Windows 7

Let the Convergence Begin. CES 2010 and the Future.

CES is in full swing at the Las Vegas convention center this week, and there are all sorts of crazy announcements that have been coming out cool new gadgets and technologies. The one thing I have been noticing is, there seems to be a lot of buzz this year around 2 specific product formats. Tablet PC’s, and Internet streaming devices like Boxee, and Vudu.

Today Microsoft’s Steve Balmer  introduced “Slate” it’s touch screen tablet running windows 7. The device will be built by HP, and available later this month. The price has yet to be announced. One thing for sure though, it’ll be cheaper than Apple’s iSlate, or iTablet which set to be announced on January 27th.

HP Slate Running Windows 7 Touch

In the keynote Steve Balmer said,

“They’re more powerful than a phone and almost as powerful as a PC. Perfect for reading, surfing the web and taking entertainment on the go.”

This is an important statement  because it give credence to an emerging trend. People want all their communications and entertainment devices to play together. They also want access to their media of choice any time, any place, anywhere.

In addition to Microsoft, other touch screen tablets have been announced by Lenovo, Nokia, and IDC which introduced the Tegra, which will have connectivity through T-mobile as well as Wifi making it a true mobile device.  The Tegra is running on the emerging tablet OS of choice Android, which is going to become the 800 pound gorilla of Operating Systems in the near future. T-Mobile is  positioning the Tegra as a tablet for the whole family, and says that the device is designed primarily to sit in the kitchen to let families keep watch on the household calendar and manage their schedules — although it’s also of course still capable of things like 1080p video playback, music streaming, running Google applications and widgets, surfing the internet etc.

The Android OS Tegra

Nokia Booklet 3G

Sounds like a bit of convergence doesn’t it? Which brings me to the net connected devices like Boxee’s latest.

Not only is the Boxee just a beautiful piece of industrial design, it is a game changing piece of hardware. Here is why.

The Sub 200 dollar Boxee

First off Flash 10.1 support. This means that the device can not only place shift your favorite TV shows and movies, it can run any application that you can develop in Flash. This is huge. It means that if you are a designer of interactive content, or applications, you can get them on to that big flat panel TV in everyone’s living room. For under $200, Boxee will support a wide range of formats, including DivX, VC-1, WMV, H.264 MKV, and Flash 10.1.The  service support is equally broad, with channels from Pandora, Last.fm, Facebook, Twitter, Picasa, and Flickr all integrated, and today it was announced that they are in talks with Netflix.  In addition there is the Boxee app platform so anyone can design additional apps, plugins, and games.

Like Boxee Vudu made similar announcements at CES saying that are partnering with 3 of the largest manufacturers of LCD televisions, and bringing over 100 new channels streamed directly to your TV set.

The Vudu UI as seen in all its 1080p Glory

For the last year, Vudu has been steadily strengthening its service offering by rolling out applications like Wikipedia, Pandora, and Flickr to connected LG TVs (all this in addition to streaming 1080p movies to you from the Vudu service). With Vudu Apps they expand their reach in terms of services offered as well as hardware supported, by offering hundreds of apps to connected TVs and Blu-ray players from a variety of new partners: and the service will show up in HDTVs from Mitsubishi, Sanyo, Sharp, Toshiba and Vizio, as well as Blu-ray players from those last two companies.

So why is this a big deal?

Because with these kinds of services you don’t need the cable company or AT&T to provide you with entertainment services. Both of these devices only require you to have an internet connection, which is great for us. Time and place shifting of content has changed the way people interact with content so much in the last 5 years that it’s no surprise that devices like Boxee and Vudu are making such huge gains in the content delivery game.

What all these devices bring to the table though are the first real steps of how we are going to be interacting with media by the end of this decade. The fact that Boxee has Flash support is huge. This means it has Browser support. That means it will be able to let you do so much more than be a passive observer. It will be interesting to see what these companies start to do with multiple application and media feeds. Verizon is already making headway with its FiOs system allowing you to Tweet, and check Fantasy Football stats while watching a real-time broadcast of your favorite show or movie. Combine that with the power of any of these net connected devices and imagine the future. Think Slingbox on steroids.

It’s gonna get fun people and I can’t wait.

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Apple vs Windows, Advertising, and Put It To Bed Please.

saupload_mac_pcHave you seen the new Apple VS PC ads? I am personally getting tired of these TV spots, (and yes I am an Apple fanboy.)  It’s like flogging a dead horse. I think the current campaign is rolling on 3 years now.

Furthermore, I am kind of surprised. The apple brand has always thrived on the overarching  concept of an understated confidence; which is visible in the industrial design of their products, the usability, user experience and so on. In a way the current TV spots are for Apple followers not people they are trying to convert from the Windows OS. They read like “Wow, do I feel superior, I have a Mac at home and after I watch that ad  all is good: you have understated what brand confidence and a cult like following (or what else do you call people waiting in line 24 hours at the Apple store for a new product launch?)

So what is going on with Apple’s advertising in terms of persuading non Apple users? I mean constantly reminding people of how another brand goofs up is not exactly reflective of self-confidence. In fact, it makes Apple  look like it is threatened by how  Windows7 could actually be a real competitor to OSX. What’s more, in the eyes of a non Apple user, it might seem pretentious and it could even keep me from trying a Mac out of spite. (note the success of CPB’s latest “I’m a PC campaign. Yes fanboys it’s been a huge success.) While I’m not one of those people, I can see why people don’t use Macs because I felt the brand was too arrogant, or that I didn’t want to be part of a specific sect.

Let’s get something straight. I think Apple makes great products. Thank you Apple. I’ve been a user since my Color Classic, from the ancient days of yore. But please do us all a favor and, stop advertising, or change your approach. Your current ads have jumped the shark.First off you don’t need to advertise OSX and the computer hardware, and b) it doesn’t help your brand perception with non Apple owners. c) you can find other ways to reward your followers and expand your client base other than to spend it on ads that alienate potential users.