It’s the music that gives the video its punch, mood, feeling. The way it starts of calm and begins to escalate. What a year for better or worse, for what we choose to embrace and what we hide from ourselves and the world. It is a world of contradiction, of hope and fear, of triumph and sorrow, it is all of that and everything else. We remember the big news but life is defined by our every day, what we do, what has changed, the moments of love, hope and sadness. Those are the beats to remember, the ones that shape us more than any one piece of news, that is what we search for all our lives.
I got an interview for a job at Xtreme Labs and they asked all the people who applied to write something up about the tablet wars on Monday due on Wednesday and this is what I sent to them. This isn’t perfect and I know there are several parts I would change but I hope that it isn’t completely without merit with its imperfections, that’s an ideal I am starting to strive for as I work on my craft. This is too long for a single post in our short attention span society but I thought I should just put it all on the table.
2012 will not only go down as the year of the tablet but the year when the post-pc era gathered steam and the competition decided to take on Apple’s iron grip of the tablet market as it enters the next phase of growth. Not that Samsung, Amazon, Asus, RIM, or the parade of challengers hasn’t tried before.
We just saw the launch of Windows Surface and Windows 8 the OS designed for touch. Google just updated their Nexus 7 tablet with more storage and mobile data access while completing the triumvirate with the Nexus 4 and the Nexus 10 tablet, whose display out retina’s the iPad Retina at 300 pixels per inch (ppi) versus 264 ppi.
Every company is bringing out the big guns to capture the imagination of the holiday shopper and their dollars. According to Strategy Analytics in an article for Engadget global tablet OS shipments for Android saw their market share increase to 41.3% in Q3 2012 compared to 29.2% in Q3 2011. They say that part of the uptake is because of the “collective weight” of all the Android tablets being brought to market which continues to change the tablet landscape.
As companies brought in the big guns so did Apple with the October 23rd reveal of the iPad Mini, a 7.89 inch screen device starting at $329 US compared to the Nexus 7 and Fire HD at $199 US. At the same time Apple brought the iPad’s third generation to a close just 7 months after it began in all its retina display glory. The fourth generation upgrades the processor to an A6X and adds the lightning connector while the design and screen remain the same.
The iPad mini shows how much the tablet market has changed since Steve Jobs first said in Apple’s fourth quarter 2010 earnings call that “seven-inch tablets are tweeners, too big to compete with a smartphone and too small to compete with an iPad.” The iPad mini’s debut feels like a defensive measure designed to limit the competition’s hold on the 7-8 inch tablet space while opening the door for consumers who found the 9.7 inch iPad too large.
The later entry of the iPad mini along with its premium price may keep it from dominating simply because the price floor for 7 to 8 inch tablets is so low to start with. The mini is just as likely to erode iPad 2 sales because of the new design, same hardware, and lower price but it could put more pressure on Apple to update the iPad Retina form factor sooner to resemble that of the mini in its fifth iteration.
Although Android runs smartphones and tablets like iOS does, Microsoft has taken a different approach with Windows Phone 8 being distinct from Windows 8 and windows RT. Windows Surface marks a major milestone for Microsoft, as Surface is the first time they have competed directly with their OEM partners.
Dan Poeter a writer for PC Mag says in an article that while Surface “may have been strategically necessary to get the ball rolling for Windows RT and to a lesser extent Windows 8” but it also complicates relations with Microsoft’s hardware partners who may be pissed at Microsoft’s first foray into PC hardware.
The 2 unique features that set Surface apart are the kickstand built into the tablet and a unique touch or type screen cover that does double duty as a keyboard. Combine that with a full-sized USB port, a micro SD slot, and Microsoft Office and you have yourself a notebook replacement as much as you have a tablet.
In early 2013 Microsoft will release Windows Surface Pro which will be a tablet device that runs a traditional Windows 8 supporting legacy applications and will be powered by Intel. Microsoft will have to tread carefully to prevent confusion Windows Surface and Windows Surface Pro in the marketplace.
Legacy apps won’t work on Windows RT, it’s a complete break from the past for Microsoft and they are taking their cues from Apple by creating their own walled garden which means you can only get apps from the Microsoft App Store. According to Patrick Moorhead, a principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy said in an article for Computerworld that having “5,000 (apps) is a reasonable number to be successful at launch.”
As of October 26, Wes Miller an analyst at Directions said to Computerworld said that the Microsoft App Store had a little over 9,000 apps available. Moorhead in the same article said that the Windows Store is still “not where it needs to be for a global app ecosystem but it has improved over the last couple weeks” and is well past his 5,000 app mark. Their app ecosystem just needs time to grow and as long as Microsoft continues to support it, their app numbers should continue to climb.
That is one of the advantages that Apple’s iOS and to a lesser extent Google’s Android have. Since their OS’s were developed for smartphones and then later extended to tablets, they already have a wealth of apps that at least theoretically can work on both. This is especially evident with iOS where some iPhone apps can also work on the iPad as is. Whereas Windows Phone 8 and Windows RT are much more separate, which prevent the cross pollination of apps that work on both.
The way Apple pushes iOS updates to all eligible devices means that there is better unity across their entire product ecosystem, giving developers the confidence to develop for the latest and greatest version of iOS. The iPad mini has no impact on development since its processor and screen resolution are repurposed from the iPad 2, making all apps that work for one work for the other, no extra work required.
With many Android tablets and smartphones running different versions of Android, the entire ecosystem is heavily fragmented. This complexity has led to many fewer apps being tablet optimized because the process is messy at best. Reto Meier, Android Developer Relations Tech Lead posted a Tablet App Quality Checklist on the Android Developers Blog to help developers optimize their apps for tablets, but that continues to be a work in progress, and the number of Android tablet apps pale in comparison what is found on the iPad.
RIM’s failure to crack the tablet market with their 7 inch Playbook according to Moorhead was because the Playbook lacked high-quality apps and had a weak app store. Since its launch the Playbook saw several price drops and software updates that fixed many of the criticisms consumers had but the lack of apps continues to hurt the Playbook, rendering it almost a non-existent player in the tablet space.
Blackberry 10 (BB10) was originally slated for release this fall but was pushed back to Q1 2013. RIM is pouring resources to grow their developer ecosystem for BB10 with incentives for developers to get their apps on the store by BB10’s launch, so they will not repeat the Playbook’s mistake. The question remains is it too late? RIM still has a chance to change their fortunes but they have is no margin for error, BB10 will define whether or not RIM has a future or if it will fade out of view.
In March 2012 Microsoft Advertising released a study that took a look into the future of the digital living room in Canada which found that 19% of families surveyed planned to buy a tablet in the next year and that 10% of parents said their families watch video on the tablets in the living room.
These surveys reflects a broader trend towards the multiscreen world with recent research by Google, Ipsos, and Sterling showing that people use their smartphones to connect and have 38% of their media interactions there. While tablets keep us entertained and are used primarily at home at 79% versus 21% out of home. This further reinforces the belief that tablets are for consumption not creation which something that Microsoft is seeking to bridge starting with Windows Surface.
We are well into the growth phase of the tablet space as all the major tech players are now fully engaged in the battle of the second and third screen. The Market Research firm NPD Display Search in an article on Mashable projects that tablets will grow from 121 million shipments in 2012 to 416 million by 2017 which would mean that they would probably pass notebook shipments by 2016, which would seem to complete our transition to the post-pc era.
The tablet wars are dynamic with product iterations coming fast and furious as the 7 month lifecycle of Apple’s third generation iPad and launching of the iPad mini clearly shows (I give it 6 months). Microsoft is showing us their post-pc future through Surface. While Google brings organization to the Internet and tries to reign in the fragmentation monster that stocks its dessert filled Android. RIM is readying its last stand.
Technology is continually changing our lives, and computing is entering a new phase with mobile devices and tablets providing new ways to interact and create content. This is the post-pc era, a world of many screens, many choices, where the world’s information and society are never far away. So keep calm and turn your tablet on.
I really like the Nexus 7 but the only thing keeping me from pulling the trigger is the no SD card reader for storage and no 3G or LTE. I think wi-fi is great but I want the option to go wireless wherever I am and not always be hunting for an open wi-fi access point. These tips are great though I wish it just wasn’t stuck in portrait mode because there are times when landscape is preferable but oh well this is their first try at it so I will give them a pass. So should I pull the trigger or wait till the next one comes out because I am sure it is right behind the corner. Samsung’s Note II just may fit the bill.
So Google showed off Glass for the first time when Sergey Brin interrupted a talk to show off what Glass can do which you can see below. I thought it was an epic way to unveil a project we have heard about for the last few months since the first trailer of it showed up on Google’s YouTube channel. I think the technology is amazing but there is a level of creepiness that is hard to get over. Plus I wonder if the technology is located in the unit and it being so close to your head may have its own issues. Not sure I want all those radio waves piercing my brain, that would not be good.
Wearable technology seems to be the next great leap although I think wearable technology makes more sense for security, police and industry first, the rest of us it will be a much slower uptake because of the issues that wearable technology implies. Google Glass will be available to attendees of Google I/O 2012 for $1,500 and will ship early next year. I expect that commercial deployment will take place a year or two later. I wonder if Glass uses 3G or LTE or could it partner with your Android device in a future iteration.
The tech looks cool but it’s social implications will be messy no matter what, that is something we just have to brace ourselves for. I can’t wait to see more of glass and for the videos of explorer editions to appear next year, that will be too much fun. I can actually see this type of device being useful for journalists who are in the field a lot to help with coverage. More than that I know people will find all sorts of uses for it that we can’t even think of yet and those will be the ones that are the most exciting.
Here is a video of Sergey talking about how they pulled everything you see in the first video off. So much awesome in these 2 videos. Google for the win in the biggest blow out for a product reveal.