Tagapple

Google’s new push to AI-powered services

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At their Pixel 2 event at the beginning of the month, Google released a whole slew of new products. Besides new phones there were updated version of their smart home hub, Google Home, and some new types of product altogether.

I don’t usually write about product launches, but this event has me excited about new tech for the first time in a long time. Why? Because some aspects stood out as they stand for a larger shift in the industry: The new role of artificial intelligence (AI) as it seeps into consumer goods.

Google have been reframing themselves from a mobile first to an AI first company for the last year or so. (For full transparency I should add that I’ve worked with Google occasionally in the recent past, but everything discussed here is of course publicly available.)

We now see this shift of focus play out as it manifests in products.

Here’s Google CEO Sundar Pichai at the opening of Google’s Pixel 2 event:

We’re excited by the shift from a mobile-first to an AI-first world. It is not just about applying machine learning in our products, but it’s radically re-thinking how computing should work. (…) We’re really excited by this shift, and that’s why we’re here today. We’ve been working on software and hardware together because that’s the best way to drive the shifts in computing forward. But we think we’re in the unique moment in time where we can bring the unique combination of AI, and software, and hardware to bring the different perspective to solving problems for users. We’re very confident about our approach here because we’re at the forefront of driving the shifts with AI.
AI as a platform: Google has it.
First things first: I fully agree – there’s currently no other company that’s in as well positioned to drive the development of AI, or to benefit from it. In fact, back in May 2017 I wrote that “Google just won the next 10 years.” That was when Google just hinted at their capabilities in terms of new features, but also announced building AI infrastructure for third parties to use. AI as a platform: Google has it.

Before diving into some structural thoughts, let’s look at two specific products they launched:

  1. Google Clips are a camera you can clip somewhere, and it’ll automatically take photos when some conditions are met: A certain person’s face is in the picture, or they are smiling. It’s an odd product for sure, but here’s the thing: It’s fully machine learning powered facial recognition, and the computing happens on the device. This is remarkable for its incredible technical achievement, and for its approach. Google has become a company of high centralization—the bane of cloud computing, I’d lament. Google Clips works at the edge, decentralized. This is powerful, and I hope it inspires a new generation of IoT products that embrace decentralization.
  2. Google’s new in-ear headphones offer live translation. That’s right: These headphones should be able to allow for multi-language human-to-human live conversations. (This happens in the cloud, not locally.) Now how well this works in practice remains to be seen, and surely you wouldn’t want to run a work meeting through them. But even if it eases travel related helplessness just a bit it’d be a big deal.

So as we see these new products roll out, the actual potential becomes much more graspable. There’s a shape emerging from the fog: Google may not really be AI first just yet, but they certainly have made good progress on AI-leveraged services.

The mental model I’m using for how Apple and Google compare is this:


The Apple model

Apple’s ecosystem focuses on an integration: Hardware (phones, laptops) and software (OSX, iOS) are both highly integrated, and services are built on top. This allows for consistent service delivery and for pushing the limits of hardware and software alike, and most importantly for Apple’s bottom line allows to sell hardware that’s differentiated by software and services: Nobody else is allowed to make an iPhone.

Google started at the opposite side, with software (web search, then Android). Today, Google looks something like this:


The Google model

Based on software (search/discovery, plus Android) now there’s also hardware that’s more integrated. Note that Android is still the biggest smartphone platform as well as basis for lots of connected products, so Google’s hardware isn’t the only game in town. How this works out with partners over time remains to be seen. That said, this new structure means Google can push its software capabilities to the limits through their own hardware (phones, smart home hubs, headphones, etc.) and then aim for the stars with AI-leveraged services in a way I don’t think we’ll see from competitors anytime soon.

What we’ve seen so far is the very tip of the iceberg: As Google keeps investing in AI and exploring the applications enabled by machine learning, this top layer should become exponentially more interesting: They develop not just the concrete services we see in action, but also use AI to build their new models, and open up AI as a service for other organizations. It’s a triple AI ecosystem play that should reinforce itself and hence gather more steam the more it’s used.

This offers tremendous opportunities and challenges. So while it’s exciting to see this unfold, we need to get our policies ready for futures with AI.

Please note that this is cross-posted from Medium. Disclosure: I’ve worked with Google a few times in the recent past.

Is Apple building a car?

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Full disclosure up front:

  • I have worked with automotive companies and suppliers, and with Google, in some minor roles.
  • I hold no stock of Apple or any automotive companies or suppliers.
  • I have no inside information that’s going to go into this bit of analysis, it’s all publicly available (and linked).

Now, let’s dive right in.

The tech news have been full of buzz about rumors of Apple building a car. The thinking isn’t silly, of course: A tech company sitting on a giant pile of cash, lots of movement in the connected car space, where parties as diverse as car manufacturers, web giants (Apple, Google, Nokia/HERE), mapping companies (TomTom, Nokia/HERE, Google), big data and connectivity companies, even a new car manufacturer (Tesla), and many more are shuffling for a seat at the table. It’s a backdrop for epic drama, disruption and intrigue. It’s even code-named “Project Titan”, and how ambitious and gigantic does that sound, eh?

So is Apple going to compete with Tesla and working on their own car?

I don’t believe so. And here’s why.

(more…)

Tools I Use (September 2012 edition)

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objects

As a geek, it’s one of my duties and privileges to occasionally give tech & gadget advice. Sometimes to companies, more often to friends and family. I try to collect that stuff online under the tag Tools I Use. Here’s a snapshot of some of the gadgets and tools I’m currently using, and why:

Macbook Air

I’m still on a Macbook Air of about two years of age, about to be replaced. It’s my main & only computer, and I’m on it all day, every day. The Air has enough power for almost anything I encounter day to day, and its super lightweight design makes more than up for the occasionally over-powered processor. Of course, an external screen is nice and recommended. More screen real estate is good.

Nexus S v Galaxy S3

I loved my Nexus S phone, pure Android goodness. But it’s old now, and about to die. Time to let it go.

After years on various Android phones, I was (once more) just about ready to jump ship and switch over to iPhone. Initially I went to Android because it was more open than Apple’s iOS platform, then admittedly because I didn’t want to admit to myself that Google’s competitor isn’t as open as it set out to be. Both platforms by now try to lock you into their ecosystems, and both by now have pretty mature ecosystems, too.

While I consider the hardware design, by now, more eye candy than the software & platform aspects, on the design front the new iPhone kicks the Samsung Galaxy S3’s ass any day. (Same goes for naming conventions, as the last sentence easily demonstrates.)

That said, back to platforms and software: My mail and calendar live at Google. I don’t like iTunes. And I prefer Google Maps over Apple’s less mature mapping tools. (I hear very good things about Nokia maps, but hey, you can’t have it all.) So any promise the iPhone can give me about better integrating iCloud, iTunes or Apple’s calendar and email sounds to me more like a bug than a feature. I understand why many people opt for the Apple-verse, but when the road forked way back when, with one road leading to Apple lock-in and the other leading to (slightly less total) Google lock-in, I made a choice, and now it seems not worth switching.

My new phone is the Samsung Galaxy S3, the current top-of-the-line Android phone, the flagship model.

To get a better hands-on feeling for iOS, I guess I’ll just get an iPad. Using both platforms in parallel will both maximize friction and transaction costs, and give me a good side by side comparison. It’s the price I have to pay for geeking out.

Camera

I don’t really use any camera besides my phone. I’m on the market for a super compact model, but for almost any given context the phone camera should be good enough.

Headphones

For heavy duty, loud contexts (long plane rides, New York subway, etc) I use Audio Technica Quietpoint noise cancelling phones.

For the day to day, including sports and lots of conference calls, I’m quite happy with my Bose IE2 in-ears. Being in-ears, there’s lots of cable to get tangled up, but sound quality and fit are quite good. It’s not easy to find a good mix of headset and in-ears, and I’ve used them for the last nine months or so and am quite content with them.

Extra battery

On more intense days, my phone battery won’t make it through the day. So I frequently need some extra juice. A simple, if not particularly elegant solution is an external battery pack. I use one from TeckNet, which (like the name indicates) is a bit of a plasticky, cheap-ish affair. Yet, it works. And the current models actually look at least superficially like they might have improved in overall quality. Whichever brand you use, it’s good to have an extra charge of connectivity in your pocket.

Travel gear

  • Everyday backpack: Mission Workshop Rambler. Excellent, and just the right size and pocket layout for laptop & the necessary gadgets, extra jacket/sweatshirt, water bottle and all the cables, etc, that keep adding up.
  • Carry on: Rimowa IATA Cabin Trolley (two wheels). Hard to beat, and can take a beating. Heavy, but I like the aluminum finish. (The other materials are more light-weight.) Just big enough for 3-4 days of clothes and running shoes if you travel light.
  • Backpack for longer intense trips: Eagle Creek. Not sure which model, but I think it’s what they would now have updated to Rincon Vita. Light weight, huge volume, pretty much indestructible.

All of them are a bit on the pricy side, but are reliable, durable, feature a decent minimalistic design. I wouldn’t leave my home without them.

More recommendations

Helpful? If you’re into tool recommendations, I highly recommend Kevin Kelly’s fantastic Cool Tools.

Apple’s responsibility – aka what can we demand from our gadget dealers?

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“Apple is committed to ensuring that working conditions in our supply chain are safe, workers are treated with respect and dignity, and manufacturing processes are environmentally responsible.” – Apple.com/environment

Last month, the New York Times published an article about the human cost of the iPad. It is a shocking, appalling and sadly an entirely unexpected report of the working conditions in Apple’s production plants in China, namely the one of Foxconn.

Up front, let’s be clear: This focuses on Apple, but similar reports could most likely be written about every single bigger electronics company as well as any of Foxconn’s competitors. Foxconn is one of the world’s largest producer of electronics. So while these two have been singled out, there’s a larger issue at stake here. Let’s also be clear that this doesn’t excuse anything.

All quotes are from the above-mentioned NYTimes article.

“Apple never cared about anything other than increasing product quality and decreasing production cost,” said Li Mingqi, who until April worked in management at Foxconn Technology , one of Apple’s most important manufacturing partners. Mr. Li, who is suing Foxconn over his dismissal, helped manage the Chengdu factory where the explosion occurred. “Workers’ welfare has nothing to do with their interests,” he said.

Just a few days before the article appeared in the NYTimes, …

(…) Apple reported one of the most lucrative quarters of any corporation in history, with $13.06 billion in profits on $46.3 billion in sales. Its sales would have been even higher, executives said, if overseas factories had been able to produce more.

“We’ve known about labor abuses in some factories for four years, and they’re still going on,” said one former Apple executive who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity because of confidentiality agreements. “Why? Because the system works for us. Suppliers would change everything tomorrow if Apple told them they didn’t have another choice.”

So who’s to blame here is a tough call to make. Yet, that doesn’t mean we should just go about our business. We as consumers are responsible — and that includes me personally, and maybe you, too — for buying all these gadgets and turning a blind eye on where they come from. The big production companies like Foxconn are responsible, because they work abuse their workers in the reprehensible way they do. And Apple (like their industry partners/competitors) is responsible, maybe most so. It is their management that decides to stick to these production plants and the way they operate, to not push them hard to demand better working conditions, to not be willing to give up a small chunk of their insane margin & profits and pass down a bit of it to the people building their products.

Just to be clear. This is Apple’s responsibility to be better than the bare minimum, or anything mediocre. If you claim excellence and a leadership position, you got to act accordingly. You’re the leading design company and know what’s best for you users, and you insist on providing the best experience out there? In other words, you demand the lead position from your designers? Then you better demand the same from your production.

At the same time, we as buyers need to ask ourselves: What do we demand from the companies that produce our gadgets?

Now, where all parties are involved and bear some part of responsibility, aka Any Real-Life Situation In A Global Economy, it’s easy to weasel out. “But it’s you, too, and they do it too, and these guys over there!” And by shifting and spreading responsibility around, we get away from the thing we discuss.

Let’s not do that.

We’ll never find one person/company to hold responsible, just as we often won’t be able to completely switch our personal behaviors radically in hope of some later change. On the one hand, everybody needs to do what they can, on the other – and I can’t overstate that – I think we should lean hard on these companies whose products we buy. In fact, I think this might sometimes be more effective than any boycott.

So yes, as a paying customer I demand that Apple takes the human rights of their factory workers seriously and goes way(!) beyond the market average in doing so. “But prices will go up,” the usual argument goes, “who’s going to pay for all that?” If those changes mean slightly higher prices for me, fine, I’m willing to bear some of that load. But I seriously expect a big chunk to come out of that hilariously high hardware margin and profit. A company that has higher revenues, margins and cash reserves than the rest of the field should well and truly put some of that money to good use. And I don’t mean a new, beefed up DRM. I mean some serious change of business.

Disrupting business? Fine, whatever. Disrupting production chains and post-consumer lifecycles, that’s the next frontier. It’d be nice to see Apple take the lead there.

ZDF vs Google, Apple, Konsumenten

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[A note to my international readers: This post has to be in German as it concerns mostly German media; the next one will be in English again. Sorry for the inconvenience.]

Markus Schächter warnt vor Apple, Google & Co“, so die etwas verstörende Überschrift eines Interviews anlässlich der Münchner Medientage. Vorweg ein ausführliches Zitat von Herrn Schächter (Hervorhebungen von mir):

Ich hoffe, dass wir gemeinsam erkennen, was die Stunde geschlagen hat und dass jede rückwärtsgewandte Diskussion uns keinen Schritt weiter bringt. Wer einen Blick über die Grenzen wirft, der sieht, dass sich die Netzgiganten neu aufstellen. In den USA zeigen Google-TV und Apple-TV wohin die Reise geht. Suchmaschinen und Vertriebsplattformen saugen jeden Content auf, ganz egal von wem er stammt – Zeitungen, Verlage, Sender, Produzenten. Unsere Produkte werden zum Gegenstand fremder Geschäftsmodelle. Die heutigen Hersteller und Verbreiter publizistischer und kultureller Inhalte verlieren die Hoheit über ihre Produkte, wenn sie nicht sehr genau aufpassen. Ich sage es nicht zum ersten Mal: Es wird Zeit, dass wir in Deutschland endlich aufhören, die falschen Türen zu bewachen.

In diesem einen Absatz des Interviews steckt so wahnsinnig viel Verkehrtes, ich weiß kaum, wo ich anfangen soll. Also der Reihe nach, Satz für Satz.

Eines noch vorweg: Ich habe größten Respekt und vollste Hochachtung vor den öffentlich-rechtlichen Sendern und habe auch immer wieder mit und für diese gearbeitet. Viele meiner Freunde, Bekannte und Kollegen arbeiten als Journalisten oder Medienberater für privatwirtschaftliche oder öffentlich-rechtliche Medienbetriebe aller Art. Meine beiden Uniabschlüsse haben den Schwerpunkt Medien und Kommunikation, meine Magisterarbeit beschäftigte sich mit dem Medienwandel und dem Einfluss von Blogs auf die politische Berichterstattung. Anders gesagt, ich kann guten Gewissens sagen, dass ich mich ein wenig mit dem deutschen Mediensystem beschäftigt habe und mich sehr dafür interessiere. Niemals würde es mir in den Sinn kommen, den öffentlich-rechtlichen Rundfunk abzuschaffen.

Jetzt wo diese Frage aus dem Weg ist, gehen wir an die Substanz:

Markus Schächter: “Ich hoffe, dass wir gemeinsam erkennen, was die Stunde geschlagen hat und dass jede rückwärtsgewandte Diskussion uns keinen Schritt weiter bringt.”

Herr Schächter, ich stimme Ihnen voll und ganz zu. Lassen Sie uns die Zukunft diskutieren und die alten Streitreflexe zwischen öffentlich-rechtlichen und privaten Sendern sowie zwischen deutschen Medien und US-Internetunternehmen unterdrücken.

Markus Schächter: Wer einen Blick über die Grenzen wirft, der sieht, dass sich die Netzgiganten neu aufstellen. In den USA zeigen Google-TV und Apple-TV wohin die Reise geht.

Richtig, in den USA werden gerade die Spielregeln für die Zukunft des Bewegtbildes geschrieben. Besser gesagt: Dort ist das, was wir als “Zukunft des Bewegtbilds” bezeichnen würden längst Alltag: Netflix, Hulu und Co zeigen, wie einfach und gut Video-On-Demand-Dienste und Web-TV funktionieren können. Übrigens ohne dass sich dabei TV und Web in die Quere kommen würden. Hier gibt es diese Dienste nicht, nicht zuletzt da Medien und Politik in Deutschland als überraschend geschlossene Front gegenüber US-amerikanischen Onlineunternehmen auftreten. Damit schadet Deutschland gleich mehrfach – für Medien- und Internetunternehmen wird der Standort unattraktiver, Medienkonsumenten bleiben viele Spannende Kanäle unzugänglich.

Markus Schächter: Suchmaschinen und Vertriebsplattformen saugen jeden Content auf, ganz egal von wem er stammt – Zeitungen, Verlage, Sender, Produzenten.

Herr Schächter, bitte machen Sie doch Ihre Hausaufgaben. Eine Suchmaschine saugt keinen Content auf, sie indiziert ihn, macht ihn auffindbar. Was Suchmaschinen tun ist das Gegenteil dessen, was Sie hier faktenfrei behaupten: Sie stehlen diese Inhalte nicht etwa, wie Sie mit Ihrer Formulierung suggerieren, sondern sorgen dafür, dass mehr Menschen darauf aufmerksam werden. Sollte eine Zeitung, ein Verlag, ein Sender oder Produzent dies nicht wünschen, so gibt es einfachste technische Möglichkeiten, die Indizierung zu verhinden – nur sollten Sie sich bewusst sein, dass die Inhalte damit massiv an Reichweite verlieren. (Auf der Habenseite ließe sich freilich verbuchen, dass Sie Ihr Budget an SEO-Maßnahmen einsparen könnten.)

Markus Schächter: Unsere Produkte werden zum Gegenstand fremder Geschäftsmodelle.

Es ist wahr, andere Firmen verdienen daran, Ihre Inhalte zugänglich zu machen. Nur gehen diese Verdienste nicht auf Ihre Kosten, da wir hier nicht von einem Nullsummenspiel sprechen, sondern von klassischem Mehrwert im besten Sinne. Dies gilt ganz besonders für die öffentlich-rechtlichen Sender, für die Sie sprechen. Im Gegensatz zu ihren privatwirtschaftlichen Kollegen lässt sich wirklich nur schwer argumentieren, dass Ihre Mission dadurch gefährdet ist, wenn Google ein paar Werbungen neben Ihren Textteasern einblendet.

Markus Schächter: Die heutigen Hersteller und Verbreiter publizistischer und kultureller Inhalte verlieren die Hoheit über ihre Produkte, wenn sie nicht sehr genau aufpassen.

Die Hersteller verlieren keineswegs die Hoheit über ihre Produkte, lediglich über ihre Verbreitung – wenn überhaupt. Ich frage mich: wo genau liegt das Problem? Kontrollverlust ist eines der Kerncharakteristika des 21. Jahrhunderts. Dies gilt es als Chance zu begreifen.

Markus Schächter: Ich sage es nicht zum ersten Mal: Es wird Zeit, dass wir in Deutschland endlich aufhören, die falschen Türen zu bewachen.

Herr Schächter, hier bin ich wieder bei Ihnen. Bitte nehmen Sie sich Ihre eigenen Worte zu Herzen und hören Sie auf, die falschen Türen zu bewachen. So intuitiv der Ruf nach mehr Kontrolle auch sein mag, er ist an dieser Stelle nicht nur sinnlos, sondern schädlich. Ein Schelm, der Ihnen unterstellen würde, die allgemeine Angst im deutschen Medienbetrieb vor den Unwägbarkeiten des Medienwandels und den US-Webunternehmen auszunutzen, um den Schulterschluss mit den privaten Sendergruppen zu suchen und somit von der Kritik an den öffentlich-rechtlichen Sendern abzulenken.

Es ist ein Problem, das die öffentlich-rechtlichen Sender schon lange umtreibt: “Wie können wir unseren Erfolg messen?” Allzu häufig messen sie sich mit den Maßstäben der Privatwirtschaft: Reichweite, Page Impressions, Unique Visits. Nicht uninteressant, doch basieren diese Messgrößen auf der Grundannahme, dass Werbeplätze verkauft werden müssen. Das Paradigma im öffentlichen Rundfunk ist freilich ein anderes: Bildung, Information, Gebührenakzeptanz. Diese lassen sich nicht über Reichweite messen, andere Maßstäbe müssen her. Die öffentlich-rechtlichen Sender müssen sich nicht verstecken – aber sie müssen sich auch nicht schützend vor die Privatwirtschaft stellen. Google ist der Freund, nicht der Feind des öffentlichen Rundfunks.

If Murdoch endorses the iPad, it’s bad

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In the Guardian, soon-to-be-ex media mogul Rupert Murdoch continues to claim Google steals Murdoch’s journalistic content, while the iPad might save journalism. Faced with the statement that consumers are used to getting their news for free, he reacts as follows:

Murdoch dismissed this fear, saying consumers could be forced to change their habits. “When they have got nowhere else to go they will start paying. If it is reasonable. No one is going to ask for a lot of money,” he said.

Now we have this weird situation: users reading their news for free; the iPad trying to cater to publishers more than consumers by making ads hard to circumvent; and Murdoch protecting burying his own content behind a paywall.

So far, Murdoch has done pretty much everything wrong that could be done wrong online. Blocking out search engines and users is just one of the more obvious mistakes that prove just how little he understands the new paradigms of a digital world. It also shows he doesn’t remember that readers never really paid for news, but for all the rest in a newspaper:

In a notional town with two perfectly balanced newspapers, one paper would eventually generate some small advantage — a breaking story, a key interview — at which point both advertisers and readers would come to prefer it, however slightly. That paper would in turn find it easier to capture the next dollar of advertising, at lower expense, than the competition. (…) For a long time, longer than anyone in the newspaper business has been alive in fact, print journalism has been intertwined with these economics. The expense of printing created an environment where Wal-Mart was willing to subsidize the Baghdad bureau. This wasn’t because of any deep link between advertising and reporting, nor was it about any real desire on the part of Wal-Mart to have their marketing budget go to international correspondents. It was just an accident. Advertisers had little choice other than to have their money used that way, since they didn’t really have any other vehicle for display ads.

Now when he endorses the iPad, that’s almost certainly a bad sign. It’s a sign that he, as a publisher is catered to. The same guy who wants to force consumers to change their behavior. The same guy who is willing to practically kill his newspapers by hiding the content from the eyes of the world.

Let’s hope that the iPad won’t empower the likes of Murdoch & Co too much. I’d rather see a device saving the industry by making the content more appealing, or easy to consume, or some third way of monetizing content. Something that makes empowers and delights consumers, not makes them slaves to archaic media moguls like Murdoch. Let’s see which device that’s going to be.

iPad, so what?

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iPad

So Apple announced the tablet after all. Going by the name iPad it’s just that – a tablet computer, or maybe rather a tablet phone as it runs on the iPhone operating system. A quick recap: the iPad does have wireless, a browser, multi-touch, motion sensors for gaming and many ways of purchasing content through Apple (by ways of iTunes store and a book store). It does not have a camers (so no video chat), not phone capabilities (no calls), no real ways of customizing anything.

It is, in other words, a media consumption device.

I’ll let this sink in for a minute since I think it’s profound. Both Apple laptops and iPhones are clearly devices to communicate and create. The iPad is more like the iPod in that it doesn’t enable you to input anything but text. (Which is fine for email, potentially a blog post and some Facebook status updates, but not much more than that.)

Some pundits claim that the iPad will revolutionize online content consumption, others say that it’s closed-system-approach will be the end of hacking & tinkering. (Johannes Kleske listed a number of articles with much more profound analyses than mine. Go read them!) I don’t think any of those are really true, nothing will change as profoundly as these articles suggest.

Instead, I do see some ups and downs being triggered through the iPad. My take in random order:

First, eventually ebook readers will make progress tremendously faster than they have done so far. The iPad really pushes this genre, which overall is great. It’s the kind of competition the ebook reader market really needed. (Let’s hope the competition will actually come up with great alternatives and not just give up like in the mp3 player market, where there’s still mostly crap because the iPod captured the largest market share.) So: thumb up for ebooks.

Second, if the iBook store (is it called that?) is implemented anything as well as iTunes, it’ll be interesting to see Amazon and Apple clash over a potentially huge market. I certainly hope that Amazon will be driven to switch of DRM in ebooks like with their mp3 downloads, and thus do everybody in the industry (and the consumers) a huge favor and beat Apple that way. Again, thumb up for ebooks.

Third, it was about time for a new category of device that’s slightly less ugly than a laptop to keep near your couch for random email & facebook checking. However, I wouldn’t bet a $500-900 device fills that niche for me. A tablet? Sure, why not. But it’s one of those $199 max things.

Fourth, I don’t think the iPad will stop anyone from tinkering. However, if you’re interested in how UIs disconnect us from the technology we’re using, please do read (or re-read) Neal Stephenson’s classic “In the beginning… was the command line“.

Fifth, Apple is trying to push their pay services down our throats. They’ve been doing this for a long time, of course. And the way iTunes demonstrated that you could actually sell music online was great – practically everybody profited from this. However, it feels like the iPad takes this to a whole new level. “Here’s your shiny new tablet”, Apple seems to say, “but you won’t be able to do anything with it unless you buy your music, your books, your games in our stores. Any maybe we won’t change our terms of services ever, in which case you might be able to consume all the stuff you bought for awhile.” After all, it’s important to keep in mind that every dollar you spend within the Apple ecosystem stays there, and dies with Apple – you can’t take your (paid) content outside this system. It’s total lock in, and it sucks like there is no tomorrow.

Sixth, the iPad might actually really help the struggling newspapers sell their content online. I’m really torn on this one. On one hand, this is great news since many newspapers and magazines have been fighting for survival for awhile now, and here’s a potential savior. On the other hand, I could go crazy thinking that the less experimental, more conservative, no: more lazy and old-school newspapers, those who just never got a hang of how to work the internet, could actually profit most from this. It’s quite possible that all the laggards in this field are better off than the risk takers and innovators, by just leaning back and blocking and complaining and waiting for Apple to come along and invent a gadget that allows them to keep doing what they had been doing for decades. I really hope the net savvy competitors in the field will win over those fighting the web. But Apple might have just awarded the technophobes. We’ll see.

That’s my two cent. What’s your take?

Image: by mattbuchanan, some rights reserved.