Sunday, 30 January 2011
It was all looking so promising, right up until the point when Sony announced that they're hoping - hoping! - to hit the shelves for the holiday season. That's disatrous.
There'll be new iPhone, iPod Touch and about seven new, groundbreaking Android handsets by then, in all likelihood relegating the next-gen PSP to the scrap heap before it even gets going.
Seriously Sony, you need to sort those design to manufacture lead times...
Saturday, 29 January 2011
|The SL8 running Spotify, behind those fingerprints|
I've had 2 full days of using the Zoostorm SL8 so it seems like an appropriate time to give you a rundown of my first impressions.
First of all size: I'm going to make it clear that a large tablet doesn't really fit my requirements for a tablet, whether it be running Windows, iOS or Android. However as that's not really relevant to what I'm testing here this will be the only time that I mention size.
The SL8 is a big tablet, about as wide as the iPad but a little bit taller (in portrait orientation). Its a little bit heavier but unless you had both devices to hand I don't think you'd notice it. Three iPad users have had a fondle of the SL8 and none have commented on the weight and only one commented on the extra size. The pay off is in screen size - the SL8's screen is 20% larger than the iPad's and packs in 33% more pixels. Whilst I'm happy carrying the SL8 around in a briefcase I wouldn't consider it the sort of device that I'd tote around with me. However that's true of anything bigger than the Galaxy Tab. Your mileage might vary. If you'd be happy carrying an iPad you'll have no problems with the SL8.
Another area you'll have no problems with is performance. The SL8 puts up a barely credible performance considering that its an Atom powered device with only 2GB of RAM. Its zippy and responsive, irrespective of the number of applications running. It sleeps and wakes quickly - not instantaneously like the Tab or iPad, but fast enough that you won't notice the difference.
The iPad owners that tried the SL8 kept making one comment - 'the iPad is limited' - an accusation that can certainly not be levelled at the SL8. It is a full Windows 7 Pro system and anything you can do on your desktop or laptop can be done here. Its not a real surprise that an iPad (or Tab) would feel a little restrictive after trying the SL8, however I suspect the flexibility of a smartphone-based OS will offer advantages which will become apparent with further comparison.
So the big question has to be 'does Windows 7 work with a touchscreen and finger control?' to which I have to say it certainly does, however you need to be aware of some limitations. Pretty much every application I've tried has handled touch input without any difficulty, but there are anomalies. For example trying to change a column width by tapping and dragging on the column separator takes a bit of practice. And Ajax grab and drag doesn't work so well in web pages.
Windows default controls don't cause a problem otherwise, a finger being as good as a mouse pointer. Taps from your fingertips are registered with commendable accuracy. I'm not sure if Zoostorm have played with default control and icon size to achieve this - whatever mechanism has been used it works well.
Last comment on this first report on the SL8 and it concerns data entry. Somewhere that I expected to find the capacitive screen to disappoint when compared with active digitisers of the past. So far I've found the on-screen keyboard to work very well. For longer pieces though I've been using Windows' handwriting recognition. Having only used Vista's version of the package - which is very good by the way - I've been stunned by how much improvement Microsoft have squeezed into this version update. Used with a capacitive stylus and the SL8's widescreen its not too far from being the ultimate data entry package. Have I missed the keyboard of my Timeline ultra-portable? No not once.
Thus far I'd score the SL8 - and more importantly Windows 7 on a consumer tablet - as a success. I'll detail some of the applications that have helped to achieve that in my next report.
Friday, 28 January 2011
25 years ago today the second Space Shuttle, Challenger, disintegrated 73 seconds into Shuttle mission STS-51-L killing all seven crew.
Human life remains a fragile thing, no matter how brave the humans, how advanced the technology or how large the challenge they choose to face.
Wednesday, 26 January 2011
Well I'm going to spend some time with what promises to be the first Windows tablet that takes aim at the consumer space. The Zoostorm SL8 (also known as the Exo PC and WePad in other markets) arrived today and I'm going to be spend the next few days seeing just how well the concept of Windows on a slate works.
So far I've discovered that the concept has legs - whether shortcomings reveal themselves with further use remains to be seen, but for now early experience suggests that Windows 7 is more flexible than many allow.
How's this for impressive? Samsung's tablet launched into a market seemingly owned by the ipad and in its first quarter on sale beat the two million mark. More than a million devices were sold in the mid-december to mid-january.
Its unlikely that sales will continue at that level as rumours of the Tab 2 are sure to dent enthusiasm for the original.
However its a mark of Samsung's standing that it can launch a device into an Apple owned market at a premium price and deliver numbers like these.
Tuesday, 25 January 2011
This phenomenon became apparent very early after the ipad launched. New owners would rave about the device for a few weeks after buying them and then go quiet, finally admitting that the ipad was the wrong device and that they never used it. It was a story I heard over and over, with only a very few diehards continuing to use their ipad as either a lounge computer for occasional browsing sessions or making the effort to lug it around in a bag. Shaun Mcgill at PDA-247 even managed to make the same mistake twice, buying then selling a Wifi only ipad because he didn't use it and then buying a 3G version to find out the same thing.
Larry Dignan at ZDnet reports his conversion to the Galaxy Tab here and its interesting to compare his reasons for the change, because they aren't based on functionality. Just like Kevin Tofel the smaller size of the Tab is the biggest draw, being able to carry it without inconvenience makes for a very compelling device.
Don't like the Tab? There are a whole raft of 7" screen devices coming along to offer you choice, which makes me wonder whether Apple's head start in the tablet market will be worth nothing if they fail to build a second, smaller ipad.
Ironically Samsung have been accused of cloning the ipad with the Tab yet they may just have delivered an innovation beyond Cupertino's understanding.
Motorola and Verizon managed to make the original Droid the hottest phone of 2009 by launching with a series of commercials that emphasised all the things that the iPhone couldn't do that the Droid did.
Now Toshiba look like they'll be trying the same formula when they release their new, as yet unnamed, tablet. The image is what you get if visiting the new tablet's website from an iOS device.
If you do go to the site in a browser that supports Flash you'll find details of what looks to be a pretty tidy tablet, packing the sort of features that look capable of bringing down the iPad 2 when it launches shortly.
Monday, 24 January 2011
The new FF will not rank with them.
Technologically its a tour de force, but the styling, oh dear... It looks like the terrible result of a high speed accident between a Scagletti and an AMC Pacer!
Perhaps the designers were influenced by the success of the retina-searingly ugly Porsche Panamera...
Kevin Tofel at Gigaom has published an explanation of his decision to ditch his iPad and start using his Samsung Galaxy Tab instead. Its a well written and well argued piece and centres around the premise that the best device is the one that you have with you.
Its a sentiment I can certainly understand as it mirrors my own feelings.
It appeared at an opportune time too, as this weekend I found out exactly how the Galaxy Tab's form factor makes for a better compromise than either the smaller Dell Streak or larger iPad - if you fit its usage pattern.
I was at a coffee shop - not my usual habitat, with demanding young kids a nice relaxing coffee is a rare luxury - however on this occasion I was able to make use of the secure play area in the establishment to sit and enjoy a relaxing coffee whilst my wife took on the Herculean challenge of buying a new outfit.
On tables close to me were two examples of people doing it wrong. The first unpacked a Sony laptop, plugged it into the mains and eventually started surfing. The second pulled his iPad from his manbag and turned it on started surfing away. In both cases these guys had made a conscious decision to carry a piece of equipment with, presumably with this or another similar establishment already planned in their itinerary. Except that man one had packed a full laptop bag with his laptop and associated peripherals, hardly conducive to a relaxing Sunday afternoon stroll through cold but sunny Southport. Man two was.clearly better equipped for his afternoon of computing on the go. No plugging in required with the ipad's exceptional battery life. He'd still had to make a decision before leaving home that morning to ferry his manbag and pack it with his daily routine in mind.
Me? On the way out that morning I slipped the Tab into my inside cost pocket, where it sits very nicely. No planning required. In fact I've discovered that I'm carrying it in this fashion pretty much all the time now. I had no plans to use the Tab, the coffee shop wasn't on the agenda, yet when the opportunity presented itself I was able to enjoy half an hour of browsing my favourite sites much more comfortably than if I'd been packing a smartphone alone.
For most people who lust after a tablet that seems like a much more likely scenario than that of either of my fellow surfers yesterday afternoon.
You can read Kevin's article here:
Somewhat surprising to find Verizon pumping that very same Apple device after hitting it very hard on features, functions and of course the antennagate issue.
Still its no surprise, just as we've seen many other technology turnarounds in the past few years.
At least Verizon can point to the redesigned antenna as an improvement when compared to the GSM device shipped by rival AT+T.
It will be interesting to see how many Verizon customers are willing to lock themselves into a two year contract on the iPhone 4 when its replacement is surely just a few months away...
Jeff Pearlman is a writer for Sports Illustrated, not that I'd heard of him before today.
Apparently Jeff wrote a story about something which wasn't especially popular and received some abuse on Twitter. Instead of letting it go he hunted down some of those who abused him and confronted them.
Seriously, what was he thinking of?
If you put something up on the internet you're going to have to deal with the fact that some people aren't going to like it and a minority of those will be less than polite about telling you so. If you can't deal with that don't publish on the internet. If you're getting paid for the privilege, as I assume Pearlman is, deal with it. Certainly don't hunt the poor sods down and expose them on one of the world's largest news sites.
Sunday, 23 January 2011
Take a look at the enterprise marketplace, though, and a completely different picture emerges. In many markets Windows on tablets is what delivers. Any place that you need to give a standard application to employees who can't be desk bound you'll find a Windows Tablet. The key difference being that it will almost certainly be stylus-driven whereas consumer tablets use mainly capacitive touch screens and are designed for finger use.
To compete in the consumer market Microsoft are going to have to find some way of delivering a touch friendly skin on, or overlay to, Windows 7 that remains compatible with standard Windows applications. Its a big ask but if Microsoft are serious about tablets they need to find a way. Something they failed to do with UMPCs.
They need to do it quickly too, because every iPad or Android tablet sold begins a process of application lock-in which will shortly see Microsoft locked out of the game - forever.
Android handsets are the biggest thing sliced bread at the moment. Something for everyone and plenty of choice too. Its been good for Google so far, despite giving the core OS away the company recently confirmed Android related earnings of $1bn...
Some of that money may be making its way out of Google's coffers and into Oracle's with the latter claiming that its copyright has been infringed by Google's inclusion of Java in the Android source code, something Google denies.
The discovery of 43 proprietary files in the Android development environment doesn't bode well for Google therefore.
Google's defence that the code had never reached a handset isn't going to di them much good a far as defending the claim. However its not necessarily good news for Oracle either, they aren't going to be able to claim per device licensing for code that never shipped, which I'm guessing is their ultimate goal.
Copyright law is a minefield at the best of times. This looks like a case that will have plenty of twists and turns before it reaches a conclusion...
Microsoft needs to start pushing some shipping dates out for WP7 upgrades to fill in the missing feature gaps though, otherwise all the fancy hardware in the world isn't going to save the platform.
And with HTC going great guns on Android its likely to lose its WP7 focus quickly if Microsoft doesn't up its game...
Tuesday, 18 January 2011
radar with some pretty impressive numbers too.
$29bn in revenue beat out Apple's $26bn quarter, whilst its $5.3bn
earnings were slightly behind Apple's $6bn return.
Wonder why Apple's stock is valued almost two and a half times that of
IBM's? Especially as Apple posts no dividends so none of that
lucrative profit will be finding its way back to investors...
In truth Apple's stock is currently the greatest gambling game in
history. Speculators are buying the it in the hope that it continues
to rise, so that they can offload to similarly optimistic speculators
coming later to the party. Whilst Apple continues to outperform the
markets and stock prices rise its a lucrative strategy. But if Apple
drops the ball, or the bottom falls out of the NASDAQ there are going
to be some horribly burnt fingers out there. Then I suspect those same
speculators will be demanding that Apple turns those huge cash
reserves over to its stock holders.
One of Tim Cook's first tasks as acting-CEO should be to protect the
long term health of the business by using some of its extensive cash
reserves to buy shares back into the company. Before the markets
realise that a cap of around 20 times earnings isn't sustainable and a
painful trueing up occurs.
with a screen resolution four times that of the current model, less
weight and a flat back to stop it rocking about on the table. Well if
the rumours are to be believed anyway.
I'm pretty sure that it will feature a pair of cameras too, although
to be honest a camera facing the user should really suffice (I can
foresee the day that people start using their iPads to take pictures
and its not a pretty sight!)
What's interesting me the most at the moment though, is the little
flap which most leaks have placed on the lower left rear of the case.
So far its been identified as a super-enhanced speaker (interesting,
but not that useful); an SD card slot (useful, but not that
interesting); or a mini-DVI port (extremely useful and interesting). A
part of me is even hoping it turns out to be a HDMI connector...
If it does turn out to be a mini-DVI port it could spell the beginning
of the end for traditional Mac laptops. After all you'll have keyboard
and large display functionality and most of the software you'd want to
run on the go in a highly portable package. Which would certainly make
the MacBook look vulnerable at the bottom of the Apple portable
line-up. Especially if Apple squeeze in a processor bump too...
Turns out that LG were expecting a much better WP7 launch than actually achieved. No clear indication if this is about sales or not but let's assume it is. How many phones did LG have available at launch? I didn't find a single retail location stocking one. Which is a shame as LG have the only phone packing DLNA on the platform.
LG needs more models and greater network exposure if it plans on making its WP7 operation a success.
I suspect that HTC will have a very different view of the WP7 launch given that it managed to get its phones out everywhere.
Still it would be nice to get some real sales figures from Microsoft to prove or disprove the various sales rumours floating around.
Monday, 17 January 2011
has been the less than perfect web browsing experience. Sure it looks
fine and in isolation its probably not noticeable, but my impression
was that the browsing experience on the Tab isn't up to the usual
Android standard, at last in terms of performance.
To prove my hunch I timed the Tab against my Streak when browsing a
number of websites. The results were eye opening to say the least. The
results obtained were achieved after a clean boot on a wireless
BBC News: Streak 7s, Tab 13s
Football 365: Streak 12s, Tab 14s
The Guardian: Streak 8s, Tab 15s
Phandroid: Streak 18s, Tab 24s
Its not absolutely conclusive but it definitely points to a problem -
maybe with the Tab browser, as the Streak loads pages significantly
faster. Or does it. Used side by side with the Streak the Tab seems
somewhat sluggish, sure it has more pixels to push around but that
can't account for the whole problem. The browser is definitely the
worst offender though.
I suspect that what the Tab needs is a good dose of Honeycomb to put
When Nokia made a high profile announcement that its smartphones would be migrating to this new platform close to a year ago it didn't seem unreasonable to expect new devices to appear relatively quickly. After all Nokia has shipped a number of devices running on its predecessor Maemo and having bet the farm on its new platform surely would be dedicating all its resources to making it work?
Apparently not. Symbian^3 recently arrived to a crescendo of disappointment and speculation is increasing that Nokia are about to go into partnership with Microsoft and/or Google in an attempt to dig itself out of a hole. That's going to make the prospective announcement of the first Meego phone - the N9 - at MWC next month something of a let-down. Nokia needs to deliver a big hitter with the N9 and between now and then it also needs to kill the rumours about its interest in other platforms.
If it can't manage this then its probably time to admit defeat, hook up with Google and Microsoft and hope that its excellent hardware team can keep it afloat in hugely competitive market.
There's been a sea change in the way that software updates are perceived by smartphone customers. We're no longer happy to put up with the old way of doing things: buy a device, discover that it had several flaws, see a software update that resolved all those problems and offered improved functionality and have to buy a new device to get those benefits.
To be fair early PDAs lacked the hardware to support OS updates and Microsoft's Windows Mobile partners did offer an update path on some later devices.
Apple changed the gameplan with the iPhone and its now the default position to expect the system software on a device to remain current from the life of the phone. Not least because we are now signing up to longer contracts - two years is now the norm, compared to 12 months just five years ago.
This is where Google's frantic update pace is hurting Android customers. Not because of fragmentation, which has proven to be less of an issue than many have predicted. Rather because those customers are now having to work harder to keep their phones up to date for handset buyers.
Sony-Ericsson's recent X10 debacle is a case in point. The X10 was announced late 2008 when Android 1.6 ruled. Then in the six months between announcement and launch Google shipped versions 2.0, 2.1 and then 2.2 of Android. SE committed to delivering updates for the phone and eager buyers bought what turned out to be a pretty flawed device in the end. Never mind though, SE shipped a number of bug fix releases and the promise of 2.2 was enough to keep owners from getting too despondent. SE duly delivered a system upgrade towards the end of last year - but only to 2.1, followed by the announcement that no further OS upgrades would be made for the X10 family. Owners are left with a phone that has been out of date since launch, at least another 14 months on their contracts and no prospect of ever seeing functionality that HTC owners have been enjoying for more than six months.
Is it any wonder they're up in arms?
Now those handset owners are going to be stuck with 2.1 as Google ships 2.3 on the Nexus S, with 2.4 promised within six months. Who will they take their wrath out on when those contracts expire? Will they blame Google and the OHA, take their custom to RIM, Apple or Nokia? Or will they blame SE, jumping to Samsung, Dell or HTC keeping their faith in Android?
I suspect that many OEMs will learn from the X10 debacle and ensure that any custom launcher applied to future Android phones is well separated from the core OS to ease future updates. A good test will be what happens with the hugely successful Galaxy Tab, a trail blazer for Android tablets but allegedly going to be denied Android 3.0, a revision designed specifically for tablets. Failure here would turn several million Tab owners against Samsung and Google.
There's a path through the upgrade minefield but Google and its partners need to tread a wary path to safety on the other side...
Sunday, 16 January 2011
One of those men who really was the epitome of seventies cool was French racing driver Francois Cevert. Son of a French Resistance fighter, from a Jewish family that succesfully avoided internment despite living the whole war in Nazi occupied France, before you find out anything about his racing career you already know that with those genes this guy had to be something special.
Having started his racing career at sixteen racing motorbikes Cevert graduated to cars and furthered his career by winning at each level on the way up the motorsports ladder, culminating in an offer to replace the retiring Johnny Servoz-Gavin in the Tyrrell Grand Prix team alongside Jackie Stewart. This offer came after he had outfoxed Stewart in a F2 race the year before, the Scotsman personally recommended Cevert to Ken Tyrrell.
Cevert spent is four years at Tyrrell learning from the master and picked up his first victory at Watkins Glen in 1972. He spent the following year shadowing Stewart as the Scot drove to his third World Driver's Championship. Stewart had seen the writing on the wall, the student was now faster than the master and Stewart had secretly decided to retire at the end of the 1973 season.
But this was the era when F1 drivers set off from the pits never knowing whether they would ever step from their car again. Speeds were high, circuits were dangerous and cars were flimsy. Accidents invariably meant serious injuries and, far too frequently, death.
At Watkins Glen, one year after becoming only the second Frenchman in history to win a Grand Prix, Cevert's life was to be cut tragically short. In a qualifying session for the Grand Prix Cevert's car was pitched into the barriers at high speed on the very fast, uphill Esses just after the pits. The impact was severe, uprooting the barrier and slicing the car and driver in half, Cevert's body cut from neck to hip. Stewart withdrew from the race and the Tyrrell team began a terminal decline that took almost two decades to complete.
So in an era when drivers deliberately throw their cars into walls, or ram each other off the track with reckless abandon, remember the real heroes where those who walked the tightrope before any of the current crop were born. And this tightrope was one without a safety net.
Now that's real cool...
Saturday, 15 January 2011
allow tethering on GSM iPhones, a feature that arrived on CDMA
versions destined for the US network Verizon this week.
This makes the future of 3G enabled iPads look pretty bleak, after all
just about every iPad owner already has an iPhone and the few that
won't will have Android phones instead. With all those tethering
options available the extra radio doesn't look worth having.
So why spend the extra for 3G on the iPad? The Wifi model looks the
much better buy.
Friday, 14 January 2011
sales figures for Q3 2010 and its projections for future sales.
For the period Symbian retained its sales lead, but market share
continued its ongoing decline. Android consolidated its second place
and Open Handset Alliance devices outsold iOS by nearly 3:2.
Globally RIM are in fourth place with the others (Microsoft, Bada and
Palm principally) trailing far behind. An interesting juxtaposition of
US sales, where RIM is the clear leader, for now at least.
Canalys expect Android sales to surge ahead through 2011 whilst the
arrival of iPhone on Verizon will boost iOS Device sales in the short
term at least.
Tuesday, 11 January 2011
Legard seems to have been demonised in the same way that James Allen was on ITV, almost as if British F1 fans expect to unearth another Murray Walker instantly. What they perhaps forget is that good old Murray was famous for his mistakes and had the thick end of forty years experience commentating before most discovered him in the Nigel Mansell inspired 80s F1 boom.
No more. Today Apple and Verizon launched a CDMA radio wrapped up in a real iPhone.
I wonder how many Verizon customers will be rushing out to buy though, given that Apple's current upgrade cycle means we're just a few months away from the iPhone 5 (or possible 4S)?
The fact that the CDMA iPhone can't do anything else whilst on a call is probably another good reason for not jumping ship yet.
That iPhone 4 is going to look awfully compromised when its replacement arrives and you're locked into a two year contract...
Sunday, 9 January 2011
Firstly, speed needs to be addressed. Not so much the OS itself, which is slick and fluid in operation, rather the launching times for applications. These can be annoyingly lengthy and badly affect the operation of the phone. Who wants a delay when checking their Twitter feed? Now some of this is probably down to application developers but if that's the case it needs to new addressed by providing them with better tools and guidance.
Multi-tasking (or the lack of) is a contributing factor in that problem. No modern OS should be forcing it's users to do one thing at a time, it needs fixing PDQ. This would also fix the problem with Live Tiles, which haven't really proved to be as useful as first thought. Mostly because they require developers to jump through hoops to use them, partially because there is a lengthy wait before the associated application them starts (see above). Allowing a background process to update a tile should make for a much better user experience.
The Marketplace has a bug which will stop various programs from starting if it stalls, something that can only be fixed with a reset. Otherwise though the system if pretty stable, an impressive achievement for a first release.
Lastly the social aspects of Zune are rubbish. Integrate the service with Last.fm and things start to look a lot better.
With the updates promised for this quarter these would make WP7 a pretty competitive offering and certainly give the competition something to think about...
Friday, 7 January 2011
That hasn't been enough to save Bruno Senna's seat with the team and he had been unceremoniously dumped by the Spanish team.
It's sad to see the Senna name leave the sport in this way, but in the current climate its hard to see Bruno finding another drive.
In the first six weeks on sale 1.5 million Windows Phone devices were sold across the launch regions and manufacturers. That makes the adoption rate faster than the iPad, about level with the Galaxy Tab. Whilst that's not a completely fair comparison (there are only one iPad and one Tab) it dos seem to be positive news for a company that seemed out of the mobile game a year ago.
If Microsoft can maintain that sales level that would make 12 million phones running WP7 in year one.
A strong fourth place in the market behind RIM, Apple and Android. And with the first major update due in 30-60 days things look okay in Windows Phone land...
Thursday, 6 January 2011
That's pretty poor going by SE. And I suspect its going to be the final straw for many customers who have endured some pretty ropey support for their devices over the past few years - not to mention some incredibly ropey devices...
The X10 was launched on Android 1.6 with a promise of future upgrades - as Android 2.2 Froyo had been launched at the time that the X10 became available it doesn't seem unreasonable for customers to expect to get as far as Froyo with its major speed improvements and additional functionality. Instead Sony slipped out an upgrade to Eclair (Android 2.1) and appear to be leaving it at that.
Given that all the headline features of the X10 have either worked poorly or not at all (the camera, Timescape, Mediascape, Face recognition, etc., etc.) and even the latest release under-performs without the addition of a Task Manager, its not surprising that SE owners on numerous threads around the internet are already promising to never buy from the company again.
Having endured the disappointments of the R380, P800, X1 and now X10 I fear that you can count me amongst that number.
Such a shame for a phone which promised so much and remains one of the best looking devices on the market...
Not unreasonably the board decided to part company with their manager and the club should now be focusing its efforts on winning a relegation battle.
Unfortunately the club's manager was a certain Darren Ferguson, son of Manchester United manager Alex. The latter has taken umbrage at the decision to sack the former and recalled two players currently on loan between the two clubs, whilst also instigating legal action to make sure a third does not play for them again. It's also been mooted that Alex has applied pressure on another Premier League manager to recall players on loan to Preston. Shocking if true.
It reflects poorly on both Fergusons that the entirely justified sacking of one provokes this kind of reaction in the other.
I'd suggest that any club thinking about taking on Darren Ferguson as their manager think very carefully about the impact this could have on them in the long term.
Wednesday, 5 January 2011
Smartphone hit the mainstream, have a look at how many people are carrying iPhones and Androids. In the UK at least there is a pretty good chance that the dumb phone will disappear forever. The integration of key services like Facebook and Twitter, together with instant, ubiquitous access to email led many to a smartphone platform they'd have never considered before. All helped by Apple removing the 'nerd' stigma from smartphone ownership...
Tablets were something of a niche market a year ago. Companies like Samsung, OQO, Archos and Viliv had built decent followings with machines that transcended the limits of their desktop operating systems. When Apple announced the iPad it delivered an iPhone that had been pumping steroids. Had it only delivered that we'd have probably seen it fail. By working with developers to deliver plenty of tablet-ready applications at launch Apple ensured that the iPad was a roaring success.
If Apple had been the only company to hit a tablet home run we could probably have dismissed the platform but this was immediately followed by a number of successful Android tablets with the Dell Streak and Advent Vega tablets scoring some early success. The year culminated in the arrival of the Samsung Galaxy Tab which looks likely to match the iPad's 2 million unit first quarter, a previously inconceivable achievement.
2011 promises even more in the way of change. More powerful, better featured tablets will steal more of the mobile market as the 80:20 rule makes traditional clamshell devices overkill for must users. The presence of cameras and competition between Skype and Facetime will finally bring video calling into the mainstream. The next big battleground will be in the streaming media arena, as Google and Apple take on Zune and each other.