Round up #89: more from Judge Chin, Microsoft’s tablet

Round up #89: more from Judge Chin, Microsoft’s tablet

The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later.

Microsoft’s tablet Surfaces

Microsoft called a big presser today…and revealed that it’s going to do two tablets…later.

They didn’t give prices, exactly, but people do seem to be impressed with what they heard.

There are two things that particularly relate to e-books and EBRs (E-Book Readers); will it compete with the Kindle Fire; and did they tie it into their deal with Barnes & Noble?

On the second one, nope.

$300 million dollar investment in Barnes & Noble…not to mention them in your tablet announcement?

Maybe that doesn’t mean anything, but it makes me a bit uneasy about B&N’s future.

As to the Fire…

It sounds to me like it will cost a lot more. I don’t think Microsoft is entering the entertablet market. I think they may actually be after the laptop market.

Here are the stats:

http://www.microsoft.com/surface/en/us/about.aspx

Oh, and it’s called the Microsoft Surface.

More from Judge Chin…

The legal issues about Google having scanned books just keep going on and on…

Publishers Weekly article

This one isn’t exactly about the Google settlement, but Judge Chin did not except Google’s request to throw out a class action suit by authors…which just keeps things going.

Really, I’m hoping that the Agency Model stuff and the Google scanning concerns get legally settled this year.

You might think that won’t be the case, because it’s an election year, but the judicial system isn’t really supposed to be influenced by that. I think many courts like to show that they aren’t waiting for an election, and may make big decisions at a time when Congress is reluctant to do so.

Update: PW thinks the DoJ trial might start next March (2013), but it is complicated:

Publishers Weekly article

Amazon tablet rumors

I have to say, if I reported every Amazon tablet rumor, I couldn’t keep this blog as varied as I like (and I think you like that way, too).

I still think we’ll get big announcements from Amazon soon, before the end of the summer. That might just be a frontlit RSK (Reflective Screen Kindle) or two or more of them. It might be big updates for existing devices (including text-to-speech for the Kindle Fire that works with Kindle store books).

My guess is still that we’ll get a new tablet announcement soon, too, but I’m not 100% confident. I also reiterate that I would expect it to be at least three tablets: a higher end one the size of the Fire; an entry-level larger device; and a high-end larger device.

Here’s one rumor:

TheNextWeb article

and here’s another:

DailyTech article

Not surprisingly, they are contradictory. :)

Honestly, we’ll just have to wait and see. I’d put a high probability on frontlit RSKs before the end of the summer, and a more than 50% chance as a guess on tablet announcements in that time frame.

I checked the

ILMK E-books Timeline

to see when product announcements had come in the past:

  • November 19, 2007: Kindle 1
  • February 9, 2009: Kindle 2
  • May 6, 2009: Kindle DX
  • July 28, 2010: Kindle 3
  • September 8, 2011: Mindle, Fire, Touch

As you can see, a summer announcement is not out of the question. They don’t just hold things for the holiday season.

recently wrote about the US State Department contracting with Amazon for Kindle services. The “justification” document for the deal includes this:

“e-Reader updates:

The Contractor shall be responsible for upgrading and phasing in updated versions of the e-Reader product at least every two years so that the technology stays up to date for users.”

So, Amazon has agreed to provide “updated versions e-Reader product” at least every two years to the government…and you can bet we’ll get them, too. Reading that language, I wouldn’t say they just mean software updates.

Are you ready to buy a new model of a Kindle every two years to stay cutting edge? I probably will…I like to be able to answer questions for people, although I haven’t owned every model (never had a DX).

What do you think? Is the Microsoft Surface a concern for Amazon? Can Microsoft compete with Apple in the tablet arena? Will any of the big legal e-book stuff settle this year? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

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7 Responses to “Round up #89: more from Judge Chin, Microsoft’s tablet”

  1. Jj Hitt Says:

    Thoughts on the Surface:
    – for the right price, I will buy one.
    – the RT version may be targeted at e-Readers, will have to wait for real specs and (again) real prices.
    – definitely trying to be an iPad killer, if not a desktop/laptop killer.
    – lots of impressive features, which the market may not be asking for, on something that resembles a product already on the market (think Microsoft Zune),

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Jj!

      There are some things they’ve announced that certainly are intriguing. I like the flat cover also being a keyboard, for example. I doubt I’ll get one, though, unless it’s to replace something else (a netbook, a desktop).

      On the pricing…if it gets under $150 (which is where EBRs are…and where the most basic Fire may be by the time it comes out), then it’s definitely a competitor for EBRs, even if it doesn’t do exactly the same thing.

      Sure, Zune…and .lit (their e-book format) don’t suggest that Microsoft has a handle on the content market. XBox is different, though, and maybe they think the market for a tablet is more similar to gamers than readers and music listeners.

  2. Edward Boyhan Says:

    I watched the surface announcement live — as I follow MS and W8 perhaps even more assiduously than kindle stuff :D. I don’t think either of the surface models are targeted at the EBR space. I think MS is trying to thread a very fine line between high end tablets and the Macbook Air/Ultrabook space. The target audience is more working professionals, enterprises, students/teachers, and content creators of all stripes rather than content consumers.

    Personally, I’m very interested in the Surface/Pro, and will buy one when it comes out (probably in Jan 2013).

    As to larger “Surfacey” questions, I think this announcement reflects a bit of unhappiness from MS with what they’ve seen so far from their OEM partners as regards H/W designs targeted for the forthcoming W8 (guesstimated Sept/Oct); also the two models helps capture the essential differences in the two flavors of W8 that are coming: Windows RT and Windows 8 — something that MS has not done a very good job on heretofore.

    Press reviews are all over the map: positive and negative. How the surface will ultimately play remains to be seen. If the “cover as keyboard” works really well, then it could be a hit. One thing they could do, taking a page from the Amazon playbook, would be to price aggressively: under $400 for the Surface/RT, and under $800 for the Surface/Pro. MS has done a bit of that with the Xbox, but not generally — we’ll have to see.

    BN had nothing to do with this — whatever MS/BN might do together — this isn’t it — this is the result of a very long standing (+3 years), very secret, internal MS project.

    As to the kindle rumors, one I heard says that the 8.9″ device has been cancelled — if true, lowers my interest a lot; another said KF2 would have an improved resolution screen — if that’s all that a KF2 has, I will NOT be buying one. OTOH I lose no sleep these days over Amazon-related rumors — they’ve been pretty good at keeping things close :-).

    We are in to the “Back to School” season now — so if Amazon wants to take another run at the educational market segment, now’s the time :D. If they do decide to take another run at the educational/professional space, then that WOULD put them in competition with the surfii (and all other tablet and Ultrabook purveyors everywhere :D ).

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Edward!

      Good insights, as always!

      By the way, have you heard any background to the name “Surface”? I just don’t find that to be something that conveys any sense of utility to me. Let’s say we describe someone as “smart on the surface”, it suggests that person isn’t really smart, they just appear to be that.

      I know the 24-hour news stations have used giant sort of touchscreens, I think from Microsoft…do you know if it’s connected to that?

      I’m also not interested in merely an improved screen for a Fire: the current one works for me. :) I suspect that wouldn’t be the only upgrade, though…

      • Edward Boyhan Says:

        “Surface” is one of those words with a multitude of meanings. Your usage connotes more to “superficial”. Microsoft is using the word more in line with the notion of a “work surface” — a skin or table or some “thing” upon which you place your work in progress.

        They do have a product which until yesterday :D was called the Microsoft Surface — it is a table-like device (in two sizes) priced north of $7,000 (not for just anybody :-) ). It is manufactured by Samsung, is touch sensitive, and has mostly been used by TV stations (as you mentioned) — although the wall hanging displays are usually just TVs slaved to the actual “surface” tabletop upon which the announcer would move things around in a “Minority Report”ish kind of way. It’s new name is Pixelsense (talk about meaningless connotations ;-) ).

        The link below from a UK site gives a bit more info:

        http://www.techradar.com/news/mobile-computing/tablets/original-microsoft-surface-table-now-to-be-called-pixelsense-1086284

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Edward!

        Just wanted to say…”work surface” came to mind, but that seems like it is making it a tougher sell. Maybe that’s to try to convince businesses to go for it as a work tool, but I don’t think it helps sell it to the personal user. Does the business buyer need a lower cost? Not as much.

  3. Man in the Middle Says:

    An old alleged Microsoft motto is “Good enough is sufficient.” For me, that sums up the problem now facing both Microsoft and Apple: my original 16GB 3G iPad and my almost 4 year old Eee PC 1000 running Windows 7 are both still so far beyond good enough that I really don’t care yet what features Surface or the new iPad add. I can’t make myself care at all what might be in Windows 8, so what are the odds I’d buy it? With no moving parts in either my iPad or my netbook, odds are both will still work fine 5 years from now, which is really bad news for those who want to somehow convince me to replace them. As happened with automobiles almost a century ago, we’ve now entered the stage where we’ll replace our computers only when we actually need to, not just because they are two years old and some great new feature has been added to new ones.

    Along the same lines, my 3G Kindle 3 (aka Keyboard) also still works fine, so I’m not feeling any interest in what might be in new models coming out this summer or fall.

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