1, 2, 3, and counting…

Microsoft is building another Surface Tablet, the Xbox Surface. First impression: I’m flabbergasted. What on earth are they thinking? Two versions of Windows on tablets both called Surface isn’t confusing enough? Guess not, let’s throw in another! And at the same time, let’s confuse developers too! Which Windows platform to develop for? Windows RT which is a good price point and looks like a nice tablet experience, but can’t really run Office? How about the much more expensive Windows 8? Maybe Windows Xbox? Or is that Surface Xbox? Really, they can’t even keep their naming conventions straight between hardware and operating systems.

And I would like to know precisely how many tablets Microsoft expects me to buy? One for casual consumption, one for “creation”, and one for gaming? How much more clearly can they make an argument to just buy an iPad?

And who is going to buy the Xbox Surface? Does Microsoft think parents will buy it for their kids? So now it’s up against the real Xbox? Doesn’t that just cannibalize Xbox sales? At least with the iPad, the kids can justify it with all the educational and creative apps that are available.

All this is going to do is cause a massive amount of confusion and drive people right into the iPad with it’s much simpler proposition: one tablet to do it all, almost.

Microsoft Surface RT Looks GOOD

Surface-Cyan-Cover_Page

Looks like Microsoft did their homework on this one. Seems a bit pricey at $499 (with keyboard). But on the other hand, that’s a damn fine looking keyboard and if it works only half as well as Microsoft says, it’ll be a pretty compelling device. And then there is the little issue of Office. Surface RT comes with Office. Which, for most people, is a very compelling advantage.

Let me just come out and say it, the Surface RT hardware looks awesome. But, god I hate saying this, but it’s running Windows. Wish I didn’t have to say that and I hope I’m wrong but I’m worried that it just won’t measure up. I say this based on my experience with Windows 7 on my four year old MacBook. It was so fast when I installed a few years ago. But over time, the damn thing slowed down so much that I finally gave up and built a PC to replace it. The really damning thing is that OS X still runs very well on it. So it’s not the hardware, it’s the…software. And that’s where I think both RT and Pro will fall short. The hardware won’t be able to keep up with bloatware. Oops, I mean software.

I could be wrong. And I hope that I am wrong because both the Surface RT and PRO look terrific. These could easily be the most exciting things since the iPad. But honestly, I think they could be the biggest things since the iPhone. And that’s big because, in my humble opinion, the iPhone was the biggest thing in computers since the dawn of the PC.

Surface-Cyan-Cover-Side_Page

 

I could gush over the design of the RT, but just look at those pictures. Perfect. And the designers seems 100% on their game. I litterally punched the air in excitment when one designer was talking about the keyboard:

Microsoft Surface Keyboard Design

Full video.

Goal Post

Seems so strange that pretty much everyone seems to be having so much difficulty explaining the larger screen on the iPhone 5. Most people think Apple it just caving to competition or admitting they were wrong and the 3.5″ was too small all along.

John Gruber, the one guy I assumed would figure this out is just as befuddled as everyone else:

So the question is, if a 4-inch 16:9 display is better than a 3.5-inch 3:2 display, why hasn’t the iPhone been using 4-inch 16:9 displays from the start? Cost must have been a factor. Bigger screens are more expensive, and the 2007 iPhone display was like nothing else on the market. Bigger displays also consume more power. But I think it’s really mostly about a subtle change in priorities, a reordering of the tradeoffs — and, let’s face it, a response to marketing pressure from the aforementioned bigger-seems-better retail showroom factor.

This is really very simple. The goal post has moved. What makes a great smartphone today is not the same thing that made a great smartphone in 2007. Here are a couple of things people aren’t talking about:

  • A lot more people are watching a lot more video on their phones now
  • A lot more people are reading a lot more books on their phones
  • And there was one more thing, oh yeah, there are hundreds of thousands of more apps for the iPhone now than there were five years ago. Maybe adding an extra row of apps to the screen would help.

Parameters change, needs change, people change and great design changes to satisfy these changes.

While I’m at it, here are some other things I can help to clear up for John:

Along the lines of can’t-really-be-answered-but-gosh-they’re-fun-to-ponder questions like, say, “Who’d win in a fight, Batman or Spider-Man?” or “Star Destroyer vs. U.S.S. Enterprise?

Batman has far superior tactics and strategies so he would be the favorite in a fight with Spider-Man. Unless Batman knew he was going to – or could potentially – fight Spider-Man. In this case, Spidey wouldn’t have a chance. Batman is the guy who, with a bit of planning, beat up Superman. You really think a spider is going to get him?

Star Destroyer vs, Enterprise? Ok, imagine this:

The bridge of the Enterprise
“Lt. Worf, full spread of photon torpedoes please…”
“And while you’re at it, beam the bridge crew of the Star Destroyer into space….”
“And in their place, beam some more photon torpedoes onto that now empty bridge.”
“And if by some slim chance, if they give us any trouble, jump to warp nine and we’ll come back to finish them off later.”

Motorola, Phoning it in for Probably the Last Time

Reviewing Motorola’s newly announced phones is just one big bag of disappointment. Nothing really new here, nothing that pushes the envelope, just three more slab like Android phones with big and bigger screens.

And they’re not even shipping with the most up to date version of Android.

Motorola, what’s the point? Either you aren’t giving it your all, or you’ve got so little talent or direction that you really shouldn’t bother to get out of bed in the morning. Hence my terribly tedious and totally obvious title for this entry, just like your new phones.

Isn’t one of the ‘great things’ about Android that there are so many different choices? But what does Motorola do? They add three more unimaginative and derivative designs that stand out in no way. Lemmings.

Price of Windows Surface Pro

Please note, the following is guess work. I have no inside knowledge on which to build the following wild speculations.

The upcoming Microsoft Surface Pro (with keyboard) will be $999. Or if Microsoft does really well with part sourcing (and maybe takes a slim to no markup or even sells them at a loss) $799. If things go less smoothly, it’ll be $1199. $1499 would mark an utter failure, but I see that as being a very remote possibility. If it was that high, I would expect Steve Ballmer to make two announcements:

  1. Here is the new Microsoft Surface Pro for $1499
  2. Here is my resignation.

On the other extreme, if the Pro came out at $599, it would be a freaking home run.

But price is just one half of what makes a successful product launch. The other half is availability. I don’t have a lot of confidence (this is strictly my gut talking) that Microsoft can deliver as many units to keep up with demand should there be a demand.

But that might not be such a bad thing. If there isn’t enough inventory to keep up with a strong demand, it would likely keep the Pro in the news as people whine about not being able to get one.

“It’s so popular, we can’t keep up with demand.” That’s not the worst thing to say, it piques people’s interest. And it could work for Microsoft’s OEMs, it would give them some slack and an audience wanting to buy a Windows Surface Pro tablet.

It might also take the sting out a price that might be a little on the high side. Scarcity increases value. Assuming the product is desirable in the first place.

If the iPhone and the Samsung F700 had a Love Child….

…It would look just like the Samsung Galaxy S.

Sort of.

Looking at just the hardware, and just from the front, the F700 really does look like both the iPhone and the Galaxy S.

f700-iphone-galaxy-s1
Image from the verge

What’s important here is that the F700 and the iPhone were released essentially at the same time (within a few months), so it’s hard to call the F700 a copy of the iPhone. Unless Samsung had some secret detailed prior knowledge of what the iPhone was going to look like. But there is no indication of that.

f700-iphone-galaxy-s-naked

 

From the front (and with the phone off), all three of these devices have the same slate like appearance that we have all become so familiar with. This is not what phones looked like in 2006. Samsung clearly has some design intent here that shows up later in the Galaxy S and their tablets. Still, the rest of the Galaxy S bares more than a passing resemblance to the iPhone. And once you look at the UI, it’s little more than a direct clone.

Google is Now Officially Lost in the Wilderness

Eric Schmidt is on record as saying Google is “in the information business.” That’s a meaningless statement, it’s like saying they are in the “breathing air” business. This is the current Executive Chairman of Google basically saying he doesn’t know what Google does. But how could he not know?

Simple. Google is doing too much in too many directions and has no master plan.

Please note, the draft of this article was created using Google Docs*.

* I mean Google Drive or whatever totally idiotic name they are using this week.