Sunday, October 31, 2010

Follow up to "Amazon and the Kindle"

This has to be the follow up to my last post. Two days after I published the post I found out that Barnes and Noble just released a New Nook. And it is a coloured touch screen android device. Exactly what I believe that Amazon should do even though I wondered in my previous post if it was not too late for such a product because of the crazy explosion of cheap, Chinese – made, android - based touch screen tablets.
The most interesting thing about the Nook Color though is the fact that Barnes and Noble deviated from using an Electronic ink display and instead opted for a 7 inch coloured LCD touch screen. At $249 and with wifi, the prize sounds right, but I have to wonder if this is not an attempt to get a colored ebook reader out before Amazon. Leaving e-ink to LCD means that the battery now empties out in a few hours instead of weeks, but it also means that this device can play video, making it into a kind of cheap iPad. Or should I say a device that tries to be an iPad and an ebook reader at the same time. Barnes and Noble is already talking about releasing an SDK.
This device also means that Barnes and Noble joins the list of manufacturers of ebook readers deviating from e-ink to coloured LCD along with the Sharper Image Literati Reader, Pandigital Novel, Entourage Edge, Cruz Reader and Augen’s the book.
With PC Magazine calling it the first excellent color ebook reader, this is certainly a one-up for Barnes and Noble. The question now is: What will Amazon answer with and how soon? Suddenly their devices are starting to look outdated.

The truth is while I think that the best way to read text only content such as novels might be a monochrome e-ink display with weeks of battery, lots of people out there will like to read comics, magazines and pdf in full color and will not mind if the battery of their device has to be charged daily. An app store and an ability to do more than just read is also a plus. Ultimately creating a device that will not be eclipsed by the competition is paramount. And I think it is time for Amazon to show what they have got next.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Amazon and the Kindle

In an earlier post (Dream Hardware Department), I opinioned that a good way forward for Amazon and its Kindles might be to do a touch screen Android powered version of the Kindle. This was before Amazon released its range of Kindle 3s: The Graphite range with improved E-ink screen, better contrast all in a smaller package.
Now I wonder if it might not be a little too late for that. This is because I have noticed an explosion of Chinese made, touch screen, Android powered devices which cost cheaper than the Kindle DX and cost at about the same range as the Kindle 3G. The most interesting part of this story is the fact that everywhere you turn, you see adverts of these devices on the web. And since they run Android, you can install the Kindle for Android on them and have a coloured reading device, which can also serve as a medium for other type of media consumption such as video and audio.
True this might be bulkier than the Kindle and the power consumption might not compete at a mere 5 – 7 hours to the Kindle’s weeks of battery, but when you are busy reading you tend to forget what ever limitations of your device and be immersed in the content. The mere fact that it can view colored content will make it suitable for comics and magazines giving it a huge edge on the Kindle. Touch screen functionality also gives them a kind of iPad coolness even if most of them are single touch and not multi-touch.
While I have yet to see any of these numerous devices with a sim card slot, this will make them even more powerful freeing them from the proximity limitations of wifi. And for a price as cheap as they come, (even though I wonder how they can be soo cheap, is this because of poor build or as a result of tons of possible patent infringement made in the production of these devices) they are winners any day.
For the end users I dare say it will continue to makes less sense to buy a Kindle when you have other devices offering better at cheaper rates. For Amazon though it looks like they will win no matter what. If they sell Kindles, its all good. If not, then I am sure they are happy as long as we all have Kindle apps on whatever devices we carry and we continue to buy books from the Amazon store.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Apple Versus Android

Lately I have been thinking about the possible future of tablet computing and not because I want to be a “teleprophet” but because I can’t help thinking that the current scenarios could just be history kinda repeating itself.
Apple created the home computer market with the release of Apple II in 1977 years ahead of the IBM computer. The IBM PC which was released in 1981 drove other personal computer architectures to extinction in the 80s excerpt for Apple. This off course started a shift in the computer market with the birth of the IBM clones which meant that by the 90s the IBM computer was far more popular than Apple and the top computer computers were all manufacturing the IBM clone, using Intel processors and running on Microsoft operating systems. This meant that the IBM computers could be cheaper than the Apple computers (there were more options to choose from).
Apple always claimed the superiority of its hardware but even Apple finally switched to the Intel processor in 2006 which for me was a surprise because Apple had released Power Mac G5 computers in 2003 claiming the advantage of 64 bit processors and at the time of the switch only AMD had desktop 64 bit processors ready. It was probably cheaper to go Intel than AMD.
Apple lost most of its market share in the personal computer market in the 1990s fighting against IBM clones running Microsoft operating systems. I can’t help but imagine that we are on course for something similar here. I think the only difference is that, this time around while PC vendors had to pay for the Microsoft operating systems, Apples’ competition is an open source OS, making it cheaper to get. Android will also develop faster, because of its open source nature. It is not managed nor controlled by a monopoly like Microsoft!
Maybe this is the reason that Apple iPhone is already been outsold by Android based phones. While Apple will continue to be cool and continue to make unique products and have the advantage of being first to create an App store and thus have more applications on the store, the increased sale of Android phones and devices will also be the increased creation of more Android based applications. Developers will start to recognize that it makes sense to also develop Android versions of their applications. With time the Android Marketplace potentially will grow beyond that of the Apple App store. Or will it? Only time will tell. But the future may just be Android.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Dream Hardware Department

With the explosions we have seen in the eBook reader and tablet scene and the explosion in the sales of the Apple iPad (3 Million in less than 90 days), I have been thinking with the many eBook readers and tablets being announced this year why not have a Microsoft tablet. Unfortunately Microsoft got the concept of the tablet wrong and has now pulled the plug on its Courier tablet. But let’s face it, with the release of the iPad Microsoft now has a chance to copy Apple like it has done in the past. To get into the eBook reader space why not makes a 9.7 inch Zune player! And then make it able to install light Windows applications. Imagine if I could install my VLC player or Win amp on the Zune and have other Windows applications. Then imagine this along with an app store!

On the other hand the Amazon Kindle is just way behind in terms of the current offerings and looses hands down when compared with the iPad excerpt off course with the fact that it has access to more books. I think the way forward for the Kindle will be to produce a colored touch screen version and license the Android operating system. I think this will empower the kindle; it will get an app store, an operating system that developers can develop for and media capabilities all in one sweep. This will at least give it a fighting chance against the iPad.

But then does Amazon want to compete? Amazon wants to sell books and Amazon just needs to have its Kindle app on Apple devices, on Android devices and the Blackberry OS and it will still sell books at maybe a cheaper rate then developing a hand held device. But I feel a company smart enough to develop a good enough tablet like the iPad and use the Android OS might be in place to reap the benefits similar to OEM manufacturers who make hardware and license the Windows operating system. Dell is already doing this with its Streak tablet and ICD with the Vega. Let’s face it: Android is here to stay. Statistics released in May shows Android phones outselling Apple phones in US for the first time ( So using Android might also be the start of a huge eco-system of Android powered devices that just might end up overcoming Apple and its devices. And competition in this space might just be good for the consumer ultimately.