New Microsoft Tablet an ‘iPad Killer’?

I first heard about this from Mashable.  Apparently, Microsoft is jumping into the tablet market with its own device that is being billed as an “iPad Killer.” It’s not the first time they’ve made a device. After all, the X-box has been a big success. But the tablet market is very different from the game console market, and that’s because Apple has really shaped the market around a concept: the Apple Ecosystem.

Apple’s mobile products (iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch) run iOS which is exceptionally user friendly and makes it possible to move content across devices.  With the soon to be released OS X Mountain Lion, iCloud will be much more powerful and user friendly and more seamlessly link the Mac on your desk to the mobile devices that are always with you. All this creates inertia for users, and while some can be persuaded to move to a new device, it will be harder to convince them to leave the entire Ecosystem behind.

Microsoft will need to integrate its tablet with smart phones and cloud services to effectively compete. Even then, it may be difficult to overcome the inertia that exists. However, it’s not impossible.

Some studies suggest that Windows phones may overtake iOS by 2016.  A competitive tablet and Microsoft ecosystem could accelerate adoption. Apple has left the door open to a competing ecosystem by releasing iCloud with shortcomings that have been lamented by many Apple fans. While much of the functionality that would make iCloud a terrific service is technically present, only power users are able to make it reach its potential. iCloud will have to become more accessible and seamless from the user’s perspective. Apple’s best strategy in competing with the soon to come Microsoft tablet may not be to build an ever better iPad, but to build a better iCloud.

In any event, this won’t be a tablet war. This will be a battle of ecosystems and the winners will be consumers who will see ever improving platforms vying for supremacy.

Leap Motion’s Finger Gesture Control Device

This has to be one of the coolest peripheral devices I’ve seen in a while. Leap Motion is planning on launching a new, 3D gesture control system around the end of the year. The device monitors an eight cubic foot space and can, purportedly, monitor finger motions 200 times more accurately than anything else on the market at any price point. All of that for $70.

Leap Motion describes the Leap as:

…an entirely new way to interact with your computers. It’s more accurate than a mouse, as reliable as a keyboard and more sensitive than a touchscreen.  For the first time, you can control a computer in three dimensions with your natural hand and finger movements.

They also take a not so subtle dig at Microsoft’s Kinect:

This isn’t a game system that roughly maps your hand movements.

If it can live up to the claims, this will be a very cool and useful device. I jumped in and pre-ordered one.  In seven or eight months, I might get to see how it works with my mac.

It will be interesting to see if this works as well as advertised, and if any notebook manufacturers incorporate the Leap into their products.

Amazing Customer Service From Apple

This doesn’t necessarily fit with the theme of this blog, but when a company treats me this well, I feel compelled to talk about it.

I purchased a used 2008 MacBook Air a year and a half ago. The machine had Apple Care, Apple’s transferable extended warranty. My wife was using it and unfortunately the hard disk had to be replaced.  Apple handled the repair quickly.  However, it happened again, this time after the expiration of the Apple Care plan.  Apple again repaired the machine quickly, but we were nervous about this becoming a recurring issue.

The third time the machine started to act up, my wife took it into the local Apple Store. The manager looked at the service history and surmised that the problem would likely keep repeating itself. He gave us a choice: either repair

The new MacBook Air in the home office

the machine for a third time in a year, or he would replace it with another 13 inch MacBook Air.  Of course, a new (mid 2011) MacBook Air is a bit of an upgrade.  Okay, it’s a huge upgrade. I no longer even have a hard disk since this machine has an SSD.  I am also now running Lion instead of Snow Leopard.

Granted, Apple may be saving itself more headaches with continued repairs, but this went beyond what I would have expected.  My next purchase will be an Apple Care plan for this notebook.