Viewing entries tagged
Gadgets

The Phone as an Extension

Square: an attachable payments mechanism. PayPal's Square competitor.

The Mophie: a removable juice pack that fits atop the iPhone like an ordinary sleeve. It's a must have for travelers (and got a great TechCrunch write up).

iCache's Geode: an attachable, secure wallet for your iPhone. Remarkably cool.

What's the similarity here? There is a great innovation occurring both at the app level and, more recently, at the device / peripheral level. It's yet another reminder that the future of the web consumption is mobile and companies are racing to improve the phone itself (ie battery) or extend its definition (ie square into a register / payment terminal and Geode into a wallet).

Image credit: USAToday.com

Beats Audio Exclusively in HTC Rezound. But iTunes isn't.

Beats Audio has been a tremendous story. They have done for headphones and device sound what Intel did years ago for computing. And they leveraged celebrity endorsers and users to become ultra popular: Dre, Lady Gaga, Bieber, Lebron, etc. But the below advertisement really struck me. The HTC Android phone exclusively comes with Beats audio. It's powerful marketing because those red headphones and their logo stand out - particularly as you compare other devices on a store's shelves.

However, in this example, the 'hardware' is unfortunately less important and compelling than the software. As Intel made famous: it's what's inside that counts. And in that case: iTunes wins. And iTunes made the original iPhone so popular (before the app store).

For this to be very compelling, they would need to partner with a major music source in addition to the sound. That means that Google Music would need to ramp quickly or they work with Pandora, Spotify, Turntable.fm, etc... because sound without a great library and UI is just not that useful. Apple knows that.

Amazon's Kindle Lending Club Makes the Already-Affordable Kindle Fire Even More Attractive

In the last month alone, I have purchased three books on the Amazon Kindle store (I use the Kindle app on the iPad)... had Amazon's new Kindle Lending Library program been live, I would have simply purchased the Kindle Fire and considered it an eventual cost-saving: - I've spent $40+ on books over the last month alone - The device itself is $199, now comes with effectively free books... and a gadget with much more

No brainer right? (big caveat: assuming content library is strong - it certainly appears to be)

And that's why Amazon is brilliant: - They changed the tablet landscape through pricing. - They used it, along with other launches, to drive Prime membership and usage. - They are now introducing a new way to deliver / consume books ... which has already happened to music (hello: Turntable.fm, Spotify, Pandora) - And yet again users have to ask if the Apple & iTunes & iBooks experience is worth paying more for than Amazon's (Kindle Fire, Kindle Store, ec)

Most Important Part of iPhone 4S Announcement: iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 Pricing.

When Amazon announced the new Kindle product line and the $199 Kindle Fire - I declared that Amazon did more than introduce a disruptive product... they changed the non-iPad market with remarkably disrupitive pricing:

A week later, Apple announced the iPhone 4S. In my opinion, the most important part of the announcement is their new pricing: iPhones starting at $0.00, $99 and $199 (iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S). That's more important than any feature because it opens Apple's market far wider than either the improved camera or Siri do. Furthermore, it makes them competitive with Android - who has been winning in large part due to pricing and network availability.

Average iPhone, iPad & iPod Has $100 of Paid Content On It

Noteworthy article on AppleInsider.com yesterday (AppleInsider | iOS 'stickiness' grows as average Apple user has $100 in content per device): the average iOS device (iPhone + iPad + iPod) has roughly $100 of paid content on it. That number represents all content downloadable through iTunes: applications, music, movies and books. More impressively, the average has risen to ~$100 from ~$80 in the last year - and that is as 75m new iOS devices came onto the network.

Not only is the average high and ramping significantly - it suggests a very high switching cost. To leave Apple, you are losing $100 of paid content and - in many cases - are unable to even replace that content on other networks / OS's because of limited inventory.

This is strengthened by Apple's new iCloud - which allows users to easily transfer content (apps, music, videos, etc) from device to device. This previously was a very painful activity... and, at times, it actually deterred me from buying some content. That is solved with iOS5 and I find myself buying more content because it is instantly accessible on all of my devices.

The Borders eReader Counter: Too Many Options?

This is the counter at my local Borders for "eReaders". There are countless devices, prices, preferences, etc. If you are in the market for one of these devices, would you rather sift through all these options or pick the trusty and ultra-popular Kindle by Amazon? It's a similar situation to Android vs. iPhone. While there is absolutely an advantage in the cross device platforms (including lower prices for consumers) - it also creates headaches. There are so many Android handsets that it creates confusion... and it can create quality issues across the plethora of devices: some are great and some are sub-par.

And the same situation will occur as tablets become more prevelant / popular. Consumers will need to choose between dozens of options (hardware & software) and the iPad (a popular, trusted product that will likely come at a premium).

Google TV: Hands On with Sony Blu Ray

So my hiatus was brief... but I will keep this short to stay in spirit!

Today I got the Google TV (Sony's Blu Ray product). It's remarkable. Quick thoughts:

1. Set up is very, very easy.

2. This is truly a merging of internet and television. The 'picture-in-picture' functionality is the most clear example.

3. The UI is super intuitive. No instructions needed - I am sure there are tons of things to discover, but usage is obvious.

4. The ability to integrate with all providers AND use it without changing TV inputs is game-changing.

5. The Sony remote looks clunky... but it isn't. It is intuitive, easy to hold and great to for browsing / content input.

6. It's bad news for universal remotes (like Logitech): this is bluetooth and controls television, cable and Google TV. Unless you buy Logitech's Google TV product, there isn't a need for an expensive supplemental remote.

7. It's a ton of fun. Can't overstate this.

When Will iOS 4 Hit The iPad??!

... So when does iOS 4 arrive for the iPad?... And why is the gap between releases (iPhone vs iPad) so significant?

I ask because, even as an active iPad fanboy, it really bugs me. First and foremost, I generally do not like using two related devices (my iPhone and iPad) on more-distantly related operating systems. It is tough to explain why it is annoying - particularly when they shared the same OS up until just a few weeks ago.... But for a company so dedicated to user experience and fluidity, it is strange to ask users to navigate between different experiences. And that takes me to point two: iOS 4 is so markedly better than its predecessor that it really is difficult to return to the old form.... even on a device I passionately enjoy. I use the iPad almost entirely as a productivity device: email, web, documents, content, etc. And that really is where iOS4 shines: email is dramatically better and background applications make everything more efficient/productive.

Ultimately it is difficult to complain because both devices are great and I am spoiled by the new operating system... Which will make its way to the iPad eventually.

Apple iPad: 3rd Fastest Selling Device (Behind Nintendo Wii & DS)

If there is a voice for mobile growth, Mary Meeker is it. And she has 50+ slides of charts and data to prove her bullishness.

Below is the latest version of her Internet Trends deck (updated June 7 for the CM Summit in NY). I have included screenshots of three particularly interesting slides which are relevant to previous posts on this blog. The entire deck is embedded below via Scribd: Other than Nintendo's Wii and DS, the iPad is the fastest growing device - taking just 28 days to sell 1,000,000 units. That is more than 2x as fast as the iPhone and 1/2 as fast as either Nintendo device (which is impressive):

Android's growth is impressive... and ramping significantly. The wild card will be the new iPhone 4 (how many units will it move?) and whether rumors of a non-AT&T iPhone come true by year's end:

Normalized to the iPhone, iPad usage is more alike desktop PCs than smart phone usage. This is conceptually straightforward - but clear proof that these tablet devices are effective ways to surf the web and accomplish other 'desktop' activities:

MS Internet Trends 060710