Tag Archives: iPad

Five things I’m thinking about right now

Following on from Matt, Alice, Ben and Dan

1. Computing is heading towards a new, simplified era.

I’ve written about this before, but fundamentally: we’re on the cusp of a revolution in simplicity. Easy to use touch interfaces are the final piece of the jigsaw, and will devices easier to use than ever before.

2. The most important thing about the iPad is the battery life.

Yes, it’s a lovely screen and runs great apps and its easy to use. But none of this would matter if it didn’t also have the ability to be thrown in a bag at the start of the day and not plugged in again till the end. Not having to consider power makes a massive difference in how usable a device is. It’s the one thing about the iPad that really lifts it from cool toy to essential.

3. When it comes to broadband, speed is less important than always-on.

Yes, it’s great to have 50Mbits/sec pipes into your home. But it’s much, much more of a game-changer when you have 1Mbits/sec on a mobile device that you carry everywhere. Ubiquity trumps speed.

4. In five years time, not using your own name is going to look as old-fashioned as an AOL-style handle now.

Hundreds of millions of users have got used to the idea that they use their own name online, via Facebook. It hasn’t hurt.

5. “The hobbyists” are losing control… and they won’t like it.

Up until now, computing and technology’s culture has been largely determined by a group I call “the hobbyists”. Traditions like anonymity and the primacy of code have been part of the unwritten law of the Internet. That era is dying, and “the hobbyists” don’t like it. Expect culture clashes between this old Internet and the new one.

Over to you…

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Why you should take reports of an iPhone on Verizon with a pinch of salt

Remember this report about how the iPad was a cert for Verizon?:

“The tablet will be supported by multiple [mobile] carriers,” said Brian Marshall of Broadpoint AmTech, citing unnamed sources he said were close to the situation. “Verizon and others,” he continued. “Definitely Verizon. I’ve been told that’s a certainty.”

As I said at the time, there is more chance that Apple will expand to another US carrier which uses GSM than it will build hardware tailored to a single US network.

Why market research makes for bad products

Apple Store iPad Queue
Image by Softly, Softly via Flickr

Market research often falls down on one simple flaw: if you ask consumers what features they want before you show them a product, it’s almost never in line with what they end up buying:

“Consumers didn’t ask for tablets,” she points out in her summary. “In fact, Forrester’s data shows that the top features consumers say they want in a PC are a complete mismatch with the features of the iPad.”

If you give someone a feature list of the iPad, almost no one would buy it. Yet, give them the product, and they do. The “check list” approach to marketing fails – unless you’re marketing to someone who buys with a check list in hand. And who, other than IT managers, ever does that?

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Is the iPhone 4 micro SIM really “not compatible” with iPad?

According to T3, the iPhone 4 micro SIM is “not compatible” with iPad, dashing the hopes of those who want swap SIMs around:

“The plan, had this not been the case, would have been to buy a 3G iPad but not pay for any data, then simply insert your iPhone SIM into the tablet to leech off its 3G network capabilities under your mobile contract’s data allowance. The official line on this form Apple goes: ‘The micro-SIMs for the iPhone are set up to allow voice calls, SMS messages and data functionality, whereas the iPad micro-SIM is provisioned to allow pay-as-you-go data transfer only.’”

(It’s worth noting that the link that T3 provides to Apple’s FAQs leads to a page which doesn’t say this).

This didn’t quite smell right to me. So I asked around, and the consensus amongst phone network folk is that it’s very unlikely that there’s anything preventing you putting an iPhone 4 SIM into an iPad and it just working.

Networks can apply limitations based on IMEI number, which is tied to the hardware, so a network could block an individual iPad or iPhone. A network could, in theory, pair an IMEI to SIM ID on its own systems when you first use your iPhone, and prevent any other IMEI from working with the same SIM – but this would be a pain to provision just to prevent a tiny number of people swapping SIMs around. It just wouldn’t be worth the hassle.

There is, though, one possibility: SIMs do provide a user-writable area, so Apple could write a flag there when a SIM is first used in an iPhone which the iPad checks for. If the flag is there, the iPad would then refuse to work. But this would be unlikely, tricky to do, and rather pointless from Apple’s perspective – after all, some networks might actually want to sell a “one SIM, two devices” option in the future.

My gut feeling is that T3 has just taken what Apple has written and pushed the story too far. It’s not a compatibility issue, in the sense of “incompatible SIMs” – it’s a provisioning issue, in the sense of “your carrier may well be pissed off when they notice how much data you’re using”. No doubt someone will try it out in a few weeks and we can see!

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How to email files to your Dropbox

I’m a huge fan of Dropbox, but there’s one missing feature that I’ve always wanted: The ability to email files and have them appear in a folder on your Dropbox.

Enter Habilis, which takes advantage of Dropbox’s API to give you a secret, personal email address which then places any attached file into a “From Habilis” folder on your Dropbox. It’s extremely quick – when I tried a simple small file it took just a couple of seconds between hitting send and the file appearing online.

It’s particularly useful with the iPad, as unfortunately some applications such as Apple’s iWorks don’t support direct upload to Dropbox. But it’s also useful if you like to email yourself documents for later sorting into folders online. And best of all, at the moment it’s free.

New Three MiFi – First impressions

This evening I spent some time (along with a bunch of other bloggers and assorted geeks) hearing about and looking at the successor to Three’s MiFi. And, if my first impressions are correct, I think that Three has addressed just about every issue that I had with the original MiFi, and then some.

Most of the improvements that have been made to the MiFi are around usability, which gets a big “hurrah” from me. As a concept, I loved MiFi. Having your own portable wireless hotspot means you don’t have to play the SIM-swapping game if you have multiple devices you want to use when out and about – or, worse still, have multiple 3G contracts, one for each device.

And there’s no doubt that if you have a device like the WiFi-only iPad, the previous MiFi was a perfectly good, functional way of getting it connected online, anywhere.

The problem with it was that functional was just about all you could say. It worked, and when connected, worked well. But connecting was not exactly an enjoyable process. Press one button to turn it on. Press a second button to start up the 3G data connection. Press a third button to start up WiFi. Wait until all the lights stopped flashing, and then try and work out the cryptic combination of reds, greens and ambers.  Then hope that you didn’t lose the signal – because if you did, you’d have to go through the same sequence again. Continue reading

On AT&T’s new charges for data

I think my position is summed up very well by a comment from Nic Wise to a hysterical post by Jeff Jarvis:

“While this is going to effect the digerati, 79.75 million of the 80 millions iPhone users in the US will never notice. Except the smaller bill.”

As is usually the case, the digerati fail to see anything except their own narrow needs, and demand that those are served even if it means other people have to pay for them. 

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Analyst predicts iPad will be fastest product to $1 billion sales, ever

Carl Howe, for Yankee Group:

“Apple announced on Monday that it has sold more than 1 million iPads since its announcement on January 27. I’m counting since January 27 only because pre-orders are included; the reality is the most of those sales and deliveries have been in the last 30 days. Assuming that rate continues in May (and because even Apple Stores keep running out of stock that seems likely), we’ll see Apple having sold about 1.5 million units by the end of May. Average sales prices seem to be in the $645 range (16 GByte WiFi and 64GByte 3G units seem to be the top sellers). Do the math, and we discover a quite remarkable number: Apple’s iPad will likely take the crown for the fastest consumer product growth to the $1 billion revenue mark in history, taking less than 120 days from announcement to reach that milestone.” [My emphasis]

It’s pretty astounding that a product which many predicted had no plausible niche should get to one million sales. That it should turn out to be the fastest billion dollar business in history, in any product category is marginally insane.

I’m not convinced that it’s correct to assume that these are disaffected netbook buyers, but it’s pretty clear that there’s a lot of pent-up demand for something like the iPad. Mine has barely left my side since I bought it.

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