What The Fuck Is Wrong With HP (and Everyone Else)

HP is a company I have always loved, whose products are well engineered and who have some of the brightest minds in Silicon Valley. So just what has got into HP and all the other computer makers, except Apple?

The recent news that HP has dropped the TouchPad a month after the US release and four days after the Australian one, the effective dropping of WebOS and the plans to follow IBM into a software and service future by offloading their PC business has amazed so many, me included.

If you believe the commentary going on, part of the blame is that companies like HP have very low profit margins on PC gear, whereas Apple does much better. And this might be the reason, but, if it is, no one has learned the proper lesson from this. I even read an article today saying that the right price for a tablet was US$300. And HP has sold well when dumping the TouchPad at very low prices. Now at this time the cheapest iPad 2 is US$499 and $579 here in Australia, and they seem to be selling all they can make. So something doesn’t add up here.

Historically Apple gear has always been more expensive than the competition. The iPod was more expensive than other MP3 players, the iPhone is more expensive than most other smartphones and the iPad is also more expensive than most tablets, including the HP one. The Macbook Air is likewise not overly cheap, and Macbook Pros, iMacs and PowerMacs are more expensive than superficially equivalent systems. Yet people buy them.

Apple has shown that people will pay more for superb design and excellent functionality. Apple has also shown a willingness to stick it out until products get accepted, as has happened with the Air. It was not always popular.

Yes, there is a very large part of the computer market that is extremely price sensitive, as shown by the run on TouchPads at $100 or so, but Apple’s experience has shown that there is a large segment that is not so price sensitive. Perhaps it would be better to say that there are customers for whom price is at or near the top of their priority list, and other customers for whom price is less critical and other factors count more.

Apple is not very reactive: it creates and makes other companies react to it. And any student of military history knows that you don’t win by giving your enemy the initiative. You must seize the initiative and make them react to you, and keep them doing so.

Oh what you could do with a company like HP and all that engineering experience. Rather than creating iPad wannabees, no matter how well they may be made, and undercutting on price, what about taking the opportunity to ‘Think Differently’ and do something unique, even if it takes several years for it to really catch on? Surely both shareholders and employees of HP should get the opportunity for some real benefit from the $1.2 billion spent all too recently on Palm?

We know that even an overpriced item will, due to Moore’s Law, come down in price as you get economies of scale and improvements in technology. So what about creating a truly drool-worthy tablet, laptop or some new category of device, even if the initial price will be US$1,000? Even if the production yields are quite low to start with it may not matter, as demand will be slow to start with. But as demand grows in line with better yields and lowering prices you have taken the initiative and others now have to react to you.

And beyond HP, what about all the other computer makers, phone makers and consumer electronics companies? All seem happy to innovate in little ways, a tweak here; a new feature there. Who is innovating anymore? Has the computer industry gone the way of Hollywood and will only rework old concepts or crank out more of the same in working franchises?

Apple has shown that you do not have to be the first in an area to win big. Apple didn’t release the first MP3 player or the first tablet. But they did release the best when they did. Let us be honest: the iPod is the best MP3 player, the iPhone is the best smartphone and the iPad is the best tablet, at present. Don’t let the annoyances that everyone feels with some of Apple’s policies and decisions get in the way of that realisation. Apple is the only real player in town and everyone else is following them.

How has Apple done what they have done? Two things. Stunning design for one. Secondly, they have taken all concepts to the extreme. The iPod eliminated almost all the buttons. The iPhone eliminated the keyboard and elevated the app to front and centre. The iPad also eliminated the keyboard completely, something many other tablet makers had tried to hang onto.

Apple has done some other things right too. Controlling both the hardware and software is a huge advantage. Though the gatekeeper role is annoying when apps that you really should be able to get are not approved, the controlled app environment for iPods, iPhones and iPads means that all the fear around malware is gone. And among less tech happy people fear is a BIG factor that holds them back from adopting new technology. I know many people who would never have bought another device, but have gone out and bought an iPhone or iPad and are buying and installing apps happily. Those same people would never have done that with Windows or Android.

It saddens me greatly to see an amazing company like HP walking away from an industry it helped found. Maybe the problem for HP is they have too many engineers and not enough dreamers. Because that is exactly what we need: dreamers in companies with the size and expertise to turn those dreams into reality.

 

Android Looking More Like a Good Platform to Develop For (or Has Apple Crossed to the Darkside)

An article from today on Fast Company presents some really interesting information about smart phone takeup rates and market penetration, so I recommend you go to the article and look it over. It has me thinking about many things to do with the iPhone and iPad.

What it shows is that while smart phones are still a small 19% of the total phone market, Android-based smart phones are doing very well in the market. Specifically, since third quarter 2009 the % of smartphones that use the Android platform has been rising smartly at exactly the same time that the % of smart phones from RIM (Blackberry) and Apple have dropped. Of course that does not mean that their overall numbers have dropped, or even stopped growing, but rather that as a % of all smart phones they have dropped slightly.

What this means for developers of applications is that they should not simply focus on Blackberry and iPhone development, but need to get behind Android too.

It would be speculation to discuss why the rapid rise of Android, and that is exactly what we will do. While I love my iPhone 3Gs, what I really love is the ability to easily use my phone to hold my music collection, apps that let me do productive work on the phone and the nice way it plays with my Apple computers and their software. There are things I do not like about my iPhone, such as only being able to put Apps on it that Apple has censored and approved, unless I am willing to jail break it. This seems too much like Stalinist Russia for my tastes.

Up until now Android phones have not been something I have paid much attention to, rather I’ve been concentrating on the iPhone and iPad and getting my head around app development for those and website compatibility with the iPad browser. That changes as of today.

While like everyone else in Australia I am awaiting my iPad arrival, I am considering my future relationship with Apple. I’ve been an Apple user since the Apple II, indeed I made some money writing games for it, and I love the present generation of Apple laptops and desktops. Mac OS is a joy to use. But I am worried about the direction Apple is taking with the iPad. Whilst I can understand major restrictions on apps on a phone, since in the end it is primarily a phone and so I really don’t want any apps to screw things up when I need to make a call, the iPad is more like a laptop, only better. Apple seem to be shaping up to treat the iPad the same way as the iPhone, and I do not believe this is appropriate. I don’t believe it is appropriate because I can see the iPad in future iterations taking over from the laptop. My wife, for example, could do all she needs to do on a computer on an iPad-like device. No problems.

Why, for God’s sake, should:

  • I only be able to add applications to it from the Apple store?
  • Apple get to be the sole arbiter of what applications I can run?
  • I not be able to use my iPhone to provide Internet access to my iPad when away from a Wi-Fi hotspot?
  • I not be able to view Flash websites if I choose to? SUre if it is so bad given me a way to turn Flash off but leave the decision up to me if I am willing to suffer shorter battery life, etc.
  • I have to break the license agreement and jailbreak the iPad to do some or all of the above?

If the iPad were given away and Apple made its money solely off the services I would have no issue with the above constraints. But when I am paying an amount of money that would buy me a full fledged and open laptop, then it is different matter.

I am very concerned about the censorship issue inherent in Apple’s sole control over apps. While many Americans seem to have an issue with nipples (which is their right), this is not a mental illness that affects the whole world or even all Americans. If apps contains content you don’t like, don’t load it and use it. Surely it is that simple. And if Apple want to look after the young kid market put in an app rating system and let parents (or schools) set a level lock on content. The problem with censorship is that one person’s send them to hell pornography is another person’s healthy content. Sure, there is consensus among anyone with a brain that child pornography is bad news, but even there as the fairly recent controversy here in Australia over the photographer Bill Henson shows, there is not universal agreement about where the line is to be drawn. Censorship is a dangerous and steep slope, as Australia is finding over the government’s net censorship approach. And so Apple would do well to step away from this dangerous area and treat its customers as grown ups who are capable of making their own decisions.

It was an American, I believe, who said I may hate what you have to say, but I’ll fight to the death for your right to say it. As long as Apple is the only way to legally put apps on an iPhone or iPad, surely they are violating the 1st Amendment right to free speech? One of the few things I envy the Americans for is their constitution that is also a great aspirational document.

Apologies for the long, wandering post. Perhaps my current reading of Stephen King’s Under the Dome has made me cautious of what too much power in a few hands can do.

D-LINK DEBUTS ALL-IN-ONE 802.11N ROUTER WITH BUILT-IN PHOTO FRAME/WIDGET DISPLAY AND STORAGE CAPABILITIES

Stylish Standup Xtreme N® DIR-685 Features 3.2″ LCD Monitor, SharePort™ Technology for Printer Sharing and FTP Server for Remote Access
Here at DIMi we use D-Link networking products, so we are always keen to see what they bring out.

D-Link, the end-to-end network solutions provider for consumers and business, today unveiled an all-in-one home network router with all the features of a fast, far-reaching 802.11n Wi-Fi router combined with network attached storage (NAS), SharePort technology for sharing printers and scanners, along with a bright 3.2-inch LCD monitor on the face for displaying photos, desktop applications and network performance.

Designed with convenience and functionality in mind, the new D-Link® Xtreme N® DIR-685 offers a stylish, even chic addition to the digital home. Its upright design allows users to easily view the vibrant LCD screen that displays device status via graphical gauges, digital photos, streamed video, weather forecasts and other live streaming Internet content in up to 1.6 million colors.

As a router, the DIR-685 features a sleek design made possible, in part, by the router’s internal antennas. In addition, the network attached storage (NAS) feature supports both UPnP® server functions and BitTorrent(TM) downloads. A built-in FTP server allows users to access documents, photos, music and other media locally through the home network or remotely over the Internet.

The DIR-685 employs D-Link Green(TM) technology that helps conserve energy in several ways — by automatically recognizing port activity and cable length and adjusting power usage accordingly, by consolidating all functions to a single device instead of many separate products, and by using the idle mode which automatically turns off power to the LCD screen. A wide local area network (WLAN) scheduler can turn off the router’s Wi-Fi module at a preset time, and the power adapter complies with Energy Star specifications for average power savings of up to 30 percent. The same power-saving features located in the gigabit ports are also included in the NAS drive.

Both USB ports located on the back of the DIR-685 utilize the new D-Link SharePort technology, enabling multiple users to seamlessly share USB devices – including printers, multi-function printers (MFP), and external hard drives – from any location in the home or office, in a Wi-Fi environment. SharePort turns the local USB ports located on the back of the 802.11n router into a fast and responsive virtual port by utilizing a new technology of USB over TCP/IP.

“This router is the ideal solution for the consumer who wants to be the first on his or her block with the ultimate ‘all-in-one’ networking device,” says Daniel Kelley, senior director of marketing for D-Link Systems in Fountain Valley, Calif. “Not only does it offer full functionality as a router/NAS storage/print server/FTP device, it is attractive on any desktop, environmentally friendly and Internet secure.”

About D-Link
D-Link is the global leader in connectivity for small, medium and large enterprise business networking. The company is an award-winning designer, developer and manufacturer of networking, broadband, digital electronics, voice, data and video communications solutions for the digital home, Small Office/Home Office (SOHO), Small to Medium Business (SMB), and Workgroup to Enterprise environments. With millions of networking and connectivity products manufactured and shipped, D-Link is a dominant market participant and price/performance leader in the networking and communications market. D-Link Systems, Inc. headquarters are located at 17595 Mt. Herrmann Street, Fountain Valley, Calif., 92708. Phone (800) 326-1688 or (714) 885-6000; FAX (866) 743-4905; Internet http://www.dlink.com.

D-Link, Xtreme N, SharePort, D-Link Green, and the D-Link logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of D-Link Corporation or its subsidiaries in the United States and other countries. All other third party marks mentioned herein may be trademarks of their respective owners. Copyright © 2008. D-Link Corporation/D-Link Systems, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

SanDisk Launches Industry’s First Premium Memory Cards for Mobile Phones — Ideal for Consumers with a Digital Lifestyle

New SanDisk(R) Mobile Ultra(TM) microSD(TM)/microSDHC(TM) and SanDisk(R) Mobile Ultra(TM) Memory Stick Micro(TM) (M2) Card Lines “Wake Up Your Phone(TM)” to Increased Capacity and Fast Transfer Speeds for Music, Maps, Videos, Photos, Games and More

Press Release

SanDisk Corporation (NASDAQ:SNDK), the proven leader in flash
memory, today announced the availability of SanDisk Mobile Ultra,
microSD, microSDHC and Memory Stick Micro (M2) flash mobile memory
cards, which are available in 2GB, 4GB and 8GB# capacities — the
industry’s first premium mobile phone storage cards.

A must-have product for consumers who embody the digital
lifestyle, the SanDisk Mobile Ultra high-performance cards are “best
of breed” premium cards that provide fast side-loading speeds. This
means that users will experience accelerated transfer rates of digital
files to and from their mobile memory card and their computer. In
addition to speed, SanDisk Mobile Ultra cards allow consumers to “wake
up” the multimedia features of mobile phones by increasing the phone’s
storage capacity for maps, music, videos, photos, games and other
essential applications. For avid mobile phone videographers, events
and experiences captured by the phone’s video camera can be quickly
and efficiently transferred to social media or video-sharing websites.
For added value and convenience, the card is bundled with a
MobileMate(TM) Micro Reader that plugs directly into a USB 2.0 port to
assist in this quick transport and easy management of digital content.

“Mobile phone usage for multimedia activities, such as digital
photography, music downloads, videos, and GPS functionality has
doubled over the last two years, and spending on mobile media globally
is expected to surpass $100 billion by 2012,” said David Kerr, vice
president mobile research, Strategy Analytics. “This product launch
further proves SanDisk’s ability to anticipate changing user needs and
provide the market with the right mobile storage solutions at the
right time.”

Michael Romero, vice president of Mobile Retail Business, SanDisk,
said, “SanDisk’s new Mobile Ultra line will make consumers’ digital
lifestyle more manageable by offering them greater ability to quickly
transfer photos, maps, music, videos, games and other large file size
content wherever they go. These cards are truly the most convenient
way for people to store, move and play content using their mobile
phones, so we’re excited to introduce this high-performance, premium
product to market to meet this need and growing demand.”

With 8GB# of digital storage, for example, consumers will be able
to store 1,000 songs, 1,200 photos and 21 hours of video – more than
enough storage to drive from San Francisco to New York City without
hearing the same song twice, fill six photo albums with images and
watch both Star Wars trilogies and the Matrix trilogy.

Expected Pricing and Availability

SanDisk Mobile Ultra microSD 2GB has a manufacturer’s suggested
retail price (MSRP) of $34.99. The SanDisk Mobile Ultra microSDHC 4GB
card has a MSRP of $59.99 and the SanDisk Mobile Ultra microSDHC 8GB
card has an MSRP of $119.99. The SanDisk Mobile Ultra Memory Stick
Micro M2 2GB has a suggested MSRP of $39.99, and the 4GB and 8GB# are
priced at $69.99 and $129.99, respectively. SanDisk Mobile Ultra
memory cards will be available at various retail outlets in early
June, and are expected to be available throughout the world in
mid-to-late June 2008.

The microSD cards are engineered for slot-equipped legacy mobile
phones and can hold a maximum capacity of 2GB#. The microSDHC cards,
available in 4GB and 8GB#, are ideal for newer mobile phone models,
most of which are compatible with these higher capacity cards. The
Memory Stick Micro M2 cards are designed for Sony Ericsson’s new
generation of mobile phones, all of which are compatible with the 2GB,
4GB and 8GB# capacity levels. SanDisk Mobile Ultra cards come with a
10-year limited warranty.

For more information about SanDisk’s mobile phone products, please
visit http://www.sandisk.com/mobile or http://www.wakeupyourphone.com.

About SanDisk

SanDisk Corporation, the inventor and world’s largest supplier of
flash storage cards, is a global leader in flash memory – from
research, manufacturing, and product design, to consumer branding and
retail distribution. SanDisk’s product portfolio includes flash memory
cards for mobile phones, digital cameras, and camcorders; digital
audio/video players; USB flash drives for consumers and the
enterprise; embedded memory for mobile devices; and solid state drives
for computers. SanDisk (http://www.sandisk.com/corporate) is a Silicon
Valley-based S&P 500 company, with more than half its sales outside
the United States.

# 1 gigabyte (GB) = 1 billion bytes. Some capacity not available
for data storage.

SanDisk’s web site/home page address: http://www.sandisk.com.
SanDisk’s product and executive images can be downloaded from
http://www.sandisk.com/corporate.

SanDisk and the SanDisk logo are trademarks of SanDisk Corporation
and/or its subsidiaries, registered in the United States and other
countries. MobileMate, SanDisk Mobile Ultra and Wake Up Your Phone are
trademarks of SanDisk Corporation, and/or its subsidiaries. microSD
and microSDHC are trademarks. Memory Stick Micro M2 is a trademark of
Sony Corporation. All brand names mentioned herein are for
identification purposes only and may be trademarks of their respective
holder(s).

This press release contains certain forward-looking statements,
including expectations for new product introductions, applications,
markets, customer acceptance, customers and specifications, which are
based on our current expectations and involve numerous risks and
uncertainties that may cause these forward-looking statements to be
inaccurate. Risks that may cause these forward-looking statements to
be inaccurate include among others: our products may not perform as
expected or be available when or at the prices expected , market
demand for our products may grow more slowly than our expectations or
there may be a slower adoption rate for these products in new markets
that we are targeting, and the other risks detailed from time-to-time
under the caption “Risk Factors” and elsewhere in our Securities and
Exchange Commission filings and reports, including, but not limited
to, our Form 10-K and our quarterly reports on Form 10-Q. We do not
intend to update the information contained in this press release.

Microsoft Releases Enhanced Mac Instant Messaging for Business Users

Microsoft Messenger for Mac 5.0
Microsoft Australia today announced the availability of Microsoft
Messenger for Mac 5.0. This latest version of Microsoft’s Instant
Messaging (IM) tool for Mac offers business and home users improved
security and the ability to communicate in real-time.

 

“The latest version of Messenger for Mac is ideal for both office and
personal communication,” said Jeremy Hinton, Product Marketing Manager,
Macintosh Business Unit, Microsoft Australia. “Messenger for Mac 5.0
allows for greater collaboration in business environments and yet still
presents a fun way to chat with friends and family.”

 

Messenger for Mac 5.0 takes advantage of integration with Microsoft’s
business IM solutions. Messenger for Mac 5.0 can be deployed with Live
Communications Server 2005 to help improve collaboration for corporate
Mac users by streamlining communication and allowing for enhanced
messaging security. Corporate messaging sessions run through Live
Communications Server 2005 are contained within the corporate firewall
and server-side session logging is enabled. Corporate customers can
also deploy the Live Communications Server 2005 Public IM Connectivity
license, enabling their Mac users to IM with contacts outside the
network who use services from AOL, MSN® and Yahoo! Live Communications
Server 2005 support also introduces integration with the Global Address
List, allowing corporate Mac users to locate contact information and
availability status more efficiently than before.

 

“Methods of communication and collaboration in the workplace have
changed drastically in the last few years, particularly with IM
becoming a common means of interoffice communication,” said Van Baker,
vice president and research director for Gartner. “An enterprise
solution is needed to provide a true office collaboration tool rather
than the typical ‘buddy’ IM we have seen in the past.”

 

Messenger for Mac 5.0 introduces tabbed viewing, a new approach for Mac
users who need to work with corporate and personal accounts. Users may
simultaneously access corporate and personal Messenger accounts and set
a unique user status on each. The personal tab allows users to IM with
friends and family, while support for Microsoft Office Live
Communications Server 2005 enables business users to IM in a
security-enhanced manner via the corporate tab with colleagues inside
and out of the network.

 

Messenger for Mac 5.0 has an updated design that features a Mac OS-like
brushed-metal look and feel in addition to a refined preferences pane.
Version 5.0 also includes new features that allow users to develop
their online personalities with customisable display pictures and the
ability to view animated and custom emoticons.

 

Customers may download this version at http://www.microsoft.com/australia/office/mac/messenger.aspx.

 

About the Microsoft Macintosh Business Unit

The Macintosh Business Unit at Microsoft is a leading developer of
software and online products for the Macintosh platform. The group is
composed of more than 180 full-time Mac product experts and is
dedicated to creating innovative software for Mac customers worldwide.
For more than 20 years, Microsoft has developed award-winning software
for the Mac. Current products include Microsoft Office 2004 for Mac, a
productivity suite that includes the e-mail application and personal
information manager Entourage® 2004, Word 2004, Excel® 2004 and
PowerPoint® 2004; Virtual PC for Mac Version 7; and Messenger for Mac
5.0. More information about the Mac BU and Microsoft Macintosh products
is available at http://www.microsoft.com/mac.

 

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in
software, services and solutions that help people and businesses
realise their full potential.

 

Microsoft, MSN, Entourage, Excel and PowerPoint are either registered
trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or
other countries.

The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.