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?

Adobe pledges Flash support for the iPad

iPad full frontal.One of the biggest complaints about the iPad, and even the iPhone, is the lack of Flash support. It’s something Apple’s been reluctant to add because of the potential for a security breach on either device. In order to be considered truly excellent browsing devices, though, I think Apple needs to find a way to make Flash work for both devices.

For now, though, Adobe is willing to take up the cause. It announced a product for developers at the end of last year that would easily convert Flash apps into something the iPhone can use. The company now says it will offer the same support for the iPad.

Here’s an excerpt from the official platform blog:

“We announced the Packager for iPhone at MAX 2009 which will allow Flash developers to create native iPhone applications and will be available in the upcoming version of Flash Pro CS5. This technology enables developers to create applications for the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad (though applications will not initially take direct advantage of iPad’s new screen resolution). It is our intent to make it possible for Flash developers to build applications that can take advantage of the increased screen size and resolution of the iPad.”

It’s a decent workaround, but definitely not a fix. By this method you’ll have access to the cool Flash apps available on platforms like Android, but it’s not like you’ll be watching Hulu on your iPad (unless they release a special app). Stay tuned on this one – it’s going to be a hot topic over the course of the year.

What the iPad can and can’t do

iPad shotsIf you believe what Apple tells you, the iPad is going to change the way you do just about everything. It’s the best web browser, the best movie viewer, the best way to read a book, and so on and so on. Realistically, though, it will probably change very little, at least for now.

The iPad is really just a big iPhone, albeit a very pretty, big iPhone, but not much more. It’s still lacking multitasking, which is a big deal if you’re going to use it as a productive device. Want to listen to Pandora while you’re typing out some emails? Sorry. Switch back and forth between email and a document? You’ll have to exit one to get to the other. The iPad also doesn’t have Flash support, which makes that “best browsing experience” feel like something from the dark ages. Sure you can watch your videos via apps, but that means more switching between applications.

It’s a problem of maturity for Apple’s new platform. The closed system has worked well enough for the iPhone, but we’re all sick of the restrictions on the device and the limitations of the App Store. We want Google Voice. Real Google Voice, not that web app trash. I want to use my iPad for Flash videos and watching DivX. For Ninjavideo. All of those things are limited by a platform that was designed for a mobile phone, not a web device.

For all the things the iPad can’t do, though, it can do one thing very well: evolve. The hardware is compelling enough and cheap enough to get into a lot of hands. As more people are ready to use the device, I’m willing to bet Apple will consider opening things up. If not, we’ve always got George Hotz.

The iPad is here!

Yerba Buena Apple decorations.The long wait is finally over. Today is officially tablet day, as Apple announced just moments ago. It’s an exciting day for all sorts of reasons, not the least of which is the way this device could shape the future of the digital word. Obviously that’s going to be a long process, but if we know anything about Apple, it won’t seem so long, and we’ll soon be wondering how we did without (don’t act like you don’t love your iPod).

Jobs kicked things off today like this: “We want to kick off 2010 by introducing a truly magical product today.” Tease of the century. He launched into a quick (thankfully) overview of the company, but it wasn’t long before we got to the meat. The iPad. That’s the official name for the long-rumored tablet device that Jobs calls “the best browsing experience you’ve ever had.”

Basically, it’s a big iPhone, with a really nice interface. The keyboard looks big enough to be typed on laptop style (Jobs demoed it this way) and it has that same great glass look that Apple is known for. For now, it runs iPhone apps, as in the apps can be downloaded as is and run either at iPhone resolution or doubled up for the iPad. There’s an SDK available for developers to get started.
The iPad.
As for hardware, there are a whole slew of options available. You can get everything from 16GB to 64GB flash storage, Wi-Fi and unlocked 3G support (yes, unlocked – thank you god), in whatever combination your heart desires. It runs on a 1GHz Apple A4 chip, so they aren’t dishing out any cash to Qualcomm for that dual-core Snapdragon. It is definitely fast enough to do some light photo/video editing on the fly, just like we would see from the iPhone. Really, though, I think I’d get the most use for watching HD video.

Of course the number we all care about is price. When Jobs said the base model would be $499 I was shocked. More shocked than by anything else about the presentation. That’s like buying an iPod. That’s…insane. You can get as high as $829 if you’ve got the highest storage level and 3G support, but for what you get that’s an amazing price in my mind.

This thing will be the topic of conversation on every blog today, including this one. More posts on iBooks and what this means for the Kindle. Check back soon.

Verizon will cut 13,000 land-line jobs

Verizon building.Verizon said it would cut 13,000 jobs from its landline unit in a conference call today. The company missed sales estimates by less than one percent, which prompted it to axe approximately 11 percent of the land-line division’s workforce.

The company cuts are really to hedge losses in other divisions. Though the landline division was up almost 10% in sales over last year, enterprise and FiOS TV and Internet sales were down in the face of the poor economy. Most analysts predict that things will improve little in 2010. Verizon’s CFO is optimistic about the Apple tablet, though. “It will attract more and more data customers, more and more usage over the network,” he said. “Devices like that will be, long term, very positive for the wireless industry.”

Guess we’ll know more about whether Verizon is a part of Apple’s plan tomorrow.

Source: Bloomberg

More quotes on the tablet with Apple’s latest earnings

Cult of mac Apple tablet.We’re just a day away from getting a look at Apple’s tablet and the brass is as excited as anyone. More quotes from Jobs and his cronies have surfaced, which serve only to build the hype around still rumored device.

The quotes come from the press release regarding Apple’s Q1 earnings, a whopping $3.38b in profits. In the press release, Jobs was quoted for the following: “The new products we are planning to release this year are very strong, starting this week with a major new product that we’re really excited about.” It’s an odd thing to say about a quarter’s earnings in which the rumored device played no role. Obviously this thing is going to be big.

Apple COO Tim Cook was asked directly about the product unveiling during the earnings conference call, to which he said, “I wouldn’t want to take away your joy of surprise on Wednesday when you see our latest creation.”

The thing to take away from all of this is that Apple is excited, seriously excited from the top down, so much so that they can’t even keep from talking about it when it hasn’t been released.