Tag Archive: ipad

litl :: webbook – great product, stupid return policy

litl :: webbook.

This seems like a great alternative to a netbook, laptop, and the iPad.  Bigger screen than a netbook or iPad, smaller footprint than a laptop, and it does crazy flip-over-backwards action, with HDMI out for a TV, and runs on linux.  For less than the basic iPad (but no, it does not have touch-based interaction).

However…it has a really stupid return policy.  “Full refund” within 21 days “less applicable restocking fees.”  And by applicable, they mean if it’s not defective, we’re gonna charge you 15%.

Just lost yourself at least 1 customer until you change that policy.  And I was seriously considering recommending this to the school in general, too…

where is Apple going?

Companies compete on the basis of cost or value advantage over other products.  Either they make a product at a lower cost than competitors (often at the expense of value), or they offer more value (which is measurable to an extent, but is more than just the difference in willingness to pay or WTP).  A very few companies are able to compete on both – having a dual advantage over competitors.

For Apple, I truly wonder where they are in terms of strategy.  As far as computers, margins are so ridiculously low that they can’t possibly be competing on cost.  Every single bit of a computer is a commodity now – even the coolest part of any computer, whatever you may think it to be, is just a common item as far as accessibility and availability are concerned.  Apple does have a value advantage, and they utilize this by getting away with charging more than competitors for similar products.  Even so, the value difference is not enough to really make computers a meaningful source of revenue over time.

Speaking of revenue – the iPhone makes up 40% of Apple’s revenues.  That’s almost unbelievable.  And it is also a key component of Apple’s strategy over the past few years.


see what has become of Bill Jobs. I mean Steve Gates. I mean…

Maybe a week ago, the market capitalization of Apple exceeded that of Microsoft for the first time in history, dislodging the latter from the lofty perch that it has held for years and years.

To me, the significance of this is more about a “popularity bubble” that I think Apple is experiencing.  There are a lot of intangibles for Apple, and one could argue that it is in fact more valuable than Microsoft in the long run.  I think the value of intellectual property might be pretty close between the two, in reality, but Apple has begun moving into some markets (um…with the iPad) that are still growth markets.

The question, to me, is whether this potential for growth is worth as much as investors think it is.  I’m really not sure.  First, let’s acknowledge that the market for computers is flat and margins are basically zero.  There is no growth in the personal computer market, no matter how many Macbooks and iMacs are sold.  They just don’t make enough money off of each one.  And, while Apple’s ability to adopt technology just before competitors (USB, WiFi, among others) is at times uncanny (and its marketing teams’ ability to hype the bejesus out of those advantages is just remarkable), it is probably also more expensive for them to be introducing those features before others.

So computers are a dead end.  Portable music players are beginning to plateau, I wager (I haven’t looked at the numbers in a while), and IMO the inclusion of a video camera on the 5th Generation iPod Nano is a sign that designers are beginning to grasp at straws.

Portable media via innovative mobile devices…that’s where the iPod Touch, iPhone, and iPad come in.  And it’s also why Steve Jobs is turning into Bill Gates.


Higher Ed Tech Talk: OMG the OS is the Internet

[link removed because 1) it was a while ago and 2) don’t want to piss off the original poster….]

A short time after the iPad came out, someone at another university (a CIO, I think) posted that “OMG, the Internet is the OS!”  The gist is that he had a revelation that with such a device, it wasn’t about the operating system anymore.  It was about applications that ran on the internet, like Google Docs.  One didn’t need an OS anymore to run local apps.

I had two problems with this.  First, the iPad does run an OS, and Apple is in the business of operating systems.  Yes, any tablet or slate will have some kind of OS on it (even the JooJoo Pad, which is about as basic and internet-oriented as it gets, runs a small linux kernel).  But a lot of applications on the iPad that are so heavily touted – the media player, the book reader, the music player – run on the installed operating system.  These are not cloud-based applications that are accessed via the internet.

Second, I found the revelatory nature of the post rather surprising.  It’s not like internet-based applications are new, nor are other cloud-based service such as storage (enterprise level like Amazon’s S3 or Rackspace or personal solutions such as Dropbox), applications (aforementioned Google docs, as well as a few others).  Software as a Service (SaaS) has been around for a while, too, where one can run traditionally local solutions (like MS Exchange, powering an Outlook-based e-mail and calendar system) in a hosted environment – essentially outsourcing but to the internet.  There is even a Microsoft Office solution for sharing documents via cloud storage, kind of like Google Docs but with a monster of a local application (the Office suite) doing the heavy lifting.

So why would it be so stunning that applications are migrating towards online?

Adobe Upgrades Software to Help Defend Against Apple (Update1) – BusinessWeek

The article linked at the bottom of this post is a more balanced version of what I’ve read on sites like boygenius report, which was much more anti-Apple.  I will look for the little tidbit that Adobe’s CTO wrote later, too, which is quite interesting.

The two quoted sections below frame the entire discussion, I think.  Both companies are basically trying to work within closed systems on a single, dominant platform.  The iPhone and iPad block out Flash, which is an established, dominant media option.  Adobe needs to have Flash work with iPhones and iPads.

The resulting issue, then, is whether “people,” whether Adobe or independent developers, start working on more open platforms.

Narayen said Apple’s criticism reflects an attempt to protect its way of doing business. “This has nothing to do with the technology,” he said. “It’s not a technology decision, it’s a business model: a closed, proprietary business model, with complete control, as opposed to having open innovation drive what happens across devices.”

Apple spokeswoman Natalie Kerris disagreed. “Someone has it backwards,” she said in an e-mailed statement. It’s HTML5 and other standards supported by the iPhone and iPad “that are open and standard, while Adobe’s Flash is closed and proprietary.”

via Adobe Upgrades Software to Help Defend Against Apple (Update1) – BusinessWeek.

Amazon is dead. Wait. No it’s not.

Amazon’s stronghold on e-book pricing crumbles, will renegotiate with Macmillan and HarperCollins « Boy Genius Report.

There has been so much talk about how the iPad and iBooks store has been destroying Amazon.  Specifically, its ability to negotiate rock-bottom (and below-cost) prices for ebooks because they had such a dominant position in the field with the Kindle.  The link above, from BoyGeniusReport, was one of the first really substantive ones I read.  Another one has come out about the third major publisher, Hanchette – also associated with the iBooks store to come out with the iPad – putting the strong-arm on Amazon.

The main link on this post is rather significant, in that it includes a quote from Rupert Murdoch, CEO of News Corp and in a rather level-headed statement, states that

We don’t like the Amazon model of selling everything at $9.99. They don’t pay us that. They pay us the full wholesale price of $14 or whatever we charge. We think it really devalues books and it hurts all the retailers of the hard cover books

This statement is quite telling.  First, Amazon has been selling Kindle books at below cost.  Presumably, this is some kind of strange reverse complement, “razor-blade” scenario.  The Kindle at a relatively high price, and then the books somehow below cost to help drive the justification of buying a Kingle (you need titles, after all, just like one needs to launch a video game console with lots of games right off the bat).  I’m not sure how Amazon is able to handle that much of a loss per book but let’s look a bit deeper.  It might also be Amazon trying to be a middle-person in a two-sided market, where it heavily subsidizes the cost to the buyer in order to produce enough content to make the whole thing worthwhile.  The “charge” to the publisher is the reduced value.  It’s not quite a perfect fit for what I’m studying right now in class but it’s close enough.

First, all Murdoch wants is to charge end-users the actual cost that Amazon is paying.  Okay, that’s actually not so bad.  Other than deviating from the established norm, Amazon is at least now operating at cost.  And considering how many Kindles are out there, they still have a high user base with books that will likely be no more expensive than those available on the iPad.

Second, the comment about value is intriguing.  Even if the prices are exactly the same on the iPad as the Kindle, then “value” to the end user is about the same.  The only difference will be psychological effect of sunk cost – having already bought the Kindle – or other factors.

One rather significant one is that I can go a month without charging my Kindle.  When’s the last time you’ve done that with anything that involves a backlight, LED or LCD screen?  Even if you turn WiFi, bluetooth, etc off you’re looking at a significant decrease in battery life.  And, let’s not forget that while you’re going to get a HUGE surge in iPad purchases at first and possibly an even bigger dent in Kindle sales, I really wonder whether it will, even over just a few months, level off on both sides.

One thing that will also be interesting is whether users will be “imprisoned” by the iPad once they get it.  Not that I am not committed now to Kindle books since I got one, but once you get an iPad, you are unlikely to go out and buy a Kindle if you think it is a better fit for your reading needs.  Unless you are a voracious reader, and the battery life for the iPad just doesn’t fit your needs.