iPhone OS 3.2 supports video calls, downloads

iPad with keyboard attachment.It was a big surprise to see the iPad launch without a camera, front-facing or otherwise. The device seems perfect for video calls and could easily be used as a point and shoot in a pinch. But, as Engadget reports, iPhone OS 3.2 includes support for video calling, among other new features.

Some of those other features include file downloading with local browser storage and SMS support. Basically, the iPad launch was just the tip of the iceberg. As with the iPhone, this first release is likely just going to get the ball rolling, driving interest and presales among the truly fanatic. From there, it’s a matter of referral. In the first six months the iPhone was out every owner I spoke with was in love with the device, or at least were willing to say that were.

This is how Jobs works – he breeds a sort of elite fanclub around his latest device and builds on that kind of elitism to drive insane sales. Whatever the iPad is now, it’s going to be a whole lot different in the next couple years.

Amazon pulls Macmillan ebooks

iBook Store.At some point yesterday Amazon pulled any ebooks from publisher Macmillan due to a pricing dispute, according to the New York Times. Apparently Macmillan wanted to raise prices from $9.99 to $15 and Amazon didn’t approve.

You might remember the same thing happening as iTunes was starting to get its legs. Apple used its massive marketshare to strong arm media companies to the $.99 price point, which most everyone felt was too low. Obviously that model has worked out in Apple’s favor, if not in the favor of most record labels, a few of which were able to strike more flexible deals.

There is one major difference – Macmillan has somewhere to go. Apple is just about to open the iBook Store for its new iPad, which, in all likelihood, is going to outsell the Kindle by quite a bit. Most estimates put the Kindle’s installed base around 3 million. The iPad could easily have that by the end of this year.

I would be pretty surprised, though, if Jobs was willing to give Amazon the price advantage in the ebook war.

Source: http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/01/29/amazon-pulls-macmillan-books-over-e-book-price-disagreement/

Apple removes Flash from iPad promo materials

iPad sans Flash.Among the iPad’s shortcomings, the lack of Flash support is king. It’s such a pervasive web tech it seems foolish not to include support in what is meant to be the world’s “best browsing experience.” If you were paying close enough attention, though, you might have noticed Flash running on the iPad in several promo videos. For websites shown in the original demo video, the Flash portions looked just as they would on any other device.

Apple made changes to the promos after speculation lead to all kinds of rumors about upcoming Flash support for the tablet. Now the video shows that nasty blue lego you get when you’re browsing those totally normal, harmless, and tasteful video sites you frequent on your iPhone.

It’s a frustrating change, mostly because it seems Apple is holding fast on the “no flash” policy. Looks like we’ll be waiting for HTML5 to get more widespread support. That or there’s always hell freezing over.

Source: Mac Rumors

Amazon says millions have Kindles

Kindle vs. the iPad.Kindle sales are notoriously hard to track because the company won’t talk specifics. Amazon is also becoming famous for talking about the success of the Kindle in relative terms, making it basically impossible to nail down just how well the ebook reader and the Kindle store are performing.

The most recent statement from Bezos regarding sales came shortly after the iPad announcement. He says, “millions of people now own Kindles.” That means basically nothing. The device has been around for more than two years, and as the mother-of-all ereaders for most of that time, you’d hope it has a couple million in circulation.

Here’s Bezos on the performance of the Kindle store: “When we have both editions, we sell 6 Kindle books for every 10 physical books…This is year-to-date and includes only paid books—free Kindle books would make the number even higher. It’s been an exciting 27 months.” Again, essentially meaningless. Of course the number of ebooks to real books will be higher in the case that ebooks exist for a given text, but is that really a good thing for the industry? Ebooks are much cheaper than hardbacks and even most paperbacks at release. It seems to follow that there could be people without a Kindle that still download the goods to something like an iPhone. It’s good for Amazon but pretty terrible for publishers, who are seeing profits slide in the wake of digital content.

Add to all of this the fact that the Kindle is a purpose-built device, a dying breed gadgets that seem to have decreasing lifespans as the years wear on. The iPad with its epub format and color screen is going to make the Kindle look like yesterday’s brown bag lunch that forces you to load it down with liverwurst sandwiches (may have taken that one a bit far). No thank you.

Dell Mini 5 is too expensive, too late

Dell Mini 5 slate.Dell first showed us the Mini 5 at CES this year, but it was a quiet affair. The five-inch tablet has all the trappings of a smartphone in a much bigger package and at a much higher price tag. With the iPad announcement, the Dell’s tablet looks out of place, and it has to get a whole lot cheaper before anyone will take it seriously.

In case you didn’t hear about it (a lot of people didn’t), the Mini 5 is a thousand dollar slate running Android 1.6. As far as I can tell it’s about an iPhone and a half in terms of size. The device has a 5 megapixel camera, Bluetooth and 3G support, all running on a 1GHz Snapdragon. In terms of specs, it’s pretty comparable to the iPad, but look at that price tag. $1,000? For that? Really the only improvement it makes over the iPad is that camera, which is definitely not worth $500. You could argue that Android is the key here, but 1.6? What is this, 2009?