Posts Tagged ‘PC’
Everyone knows the biggest battles in technology are today being fought by a small number of large organizations. We intuitively know who these great powers are: Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and maybe Microsoft. But we’re not so clear on what it is that makes those particular companies the key protagonists rather than other equally large digital companies — Samsung, Sony, Nokia and Yahoo! among them — who appear to be sidelined.
Calling this a battle, or “The Great Tech War of 2012″, misses the point. It’s far too negative a sentiment when these companies’ main focus is on long term strategy. They are aiming to construct a future in which their products and profits will prosper.
These great digital powers are now building Digital Civilizations, rather than a series of mere products, individual platforms or even ecosystems (around a platform). They are pursuing strategies that reach far beyond the confines of existing markets. They are causing widespread market collisions as they push industries to overlap, merge or cease to exist. They are outflanking and disrupting companies that follow less ambitious corporate strategies.
These new Digital Civilizations use identity to tie numerous disparate products, many devices, multiple platforms and product portfolios together into their long term strategy. Each Civilization has hundreds of millions of active users — often with credit cards attached — far more than even the largest telecom operators or media companies. They straddle industries rather than operating within legacy market sectors. They have an organizing ideology underlying their strategy that motivates and attracts talented employees, excites partners, and is the foundation for the marketing that entices users to become their customers.
What defines these Digital Civilizations? What makes them new and different? Many organizations, companies, industry consortiums, and companies have parts of this strategy in place within their current products. But the new Digital Civilizations have all of the following characteristics: Read the rest of this entry »
I speculated ahead of Amazon’s launch that the Kindle tablet should be called the Kindle 451, from the Bradbury book where the temperature of 451F is that which causes book paper to spontaneously ignite. I was wrong. Kindle Fire is the better name as the Fire will burn so varied a selection of physical media that no single named temperature could describe its impact.
This is the first true media tablet, as I predicted it would be. With the Kindle Fire, Amazon is making a play for movies, TV, music, magazines, apps, games as well as books.
The Kindle Fire is the first tablet that has its whole design optimized for content consumption. There’s no extraneous features. No camera. No aspirations to replace a notebook PC.
While Apple, Google and Microsoft aim to build tablets and smartphones that drive a post-PC world, Amazon is taking ownership of digital media. And, as digital media will become all media, by implication Amazon is now becoming the leading player in media as a whole. It’s impossible to assess the prospects for the Kindle devices without also assessing the potential for the total digital media market.
Yet despite the Kindle Fire’s impressive hardware the price is extremely aggressive at just $199, a fraction of the price of Apple’s iPad. Until the component breakdowns have been completed we can’t be sure… and I’m writing this minutes after the end of the launch event… But I strongly suspect that Amazon has only achieved that price due to its expectation of strong sales for Amazon’s content services, ie an effective content subsidy again as I predicted would happen.
This era is so much more than just a ‘Post PC’ age. Numerous other devices are being sidelined too as both their reasons to exist and their business models are disrupted.
Yes, we have switched from a unipolar PC world to a multipolar device era where smartphones, eReaders, tablets, connected TVs and many other smart connected devices are finally becoming viable. In this new digital era the PC remains extremely important. In every country, household PC penetration is rising, even in countries such as the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden where PC penetration is already 92%, 87% and 87% respectively. [Source: Eurobarometer 335, E-Communications Household Survey, European Union].
Yet despite this continued success, the PC is still being sidelined.
The most significant innovations are now happening outside of the PC market. Even at Microsoft, the major user experience innovations that will be incorporated into the upcoming PC OS, Windows 8, were pioneered on Microsoft’s smartphone OS, Windows Phone 7, or on the xBox360 games console.
For those companies that lost out in the PC era, like Apple, it’s useful to market this era as a ‘Post PC’ one as that re-defines the market battlefield in a way that favours the strengths of their products: around highly mobile iOS-powered iPhones and iPads, rather than Windows PCs. Steve Jobs successfully changed the battlefield in just this way with his speeches about the iPad in early 2010. Yet Apple continues to innovate with its traditional computer products with imminent launch of iCloud and Mac OS X Lion.
So, when Apple talks about ‘Post PC’ what Apple really means is that this will be a ‘Post Windows’ future.
But whether we call this Post Windows’ or ‘Post PC’ both terms are too narrow a view of the innovative disruption that is transforming the Internet, consumer electronics, media, advertising, navigation, retailing, and almost every aspect of life.
It’s not just the PC that’s being sidelined. Numerous devices are becoming obsolescent as they too are disrupted, so this new era is also:
- Post Phone — Mobile phones are now routinely smart and consumers often choose to buy a phone that is not the best phone but instead choose a mobile handset with the best apps, Facebook access and Internet browsing delivered with a great user experience. If call quality, signal reception, and battery life were the key factors for consumers buying phones then Nokia’s market position would not be in free fall.
- Post Print — Paper books, magazines and newspapers are being replaced by digital distribution and business models on PC-accessible websites, eReaders, smartphones and tablets.
- Post TV — The TV set is no longer the only way to watch TV. Increasingly, it’s not even the main way. Traditional broadcasters are offering live and recorded TV programmes on their own websites or through special services such as Netflix, Hulu, iPlayer or many others. People are choosing what device to watch TV on based upon whatever screen is most convenient. Old metrics such as the number of TV sets per household are irrelevant. Instead, the new metrics are how many TV-capable screens does each person have available, what size is that screen — from very small such as on a smartphone, to enormous living room projectors — and is it mobile and usable at any time of the day or night wherever that person is?
- Post disc — Music, TV, software and games used to be distributed on physical media. With the arrival of digital games distribution systems such as Valve’s Steam or OnLive, streaming video and music subscriptions, people no longer need optical disk drives. The latest generation of light laptop computers forego that drive. Games consoles and home music systems will go the same way soon.
Those that are talking about ‘Post PC’ are right that this is a new digital era. We’re long past ‘Web 2.0′ but the term ‘Post PC’ does not describe this new era adequately. It’s so much more. It’s post so many many devices, business models, and companies.
In a future post I will set out how to describe this new era.
When I started this blog last November I agonised over the name. Implicit in “Being Connected” is the idea of an always-on Internet. But “always-on” is a term that we all use blithely without thinking about it.
Most of the time, we still use a PC to browse websites or create content. But the PC isn’t an always-on device, or if it is always-on, it’s not where people actually are living for large parts of every day. Home broadband connections may be “always-on” but only the infirm live their lives exclusively at home. Laptops enable people to enjoy mobile broadband out and about but laptops are too bulky to carry all of the time and take too long to set-up on a flat surface to deliver anything other than a part-time Internet.
The devices that create an always-on digital life are the increasing numbers of Internet mobile phones. These are carried 24×7 and are carried in easily accessible pockets for instant Google, email, Facebook or whatever.
The mobile phone isn’t significant because it’s mobile. If mobile was the most important aspect of the mobile phone, then mobile’s role in people’s lives would be limited to ‘away from home’ or ‘out of the office’ situations. But people use their phones inside the home as much if not greater as outside: studies on mobile TV and mobile phone calling show very high usage at home. Plus people don’t leave their personal mobile phones outside of the office. No. They carry their personal digital lives into work on-board those personal mobile phones. This increases the collision between work and personal lives.
What’s important about the Internet mobile phone is that mobiles deliver a 24×7 digital life. One where people are connected all of the time, should they choose.
I’ve started writing about this idea, in the increasingly misnamed “day” job here:
How Mobile Handsets Will Deliver 24×7 Social Computing
Bootnote – If people carry Blackberries or work mobile phones 24×7, is it still a “day” job?
Foxmarks bookmarks sync
This is the killer feature for me and the reason I’m going to stay loyal to Firefox for now: Foxmarks delivers reliable and secure sync of bookmarks across multiple computers whatever OS they are running. In a recent version there’s an option for users to define whether each computer is ‘work or ‘home’ and then sync a different set of bookmark folders with each type of machine. Foxmarks stores a copy of all the bookmarks either on the Foxmarks server or one a user specfies. The advantage of syncing with Foxmarks own server is that the ‘my foxmarks’ website allows users to log in and access their bookmarks from any web browser, for example using a shared computer in a cafe.
Add bookmark here 2 (Windows only)
I really miss this when I’m not using Windows. Puts an ‘add bookmark’ item into each folder in the your bookmarks. So, to add a bookmark you just navigate your folders, as if you were choosing to load an existing bookmark, then pick the appropriate add button when you’ve navigated into the right folder.
Openbook (Windows only)
This causes the ‘add bookmark’ dialog to appear with the folder tree extended. Handy. Although it’s largely, but not entirely, superceded if you have the ‘add bookmark here’ extension. Again I really miss this when I’m not on Windows, especially on the Mac version of Firefox.
Tiny menu (Windows only)
This is a fantastic extension for use on laptops (especially) or any machines that are low on vertical screen space. It collapses the entire menu to a single word with a hierarchical sub menu. However, there is a downside: Once installed, you need to manually configure the space to the right of the word ‘Menu’ with whatever buttons you desire (back, forward etc) and then hide the standard ‘navigation’ toolbar.
Adds mini previews of each tab as the mouse hovers over the tab’s name. IMO this is especially useful if there are a lot of tabs open.
I used to use the original Adblock, but found that it interfered with Flash working on some websites, especially movie trailer sites for some reason.
Cute menu crystal svg
Pure eye candy. I suppose you could argue that the icons next to menu items improve usability….
Web developer toolbar
…what it says. I especially like the ability to fiddle with what CSS elements are active.
Offers options for how to handle pdfs when they’re left clicked.
Tab Mix Plus
Offers customisation of the way tabs work. On Firefox 3 it’s less essential but still has some nice features.
Others that I have installed, but don’t use very often:-
Useful download manager but I use it occasionally and not all of the time: my main use is to grab multiple things for download from a single web page without a lot of manual clicking.
Copy plain text
Does what it says via the right click context menu.
This isn’t as useful as it appears. The goal is to enable incompatible websites to be opened within the firefox UI. In reality, the only problematic site I’ve come across in recent years, a UK stockbroker, crashes in this too!
I find this more useful: it adds an ‘open in IE’ link to the right click menu.
An IRC client
It’s Thursday, four days after European clocks changed to what others call daylight saving and I’m still finding clocks stuck on GMT.
I’ll forgive those without an Internet connection like the wall clock in the kitchen, but way too many devices should know better. Windows Mobile still seems awkward, probably because I’m still running 6.0. The brand new Blackberry Bold hooked up to my company’s Blackberry Enterprise Server really should have updated itself. Two years ago I wouldn’t have cared.
But iPhone has changed everything. It just worked.
A former colleague wrote recently that ‘save file’ should have no place in this day. Everything should be saved automatically all of the time. I think manually changing the clocks twice a year should follow it into extinction.
Sidenote – This is the first post I’ve written on the new version of WordPress for iPhone. It’s a big improvement and worth returning to if you’ve tried and rejected it in the past. It means I can post more easily from wherever I happen to be: