Saturday, April 30, 2011

Never Thought I See This Day

Last time we went out to dinner with a bunch of friends, it started off well enough but as the night went on, it devolved into. iPhone-fest, or a smartphone-fest (not everyone had an iPhone). Folks were texting, updating their social status or checking in, just gaming. A couple of folks even texted each other from different ends of the table.

It was partly why I gave up using my G1 and iPhone with data. I am using an iPod touch with an iSpot but its not the same as an integrated device like the iPhone.

But today, my aunt and uncle, as well as a few of their friends came to visit. I served them tea and they chatted. They had not seen each other for weeks now.

I left them for a while and came back to the living room. It was quiet. And it was a sight I never expected to see.

My uncle was playing Angry Birds on his iPad, my aunt was hacking away on her iPhone trying to solve a sudoku puzzle, another aunt was playing mahjong on her iPad, and another of their friend was playing who knows what.

I guessed I shamed them a bit with a comment or two about what they were doing (or not doing) be because they stopped.

Still, it was not something I expected my elders to be doing.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPod touch

Friday, April 29, 2011

Endeavor Launch Delayed, Hope Those People Who Are There Will Still Get A Chance To Watch It Go Up On Sunday

The last shuttle mission of the Endeavor has been delayed due to technical faults in some equipment by NASA.  No launch attempt will be tried for another 48 hours.  I wonder what happens for all the folks who traveled all the way to Cape Canaveral, Florida to watch the final shuttle launch will do?

I've had the fortunate opportunity to watch a shuttle landing when I was younger when one landed at Edwards Air Force Base in California.  To this day, it was an awesome sight. 

I've watched a few launches of the shuttles on TV but I know it isn't like watching it live in person.  I just hope schedule and such doesn't prevent some folks there from missing it.  I was afraid of delays.  I suppose it's good that the initial launch attempt was today and the 48 hour delay means the next try would be on a Sunday. 

Still, all those folks will need to find new places to stay if should are going to try to wait it out.

So, what happened?  Apparently, the Endeavor needs three heaters on auxiliary power units to function.  Two of them failed but NASA requires redundancies in case the 3rd one also fail.  Without it, the power unit becomes useless. 

After the Endeavor goes off on its final mission, the Atlantis is slated for the last and final launch of the shuttle fleet.  After that NASA will retire them.  We currently have no viable manned launch vehicle to serve as a replacement. 

More at Space.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Location Data File: Big Enough Concern For Mobile Warriors That Congress Has To Have Hearings? Nope.

Apple, Google, and Microsoft are being asked by to testify in Congress regarding location data.  Grand standing aside, it's not difficult to expect that nothing will come of this.  However, should our lawmakers really want to protect the privacy of ordinary Americans, the scope of the inquiry should be broaden to include the vast amount of data that Internet companies like search engines and advertising companies have amassed over the years.  It should include the same of private information that are transferred to the highest bidders.

And if you guess that is not going to happen, you're right.  And a few weeks later, this will all boil over and it will return to business as usual. 

Suppose in some alternate universe where what I'm proposing does happen, there are a few other companies that have a lot to explain about their privacy violations like Facebook that is always moving the privacy goal lines when they think no one is looking. 

Obviously, we don't' like companies, governments, or anyone else looking over our backs or watching our every move.  Still, of all the companies aske to appear before Congress, only Apple does not sell information it gathers about its iOS-iTunes customers to third parties.

As a matter of fact, Apple's refusal to send publishers information about iPad users was the main obstacle.  That's right, Apple did not want to share user information with 3rd parties. 

As a mobile warrior, I am not that concern about the recent revelations about iOS.  Nor am I concerned about my Android device sending Google location information.  But I am concerned about a company like Facebook selling that information to advertisers. 

Regardless, the information about location data on the iOS devices require some explanation.  I'm not sure it requires the attention of Congress when we're still trying to right our economy, reduce deficit, fight two and a half wars, and get Americans working again.



Chinese Airline Scams Are Standard Practice

My uncle went to China on a business trip.  Before leaving the US, all the bookings, hotel and airline tickets, were done and paid for.

Upon arriving, things were okay.  But when he was trying to take a connecting flight from Xiamen to Hong Kong, he was told that all the rest of his tickets were cancelled.  Needless to say, he was shocked.  When asked what option was left, he was told to buy a very expensive ticket right there and then. 

Obviously, he did it because he had to make the meeting in HK  When he arrived, he called us and told us about the situation.  We called our travel agency and inquire about this. 

According to them, everything was fine.  Nothing was cancelled. 

Apparently, this is a scam that is run by the airlines in China and a practice that is sanctioned.  It's standard practice and I'm beginning to think, after some googling, that it is not just isolated to their airline industry. 

I thought I just share this with you.  I like to think that ordinary Chinese people are good people but my faith in mind set has wavered over the years. In doing business with China, both public and private settings and dealing with ordinary citizens, well, let's just say, I've yet to meet Chinese there who did not have an agenda or looked for ways to change agreements just to have an advantage over you. 

Think my opinions are bigoted?  I'm ashamed to have such thoughts but when I told my Chinese friends, ones who grew up with in the US, they told me they've had personal and business experiences that were far worse than what we went through.  And their parents grew up there!

Having written this post, I feel that I've vented enough and feel better.  I think I'll stick with my faith that ordinary Chinese people are good folks and that we just have had unfortunate meetings to attract the unsavory elements of that society 

Back to the airline scams, or any other that can occur in China, do your homework first.  Talk to folks.  Google.  After doing business with the Chinese for more than twenty years, new and interesting things like this still can pop up.

Sony: Tablets Versus NGP, Looks To Knock Out Apple And Nintendo With One Major Move

As you know by now, Sony will be entering the tablet market in a big way.  Their Honeycomb tablets, that's two tablets, is looking squarely at Apple and Nintendo.  One tablet will be a standard tablet form with a 9.4" screen, the S1 while the S2 will be a clamshell device with two 5.5" screens.  Again both will run Android 3.0 powered by Nvidia's Tegra 2 chip. 

I'm holding off judgment on the S2 until I see it in action but it's clear that Sony is betting bit in the market but I am excited and hopeful that Sony will have a pretty sweet UI going on. 

I reckon that the S2 will be more of an entertainment device along with its NGP.  This one-two punch, at least on paper now, has a good chance of hitting Nintendo's 3DS, whose sales have been okay but not really lighting the market on fire, and whatever iPod touch update Apple has planned for the fall. 

Ultimately, it's going to be the user experience.  Nintendo has made the dual screen form factor work as a gaming machine and Sony is probably betting it can do better with a high resolution implementation. 

As for the S1, it's totally an iPad play.  I don't get the wedge shape of the tablet but I'm sure Sony has its reasons though they escape me at this time.

Oh, there's one more thing.  Price.  I think Sony will try to be competitive but Sony has not exactly been known to be reasonable for consumer wallets.  But I have always dig Sony.  Perhaps, when I win the lottery later this year, I can get myself a new Sony tablet or two along with a new Bravia HDTV and get myself a Sony ecosystem working. 

Note: I would like to note that Sony can possibly hit a homer by allowing the S1 and S2 to run Playstation games or join the network.  Like I said, Sony can produce amazing consumer products and its Playstation ecosystem is its best chance against iTunes.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Location Tracking: Apple (And Google) Has Some Explaining But It's Probably Nothing We Need To Worry About

It's been confirmed through a photo that the President of the United States has an iPad 2.  Obviously, Mr. Obama is not the first head of state to use an iPad nor will he be the last.  And dozens if not hundreds of law makers also make use of Apple's revolutionary and "magical" (not my word) device in the course of service to the public.  And with the news that the iOS device, specially the iPhone, may be keep information about the whereabouts of the user in a file on the iPhone and iTunes profile, is this a danger or violation of privacy that we need to worry about?

No.  It's a concern.  If it's a bug, it needs to be fixed.  If there is something more to it than that, we should get to the bottom of this.  Google's Android, its openness is debatable, is not curated and, it soo, also record geolocation of its users.

To be fair, I like to see all mobile companies get an opportunity to defend this specific practice before we go nuts about it.  And I like to see Facebook explain their views in this matter as well.  It's likely that the social network, with a history of violating its members' privacy, will become a major mobile player, either as a content and platform provider or quite possibly as a mobile OS provider one day.

I do hope that if various hearings that being planned in the US, Europe, and South Korea are about getting to the truth and not to be used as an ax to grind for whatever political and/or economic reasons. 

Right now, I'm not worried  in the least.  Not with iOS or Android.  And if President Obama isn't worried, nor should you.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Verizon Sold 2.2M iPhones - So Who Did Apple Take Sales From?

Apple sold almost 19 million iPhones.  3 Million of them went to AT&T while 2.2 million CDMA versions were sold on Verizon's network.  Two point two million of a 9 month old, albeit fantastic, mobile device.  Who's buy them and which company had the most to lose from the Apple-Verizon partnership?

Three Distinct Groups:

Let's examine who's buy these iPhones on Verizon's aging CDMA network that does not allow the user to talk and access the data through the 3G network at the same time.  My guess is that its a mixture rather than greater subset of anyone particular group.  With over three million iPhones activated with AT&T, it is suffice to say that plenty of people stuck with Ma Bell despite its reputation of spotty network.  I am sure a large segment of the market went with Verizon that defected from AT&T.  After all, more than a few stuck with them because of the iPhone.  The demand was bad enough that Verizon struck a deal with Apple despite its popular Droid line.

Also, iPhone is a whole new device in and of itself as far as current Verizon customers are concerned.  While Android has done very well on Verizon, it largely cannibalized many Windows Mobile and Blackberry users who wanted a modern mobile device with a modern mobile OS but were not willing to switch to AT&T to get the iPhone.  Let's just say as a T-Mobile customer who wants the iPhone but wasn't willing to suffer on AT&T, I know what I'm talking about.  It's why I went with the G1, the very first Android device, and haven't upgraded since.  These Verizon customers fell into the second group.

The third group is what's interesting.  No love but AT&T but subscribers who will tolerate Verizon.  I may count myself among this group in the near future.  As a T-Mobile customer, I might consider switch to Verizon later this summer should a new magical iPhone becomes available.  T-Mobile has been bleeding customers and a large portion of those 2.2 million iPhone users with Verizon were former T-Mobile customers.  And I reckon that if T-Mobile doesn't get the iPhone in 2011, more users will defect to Verizon.  Sprint's core number of subscribers should be pretty loyal but there are likely a few million users who, won't do this business with AT&T, are going to be fine with Verizon as their iPhone carrier.  

Who Had The Most To Lose:

Android has the most to lose and had had its momentum slowed.  Believe me when I tell you that Android Proper, not variants that have been commandeered by some carriers around the world, continues to grow beyond expectation.  While the Android platform probably saw a slowdown, Google does not necessarily have a lot to lose.  After all, it continues to deliver search and mobile ads to Verizon iPhone users.  In fact, Google may benefit more from iPhone users who are more likely to spend money than Android users.  

Motorola is probably a bit loser in all this.  First off, Xoom doesn't seem to be doing the level of business for Motorola as the iPad was, and the iPad 2 is now, for Apple.  2.2 Million iPhones potentially means quite a lot of Motorola-based Droids that were not sold.  This is especially harsh for Motorola given Apple's relationship with Motorola that dated back to when Apple used to make Macs based on PowerPC chips designed and manufactured by it.  Then there was that Rokr debacle that everything that was the iPod phone that didn't quite go anywhere.  Motorola had really turned things around with the Droid devices and it was the top dog until the iPhone came along on Verizon.  Things might get better with the new Droid but that is probably going to be short-lived after the next iPhone upgrade happens to come along.

What about others?  Samsung's Galaxy S probably has not sold well since news of Galaxy S II is just weeks away but the iPhone 4 probably did not help matters.  RIM has done well with the Blackberries and global growth has been good.  However, it's position with Verizon has been diminished greatly since Verizon turned its attention to Android devices after the Blackberry Storm failed to live to up expectation.  The iPhone likely ate into a lot of sales.  iOS devices will continue to erode RIM's place in the enterprise.  

Competition is great.  We are watching an epic tech war that was a lot like the one fought and won between Apple and IBM in the early 80s and then Apple and Microsoft in the late 80s through the mid-90s.  Apple is still involved as is Microsoft but there are more elements and players involved.  Google, Adobe, RIM, Samsung, HP, and RIM just to mention a few.  A lot is at stake.  And the winner has already been determined as far as mobile device tech is concerned.  

I look forward to seeing how the rest of 2011 plays out as the mobile war becomes more interesting with tablets getting into the mix.

Again, competition is great and we mobile warriors are winning so far.

Amazon's Kindle Tablet Has Shot At Education Market, From There, The Sky’s The Limit

We learned from Apple's financial call that iPad to Mac deployment in the education market has reached 1 to 1 and some schools are starting the kids on Apple's tablets as young as kindergarten.  For the most part, however, Apple is about selling hardware and has created an ecosystem of apps and services to help them do just that.  But I think if anyone can challenge Apple in that market, it would be Amazon's Kindle tablet that everyone knows is in the works.

And Amazon could benefit from it in the way others are likely going to fail, including Microsoft.  

Amazon has captured a large portion of the ebook and ereader market with the Kindle.  It's a well known brand.  However, Amazon is looking to sell goods and services with the Kindle as a means to that end.  It's the complete opposite of what Apple is doing.  And this week, Amazon released a plan for library book borrowing.  This is exactly the kind of area that Apple doesn't want to get its hands dirty in.  Steve Jobs is quite content to let others have this.  But that could be its undoing.

By working closely with publishers and libraries, Amazon have inserted the Kindle ecosystem into the mindset of educators, parents, and students.  Somewhere a long the time, some time in the future, Amazon will create an ecosystem that will rival or even surpass the iTunes.  No one stays on top forever.

To add fuel to my speculation/analysis, there are rumblings in some quarter that Amazon has partnered with Samsung to make the Kindle tablet.  To go one step further, Apple's lawsuit against Samsung's supposedly "copy-cat" of Apple's iPhone and IPad could be a shot across the bow to the rest of the market.

Going forward, it'll be interesting to see if Amazon can fulfill what I think they can in the education market and then use it as a launching pad to make the Kindle more of a mainstream tablet.  How successful Amazon will be depends on its ebook strategy and general flexibility and how quickly Apple recognizes the threat Amazon possess.

GPS Tracking Information That Our Phones Store - Apple And Google Are Both Guilt

It's one of those things that I think companies know about and do but doesn't want to talk about it.  Keep tabs on their users is a gold mine for companies.  Companies like Google and Facebook want to be able to know what we're up to and how to best monetize that information.  Others like carriers might want to know how to best optimize their networks.  

So why does Apple want that information?  

It's too soon to tell.  Supposedly, this information isn't something new and have been covered in the past without fanfare until a couple of security "experts" decided to bring it to our attention.  

Personally, I'm not worried - not yet.  And it's not like this information is something that Facebook, which is a lot more dangerous to privacy, will ever get it.  

Still, I want to know why Apple is gather this information.  Supposedly, it could be a bug where information were not purged as it was supposed to.  And yes, Apple can ("is" to some) be evil so we'll need to watch this closely.  At least we know that they're not selling out info to the highest bidder like others who make their living off selling advertisements.

According to WSJ, Google is doing it as well.  So it doesn't make any better.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Tablets: Post PC Computing? Is iPad Growth Too Fast?

Given how fast the iPad 2 is selling compared to the original iPad a year ago and the growth of the whole ecosystem that supports it, I wonder if the tablet market, specially one that is dominated by one player, is growth too fast.  And why is it growth so fast?   

This year, it's been estimated that Apple will sell about 30 million iPads, quite possibly 45 million with a few really high-end predictions putting it at 60 million.  Let's just take the 60 million iPads for 2011 and say Apple manages to sell 60 million by 2013.  Sit back and take a look at those numbers.  That's a big big jump from 2010 to 2011, about 2x.  Then from 2011 to 2013, another 2x.  

By 2013, the tablet market as a whole may reach 100 million tablets.  Then where would it go from there?  200 million in another 24 months?  Here's where post-PC comes into play.  Something has to give.  That means laptop sales, with the netbook segment of the market having already collapsed, could suffer a cripple blow that it might not recover from.  Laptops, and some desktops, will still continue to have a place in society, in business for sure.  However, PC in homes will likely diminish greatly.  

In the early 2000s, Microsoft pushed the Windows Media Center, basically a customized Windows with added media software, as the center of a home entertainment system.  Obviously, even Microsoft's dominance in the PC operating system has not helped its push into the living room.  Instead, it has found greater success selling the Xbox. Now, Google is trying it hand with Google TV, so far, met with muted reception at best.  Even, Apple has largely failed to light things up with Apple TV.

And this is also one market that the iPad could potentially find success.  With the introduction of Airplay, the user can stream video and music wirelessly to accessories like stereo systems and HDTVs.  Yes, HDTV becomes just another accessory in the home.  Of course, to stream to the television today, you still need the Apple TV.  This is why there's rumblings that Apple may be looking to license Airplay to manufacturers.  (One factor that hardware makers do not have control over is the content.  Apple, Samsung, Sony, and Microsoft might be able to provide the architecture but without the content, it would be useless.  This is why an ecosystem like iTunes and what Microsoft and Sony has built out on the consoles will be very critical to their continued successes.)

And we come back to growth.  How much more growth can the tablet market, with Apple retaining a large piece of the pie, sustain?  If the tablet can take the place of game consoles and media centers, I would say it can continue to grow at its current pace for at least another decade.  

It also depends the evolution of apps and the nature of productivity on the tablets.  It is possible in ten years, a majority of mobile warriors from the corporate work carry around tablets instead of laptops.  

And to continue growing, tablets will need to a lot of help in the education market.  Yesterday, Tim Cook, Apple's COO, said iPad adoption in the education market has already reach a 1 to 1 parity with Macs. That is quite an impressive feat for a device that did not exist 13 months ago.  The iPad was just built for the k-12 market.  We'll see an explosion of iPads in schools in 2011-12 owing largely to the ease of use and plethora of educational apps.  The only folks who will be hurt by this are laptop makers and printers that print textbooks.  Maybe the early go getters in the backpack market can benefit from this shift in mobile computing in schools.

Still, a lot of moving pieces have to go the tablet's way for it to continue growing at the pace its at now.  Continued innovation followed by revolutionary thinkings about traditional computing and content distribution.  Amazon has gotten into the music locker business without the blessing of the studios and looks like HP might try to do the same.  We'll see how all this play out this summer.  If the stars align just right, perhaps we just might see 60 million iPads sold through 2011 instead of "just" 30 million.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Foursquare Execs On Apple Campus

It's late April and still no iOS 5 intro. Still, something is cooking over at Apple. And this is an example of what might be in store. Foursquare execs were found on Apple campus.

Would anyone just visit Apple for the heck of it? Maybe. However, there is a strong possibility that they had a meeting there. After all, checking into Apple campus is a pretty exciting thing considering all the wild speculations, even from myself, about Apple can transform MobileMe into.

Would you want a free MobileMe account with check-ins that might have special deals only for iOS users?

You bet I would!

Here is where things are interesting and it isn't just some random check-ins that some people do when they drive by randomly.

Erin Gleason, the public relations manager, checked in and mentioned she was moving into the next meeting.

Then the next location of the check-in was was at Apple. The check-in was done by Dennis Crowley, with Gleason present as well as Foursquare's business dev and partnership organizer.

Interesting, eh?

More at MacNN.

Note: Who is Dennis Crowley? How about the co-founder of Foursquare.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPod touch

Opera: Japan Earthquake Caused Mobile Broadband Use Increase - Gov and Biz Should Pay Attention

Live along the West Coast of continental United States means you play with fire.  Rather, you live along the RIM of Fire and, in southern California here, you've got lots of earthquake faults as well, ones we know about and ones we don't until there's an earthquake to shape things up.  So, it especially hits home for me watching the news reports about the northern Japan earthquake.  

And being mobile, it is of great interest to me that wireless broadband use in the days after the 9.0 quake.  And it's definitely something that government agencies, police, fire department, FEMA, etc, ought to pay attention to and factor wireless use into any kind of rescue, aid, and recovery program.

Opera, the mobile browser, reported increase traffic around 27% between February and March.  It is not saying a lot but it's a smart for us to start looking into things.  I'm sure other websites as well as operators have seen a great uptick in usage as well.  

You can imagine the chaos that ensued as people in the affected area try to find out information or those outside the area try to find out from news site what is going on.  And what if there was an early warning system about the tsunami that the government could have texted, tweeted, or e-mail people about, could a lot of the deaths have been avoided?  

Considering that areas up and down California is an earthquake zone, wireless providers as well as the local and state government should be prepared to step in and restore wireless services as soon as possible.  Or even before any natural disaster strike, the infrastructure should have already been beefed up.

More and more people are carrying around their mobile devices and use it as their main gateway to news, social connection, and use their phones as an outlet to disseminate information.

When I first heard about the Japanese earthquake, to find more about it, I went to my iPad, not the radio or TV.  And should the "Big One" hit, LA, the first thing I'll do is to check my cell signal and, if it's working, see if any updates are coming through.

More at RCR Wireless.

Competitors Make It Easy On Apple - Maybe Through 2013 or More

This was suppose to be the year that competitors put a stop to the iPad assault on the tablet.  Rather than anything that has taken the consumers by storm, the Xoom and Playbook are filled with reviews about the great potentials these tablet platforms possess.  Howeer, in the wrap-up sections, it's all been "when the updates come...".

I'm sure Apple's first mover position has advantages but it can't be all that.  Forget about the lack of lines at Best Buy or anywhere else in Canada where RIM has home-court advantage, what's disconcerting is that the executives at these companies are clueless or in denial.  

I'm generally upbeat about things but for the rest of 2011, I'm not about the tablet market.  

Here's one platform I'm holding out for that I think can still give Apple some competition.  HP's Web OS Touchpad. As long as they don't rush it out like Google and RIM did with theirs, they ought to have some awesome features that can light a fire on the tablet market.  

Apple will announce their earnings today and I do not anticipate great numbers for the iPad sales because of the issues of parts constraints.  I think this is an opportunity for Apple's competitors to reboot of sort.  

For Apple fans, let's be honest.  Competition would be good for us.  If not for the rushed jobs from Google, the Xoom should have a lot more compelling (100K rumored to have been sold isn't a bad number...just don't compare it to the iPad).  


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Customer Service To Suffer For T-Mobile Subscribers After AT&T Takeover

One of the reasons I don't like AT&T is its customer service. It's awful.  I'm sure the people who work there are good people but they are not well trained with the relevant information - at least not enough to help with issues that are not routine.  After hearing about the T-Mobile deal, I thought perhaps some good will come of this should AT&T absorb some of what T-Mobile so highly rated when it comes to customer service.  After all, after the Pixar takeover by Disney, it was stipulated in the deal that Pixar executives would be able to have greater say within Disney.  That was what I had hoped would come of the deal between AT&T and T-Mobile.  After dealing with AT&T today, I am not so hopeful.  

No amount of positive influence from T-Mobile will ever change the chaos that is AT&T customer service.

Today, I called AT&T to get clarification on my iPad data plan.  After ten minutes of talking to different people and being put on hold, they told me that would not be able to resolve the issue until I call another part of AT&T on Monday.  

This is the fourth time in the last year that I have had to be pushed from one part of AT&T's chaotic wireless division to another.  As a matter of fact, I had prepared myself that the first call would not result in a successful resolution to my problem.  And I had allotted half an hour for this.  The last call I had with AT&T was in December and that had lasted nearly an hour.  

I don't know what why AT&T has suck a problem but I get the feeling that once they finish absorbing T-Mobile, it's T-Mobile's customer service that will gone rather than AT&T's own customer service apparatus.  

This issue alone has me considering going with Sprint or Verizon once my family contract ends in May.  Why stick around and be a part of a slow painful death?  So if I do decide to leave T-Mobile, which company should I go with?  Between Sprint and Verizon, which company has the better customer service?

Deviation From Mobile: GOP Official With Tea Party Ties Sends Racist E-Mail About President Obama

An Orange County GOP official, with ties to the Tea Party, sent a racist e-mail about President Barack Obama, you know, the guy who was voted into the White House by a major of the American people and the Electoral College.

Here's the thing.  I'm all for sensible means to cut the federal budget deficit and limiting the power of the federal government in areas where it doesn't belong but the Tea Party has to stop being in denial about its role and the goals of some of its fringe supporters.  I know both of the political parties are composed of people with a vast majority of them being patriots, with a few exceptions that are bad apples.  However, don't you think the Tea Party seems to attract more than its share of them?  

I'm glad some on the GOP are taking this seriously and I hope the Tea Party does too.  If loosely connected groups that make up the Tea Party want mainstream American support, it needs to cleanse those who are simply there because of bigotry.  

While we're on this subject, the birthers with the far right support are trying to pass laws (Arizona became the first state to pass a birther law - still require the governor to sign it into law) requiring Presidential candidates prove that they are nature born citizens.  The timing of it, at the time when we have a President with a father who was not an American citizen, is what it is about.  It's about President Obama.  Oh, what has not gone unnoticed is that President Obama is black.

American politics has become too toxic and the respect for traditions and civility must make a comeback.  What we don't need is the Democrats and Republicans capitulating to special interests.  What we need is an efficient government and that's what the Tea Party should be advocating.  Bigotry and birther issues are just distractions.  

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Free WiFi At Dealership, Model For Other Businesses To Follow

I am at a local Lexus dealership, brought in my mom's vehicle for service. First, before I get into the mobile stuff, the service is excellent here. It's the Longo Lexus just east of Los Angeles and Pasadena. Second, great service might mean $$$. I haven't gotten the bill yet but I reckon I'll be eating poorly for the rest of 2011.




It's been years since I've been here. Like everyone else, I have heard dealer services are a premium above the local mom-and-pop so I judiciously avoided it. However, the car now has issues that cannot be resolved so I had no choice.



I'm now sitting at a small table, free pastries and cookies and all I can drink coffee, water, and soda. More than that, free WiFi! The last time I was here, probably about four years ago, I don't recall any free wireless Internet access. There were terminals for use at the time just as there are now. Still, I'm pleasantly surprised. I had made sure I charged up my iSpot to make sure I have enough wireless access for my iOS devices at least through noon.




Oh, and there are plugs here if I should ever have to come back here. Power is not going to be an issue. I'm sure the folks here will help me find plugs if I ask for it. That's how great the service here is.

But the reason I'm writing this post is I think the Longo Lexus setup here is a model I think other businesses can follow. Other dealerships, hospitals, hotels, or any place with a flow of clientele on a daily basis. I am not suggesting that businesses follow the more lavish setup here but the concept. For instance, the Longo Toyota just on the other side has nothing like this. Why not? I think it absolutely makes sense for them to have something like this here at Lexus.

Just a block north are the Hyundai and Nissan dealership. I dreaded going there. Vending machines were the best they offered.

At the very least, businesses should offer free WiFi access. It is 2011 now. It's absolutely critical that wireless Internet access be offered. I work near an office that offered financial services. The business has a stead flow of affluent clients that visit on a daily basis. Give them Internet access while they wait. Makes sense, doesn't it?

The food and drinks are nice but I would not say it is all that necessarily. When people stop by our offices, we offer drinks but I don't see that as absolutely a must.

The uniqueness of this Toyota/Lexus "campus" offers an opportunity that might not be available to everyone. There is a Starbucks here and other restaurants within walking distance. I heard there's Denny's on campus here.

For now, I suggest businesses start with free WiFi. The cost would be minimal but the gesture is going to be greatly appreciated.


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Location:Exline St,El Monte,United States

Friday, April 15, 2011

Where are the 720p Screens For Smartphones?

A year ago, Apple up the ante with the Retina display.  Close to a year later, I see nothing from its competitors that come close.  We might just see one from HTC's Pyramid, or Sensation on T-Mobile coming this summer, but it still will not be matching Apple's DPI.  By now, I would have expected 720p displays on those roomy 4 to 4.3 inch displays we regularly see on Android devices.

So, where 720p resolutions?  It seems that non-Apple devices have topped out at 800 x 480 (from 3.7 to 4.3") with the HTC Sensation coming in at 960 x 540 on a 4.3".  The iPhone has a tighter range with a higher resolution at 960 x 640 with a 3.5 " screen. This still give the iPhone 4 a better screen, hence, the label Retina display because you cannot see the individual pixels like you can on other devices.

Again, by now, I have expected Apple's competitors, especially Samsung, to outshine the iPhone.  For mobile devices with a screen size between 4" to 4.5", I think the 720p would be a nice fit.  

You can bet that if Apple ever releases an iPhone with a bigger screen as some hopes and probably will, they will not stay at the same resolution as the current iPhone 4.  It's time for HTC, Motorola, and Samsung to step it up with their display resolutions.  It's 2011 after all.

Efficient Wireless Sync And Streaming Takes Time And Valuable Battery Life

(This is a must read post from Apple fan, John Gruber on "Cutting the Cord".  It a very good analysis on why we're just are not to leave the PC behind when trying to get media onto our mobile devices.  I've offered a few notes myself below.)

One of the issues with regards to mobile is that a lot of them requires the user to still sync it with a PC.  Specifically, we are talking about Apple iOS ecosystem here.  Android, on the other hand, is all set to go once you get it out of the box.  Having said that, there is a distinct difference between activation and sync and loading up the mobile devices with apps and media.

To date and as far as I know, all Android devices are ready to be used once the user activates it wirelessly.  There is no need plug it into a PC first.  Simply type in your Google information (or set one up if you don't have one) and you're off to go.  And in the background, data is by synced.  

On the other hand, all iOS devices require that you put them into a PC and let iTunes do all the work for you.  It's why at the Apple store, they offer to get things up and going for you.  Simple as it is, it does take an extra step.  

Now comes the hard part of syncing that I think no mobile problem has solved.  Say you've got a lot of apps, music, and video.  What then?  Here is where iOS have an advantage that over other devices and why we still cannot cut the cord yet  

Say you've got 28 GB of apps and media you need to sync with your new device.  Or 60 GB if you've got a 64 GB iPad?  Let's take it a step further.  120 GB should someone come up with a device capable of hold that much storage.  You seriously want to sync all that from the cloud?  

And even if you want to, there is no way to do that just now.  Amazon just launched its music cloud storage (which I recommend everyone take a serious look at it).  Amazon is taking the first step towards a future some of us want.  Still, we are a long way off.  5GB from Amazon for free is nice but it's still a far cry from the 300 GB media library that I've got.  

And yes, Apple and Google are probably working towards their own cloud solutions for mobile users and I suspect that we'll stream most of the media should that day come.  But that is still a long way off until the solutions are robust enough.

So that's one reason why we're not ready for wireless syncing.  What's the other?

Wireless and Battery life.  Imagine trying to sync GBs of data.  One, never mind that carrier's monthly limitation would be in one day but the wireless networks simply aren't ready to handle the load of cloud storage.  So that means we'll be stuck on WiFi.  That means being at home or office.  That also means being near a PC.  And with Thunderbolt on Macs now, why would you use the slower WiFi sync when you can speed things up with a faster Thunderbolt connection?

Then there's the battery life.  If you're on a tablet like the iPad or Xoom that offers 10-ish hours, you might be okay with cloud syncing or streaming.  If you're on an power-hungry Android device, you can bet you'll be plugged into an outlet.  That horrendous 3 hours of battery life some Verizon Thunderbolt users are now getting?  Try living with two hours or less if you're on the LTE network while streaming an HD video.  

So when can we cut the cord?  No one know where Amazon is going with their music locker.  So far, Amazon has not received licensing from the music studios and it has said it does not require an additional agreement to offer it.  I agree.  But we still have to see what its competitors plan on offering.

Google is rumored to be close to offering its own solution.  And my money's on Google leveraging its massive cloud system that we already use for our webapps.  I've already got like 8GB on my Gmail that I don't use.  I can totally see Google easily offer another ten or even fifty GB of storage just for Android users.  

As for Apple, who knows.  Wall Street guys would have us believe they know.  My guess is as good as theirs.  At the end of the day, only Apple knows how they want to approach cutting the cord.  I know this about Apple's solution to this and cloud storage.  When Apple is ready to unveil it, it will be seemless and easy to use and tied into the iOS-iTunes ecosystem.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Cloud Security - Something To Consider And Worry About

Last week, Epsilon, email service company entrusted by dozens of companies to manage their customer emails, was hacked. Google was attacked repeated by hackers in China a year ago. Now, we learn that Wordpress was also hacked.

So I ask this. If this can happen to these companies, ones that we rely on more and more for our mobile computing needs, what is the worth of cloud computing?

Can this happen to Google Apps? Lots of people swear by Dropbox and can it also happen to it as well?

Is the convenience of having our data worth the risk? I guess we'll find out when that day comes. Personally, I keep a copy of all of my files locally and sync them whenever I get a chance.

I thinks that's the best way to go about this. I know that Google is pushing Chrome OS as the future of cloud computing. Microsoft and Apple are probably moving in that direction as well. But Chrome OS will be on the extreme.

I just don't know if I am ready to send my files somewhere and receive no assurance that the service will not be hacked.


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"Do Not Track" Option Already in Firefox, Coming Soon To Safari

Most people don't know this but cookies are not just for monsters and children (or me).  They're trackers, simply no way of putting this delicately, that are probably following you wherever you go on the Internet

The Federal Trade Commission has called for online advertisers like Google to provide a mechanism for users to opt out of being tracked.  Personally, that's the stupidest thing I've heard of  Why should users have to opt out?  It's like Facebook all over again.  Give these guys an inch, they'll take a mile.

So Mozilla built into Firefox 4 a more comprehensive option to block tracking.  IE9 from Microsoft has it and Apple's Safari will soon join these two browsers with the feature.

So, if you don't like being followed, check out Firefox and IE.  From what I gather, it's not a perfected solution but it's a start.  Congressional action may be coming to help guard user privacy.  It'll probably have more bark than bite given expected intense lobbying from the industry but, again, it's a start

I'll get into how this works later when I have had a chance to check it out for myself.  

I do want to mention that Google is probably not happy about this. After all, knowing about everything they can about us is how they make money.  It's why many of its services are free.  Ads.  And Google does offer an extension for Chrome.  I thought I mention this because many in the media are suggesting that Google is alone on this issue.  (More on Google's own "Do Not Track" implementation)


Note:  One might say that it's finally good to have Apple on board with this.  

iPads Putting A Hurt On PC Sales

Acer's PC share took a huge dive.  Recesson?  Nope?  Intense competition from HP and Dell?  Not exactly.  But there was competition in a big way and it was called the iPad.  The top 3 PC makers in the world were hit and hit hard as both Dell and HP lost 2% and 3% respectively while Acer, who relied on netbook sales, has seen a dramatic collapse.

Acer's problem being netbooks exacerbated its fall but the market as a whole has taken a hit from the hottest new mobile phenomenon.  And let's be honest here.  Analysts and what-have-you will call it the tablet market but it's really just the iPad  After all, during this dramatic fall on PC sales, it was pretty much just the iPad owning 80-90% of the tablet market.

In the next 12-18 months, we'll start to see the iPad's share as a percentage of tablet sold (not pushed out to vendors) drop.  Then we can truly call the tablet market for what it is.

And in 12-18 months, I fully expect more shrinkage in the PC, specifically, the laptop market, as iPad and Android devices really take it to the PC guys.  

For instance, Acer's Inconia will debut in a couple of weeks for just $450 with similar specs to the Xoom.  And not only that, it'll likely drop to about $399 by Christmas.  

If you're an average Joe consumer looking for a secondary device to use for day-to-day computing, surfing the web, checking e-mails, updating your social networks, you're gonna want to pick up a tablet.  Plus, the 8-10 hours of battery life is a better bet when than the 2-4 hours you get on a low-end laptop.

And look for PC sales drop to accelerate as corporate drones are issued iPads in place of HP or Dell laptops.  And it's going to happen.  Why do you think HP in such a rush to push out the Web OS Touchpad.  Why do you think a "half-baked" Playbook from RIM with missing apps is going on sale in a couple of weeks?  

I think it's too early to call it but tablets in general are making a convincing case that it will replace PCs in homes and offices.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Prediction: Federal Deficit to Grow With Neither the White House Or Congress Make The Tough Choices

The GOP wants to cut $6 trillion over the next ten years. Today, President Obama laid out his plans for a $4 trillion cut.

Now, I like the President.  I do.  But I wonder if the Democrats have the will to make cuts or the GOP have the stomach to stay on their own course.  

The fact that "everything's on the table" but "not really" says that they aren't willing to do what it takes to stabilize the federal budget.  Is there any wonder the electorate aren't happy with either parties?  

And speaking of the electorate, I don't get the feeling we want to share in the sacrifice needed.  We want cuts but just not the programs that affect us directly.  

I mean, regardless of which side of the political spectrum you're on, a $38 billion cut that was just agreed to by the President and the Speaker is just 2.2% of the $1.68 trillion deficit we're gonna have to pay off some day.  

The Speaker may have the Tea Partiers to deal with, but the President has the liberal groups say no to any cut he proposes.  

More at Marketwatch.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Android Isn't Open But It Is An Awesome Mobile Platform With Google As Its Master

Apple's openly closed iOS was the punching bag of those who could not wrap their heads around the fact that Apple does what it does because it is Apple.  When push comes to shove on some issue, Apple budged, if only a bit.  And Google's open Android platform?

 

It's a very curious situation.  Never in my mind was Android considered to be opened.  Not in the way Unix and other open-source projects are as far as I understand it.  I think at best, I would call Android "open-ish" with a bunch asterisks.  Unlike other projects that does not have a master, Android does.  And Google owes it. 

 

When Google can take it away or play favorites with it, use it as a weapon against one of its own, how is that open?

 

Regardless of the semantics, Android is a powerful mobile platform for Google and Google only from now on.  For those willing to follow the guidelines set forth from Mountain View, you should do well.  Those on the outside, well, just ask those outside Apple's walled iOS garden.  It's pretty much the same feeling.

 

You're either loved or you find a backdoor in.    

Monday, April 11, 2011

Facebook In China - Preview of Erosion of Privacy (and Rights?)

As you might know by now, Facebook is looking to get its start in China.  Both chronic violators of privacy and very good at monitoring its users/citizens, just how bad will this get?

 

Imagine if you're going somewhere in China.  Once you get there, you have to take our your phone or mobile device and check into Places or else you cannot enter.  Failure to do that puts you on a watch list of potential malcontents or, worse, labels you as a dissident.

 

Ridiculous?  Hardly. 

 

Facebook would love this because it's more information it can sell to advertisers and China maintains its tight grip over Western businesses.

 

Oh, and be surprised of Beijing also request information on users outside of China who happens to be friends with those in China.  Zucker-ass and companies will have no problem doing just that.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Who Will Be the Main NFC Players? And When Will It Happen?

We all know the potential of near field communication capability and the potentials that it holds. Many of us dreamt of it. Many of us painted wondrous pictures of a mobile future that involves transfer of payment and information with the quick swipe of our phones or mobile devices and leaving the wallet at home.

Just who will make this all happen? Who is going to launch the infrastructure that will allow mobile warriors to do all this? And what about security?

Amazon is looking into this in a big way and given the number of credit cards they've got in their database, I think they're going to be a major player. If not, they're going to give it a good shot.

Then there is Google who will try to make their presence felt by virtue of the number of Android devices on the market.

Apple has time and time against said that they have over one hundred and fifty million accounts that they can leverage. Though they mentioned those figures with regards to their iTunes App Store but no one is naive in thinking Apple won't try to translate its near one hundred million iOS users into mobile payment users.

The way I see this at the end of the day is that the initial period of adoptions will be exciting as it is chaotic. Just about every big named tech companies will announce or launch their own services. Being first will have some advantages. Many alliances will also be formed.

Credit card companies, wireless providers, mobile device makers. Even department stores. Online payment services like Paypal.

Over time, probably a year as deployment accelerates, we'll see some shake out, misfires, and many vaporware services. The key for many of them is going to be persistence.

For consumers, we will be bombarded with grand visions. At the end of the day, we are going to try and see through the smoke screens. What it comes down to is what works for us. And if the mobile payment "just works".

It I'd possible that the regular cell phones will have native payment scheme as provided by the wireless service provider while the smartphones and mobile devices will allow users to cater to their mobile payment needs.

Want to use Paypal on the iPhone for your eBay transactions? Check. A mobile function will likely be built into the eBay app. iTunes for everything else? You bet. Bank and credit cards for everything else? Definitely.

When will this all start for everyone and I mean everyone? I would have thought summer but we can be looking at a large scale announcements and deployments in early 2012, probably CES.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Nintendo Done For?

To say that I'm impressed with my new 3DS is an understatement, and that' even before I've gotten my games from Amazon (I was able to play quite a bit of games at Best Buy and Gamespot).  However, the lack of a blow-out sales figure along the lines of the iPhone is a worrying factor.  Now comes news that PSP has outsold the 3DS in Japan, Nintendo's home turf.

Is Nintendo done for?  My answer is a resounding yes.  

I am not advocating the notion that Nintendo will go the way of Sega, who exited the hardware business to focus on software, but the mobile gaming industry has changed so much that a dedicated gaming machine is simply out of the question.  And Nintendo is pretty conservative and ruled out a Nintendo phone.  Why would you carry around a gaming machine, albeit an excellent one, when most but the hard core gamers can find a major of the titles and types of games on an app store for their iPhone, iPod touch, or Android device?  

Where does Mario and friends go from here?  Well, I hate to use the n-word, you know, niche.  However, Nintendo might become a niche player going forward selling to only the most ardent fans.  

Why did I get the 3DS if this is how I feel?  Well, call it the sentimental side of me. I really wanted to see what I consider to be Nintendo's first Internet and multimedia device can do.  So far, I've been impressed with the specs, the 3D screen (I've yet to deveoped headaches because I don't use it for a long period at a time, no games yet), and it's social features.

And I really want the 3DS to succeed.  

At this time, a lot of functions like the app store and the browser are not available and won't be for another quarter or so, May or June.  And I think that's a mistake but still, at least it's out the door.  And I hope the Mii functions can be expanded further, beyond just Wii.  We'll see if that aspect of my long list of features get fulfilled.  

I hope I'm wrong.  However, I hope I'm wrong.  Should sales continue to disappoint, you'll likely hear analysts clamoring for a price cut.  Nintendo will be stubborn but I think they'll capitulate this time around.  

More than just pricing, it's about the software.  I really want to see some spectacular ones if I'm going to be paying $40 a pop for them.  The 3D games I've played are nice but gimmicky.  

And not just games but the social network that Nintendo has created on the Wii.  Nintendo should embrace it and build on it.  Then it should market it with limited support on other platforms to give users a taste of what they are potentially missing.  Maybe even allow their Mii to automatically link up with their real Facebook account if possible.  

Nintendo is one of the most innovative company in the world.  Conservative yes but when it has something to wow us, it presents it in a big big way.  The 3DS is such a innovation but it comes at a time in a very complex and fast moving mobile gaming market.  I think we are mere scrapping the top of what 3DS do but it will have to move fast.  

Nintendo has said that the iOS devices are its greatest challenge going forward.  For now, I'd worry about the PSP


More at Electronista.

The Feeling Of "Something Better Around The Corner" Is More Prevalent With Android Than On Other Platforms

I like to say that I'm settled on the Optimus G2X but I cannot say with any great certainty.  When the G1 came out, who would know knew that a couple of years later, there would be dozens of Android handsets on the market and 8-10 high-end devices that I can easily be happy with.  And those are just the ones on the market.

Like the G2X for T-Mobile there are other ones that are coming in a few weeks.  Maybe In a Month or Two.  Optimus 3D.  Maybe even the HTC Pyramid.  I'm sure Droid 3 is also very enticing.  

You don't get this feeling on the other platforms.  The iPhone 4 is awesome but once it was out, you knew you're waiting at least a year before seeing another upgrade from Apple.  Pre is pretty much the same.  And RIM's Blackberries are...well...they're Blackberries until they migrate over to the new OS.

And WP7 is still trying to gain traction and it doesn't help that Microsoft is unable to issue an update to make it more competitive with Android and the other OS.  

So as I sat salivating about the G2X a cuple of days ago, then I learn that the Sasmung Galax S 2 might a better processor and possibly new screen.  Oh, and then there's the HTC Pyramid's higher resolution.  

Here's the thing. All these devices on the various platforms have their strengths and weaknesses.  But the bottom line is that we as mobile warriors are benefiting from a high competitive market.  But only on the Android can agonize over which models to pick from.

Xoom Versus Iconia Versus iPad 2 Versus Stuff Not Even On the Market Yet

You might know by now that Acer will be selling its new Iconia tablet, 10" running Android 3, Honeycomb, exclusively through Best Buy.  It's basically the same specs as the Xoom except for the looks.  What would you get?  Sticking with iPad 2 or waiting on the Playbook or Touchpad?

Let's focus on the WiFi versions of the tablets here since the Iconia is WiFi only.  The WiFi-only Xoom comes in at $600 on sale now at Staples while the Iconia won't be available until later in the month.  And Acer has priced it at a low low $450 with 16GB of storage.  That is $50 lower than the base iPad 2.  But the iPad 2 is the iPad 2, the standard bearer of the tablet market.  

Of the three, which should you get?  Or wait?

Well, as I mobile fan, I'm gonna be getting a Honeycomb device for sure but when the Xoom came out at $800 with the 3G version, it was priced out of the amount I was willing to spend.  And the $600 WiFi only certainly had me thinking, my hands-on with the Xoom make me wait a bit longer.  Honeycomb felt rushed and beta-ish and running Android apps on it was kind of icky.  There are hardly any apps but what I did see showed promise.  Just hoping Google will hurry it up and release an update already.

Back to the pricing issue a bit. Iconia will cost $450.  See, I would have jumped all over the Xoom at $500.  So, here's what I'm thinking at the moment.

Acer gears tend to reliable to a point.  You really have to take your chances with their laptops. You love it or you hate it.  My experience with their gears is that they can make decent laptops but they feel cheap.  Very plasticky.  But at a good price  Motorola's Xoom feels sturdier and, without testing the Iconia, I'm very worried about how cheap it'll feel.  Let's face it, it comes in at $450 so expect it to feel plasticky.  And it does weigh more than Xoom and a lot more than the iPad 2.  

If it's value, I will just on a $500 Xoom in a heart beat. Come late April and the Iconia does somehow live up to my expectation, that's what I'm getting. And that's the Android part. 

Now, Apple's iPad 2. You certainly cannot go wrong with the iPad 2.  You're get a premium device for a very good price.  I see people going with Android only because they cannot stand Apple and its way of doing business.  Me?  I'm okay with that.  But that's me.  And as a mobile fan, I love what Google and Android represents.  Android, is and never was, "open".  But it's an alternative to the iOS dominion so that's good enough for me.

And with the iPad 2, you know you'll always get Apple's best.  Nothing like the perpetual beta feel you get from Google at times.  

As for Playbook and Touchpad, well, we'll figure out more about them as they come along but with Iconia coming in below everyone else, I think we are looking at a pricing pressure in the Android tablet market even before everyone else is out with theirs (HTC, Samsung, LG).  It won't impact the iPad at all.  But it might hurt HP and RIM big time if they don't adjust to the market quickly.

For us mobile warriors, the Iconia, whether you like Android or not, represents competition.  And you gotta love that.  

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Fast One-Core or Dual-Core Better For Mobile?

Apple's A5 and Nvidia's Tegra 2 have some fundamental similarities but what else they put into the design that makes all the difference.  A chef might add more pepper while I will go more salt.  Apple seems to focus on graphics and power management while Nvidia focus on something else, like its home-grown graphics technology.

At the end of the day, the A5, powering the current iPad 2, and the Tegra 2, the brains behind many Android tablets and phones, are both dual-chips.  But aside from the OS's themselves that might take advantage of the dual-core nature of the chips, there are not many apps that take advantage of them yet.  I reckon only a handful of iOS apps, probably games, take advantage of the A5 and none so far on the Android side.

They are both just too new.  So I wonder if some device makers would be prudent to go ahead and continue to design their gears around more efficient tried-and-true single core chips that may held the same user experience.

There could be advantages along this path.  So far, I think everything about dual-core could be just hype.  I see the advantages of dual-core in Apple's own iOS apps like iMovie and Garageband but outside of that, what?  Games?

See, for me, it's about efficiency and longer battery life.  And part of having a great mobile experience is being able to use your device how you want and when you want it without worry about the battery running out on you.  Designers can build systems that can throttle better based on the needs of the apps or users.  

And they can probably design single-core chips with higher clock-speeds that might even rival dual-core chips.  With the dearth of apps taking advantage of 2-core designs, an app running on a higher clocked single core chip allows faster completions of tasks versus the same app running on dual core chip but using only one core.

More efficient single core chip running at a higher clock speed means less power used.  

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Xoom Sales Really That Bad?

Just about everyone is jumping in on Deutsche Bank's 100K Xoom sale estimate.  Albeit, it's not the millions of iPad 2s that Apple probably have sold through but I would have expected their numbers to be higher.  It's hard to believe the number is this low especially since it's the most hyped tablet of 2011.

And it's running freakin' Honeycomb!  

I think at the end of the day, when Motorola reports their numbers, my guess is that the actual figure will be higher.  Here's why.  Analysts from Wall Street tend to low-ball figures.  Conservative to a fall when they are not outright being idiots.

Having said that, even at 200K or 250K, it's lower than I would have hoped.  

There is good news and bad news in all of this.  First the good news.  The Xoom is the first of many dozens of tablets that will eventually be okay'ed by Google to run Android 3, Honeycomb.  The T-Mobile G-Slate is up next.  I think it'll do better than expected in terms of it being limited to just T-Mobile.

And certainly, I hope LG and T-Mobile are watching how the Xoom drama is being played out.  $799 is not a good number to position a tablet against the iPad and still have to sign up for data contracts.  

Another good news is that the Xoom was pushed out prematurely by Google and Motorola.  Future Android tablets will not suffer similar mistakes.  I'm sure Google is putting a lot of energy into polishing up Honeycomb and beefing up the number of tablet apps.  

Oh, and as a mobile warrior, I think $800 is a bit much to pay for a tablet.  I can get an iPad 2 for $630.  And I've bought a few on behalf of friends and family already.  No one has asked me to help get the Xoom.  Only one has heard about it and apparently, they heard about the price and the lack of apps.

So I think we could be looking at Google and friends market Honeycomb tablets at a much lower prices going forward.  I figure a 16GB Honeycomb tablet with 10" screen should charge only $399-$450 just to stay competitive with the iPad 2.  And regardless how you feel about the iPad 2, it's a great competitive pressure on the market.  And that's good for the consumers.

At the end of the day, we need both Apple and Google fighting it out - pushing mobile boundaries further out and competing.  We'll see HP, RIM, and Microsoft join the fight soon.  I'm sure they're watching what's going on with Android.  And that is good news.

Bad news?  Well, it's not that bad.  Hardware makers need to understand what it is about the tablet market that is so different from the PC market.  Apple's iPad 2 will continue to dominate in 2011.  So any meaningful competition will have to wait until 2012.  

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Slow News Day At CNN or Mention Of iPhone Is Good For Clicks

CNN has a post dedicated to the iPhone 5 rumors on its frontpage.  Maybe I'm nearly the end of my work day and I'm tired so I'm not thinking clearly but I don't think there's anything wrong with that.  Just wanted to note it.  Maybe the mention of "iPhone 5" is a click-bait and I want in on it. 

Well, that's what I think why CNN put the post and link front and center.  Seriously.  That or it's really really slow news day and that the impending shutdown of the federal government isn't big enough of a draw (pushed to the left of the website) or that CNN sources doesn't think it'll happen.

Whatever the reason, what is not amiss is the fact that Apple's mobile strategy is now mainstream.  Technology, especially mobile tech, is no longer the domain of geekdom but that it belongs to society as a whole.  It's why there are long lines a month after the iPad 2 was launched, why it's sold out everywhere in the countries Apple has launched it, and why its updated tablet is the most sought after device on the Asian tech black market.  

Android may command the largest market share and RIM just barely continues to be ahead of the iPhone, but make not mistake that it is Apple that commands the mobile revenue and it is Apple's mobile vision that is and will dictate where mobile is headed.

More at CNN.

Virtual And Multi-Touch Keyboard - I Can Get Used To That

I fully expect for the keyboard to go away one day when someone develops an even better input apparatus to replace it.  Obviously, I'm not that someone so I have no idea what it is.  Can a multi-touch platform capable of displaying a virtual keyboard be it?  I know a lot of people will hate it but I think I can get used to the idea.

If you have an iPad or a smartphone like the Droid X or the iPhone that does not have physical keyboard, you're already using it.  Some people like it. Others don't.  I'm okay either way.  I'm faster on a regular keyboard but I grew up using a typewriter.  Lots of kids today will only know about multi-touch, like my nephews.

And Apple has been granted patents just to create a virtual keyboard of sort.  And one that could change patterns and shapes to the needs of the user.

One of the strange things, years after the various newer generation Star Trek shows went off the air, the glass displays that gave the officer control stayed the same.  If Star Trek the Next Generation was on the air today, each control panel or pad would work like today's tablets like the iPad that allows display of control based on the needs of the user.

That's what Apple is trying to achieve and something similar could well be the next Holy Grail to data input.  That would make mobile computing, especially tablets, another advantage over laptops and netbooks.

Green Campaign From Green or Eco Bloggers Needed To Advance Issue To Mainstream Public

Perhaps a new campaign to inform the public about green tech and auto should be created.  Most people start thinking smaller and fuel efficient vehicles only after the prices at the pump rises.  And with the premium price approaching $4.50 a gal at the gas station, I'm not sure even that will get Americans to start to "think different" about their transportation needs.

 

The major problem I see is the price of the hybrids or EV.  However, I'm not talking about the premium over gas-only cars.  I am referring to the prices of green vehicles as being not relevant at all.  Sure, some folks get the Prius because of the savings as the pump on a weekly basis but I'm sure the major of hybrid owners know that it will take many years before the gas savings equal the premium paid for the EV or hybrids.

 

And while period of time it takes for the owners to get savings back shortens with higher gas prices, these owners are not overtly concern about that. 

 

For a lot of these owners, it is about being green and reducing their environmental impact and other climate concerns.  Perhaps, green tech and eco bloggers should consider that as the focus rather than mention anything about costs and savings.

 

If not us who?  In this politically charged environment in Washington, there really is no one else left.  The car makers?  While there are those who sell greener vehicles, their main interests lie in maximizing profit and optimize returns for shareholders. Anything else that relates to green effort, national security, or global warming is entirely coincidental at best.

 

And yes, those of us who advocate green efforts are not stressing national security enough.  Even the US military is making a green push to optimizing its fighting forces and rely less on traditional fuel sources for its tanks, ships, and planes.  Those are the things we need to be talking about. 

 

Forget what Germany, China, or Japan are doing.  It is time that we focus on what we can do here and now   

Saturday, April 2, 2011

WiFi in Hospitals

This is a subject that I'll have to look into but I wonder just how much of hospitals in the US utilizes WiFi in the waiting area and patient rooms.

I go to City of Hope from time to time to donate blood. And at times, I could have used some kind of Internet access with my free hand. I've got an iPod touch or G1 with me at all times.

They've got a guest account but it is difficult to gain access to. Good think I've got my iSpot.

I started thinking about this again because an uncle of mine is in the hospital and I am likely to say there overnight to keep him company. I've done this in the past for other relatives.

The first time was in the late 90s at the city of Hope. Definitely no wireless access. It was still a few years away from GRPS access on the Palm V with an external mobile modem.

I had to hijack the room's phone line to have dial-up access late at night when I was sure no one would call to see how my aunt was.

These days, things are much easier. I had an occasion a couple of years ago to stay overnight with another uncle. I had my G1 for mobile access and served as a tether for the MacBook.

I am sure hospitals have all their hands full with providing care for their patients but I think it's time to call it.

Wireless Internet access should be more ubiquitous now. It is important for both patients as well as caretakers. For patients who have longer term hospital stays, the Internet is often the only outlet to the world.

More people use the Internet, email, or text to stay in touch with each other.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPod touch

Friday, April 1, 2011

CEOs Sacked, Cloudy Forecast. Consolidation Coming?

Here are the new kids on the block: Samsung, Motorola, HTC. Maybe LG.

Here are the guys who don't get it. Let's call them the "old guys": Asus, Acer, Lenovo, Dell, HP...though HP gets a pass because its Palm acquisition has yet to play out. RIM probably belongs here too given the limitations they've put on Playbook and the weird marketing.

Wild Cards: Amazon And Barnes and Noble. Sony And Nintendo Should be with the Old Guys but I'm gonna give them the benefit of the doubt.

So far, the new kids are doing well. Dazzling the market with new Windows Phone 7 and Android gears. And just completed 3 months of 2011, we'll see more Android 3, Honeycomb, tablets hit the market and continue what the iPad did last year: putting a hurt on the laptop market and possibly finishing off the netbooks.

The old guys spew a lot of double talk about how their experience in enterprise will ultimately demonstrate that they new guys's tablets, including the iPad, will not have a chance. They came out with fuzzy math to show how the tablet is more expensive.

And yet, so far, vaporware.

Because it's a Friday afternoon, let me put this out there. Dell is going to fail. The rest of the old guys probably will struggle bit time as well as the mobile market shifts in terms of needs and what the new type of computing the tablets represent.

And like HP having to go out and buy Palm for the Web OS, I wonder if others will need to do the same to stay viable over the next decade.

Dell has to make an acquisition or two. As an old guy, Dell is still making loads of cash. And the PC market isn't just going to disappear overnight. And of the new guys, Motorola Mobile (MMI) is the weakest and smallest.

Can Dell come in and scoop them up and instantly gain strong street cred with Xoom and Droid? It has done that in the past with the gaming laptop maker, Alienware. On top of that, there's talk that Motorola is making their own OS to distance themselves from Android and Windows Phone 7.

Dell will probably see what their lineup will do against others. It will gain no traction and the blogs and investors will demand action. They'll probably have to go out buy what they need. All that matters is when Michael Dell pulls the trigger. I'm predicting it'll be Motorola because RIM will be too expensive. Plus, RIM's got a couple of erratic co-CEOs that might clash with Dell.

For the other old guys, 2011 will be exciting not because of their new products which are largely based on old thinking but what they will do once they fail. Aside of HP's Touchpad, the rest of the Android tablets will be hard to differentiate. And though some might hope that a Windows tablet OS might save them, that is probably a 2012 thing, more likely 2013 given Micrsoft's track record to promise but under deliver.

The ebook sellers and the gaming guys, Wildcard guys, present a very interest dynamics going forward. And they have an opportunity to play big roles or completely disappear into nothingness. I'm looking foward to speculate what could come of them.

Right now, the situations for the old guys are more dire. HP has to succeed with the Touchpad and the next Web OS smartphones. Dell will fail miserably and look for an answer through a buyout.

The same is probably true for the rest of the old guys. Their only opening is in Asia where many of these old guys can still count as their stronghold. However, that window will close quickly once Apple has its iPad 2 supply issues figured out (Steve Jobs has $60+ billion in the bank to do just that) and more Apple stores start opening up.

Acer Fires CEO - Not Just About iPad, It's About Mobile

Acer fired it's CEO due to weak outlook.  But that was just an excuse.  So why did this happen?  Other CEOs at other tech companies have had to faced weak returns but somehow hang on until brighter days ahead.  Apple folks would have you think it's the iPad gobbling up the netbook market.  

I'm an Apple fan and I can tell that while the iPad has had a large impact on the netbook and low-end laptop market, the iPad was only an episodic event in a greater shift in the mobile society.  

It's also about Android and the smartphone market.  It's also why HP and Dell came out on the attack against Apple in general about the tablet market.  

Mobile computing is changing with each and every single tablet release and OS update.  Consider where we were when Blackberries reigned in enterprise to the release of the iPhone in 2007 and the shift front lines in today's mobile war.  

Only because HP has Palm's Web OS that potentially gives it a small chance to succeed, otherwise, it would be in the same situation as Lenovo, Dell, Acer, and other PC makers that has no answer to the coming tablet onslaught.  And if you believe the idiot Dell exec who thinks the iPad is irrelevant, consider that if you add the iPad sales (yes, they are a computer just in a different form factor) to the Mac sales, it would put Apple over the top as the number PC maker in the world.

Let's take Dell's Andy Lark for what he said.  Yeah, Android has a great chance in beating Apple in enterprise someday.  Windows-based tablets will likely be received well.  However, that is only in take back some share that has been lost in the PC market to the iPad  And let's face it.  

Even if all that he predicted happens, there is no guarantee that Dell will itself will succeed.  The Android-based Streak is sitting on the shelf collecting dust while Samsung's Tab and Motorola's Xoom owns the Android tablet market.  And more pain will come for Dell once other traditional handset makers like HTC and LG has their tablets on the market.  

The main thing is that tech companies like Dell and Lenovo has to recognize the changes in what consumers want and need in the new mobile landscape.  And the iPad's adoption rate shows that those needs are bleeding into enterprise.  Until CEOs of these companies recognize that, coming out with "me,too" devices without understanding what they are for will do nothing to help their sales or keep their jobs.

More at CNBC.