Why Apple Will Not Be Part Of The Real Tablet Revolution

from the but-still-hugely-profitable dept

You don't have to be a marketing genius or industry pundit to foresee that tablets will be an extremely hot sector in 2012. The launch of Apple's iPad in 2010 largely defined the category, just as the launch of the iPhone defined a new kind of smartphone in 2007; in 2012 we will probably begin to see Android tablets start to gain major market share just as Android smartphones have done this year.

Currently, the tablet is something of a cross between the hipster tech toy of choice and a trivially easy-to-use computing device for couch potatoes. But those early sectors are incidental to the tablet's real potential to revolutionize education, particularly in emerging economies.

The devices are perfect: they are compact, connect to the Net wirelessly, run off battery power for hours and can be used by children and adults alike with little or no training. There's just one problem, of course: the typical tablet's high-end pricing – hundreds of dollars – places it so far out of reach for most of the world's population that it might as well not exist for them. That is what makes India's Aakash tablet - basic cost around $50, but only $37 for Indian students thanks to a government subsidy – so remarkable, and so important.

Of course its specifications are somewhat limited compared to the iPad – 256M RAM, 2 GB Flash memory, 7" 800x480 pixel resistive touch screen – but that's not really the point. The key issue is whether it is good enough for the educational purposes governments around the world have in mind. For although the Aakash began as a project purely for India, it has been swiftly taken up by a number of other countries, as this fascinating feature about the creation of Aakash by the Canadian wireless device maker Datawind explains:

[Datawind's CEO] Suneet was invited to meet with Thailand’s Minister for Information Communications Technology (who was so interested in purchasing 10 million tablets that he attended their meeting even as flood waters descended on Bangkok). Calls arrived from Turkey (which wants 15 million tablets), Sri Lanka, Trinidad and Tobago, Panama and Egypt.
This gives an indication of the potential of the Aakash low-cost tablet: to provide portable computing devices and with them access to digital knowledge on a truly global scale. The feature also explains how exactly Datawind managed to produce a tablet for a tenth of the cost of an iPad:
Part of the difficulty in engineering such a device is that the underlying goal—that its final price should be within the means of those who can’t afford high-priced tablets—dictates crucial engineering and component decisions. A piece of high-impact-resistant glass, such as the touchscreen face of an iPad, can cost upward of $20. Datawind’s touchscreen glass, which the company had engineered down the street, costs less than $2, though it won’t allow for luxuries like pinch-and-zoom finger swiping. There were also compromises on processing power: Datawind’s 366 megahertz processor costs less than $5, a fraction of the $15-plus price tag on the chips that power iPads and other comparable tablets. And while the decision to run Google’s free Android mobile operating system on the gadget saves money, it requires coders to dig deep into the Linux kernel that underpins the software, tweaking it until it runs smoothly on Datawind’s weaker processor.
As that makes clear, one key ingredient in the design of the Aakash was Android – and hence free software. This meant that Datawind's software engineers were able to build on several years' work by Google – and two decades of coding by the Linux community – rather than starting from scratch.

It's a reminder that even if – as seems likely – Apple's iPad retains its highly-profitable hold on the upper end of the market, it will never be able to offer a model that is competitive with minimalist tablets built around free software at the bottom. And since it is precisely those ultra-cheap models that will be sold in their hundreds of millions, perhaps even billions one day, that means that the real tablet revolution – the one that will transform education in emerging economies and with it, their societies - will not be one in which Apple plays a major part, despite its early leadership here.

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  1.  
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    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Jan 13th, 2012 @ 3:58am

    Open Software, Open Hardware

    It’s not just that the software is Free, but also that the hardware is available from competitively-priced sources as well. Key to the cheapness of Android devices is that they run on ARM chips, which, unlike x86 ones, are available from dozens of suppliers.

    Further, if you ask Intel to supply x86 chips, it will ask what you want to do with them, and quote a price accordingly. This is to prevent you from using cheaper chips in devices that might cannibalize sales from more expensive ones. Whereas the suppliers of ARM chips can pull no such stunt, since they know you can always go to another supplier.

    Another interesting development is the Ainol tablet. This uses a MIPS chip, which the Chinese are quite fond of, instead of ARM. x86 chips ship about 350 million per year, while MIPS ships about 500 million, and ARM close to 3 times that. Which shows you how well back in the pack Intel is on volume.

    Sure, Intel makes far more profit than all the MIPS and ARM suppliers put together. But that just shows how precarious its position is: it can only lose sales to the higher-volume, lower-margin competitors, it cannot push into their markets without sacrificing its own fat profit margins.

    Not too dissimilar to the dilemma Apple faces from these low-priced competitors...

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2012 @ 3:59am

    Unless it has rounded corners (or somesuch IP nonsense)

    in which case - who cares if billions will not get the Aakash - if it has rounded corners Apple can try to block it.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2012 @ 4:10am

    The new one (Ubislate7) actually looks ok for what i'd use a tablet for, and the price didn't go up all that much either considering the upgrade.
    I'm a tablet sceptic, but at that price i think i'd actually pick one up even if it's just for the livingroom table to do imdb lookups in front of the tv or whatevs.

     

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  4.  
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    anonymous, Jan 13th, 2012 @ 4:21am

    biggest problems with Apple are greed and product restrictions. Apple products are vastly over-priced. buy something cheaper that does what you want. when it needs upgrading, not so much of a loss to replace then.

     

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  5.  
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    John Doe, Jan 13th, 2012 @ 4:26am

    And so history repeats itself

    Apple is repeating their own history by building a closed, expensive system while others build open, lower cost systems that are ultimately as good. Apple nearly went under last time, hopefully they can avoid that this time.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2012 @ 4:27am

    So you're making the call based on the OS? An OS that was proven to be non-secured (at least compared to ISO) with an App store that's non-secured (unlike Apple's App Store)? *sigh*

    While openness may be a helper, it won't down the line if every 50$ tablet gets exploited out of the box. No need to remind anyone that 25% of the Android exploits were found in the android store...

     

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    John Doe, Jan 13th, 2012 @ 4:37am

    Re:

    I was a tablet skeptic too but now I am sold. There are things the tablet can't do and that is what I will keep my laptop for, but the tablet form factor is great. My brother, who was sold on them day 1, wondered why I changed my mind. After thinking a bit, I realized the touch interface and the apps which customize the browsing to the tablet form factor is what makes it so useful.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2012 @ 4:40am

    Re: Re:

    I'm kinda leaning towards a silly big phone instead tbh (like the Samsung Galaxy Note (5 inch screen!)) i'm a fairly big guy so odds are that huge phone would just look normal sized for me =P

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2012 @ 4:41am

    Response to: Anonymous Coward on Jan 13th, 2012 @ 4:27am

    And we have our first Apple juice drinker. I guess you didn't get enough parenting as a child so now you need Steve Jobs to be your daddy? Try thinking for yourself.

     

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    John Doe, Jan 13th, 2012 @ 4:43am

    Re: Re: Re:

    I have the Motorola Droid X and love it. But the screen is too small for long term use. I can pop it up and check movie times, check email, Facebook and other stuff. But for my news reader or serious surfing I don't think any phone will cut it. Plus I have gone over that 40 year hump and am starting to get far sighted. I need a bigger screen or longer arms. :)

     

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    Richard (profile), Jan 13th, 2012 @ 4:44am

    Full Circle

    Remember that the trend to smaller devices started with OLPC - this is just the latest update.

     

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    Mark Murphy (profile), Jan 13th, 2012 @ 4:52am

    Re:

    It would help if you knew what you were talking about.

    An OS that was proven to be non-secured (at least compared to ISO)

    Citation, please.

    with an App store that's non-secured (unlike Apple's App Store)?

    In terms of being "secured", the iOS App Store and the Android Market are pretty similar. I am not aware of any significant hacks of the stores themselves.

    The iOS App Store is curated, meaning that all submissions are reviewed and must pass Apple standards before being listed. The Android Market is not curated, preferring to take an "innocent until proven guilty" approach.

    None of this especially matters in this case, as the tablet in question most likely does not qualify to have the Android Market, as I'm guessing that it does not pass the compatibility requirements. This is not saying that it is intrinsically a bad tablet, just that not all Android devices qualify for the Market.

    Moreover, part of Android's freedom is that others can create their own markets, as Amazon did. So, the fine folk creating and sponsoring this tablet could easily set up their own market, with whatever rules they choose. You cannot do that with iOS, outside of jailbreaking.

    it won't down the line if every 50$ tablet gets exploited out of the box

    And your evidence that they will be "exploited out of the box" is... what, exactly?

    No need to remind anyone that 25% of the Android exploits were found in the android store...

    Citation, please.

     

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    John Doe, Jan 13th, 2012 @ 4:55am

    Re: Full Circle

    I would say smartphones predate OLPC and were the precursor to smaller devices.

     

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    Richard (profile), Jan 13th, 2012 @ 4:56am

    Re:

    While openness may be a helper, it won't down the line if every 50$ tablet gets exploited out of the box. No need to remind anyone that 25% of the Android exploits were found in the android store...

    Many exploits are only a problem to those who have foolish business models.

    One man's "exploit" is another man's cool idea.

     

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    Richard (profile), Jan 13th, 2012 @ 5:03am

    Re: Re:

    What you did was to conflate to very different security issues.

    1) Defending the user (physical possessor) of the device against malware.

    2) Defending the business interests of the supplier AGAINST the user.

    Open source software has historically been FAR more secure with respect to issue 1 - and there is no reason to expect that to change.

    Open source software CANNOT provide any real security with respect to issue 2 - but then - no one in his right mind cares a fig about issue 2.

     

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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Jan 13th, 2012 @ 5:03am

    Re: Re:

    There have been malicious programs found and pulled from the Android store. But that's nothing new with an operating system; Apple has had it's share of pulled malicious apps and drive by attacks.

     

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    Richard (profile), Jan 13th, 2012 @ 5:04am

    Re: Re: Full Circle

    The question is whther a tablet is a small PC or a big smartphone. I think we can agree to disagree on that one.

     

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    abc gum, Jan 13th, 2012 @ 5:07am

    What did I just read?
    Was that an advertisement?

     

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    Richard (profile), Jan 13th, 2012 @ 5:07am

    Re: Re: Full Circle

    I would say smartphones predate OLPC and were the precursor to smaller devices.

    How can a device be "a precursor of smaller devices" when it is smaller than the device it is precursor to?

    At best it could be regarded as a precursor to larger devices (which are nonetheless smaller than some other devices that were already around).

     

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  20.  
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    Rich Kulawiec, Jan 13th, 2012 @ 5:10am

    Don't forget the security impact of DRM

    Any system that includes DRM is pre-compromised at the design stage. No matter what's done in the implementation and deployment, that's an irreversible step. (If it isn't clear why this is true, then think about what DRM actually is and how it works.)

    Relevance here? Operating systems that include DRM cannot be secured, period, full stop. Operating systems that do not include DRM at least have a fighting chance -- although of course, we can debate just how large or small that chance is.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2012 @ 5:12am

    Re:

    Talking about Android and Linux exploits aren't exactly the same thing as talking about ISO exploits. If I had the knowledge and the will I could read about an exploit, fix it, submit my fix, and it has a chance of shutting down that hole for everyone. Google may or may not pick it up, but there is a second shot the vendors might even if they don't. With Apple, every exploit found could live there for years, and no one but Apple can do anything about it whenever they feel like getting to it. As for the App store bit, that's not exactly a fair comparison. For comparison, Apple runs a brick and mortar store; they rigorously vet things they decide to sell in their store, and after thought they decide if it's something that meets the requirements of what they are trying to sell, if it doesn't, to bad so sad, you can't sell there. Google on the other hand runs a Market, sign up and you get a booth for a fee, anything you wanna sell is okay by them until you are caught breaking the law, and then just like a market they'll ask you to leave your stall and probably inform the cops. Stores are nice because you know exactly what you're getting, Markets are nice because sometimes you find things that don't have enough mainstream appeal for stores to carry. You can't really compare the two.

     

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  22.  
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    John Doe, Jan 13th, 2012 @ 5:16am

    Re: Re: Re: Full Circle

    An Android phone and an Android tablet are effectively the same thing now (same with iPhone, iPad) except the tablet doesn't make phone calls. Well, it can actually with Skype or similar app. So the lines are very blurred now.

    Wait until Windows 8 when, if we believe MS, they will unify their OS across devices. Now you will have a phone that really is a full computer. Dock it with a tablet and dock the tablet with a keyboard and you have a computer that is a phone with you everywhere you go.

    This is where Motorola missed the boat. People don't want to turn their tablets into laptops, they want to turn their phones into tablets and then the tablet into a laptop. How powerful will that be? By the way, I am patenting that idea since you can apparently patent ideas these days.

    This is why I think Windows 8, if MS can pull it off, may dominate the phone and tablet world like they do the desktop/laptop world. You will have a phone/tablet/laptop that can run apps, browser and MS Office applications. One device to rule them all.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2012 @ 5:17am

    Re: Re:

    And on reading through that, I muddled some of the language up.. but you should get the jist of it.

     

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    lavi d (profile), Jan 13th, 2012 @ 5:40am

    So What

    that means that the real tablet revolution ... will not be one in which Apple plays a major part...

    I don't think Apple will mind - they (and Microsoft) will just sue all the Android device makers and programmers to make up the difference.

     

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  25.  
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    xenomancer (profile), Jan 13th, 2012 @ 5:46am

    Re: Unless it has rounded corners (or somesuch IP nonsense)

    don't forget it has an "on button" too

     

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  26.  
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    mac84, Jan 13th, 2012 @ 5:48am

    Apple can't compete?

    Nah. By the time these ultra crippled cheap tablets gain any traction the price point will have dropped on the Apple high end hardware and it will be low end. Think ipod nano.

     

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    EF, Jan 13th, 2012 @ 5:56am

    Taking a bite out of the apple

    Glyn, Your reasoning is plausible, if not insightful.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2012 @ 6:20am

    " Think ipod nano. "

    At over 100.00 US ?

    That's a LOW price point ?

    Maybe for the 1% :P

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2012 @ 6:46am

    Re:

    "An OS that was proven to be non-secured (at least compared to ISO) with an App store that's non-secured (unlike Apple's App Store)? *sigh*"

    http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9221615/Researcher_plants_rogue_app_in_Apple_s_App _Store

    It gets better in the second page.

     

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  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2012 @ 6:47am

    Re:

    "An OS that was proven to be non-secured (at least compared to ISO) with an App store that's non-secured (unlike Apple's App Store)? *sigh*"

    http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9221615/Researcher_plants_rogue_app_in_Apple_s_App _Store

    It gets better in the second page.

     

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  31.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2012 @ 6:49am

    Re:

    Which 1% are you talking about? The 1% of the douche bags out there than think that Apple products are superior to every other product and that Steve Jobs is now reigning in heaven? Or that 1% that OWS came up with that should be more along the lines of the 25% because people that are making about $75,000 or more don't give a crap about same things that people making $25,000 or even $50,000 do. Or maybe it should be the 3% because the people making $150,000 don't give a crap about $100 for a device or about what people making less than $150,000 care about. Etc, etc, etc.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2012 @ 7:05am

    Only problem with resistive touch screens is there use. Obviously educational tablets aren't targeting for fancy multi touch amazing gestures, but some gestures would be nice. Swiping on a resistive screen is ridiculous.

     

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    ChronoFish (profile), Jan 13th, 2012 @ 7:11am

    Re: And so history repeats itself

    Except that Jobs isn't around this time to save them.

    -CF

     

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    John Doe, Jan 13th, 2012 @ 7:41am

    Re: Re: And so history repeats itself

    No, but Microsoft is. ;)

     

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    el_segfaulto (profile), Jan 13th, 2012 @ 8:18am

    Re: Re: Unless it has rounded corners (or somesuch IP nonsense)

    I don't think you realize the millions of man-hours, research and development, and wrong leads that had to be taken in order to create that "on" button. You act as though it were a simple idea. And don't even get me started on the genius of rounded corners!

    /sarc

     

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    Hephaestus (profile), Jan 13th, 2012 @ 8:20am

    Re: Re: And so history repeats itself

    That and they are going down the litigation route to block competitors. Which history shows to be the beginning of the end for companies.

     

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  37.  
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    DH's Love Child (profile), Jan 13th, 2012 @ 8:36am

    Re: Re:

    Well, the average income according to this article http://costoftaxcuts.com/richer-poorer/ of the 99% is $58,506, and the 1% average income is $1,370,662.

    I can tell you that my family's income is in that ballpark, and $100 for a toy is too much. I see that $100 as:

    7% of my rent
    my electric bill
    2 month's internet
    25% of my grocery budget

    I could go on, but the point is for a lot of us $100 is a big f***ing deal.

     

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    MrWilson, Jan 13th, 2012 @ 8:38am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Yet very few of the malicious apps were heavily downloaded considering the number of Android users out there. The AC said "if every 50$ tablet gets exploited out of the box," but the malicious apps that were removed weren't all at the top of the downloads list. A lot were obscure pointless wallpaper apps and horroscope apps and the like. Not to mention that despite the openness of the Android Market, the user still has to choose what to install. These apps follow the vampire principle - they only get in if you invite them in, so it's not like the devices are just being hijacked without action on the part of the user. Another way of looking at it is to say that Apple thinks it's users are too stupid to make their own decisions.

     

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    sarvinc (profile), Jan 13th, 2012 @ 8:49am

    The *Real* Tablet Revolution

    I have a lot of respect for Glyn Moody and in general appreciate the writing (please don't take this as a personal attack), but this post comes of as pandering to the Android/Anti-Apple audience. It's not clear, to me, exactly what is meant by the "real" tablet revolution. If it's tablets that cost ~$100 then one has to ask; when did you think the "real" computer revolution occurred? I would argue that it occured in the 60s well before prices reached the three-digit level. I lean towards the argument that Apple started the tablet revolution. By this I mean that tablets went largely unsold and un-appreciated before Apple released the iPad.

    I also take issue with "[Apple] will never be able to offer a model that is competitive with minimalist tablets built around free software at the bottom [...]" I think if anyone could Apple *could* compete at the bottom, efficiencies of supply chain etc., but they've shown time and time again that they don't *want* to compete at the bottom. I think the opposite is true; most manufacturers would love to compete at the *top* but cannot do so.

    Which brings me to another question; why are we making a comparison with Apple? It seems more appropriate to make a comparison with Motorla, Barnes and Nobles, Samsung or Amazon. Do we consider them to be competing at the lower end (note: not the bottom)? None of these manufacturers (yes Apple included) can compete at the sub $100 level.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2012 @ 9:26am

    Re: Re: Re: And so history repeats itself

    Really? citation needed. Companies have litigated against people stealing their intellectual property for hundreds of years. I think the only examples that you will be able to come up with are companies that were in trouble before they started litigation - Apple is the most valuable Tech company in the world.

     

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    Nastybutler, Jan 13th, 2012 @ 9:37am

    Re: Re: Re:

    There have been malicious programs found and pulled from the Android store. But that's nothing new with an operating system; Apple has had it's share of pulled malicious apps and drive by attacks.

    That goes back to Mr. Murphy's point of "The Android Market is not curated, preferring to take an 'innocent until proven guilty' approach."

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2012 @ 9:40am

    Re: Re: Re:

    What you did was to conflate to very different security issues.

    What you did was to conflate "two" with "to."

     

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    lfroen (profile), Jan 13th, 2012 @ 9:54am

    Yea, and BMW won't be part of "car revolution"

    Obviously only Fiat and Skoda produces "real cars", all others are oh-so-overpriced.
    And look - BMW have "closed" design! You can't just buy no-name made-in-somewhere-in-china engine and put it there. Obviously they will go broke any moment soon. Sounds familiar?

    So, cut this anti-Apple bullshit. They chose to target high-end market segments, in phones, computers and tablets. It doesn't make iPhone or MacBook less "real" or "not part of ...".

     

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    PrometheeFeu (profile), Jan 13th, 2012 @ 10:42am

    All that I read is that for an extra $30 or so, they could vastly improve the capabilities of their device. If they make such a device for under $100, I guarantee I will buy two!

     

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    Zangetsu (profile), Jan 13th, 2012 @ 10:57am

    Revolution vs. Evolution

    The tablet revolution occurred and Apple led the charge. The changes mentioned by Glyn Moody represent an evolution of the tablet. Many people tried in the past to create a tablet market and all of them failed. Apple didn't. Indeed, without Apple as the revolutionary in this market I don't believe that you would have the Aakash tablet in it's present form.

    Mike has talked repeatedly about how people build on other people's success in order to build something new. I will be the first to tell you that in it's individual pieces the iPad is not revolutionary. What it did do, however, was bring those pieces together in a revolutionary format. Since the iPad came out people have been trying to replicate that success. They should be trying to come up with their own formula based on what Apple has done, but, sadly, many companies would like to replicate instead of innovate.

    While the Aakash tablet appears to be a "good deal" for those that cannot afford an iPad, it is hardly revolutionary. Lower quality screen, lower speed processor, less RAM, etc., all seem to indicate that it is an iPad imitator, not a revolutionary. I am not saying that being an iPad imitator is bad, as they obviously have a specific target demographic in mind and they are very successful within that demographic. What I am saying is that they are not the table revolution. That has already come. They may be the start of the revolution in Education, but not the Tablet.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2012 @ 11:00am

    Re: Re: Re: Unless it has rounded corners (or somesuch IP nonsense)

    Before the *geniuses* at apple invented the curve, using a tablet was an experience fraught with danger. The razor sharp square corners could slice your hands clean off given the slightest slip whilst using the device.
    Then the great thinkers at the revolutionary fruit company made the most epic breakthrough! They applied the apple curve(tm) to the corners of the tablet!!!!! Thanks to their truly unique brilliance, using a tablet is now safe.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2012 @ 11:14am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: And so history repeats itself

    Apple is the most valuable Tech company in the world.


    If you mean current monetary value in terms of market capitalisation and cash in the bank, then yes.
    If you mean valuable to humanity, then it would be a resounding no. Trying to lock up broad concepts and producing closed and limited platforms is not beneficial to our progress.

     

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  48.  
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    Michael Long (profile), Jan 13th, 2012 @ 12:17pm

    Re:

    "Apple products are vastly over-priced."

    This, again? No the problem is that hardly anyone else out there can beat Apple's prices with a comparable product.

    How much is an unlocked tier one Android smartphone vs an unlocked iPhone? How much is the subsidized price? Why is it that all of the manufacturers who are making "ultrabooks" are in the same price range -- if not more expensive -- than the Air?

    Why is it that anyone that wants to undercut Apple's over-priced iPad is forced to use smaller screens, smaller batteries, and cheaper components?

    Sorry. Build to the same quality level as Apple, and your retail price will be just as high... if not higher.

    "...buy something cheaper that does what you want. when it needs upgrading..."

    False economy. Apple devices have much, much higher resale values than do ones from Dell, HP, HTC, or anyone else.

    It's rare if I can't sell my old Apple whatsit for 50% of what I paid for it, and then put that money down on a new one. In fact, I sold my iPad 1 and my last two iPhones for the same price I paid for them, making each upgrade... let's see, subtract, carry the one... right.

    Making each upgrade FREE.

     

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  49.  
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    DH's Love Child (profile), Jan 13th, 2012 @ 1:26pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: And so history repeats itself

    SCO, for a start. Kodak for another.

     

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  50.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2012 @ 1:50pm

    Re: Re:

    For desktops comparably equipped systems from non-apple vendors are usually several hundred dollars less. It's categorically wrong to say that Apple is built to a different 'quality level' because the internals are often exactly the same. It is absolutely correct to say Apple is over-priced in this market.

    For ultrabooks/Air this is a false comparison at best. We are talking about a market, after all, that is explicitly about consumers who value the aesthetics and portability of their device over the performance. There are non-ultrabooks with similar hardware specs that don't have slick external designs and aren't as easy to carry around that are considerably cheaper. This is what is meant when it is said that the Air is overpriced, it's the same thing that is meant when it is said that ultrabooks are overpriced. Apples to Apples (pun intended) ultrabooks offer similar specs, portability, and design asthetics and Apple still sells their Air at a fair margin higher. The ASUS UX31E for example sells for a few hundred dollars less than the base model of the Air 13 and offers similar or slightly better performance and the Acer S3-951-6432 at ~$1200 compares favorably to a similarly speced Air 13 at ~$1600. These are not insignificant differences and there is no 'build quality' reason why apple would command this kind of price difference in these examples.

    For phones I would generally agree that Apple is not overpriced. The top tier of phones this generation all sport similar hardware (although often using it in very different ways). The 4s certainly isn't overpriced compared to contemporaries from Samsung, HTC, or LG for example.

    If you managed to get the same price you paid for an iPad 1 and an iPhone you either didn't pay full retail or you ripped someone off, possibly both. If I had to guess the most likely scenario is that you bought them used and sold them not too long after relative to the average replacement cycle i.e. significantly less than 2 years. That's hardly indicative of their resale values in general. A 2 year old iPhone 3Gs with average wear and tear looses well over 50% of its value in that 2 year period, for example, and that's the normal amount of time someone is going to have the device. Furthermore this resale percentage isn't significantly different from non iOS devices over the same period.

     

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  51.  
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    Richard (profile), Jan 13th, 2012 @ 2:46pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    whoops - finger trouble - no edit option sadly

     

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  52.  
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    Richard (profile), Jan 13th, 2012 @ 3:06pm

    Re: Apple can't compete?

    Cheapest Apple ipod is still 4X price of cheapest "no name" equivalent. What do you think all those billions of people on less than $5k per year will buy?

     

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  53.  
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    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Jan 13th, 2012 @ 3:10pm

    Re: Apple can't compete?

    Ipod Nano? With no screen? You think that’s a good product strategy for a tablet?

     

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

  54.  
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    Michael Long (profile), Jan 13th, 2012 @ 3:12pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Since the vast majority of Apple's "desktops" sold are all-in-one iMacs, let's take a look: The base model 21" i5 at $1199 is "comparable" with a HP Omni 220xt series at $950 once you upgrade a few specs (i5, graphics). However it still lacks a metal enclosure (HP sports metal "trim"), a HD webcam, FW/800, Thunderbolt, and optical audio in/out. Apple is missing Bluray. Still, pretty close.

    You ignore the Air/Ultrabook comparison, insisting that it's "false", though everyone from Dell to Samsung are dropping the netbooks everyone stopped buying in order to jump on the Air bandwagon. (And went to Intel trying to get processor price drops so they could "compete".)

    And the UX31E retails at $1099 vs $1299, a difference of about 15%. Build quality? Everyone to a T complains about the keyboard and trackpad. The Acer's build quality? Let's just say that I think you need to read a few reviews about that one.

    And just a hint: Ultrabooks are not "overpriced" to those who do in fact value aesthetics and portability. (I have a MBP, not an Air.) Some people value fine tools. Others don't mind if they're toting cheap plastic bricks, as long as they work. To each their own.

    Phones? You agreed. iPad? You ignored.

    As to reselling, nope, everything was new when I bought them. And in fact I probably could have sold the iPad for more than I paid for it, but I decided not to rip people off. Being smart about what you buy also means being smart about when to buy, and when to sell.

    And just to pick apart your 3GS example, they're selling on Amazon, used, for about $200 in good condition. If you bought one subsidized through your carrier, as most people do, you probably paid $199-$299. $199-$200=??? 'Nuff said.

    Still, I think this puts the lie to first comment. In some cases Apple may still be the premium product, but they're far from being "vastly" overpriced, and the more you move from the computer space to the consumer space, the more competitive they get.

     

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  55.  
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    Michael Long (profile), Jan 13th, 2012 @ 3:59pm

    Re: Re:

    "If I had the knowledge and the will..."

    'Nuf said. Puts in with the vast majority of people who are only going to use that which has been provided to them.

     

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

  56.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2012 @ 5:35pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Just a hint: I never said ultrabooks or the Air were 'overpriced' to those who do in fact value aesthetics and portability. What I actually said was that people who didn't value those things said they were overpriced precisely because they only valued specs. It's was a defense of the market niche, not a critique of it, which you incorrectly interpreted as hostile. I also ignored the iPad because I honestly don't follow the tablet market closely enough to comment on it.

    HP Omni vs. iMac 21":
    There's no difference in i5 that I can see. The graphics in the Mac are better. IEEE 1394, thunderbolt, and optical audio IO are all niche offerings that the average user is never going to use and even a power user is probably not going to use all of. I think you're significantly underestimating the cost of a blu-ray player and a license to playback blu-ray movies (it's well over $100 just for the player). Last but not least this particular model of HP is on sale with a free upgrade to 6GB ram. Right now it's only $739.99 base. The iMac is obviously still $1199 base. Will the competition always be on sale? Probably not but I think this is as effective an illustration as any that there are more frequent sales on PCs and they can carry steeper discounts.

    I didn't ignore the Air/Ultrabook comparison and you address the examples I used to address that comparison so I don't know why you'd open with that. With apple still in the mid teens on marketshare I wouldn't say 'everyone stopped buying in order to jump on the Air bandwagon' either. I also never said there were no build quality differences between the ASUS, the Acer, and the Mac just that build quality alone doesn't account for the price differences in either case.

    You ripped off anyone you sold a used product too at the retail price (unless you didn't pay full retail that is). Period. These devices did not appreciate in value while you owned them. You can sugar coat that by calling it 'being smart about when to sell' if it makes you feel better.

    Just to pick apart you Amazon example they actually list at $148 and up (used - very good condition) and $189 and up (unlocked - used - very good condition) so 'about $200' is a fudge of 33% in the first case. Furthermore they're a lot more than $199-299 subsidized through a carrier, that's just what you pay up front. The unsubsidized ones are actually cheaper. SO the Apples to Apples comparison in this case is the unsubsized price for an unlocked 3Gs with the used price of an unlocked 3Gs. It's far more than 50% less if you had the phone and used it for any significant length of time.

    Apple uses their niche as a boutique software developer primarily focused on slick UI building (and there UIs could rightly be called works of art in many cases) to leverage higher prices on hardware. If you like their operating systems this is possibly worth it for you. If you like their operating systems and hardware aesthetics it's almost certainly worth it to you. For those that are indifferent to both they're overpriced. As with everything were the bast majority of the price differences are locked up in intangibles like 'aesthetics' it's all in the eye of the beholder. I would remind you again though that when most people say they're overpriced they're talking spec for spec since that's what those people tend to care about. I don't know anyone who would say Apple is overpriced once you get beyond spec for spec comparisons.

     

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  57.  
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    Paul Hobbs (profile), Jan 13th, 2012 @ 5:54pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Unless it has rounded corners (or somesuch IP nonsense)

    Let's not forget all the people who suffered lacerated mouths from square apples as well (before Apple figured out a way to make them round-ish). Thank you Apple for making it safe to eat an apple.

     

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

  58.  
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    TtfnJohn (profile), Jan 13th, 2012 @ 7:09pm

    Re: The *Real* Tablet Revolution

    Apple is perceived as both the market leader in tablets and the company that made them acceptable as a consumer device. Not to mention the sales leader. Like it or not Apple is what everything is compared to.

    The question is more "is Apple interested in the market Datawind is? My answer is that I doubt it. Still, major movers and shakers in the computer market made OLPC's rather short life miserable.

    Invariably there will be nits to be picked about where Datawind has cut back to make these things affordable in some of the poorest parts of the world but at least they're trying to do something there. Android is a sufficiently proven OS to make it more than viable for this use and because it's open source, it makes it easier to customers and countries to modify the code for their own use and purposes. In that final sense it makes it more valuable to places like India and Bangladesh. India, at least, is overflowing with coders now who can tackle problems quickly and efficiently.

    So Kudos to Datawind for what they've come up with. The comparison is inevitable as it paved to way to make what Datewind is hoping to bring to market acceptable in markets Apple's not the slightest bit interested in but due to the iPad there is an interest in tablets.

     

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  59.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2012 @ 7:31pm

    IBM...Microsoft...Apple...

     

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

  60.  
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    sarvinc (profile), Jan 13th, 2012 @ 9:37pm

    Re: Re: The *Real* Tablet Revolution

    I agree with pretty much everything you've said except for"The comparison [with Apple] is inevitable [...]" I would addend "Shoddy journalism makes it inevitable." One of the points I'm making is that no one compares Mercedes-Benz with Tata's Nano. There's a reason; it makes no sense what-so-ever to make that comparison. They are competing in completely different markets. Apple is mentioned not because it's inevitable to make the comparison but because the mentioning Apple draws page views and it amounts to link-bait.

     

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  61.  
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    sarvinc (profile), Jan 13th, 2012 @ 9:42pm

    Re:

    You just mentioned three hugely successful companies. Why? I'm guessing you're point is that no one stays on top forever. I think that's something we all know.

     

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  62.  
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    sarvinc (profile), Jan 13th, 2012 @ 9:48pm

    Re: Unless it has rounded corners (or somesuch IP nonsense)

    I'd be pretty surprised if Apple even notices Akash. I'd be more worried about Microsoft wanting a cut of purchase fee. http://www.microsoft.com/Presspass/press/2012/jan12/01-12LGPR.mspx

     

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  63.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 14th, 2012 @ 4:40am

    What I see is another country developing the means to produce utlra cheap hardware that can come back to bite other players in that market that means Apple, Microsoft, Intel, AMD and others, if they don't cater to that market they could find themselves in dire straights in the future.

     

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  64.  
    identicon
    abc gum, Jan 14th, 2012 @ 8:43am

    Re: Open Software, Open Hardware

    Microsoft confirms UEFI fears, locks down ARM devices

    http://www.softwarefreedom.org/blog/2012/jan/12/microsoft-confirms-UEFI-fears-locks-down- ARM/

    Open = good
    Lockdown = bad

     

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  65.  
    identicon
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Jan 14th, 2012 @ 4:29pm

    Re: Open Software, Open Hardware

    I’m not too fussed about that, because Microsoft has very little presence on ARM devices, and I don’t see any new ones making a big difference to that. After 18 months, I think we can clearly say that Windows Phone has been a flop (even Samsung’s proprietary Bada platform has been outselling it!), and Windows 8 is just a merger of Windows Phone with desktop Windows, with no discernible reason for doing so.

    ARM devices that ship with Android have also been locked down, but that hasn’t prevented their users from hacking them into running custom Android builds, or even other varieties of Linux. To the point where some vendors have noticed that it is actually a selling point to ship unlocked, or at least easily-unlockable, devices.

    So as usual, Microsoft is fighting yesterday’s battle, while the world moves on.

     

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

  66.  
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    Michael Long (profile), Jan 16th, 2012 @ 8:21am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "As with everything were the bast majority of the price differences are locked up in intangibles ... when most people say they're overpriced they're talking spec for spec since that's what those people tend to care about."

    Spec for spec? Intangible? Apple offers DisplayPort and FW and Thunderbolt. Apple uses precision milled CNC computer bodies when most everyone else uses metal frames covered in plastic. Apple uses custom motherboards when nearly everyone else uses the cheapest possible reference design.

    Apple uses custom ASICs and controllers and higher quality caps and other parts. Apple was the among the first to standardize on IPS-based screens. Apple uses better fans and better thermal design (Steve was a bit of a nut on this) so that their computers run quietly, if not silently.

    Apple was one of the first to use custom-formed and sized LiPo batteries and custom controllers to maximize battery life and increase the number of recharge cycles.

    Then there's MagSafe, custom power supplies, illuminated keyboards, magnetic latches, ambient light level sensors, HD cams, and more.

    All of those things add up, and all of those things are why Apple notebooks are consistently rated at the top of their class, are consistently rated as the most reliable, and are consistently at the top of practically every consumer satisfaction survey.

    Spec for spec? All because two different computers use the same Intel chip?That's a laugh.

     

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  67.  
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    Michael Long (profile), Jan 16th, 2012 @ 8:36am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "You ripped off anyone you sold a used product too at the retail price..."

    At the time, other people were selling $600 used iPads for $800 and $1,000 and more. I also take very good care of my toys. The iPad was immaculate. I decided to offer it for the $600 I paid for it and drop the price if need be after a day. Wasn't listed for more than an hour. The buyer was ecstatic, and gave me a great review.

    With a happy buyer and seller, who was "ripped off" again?

    "Just to pick apart you[r] [sic] Amazon example... Furthermore they're a lot more than $199-299 subsidized through a carrier, that's just what you pay up front."

    You buy a cell phone subsidized, you pay a contract. You buy it unsubsidized, you pay the same rates. So my "up front" cash paid, over and above the contract, was $299. Sold for $200, again, immaculate, after one year. (That one was to Gazelle.)

    Regardless, I've sold enough Apple gear, and Dell gear, and HP gear, to know that the Apple gear has consistently higher resale value. (Actually, there have been a few Dells and HPs I had to give away. No buyers.)

     

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  68.  
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    Michael Long (profile), Jan 16th, 2012 @ 8:51am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    There are also the multitouch glass trackpads that are practically the envy of anyone that uses one.

    And then there's the non-so-minor issue about using a machine that's not plastered with cheap Intel-Inside, Nvidia-Inside, and Windows-Inside stickers.

    You can go down the list and simply say: Keyboard? Check. Trackpad? Check?

    But the difference in HOW they're made is the difference between a machine that works and is a joy to use, and a computer that's little more than an exercise in frustration.

    And that's a "spec" usually not listed on the chart...

     

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  69.  
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    Michael Long (profile), Jan 16th, 2012 @ 8:59am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Oh, and just to be fair, any Windows box pricing had better include the upgrade price for Windows "Ultimate" Edition, as every OSX box ships with the one and only full version of OSX.

    You might add in the required annual Anti-Virus subscription too...

    (Sorry for the subsequent posts. Using this as the basis for an article.)

     

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  70.  
    identicon
    Carl Morris, Jan 18th, 2012 @ 3:17am

    language

    Importantly, the free software benefits of Android include language choices.

    The iPad, and Apple in general, have an abysmal record of supporting different languages on their software. And it's very difficult to contribute a localisation even if you want to.

     

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


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