Sunday, April 25, 2010

Bye, Floppies

Sony is apparently one of a few remaining manufacturers of the 3.5" floppy disk, and they'll stop production next year. Floppies were an important file transfer mechanism when I was in college, and I remember my copy of Windows 95 was in floppies. CD-ROMs overtook the floppy as a delivery mechanism in the late 90's, so it was relegated to transferring small files from computer to computer. The PowerMac G4 that we bought in 2002 or so no longer had a floppy drive, as networking took that final use case. I think USB flash drives served that purpose for some, but I don't even have one of those in the house.

Of course, no discussion of the 3.5" floppy would be complete without mentioning AOL, which shipped out tons of those before they switched to CD-ROMs.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Challenging the iPhone, Part II

A little over a year ago, I predicted that 2010 would be an interesting one for iPhone competitors. The year's not over yet, but let's revisit anyway.

Google's first strike, the G1, doesn't seem to be talked about much anymore. These days it seems to be all about the Nexus One or the HTC Incredible. Aside from hardware fragmentation I predicted, we're seeing some signs that manufacturers are not really interested in updating already-sold phones to the latest Android releases, and Google is releasing them rapidly. According to a GSM Arena article, there are only about 18% of users running version 2.0+, while 54% are running 1.6 and and another 28% are running 1.5. This is a big headache for developers, and the open nature of Android hurts Google here. Worse, brand new phones are still being sold with version 1.5 on it, which can disappoint less tech-savvy customers.

Palm was, simply put, squished between Apple and Google, and may not last the year. There are still good people working there, and I imagine they'll be lapped up by Google. What happens to Palm's patent portfolio as a mobile device pioneer will be interesting, but I don't think we'll see an angel investor pump more money to let Palm keep pushing. I think either they'll be purchased and repurposed, or have to close down. I think WebOS is dead.

I identified the iPhone App Store as a strength, and it continues to be, with I think some 180,000+ apps. In fact, it's beginning to be the opposite problem of separating the wheat from the chaff. What is debunked beyond any doubt is that Objective-C would be a significant obstacle. iPhones continue to sell very well, and whether the iPad will spread developers thin or attract even more developers remains to be seen.

Microsoft has announced that it will ship Windows Phone 7 later this year, supposedly a rewrite to support multi-touch and other features now expected of smartphones. But in a typically-Microsoft fashion, they first will ship a couple of Danger phones called the KIN, which I'm guessing will not be compatible with Windows Phone 7. It's hard to know what they're thinking, but I'll predict that the KIN will be a footnote.

Blackberries continue to sell well, which is one area where I seem to be quite mistaken. I had predicted that they'll be forced into a massive software rewrite, but they have resisted that so far. However, some surveys show that over 70% of Blackberry users want an iPhone or Android phone next, which should make RIM very nervous.

Nokia seems to have done well recently, but frankly I don't even know what their marquee phone is. I think I'll remain skeptical until they just hop on Android and concentrate instead on hardware.

I think what we'll see for the rest of the year is Apple maintaining a good lead as Google consolidates the "others" in the pie chart to close the gap. I'm going to predict that RIM will not have a happy 2011, and we'll see what Windows Phone 7 will bring.

[Palm has indeed found an angel, and lives to fight another day! HP has announced that it will purchase Palm for US$1.2 billion and continue work on WebOS. This is excellent news, and I'm quite happy for them!]

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Praise for the iPad

"Has any other company ever demonstrated a restlessness to stray from the safe and proven, and actually invent things?"

- Andy Ihnatko, Chicago Sun-Times

"One melancholy thought occurs as my fingers glide and flow over the surface of this astonishing object: Douglas Adams is not alive to see the closest thing to his Hitchhiker's Guide that humankind has yet devised."

- Stephen Fry, Time Magazine

"At the very least, the iPad will likely drum up mass-market interest in tablet computing in ways that longtime tablet visionary and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates could only dream of."

- Edward C. Baig, USA Today

"I found the iPad a pleasure to use, and had less and less interest in cracking open my heavier ThinkPad or MacBook."

- Walt Mossberg, Wall Street Journal

"a greater leap into a new user experience than the sum of its parts suggests."

- Xeni Jardin,

"the Apple iPad is a very convincing debut. And it will undoubtedly be a driving force in shaping the emerging tablet landscape."

- Tim Gideon, PC Magazine

"The bottom line is that the iPad has been designed and built by a bunch of perfectionists. If you like the concept, you’ll love the machine."

- David Pogue, The New York Times

"What can the iPad do? In a word, it can simplify computing."

- Noah Kravitz, The Huffington Post

"prior to our iPad's arrival she said she didn't understand why anyone would want or need an iPad. Now she just keeps saying, 'No, you can't have it back.'"

- Bob "Dr. Mac" LeVitus, Houston Chronicle

"After playing with the sleek tablet for much of the last week, I have no doubt that the techies were wrong and Steve Jobs was right."

- Omar Wasow, the Root

"the experience was stunning. It’s a nearly flawless device. And the iPad beats even my most optimistic expectations."

- Michael Arrington, TechCrunch