By Greg Mills
The annual CES event begins this week in Las Vegas and, by some counts, as many as 40 to 80 iPad want to be devices are slated to be shown off. Many of them are just concept prototypes, not even close to products ready to ship.
The usual knockoff artists are showing the predictable "me too" products. Microsoft, will again show off slate format PCs that just don't get it as to what an iPad sort of device ought to be. Running any flavor of Windows is a battery killer and results in a sluggish device due to a lousy user interface not really designed for touch screens.
Even Visio is launching a slate type computer running the Android OS. They hope to ship actual products this summer. Due to catching the entire PC industry sleeping at the switch, as they try to catch up with iPad 1, Apple is busy behind the scenes ramping up production of iPad 2. The entire year of not having any competition in the hottest product format in years has launched Apple to new levels in both market penetration and stock price. Apple is very unlikely to allow its full year lead to be lost as it sits on its laurels.
Due to the lack of a viable touch screen slate OS from Microsoft, the Google Android OS is likely the platform of choice for most of the industry. While HP has Palm, which it acquired last year, RIM and others have gone to Google to supply the software needed to give their slate hardware life. The failure of Microsoft and its CEO, Steve Ballmer, to provide a viable slate platform will certainly be discussed in business schools, for years to come. This really is sort of "can you believe they were so stupid?" kind of story such as that told about IBM giving Bill Gates the opening that launched Microsoft. A simple business decision at IBM to keep the OS for personal computers owned by IBM would have changed history.
Speaking of Microsoft, the apps for WIndows Vista 7 Phones has grown to about 5,000 they claim, some of which contain worms that do nasty things to smart phones.
A number of G4 smart phones are being launched at the Consumer Electronics Show. Sprint and its troubled Siamese twin, Clear, as well as Verizon are expected to launch new phones that can use the faster 4G networks when that service actually becomes widely available. My testing of a Clear 4G hotspot device indicated that while conceptually great, the real world experience just isn't there yet.
The downside with Clear's 4G network is that all their 4G devices step down to Sprint's 3G network, most of the time. This means you need a Sprint contract to provide back-up service, which is the kiss of death for former victims of Sprint's customer service. I hear Sprint has cleaned up its customer service, but the bad taste in my mouth from the past still prevents me from ever doing business with them again.
Rumors that the RIM "PlayBook" slate computer, advertised to be launched soon, has serious battery life problems has been denied by RIM. Interestingly, inside information has it that when Apple announced the first iPhone, engineers at RIM assured their management that Apple was lying about battery life. They maintained it was impossible to get the hours of battery life Apple was claiming on a touch screen that size.
When those same engineers were able to get their hands on one and tear it down, they were amazed to see a battery with a tiny circuit board dangling off it, encased in a touch screen front and hollow back. Apple had done the impossible and actually delivered the impossible battery life they claimed.
The iPhone AlarmGate story has been widely used to excuse people tardy to work since the first of the year. Apple has admitted there is a problem that will resolve automatically today. For some reason, obscured by lines of code, one off alarms set to go off between midnight on New Years Eve until Jan. 3 fail to execute the alarm. Sort of a millennium type bug, no doubt.
That's Greg's bite for today.
(Greg Mills, is a Faux Artist in Kansas City. Formerly a new product R&D man for the paint sundry market, he holds 11 US patents. He's working on a solar energy startup, www.CottageIndustrySolar.com using a patent pending process of turning waste dual pane glass into thermal solar panels used to heat water. Greg writes for intellectual web sites and Mac related issues. See Greg's art web site at www.gregmills.info ; his email is firstname.lastname@example.org )