Thursday, January 28, 2010

What To Expect When the iPad Comes To Canada

Bookmark and Share
Within a couple of months people will be getting their hands on the recently unveiled Apple iPad.  Depending on Apple's negotiations with Canada's cell carriers the 3G version could be delayed.  However just like Amazon's Kindle the delay could be short now that Rogers doesn't have a stranglehold, now that Bell and Telus are operating GSM/HSPA networks compatible with the iPad, which started offering iPhones back in November.  Since the iPad comes unlocked consumers can buy a 3G iPad and choose their own carrier. 

Once cellular Internet access plans are in place deals with Canada's print media will need to be made in order to provide access to Canada's newspapers and magazines on the iPad.  Since those who own much of Canada's print media are also own 'local' TV stations that are crying out for corporate welfare in the form of a tax to be placed on cable and satellite TV bills, are probably are going to look for some way to charge for content through some kind of similar tax on the wireless Internet service charged by cellular carriers. 

For newspapers operators, putting their content on a device like the iPad doesn't address the loss of revenue issue caused by mass diversion of eyeballs from one of the bread and butter sources of advertising that newspapers depend on for revenue, the classified ads.  Free classified ad websites like craigslist, others have allowed people to sell and buy their stuff for free.  The only thing the iPad changes is that people will be reading something other than newsprint which costs more to buy, print on, and transport than the Internet bandwidth to provide a newspaper on the iPad.

For TV networks the iPad is a mixed blessing at best.  While the iPad gives viewers access to original programming produced by CTV, CBC and Global, the iPad will also give Canadians easier access to the forbidden fruits, the shows produced by premium networks such as HBO, Showtime, TNT, USA Network and FX.  The iPad is hyped by the speculators as well as Steve Jobs to revolutionize other kinds of media in the same way the iPod revolutionized the music industry, In Canada that couldn't be more right.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Five Badly Overpackaged Tech Products

Bookmark and Share
For many of those who make modifications to their lifestyles to create a cleaner world in the days to years to come, choosing products with less packaging is one of the most important steps to decreasing the amount of waste going to landfills.  Many technology products however still come with more packaging that there needs to be.  Here's five products that technology companies still put into packages that are way too much.

1. iPod, Shuffle, Nano, and Touch: Look at the displays of portable media players in retail stores, and the shiny iPods in their plastic boxes are sure to leap out.  For every pair of Apple's iconic white earbuds seen just about everywhere there is a plastic box that once held that iPod sitting in a landfill somewhere.  The first generations of iPods came in a cardboard box.  Going to the clear plastic box to house iPods during their journey from the factory to the customers' hands was just to make the iPods look pretty on retail store shelves it serves no other useful purpose.

2. Cardboard DVD/BluRay Sleeves:  More often or not buying the latest movies on DVD or BluRay comes with a piece of packaging that serves no purpose and becomes waste just as fast as the shrink wrap comes off.  Many movie DVD's and BluRay discs come with a cardboard sleeve over the plastic protective case for the disc.  The graphics on cardboard sleeve are identical to the graphic on the insert sheet in the case and completely unnecessary.

3.  Microsoft Xbox Live subscription and points cards:  Players on Microsoft's Xbox Live online service need to pay to play online and pay for points to download add-ons for games such as extra levels.  Both the subscriptions and points are sold on plastic cards with codes on them which are redeemed online.  Buying the cards in electronics stores and in specialty video game stores the cards come attached to a cardboard backer card and the whole thing comes in a plastic blister pack.  Xbox live cards sold at convenience stores come without the blister pack, this at least gives consumers the opportunity to choose not to buy unneeded packaging.

4.  Microsoft Windows & Office:  Recent version of both Windows and office have come in hard plastic cases where retail packages for Windows and Office in the past was just a cardboard box.  While other software publishers have reduced the size of the boxes that their software is packaged in, Microsoft has made a similar reduction but has made an unneeded switch from cardboard to plastic. 

5. Printer ink cartridges:  The ink cartridges for most printers come in a sealed bag in a cardboard box.  Isn't it possible that the sealed bag could become the retail package and skip the cardboard box entirely?  It has been worse though, some ink cartridges also had a plastic blister pack to hold the cardboard box that holds the sealed plastic bag.  While it is encouraging to see those blister packs gone the cardboard boxes should go too.

For more information on decreasing the impact on the environment while using and enjoying technology check out the 25 Things Geeks Can Do To Go Green

Thursday, January 21, 2010

What does Microsoft hope to do with a Zune Phone?

Bookmark and Share
If a recent rumor coming out of Redmond is to be believed, Microsoft will attempt to prop up their floundering Windows Mobile and Zune products by marrying them together.  According to an entry on a blog on Within two months from now ether at the mobile world conference in February or the Cellular Telephone Industry Association conference in March, Microsoft will announce a new smart phone running Windows Mobile 7 using a Zune style user interface.  The phones will be made by Microsoft and sold through a carrier (Verizon most likely)  While other handset makers will be able to make phones with Windows Mobile 7 the Zune style media player functionality will be exclusive to Microsoft's phone.

If Microsoft is hoping to compete with the iPhone, that ship sailed two and half years ago.  At best Microsoft can only expect to hold ground against Google's Android.  While Android has a better overall UI it hasn't been exactly been the strongest portable media player in a phone not made by Apple.  Microsoft needs the handset makers for Windows Mobile to survive, and given that Microsoft is has become a handset maker when they acquired Danger (maker of the well known and now infamous sidekick), and going further into making actual smartphones, that doesn't exactly give handset makers a reason not to defect to Android. 

Monday, January 11, 2010

Google's Nexus One - Canadian Debut?

Bookmark and Share
For the second year in a row the biggest hyped product is the Nexus One smartphone from Google.  The Nexus One is built by HTC but is sold to carriers by Google.  Buyers can buy a Nexus One unlocked for use on any GSM cellular network for $529.00.  T-Mobile USA offers a subidized version for $179.00 on a two year contract. 

For Canadians this means that the only way to get a Nexus One is to buy direct from Google.  For those who don't want to pony up six or seven Bordens once exchange rate and shipping are factored in. There maybe an agreement with a carrier coming soon.  Rogers, Fido, Bell and Telus are compatible with the Nexus One.  Koodo, Virgin Mobile, MTS and Sasktel are not compatible as the Nexus One is GSM only for now.  There is supposed to be a CDMA version of the Nexus One for Verizon Wireless stateside.  With Bell and Telus going GSM/HSPA it is unlikely that the CDMA Nexus One will make an appearance in Canada.

For Handset makers the Nexus One poses an interesting challenge, buying the Android operating system for their own smartphones which has to compete against the Nexus One.  For Google selling the Nexus One isn't so much about generating a revenue stream from something other than online advertising.  Perhaps it's to show handset makers, cellular carriers and consumers what Android can really do.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

CES 2010: AT&T Getting Android and WebOS Smartphones

Bookmark and Share
One of the early announcements from the Consumer Electronics Show is bound to reverberate in Western Canada.  AT&T has announced seven new smartphones running Google's Android and Palm's Web OS.  Undoubtely each of the Android models will find a home with a carrier on this side of the 49th parallel. AT&T picking up Palm's WebOS phones that will have the most impact in Western Canada.  Palm's WebOS exclusivity agreement with Bell have excludes regional carriers MTS and Sasktel from offering the Palm Pre.

Since the majority of AT&T's phone lineup ends up on Rogers, getting  GSM versions of the Pre and Pixi, then it will allow Rogers to offer the Pixi at first and then the Pre will be available when the exclusivity agreement with Bell expires.  For Bell, who is in the process of making a switch over from CDMA to GSM, will most likely switch to the GSM version of the Pre that they will offer to new subscribers.  Getting Palm WebOS is a win for Rogers but is also a win for subscribers in Manitoba and Saskatchewan who have not had access to the Palm Pre yet.  That's why carrier exclusivity agreements end up hurting consumers and need to come to a mandated end.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Playing The Odds on CES 2010

Bookmark and Share
Now that everybody has received the tech toys they wanted this Christmas just past, people will get their first looks at the gadgets that will be under the tree next Christmas.  The 2010 installment of the annual Consumer Electronics Show is set to start in Las Vegas.  Here's my guesses and the odds of appearing on the convention floor.

1000:1 TV's with OLED screens bigger than a sheet of paper.

700:1 Prototype for digital broadcast radio system appears and become the big hit of the show.

200:1 Hundreds of TV's and DVR's supporting OpenCable appear at the show.

50:1 3D TV appears at the show with full support of the networks.

5:1 Keynote from Microsoft's Steve Ballmer contains not much more than Zunes, and Smartphones running Windows Mobile interconnected with PC's and Xbox 360.  Microsoft board of directors starts hunting for new CEO.

Blog Archive