The Unsinkable brian cork™

Brian Patrick Cork is living the Authentic Life

the iPad will change the value of a dollar

April10

The iPad had a great opening week and will have a gangbuster first year as it “…changes media” as many pundita are want to crow. But it’s not about this first year. It’s also not about saving the media business, which it won’t.

As most of you know, I’ve evangelized Apple and it’s products for twenty six years. I’m an early adopter of all things Apple, and I have owned several hundred desktops and mobile devices (laptops, iPhones, etc) across my personal life, family and business.

Now we have the iPad.

I’ve found it to be a useful “peripheral computer”, a unique device that complements, rather than replaces, existing computers and smartphones. It also extends Apple’s mobile, touch-based platform (iTunes 9.1 on Mac or Windows is a pre-requisite to set up an iPad, connecting via the device’s dock-USB cable (or an optional iPad USB dock). You also must be running Leopard (Mac OS X 10.5) or later; the iPad won’t even talk with iTunes 9.1 on Mac OS X 10.4.), adding even more energy to a vibrant “ecosystem,” which is controlled from top to bottom by Apple but also benefits from the creativity and hard work of a growing army of third-party developers.

Aside from serving as a media repository (for music, movies, podcasts, photos, audiobooks and ebooks), iTunes also makes backups and controls software (firmware) updates, provides iPad-to-Mac/PC file exchange with selected apps (including Pages, Keynote and Numbers, and some third party apps such as OmniGraffle), and keeps your calendars, contacts, Safari bookmarks and mail account settings in sync with your Mac or PC.

All that said, mind you, there are two revolutionary and profound things going on here:

  1. The iPad’s price
  2. The way in which the iPad is likely to be used, which is fundamentally different than how both computers AND mobile gadgets are used

On price, I don’t mean the price for the full-fledged 3G 64G iPad version ($829), which is way too expensive for a big mobile device (especially with the $30/month AT&T contract). We mean the price for the stripped down WiFi-only 16G version: $499.

And it’s not today’s $499 price that’s important… $499 is still too expensive for what the iPad is. From my vantage point, it’s where the $499 is headed over the next couple of years.

If iPad prices follow the trend of iPod, iPhone, and other gadget prices, we should be able to buy the low-end version for $299 in two years and $199 in three years. At $199, especially, the whole game changes.

Why?

Because of the way the iPad is likely to be used.

One of the primary use cases for the iPad is consuming media and puttering around the house. It’s not walking around (mobile) or working at a desk (office). The iPad is not about productivity benefits (the sales pitch for most PCs and laptops) nor communications benefits (the sales pitch for most mobile computing gadgets). It’s about media consumption and entertainment for the home.

In three years, when the low-end WiFi-powered iPad costs $199, many households will buy 3 or 4 of them and just leave them lying around the house. These iPads won’t be “owned” by any one member of the household, the way PCs and cell phones are. They won’t live on desks, the way desktops do, and they won’t be carried everywhere, the way mobile phones are. They’ll just be there, around the house, on tables and counters, the way today’s books, magazines, games, and newspapers are, booted up, ready to use.

You’ll be able to play two-person games on them (also revolutionary for a handheld device). You’ll be able read newspapers, magazines, emails, books. You’ll be able to tap out and send short messages. You’ll be able to research and shop. You’ll be able to keep and share family calendars. You’ll be able to sit around the breakfast table with each member of the family scrolling through one, the way many families still do with newspapers. You, your children, and your guests will, most importantly, just be able to walk around your house and pick one up.

At $199, Apple will eventually be able to sell tens of millions (eventually, hundreds of millions) of them a year ($199 x 100 million = $20 billion, not counting app and advertising revenue). Eventually, every household will have them. And as long as long as the iPad becomes a platform in addition to a device, the way the iPhone has (and it’s well on its way to doing this), Apple should be able to maintain a very healthy market share.

Eventually, in other words, the iPad should blow away even today’s towering expectations. And it should be amazing for both consumers and Apple shareholders alike.

The iPad, today, is a “peripheral computer” — a highly portable, touch-based, but limited-capability tablet. It is designed to be a companion to a larger, traditional personal computer that provides printing, software updates, media storage, backup and other services that are missing from the mobile tablet.

But, conceptually, the iPad is a blank canvas. The big screen becomes whatever it needs to be. It’s a transformative experience, and it enables the iPad to be something that the iPhone and iPod Touch never could be  – a creator’s tool.

By the way… I’ve been telling you to buy Apple stock most of my adult life. You’ve been reading that on this Blog. I’m saying it again. At $240, it’s still a bargain. Apple creates products you did not know you could not live without until you have them, literally, in your hands. Few companies can say that. Few will try. Apple will likely keep doing so for another twenty six years.

Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

Brian Patrick Cork

pieces of the apple Bits Puzzle

January5

While Apple’s new Magic Mouse did not seem to be well received at first, it has surprisingly helped the company achieve a twofold increase in its share of domestic mice sales, albeit for the November window period only.

This is a first for Apple, and the boost was apparently tied in with the rollout of new iMacs in October.

If you look at the graphic above, prepared by our own Heather Penman, this sees Apple move up ahead of HP and Targus, but needless to say, are way behind market leaders Logitech and Microsoft.

However…

Do you have Apple’s Magic Mouse and Bluetooth Keyboard together on your desk? Have you noticed any battery life problems with the keyboard? If you are, you’re probably not the first, as many folks out there with similar setups have been complaining of similar issues. Some folks are claiming that the Magic Mouse is preventing the keyboard from going into sleep mode, while others claim that it’s a Bluetooth driver issue.

What we do know is that users are experiencing problems, and hopefully Apple gets this sorted out fairly quick, because if the user comments are anything to go by, the keyboards are going through batteries really quick.

Meanwhile…

Could our search for Apple’s Wi-Fi software engineer be a hint that the iPhone 4G might sport 802.11n wireless?

The job posting indicates that the company is looking for a worker who can implement the 802.11a and 802.11n standards, along with the existing 802.11b/g technology.

With that in mind, do you think that the iPhone 4G and upcoming Apple tablet will be sporting 802.11n Wi-Fi, or will we have to continue waiting in order to get 802.11n Wi-Fi in the iPhone?

Speaking of the tablet (it won’t be called that shortly), the image here is not too different from the unit now in production.

And, by the way… This technology will put the Amazon Kindle, and related products, out of sight, while also changing the world in terms how you access, read and use information. You can read about my Kindle here: evil wireless empires (and their minions): a prudent and optimistic comparative analysis.

It’s true.

Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

Brian Patrick Cork

evil wireless empires (and their minions): a prudent and optimistic comparative Analysis

December28

So…

My research and inspiration for this particular post begins, significantly, with a background story and Amazon (the company, not an, otherwise, defined mythological group) contacting us about approving my Blog for it’s revolutionary Kindle. However, that’s another story in-of-itself. It only, today, sets the stage for the next several paragraphs (and, a bold excuse for yet another dissertation over truth and light)…

Thusly, it was inevitable, that, given my voracious appetite for reading certain types of material (namely Biographies [The Road to Monticello: The Life and Mind of Thomas Jefferson by Kevin J. Hayes and The End of Empire: Attila the Hun and the Fall of Rome by Christopher Kelly are two long-standing favorites] and tombs focused on Comparative Research /1) that Joanne would gift me with a Amazon Kindle.

Once this potentially ingenious device was in my hands, however, there could be no doubt there would follow hours of interrelated research around how it works, why it works and the people (Rowdy, for example, holds technology in even-tempered disdain) that might find them most useful.

I won’t go into any real detail, nor attempt a technology review of this “eBook”. There are other people better suited for such efforts. You can be almost anywhere, think of a book, and get it in one minute. Similarly, your content automatically comes to you. Newspaper subscriptions are delivered wirelessly each morning. Most magazines arrive before they hit newsstands. Haven’t read the book for tomorrow night’s book club? Get it in a minute. Finished your book in the airport? Download the sequel while you board the plane. Whether you’re in the mood for something serious or hilarious, lighthearted or studious, Kindle delivers your spontaneous reading choices on demand.

However, and almost immediately, my research took an unexpected turn – if not twist… My mind wandered to the wireless element of the eBooks.  For example: who provides the wireless service? How does it work? And, who pays for it?

Because the Kindle is a wireless device, there is no PC (or, Mac) and no syncing needed. Using the same 3G network as advanced cell phones, Amazon delivers your content using their own wireless delivery system called Whispernet (apparently an “optimized” version) service and started with Sprint national high-speed (EVDO) data network and then recently changed to AT&T. However, unlike WiFi, you’ll never need to locate a hotspot. And, there are no confusing service plans, yearly contracts, or monthly wireless bills. Says Amazon: “We take care of the hassles so you can just read.”

The process begins when you order your Kindle on-line from Amazon. The price is diabolically reasonable and clever at $259.00. You then have access to a growing number of books (NOTE: this does not currently include Harry Potter), and periodicals such as The Wall Street Journal. And, you don’t pay for the wireless service; Amazon apparently does. I will, eventually, sort out what Amazon’s true cost for the KIndles is (just as I’ve done with Apple products). But, meanwhile, Amazon clearly makes money when Kindle users download and purchase reading material (you should know that I’ve only just downloaded A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson for only $9.95).

And, this is precisely where my radar popped-up, and I decided to look a gift horse in the mouth. I tracked down two wireless technology analysts (one a school mate). This was no mean feat given the Holidays. My question was simple: “what might the financial arrangement be between Amazon and a service provider – Sprint now AT&T?”

I learned that Amazon is still working with Sprint on the bigger Kindle DX, which only works here in the United States, because that’s how limited Sprint actually is. However, Amazon made the change, and went with AT&T, for the Kindle 2, so you could use a Kindle almost anywhere in the world. As I dug deeper I uncovered some additional interesting facts. These include, but are not limited to Amazon and Sprint found themselves in a tussell (there are many spelling variations for this word). Sprint was reluctant to help off-set the hardware costs of the Kindle, and wanted more of the revenue. So, Amazon hedged their bet with AT&T – and , also get broader coverage (even though that service often sucks – you can read more about that here: candid colored Apple) for Kindle users.

In any event, apparently Amazon pays AT&T and Sprint about $5.00 for every Kindle buyer. This is likely easy money for both service providers.

Side note (relative to cellular handsets):

Craig Moffett, the telecom analyst for Sanford C. Bernstein, says that AT&T and Verizon are in something of a a bind because they want to keep individual subscribers, yet they don’t want to undercut the pricing to business accounts (read more about this later and below, in the event you become disoriented).

“The worst of all possible outcomes would be for the big guys to cut their prices to match Boost,” he said, thinking about the situation from the perspective of investors. “But it’s not a picnic if they leave prices alone and lose subscribers to Boost either.”

Mr. Moffett says the shift in the market to flat-rate, all-inclusive price plans will ultimately increase competition because such plans make it easier for consumers to shop around.

“For years, the wireless industry had a halo of price protection because users had no idea what price they really were paying,” he said, noting that it was hard for people to figure out which calls were included in various buckets of free airtime, etc. “Once you cross the Rubicon of flat-rate pricing, there is no going back.”

Important note: The Sprint Right Plan Promise allows you the flexibility to change your rate plan at any time without fees or renewing your service agreement.

And, as I circle-back, we begin our decent towards the very nexus of my point…

Comcast charges us about $100.00 a month for internet service. We get a special deal. But, this whole Wifi element needs some deeper evaluation.

With Sprint’s Simply Everything plan you pay $99.00 (more after taxes and related crap) each month for talk, data and messaging).

With AT&T’s Nation Unlimited scam plan you pay $99.00, but also have to pay for separate data and messaging plans if you use a Blackberry or iPhone (for example).

So… Why does Amazon only pay AT&T and Sprint $5.00 per Kindle user, while individual users pay roughly twenty times as much for WiFi connectivity? Obviously, this brings Comcast into the fray as well. Do corporations have access to more palatable price plans? If so, what are they?

I really like, and am thoroughly enjoying my Kindle. More so because it’s use has opened a door filled with many questions with answers that could topple veritable empires. And so, these questions are going to burn brightly in my mind and heart for some time. We need to sort ths out because I think it, ultimately, means we are having to pay way too much for cellular wireless service – especially in light of how awful that service is becoming (against the elegant simplicity demonstrated by the Kindle). It also raises questions, and suggests possible road-maps around fairness, and uniting over common objectives, eh.

Understated ubiquitous note: That research (and it’s dire ramifications for the wireless industry) is in motion, and you know it is! All evil must fear the careful scrutiny of a Prudent and Optimistic Gentleman.

Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

Brian Patrick Cork

______________________

Unexpected bonus reading:

1/ Following reflection on similarities and differences across religious boundaries has got two cues: “recognition” and “interreligious theology”.

In the English idiom, recognition can either mean rediscovery of things familiar or acknowledgment of something that may be distinctively unfamiliar but is still worthy of appreciation. In the encounter with other faiths, I may recognize essential features of faith that are equally dear to me. But just as often, I face the challenge of coming to terms with conceptions and practices that are foreign and do not give any immediate sense to me. Can I still acknowledge and appreciate such conceptions and practices, as expressions of a God-given diversity? Sometimes I can, in other cases maybe not.

In what follows, I will reflect upon the double meaning of recognition (as rediscovery and appreciation) in interreligious theology. I use the term “interreligious theology” as a reference to dialogical reflection on ultimate questions, carried out in the space between different religious universes. With “the space between”, I allude to Martin Buber’s conception of a sacred realm which opens when people of different faiths speak profoundly to one another, from heart to heart. In the suggestive words of Buber himself:

In the most powerful moments of dialogic, where in truth “deep calls unto deep”, it becomes unmistakably clear that it is not the wand of the individual or of the social, but of a third which draws the circle round the happening. On the far side of the subjective, on this side of the objective, on the narrow ridge, where I and Thou meet, there is the realm of “between”.

What’s All This About?

"What am I looking at?", you might wonder.

Lots of stuff.

Meanwhile, here, I discuss events, people and things in our world - and, my (hardly simplistic, albeit inarticulate) views around them.

You'll also learn things about, well, things, like people you need to know about, and information about companies you can't find anywhere else.

So, while I harangue the public in my not so gentle way, you will discover that I am fascinated by all things arcane, curious about those whom appear religious, love music, dabble in politics, loathe the media, value education, still think I am an athlete, and might offer a recipe.

All the while, striving mightily, and daily, to remain a prudent and optimistic gentleman - and, authentic.

brian cork by John Campbell





photos by John Campbell

 

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