Monday, August 10, 2009

The Apple -- Google Reader

The split-up of Apple-Google cooperation and rumors about the coming Apple Tablet continue to get a lot of buzz. As if it has been a big secret, Apple and Google have avoided direct competition while fighting multiple battles against King Microsoft. Now that there are growing cracks in King Microsoft's Castle, and, now that the US Government is taking an active stance to push Net Neutrality, and, now that Apple and Google are starting to dominate certain markets, it is necessary that they battle at arms length from one another. The firms will continue to battle King Micro but they will increasingly be forced to battle one another. When they can cooperate to win, they will.

The Apple Tablet is expected to be a wonderful, multi-purpose, but initially expensive machine. It is expected to be a feature rich big brother to the iTouch. A device that is good for listening to music and watching TV but also a good machine for surfing the web, updating social network accounts, reading books and doing normal day to day communication functions. An important point is that "normal" is about to change and Google is going to be the leader in defining what the new "normal" is.

Instead of sending emails and instant messages, it will gradually become normal to invite friends and family over for a "face to face" visit. Google software and the rapid deployment of 4G Internet speed is going to make it natural for tablet users to do "video talk". The deployment of Google Voice will make it easier to control interruption and even access.

The current Google Reader software, available free of charge, will serve as an Internet Gate Keeper, similar to the way Google Voice functions as a Telephone Call Gate Keeper. Add these gate keeping products to a web connected electronic reading tablet and you have a powerful game changing product. As has been shown by the usage of the iPhone as a Kindle book reader, the demand is for an all purpose machine.

Of course, given a little time, new models of the Amazon Kindle, the Sony Reader, the Plastic Logic Reader, the Samsung Reader, and many others are likely to be all purpose machines. In the near future, with only a touch or two of a screen, the owner of an electronic reader will go from a page in a book to a page on a social network. Speech to text and text to speech technology will make it easy to "send a quick message" before returning to reading. With a wireless, fast, light weight, clear device in hand, why not give it voice and video capacity?

I see no reason why Google Reader would not have books as well as its normal blogs and websites listed for viewing. Google has made 500,000 books available through the Barnes and Noble/Plastic Logic program and it has made 1,000,000 books available via the Sony Reader program. Google is "buying" real estate on these reading devices by offering a source of revenue that is not available from anyone else. The Amazon/Kindle program has over 330,000 books available without the assistance of Google and Amazon offers a free Android app. Kindle books are available on Apple Reading devices and on Google reading devices. Why not? The majority of books are sold at competing book stores. The biggest exception is Christian books sold through church sponsored outlets.

The Sony -- Google Reader

Right after Amazon lowered the price of the Kindle II to $299, Sony announced a $199 reader for delivery in September. While the $199 reader must be loaded via a USB connection to a computer, Sony has announced that their plan to offer a wireless reader that will not be limited to one carrier. Indications are that all the cell phone companies are eager to offer wireless service to readers. The indication is that Sony is negotiating to make a service available via the most dominant of cell phone systems, world wide.

Amazon is probably paying very low wholesale rates to Sprint. The download of Kindle books is quick. On the other hand, a Sony -- Google Reader or an Apple -- Google Reader with minute by minute updates of news, blogs, and email --with or without phone call service-- would likely require a cell phone type of contract per user.

The recent brouhaha between Google and Apple in regard to the Google Voice App was possibly staged. The whole purpose could have been to demonstrate that the days of extra charge for text services are over. It has been a marketing feat for cell phone companies to extract extra payment for text messages. By demonstrating that Google and others can easily circumnavigate AT&T, the mind of the market place has been opened. A great opportunity has been presented to software developers, who can now write software that will save consumers billions of dollars. Yes Billions! Last year, AT&T made more than $30 Billion and Verizon made more than $26 Billion. My guess is that more than 10% of those profits came from extremely high margin text services.

Chrome OS skepticism abounds. Critics enjoy reminding us that IBM, Sun Micro, Borderland, Red Hat and many others have tried and failed to wrestle even a tiny sustainable piece of operating system share. Apple has been the great success story but MS still has something like 90% share. The story in the mobile market place is different. The mobile market is much more fragmented and this is where the growth is. Most importantly, software programs are routinely being written for multiple browsers. The MS strangle hold is being forced loose.

The coming combination of HTML 5, Chrome OS and 4G speed is going to be a game changing event. For example, with the above in place, Google Reader will be able to assemble a complete full color magazine for you daily or even multiple times daily. Instead of having a link to a web page that you might like, you will in effect already have the web page inserted into your personal magazine. Moving around the web and from phone call to book reading will be a seamless experience.

If you have ever made a phone call using walkie talkie technology, where there was a half-second latency factor, and where you could not speak without cutting off the incoming message, you know how annoying such a call can be. In the email and Internet 1.0 world, we have always had to deal with very long delays. We send and email or even an "instant message" and we do not expect to get an immediate answer. The system under development now, in particular the Google Wave system, which will begin a very gradual release to the public in late September, will take the Internet to the next level. As one person types his message, the receiver will see each character print. Using text to voice and voice to text, those who now type slowly will type at conversation speed!

The cohorts that will benefit the most from Internet 2.0 are likely to be the old and the young. The young who cannot yet write will talk to the computer and the old who can hardly see to read will listen to the computer. In the previous sentence, I naturally reverted to the word computer. Again, basic hand held readers are going to morph into power handheld computers!


Unknown said...

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