January 28, 2010
Most of the industry has been underwhelmed with the iPad launch. I for one, actually think this is a great device. It may not be for us, techies, but for rest of the world, it is going to be a great device.
This is a device I can hand it my grand father and he won’t have much trouble using it. Compare this to handing him a laptop and training him about how an OS works, what a drive is, what a file system is, why he needs an anti-virus software etc. Ease of use is the key here. Infact, we have seen this with iPhone already. Every day I see many 2-3 year old having absolutely no problem using the device. That makes a HUGE difference.
In a country like India, there are over 500 million mobile phones. But there are less than 15 Million computers (connected to the internet). Why is this the case? One of the reason is, PCs are complicated to use/learn for non-techies. I think this device can address a broader market as it hides the details from the user.
Ofcourse, mobility is a another huge factor here. India has less than 40Million landlines compared to 500Million mobile phones. Morgan Stanley report on mobile internet says mobile internet will cross desktop internet usage very soon. It is through devices like this we will see this happening and it is through devices like these the internet will reach the masses worldwide.
Sure, for techies, it can be yet another device between phone and a laptop solving a specific need, but for the rest of the world, I think this will be a great device and mostly their primary computer. Yes, there are some missing features initially, but they’ll be addressed and that is the evolution of any product. We have seen this with the iPhone and I am sure we will see this with iPad.
Overall, I see this as a first major step in the evolution of mobile computing. We will see a flurry of devices in coming months and years. But end of the day, it is all about software. In this case, iPad has the software dumbed down to the masses in a great form factor and in my view, it’ll be a winner.
August 23, 2009
There has been some good discussion around Android recently and Daring Fireball blog has some very good points on the opportunity Android has in the market.
I 100% agree with him that iPhone needs competition. Unfortunately, the competition doesn’t look very good so far. While John Gruber makes a case where competition could exist if executed right, I don’t see some one gaining significant share in the market, atleast in the short term. iPhone seem to be couple of years ahead of competition in the market and so far, I still don’t see good competition for iPhone.
When hardware becomes a commodity, the value moves to the software. So the game suddenly shifts to the software vendor’s turf. Now, to provide better end user experience on an end user device like a phone, a vendor with expertise in both hardware and software has significant advantages in this market and there are not many vendors who do software and hardware and definitely not at the scale as Apple. This puts Apple much ahead of competition not just in the short term, but also in the long term. When they have a lead, it is tough to beat them, unless we see some blunders from them.
I love linux. As I geek, I spend lot of time with it and I don’t see how tens of thousands of companies (like Google) can survive without open source software like linux. That said, it is already known that Linux has not penetrated the desktop market as much as it penetrated the server market. Infact, I’ll go a step further and say that it is tough to find enough open source software with great UI/usability. On the other hand, more often than not, the server side stuff is pretty good for most of the popular open source software. I think this is true with Android. I played with it a bit and found similarities between Android and Linux (yes, it is the same core). Similar to Linux, Android has the same powerful stuff, but where it fails is the usability and the final touches it needs. I can never call any Linux software ‘pleasure to use’ (yes, including Ubuntu), but I can say that after using a Mac, for example. As long as someone takes the user experience and user interface seriously, I think Android will face the same fate as Linux.
If a new phone has to compete with iPhone, it is not good enough if it is 10% better than iPhone. It has to be significantly better than the iPhone. If it comes with a smaller vendor, it going to get much tougher.
If there is one thing I’d like to see in Android (or linux), it is the improvements to the usabiltiy and UI of the entire OS. It looks crappy, atleast to my taste. Attention to the detail is very important and it has to be a please to use. Unless someone comes up with an OS that is good for end users, they’ll keep loosing against Apple. Phone is the device that stays with us longer than any other device. It is not good enough if it is functional. It has to be ‘please to use’.