Monday, January 25, 2010

Google Chrome and Switching Costs

I am a big fan of the Google Chrome browser. What is so special about it?

1. Technology - no doubt that it is faster than other browsers. No matter in what you do. Also, i really liked the fact that you could have one tab in the browser crash, without bringing down the whole browser, as each tab runs in a separate process

2. Design - Google chrome was a very well thought out, and very well designed. For example, if you have a bunch of tabs open, and you want to close several of them, you can close one tab, and then the next, and then the next - without moving your mouse! The next tab's close button aligns with your mouse as soon as you close the last one. Also, whenever you open a new tab, it shows the most frequently sites you visit in a simple format on the screen, making it easy to go to your favorites

3. Offline - With Google gears, Google is embracing scenarios in which the user will be offline but want to use a web app. I am pretty sure that Google Chrome will be the first browser to adapt new features of Gears, as they are developed. One of my favorite web apps, Remember the Milk, uses Google Gears.

So I switched to the Chrome, but gave it up and moved back to Firefox. Why is that? Switching costs of third party apps/extensions. I use a Firefox extension called Read It later, which as the name suggests, lets you mark any page to be read later, come back to it easily, and remove it from the list when you are done. There was a Chrome extension; it just didn't work well enough. And so, I am back for now, to my dear old Firefox.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Kindle opened up: Now what?

As you can read here, Amazon has opened up the kindle to develop applications for the Kindle. I believe this move is in anticipation of the launch of the Apple Tablet/E-Reader (which is expected to bring, among other things, world peace). According to the article, developers will get to keep 70% of revenue - a 15 cent per MB Delivery free. Kindle released 3 models for apps - free, one time and subscription based.So would there be 10,000 apps developed for the Kindle? Let's explore various aspects of it:

1. Developer fatigue - The iPhone was the first awesome, super-duper-cool mobile platform open to developers. Then came Android and Blackberry. Now everyone, and their mother, is creating an open platform. This is likely to result in developer fatigue, and resistance to learning how to code in new platforms

2. Drawbacks of e-ink - monochrome, minimal graphics, no touch screen interface etc.

3. The 15 cent per MB charge - which means that the app cannot access the internet (without losing money or being very expensive)

So what kind of apps are likely to be developed for the Kindle?

1. Interactive books - Zagat guides are being developed as an app, but so could be some pretty cool stories for kids, which are book, but also an app. And the story book could have different elements - it changes every time the kid reads it. These books are best for kids above 7 years of age, as before that age, kids just love repetition and consistency (Side Note: I am no child psychologist, just my observation)

2. Mystery book-games - same unpredictability aspect, but for adults! Now, a sherlock homes novel, which is interactive, lets you guess outcomes, and can be used 10 times as there are 10 storied embedded in it!

3. Thought of the day/blog post of the day etc - which is basically a Kindle adoption to an exsting web service. The concern remains - the 15 cent per MB Delivery fee

Other thoughts?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

2010 : The year of the Tablet/E-Book Reader

I was (and am) waiting for the Apple Tablet to be released. It is expected to be announced January 25th or 26th. Expectations for it are sky high. Here are some of the things I have read about it on Tech blogs

1. The price will be $800
2. It will have a new, and very surprising method by which you interact with it. Do you sing to it?
3. It will have the regular color screen, apps, multi-touch interface
4. It will include an E-Book reader
5. Steve Jobs is happy with it. That is saying a lot!

But even before the launch of the Apple tablet there are many other devices that either are already here, or are expected to be announced soon:

1. HP/Microsoft's Slate Tablet released at Consumer Electronic Show
2. Plastic Logic's Que ebook reader (video below). It's pitch is that it is flexible, shatter proof and completely designed for Business. It features full control by touch, ability to view documents, synchronize calendar with outlook, pin favorite things, receive books by wireless etc.

Plastic Logic shows off Que eBook reader from Dean Takahashi on Vimeo.

3.HP's Android tablet here

And so on and so forth. But what do you really want from a tablet/ebook reader Device? The way I look at it, I always question - what device does the Tablet replace? This is true of most new gadgets. Even the iPod replaced a device - the CD Player. It also replaced you carrying around a 1000 CDs. The apple tablet must replace a few simple things for me - a pen, a notebook, and books that I read. It must include a eReader, but be a lot more.

This is what I want:

1. A single device - not a separate ebook reader and tablet PC

2. Calendar/email integration

3. Ability to download and run apps

4. A replacement for the notebook - with a stylus pen, and ability to add comments to documents, create notes and synch with a service like Evernote

5. Price less than $500. Because I am a student

6. Wireless capability for downloading books

What are the questions apple faces:

1. How to get wireless service on the device? Would users be willing to pay for another connection?

2. How to get content - books, videos etc? It can rely on iTunes for everything else other than books. But what about books? Partnerships? Perhaps a partnership with Amazon, which might be very contentious, given the Kindle?

I am waiting eagerly for January 26th...