May
19
2015
0

Consumer interest shifts to Surface Tablets

Microsoft has been kicking a lot of goals with its third generation Surface Tablets. The Surface Pro 3 has now been out for nearly a year, and the Surface 3 arrived here in Australia this month.

Tablet sales (including iPad) have been falling worldwide, but Microsoft have been bucking the trend with its third generation of Surface. It hit home when I visited the JB Hi-Fi home page today and saw this in the dropdown menu:image

Note the Surface link is bold and large on the site…

While the Surface Pro 3 grew sales for Microsoft 127% in Q1 this year, iPad sales fell by 18% at the end of last year and fell further than expected un Q1 2015.

The lower priced Surface 3 was launched in this current quarter and it has also been well received by critics. Starting at $499 US it should make further in roads to the iPad market share.

I’m not saying that iPad is going away anytime soon, but these are significant numbers that show that consumer and business interest has finally shifted beyond iPad.

As a windows tablet guy since 2002 the world has seemed like a pretty lonely place. Particularly in the last few years that iPad has been dominating. Now in 2015 I’m not alone anymore and it’s kind of weird! Winking smile

Why are people moving over to Surface from iPad? Bruce from FrugalTech explains it well:

Written by admin in: Tablet PC |
Jan
03
2014
0

Adobe Employee Stops Using Pen And Paper!

Wow, have you ever heard the Apple Fanorati drone on about device fragmentation with Android tablets?

Meanwhile, because Steve Jobs strictly forbid stylus use at Apple every company with a drawing or writing related app is making some sort of pen hardware for the iPad.

The catch is, the whiz bang Bluetooth stylus only works with the one app. Doh!

Did someone say fragmentation? Imagine the pencil case of 50gram fat Bluetooth pens that you’ll need to carry around with you.

Interestingly Adobe has developed an interesting pen set call Project Mighty. Michael Gough, VP of Product Experience tells us in the announcement video that because of this new pen he’s been able to do away with pen and paper for creativity!

Welcome to 2001 Michael Gough!

Here’s a photo of my children doing away with pen and paper in 2009.

Child using a rugged Motion Computing F5v tablet PC in 2009

By the constant flurry of activity around the next new crap iPad stylus I’d say that it is becoming apparent to the world only now, four years later that pen input is sorely missing.

We’re all finally bored of playing Angry Birds on tablets and we want to do something useful at least some of the time.

Adobe’s new pen is an intriguing tool for the very small percentage of the 200 million iPad owners who live in Adobe’s Creative Cloud.

For the rest of us suckers, it is clear that it was Apple and Steve Jobs that blew it. iPad cannot replace pen and paper due to the lack of intelligent pen input.

The people that keep on persisting with trying to make the iPad work like pen and paper remind me of a dog humping a plastic toy. Nothing good will come of it.

I guess I’ll just keep taking notes the same way I did in 2002 – with a tablet that has a built in Wacom Digitizer Pen and Microsoft OneNote.

Written by admin in: Tablet PC | Tags: , , , , , , ,
Jan
02
2014
0

Playing Catan (and other Android games) on a Windows Tablet PC

For over a year I have used a rugged Motion Computing F5t as my all-in-one laptop replacement tablet. An “Ivy Bridge” Intel Core i7, 16Gb or RAM and a 256Gb SSD makes it more than powerful enough for my work day!

Where it has occasionally fallen short is in the downtime. For example, it’s not an ideal tablet to watch movies on since there is no headphone slot and the speaker is sealed at the back because of the rugged water resistance requirements. Instead I use Bluetooth headphones or one of these Logitech laptop speakers that plug in via USB.

But with my travels I don’t watch movies or TV much. What I’d rather do is play an Android game like Plants Vs Zombies 2 or The Settelers of Catan. But, like many other games they are not yet available in the Windows 8 tablet store…

Now I’ve discovered Bluestacks. It is an Android emulator that allows me to sign into the Google Play Store and download the apps that I already have on my Android tablets to the emulator. Effectively I now have Android on my Windows tablet!

image

It is a little slow to load apps at times, but they run seamlessly. There are probably hundreds of applications for this little gem. For me Bluestacks equals one less tablet in the travel bag… and that is a blessing for a travelling Tablet salesman!

Nov
30
2013
0

Olympus OMD EM-5 Long Exposure Seattle Wheel

The Microsoft MVP Summit party was held at the Seattle Aquarium this time. On an outside balcony during the night I managed to get this shot:

PB210268-2

Camera: Olympus OMD EM-5
Lens: Panasonic Lumix 20mm 1.7
ISO: 200
F-stop: 16
Exposure: 7.76 seconds
Mode: Manual – Live View
Editing: Slightly adjusted for colour and exposure in Photoshop.

I’m using an Eye-fi Pro 16Gb to transfer the photos to my Motion F5t Tablet PC for instant editing. It’s a brilliant solution!

Nov
28
2013
0

Microsoft Surface Team at MVP Summit

PB210253I was incredibly privileged to meet the Microsoft Surface team last week in Redmond at the annual MVP Summit. A person that really stood out was Panos Panay – the head of Microsoft Surface. He featured in the video below that I recently posted (design story).

Panos Panay is certainly an interesting character. He was a captivating and formidable presenter.

The inside word at MS is that his alternate career path was as a professional gambler. And maybe that’s not far apart from being the head of Microsoft Surface.

Personally I couldn’t stop comparing Panos to Ben Stiller’s magician in Arrested Development – “Tony Wonder.”

See what you think:

Maybe you had to be there… And watch the show… Crickets…

What I was impressed with is how engaged the folks at Surface were. We met with Panos Panay and Brian Hall. Both made themselves readily available for direct questions and discussions, despite their seniority and importance at Microsoft. There is little doubt to me that these guys are the future of Microsoft, but there they were, talking and engaging with 150 MVPs – 10 Surface MVPs and 1 Tablet and Touch MVP – me).

In the group session I asked Panos for his thoughts on the Wacom Pen in Surface Pro. “Is it just an after-thought? Or is it an integral part of the experience?”

His response was interesting.”What is the use case for 200 million people?” It is a good question. I suggested that the team take note of how many people carry pen and paper to meetings along with their tablets (iPad of course is the worst offender).

I did get a sense that Panos and the team are all on board with the pen. They are looking for ways to get the message across to a lot of people, and that is re-assuring.

We met with Ed Guiano, the head of Surface Engineering who oozed enthusiasm for his product. And it is a product worthy of such enthusiasm. Ed was incredibly forthright and knowledgeable. He certainly came across as someone that you would want leading your product engineering team.

The marketing team for Surface were accessible, open, dedicated and charged up.

On the other hand folks from the Windows tablet team were not present. There were plenty of great sessions on Consumer Apps, Windows 8.1 features and experiences, but nothing specifically on tablets (apart from Surface). Maybe that’s because only one Tablet and Touch MVP attended – me. There aren’t many of us left anyway in the Tablet and Touch specialty. But I hope that doesn’t mean that Microsoft are putting all of their efforts into Surface.

Surface is currently two amazing and worthy tablets. But they a not suited to everyone and never will be.

The strength of the Windows tablet sphere has always been variety of hardware. Let’s hope the OEMs like Dell, Lenovo, Sony, Fujitsu, Panasonic and Motion have their effort reflected by Microsoft with enthusiasm for their products like we saw from the Surface team last week.

Written by admin in: Tablet PC | Tags: , , , , ,
Nov
28
2013
0

Olympus OMD EM-5 Long exposure night shot from Boeing 777

Two weeks ago I was travelling from Melbourne to Los Angeles on a Virgin Australia 777 (VH-VOZ). In the middle of the night, somewhere around the equator I decided to have pull out my camera for an experiment.

I’m using an Olympus OMD EM-5 with a Panasonic Lumix 20mm 1.7 lens. The Oly OMD is a great camera for this shot since it is small and light. The 6 axis image stabilisation is also a bonus.

I must have spent about an hour taking photos. That turned out to be a great way to kill some time since MEL to LAX is 14 hour flight.

As things progressed I discovered that my black neck pillow made an awesome camera mount (a tripod was not an option)! The pillow blocked out reflections on the window and gave me a steady surface to mount the camera to.

I posted one of the photos on Facebook, and my friends went crazy for it. That inspired me to send the photo to the Virgin Australia social media folks via Facebook. They in turn posted it and got a huge response across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Now they have submitted it for publication in the January Voyeur Magazine (Virgin’s inflight magazine)!

Here is the photo.

PB120141

Camera: Olympus OMD EM-5
Lens: Panasonic Lumix 20mm 1.7
ISO: 1000
F-stop: 1.7
Exposure: 30.54 seconds
Mode: Manual – Live View
Editing: Slightly adjusted for colour and exposure in Photoshop.

Looking closely, you can see that it’s nothing close to a perfect photo. It’s out of focus (although that doesn’t seem to matter much on social media) and grainy.

The Olympus is a great camera, but the digital view finder made focusing almost impossible for this shot. It was pitch black outside with no moon (hence the clear stars), and the digital view finder was useless for focusing. An optical view finder would be far superior for this job.

But it is fascinating to see a night shot from a platform moving at about 800 km/h. If you look closely at the stars you can see a wiggly trail as the plane moved and bumped along.

I’m stoked with the image and the response that it got! I’ve had it made into a poster for my office.

Aug
28
2013
0

Tablet PC Marketing: The product mini-site

Wow, what a difference a downturn makes for your ability to sell. Tablet PC manufacturers have been hit hard by stagnant growth in the PC market. In the tablet era PCs just don’t sell themselves like they used to.

I took a look at the way two consumer oriented Windows 8 tablets are sold buy their maker and I was shocked at how well these companies are trying to sell their products.

First, I took a look at the way HP Australia sell their Envy Tablet:

image

That’s right, it’s an “ENVY x2 11-g001tu”. It has Windows 8 32, On-board 2GB 533MHz LPDDR2 SDRAM, 64 GB SSD, 11.6" diagonal and UMA Shared Graphics. How appealing! Where’s the buy now button… Not!

This represents the classic PC manufacturer approach to selling computers (and tablets for that matter). Just list the specs and the price. That’s it. Order at will!

That’s the way it’s been for 20 years and it nearly every PC maker has done it this way for that long.

Benefits, rich and emotionally descriptive information and solutions to problems are all superfluous when people just order your products because they like your brand and there is no other way to tell two products apart.

You wouldn’t know it from their Australian Web Store page, but HP actually do know how to sell the Envy Tablet better than this. Check out this view of their product mini site.

image

Strangely their ecommerce people do not seem to know about this site. There’s no link to it, and I could only find this site by Google search!

As you can see though, the mini-site actually makes a noble if brief attempt to sell the envy based on design, convenience and emotion.

“High–quality materials, modern lines you can see and feel, each laptop, TouchSmart and desktop is pure ENVY.”

“So you don’t miss a thing.”

The good thing here is that they are trying to create an experience around their product.

ASUS are doing a far better job of this with the ASUS Vivotab and an amazing mini-site:

image

image

image

image

The site is one of the best examples of a product mini-site that I have seen yet. If the product was as good as the mini-site the tablet would sell off the hook! It is a rich experience site, that draws you in with descriptive animations, emotional benefits and logical backups.

Ironically the product will not sell of the hook due to its specs! The combination of a low performance Intel Atom processor and an 11.6 inch screen (2 things that do not go together for the average punter). But this mini-site gives you the best chance that you’ll ever get to fall in love with the product.

I related in my last post that the Apple style design story has become part of Lenovo and Microsoft’s repertoire. The experience mini-site takes that a significant step further incorporating the many emotional hooks.

But the thing that I personally rejoice over is that Tablet PC makers (apart from Apple who have been selling like this for years – Apple NLP Video list here) are actually putting significant energy into selling.

They are thinking about their products in customers terms right through the product cycle.

We can only hope that they continue to improve for the sake of themselves and for choice!

Written by admin in: Tablet PC | Tags: , , , ,
Apr
30
2013
0

Tablet PC Marketing: Telling the design story

Apple of course set the standard for telling the design story and now Microsoft is following the course with its Surface Pro Windows 8 Tablet PC.

Having visited our friends at Motion Computing in Austin Texas I can tell you that Tablet PC hardware companies are full of stories like this.

For example, did you know that Motion Computing pioneered Gorilla Glass with Corning on the F5? They were the first to use it. Direct bonding for displays? Motion and DuPont. Wide View displays? Motion were involved again. Who’s telling the story? I think hardware companies take this for granted.

Lenovo is an example of a company that is telling the design story. Over at their Yamato Labs blog you will find intricate detail on the Lenovo ThinkPad 2 tablet design.

Personally I’d rate the ThinkPad 2 as the best business companion tablet on the market and you can see from this blog how intelligent industrial design produced that result.

The trouble is that not enough effort goes into telling these stories, but they are incredibly important to the consumers who purchase these devices. Design stories provide the points of logical differentiation that helps you to justify your purchase.

I’d love to see Motion, Lenovo, Samsung and Fujitsu produce a polished video for each of their Tablet PCs like the one Microsoft have produced above for the Surface Pro.

They each have design stories to tell that are just as good if not better than Microsoft’s.

It surely couldn’t have cost much to do. There are no actors there. It’s professionally shot of course. A little bit of script writing would be done to add polish. I can’t see how you could spend $10 grand on it. Worth doing?

Which Tablet PC would you purchase? The Tablet PC with a design story or the cheap one? If Apple is anything to go by you’d go with the story.

Apr
24
2013
0

How a Tablet PC should be marketed!

Here’s what’s just awesome about Microsoft’s marketing for the Surface Pro.

  1. They’re doing it. They’re actually marketing the crap out of this thing.

    Billboard, TV, online – they’re really going for this.

  2. It’s not just another PC in the range, it is the range.

    Microsoft have a team (or teams) of people dedicated to just two products.

    Other big Windows 8 Tablet Makers just put the thing up on their website buried in the Notebooks section. They don’t seem to realise that their PC business is dying let alone what they should do about it (market the tablets!).

  3. They’re telling a story that’s true.

    What the Surface people are showing in their marketing might not represent your working environment (as seen in the following video) but you can see yourself in it.

On the flip side, since Microsoft seem to be the only Windows 8 Tablet manufacturer actually marketing too many people will rush out and buy a Surface Pro next month without considering some of the better alternatives.

Not that they’d be disappointed with the Surface Pro. It’s an awesome tablet PC.

Written by admin in: Tablet PC | Tags: , , ,
Jan
14
2013
0

Designing the Windows 8 tablet touch keyboard

I am intrigued and impressed by Microsoft’s effort to design a better touch keyboard for Windows 8 tablets.

You can read quite a bit of detail about it here:
http://blogs.msdn.com/b/b8/archive/2012/07/17/designing-the-windows-8-touch-keyboard.aspx

3 images of 3 common ways to hold a tablet and type

Looking at the assumptions in the article though, I have to wonder, what ever happened to people’s ability to learn?

It seems to me that many decisions in product design – particularly in the tech world and never more so than with Tablets – are based on the fact that people will instantly dismiss a device if it doesn’t work perfectly as expected in the first 2 seconds.

What this has caused is a dumbing down of any device that might fall into the hands of a consumer (read: idiot) to the point where its utility is compromised. Sometimes significantly.

You’ll see in the article that clever ideas like the counter shift key option on the early Windows 8 tablet keyboard design was binned based on what looks to be short term user expectations and experiences.

Ultimately the incredible simplification of the Windows 8 tablet keyboard will at least give Microsoft a chance to compete with the ultimate dumbed down device (iPad), but it leaves the people who are willing to learn something new (like Swipe on Android) without the possible benefit.

Bring back complexity. The world is complex and complex gets things done!

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