android

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Bill Loguidice's picture

The Amazon of iPads?

Amazon Fire tabletAmazon Fire tabletWell, the announcement that many of us have been waiting for has finally happened: Amazon is now into tablets. Besides updating their Kindle e-reader (e-ink) line with much-needed $79 (6" standard wi-fi, with ads) and $99 (6" touchscreen and wi-fi, with ads) models, placing them ever closer to "disposable", a la the paperbacks of the tablet hardcovers analogy, they also announced a 7" color tablet, the Kindle Fire, with reasonable specs for just $199.

While many were expecting downright gimped hardware, outside of the limited 8GB storage (this is mostly a cloud device), the dual core processor and reasonable resolution (1024x600@16mm colors) and battery life (~8 hours) say otherwise. The best part is the price and they'll seemingly have some flexibility with that as well going forward. As the TouchPad fiasco has shown, with the throngs clamoring for the $99 - $149 clear-outs, if you're going to go toe-to-toe with the iPad, you better come in with a fantastic price rather than comparable or even better specs. Now Amazon has positioned themselves ideally as a real iPad alternative, with a different form factor and the compelling narrative of Amazon services, which is about as close of a match as you'll get for the iTunes experience outside of, well, iTunes. I assume this will be a big success and will pave the way for a 10", premium tablet, which will in fact attempt to muscle in on the iPad's dominance. Even as an enthusiastic iPad 2 owner, I welcome the competition, and look forward to how this plays out. Frankly, while this won't have a major impact on the iPad's sales (at least for the foreseeable future), if I were a manufacturer of any other tablet, I'd be very scared right now. While the Kindle Fire is very much the embodiment of tablet-as-consumption device versus the productivity possibilities you have with the iPad or similarly powered Android tablets, it offers a truly viable option for those who don't need the latter, or simply want a device in-between their existing smartphone and 10" tablet. I have a feeling this will also impact the dedicated e-reader market, because the prices are really less than $100 apart if you consider the ad-free option from Amazon, but certainly the low end $79 model has room to drop even further. Once that hits $49, all bets are truly off, and there really would be little reason not to own one as your "tablet-lite" experience (with a focus on reading and outdoor usage) that you don't mind bringing to the beach. Good stuff!

Bill Loguidice's picture

The HP TouchPad Fiasco from an Author's Perspective and Comments on the Industry as a Whole

Here's a famous quote that sums up the reaction to yesterday's surprise announcement by HP to stop supporting webOS, and, by extension, the TouchPad tablet, as well as get out of the PC business, courtesy of the classic 1968 film, The Planet of the Apes: "YOU MANIACS! YOU BLEW IT UP! OH, DAMN YOU! GODDAMN YOU ALL TO HELL!". We all knew that Hewlett-Packard CEO Leo Apotheker was a software guy, we just didn't realize that meant he'd pull the rug out from under consumers and do a dramatic IBM-style business shift. At least we can still buy their printers, right? ... Anyone?

This affects me personally, because I was working on TouchPad For Dummies, which would have been my third book for 2011, to go along with the recently released, Motorola ATRIX For Dummies, and the upcoming, My Xbox: Kinect, Xbox 360, and Xbox LIVE. While these events are much bigger than me and others will be affected far more dramatically, I thought I would still give my personal impressions, starting first with a little background on the book stuff, some discussion of the TouchPad itself, and then get a bit more into an analysis of the present situation within the industry.

Bill Loguidice's picture

Back in my day we used something called a "desktop computer" that stayed in one place, and we liked it!

I had recently written about what I perceive to be the false notion of console gaming holding PC gaming back (and, frankly, with a recent release like L.A. Noire and future releases like Skyrim, again, it's hard to make that argument outside of a purely superficial (audio/visual) - not contentual - standpoint). Perhaps, as this new article puts forth, it's not consoles, but tablets, that the traditional PC industry has more to worry about?

Of course, as far as I'm concerned, we're actually still at least a few years off from that happening, at least until Apple breaks the required link between their iOS devices and a computer equipped with iTunes (and that's a question of "when", not "if"). Android devices are of course close to completely breaking free of the computer tether, but there are other issues for those classes of devices to overcome first. Other tablet OS's, present and future, are probably somewhere in-between the two.

Interestingly, there's a girl here at my day job who had bought an iPad 2 about a month back and then recently got an iPhone 4, but was frustrated that there was no way to copy what was on her iPad 2 (purchases) over to the iPhone 4. You see, she considers her computer horribly outdated and really didn't want to go through iTunes on her rickety old PC! Obviously, very flawed thinking, but it's very interesting what the non-techies have in their thought processes (and in this case how she wants to basically compute outside of work exclusively on the iPad 2 and iPhone 4)... Definitely a paradigm shift of some type! In any case, it's the old argument that it's not so much computers that are being challenged, it's the limited generalized definition of what a computer is that is being challenged. Does a computer really mean that desktop or laptop many of use a good portion of the day? Sure, but that's not all it means. As an iPad 2 user - outside of the tethering restriction for the occasional iTunes sync - I can argue that my tablet is as much of a computer as most desktops and laptops, with strikingly similar functionality (and in some cases, then some).

Ultimately, I think it's clear we're all headed to a connected eco-system of devices, where a lot of stuff is in the cloud, with minimal need for local storage. You'll simply use whatever device is handy or whatever is best suited to a particular task (say a touch screen or a keyboard). We even already have brilliantly functional cloud gaming services (and of course, VOD, like Netflix), so, outside of artificial bandwidth restrictions by ISP's, there's little reason to think that the future has anything to do with increasingly more powerful traditional computers. For some of us who have been in love with technology since our earliest memories, this is a tough sell, but it's hard to argue that's not where we're headed, and perhaps it's just as hard to argue that it's even a bad a thing. I'm sure even the most hardcore among us have tired of the upgrade/incompatibility/instability cycle at some point, if only briefly.

Matt Barton's picture

New Wiki Leaks Game for Android: Actually fun?

Tricky Leaks: More fun than controversialTricky Leaks: More fun than controversialDo you remember all the media furor over Wikileaks? Just when you thought it was over, Happy Monster Games has released TrickyLeaks, which you can also play for free in your browser. What's interesting is that the designer has actually ended up with a fun and playable game here, somewhat of a cross between the old pipe-connecting games and Tetris. Also, there's no actual Wiki leaks here; just some made-up stuff. Kinda disappointing; I was hoping for something that would have gamers somehow sifting through the actual leaks to find incriminating stuff. Anyway, check out the game and let me now what you think!

Bill Loguidice's picture

Any Motorola Atrix 4G/Android 2.2 users out there? Sound off!

Motorola Atrix 4G LapdockMotorola Atrix 4G LapdockI'll be able to reveal more details shortly, but I'll most likely be working on a Motorola Atrix 4G book very soon. As such, I'd love to hear from owners of the platform out there, including your good and bad experiences, what you think of the various docks - including the unique Lapdock that turns the phone into a laptop - etc. Since the phone runs Android 2.2, if you own a different device that runs that OS, I'd also love to hear about your experiences as well. Sound off in the comments below, or, if you'd prefer, send me a private e-mail. Thanks!

Bill Loguidice's picture

Motorola's Xoom - A Missed Opportunity in Honeycomb Tablets

As I'm sure many of you have seen by now, Motorola's Xoom commercial during the Superbowl attracted quite a bit of attention. For those who don't know, Motorola's Xoom is one of the first tablets to run Google's Android operating system specifically designed for tablets, Honeycomb. Previously, Android tablets were running a version of the operating system optimized for smartphones, not tablets, so the release of a true Honeycomb device is big news in that it's the first real competition for Apple's dominant iPad. Anyway, the commercial is Motorola's send up of Apple's famous 1984 Superbowl ad, which pitted a free thinking Apple against the oppressive dictatorship of IBM. Of course, Apple got the competitor wrong. It wasn't IBM, it was Microsoft, and it almost cost Apple its business if not for an improbable comeback in mobile devices. Ironically, Motorola has similarly misidentified its true competition. It's not Apple, it's other Honeycomb tablets. Just like what happened in smartphones, where Android devices have overwhelmed the market with devices and risen to a position of leadership despite a somewhat fragmented marketplace and at-manufacturer-will upgrade paths, the same scenario is likely to play out in tablets, with Apple carving out a dominant - but not market leading - niche all to itself in the long-term. Priced at $800 with a bizarre requirement for a minimum of one month of 3G data to "unlock" wi-fi, Motorola has seemingly done everything to cripple its otherwise impressive device right out of the gate.

As I've discussed multiple times, I've been practically begging for a Honeycomb tablet to capture my techno-lust before the iPad 2 comes out, but if we're going to see efforts like this in what is already a late bloomer in things like tablet-specific apps and developer support, I'm becoming more and more pessimistic such a scenario will happen. In fact, if these Honeycomb tablets don't start coming out in reasonable quantity and at more attractive price points relatively soon, it will take even longer for them to wrest away Apple's 90% market share in the segment, and we may even be entertaining ideas of not what happened with Apple versus Google in the smartphone market, but what happened with Apple versus everyone else in the portable music player market.

Check out Motorola's Superbowl ad below:

Bill Loguidice's picture

Google Android and Honeycomb Tablets as Vaporware - Only Apple Delivers with the iPad!

PCMag.com has a nice article by Tim Gideon, entitled, Apple Calls Android Tablets 'Vapor' - and It Isn't Just Hot Air. In it, Gideon makes the point that Apple's recent statements describing Google-based competitor tablets as essentially vaporware - meaning announced but not actually released - are not that far off from the reality. As you know, as a future tablet owner myself, I'm waiting for either the iPad 2 or any type of competing tablet with compelling enough features to lure me away, whichever comes first (or, more correctly, whichever is worth a reasonable amount of waiting time once the iPad 2 is available). The funny thing is, is that as much as the Android platform has its fans - and keep in mind this is coming from a previous iPhone 3G and now iPhone 4 owner - it is not a platform for the faint of heart. Criticize Apple all you want, but the one thing that they provide with their iOS devices (which they no doubt honed from years of similar "snobbery" on the Mac side) is a reasonable sense of cohesion and a reasonable chance that the latest updates will in fact work perfectly fine on your existing device. The downsides of a "walled garden" or not, there is nothing resembling reasonable standardization on the Android side, with some phones getting OS updates and some not, and some phones running, say, the latest games well, and others not.

Of course, the Android platform has many advantages and you would think an avowed tech geek such as myself would favor such an open and flexible platform since I've favored PC's for years over Mac's, but for me, phones, and, yes, tablets, are different beasts. I want them, like my videogame consoles, to just work, with minimal fuss. I don't think it's too much to ask that if I buy an Android device today, that I'll be guaranteed all future updates within a reasonable timeframe after they're available, and that all software will be compatible for a reasonable number of years before I upgrade again. Add to the fact that Android has not adapted well to being directly ported from phones to tablets, and there's no telling if Honeycomb (which IS far more optimized for tablets) will resolve any of the standardization issues, and you can't help but think that Apple's potshot may hold true for quite a bit longer.

Believe me, as a recent Google Chrome convert, I'd love nothing more than to get a Honeycomb tablet as a nice contrast to my iPhone 4, but I have a feeling that for better or worse, my phone will have an oversized i-buddy instead. Hope I'm wrong...

So, what are your thoughts on all of this? Sound off in the comments!

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