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No For Kno, Finally. It Was DOA Anyway.

Boomtown reports Kno, makers of the flip-open dual tablet designed for the education market is planning to sell off the hardware business, and focus on software only. Says Kara Swisher:

That’s because marketing a new and complex product like the Kno takes a lot of effort and cash, especially since it is an increasingly competitive market for mobile and portable computing products that includes Apple, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, Google, Amazon, Dell and many others.

Oh, really?  I think not.  It’s not about marketing.. it’s about recognizing the product was Dead On Arrival… a ridiculously impossible design.  And no, I’m not just discovering it now, I declared in DOA when it was announced:

The Kno is Not a Tablet. It’s a Workout Device

At 5 and a half pounds it’s not exactly a lightweight tablet you would want to hold for hours…

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Courier & Foldable Tablets are Neither Innovative Nor “Different”

courier This is a sad “I’ve told you” moment, as I predicted the death of dual-screen tablets, be it the one by MSI or Microsoft’s Courier, which has just been canceled.  Says Frank Shaw, Microsoft’s VP of corporate communications:

At any given time, across any of our business groups, there are new ideas being investigated, tested, and incubated. It’s in Microsoft’s DNA to continually develop and incubate new technologies to foster productivity and creativity. The “Courier” project is an example of this type of effort and its technologies will be evaluated for use in future Microsoft offerings, but we have no plans to build such a device at this time.

Tech blogs are mourning the innovative, “different” device:

Courier was one of the most innovative concepts out of Redmond in quite some time.

I think dual-screen, foldable tablets are neither innovative nor different.  Well, different from other, truly innovative devices, like the iPad, but not different from good old books.  And therein lies the rub.  Hardware manufacturers rushing to the opportunity to follow Apple thought these tablets are mostly reading devices, so they imitated what we’re all used to: books.

Having two small pages side-by-side is not necessarily the ideal format for reading, it’s just the one we got stuck with for centuries when bound paper was the only way we could record / consume textual information. When we liberate information from paper, there’s no point in replicating the poor paper (book) experience. True innovation means embracing the paradigm-shift, rethinking the basics and maximizing readability, comfort, ability to interact as enabled by the new technology.

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Ugly

OK, OK, I get it… it’s the Future of Reading. It will change the world. Yet it’s undeniably ugly.smile_sad

“This isn’t a device, it’s a service.” True, this is a much more compelling package than the Sony Reader was, but at least that other, “dumber” device had style.

I can’t help but compare to the Seiko-Epson electronic paper display (see below) announced days ago: sheer elegance. Yes, I know, it’s not a complete product, just a display… but somehow I can’t see them turn this display into something that looks like a kitchen appliance. smile_tongue

Dan Farber says:

It’s enough to make Gutenberg stir in his grave and to make Steve Jobs envious

Well, certainly not for the design…

Aesthetics aside, Anne Zelenka makes a really good point:

Wouldn’t it have been cool if Amazon built an e-book reader so inexpensive they could almost give it away for free, then make money by selling e-books for people to read on it (or selling upscale versions of the reader later)? Instead, they stuffed it so full of technological wizardry that it costs $399.

Most people have no idea if they’d really like to use an e-book reader or not. It may be something you just have to experience to grasp. But who’s going to experiment with electronic book reading when the price of entry is so high?

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos says:

“This is the most important thing we’ve ever done..It’s so ambitious to take something as highly evolved as the book and improve on it. And maybe even change the way people read.”

Something tells me it will take a price-cut to pursue that ambition…

Update (11/4): Mea Culpa for missing the point. It’s ugly with a purpose :-)