Tag Archives: Stage Two

Mar 25

Posted by Jeremy Toeman and Greg Franzese

Posted in Gadgets, Products, UI/UX

Why the HP TouchPad, BlackBerry PlayBook and Motorola Xoom are DOA

I was recently asked to do a Xoom review and I have to say that I am pained just picking up the device. And apparently I am not the only one who feels this way. The Motorola Xoom recently launched to tepid reviews and slow sales. Engadget said “there isn’t much here for consumers right now,” and there are already rumors that Motorola is cutting production of their Android tablet.

When the HP TouchPad and BlackBerry PlayBook are released, there is no doubt in my mind that they will suffer the same fate as the Xoom: lackluster sales, middling reviews and generally regarded as also-rans in the tablet kingdom.

Since the iPad 2 came out (and sold a million units over a single weekend), the writing is officially on the wall. The tablet space is Apple’s game to lose.

So here is the message for HP, RIM and every other company developing a tablet computer right now: stop the presses. There is nothing to be gained by releasing these devices as they are now. Unless these firms have extremely small unit goals for their devices (which they don’t), they need to reevaluate how they can compete in the tablet space. And they won’t compete by launching tablets that look kind of like the iPad that are aimed at current iPad owners. Apple competitors need to innovate and differentiate themselves if they want to win.

Let’s be clear. There are markets for these products – I outlined a few of them in this earlier tablet post:

Here are a few sectors that present real opportunities for non-Apple tablets.

Medicine

We are quickly approaching a world where medical records and information will be displayed on tablets. Windows and Android devices could thrive in this vertical.

The Military

Someone is going to sell the Pentagon a lot of secure, battle ready tablets. Smart manufacturers should keep an eye on this space.

Kids

A “cheap,” sturdy tablet for kids is a no-brainer. Part coloring book, part media player, part game center- think LeapPad on steroids.

It’s time that the consumer electronics industry takes a hard look at the iPad’s strengths and comes up with a few interesting alternatives for these specific market segments.

Instapaper founder Marco Arment has a post that talks about the iPad abandoning office productivity apps and moving more toward “casual media creation.” Since the iPad’s role “doesn’t include office productivity for most of us,” there is an opportunity for an enterprise tablet built for business needs. If someone other than Apple made an amazing office tablet, people would love it- they would just love it differently than they love the iPad. HP could own this enterprise tablet market. It isn’t hard to imagine a scenario where people absolutely adore their HP work tablet. In order to thrive, though, these devices must be inspiring, not merely functional. There is an opportunity here to connect with people and improve their working lives (and maybe surprise and delight them in the process). HP (and others) just need to seize it.

RIM, HP, Motorola and others can’t deliver products that are a little better than the iPad. Their offerings need to be far superior or far different to the iPad in order to succeed. They need to create a user experience that people love. The fact is that the PlayBook and TouchPad – as they are designed and marketed now – won’t capture people’s emotions the way the iPad has. Which is why they should not be brought to market.

Mar 24

Posted by Jeremy Toeman and Greg Franzese

Posted in Stage Two

The End of The Internet

Oliver Burkeman’s recent Guardian article traces his journey through this year’s SXSW festival and explores the rapidly eroding line that defines what happens “online” and what takes place in the “real world.” More than mere mobile computing, the next internet epoch is ubiquitous and self aware. The end of the internet as we know it occurs:

When the GPS system in your phone or iPad can relay your location to any site or device you like, when Facebook uses facial recognition on photographs posted there, when your financial transactions are tracked, and when the location of your car can influence a constantly changing, sensor-driven congestion-charging scheme, all in real time.

The article details some fascinating tech trends such as gamification, biomimicry and augmented reality. Exactly how all of these ideas will impact our lives still remains to be seen, but the time when the internet was thing that you “logged on to” from a desktop is long gone. Burkeman quotes the writing of Tim O’Reilly (the man who coined the phrase Web 2.0) to declare that – now – “the web is the world.”

Mar 22

Posted by Jeremy Toeman and Greg Franzese

Posted in Apps, Gadgets, Smart TV, Stage Two, UI/UX

10 Rules for Connected TV App Development

We recently ran across the following presentation that covers “10 Rules for Connected TV App Development.

Javier Lasa’s deck inspired us to post our own 10 rules for building Smart TV Apps (we will get it done by the end of next week). For more good reading, check out Stage Two’s ten essential tips for making a great Google TV site, and ten commandments for building an amazing Boxee Box App.

Mar 16

Posted by Jeremy Toeman and Greg Franzese

Posted in Blogging, Gadgets, Products, Stage Two

The Ultimate Xoom Ad

After seeing this commercial for the Motorola Xoom (in which a man picks up a tablet and literally takes off in a space ship), I was struck by a number of thoughts.

The first was, “Man, I love spaceships.”

The second thought was, “They seem to be targeting young men.”

The third thought was, “And they are doing a rather poor job.”

My last thought was more of a daydream that I will share with you all here – to the best of my ability. It was something along the lines of “How could Motorola make the ultimate Xoom ad? What other cool things could they put in a Xoom commercial to attract the coveted 18 – 34 year old male demographic? ” Here is what I came up with.

- Beer

Cold, refreshing Motorola Xoom.

- These Shoes

Those are shoes. That's right, shoes.

- A Fairy Princess Wedding

Err . . . no.

- Explosions (The Bigger The Better)

KAPOW!

- Bacon Wrapped Bacon

It's BACON!

- Robocop on a Unicorn

Nothing screams "buy a tablet" like the robotic energy of this image.

- Dinosaurs with Lasers

Armored, laser-fighting dinos would be ultimate.

The above Xoom video focuses too much attention on the tablet’s technical specifications. Motorola should be telling people less about spaceships and more about the benefits of the device. Outside of the tech world (where most tablet customers live) users don’t really care about the Xoom’s dual-core “gyroscope” or one-point-twenty-one gigawatts of processing power. They want to know what the device does that helps them in real world situations. Look at Apple’s iPad commercial. There isn’t a single spec in it- not one. The entire video shows different applications for the tablet that people can imagine themselves doing. So, Motorola – either deliver a Xoom ad that shows people all the interesting and fun things your tablet does, or make with the Dino-lasers.

If you have any ideas for Ultimate Xoom ads, let us know in the comments.

Mar 14

Posted by Jeremy Toeman and Greg Franzese

Posted in Gadgets, Marketing, Products

iPad 2 Sells 1 Million Units – Over the Weekend

It took the first iPad 28 days to sell a million units. It took the Verizon iPhone two weeks. The iPad 2 sold around one million units in a single weekend.

Reuters is reporting that some stores ran out of Apple tablets in 10 minutes. Quoting from the piece:

Wedbush Securities analyst Scott Sutherland said: “We would not be surprised to see Apple sell closer to 1 million iPad 2’s in the opening weekend.”

The article also mentions the impending tablet bubble that we blogged about recently. “The iPad 2’s early success is a warning sign of a global tablet bubble, where supply could outpace demand for tablets,” says Wall Street analyst Mark Moscowitz.

PC makers need to innovate – and quickly – if they want to compete in the tablet space.

Mar 14

Posted by Jeremy Toeman and Greg Franzese

Posted in Gadgets, Products, Stage Two

RIP Microsoft Zune

It seems that Microsoft is finally taking our advice and killing off its Zune media player. Dan Frommer is reporting that the “Zune is finally dead.” Quoting from his article:

Microsoft will continue to sell existing versions of the Zune, Bloomberg reports, but will not introduce new ones.

Building hardware is hard. Hopefully Redmond will continue to take our advice and build an innovative tablet that competes with the iPad 2.

Mar 11

Posted by Jeremy Toeman and Greg Franzese

Posted in Gadgets, Products, Stage Two, UI/UX

Only Apple Could Make The iPad 2

In Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Apple iPad 2Country, Spock recalls an old Vulcan proverb that says, “Only Nixon could go to China.

I firmly believe that only Apple could deliver a device like the iPad 2. Their focus on usability and user experiences ushered in a post-PC paradigm in computing. The Cupertino company defined the tablet space and is expected to ship 30 million tablets in 2011. There is a reason other tablet makers don’t have Apple’s market share- their tablets just don’t measure up at this time.

I recently reviewed the Motorola Xoom, and in the first few seconds of interacting with it, it became clear that it was not an iPad. From the moment I picked it up, it just felt wrong. The first time use feels cumbersome and even languid. Motorola’s tablet asks me for account information – user names and passwords – before I can do anything with the device. When I pick up the iPad, it works – quickly and effortlessly. There are other differences, as well. Stability, for one. As the venerable Walt Mossberg puts it in his iPad 2 review: “[The iPad] never crashed in my tests, unlike every Android tablet I’ve tested.” Then, of course, there is the price point ($800? Really?). And finally, the news that Xoom owners will have to send their devices back to the manufacturer for a 4G upgrade. Quoting Dvice:

Poor Motorola Xoom. We all wanted to love you, but you may have popped out of the oven a bit too soon. If you want 4G LTE on your shiny new Xoom (goes on sale today), you’ll have to return it back to Motorola for the upgrade.

This debacle is more Motorola’s fault than Android’s. Someone at Motorola said that this tablet was ready to ship when it clearly wasn’t. Who is that guy? What motivated his decision making? At what point did making customers return their product for an upgrade seem like a good idea?

Hardware makers must innovate tablet technology while delivering fun, functional user experiences. The reviewers and consumers have weighed in and at this point only Apple can deliver a tablet worth waiting in line for.

Mar 11

Posted by Jeremy Toeman and Greg Franzese

Posted in Apps, Clients, Events, Outreach, Products, Stage Two

Grouped{in} Launches Group Messaging App – Brings Tacos To SXSW

Are you interested in keeping up with the latest news and happenings from SXSW? Do you love delicious tacos, Rube Goldberg machines and dunk tanks? Then read on, friends.

Stage Two client Grouped{in} is bringing their recently launched mobile group messaging app to SXSW in Austin, Texas, along with a boatload of fun events and activities. There will be live updates from KXAN weather man Jim Spencer, an outdoor activity group with RunTex- did we mention that there will be tacos? There will be tacos.

Grouped{in} is the only group messaging app that allows you to simply communicate across multiple channels – including Facebook, email, phone, SMS and Twitter.

A full itinerary is available here. If you want to meet up with the Grouped{in} gang in Austin (or anytime, really) email meghan@stagetwo.com.

Mar 11

Posted by Jeremy Toeman and Greg Franzese

Posted in Clients, Events, Gadgets, Products, Stage Two

Sphero Heads To SXSW – Named Microsoft BizSpark Accelerator Award Finalist

Sphero is heading to SXSW in Austin this week and is a Microsoft BizSpark Accelerator Award finalist.

There’s a lot going on here, so please pay attention.

Mashable House Geek Games

Sphero will be at the Mashable House Geek Games with a brand new game developed specifically for Southby. Come out and experience Pepsi MAX Sphero Bowling at the Geek Games on Monday.

Plutopia: The Future of Play

Sphero will also be at Plutopia: The Future of Play from 6:30 till Midnight on Monday the 14th. This “sense event” features emerging technologies such as augmented reality, robotics and more.

Below is Sphero’s full schedule for SXSW. If you’d like to set up a time to meet in Austin, just reach out to meghan@stagetwo.com.

Sunday March 13th

10am – 5pm Find us in and around Austin!

6pm – 11pm Techcocktail

Monday March 14th

2pm – 5pm Mashable House Geek Games

5pm Accelerator Award Presentation Round 1

6:30pm – Midnight Plutopia: The Future of Play

Tuesday March 15th

10am – Noon Find us in and around Austin!

Mar 10

Posted by Jeremy Toeman and Greg Franzese

Posted in Stage Two

How Apple’s Focus on UX Created the Post-PC Paradigm

We recently blogged about how Apple’s commitment to amazing user experiences is ushering in a new Post-PC paradigm in computing.

Determining the best tech products was easy in the old PC era. The best devices were the ones with the best hardware. A 5 megapixel camera was better than a 2 megapixel camera. Specs settled all debates. End of discussion.

But in this new, post-PC world, usability dictates which device “wins.” ZDNet picked up on this theme in a post that claims “user experience is everything, hardware not so much.” Quoting from their article:

Apple has proven time and again that the user experience is the primary thing on any product that will get millions of mainstream consumers to purchase and enjoy using the gadget . . . The user experience is everything, from the way a device handles users’ common tasks to how pleasant that experience is perceived by the device owner.

The best device is no longer the one with the biggest chip inside. The best device – in this post-PC world – is the one that users enjoy interacting with the most. And with that definition of success, Apple products (including the iPad 2) will continue to outsell their competitors.

Engadget smartly highlights how specs are diminished in the new post-PC era of usability.

In a post-PC world, the experience of the product is central and significant above all else. It’s not the RAM or CPU speed, screen resolution or number of ports which dictate whether a product is valuable; it becomes purely about the experience of using the device. What that means is that while Motorola and Verizon will spend millions of dollars advertising the Xoom’s 4G upgrade options, CPU speed, and high-resolution cameras, Apple need only delight consumers and tell them that specs and and speed are the domain of a dinosaur called the PC.

Apple’s iPad defined the tablet space just as the iPhone changed the very nature of the telephone. But it wasn’t the hardware that made Apple the second largest publicly traded company on the planet. Their dedication to usability and creating simple, stable products that people love to use drove their growth.

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