigger screen (ofcourse they are trailblazing their own A4 processor for the first time on their ipad.. Probably soon, the iphones would follow this trend). In all honesty, they could have powered their ipad with Intel's ATOM, this way its X86 and could have easily run their regular mac OX or a lighter version of mac OS.

To the many folks who know me as someone who iconizes Steve Jobs, that has not changed a bit with the release of the ipad. If the news of the tablet was not floating around, probably what apple delivered yesterday would have be mind blowing.. The media kind of played a big part in screwing up that image. Apple competitors - you have got a second chance to beat apple.. Now don't don't screw up again.

I was following this live blog by endgadget yesterday from the apple's ipad event:

Here is another Apple iPad launch day roundup: everything you need to know

Here is another good collection of ipad related news on the web:

My friend Patrick wanted me to post this really cool video with Hitler and ipad on my blog :

In the end, there was so much hype going on and people like me expected a bit more from Steve Jobs.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

17 features the apple tablet could have

17 features the apple tablet could have: (this list is based on my thoughts as well as what I have read on the web so far and inputs from my friends) (will be adding more features as it pops up in my mind till tomorrow morning =) )
- ereader
- games 
- video/movie player
- web cam
- multitouch
- regular iPhone apps
- app store for books, magazines, newspapers
- light version of mac OS
- USB / FireWire port similar to macbook??? (my colleague/friend Dave's maybe prediction)
- wireless
- 3G or 4G
- Expandable memory??? (my colleague/friend Dave's maybe prediction)
- 3D graphics
- Handwriting recognition
- speech recognition    
- Virtual keyboard
- real keyboard (probably sliding keyboard)???

Monday, January 25, 2010

What will be the apple tablet be like?

As the day of the apple tablet release is nearing, there are so many rumours floating about what the tablet would be and what it's core functionality would be. I thought let me document my thoughts too before the device arrives so that I can brag if my thoughts become true.

The apple tablet could be like Lenovo's hybrid laptop/tablet or a hybrid handheld/tablet. Or it could be like MSI's laptop where the keyboard area is replaced with another display for ebook reading with an option to load a virtual keyboard if needed (this virtual keyboard area could just used a e-ink based display to save power consumption).

My most probable guess is that the apple tablet will be an iPhone with a bigger screen and better processor and more memory/storage, better graphics card with 3D support for better gaming experience. It will have all of the features of an iPhone like multitouch, GPS, WIFi, one touch power on, etc. The operating system will be a hybrid of a mac OS (which means you can install any application, like flash for example) and iphone OS. It will have ability to run all of the existing  iphone apps. It would also serve as an ereader for books, magazines and newspapers and even for textbooks (which the college crowd would love). It would have better handwriting recognition and also maybe better voice recognition. It better have some kind of an embedded webcam so that it enables users to do video chat and maybe even take pictures if needed. It would be better if the tablet also has USB or firewire ports just like a macbook.

With respect to the ereader functionality, the question that still ponders me is that whether would that be just yet another app on the app store or would it have an e-ink mechanism (static display without need for screen refresh) to save power consumption (the device could also have the regular LCD display mechanism when not used for reading books). Another question that ponders my mind is whether iTunes will start selling magazines, newspapers and ebooks (or even chapters of books) just like songs? News Corp's Rupert Murdoch would love the idea if iTunes enables newspaper companies to sell Content.

With respect to enabling better gaming experience, another question I have is whether the tablet will have enhanced hardware improvements (maybe an attached game controllers which just slide from the side? (so that it feels like holding a gameboy while playing games) or maybe 3D or even holographic display makes sense for gaming and maybe even for watching movies) or would it just be the kick ass software that would make the tablet THE gaming device. Because rumors are that it could have both.

I cant wait to see if apple comes up with a novel user input mechanism or interface, which just blows our mind (similar to how the multitouch on the iPhone blew our mind when it was released). Would the tablet have a scroller wheel on the sides (similar to a blackberry) for easily traversing between apps,content, etc? One million dollar question I have is whether the tablet would have some significant hardware improvement over the iphone/macbook or would it be some bad ass software on the tablet that would blow our mind (because most of the innovations mentioned above could be just as well done in software without any hardware improvement)....we shall know in 2 days.  

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

What happens in Vegas doesn't stay in Vegas - CES 2010 postmortem

I m kind of disappointed by this year's ces compared to last year's. During last year's CES, LED TVs were new and they were kind of like becoming the new LCDs. 3D technology were coming to the home  in the form of 3D TVs. This year I went to CES in hopes to see more tablets, the new halo market created by the buzz of apple tablet, which is slated to release in the end of January. To my disappointment, I did not see too many tablets, which I thought would replace the current netbooks.  

At CES 2010, the main attractions were 3D TVs (like last year), Ereaders/ebooks (I m yet to see a clear distinction between the two), netbooks, iPhone accesories (this was by far one of the most innovative areas), wireless charging technologies (like last year).

Apple was all over the place at CES. Infact apple Inc. did not even have a booth at CES (apple stopped coming to CES long time ago, since they started their own macworld to release their products. Probably CES was too inexpensive for the release their products). There was a big area called ilounge at the LVCC north hall where almost every exhibit was an iPhone accessory. Among iPhone accesories, there were iPhone covers with solar charging pads at the back of the cover, USB battery packs, iPhone covers with embedded battery packs, wireless charging stations, kinetic chargers, acoustic headphones, to name a few. Most of these were present at last CES too but the number of companies investing in selling iPhone accesories truly amazed me. 

There was a section with mobile apps exhibits but none of the apps impressed me. Every app in this section had some form of hyperlocal thing in them. Most of them were iPhone apps with a few apps for blackberry and very few supporting android platform as well. CES even had a apps for innovation contest for mobile apps. One mobile app worth mentioning is this YourApps / premierappshop ( This one seems to be an alternative app store for apple iPhone & doesn't need apps to go through apple's app approval process. From what I understand I think it uses the bookmark feature of the iPhone's safari browser.  

Among netbooks, the most innovative ones, worth mentioning are a keyboard-less netbook design by MSI with dual screens with the second screen acting also as a virtual keyboard and the hybrid tablet laptop (where the tablet can be detached if needed) by Lenovo. 

There were ereaders all over the place at this year's CES (I wouldn't call them an innovation because ereaders are not something new, they are just now becoming a commodity). Every ereader was the same and the only difference between the kindle and the ereaders at ces is that the non-kindle ones can read more ebook formats. To me that's not an innovation. Marvel technologies had this ereader with dual screen, one powered by TfT and another one by eink, so that one could use the ereader as a ebook and a netbook. The main advantage that kindle has over these ereaders is the price point of kindle.

There were quite a few companies demonstrating wireless charging power stations. I think most or all of these use electromagnetic induction way of power transfer for charging. On the mobile accesories side, there were companies retailing wireless charging pads for iPhones and blackberries. These charging pads are priced around $100. Futon Innovation stole the pride by showcasing wireless power charging proof of concept at office, homes and even inside cars. One thing all these wireless charging technologies require is to place the device to be charged in very close proximity to the charging source (by this I mean you have literally place the device on a charging surface). The only advantage of these present day wireless charging technologies is that they replace the power cables. Today, to transfer data, we dont require cables anyway. Maybe these technologies are good for office environment, but not for regular consumer use. Someday in the near future, I hope to see a way of charging my iPhone from my hand through an app. I guess I m asking for too much.

There's nothing much to write about TV technologies, except that every manufacture on the floor has a 3D TV now. Too bad these still require glasses. Even content providers are planning launch 3D content sometime this year. Direct TV is leading the herd. Yes, we can watch ESPN on 3D soon. There's an estimate of around 50 3D movies to be made this year.

On the handheld side, every phone manufacture (nokia, RIMM, samgsung,motorola) have new additions. To me, every handheld looked like nothing but an iPhone clone. Being an apple evangelist, I might be a bit biased in my opinion, so I m not going to comment on the handhelds, except that each of these handheld had their own app store. I m thinking whether having an app store per handheld is the right business model or whether the app stores should be carrier specific, but I guess that's not question that's going to be answered in the near future.

Last but not least, intel demonstrated that every device is going to be powered by a computer in the future. I think it's not too ambitious. Intel's recent core i5 and i7 processors on 32 nanometer technology is brilliant. On the mobile front, intel has a new app store called the AppUp center to enable people write apps for netbooks.      

More details about CES products with pictures and videos to follow in a followup blog post.