The hobby is getting more serious

So the Apple TV is now officially a high-definition device, capable of 1080p output. Still officially a hobby for Apple, but the strategy behind it is becoming increasingly clear: year after year, chip away at the dwindling reasons to subscribe to cable or satellite.

Netflix and iTunes have pretty much eliminated (non-reality) TV series now, for a large segment of the population. Movies are coming along nicely, with Netflix streaming and iTunes movie rentals, along with sharing from computers and devices on your home network.

The most oft-repeated reason to keep cable or satellite seems to be sports programming. It would appear that Apple has baseball, basketball, and hockey taken care of now. Football (of the American variety) is no doubt tougher (read: much more expensive), and football (of the rest-of-world variety) is likely the same story. This is hardly an insurmountable problem, though it’s not quite as easy as “just add money and stir”. Give it some more time.

Maybe I’m wrong about the strategy. We shall see. But I don’t care about either kind of football, or anything else that happens on cable, so it looks like a winner to me right now. We’ll have one in the living room pretty soon.

‘Why the iPad 3 Won’t Replace Your Laptop’

Today, John Gruber linked to an article at PCMag by Eric Grevstad, and quoted this bit:

That’s because, for all the talk about whether the iPad 3 will have a quad-core processor or a retina display or a VW Beetle bud vase, we already know one thing about it: It won’t be a laptop. And we know, if we’re honest, that the iPad is no substitute for a laptop. Never will be. Isn’t supposed to be.

Gruber’s comment was this:

That the iPad is not a substitute for a laptop for everyone does not mean it is not a substitute for anyone. That’s the key to the iPad’s success. Many people don’t need a laptop for their away-from-the-desk computing needs.

Which is a good start, but doesn’t go far enough. Apple’s goal is pretty clearly to replace your laptop in as many use cases as possible. Hell, Tim Cook even said as much just recently at a Goldman Sachs conference:

We started using it at Apple well before it was launched. We had our shades pulled so no one could see us, but it quickly became that 80-90% of my consumption and work was done on the iPad. From the first day it shipped, we thought that the tablet market would become larger than the PC market and it was just a matter of the time it took for that to occur.

Anyone calling bullshit on this whole post-PC thing already sounds fairly out of touch, and Grevstad doesn’t help his case when he goes on to say he wants a VGA port on his next laptop). But it’s early yet. Keep watching; this line of thinking is going to seem even more backward in the near future.

Star Trek people talk about Siri

Ars Technica: Siri is iPhone 4S-only today; where will it be tomorrow?

The whole thing’s decent, but for now, skip right down to the bottom of the article and read that section calling out the potential problems:

Michael Okuda also noted that voice input is generally inefficient. “Imagine I’m looking at some photos, and I want to say, ‘Up, up, left, down one, photo number 3362, no, the one on the left.’—that’s much slower than just clicking or tapping,” he said. “Natural language is, I think, going to have some significant limitations.”

We currently interact with our computers and other devices in several different ways: direct and indirect touch, keyboards, mice, styli, voice, and more. I fail to see why people would suddenly interact solely by voice.

So, with Okuda’s photo example in mind, think about editing photos on a tablet, or on a big ol’ touchscreen monitor. You could tap a photo, mess around with it, do the detail work with your nice Wacom tablet, and then say, “Oh, yeah: Siri, enhance the section of this photo with John in it. That’s great. Now, remove Sharon’s redeye, and email it to Bob for review.”

These are Star Trek people, fer cryin’ out loud! Surely Okuda has more imagination than this.

Inside Apple’s Q2 Numbers

Jean-Louis Gassée takes a look at Apple’s Q2 numbers in his latest Monday Note column. His columns are almost always interesting and insightful; this one’s no exception.

To me, one of the most interesting numbers is the Asia-Pacific growth (76% growth, vs 28% overall) of the Mac platform, accompanied of course by overall 151% revenue in the region. Also interesting, but unsurprising, to note that desktop sales are still going down by single-digit percentages every quarter — 6% this quarter — while laptop sales grew by 59%.

Is any other company having as much success in Asia at the moment as Apple? Seems like a huge growth opportunity there, and touch interfaces lend themselves very well to multi-byte character sets. Very, very interesting times are ahead.

Regard Asia. In China the iPhone is +250% year-to-year (vs. +155% in the US).
The number is especially interesting because this ought to be where iOS goes to die, snuffed out by a swarm of locally produced cheap handsets running Android or its mutant cousins Tapas and Ophone. You’ll recall Stephen Elop, currently Nokia’s CEO, cautioning against aggressively priced MediaTek based Android devices in his Burning Platform memo.

Instead, Chinese customers appear to insist on The Real Thing. We now hear that the Shanghai Apple Store does more volume than the historic 5th Avenue location, with a new store, China’s largest, in the works.

As I was saying…

Adobe releases touch-based SDK for Photoshop. Great things expected, and probably rightly so.

As I was saying eons ago…

And probably before any of that, we’ll start seeing people using iPads as “controllers” for their desktop computers. I can’t imagine software developers haven’t been thinking about “tethered apps” already. Think of an application running on your computer’s big screen(s), and interacting with that with the companion software running on your iPad.

Thoughts around the iPad 2, and touch-based interfaces

I just finished reading “Apple iPad 2 is here and tablet rivals need to hit the drawing board”, Andy Ihnatko’s article on the iPad 2.

One sentence really resonated with me, because I think Apple’s very busy right now getting the world used to the next generation of computer interfaces (lots of OS X Lion’s upcoming interface is borrowed straight from iOS):

I hate editing video, but this app intuitively felt better and easier than even the desktop edition of iMovie.

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