By Greg Mills
As I scan the news for interesting information, sometimes stories just jump out at me. I particularly notice when a well known figure is proven dead wrong. Some time back, Steve Ballmer stated in an interview that tablet computers were just another PC, dismissing the impending threat to the Windows PC OS. monopoly.
(June 3, 2010) "Nothing people are doing on a PC is going to get less relevant", declared Ballmer," though some things will move to alternative devices. But many people will prefer a general purpose device to a lot of individual devices."
He said, "People will continue to want general-purpose devices (such as PCs) as well as devices they can carry in their pockets. But devices like the new tablets really are personal computers, just in new form factors."
The dismissive attitude that; "tablets are just a PC" is the perceptional problem Microsoft has had in not supplying the PC industry with a meaningful touch screen OS for tablets. All they ever do is try to cram Windows into the new form factor and it always fits poorly. Can I get my frisky 90-pound Labrador in a carry-on suitcase? Perhaps, but the dog and the suitcase will never be the same. So it is with such monstrosities as the Acer tablets that run the full blown Windows OS and sell at prices around twice what an entry level iPad sells for.
Microsoft has tried and failed over the years to make decent tablets into "just another PC form factor," and sometimes they even admit it really doesn't work. Thus they smugly slept at the switch as Apple introduced iPad and showed the world how to do a "magical device" that took the world by storm. The "tablets are just another PC" mindset at Microsoft has left them flatfooted and clueless. Microsoft also missed the boat on the smartphone revolution by letting their phone software become obsolete as Apple and Google pressed forward.
As time marched on, Apple developed and patented gestures and touch screen technology that defines the iPhone "magic" and those who come late to the party are doomed to eat the leftovers. As the worldwide demand for PCs is off over last years numbers, tablet sales (read that iPad sales) are booming with demand far outstripping supply for the foreseeable future.
As Bill Gates famously stated, "Companies that fail to obsolete their own products are doomed to see the competition do it." Ballmer was late to work that day, I suppose, and then didn't read the memo from Gates. Tying its fortune to the PC, Microsoft rises and falls along with the PC. As goes the PC, so goes Microsoft, off half its market cap compared to 2000, when Gates retired and put Ballmer in charge.
I also noticed the cute little "Flip" camcorders are going the way of the dinosaur. Once popular and way cool, the addition of similar video capture technology in iPhone and other cell phones has made the Flip obsolete, and sales have dropped to the point Cisco has decided to discontinue them. Cisco got into the "Flip" business way too late and missed the gravy train.
I speculated a while back that Apple's upcoming Lion OS X system would support iOS apps. That may well be true according to rumors. It makes sense to allow emulation or an "iOS runtime app" on Lion to let people play games or use iOS apps more widely. Such a move would increase iOS app sales, which haven't been lagging at all, anyway. The move would also help sell the upcoming Lion OS X. I also expect location services in Lion, which would "Lo-Jack" stolen Macs.
The silly rumor that just won't die is back again that Apple is going into the HDTV business. I think that idea is nuts, due to the five letter word that dictates Apple's long term moves. That word is "money." HDVTs are currently reduced to a commodity product with very little margin and Apple demands a tidy margin in all it's products.
Might Apple introduce an upgrade to Apple TV? Yep, that is very likely. With faster internet connections in the works they will certainly add a Thunderbolt to AppleTV at some point as well as faster Wi-Fi protocols. Why sell an entire TV set when you can get into the digital TV streaming business by just selling a little black box? Streaming content is far more lucrative than selling flat screen TV sets.
Beware of heavy mind altering drugs floating around stock market analyst ghettos.. One of those modern day soothsayers has recently speculated that Microsoft's Mobile Windows 7 will outsell Apple's iOS by 2015. I suspect either serious hard drugs are in use on Wall Street or Microsoft cash bribery is behind such outlandish predictions. I bet the court jester of the high tech bloggers, John C. Dvorak, will also soon pound the drums and agree with such predictions of Apple's doom. He can be counted on to discount Apple at every turn. Yeah, right, Apple's R&D department will go into a coma for a few years and allow Microsoft to catch up.
Steve Jobs is right, Flash is a problem in every respect. Android users have been warned that an easy Flash exploit renders their Android smart phones open to hackers who can steal passwords and who knows what else. Android security isn't up to par with iOS anyway. Beware of Flashing your private information!
Pogue has just panned RIM's Playbook with the playful slogan, "There's no app for that." Pogue also states that despite claims of a 10-hour battery life, he only got five hours when he tested it.
The "Do not track me" browser preference is coming to Safari soon.This feature makes it harder for advertising companies to track your web habits and push banner ads they think you might want to see. I will be glad to have that extra level of privacy. It turns out once Apple adds that feature to Safari, Google with its Chrome Web browser will be the only major browser without that feature. Keep in mind that Google makes most of its money selling web advertising and exploiting that exact form of "relevant advertising."
That's Greg's Bite for today.
(Greg Mills is currently a graphic and Faux Wall Artist in Kansas City. Formerly a new product R&D man for the paint sundry market, he holds 11 US patents. Greg is an Extra Class Ham Radio Operator, AB6SF, iOS developer and web site designer. He's also working on a solar energy startup using a patent pending process for turning waste dual pane glass window units into thermal solar panels used to heat water see: www.CottageIndustySolar.com Married, with one daughter, Greg writes for intellectual property web sites and on Mac/Tech related issues. See Greg's art web site at http://www.gregmills.info He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org )