Predictions for New Kindles • Nokia 920 • Anonymous Hacking Claims not Supported • Primer on A/B Testing • T-Mobile: Bring your Own iPhone • Startups’ Enterprise Advantage • Tech Briefs • TechPop • Blue Sky and Clouds in Your Office
Recent Gadget News 1: Amazon Announces new Kindles
Amazon announced a range of new Kindles, including 7 and 8.9 inch HD color Fire tablets and a new front-lit “Paperwhite” monochrome e-reader on September 6th.
My prediction: With their strong feature set, competitive pricing and unmatched ecosystem the new devices will be successful, positioning Amazon strongly against its competitors and growing the overall market for content-consumption tablets:
- The 8.9 inch HD model is clearly aimed at the 10.1 inch iPad, offering more features for lower prices. Backed by Amazon’s content and ecommerce ecosystem it may take some share that would have gone to the iPad. However, Apple fans are loyal and the Kindles are more likely to take share from other similarly sized Android tablets.
- The 7 inch HD model will be the strongest competitor for Apple’s rumored 7 inch tablet. The new Kindle will seriously dent sales of the existing Nook Tablet and may slow sales of the Google Nexus 7 and other 7 inch Android tablets.
- The Paperwhite e-reader will cement and increase Amazon’s lead in the e-reader market. Barnes and Noble had a chance to gain some mindshare and market share earlier this year when they launched the Nook with GlowLight, the first e-reader with an internal light source. Unfortunately, B&N was late shipping in volume due to manufacturing delays and now Amazon has come out with a better device with a superior display.
As a long-time Nook fan, part of me hates to see Amazon pull so far ahead, but the new Kindles are inarguably superior. The Nook line historically had better usability. Nooks popularized several new innovations including the low-cost color reader/tablet, touch screen e-reader and lighted e-reader, but Amazon has iterated on its designs until it has finally gotten things right.
B&N is rumored to be preparing a new Nook tablet, perhaps in partnership with Microsoft. If B&N is to remain a viable competitor in the e-book market, it will need to hit a home run after Amazon’s announcements this week. Amazon has left one chink in the Kindle Fire line’s armor—unlike the e-readers, none of the new tablets is available without ads.
The LA Times has a good overview of all the new Kindles.
Recent Gadget News 2: Nokia Unveils new Windows 8 Phones
Not without some controversy, Nokia unveiled the new flagship Windows Phone 8 device, the Lumia 920 on September 5th. The Huffington Post writes that Nokia may be correct to say it’s the most innovative smartphone in the world. Of course we’ll see how it compares to the iPhone 5 to be announced this week. The 920’s list of features is impressive:
- Built-in wireless charging using the Qi standard. There are plans to deploy Qi charging stations to airports and cafes.
- Near Field Communication. This standard allows devices to communicate when touching, or in close proximity. Attendees at the product launch were able to try out a cool JVC speaker/wireless charger (video link). Set the phone down on the speaker and it begins to charge and play music through the speaker. Note that this isn’t a dock; the phone doesn’t have to be physically inserted into anything.
- An HD display that rivals if not surpasses that of any other current phone: 1280 x 768 pixels at 332 pixels per inch (ppi). Compare to the iPhone 4S, which has 960-by-640-pixel resolution at 326 ppi.
- A touchscreen that can be used while wearing gloves—very important for those cold winters in Nokia’s home country of Finland.
- Software “lenses” for the camera that provide built-in effects such as augmented reality, panoramas and cinemagraphs. These are not separate apps, but are integrated right into the camera controls.
- Its “PureView” camera is one of the best on any phone. The 920’s camera is surpassed only by that on its obscure non-ergonomic predecessor, the Nokia 808. The 920’s camera is the first in a phone with optical image stabilization. Nokia obviously wanted to show the capability at the launch event, and this is where the controversy comes in. Rumor has it that full software support for the camera was not complete at launch time. Unfortunately some Nokia marketers took it upon themselves to produce a video and some still shots which were purported to have been shot using a Lumia 920 but were actually shot with a professional video camera and other cameras. After the fakery came to light, Nokia allowed The Verge to independently verify much of the phone’s excellent still photo and low light capability, but a full evaluation will have to wait until the production software is finalized. As The Verge said: “Nokia’s hardware deserved much better than what Nokia’s marketing team did to it.”
I would love to try and probably buy one of these phones but they will likely not be available until at least November. Between now and then the iPhone 5 will wow the Apple faithful and sell millions of units. Microsoft and Nokia will need to correct their mistakes and execute flawlessly over the next few weeks if they want to increase their chances of being viable competitors in the smartphone market.
Anonymous 1: The FBI Didn’t Do It. Apple device IDs came from a Developer
Last week “Antisec, ” a subgroup of the hacker collective Anonymous claimed to have stolen 12 million Apple device IDs from an FBI computer in March. Now software publishing company Blue Toad has come forward and admitted that the IDs were stolen from their database in August. The humorous (and pathetic) aspect to this is that despite the new evidence and admission, the majority of commenters on every online article I’ve read still think there is an FBI conspiracy at play, and it’s even more devious now because the FBI is using Blue Toad as a front! Haven’t these people heard of Occam’s Razor or are they all just a bunch of trolls?
Anonymous 2: GoDaddy Crash was due to Internal Network Issues, Not Anonymous Hack
What is it with Anonymous members wanting to take credit for every internet hiccup? GoDaddy refutes a claim that its recent outage was due to an Anonymous attack. It was actually due to internal network issues.
Black Swan Farming: The Reality of Venture Capital Investing and Startups
In his latest blog post, Paul Graham, one of the most respected figures in software engineering and a premier venture capitalist, explains how strange and counter-intuitive startup investing is. There is such a huge variation in outcomes (1000x) that our experience doesn’t prepare us to deal with it logically. Graham states:
To succeed in a domain that violates your intuitions, you need to be able to turn them off the way a pilot does when flying through clouds. You need to do what you know intellectually to be right, even though it feels wrong.
Related: Vanity Fair has an excerpt from an upcoming book following a team selected for Graham’s Y Combinator summer 2011 startup accelerator class.
A Primer on A/B Testing (Yummy Candy!)
The Paul Graham quote about turning off your intuition could equally apply to A/B testing. Mike Greenfield offers up an excellent primer on A/B testing and reiterates yet again the principle that no matter how much experience or expertise we have, we cannot rely on intuition to predict the success of new website and application designs.
T-Mobile: Bring your own Phone and Save
T-Mobile is trying to turn lemons into lemonade. It hasn’t struck an agreement with Apple to carry the iPhone but is instead offering significantly cheaper rates to users who bring their own unlocked iPhones to the carrier. It makes sense that by not subsidizing the handset, the carrier can offer lower rates.
Startups have an Advantage in the Enterprise Software Market
The other day my colleagues and I were discussing what poor interaction design much enterprise software has. We have to use the applications C***ity and R**edy in our jobs, and their usability is terrible compared to some of the enterprise software coming out of new cloud-based startups. Not long after our discussion, I came across this article and found that a panel at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference came to the same conclusion.
Tech Briefs: Recent News Items of Significance
- Google is now charging for all inclusions in Google Shopping results. Amazon has removed all listings from Google Shopping: New York Times
- Microsoft will open 32 holiday pop-up stores: ZDNet
- Making its platform more attractive to developers, Amazon is enabling them to sell physical goods from inside of games and other apps: AllThingsD
- As Apple moves to its own maps platform with iOS 6 and the new iPhone 5, Google is competing to hold onto users by leveraging its 20 petabytes of StreetView Imagery to increase quality: BBC
- Google Glass’s augmented reality eye cameras were featured in and used to record the DVF Sprint 2013 Fashion Show: The smart glasses look much better on fashion models than on the typical geek: Marketing Land
- But after a test drive, the Wall Street Journal says that Google glasses aren’t yet ready for the real world: Wall Street Journal
- Blackberries are losing shelf space and mindshare. My take—RIM has been on a downslope for the last 18 months. Now it’s gone over the cliff: AllThingsD
- Twitter and Etsy engaging in “Engineer Swapping:” The Next Web
- The sad tale of a teenage social engineering hacker, possibly headed to prison: Wired
- Clipboard web clipping service launches iPhone app, characterized at halfway between bookmarking and Pinterest: TechCrunch
- Windows 8 RT and Windows Phone 8 devices cannot join Active Directory domains, but Microsoft has now revealed that system administrators will be able to centrally manage those mobile devices using Microsoft Intune and System Center 2012 Configuration Manager: ZDNet
- Taliban members are posing online as pretty women to lure allied soldiers into giving away info: Wired
- The majority of mobile-owning U.S. teens now have smartphones: TechCrunch
- Four days after publishers settled a price collusion suit with the Department of Justice, Amazon started discounting some of their ebooks: paidContent
- Best of both worlds: Microsoft and Attachments.me partner to let users save Gmail files to SkyDrive: TechCrunch
- Bing is the default search engine on the new Kindle Fires: Business Insider
TechPop: Short bits on tech entertainment, fun and more
- Katy Perry inspires LinkedIn redesign…really: Wired
- Spotify web browser version coming, you can ditch the client application: AllThingsD
- The New York Times profiles one of our Bellevue tech neighbors. Gaming company Valve has no formal titles or assignments and is incredibly successful. New York Times
- A few months ago I wrote how the Piano Guys were leveraging YouTube and disruptive tech gadgets like 1080P dSLRs to gain a popular following. I’m happy to say that this week I was able to tweet that the Piano Guys have signed with Sony:
— Thomas Crook (@TCTReview) September 7, 2012
Just One More: Bring the Sky into your Office
Researchers in Germany have created 20 by 20 inch LED ceiling tiles that mimic the look of moving clouds against a blue sky. I wouldn’t mind trying them out in our office.