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UK carriers offering large discounts on current iPad models

Two UK carriers are offering the current generation iPad with large discounts over their regular selling prices.  Techradar reported that both Orange and T-Mobile are offering discounts in what can only be interpreted as a move to clear stocks of the current model before the release of the iPad 2. Whether the carriers have already been warned to expect the new release of the iPad or they are acting on the general expectation of a March release, it’s impossible to tell.  Both carriers now have offers of basic wifi+3G models at £99 when associated with 24 month contracts, down from £199 which is their regular prices. Source: Techradar (via...
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Apple’s in-app subscriptions could be better

Apple has finally introduced the in-app subscription service that has been long rumored. Subscriptions created through this service will incur the same 30% fee that Apple charges for other in-app purchases or sales of apps in the App Store. While the 30% fee makes a lot of sense for the app sales made through the App Store as Apple is effectively acting as both distributor and reseller, such a charge just for handling the order processing for content providers seems a bit too steep.  When Apple makes a sale through the App Store, it handles the hosting and bandwidth for the downloads in addition to providing the storefront. When users purchase content through an in-app purchase they don’t really download the content from Apple, but from the content provider.  This being the case it would probably be reasonable to expect that Apple would charge a smaller fee since it doesn’t have to handle the hosting and bandwidth costs and is only involved in handling the financial transaction. As Apple does provide what we might consider the services which allow the creation of what are essentially in-app storefronts it is also reasonable to expect that they would charge more than credit card processing fees as well. A more reasonable compromise for handing content sales might be a 10% charge, for example.  Such a charge would allow Apple to turn a profit from these services, without making iOS devices nonviable for content resellers such as Amazon.  You have to wonder if Apple really expects Amazon to turn over all or almost all its margin for sales to iOS device users or if they want to force such companies out of the Apple ecosystem. Personally I haven’t purchased any eBooks for Amazon in the months I’ve had my iPad.  All the eBooks I have on the device were purchased from the publisher or through an independent reseller.  Still, I would not like to see Amazon go away.  Diversity is very important and only makes the whole ecosystem that much more...
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The iRumor mill: anything is possible

Over the past couple of weeks lots of baseless and sometimes conflicting rumors seem to have floated around regarding Apple’s plans for the iPad and the iPhone.  A lot of this is probably related to the total lack of official information about the next iPad generation in a moment in time in which everyone is expecting it to come next week. Everyone expects Apple to announce a second generation iPad either in February or in March and the large number of announcements from all the companies trying to get a piece of the pie is just making everyone everyone even more anxious for some information.  Any information will do! Not long ago John Gruber, of Daring Fireball, wrote that he thought that Apple might release two iPad models in 2011. One model would be released next month and another one would be released around September.  That comment sparked a wave of posts stating that Apple would release the iPad 3 still in 2011, that lasted for days. Even more recently another wave started that stated that Apple was testing an iPhone with a physical keyboard.  Come on!  I can accept a lot of the crazier rumors floating around but I seriously doubt that such a rumor would have even started if HP hadn’t just announced the Pre 3 phone which has a sliding keyboard and doesn’t use a virtual one. The rumor that Apple is going to review its notification system at least came in the wake of a demo of a feature of HP’s webOS which looks like an improvement over what you have in iOS.  If people are going to make up a rumor that Apple is going to copy a feature of one of HP’s products, at least pick a good...
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“The Daily” gets deleted

“The Daily” gets deleted
Update: The original title of this post might have been interpreted as if the publication was being discontinued.  This is not the case.  I’m sorry for the possible confusion. Since the ipad-only newspaper “The Daily” came out, I have done my best to check out every issue.  Sometimes I wasn’t able to because the app just wasn’t working and other times I simply missed the window of opportunity as there seems to be no way for you to get an issue that came out during the interval between your activation of the app. When I was able to get an issue, I went through it and always ended up feeling like I didn’t really get anything of interest out of the experience.  The app is quite beautiful, but not practical to use.  The content leans totally on beautiful pictures which look great on the iPad’s screen, specially when you get 360 degrees pictures, but is very light in actual information. I had been planning on subscribing to “The Daily” if only to keep track of how it evolves, but then I thought better of it.  There are much better publications available for the iPad, which didn’t even require a team of over 100 professionals or 30 million dollars to be available in this medium.  Perhaps its because they are simply bringing an established publication to the iPad, as is the case with Wired, or perhaps they simply have a better idea of what to do. Update 2: Perhaps Wired wasn’t the best example as it also has design flaws such as the huge download for each issue.  Still, I regard the overall experience as being better than what you get with “The Daily”, not to mention that there is much more content.  I don’t really care if the content is the same as the print magazine as I only read the iPad version.  Perhaps News Corp. would have been better off aggregating news from the various traditional newspapers it owns, instead of trying to create it just for the iPad. What the team in charge of creating “The Daily” seems not to understand is that people expect that a newspaper will have content and not simply look pretty. There was certainly a huge technological misstep as the app which powers the newspaper was released in what can only be described as a half-baked state, and seems not to have had any usability testing at all.  Even after a couple of updates, the app still takes too long to load and too long to let you actually see any content, as it goes into a “downloading new issue” which leaves you looking at a blank screen with a corresponding message.  This isn’t what you expect when you pick up your iPad to read the latest news. There is no reason anyone should have to wait that long, except for bad design decisions.  When you start up Flipboard, a great news and social information aggregation app, you get instant access to the content which was available when you last started it, and it just downloads more in the background while you browse through sessions.  Flipboard is a lot closer to the mark of what most iPad users expect from a first rate news organization than what “The Daily” has delivered so far. Hopefully, there will be time for the technological issues to be sorted out and for the content management system of the app to be improved, allowing the publication to grow and prosper.  In the mean time, I’m not planning on sticking around to as a paying subscriber.  I have already deleted the app from iPad and have no plans...
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“It’s HP’s iPad.” – Apple’s total dominance in mind share

Just yesterday I had a quick chat with Fabiano Teixeira,  a good friend and colleague, about HP’s Touchpad, Although brief it provided me with substantial food for thought.   It started with my friend asking me about a link that he had just received on Skype when he logged on in his iPhone.  In general the conversation went a bit like this… Fabiano asks me what is the link for and I reply that it will take him to pictures of the Touchpad.  As he’s been involved with a several complex issues in both his professional and personal life I knew he hadn’t had the time to catch up with the latest news.  No sure of what I’m talking about he asks me what is it? To this I reply immediately: “It’s HP’s iPad.” The Touchpad isn’t HP’s tablet in most people’s minds.  It’s HP’s iPad! This is one of those rare situations in which a company’s brand or product brand is so dominant that it is associated with  an entire category of products. I’ve seen both the Samsung Galaxy Tab and the Motorola Xoom referred to in this manner and now I’ve caught my self doing it too, this time in reference to the Touchpad, despite having gone to  the trouble, in the past, to explain to several relatives that a Galaxy Tab is not an iPad. Regardless of what anybody else does in the tablet segment over the course of this year, it seems pretty clear that Apple has already won the battle for consumer mind...
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HP TouchPad will be the first real competitor for the iPad

HP TouchPad will be the first real competitor for the iPad
Following all the live blogs coming out of HP’s webOS event one thing seems clear: the Apple integrated software+hardware model crushes the Google/Microsoft generic OS model.  HP’s tablet shows unique features such as integration with webOS phones by proximity which will set it apart from all the iPad-wannabes running Android. HP clearly did the right thing in deciding to acquire Palm to take the same approach to tablets that Apple takes with all its products.  In the TouchPad and Pre 3 devices shown today HP scored points for its platform and helped Apple drive another nail in the coffin of the companies that pursue the generic OS approach to mobile devices: Google and Microsoft on the software side of things and all the phone manufacturers that are betting on them. While some information such as pricing and and battery life will be very important in determining the viability of HP’s products in the market, the design and functionality seem to be headed in the right direction.  The projected availability for the TouchPad is vague, being mentioned as in the Summer.  This will give Apple a lot of time to get the iPad 2 widely distributed and talked about before any HP hardware can get into the hands of customers.  It’s also interesting to note that while HP’s products seem to show a level of attention to detail and hardware/software integration which will probably set it apart and above the Android mob, HP hasn’t really shown any major features or capabilities which would definitely position the TouchPad ahead of what is expected for the iPad 2. Perhaps HP will still talk about pricing and battery as the event is not over yet. So far, these are the big question marks… UPDATE: The event is over.  The big news at the end was the announcement that HP will be introducing desktop and notebooks PCs powered by...
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Xoom who? – Another iPad competitor reality check

The latest effort in producing an iPad competitor to gain attention is that of Motorola and its Xoom tablet.  Motorola did a great job with its teaser campaign which featured a video on the history of tablets, which showed the last step as something covered in cloth.  The device seems to have pretty decent hardware specs, but as I have made the point once or twice in the past, the hardware is secondary.  What really maters is the software. It’s time for another competitor’s reality check. Apart from having a significant disadvantage in available software, essentially zero to over 60,000 iPad-specific apps, the Xoom seems to come saddled with a very hefty price.  Pictures of a leaked Bestbuy flier show the Xoom being offered for $799.99, as well as a warning that to activate wifi functionality a minimum subscription of 1 month of 3G service is required.  Really?!    I can understand that to activate the 3G functionality I may need access to a wifi network in order to connect to the carrier’s website, but the other way around? Let’s take a step back and consider this.  You are considering the purchase of a tablet in the next couple of months.  Would you really be willing to put down $800 + a minimum $20 in order to be able to use wifi, on a tablet that has not software available for it, instead of waiting a week or two to get an iPad 2 which will have thousands of apps immediately available? The price tag is bad enough as it puts the Motorola Xoom on the same level as the iPad’s most expensive models, but the requirement of a 3G subscription to enable wifi is right up there with the rumored lack of an email client on RIM’s Playbook, as far as dumb product planning goes.  Could it be that Verizon is putting in small subsidy on the Xoom.  If so, it still has to cost $800? For a long time Apple has been “the” premium brand for computers and music players.  It will be hard pressed for people to buy into the idea of paying as much or even more on an iPad competitor than they would on the iPad itself, as the device already has the image of a premium quality product. Perhaps the folks at Motorola believe that since the Xoom will have features the current generation iPad doesn’t have, it can cost a bit more.  If so, they are probably going to be disappointed with how the public reacts, specially after Apple finally introduces the much awaited iPad...
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“The Daily” seems to be going from bad to worse

My recent comments on News Corp.’s recently launched The Daily weren’t the most flattering I’ve written about an iPad App, but they mainly concerned how the usability could be improved.  Now, after trying to read a couple more issues of The Daily, it seems to me that the only way to really improve the experience is not to attempt to open the app. It doesn’t open anyway, while leaving you forever with a black screen and the a loading message which precedes a crash which dumps you back to the iOS home screen. In essence, it just doesn’t work.  I’ve seen others complaining about crashes and waits and I believe John Gruber describes the situation quite well in his post: The Daily Wait.  Common users are not really going to wait around starring at a blank, black screen waiting to see “if” the newspaper is going to appear.  After a couple of seconds they’ll just suppose that the app has crashed and press the home button to choose something else.  That is what I did the first time the problem occurred. Considering the content I’ve seen so far, I’m not even going to try to read The Daily again, before an app update has come out and if that happens after the free trial period is over, I’ll probably never try it again as I’m surely not going to subscribe to a newspaper that I can’t read because it...
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News Corp.’s The Daily is a bit disappointing

News Corp.’s The Daily is a bit disappointing
This week saw the debut of News Corporation’s iPad-specific newspaper.  As just about everyone else that uses an iPad or that has an interest in publication I was eager to get a look at what they had come up with and was quick to download the App. At first I was quite impressed with the App, as its graphical presentation is quite stunning.  The Daily starts out with a brief splash animation and drops you into a carousel of beautiful pages which spins by itself every few seconds. A deeper look into the publication, however, revealed that most articles are actually quite shallow, ending just as I was starting to get interested in the subject.  This perception might be related to the fact that The Daily looks a lot more like one of the several iPad magazines that a newspaper.  The Daily doesn’t even have a “first page”, it has a magazine style cover with a large picture and the logo.  Regardless, I expected more content, specially given the great image content you get. The way information is organized within the application got some criticism from an early review on Wired, as having several articles on the same page seems inconsistent with having a single comment stream on them.  A similar issue arises when you want to save an article for later reading as the App saves pages and not articles. Saving articles for later reading becomes a lot more important as soon as you find out that once the App downloads the day’s paper you’ve lost the previous one.  While that might be interesting from the perspective of not eating up space on the reader’s device, it is quite the let down when you pick up your iPad to read that article you just noticed last night when you were going to sleep and it isn’t there anymore. Other publications, including newspapers, which are already available on the iPad allow the readers to decide if an when they will remove past issues. This is useful when you are saving information as reference or simply if you don’t have the time to read an article right now, but you know you’ll want to read it later. Brazilian newspaper “O Globo” on the iPad – Issue library. After going through a couple of issues of The Daily I felt quite disappointed.  Perhaps I was just expecting too much from what is after all the first attempt at a daily publication on the iPad, but somehow having been reading the news on the Web for the past 15 years, I feel the designers of the The Daily have missed the mark.  Considering all the effort that has gone into creating this publication, I’m confident some of these issues will be addressed and the experience will improve over time. The designers for The Daily, to forget that there ever was such a thing as a paper printed newspaper or magazine and design for the iPad.  Flipboard, the social magazine application, does a much better job of organizing content and comments while still providing a graphically rich view of it all.  While The Daily certainly has stunning pages which are probably individually designed, Flipboard treats content as articles instead of as pages.  This small difference has a huge impact in usability. I’ll probably become a subscriber of The Daily when the free trial period is over, in a bit over a week, if only to see how it evolves over...
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It’s been an interesting year for the iPad

It’s been an interesting year for the iPad
Exactly one year ago, Steve Jobs introduced the iPad to the world. There were a lot of skeptics back then, telling everyone how the iPad would be a flop as it had no USB ports, camera or SD card reader.  Well, during the past year Apple sold almost 15 million iPads taking the world of mobile computing by storm. In this single year over 60,000 Apps designed specifically for the iPad have been made available on the App Store, making the iPad not only a great hardware product but one which is very, very expandable.  These third party applications range from business oriented to gaming and mostly are extremely affordable. With the release of an updated iOS which brought multi-tasking to the iPad along with several interesting features Apple showed everyone that making an investment in the iPad was a sound bet.  Not only did you get the value you already knew about, but you could get new features of which you had no idea. (Of course, Apple had already done the same with the iPhone and iPod Touch.) The ability to combine your iPad with an Apple TV, connected with your living room TV was also a great twist.  While the iPad is a great device for you to watch a movie in bed, it is also a great way to control what you are going to watch with your family on that big living room screen. During the months since the iPad was introduced it has changed the way a lot of people play, read and work.  I use my iPad for 90% of my daily activities which mostly comprise going to meetings, following up on project updates as well as reading and writing emails.  I only return to my Macbook when I want to write something which is more than a couple of paragraphs long.  Even that, though, could probably be easily accomplished on the iPad with the help of a bluetooth keyboard of a keyboard dock for the iPad.  (There are, of course, many types of professionals which require a regular computer to work.) It has been very interesting to watch the iPad grow in acceptance and evolve into a major factor in most company’s mobile computing plans.  It’s also been interesting to watch more and more people surrender to the temptation of getting one. Let’s hope that the next year will be even more interesting with a new model iPad and even more people and companies adopting it as their preferred way of accessing information and getting things done while on the...
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Much rumored The Daily iPad-only newspaper is confirmed

James Murdoch, head of News Corp.’s operations in Europe and Asia, confirmed that the iPad based digital newspaper should be available sometime in February.   A lot of rumors and speculation have been going around this subject over the past two months but it seems that it is now official. The newspaper will be available in subscription form for 99 cents per week. It will be interesting to see just how well iPad users will receive this initiative.  In order for the Daily to succeed it will depend heavily not only on having good content but on having a good app implementation which makes it enjoyable to use/read. (via...
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Intriguing question: Will iPad 1 and iPad 2 coexist?

I just ran into the most intriguing post on Mac Observer: What if Apple continues iPad 1 sales after April.  When you stop to think about it, it might just make a lot of sense for Apple to do so.  There seems to be no lack of people interested in buying the current generation iPad and making it available as the low cost entry point into the iPad ecosystem might just help to bury all those competitors lining up for their shot at the iPad. After a year it can probably be argued that it costs a lot less to make the current model iPad than it did when it was introduced and it might take on the role of the iPhone 3GS which is available as a low cost entry point to the iPhone family.   Apple has been doing this sort of thing with both the iPhone and the iPod Touch for the past couple of years and it makes a lot of sense for it to do so with the iPad as well. Would a low priced iPad 1 cannibalize sales of the iPad 2?  Probably not.  As it turns out many people who purchased the iPad have also bought a second iPad or are just waiting for the iPad 2 in order to do so.  At my home, whenever I put down the iPad there is always someone ready to pick it up.  Going forward the iPad 1 might just be good enough to be the iPad you have laying around the house or which kids take to school while the grown ups carry the more powerful iPad 2s to work. Again, this is something we’ll have to wait and see how Apple is going to play it.  Be sure to check out John Martellaro’s post on Mac Observer for his views on this...
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Analysts and iPad Watcher in agreement, HiRes display is for iPad 3

It seems that a number of people have come to the conclusion that the much talked about HiRes display (2048×1536) might make it into the third generation of the iPad, but probably not the iPad 2.  Just recently we published a post which argued this point, though coming at it with a different angle than MacRumors and PC World. Both of these sites have posts which comment on analyst opinions on the feasibility of Apple getting manufacturers to produce such a high resolution display, of such small size and in enough quantities.  That is certainly a valid point.  On the other hand, even considering that it was feasible, it would not make much sense for Apple to play this card at this point.  It’s not as if there are several competing problems challenging the iPad that need to be squashed. As it stands now, the new features that Apple will probably add to the second generation iPad are probably more than enough to ensure that its hardware will be at least equal to that of everyone else, while its software stands head and shoulders above...
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It’s all in the software, stupid!

It’s all in the software, stupid!
Almost a year after the iPad was first unveiled, it is impossible to deny just how successful a product it is.  Apple’s latest quarterly numbers should be proof enough for all but the most self delusional.  Recently, however, I’ve been more and more impressed with the number of such self delusional people that have shifted from saying that the iPad isn’t going to be all that successful to saying that as soon as there is competition, other companies will be sharing in all the interest it generated in tablets. Excuse me… Reality check time!  The iPad didn’t really generate interest in tablets, it generated interest in iPads.  Some interest in tablets has been generated by all the companies which claim to creating  tablets that will be better than the iPad.  Notice how they aren’t really saying that their product will be a great tablet, or the best tablet.  They are saying that their tablets will be better than the iPad.  For all intents and purposes it is no longer just a question of creating a tablet. Now,  it is the problem of creating something which can be argued that is better than Apple’s product.  HP was quick to notice this in 2010 when it decided to acquire Palm and work on creating a product which could be comparable to the iPad, instead of insisting on the dead and beaten path of creating yet another Windows based tablet. While the iPad is a nice piece of hardware design and craftsmanship, it is the software that powers it that sets it a world apart from all that came before.  The combination of iOS, the Apple App Store and all the software that developer’s have written for this platform in the past year raise the bar for entry into this market to a very high level. In less than a full year, 60,000 apps, specifically targeted at the iPad, have been made available on the App Store.  In addition, all iPads can also make use of over 200,000 apps which target the iPhone or iPod Touch.  These applications and the power and simplicity of the user interface in iOS is what really made the iPad such a huge success and what will make it extremely difficult for other players to acquire significant market share. The bottom line is that the real problem isn’t creating the hardware for a good tablet product, it’s creating the software which can make it a worthy adversary to the iPad. Once a proper foundation is provided in the form of a stable operating system and APIs you still need to attract developers to your platform. Attracting developers is another serious can of worms.  Already some developers that have decided to port their applications to Android have had the opportunity to tell their woes.  Android is a fragmented platform with all manner of hardware combined with lots of different versions of the OS providing wildly varying levels of performance.  This makes it more difficult for those targeting the Android platform to consistently deliver a good user experience to all costumers. HP made the first correct decision when they moved to acquire Palm in order to be able to provide the full user experience, combining the hardware and the software that will power their tablets.  Research In Motion did likewise when it moved to create its own software stack based on QNX for its future Playbook tablets. If they manage to deliver good quality hardware, these are the companies that will probably be in the strongest position to challenge Apple’s dominance over this new market, if they can attract developers to their platforms. In the mean time, Apple will...
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iPad 2’s display – putting the pieces together

iPad 2’s display – putting the pieces together
A lot of speculation has been going on around the screen resolution of the second generation iPad.  There is mounting evidence that Apple is preparing for a future, higher resolution, version of the iPad but is it version 2? Developer’s dug up higher resolution images of several resources in the built-in and freely downloadable applications from Apple.  These images seem to follow the same naming convention used by Apple to provide two different resolutions for the resources used in iPhone and iPod Touch applications. While it should be obvious that Apple is laying down the groundwork for a high resolution iPad, it probably isn’t the iPad 2.  Why?  Because it doesn’t need it yet. This might sound a trifle hard, but Apple is doing well enough with the current generation iPad that it doesn’t really need to spend such a power cartridge in the second generation. iPad 2 will have cameras and Face Time.  These features alone are sure to attract a lot of users.  It will have a more powerful processor, a more powerful graphics processor and surely more memory which will allow for better multi-tasking support.  All these improvements will already make for a great product which will sell in the tens of millions of units during 2011.  With all that already going for the iPad 2, why would Apple make the effort of adding such a powerful new feature which is sure to add quite a bit to the individual production cost? One thing that can’t be questioned is that Apple knows how to create profitable products.  The original version of the iPad in itself, which has no camera, should be a clear reminder that Apple knows which features need to be included in the device and which are better left out to be added at a time when doing so will allow it to have better performance, less impact on costs and more impact on user interest. Perhaps we will get a higher resolution iPad when the 3rd generation comes out in 2012.  Perhaps Apple will even take the opportunity to introduce a smaller iPad model which would retain the 1024×768 resolution.  This would be an interesting turn of events as it would allow Apple to introduce two new models both with a much higher pixel density then what we have in the first generation and will probably get in the second one, without imposing too much work on developers to support them. The introduction of the second generation iPad is probably just a month or so away.  In the mean time we’ll keep on thinking about it and considering the...
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