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The Killer Feature I Would Design Into An Apple Tablet

from the e-Reader,-we-hardly-knew-ye dept

To be clear, I've no influence in Cupertino, and the closest I've ever been to Steve Jobs was when I wore a black turtleneck skiing. But that said, there were a few developments at CES that got me thinking about a killer feature for a tablet. So here are the specific three developments from CES that stood out to me, and how I'd combine them in a disruptive tablet.

First, small, portable computing platforms were hot. No surprise to anyone, but Netbooks were all over the show, in creative new formats, layouts, OSes, and component make-ups. This sector has already proven to be a consumer favorite, and the OEMs are responding in force. Tablets, slates, and new formats were being shown by a variety of vendors hoping to get the jump on Apple, notably Microsoft in what could be described as an anemic Keynote by Ballmer.

Second, e-Readers were exploding out of the booths. There were new e-Readers on display from Huawei, Spring Design, Plastic Logic, Entourage eDGe and many more. Many analysts predict growth in the e-Reader sector, largely predicated on the notion that the readers use crystal clear e-ink screens, which greatly extend battery life, are easier on the eyes, and can be read indoors or out. Devices with standard LCD screens like Netbooks or iPhones churn through batteries too quickly to pose a direct threat to e-Readers. Thus, for now, this sector is seen as "protected" from the cheaper or more versatile Smartphones, Netbooks and tablets.

Third, there was an immense amount of innovation in screen configurations across Netbooks, TVs, laptops, etc. We saw two-screen laptops, touchscreens, tablets, double screen e-Readers, MEMS displays from Qualcomm, and more. Among the cool new screen technologies was one from PixelQi (discussed at GigaOm). The PixelQi (pronounced Pixel Chee) screen can operate in two modes: one which is like a standard backlit LCD laptop screen, and a second that closely resembles the e-ink of the Kindle. In this high-resolution, black-on-white mode, power consumption is cut to ~1/3 of a regular laptop screen. This mode also is easier on the eyes, and can be read easily in sunlight. PixelQi technology is cool in and of itself, since, as processors get more efficient, screens are becoming a relatively larger portion of the power budget - any savings here could have a dramatic impact on battery life. One could switch a laptop into "ink mode" and extend battery life at the expense of color.

I think you see where I'm going. If I were Jobs, I'd launch a tablet that used the iPhone OS, had access to the app store, iTunes, Safari browser...AND had an 8-10" dual-mode screen. Such a tablet could suck the air out of the room for e-reader makers. A company like Apple has the clout to get access to a wide range of book content, including the NYT bestseller lists. If so, Apple's tablet could quickly end the dedicated reader era. Consider a tablet that offers the value proposition of an e-Reader, a Netbook, GPS, and 100k apps. That's the kind of product that could justify a price premium over a $300 Netbook or Reader.

Either way, I see the dedicated reader market fading in the future, much as PDAs did. Not that they're not in demand, but the dedicated Readers will evolve and be subsumed into general-purpose tablets, or will be beaten by tablets that can do more. If it's not Apple or PixelQi next month, it's going to be somebody else within a year. Either way, buyers win: we're all going to benefit from the active innovation in the screen/display category, and more functional devices with better battery life.



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    Michael Ho (profile), Jan 15th, 2010 @ 6:08pm

    the feature I'd bet on...

    Given Apple's design strengths, I'd think that they'll come up with something that is basically like a very small MacBookAir... with two screens and no keyboard, perhaps. That's just my guess. eBook readers are kinda clunky-looking, so Apple's tablet will most likely just be much thinner and sleeker than other tablets. And maybe it'll come in a few different colors... :)

     

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    dave blevins (profile), Jan 15th, 2010 @ 7:24pm

    IF (yes, IF) Apple announces a "tablet" in a couple of weeks, it will either a) crash and burn ala Newton (hang on for a while but then fade away) or b) take over the market ala iPod. Apple seems to do one or the other. Micro$oft seems to do most of the former, it just takes longer.

     

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    william (profile), Jan 15th, 2010 @ 7:39pm

    the fear of a DRM'ed tablet

    For me, my BIGGEST fear is if (and likely) Apply locked down the upcoming table just like they did with the iPhone.

    All the rumor mill is pointing to a tablet as "an iPhone with steriod". However, one of the major factor that I am resisting buying an iPhone is simply because it's too locked down. It's not really based on principle (although I am against DRM in principle). It's just a locked multimedia device does not fit my purpose.

    I watch many Japanese animation and cartoons. They come in various different codecs and format. I also read a lot of Chinese novels, which are in unprotect, non PDF, simple unicode text files. In addition, I read Japanese/Chinese manga too, which are in either jpeg/gif/png.

    So my need
    1. watch video of any codec
    2. read unicode text file
    3. view large, sequencial images

    so how iPhone does not allow me to do the abover three easily
    1. all video need to be in a VERY SPECIFIC codec and bitrate and format. Because iPhone is locked, you can't install a third party program that'll do this easily, without converting
    2. iPhone does not allow "uploading" to your space. Where the hell am I suppose to put my text file. And also there is no easy way to read a text file, not to mention a unicode text file containing Chinese
    3. you must manage all photo/images through iTunes. If the iPhone is not locked, I could just upload my images as folders and view it with a simple photo viewer navigating through folder structure. But alas, I can't.

    Now, if the tablet is just as bad as the iPhone, then

    1. I can't install VLC, which is my preferred mac version of media player for viewing anime/cartoon/video
    2. I can't upload my unicode text files for reading purposes, with my choice of reading application
    3. I can't upload my manga images easily because it's locked and you must go through iTune or some propriatery program and I can't view it with my choice of application

    These are really my deal breakers. If the tablet is locked down as badly as the iPhone/Touch, I'll be looking into one of the win7 tablet that was presented at CES. And to be honest, they look quite good AND you get the freedom of able to do whatever you want with the win7 OS.

    Let's face it, iTune may be great, but it's starting to feel a fatty. Okay, music and video is fine, and it does a good job, but starting with the apps it's like Apple trying to CRAM everything into iTunes, no matter if it fit or not. If it's true that Apple have some publisher/news agency deal to deliver text content, they'll probalby CRAM that into iTunes too.

    Forget about the mess, I would rather suffer a little and have my freedom then having Apple and Jobs tell me what I can do with my property. On a win7 tablet I'll be able to do whatever I please, in whatever way I want. Look, just because Apple/Jobs feel that it should "work that way" doesn't meant they are right or it fits the use/purpose of 100% of people.

    Steve, you KILLED Apple once with your maniac control of everything, and almost killed the entire company. Now you are on track again, don't you kill yourself again with your freakish control fetish.

    BAH!

     

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    Jake, Jan 15th, 2010 @ 8:02pm

    Personally, I'd be more interested in one of the netbook makers building a 3G transceiver and SIM card slot into one of their fan-less models, and come out with a VOIP handset -maybe Bluetooth, but wired would probably be more secure- that could display texts and appointment reminders whilst the laptop's lid was closed. Most of the functionality of a smartphone with ten-finger typing and a full OS like XP or Ubuntu NR.

     

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    milrtime83 (profile), Jan 15th, 2010 @ 8:17pm

    "If I were Jobs, I'd launch a tablet that used the iPhone OS, had access to the app store"

    I just wonder if people are willing to have a computer that is limited to the high walls of the app store? Would you really want every program on your computer to have to go through apple?

     

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    Josh (profile), Jan 15th, 2010 @ 8:38pm

    One question, how is Qi pronounced Chee?

     

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    Wolfy, Jan 15th, 2010 @ 9:07pm

    It's their made-up name, they can pronounce it any way they want.

     

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    :), Jan 15th, 2010 @ 9:21pm

    Killer Feature for an apple tablet.

    The iPhone connecting wireless to glasses that project a 9 foot screen in front of you with an option to turn the glasses opaque so you feel like watching TV.

    The same glasses would project in 3D and be powered by coke(if it ever leaves the drawing board).

    http://www.daizizheng.com/projects.htm

    Or it could recharge using wireless signals from the air if it works of course.
    http://www.physorg.com/news182595455.html

    Seriously tough the best feature for an apple tablet would be free design with and interchangeable shell.

    With a cellphone inside.

    Cellphone concept
    http://www.tuvie.com/form-follows-you-nokia-888-concept-cell-phone/
    Cellphone morph concept(almost a tablet with cellphone capabilities)
    Notebook concept
    http://www.tuvie.com/the-one-laptop-per-child-machine-
    xo-3-for-only-75/
    Notebook concept
    http://www.tuvie.com/futuristic-rolltop-foldable-notebook-with-17-inch-oled-display-and-ful l-fledged-keyboard/
    HP nobag concept
    http://www.tuvie.com/laptop-concept-designs-for-women-by-nikita-buyanov/#more-2360

    Hmmm. ..this got me thinking that the killer feature would be connectivity with and eco system of gadgets something that is almost like lego were one think inter-connects with another to form an entire family of things the feature would be the connectivity itself between a healthy number of physical plug-ins.

    The tablet should connect to all apple services and devices transparently that would be a real sale point.

    "Your iPhone can now stream its scream to a iTablet so every thing you bough on the apple store can be viewed on your iTablet"

     

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    slander (profile), Jan 15th, 2010 @ 9:22pm

    Re:

    Pretentious hipsters do...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2010 @ 10:42pm

    Among the cool new screen technologies was one from PixelQi (discussed at GigaOm). The PixelQi (pronounced Pixel Chee) screen can operate in two modes: one which is like a standard backlit LCD laptop screen, and a second that closely resembles the e-ink of the Kindle.

    Yeah, this technology was also supposed to make the XO notebook a "killer". That didn't exactly happen either, did it?

     

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    transmaster (profile), Jan 15th, 2010 @ 10:42pm

    Re: the fear of a DRM'ed tablet

    Excellent observation. I have an iTouch and I too am a huge fan of Anima. I convert the Anima I wish to watch on it with either "Cucusoft", which is a real nice dedicated converter just for the iPhone, iTouch, or "Any DVD Converter Professional" which will convert videos to any player you have from an Ipod to a Zune, and is fast and converts mass files quickly. I have several gigabytes of eBooks in various formats which I would love to view in my iTouch. I have not figured out a way of doing so. I enjoy my iTouch more then any electronic device I have yet owned but it's limitations are somewhat irritating. I have about 700 gigs of video in various codex, and 2 T bytes of music in every format you can imagine. It is a pain and space waster to have to convert all this to what the iTouch will play. I might consider an Apple Neo-Newton if it was something like a super iTouch but locked down like it will be I am not so sure.

     

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    Jake, Jan 15th, 2010 @ 11:36pm

    Indeed. I really have to hand it to Apple; they sure know how how to grab the attention of a lucrative demographic -rich idiots who want to impress other rich idiots- and hang on to it in the face of competing products that suck less.

     

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    Headbhang, Jan 16th, 2010 @ 2:21am

    Re:

    Yes, sure. We've all seen how Windows and Office and the Xbox and .NET and Internet Explorer have all crashed and burned⸮

     

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    Derek Kerton (profile), Jan 16th, 2010 @ 2:37am

    Re: the fear of a DRM'ed tablet

    "For me, my BIGGEST fear is if (and likely) Apply locked down the upcoming table just like they did with the iPhone."

    Yeah, I agree with you...but the mass market does not. They don't mind the lock in (for now) because it means a smoothly working device, and an easy to use content ecosystem.

    You're an advanced user with specific needs and requirements. That used to mean Windows Mobile, but more and more it means Android.

     

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    Derek Kerton (profile), Jan 16th, 2010 @ 2:41am

    Re:

    50 Million iPhones sold. That speaks volumes.

    Us geeks here on the discussion @ Techdirt may not like it...but go ask an average iPhone user how limited they feel. They've never been so empowered!

     

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    Derek Kerton (profile), Jan 16th, 2010 @ 2:43am

    Re:

    "ch" then "ee"

    Seriously, though, it's the Chinese mystic energy that one channels during meditation, like in Tai Chi. I suppose it can be spelled many ways using our alphabet.

     

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    FelixES, Jan 16th, 2010 @ 3:16am

    Biz wise

    Regarding lockdown - remember that Apple is a business and they want everyone to buy from iTunes and not just bring and download from everywhere else. Every company would prefer that if thay had such a model.
    Apple's goal is to make easy to use and super sexy products for the masses, that's why they won't bother with geeky features, especially at the new products launch.
    People complain about the app store's approval process, but if there was none half of the apps would be malicious scams and trojans, ever thought about that? Some things are necessary evil especially when you doing business...

     

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    Brad Hubbard (profile), Jan 16th, 2010 @ 3:38am

    Re: Re:

    Please don't feed the trolls.

     

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    Brad Hubbard (profile), Jan 16th, 2010 @ 3:40am

    Re: Re:

    You're right. It says about 1% of the market is filled with idiots.

    Don't believe the hype. Even 50M iPhones sold to 20M idiots doesn't make it a dominant product.

    That said, real operating systems have well over 100k apps. How many does OSX have?

     

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    Brad Hubbard (profile), Jan 16th, 2010 @ 3:47am

    Re: Killer Feature for an apple tablet.

    "the killer feature would be connectivity with and eco system of gadgets something that is almost like lego were one think inter-connects with another"
    It's called bluetooth. Everyone else has it. Just not the iPhone.

    Seriously though, all the artist mockups in the world won't save you from basic engineering costs (that's why the're artists, not engineers). Apple won't revolutionize, they'll evolve, a little. They don't have some secret sauce that a million engineers the world over are missing. They'll invest in cool components in some way (thin! light! it has sensors!), and take shortcuts in others (low-res screen, low powered processor, fixed battery) to drive down costs. Then they'll wrap it in a polished package. They're not going to have augmented reality, wifi-charged supergoggles connected to a swarm of personal servant bots. It will be easier to use than other products, but ultimately less capable.

     

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    Ewing, Jan 16th, 2010 @ 4:08am

    Re: Killer Feature for an apple tablet

    I think if the "islate" uses iphone os the app store and i tunes would need a better front end ( i think it already needs this) as it can be a night mare to window shop its easier to find top selling apps etc but it is hard to find the lost gems which lay beneath a tonne of muck,
    osx would be a better os for slate, but if as the tread mill spins and islate and new apple tv software released at same time meaning bigger and better games and apps heading ur way

     

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    Ewing, Jan 16th, 2010 @ 4:09am

    Re: Killer Feature for an apple tablet

    I think if the "islate" uses iphone os the app store and i tunes would need a better front end ( i think it already needs this) as it can be a night mare to window shop its easier to find top selling apps etc but it is hard to find the lost gems which lay beneath a tonne of muck,
    osx would be a better os for slate, but if as the tread mill spins and islate and new apple tv software released at same time meaning bigger and better games and apps heading ur way

     

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    Vincent Clement, Jan 16th, 2010 @ 5:09am

    we're all going to benefit from the active innovation in the screen/display category, and more functional devices with better battery life.

    At least until the plethora of patent lawsuits begin.

     

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    Nick Coghlan (profile), Jan 16th, 2010 @ 6:27am

    Re:

    Pronouncing Qi as Chee isn't a made up word - it's one of the accepted transliterations of a specific Chinese word into English. While that word is often transliterated as "chi" instead (for obvious reasons), the "qi" version is still legitimate (and doesn't change the pronunciation).

    Given the meaning of the word Qi, "PixelQi" would refer to the heart/soul/essence/inherent energy of pixels, which is a decent name for a screen technology company.

    (The PixelQi folks actually give the pronunciation and meaning of Qi at the bottom of their home page)

     

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    Grier Graham (profile), Jan 16th, 2010 @ 6:29am

    Apple Tablet

    Derek - I think you've got this mostly right. However, there may be dedicated eReaders around for a little while at very low price points -- $99 or $69 -- which I think we will see this year. The other killer app is pen+finger touch and hand writing recognition. You don't need pen touch on the small form factor of an iPhone but it would be quite useful on an Apple Tablet.

     

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    Nick Coghlan (profile), Jan 16th, 2010 @ 6:51am

    Re: Re: Re:

    One key thing to remember about the iPhone (and similar devices) is that people often don't want or need a general purpose computer.

    If I want or need a general purpose computer, I have access to several - the Linux box I'm typing on right now, the Windows gaming box sitting to me right, or any one of the 3 computers I have at work. I don't need my phone to be a general purpose computer - the iPhone features/apps I use regularly are fairly limited (phone, calendar, maps, camera, music player, calculator, weather forecast, web browser, eBook reader and a couple of other minor apps). At the time I got it, the iPhone was the only phone that offered all those things with a decent UI (including multi-touch zoom for maps and non-phone friendly web pages), both 3G and wi-fi and with an integrated web store. These days I'd be more inclined to pick up one of the marginally more open Android handsets instead, but even there I believe the app store is policed fairly heavily (since it doesn't want to act as a vector for virus distribution).

    If Apple design a tablet that is essentially an iPhone or iPod Touch with a much bigger screen, then they aren't targeting the computer enthusiast market. Instead, they will be targeting those people that:
    a) Just want their computer to work; and
    b) Are happy using online services for most of their computing needs

    Expect such a tablet to offer good photo synchronisation so it can be easily used to transfer photos from a camera to online services like Flickr. It would come with iTunes builtin so you could use it as a management station for your iPhone and iPods. Integration of Google Docs would also make a lot of sense (and while the Google/Apple relationship may not be as close as it once was, they still have a common opponent in Microsoft).

    Hooking up to the existing app store itself may be problematic - scaling iPhone apps up to a netbook size screen could easily be ludicrous, since the size of many iPhone controls are driven by the size of a human finger rather than the size of the screen. Deciding which controls should scale with the screen size and which shouldn't may not be a decision the OS can make on its own - the apps may need to change as well.

    However, an iPhone style tablet makes far more sense as a business move than becoming an also-ran entrant into the highly crowded general purpose PC based netbook market.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 16th, 2010 @ 7:28am

    The Killer Feature for an iPhone would certainly be the Light Saber. No, not that fake one. A real one.

     

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    stefn (profile), Jan 16th, 2010 @ 8:37am

    Killer feature? Self-subsidy

    Good article. Good idea. But dual screen is probably shortlived as a feature. As screen resolutions improve, dual screens go away. And Apple doesn't invest in dead end technologies.

    I think Apple needs to stand on its head and do something entirely new. Think "self-subsidy." Google does this all day long. The Tablet and the Touch, with camera, can be purchasing monsters. The Touch already is: Think music, video, audio, app. Apps! Did I say apps? Now add services. Think lattes and limos.

    Amazon must use self-subsidy: The Kindle is its best effort to create a shopping device, a 24/7 storefront. But Amazon's job in the future will be to sell atoms, not electrons. We may buy everything solid from Amazon, but digital products and services are for Apple to do.

    Typically Apple prices its hardware high and stays high. And up until now it's been absolutely right to do so. Look at how the bottom feeders like Dell are turning belly up. But now Apple has a huge content stream to use to leverage hardware pricing.

    So, sure, sell the Tablet high for the first six months. Some of us will pay anything for it. Why not take the money? But then it's time for Apple to let the pricing tiger out of the bag. Lower the Tablet to $250. OK makes us buy a subscription to MobileMe with it. (I do that anyway.) Next, lower the Touch to $50.

    And it's Katy bar the door!

     

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    stefn (profile), Jan 16th, 2010 @ 8:41am

    Self-subsidy PS

    Money is the ultimate content stream.

     

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    stefn (profile), Jan 16th, 2010 @ 8:42am

    Re: Killer feature? Self-subsidy

    PS: Money is the ultimate content stream.

     

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    emile (profile), Jan 16th, 2010 @ 9:21am

    Apple Tablet feature

    I want a removable, user replaceable battery ...

     

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    Cynyr (profile), Jan 16th, 2010 @ 9:30am

    Tablet computer not tablet media player

    I want a tablet computer, not a tablet media player. a core2duo culv cpu, ION2 chipset and a resistive/capacitive(selectable) touchscreen. I want to be able to run my own open source apps on it with out the walled garden that is apples iPhone OS.

     

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    transmaster (profile), Jan 16th, 2010 @ 9:49am

    Re: Re: the fear of a DRM'ed tablet

    At last a concept to explain the appeal Apple has "content ecosystem" Derek I don't know if you originated this term but you hit the nail on the head. I was a geek long before the term was coined I am a Ham Radio operator and have been using demon from hell computers since the early 1970's. I have observed the rise and fall, the rise and fall, and the latest rise of Apple computers. Looking from the outside I could not really get my mind around the almost religious devotion people have with Apple. I didn't understand this devotion to Apple until I had chance to visit an Apple Store. The first iTouch I purchased had a touch screen failure so I made an appointment with a "Genius" to get it replaced under warranty. I laughed my ass off when I did this, I am going to see a GENIUS!. But when I got to the Apple Store I instantly saw the genius (sorry :))in Apple's marketing strategy is not for geeks like us, rather it is designed for people who hardly know how to turn a computer on. When I reported to the Genius counter I looked around me at people who had trouble with their computers that to us would not be a problem at all. But these poor anguished souls put their best friend in the hands of a Monk of the Holy Order of Apple after chanting the holy words they placed hands upon it and it was cured....Amen. OK this explained to me the appeal of Apple Computers. Now don't get me wrong I like Apple Computers while I was at this store I perused the computers they had display. Loved the keyboards, and the glide panels on the laptops where the most responsive I have ever used. This however did not explain the iPod. I really liked my iTouch but I have had other MP3 players and yes I enjoyed the music but the iTouch was not that much better. Then I discovered podcasts. An Apple Bonker nailed me and I fell like a ton of bricks. Now I look forward to the next podcast of Archaeologica, Hour of The Subgenius (this for my strange side), Don Carlin's Hard Core History, Naked Astronomy, or any of the numerous podcasts I subscribe too, like I once did TV shows. Whats more the available podcasts are almost a bottomless pit. Now I understand the iPod landscape and Derek with the concept of "content ecosystem" I now name a for it. You don't just purchase and Apple you buy your way into a digital universe. I have to say I don't feel deprived When I get a second iTouch I might jail brake the one I presently have but I have looked into it and frankly I don't really see any advantage in it. As I said in before in this thread it is a hassle to convert my collection, and i Tunes at least the way it works on a PC is a very clanky, it acts like it is operating in enemy territory, which it. If the Neo-Newton has the kind of functionality of an iPhone/iTouch they will have a winner.

     

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    Wes, Jan 16th, 2010 @ 10:02am

    Re: One question, how is Qi pronounced Chee?

    It's Chinese, that is, Qi is the pinyin spelling for the sound "chee."

     

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    wesley, Jan 16th, 2010 @ 10:02am

    Re: the fear of a DRM'ed tablet

    william,

    i think the reason apple has been so successful is because of their easy to use ecosystem. i have a very hard time conveying this concept to our IT staff at my office. they want me to be an IT person AND an architect. i just want to be an architect. i have no interest in figuring out preferred media players. i don't even want to know what a media player is. i want to click on a video and it just play. i don't want to choice of applications. i just want it to work.

    it sounds like you're a sophisticated computer user, and thats cool. i hope you find a device that allows you to do whatever you want with it. however, i think most people are like me and don't want install VLC, unicode, etc. i don't even care or want to know what that is. i want to purchase, press play, enjoy.

     

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    Wes, Jan 16th, 2010 @ 10:04am

    Re: One question, how is Qi pronounced Chee?

    It's Chinese, that is, Qi is the pinyin spelling for the sound "chee."

     

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    Roger Mercer, Jan 16th, 2010 @ 10:30am

    Re: the fear of a DRM'ed tablet

    What's a steriod? Some kind of music player?

    I always lock down my iPhone so nobody will steal it. I hate theft, peroid!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    identicon
    Roger Mercer, Jan 16th, 2010 @ 10:30am

    Re: the fear of a DRM'ed tablet

    What's a steriod? Some kind of music player?

    I always lock down my iPhone so nobody will steal it. I hate theft, peroid!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
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    nasch (profile), Jan 16th, 2010 @ 10:33am

    Re:

    PixelQi has not been released in any product. The XO used something else.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
    icon
    chris (profile), Jan 16th, 2010 @ 11:15am

    Re:

    it will either a) crash and burn ala Newton (hang on for a while but then fade away) or b) take over the market ala iPod... Micro$oft seems to do most of the former, it just takes longer.

    i love a good microsoft bash as much as anyone, but in this case i don't think you are properly comparing the longevity of MS with the short lifespan of technologies in general.

    microsoft does a lot of things before apple. there have been windows based tablets and smart phones around for years. there are versions of windows specifically made for tablets and smart phones. MS tailors these offerings primarily to business users and not to consumers; gaming, of course, being the exception. the software and devices windows runs on just don't have the sex appeal that is so important to consumers.

    MS is ceding the consumer marketplace after something like 5 years of being pretty much the only viable game in town with respect to tablets, and the next closest competitor to the blackberry with respect to smart phones. if you see this as "just taking longer to fade away" i think that maybe you don't realize that 5 years in information technology is practically a life time.

    microsoft has "been there and done that" in these markets and if it's not already moving on to greener pastures, then it should definitely consider it.

     

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  41.  
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    chris (profile), Jan 16th, 2010 @ 11:36am

    Re: the feature I'd bet on...

    Given Apple's design strengths, I'd think that they'll come up with something that is basically like a very small MacBookAir... with two screens and no keyboard, perhaps.

    i think an 8-10 inch version of the ipod touch with 3g capabilities would sell pretty well, even if it didn't havethe ability to do screens in two modes like the post suggests. if such a device did have that capability it would really shake things up.

    the reason i say this is because i bought my wife an ipod touch for christmas and while it never leaves her side, she has yet to play a single track on it because she uses it mostly for apps like facebook, twitter, and for games. she pretty much only uses her laptop for work now.

    according to the folks i have talked to, the problem people had with the macbook air was that it was pretty much just a really expensive macbook. i think the power of the ipod and iphone is that they put apple's stuff into people's hands for a lot less than the price of a mac.

    the whole reason for the hackintosh community is that there is no moderately priced mac tower or laptop. i think that scaling the ipod/iphone up to the point that it competes with higher end netbooks, ebook readers, and slate computers would do a lot for apple and will appeal to both new users and apple fanbois alike.

     

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  42.  
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    Karen Wester Newton (profile), Jan 16th, 2010 @ 12:56pm

    Most of the people who keep predicting eReaders will disappear don't own one. The reason the eReader market finally took off was because Amazon created the Kindle. What Kindle not only offered a screen that was as easy on the eyes as paper-- the Sony Reader had that already-- it didn't require a computer. Wireless connectivity made the Kindle really easy to use and opened the world of ebooks up to people who don't know what USB stands for. eReader owners are people who want a convenient way to read books that gives them access to free or cheaper books and doesn't fill their houses up with paper. Pixel Qi might come close, but LCD screens can't equal e-ink for lack of eye strain because even really dim LCD doesn't have a truly static display. And the two week battery charge for an e-ink screen is still out of reach of LCD.

    I'm not saying future tech won't eventually find a way to do it all, but it's not going to be in a year.

     

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  43.  
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    Rupert (profile), Jan 16th, 2010 @ 12:56pm

    Scribble Pad

    I'd love a tablet that had most of the screen available for me to doodle on or take handwritten notes. Call it iPaper.

    Make the stylus/screen pressure sensitive to adjust line thickness. I like the idea of the stylus that you flip over and use the other end to erase.

    Are we there yet with OCR that it could read my handwriting and understand my formatting hints to convert notes to a reasonable document ?

    Could I collaborate with others on a diagram ?

    Whisper "mischief managed" into the microphone and the screen blanks...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44.  
    identicon
    Gregg Borodaty, Jan 16th, 2010 @ 2:16pm

    Apple wins the tablet battle

    I'm not a big Apple fan (haven't owned one since a 1993 Macbook), but if anyone has a chance to make a tablet successful, Apple will for these simple reasons:

    1. They have great industrial design skills and know how to make the product and UI look great to the average consumer.

    2. They have a great advertising (propaganda) team that makes their product appeal to the masses (in other words, you feel cool if you are using an Apple device).

    3. Through iTunes they bring a lot of content and an integrated billing system. This is by the far the key to success and the reason all other tablet manufacturers will fail. Apple makes it too easy to access and purchase content which is why they succeeded with the iPhone and iPod products.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45.  
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    nasch (profile), Jan 16th, 2010 @ 4:23pm

    Re: Killer feature? Self-subsidy

    But Amazon's job in the future will be to sell atoms, not electrons. We may buy everything solid from Amazon, but digital products and services are for Apple to do.

    People who own Apple hardware buy bits (only the power company sells electrons) from Apple, but for everyone else Apple isn't that compelling a vendor IMO.

    Lower the Tablet to $250. OK makes us buy a subscription to MobileMe with it. (I do that anyway.) Next, lower the Touch to $50.

    Maybe you're a prophet, but it would be a major change of direction for Apple to position itself as a budget hardware company. I would even characterize it as a complete reorientation of the whole company philosophy. Doesn't seem likely to me.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  46.  
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    nasch (profile), Jan 16th, 2010 @ 4:25pm

    Re:

    Isn't PixelQi supposed to be out in consumer products this year?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  47.  
    icon
    Derek Kerton (profile), Jan 16th, 2010 @ 4:26pm

    Re: Re: Re: the fear of a DRM'ed tablet

    "'content ecosystem' Derek I don't know if you originated this term".

    Hmmm. Let's just say yes, even though it's not true.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  48.  
    icon
    Derek Kerton (profile), Jan 16th, 2010 @ 4:37pm

    Re:

    Well, by "all" I was including lawyers, clerks, Ron J Riley, the RIAA, the MPAA, and the hotels of Marshall, Texas...of course.

    What, you want all the goodness to accrue only to consumers and product makers? Commie!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  49.  
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    Derek Kerton (profile), Jan 16th, 2010 @ 4:44pm

    Re: Apple Tablet

    There often remains a niche market for the former category leading products. This happens for a variety of reasons: lock in, apathy, momentum, but also because some specific feature of the prior leader hasn't been replicated, and some people want THAT feature. These people will rationally reject the new competing product until it meets their need.

    Consider analog cell phones. Most people would think that, in every way, digital cellphones are better. (Most phones sold since 1997 are digital.) Analog phones don't have information on their display, are never smart, you can't download ANYTHING, they have static hiss in the signal, they can't locate you in a 911 call, and they use batteries faster. BUUUUT, they have up to 3Watts of output, and tend to get better range than digital phones, usually in rural settings where the towers are spaced far apart. And for that reason, there is a very small cadre of dedicated analog phone users.

    The feature you mention specifically - low price - well, that's a feature a lot of people will get behind!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  50.  
    icon
    Derek Kerton (profile), Jan 16th, 2010 @ 4:58pm

    Re:

    Did you read the article? Future tech HAS found a way. A dual mode screen that is both LCD AND e-ink.

    And I agree that the Kindle has die-hard fans, for the reasons you listed. But what about that isn't easily copied? I suppose to copy the Kindles main value propositions, you'd need to be a company with good experience and savvy in device design, UI, content management and delivery. Can anyone think of a company that has those skillz?

    I won't deny that I've been cool to the e-Reader segment since day 1. In fact, I think Amazon has done a whole lot of exaggeration of their Kindle PR to make it seem like a big success...without ever releasing sales volumes. And they put out dubious data on Christmas day regarding e-book sales: http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20091227/2149027505.shtml

    True, I don't own a Kindle, though I think they're cool. However, it doesn't sound like you've owned an iPhone or Touch. Those devices don't need a computer to access and manage content, either.

    The content availability, battery issue, and screen clarity issues are the two defenses the Kindle currently has. Those may not last long.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  51.  
    icon
    Derek Kerton (profile), Jan 16th, 2010 @ 5:00pm

    Re: Scribble Pad

    Grint? Is that you again? Damned gingers.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  52.  
    identicon
    RF, Jan 16th, 2010 @ 6:08pm

    Re:

    QI is the english adaption of the sound chee, from chinese. This varies seemingly generation to generation as you'll see Xi for the same sound in older texts.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  53.  
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    The Anti-Mike (profile), Jan 16th, 2010 @ 6:49pm

    Shifting models?

    Products are nice, business models are better:

    http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/dec2009/tc20091229_795528.htm

    This is an interesting column because it points out the obvious: There is potential for a trend back to subscription models. Basically, the Ipad or whatever offers a great way to get product in people's hands, but it also offers the ability for premium content providers to move to potentially very successful pay-to-read model. Basically, instead of $12.95 a year for a magazine subscription, move to a $12.95 a year online subscription, that includes potentially pushing the content to the reader.

    Want to see this months magazine only? Buy it now, just like the news stand price.

    While information wants to be free, the reality is that content cannot be created endlessly for free. There is little or no business model there (especailly when you consider that users will likely filter out ads in the content).

    The tools are nice, it's nice to focus on this or that, but the success and failure of the product will be the ability for valid and functional (aka profitable) business models to evolve. Without businesses producing the content, the devices have little actual value.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  54.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 16th, 2010 @ 7:52pm

    Re: Shifting models?

    While information wants to be free, the reality is that content cannot be created endlessly for free.

    Have you never heard of the internet?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  55.  
    identicon
    Ahhhhahahaha, Jan 16th, 2010 @ 8:25pm

    "There is potential for a trend back to subscription models"

    - How's that subscription model working out for ya ?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  56.  
    icon
    The Anti-Mike (profile), Jan 16th, 2010 @ 11:58pm

    Re:

    Actually, everything i am seeing on subscription models shows that it is a functional business. It may not have the millions of hits per day that a free news site might offer, but it is potentially much more bottom line oriented.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  57.  
    icon
    Griff (profile), Jan 17th, 2010 @ 3:49am

    Bleeding edge of tech

    I do chuckle when I read all these things about the advantages of the latest screen tech.

    I have a c1999 Handspring Visor. It has an old crappy dark grey on light grey LCD screen. Guess what ? It works in bright sunlight. Guess what else ? It has a backlight so it can work in the dark (reading in bed without waking partner). Guess what else. It goes days or weeks on 2 x AAA.
    I have Compact flash or smartmedia expansion, so no realistic storage limit.

    eReader.com website offers me a book purchase ecosystem. (DRM is simple - I need to enter my credit card details as used to purchase the book when I first open it to read. I can freely share the book if I want but I'd have to share credit card details, which stops me uploading to a file sharing site).

    And I can read PDF's (Gutenberg) and offline web content.

    Can you read a book on a 3" square screen ? Hell yes.
    Depends what you are brought up with - I've met people who claim they "cannot" use a Word processor with

     

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  58.  
    identicon
    Geek, Jan 17th, 2010 @ 6:00am

    Swiss Army Knife and Smart Car

    A single device that excels at everything and has no shortcomings, sorry not going to happen. E-readers with e-ink with battery life of weeks and a display that looks like a page on a book cannot be replicated with color screen. The Kindle type device is unique for its application and survives as a stand alone.

    The tablets will have to fight the war with netbooks. Unlike an I-Phone or I-Touch that hangs on your belt or fits in your pocket, the tablet will have to fight for space in your briefcase with your netbook. For the pleasure of having a sleek looking tablet you give up your keyboard.

    The tablet reminds me of the Smart Car A product most will love to hate.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  59.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 17th, 2010 @ 8:31am

    Re:

    its pronounced Chee 'cuz its in Mandarin...and it cannot be pronounced 'any other way'...its chee, chee, chee...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  60.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 17th, 2010 @ 1:33pm

    If The Pope enjoys Mike's Jew Pizza, Will Steve Jobs be a fan?

    "To be clear, I've no influence in Cupertino, and the closest I've ever been to Steve Jobs was when I wore a black turtleneck skiing."

    What? All you need to do is sit back, order a pizza, call 996-1010 ask for Big Steve and invite him over for a big jewy pizza. Have you called him? You never call!

    The problem though is that Steve may be tipped off to you being a secret jew and the pizza would be real jewy. Imagine a pie with creme fraiche mixture as sauce, smoked salmon, sprinkled chopped onion, capers dill as toppings. After a slice, he'll have to navigate your questions more carefully than usual as your pizza may induce some weird symptoms such as nosiness, a tendency to meddle, a love for Barbra Streisand, pushiness, red onion breath and/or shpilkes in the geneckteckessoink. Don't be surprised if Steve has to consult his daughter, the doctor, before coming over.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  61.  
    identicon
    Steve, Jan 18th, 2010 @ 2:09am

    Re: the fear of a DRM'ed tablet

    Umm, please don't take this the wrong way but you seem to be making a mistake I see a lot on various tech blogs and that is that Apple makes devices for geeks. It really doesn't. Sure, OS X is very nice and their computers are superb bits of kit but for people who want the ultimate in flexibility you're better off with Windows or Linux. When you start looking at iPods and iPhones (and possibly iTablets as well) Apple are the only company really going after the consumer.

    Consumers, in this context, do not like computers. They like what they can do, they like being on the web, they like playing games but they don't like or (want to) understand the complexities of Windows, OS X or Linux. They don't need a desktop OS and all the power and flexibility it brings. They certainly can't be arsed with all the work that needs to go into securing and maintaining those systems. They are actually far better off with a locked down system that trades flexibility for security and simplicity. They are not, in short, geeks.

    This is the true step forward Apple made with the iPhone/iPod Touch - they delivered the first consumer-grade OS that worked. We've since seen Android and webOS come along and follow those same lessons. If (and it's a big IF) Apple launch a tablet along the same lines then us geeks need to remember it's not really targetted at us. Frankly, the tablet form factor in general isn't a geek-friendly one past the 'ohhh, cool!' reaction. We're better off with big screens, physical keyboards, lots of processor power and, of course, a ton of storage. The tablet market for 'traditional' users doesn't work, we know that from years of attempts with Windows-based systems, but as a consumer system? Well that might be a whole other story.

     

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  62.  
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    Jimr (profile), Jan 18th, 2010 @ 5:28am

    Just make the iPhone/iPod Touch with a large screen 8-10".

    With a good e-read application and tying the ebooks into iTunes would be a good thing, financially.

    A 8-10" iPhone/iPod (Wifi and 3G/4G access) with a bit beefier specs so it can easily support flash, GPS, and a dramatically increased video codex integration would be enough for me to drop some serious $ on it. And coming from the fine people at Mac I would expect not less then a top dollar price tag.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  63.  
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    Derek Kerton (profile), Jan 18th, 2010 @ 3:01pm

    Re: Re: Shifting models?

    Or read the XX,000 Techdirt articles, continuously published for free for 12 years.

    Or TV or Radio, continuously broadcast for free for decades and decades and decades.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  64.  
    identicon
    Ellen Barnes, Feb 3rd, 2010 @ 10:52am

    I found your blog on google and read a few of your other posts. I just added you to my reader.

    Compaq Presario CQ61-410US

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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