Rube Goldberg made virtual devices, here brought to you as real devices by the ultimate virtual device mechanism, the internets:
The new iPad tablet computer from Apple launched today and I’m going to try to summarize the reviews as they come in – which frankly is a better indication of the quality of the device than if I had one in my own hands…. which I don’t …. However at an iPad Price of only $499 this looks like an amazing device at a great price.
One of the big issues at CES 2010 was the fact that Apple’s Tablet would almost certainly raise the computing bar in terms of expectations for the “robustness” of something that is a cross between a full computer and an e-Reader. To my way of thinking (ie rational computing purchases) good tablets may wind up as e-Reader killers – or at least will force e-readers to become real computers and offer a lot more features than they currently offer.
Why buy a Kindle or Nook when you can have a full computer and internet at your fingertips for only marginally higher cost? At $499 the Apple Tablet “entry level” model is coming in much cheaper than the predicted $1000 price tag – perhaps as part of Apple’s normally brilliant quality and marketing approaches which generally lead to early widespread adoption of devices.
As we gear up to cover the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas next week over at Technology Report my email box is simply flooded with PR pitches from hundreds of the thousands of companies that will be exhibiting at the show.
The pitches vary in size and scope but most share a pretty common and I think a very uninspired format along the lines of “You will want to check out our products” “We have extraordinary innovation in … iPOD accessories (!) ” “Would you like to interview our product manager?”
Here are my three PR tips for the firms that … well … maybe ought to be doing something else:
1. Personalization Matters. I’d guess the response to personalized emails is at least twice that of a simple canned message, even when it’s just a name from the Press database but ideally where you’ve bothered to figure out where the person is writing. This is one of the best PR opportunities of the year, so it seems you should at least target a handful of bloggers who write specifically about your stuff. Challenge them a bit to critique the product. Consider going for several “smaller” blogs rather than trying to get lucky with a feature in Engadget or Gizmodo, where the whim of an angry review alone could hurt your products reputation. If your product is great they’ll get around to it eventually, and if the smaller guys don’t like it you probably need improvements before the big time anyway.
2. Parties matter. It’s not fair but neither is the world. Certainly business in general isn’t fair. So if you want some attention and you’ve already invested tens of thousands in staff and exhibits you probably should follow the lead of the big CES *playaas* and at least throw a small party. What would be a clever time for this party? Monday night before CES, when a lot of folks have come into town but generally there are *no* parties yet. Tuesday after CES Unveiled (the big press event) and Wednesday night are also generally pretty open for many press attendees who tend to get into town a few days early for the Press events. The *bad* night is Friday, when your little party will have to compete with the big ticket gigs like the Monster concert and several other parties thrown that night that attract most of the bloggers and press. I think my favorite event at all of CES was a small poker party at Hard Rock Casino, thrown by SONY to launch the game “Pirates of the Burning Sea”. I’m sure it wasn’t cheap – probably ran them perhaps $100+ per person for perhaps 100 people who attended, but it was a superb venue to generate the positive buzz they needed for the game. $10,000 is chump change by SONY standards yet they captured attention of a lot of media for the entire evening.
Getting attention early gets you pre-CES buzz in the search rankings to boot, because by Saturday your product announcement – no matter how big – is going to be drowned out by the 1000 other announcements coming out of the show.
3. Products matter. For some of you some product humility is more likely to win supporters than product hype. It’s laughable when an overzealous PR person waxes poetically, capturing your attention for a moment until you realize they’ve penned an ode to a cheap plastic cartoon iPhone case or the equivalent. Nothing wrong with those products – they represent an extraordinarily large market – but your time is probably better spent targeting buzzworthy folks and sending them samples or … throwing a party … rather than trying to explain why bloggers should be scrambling to do a feature about your plastic cartoon iPod case.
Louis Vuitton iPod Case: $280
OMG I’m writing about iPod Cases!
See you at CES!
Over at Read Write Web, The most excellent Marshall Kirkpatrick was suggesting and continues to think that connecting our brains to the internet – things like Internet Brain Implants – are a bad idea.
As much as I don’t like to challenge a fellow Oregonian, I could not disagree with Marshall more on this issue for several reasons:
The first is practical. Invasive technologies that are wonderful are here already in the form of cochlear implants for hearing enhancements and even crude artificial eyes using brain implants. Less invasive technologies that use brain wave controller devices (e.g. Emotiv Headsets and some simpler fun games) are here and will be coming soon to a brain near yours.
Regardless of whether other brain enhancements are good or bad, why fight the inevitable rather than just working with it? Although nobody yet offers internet access it should be available within a few years.
Think of the amazing advantages, especially when we can get the communication flowing in both directions at computer speeds – which are generally much faster than those obtained via organic transmissions. Language enhancements alone suggest to me that this would have amazing value, and I think more than a few high schoolers will enjoy computing calculus equations without any study.
Will these new abilities make us lazy? It’s impossible to know, but I’d guess that the intellectual explosion we’ll see as enhancements hit the marketplace will bring far more solutions than problems as people can spend the huge amount of time once spent *learning*, *doing things* instead.
Brain implants? Sign me up, Scotty!
Mattel Mind Flex was one of the most remarkable devices at CES 2009. Simpler but coneptually similar to the Emotiv headset expected to be out soon, Mattel’s device measures brain theta waves and lets you control a small ball with this output as you change the theta waves by thinking. Unless I’m mistaken a lot of folks think these devices are silly gimmicks when in fact I’d argue that this type of controller represent the single most important change in history in the way humans interface with machines. For millions of years our relationship to tools has been primarily by hand and/or foot, generally using sights and sounds and touch to manage our relationships with the tools we use. In this sense computer control, like hammer and nail control, comes from our physical interactions with the device.
Brain wave control, although still fairly primitive, is likely to accelerate the process that is going on right now at a pace too slow to be popularly recognized for what it is – the merging of human and machine. From heart pacemakers to glasses to BrainGate, the distinction between human and machine is breaking down slowly. I think that it will break down very rapidly as soon as technologies exist to enhance intelligence via this type of direct brain interface. How long will it take to refine this such that we can pull up the internet in our mind and access information at computerized rather than junky organic neuron speeds? I’d wildly guess 5-10 years though part of this answer will come from popular use and “hacks” with things like the mindflex and the Emotiv headsets coming out this year (yes, I’ll be getting one!).
The extension of this approach to interaction with machines may lead to the technological singularity predicted by an increasing number of technologists and futurists though I remain somewhat skeptical that conscious computing will quickly lead to the massive universal intelligence explosion predicted by Kurtzweil and others.
Kudos to CNN for using holographic imagery for the first time in TV reporting.
35 high definition cameras surround Jessica Yellin in a tent in Chicago at the massive Obama rally as she is beamed live to the CNN situation room to talk with Wolf Blitzer.
The imagery is imperfect but of a high enough quality to suggest we’ll be seeing this tool used more and more as a virtual meeting environment.
Good job CNN !
The EeePC 901 from ASUS looks very impressive based on the specs. I’ve been using the original eeePC for several months and my two main concerns have been keyboard size (which I’ve become used to) and screen size (still a bit small for quality browsing). Otherwise I’ve been impressed with the light weight, small size, and fairly error-free operation with the one exception of an early flash memory failure that required a reconfiguration and lost me 100+ Hong Kong photos. Still, for $400 this unit was an amazing bargain compared to the 1500 or so I would have spent for a full blown Ultra mobile laptop in this weight class.
The new eeePC unit probably solves the screen size issue with a 9.1 incher vs the 7 inches and I assume a slightly larger keyboard. The 3.75G access could really be a boon for those in areas where that will be supported, assuming a reasonable cost by providers.
I’m anxious to hear from folks who get this unit. The mini Dell looks good as well, but if ASUS has created a comparable machine I’d be inclined to go with them over Dell based on my experiences with each company.
The widely anticipated debut of the Google Smart Phone is today. The phone will be made my HTC, sold by TMobile, and run by Android the open source operating system. Offering free email service to all subscribers, It appears Google and Tmobile are going after the blackberry market more than iPhone which sounds like a clever plan to me. Apple users are very loyal and very unlikely to move away from their beloved iPhones. Blackberry and Treo users will be looking closely at the new phone and I think in many cases happy to move to a better phone (me certainly included as a Treo user).
More from PC Magazine, including some Google Phone pictures
The Android Guys are reporting on the design of the Google Phone from T Mobile and it’s looking pretty impressive. They also link to a spec sheet showing the phone will have a sizeable screen, pull out keyboard, 3 megapixel camera, and more.
I’m glad to have been correct to suggest the phone would make it out before next year and expect this to be a very popular 2008 Christmas Gift, even if the pricing is higher than I expect which is $150-$250 or perhaps even less to undercut the Apple iPhone market.
This earlier-than-announced launch is probably very bad news for Sprint’s instinct and other smartphones, as it is likely that we’ll see the smartphones of choice become either Apple or Android based phones.
OK, so now TechCrunch is reporting that their secret source informs them that Amazon has sold 240k Kindles in less than a year. That would be pretty good though it does not lead me to retract my May suggestion that the analysis by Citbank is bogus.
In that analyis Mark Mahaney suggested that the Kindle would sell only 189k units in 2008 but then blow the lid off with sales in 2010 of 2.2 million. That key part of the analysis – huge sales after modest early adoption – still seems unlikely to me, though I might be swayed to Kindle mania if the sales trend over the past months was clearly up. That would indicate enough consumer satisfaction to suggest they might become a gadget of choice with enough mainstream adoption to see the huge profitability projected by Citibank. Hey, on the internet anything is possible.