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The New Ride

Category: Andy Marken's blog Published on Monday, 11 June 2012

Beyond the Call, the Game, the Video; there is Work

He was tall, broad shoulders, and thin, really thin, like bony. He had this rad chopper, it was all flames and stuff. Oh, and his face was a skull and it was on fire. I know it sounds weird but it looked good on him. I mean, it was an edgy look but he totally pulled it off.– Girl in Alley, “Ghost Rider,” Columbia Pictures, 2007

Let’s establish a couple of baselines here:

- The industry does very nicely, thank you, by offering up the next killer thing every six months or so.

- There’s a group of folks out there – some young, some old – who will do just about anything to be the first in their group to have the newest thing. (O.K., maybe not die because that sorta’defeats the goal.)

- Industry analysts and the media can be swept away with “new thing” euphoria just like the rest of us. (3D TV would sweep across the land, netbooks would put us in the cloud.)

- The next killer doesn’t kill someone else’s killer, it just gives people more chances to buy more killer things

The Real Key

Back in January, Will Stofega, of IDC, very succinctly gave device, software, app folks the key to rising to the top when he told companies “Create an emotional connection with the market that focuses upon desire, not necessity.”

It’s true of B2B, B2C, online/brick and mortar.

Sony understood that at one time.

The people who have had it for years is the company with billions in the bank, stock price that broke $500, has a huge valuation (forget the social kids), a dream management team, a design focus that ticks off just about everyone but consumers…yeah, Apple.

They helped breathe new life, new vigor into the PC/CE industry by making us feel we were naked without our smartphone, tablet, notebook/ultrabook.

They made these things so important that folks insisted on bringing their devices to work (BYOD – bring your own device) which IT could block until all of the bosses showed up with their desires in their hot, sweaty little hands.

Mouthwatering - It probably seems that every time you turn around there’s a new device that will make your personal/business life better, easier; so you buy it. Suddenly, you have a full plate of devices; but you’re still hungry for more … admit it.

What these folks and our kids wanted was something that would be the answer to their every desire.

The iPhone/smartphone was going to be it. It was good/great for calls/quick email checks/news/GPS/some videos/games but still…


Beyond the Call While the smartphone is certainly capable of meeting your personal/business work requirements, most people add other technology solutions to their arsenal because they’re just nice to have. Source – Pew Research Center

The phone met/meets the needs/desires of a lot of people.

In many areas of the globe, it’s the only computing/communications device they own; and it really does do it all--not easily, but it does it.

As Johnny Blaze said, “I'm the only one who can walk in both worlds.”

For the industrialized countries, the iPad or Kindle Fire appeared and they were going to be it.

The rest are still accounting rounding errors that don’t have the accompanying environments, so they’re just there.

They’re very good for news, videos, games but…

Notebook Killer

Lots of folks got swept away and said the iPad/tablet was going to kill the notebook. However, the real system producers repeated what Johnny Blaze said, “You can't live in fear.”

They knew that sometimes people really do need to do some work.

Work Choice – The notebook computer continues to be the tool of choice for people who work at the office, at home, on the road. The systems enable men/women to have access to documents, data, images, presentations and more.

There’s really nothing wrong with your notebook.

Oh sure, now that you realize how vital it is to have your devices/stuff with you all the time, they are a little heavy, they do run a little warm, start-up is really slow compared to your phone/tablet and the battery life is a little on the shallow side.

But OMG, its got power to whip through even the most complex video post work and number- crunching projects and…it has the capacity you need to carry all your home/office stuff.

So the design-first folks said that the notebook is really good (they were speaking of their Macbook); but what you actually wanted was a really light, really fast, really battery conservative, really cool new classification of computer…the Macbook Air.

Mack looked at it and said, “We were riding the gravy train on biscuit wheels around here, and then you showed up, everything went to hell.”

Our kids loved the idea because heck, they have an inexpensive desktop system they use as their homework, game/photo/video/music system.

They never leave home without their iPhone/smartphone, iPads (we’re pretty much the same way, but our bag also contains the notebook…just in case).

Work/Play Arsenal – First it was the smartphone that was the answer to our on-the-go staying-in-touch requirements. Then it was the smartphone and tablet. Now we’re back to three devices in our backpack that satisfy our communications, computing, entertainment requirements. Illustration - IDC

Nope, nothing got killed; we just added another tool to our gotta’ have bundle.

So our daughter got her Macbook Air.

Son is still looking, thinking about one of the Intel-based ultrabooks.

We’re going to wait for the next-gen ultrabook later this year.

Next Version

By then, they may have incorporated some of the things Intel and others are working on:

- touch-based interface so it can also be used as a touchpad

- voice recognition that won’t need a headset

- more enhanced battery conservation technology

- even lower prices

Then people won’t know if we’re working or playing!

Source – IDC

Additive Sales For many, ultrabooks (Mac Air and copies) will be the easy-to-tote, easy-to-use computing solution for the office, school, home, away. They provide all of the features we’ve come to expect with our mobile devices – near-instant start, good performance, long battery life. What people will probably begin to realize is that they don’t actually have to have all of their data with them all the time. Source – IDC

That’s good for a lot of reasons—it will:

- Revitalize, refresh the notebook category which has been sameo-sameo for the last few years

- Give us a new/better reason to upgrade our two-year old notebook

- Take a little weight out of our backpack

- Spark up the add-on storage market

From what we saw of the first units at IDF (Intel Developer’s Forum) last fall and at CES in January, it should sell well for both home and office use…IDC sorta’, kinda’ thinks so anyway.

A lot of the performance, weight loss and power conservation is because manufacturers will be including SSD (solid-state drives).

To keep the system sweet spot price, the capacity will probably be the 240GB devices…plenty for 80+ percent of the people who use computers. But there will be a whole lotta’ folks who just “have to have” more capacity.

Johnny Blaze recalled, “My daddy once said, ‘If you don't make a choice, the choice makes you.’"

So rather than pay the premium for the higher-capacity SSD, they’ll opt for a cheap, compact 500GB – 1TB HD to carry along…just in case.

Just a Little Bite – Intel, which helped pull weight, power consumption and more out of the Mac Air while pumping up performance and battery life, readily admits that today’s ultrabooks are the result of their earlier work with Apple. The problem for Apple is that most of the notebook manufacturers didn’t add a whole lot of innovation to their new systems but simply copied customer-winning innovation.

It may be good, but the folks at One Infinity Circle are getting a little ticked at everyone taking a bite out of them!

Knockoff Innovation

Many of the ultrabooks we saw at CES were innovative copies of the first Macbook Airs!

Jeez guys, can we be a little subtle?

That’s probably why Apple, the largest buyer of chips and biggest consumer of flash memory, is quietly encouraging ODMs (Original Design Manufacturers) to stop producing ultrabooks for other companies.

Cook’s team has only put pressure on smaller players, but he would probably like to squeeze out the big name knock-offs like Dell, HP, Lenovo.

To their credit though, they’re at least offering consumers something beside a cheap knockoff.

Still, Cook and his team are very interested in defending the legacy.

As Blackheart said, “There's an old saying, don't raise more demons than you can lay down. My father raised one too many.”

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