Thursday, February 20, 2014

iPhablet?

Over the last few days some rumors have been floating around about the possible larger, phablet sized iPhone. The first and most importantly part is fact, Apple was awarded a patent for some stylus tech. You can read more about that here.  Secondly, and this is where the rumor part starts, Tim Cook continues to talk up new product categories. A recent Business Insider article notes that Tim says that any reasonable person would consider this years new products an entry into a new product category. This fuels the rumor that Apple will be releasing an iPhablet.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Windows 8 and Android, Same Device?


In a past article I wrote that the mobile OS's were headed for the desktop, It seems I may have been right on the money. Rumor has it that Intel plans to reveal a dual OS strategy at CES this week. Windows 8 and Android on the same device. A Time reporter hails it as the future of laptop computing The Verge calls it a CES Coup. I don't think it's exactly either. While I do think that iOS and Android will become your default OSs for general consumer and rank and file business workers, I don't believe these devices will come with Windows in tow.

Inroads, they have to be made.  These devices may be the devices that push Android in to the business world and sneak them into the home users hands as well, but they are not the future.

As I've stated before the future is the mobile OS, at this point they are close to feature parity for the average Joe or Jane, who doesn't really need windowing or true multitasking. On top of that they also have huge libraries of touch software to take advantage of . If Microsoft can't get Windows 8.x to take off, iOS and Android will take over.

Microsoft could still win this thing, but they have got to get their act straightened out and direction set.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Windows beats Andorid, when it comes to updates. (Tablets)


So far the media has been mostly lukewarm when it comes to windows on a tablet.  I think they are missing something, something big.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Harley Davidson Street 500 and 750 Arrive


A few weeks ago I wrote about Harley releasing a new bike aimed squarely at the lower end of the market. It has arrived, in two variations the Street 500 and Street 750. You can go directly to the source and read about them on Harley's website, it's not a joke. I didn't think it would be, the rumor was too hot and from too many sources to be a load of hooey, but Harley has really surprised me with a rather fine looking bike at a reasonable price point. The prices of  $6500 for the 500cc and $7500 for the 750cc model are rather appealing.

Mobile OSs Headed For the Desktop?

Keep
Gmail
Calendar
Docs
Contacts
Plus
Earth
Maps
Cloud Print
Hangouts
Quick Office
Drive

And I'm sure that's not the whole list.

Have you noticed that over the last few months that Google has given Android an entire suite of productivity apps? It is no longer just a phone/tablet OS, with this suite of apps your smart phone and tablet rival and in some places beat the pants off of Microsoft.

If you would have asked me a year ago if I thought that Google had any real ideas about having an OS for everyday laptop users, I would have laughed and quicly said, "NO! Chrome OS is neat and all, but it requires an internet connection to be really useful."  At this point I'm beginning to wonder if Google might not have two desktop OSs.

The same can be said for Apple's iOS, over the past few months they have most of the things in the above list covered as well.

Chrome

Chrome is the dumb terminal realized and useful. It may not technically be one, but it's the same idea. A computer with low power, little storage and requiring "the network" to function. Chromebooks are a little more than this but, not much. What they are is an excellent way to cheaply arm your corporation or school with computers that link directly to Google and their apps. To be fair, you could also deploy Chromebooks as cheap devices to use with Office 365 on the web. Google hopes that you would be using their Google Apps though. Essentially as long as you have a network connection and what you need lives in the cloud a Chromebook is great. Take either one of those things away and it gets dicey.

Android

Android is Google's mobile operating system, but it more and more becomes like the desktop. On a tablet, with Android 4.4 you will be able to do all the basic functions of a business desktop, create and edit documents and spreadsheets with Drive or Quick Office and print with Cloud Print. Print, that's the key here, until now it's been quite the challenge to print with a mobile device. Hopefully Cloud print will remedy that. So now take that list above and think about it, Android can do anything that Chrome can do, the kicker is, there are also Hundreds of thousands of applications for Android and an internet connection is not required for many tasks.

Form Factors

So far, Google has kept Chrome on Laptops, there are no tablets and as far as I know there are no full PCs running the OS. As for android it is installed on many different pieces of hardware from phones to TV's, but it's main focus is the smartphone and tablet. Let's think about this tablet for a second, no, not the Nexus 7. The Nexus 10 and others of similar size. They are pretty close to laptop screen size, in fact, Asus makes several Android laptops.  The transformer series, this like the device I'm writing on at the moment, a HP Split X2 has become my favorite form factor. Sure, the tablet portion is a little too big to be toting around like you would a Nexus 7 but it's pretty convenient when you need/want to use it as a tablet and very good when using it as a laptop.

Rumors floating around say that Samsung is going to be releasing a 12.2 inch tablet and that apple will be making larger tablets as well. At first I was like, What the Hell? I have a 13" tablet and it's really too big to use as a tablet, why would Samsung and Apple even consider this? Then proverbial ton of bricks dropped on my noggin', these devices are the bridge.  They will sit between traditional 10" tablets and laptops, each will come with some sort of attachable keyboard and pointer control, whether it be a keyboard cover, like the Surface or an actual keyboard dock, like the Asus Transformer series and the HP Split devices.

Samsung's, device will obviously run Android with all the Samsung tricks, making the device have many of the features of the Microsoft Surface without all the Windows desktop baggage. Add that to the huge number of app in the Play Store and we have a winner, maybe.

 The same could be said for a larger iPad, you can count on Apple giving the device some extra features, like possibly two apps on screen at once and maybe a Wacom style digitizer with hand writing recognition. All the while keeping it iOS not OS X.

Why?

Because of the device I'm typing on right now.  The press doesn't know it yet, but devices like the HP Split, the Sony Tap 11 and the Asus T100 are going to take market share from Apple and Android device makers. Windows 8.1 is pretty good and the devices are better than the current alternatives from Apple and Android.  I have the HP Split X2, it's a mid range device at about $700, but it boasts full Windows 8.1 and a dock with an extra battery tucked inside.  It's not a perfect device, at 13" the screens a little big to carry it around as a tablet, but it works great on the couch or around the house. It's a little heavy for a laptop, after using a MacBook air, but tolerable. At the end of the day I wouldn't trade it for any of the Android devices out there, but with 4.4 Kit Kat, this may all change.

With Android you can build the same device, but cheaper. Android will run fine on much less robust hardware, as will iOS, this is where Apple Keeps it margins and still sells the device at a reasonable cost and Samsung should be able to undercut any decent Windows wielding competitor.

It's yet to be seen if this style device will be a big hit with the public, but it looks as if the Asus Transformers and the Windows hybrids have had good enough sales to make Samsung and Apple interested. The Apple angle is interesting, because if Apple does it, then it's instantly validated, the Apple faithful will purchase the device in droves and create a market for Samsung and other manufacturers, as well.

Where does that leave Chrome?

If Android becomes a valid laptop operating system should Google merge it with Chrome? I don't think so. Chrome serves a different purpose, it's to be the cloud OS for education and business. Focusing on ease of use and keeping things simple. Android, on the other hand, has the freedom to move into the laptop space and become the more complex OS.

The Power of the Apps

While, I can see this all coming to pass, don't think that iOS or Android are going to try to take over for Mac OS or Windows, that's not the point. These devices will be in the same category as the Microsoft Surface, tablets with the chops to do light to medium content creation, while leveraging the Play Store and Apple's App Store's huge inventories. That's the hinge, right now the Windows Market is still fairly sparse, there are some amazing apps, but there are loads of things missing. If Apple and Samsung can get these devices out the door, price them resonably and promote the hell out of them, they'll have winners. If they wait, and Microsoft get's things together and the Windows Market starts to mature before these devices show up, well, it'll be interesting.

The other interesting thing about Apps is Apple and Google can easily afford to give their software away, but because Microsoft's business model is all about software licenses they can't. Apple and Google are already using this to their advantage, all the Google apps are free and Apple recently made their office suite free for people that purchase new hardware. They can get away with this because Apple make their money off of Hardware and Google makes theirs off adds.

Microsoft makes their office software free on the Surface and the Surface 2, but not on the Pro version. The problem with this is it's the Home and Student edition, thus if you want to use it for business, you are supposed to purchase a license. As far as I can tell, Apple and Google don't care how you use their office software, as long as you use it and it locks you into their ecosystem.


Monday, November 4, 2013

Googling The Future, One Student at a Time.


On August 24 1995, computers started moving to the main stream. Windows 95 with the help of falling computer prices, a relatively strong economy and wide availability of the internet moved the computer from the office into the home. Over the next few years Windows gathered a massive majority share of the desktop market. Since then Microsoft Window's share of the desktop market has fluctuated but, they have maintained that majority and it appears that they will continue to do so for the immediate future. There is however a new, quiet, challenger.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Planned Obsolescence (Smartphones that don't stand the test of time.)


Planned Obsolescence, it's a taboo term. In the marketplace it is real enough though, think about it. You know if you buy your jeans at the discount store their life span is relatively short, on the other hand if you purchase a well respected name brand, say Levi or Ralph Lauren, the jeans will probably last a few years. Yet, even these longer lasting jeans have "Planned Obsolescence" built in. The more expensive pair is built with better materials and hopefully better craftsmanship but, they still wear out. The cheap ones are made of lesser materials and generally with only passable craftsmanship, they wear out faster.  Would the expensive brand sell you jeans that would last a lifetime? If it were feasible, sure, but you'd never buy them. The cost would be too high. All companies are looking for repeat customers, whether the repeat business is brought in by quality, style or price, is determined by each company and their portfolio of products. In general the higher quality(longer lasting) product  is more expensive, while the lesser quality or trendy product is less expensive, other factors come into play as well.

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