Rapid Reaction: The Kindle Fire

Amazon has just announced their long rumored Kindle Fire tablet.  For $199 Amazon presents a 7 inch tablet based on the Android platform.  It will play music, show movies, run apps, and — of course — let you read Kindle books.

The announcement is only a few hours old, but my initial reaction is that the Kindle Fire may be a slight misstep by Amazon.  Here’s why:

  • I’m not a fan of the 7″ form factor. It’s still too big to fit in your pocket, yet too small to read for long periods.  It’s smart to not try to tackle the iPad head-to-head, but the odd size adds no value.
  • No 3G? The trend it to be more mobile, not tied to locations. Even in large cities WiFi coverage is very sporadic.
  • No camera. This was the biggest complaint on the original iPad.
  • No microphone = No Skype.
  • Amazon Silk.  This one is scary.  The idea is that Amazon will make web browsing faster by doing some of the work in the cloud to pre-render the page and send it to the tablet.  Sounds good on paper, but what it really means is that the Kindle Fire will tell Amazon.com about every web page you view.  Privacy concerns anyone?

On the bright side, the price is fantastic.  $199 is a point where you’ll attract a lot of consumers.  Unfortunately, the Kindle Fire feels like a product where they started with a price, then worked their way back to figure out which features they could afford.  That results in lots of compromises.

Without seeing the device in person it’s hard to tell if the Kindle Fire has the wow factor that may lure people away from the iPad.  The Amazon name has a lot of brand recognition, and their success with the Kindle shows they can go toe-to-toe with the big boys in the consumer electronics industry.  I’m guessing the Kindle Fire will sell well this Christmas, and eventually settle as the #2 consumer tablet.  It’s far from an iPad Killer, but for those willing to sacrifice features in exchange for price, it’s a reasonable choice.

Colortoons featured on Daddy on Board

Our friends over at the Daddy on Board podcast just featured Colortoons on their latest episode.  The show, hosted by Clayton Morris (of Fox News fame) and Mike Quackenbush (of Chikara fame), is targetted at new Dads.  They share stories of their own struggles with being new parents, “little victories”, and reviews of their favorite apps.

Episode #40 features a very nice review of Colortoons, as well of a giveaway of 10 free copies of the app.  You can see the full episode below, then jump over to their Facebook page for your chance to win you copy of Colortoons.

3 reasons why Apple will NOT release an iPhone Nano

iPhone NanoPut down the Kool Aid and take a step back folks.  Apple will NOT release an iPhone Nano this year, despite what you may be hearing from many “trusted industry analysts”.

In fact, the very idea of an iPhone Nano is just plain crazy, and here’s why:

1.  No one wants it.

No, you really don’t.  There’s a reason that Ferrari doesn’t make a station wagon.  No one wants it.  They want an actual Ferrari.  A cheaper model that just happens to have that iconic logo on the hood just isn’t the same.  You want the real deal.

The same is true with the iPhone.  No one wants a watered-down iPhone Lite.  They want an actual iPhone, that plays all those addicting games and does all those fantatical things you see on the TV commercials.  A lesser phone with an Apple logo on the back just wouldn’t make you happy.

2.  It makes no financial sense.

Apple makes more money that anyone else in the mobile industry.  Period.  Why would they jeopardize that by pushing out a discount iPhone?  Do they really want people buying a cut-rate handset with razor thin margins instead of their flagship cash cow?  No way!

Steve Jobs is smart enough to know that it’s not how many units you sell, it’s how much profit you make per sale, and right now Apple is making money faster than they can count it.  They won’t do anything to rock the boat as long as the proft trend line is shooting towards Jupiter.

3.  It just wouln’t work.

To make the iPhone smaller — in both price and size — Apple would face a mountain of technical hurdles that just make the project impractical.

A smaller device means a smaller screen.  That would require every app to be rewritten to handle the new screen dimensions, or some kind of emulation that would handle the resizing for you.  That’s messy.

“But wait, Apple already did this with the iPhone 4!”  Not quite.  Apple was very careful to make the resolution of the iPhone 4 exactly twice the size of the older iPhones.  That makes the upscaling very simple.  An iPhone Nano, on the other hand, couldn’t be half the size of a standard iPhone.  It would be unreadable.  They’d have to go with an odd percentage like 33% smaller, which just makes the math crazy when scaling down an App.

Does Apple really want to release a phone that makes all of their 300,000 “magical” apps look like crap?

Taking out other features to reduce the build cost would introduce even more problems.  What do you remove?  The GPS?  The Accelerometer?  The Camera?  Any one of those would suddenly make huge amounts of Apps unusable.  I can’t see Apple investing the considerable R&D effort to solve these major problems for a device that will net them less profit, can you?

 

 

Take a step back and think it through.  A smaller iPhone makes no sense, and would probably do more harm than good.  Look for the iPhone 5 to be Bigger and Better, not Smaller and Less Capable.

Android Users Don’t Buy Apps

The iPhone versus Android.

Those are the mobile phone superpowers that the world has been discussing for two years now.

Who has the better features?

Who has more apps?

Which platform will win!?!

Clearly both are successful, but it may be the developers — not the consumers — who decide the winner.

An interesting report from AppleInsider today confirms what I’ve been hearing from mobile developers in the past few months: Android users aren’t spending money on apps like iPhone users do.

Speaking to “anxious app developers” at the Inside Social Apps conference in San Francisco on Tuesday, Android platform manager Eric Chu said Google is actually “not happy” about the limited number of apps actually being purchased.

This is a big concern for anyone developing mobile applications.  Quality apps can often take hundreds of hours to develop, and most are created by very small teams with limited resources.  If the customer base of Android phone aren’t purchasing apps frequently, that may be too big of a risk for many companies.

Worse yet is the state of the Android marketplace:

Many of the tens of thousands of apps in Android Market are just ringtones, wallpapers or simplistic “apps” designed just to fill space, a situation that drowns out legitimate developer’s work under tons of copyright infringing junkware.

Ouch.

Analysts are quick to predict the rise of Android as the dominant mobile OS of the future — and they may be right.  Carriers love Android because it’s free, and it’s easy to compare to the iPhone.  That ensures there will be lots of Android based phones flooding the market.  Without quality apps on those phones however, Android will be relegated to a “me too” device.  The Hydrox in a world where the Oreo reins supreme.

Google should be very concerned.

Updated:  Looks like the news just keeps getting worse for Google:

“We estimate that Apple’s App Store drove close to nine application downloads out of 10 in 2010 and will remain the single best-selling store across our forecast period (through 2014)” said Gartner Vice President Carolina Milanesi.

9 out of 10?  Yikes.

Source: Wall Street Journal / All Things Digital

3 Things To Check Before You Release Your App To The iTunes App Store

Months of planning, coding, dreaming, testing, screaming, and you’re finally ready to release your iPhone app to the world.

Or are you?

Before you hit that final send button, there are a few things you need to check:

  1. Test on actual hardare.  Cardinal Rule #1.  The Simulator is fantastic, but it’s not the real thing, and it never will be.  Unless you test on actual hardware (and as many Model and iOS combinations as possible), you can’t assume it will work for actual customers.
  2. Set your iOS Deployment Target as low as possible.  The fact is that not everyone upgrades as quickly as they should.  You’d be amazed at how many people are still running older versions of the iPhone OS.  If you don’t target the oldest iOS version possible, you limit your potential customer base dramatically.
  3. Keep the app size under 20MB.  This may not apply to all apps, but unless you’ve got a big marketing budget or a “must have” app, it should apply to you.  Any app over 20MB cannot be downloaded via 3G.  It’s WiFi only, which — again — limits your potential customer base dramatically.

I’d venture to guess that most iPhone developers have been bitten by one of these 3 gotchas when they were first starting out.  Learn from our mistakes, and good luck!