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*...in...*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.

Jun 012011
 

Imagine all the hand-wringing and chair tossing in Redmond since Apple released the iPad in 2010. First the iPhone, now this? We’ve been poking our fat fingers at tablet PC’s for a decade to choruses of laughter and Apple swoops in with another touch-based product? Such embarrassment. Now imagine all that frustration being channeled into the next version of Windows “codenamed” Windows 8 and this video will make more sense to you.

You wanted touch? Windows 8 has touch, goddammit!

I can honestly say that some of the features debuted look like a fresh take on a mobile OS. Some sensible gesturing, a cool way of interacting with 2 apps simultaneously. Here’s the problem: this UI is a response to the iPad. There’s a reason why Apple segregated iOS and OS X. In classic Microsoft “Windows everywhere” fashion, they’re attempting to layer a touch-based interface with yummy buzzwords like “HTML5” and “JavaScript” over the top of a desktop and file system. How will people using a keyboard and mouse interact with this layer? How happy will people be swiping and tablet-typing in Excel?

If this is the trajectory Microsoft is going to continue on, they’re headed for head-on collision between their legacy users and their desperate 3-years-too-late attempt to enter the touch OS market.

May 142011
 

Mark Reschke, one of the three wise men over at Three Guys and a Podcast (T-GAAP) posits that Amazon – and the recent intimations that the company will be releasing a competitor to the iPad – is the biggest threat to Apple.

They shouldn’t be, but they are.

Although Amazon isn’t what I’d call a hardware company, they obviously have experience with its manufacturing. I also wouldn’t call the Kindle an unmitigated success: it wasn’t until Amazon slashed its price in response to the announcement of the iPad that they were anything but a niche product. To this day, no one knows how many of these things have been sold, let alone what the margins on them are.

The credential that makes Amazon dangerous to Apple is the reason I recommended they take over the Android Market: their selling infrastructure, specifically with media. This, combined with their size, makes them a capable adversary for Apple.

Why size? Because Andy Rubin’s shop isn’t going to yield significantly on the Android experience to a nobody – especially with all the mouth moving at Google’s I|O about anti-fragmentation. And as Reschke mentions, for Amazon’s tablet to be successful, it’s going to have to deviate from other offerings to leverage the strength of their media library. If Google is interested in having their Android tablets do anything but fail miserably, Amazon is their best bet.

Game on, Bezos.

Apr 282011
 

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Google’s Android OS for mobile devices will doom Apple’s iOS soon. Witness the impending savage brutality:

The analyst’s conclusion: Android will overtake iOS by July of this year. Looks pretty obvious from this graph, right? Not really.

1. Where did you people learn statistics?

Wanna hear something awesome? I will be a millionaire by the the time I retire and I have the statistics to prove it. You see: I found $100 bill on the street today. If you assume that I will find $100 on the street every day for *cough* *ahem* *cough* years, and allow for compounding at a modest interest rate, I will be a millionaire around 65. Screw the IRA!

Distimo used the February-March 2011 month-to-month data to project the June numbers. I know this because they say so in their write-up. Taking month-to-month growth of an app ecosystem and extending a line from it is as meaningless an exercise as taking any 2 short-term data points and extending a trend line from the segment formed. And speaking of drawing…

2. Where did you people learn to draw?

Maybe it’s me, but do you see the line come off a little “flat” for iOS in March and get a little goosed for Android around mid April? You guys know something we don’t? Wanna let us in on it?

3. Try looking up “ringtones” in the Android Market.

Wanna guess how many of these apps are conduits for pirated, copyright/trademark-violating properties? If you guessed “a shit-ton”, you’d be correct. People used to joke about how many fart apps were in the App Store. The Android Market wishes it had apps as valuable as the worst fart app ever put up. Distimo does note that Android now has more free apps than the App Store. Nothing screams “make money here!” to app developers as effectively as having more stuff not worth paying for in your market.

4. So I guess the iPad doesn’t count now?

We’re comparing OS markets, but we’re leaving out devices that make up part of the market ecosystem. I guess if you want a graph that fits well in landscape orientation, you have to cut some corners. Like not drawing our lines straight. Or making that ziggy line on the y-axis between 50,000 and 100,000 on a graph that spans 0 to 400,000. Hallmarks of a company that should be taken seriously.

If you’re banking on Android overtaking iOS in the near future, you’d feel a lot better if you sought out analysis that actually makes sense, as opposed to getting it from another no-name firm with zero track record looking to make a quick buck by using shitty statistics poorly.

Apr 122011
 

Gartner is one of the most recognizable names in IT research. TMA doesn’t concern himself with most of what they do, because all consultants are useless people you pay to tell you what time it is by having them look at your watch.  If their smartphone market predictions are any indication, you’d be better off throwing a dart at a board. Seriously: it’s like their firm is populated by Scott Moritz clones.

Anyway, Gartner’s most recent forecasts for Apple’s iOS devices are a lot like their past predictions. Let’s take a look:

Continue reading

Apr 072011
 

The first quarter of 2011 has come and gone and surprise: no PlayBook. Some people speculate that the success of the iPad 2 is causing RIM to balk, but this is stupid. Half the people that want the new iPad haven’t been able to get one, and you’re going to wait until the market is even more flooded with them before you release your competing product? Not likely, but that’s the kind of dreck you see posited by the tech press nowadays.

The real reason is Flash. The bugaboo in the saddle of every consumer electronics maker since the release of the iPhone is shitting on yet another launch. It seems every iPad-knockoff or shartphone™ is preceded by prancing CEO’s crowing on stage about “the full Internet”. Too bad there has yet to be a full release of Flash included with any of them.

“We’re not trying to dumb down the internet for a small mobile device,” says Mike Lazaridis, RIM’s CEO, during the PlayBook demonstration. “What we’re trying to do is bring up the performance and capability of the mobile device to the internet.”

I don’t think Lazaridis’ product is going to perform any better, so he better hope Adobe gets its shit together between now and when the next 2 and a half million iPad 2’s make it into peoples’ hands, or the PlayBook launch is going to make the Xoom look like the iPad 2.

Nov 092010
 
Boy Genius Reports got their hands on the Galaxy Tab from Samsung, the 7″ tablet device that Steve Jobs pronounced “DOA”. The verdict: it’s not big enough to be a tablet and not small enough to be a phone, even if you try.
Son of Surface
I found the most interesting bit to be about the Tab’s browser, and BGR’s advice on how to make it usable:
Browsing the web with Flash on (enabled by default) proved to be a pretty frustrating experience. Scrolling was jittery, slow, and sometimes pages just wouldn’t even finish loading. However, once we changed the browser’s plug-ins setting to on demand (think Click2Flash), the browser popped to life. Pages loaded very quick, scrolling was almost fluid, and using multi-touch gestures to pinch zoom in and out worked like a charm. The browsing experience on the device is exactly where you want it to be.
This should surprise exactly no one. The Tab is a device with a 1 GHz processor and a gig of RAM and Flash still makes it choke. It’s amazing to me that when I see CEOs sit up on stage with Shantanu Narayen, they’re smiling and laughing, introducing their products with “the full web” or “the web the way it was meant to be experienced”. They wear these smug grins of one-upmanship, like they figured out a way to do something that Steve Jobs couldn’t. Yet review after review skewers the performance of these devices with Flash enabled. It’s 2011 and Adobe still can’t deliver on the promise that Narayen has been filling the air with for years.
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