Greg's bite: Zoom, PlayBook killer features
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Greg's bite: Zoom, PlayBook killer features

By Greg Mills

According to several articles I have read, the Zoom slate computer Motorola is launching has yet another serious problem I missed for yesterday's article. For what ever reason, Motorola didn't make a Wi-Fi only version of Zoom.  

What makes the situation even more of a problem for them is that you have to pay for 3G to get the WiFi to work. I thought someone had some wires crossed, but this appears to be true. Sell Motorola stock, as it is going to take a beating.

Motorola thinks it can sell a less capable device for more than Apple? Get real. Apple products are the gold standard that consumers compare "Johnny come lately" products to. Even worse for Motorola and RIM, the iPad 2 is just around the corner and suddenly Zoom will disappear from the press as iPad stories dominate.

Not to be left out, RIM also built in a killer feature. I don't mean a killer sales feature, I mean a product killer. Remember the spy movies where the freshly captured secret agent grimly puts a poison tablet between his teeth, grimaces as they crush down on it as nasty foam oozes out from his mouth, he falls down and goes into a death rattle? That is sort of like the product killer feature baked into PlayBook. You can only hook up the RIM PlayBook to the Internet by tethering with a BlackBerry. That's right: RIM forces you to buy and use a BlackBerry to get PlayBook to work.

Can you imagine Apple trying to sell an iPad that could only hook up to the Internet by tethering with an iPhone? Not only does this force you to buy a second product, but you also must pay for tethering service from your cell phone company. Not only do you limit your market to those who both have a certain brand of phone but then only to those both have the right phone and want the tablet. Apple long ago learned that when you sell an elegant product, that just works, customers are drawn to the rest of your line. The halo effect is one reason marketing experts use Apple as an example of how to do that right.

You don't make one device dependent upon another to sell them both. You create stand-alone devices that so delight the customer you win them over by the sheer quality of the product line.  That sounds simple, but it has taken Apple a while to create and concentrate on category killers that are becoming the gold standard for their class.  The iPod, iPhone, iPad and Mac all are all flying off the shelf simply due to quality and superior software.

While I discount Apple getting into making commodity items like flat screen TVs, there are interesting electronic devices that still suffer the pre-Apple design process. PlayStation 3, for example, has a really backwards OS. Apple could sure teach Sony a thing or two about creating a better OS. It takes as many as 10 separate commands just to shut the darn thing down, and then it still burns 175 watts in standby mode. I cold cock it in disgust by turning off the power.

Digital camcorders are also lacking the Apple touch. Digital cameras might see some improvements as the OS on some of them are still really backwards. I own fairly new Sony cameras and find the menu and control systems to be incredibly non-intuitive to say the least.  

The problem is that while Apple could, in time, fix all the backwards electronics, stupid cars and perhaps balance the federal budget, Steve Jobs has beaten some sense into Apple management that they must concentration on the details of just a few selected products. That  is enough to make Apple the most valuable company in the world later on this year.

That's Greg's bite for today.

(Greg Mills is currently 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 using a patent pending process of turning waste dual pane glass into thermal solar panels used to heat water. Married, with one daughter still at home, Greg writes for intellectual web sites and Mac related issues. See Greg's web sites at http://www.gregmills.info . He can be emailed at gregmills.mac.)

 
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