Wednesday, August 17, 2011

iPad vs the World

For some time now I've thinking about the popularity of the iPad. There's a lesson in here for all technology developers. There also ought to be a lesson for the Android hardware developers out there. If this estimate of active Honeycomb tablets is correct, iPad has been outselling all of the Android makers by a factor of 8 to 1. That kind of ratio should be sufficient to raise the question: What is Apple doing that we aren't?

This BGR blog post attempts to answer the question. But, I'm afraid I have to differ with the author.  As Zach Epstein puts it:
The fact that it is a tablet, I believe, is secondary to the fact that it is a comparatively inexpensive Apple device that is a pleasure to look at and a pleasure to operate. Yes, it’s a tablet, but a $500 Apple netbook might have seen similar rapid adoption.
I gather that the author doesn't really "get" the tablet niche. I got that when he said: "I still say that tablets are useless (and yes, RIM’s BlackBerry PlayBook is still my favorite among them)." 

Now, it's true that the svelte brushed aluminum finish of the iPad makes the inner geek in all of us go hmmm. But, to say that the iPad is useless misses the essential difference between Apple's tablet and the rest of the world. Not only is it useful, but it's useful across a number of different areas. 

  • As a mobile browser. Indeed, it's my browser of choice when I'm at my local wifi-enabled cafe.
  • As a tv set. Most of the tv-ish media I consume is currently on Netflix, HBO GO, or the PBS iPad app. The fact that it pairs with the Apple TV for seamless media streaming over my local network.
  • As an ereader. Besides Kindle, Nook (I love the Nook magazines, btw), and iBooks, I use the Safari To Go app to read books I've taken out on The print version of the Washington Post I read on the PressReader app.
  • As a gaming device. Rage, Infinity Blad, Real Racing anyone? Not only are these great games they're only available on the iPad and iPhone.
  • As a document creation tool. I got Pages when it came out on the first iPad and have never looked back. Indeed, I later purchased Pages for the Mac as a result of a positive experience on the iPad. For creating longer documents I've got a bluetooth keyboard. The same keyboard I use with my Mac Mini, btw.

Now, there are kinda sorta equivalents on the Android platform. But there's no compelling narrative across all these areas as there is on the iPad. The video story on Android is particularly spotty. (Check out this list of supported Netflix devices to see what I mean). And, this doesn't even examine unique app areas that have iPad support, e.g., Amplitube. And key to the iPad's success, IMHO, is not just that a compelling narrative exists for the iPad, it existed largely at launch of the device.

Is there an equivalent narrative for the Android tablets? Right now it would have to be along the lines of The Android tablet is almost as fast as the iPad, not as much of a head turner, and not nearly as useful for creating documents, music, or movies as the iPad. And, it costs the same.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

I Can Haz Validity Now?

My favorite comment from this Food Fight thread:
Why do you think you have a valid perspective?
Why indeed.

The comment was actually more reasonable than the title sounds. Their point was that it's not enough to go around saying My point is valid! Listen to me! In fact most people would be included to discount anything after that.

Here's the problem with the professional left blogs: they're predicated on the notion that complaining as end in itself is a perfectly valid aim. It isn't. Negativity is contagious. Positivity can be as well, but that's another story.  The act of creation takes a great deal more energy and effort than the act of destruction.

The threads at these blogs are destructive. They shed no light on the problems we face. It's an excuse to bitch and moan. And, it's destructive.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A Few Thoughts on iPad Gaming

John Carmack has said that iPad gaming is the future. That may sound hyperbolic, but I find more and more I'm drawn to the iPad over console gaming, or the pc. (With notable exceptions like Mortal Kombat and the Kinect and PS3 Move games, or Unreal Tournament on the PC).

A longish post here on the joys of iPad gaming. It's not a review so much, but a recounting of the author's experience of various iPad games vis-a-vis their console equivalents. Good read.

The author mentions that with all the hype LA Noire got, it hasn't been as successful financially. Coincidentally, I see that Team Bondi, the creator of LA Noire is being sold to KMM.

Here's where I can imagine this will go: iPad games being part of a strategy that includes a console release, particularly if the console version has some motion component. That's the strategy Rage is using, and it looks like a winner.

That reminds me: when are we going to see Kung Fu Panda on the iPad?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Dear Leader

I'm not much for the Daily Kos website. That doesn't mean, however, that I'm above quoting them if it helps me make a point.

Slippytoad makes the point that use of "Dear Leader" as applied to Obama suggests that the invective is being hurled by a right-winger. At first I thought that some part of the "left" might be using that as well. I haven't been able to find that, and indeed "Dear Leader" is a favorite epithet of the right.

As the New Yorker cartoon put it: "On the internet, no one knows you're a dog." They also don't know if you're on a website to be productive or to be disruptive.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

They Say It's My Birthday

Ennui: It's What's for Breakfast

Zandar at ABL:
Two-thirds of people who identified themselves as Tea Party or as Republicans followed this story and 20% took action to contact their representatives and senators in Congress. Democrats? Well, Democrats apparently didn’t give a damn. Only one third even followed the debt ceiling story and only 5% did contact Congress. If you wonder why the Tea Party minority can control such a huge swath of Congress, it’s because the rest of us are apparently too cynical, too cool, or too depressed to care.
Zandar goes on to make the point that the young have the most to lose here.

The thought that I would add is that Circular Firing Squad Central has become a place where ennui is encouraged. Indeed, I recall seeing a diary recently where someone was reflecting positively on the Obama administration and was told that he only felt that way because he was uneducated. Amazing.

At the point where a website is encouraging disengagement from the political process, I'd say that its mission is over. Time to retire.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Interesting Polling

Nate Silver via Twitter:
Just 44% of voters approve of debt deal in CNN poll. Dems (63%) more likely to approve than indies (35%), Republicans (35%),
and then:
Right now, I'd grade the deal a B+ for GOP and C- for Obama on policy. On politics, I'd give Obama a C and GOP a D-.
Here's why I'm interested. I'm trying to figure out how good or bad this deal was. It's interesting that Nate Silver gives Obama a C, I'm guessing for the fairly low approval on Indies.

Gaming Taibbi/Krugman Out

I see that folks are getting excited about this Matt Taibbi piece in Rolling Stone.  And, I don't mean excited in a good way. Taibbi argues that Democrats "took a dive." A key part of his reasoning is that since they didn't threaten to use a 14th Amendment maneuver, they weren't seriously in this fight to win.  This is an argument that comes initially from Krugman in The President Surrenders.

Here's Krugman:
At the very least, Mr. Obama could have used the possibility of a legal end run to strengthen his bargaining position. Instead, however, he ruled all such options out from the beginning.

But wouldn’t taking a tough stance have worried markets? Probably not. In fact, if I were an investor I would be reassured, not dismayed, by a demonstration that the president is willing and able to stand up to blackmail on the part of right-wing extremists. Instead, he has chosen to demonstrate the opposite.
Okay, let's see if we can game this out.  Let's say that Obama threatens to use a plausible interpretation of the 14th amendment to negate the debt ceiling.  How would Republicans respond?  I'll give you a couple of possibilities:

  1. Fold.
  2. Insist that this issue be decided by the courts.
  3. We don't need no stink' courts. Impeachment!

I'm going with that last alternative.  The reason that makes sense to me is that they have a reasonable argument that Obama is attempting to exceed his constitutional authority. That's a much more sympathetic argument than the meaning of the word is, or oral sex, depending on your interpretation of the Clinton impeachment. Do I think Republicans would like the politics of Obama running for re-election during an impeachment trial?  Yeah, that's what I think.

Second, I really have to say that for a very smart guy, Krugman says some things that don't really make any sense. He's saying that investors look at the Tea Party as right-wing extremists, and that since investors take stands against extremism into account when they make investment decisions, that would strengthen the markets. Do I have to explain why that doesn't make any sense?  Good, I hate explaining things that are just goofy.