The iPad will not destroy the Kindle; It will strengthen Amazon UPDATE

Even before the iPad was officially announced, so-called pundits and tech-prognosticators were declaring that Apple’s long-rumored tablet device would “destroy” Amazon’s Kindle. Amazon, I’m sure, doesn’t see the iPad as a challenge to the Kindle, but rather as yet another portal through which Amazon can sell products. Notice that I’m not just talking about ebooks here. The iPad, thanks to the full Safari-sans-Flash experience, will be an excellent way to browse Amazon.com and purchase all kinds of items. Just like the iPhone and iPod touch are. Even if there weren’t a browser built in, Amazon would simply do what they’ve already done with the iPhone and iPod touch and build an Amazon Store app (which is undoubtedly coming for the iPad too).

If you look at the strategic approach Amazon has taken towards these two devices, you have a pretty accurate looking glass into the future as to how Amazon will react to the iPad: Amazon will build apps for the device that will help Amazon sell more products. Amazon is not an ebook reader manufacturer. Amazon is a retailer that happens to manufacture an ebook reader. Amazon is also a company that wants a major share of the ebook market. Many people seem to regularly forget that major distinction.

Today’s Media Memo from Peter Kafka, continues the doom and gloom predictions with a slightly new twist. The article notes that Amazon is working on an iPad version of its Kindle Reader. The doom and gloom comes in the slight tinge of worry casting a shadow on the entire article that the Kindle for iPad app won’t be ready for the launch of the iPad. This is no surprise, for two reasons: First, developers don’t have iPads to test their apps on yet. Second, it’s not the way Amazon operates. Keep in mind an iPhone / iPod touch version of the Kindle has been available for a long time and Amazon also offers the Kindle software platform in Mac and PC flavors. None of these versions were ready for the launch of any of the devices on which they run and yet they are wildly popular on these platforms, something that Kafka avoids mentioning. Also, Kafka entirely ignores that the current Kindle for iPhone app should run nicely on the iPad until the native iPad version of the software arrives (with a reading experience more customized for the actual device).

Why would Amazon compete with their own Kindle device like this? Well, because Amazon doesn’t give a damn if the device is wildly successful. Rumors say Amazon is even debating giving away Kindles for free. Why? Well, to sell more books of course. That’s Amazon’s endgame strategy. Anyone who loses sight of that isn’t really paying attention to the space. And from the looks of the space, that includes most of the people writing about these things these days.

Everyone has iPad fever, because there’s lots of interest in the unreleased iPad, so there’s lots of traffic and pageviews to be had. People love drama and false fights too, so let’s phrase all our reporting as a doom and gloom battle to the finish between Amazon and Apple. That’ll garner even more traffic!

Whatever. At this rate, I think new media and old media are both doomed to fail, because the latter is following the bad patterns of the former. We need a new new media. An honest media that peers deeply into the context surrounding every story and actually reports on the truth to be discovered there.

Too bad everyone seems to think there’s no money in the truth these days and that their time is better spent prognosticating faux-controversial, fabricated nonsense.

UPDATE: Also rather telling that Amazon’s post about this is focused on Kindle for Tablet Computers (not just the iPad).

UPDATE ON APRIL 5TH Good to see that several weeks later, everyone is suddenly agreeing with me.

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SXSW Highlights

This year was my first SXSW, although it wasn’t my first conference. As with most conferences, there was quite a bit of convoluted self-puffery by some of the panelists, quite a bit of self-promotion by the people asking questions, and quite a bit of non-academics giving academic (and therefore largely irrelevant) lectures to the attendees. There were also some nice nuggets of gold. I’ve watched a lot of the posts come online since the event about how much of a disappointment SXSW was compared to previous years. To those people, I would say: WAAAAAAAAH. Grow up.

SXSW, like anything else in life, is what you make of it. If you’re looking for a conference to fill some hole in your life, you’re going to be disappointed. If you’re a business, and you’re smart, you won’t go to SXSW to party like all the cool kids do, but you’ll go to learn new things and team build (and maybe party just a little bit). Being part of a virtual company, coworking together daily without colocation (aside), SXSW was a great experience for me. The entire Crowd Fusion team was there, even the guy who is normally in New Zealand (and who brought Jackson a New Zealand onesie and bib!), and we spent a good deal of the conference working in our hotel room, ordering room service, and drawing out ideas with dry erase markers on the large windows of the hotel room. We were even fortunate enough to meet one of our beta testers in the flesh and get some one on one feedback about Crowd Fusion Open Source. As a distributed workforce, this team-time spent together is invaluable, and it’s always good to schedule such meetings around events like SXSW so that there are both distractions and learning to be had when breaks are needed.

Hadley Stern and Gregory Ng

The other thing that made SXSW very fulfilling for me was reconnecting with old friends and meeting long-time friends for the first time in real life. I finally, after 10 years of virtual friendship online, got to meet Hadley Stern and Gregory Ng in the flesh:

Picture of me and Hadley taken by Gregory Ng

Hadley wrote iPod & iTunes Hacks, which I was Technical Editor on, and also runs Apple Matters, the first site that I wrote for online that wasn’t my own, and where I wrote alongside Gregory. We had lunch on Sunday at SXSW and it was great! We all hugged each other and took pictures and it was just amazing to finally meet these two guys who I have known for years. It gave me chills and we had a very excited conversation at lunch.

Also, I had an amazing blast from the past experiencing, seeing Christopher Griffin, who I knew from Mississippi College 20 years ago. He saw my tweets in one of the sessions and asked if I was the same C.K. Sample who attended Mississippi College. Then later on I was walking through the convention center and suddenly this tall, gray-haired man said loudly: “C.K. Sample”. I looked at his face, didn’t recognize him, looked at his name badge and read “Christopher Griffin”, and then looked back at his face and suddenly pattern matched the longish-haired 21 year old I knew all those years ago on this short-gray-haired man’s face. It was one of the most surreal memory experiences I’ve ever had. I said “Christopher!” in shock and shook his hand as he introduced me as the guy who introduced him to Nirvana back in 1991. Then Don Dodge, who used to work with Chris at Microsoft walked up, and we all had a nice chat for a while.

I also attended the live taping of This Week in Startups and received a warm hug and congratulations from Jason on the birth of my son. It was good to see the old Mahalo crew in town and to talk to Lon and Mark Jeffrey, who is now CEO of This Week In, which appears to be off to a great start. At TWiST, I also had another blast from the past encounter, meeting Jean Russell who looked *extremely* familiar. After we connected on LinkedIn, we realized that we both went to Illinois State University and knew each other from then, 15 years ago.

Mega thanks to @johnbiehler for the Team Canada onesie for Jackson!
I also finally met John Biehler in person and he was kind enough to bring along the Team Canada outfit pictured above for baby Jackson. It was also good to meet up with Nicole Gustas for coffee one morning while in town, and she was kind enough to mention me twice in her SXSW LaLaWag post. Speaking of LaLaWag, I also saw Sean Percival, but then again, I always see Sean Percival. He’s everywhere. He was all full of expectant dad questions for me, the dad with the newborn. Also ran into Gabe Rivera which was brief but nice. I saw Loren Feldman aka @1938media multiple times, but never really got to hang out due to the discrepancy between my work schedule at SXSW and his party schedule, but it was nice to finally meet his lovely wife, Michelle.

In the midst of seeing all these people and kicking ass on lots of Crowd Fusion work, I managed to see about 12 panels total. 3 were total duds that I walked out of. 4 were especially good: #flamethrowrs, #GmailSXSW, Chris Messina’s talk about lifestreaming, and the Cuban vs Boxee debate. The other
panels were interesting, but nothing revolutionary.

That’s a pretty rich SXSW experience, I’d say, and one that was rich without me “n00bing it up” for all the veteran attendees. If you didn’t get a lot out of SXSW, you probably were being too passive.

Participant conferences need participant audiences, not jaded reporters who complain out of nostalgia for something they think they experienced in the past.

How to setup a Telava Mobile Broadband Bullet on OS X Snow Leopard

Telava Mobile Broadband BulletI received my Telava Mobile Broadband Bullet in the mail today. This is the no-contract, use it and return it, 3G USB laptop connect card that gives you 5GBs per month of data usage for $50 and unlimited data usage for $60 a month. Additionally, you have to either spend $200 up front to buy the hardware outright, or you have to pay a $100 deposit on the device which will be refunded to you when you return the device to Telava. There is also a $30 activation fee, so to get up and running with Telava Mobile costs you $180-$190 before shipping (this includes the $100 that will be refunded when you are done with your device and the $50-$60 fee for your first month’s worth of data). At the end of each month, Telava charges you for the next month’s data unless you cancel and send back the device (so you would have to order anew if you intend to disconnect and reconnect later). All in all, not a horrible deal, and much better than any of the severely data-capped pay-as-you go options from the big providers like AT&T and Verizon.

I signed up for the unlimited data, of course. Telava Mobile piggy backs on T-Mobile’s 3G network and so far, now that I finally got the device to connect, I’m finding the network to be nicely speedy at home (so it’s a nice backup for my cable modem). Next week, I’ll be testing performance at SXSW and will put together a full review of the Broadband Bullet and the Telava Mobile service then.

This post is simply to share with other Mac OS X Snow Leopard users how to get up and running with their Telava Mobile Broadband Bullet should it arrive in the mail with instructions that state “Insert the CD if you are on a MAC computer” but with no CD included (as I did). I have no idea why Telava couldn’t have bothered to put the Mac OS X version of the software on the internal storage available on the device itself alongside the Windows software. The Windows software was useful however, because it sat there useless with the name GlobeTrotter Connect on it, so a bit of searching for GlobeTrotter Connect OS X turned up Option, who is the actual manufacturer of the Broadband Bullet, which seems to actually be the iCON 452 broadband modem with 3G HSUPA and AWS connectivity, so it should work worldwide. Initially, I grabbed the wrong version of the software and the modem wasn’t detected, but fortunately, I found this helpful post about connecting GlobeTrotter Connect in OS X Snow Leopard.

After a bit of trial and error, here are the steps that actually got it working nicely for me:

  1. Download v. 3.1.78.zip of GlobeTrotter Connect from this page.
  2. While your Broadband Bullet is disconnected, unzip the download and install the software.
  3. Navigate to /Applications/GlobeTrotter Connect/ and launch the GlobeTrotter Connect application.
  4. After the application launches go to GlobeTrotter Connect—>Preferences via the menu.
  5. When the Preferences pane opens select the 3G/EDGE/GPRS tab and type GNE in the APN field, leaving the username and password blank.
  6. Close the Preferences and plug in your Broadband Bullet.
  7. A OS X dialog will open saying that you need to open Network Preferences to configure the new hardware. Click the button to launch Network Preferences.
  8. After opening Network Preferences, things should automatically have created a GlobTrotter Connect Location. Switch to it and close Network Preferences.
  9. Now T-Mobile should show up suddenly in GlobeTrotter Connect. Click Connect and you’re connected.

The only odd thing about this setup is that GlobeTrotter Connect doesn’t seem to keep track in its main window of your connection, and it will think you are disconnected and revert to having a Connect button even when your internet connection is still pumping nicely.

After I have had some more time to use the service, I’ll weigh in with more details and a full review.

Apple’s next product will garner extravagant baseless claims in headlines!

UPDATE: Direct from Apple: “iPad Available in US on April 3
Pre-Order on March 12”

I‘m just imagining what all the headlines we see daily on Techmeme would say if they were forced to speak the truth. Let’s look at Techmeme iPad-related stories for the past several weeks:

  • Books in the Age of the iPad would become: Baseless Prediction about an Apple Product that I haven’t used yet as the destroyer of print. Subtitle: “Also, I design books, normally don’t blog about gadgets, but decided I’d like some pageviews for a change.”
  • Apple Stores will get iPads on March 10th, customers on the 26th? would become: Pageviews are down after our last baseless Apple rumor proved false: let’s make a prediction about iPad availability and end it in a question mark so no one can fault us for talking out of our ass later! UPDATE: This one has just been proven wrong by Apple PR blast and new post on CrunchGear that is currently moving up the charts on Techmeme.
  • First Look: How Penguin Will Reinvent Books With iPad would become: Remember multimedia book CDs from the 90s? And how they totally flopped because they weren’t just basic text, pictures, and paper? Neither do we. This Penguin “book” demo on the iPad looks neat & has “video” of the iPad. Let’s all reblog it so we’ll get tons of pageviews!
  • Production Delays Mean iPad Inventories May Be Tight at Launch becomes: Let’s predict that the iPad might not arrive on time to drive up interest in it (because you know Walt & Steve are tight) and pageviews too and we’ll say “may” so we have plausible deniability if we end up being proven wrong. Also, the chances of this prediction being wrong are close to nil since nearly EVERY APPLE PRODUCT has had tight inventories at launch.
  • Then of course in reply to the All Things D post: Taiwan-based component makers doubt iPad production delay rumors becomes: Let’s contradict the All Things D iPad prediction for pageviews and hide behind Taiwan-based component makers as our “source”.
  • Apple’s iPad expected to be part of 10.5M tablets shipped in 2010 becomes: We have this boring statistics-based post about tablets to write… Let’s mention the iPad in the title and heavily throughout to increase pageviews.
  • Y Combinator To Startups: “We think the iPad is meant to be a Windows killer” becomes: I’m MG Siegler. No matter what title I use it will end up on Techmeme because Gabe likes my writing. However, I’m the largest Apple fanboy writing at TechCrunch, so I’m going to spice up this story about Y Combinator with some iPad goodness!*. And then by extension, Y Combinator’s statement “We think the iPad is meant to be a Windows killer” becomes “I KNOW that if we say that the iPad is meant to be a Windows killer, MG Siegler will post about it on TechCrunch and it will make it onto Techmeme!”
  • Condé Nast Is Preparing iPad Versions of Some of Its Top Magazines becomes: Condé Nast is still trying to avoid dying with all the other magazines by tying their PR initiatives as closely as they can with the buzz surrounding the iPad. Aside: see this post for historical context.
  • 15 iPad mysteries remain becomes: Lists = pageviews. The iPad = pageviews. The word mysteries is mysterious and = pageviews. I made all this shit up.
  • The A4 and the A8: secrets of the iPad’s brain becomes: I’ll talk lots of technical specifics about a device I’ve never used and you’ll believe me because I reference a source that I cannot name and because it’s really really technical. Also, it’s about the iPad and not just another reblog b.s. post (I have an acual unnamed source!), so it’ll get me LOTS of pageviews.
  • Apple Stacks The Deck Against Amazon’s Kindle App becomes Let’s make up something that isn’t really true about the Kindle app to create a false fight between Steve Jobs and Bezos! (note: I really think this one was entirely ridiculous given that there is a *real* competition between Amazon and Apple that would have been a better story).

My point is: could everyone please just STFU about the iPad until there’s actually something worthwhile to report about it? #kthnxbai

*No offense, MG and Gabe! I couldn’t resist! ;-)

Announcing Bosh & Bill

Today marks the launch of my first serious endeavor into learning to create comics and to document the entire experience online: Bosh & Bill (which is now linked in the top nav of this site) officially launched today. Check out the site and let me know what you think. I decided to keep Bosh & Bill as its own separate entity, so that I don’t start clouding the stream here with a flood of comic-related posts. All those will live over at Bosh & Bill from now on.

I also built the site soup to nuts on my own using Crowd Fusion Open Source (and okay, yes, I have a bit of an advantage with the platform given that I work for Crowd Fusion and helped write all the documentation for the platform). However, it still amazes me that this platform enabled me to build such a dynamic site (and I can’t wait to move Sample The Web over, once a nicely polished WordPress importer is ready to go).

If you look at the site and think “Cool, I want to check out Crowd Fusion” then make sure you sign up for beta access. Also, if you’re in New York tonight, stop by NYTech Meetup tonight where Crowd Fusion will be presenting a bit of a behind the scenes look at how to build a custom CMS using the Crowd Fusion platform. If you can’t make it, you can still tune in to the live stream online.

In any case, if you’re interested in comics and comic creation make sure you check out the new site and follow Bosh & Bill on Twitter. Thanks!