26 Sep

Electronista – Microsoft CEO sees open dissent after general meeting

Microsoft may have shown signs of significant problems with company morale after reports from the company’s annual general meeting began surfacing in the past few days. The event, held as usual at Safeco Field in Seattle, saw "droves" of people leaving, according to well-known company insider Mini-Microsoft, even while CEO Steve Ballmer was speaking. Others pointed to unexciting demos and an obsession with Windows 8 tablets that didn’t reflect core businesses.

via Electronista – Microsoft CEO sees open dissent after general meeting. Microsoft is looking worse and worse every day.

02 Sep

TechCrunch – Amazon’s Kindle Tablet Is Very Real. I’ve Seen It, Played With It.

It’s called simply the “Amazon Kindle”. But it’s not like any Kindle you’ve seen before. It displays content in full color. It has a 7-inch capacitive touch screen. And it runs Android.

Rumors of Amazon making a full-fledged tablet device have persisted for a while. I believe we were one of the first to report on the possibility from a credible source — the same person who accurately called Amazon’s Android Appstore. That source was dead-on again, it just took Amazon longer than anticipated to get the device ready to go. They’re now close.

How do I know all of this? Well, not only have I heard about the device, I’ve seen it and used it. And I’m happy to report that it’s going to be a big deal. Huge, potentially.

via TechCrunch – Amazon’s Kindle Tablet Is Very Real. I’ve Seen It, Played With It. If I could buy one today, I would. This thing is going to sell like hotcakes.

31 Aug

The Ad Contrarian – Advertising And The Future Of Apple

After Steve Jobs stepped down as CEO of Apple last week, speculation about the company’s future began immediately.

The consensus seemed to be that Jobs built a strong culture, hired smart people, and taught a way of thinking that will serve Apple well in the future. The story line went like this– while Jobs will be missed, he is no longer essential to the future of the company and it will go on brilliantly without him.

I don’t buy this for a second. Genius is non-transferable.

via The Ad Contrarian – Advertising And The Future Of Apple. Not a bad negative outlook of Apple post Steve Jobs, it starts with a pretty good premise but the conclusion doesn’t jibe. For instance I don’t think anyone argued Apple would stay the same or even that it should. Apple will change. The larger question and worry is, is Apple still the innovative company that it was under Steve Jobs? Would such innovations as the iPad (creating a whole new market) or the iPod (dominate per-exisiting market with superior technology and design).

The argument that genius doesn’t transfer is a smoke-screen, it’s a stupid question with a stupid answer, and doesn’t get to the heart of the matter. Is Apple able to remember the lessons of Steve Jobs and maintain it’s identity in the face of the man who created that identity no longer present? That’s the real question and the only one that matters.

If Apple is able to maintain it’s identity then it won’t ever hire people without vision and taste and turn into something other than maker of products at the intersection of Liberal Arts and Technology.

29 Aug

Shawn Blanc – The Amazon Tablet

If and when the next iPad ships with its Retina Display, it will obviate the need for a “better” dedicated reading device in the minds of many consumers. Amazon doesn’t need another me-too tablet. They need something that pulls on all the strengths they already have: the high readability of e-ink, a low price, lightweight, a huge ecosystem, and a strong brand. If not that, then what?

via Shawn Blanc – The Amazon Tablet. Best summation of what the Amazon tablet if it’s going to make a splash needs to be. I would totally buy one in a heartbeat, I want a Kindle that just has slightly better hardware and drops the keyboard or at least designs it better.

18 Jul

The Watchmaker Project – How to fix the broken iPad form label click issue

Mobile Safari, the browser found on iPhones, iPod Touches and the iPad, does not (currently) implement the same label behaviour as other browsers. Clicking on labels doesn’t do anything—possibly, as Ben Darlow suggests, it is because it would interfere with the tap-to-select-text functionality, although personally I think that usability trumps obscure text-selection use cases.

What’s even weirder is that, in over an hour of googling, I couldn’t find a single reference to this issue. Surely someone, somewhere must have noticed that clicking or tapping on labels in forms on iPad doesn’t select the input? I resolved that when I published a fix for the issue, it would include a couple of clunky sentences stuffed with as many keywords related to the tap click form label input select checkbox radio button problem as possible…

via The Watchmaker Project – How to fix the broken iPad form label click issue. Nice and simple fix, defiantly not quite as common a problem on the iPhone (rarely do I find myself wanting to hit the label vs. the input field).

18 Jul

Shawn Blanc – Reading on the iPad

And so — perhaps intentionally, or perhaps unintentionally — digital magazines that replicate their printed versions are, in some ways, feeding on the mindset that printed content has a higher value and novelty than digital content does.

They replicate their printed magazines in digital format because they are trying to convey some of that perceived quality and value that historically comes with the printed page. The reader may not be holding a piece of paper, but at least they’re looking at what would be the printed page through the window of their screen.

Unfortunately, replicating print onto a digital format doesn’t best serve the problems of great user experience, sharing through social media, and taking advantage of the rich media possibilities our iPads provide. It does, however, appease the publisher’s need to convey value with their content.

via Shawn Blanc – Reading on the iPad. Not having an iPad I can’t speak from experience but it certainly vibes with how it feels when I’ve tried digital version of magazines such as Wired.

13 Jul

WSJ.com – Amazon Plans iPad Rival

Amazon plans to release a tablet computer by October, people familiar with the matter said, intensifying its rivalry with Apple’s iPad.

Amazon’s tablet will have a roughly nine-inch screen and will run on Google’s Android platform, said people familiar with the device. Unlike the iPad, it won’t have a camera, one of these people said. While the pricing and distribution of the device is unclear, the online retailer won’t design the initial tablet itself. It also is outsourcing production to an Asian manufacturer, the people said.

One of the people said the company is working on another model, of its own design, that could be released next year.

The introduction of a tablet poses a conundrum for Amazon on how to keep from cannibalizing sales of its popular Kindle. Amazon has long said the Kindle is its best-selling device, though it has declined to disclose sales.

A person familiar with Amazon’s thinking said it still figuring out how to market the tablet computer. One issue is whether customers will want to buy both the tablet and Kindle, which is viewed as a dedicated-reading device for bookworms.

Amazon plans to introduce two updated versions of its black-and-white Kindle in this year’s third quarter, people familiar with the matter said. One of the new Kindles will have a touch screen, which current models don’t have.

WSJ.com – Amazon Plans iPad Rival. An Amazon tablet I’ll probably pass on, in so much as at the moment I’ll pass on the iPad. I’m not sure where a tablet fits into how I consume/create content. A new Kindle though I’ve been waiting for that, defiantly pick up one of those puppies.

13 May

The Official Google Code Blog – Making money with Google In-App Payments for the Web

Today at Google I/O, we launched the developer API of Google In-App Payments for the web. In-App Payments enables any web application to receive payments from users and keep them engaged in your application. It is available to all US developers in sandbox today and will be followed by a consumer launch and an international rollout over the summer.

via The Official Google Code Blog – Making money with Google In-App Payments for the Web. The most interesting part of this is the 5% fee, most payment services charge 2-3%, so double that for Google to cover their hosting costs and such and it seems pretty reasonable. Here is where it gets interesting this puts Apple at a distinct dis-advantage. Apple charges 30% on everything (purchase an app, music, in-app purchases, etc). For ebook readers this creates a non-existent business model due to the agency model that publishers now require all books sold to recieve 70% of the purchase price (ie not wholesale price but what the customer actually paid). So 30% to Apple and 70% to the publisher means nothing get’s left over for the middle-person. That 70% cut could be argued as a problem, but the publisher is one paying for the advertising, development and writing of the book itself, 70% seems like an acceptable cut.

Google is really demonstrating what seems like the fairer margin for the service that serves, stores, builds the store, etc. Apples cut feels too high. Apple does valuable work and important work and it’s a fair argument that without all of Apple’s work there wouldn’t even be this store or platform for developers and publishers to sell their content. But the margin that Apple takes doesn’t seem right, especially when looking at e-books. Etsy is a great example of where the fees seem much more realistic, 20 cents per item listed and 3.5% sales fee. There is a business model that is working and doing much the same as Apple currently is with their App Store. Apple’s cut is so out of portion to everything else comparable is the real problem.

I’ll agree that this is defiantly a subjective claim as it’s hard to state what is and isn’t a viable or reasonable business model, and certainly Apple can charge a 30% or 5% or 90% fee and they are within their rights to do so. The argument can also be made, that a business shouldn’t bet their model on Apple treating them fairly cause that’s never a good idea, Apple defiantly does what is right for Apple. However if Apple doesn’t change their stance I can defiantly see Amazon just pulling out of the App Store and launching their service as a web app. It’s not the best solution for them, but it’s better than Apple taking every penny they make on e-books, especially when the competing smartphone platform takes only 5%.

01 May

carpeaqua – We’ll Fix Our Platform In Post

Apple has a year head start on their competition in tablets, and the slow rate of updates coming from their competition does not make me believe the lead shrink in the future. Releasing software is hard, but Apple seems to be the only one that can release half a dozen updates over the course of a year that both fix bugs and add functionality to users existing tablets and phones. Microsoft continues to release major updates as giant service packs that seemingly will come out twice a year. Google’s not saying much about their Honeycomb improvements and how or if they will even be distributed to existing tablet owners. If anything, RIM’s eighteen CEO’s keep it interesting by promising everything they can dream up.

To make a dent in Apple’s market lead, Google, Microsoft, Blackberry and HP (eventually) need to focus less on the hardware specs or openness of their platform, and more on getting software updates to their existing user base on a regular basis. Hardware specs are porn for the gadget blogs, but software and apps are what sell tablets and phones to regular users. iOS is not without flaws, but I can’t think of any gaping holes in the platform that make it hard to justify an iPad or iPhone to someone. I would run out of fingers if I had to list all the holes in the Xoom or Playbook.

via carpeaqua – We’ll Fix Our Platform In Post. It’s one thing to come out with a product half finished, it’s another to come out and say you’ll finish the product and never do. The biggest thing that Apple tends to get right is nothing comes out feeling unpolished, there may be things missing from the product that people desire (copy and paste and an SDK for iOS is a good example) but the product itself doesn’t feel incomplete without those pieces. This work by RIM and Microsoft in particular not only is the product itself lacking but the companies keep promising the sky and delivering very little.

10 Apr

Design Shack – UI Design: Should We Really Be Afraid of the Uncanny Valley?

Is realism abused in UI design? You bet. Are realistic iPad interfaces a trend that will pass? Absolutely. Are they for everyone? Absolutely not. Minimal apps like iA Writer often sell like hotcakes because they abandon realism in favor of pure efficiency.

The point that I’m making in this article is that “realism” is not the dirty word that designers are currently making it out to be. As a designer, you shouldn’t abandon a really great interface idea in fear that the Uncanny Valley police will come and get you. You should definitely be mindful of this principle, note that even Apple’s interfaces intentionally shy far away from photorealism, but you shouldn’t be afraid that a little bit of texture will make users hate your app.

Successful UI designers know that a solid, usable foundation is the basis for any well-design application. How much extra styling you apply depends on your target audience and whether or not they will perceive it as helping or hindering the design as well as the context of the application.

Ask yourself the following questions: Does my metaphor make sense in this setting? Will the layout stay strong if the metaphor is taken away? Am I applying realism to improve the app’s acceptance and usability or because I’m prone to following trends? Does my target audience tend to love or hate similar ideas?

via Design Shack – UI Design: Should We Really Be Afraid of the Uncanny Valley?. Good points, a little bit of realism isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but just don’t take it too far.