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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App Store reaches 10 Billion downloads

This Saturday morning, January 22nd, Apple’s App Store reached the incredible number of 10 billion downloads.  A year ago Apple announced that it had reached the 3 billion downloads mark.  Within this single year the number of downloads grew at an amazing rate. On January 14th, Apple offered a U$ 10,000.00 prize for the person responsible for the 10 billionth download.  This morning the company published a message informing that the mark had been reached and that they will be announcing he winner of the prize.
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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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What does 2011 hold in store for Apple?

Perhaps it might be best to be asking what Apple holds in store for 2011…   Coming out of an exceptionally strong year, Apple seems well on its way to repel the assault of Android onto the smartphone market and to consolidating a very strong lead in the tablet market it created with the iPad. The new CDMA version of the iPhone 4 will probably play a big role in helping to restrain the growth of Android competitors in the US as consumers will no longer be forced to use AT&T’s network in order to be able to use the device.  Apple has been consistently delivering a new iPhone model a year, since the device was introduced in 2007. This means that we will probably see a new iPnone model coming out about six months after Verizon starts to sell its version of the current generation phone. Because of the consistency that Apple has shown in releasing a new iPhone model in one year cycles, everyone expects that Apple will be announcing the second generation of the iPad fairly soon, probably in February,  The rumors around this started up in force around November and have grown into a franzy over the past couple of weeks. There are rumors about changes in size, changes in ports and even about a new display with an incredible resolution. Whatever is true about the next iPad, the current version of the device has already proven itself to be of great interest to home and business users as Apple sold almost 15 million of them in just 9 months. If the iPad 2 has just incremental updates such as a more powerful processor and more memory, along with the front facing camera necessary to use FaceTime, it will probably be more than enough to ensure that Apple retains a comfortable lead in the tablet market. During this year Apple will be introducing the next version of OS X: Lion.  This version will bring to OS X several graphical elements which are derived from those of iOS.  These visual features combined with the Mac App Store that Apple introduced this past January 6th, will help make users of iOS devices feel right at home when using a Mac.   The impact on the PC industry of the migration of iPhone, iPod and iPad users to Macs, when the time comes to replace old PCs, should not be underestimated.  I can already see a clear trend within the group of my personal acquaintances.  People who have always been Windows users are making the switch t0 Macs, after one or two years using an iPhone. When all things are considered, 2011 will probably turn out to be another extraordinary year for...
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Image in iOS 4.3 beta confirms the presence of cameras in iPad 2

Even though everyone already expected the iPad 2 to come equipped with one or more cameras, it is interesting to have this confirmed.  Images found in beta 2 of iOS 4.3 show the screen of the iPad with three new icons which seem to be fore FaceTime, Camera an Photo Booth applications. This image is used as an overlay to give the user a preview of how the device will look with a new wallpaper. MacRumors has a blowup of the image. While confirming the presence of cameras is interesting in itself, it is very interesting to see that Apple is not only bringing in the camera related functions of the iPhone into the iPad, but also those that are found on the Mac.  With iOS features making their way into OS X Lion, the presence of a ported Mac application on the next release of iOS just goes to show that Apple is evolving both operating systems towards being  more tightly...
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Apple sold over 14 million iPads in 2010

Apple reported sales of  7.3 million iPads in the last quarter of calendar year 2010, corresponding to the company’s first quarter in the 2011 fiscal year.  If you add this number to the 7.5 million iPads the company had sold in the previous two quarters you get an astounding 14.8 million iPads sold in just 9 months. This number easily exceeds the 13.5 million of the highest analyst predictions for iPad sales in 2010.  Most analysts had been pointing towards 6 to 8 million units sold in 2010, until Apple announced that it had already sold 7.5 million units in the first two quarters of sales.  During this quarter the iPad outpaced the Mac by far in units sold and represented a business of about 4.6 billion dollars for the company.  The Mac represents a larger share of Apple’s revenue as the average sales price for notebooks and desktops is much higher than that of the iPad. While the Mac sales have been growing continuously for the past 19 quarters, sales of the iPad are growing way faster. It seems clear that iPad derived revenues will exceed those generated by regular computers in...
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iPad 2 is just around the corner

With 2010 coming to an end, there can be little doubt that this has been the year of the iPad.  Apple has sold a huge number of the devices which are being more and more used in place of netbooks and notebooks.  I, personally, made the change to an iPad as my main work computer a couple of months ago and generally love it. Being both a Mac and Windows user I still carry around a 12 inch Asus netbook, which I use to write long form text and to create presentation slides.  Other than that I do all my email and most of my browsing on the iPad.    This seems to be a trend that will only get stronger as the new model iPad comes out next year as well as more competing products. I’ve  had a chance to play around with the Samsung Galaxy Tab which has been the only noteworthy competitor to the iPad in 2010 and it still seems to be ages behind Apple’s product.  For one thing it lacks the huge selection of software that has been specially tailored for it, that is available for the  iPad. If Apple sticks to the once a year update cycle introduced for the iPhone, the next model of the iPad, or iPad 2, should be announced early next year.  The rumors about the next model are flying around like crazy, just as it happened in the months immediately before the announcement of the first model of the device. I won’t add any fresh speculation as to what features will or will not make it into the next iPad, there has been more than enough of that going around.  Whatever the features are, they will probably be enough to help Apple maintain the lead in this market for the duration of 2011. Hopefully we won’t have to wait much and Apple will announce the new device in January, but it seems more probable that such an announcement won’t come before February, at...
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The iPad is still selling strong in new markets

Last week the iPad started selling in Brazil, with outrageous prices.  The base model is well over $900.  Despite the fact that we might be just a couple of months from the announcement of the next model of the iPad there was strong interest in the product. Local news organizations reported that several hundred people gathered at several locations to be one of the first to buy an iPad through official channels in Brazil. Over the past several months the iPad has found its ways into Brazil through unofficial channels and it is estimated that almost 50 thousand devices where already in use in the country before Apple started to sell it through its channels. While rumors are flying around about what will be the new features of the next generation of the iPad, Brazilians that expect that the new model won’t be available locally before the end of the second quarter of next year seem eager to get the current generation of the...
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iPad withdrawal

I’ve been using the iPad as my fulltime work computer for several weeks, only resorting to a regular notebook for creating presentations and diagrams.  So far I believe I can create these graphical documents faster when working on a regular computer. Today, I decided to leave my iPad home as I had some work to do on my netbook during the day and didn’t want to carry both with me.   Its amazing how much I missed having the iPad with me. It turns out that I check and reply to my email way more frequently on the iPad then on a notebook.  Also, I carry the iPad with me wherever I go in the office and even when I go to the mall next to the building I’ve been working out of.  My regular computer, weighting well over 2.5 kilos sits on top of my desk day and night, effectively as a desktop replacement. I already knew that some people get iPhone withdrawal, but it hadn’t really occurred to me that the same would be true of the iPad, as the iPhone seems to be even a bit more personal as you can always have it in your pocket. From now on I’m not planning on leaving my iPad home, regardless of what else I’m going to be carrying with...
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iOS 4.2.1 on the iPad: First impressions

Even though I had told myself I would not update my iPad on the first day after iOS 4.2 was released, I did.  I could not help my self. I was altogether too curious about it.  So I took the plunge and pressed the update button. Now, after a day using iOS 4.2.1 I have some mixed feelings about it.  We get lots of new features such as multitasking, folders, AirPlay, AirPrint (if you have one of the 11 compatible printers), but we loose a bit of performance.  Once I had the new iOS installed the first thing  I did was to start organizing my Apps into folders.  They make one hell of a difference in how you find things on the iPad. Multitasking… This is one highly overrated feature.  I haven’t really changed the way I use the iPad except for the fact that my instant messaging applications now work in background as I use the iPad.  This is definitely the most significant use I’ve made of the multitasking capability so far. The now free Find My iPhone service is very interesting.  It was certainly a great move by Apple to make this available to everyone with a last generation iPod, iPhone or an iPad. I haven’t had a chance to try out the AirPlay or AirPrint features yet.  I’m looking forward to trying out the AirPlay feature in special. This is one feature that certainly has the potential to change the way we interact with all types of media.  The price point ($99) for the new Apple TV places it conveniently in the range of an iPad accessory. The new features in iOS 4.2 are certainly a leap forward in functionality.  There is a slight but perceptible drop in responsiveness when using the mail application with a unified Inbox on the iPad.  Hopefully a future update will restore the absolute snappiness of the iPad to the mail application.  This was the only drawback I noticed so...
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iOS 4.2.1 will arrive two days ahead of the latest rumored date

Apple has announced that iOS 4.2.1 will be available for download today.  This means it will be released two days ahead of the last date to be mentioned in the rumor mill. It certainly won’t be too soon for all the anxious iPad owners that have been eagerly awaiting this release. Apple has released a media statement with very confident tone.  One imagines that they have reason to take that stand as the iPad’s first 2 days of “pre-sales” in South Korea  had over twice the number of devices sold than the first week of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab selling on their home turf. The following is an excerpt from the statement released by Apple today: “iOS 4.2 makes the iPad a completely new product, just in time for the holiday season,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “Once again, the iPad with iOS 4.2 will define the target that other tablets will aspire to, but very few, if any, will ever be able to hit.” iPad users can now run their favorite apps and switch between them instantly, while preserving iPad’s legendary battery life. Users can organize their apps with drag-and-drop simplicity using Folders, and Mail now features a Unified Inbox, fast inbox switching and a threaded message...
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The iPad goes to work

About three months ago I was engaged to work on a consulting project which required me to go out to my client’s offices everyday.  Up to this point, since I had finally gotten my own iPad, it had been a home dweller, but it has now become my primary workhorse computer. While at home, I used it mostly for reading, tweeting and browsing with articles for which I got links on Twitter.  Application review was also a big one, also. I would  have several sessions a day on the iPad.  I would pick it up, do something with it and put it down when I was finished with that task.  When I started going out with it, this all changed.  I now spend just about my entire day with the iPad in hand, reading and writing emails, browsing and keeping up with the news on Twitter and on a couple of magazines. I rarely use a regular computer for my work activities.  The only tasks I prefer to do on a regular computer are drawing diagrams and preparing presentations.  While I’ve retouched a presentation or two with the iPad’s Keynote, I find it much more productive to create them on a regular computer using a keyboard and a mouse. Carrying the iPad always with me has led to some interesting changes in my habits as I no longer leave any unread messages on my inboxes.  This is something I had been trying to accomplish for quite sometime without having full success until I switched to using the iPad as my primary email reading and writing computer.  I find that going through the emails, reading what is important and deleting what is junk is much faster on the iPad than on a regular computer.  The same applies to going through tweets. My personal experience with using the iPad for all my day to day work activities has been very positive.  While I would not go as far as to say that in its current state and with the currently available applications it could totally replace a desktop or notebook computer, I will go as far saying that it takes care of well over 90% of what I...
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iPad 2.0 Rumor roundup

While all iPad users are probably eagerly awaiting the final release of iOS 4.2, there isn’t much mystery left in it.  Now what really seems to be drawing in people’s attention is the second generation of the iPad.  Just in this last week a number of new rumors have surfaced about it.  Some are about how the device will be made, others about what features it will have and still others about when it will be available. The most recent rumors are about the possibility that the second generation iPad could shed its aluminum casing in favor of one made out of carbon fiber in an attempt to get rid of excess weight.  This rumors surfaced due to a patent application from Apple that shows a sketch of what is clearly an iPad casing which is made out of plastic reinforced carbon fiber. On the surfaced rumors that the 3G version of iPad 2.0 will have both CDMA and GSM capabilities being thus able to operate in just about any celular network on the planet. Also this week came the rumor that Apple had already closed deals with component manufacturers for the components of the next iPad and that these manufacturers were preparing to start delivering large quantities of components in Q1 of 2011.  Regardless of whether this rumor is true or not, I do expect Apple to announce the second generation of the iPad early in 2011.  Apple has been following a one year cycle with iPods and the iPhone for quite a while now and it seems only logical that the iPad should fall into the same cycle. Rumors are consistent about iPad 2.0 having a forward facing camera which I can only consider a logical conclusion considering that Apple has added FaceTime support to the iPod Touch and the Mac.   It is only natural that you should be able to use your iPad to make a FaceTime call. As we move past the end of 2010 and into the first days of 2011, the number of rumors around the next version of Apple’s game changing device will probably increase into a frenzy, as in the days immediately before the iPad was actually announced. If you think people are already talking a lot about the iPad, wait until you see how much they’ll be talking about it over the next couple of...
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The Tale of Peter Rabbit: iPad eBook

I recently ran into an iPad eBook version of The Tale of Peter Rabbit.  This is an interesting children’s tale, but even more interesting is its iPad specific features.  The application can read aloud the story and it highlights the words in the text, as it does so. This small feature is quite interesting for children who are learning to read.  The fact that book has interactive illustrations which behave as a traditional paper book with pop outs that the children can play with offers additional enticement for getting them interested in the book. All illustrations very well crafted and make for a book that is quite appealing for adults as well. It is a pleasure to go through the book.  While I personally don’t share the notion that many subscribe to that books will have to change to make use of such multimedia features, I find this transposition of children’s books paper pop outs and moving parts quite interesting. If you have children or if you are just curious about the possibilities for interactive publications on the iPad I recommend that you check out The Tale of Peter Rabbit on the App Store (US). If you liked this article, please take a moment to follow iPadWatcher on...
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Most customers are very satisfied with the iPad

A recent survey conducted by ChangeWave shows that 95% of iPad owners are satisfied with their device.  Another interesting bit of information from the survey is that 80% of the people currently contemplating the idea of purchasing “a tablet” intend to buy an iPad. This survey shows an even greater customer satisfaction then a previous one which was conducted in May.  The difference is an increase of four points in customer satisfaction from 91% to 95%. Things continue to look good for the iPad, regardless of the first competitors starting to show up on the market. Image: ChangeWave Inc. If you liked this post, please take a moment to follow iPadWatcher on...
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