Friday, April 30, 2010

Tablet computers, video, HTML5, and the great Flash debate

Even if you are not always plugged into tech blogs or the latest social media networks, I have a short reading list for you for this weekend. There’s just a fascinating combination of interesting stories all happening in the same 48h period:

  1. HP drops the Slate project (=tablet PC running Windows 7 that was announced at CES last year by Steve Ballmer)
  2. Microsoft drops the Courier tablet project (=innovative folding screen tablet computer with both hand and pen input)
  3. HP buys Palm and is rumored to be working on a tablet computer running Palm’s WebOS
  4. Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs attacks Flash in an open letter on the Apple website and clearly speaks out in support of HTML5 and the H.264 video standard
  5. Adobe’s CEO Shantanu Narayen (who?) responds to the Steve Jobs letter in a TV interview with the Wall Street Journal (and offers very weak responses only – mostly cookie cutter style)
  6. Microsoft responds to the Apple-Adobe debate on the Internet Explorer Blog and also expresses support for HTML5 and H.264, but – in an attempt to not take sides – also states that “Flash remains an important part of delivering a good consumer experience on today’s web”.
  7. Apple starts shipping the 3G version of the iPad in the US today

To see all these things unfold in such a short period of time is quite fascinating, and thus far Apple and the iPad are the clear winner here…

Talking of which: according to FedEx my two WiFi+3G iPads are already on the delivery truck today and should arrive at my house before 3pm.

Also, if you are interested in following more of these tech stories unfold in real-time, check out

1 comment:

Michel Boto said...

So, to sum up the current state of things:

Slate is dead.

Courier is dead.

JooJoo was a total flop mired in lawsuits.

WePad is an unfortunately-named piece of demoware with an as-yet-undetermined operating system and a curiously ironic emphasis on how "open" their system is while trying to peddle yet another publishing format that they really believe all the world's press are going to convert their published goods to because some company they've never heard of says it's a great format...and also just happens to be the creator of it.

LifeBook is just an expensive netbook with a multitouch screen and a stylus pen. And by expensive I mean "Jesus, Christ. I could go on vacation for that kind of money!" expensive.

Notion Ink's Adam doesn't look that bad, but who knows when they'll fix all of the bugs that made the demos look so bad (e.g. the touch-UI looked really nonresponsive, screen transitions were sluggish and left tons of artifacts, half of the bragged-about features were not ready to show off, etc.). Not to mention the project is in hiatus because their much-advertised support for Flash kills the battery and degrades performance so much that it comes off less like a marketable feature and more as evidence that Flash is a bloated piece of crap that doesn't belong on mobile devices. Who was saying that again? I forgot already.

Meanwhile Apple is catching flak - not because the iPad sucks, but because they aren't making enough of them for the US and Europe to get their hands on. So much so that the normally neutral Swiss are even losing their ire and accusing Steve Jobs of manipulating the supply.

And in the end we have all those people who were so certain and smug that the iPad would fail. What happened to those guys? They're now contemplatively stroking their OpenMokos and Zunes and wondering how they can be in love so much with technology yet doomed to be wrong about every prediction they make. To make matters worse, they can't even fall back on their trusty argument that Apple products are overpriced, because the iPad is cheaper (in the case of the LifeBook by $1000USD or so) or the same price as all of those products except the Adam, which is supposedly going to be a little more than $300 -- if it's ever released at all. And at that low a price and taking into consideration what the equivalent parts and labor for the iPad cost, Notion Ink is either: a) operating at a huge loss and gambling they can make enough momentum to turn it into profit sometime in the next years; or b) that thing is made from cat turds and aluminium foil and assembled in a factory so horrible that even sweatshop owners go, "Holy hell, that should be illegal!"