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Amazon Kindle Fire: $199. RIM Playbook: $299 after 40% Discount.

There are several reasons why Amazon's new Kindle Fire - and the larger Kindle line - is disruptive (my take here). For non-Apple tablets, the Kindle Fire is much more than disruptive: it's killer.

Proof is right here. Below is Best Buy's huge discount on the RIM Playbook ($299 sale, normally $499). Despite that 40% discount, the Playbook is *still* 50% more expensive than the Kindle Fire. And that's before you begin comparing the two devices... I would pay a premium for the Fire vs. the Playbook.

Product is clearly important. But for mass consumption, price wins. And Amazon has won the non-iPad market by radically undercutting it.

Blackberry App Advertising Two Years Behind Apple's

During today's NFL playoffs game, you may have seen the Blackberry spot featuring Blackberry's App World and the Urbanspoon application. The advertisement is well done and features small business owners (right in Blackberry's sweet spot) who use the Urbanspoon app to find new restaurants (seems like a reach?). However, the ad comes over two years later than Apple's iPhone Urbanspoon ad (featured in November 2008) and screams 'me too'.... which is exactly what Blackberry (and iPhone competitors) should be wary of: it's been available on the iPhone for years and, for various reasons, is probably a better application on the iPhone.

Blackberry should be focusing on one of two things:

1. Content and applications that are unique to Blackberry. For cross-platform applications, chances are they were available on the iPhone first... and that they are generally better on the iPhone.

2. Content and application aimed specifically at Blackberry's core competencies: business and email. This is why the Urbanspoon ad comes off as "me too" and off-brand. It's also why I don't understand the focus on Blackberry Messenger campaigns (which, by the way, seems short-lived with apps the rise of social group apps like Groupme, Beluga, Kik, etc).

Blackberry's January 2011 TV ad:

November, 2008 Apple iPhone ad:

The NYT Erroneously Concludes iPhone Users Don't Do Work

The New York Times is claiming today that iPhone owners do not use their devices for work:

A new report from Compete surveying the behavior of 600 smartphone users found that 73 percent of iPhone owners used their mobile devices primarily for personal reasons, like entertainment. By comparison, 59 percent of owners with other types of smartphones — from manufacturers like HTC, Research in Motion and Nokia — primarily used their devices for business and work-related needs.

Step back a moment:

1. iPhone users obviously consume more content than non-iPhone users because no other mainstream device allows users to do so... or has the available library of content: 35,000 applications and high-speed internet browsing.

2. In contrast, Blackberry users likely use their devices for what they do best: email. You could argue, that outside of limited web-browsing, email and calendaring (or if they want to define that as "work") is all the Blackberry does.

3. iPhone users might use their phones for activities beyond just email and calendaring - but that is because they are able to. That doesn't mean that the iPhone is incapable of "work"; rather, it means that the iPhone is capable of much more than work utilities. Likewise, it doesn't mean that iPhone users do not use their device for work - it means that those utilities are one available usage.

Blackberry App World Launch - Three Big Question Marks

blackberry_logo__black Three interesting notes from the Blackberry App World FAQ / developer announcement that was released.

Minimum Price of $2.99?

The iPhone has proven that there are pricepoints for three types of apps: 1. Free (ad-supported) 2. $0.99 (consumers consider it the price of an iTunes song or a McDonald's hamburger) 3. $9.99 (high quality games by brands like EA)

Blackberry is instituting a minimum price of $2.99 for paid apps. Fascinating. My guess is that this has something to do with the fact that: 1. Apple has perfected micro-payments (thanks to iTunes); Blackberry hasn't and the margins on a single $0.99 purchase are far worse than on a $2.99 2. Blackberry wants to focus on more corporate applications and avoid the consumer-friendly inventory that runs $0.99 on Apple (I believe this is a bad move)

As I said, fascinating. And, if the $2.99 price point limits distribution (and it will), it could sway developers to offer free apps.... which would have an unintended consequence for Blackberry: those free apps will be ad-supported and Blackberry will not get a cut of that revenue.

How can I price my application? BlackBerry App World will allow you to select a suggested retail price in US dollars for your application that is associated with a pricing tier. The pricing tier chart below shows the application price for the 4 currencies available: USD, CDN, GBP, and Euros. Pricing Tiers Tiers USD CDN GBP EUR 1 Free Free Free Free 2 $2.99 $3.69 £2.59 €2.75 3 $3.99 $4.89 £3.45 €3.65 4 $4.99 $6.15 £4.29 €4.55 5 $5.99 $7.35 £5.15 €5.49 6 $6.99 $8.59 £5.99 €6.39 7 $7.99 $9.79 £6.85 €7.29 8 $8.99 $11.05 £7.69 €8.19 9 $9.99 $12.25 £8.55 €9.09 Tiers increment by $1 from $2.99 to $19.99 Tiers increment by $10 tiers from $19.99 to $99.99 Tiers increment by $50 tiers from $99.99 to $599.99 Tiers increment by $100 tiers from $599.99 to $999.99

Please note that pricing tiers are subject to change.

2. $200 Application Fee; 10 App Limit

Right off the bat, Blackberry is being far more aggressive than Apple ($200 vs. $99). Perhaps because they believe that Blackberry will attract fewer individual developers and draw a more corporate following. Perhaps because they believe that, in hindsight, Apple could have charged more and gotten away with it.

Furthermore, Blackberry limits the number of apps that fee covers to ten.

I think that Blackberry should do whatever they can to chase inventory... after all, Apple has an enormous lead in this space and playing catch up is already difficult (just ask Android). Charging more than Apple and limiting applications per account does just that: limit available applications. Not wise.

What is the application submission fee used for?

There is a $200 USD administration fee to complete registration and submit applications. In the event your account is not approved, this $200 USD administration fee will be refunded.

This initial fee will allow for 10 application submissions:

Multiple versions of the same application will not count as separate submissions (Example: an application might have a version for the BlackBerry Storm smartphone and the BlackBerry Bold smartphone)

An update to your application, resulting in a submission of new cod files, will be counted against your 10 application submissions Resubmission of a rejected application will be counted against your 10 application submissions

Removal of an application will not affect your remaining balance of application submissions

If you have used all 10 application submissions, an additional $200 USD administration fee will be applied on your next submission, adding another 10 application submissions to your account

3. Themes Cannot Be Sold

I find it strange that there is a specific note to prohibit the selling of themes because: 1. Themes already have a marketplace on Blackberries and, while note applications, would be in high demand 2. The specific call-out suggests that Blackberry intends to open a tangential marketplace of themes

Can I distribute Themes? Themes cannot be distributed in the first release of BlackBerry App World.

Nintendo Wii and Wii Fit Dominate eBay Shopping

TechCrunch posted this morning about the top tech gadgets as measured by eBay's top sales (always a good indication of macro-level trending and habits... one reason why I enjoyed working at eBay so much). Michael Arrington focuses mostly on the remaining popularity of the Nintendo Wii - which is stunning considering how its their second consecutive holiday season and so few games have been released.

Here are my thoughts:

- 83% of the top 15 items are video games. I've said it before: video games are a massive business

- 12% is mobile and the Blackberry Curve + Blackberry Pearl are bigger than the iPod 3G (clearly the price point and used market)

- Only two tech items are non-mobile / non-gaming: the iPod Touch (really surprised) and the MacBook Air

- The Wii Fit is amazing. More Wii Fits were sold than Playstation 3s and Guitar Hero IIIs combined.

- The drop off from the Nintendo Wii and Xbox360 is huge. The Wii sold 2mm+ items, the Xbox 1.3m and then next biggest item was 350k. Furthermore, the 15th item only sold 1,650 units

The Top 15 Tech Purchases Nintendo Wii: 2,056,866 related items sold Microsoft Xbox360: 1,297,903 related items sold Sony PSP: 350,591 related items sold iPod Touch: 281,361 related items sold Nintendo Wii Fit: 266,584 related items sold Apple iPhone 3G: 212,837 related items sold BlackBerry Pearl: 207,688 related items sold BlackBerry Curve: 193,788 related items sold Sony Playstation 3: 103,333 related items sold Guitar Hero III: 98,159 related items sold Halo 3: 91,067 related items sold Grand Theft Auto IV: 43,005 related items sold MacBook Air: 12,423 related items sold Guitar Hero Aerosmith: 3,749 related items sold Rock Band 2’s: 1,650 related items sold

Wii Fit Game Nintendo

Mobile is Dominating the Chatter (From Android to iPhone to Congress)

Want proof that mobile is atop everyone's mind? First, I was part of a great dinner last night with twelve or so valley entrepreneurs... without forcing the topic, the conversation quickly turned to: - the iPhone - Android and the G1 - Apps across each - possibilities of new ideas

Great conversation... that was echo'd (and then some) throughout the blogosphere today. Here is a snapshot of some of the articles I found particularly interesting:

GPhone-iPhone Browser Battle: Google Android G1 Faster, iPhone Better (Alley Insider)

The iPhone's default scaling and zoom features, in our opinion, make it easier to start reading a partially loaded Web site than Google's default, which is to zoom in on the upper-left corner of a page; often an ad or navigation bar. Minor personal preference: The iPhone's gesture-based scrolling -- pushing a page up or down, right or left -- is smoother than the G1's.

Even AT&T Is Startled by Cost of iPhone Partnership (NY Times)

AT&T’s successful relationship with Apple comes at a price: $900 million. That is the amount of money AT&T paid to Apple for the 2.4 million iPhones the phone company sold in the third quarter. It is a number that surprised even AT&T, which did not anticipate such huge demand for the smartphone.

Sony's New Phone is an 8MB Computer, 8MP Camera (BoyGenius)

iPhones are a must-have for Congress (

The Chief Administrative Office (CAO), which oversees the communications systems for the House, has begun testing a small number of iPhones within its ranks to see if they are compatible with the working needs of lawmakers and staff. “The reason we’re trying them out is because we heard a lot of people wanted the option to have them,” said Jeff Ventura, a spokesman for the CAO.

$300 For BlackBerry Bold? No, Thanks (Alley Insider)

$300? In this economy? With a superb phone already priced at $100 less? What is RIM smoking?

Improving the iPhone's Contact Management Product

While at dinner two nights ago, the four of us around the table started talking about our new iPhones... which we had all traded in blackberries for. After some apps were showed off and the general 'cool factor' wore off - we talked about how painful it is to sort through the contact album... which really is the root of how the iPhone operates as a phone.

At the most extreme end, Vinny (of Synthasite) showed how it takes 20 seconds to load his contact list (which has 4,500 entries). Now that's absurd on a few levels... but even my album of 500 contacts takes 5-10 seconds to load. That's inexcusable and really makes it really tough to navigate as a phone.

Here's what I'd like to see:

- First, I want the ability to add contacts to the deck... just as you can clip webpages and add them as icons. I would then create a homescreen of the top 20 people I call. This seems relatively easy to do and I am amazed it's not currently offered. The Blackberry offers hot-keys for assigned / auto-calling.

- Second, I'd like to break the contact list into groups that are independent of one another so that the entire contact list doesn't have to load with each usage... after all, that's where the pain comes from.

- Third, I want universal search. I want to be able to find people by first AND last name. And I want the search function to load independently of the contact album and be the first function to load. The current search function requires you to navigate to the top of the album and then search... big pain.

- Fourth, I want to be able to place calls / add a contact from the SMS menu without scrolling to the top of the chat history. It is bizarre that contacts and interactions are treated uniquely throughout email, phone, SMS, etc.

The iPhone 3G is Game-Changing; Game-Ending for Google Android, Blackberry?

I'm likely not stating anything revolutionary here, but it is worth noting that what Jobs and Apple have built with the iPhone 3G is revolutionary. I traded my Blackberry in for the iPhone two days ago now (reactions are here) and the phone itself isn't the revolutionary aspect - it's the platform. I continue to be blown away by the Application platform and store that Apple released. The quality of content and innovation being put out by developers is remarkable (and we've just scratched the surface) - and both the developers and Apple's iPhone SDK / Dev Center are to thank for that. The available libraries are rich and developers are putting them to use effectively and rapidly.

And Apple's ability to leverage iTunes as a distribution lever for the App Store is immensely powerful. How can Google Android and Blackberry compete? Assume that their platform is equally robust and useful... there is a significant first mover advantage here and neither has the distribution platform that iTunes has. Will developers with already-hot iPhone apps choose to build on a new platform / library, or will they find ways to take advantage of their iPhone success with new versions and apps? And, considering their business focus, Blackberry will struggle with consumer applications... which happen to account for a large percentage of iPhone's current top paid and free apps. Meanwhile, it is yet to be seen what time of user Android will appeal to... and I don't expect that developers will dedicate resources without first understanding Android's size and type of userbase.

On a different note, I am not convinced consumers fully appreciate what Apple and the developers have put together... just two weeks after launch. Let's use the New York Times application as an example. It's a glossy, good-looking front-door to the New York Times that dynamically updates itself and allows readers to access news by category, popularity, photos, etc. And on the 3G network - it makes reading a (fast) joy.

It's the #1 'news' application and the 21st most popular free application. Oh yeah - it's 100% free. It has 239 reviews. The average rating is 2.5 stars.

Wait a second... The New York Times is giving away their newspaper in a gorgeous, routinely-updated application that sits on your phone's 'desktop' and is 100% free? And it can be downloaded over the AT&T network in a matter of seconds? And people are rating this a 2.5? Sure - the app can be improved and there are tweaks that should (and will) be made... but think about what was available two weeks ago. To read the NYT, you had to buy the paper, check your email or visit Remarkable stuff is going on and the levels of innovation are eye-opening.

InGameNow Launches Post via Gtalk and AOL Instant Messanger

InGameNow formally launched two weeks ago - giving sports fans the ability to receive real-time scores, analysis and rumors via mobile, web and instant messenger. Today, InGameNow has launched an important new feature: the ability to post directly from GTalk and AOL Instant Messenger (AIM). So if you're on the go, you can now receive and send sports alerts from your iPhone (or iPhone 3G if you're lucky!), Blackberry, and instant messenger clients.

InGameNow: Twitter for Sports

To receive InGameNow alerts via instant messenger or email:

- register at it's free - go to the "My Preferences" page... linked atop each page - select whether to receive alerts for your favorite teams, users and/or the entire network - insert your Gtalk or AIM user-id into the form - add "" or "ingamenow" to your GTalk or AIM buddy list respectively

That's it. Now you'll never miss a score or a rumor. And you'll never have a reason not to interact with other sports fans.