Now Accepting Warm Feelings

Navigating the latter half of this year of my life has been treacherous. Let’s leave it at that.

Apple’s new iPhone 4S continues to sell well, while competition from other phone manufacturers remains steady. In recent news, the focus has shifted away from the iPad and the tablet space, back to the iPhone vis a vis the competition. Competitors need to put out a real alternative to Siri, which really won’t happen because Siri is a thing, an entity unto itself, one that everyone has his or her own personal experience with. I just don’t think any voice interface will do. The experience has to be wholly natural, use no jargon or “commands”, and needs to integrate into the OS in a way that is basically ubiquitous. Good luck to everyone on designing that.

The iPad is also the only game in town when it comes to an authentic tablet experience. Yet, news surrounding the iPad and the tablet market has quieted of late. There was a tablet sporting nVidia’s new Tegra processor that was released and supposed to kill the iPad. I…maybe I missed that one? Doesn’t look like anyone’s favorite fruit-flavored tablet friend is in the crosshairs, so perhaps this new “Transformer Prime” is just waiting for Shia? Dunno.

Furthermore, other tablets that I’ve seen miss the point, entirely. Have you seen the Kindle Fire? Ouch. I was traveling at the time that it was released, but there was nothing about it that made me want to use it. I picked one up at a kiosk, hoping to walk away from the experience with my eyebrows still raised. Upon taking my seat at the gate, I found my eyebrows in their normal resting position. Mission failed, Amazon.

The problem is that all these companies are all playing catch-up, trying to create value in a market that is valued on features that Apple defines. It’s a tough market to be in, and it’s getting more crowded every day.

I remember when MP3 players were all the rage, and some of my friends got them. I was excited to get one too, but never more so than when the iPod came out. I could never find the money to plunk down on one of those beasts, but I yearned. I also wouldn’t accept imitations. My father, never one for paying full price, would buy lots of off-brand MP3 players and say “Look! Just like an iPod!” He was wrong, of course. They weren’t. My first iPod was an iPod Shuffle, which was, despite its unorthodox appearance, an iPod. Next came the iPod Nano, which my sister also received. We moved up, we enjoyed, and we haven’t looked back. I believe the same can be said of the experience many people are having or will have with the vast majority of tablets out there…they’re not the iPad. Nothing else is.

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