Ah the rumor mill, gotta love it. Or not. Guess it’s a personal preference thing. Latest I heard is that Apple is now “forced” to make a 7-inch tablet. Because, you know, Apple is well known for following market trends and filling every conceivable gap. I mean, come-on, Samsung alone has at least 10 different sized devices from 4-inches to 10.1-inches.

Apple has got to compete with that by having similar offerings, right? And don’t forget how they rushed to produce cellphones with keyboards when the pundits all claimed they had to or they’d be driven out of the market. And what about that time all the tech blogs were saying Apple had to get into the netbook market or go bust?

Part of what fuels this 7-inch rumor, I believe, is the first few Android tablets which can really compete with the iPad in the consumer market: the Nook Color/Tablet and the Kindle Fire–all 7-inch tablets.

Now, I realize there are plenty of Android tablets out there which “smoke” the iPad on a spec comparison chart, and others which are cheaper, but very few of them are able to compete with the iPad where it really counts: as a mass-consumer device.

Your average consumer doesn’t care one iota if they are able to recompile the kernel for their tablet themselves. Nor do they want to download apps from Bob’s L33t Warez. Their eyes tend to glaze over when a spec list is read to them. Most don’t even care what OS runs on it.

Some will buy the tablet with the biggest Ghz (cuz, ya know, bigger is better), while others shop purely on price (and buy the cheapest, ignoring all other aspects). But by-and-large, consumers who want a tablet want a solid, proven tablet with a strong ecosystem behind it (though many won’t phrase it like that, they’ll more likely phrase it like this: “I want an iPad.”)

There is, of course, a huge segment of the consumer market which quite simply can not afford (or justify) to buy a tablet of any kind. There is yet another large segment who doesn’t see the use, and/or has no desire to shell out multiple hundreds of dollars for one. This later segment could possibly be persuaded by a $100, maybe even $200, device. Or maybe they have no interest in a tablet, but a color reading device that they can watch movies on sounds good to them. The Nook Color and the Kindle Fire hit that price point (albeit on the high end), and cater to those activities with both a solid (okay, adequate) device and an ecosystem to back it up.

These devices, along with the Nook Tablet, are not marketed as Android tablets. And you know what? Neither the makers nor the intended market care. These are first and foremost portals to the content which Barnes & Noble and Amazon sell. At best the tablets are sold at a break-even point, more likely at a loss. Most other manufacturer’s can’t afford to do that.

Both are based upon older 2.x versions of Android, and both are locked to their makers app store (from the average consumer’s perspective–“sideloading” is not an option most would consider). I would be absolutely shocked if either device was updated with Android 4.x. In fact, at least in the case of the Fire, I fully expect that their OS will diverge so far from mainstream Android (and each other) that Android developers will not be able to release non-trivial apps for them without modification.

And despite that, I predict that both individually are going to sell more than all other Android tablets combined.

So does Apple need to make a smaller tablet to compete with these? I believe Apple could use it’s A4 or A5 chip to create a smaller device as powerful as the original iPad, and, paradoxically, more flexible then the Nooks or Fire.

Oh, wait, they already do: the iPod touch. At the same price point it is a pocketable 3.5-inches, has a better screen (especially for reading, where the high-DPI Retina Display makes a huge difference), performs better, has front/back cameras, and has a wider breadth of content to choose from. I think Apple could leverage their buying power (and recent acquisition of a flash company) to lower the price of the iPod touch line to start at the magical $99 mark.

At that point it becomes a matter of marketing. I’m actually surprised we haven’t seen more commercials from Apple showing the iPod touch used in similar ways as the Nook and Fire are. The iPod touch is still mostly positioned as the flagship iPod, and also to some extent as a hand-held gaming device.

But with iPod touches priced at $99, $199, and $299, along with an iPad 2 at $399* and the iPad 3 sitting at $499, $599 and $699, Apple will have a tablet sitting at every price point they need to hit.

For people who really, really think 7-inches is better than 3.5- or 9.8-inches there are other devices out there. Apple has never really been about owning 100% of the market. They instead have repeatedly shown they are about having focused, best-in-class products which can be sold at reasonable prices.

 

 

* Yes, I do believe Apple will keep the iPad 2 at a lower price when they roll out the iPad 3, just as they do with the iPhone. Now that there’s a lot more competition on the market it just makes sense.


It’s been almost two years since I started this blog with a post proclaiming my desire to become a “programmer”. At the time I was focused on the life-goal of completing my Bachelors’ Degree, which took a couple months longer than I expected. When I completed that, a more urgent life-goal came up: the need to seriously, permanently lose weight and get into something resembling shape. As it seems I can only really focus on one life-goal at a time, programming once again took a back seat. I am now nearing that goal, which you can read about on my Tumblr site: My #Plus5CHA Journey

So that’s two life-goals achieved, more or less, in the last two years. Can I do the hat-trick? That is the goal for the coming year.

Since January 2010, I have made a couple attempts to shoe-horn this into my life, making progress on the learning aspects, and even getting a couple programs (a podcast ‘fan’ app and an initiative tracker, if you’re curious) into alpha/early beta phases. But as I looked at those, then looked at my favorite apps, I got discouraged.

It must be perfect, I’d think, or it’s not worth releasing.

Luckily, and unusually for me, the projects I have in mind to start things off with haven’t changed much in the intervening time, and in fact I’ve been able to refine the ideas a bit. The podcast ‘fan’ app idea has evolved into a podcast network community app. The RPG toolset idea has evolved into a sort of “iLife for table-top RPGers” concept, albeit cross-platform (iOS/Mac OSX initially).

What hasn’t changed is the need to make something of this. I have not been some kid in his parents basement with nothing better to do for well over 20 years now, but I’m also over 20 years away from being retired with nothing better to do. I’ve got to balance this with family, friends, and a full-time job. Thus I need to work on things which could possibly generate income either directly (via sales) or indirectly (via reputation building enabling paying projects), however small.

Thus, my thought process goes, I need to produce something perfect.

I have many idols in the developer world who, while not filthy rich, are making a decent living for themselves and their families off their independent programming efforts. On average, they work on a limited set of applications, which in general have a limited target audience, but those applications are of very high quality. They could even be termed ‘perfect’ by one who was working a little loosely with the definition of the word (which we all do more often than we admit).

This is where I want to be in five or six years. Therefore I must create perfect applications.

But pragmatically, I look at where these indie developers were five or six years ago. Many of them were not independent, and some of them were not even developers. Their first applications (or first versions of their marquee application) were not perfect. In some cases they were not even pretty–or particularly useful. But they managed to get enough traction to continue, and eventually get to where they are today. Because real artists ship.

So it’s time I step up to the plate and start swinging at balls. This initiative tracker which I’ve been working on for Mac OS X is roughly half-done in a bare-bones, 1.0 sense. I’m going to finish this, as well as the iOS version which it will interface with, to at least get something out there.

Because it doesn’t really have to be perfect, but it does have to ship sometime…

 


In my circle of friends and family, I am known as having, shall we say: “an above average” level of knowledge when it comes to all things Apple. So it came as little surprise to me when a very good friend of mine dropped me an e-mail which simply said: “What do we expect for an iPad announcement in Sept?”

Until very recently, my knee-jerk, gut, base-level instinct told me “nothing”. One of the reasons Apple has been so successful is they have been very conservative when it comes to their product line. As many of my Apple-hating friends have told me over the years, other vendors offer tons more models with tons more configuration options, featuring gidgets, widgets, doo-dads, and other assorted odds-and-ends that, for the average consumer, do little other then fill out a spec sheet. This compares to Apples very limited selection of products, keeping the SKU list short, simple, and easy to understand.

These same friends also like to tell me how their favorite hardware vendor of choice are in a near perpetual state of releasing something. This compares to Apple’s long product lives and somewhat predictable refresh cycles. I believe this is better for the consumer in the long run, and produces more predictable targets for developers.

This has been especially true for Apple’s non-computer product lines. The iPod line has been refreshed in the fall nearly every year since its introduction, with very few updates to the line outside that time period. The iPhone, until this year, was refreshed every summer, and the iPad saw its first refresh around its one year anniversary.

There was no reason to expect anything different. And then out of the blue John Gruber, well-known Apple pundit behind the highly respected Daring Fireball website, stepped into the land of speculation and outlined a scenario which would have Apple release not one, but two iPads in 2011: one in the spring, and one in the fall. Since he has proven that he is well connected, this created a flurry of rumors, all of which could be traced back to Mr. Gruber’s article. He has since stressed many times that this article was not based on any inside knowledge, and was a pure speculative piece. I don’t recall if it was the same article, or one around that time period, where Mr. Gruber also speculated Apple may change the iPhone release to the fall, as the iPod (and the PMP market in general) was loosing its luster.

So the rumors, for the most part, died down for a while. One would pop up here or there, attributed to some mysterious so-and-so, but nothing I ever took seriously.

Then Apple did not announce an iPhone at their WWDC event. In fact, we’re half-way through summer and there’s no indication that an iPhone will be announced any time soon (though there are, of course, rumors to that effect). Since then, the iPad rumors have heated up.

But is there any truth to this newest batch of rumors? I’ve got no inside knowledge. Sure I follow a couple Apple employees on Twitter, but I don’t know any of them. All I’ve got is what I’ve learned by following Apple news and rumors over the years, and my own analytical abilities (for whatever those are worth). So I ask myself a few questions.

Does Apple need a new iPad this fall? Even the most die-hard anti-Apple observer has to admit Apple basically owns the tablet market at this time. The iPad 2 was released several months ago, and has since been flying off the shelves faster then Apple can make them. The competition is floundering, trying desperately to build something consumers will buy, but seldom answering the question “why buy this instead of an iPad?” in a way that bakes sense to the average consumer. Consumers have shown with their hard-earned cash that they are not really that interested in little-used hardware features, flash, slightly lower price, and “openness”. What’s more, there’s little I see on the horizon to change this.

Should Apple do a new iPad this fall? I do not think a refresh of the current product is in order, and most the rumors out there agree with me. In fact, the most common thread is we’re going to see a new high-end model, an iPad Pro if you will, which will be basically the same model with slightly faster CPU, slightly more RAM, and a “Retina Display”. Such a thing would have to be labeled “Pro”, as a screen that size with 280+ DPI is going to cost a small fortune. Carefully targeting a different segment of the market like this is very Apple-like, and would put further pressure on its competitors. But is there a market for such a device? I don’t see one, but I’m not a market analyst.

Is fall the right time to do this? That’s a tough one. Apple is a master at keeping itself in the news, and the release of a new iPhone in August/September will go a long way towards that goal for the rest of the year, so I don’t think they need a new iPad for that. The Android, WebOS, and RIM tablets are still trying to catch-up in mindshare for the bigger consumer market, I don’t see any makers of those tablets aiming higher at this time. That leaves the wild-card of Windows tablets.

Microsoft has stressed that Windows 8 will be its desktop and tablet OS. In fact, they have said that they don’t see those as necessarily different product categories, a stance which is about as different from Apple’s as one can get. Such a strategy also puts Windows-based tablets into a higher market then the iPad is in. I believe the industry expects to see Windows 8 tablets early next year. An iPad Pro released in the fall could take some, or even all, of the wind out of Microsofts tablet efforts.

So I come back to the question: “What do we expect for an iPad announcement in Sept?” At this time, I’m going to stick with “nothing”, mostly because I don’t think Apple needs a new tablet going into the Christmas season. IF we do see an announcement, I would expect it to be this iPad (2) Pro, not an iPad 3, which would be an evolution of the product line featuring an A6 CPU. This would sit at a much higher price point, starting around at least $700 due to the cost of the screen.

It should be noted, however, that I’ve been wrong before. Once or twice.


For the third time I have taken Aaron Hillegass’ Cocoa Programming for Mac OS X (from Big Nerd Ranch) off the shelf and started working through it. This is widely regarded as THE book to learn Cocoa/Objective-C programming from. And since iOS uses the same Cocoa/Objective-C base to develop for it, I feel it is a very good starting place.

Unfortunately, the first time I started this book, I only got through chapter 5, the second time through chapter 7. Both those times it had to compete with school, a competition it was bound to lose. I always thought the day after I completed classes, I’d dive deep into OS X/iOS programming. When I finally did complete classes, back in October of 2010, I made an attempt to do just that, as well as working really hard to get myself into a much needed exercise/diet routine.

It didn’t take too long to realize I was too burnt out from school to tackle two huge goals like that. Keep in mind that I also have a full-time job as a UNIX administrator, and am a full-time husband/father of two, another aspect of my life which had suffered under the weight of school. So, facing reality, I once again put my programming books back on the shelf, and focused on the exercise.

That’s been going well. I’ve really developed much better eating habits, am mindful of what I eat, as well as a good set of exercise routines I do at a local gym three to seven times a week. In fact, I’m getting to the point where I need to consider an entirely new wardrobe, and am not fully exhausted from my workouts all the time.

So I think that now I can finally pursue this life-long dream of mine, to not only learn to program, but to be good enough to do it for a living. I have, for the most part, accepted that it’ll be slow going, at least until I settle into a routine that doesn’t ignore everything else. I’ve also chosen a first project to create a tool I actually have a use for: an initiative tracker for table-top role-playing games.

Yeah, I know that’s a relatively easy thing to code up, but a guy has got to start somewhere, right? All the other projects in my list are progressively more complex. I’ve got some ideas for this one to make it stand out from the crowd, and I want to use it to learn how to create a single project which targets Mac, iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. I’m also thinking of how it could utilize the Apple TV.

This project may or may not see release as a stand-alone app. I certainly see many such things in the App Store, so it can’t hurt, I suppose. I have a vision of creating a whole iLife-like suite of apps for the table-top RPGer (possibly CCG & miniature players, too). It’s a niche market which hopefully, if I can actually create some quality products for it, can help me pay my school loans and give me experience needed to do this professionally.

But first things first: I’m up to chapter 9 this time, and am energized to see this book (and all the others on my programming shelf) to completion. I already have enough knowledge to start my initiative tracker. I’m running a Dungeons & Dragons Dark Sun game in about ten days and I’d like to have at least an alpha ready by then. The future is finally looking bright here, guess I need some shades…

 


(A quick content note: There will never be a part two to my previous post. Sorry.)

 

For years now Apple related press has been inundated with rumors about The Next iPhone. Due to the overall popularity of Apple’s products, this game is now played by the mainstream. This year is only different in that everyone has a little longer to play the game, as Apple did not announce the new model at WWDC back in June as has been tradition.

Most speculation points to a September announcement–the traditional time of year for iPod announcements. This makes a certain amount of sense, as the PMP market is no longer very interesting. The iPod shuffle and iPod nano will get tweaks, or even redesigns, and the iPod touch will have its guts updated to whatever is inside the newest iPhone, but this is no longer enough to plan an event around (and Apple sure does love its events).

So what is the new iPhone line-up going to look like? Rumors are mixed on if we’re going to see a physical redesign or not. I like the mock-ups I’ve seen of a MacBook Air/iPad inspired design, but the current design (possibly with a metal back instead of glass) still has life in it. Most expect the CPU to be bumped to match the iPad 2, the rear camera to be bumped to 8MP, but not much more. It looks like the general consensus is this years update will be much like what we saw with iPhone 3g -> iPhone 3gs, and that makes a lot of sense.

Also traditionally, last years model has been reduced to “entry level” status, given a $100 (subsidized) price point with only 8GB of RAM. I see no reason for Apple to not continue with this tradition. By now they should have gotten the iPhone 4’s production costs low enough to be able to do so.

The new rumors this year is that Apple is going to keep not just the “current -1″ model around, but also the “current -2″ model to compete with the onslaught of “free with contract” (mostly Android) smartphones. While it’d be nice to see Apple compete here, I don’t think the iPhone 3gs is their best bet. It certainly would be cost-effective in some respects, but it’s a lazy approach which would encourage people to expect that the next couple of iOS version will support the hardware.

Somewhere out there is an alternate reality where I’m in charge of Apple’s iPhone line-up this fall. Through methods which I am not at liberty to discuss, I’ve gotten in contact with this particular iteration of my alternate self, and was able to get some details on what that line up looks like.

  • High-end: iPhone 4S – Basically the current iPhone 4, with following updates: A5 chip with 1GB memory; slightly larger (3.7-inch) edge-to-edge screen; metal back; 8MP rear camera; .7MP front camera; very thin, nearly invisible anti-conductive coating over the antennas; slightly thinner and lighter; slightly longer battery life; 32GB and 64GB models. This years model is a solid, incremental upgrade to keep the phone competitive, look for a more radical upgrade/redesign next year. Contract pricing starting at $200, off contract pricing starting at $650.
  • Mid-level: iPhone 4 as it is today, 16GB. 8GB is no longer enough at this price point. Contract pricing $100, off contract pricing $450.
  • Low-end: iPhone 3x – A new device. This is basically the 4th generation iPod touch with the phone part put back in. It looks like the iPod touch, has the 800 Mhz A4 with 256MB RAM, and 8GB of storage. It does not have the retina display, rather a higher quality version of the 320×480 display. It does have a 3MP camera, though the quality of the sensor is higher then that of the 3gs. The front facing camera is the same .3 MP as most other models. Rated battery life is similar to the 3gs. Contract price is free, off contract price is $300.

The components of this new, low-end model have a good economy of scale. For example, the A4 chip used is still that of the iPhone 4, AppleTV 2 (which my alternate reality self said is not getting an A5 update at this time), and 4th-gen iPod touch (which will become the new low end touch model, with the new 5th-gen models getting the A5 according to my alternate reality self). In fact, all these devices share a wide variety of components. It’s not called a variation of the iPhone 4 brand as consumers would likely expect a retina display and better camera on such a device. Also it looks more like an iPhone 3g/3gs, though it’s aluminum back makes it feel better.

As a bonus, my alternate reality self assures me rumors of any kind of an iPad release this fall are complete bunk, put out there so everyone inside Apple can have a good laugh at the press going wild about such things.

 


As anyone who has stumbled onto my humble little blog surly knows, Apple has announced several of the big features in the upcoming iPhone OS 4. This has, of course, generated a lot of buzz good and bad. In chatting with my Twitter and Facebook friends, it does not seem that the announcement has changed any minds; those who didn’t like Apple’s iThings before still don’t like them, and those who did still do. I had a few thoughts on the announcements, and thought I’d share. Since details are available everywhere, I’ll mostly stick to commentary. In no particular order, here are the seven features they covered:

1) iBooks — Unless the iBooks app is now part of the iPhone OS, this had no place in today’s presentation. (It is not clear to me whether iBooks will be built-in or downloaded). Even if it is built-in, I don’t think it merits ‘tent-pole’ status. It was expected. In fact, I expected Apple to make iBooks a “Universal” app sooner. The only question here is what is Apple going to do for iBooks on the desktop?

2) Improved Mail — My mail needs are very minimal, the Mail app in the very first iPod touch actually fills my modest needs very well. But I understand the new features — unified in-box and fast inbox switching — are popular requests. Long time coming? Perhaps. Any time the feature someone wants is not in the first version, it becomes the most important missing feature; the “why wasn’t it there to start with?” feature.

3) Folders — By all accounts, Apple was absolutely blown away by the popularity of the App store. The Springboard interface works well for a few dozen apps, but does not scale well beyond that. With the low-cost and high numbers of apps available, it is not uncommon to have a lot more. Apple’s implementation of Folders look like a good solution. As with many of these “easy” features, it looks like Apple put a lot of thought into exactly how to implement them. (Steve also did a quick demo of Springboard wallpaper. Yes, obvious. Yes, highly demanded. Yes, could’ve been there from day one.)

4) Enterprise Features — Until I get an iPhone from where I work, I could give a hoot about these, as they are meaningless for my iPod touches. Apple as a company is not focused on the enterprise market (long history of the enterprise scorning Apple’s products does not help), and were again surprised by the iPhone’s popularity amongst corporate executives. Every iteration brings more enterprise features for those who need them.

5) iAd — Users are a funny lot. They demand the highest quality apps, but they demand the lowest prices, even free. There’s not a lot of ways for a developer, especially an independent developer, to live creating high-quality software for free. Ads can help (of course, many users despise ads). Apple is giving developers an easy way to monetize free apps. I do not have a problem with ads in free apps, as long as there’s a paid version (or, better, an in-app purchase to remove ads). Developer’s who charge for an app AND have ads will get fried. Badly.

The ads themselves can be highly interactive, practically mini-apps within an app. They are presented unobtrusively, but once a user selects them they can be brought into the products world, in a manner of speaking. The user can also dismiss the ad at any time and go right back to where they were. Much like entertaining commercials, iAds can be potentially engaging to consumers, rather then annoying. It even looks like real-world goods can be ordered from right inside the ad. This can be a great boon for developers if they can control the contents of an ad. Imagine an artist’s fan app which allows the user to order prints, something which can not currently be done with in-app purchasing.

Though this seems like a great way to help developer’s pay their bills, I’m sure Apple is going to take a lot of heat. Please people, we’re not entitled to awesome, ad-free, $0 apps.

6) Game Center — This, as they say, has the potential to be a ‘game changer.’ There are several popular social gaming networks on iThings now: OpenFeint and Plus+ being two of my favorites. For better or for worse, Game Center kills them all. I don’t see how a game developer would choose a third party solution, nor would the iThing gaming community benefit from multiple social gaming networks. A single, strong network will be a boon for players and developers alike.

A quick shout out to Internet land asking about other gaming networks pulled up Xbox Live numbers in the mid-20 million range, PlayStationNetwork in the 40 millions (though likely a lot of multiple accounts per person) and somewhere between 10 – 25 million for Steam. Between iPhones, iPod touches, and iPads, iPhone OS 4 will likely be on well over 70 million devices by the end of the year (also with a possibility for a lot of overlap–I’ll discuss this number in a later post). Practically overnight Apple could have one of the largest–if not the largest–social gaming network. Apple would be foolish not to leverage that on their other platforms (primarily Mac OS X, but also a possible new AppleTV and the web in general).

7) Multitasking — Sigh. Let me set a few things straight: the iPhone OS has been a UNIX based, fully multitasking OS from day one. Apple had very good, solid reasons for not allowing third party apps to multitask from day one. Do try to remember all the way back to 2007, before the fist iPhone. Not a single smartphone which could multitask did it well. For the non-geek set, it was a miserable experience at best. The moment a “task manager” is required, the design fails for a very large portion of the population. Also, the hardware really was not robust enough to support multitasking. A phones battery and performance quickly disappear when multiple tasks are thrown at it. A friend of mine once mocked me that his Blackberry could play Pandora while he did other stuff, I asked him about battery life, he told me he kept it plugged in. A plugged in cell phone is not very mobile.

But what, really, does multitasking on a 3-inch screen mean? Having a Word document side-by-side with a spreadsheet and Doom? No, the interface is not windowed, it is single tasking by nature. A windowed environment at this size makes absolutely zero sense. Even at larger sizes, like the iPad, it is better in many cases to focus on one thing at a time.

So Apple very purposely gave a pass on allowing third party multitasking with OS 2. But they did not sit there and ignore it, they gathered usage data. Reams and reams of it. And, despite what many think, they listened to what users and developers were looking for. This gave raise to push notification in OS 3, which addressed some of the needs. They again observed and collected usage data on how people used their devices, and what they wanted multitasking for.

Now, in OS 4, rather then provide free-reign for developers to multitask willy-nilly, they’ve provided a set of API’s to specifically address the tasks people want done simultaneously. Want to run music? Hand your stream to the OS. Supporting VOIP? Tell the OS what you’re listening for. Need to be constantly aware of location? There’s API for that. And another one to pass off things users don’t want to wait for, like file transfers, so they can be done in the background. “Local push” is the only ‘multitasking’ API which I am puzzled by, as it sounds like little more then adding reminders to an OS level calendar.

For all other programs, the OS now freezes them in place on exit, allowing users to pick up right from where they left off. Previously, some developers were able to save and restore state for their app, but this OS level support, cupeled with newer hardware, makes it both easier and quicker. All of this is pretty much the way I had thought Apple would handle the “multitasking issue.”

In most cases, does this accomplish what the user wants in terms of multitasking? Yes. Is it “real” multitasking? Arguably, no. Do most users care? Absolutely not. By having OS level API’s for background process like these, Apple can concentrate on optimizing them for speed and power usage, which in the end will benefit all programs. As long as the user can listen to Pandora while surfing the web, and receive Skype calls at any time, the user won’t care if there’s a horde of magical pixies inside the phone taking care of it all. But if all that activity makes their phone unresponsive, or kills the battery in half the time they are used to, they’re going to be quite irate.

Finally, if you’ve made it this far, thank you very much. That about sums thoughts directly related to today’s announcement, but I do have more to say, in response to this, last weekends iPad release, and a lot of trash talk/fanboy talk that’s been floating around the ‘Net, and through my various info streams. But that’ll have to wait for part two.


I’ve made it fairly clear that I intend to start out developing for Apple’s iDevices, as well as OS X on the desktop. But that doesn’t mean I’ve got my head stuck in the sand. In fact, if my plans take off in a meaningful way, I’ll certainly be interested in developing for any other mobile platform which is on-par with iPhone OS (however, I don’t see myself developing for other desktop environments at this time, my current thoughts are to handle those via web-based apps).

In my humble opinion, the one platform which really has shown it is up there with iPhone OS currently is Android. This is Google’s mobile OS, primarily showing up on smartphone competitors of the iPhone. The devices are selling well, and a market for applications seems to be developing. Development seems to be primarily with Java, which is a big negative for me (I’m not a fan of Java). Also, I would prefer an iPod touch like device to work with. The only one I know of for Android is the Archos 5. However this device is quite different from most other Android devices, and that exemplifies the biggest problem with Android: device fragmentation.

On February 15, 2010, Microsoft finally unveiled Windows Mobile 7 (aka “Zune/Xbox 360 Phone Edition”). My understanding is this is a ground-up rewrite of the mobile OS, with Microsoft finally realizing that a phone is not a desktop. From what little I have seen of it (and the Zune HD), the OS is certainly on-par with iPhone OS. Though the Zune HD market really isn’t worth developing for yet, the WinMo7 market likely will be at some point. Hopefully the Zune HD is basically the iPod touch version of a WinMo7 phone, and that I could develop for both the same way I can develop for both iPhone and iPod touch. But again, WinMo7 is going to have a plethora of different devices to target, which may be a problem it will share with Android. Another negative is that I likely will not be able to develop with Mac OS X, but will have to purchase a copy of Windows 7 and spin up a virtual machine.

Of all the other platforms out there, I don’t see one that hold any interest or potential to my future plans. RIM devices are too business oriented, and too varied, for my ideas. PalmOS, though interesting, doesn’t look like it is going to gain any traction. Samsung announced their Wave device, but again I don’t see that growing to a large enough market size. At least some of these devices, however, use WebKit based browsers, thus should support HTML 5, which I could target with the web-based applications I am considering.

But all of this is way down the road. This post is just to say that competition is good, and I’ve got my eyes on what is out there. I would also suggest to other developers that, while you may think you’ll never program for other platforms, you should keep your eyes on them, and take note of what interesting things they may be doing.




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