Posts tagged with ‘iPad

It was only a matter of time: Why Mac users tend to ignore the advice of PC Pundits.

It’s being reported that over 600,000 Macs are now infected by the Flashback trojan, a “drive by” piece of Malware that doesn’t need administrator privileges or even a password prompt to successfully latch on.

The PC pundits couldn’t be more excited. Finally, they say, the inevitable has happened and smug Mac users are finding out what it’s like to be a PC user.

"It was only a matter of time."

Surprise and Delight

It’s been quite an ordeal, but a Kindle Fire finally made its way into my hands.

I’ve been playing with it off and on for a couple days, now, and — it’s pretty much everything you’ve read in any of the reviews you’ve read. No more, no less.

Which is to say, a lot of people have already nailed its strengths (relatively few) and weaknesses (many).

The one caveat I’d add is that many of the weaknesses are rooted in software, and that’s the sort of thing that can be fixed, at least.

So, instead of rehashing what’s been said elsewhere, I’m going to touch on something that hasn’t been beaten to death, and that’s the idea of surprise and delight. 

The underlying premise of surprise and delight is that you run up against a problem, and as you’re doing what you think should happen, it actually happens, or it happens in a way you didn’t anticipate, and you think to yourself: “Wow, I can’t believe someone thought of that. Genius!”

iOS is filled with surprise and delight moments. Perhaps the best example is the ability to type a period with one continuous motion — without lifting your thumb — even though the period key isn’t on the “home” keyboard screen. Uninterrupted flow. One click where three might otherwise be necessary.

In my experience, Amazon’s devices don’t seem to contain many surprise and delight moments, if they contain any at all.

As has been discussed, there’s no dedicated hardware home button on the Kindle Fire.

Instead, each app has a touch-based home button. That’s fine, and I think it’s something I’ll eventually get used to and it’s something people who haven’t used an iOS device might not even need to get used to.

With that said, the home button is situated in the bottom-left of every app. This is a real problem when you’re holding the device one-handed with your right hand, because it’s nearly impossible to reach the home button while doing so.

There are any number of reasons why your free hand might not be available for button pressing, but the least tawdry (and most important) reason is that some people don’t have left hands.

The obvious solution, then, is to simply put the home button in the bottom-middle of every app. Boring, but perfectly acceptable.

The surprise and delight solution is that the Kindle Fire somehow knows which hand it’s being held by, and accommodates for that preference (or disability) by moving the home button to an accessible corner. 

Suddenly, the user thinks: “Holy shit, that’s genius, I can’t believe Amazon thought of that.”

Except, no one thinks that, because Amazon’s Kindle Fire isn’t filled with surprise and delight moments. 

That doesn’t mean Amazon won’t sell millions of Kindle Fires.

What it might mean is that people will buy them, but they may not find much of an urge to actually use them, once the novelty wears off. Or, they may not find much reason to ever buy another tablet device from Amazon. Or, maybe no one ever talks about the Kindle Fire in a way that makes other people excited to own one as well.

Surprise and delight is the stuff of fanboy devotion. It’s the foundation of customer loyalty. It’s why Apple can lag way behind Android in units sold but still dominate mobile browsing statistics.

You can hate me for being an iOS fanboy, or call me a shill, but whether you like it or not, Amazon, at least, wants me to be an Amazon fanboy — Bezos wants to command a loyal army of Amazon fanboys — and he’s not going to get that through sheer volume.

"Meh" doesn’t build loyalty, or sell services.

Paul Thurrott “Simplifies” the iPad Lineup

has ideas about how Apple could “fix” the iPad. Could? Nay! NEEDS TO. Because the iPad is broken. STOP LOOKING UP IPAD SALES NUMBERS! THE IPAD IS BROKEN!

Consumers don’t seem to be having problems, but Thurrott believes the current iPad lineup ought to be simplified anyway, success be damned:

Lower prices are a given, but there is one aspect of the iPad product lineup that is uniquely un-Apple: There are just too many product versions. Apple currently sells 6 different iPads, three with Wi-Fi only and three with 3G wireless networking as well.

Nevermind that the current lineup really only requires a consumer to make two choices — 1) “Do you want 3G?” and 2) “How much storage do you want?” — Thurrot believes that consumers must make 6 incredibly confusing choices. Like this:

(To be fair, price also plays a role: These models are $499, $629, $599, $729, $699 and $829, which isn’t as daunting if you put it this way: “Add $129 if you want 3G connectivity and then add $100 each time you step up the storage.”)

The fear, I guess, is that a consumer will decide on the 16GB WI-FI (only) model, only to realize that there’s a 16GB WI-FI + 3G model. Uh oh! Decision time. But wait! Then, there’s a 32GB model (“Does it ever end!?”) and even though the customer already decided that he didn’t want WI-FI + 3G when he was considering the lowly 16GB model, he’ll have to weigh that decision all. over. again. now that there’s the option of more storage space. Rinse and repeat for the 64GB model.

It’s all terribly confusing in the same way that people who appear in infomercials can’t ever seem to perform normal everyday tasks without a lot of fumbling about. 

So, okay. Thurrott has the following idea:

…my advice is to simplify the lineup to 2 or 3 models only, differentiated only by storage capacities. In today’s product line, that would be a 32 GB version selling for $299 and a 64 GB version for $399. Simple.

Even though the iPad is currently selling like hotcakes, Thurrott wants to drop the low-end model altogether and cut the price of the mid-range model by half while retaining the 3G connectivity. (Also, he’s simultaneously dreaming up the 2nd generation iPad, so this EVERYTHING MUST GO! pricing will include front and rear-facing cameras. Well, duh.)

Throw logic out the window. Don’t worry that Apple would be cutting deep into the iPad’s profit margins. Needlessly. Pretend that any other company has been able to match the iPad’s CURRENT selling price, let alone undercut it. With all those caveats, Thurrott is right. His idea WOULD simplify the iPad lineup:

First, ignore that this is the sort of too-limited lineup that anti-Apple pundits like Thurrott are usually bitching about, when it comes to Apple’s products. It’s probably asking too much to expect consistency, at this point.

In a perfect world — a consumer Utopia — this makes a lot of sense. You get the possibility of 3G whether you’ll ever use it or not (because Apple is now bundling it for free) and you choose between 32 and 64GB. Boom. Done.

Except Thurrott isn’t done. In the very next paragraph, he says:

The current iPad is too big and too heavy, and any refresh should use Amazon’s Kindle as a guide: In fact, it should be the exact same size and weight as Amazon’s device if possible. Granted, not everyone is going to want a 7-inch iPad. But this model, positioned squarely between the iPod touch and currently 10-inch iPad…

Emphasis mine.

Without the portion I’ve emphasized, it seems as though Thurrott just wants to drop the iPad down to a single 7” model. (In this fantasy world, the market hasn’t spoken out in favor of a 10” tablet.) But there’s that pesky “but this model” portion where he says that the 7” model would accompany a 10” model.

So, now the product lineup looks a bit more like this:

(Not only that, but he’s also saying that the 7” model sits BETWEEN the 10” iPad and the iPod Touch. Adding a device to the lineup with a different name that doesn’t include even the option of 3G would be incredibly confusing and nonsensical, though, so I won’t do it, even though it’d make Thurrott look even crazier.)

Thurrott ditched the WI-FI only model but has replaced the need to make that decision with a size/weight factor: “Do I want a 7” model, or a 10” model? With 32 or 64 GB of storage space?” Which means we’re right back at square one, especially if you go with his idea that there could be three storage configurations. Because, even though he earlier thought that two might be enough, he’s gone ahead — in the next paragraph — and tacked on a 3rd configuration:

The iPad’s current storage allotments are simply too small. Apple should use its iPod touch as a guide and offer 32 GB, 64 GB, and even 128 GB versions of the device.

The lineup is getting crowded, again:

Paul “Less is More” Thurrott isn’t done yet, folks. We’re literally back to the same number of choices Apple was offering before he fired up the simplificator, and he’s gone ahead and added yet another configuration. Act now, and he’ll DOUBLE the current lineup:

My advice here is simple: Apple needs to make a non-glossy screen available as an option, even an added cost option, as it does with some of its notebook computers.

Which means that every single option must now also include the option of a matte screen — maybe even at another price point — so that people can choose between a glossy and matte screen. After they’ve chosen between a 10” or a 7” screen. After they’ve chosen between a 32GB or a 64GB or a 128 GB hard drive. 

Which looks like this:

In order to simplify the iPad lineup, Thurrott has swapped one choice for another, added a choice, and shifted the storage capacities higher. Pricing is now more confusing, as well. 

I made the assumption that he’d offer a matte version for each of the configurations, but, frankly, things would only be worse if (say) only the high-end configurations offered matte screens as an option — even though there would be fewer total configurations.

For example, when buying a shirt, people often have to choose between small, medium and large. Now, in some cases, a large would still fit okay, but it wouldn’t look as good as a medium. But what if the best design is only available in a large? At that point, you have to weigh factors like comfort versus style. If every size had the same design, that wouldn’t be an issue, even though there would technically be more choices. It’s an easier choice to have to make.

Similarly, Apple’s current lineup doesn’t force anyone to make any difficult choices whereas Thurrott’s “simplified” lineup would 1) involve more configurations at best and 2) hard decisions regarding feature trade-offs at worst.

That’s pretty amazing given that it only took a few paragraphs to get there, from this:

…my advice is to simplify the lineup to 2 or 3 models only, differentiated only by storage capacities.

Which is an incredibly long way of saying Thurrott isn’t even trying to make sense, these days.

Epic Citadel iPad/iPhone Game Demo Thoughts

So, the big news at today’s music event, of course, was a demo of a game from Epic Studios called “Epic Citadel”. Unless you’re into iPods, I guess. Then, there was that stuff.

Anyone who’s in to mobile gaming, though, is bound to have been impressed by a short demo of a game powered by the Unreal Engine, featuring a medieval town, and a pretty gnarly fight scene.

Indeed, the demo (sans the fighting) is now available for download via the iTunes Store, and it’s…impressive. Really impressive. It’s the sort of thing that you’ll show people because it’s super cool. 

I took this screenshot while wandering about town…:

Stunning. 

You can walk down there, walk along the river. 

For now, that’s it.

But, I wonder: Will the world ever be larger than this? Or, as is often the case, is this gorgeous backdrop going to be a limited setting for people to meet up and stage one-off duels and then post bragging rights about how you knocked “willow” on his ass with a slash from your mage-wand? The game was demoed as part of the Game Center discussion, so it sounds like it’ll be social, and my fear is that it’s not going to turn into the epic, deep, explore-a-massive-world-while-questing-style game that I think many are envisioning.

Great visuals and a small town won’t end the debate about whether the iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch is a valid contender to the PSP or Nintendo DS.

Give us immersive. Give us epic.

Here’s hoping…

The Next Web: The iPad is Going to Kill the Kindle

Alex Wilhelm, writing for The Next Web:

If you follow the ebook market you were likely stunned this June when Steve Jobs claimed to have captured 22% of the electronic book market overnight with the release of iBooks and iPad. Many of us who watch this market with careful eyes were leery of the numbers that Jobs was tossing around, they sounded too good to be true.

  1. If you “follow the ebook market” you’re a fucking dork. Yeah. I said it, and I’m not sorry I said it.
  2. Assuming you’re a fucking dork, were you really “stunned” by Jobs’s claim? Did your mouth literally hang wide open, as you stared blankly at the words that you could not bring yourself to believe? Was it like a punch to the gut?
  3. Steve Jobs did not make that claim, and if you think he did, you’re not following the ebook market very closely. Dork status: Revoked.

How do I know Steve Jobs didn’t make the claim? An investigation? A Google search? Did I call Steve Jobs up, because I can do that, and ask him?

No, no, no. I only call Steve as a last resort. I didn’t even have to do any of the work myself. Before I copied and pasted the little snippet from TNW’s article, the word “claim” was a “hyperlink” to this Gravitational Pull article:

What Steve Jobs actually said about iBooks market share

As you might have guessed, the word “actually” (which I helpfully emphasized) is a hint that there’s something more to the story. The “something more” was this:

I’ve got a few stats today for you. In the first 65 days, users have downloaded over 5 million books and that is about two and  half books per iPad which is terrific. The other interesting thing is the five of the six biggest publishers in the US who have their books on the iBookstore tell us that the share of ebooks now that are going through the iBookstore now is about 22 percent. So iBooks market share now of ebooks from five of these six major publishers is up to 22 percent in just about 8 weeks. And, as we ship more iPads, that number is just going to keep going up and up and up and we’re really thrilled with it.

So, what Steve Jobs “claimed” was merely what he was told by the five biggest publishers who publish on the iBooks platform. The 22% figure is not a reflection of the “total ebook market” and it wasn’t pulled out of Jobs’s ass—it’s a reflection of the sales of those specific publishers.

Yes, I’m aware that a slide from Jobs’s presentation caused some initial confusion, because it read “22% share of total ebook sales” but the entire point of the Gravitational Pull article was to provide context for that slide via the actual words that came out of Jobs’s mouth. Apple doesn’t provide a live feed of its events, so getting a transcript took some time. Time which was used by many in the blog-o-press to flip the fuck out.

Why is it, then, that TNW is trotting out an author who self publishes (one guy whose name is not A. Nick Dotal, alas)  to somehow prove false a claim Apple never actually made, even while linking to an article which proves he never made the claim?

Because they can, and no one will call them on it. Because the internet sucks.

On the other hand, the article is written by the kind of guy who would end on something like this:

So much for iPad killing Kindle. I called it.

Way to go, Nostradamus. Where can everyone else get a crystal ball that peers into the obvious?

At any rate: The iPad hasn’t even finished mashing the buttons on the fatality it’s laying down on netbooks and as everyone who follows the technology mortal combat circuit knows, killing things is an art, not a race.

"Get over here!"

mrgan:

Yay! The Incident is finally out. 50,000 meters, 500 coins, 26 million pixels, and a bitchin’ soundtrack - all for two bucks. Click the thing with the thing!

So, I’ve been playing on my iPad and it’s really fun. First, it’s interesting to play a game that’s been teased throughout the development process. Beyond that, it’s just a really fun, simple concept.
A couple thoughts:
I’ve only played on my iPad, thus far. It’s a universal build, though, so I’ll probably put it on my iPhone too. I have a feeling it’s going to play a bit easier on the iPhone, because whenever I come back to the game, it takes some time to get used to watching for the visual cues at the top of the iPad screen while also controlling the action at the bottom. It’s a bit like the time it takes to acclimate to reading subtitles while watching a foreign film. Or, to compare to another game, it’s like watching the oncoming obstacles on the right side of the screen in Canabalt even though your runner is over on the left. 
As I was playing I thought: Boy, it would be neat if you could obtain a helmet that would act as a temporary shield and seconds later, a helmet floated up from the bottom of the screen. THE GAME CAN READ YOUR MIND!
Great game, great price, and I applaud the decision to offer it as a universal build. 

mrgan:

Yay! The Incident is finally out. 50,000 meters, 500 coins, 26 million pixels, and a bitchin’ soundtrack - all for two bucks. Click the thing with the thing!

So, I’ve been playing on my iPad and it’s really fun. First, it’s interesting to play a game that’s been teased throughout the development process. Beyond that, it’s just a really fun, simple concept.

A couple thoughts:

I’ve only played on my iPad, thus far. It’s a universal build, though, so I’ll probably put it on my iPhone too. I have a feeling it’s going to play a bit easier on the iPhone, because whenever I come back to the game, it takes some time to get used to watching for the visual cues at the top of the iPad screen while also controlling the action at the bottom. It’s a bit like the time it takes to acclimate to reading subtitles while watching a foreign film. Or, to compare to another game, it’s like watching the oncoming obstacles on the right side of the screen in Canabalt even though your runner is over on the left. 

As I was playing I thought: Boy, it would be neat if you could obtain a helmet that would act as a temporary shield and seconds later, a helmet floated up from the bottom of the screen. THE GAME CAN READ YOUR MIND!

Great game, great price, and I applaud the decision to offer it as a universal build. 

Marco.org: The Kindle update

People often assume that the iPad’s backlit LCD screen is an advantage over the Kindle because it doesn’t need a separate light to be read at night. But the Kindle’s e-ink screen is actually more versatile for different lighting: not only does it work in bright sunlight just as well as paper, but I find it easier to read a Kindle at night with a small lamp on than with an iPad in the dark, even using dark mode and low brightness. And I often can’t use those same nightstand or headboard-clip lamps with the iPad to light the area less harshly because the iPad’s screen is too reflective. The iPad is also too heavy to comfortably hold in most ways for long periods, and its wide range of software capabilities can be distracting. When you’re holding a Kindle, all you can do is read. When I read on an iPad, I always want to go check my email. And my feeds. And Tumblr. And Twitter. Just for a minute.

To reiterate: I agree that the Kindle isn’t going anywhere. I think it’s great. If I didn’t have an iPad, I’d have a Kindle.

As to Marco’s points:

The question of eye comfort, I think, is largely subjective. As I said before, I’ve had no issues with comfort or with the brightness of the iPad’s LCD screen, even in a pitch black room. Even if I had a Kindle, though, I doubt I’d read outside. That’s just me. I realize plenty of people do enjoy direct sunlight and I accept that attempting to do so with an iPad would be an exercise in futility.

As for weight, Marco’s claim that “the iPad is also too heavy to comfortably hold in most ways for long periods” is, in my experience, inaccurate. The iPad is heavier, yes, but it’s pretty similar to a typical-length hardback book, which is also quite a bit heavier than a Kindle. So, I suppose it’s fair to say that the Kindle is aimed at the paperback crowd? Either way, it doesn’t matter what I’m reading, I don’t hold it out in front of me without some form of support: I either rest it on my leg or on my stomach, depending on the position I’m in.

I don’t consider a multi-day hiking trip without access to an AC adapter to be all that typical, but I suppose I agree that in that very specific example, a Kindle would outperform an iPad. I could similarly argue that a need to stay connected to the outside world during a 5 day trip through China while carrying as little as possible would rule out a Kindle completely. In that unique situation, an iPad would be the superior reading choice. 

The part about his inability to focus on the task at hand (reading a book) speaks more to Marco than it does the iPad, I think. When I’m reading at night, I turn the volume all the way down and that takes care of any bleeps and bloops that might otherwise distract me and I guess it’s just sheer willpower which prevents me from abandoning A Wrinkle in Time in favor of checking my email when/if my iPad vibrates. It’s just not an issue, for me.

I stand by my earlier statement: Each device has plusses and minuses, but I’ve not had any issue with becoming completely engrossed in a book on my iPad. Weight hasn’t been a factor. The battery hasn’t been a factor. The screen hasn’t been a factor. If, like an awful lot of people, you primarily read books in your house, the iPad is pretty great as a reading device.

If you don’t care about the non-book features of an iPad, or if reading outdoors in direct sunlight is a major factor in your purchasing decision, go with a Kindle. 

I would also add (not directed at Marco) that if you’ve never read a book on an iPad (and especially if you’ve never read anything on an iPad) you probably shouldn’t claim that the LCD causes extreme (or any level of) eye strain.

Why (Dan Lyons Claims) the iPad hasn’t killed the Kindle.

Kessel says people have realized that the iPad might be good for a lot of things, but isn’t really the best device for sustained reading over several hours. It’s too heavy, for one thing—about a pound and a half compared with 10 ounces for the Kindle, which can be held in one hand, like a paperback. As Kessel puts it, in a bit of an understatement, “The Kindle and the iPad are very different products.”

Another problem is that the iPad’s bright LCD screen can be tiring on your eyes compared with Kindle’s black-and-white “electronic paper.” The Kindle’s screen also works better in bright sunlight. Kindle has better battery life—it can run up to two weeks on a charge, if you keep the wireless switched off. That compares with 10 hours for an iPad. Plus, with Kindle you have no contract and no monthly fee, and you have wireless access in 100 countries—a nice feature for travelers.

Emphasis mine.

The weight issue hasn’t really been much of a factor for me. I agree that it’s heavier, but I have doubts that this is a deciding factor in a significant number of purchasing decisions. I actually read with mine in Apple’s iPad case, which adds even more weight, and I’ve never really had an issue. I don’t hold it up in the air, though. It’s either resting on my stomach/chest while I read in bed, or it’s resting on a table. I do the same thing with regular books, which are never fully supported by my arms alone. (I just did a quick weight check of my iPad vs. a hardcover copy of Umberto Eco’s Baudolino, and didn’t notice much of a difference.)

As for the “too bright” LCD, I wanted to wait until I’d read some books on my iPad before weighing in, and now that I have (Snow Crash and Artemis Fowl) I feel like I can say that I’ve not noticed any issues with eye strain. I can’t compare to a Kindle—I’ve never read a book on one—but I can compare an iPad against something which shouldn’t cause any screen-based eye strain at all: Regular old-fashioned books printed on paper. My eyes feel just fine, thank you.

People are making the eye-strain claim because it sounds plausible, and because they’ve seen other people make the claim, but I’ve never seen scientific studies which prove out the claim. If consumers are coming to the conclusion that the Kindle would cause less eye-strain than an iPad, I’d argue that said conclusion is often based on having read the unsupported claims of journalists like Dan Lyons, rather than on experience.

It’s also worth noting that I can read my iPad in a dark room, but cannot do so with a Kindle. I can also read full color books. And any Kindle book. And comic books. In other words, for every subjective reason Lyons comes up with to explain the continued success of the Kindle, I can come up with one in favor of the iPad. This isn’t to say that the Kindle doesn’t have meaningful advantages, it’s to say that each device has different advantages.

I agree that the Kindle and the iPad are very different, and that those differences will always sway some consumers one way and others another, but my guess for why the iPad hasn’t “killed” the Kindle is pretty simple: It’s only been on the market for around six months.

Only an idiot would think the Kindle was going to disappear in that amount of time.

Goatse Security and The Perception of Credibility

Last week, a security outlet exposed a weakness in AT&T’s system which revealed the personal email addresses of 114,000 iPad 3G / AT&T customers.

AT&T has since apologized to those customers via email while simultaneously laying blame for the breach on Goatse Security, the organization that exploited the vulnerability before sending a sampling of the emails to Gawker Media. (Gawker Media, it’s worth noting, is currently in the spotlight due to an ongoing iPhone 4 prototype theft investigation.)

The situation now boils down a “who you gonna believe” debate between Goatse Security and AT&T, with each side saying that the other is more at fault. Goatse Security wants to be the hero, and AT&T wants to be the victim. 

Meanwhile, Goatse Security takes its name from an infamous photo in which a man spreads his asshole open in an effort to provide an improbably large gaping hole for the world to see. As such, concerned customers who wish to learn more about the masked hero who swooped in to protect their, uh, inboxes, will instead be exposed to one of the most notoriously disgusting viral photographs ever posted to the internet.

Assuming a Google search for “Goatse” actually lands someone on the Goatse Security website, they’ll instead be confronted with the GS Logo: A stylized illustration of fingers spreading open a gaping asshole.

Classy.

Despite all that, Goatse Security seems to expect thousands upon thousands of affected consumers to believe that their intentions were good, that they aren’t primarily out for publicity, and that you can take everything they say about internet security and the inherent risks of this security breech at face value.