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.
It is obvious that Google is going to embrace mobile applications very, very powerfully in the coming year and it looks like Google has a great first iPhone effort with their new search application featuring a lot of automated guessing so you can avoid the most painful part of the mobile experience – typing.
Of course things are *really* going to get interesting this fall or early next year when a new Google mobile phone will come out. Although Google has produced branded hardware for some time in the form of search appliances these had an extremely limited distribution. The upcoming “G Phone” will be a *huge* success if it offers iPhone functionality at a lower price. I think the latest assumption is that a Google phone will be made by HTC for Dell though I have not checked in on this recently. I think the Google branding factor will be incredibly powerful, and predict that *most* users will choose a “Google gPhone” over an “Apple iPhone” assuming similar features and cost. This isn’t to suggest the iPhone market cannot exist alongside a gPhone, and clearly the iPhone is the mobile device to beat, so the game is very much on right now in terms of smartphone competition. Sprint’s new “Instinct” is an excellent device with many advantages over the old iPhone (e.g. Geolocation), though I think we’ll see functionality in these devices converge as early as next year with no compromises for users. Computing is rapidly moving to mobile.
Update: The headlines are misleading. This phone is not by Google, but will be able to run “Android”, the Googley operating sytem from the Open Handset Alliance. This is an important development but different from a true phone from Google.
There are reports that a Google Phone or gPhone will be out shortly. Here are some pictures. There is not much buzz about this yet so I’m not clear about the source of these rumors, but it makes sense to me that Google will put something out much earlier than the “middle of 2008” we’ve seen in a lot of reports.
Based on the early pix I’m not sure this device is going to win any design awards – looks more like a geek design than the stylish iPhone design that has helped make Apple the clear “smartphone to beat” and brought them such success in this market. However on balance I think that *cost* will be the key. If the gPhone can come in under $100 and do all the neat things promised by Android and the Open Handset Alliance, I think it’ll be so broadly adopted as to be an unstoppable mobile force.
David Berlind has a very insightful piece about the upcoming offering from Google in the cell phone space. Usually this is called the “G Phone” (or maybe “gPhone”? “gee, Phone!”), and it’s certainly coming soon to a handheld device near you.
It is still not clear if Google will actually endorse the hardware as well as the mobile software they’ve been working on, but there will be a phone by next year (I still predict it’ll be out in time for Christmas), and it will feature rich integration with Google maps, search, and probably a bunch of other clever Googley applications developed for the explosive mobile market.
Berlind notes that we are all seeking technological “religious experiences” with our devices, and the current crop of phones, even including the iPhone, do not deliver enough of them.
David is harder on the Apple iPhone than I have been but I agree that the holy grail ain’t here yet, and also agree that Google, learning from iPhone’s mistakes and all the hype and feedback about that project, might hit the cellular nail on the head with the gPhone. I predict a major Google phone innovation in using advertising to defray the cost of calling. This could take many forms but I think a clever integration of highly targeted advertising during web browsing and text messaging could be fairly inoffensive to users but provide a decent portion of the revenues that the carrier would need. Frankly all Google needs to do is reduce the cellular cost enough to the customer that they’ll switch over from other carriers like ATT and Sprint. These companies have done little to create brand loyalty and a better system will have users leaving in droves.
But we may have to wait until 2008 to find out how good the gPhone is going to be.
Unless they are out by Christmas, in which case I may actually do my Christmas shopping early this year.