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Entries in Sony (4)

The iPad effect is real. Is the computing industry about to enter a phase transition?

Yesterday HP declared that they are to exit the tablet race after only 49 days, but more than that, HP CEO Leo Apotheker made it clear that they are also looking to spin-off their PC business, the largest PC business in the world.

On Monday Google announced plans to acquire Motorola Mobility for a massive $12.5 billion in cash.

At the end of June a consortium including Apple, EMC, Ericsson, Microsoft, Research In Motion, and Sony purchased 6,000 Nortel patents and patent applications that encompass wireless, data networking and internet technologies for $4.5 billion.

In February Nokia CEO Steven Elop announced that the company would be moving their entire smartphone lineup from Nokia's own Symbian operating system - which at the time had the largest marketshare in the smartphone market - to Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 operating system, a new OS with around 1% marketshare.

What is going on?

Yesterday HP CEO Leo Apotheker stated, “The tablet effect is real and sales of the TouchPad are not meeting our expectations. The velocity of change in the personal device marketplace continues to increase as the competitive landscape is growing increasingly more complex especially around the personal computing arena”.

Seeing as how the combined total of all non-Apple tablet sales is only a small fraction of iPad sales, what Apotheker really means is that the iPad effect is real. But what is the iPad effect, and is it responsible for some of the seismic shifts that we are seeing in the computing and mobile industry in 2011?

It seems to us that the iPad effect is part of a larger shift in computing from Windows based PCs to other computing platforms. The computing platforms of tomorrow appear to be iOS, Android and HTML 5. On the hardware front, the industry is moving away from desktops and laptops towards tablets and pocket computers (smartphones). This change to tablet and pocket computers is happening faster than almost anyone imagined.

Phase transitions occur throughout nature. The most common example being when liquid water transitions to gas or ice. During a phase transition it appears as if nothing much is happening, then change occurs very quickly and is completed throughout the system with surprising velocity.

We don't claim to be technology analysts, but it seems to us that the computing industry is about to enter phase transition. The education, business, mobile and home markets all seem to be pushing for the same thing; tablet and pocket computers with touch screens, vibrant app/media stores and ability to run Cloud apps based on HTML 5.

The post PC era

Apple is perhaps the most prepared for the new post phase transition computing landscape, but Google and Microsoft are tooling up for it too. Others, like Nokia for example, are looking to form partnerships with companies that seem sturdy enough to make it through the transition. That leaves a handful of companies that appear to be ill prepared, these include RIM, HTC, Samsung, Sony and Nintendo to name just a few. RIM seems to be on the decline with no easy route back. HTC and Samsung are probably too reliant on Google and either one should consider picking up webOS from HP. Sony and Nintendo seem surprisingly oblivious to the full impact of tablet and smartphone gaming on their core businesses.

We had a feeling that 2011 was going to be an exciting year for technology, but we never imagined that it would be quite this epic.

Is the computing industry about to enter a phase transition? We would love to hear your opinion on the matter. Please let us know in a comment below.

S1 and S2. Sony's first iPad competitors 

Before Apple released the iPod, it was Sony that was considered by many to be the primary innovator in consumer electronics. Though Sony always seemed to struggle when introducing new formats, the company hit a massive home run with the Playstation brand. In some other universe, it was Sony that introduced the iPod, the iTunes Music Store, iPhone and iPad...

Looking to surf the tablet computer wave, Sony plan to release a couple of iPad competitors toward the end of the year. Just about every computer, mobile or consumer electronics company has a tablet waiting in the wings, show us some innovation please Sony.

Thankfully, Sony is looking to differentiate its tablets from the countless iPad knock-offs by offering two unique hardware variations.

Both tablets are Tegra 2 Android powered slabs, however the S1 has a tapered design which places the centre of gravity off to one side, making the tablet easier to hold with one hand. The S2 pushes the envelope much further with a clamshell design. Two 5.5" screens unfold to give a full tablet experience but in a pocketable case. That's the idea anyway.

The clamshell concept is one that we can see Apple using for a future iPad or iPhone variant, and only Apple currently have the industrial design skills to implement it successfully; without a large bezel between each screen.

We think both concepts are sound, their success will depend on how well Sony implement these interesting ideas. It's certainly not a given that Sony can hit the clean bullseye with their first tablet computers but we'll certainly be cheering them on. A strong Sony tablet is good news for everyone.

Having played with the Motorola Xoom we have reservations about the tablet variation of Google's Android OS, it's certainly no competition for iOS in its currently form.

GT Racing: Motor Academy HD, the closest app to Gran Turismo 5 now just $0.99!

Today is a big day for fans of the magnificent Gran Turismo series for Playstation. Gran Turismo 5 is finally here! As gamers the world over eagerly unwrap GT 5 for PS3 we can't help but feel a tad jealous. With iPad gaming still in its infancy it's just too early to expect a driving simulation that can equal the detail and realism of GT5.

We may not have GT 5, but we do have the surprisingly complete GT Racing: Motor Academy HD from Gameloft. If you've not picked up Motor Academy HD now's your chance. For a limited time Gameloft have lowered the price of the iPad version to just $0.99 (£0.59)!

In our view this is one of the best iPad bargains of the year. Snap it up while you can!

Thanks to NuRevu for the excellent video review.

Could This Be The iPad's Future?

Over the weekend there have been quite a few posts around the web about Griffin's 'not actually announced but confirmed by the FCC' product PartyDock, so we won't tell you about it again, but check out thisthis and Griffin's confirmation/product page for a start. 

What we will say though is how stupidly excited the potential of this device has made us, even if it is not officially Apple sanctioned and in production yet.

Why has this device announcement got our creative cogs turning?...

The Obvious

Just being able to take the fairly small PartyDock around to someone's house or on holiday to set up and entertain the kids between pool-time and dinnertime (and the adults when the kids have gone to bed) is a huge advantage.

We have been known to take a Playstation, Wii and separate DVD player on holiday with us. Imagine if the games are such that the iPad (or even iPhone) and PartyDock is all you need to take with you to connect up to the hotel, chalet, caravan TV when you get there.

You would be bringing your iPad anyway right? Just make sure it is loaded up with all the movies, games and blogging apps you need before leaving and everything is right there in a 1.5 pound device.

Developers Wanted

With the launch titles being mini-games and one full game, all developed by Griffin, we know the PartyDock will not have Sony and Nintendo quaking in their boots, or even noticing that it exists to be honest.

Checking the RSVP (sign up) page though, you will notice that it asks if you are just a normal interested punter, or you can select, "I'm a developer and I'd like to learn about developing for PartyDock".

This is what got us excited!  There are many creative and innovative Developers out there. Who knows what kind of application they cam think up for this software/hardware? 

If Apple approve this device and if the right Developers get involved and if Griffin make it worth their while, there is massive potential here for a whole new eco-system developed around seeing your content on the big screen.

A lot of Ifs, yes, the biggest being if Apple want to let Griffin open up additional functionality.

Sony have had a big hit with the social, family and friends quiz game series Buzz, that uses a similar four player interface, wired on Playstation 2 but wireless on Playstation 3.

This is the obvious application for the PartyDock with the PR shots showing a 'Battle of the Sexes' game being played on a large-screen TV.

Multi Media and Potential Uses

As well as the games aspect, the PartyDock will allow the docked device to show photos, videos and slideshows, as well as play your music/audio collection from the iPad/iPhone. This can already be done via the Apple sold Dock Connector to VGA Adapter but it could easily replace this Apple add-on in a lot of homes and useage scenarios.

Imagine how easy it will be to sling your iPad into the waiting dock and get going, rather than trying to find the connector cable and then having it hanging off your iPad whilst trying to prop it up somehow.

But what if this dock could be used for web browsing, typing up a blog post or editing Pages documents? We have no idea if it is possible but what if Developers could make the PartyDock work with eight or even sixteen or more controllers and it was permanently connected to a projector in a classroom as a 'quiz master' device?

Educators could design a custom set of questions for the quizzes making revision and learning a lot more fun and interactive, using fastest finger type of quizzes but also poll and multiple choice questions with onscreen charts showing the summary results.  

Now that some schools are issuing iPads to new students on enrolment this September, or setting up iPad labs (recommended reading), this is a definite real-life scenario that could be developed.

Pie-in-the-sky scenario 

What about editing a video on the iPad with an external keyboard and Magic Trackpad type of device (not currently compatible - no mouse pointer) and your 40" TV acting as the external display?

The iPad, especially future more powerful versions, suddenly becomes a computer replacement!

Ok, we may have just wandered off into fantasy land for a second there, but even if it is not the PartyDock's purpose to enable a 'computer replacement' scenario, if Apple approve this device the potential is there for some sort of dock for the iPad (and even future versions of the iPhone) that can provide this kind of functionality.

We have already said that the Mac's days are numbered, read more about that here. Maybe one day we will look back at these kind of dock interfaces and say "that's where it all started"?

Over to you

What do you think? Have we lost it? Can you think of any other uses or potential developments for these dock devices? Would you even use the PartyDock if it is approved?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments.