Thursday, December 30, 2010

Why iPad Magazines Are Failing

Mike Elgan writes an interesting article on Why iPad magazines are failing that concentrates on the price of the iPad editions wrt the newsstand and subscription pricing that I agree with. However, I think Mike is overlooking the big game changer in apps like Flipboard. I increasingly go straight to that if I want the magazine experience – Flipboard is free, it has a funky layout, photos, embedded video and constantly changing content drawn from all over the web. If I could only have one magazine app on the iPad it would be Flipboard, not Wired or Esquire or GQ regardless of their price point.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Universal Tools

I was listening to the radio the other day and I heard an archeology piece on stone hand axes and the archeologist said that the hand axe was a universal tool to Stone Age man. My ears pricked up when I heard this and he went on to say that Paleolithic society couldn't function without the hand axe. Moreover, the extra productivity that the axe provided society was what allowed them some time other than that spent hunter-gathering. This downtime they used to develop their culture, art, language, customs, and may have been what gave some the time to consider domesticating animals and planting crops rather than hunter-gathering.
   This fascinated me and I started to think if there may be other universal tools apart from the hand axe and the computer.  After some though I think the wheel is a universal tool. I'm not just thinking of the vehicle wheel here, but really the whole axle and rotating wheel concept. Thus, you have the potter's wheel, the spinning wheel, the water wheel, the millstone, the cogwheel (and hence all sorts of machinery) and more recently the flywheel, and turbine.
    From the archeology radio show the features of universality are that the tool be multi-functional, which the wheel fits, and that society can't function without the tool. So let's consider say the Victorian era without the wheel. There would be no trains or horse drawn carts and carriages. No delivery system really except for canal boats. There would be no industry, no textiles, no mining, no farming, no machinery of any sort. No clocks, no newspapers to report that the shops were running out of food  and no way even to grind corn. Society would come to a complete standstill without the wheel. 
    So yes, the wheel is a universal tool. I've rewritten  my introduction to include this material.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

iPad 2.0 - they're missing the point

There are lots of articles around at the moment about what the next version of the iPad may look like. There's no doubt that Apple stole such a lead on its competitors that almost a year later few strong competitors to the iPad exist, so a next-gen version may increase Apple's dominance of this sector. This is also I suppose of interest to people thinking of an iPad as a Christmas purchase -  should they hold-off and wait for the new version.

However, I think most of the commentators are totally missing the point (here's a typical iPad 2.0 article). We all know what the new version of the iPad will be (broadly speaking), but the hardware is much less than half the story. So let's get the iPad 2.0 out of the way:
  • it will have a front facing camera to support FaceTime (if you look carefully at the top centre of your iPad you'll see a small hole already exists for a camera),
  • it wont have a back facing camera (everyone who has an iPad probably has a digital camera already),
  • it will be the same size, but perhaps lighter and with even better battery life,
  • there will not be a 7" screen version
  • it may have a faster processor and more RAM
  • it will not have a retina display (there's not enough processing power in the iPad for that many pixels on a 10" screen)
  • it will not have more than 64GB storage
  • it will run iOS 5.0
Really all the hardware points are just obvious. But the last two items need explanation.  The iPad will not need more that 64GB of storage because iOS 5.0 will be seamlessly integrated with Apple's cloud services (iTunes-in-the-cloud and other cloud storage systems).

My prediction is that with iOS 5.0 users of iOS devices will store and access all their music, photos, movies, TV shows, podcasts, ebooks, and data files in the cloud. The local storage on your devices will just be used as a local cache for frequently and recently used data. Your entire music library and everything else will permanently live on Apple's cloud. Hence you'll never need more than 64GB or local storage.

Apple are about to open their massive data center in North Carolina and all the smart money is that this will be used for iTunes-in-the-cloud. So basically stop worrying about the iPad 2.0, the really interesting innovations will be iOS 5.0 and iTunes.

A previous blog post of mine talks more on this and how it will reduce online piracy