Sep 292011

I’m surprised it took this long for the first “how the Amazon Fire is better than the iPad” post to be expectorated onto the interwebs. I thought the wait would be spent on authors coming up with myriad reasons that the touched-by-barely-anyone tablet would be better than Apple’s dominant entry, but alas, ExtremeTech (no linkage for flametards) could find only 5. Five separate pages to maximize page impressions, obviously.

1. Amazon has more content

Touting something like 18 million discrete, downloadable or streamable songs, movies, and TV shows, Amazon definitely has a comparable amount of content to iTunes — but when you factor in e-books and magazines, Kindle Fire simply stomps Apple into the ground.

Having more books should be an Apple-pulp-smashing game-changer, all right. I mean: Amazon’s 7″ multi-touch IPS display with 1024x600p resolution at 169 ppi just screams to have books read on it. Didn’t they even make a commercial about it? And that full 8GB of space will allow users to jam their Fires full of the media that it can’t stream when it’s out of range of WiFi. And isn’t there a Kindle app for the iPad?

2. Portability; Kindle Fire fits in your pocket

The Kindle Fire is just 4.7 inches (120mm) wide — skinny enough to fit in your pants pocket or purse — and the iPad 2 is 7.3 inches (185mm), far too big for anything other than always-in-your-hand, or in a proper bag.

Reason number 2 is that it’s smaller? This has to be some kind of slideshow 60-0 braking record. And check this shit out:

Fits...*uhh**grunt*...your...*hmmph*...POCKET! /exhale

I mean: why even use that image? When people think “fits in your pocket”, people aren’t thinking “1/6 of the devices can be lodged in your back pocket with a shoehorn”.

3. Cost; Kindle Fire is less than half the price of the iPad

This is the clincher: the Kindle Fire is $199, and the lowest, “equivalent” iPad is $500.

Got me there. It does cost less. I may have taken the wrong message away from Bezos’ introduction of the Fire, but I think that was the point.

 4. Comfort; You can use the Kindle Fire with one hand

/checks reason 2.

I guess we’re trying to separate the quantitative from the qualitative here.

The Kindle Fire, on the other hand, can be gripped in a single hand *as opposed to the hundreds of documented emergency room visits by people attempting this with an iPad* — you can grasp both the left and right edges with thumb and forefinger *??*, it has softer (plastic) *just in case you thought the Fire was using some kind of soft metal, balsa or talc* edges, and it’s even grabably chubby *there’s something that ends in “that’s what she said” here* (11.4mm vs. 8.8mm for the iPad 2). As a result, you can easily whip your Fire (that name is going to get old soon) out of your back pocket *with assistance*, comfortably read or watch something on the train (even while standing up and holding a rail!) *because you can use one hand, GET IT?!*, and then pocket again *with help from a stranger* when you alight *writer’s workshop word alert* at the station.

5. Web; Amazon Silk will blow Mobile Safari away

If I twack you in the balls with both hands like this, you're going down. I'm just saying.

Not only is the Kindle Fire a cloud-backed OS — everything you do, download, or watch is mirrored with the cloud — but it also has a browser that promises to redefine mobile surfing. For the most part, Mobile Safari and Android’s stock browser are just cut-down versions of a desktop browser. The Fire’s browser, Amazon Silk, is a brand new re-imagining of what a mobile browser can be.

I’ve already commented that I’m impressed with how Amazon is leveraging its EC2 presence with its browser, but let’s not get carried away. First of all, the iPad trounces the Fire’s RAM and processor, so it’s not like the comparison started off even to begin with. Second, Apple created WebKit – the engine that powers a bunch of different browsers, including the Fire’s – so I think the iPad’s implementation is going to be about as good as it can be done. Let’s see how a side-by-side comparison between the two shakes out before we declare a winner. There’s also that small issue of Amazon having to know everything you browse in order to serve up whatever speed benefits are realized. I’m sure no one will have a problem with that.

The Fire costs less than the iPad – that much is obvious. Saying that the Fire “beats” the iPad stinks of the kind of linkbait bullshit I’ve come to expect after the announcement of something resembling an Apple product. Regurgitating Amazon’s marketing and slapping it in a slideshow doesn’t make it so.

Sep 282011

To understand why I think Amazon’s Fire will absolutely crush the Android tablet market, it helps to look at what both Google and Amazon bring to the tablet market.

The premise for Google’s Android started as a means of milking mobile device users for ad revenue. It was accomplished by knocking off Apple’s superior interface using stolen code from Java. The ends justified the means. With tablets, Google mistook the artificial market dominance it was handed by Apple’s exclusivity with AT&T – and competing carriers’ and manufacturers’ desperation – for success. They looked at the iPad and thought they could apply the same model to tablets. But with no exclusive carrier relationship to exploit, no desperate carriers and no subsidies, Android tablets have been a running joke.

Compare this with Amazon’s approach to making a tablet: the end is a more logical product of the means. Amazon took things it does well – books, movies and cloud computing – and used only as much hardware as they needed to deliver it at a jaw-dropping price. They took pains not to characterize the Fire as “an Android tablet” and it’s not meant to compete with the iPad, regardless of how badly the pathetic tech press wants to characterize it that way.

Deciding between a high-end Android tablet and an iPad? You’ll going make the same decision that made punchlines out of the XOOM, Galaxy Tab 10.1, Streak, PlayBook and TouchPad. Deciding between a Fire and an iPad? Sure, there might be some people who will purchase a Fire, but Apple’s device is much more than a storefront for media – it’s the app powerhouse that the Fire could never be, not just because of the limitations of the Android market itself, but the hardware driving the Fire experience restricts it.  Deciding between a Fire and a XOOM? I would argue that its superior integration with what Amazon does well combined with being “just enough” of an Android tablet and its absurdly low price will capture 9/10 of the people looking to buy a tablet that doesn’t have an Apple inscribed on the back.

Sep 282011

So Amazon’s big event in New York has come and gone and it’s left Apple’s competitors with a lot to think about – and maybe a thing or two for Apple to contemplate as well. While I agree that people looking to read books will look to the Kindle – like they always have – the iPad is still the device to beat. The “people who want to run Android on a tablet” aren’t consumers, they’re contrarians.

OK: it’s possible that I’m being obtuse and blindly supportive of the iPad here. Let’s take Jeff Bezos touted advantages of the Fire and see where the device stands in relation to its Android brethern:

  • $199

People making a 7″ tablet, like Dell and their (Bacon) Streak, will knock $100 of the price of the WiFi-only model and people will get their dual cameras, multi-touch and GPS.

  • Cross-device syncing and Whispersync for movies.

According the ads I see for devices like the Droid Bionic, not only can I “control all machines” (proving once again how utterly fucking retarded Verizon thinks its customers are), I can wirelessly sync my content. iOS 5 will also allow wireless syncing. Whispersync for movies would be cooler if it was used for actual downloads, but remembering media locations across devices is a nice touch. The fact that several TVs, such as the Vizio Via line, also feature Amazon’s Instant Video app, which provides a healthy level of pre-release device saturation.

  • The browser experience has a cloud back-end: Amazon Silk.

Now we’re talkin’. Because I have no standing in the tech press community and have a day job I have to hold down, I haven’t seen how Amazon’s “fat pipes” benefit the browsing experience first-hand, but as my favorite scoundrel once said “I can imagine quite a bit”. Amazon geeks: tell us what it’s all about…

No hands-on takeaway: it’ll be balls-out fast, but the same people who were pissed about Amazon taking highlighted passage data from ebooks and aggregating it – or anyone who’s got a bugaboo about Big Brother – will absolutely hate it.

In the end, I think this may affect some of the population who is trying to decide whether or not to buy an iPad, but not a lot of them. What it does do is pretty much Hulk-smash the Android tablet market, especially if Amazon decides to release a 10″ edition. It’s not an iPad, but it will offer a better media consumption experience for people wanting a little more than what the Kindle offers.

Sep 282011

I remember reading that Microsoft made more money from licensing agreements related to Android than it did from its own Windows Phone 7. Now another shrimp is grilling on the barbie. Samsung, the largest maker of Android phones, is now the 7th manufacturer to agree to some sort of license deal with Microsoft, leaving soon-to-be-acquired Motorola as the only major player still in Redmond’s sights. As FOSS Patent’s Florian Mueller points out, this makes it pretty clear that Samsung doesn’t have faith that Googlerola is the answer to its prayers, while also making the likelihood of Google having to ante up to Microsoft for its blushing bride a certainty.

I guess “Google’s deep commitment to defending Android, its partners, and the ecosystem” doesn’t reflect Samsung’s deep commitment to sit around and wait for it to happen.

Sep 272011

The Mini-Microsoft blog is intended to be an “insider” view of Redmond operations from the perspective of the average employee. If you compare the anonymous writer’s rant about the Kin debacle (to which I thoroughly enjoyed linking) to his rosy summation of the Microsoft annual all-hands meeting on Friday, you’d think they were written by two different people (a theory actually put forth in the comments).

And speaking of comments: holy shit. If this is the way Microsoft employees feel about their products and their leadership, they’re worse off than I hoped imagined.  I tried to find a single positive offering, but had to give up once my scrolling fingers (Trackpad, natch) cramped. I’d chalk up the comments to trolling, but these guys’ lingo is very company-specific. If some of them are to be believed, people actually got up and walked out of the event when Ballmer took the stage. I don’t know where you work, but if I pulled that shit, I’d be tazed in the balls and wake up coasting down Broadway duct-taped to an office chair with my personal effects in my lap.

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Sep 232011

Samsung’s really, really mad and they’re not going to take it anymore! According to an Associated Press interview with Lee Younghee, Samsung’s head of global marketing for mobile communications, the Korean manufacturer that has had its product banned for infringing on Apple’s intellectual property in Germany has transitioned from Road House Dalton’s “being nice” into full-on “not being nice”. Let the throat-ripping begin!

“We’ve been quite respectful and also passive in a way” Lee said, out of respect for the vast volume of business it does manufacturing components for several Apple devices. “However, we shouldn’t be … anymore.” All it took was Apple asserting and a German judge confirming that your Galaxy Tab 10.1 was so derivative that it was banned from being sold. Lee then claimed that it would take action against Apple as a “free rider” on patents that they had let Apple infringe all over before now – no doubt out of the goodness of their hearts. Way to defend your IP.

I’m sure Samsung’s investors are as excited by the current non-specific threats being offered as they were about how systematically you’ve presented your ass for mounting by Apple up until now. That’s what you get for borrowing ideas from “generic patents” and by being so respectful when Apple pursued its legal options. Is there not a shred of decency in business anymore?

Compounding the hilarity is this passage in the article:

Lee joined Samsung in 2007 from French cosmetics maker L’Oreal. Makeup and mobile phones have a lot in common, she said, in that both are focused on individual expression.

I guess if you’re going to put lipstick on a pig, you may as well bring in an expert.

Sep 222011

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Sep 222011

Six months ago, I took apart Gartner’s “analysis” of the tablet market direction, calling particular attention to their absolutely insane predictions for Android tablet performance versus the iPad and the insertion of a 2-year gap in their estimates between 2013 and 2015. I assume this gap was so they wouldn’t have to revise 2 more years worth of “predictions” once the reality of what was happening in the market slapped them upside the head repeatedly.

Gartner’s latest numbers reflect such a reality:

Gartner’s research VP Carolina Milanesi explained the numbers for Android were revised because of “high prices, weak user interface and limited tablet applications”, conditions that will inexplicably reverse themselves by 2015. They also predict a 10% share for Microsoft’s Windows tablets by 2015. Might be time to change the bong water over at Gartner HQ.

Let me offer a possible alternative explanation for the revision: your analysis is constrained by your not knowing what the fuck you’re talking about. Let me also paint a picture of future analyses for anyone thinking of shelling out thousands of dollars for Gartner’s market blindness: every quarter, the only numbers that will be in the ballpark of actuals are the ones reported for quarters past. Gartner will continue to use current market data to incrementally revise numbers for the current year, every quarter, ad infinitum.

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Sep 212011

In what was purported to be Google’s stern talking-to, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights (breath) opened up its three ring extravaganza today, an affair that was like watching a polite yet drunken developmentally challenged quadruple amputee catch an equally polite greased pig. For 3 hours. Knowing myself well enough to know that 3 hours of this jackassery would result in my hanging myself shortly thereafter, I only dipped my toe in the stream periodically.

Monopolists everywhere tremble in the face of doddering justice

The curtain opened to none other than Eric Schmidt (apparently the people actually running Google were too busy explaining to another legal entity how they didn’t steal from Oracle to make Android). He quickly put into words what everyone in the room was thinking:

That’s actually a pretty accurate paraphrasing of his argument. Schmidt’s load of horseshit shouldn’t have surprised anyone: it was pre-ordained that anything falling out of his caketrap would be garbage. But it was still entertaining to hear the actual words he’d select. We also got to hear the CEOs of Yelp and Nextag call Google out for unabashedly abusing their business models. And lest you be forced to take my word regarding the utter inanity of the proceedings, see if you can stomach this exchange between Google’s antitrust counsel Susan Creighton and Sen. Al Franken. I apologize in advance for the out-of-window playback – and obviously for the infuriating content:

Creighton v. Franken: Fight!

Five minutes of that mummer’s farce – as Ned Stark would say – leaves me astonished that this country’s government allows anything productive to happen. Creighton’s total obfuscation; Franken’s embarrassing misuse of jargon. This is your government at work. The Schoolhouse Rock version of these proceedings would resemble barnyard pr0n.

Sep 192011

Samsung is taking pre-emptive steps to have the future iPhone 5 banned in Korea, according to a “anonymous executive” at Samsung. Citing infrigement on “wireless technology related patents”, the unnamed executive apparently wants to strip Apple of the “we didn’t know it was coming” defense Samsung tried to use in the EU, one which somehow ended up not working at all.

Apple allegedly responded to the threat decisively this morning, issuing plastic covers for all keyboards and monitors at 1 Infinite Loop, lest coffee, Diet Coke and other caffeinated beverages be hurled from the mouths and noses of Apple employees in fits of hysterical laughter. An unidentified person from Apple’s legal department added “Maybe Samsung should focus its saber-rattling on the dozens of countries where they currently can’t sell their knock-offs because of us,” adding “I’ve also addressed the Sammy exec’s threat more formally. You’ll find traces of my statement ringing the bowl of the 3rd floor men’s room, 2nd stall from the back.”

 Posted by at 12:44 pm
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