Tablet Wars

That’s the title of my Slaw post for today.  It reads as follows. 

Simon’s post earlier today mentioned the Apple vs Samsung patent lawsuits over tablets and smartphones. The reference to 2001 as prior art is amusing – lets not forget the Star Trek PADD as well. There is actually a Star Trek PADD app for the iPad.

Simon linked to a list of the various lawsuits between Apple and Samsung in various countries. Here is a graphic produced by Reuters that shows patent related suits between mobile manufacturers.

There is market share and a lot of money at stake here. A big reason behind the Google aquisition of Motorola was for its patents. The recent purchase of Nortel patents by a consortium including Apple, Microsoft and RIM for billions of dollars also attests to that.

Many (myself included) believe that smartphones and tablets are causing and will continue to cause revolutionary change in the way we work and go about our lives. Consider the following examples:

United Airlines and Apple announced that the airline will deploy 11,000 iPads for its pilots to replace paper flight manuals with electronic flight bags, or EFBs. This is expected to save 16 million sheets of paper and 326,000 gallons of jet fuel a year.

This CNET video lists the top 5 things that the smartphone replaces. MP3 player, personal planner, digital point and shoot camera, portable GPS, alarm clocks. Also video cameras, newspapers, landlines, books.

This All Things D article talks about how iPads are replacing cash registers.


Vintage Gadget Collection – Failure is an option

That’s the title of my Slaw post for today.  It reads as follows.

We use a lot of technology today that is – to borrow a term from Steve Jobs – magical. Consider tablet computing, cars that respond to voice commands or even drive themselves. Calling an ipad2 or an Android Tablet or a Playbook magic is not a huge exaggeration in historical terms. An iPad2 would have been on a list of supercomputers rivalling a Cray as recent as 1996.

But we don’t get to this level of technology without experimentation and failures along the way. The important thing is to use those failures to lead to new insight and better products. Failure may be a result of many factors, including: flawed design, being ahead of its time, our tendency to stick to “good enough” solutions we are comfortable with rather than the possibility of something better, solutions in search of a problem, being too expensive, poor execution of a good idea, poor marketing, being user unfriendly, and simply not as good as other solutions to name a few.

Slashdot points to a vintage gadget collection just published by a Microsoft researcher. From the site:

Over the past 30 years, designer, writer, and researcher Bill Buxton has been collecting input and interactive devices whose design struck him as interesting, useful, or important. In the process, he has assembled a good collection of the history of pen computing, pointing devices, touch technologies, as well as an illustration of the nature of how new technologies emerge.

Part of the collection was first shown publicly at the Vancouver Art Gallery as part of the Massive Change Exhibition, curated by Bruce Mau, in 2004. Since then the collection has grown significantly, largely through the generous support of Microsoft Research.

The point of the site is not to focus on failures – it includes many successful products – but the history is interesting. Try the PivotViewer version – its a great way to navigate through the images.

ipad2 or Motorola Xoom?

That’s the title of my Slaw post for today.  It reads as follows:

I’m wondering what readers think about ipad2 vs Android tablet.

Lets assume for the sake of argument that one wants a tablet now, rather than waiting for another year to see how the market shakes out. And assume that the choice is between the iPad2 and the Motorola Xoom.

Lets also assume that the intended use is a combination of work and personal.

While this is not an exhaustive list, some things to consider are:

ipad2 pros:

existing user base of 15,000,000 units for ipad1.

huge number of apps

thinner and lighter

ipad2 cons:

no flash support

must use itunes to get content

Motorola Xoom pros:

flash support

direct usb connection instead of itunes

potential sd card slot for additional memory

widescreen format

Motorola Xoom cons:

fewer apps

possibly higher price

Android phones are holding their own against iPhones in the marketplace, so will the same happen with Android tablets?

Will the app advantage close over time? Is the app advantage overblown given the proportion of apps that are mere novelties or variations?

Will apps that matter always be developed first and perhaps only for the ipad given its cachet in the market?

In the long run are the relative advantages / disadvantages distinctions without a difference?

Apple iPad 2 just announced

That’s the title of my Slaw post for today.  It reads as follows:

Apple just held its press conference. Details about the iPad 2 will be found in the tech press.,, and are good ones to look at. Even the CBAPracticelink has an article about it. No doubt they will all have articles very soon comparing the iPad2 to the Motorola Xoom, and the upcoming Blackberry Playbook. And speaking of the Playbook, RIM gave an update and demo yesterday – but apparently still no details on launch date or price.

As I’ve mentioned before, tablets will forever change how we consume information and media – both as a consumer and business device.

Some info from the press conference (Steve Jobs was on stage):

Sales of 15 million iPads in the first 9 months. 65,000 apps are available.

Steve says 2011 will be “the year of the copycat”.

Dual core CPU – 2X faster CPU, 9X faster graphics

Front and rear cameras


Lighter and1/3 thinner than iPad – actually thinner than the iPhone4

black or white available

battery life is the same

prices the same

shipping March 11 – March 25 in Canada

can plug in HDMI cable for 1080P HDMI out.

can buy a specially designed cover (not a case) – useable as a typing stand (looks cool) stays on with magnets.

also updates to iOS 4.3 – available March 11 as free download for recent iPhone & iPod touch

will be able to stream video to the iPad using wifi, and ties into Apple TV

More details at

If you think you want a tablet, now is a good time to take a look at the alternatives, especially if you don’t want to wait until iPad10, or some other perfect device. As with any changing technology, at some point you just have to dive in and start using it, and stop waiting for the next generation.

Opinions on the right tablet are all over the map. Is it, for example, about the specs, the user experience, the number of apps, brand cachet, price, or some combination of the above? In reality, the iPad, Motorola Xoom or other Android Honeycomb devices, and the Playbook will all be good devices, and will all for the most part do the same thing. You just have to make a decision on the right one for you.

UPDATE: Take a look at this iPhone J.D. post entitled Why Lawyers will Love the iPad2.

iPad dooms paper products

For the London Free Press – December 20, 2010

Read this on Canoe

Many people, including myself, predicted 2010 would be the year of the tablet computer. Apple has sold millions of iPads since its introduction earlier this year. But competing devices are only now coming to market.

The iPad was not the first tablet computer – but it was the first one with the right combination of features, form factor, and price, to be successful. It set the bar, and is the tablet by which all others will be measured.

In my view, the advent of tablet computers will be looked upon in the future as a game- changing event. Tablets will forever change how we consume information and media. Paper- based newspapers, magazines and books are already being supplanted by electronic versions. The portability and ease of use of tablets will accelerate this trend.

This is partly because the “lean backward” experience of tablets is more comfortable and more like reading paper than the “lean forward” experience on a computer. Tablets are as portable as a newspaper or book, and have the same instant-on experience.

Electronic formats allow a much better and more interactive experience than static paper. That experience will improve over time as publishers learn how to better use the medium.

Eventually, newspaper carriers will be mentioned in history books (electronic versions of course) alongside milkmen.

So is an iPad the perfect Christmas gift?

No doubt it will be for a lot of people. But many of us would rather impatiently wait a little while longer. The iPad is a compelling device, both for personal and work use. But it is a first generation device with a few compromises. Competing devices that were expected to be available this year are just starting to appear. The year 2011 will see more choice, and more competition.

Competitors available now include Android based devices such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab, and the Windows 7 based HP Slate 500.

Blackberry recently announced the Playbook tablet, which it shows off in a video demonstrating its superiority.

Others will be available in various sizes, running various operating systems, with different features. It is hard to predict which brands, models and sizes will ultimately be successful, or will for various reasons fail.

iPad version 2 will probably be available within a few months, which will improve on some of the current version’s shortcomings. For those of us willing to wait, that would be a good time to take stock of the iPad and its competitors to decide which is the best choice.

It seems that there are as many viewpoints on what tablets should do, what size they should be, and how they should operate as there are people writing about them. One thing that is certain is that there will be enough competition and choice to ensure continuing improvement in the devices, and the content we consume on them.

iPhone 4 antenna issue – lesson in PR

Steve Jobs is currently holding a press conference to talk about the iPhone 4 antenna issue.  Its a carefully crafted message, as are all of his presentations – but its a lesson in how to deal with product issues.  

Admit there is a problem. Put the problem in perspective by giving some numbers on complaints, sales, returns, and comparisons to previous models, etc.  Show testing of other types of smartphones to say its a category issue, not just us.  Then say they want their customers to be happy, offer a generous return policy if a customer is unhappy, and offer a free case to everyone (that’s not a token, cases help avoid the problem).

And its not as if the iPhone 4 has flopped.  They sold 3 million in 3 weeks.

iTape for iPhone

That’s the title of my Slaw post for today.  It reads as follows.

Whether you are an Apple fan or not, the apparent flaw with the iPhone 4 external antenna gets interesting on many levels – including the tech itself, why it wasn’t found during pre-launch testing, Apple’s reaction, customer relations, and testing by various entities. 

It seems that if you hold the iPhone in a way that your hand touches a certain spot on the antenna that are on the edge of the phone, it causes signal loss, and degrades reception.  Apple started out suggesting it was a software issue – but has since said that the fix is to hold the phone in a certain way.  Which resulted in this YouTube video showing how Steve Jobs and others in Apple ads are holding it “wrong”.

Apparently the problem can be solved by putting the phone in a case, or by applying tape to the offending spot.   (Is adding tape the equivalent of taping your glasses?)

One enterprising person is selling iTape, stating that the proceeds are going to charity.

There have been suggestions that there should be a recall, or that Apple should offer free cases, or that its not important enough to worry about.

Tablet competition heating up

The iPad will start shipping in a few weeks.  While it is perhaps the first to market, the standard to which all others will be compared, and will no doubt sell in large numbers – it is by no means the only option.   I’ve read estimates of 50 to 100 similar devices in the works. 

More news on the HP slate is on engadget today.   From what I have seen so far, I would prefer that – or something similar based on the Windows Phone 7 OS (I have not seen anything about that – but its a logical way to go) to the iPad.

IMHO these devices are revolutionary and will fundamentally change the way we consume what is now traditional print media.   They will be pervasive within fairly short order.   Why has this not been done before?   Its a matter of getting a device with sufficient computing power, battery life, light weight, and useability – at a low enough  price point.

This will become far more than just virtually flipping newspaper or magazine pages.  See this Wired video for what we might expect.

And I suspect we will find them useful for business, as well as personal use.

I’m holding off for a bit to see how the various devices perform –  hopefully I will have one by the end of the year.

UPDATE:  Here’s an eWeek article I just found that delves into this in more detail.

Apple’s iPad

That’s the title of my Slaw post for today.  It reads as follows:

Apple takes bite out of Hackintosh

For the London Free Press – December 14, 2009

Read this on Canoe

COMPUTERS: In a hardware-software legal war, the company reaches a partial, $2.7-million US settlement with knock-off computer maker

Apple’s business model is to sell hardware with software on it. It does not intend for its operating systems to be installed on hardware it doesn’t make and its software licences expressly forbid it.

But that hasn’t stopped people installing Apple operating systems on non-Apple machines, dubbed Hackintoshes, from “hacker” and “Macintosh.” The main attractions are lower prices and wider selection of hardware.

Several companies have created bargain-priced, knock-off computers able to run Apple software. The most widely used is the OSx86 project, which runs the Mac OS X operating system on non-Apple computers with x86 architecture-compatible processors.

Apple software licences strictly prohibit use on computers that aren’t “Apple-labelled.” But companies such as Psystar and PearC have released products that let consumers use Apple software on non-Apple computers at considerable savings.

Apple has fought back in several ways.

The latest Apple OS version 10.6.2 added code to prevent it being used with the Atom chip used in most netbooks, a common Hackintosh platform. But within a week, a Russian-based hacker had circumvented the code.

Apple also has taken its Hackintosh battle to the courts.

On July 3, 2008, Apple filed suit against Psystar Corp. for violating the licence and breaching Apple’s copyright-protected technologies.

The end-user agreement for Mac OS X reads: “You agree not to install, use or run the Apple software on any non-Apple-labelled computer, or to enable others to do so.”

Psystar began selling PCs hacked to run Apple software — and priced more than $2,000 lower than an Apple notebook — in April 2008. After the suit was filed, Psystar kept selling systems and even created new ones.

Last month, the U.S. District Court judge trying the case found Psystar had violated Apple’s copyrights and anti-circumvention provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Two weeks later, Apple filed a motion against Psystar seeking statutory damages of between $500,000 and $4.5 million US, plus attorney’s fees and costs. Apple also wants Psystar permanently enjoined from continuing a business causing “irreparable harm” to Apple’s business, brand and goodwill.

In the most recent development, a partial settlement has been reached. Psystar agreed to stop selling Hackintoshes and pay Apple about $2.7 million in damages in return for dismissal of some Apple claims. But Apple can’t collect until appeals are complete, which may take years.

Though this is a success for Apple, it remains to be seen what effect it will have on the Hackintosh phenomenon as a whole.