Thoughts on iPad Killers

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It seems that every week there is some article on yet another iPad Killer. Whenever I hear this, two things happen: I groan, and I vomit a little in my mouth. I get that these articles capitalize on the popularity of the iPad, and other companies are jumping on the bandwagon also because of the popularity of the iPad. Companies just don’t get it.

The iPad is a beautiful device. I’ve had it for 6 months now and find that indeed it has a place between my mobile phone and my laptop. However it’s going to take much more than just a super awesome touch based tablet to take down the iPad.

The beauty of the iPad is that it’s much more than just the iPad. The iPad is really just a gateway to Apple’s money making machine. Through the iPad I have access to Apple’s immense library of music and movies through iTunes, Apple’s massive collection of apps in the App Store, and now Apple’s growing library of books in iBooks. It’s a whole ecosystem. If I went with another device, say a Windows tablet or Android tablet, currently I would need an account to buy music (Amazon mp3), a separate account to buy books (like Kobo etc), and another account to buy apps (Google). With Apple, it’s all tied to my iTunes account and it just works. They make it really easy and sweet to buy content. That is why the iPad is optimized for consumption and not for production. Any tablet device seriously thinking about toppling the iPad better have all these things. And this is not something easily done since it took even Apple over a decade to build all this up and build a brand and mindshare.

Another thing Apple has done better than any other device manufacturer is to embrace designers. This was a fortunate side effect from designers adopting the Adobe software + Apple hardware combo. This is why there are so many gorgeous apps in the Apple App Store. For example Microsoft has never been able to crack that egg. Even though the Microsoft stack has been adopted in the enterprise, they’ve never embraced designers until lately. Their attempt at that with the Microsoft Expression Engine is not likely to turn over any designers any time soon. Designers have been using the Adobe suite of graphic tools for over a decade. I myself have been using PhotoShop for over that long and don’t foresee switching anytime soon. I’m not the only one.

Why are designers important? For one thing – gorgeous apps. Consumers will buy well designed applications. You only need to look at the Apple App Store’s top sellers and compare it to the Droid Marketplace. The App Store’s top sellers list is filled with beautifully designed apps whereas the Marketplace list various game emulators. It’s pretty clear to me that the demographic of the Android platform is mostly developers, engineers and tech geeks. I think it reflects the culture of the two companies pretty well. Apple is about design and Google is mostly an engineering company. Google has been described as antidesign if anything. That’s fine but at the end of the day ugly apps just won’t sell.

All that aside, there’s really no way to tell who’s going to win in the long run. The Androis OS is quickly gaining marketshare and will continue to do so as more and more phone manufacturers and tablet manufacturers adopt it. Who’s to say that other companies might not be able to address the issues I’ve mentioned and eat into Apple’s marketshare.

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Cross Platform Mobile Development Face Off

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I recently gave a talk at the Google Android International Code Sprint in Chicago. I compared two cross platform mobile development frameworks. What that means is that you can use these frameworks to create applications in one programming language and deploy them to different mobile platforms with little or no code modification. This is a major convenience to many app developers. Anyways, here are my slides. They are very visual and don’t have a lot of content. My slides are really only there to support my talk but here they are for your viewing pleasure.

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Why Google Ads Fail Me

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I recently logged into LinkedIn and noticed Google Ads on my profile page. The fact that Google is trying to make money off ads is not interesting to me. I think it’s a great business model that works for them, but I couldn’t help think that they could earn much more if they actually tried harder. Here’s what I saw:

3 text link ads.

  • The first one was for Flash UI design services. Apparently Google thought that since I’m a Flash guy with UI skills, that I might be in need of Flash UI design services. Seriously? FAIL.
  • The second ad was for a Master Yu’s martial arts classes. While I commend Google for at least getting the martial arts style of interest to me right, I TEACH martial arts classes myself. What use are his classes to me? FAIL again.
  • The 3rd ad was for Illinois Shotokan Karate. See, any human with an ounce of intelligence, after looking at my LinkedIn resume would gather that I only do Chinese martial arts. Well at least they got the region right, but this ad does not interest me at all. It’s like showing a Formula 1 guy info on Nascar. Gee, it says you like cars so you must like all cars. FAIL.

Basically those ads were a waste of my time. I was so offended at how off their algorithms were that I’m now inclined to install ad blockers altogether. This serves to show you that showing ads based on contextual data doesn’t necessarily work. Google’s better off mining my interests on Facebook and my blog and showing me ads that pertain to me wherever I go (based on IP or whatever). Even showing ads for movies would have been better.

Looking at my LinkedIn profile, I see it now tells me stuff like what my status message is, what my twitter is, what slides I’ve favorited on Slideshare. Why not get at that data? This is all stuff I like and am interested in. By being smarter about it, you might actually get a click out of me instead of this post.

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Other Google Sites

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Pirate Google

elgooG (mirror Google)

My student Graham from wushu told me about these sites. Kids these days…

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Why I Won’t Be Switching To Google Chrome Anytime Soon

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About a week ago, Google entered the browser wars by releasing their own web browser named Chrome. Unfortunately it’s available only for Windows. Remember a while ago Apple made a play by releasing their web browser Safari onto the Windows platform. Judging by the response and the numbers, Google Chrome has been doing pretty well. Some say it’s gotten over 1% of the market share in just a few days. I don’t know where it stands now, but that’s pretty impressive.

My impressions of the browser after about a week.

  • I like the that my start page is an iconic view of my most recent visits.
  • I like that the browser takes a back seat to the content. By this I mean they’ve tried really hard at making the Google browser take up as little visual space as possible leaving more room for the actual website.
  • I like that it’s blazing fast. Do I notice it? In some cases yes, in others I think it’s probably my impression that it’s fast.

So what’s wrong with Chrome and why won’t I be switching. First of all I’m a mac guy. Sure I put up with Vista at work but for my play and work play, I like my mac and I’m not going to go VMWare unity mode on Google Chrome just to use it. The other more important reason – FireFox plugins and extensions. FireFox has come along ways as a browser. They’ve made their browser really useful by letting developers create plugins that enhance our browsing experience and/or producitivity. Some of these examples include Cooliris, the plugin formerly known as PicLens, the Google toolbar, the Stumbleupon toolbar, and the delicious toolbar. A very useful extension for web developers is FireBug. Unless these slowly migrate over to Google Chrome, I can’t say whole heartedly that I will be switching over.

However that doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t recommend it for someone like my wife who doesn’t use any of these plugins. Google Chrome is a great solution for most people who needs are simply just web surfing.

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