Where Apple always aims

…while most people have entered the digital world, participation falls off sharply as complexity increases. For example, 93% of respondents have a digital camera, but less than a third use digital photo-sharing tools. Similarly, 92% of respondents have a cell phone, but only 22% have used an internet-based phone service such as Skype.

via marketingcharts.com

The iPad — like the iPhone, like the iMac and all prior Macs — aims for simplicity of use amidst a sea of complex products. It’s what Apple does best and what Microsoft claims it wants to do: give you the power to create and consume media and information with the least effort.

My technically-minded friends are unimpressed with the iPad, and personally I’m a little disappointed at some things that were left out of this first edition (some things seem to have been left out deliberately, like a camera). But the iPad isn’t aimed at us. We can load Linux on commodity PC hardware. We can hack the Windows registry. We manage e-mail servers, not just our own e-mail. It takes a lot to impress or challenge us.

But for the average user — the person that doesn’t care about the difference between a Gigabyte and a Megabit — the iPad fulfills the 93% use case, like a digital camera. It’s a digital lifestyle appliance, simple enough for everyone and powerful enough to be useful in several situations.

I don’t know if it will be an unqualified success, like the iPhone. To me, the iPad is an evolutionary product rather than a revolutionary one. The iPhone revolutionized the smart phone market because it was the first to get it “right” for a broad swath of consumers. Uptake was instant, even when it was just a 2G model with no apps and no cut-and-paste.

iPad uptake will be far slower. But each revision will be better and better and the price will moderate over time. As people are disappointed by netbooks and find they want to consume a variety of media on the go with the least hassle, and with familiarity from the iPod Touch and iPhone, it’s got a serious shot at creating this new category.

Down with PC applications, up with cloud-based apps

Apple endured its darkest days during the early 1990s, when the PC had lost its original magic and turned into a drab, utilitarian tool. Buyers flocked to Dell’s cheap, beige boxes. Computing back then was all about the programs. Now, computing is all about the programming – the words and sounds and pictures and conversations that pour out of the Internet’s cloud and onto our screens.

via roughtype.com

I’m not so convinced — yet — that the iPad is the answer to a bunch of different needs. It’s clearly a 1.0 product and it feels like Apple has withheld some key technologies and features for the next revision.

But if Apple delivers on a few more functions — video conferencing, textbooks and a sort of cloud-based “docking” and sync — then the fate of the PC is fairly well sealed, at least for personal use.

Posted via web from jmproffitt

Tabula rasa

When the White House announced that President Obama would deliver his State of the Union message on Jan. 27—the same day Apple was planning to unveil its new tablet computer—many of us at Slate cringed. “What is Obama thinking?” one of my colleagues joked. “He’s going to be totally overshadowed.”

The idea of a product rollout trumping the president’s annual speech to Congress does seem funny. Maybe the tablet will be a bust. Maybe Obama will rock the world. But the opposite is at least as likely. This isn’t Obama’s fault. It’s just the way the world is going: Technology, as a driver of social change, is overtaking politics.

via slate.com

Sometimes it’s hard to take a wide angle view of what’s happening in our society, whether within our national borders or planet-wide. This piece by Slate’s William Saletan explores just how pervasive and entwined our First World society is with technology. It’s changing how we act, how we think and, of course, how we communicate and share ideas.

And for me, the Apple tablet introduction totally overshadows the pronouncements of our President.

Apple’s tablet will actually change the world, one way or another. Our President, a year into his floundering administration? Not likely to change much.

Posted via web from jmproffitt

Late night TV shaken up by changing media habits

The contract between viewers and late-night hosts can be an intimate one. Yet while we all like to be told bedtime stories, in the main, late-night television is very hit or miss. We watch and wait for the moment of serendipity when a single joke happens to define a moment or a banal interview takes an unexpected turn. But today, if magic happens, you don’t have to wait for the show to enjoy the moment.

Take the Thursday episode of “The Jay Leno Show,” for example. We all know that Mr. Leno has been using the show to land some haymakers on his NBC bosses, but the tables were turned during the “Ten @ Ten” segment that night, when Jimmy Kimmel responded to a question about his best prank: “I told a guy that five years from now, I’m going to give you my show, and then when the five years came, I gave it to him, and then I took it back almost instantly.”

Now that’s a funny comeuppance, but Twitter and various entertainment blogs were alive with references to the joke, and I didn’t have to sit through a bunch of shows to see it.

Columnist David Carr picks apart the Conan / Leno debacle by exploring it from the lens of how new forms of media consumption have actually created this mini-crisis for NBC. Excellent piece.

Posted via web from jmproffitt

Nexus One: 20,000 / iPhone 3GS: 1,600,000

This is not good.

I love the iPhone, but it needs competition. While the Android series of phones are interesting, they still aren’t stacking up as serious competitors, either from a unit sales perspective or, more importantly, from a software perspective.

This is the difference between messianic vision for a product or service and simply throwing engineers and marketers into a room together.

When will someone give Apple a run for its money?

Posted via web from jmproffitt

Techdirt on the Cable TV vs. Internet battle

…both of these stories suggest a prime battleground for the next year: as the old TV businesses come to grips with the internet (finally). Just like other parts of the entertainment industry, it will be messy and annoying — and incumbent players are going to make a lot of really stupid mistakes. But, in the end, we should start to get some pretty cool stuff out of it — though, most likely not directly from the incumbent players, but from the upstarts and innovators on the margins.

Posted via web from jmproffitt

Obscene wastefulness at the TSA and DHS

It would make sense to fight the next battle, for once, instead of the last one. Sense, though, is not the criteria by which public money is spent in this country—and it hasn’t been for a long time.

Thank you, Anne Applebaum. We need more voices to fight the security theatrics put on by the DHS and TSA while they also spend billions on needless projects at the behest of members of Congress looking for quick reelection spending.

Posted via web from jmproffitt