Kindle Fire May Set Records, but Content Sales Needed to Turn a Profit

  • Amazon CFO Tom Szkutak is predicting record sales of the Kindle and Kindle Fire. However, the company also anticipates a lag in revenue after initial sales of the devices, as consumers get acquainted with their machines before purchasing content for them.
  • “Much of the profit from these products would come from digital purchases by consumers post-sale,” reports The Next Web.
  • “Once a customer has purchased a device, what else do they buy? We certainly have some data now that we didn’t have prior to the launch [of the ad-based Kindles]. Once the customer purchases the Kindle and are carrying around this massive selection at their fingertips, they buy more content,” said Szkutak.
  • In a related Geek.com post, it was noted that the Kindle Fire may become the best-selling Android tablet ever, as pre-orders continue to flood in.
  • Amazon is producing “millions more” tablets to match the demand that has overwhelmed the company since announcing the slate a month ago.
  • The Fire will sell for $199, possibly making it an attractive alternative to Apple’s iPad, which starts at $499.

Should Google and Microsoft Fear the Potential of Siri?

  • Tech analyst Tim Bajarin says both Google and Microsoft have been downplaying the significance of Apple’s Siri because they know it could seriously impact their core search businesses, especially as it gains access to even more online databases.
  • “You shouldn’t be communicating with the phone; you should be communicating with somebody on the other side of the phone,” Google mobile chief Andy Rubin told Walt Mossberg at the recent AsiaD conference.
  • Microsoft’s Andy Lees suggested that Siri “isn’t super useful” and added that the voice interactivity of Windows Phone 7 when connected to Bing harnesses “the full power of the Internet, rather than a certain subset.”
  • Bajarin counters that, “Apple has just introduced voice as a major user interface and that its use of voice coupled with AI on a consumer product like the iPhone is going to change the way consumers think about man-machine interfaces in the future.”
  • Siri is not just a voice UI, but a gatekeeper to natural language searching of online databases that may eventually make Apple the third major search company worldwide.

App Downloads for Android Sell More than iPhone and iPad Combined

  • App downloads on Google’s Android platform now top iPhone and iPad combined, even in the absence of any competitive Android tablets.
  • The OS accounted for 44 percent of all app downloads for Q2 of this year, according to a recent study by New York-based ABI Research.
  • In the new Steve Jobs’ biography, the Apple founder rails against Android as a “stolen product,” one that he vowed to go to “thermonuclear war” in order to stop its success. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer recently derided the OS as well, adding you need to be a “computer scientist” to understand Android phones.
  • “But a flood of low-priced handsets this summer has catapulted Android ahead of Apple for the first time in terms of app downloads,” reports the Daily Mail.
  • However, Apple still leads in the per user category. “Android’s app downloads per user still lag behind Apple’s by 2 to 1,” explains Dan Shey at ABI.

Next Generation Web: Will Siri Spark Machines Talking to Machines?

  • In a post that describes what should follow after Siri, GigaOM suggests, “Apple’s artificial intelligence is only the tip of the iceberg as we combine ubiquitous connectivity, sensor networks, big data and new methods of AI and programming into a truly connected network.”
  • The next generation of the Web will “connect machines to machines and connect those machines back to people” with advancements in low-power, cheap sensors and “better ways of programming computers so that they can understand data from several million end points.”
  • The necessary connectivity exists currently and improvements of sensors for tracking everything — weather, inventory, traffic conditions, etc. — will provide the necessary information.
  • From there, programming and better AI like Siri, “will allow machines to parse the data from billions of sensors and notify people to take action only when needed.”

Celebrating Steve: Special Event with Jonathan Ive, Tim Cook, Al Gore

  • Apple held a company-wide “Celebrating Steve” event on October 19 that featured tributes by Tim Cook and Al Gore and performances by Norah Jones and Cold Play. An 80-minute video of the event is available online.
  • Fortune suggests that the most touching part of the tribute was Apple’s chief designer Jony Ive speaking about Jobs and the fragility of ideas.
  • Ive said: “Steve used to say to me, ‘Hey Jonny, here’s a dopey idea.’ And sometimes they were. Really dopey. Sometimes they were truly dreadful. But sometimes they took the air from the room and they left us both completely silent. Bold, crazy, magnificent ideas. Or quiet simple ones, which in their subtlety, their detail, they were utterly profound.”
  • “And just as Steve loved ideas, and loved making stuff, he treated the process of creativity with a rare and a wonderful reverence. You see, I think he better than anyone understood that while ideas ultimately can be so powerful, they begin as fragile, barely formed thoughts, so easily missed, so easily compromised, so easily just squished.”

New Biography Reveals Steve Jobs had Vowed to Destroy Android

  • According to the new Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson, the former Apple CEO was furious over Android’s strong resemblance to iOS.
  • Jobs told his biographer: “I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple’s $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong. I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product. I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this.”
  • GigaOm noted that Apple has followed up on this threat: “Apple has not backed down or granted broad licenses to any of the companies it has sued recently over its mobile patents… Apple’s not giving in to make a couple of bucks, the way Microsoft did, and there will be no tacit approval of the patent infringement in exchange for licensing any of the higher-level patents Apple holds.”
  • Jobs reportedly told Eric Schmidt: ”I don’t want your money. If you offer me $5 billion, I won’t want it. I’ve got plenty of money. I want you to stop using our ideas in Android, that’s all I want.”

Sprint to Limit Unlimited 4G Mobile Broadband: Will Smartphones be Next?

  • Sprint announced it will replace its unlimited 4G mobile broadband for mobile hotspots and devices with three new tiered data plans.
  • Starting in November, “users of mobile hotspots, USB modems, tablets and notebooks will pay $45 for 3GB of combined 3G and 4G, $60 for 5GB and $90 for 10GB of combined data,” where before only 3G data had limits.
  • “Sprint was already showing signs that it couldn’t keep up the unlimited game forever,” reports GigaOM. “It announced last month that it was doing away with unlimited data for its smartphone hotspot feature and was capping data at 5GB a month.”
  • Some are concerned that this prefaces the end of Sprint’s unlimited data plans for smartphones, a differentiating factor from other providers and a selling point for the Sprint iPhone.

Apple iPhone 4S Battles Canon 5D Mark II in HD Video Shootout

  • Apple’s new iPhone 4S touts an 8-megapixel camera sensor capable of recording HD video at full 1080p resolution.
  • As an experiment, Robino Films recently posted a video comparing HD video shot with the new iPhone against video from the $2,400 Canon 5D Mark II. The two devices were mounted side-by-side on a camera rig, with similar exposure settings, shooting 1080p video at 30 frames per second.
  • “This test is really only to show that the 4S is coming close to the 5D but in NO WAY is it better,” comments Robino Films. “The iPhone is a great 1080p pocket camera and shows us where technology is heading. Give it two three years and we should see some interesting micro high performance cameras.”
  • ETCentric staffer George Gerba comments: “Add a professional connected app for news production and the white iPhone 4S might be more like a white news van than a phone…”

Integrated Apple TV Rumors: Jobs Biography Adds Fuel to the Fire

  • Steve Jobs had plans for a full-fledged, integrated Apple TV, The Washington Post learned after reviewing the authorized Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson.
  • “He very much wanted to do for television sets what he had done for computers, music players, and phones: make them simple and elegant,” wrote Isaacson in the book, available today.
  • “I’d like to create an integrated television set that is completely easy to use,” Jobs told the author. “It would be seamlessly synced with all of your devices and with iCloud. It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine. I finally cracked it.”
  • Rumors have persisted that Apple might launch a television by the end of next year. Details have not been available, but if it “offered users a la carte programming with integrated Web surfing and access to Apple’s iOS platform, it could upend longstanding industries in telecommunications and entertainment,” suggests The Washington Post.

Squashing Rumors: Why Apple Will Not Release a 7-inch iPad Mini

  • Recent speculation has suggested that Apple will produce an “iPad mini” to compete with the $199 price tag of the Amazon Kindle Fire, but many analysts doubt the possibility.
  • For one, if Apple is looking to compete with the Kindle Fire — which it has already denounced as a threat — it would have to compete in price, not size. A recent study showed that two-thirds of consumers want 10-inch devices while only 9 percent want a 7-inch tablet.
  • “We expect Apple to maintain its premium price point on tablets,” wrote Forrester analyst Sarah Rotman Epps. “Apple will not allow Amazon to dictate the terms of competition — Apple makes its own rules.”
  • Additionally, the new size would complicate the development of apps, which have been specifically designed for the 3.5-inch and 9.7-inch displays of current Apple devices.
  • And the final reason: “Steve Jobs emphatically stated that 7-inch tablets are too small for a pleasant touchscreen experience,” writes Wired.

Will a Sense of Humor Draw Users to Siri Virtual Personal Assistant?

  • According to The Wall Street Journal: “It turns out that Siri, the new voice activated personal assistant for Apple iPhone 4S has a dry sense of humor.”
  • For example, when asked “Who’s your daddy?” the phone answered: “You are” in an authoritative tone — and in response to “Beam me up,” the phone reportedly responded: “Sorry, Captain, your tricorder is in Airplane Mode.”
  • The article adds that in response to “Open the pod bay doors” (a reference to Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey,” which also features a “talking” machine), users say the iPhone responds in a frighteningly slow voice, “I’m afraid I can’t do that.”
  • Consumers are reacting to the artificial intelligence by asking the iPhone outlandish questions as websites dedicated to the concept are already emerging. The “personality” of Siri’s software could very well be the first step in driving consumer adoption.

Standing in Line, Woz Discusses How the iPhone 4S will Change His Life

  • Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak likes the excitement of a new product release and tries to be first in line, despite the fact that Apple will ship him products.
  • He was #1 on line at the Apple store in Los Gatos, California and stayed up all night tweeting about it.
  • TechCrunch interviewed “Woz” (on iPhone video) as he discussed his enthusiasm for Siri: “This is the way I want all mobile devices to be in the future.”
  • “I’m so tired of pushing buttons, tapping things to get the right things done on a phone,” he added. “I just want to talk my thoughts to it.”
  • He also notes that he no longer wants to be sent somewhere that might have answers: “Google is known for search engines. I say search engines should be replaced by answer engines.”

Siri: Imagining the Untapped Potential of Artificial Intelligence

  • Geek.com writer Will Shanklin believes Siri’s capabilities would be enormously expanded with access to third party apps. Currently, “Yelp and Wolfram Alpha appear to be the only ones in that elite group.”
  • Third party apps could enable users to play music among different streaming services, quickly use music ID, combine data from multiple services (“How about a combination of Netflix and IMDb data?”), get real-time navigation and a range of other convenient possibilities.
  • Siri access to Facebook could expedite posts, messages and notifications and quickly get information from friends’ profiles.
  • “As much as you might be blown away by Siri’s capabilities now, we will likely look back at this as ‘Siri 1.0’ five years from now,” writes Shanklin. “In much the same way that the first iPhone’s single-paged homescreen – with no third-party apps – looks primitive now, this introductory version of Siri will pale in comparison to where ‘she’ will be then.”

Will Google MP3 Store Compete with Apple and Amazon?

  • Google is expected to roll out its own music store in the next few weeks.
  • It will reportedly tie into the company’s Music Beta service that allows users to upload and store their music collections.
  • Music Beta was announced after launch of Amazon’s unlicensed service, Cloud Drive. Also worth noting: “Apple got licenses for iTunes Match, which will instantly link a user’s songs to Apple’s master collection.”
  • “Its earlier negotiations with music companies, for a so-called smart locker service — a Web storage system that lets people link their digital music collections to a vast central database — broke down over financial terms and the music companies’ complaints that Google was not doing enough to curb piracy,” reports The New York Times.

Will Siri Serve as the Foundation for our Next-Gen Remote Controls?

  • If consumers take to the new virtual personal assistant technology Siri, featured in Apple’s iPhone 4S, we may see significant change to other devices such as the TV remote control.
  • Norman Winarsky, VP of ventures at SRI (involved in the development of Siri), told MIT’s Technology Review that, “within a decade, virtual personal assistants would be ubiquitous, integrated into the fabric of many devices,” and that their value could hike into the 100 billion dollar level.
  • “Wouldn’t it be nice to finally do away with the remote control, a device that begins to look so clunky and antiquated in our era of iEverythings?” asks Technology Review. “Apple has not announced any plans to bring Siri to devices other than the iPhone 4S, but the idea doesn’t seem so farfetched. It’s quite possible that the next refresh of the Apple TV could use a speedier A5 dual-core chip, speculates Cult of Mac — which would give the device the processing power necessary to run Siri.”
  • According to the article, Siri offers much more than just voice recognition: “Siri is good at parsing the words you say, but more importantly, its impressive artificial intelligence is able to discern their meaning, and take appropriate actions… As smart TVs become a next battleground for Internet-connected devices, let’s hope our remote controls get smarter, too.”

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