Friday, November 27, 2009

Thoughts on Apple Tables - Part 3, Marketing

Thoughts on Apple Tables - Part 3, Marketing

What class will be the new Apple tablet? Is it a big iPod Touch or a multi-touch Macbook? What will be its name?

The first question is partly answered via the choice of operating system. If the tablet runs OS X iPhone, it will be considered a big iPod. If it runs OS X Snow Leopard it will be considered a Multi-touch Macbook.

The same goes for the name. It will be either iSomething or Macsomething. That brings me to the thought that iPhone OS should be rebranded at one point to iOS X, but I guess will be a problem since the same is taken already. Its just iPhone would be will be one of the many devices running that OS.

However, if the Apple tablet features a middles class OS X, then the name is up for grabs.

If Apple plans to redefine the product class similarity as it did with the iPhone, the new device may as well be called an iBook ( a name Apple has already used for a consumer type of notebook before the Macbook). Some people might say, well the Apple Tablet will be much more that a book, why constrain it with its name? Since when did iPhone stands for just a phone these days. It's important to recognize that in the history of the human civilization, books have not always been made from paper. What a book is is determined by the latest technology. Its uses are also far beyond the popular acceptance. There are these folding books that when opened spring 3d like shapes that are great for children or as gifts. I remember, I was hooked to the book games when I was a kid, where the readers decided the course of the story and jumped back and forward in the book. Apple has always tried to redefine or add new meaning to products, rarely to invent whole new metaphors or names.

A pod has a meaning. It's a small rounded object that can store things. The iPod is now an information pod. It stores electronic things. We will always have a need for such a device.

Same with the phone. Its a communication device. The iPhone is also mainly a communication device but of whole another level.

Everybody knows what a book is and just like everybody has pods and phones in the house, they have books. Who has tablets, slates and pads and what does these mean to the ordinary person. The names sound cool but maybe they will be used for other products or just to protect the used choices from similarly cool sounding ones from the competition.

Apple switched to Mac in its laptop line when it switched from Power PC to Intel architecture in 2005. However, ever since WWDC 2008 it dropped Mac from its OS name as OS was now running on iPhone as well on Macs. Back in 1998 it used to put Power in front of its Pro
products and "i" in front of its consumer products. Ever since 2005 the name iBook has been seeking its new product.

So wile iPad and iSlate seam like a natural choices, I think iBook is the logical choice. Imagine! Today, Apple reinvents the book.

Sent from my iPhone

Toughts on Apple Tablet - Part 2, Software

Toughts on Apple Tablet - Part 2, Software

As I laid out my arguments in part 1, I believe the iPhone OS will form the backbone of the Apple Tablet. What is more is it will likely be able to run the same apps from the iPhone App store.

That does not mean the 10 inch screen will have 480x320 resolution. Rather that apps made with Interface Builder in the iPhone SDK can work with relative resolution independence. Switching from portrait to landscape mode provides the best proof for that. Most apps like games will need a higher res version but that should be a minor development problem.

The biggest paradigm of the interface will be wether Apple will allow more than one app to launch at any one time. Actually, the current problem with the approach Apple has taken with the iPhone is not that background apps are not allowed. Its the speed of app switching and
the fact that most apps do not return to the same position when relaunched. The iPhone 3GS addresses most of the first problem. The tablet hardware will likely eliminate that problem completely. However Apple and the developers need to work harder on making an App relaunch in the same state it closes.

Here is how background apps can be easily enabled. The double click home will leave the current app in the background while simultaneously going to the home screen. The running app will be represented with a blue dot. Apple may also move all apps currently running in the dock, so they are not spread out amongst different home-screens.

An alternative is to use the multi touch trackpad gestures on Macbook Pros. Swiping 4 fingers up will leave the current app running while going to the home screen. Swiping 4 fingers down may launch expose for easy app switching.

I personally think that while 3rd party background operation might be allowed in some way, Apple will never leave the management of that up to the consumer. If it did, the most popular app on the app store would be a background killing app, like its on the android app store.

It will be interesting. Since you can never hold and operate the Tablet with one hand like the iPhone the holding hand or one of its fingers might play an important role in activating certain gestures.

One thing people have missed with the iPhone is that the dock is home to the apps which Apple allows to run in the background. Maybe enabling background operation could be as simple as adding an application to the doc, if there is space that is.

The second question is what will be the default hand held position: portrait or landscape? Most people assume a tablet to be used in landscape along with a pen. There is one small problem for Apple with that approach: the virtual keyboard. The best way to type on a virtual keyboard is with two thumbs. Holding it sideways will require split keyboard or the center keys will be unreachable. The tablet is just way to wide for that. However, holding it in portrait mode might feel just right. Landscape mode might be reserved for those media rich interactions like overflow, movie or a game.

Given that both the iPhone and Apple Table will be used with fingers and feature similarly looking OS, most visual elements will likely remain the same visual size on both devices. So the Apple Tablet will not have 16 icons per home screen plus 4 in the dock but as much as 70
icons per home screen plus 7 in the dock.

Sent from my iPhone

Monday, November 23, 2009

Homeworld FX Kadeshi Tech & Unit Tree

Ever played the Space RTS game Homeworld? Well, a lot of people thought it was the best game of 1999. The sequel rereased in 2003, while a step up in many ways, forgot to include many of the original units people (like me) were attached to emotionaly trough the epic story line.

Well in the last two years a new great mod has been shaping arounf Homeworld 2, called the homeworld FX and it's made by 9ccN. Unlike other mods, this one is more like the expansion pack Sierra never released. In Homeworld FX, you can play with 5 more races or fractions taken strait out of the single player campaigns of both Homeworld and Homeworld 2.

One of the races is the Kadesh. I am trying to help the team voluntarily of course in the best way I can, to further polish the pretty much completed mod. The composite image was my second idea.

This chart took me 3 weeks to research an assemble and design, and I hope it will be accesible trough the main menu of the game.

Its main feature is the technological tree of the Kadeshi ploted on a timeline. This way players non only get a sence of the relationships between the upgrades and units, but also how fast they can get to them. Each tech element has a red line on top depicting the actual time in seconds based on the red scale on top and bottom of the chart. I have tried to use cropped screenshots of the actual game to make the different elements more familiar.

The second maroj part of this chart are the images and descriptions of the actual units. I have tried to demonstrate the uniqueness of each unit with carefuly selected action screenshots. With the text on the left, I hope I can give a meaningfull tactical unformation about each unit.

While the mod is mostly complete, there were still areas where changes have resulted in some inconsistency in the documentation. I hope trough this chart that everything one needs to know about the Kadeshi becomes crear, without the trial and error I needed to go trough.

If the guys from 9ccN are OK with this effort on my part, I plan to make a chart like that for each of the other 6 races.

If anybody wants a much bigger high res version, let me know you horizontal resolution and I will email you one.

The official page of the mod is here
My Post with the image is here
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Sunday, November 15, 2009

iPhone pillars of dominance, part 2: A revolutionary Phone

When the iPhone was introduced by Steve Jobs back in 2007, he
demonstrated a few things no other telephone could do.

On top of the list of iNovations is of course visual voicemail. This
ability to look trough your voicemail as if they were a playlist of
songs was a specific colaboration and joint effort between Apple and
AT&T. Visual voicemail implementation on the iPhone is made easier
because of the large touch screen. Bbut that's not the key.
Because of the overall value of the iPhone to the AT&T, they deemed
economicaly justified to invest in developing of a feature that will be
used by only one of the handsets on it's network. Visual voicemail is
described by many as enough reason not to switch from iPhone to the
Droid or other smarthphone that does not have it.
For any other device to have visual voicemail, it would need to be
either as valuable to the iPhone or to follow in it's footsteps on a
carrier that has allready introduced it.

Back in 2007, Jobs also demonstrated how easy a conference call can
be, almost effortless. This is one feature that is often not used by
other smarthone users just because there is too a steep of a learning curve.

The ability of the iPhone to make a call while doing other activities,
such as sending a mail or browsing the web, is only just now becoming
available on other smartphones. Some like the Droid can only take
advantage of it while in WiFi coverage.

One other thing the iPhone introduced that changed how people use
their phones is contact management. This ability to have all your
contacts with you, easily within reach has recently been surprased to
some extend by rival smarthphones like the Palm Pre or the Motorola
Droid. These handsets now offer greater contact integration from
social network sources and over the air sync. However, seing how Apple
has always delivered new features as an software update, this slight
advantage will not last for long.

A camera equiped phone. There was an interesting comparison resently
of photos takes by the 5 MP camera of the Droid vs the 3 MP camera of
the iPhone. The later photos were crearly supperior in quality and the
iPhone was much quicker in taking the photos. The camera is a very
good example of finely tuned software and hardware by Apple and the
statistics show. The iPhone is #1 camera phone on flickr... by far. The iPhone is again redefining the megapixel myth

Just like the normal camera, the iPhone reinvented how a phone photo
management app should work. While many have copied this specific
experience, the multi-touch controls and responsivness of the iPhone
still give it an edge.

As a phone, nothing is more important that call quality and signal coverage.
Here the iPhone pioneered the ability to be used all over the world.
Only since the N97 has Nokia matched this in a similar hyped device
and other buzz smarthphones like the Palm Pre and the Motorola Droid
are still starting out as region specific models.
While the original iPhone had many complaining about it being not loud
enough, the latest model has brought it up to speed with highest

The other realy revolutionary feature the iPhone introduced was the onscreen
virtual keyboard. While some may argue that because virtual keyboards
were there before it is only evolutionary development, but I think reality
proves that to be an understatement. The iPhone keyboard offered from
day one something other software keyboards did not 2 years later.
These are responsiveness and predictive text. The fist was enabled
trough the very sensitive capacitive screen with multi-touch controls,
while the second was a result of some advanced programing algorithms. What other device allows you to press up to 5 on screen characters at a time?

Even tough other have copied the layout of the keys to a large extent,
Apple has expanded it's lead here by enabling advanced multy language
support. This feature took years to introduce fully but now the iPhone
is the only truly international device. This alone sets it apart from
any device with buttons and way ahead of other touchscreen
competitors. The iPhone has really proved that software keyboard can
be a practical sunstitute for a hardware one and even offer many
unique advantages over it.

The iPhone 3GS can also be used by people with disabilities, offering advanced touch to speech, screen zoom and high contrast options across all its apps. These advanced features are enabled trough multitouch and advanced software, an investments no other company can afford to make and offer at no additional cost. The iPhone is probably the only other affordable smarthphone that can do that.

The iPhone is still a revolutionary Phone. It offers seamless services
integration and unique features such as: visual voicemail, call
multitasking, great camera and photo management apps, advanced
software keyboard, touch to speech, zoom and full iternational support and coverage. These
will take years to come togather in another device. While other
handsets may differentiate themselves with better contact integration
with some cloud services, that features will take Apple only months to

The only reason not to consider the iPhone as your next phone is when you live in an area not reliably covered by the carrier offering the device.

Sent from my iPhone

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The iPhone pillars of dominance, part 1: Introduction

When Apple instroduced the iPhone in 2007, it was to be 3 things in 1.
- A revolutionary phone,
- a widescreen iPod with touch controls and
- a breaktrough Internet comunicator.
In time
- the ease of use a polish of the iPhone software
became an virtue in itself.

Since then trough software updates, new hardware, consistency and
support of it's developers and accesory makers, the iPhone can add several more fundamental pillars to its supporting foundation. These are:
- pocket computer.

- digital tool

- game console

- digital instrument

- pocket ebook reader

- accessory platform

- very profitable device for Apple

- profitable software model for Developers

- A new successful new bussiness model for Carriers

- worldwide iconic brand.

There are other things that come to my mind from time to time and I will update this list accordingly

If there is ever to be an iPhone killer, a device will have to match
and exeed the Apple phone in every one of those areas or explore new ones. As potential
iPhone killers have come and gone, the iPhone has consistently
improved in customer and bussiness ratings and incresed it's market
share. Clearly no one knows how even to define an iPhone killer as no one has been so far successful at predicting one.

In the those series of posts, I will look into each of the iPhone
pillars of dominance. How have potential competitors tried to match
and exceed it and what it really takes.

Sent from my iPhone

Friday, November 13, 2009

Thoughts on the 4 Gen iPhone.

Two things are clear. Apple designs world producs. Producs that should be used all ever the world.

Second. 3G networks have still a long way to go to cover the majority of their potential users. What is more, there are two widely used and incompatible standarts. A single 4G widely available standart is at least 2 years away to gustify an iPhone called the iPhone 4G.

Hence the iPhone 4G will probably be the 5th gen iPhone.

So the 4gen iPhone would have the stop gap feature. It would be usable on bothe current 3G standarts: the WCDMA (UMTS) and the CDMA. In other worlds it work on the US Verizon network and that os some countires in Asia. Only the will the iPhone finaly be a true world phone.

How will the 4th gen iPhone look different. In short: it won't. It will look exacly the same. Why? Because of the huge accesory ecosystem build around the current 3G and 3GS models which are basicaly the same. There is no reason why the iPhone cases and docks market should not work the same as the app store in the sence of ever growing platform for which you can sell you accesory. Having millions of potential devices to sell is one thing, having tens of milions is quite another and soon apple will pass the 100 millionth iPhone platform mark. That will motivate accesory makers to make a trully spectacular accessory products in the same league as the recent iPot Touch mobile payment case Apple introduced in its retail stores. Clearly behind that was not just Apple but the Incase company which months ago instroduced the Incase Power Clider case.

Sent from my iPhone