Earlier this week, Samsung made another big splash again with introduction of the Galaxy Gear and Galaxy Note III. It received a ton of media attention, but it’s going to be another dud.
Oh, and it costs $299.
Google is obviously a very well-respected company in tech, and the company has really pushed the industry (& the world) forward by working on very innovative projects like Google Glass and Google Self-Drive car.
But once in a while, there is an outlier that makes you go “Huh? Really?”
Yesterday’s announcement of Chromebook Pixel was one of those moments. This machine is Dead. On. Arrival.
At $1,200, it costs more that the Surface Pro, the same as a 13” Macbook Pro w/ Retina Display. In a world where you can buy a touch screen notebook for ~$500, charging $1,200 for a machine with 32GB storage is just not going to work.
Google folks aren’t stupid, and they know this. But in their culture of experimentation and fast iteration, I think this is just an exercise with training wheels. They probably don’t care if they sell only a few thousand of these. But if Google is just testing the waters, they probably shouldn’t hail the Pixel as a big innovation in laptop hardware. It’s just like any other laptop, with a better screen, without Windows and with only 32GB storage.
There’s been so much talk about iTV for the last couple of years, and I think all that noise has drowned out the real possibility that Apple will be shipping an iWatch.
Heck, I would even call shipping an iWatch almost a certainty. It’s not a matter of if, but when.
Why do I say that? Simple. Apple stumbled on the fact that there is a strong demand for an iWatch when people were turning the iPod Nano into a watch without Apple even trying.
Having stumbled on that, Apple even shipped more watch faces after so customers can continue to enjoy using the iPod Nano as a watch. But what happened in the last iteration of the Nano? Apple moved away from the form factor so people can’t really wear it as a watch anymore. This move says to me that it is preparing itself for shipping an iWatch.
The market for wearable health monitors are also heating up with products like FitBit Flex/One, Jawbone Up, Nike Fuelband, etc. There is still no dominant player yet, and wearable health monitor market is not yet mainstream. It is a perfect market for Apple to disrupt and dominate with an iWatch that combines health monitoring with unique Phone+Watch use cases.
Here are some ideas on what such a device could do:
Perhaps one of the most interesting things about producing an iWatch is the amount of margin that Apple could potentially make. Even with just some of the basic functionality above, Apple would have no trouble selling it for $199. The iWatch would only have a small display, almost no storage needed, no GPS, no Wifi, no cellular radio and would just require a Bluetooth radio and accelerometer - relatively cheap components. And Apple could potentially sell one of these to every iDevice owner. With over 500M iOS devices in play on the market, that’s a huge opportunity with huge profit potential.
So Apple, when will we see the iWatch?
I love Chrome. Why? It’s fast, feels light weight, syncs my browsing data across all my devices and supports multiple platforms. I don’t need to think about whether I am on Mac, Windows, iPhone, Windows Phone, iPad or Android (which I keep switching between), I know Chrome and all my browsing stuff will be there reliably.
For all of Chrome’s awesomeness, it seems that the placement of the URL bar and Forward/Back buttons on iPhone and iPad is a bit bone-headed. They are placed near the top of the screen similar to their desktop version. But on both the phone and tablet, that placement causes great inconveniences for users. On the phone, for example, if you are holding the phone with your right hand, it’s likely that your right thumb will not be able to reach the back button, forcing you to use two hands. Similarly on the iPad, instead of just a finger motion to tap back, the user now has to move his arm and hand.
The placement of iPhone Safari’s buttons are at the bottom and they are much more natural to use. Placement of UI controls doesn’t seem like a big deal, but they make a very real difference on the user experience.
Local apps and experiences have grown by leaps and bounds along with the rising popularity of smartphones. Many apps today allow you to find nearby gas stations, restaurants, deals, banks, ATMs, etc. Of course, you can do the same with Google Maps - “Search Nearby”.
But I predict that the industry will be introducing another paradigm soon - “find X on the way”. This is just a logical progression to nearby - especially for North American users where lots of driving are involved.
Consider this scenario: you are driving from Seattle to Portland, and you are looking for a gas station. Most likely, you will prefer a gas station that is on the way to one that may be closer to your current location but would require you to back track. Similarly, if you want to pick up something, you probably would prefer to do that at a location that’s on the way of your daily commute routes. Combining “on the way” with Google Now would make a recipe of magic.
Google, I am looking at you to lead this new paradigm.
Many iPhone users previously jailbroke their devices in order to achieve cellular unlock. However, there is a growing number of users who are jailbreaking their devices just so that they can use software and tweaks that would otherwise be unavailable. An increasing number of users are starting to feel that iOS are too limited and they crave to have some of the customization that their Android friends enjoy. Some of these apps and tweaks are extremely well done. After all, you need to be a pretty good hacker to be able to build these “unauthorized” apps/tweaks.
A quick search online for “best jailbreak apps”, and it’s easy to see why. Here is a list of the top 20 jailbreak apps according to Redmond Pie.
Many of these apps not only make your iPhone/iPad more useful, but also more beautiful.
Clearly, there is an end user need for many of these scenarios, and Apple should pay close attention and address these needs in future iOS updates.
I rarely post anything political on this blog, but in the wake of the heartbreaking event in Newtown, I feel that it’s important to voice my opinion on this subject. The recent insane debates around whether we should have tighter gun controls in America are driving me nuts. The reason is that it’s so perfectly clear to me that we must have tighter gun controls.
The anti gun control group have been vocal about why we shouldn’t have tighter gun controls. Their arguments boil down to three main things:
Let’s take a look at each of these.
1. “Second Amendment Right”
A quick look at Wikipedia tells you that the Second Amendment was adopted in 1791. That’s over 200 years ago, and certainly our society has changed since.
The original intent for adopting the Second Amendment was just. It was meant to give people the right to deter a tyrannical government and to facilitate self-defense. Both of these reasons are now outdated. If the US government turns evil overnight, the people wouldn’t have a fighting chance with their guns anyways in a world where wars are now fought with fighter jets and other high-tech weaponry. The government’s goal should not be allowing self-defense; instead, it should be promoting a safer community in general. And to do that, we have a lot more technology and means to keep guns out of the hands of bad guys today than 200 years ago. It’s just crazy that we run a more rigorous check on people’s background when you try to get a loan than when you buy a deadly weapon.
2. “Tighter gun controls won’t help”
Here, the argument is that if the bad guys really want to get guns, they will always find a way. That logic is completely flawed. If that argument were true, then by extension, we do not need any laws, since every law has been broken. It’s just absurd.
I agree, that with any gun laws in place, the number of mass shootings will probably not become 0. But will it be cut by 20%? 50%? 90%? I think so. Even if it’s 1%, it would still be worthwhile. Just think what you would choose if one of those school children were your own.
3. “Put in Arm Guards”
This is the most revolting argument of all. Shortly after such the terrible tragedy at Newtown, the National Rifle Association had the guts to call for more arms in our society. They called for putting in armed guards in every school. LaPierre, CEO of NFA, said “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”
I am just in disbelief at this point. How does this guy sleep at night?
The people committing these mass murders are mentally ill. You think they care about an armed guard? That would be the first person they shoot.
Ok, so let’s assume that the armed guard provides a bit of deterrent. Well, then I guess the mentally ill murderer can go shoot somewhere else where there are no armed guards. Libraries? Shopping malls? Churches? Where do we stop putting in armed guards?
Let’s do another mental exercise. Let’s assume we have armed guards in all public places. If a mentally ill murder still wants to commit a mass shooting, what would he do? The logical step would be to get a bigger, badder weapon to one up the armed guards. Automatic machine gun? Rocket-propelled grenade? Then would you give those armed guards the same weapons? Where do you stop? Do you park a tank at every school and in every public place?
I don’t know, but clearly these military-grade weapons are outlawed today and we haven’t seen a mass murder with those destructive instruments. So why don’t we tighten the law even more to the point where people just can’t buy guns without proper licensing and background checks, and make it illegal to be carrying an armed weapon? If outlawing grenades have been effective, I don’t see why outlawing guns wouldn’t be.