Here are some random thoughts/questions I’ve been kicking around lately. They’re mostly half-baked. Thoughts welcome.
- Why doesn’t Amazon sell mobile apps through its storefront? Why doesn’t Palm partner with Amazon for this purpose? How about Google?
- Is patenting software equivalent to patenting language (or grammar)? Put another way, when it comes to software, doesn’t copyright law strikes a better balance between incentive and protection than patent law? We don’t grant patents to authors with novel plot lines, but somehow people keep majoring in English. In fact, maybe it’s time to come up with a whole new IP system altogether. This medium is unique, so should be its governance.
- Is saying Walmart hurts innovation like saying LeBron hurts youth basketball participation? (re: the “I can’t compete against it/him, so why even try?” mentality) I’ll talk about abuse of market power all day, but blanket statements like “Walmart is bad for small business” completely miss the point.
- Is low-end disruption now possible in home automation/networking? This used to be the province of the ultra wealthy (Bill Gates’ house, anyone?). But with inexpensive, open source hardware like Freeduino, I bet you can hook a lamp up to wifi for under $20 (after production economies are factored in). Verizon FiOS and AT&T U-Verse STBs already hook into the network. A well-positioned wi-fi (or bluetooth) to IR converter could work for unconnected legacy equipment. There’s smart grid implications here too.
As for remotes, no need to buy hardware—build an app. Compete on design (think: the boxee of home control) and use a psuedo-freemium model. You get the remote app for free, and it connects to all devices you have. The Premium side comes from hardware module sales. Think wifi versions of this thing (which is great, by the way). At this point, the only real barrier to home automation is the hardware, and that may not be a barrier anymore. At the least, open source hardware has decreased the barrier significantly. I like this idea. Get in touch if you do too.
- Did most of the people who were going to buy an iPad preorder one?
- I spent the last two days playing with my fiancee’s iPad. While I’m sure people can and will use it for business productivity, I think the device’s future lies in shallow web interfacing (e.g., quick browsing, calendaring, basic email, light gaming and other casual, intuitive uses). This thing is the best accessory I’ve seen in the connected home. But when I travel, I’m still taking my MacBook. It’s not much bigger and it’s loads more powerful.
But I love the iPad, and I finally see a real future for home tablet computing. I don’t think the iPad will own work tablet computing—it will capture a massive chunk, especially early, but ultimately businesses rely on personalized, complicated uses that only a widespread, engineer-driven development community can provide. That’s why I’d bet on Chrome OS in the enterprise space.
I think we’re about five years away from tablets being as ubiquitous as smartphones. Having an open alternative to the iPad will be a great thing. In the meantime, though, the iPad is a bit frivolous, yes. But it’s here. And it’s fucking awesome.*
- LastPass has changed my life. It makes my browsing far more secure while speeding up my passwording interactions. That said, faith has no place in internet security. Until LastPass opens up completely and competes on design, I will maintain a twinge of doubt. But I’m not saying anything new here.
*HT to Mark M. for the line