Yes, this is the man I’ll listen to about the future of the PC

Michael Dell in an interview Sunday took a stance that there was no such thing as a post-PC era. In spite of struggling PC sales, he argued to the FT that the PC industry was still growing… Smartphones and tablets weren’t “necessarily” replacing PCs, and long-term forecasts suggested that would stay the case for years to come, he said.

via Electronista

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The iPad’s Competitors Drop Like Flies. Actually, They Never Even Took Off.

The iPad is the king of tablets and might hold that title for years to come. However, there are a ton of alternatives that we’ve featured over the last few months… But since [then], a lot has changed and while some managed to make it to the market, others were delayed or scrapped entirely.

Nice article describing what’s happened to alleged iPad alternatives (are they called alternatives to recognize the iPad has no competitors?) in the last few months.

I’ve written the iPad has no “alternatives”, and CrunchGear makes it’s easy to see why. We can dismiss seven of them out of hand: 

  • ModBook – This is a MacBook reconfigured. A laptop with a desktop OS.
  • Viliv X70 – A tablet with a desktop OS (XP, no less).
  • Archos 9 – A tablet with a desktop OS.
  • Viliv S10 Blade – A “convertibile” device. Again, a laptop with a desktop OS.
  • Spring Design Alex – This is an eBook reader, what’s it doing here?
  • Lenovo Skylight – A netbook, not sure how it made even an exaggerated list of competitors.
  • Lenovo IdeaPad U1 – Another “convertibile” that comes apart. Desktop OS as PC, and maybe Android as a tablet?

Some of these are not even available, but even if they were they’re not iPad alternatives. They’re not iPad tablets in any sense. It’s not just about form, it needs a touch, not desktop, OS and apps. The human finger doesn’t have the precision for software written for the precision of a cursor tip. A stylus can address that, but styli are a big failure, no one wants them. Why would any hardware maker (or anyone else) ignore the decade of failure “desktop tablets” have had in the market? 

After weeding out the above, of the six remaining (I left the HP Slate because rumors say it won’t run a desktop OS), four of them—Notion Ink Adam, HP Slate, WeTab, and ExoPC—are nowhere to be found. These devices are delayed, or maybe even killed altogether. In any case, they can hardly be called alternatives now. They’re vapor, and I remain convinced the iPad will outsell vapor. 

So that leaves just two devices: the enTourage eDGe dualbook, which isn’t any good; and the Dell Streak, whose too-large-for-a-pocket but too-small-for-a-tablet form factor isn’t winning any converts, and it’s not yet available in the US. 

The tech press loves for Apple to have competition, and sometimes go out of their way to invent it. In the case of the iPad, however, it simply doesn’t exist. Not even close. Maybe by the end of the year, but certainly not now.

The fragmentation of Android continues

  • [The Dell Streak features] A customized multi-touch version of the Google Android operating system that features Dell user interface enhancements
  • The device is not yet available, but when it arrives it’ll be running the older Android 2.1. An OTA upgrade to 2.2 is said to be in the works for “later this year”.

    This is what Android has wrought. To differentiate their devices from others running the same OS, manufacturers must implement custom interface tweaks. It becomes an issue with Android upgrades because the manufacturer must ensure their custom tweaks, as well as the hardware, work properly.

    Dell’s Streak Earns a Rave… Tweet?

    I’ve heard anecdotal reports from media types who are lukewarm about the forthcoming HP (HPQ) tablet. But here’s a rave mini-review for Dell’s (DELL) Streak from Greg Clayman

    via mediamemo.allthingsd.com

    The alleged “rave mini-review” is a tweet. That’s right, a tweet.

    It’s sad that Peter Kafka can compare the iPad to the Streak (in his article’s headline) and back it up with only a 10-word tweet. Kafka’s piece is such an obvious hit-whoring affair I refuse to link to it.

    Adobe: For a Great Flash Experience on Tablets, Get One That Doesn’t Exist

    Mind you, not one of those companies is (as yet) selling a competing tablet, and it’s not like there’s some magical formula that will make 720p Flash video run smoothly on a bare Atom CPU (remember, Ion GPU acceleration is not yet available for the Linux-based JooJoo), but who are we to stand in the way of a carefully worded damage limitation statement?

    As if Adobe’s management hasn’t been misguided enough — putting the survival of Flash above all other priorities — their PR group has lost it, too.

    Netbook Sales Growth Sagging: What Took So Long?

    The sales growth of netbooks, priced from $200 to $500 and resembling shrunk-down laptops, slowed markedly in the first quarter, according to market researcher IDC.

    This should come as a shock to no one, but of course it will. The netbook is a cheap cheap laptop, OK? That’s all it’s ever been. Nothing more, nothing less. Laptops went from well over $1K, to cheap laptops in the $600 range, and netbooks brought them down to $300.

    Those lower divisions brought cheaper components, lower quality, weak processors, etc. They had to. For some that might be good enough, but it doesn’t change the fact that netbooks are a significant compromise to the laptop they emulate. For many, the netbook brought disappointment when they found out there really is no such thing as a $300 laptop.

    As for manufacturers, they found out that, while they could brag about sales in terms of number of units, there’s little profit. No wonder the big names are scaling back.

    Is There More Behind Dell’s Discontinuation of 12-inch Netbooks?

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    So Dell is retiring the Mini 12 netbook. According to them it’s because 10-inch netbooks are the “sweet spot” for consumers. I find this odd because Dell has built its entire existence on providing so many choices it’s sometimes difficult to get out of the configuration maze once you get in.

    Dell has 13, 14, 15, 16, and 17 inch laptops. They have laptops geared for businesses, and for consumers. They have the Alienware models. Heck, they’ve even got an aphrodisiac laptop! In short, they’ve got choices out the wazoo. Surely somewhere in that mess of configuration options are other “sweet spots”, yet with netbooks they’re stopping at 10 inches.

    TechCrunch isn’t convinced by Dell’s reasoning, and makes a case that Intel has a lot to do with it:

    Intel doesn’t like 12-inch netbooks because they are deep into dual core territory, where Intel has much healthier profit margins… Intel has put pressure on OEMs to build netbooks that have 10 inch or smaller screens.

    I don’t doubt this — and I’m not the only one — but I believe Microsoft may have something to do with it as well. Windows 7 is almost here, and the “netbook” version (Starter Edition), is not available for netbooks with screens over 10 inches. In an article I wrote for GigaOM Pro (subscription required), I said that “[s]ome have called the strategy price-fixing. While that may be debated, at the very least it’s “hardware fixing.””

    Without Starter, a 12 inch netbook requires at least Home Premium, and the associated price hike that takes it out of typical netbook territory. This is doubly true if Intel charges by screen size as TechCrunch states. These two corporations have made it all but impossible to build a 12-inch netbook for appreciably less than, say, a 13 inch cheap laptop.

    If a 13-inch laptop is only a little more then why wouldn’t you prefer it? Because it’s not a netbook. It’s bigger, bulkier, much heavier, runs hotter and has much less battery life. If you just wanted a netbook a bit bigger than 10-inches, with a keyboard less cramped, a 12-inch could be perfect. Perhaps too perfect in Intel’s and Microsoft’s eyes.