walkitout (walkitout) wrote,

good ideas, customers and the mini notebook OS scrum

The world is full of good ideas. Nobody wants or needs good ideas. What we want are usable products. When I worked at that place where they magical things like kindle, good ideas were incredibly thick upon the ground. The trick was to get people to shut up and code them and create the business process and hire the people to create a real product. I'm sure this kind of thing happens elsewhere as well.

At that source of all kindly goodness (pun intended), we talked about things like "scaling" and "drinking from the fire hose". We did not have the time or the people to screw around with fiddly things that only a few people would be interested in. When I started working there, Our Fearless Leader had already been posting birthday greetings in the New York Times as a way to get our name out for cheap. When the NYT turned around and did a story on us, I started a pool on how many orders we would get that day. It was a matter of weeks later that we were getting that (truly amazingly outstandingly huge at the time) number of orders hourly.

So when people complain about the company having problems meeting demand on the kindle, I laugh at them. When those people expect somehow that demand will be met better with kindle 2, I laugh harder.

Fire hose.

O'Reilly, for all his narcissism and his tired and worn out information wants to be free (to be fair -- he didn't say that), recognizes the value of being on the kindle platform. Which is good. You don't want the IT folk to be slower on the uptake than Harlequin. That's just embarrassing. But for all study of the commentary in the gadget press and out of it on the subject of whether the kindle is a good thing, a bad thing, too expensive, lacking in features or whatever, I am failing to see some really important commentary.

And for my more recent obsession with the netbook, I'm seeing some of the same. It is, in fact, the _same_ missing commentary.

What are people doing with these products?

Carrying them around and looking at the screens for long periods of time, and getting pissed off when the screen dies due to lack of batteries. Also, getting pissed off when they are out of coverage. They also get somewhat annoyed at the usability of the buttons.

There are a variety of ways to tackle the battery problem, which I think is key. The kindle actually handles this pretty well, by dint of eInk's low power usage, but that will not solve the netbook problem. The netbook folk are having more trouble, largely because they keeping shoving normal OS's and more or less normal desktops onto a tiny device that can't really handle it for people who I suspect don't really need it.

There are some netbooks coming out that offer up a cell-phone like iconic display, instead of a desktop. The HP Mobile MI line is one. Some of these are built on top of Linux. Some of these are built on top of Windows. People are talking about building netbooks on top of Android. And shortly, if vapor ware is to be believed, there will be netbooks built on ARM.

That's why I call it a scrum. So far, it's been a face-off between Linux (light weight, but then you have to deal with IT folk and they are not friendly to ordinary customers, largely because there are too many of them and they don't have the patience or the support structures) and Windows (not light weight, really a piece of crap and they're having trouble getting enough money out of the product due to the low price point). If OpenOffice weren't such a dog, Linux would have won. Google has a real shot, but their Google Docs is not ready for prime time (you should have heard me screaming at the upload feature last night; I _really_ wanted to just yank everything off the laptop onto Google Docs so it would be available everywhere; it so was not possible). They'll win whatever the platform, tho.

ARM, however, is a cell phone OS. If Palm had its act together, it would be putting their new OS on netbooks (hey, maybe they do -- got any rumors?). I used to travel with a Treo and a folding keyboard. A 10 inch color display would be freakishly luxuriant by comparison. My word processor was the Memo feature. And I kept a decent sized travel journal with that set up. These days, I really would demand cellular data and a multi-tasking OS, but I _know_ Palm can put that out.

RHI, we'll see an ARM based netbook for $200 by the end of the year.


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