Newton Magic

June 30, 2009
As part of my larger efforts to clear out my Office and reduce clutter (which is turning more like shuffling clutter to other parts of the house) I came across a couple of Newton
Message Pads from the mid-90s including the fabulous Newton 2100.

On a whim, I popped in 4 AA batteries and hit the power switch… Brrrring, she came to life with the familiar Newton trill and even more amazing woke up with all her data intact. Yep; everything. All my calendar entries from 1997, my contacts, every application installed and working just fine and all my scribbled notes. All exactly the way I left it so many years. What a stunning example of elegant technology and engineering. Newton was flawed in many ways but in many others, no product on the market has ever matched her elegance, style and techno-wizardry.

Historical note; Newton shortly after its release was lampooned in a famous series of Doonesbury cartoons which led to Steve Capps wife conspiring with Gary Trudeau to create the famous egg freckles Easter egg.

The intellectual avocado-colored kitchen appliance

June 30, 2009

The biggest competition to Microsoft on the desktop is not Linux or any other product. It’s past Microsoft products and to some degree future ones that are the real threat. XP is what Microsoft needs to worry about with Windows 7, not Mac OS or Linux.

Windows 95 finally added a GUI to Windows that was workable. Win2k and XP refined that usability with the stability of the NT kernel. I am still not sure where the overall value of Windows 7 will come into play. I was reminded of a comment in Douglas Coupland’s Microserfs, where one of the characters says somrthing along the lines of “The current GUI desktop metaphor is the intellectual avocado-colored kitchen appliance of the 21st century.” AMEN.

Adding UI tweaks and glitzy effects doesn’t change the mix that much. It’s not just about simplicity or even reliability. Show me some new things that will empower us in new ways and I’ll buy. Show me cool new apps that take advantage of the OS and can’t be had anyplace else (there was exactly one app that required Vista to use until it was killed. Bonus points if you know what it was) Otherwise, what we have today might just be good enough. Even more interesting is the window of opportunity for Apple that has a real alternative platform to Windows to gain market share while Windows 7 comes to market.

Microsoft needs a more compelling OS story and soon.

Off Road Lessons

June 30, 2009

It’s been a busy summer for folks who cover the tech industry and I’m off the road the road for a week or two. Some quick thoughts;

1. My iPod lasts the entire plane flight from NY to the west coast and is the perfect size. Any less would not due and more would not be necessary. Vendors who continue to attempt competing products should reconsider unless there’s some way to really differentiate.

2. I fly Continental a lot. Mostly because Newark is a Hub and flying out of Newark saves me the hassle of shlepping to JFK or LaGuardia. In the course of an average year I fly over a 100,000 miles with them. I only have two requests, a bulkhead aisle set (to accommodate my 6’’4”” frame) and a fruit plate. I never get either unless I put a ridiculous amount of effort in. They recently priced a fare out to San Francisco for my next trip at $2,000. Jet Blue will cost me $300 for the same trip. I probably won’t get a bulkhead aisle or a fruit plate on Jet Blue but at least I won’t feel like an idiot either.

3. Marriott hotels have free high speed internet access and several power outlets at the in room desk. W Hotels charge you $15 a day for the privilege and have one outlet. But they do have a heavenly bed.

4. A Starbuck’s Mocha is a wonderful travel companion. Peet’s is still my favorite coffee if I can find it. Fortunately there’s a Peet’s across the street from the Westin on Market St. in SF (which isn’t really on Market St.) and there’s one at SFO.

5. Watching Casablanca on the flight home on your laptop is far more enjoyable at 1:00am than watching “whatever Continental has been showing for this month” for the 10th time.

6. Some companies forbid their employees to have dinner with analysts unless they have gone through analyst training (presumably to avoid any of our analyst Jedi-Mind Tricks). To my dinner companions over the last month, your secrets are safe with me and let’s do it again soon.

Oh, and if I have to sit on the runway for two hours after you close the door and prior to take-off, i do not think of it as an on time departure!

Win 7 upgrade pricing is a missed opportunity

June 25, 2009

I’m looking at Microsoft’s Win 7 pricing that they’ve announced today and have to wonder what they were thinking. Here’s what we’re looking at.

$119 for Home Premium
$199 for Professional
$219 for Ultimate

Oddly, Microsoft is doing a limited promotion where you can pre-order a “full” copy of Windows for less than the upgrade price. Home Premium is $49 and Pro is $99. Of course, these are only available for a limited time and to limited numbers. Good luck trying to snag a copy :) BTW, the European situation is even more odd, where Microsoft views one dollar as equal to one pound.

The reality of it is Windows 7 is not a major update to Windows. It is Windows Vista done right and what Microsoft customers should have delivered a long time ago. The $49 initial price is nice reward for loyal customers but the “real” upgrade pricing is way off for what the market will likely bear, especially during these economic times. Of course the irony is that most corporate customers won’t pay anything near these prices thanks to things like volume license agreements so it’s small business and the consumer that’s going to get pay the higher costs. My advice, if you really want 7, try to get pre-order before “supplies” run out (Microsoft isn’t saying how many copies they’re making available at this price, perhaps we are seeing the great Windows 7 shortage of 2009).

This is a case where Apple showed the way. Snow Leopard is also not major update but rather an enhanced version of Leopard. With an upgrade price of $29, that’s about where MSFT should be for the Home Premium version of 7. This is a missed opportunity that could have catapulted MSFT into the spotlight. For now, I expect a lot of Windows consumers are going to just stay where they are.

Can this Hero save Android?

June 24, 2009


It’s the mobile platform with the might of Google behind it, but with only a few devices on the market Android’s hardly been a stellar success. While the G1 and the new myTouch from T-Mobile are both excellent, both have a lot to be desired from a UI and feature perspective. The Android native UI wasn’t overly interesting and the devices were missing basic features like a standard audio jack. With the introduction of the Hero this morning, HTC offers a compelling Android design along with some very nice UI enhancements. (HTC for the last two years been working on taming Windows Mobile with some excellent UI features called TouchFlo, it’s excellent to see them at work on Android).

Specs include a GPS, digital compass, a gravity-sensor, 3.5mm stereo headset jack, a 5 mega-pixel autofocus camera and expandable MicroSD memory. The Hero also has a dedicated search button that allows search through Twitter, locating contacts, find emails or search for any data that’s on Hero.

Most important though is HTC’s UI for Android called HTC Sense. The Ui is fluid and worked well in hands on and really updates the rather dull Android UI into something that looks and feels modern. The ability to set widgets to display “glanceable” information screens is both useful and powerful. It was easy to switch between things like Twitter views, weather, calendars and time zones. It’s the home screen concept for information done right. The Sense UI also allows for integration of data stream into one view (not unlike Palm’s Synergy in concept). HTC showed Facebook status updates and photos along with Flickr photos alongside text messages, emails and call history in a single view. Excellent and nicely done.

Downside? The Hero will be available to people across all major European carriers in July and in Asia this summer. A North American version won’t be available until later in 2009. That’s a shame because this is the Hero looks to be the first device that really begins to unlock the Android potential. Full hands on once I get some quality time with a device in the near future.

HTC mystery event in NY and London tomorrow

June 23, 2009

HTC will be doing an event in NY and London tomorrow. I’ll be there in NY tomorrow morning live. As always, should be interesting what HTC has planned.

What do you get when you cross a T400 and X300?

June 23, 2009

Lenovo met the ultrathin challenge with their X300 machine and has also delivered a great 14″ device with their larger T400 series. What if you combined some of the best features of both? The result would be something that weighed less than four pounds, still offered and integrated optical disk, got six hours of battery life and was less than an inch thick. That’s exactly what Lenovo delivered today with introduction of the ThinkPad T400s. I’ve been huge ThinkPad fan since the first devices came out and with this new model, Lenovo has once again delivered a great new product to the ThinkPad family.

The answer is the Lenovo T400s, a new thin and light ThinkPad that delivers a powerful package in a very think body. I’ve been using one for a few weeks with a 2.4ghz P9400, 2GB of RAM and a 128gb SSD. The machine also has 1 USB/ eSATA, 1 USB 2.0 (which will charge devices even when turned off), VGA and Display Port (for up to two additional monitors.).

The excellent ThinkPad keyboard has a slight facelift with slightly better key spacing and size and as will all ThinkPads, was a delight to type on. New are dual microphones for cancelling echoes on VOIP calls and a very handy mute button. Lenovo’s taken a page from Apple’s playbook with a multitouch trackpad with functions such as zoom in/out and scrolling with two fingers. While not as smooth as Apple’s latest offerings, Lenovo’s does come in second and is the best I’ve seen any vendor deliver on a PC platform.

Windows Vista Business ran well, even with the integrated graphics but this isn’t going to be a great gaming rig (nor was it designed to be). Casual games run fine but higher end gamers should look elsewhere. Productivity apps worked well and load times along with suspend and resume were excellent. Battery life was great and I had no problems getting six hours of battery life with the screen at mid brightness. I could easily get across country this machine. (I’m looking at six hours as minimum for new machines going forward. Just not worth trying to use machines that can’t get me from NY to SF on single charge)

Configs start at $1,599, which is a little on the high end but given the performance, feature set and form factor make for a pretty compelling package. If you’re looking for a thin and light PC, the T400 should be on the short list.

myTouch looks nice but not exciting

June 22, 2009

T-Mobile announced their latest Android device, the myTouch. Engadget notes it’sthe same.

“HTC Magic that has already shipped in parts of Europe, Asia, and Canada features a 3.2-inch 480 x 320 touchscreen, AWS 3G for use on T-Mobile’s high-speed network paired with quadband EDGE for global roaming, WiFi, a 3.2 megapixel camera, Exchange support, and — of course — Android 1.5 with all the virtual keyboardin’ you can handle.”

Except, it doesn’t really have Exchange support (T-Mobile’s press release notes it supports Exchange IMAP but not calendars and contacts). That’s pretty much a deal breaker for anyone that needs to use their phone in a corporate setting and I can’t say the rest of the specs blow me away either. It’s a nice, touchscreen device that Android aficionados will love but I somehow just can’t too worked up over it.

Viliv is NOT the future of handhelds

June 22, 2009

CNET asks if Viliv is the future of handhelds. Answer, it’s not.

We’ve been down this path before, except then they are called UMPCs. At $599 to $899 the device is overpriced, underpowered and couldn’t even begin to replace a device like the Asus 1000HE which sells for a fraction of the price. Not to mention no real retail channel support except for an online importer.

Tweener devices like this will continue to fail because they can’t replace most consumers laptop needs (that keyboard turns out to be pretty important for content creation) on one end of the device spectrum nor can they replace the phone on the other end of the scale. Sure, they might even sell 50,00 of them (or not) But this is hardly the future of devices, it’s just another answer to a problem that no one really has.

Twitter and me

June 22, 2009

Perhaps you’ve heard of it? It’s called Twitter. I admit it, I wasn’t a fan of Twitter at first. I signed on very early (back when Robert Scoble had less than a hundred followers) and didn’t think too much of it. Even as the service matured, it’s still wasn’t something I was willing to invest time in. After all, did I really have that much interest in following other people’s “life-casting” activities. I had three main objections, perhaps you had them as well.

First, it was another queue to check. With work email, personal email, and a full complement of RSS feeds flowing, why add one more thing that needs to be checked and answered? I had no desire to add to this. While it looked like I could add Twitter into the flow of RSS feeds I already read, I quickly realized I did not want to do that. Second, It was another place to post to. I already have a weblog for longer thoughts and Facebook for short posts that might be of interest to my social network. Why would I need yet anther place to post? Finally, I had already invested time and effort into services such Facebook and LinkedIn, did I really want (or have the time) to start adding creating yet another social network.

The answer was yes. Despite all these issues, I was definitely missing out on valuable information flow and needed to figure out a way to get this type of dialogue into my existing work/information flow. Twitter became much more than just idea lifecasting (although I confess to doing that sometimes as well.) For me it’s about a real-time conversation that allows interaction as things happen. Even better, there’s a whole slew of tools that have evolved that making interacting with Twitter easier than ever. Most platforms have a Twitter application (I personally like Twitterific on the iPhone, and Tweetie for Mac OS).

As someone who often needs to think in soundbites, I can tell you that saying something interesting in the 140 characters is clearly an art but it’s also a valuable way to tap into trends into real-time and get a sense of what’s really going on at any given moment, as things are happening. Even though it is another queue to check, for many folks it is worth the time and effort. For businesses, it’s become a powerful way to constantly push information out to customers and clients and over the events of the last week in Iran, it’s become a geo-political tool as well.

Most of all, it’s fun. While there’s been attempts at similar service (especially when Twitter’s reliability was so poor at times, it’s given birth to whole new buzzword, “fail whale”, a nod to the graphic displays when Twitter is overloaded). Perhaps one day there will be many Twitter like services but for now Twitter is where most of the action is at and the center of gravity still lies. (this includes Twitter books, Twitter conferences, Twitter consultants, Twitter ghost writers and probably Twitter – The Motion Picture and Twitter the Theme Park sometime in the near future)

The poet Robert Frost said, “why abandon a belief merely because it ceases to be correct?” In this case, I was wrong about Twitter and it’s potential value to me.

Feel free to follow me at, ‘tweet you later.

The Enemy of My Enemy is My Friend

June 19, 2009

is not a product strategy. It just doesn’t work. If you’re going to marry someone, do it for love, not because the two of you hate the same person.

My how the world has changed

June 19, 2009

BusinessWeek cover from 1996

The article is still linked online here.

Dorothy Parker

June 19, 2009

Every so often, I get an email asking how I write what I write and where do my ideas come from and how do you get over writer’s block.

The answer is, I don’t know. I think about what interests me and go from there. Writing is hard. It’s called a discipline for a reason. I start every day writing. I for about at least an hour early every day. Every morning, on the road or not (which is more than I can say about my workout schedule). I force myself to write *something*. Some of it becomes blog posts, some of it makes it into research reports, some of it goes into columns and one day, some of it will go into a book I want to do about the research industry. It all gets used somewhere :) The key to writing, is well, writing. Don’t ask about, just do it, ask people to read it, and keep iterating.

Dorothy Parker said it best for all those who make their living with words. “I hate writing, but love having written”.

iPhone 3GS – First Hands On

June 17, 2009

On schedule, Apple released the new iPhone 3.0 upgrade today. I’ve talked about those features in the past and in use Apple delivered well on what they promised.

The iPhone 3G S itself won’t go on sale until Friday 7am local time, but I was fortunate to get an early look at the new model. Here’s some thoughts. I’ve talked about the 3.0 updates in the past but combined with the new hardware, Apple once again has raised the bar for features and performance for smartphones along with changing the price/performance curve as well.

First, the hardware. The new iPhone 3G S hardware is very nice, and feels identical the 3G model it replaces, It has the same great hand feel. Apple says the screen now has a special coating to make it easier to keep clean. It definitely is easier to give the screen a quick swipe to get rid of accumulated face grease and other gunk. All older accessories I’ve tried seem to work well including the Mophie Juice Pack Air I sometimes use to augment battery life on plane rides.

The S in 3G S stands for speed and Apple isn’t kidding. This is the best performing phone I have ever used. Apple claims 2-3X performance and I believe it. Tasks such as launching and reading mail are much faster. Just swiping from page to page or paging through pictures is more fluid and seamless. Apps that were frustrating to use, such as the NY Times Reader now work flawlessly and nearly instantly. I found going to back to the 3G was almost frustrating after carrying the 3G S around for a bit. While the $99 3G might be tempting, the speed and overall performance, along with greater memory capacity should make the 3G S a serious choice for anyone purchasing. As a phone, The 3G S performs well and in general seems to get better coverage than my 3G. I find I get 3G connections more often and less dropped calls which is nice.

It’s a little early for me to talk battery life but it looks like it passes my personal battery test, can I make it through a very busy day of phone calls and data access without a recharge. That was something that was hard to do on the 3G but seems to be just fine on the 3G S. The iPhone still underscores the problem with smartphones, as they increase features and those features become usable, we will use them more and that will affect battery life. Start using your phone a lot for 3G access, phone calls and media playing and it’s a challenge to make the battery last as long as you’d like. Call quality was excellent over speaker, handset and Bluetooth. I also had no problems pairing and streaming Bluetooth audio to a set of Bluetooth speakers.

So what’s new other than speed and battery life? The new compass feature is quite cool and it ties nicely into the GPS/Google Maps app. While it sounds gratuitous, it’s actually quite useful to help orient yourself correctly when you’re out and about. Is it a killer feature? No, but it showcases the attention to detail that Apple puts into devices. The new voice control feature is fun and I found it to be quite accurate. Tied into the GPS is the new “find my iPhone feature”. This feature is for Apple’s MobileMe customers and is in my opinion worth the price of the Mobile Me service. Leave your iPhone somewhere and you can see exactly where you left with on screen maps on your PC. You can also a send a message to the device that will display along with an audio cue. Perfect for attracting a waiter’s attention when you leave your iPhone in a restaurant. Even better, it will sound the audio tone even if volume is off. Worst case, you can do a full remote wipe as well. While I didn’t test the remote wipe capability, the service had no problem finding the device when I left it on the living room couch and beeped loud enough so I could find it. Excellent feature!

As my car has integrated Bluetooth and voice control, it’s not a feature I use a lot but if you’re lacking such integration, the iPhone 3G S is excellent. I had no problem initiating calls, creating new Genius playlists Having the commands float by on the screen as part of the help function works quite well. The camera update is welcomed, although I’d still like some sort of flash for indoor use. The camera launches quickly (and can be set to load when you double click the home key). Pictures were nice and clear and the new 3MP resolution looks great. A flash would still be welcome. Video capture at 30fps in VGA quality worked well. I had no problems trimming a video clip and then sending it on through email. Unfortunately, I couldn’t test either tethering or MMS as neither is currently supported by ATT. Finally, the added memory capacity is quite welcomed. My test unit has 32gb of memory and this is the only unit I’d consider purchasing. Given the size of media files and new applications, make sure you’re thinking about your current and future needs before you buy. Like previous models, there’s no way to add memory to the device post purchase.

The 3.0 update delivers on what Apple promised and I’ve found almost no issues with the new OS and hardware in terms of backwards compatibility. The only application that didn’t work for me was Galaga which seems to flake out on the new video hardware. I haven’t had a chance to test 3.0 on older devices yet so it’s hard to tell whether it’s a hardware or software issue. All other games and apps I tested worked just fine.

As part of the 3.0 update, Apple has added cut/copy/paste as well as landscape support for the keyboard in most apps including mail. While a clipboard is nice, it’s not a feature I find I need that often (mostly to paste URLs from Safari into Tweetie). Landscape keyboard on the other hand is a huge improvement. I’ve never been super comfortable typing on the portrait display but with landscape mode I can type as well, if not faster, than I can on most keyboard based devices I’ve used. If you’ve been skeptical of the iPhone’s virtual keyboard, then you must try the new landscape mode. It makes a world of difference in my opinion.

Apple has also integrated Spotlight search directly into the UI. From the home screen it’s easy to search for an app, calendar appointment or email. In email, it’s not only possible to search email on the device but emails located on the server. This is a huge feature and something that every mobile device needs. Fortunately, it’s here today on iPhone.

Finally, the voice memo feature works, but I found the Mic pickup to be low and I had to speak much louder than I’d have liked to record. As with features like this, your mileage may vary. In addition, there’s a lot of little tweaks to overall usability and much better support for foreign languages. I changed the UI to Hebrew and had no problems working with full right to left character support. This will no doubt be welcomed in places outside of the US with non Roman languages.

The new hardware and software remain only part of the story and perhaps not even the most the least important part. Both the 3G S and OS 3.0 are evolutionary and not revolutionary (although parts are quite revolutionary) The real magic is in the all the software that’s available on the iPhone and iPod Touch devices, going back to first generation devices. That’s because iPhone is a now a bona fide software platform, with more than 50,000 applications. I’ve talked in the past how everyone wants to be a platform, because platforms are powerful, they generate revenue. But there’s a natural catch-22 to platforms. Developers typically are not interested in developing until there’s a solid base (like a million + units) and device companies can’t get that base without third party apps. Apple has now broken this logjam, giving a real user base of 40 million + devices fpr developers to go after. The app store is now the standard which other platforms will be measured against and will serve to not only help keep existing users but drive new users to the platform as well.

Bottom line? The iPhone 3G more than made up for my initial issues with the platform and the 3G S takes it to a whole new level in terms of performance and features. While Apple hasn’t fundamentally changed the way we organize and sync information as Palm has with Synergy or HTC ingrates with their new TouchFlo UI, they have done a good job of taking the platform to the next level and delivering a powerful updated experience.

Perhaps, it would be nice to see a removable battery but I’ve learned to live with sealed batteries over years of iPod and iPhone use and have never found it an issue. New buyers should strongly consider the upsell to the 3G S and avoid the 3G if budget permits. The performance gain, new hardware features and added capacity make the additional cost well worth it in my opinion. If you’re an existing 3G user, you’ll have to factor in that you’ve already been subsidized once by ATT and getting onto the new platform is going to cost more for you. That’s pretty much standard in the industry. I’ve already seen some ATT customers reporting they’ve been given the upgrade pricing. It’s worth a try and of course, it always pays to be nice and courteous when you make those calls. I personally would bite the bullet and upgrade, the performance and capacity alone make that equation worthwhile for me but if you don’t decide to upgrade, remember you can get many of the 3.0 software enhancements for free with the new update available today.

Nearly two years ago, Apple was a new player entering the market and was met with skepticism by some that they could have an impact so late in the phone game. The reality is Apple is now firmly established as a major player in the mobile space with a powerful combination of platform, services and devices with a solid foundation for future growth and adoption. The newest member of the iPhone family, the 3G S, while not perfect once again sets the standard for the competition and is the gold standard for smartphones. At least as of today.

Developers, Developers, Developers

June 9, 2009

Apple Unveils iPhone 3G S – First Take

June 8, 2009

FInally, it’s time for an iPhone update. First Apple has some stats. More than 50,00 apps in the store now and combined platform presence of more than 40 million devices to support that platform (that’s iPhone and iPod Touch. Apple didn’t break out the numbers but it’s not too hard to figure out). There was a quick recap of the OS 3.0 feature set and a few new things detailed.

1. There’s now access to the full iTunes store on the device including music and movies. Same rules apply as to 3G access for content.

2. Tethering is officially supported but it’s carrier by carrier. Apple says ATT has not stated it’s position on tethering yet. Hope they see the light and allow it.

3. New feature for MobileMe users called Find My iPhone. Very cool. Leave your iPhone somewhere and you can see exactly where you left with on screen maps. You can also a send a message to the device that will display along with a audio cue. Perfect for attracting a waiter’s attention when you leave your iPhone in a restaurant. Even better, it will sound the audio tone even if volume is off. Worst case, you can do a full remote wipe as well.

The big news though is the next generation of the iPhone, called iPhone 3G S. The S standing for speed. Coming in the same form factor as the curerent iPhone 3G, Apple says the new iPhone is on average 2X faster than the current generation. But that’s not all. There’s full suport for 7.2 MBPS HSDPA, a new 3MP camera with autofocus and the ability to record 30 FPS VGA video. There’s also a basic video editor integrated into the phone and videos can be emailed, MMS or send directly to You Tube. There’s also a very cool implemation of voice control (you have to see the UI in action to appreciate it) and a digital compass that’s API addressable as well as integrated into maps. Other new features include Nike + integration and encryption built directly into hardware (which among other things, mean wipe remote is near instant).

Apple’s doing two configs at the current price points. One will be 16gb and the other 32gb for $199 and $299 respectively. The bigger news is there’s indeed a $99 iPhone now, the current iPhone 3G will now be offered in an 8gb version for $99. That’s huge and potentially very, very disruptive for Apple competitors. Be interesting to see how others responds to a $99 iPhone.

$99 model drops today, OS 3.0 hits on june 17th and the new 3G S comes on the 19th.

Bottom line? Apple both raised the bar in terms of price and performance with a 32gb 3G S model (at a $299 price point) and hit the magic $99 for a full featured iPhone. Considering that two years ago an 8gb iPhone would have set you back $599, that’s going to attract a lot of new iPhone users to the fold. With then models combined with a commanding presence in the application market, the iPhone is still the platform that most consumers are going to weigh against when making their purchase decisions. This summer’s smartphone battle is on in a big way. I’ll have more to say once 3.0 and the new devices are released.

Apple Introduces Snow Leopard – First Take

June 8, 2009

Next up, Snow Leopard. Apple is officially calling this 10.6 As previously noted, it’s a full 64 bit OS and works with Intel Macs only. This is the OS release that spells the final swan song for Power PC. Not a surprise and let’s face it, if you’re not on an Intel Mac, it’s time to move on. Lots of stuff that falls into three core buckets, Refinements, Technologies, and Exchange.

In terms of Refinements, Apple’s made some nice tweaks to the UI. Expose, for example is now integrated into the dock. Safari 4 is the default browser (and it’s now golden for all platforms as well as of today). Apple claims it’s now almost 8x faster than IE. Wow. There’s also a new version of Quicktime that supports lots of good stuff like hardware acceleration, color sync and HTTP streaming.

With tech, Apple’s got a lot of new stuff that will definitely appeal to this audience. As mentioned, Snow Leopard is 64 bit so there is essentially no memory limit (there is a cap but it’s 16 billion gigabytes). All the OS apps are now 64 bit so they’ll perform accordingly. In addition Apple has integrated multi-core support directly into the OS so devs don’t have to deal with threads. Called Grand Central Dispatch is the name of the manager and developers can deal with it at the app and API level. Nice.

From an end user view, the biggest feature is Exchange support. Yep, Snow Leopard has direct support for calendar, address book and email for Exchange 2007. Excellent. This is probably one of the most important things Apple has done and totally opens the Mac to the business market. While Entourage has supported Exchange for some time, Apple’s integration might obviate the need for that going forward. Combined with iWork, Apple now has very credible software support for business functionality.

Devs get a release today and general release will be in Sept. Best news? Pricing is $29 for a single license and $49 for the family pack. That pretty much makes this a no brainer. There’s an OS war brewing (Apple took a few Vista, Win 7 shots) and at this point, it’s looking to me like Snow Leopard comes out ahead. It will be fun to put these two things head to head in final release.

Apple Updates Macbook line. First Take

June 8, 2009

Apple kicked things off this morning at their worldwide developers conference with lots of news. First up, new refresh to the Macbook line. Apple refreshed the 13″ uni-body Macbook and 15″ Macbook Pro with faster processors, more addressable memory, larger hard drives and built in battery the debuted with the 17″ Macbook Pro in January. The 15″ loses an express card in favor of an SD slot and the 13″ gains the SD slot. In fact, there are so many improvements that Apple now calls the uni-body 13″ machine a Macbook Pro now, which seems fitting.

Price points for the new units have dropped as well. The 13″ now starts at $1,199 and the 15″ starts at $1,699. Some price adjustments to the 17″ and Macbook Air as well. Nicely done and very well balanced product line, including a refreshed Macbook that Apple quietly upgraded a few weeks ago.

Nice upgrade to the line. New price points will be welcome. In particular the 13″ line looks very well positioned for back to school. New stuff is all available today.

MID market is much larger than 30,000

June 7, 2009

Last week I talked about how the MID market hadn’t even hit my low threshold for 50,000 of anything that can be sold. Truth is, there’s a larger market and story that isn’t being told. There’s actually millions of MIDs out there but it depends on whether you count devices that essentially are MIDs in terms of functions (pocketable, connected, designed for web, email, media and other apps) as opposed to being branded as MID. What am I referring to? Clearly the most popular MID on the market that isn’t called a MID. It’s called an iPod Touch.

Apple’s WWDC coverage

June 7, 2009

I’ll be Twittering live tomorrow starting at 10am PDT. Feel free to follow the action on I’ll also be available post keynote for any press media looking for comment. Feel free to email or give me a call at 201.862.0443.

I was wrong

June 5, 2009

i’ve long stated that there’s a worldwide market for 50,000 of anything when it comes to consumer electronics. In the case of MIDs though, it appears that there’s not even a market for that many.

DigiTimes is reporting sales of just 30,000 units compared to the 150,000 – 200,000 units Intel promised estimated. Intel claims that the weak sales were due to the global economic downturn but we have another opinion: mainstream consumers don’t want a device that is too big for the pocket, provides less functionality than a netbook, and is priced like a laptop.

Of course, a lot depends on how you define a MID. While, I’ll have more to say on that topic next week. In the meantime, how do you define the term MID, Intel marketing aside for the moment.

Palm Pre ad captures the intersection of business and consumer

June 4, 2009

One of the most compelling features of the Pre is Synergy, the ability to integrate personal and business information into one cohesive view. The first Palm ad does a fantastic job showing off how mobile is the intersection between business and personal lives. This is conceptual mobile marketing done the right way.
Check it out for yourself here. Nicely done Palm.

Tweet up in SF Monday evening

June 4, 2009

I’ll be in SF most of next week to meet with clients and of course, I’ll be at the Apple WWDC keynote on Monday. Monday evening, I’ll be getting together with the good folks at Hill and Knowlton for a good ‘ol fashioned tweetup at their place (303 Second Street, South Tower on the 9th floor) starting at 5.30

You can get all the details on Kaye Monty’s blog but there will be some food and drink and we’ll schmooze about whatever Apple announced that day along with anything else that comes to mind. See you next week.

Palm Pre Arrives – My First Thoughts

June 4, 2009

Embargo finally lifted this morning so I can talk about my experiences with the device. There are quite a few reviews out there this morning (including lots of commentary from folks that haven’t spent five minutes with a device) so I’ll start with some first thoughts and then add some more commentary as I get a chance to use the device more.

Hardware – It’s been talked about before but the design is quite nice and is comfortable to hold and use. There’s been some discussion about the keyboard but after using it for a bit, I actually like it. One key factor is the phone is balanced very well so that using the keyboard doesn’t make the phone feel top heavy. No problems for me typing and the feel is better than either the Centro or Treo Pro (even though the keys are slightly smaller than the Treo Pro’s). Screen is bright and beautiful and responds well to multi touch. Gestures are a little different so there’s a small learning curve if you’re coming from a new device. Not an issue after five minutes. One interesting thing, my iPhone headphones worked just fine. Was able to take calls with them, pause and play music as well as skip. Would never have thought that would have worked in a million years.

Synergy – Pleased to say, it works as advertised, which is either good or bad depending on your view. As most of my Facebook contacts are folks that I know, having the ability to integrate directly to my contacts and fill in information i was missing was a good thing. As usual, integrating Google contacts is a mess and I’m probably going to turn off that integration. That’s really more a Google issue than a Palm one. From a technical perspective, the process was smooth. I had no problem integrating Facebook, Google contacts and Exchange into one set of contacts and calendars along with a unified inbox for Excahnge and Gmail. Fixing stuff that was duplicated because of different naming conventions was a breeze. It was also a great way of cleaning out clutter in my contact list. This is still a killer app for me.

iTunes Sync – It works. Out of the box. No other software needed (and that’s the big difference between Pre and most other devices). Synced all my content over (except protected content) with no issues. Just looked a device called Pre. Not sure how they did it, but they did but it’s excellent. Also synced pictures as well, nice little bonus when you select include “high res” option in iTunes. Sadly, no picture folders are maintained, they all go into one folder called media sync.

Classic – First off, it’s a paid service. Trial version is good for a week. Mostly works. Forget about Slingbox, Game emulators and the like. They just don’t seem to work. With some trickery I was able to move some files to places not normally allowed to get some stuff working. On the other hand, old apps that go way back to my first Palm Pilot like Golf Solitaire work just fine. Pretty amazing. One annoying bug is the Hot Sync name utility won’t accept Michael Gartenberg as a name. It’s both too long and won’t accept spaces. That’s an issue as I can’t register some apps I’d like to work with that are expecting that name.

App Store – Small but good selection of content. Pandora, Flixter, a few Twitter clients, NY Times (which actually works unlike the iPhone version), AP, Accuweather. All performed well. Pandora works nicely as a background app as do the Twitter clients. Let’s face it, Apple has defined how and app store works and Palm’s going to need fill out the content in there quickly. As Ballmer says, developers, developers, developers and Apple has them.

Sprint services – Just had time to try the mobile TV app which worked nicely over 3g. Will try the Nav app later on

Charging Puck – Super cool. This is the way this stuff should work. Just plop it down and it works. Amazing.

Bottom Line – Palm’s clearly delivered on the vision they articulated last January and the Pre/WebOS combo are clearly going to be a mobile to force to be reckoned with. It’s the first platform that’s really differentiated itself from the iPhone and looks to be among the few devices that could serve as competition to that most iconic of phones. Should you buy? That’s a harder question. Palm’s clearly upped the mobile game with features that aren’t available elsewhere but the platform is still new (the system sometimes gets overloaded and slows down from time to time) and also lacks the depth and breadth of the iPhone app catalog, especially when it comes to games. Another factor is that Sprint’s’ the only game in town for this phone for the time being. Sprint’s offering’s from a price standpoint are more than competitive but carrier choice is a personal issue related to coverage as well as other factors like overseas services.

Even though it’s a v1 device and OS, Palm’s delivered quite a bit of functionality that most platforms lacked in their initial incarnation. It will be interesting to see what the competition has planned next. Next week is Apple’s developer conference. Last year, they used that as the opportunity to launch a new iPhone. Will they do it again this year? What mystery does HTC have planned at a June 24th event in NY and London?

At the moment, this is going to be a hot summer for smartphones and we’re just getting started.

So what Pre questions can I answer for you in the meantime?


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