Apple iPad Launches Today. Lowest priced model only $499

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.

iPad Apple Tablet Computer

iPad from Apple

Dear WordPress – Now that you own Intense Debate, please get Intense Debate Comments going at WordPress hosted blogs.

Problem:  Cannot install Intense Debate at WordPress hosted blogs

The internet is a funny place, usually interesting, always provocative, and often frustrating.     In typical internet fashion after learning about how nice it would be to have the  “Intense Debate” comment system here to manage my comments more effectively and allow comment folks to get more out of the blog I spend a half hour learning that it can’t be installed here because I’m hosted at WordPress.

This is a bit odd since (in the typical topsy turvy ironic online world) WordPress actually *owns* IntenseDebate.   They bought it last fall so I can hope they’ll provide support for it soon.    I’m always reluctant to nag the excellent folks at WordPress because they don’t make much if any money from the blogging portions of their massive online programs (they do pretty well with Akismet anti-spamming software and they have one of the world’s largest and in my opinion extremely valuable online footprints).

However I do want to note this for others and hopefully save them the agony of trying to figure out how to install IntenseDebate at a WordPress hosted blog, which as far as I can tell is currently impossible because it’s only available via plugin and plugins are not allowed at WordPress hosted blogs aka WP hosted blog.

Note that you can easily install the IntenseDebate plugin via instructions at IntenseDebate if you have a setup, which is using WordPress Content management software at other sites.    e.g.  Our technology news blog Technology Report is such an external WordPress setup via Godaddy hosting,  so I may try to set this up over there, but unfortunately Joe Duck  is where all the comment action tends to be so this is where we need IntenseDebate!

C’mon Matt Mullenweg, can’t we have an intense debate widget for this  or something?

Why Blogs are better than Google.

Today, as I searched for some breaking news and technology insights, I was struck by how much better informed you tend to be after reading a few blogs targeted to a topic (and following related links and sites and ask questions) than when you simply search Google (or Yahoo or MSN or, if you enjoyed the silly and short lived TV campaign, ASK).    

Don’t get me wrong – I like the search engines and I love the way you can quickly winnow through billions of pages down to the handful that are relevant and good for your topic.     But I’m noticing how increasingly I wind up turning to blogs *first* for the best news, links, and insight.    I’m beginning to understand why I’m doing that, and why it’s a big deal.

There are the obvious advantages to blogs over websites.   They are fresher (ie recent and new content) – especially compared to Google searches that often yield so much old content.   They usually offer some community components so you feel like you are “where the action is” on topics.   This is usually true for major blogs.  TechCrunch is a key watering hole for startups, for liberal political folks, etc.

However these advantages are secondary to the fact that as blogs mature they offer an excellent “human powered search engine” for your niche of interest, and as we all know humans still beat out computers in terms of understanding what information is most relevant to our inquiry when it is a broad field of interest.

Again, the TechCrunch Technology blog is a great example of this.  A search in Google for “startups” or “technology news” or “venture capital” will give some good results, but even a careful study of those results won’t give you nearly the insight you’ll get from a one hour session at TechCrunch.     Even a Silicon Valley startup new arrival – or distant silicon startup wannabe, could sound like a veteran if they simply kept up with the parade of posts from Mike Arrington and his clever crowd at TechCrunch.

I think this blog advantage breaks down as you move into very specific topics, but it’s going way up as an advantage in the study of general topics as blogs explode and gather traction and community.     Of course there are caveats to this.   Learning in any form takes time, and you would never simply stuble into a blog about a topic without checking other blogs and sites related to that.   But my point is that once you find “the key blogs” about a topic, even if it is a contentious one, you’ll find through those blogs links, references, breaking news, and a community of other interested parties.   This complex, interactive, cross referenced community experience is how humans learn best, and the internet is making that type of learning exponentially easier to obtain.     

Facebook – Myspace = 100% revenue share

Josh at Redeye VC has some *excellent* points about the coming big battle between Facebook and Myspace for web developers:

If you ran a venture-backed company and had to decide whether you wanted to focus your effort on: (a) a property that welcomed you in and let you keep 100% of the revenue you generate or (b) a company with a vague policy that doesn’t let you generate any revenue, which would you choose? I don’t think it’s even a decision. It’s an IQ test.

However, it is significant that Myspace remains far larger than Facebook in terms of a user base and also important is that users, not developers, have driven the success of Myspace.

Facebook is hard to analyze because until very recently they had a much more restrictive policy on new accounts, opening them only to groups associated with businesses or universities. To join Facebook I initially had to contact my old alma mater – University of Wisconsin – to get an alumni email set up, then redirect that to my current mail. No big deal but certainly a barrier to entry. Facebook now (wisely) has opened itself up to everybody and (also wisely) is pursuing a very open approach to API usage and social media. Most importantly Facebook is going to allow those who build applications around Facebook to keep 100% of the revenue those create.

I think this “100% revenue share” is a brilliant approach because the Facebook “whole” will be much greater than the sum of these parts. Thus Facebook can make a *lot* of money through the extra traffic and advertising created by websites and developers and users gravitating to the Facebook social media ecosystem. The loser in this equation would be Myspace and other sites (that would be MOST sites) that try to create social media environments but don’t share much of the revenues.

Raining on the Gadget/Widget parade, Jeremy?

When Yahoo’s Jeremy is concerned about something technical you *always* need to pay close attention, as he’s one of the most knowlegeable observers of the internet landscape as well as a key driver of Web 2.0 innovation over at the unrivaled Yahoo Development department.

Today Jeremy listed several concerns about the challenges of widgets (aka Gadgets) including security and bloated websites.   Considering that many, including me, see a coming gadget revolution where our desktops will become littered almost beyond recognition with site gadgets, desktop gadgets, and more, it might be a good time to listen to Jeremy and solve some of these problems or at least standardize things, especially to reduce spyware and malware issues which will likely become even worse as users become less sophisticated and gadgets become more complex.

Nomenclature Primer aka Yahoo and Apple say WidgeTomato, Google and MSN say GadgeTomatoe:
Yahoo still calls gadgets widgets as does Apple, but Google changed widgets to gadgets to be consistent with Microsoft which, at MIX06, was heavily promoting desktop gadgets as one of Vista’s strong suits and website gadgets as a key web innovation.   Google leads the Gadget pack now thanks to Adam Sah and the excellent gadget team.

I think everybody should rename all these things “Little boxes made of Ticky Tacky”.

Dvorak on Vista

John Dvorak is not impressed with Vista’s advertising or prospects as a buzz-worthy application, saying the promotional web info …

looks like an advertisement for an expensive prescription drug for constipation

and suggesting the market impact will not be very big.

I actually think he’s wrong, and Vista will usher in some significant changes, especially as users integrate sidebar and desktop “gadgets” and we see the desktop and websites look more like myspace pages, littered with dozens of mini applications. If Vista realizes the promise of facilitating RSS and gadget centric information architecture I think it could be a significant part of the significant changes sweeping the online environment.

Whoops, we missed Web 2.0 at Pubcon!?

I’ve enjoyed Pubcon Las Vegas and I’m looking forward to the big bash today to wrap it all up.   Still, for the first time I’m leaving with a feeling of the growing disconnect between the really neat  developments in Silicon Valley I’ve been seeing at Dave and Doug’s Mashup and Startup Camps and what the mostly SEO focused and new business folks are up to here.

(Notable exception was Lawrence’s presentation which was excellent and addressed several key points like the coming Gadget/Widget revolution and user content challenges and opportunities).   He’s in SF so I think he “gets it” more than a lot of the folks here who seem stuck in what have become “old school” concepts of highly manipulative SEO work, link networking, arbitrage and often risky SEO tricks.

I think the big story in computing right now at many levels are the issues that surround content ownership, content use, mashups, and gadgets.    Not much discussion of those here and I think that lack of awareness may come back to haunt those who don’t pay attention to the “new” internet, aka “what happened yesterday?”.

But hey, I’m in the cheap hotel so what do I know?

Widgets (aka Gadgets) and the Web

Last week’s widgets conference in Silicon Valley would have been fun to attend but I’d just returned to Oregon from Startup Camp and my mom is already giving me a hard time about the Las Vegas trip tomorrow.    I give her credit though for asking what does this trip add to your company’s bottom line?     The obvious answer “Free microbrews and fried wings at the Google engineer event”  won’t impress her, but there are some tough jobs that just need to be done!

However I think Widgets (aka Gadgets) are clearly where the web is going, and perhaps more interesting is that fact that I don’t think this is well understood by many “internet outsiders” yet, and poorly understood by many internet insiders.

The impact of Gadgets  This will start to become clearer as Vista environments merge the browser, desktop, internet, and applications using gadgets for navigation, information, and advertising.     Standard page view and website metrics will break down quickly and we’ll see that publishers will seek to promote even more cluttered, busy, and interactive gadget filled computer screens in an effort to boost revenues.     The future isn’t pretty, but’s it’s sure going to be interesting.

I also need to add Niall Kennedy to the blogroll – he’s one of those folks you really need to pay attention to if you want to see where thing are going to be in a few years.