Friday, December 17, 2010

Sound bites from Techland and my predictions

Being an avid reader of tech news, I can’t help but getting a little bit sick recently of reading the same old comments from various bloggers/journalists/columnists on few topics over and over again. The items that I’m talking about are the iPad 2 prediction, Microsoft’s mobile and tablet strategy, and Chrome vs. Android situation in Google. Well, for people who are not familiar with those hot tech topics, I would like to put my two cents on them once for all. Also, it is almost the end of the year and many people are gonna make New Year predictions. The following would kinda be what I think are gonna happen in the tech world next year or so.

Everybody agrees that Apple is working on iPad2. Announce/release dates are predicted to be in 1Q more or less(Feb/Apr 2011), that’s logical given Apple’s past records of product release. Actually, since Apple products prediction has become a favorite pastime of tech media. Those predictions themselves have become ‘predictable’ as well. Apple usually conducts few keynotes throughout the year. 1Q or 2Q for iPhone which would be release in mid-year, Sep event for iPod, and Nov event for Mac, what’s new last year was the addition of iPad. So, the current topic in media is mostly about what iPad2 will be like. Once Apple raises the curtain for iPad2, media is gonna jump on iPhone 5 subsequently. Just so predictable…

Anyway, getting back to the product itself, these are what I read from the media so far about the predicted features for iPad2 and I put my comment on them in blanket:

1 - Retina display (yes, cuz iPhone4 has it and iPad is sold for its nice display for video, pictures, and text, I doubt Steve Jobs will stray away from his art instinct)
2 - Rear and front cameras (yes for front, 50% for rear cuz it is really kinda weird to hold the big thing to take pictures, Apple is famous for usability, I doubt they would put the rear camera on it just because they can do it. I remember Steve Jobs did commented on Apple’s decision on its product design with something like…it is easy to add something but it is actually more important to decide what ‘not’ to add…, I think rear camera would fit that category)
3 - Facetime ready (yes, absolutely, especially for corporate usage. And the most important thing is that, you DON’T need a rear camera to conduct virtual meeting. For example, if I gonna show a product to the client, I can show that by using the front camera)
4 - iPad-mini of 7 inches in diagonal (no, though Steve Jobs have flipped flop on his words before, i.e. no video on iPod, I do think that he will hold his ground on smaller screen iPad for at least 2 more years before making smaller one if the market is really asking for that)
5 - Ceramic/flat back (yes for flat back, just wanna have a change of look)
6 - Doubling of capacity (same capacity, cuz it would lower the margin if they want to keep the price unchanged)
7 - Longer battery life (yes, for 20% more or less, given past records)
8 - USB or mini-USB (no, but it may officially let 3rd party to make gear that come with USB. In fact, a Chinese firm already has that in the market for US$30 a piece that come with micro-SD slot as well)
9 - SD card slot (no, see above)
10 - Gyroscope (yes, for game apps development)
11 - Same prices (yes, see past records)

Microsoft’s mobile strategy
Almost everybody in the press hates Steve Ballmer who likes to make cocky and sometimes empty statements in interviews. It was told that he actually was a capable CEO to manage the company given its size, history and complexity. There were suggestions to break up Microsoft in order to make it better. Anyway, what are good about Microsoft right now are Xbox, Kinnect, Bing, backend servers business, Window 7, and Office for now, but Window 7 mobile and Zune are not doing well, its tablet strategy is murky particularly when they say that Window 7 rather than Window 7 mobile be the OS for the tablet. So, the general impression to the media is that teams in MS are not talking or working with each other. Well, I think that’s quite true if you look at all the ‘what if’ comment in the press about their products can/should do. Anyway, I do agree with few points from the media about what MS should do.

1 - Consolidate teams of XBOX, Zune, Kinect, with those working on Window mobile 7 OS. So, those products can all sync to generate synergy.
2 - Use Window Mobile 7 as prime OS for tablet, not Window 7 which is not fit for multi-touch, instant booting, etc. Window 7 is good but too bulky for tablet.
3 - Put lots of $$$ on Cloud computing, I think this is gonna be the magic bullet to keep MS afloat in future
4 - Enhance Window Mobile 7 ‘quickly’ to catch up with all features that Android and iOS4 are offering to customer for grant, i.e. copy & paste, multi-tasks, etc. I think Window Mobile 7 can only beat RIM at best, it is not gonna beat Apple or Google in the mobile field for sure.

People keep saying MS still has lots of cash to buy companies. But, so do Google and Apple. Also, they are more innovative as harbinger in incorporate functionalities in their OS than the slow moving, always-playing-catch-up MS. I think that if MS can’t bit RIM in mobile field in 2 years. MS will be game over in this field. Also, for tablet, they have a 2 years window as well. If they can match 80% of Android by then, game over as well.

Chrome OS vs. Android
Chrome OS for netbook is temporary. I would say that Chrome OS and Android will merge within next 2 years. It is just too confusing for customer and doesn’t make sense for Google to have 2 OS which can overlap in functions. I think Google is in a great position and keeps coming up with good products. They are neck to neck with Apple and I won’t be surprise they can beat Apple in next 5 years cuz Steve Jobs is… mortal and his successor is NOT another Steve Jobs!

Last but not least, iPhone5 should logically be announced soon and be released in mid year 2011 simply based on previous 2 years’ records. However, there are additional complications that cloud this prediction. First of all, what happens to white iPhone4 which still has not seen the release date (rumor to be 1Q 11)? Would Apple release iPhone5 few months after iPhone4? Would Apple simply dropped the release of white iPhone4 altogether? What about Verison iPhone? Would that be an iPhone4 or iPhone5 on CDMA? Honestly, I’ve no clue on any of these. What I would predict is that iPhone5 will have different design from iPhone4 for sure, given the antennagate. Also, what features would iPhone5 have? I think, besides the usual: greater capacity, longer battery life, higher megapixel of the cameras and same price, Near Field Communication (NFC) should be added, not just because Android has it, it simply makes senses to Apple in the direction of electronic commerce. Other than that, I don’t know what would be added.

Well, I guess I will look back of this blog a year later to see what will come true.


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