Samsung Galaxy Note. First Look
Today, large companies, especially corporate giants like Samsung, do not surprise users with extraordinary products...
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Spillikins ¹135. San Fran + Bar + Apple employee = Lost iPhone?
The morning Berlin is refreshing especially if you are on KU’Damm in a small cafe and you are trying to finally wake up and finish this issue of the Spillikins. Having visited IFA, a consumer electronics show, I must say, I wasn’t expecting to see just how much Europe has fallen behind and how total the American domination is. There were no any significant announcements, just products targeted at keeping the buyers attention, absolutely no game changers – boring. Electronics stores proved to be more interesting than the show – you can see for yourself what is really popular and why. Electronics show follow the same old pattern – they tell us their products are revolutionary but forget to tell us why. Then you feel stupid because you only see same hardware as they have in the next showroom. I will publish a separate article on the show itself. But I am really disappointed to have spent several days there failing to find anything of interest at all.
Asus Transformer 2 you could secretly see on the show partly made it up for me for all the boredom at IFA. It’s gotten even thinner than the first one and it runs Android 4.0 (or so they say, at IFA it ran on Android 3.x with add-ins). This product made me cry happy tears. The first Transformer was way more popular than Asus expected it to be.
I think we can assess the whole Android tablets market and where it is going on the example of Transformer’s successor. The first Android tablets looked a lot like iPad and copied not just its size (except for Samsung that started with a 7” model) but also the general esthetics of iPad. Whichever tablet you hold it immediately reminds you of iPad. I’ve tested it on many people – I gave them Motorola XOOM and asked them what it reminded them of and in 99% of cases they said iPad. The release of Motorola XOOM was spurred by Motorola’s hastiness. They released a very cheap but also a very crude product. Lenovo, on the other hand, launched their IdeaPad K1 on several markets only in July. Why? Because they took their time and stuck to the regular development routine and due to many other reasons. Interesting thing though, is that the development of XOOM and IdeaPad K1 started in the same time.
What we have today is the first generation of Android tablets and not just because they all share the same OS, which is also true, but also because they share similar design, looks and thickness. Thickness gets especially important now as for the first iPad rivals thickness was not important – companies simply copied it. But as soon as iPad 2 was released and got thinner than its predecessor everyone will try to outdo Apple and get thinner and lighter than iPad. This will be an arms race and the first contender is Samsung with its Galaxy Tab 10.1 – a plastic body but it’s lighter than any competitor of the same size and it’s relatively small and thin. Asus are going to best Tab 10.1 in these terms – their new tablet is so thin and light that you can work with it with just one hand, it means that the second generation Android tablets will have similar weight and size or it will be target weight and size for manufacturers. All manufacturers compare each other’s products and take similar steps. They don’t know yet what Apple iPad 3 will be like so they compete against iPad 2. Till the end of this year it will be the size of Android tablets that will matter since all other specs are very similar. This is good for us, buyers, because it will give us a variety of very light tablets to choose from. The third party among the manufacturers are those who try to present something unique like Sony did. But Sony’s experience has been a failure so far and I expressed my sentiment in the review of their tablets.
We often forget or simply don’t know about things past. The older you get the better you understand that there is nothing new under the sun. Some things you forget and some are brought back by childhood memories. My dad and my grandfather were amateur photographers and we had some great equipment. I remember rows of lenses and some exotic cameras. One of them could make stereo images – 3D as we say today. That camera was manufactured in 1960s. I remember that in 1980s I could watch 3D movies theatres. You needed the glasses and you could see objects fly out of the screen – it was pretty cool but most importantly it was new to me.
It’s a part of my job and my personality to ask a lot of questions. And one of the questions I often ask people is when do you think 3D came to be. Young people often think that 3D was born in the last decade. They have little experience and it’s understandable. The funny thing is that older generations too often forget the old 3D but if you remind them then they start remembering things. They shift this experience to the outskirts of their memory.
When did 3D cameras first come to be? In 1950-60s there were lots of different stereo cameras – manufacturers were offering more and more complex designs. But the idea was born long before that – right after the first photography. You can find lots of 3D images of Victorian England of 1860s. here is a book of such images published recently.
We have a short memory and, alas, there is nothing we can do about it. The past keeps both successful examples and failures. Here is another picture with a stereoscope for viewing two images together manufactured circa 1860. Look at how elaborately it is styled. May be back then it also looked gaudy but we can’t tell. We don’t have a style anchor and sprucing things up is so human. I think we can consider Swarovski crystals, aerography, extra phone panels and stickers to be effects of the same phenomenon.
There are no lulls in patent battles, which was clearly shown at IFA when on the first day in the Samsung pavilion you could easily find Tablet 7.7, but next day all traces of the model were gone. It happened that Apple capitalized on the opportunity that in Germany court decisions are not required to withdraw a product from shops or exhibition pavilions, because a lawsuit and a preliminary conclusion are enough. It is so strange, because apart from a 7.7″ tablet Samsung has an 8.9″ model Apple has no complaints to.
Samsung does not comment on the situation, but at IFA I heard several times that as far as Samsung has an entire line-up of gadgets with different screen sizes and Apple even faked pictures for their lawsuit then Samsung should do the same and turn the whole case into absurdity. When the Apple comes up with a smaller tablet Samsung should claim that their models were illegally copied. It is simple and effective. Moreover, Samsung was the first to enter the segment. There is no logic in this situation as lawyers live in their own world with special values, customs and terms. Samsung favors absurd actions in return and it works.
Surprisingly, but I am going to speak about Nokia here, which is to start the sales of its Windows Phone 7 smartphones soon. It is no secret that the company banks on this particular OS. Sales of Symbian are not good enough, MeeGO was killed by Nokia itself, so it is indeed left with no choice but WP7. Nokia exists in the vacuum ignoring other market players. For example, HTC decided not to wait until the market in Russia will be filled with numerous Mango devices and launched its HTC Mozart, which turns one year old this October. This time it comes with Mango on board. The device is not too modern in terms of hardware, but if priced properly it can become rather popular. Users will not care that there are more advanced and expensive solutions on the market. Taken at the face value their characteristics will look comparable.
In October HTC Mozart will be offered for 420 Euros, which is a lot for an old-fashioned phone, but official HTC models were always expensive in Russia. What does it mean for Nokia?
I am afraid it is bad news. HTC emphasized the lower end segment and the rest will have to follow suit. It will be difficult to compete with the price of $440 for the junior model, so Nokia can forget about prices from $680 and up. The Finnish manufacturer expected to have an empty field and high demand for its products, but in real life the segment will be packed with highly competitive models from rival companies. Moreover, Nokia has no experience in WP7 market share and has no advantage over a more seasoned HTC.
According to one of leaks at the end of November we will welcome Nokia 703 representing a mid level offering. It will have a 3.7" TFT screen (480õ800), 5 MP camera to shoot 720p video, 512 MB of RAM, 8 GB of inbuilt memory and dimensions of 112õ60.8õ12.3 mm. Figures do not impress. We have to wait and see the price tag for the model, but it is impossible to expect dumping from Nokia as the company has to earn money on something.
History often repeats itself, but a case with the latest Apple iPhone model resembles farce more. In newspapers appeared articles that during the summer an Apple employee lost a sample of the new iPhone in a San Francisco bar. If one year ago a similar handset was snapped up by journalists and details appeared online this time we have no information available. Until recently everything looked like a sound PR campaign prior to the launch of iPhone 5 in September.
This story can be true though. On the San Francisco Weekly blog appeared an entry that a person who found iPhone5 was visited by Apple security employees, who pretended to be police officers and searched his car and house. It is considered to be a crime in the USA as no one can pose to be a police officer.
Read the entry in full here.
The story has lots of loose ends and I cannot judge about it. It is difficult to believe that Apple employees can lose samples in bars so often, because their security system is quite effective. The probability of such an outcome is very low. I think it is more connected with PR, but who needs it. I do not see any direct payoff for Apple. Do you think it is a true story?
P.S. Enjoy your week! I am to finish my coffee as the plane is already waiting for me. There are several more new trips this week.
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Published 09 September 2011
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