Talk about a mulligan, I can't even write my own unique blog content this week, I'm just going to promote myself and link to a Mashable post. Sing it from the rooftops: Christina Sucks!
Since the 27th, I’ve been hounded by people wanting to know my opinion about the elusive Apple iPad. OK, that’s a total lie. By “hounded” I mean, asked by like two or three people on Twitter. Then I got incredibly sick, beginning Friday the 29th. Like horrendously sick. Like, holy fuck let’s not do that again sick.
However, at long last, I think I’ve managed to put all my thoughts about the iPad and the emerging device class of tablets and media pads into one 900 word post. You can read it in its entirety at Mashable.com. However, I’ll provide an excerpt to try to entice you to care:
What’s different about this new wave of tablet devices is that the intended use cases for the device have evolved into something completely different. These new tablets are not being presented as a replacement for the existing computer but for an ancillary type of platform. The new tablets are also not being primarily targeted at business users, but at home users instead. The usage cases are more tightly defined as well. The new tablet devices are about accessing and consuming web content.
If that sounds eerily familiar, that’s because I totally ripped-off my own writings from this blog back in November, when I both reviewed the 27″ i7 iMac and discussed Google’s Chrome OS. I articulated far more verbosely in that personal blog post the problem I see with netbooks (in terms of being a target for an alternative operating system like Google Chrome) and why I was convinced then, just as I am convinced now, that a new class of device is needed for the original purpose of netbooks to actually take hold.
This is what I wrote a little over two months ago, again, in relation to Chrome OS, but also applicable to the idea of the new wave of tablet computing and media pads as we will know them:
Here’s where netbooks end up causing their owners problems. The netbook has better hardware than the iPhone, but because it has a bigger screen a bigger keyboard (and the screens and keyboards are getting bigger and bigger all the time), people expect it to be faster than it is. Thus, you get people wanting more from the device than it can offer. That’s why netbooks, at least Atom-based netbooks are probably going to disappear sooner rather than later. On the low-end you’ll have ARM and on the higher-end, you’ll just have low-priced, lightweight actual laptops…
Anyway, I think the push for ARM in netbook style computers is going to be met with utter disappointment from consumers — especially if Flash isn’t hardware accelerated when they launch. Since this is Chrome’s target, I think that traditional laptop styled devices are not going to work.
This is what I see: Something like a tablet but with a more defined purpose: like call it a media pad. Something you could use as a remote control, for instance — an eBook reader (that isn’t as good as eInk) and a visual TV guide. Yeah, you can watch online content and surf the web, but it’s designed to sit on your sofa and be like what we use phones for now — but bigger and with the understanding that you need to be online at all times.
In any event, as Chrome OS stands now, it really isn’t useable in any test form, other than for shits and giggles, but the fact that it exists is pretty cool.
I will write one original thing here for my own blog, and that’s about Flash.
The Flash Problem is Overblown
I’m not going to totally get into the whole Flash debate — I think I made a very good case in the first episode of Dan Benjamin’s new show, The Conversation (subscribe now!) and Dan made his own solid case in episode 2.
But just to put it in a tiny bit of perspective, let me give my opinion, mostly as an observer and web-user of what has happened with Flash over the last decade and why what’s happening now shouldn’t surprise anyone, least of all Adobe.
OK, so Macromedia introduces Flash in 1996, according to the Wikipedia, buying it from some guy who wrote the Flash precursor in college for the PenPoint OS and then ported it to Windows and Mac and then sold it to Macromedia, who renamed it Flash. It was used primarily for web animations and effects and navigation and whatnot.
Then in 2002, Flash 6 came with flash video support, which made it easy to do web-video without having to rely on shit like Realplayer or Windows Media or even QuickTime (though as we’ll see, QuickTime’s day would come again). The real power of this type of video really wasn’t exploited until YouTube launched in early 2005. Suddenly, Flash, which had been a dying component, came back and it came back big time.
In essence, video was Flash’s saving grace. When the iPhone debuted without Flash support in June 2007, YouTube worked to convert its videos to H.264, so that they could play on the iPhone. In December of 2007, Adobe added H.264 support to Flash 9. This was a very, very prudent move and it was done because Adobe could see the writing on the wall: Web video was all going to go H.264. Not only is it the best compression standard that’s available in terms of size/performance now, but there is tons of hardware acceleration support and the new crop of consumer cameras records in it natively. If Flash can act as a container for that format, Flash can stave off its extinction in the video space.
Well, HTML5 and continued smartphone adoption patterns is going to finally make content providers question why they are suing a Flash container when they can just display the same video natively, without the container. Forgetting about Mozilla’s refusal to get on the ball here (and really, I’m just going to say this right now — I have no desire to get into any meaningless arguments over “freedom” or the “potential” of Theora with anyone. Do that on your own time. I don’t fucking care and neither does the rest of the rational world. I like the Xiph project, I don’t think Theora, which is based on old-ass technology should become the standard just because toe-jam eaters like Richard Stallman hate anything that doesn’t conform their insane standards. Want something truly “free” to take over — develop something new.), HTML5 has tons of promise because it makes sense to serve the content directly rather to put in a wrapper.
As for sites like Hulu that require Flash now — if they have any brains at all, they will have an iPad application available at launch.
And let’s not forget that the problems of Flash are not limited to the iPad. Fennec, the Firefox Mobile browser that currently runs only on the Nokia N900 — yeah, they had to drop Flash support because it degraded performance too much. The HTC Hero supports Flash, it fucking sucks and is a terrible experience. Flash 10.2, which will FINALLY bring some hardware side optimizations to the platform, making it viable on netbooks, is only for x86 processors. ARM is out. ARM derivatives like the A4 are out. If Flash isn’t optimized to work on the next crop of mobile devices, why are we all shrieking over the fact that rather than offer shitty support, Apple (and other smartphone makers) aren’t supporting Flash?
This is where, if Microsoft were smart, they would start compiling Silverlgiht to run and run well on EVERYTHING. That way if you want a framework (and not just a container for a video player) that can work on multiple devices, you have an option.
But now I’ve written far more than I intended to write. No one said I wasn’t opinionated.
6 people have left comments
I’ll probably pass on the iPad, which will be a first for a new Apple product. I am however glad you survived being super sick and are better now!
Brian Allen said:
I can’t really see a reason (for me anyway) to own a ipad because I don’t see anything the ipad can do that my laptop can’t do.
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