Friday, September 30, 2011

Are you selling technology or services?

Amazon launched their Kindle Fire tablet yesterday and one feature that was unveiled was its Silk browser, but I'll talk about that in a bit. What is interesting from an overall perspective is that this new Amazon tablet isn't really being sold as a piece of technology, it's really being sold as an access device to the services that Amazon offers - ebooks, music, cloud storage, etc. In fact as a bit of technology the Kindle Fire is quite underwhelming, it's based on the same hardware design as the Blackberry PlayBook, which has already bombed. The Kindle Fire is cheap though at $199.
   Amazon is offering a device to people who can't decide between a Kindle and an iPad - they want eBooks, but they also want to browse the web, and stream movies and TV and play games. Amazon offers all these services via the Fire. You could argue that people don't buy an iPad for its hardware specification - they want iBooks, iTunes, and access to thousands of Apps, which is what Apple provides them. The iPod was successful not because it was functionally better than other MP3 players but because it was seamlessly integrated with iTunes, an easy way to manage your digital music collection and the biggest online music store on the planet.
   If the Kindle Fire is a success, and I think at $199 it will be a popular Christmas gift, then this really is a nail in the coffin of many technology companies. In the post-PC world consumer want services not technology. Apple realised this a decade ago with iTunes and Amazon has woken up to this. HP has abandoned the PC market already - Samsung, Dell, LG, Sony,'ll not survive if you just try to sell us hardware.

Which brings me back to Amazon's Silk browser - very clever. This is moving the time and processing effort of rendering a web page from the mobile device to Amazon's EC2 cloud computing service. This will mean simply that web pages should appear much faster on the Kindle Fire than other tablets. It will be interesting to see if Google follows suit with Chrome and Apple with Safari. The video below explains how Silk works and what makes it different to other browsers.

Ada Lovelace Day

October the 7th is Ada Lovelace Day - put it in your diary. The day is organised by whose aim is: "to raise the profile of women in science, technology, engineering and maths by encouraging people around the world to talk about the women whose work they admire."

If you don't who Ada Lovelace was you can read all about her in the sample chapter from my book.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Google Bookstore

Did you know that Google has an eBookstore? No, I didn't either, but apparently they have and they also have an iPad app for reading their books offline as well. Seems like everyone is getting in the book business. Like most ebookstores this has free out of copyright books and titles you can purchase.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The PC Pioneers

I received an email the other day about a website called that appeared to be a website devoted to computing history. So I checked it out and really it's a website supporting a self-published book called "The PC Pioneers" about the people involved in the development of the computer. So lots of similarities to this blog and my book then. However, other than the general concept there the similarities end. Here's a quote from the book's description on Amazon: "The vital precursor to PCs was the microprocessor, first developed by Ray Holt, part Cherokee. But the project was a military secret and initially the MPU patent was granted to Gilbert Hyatt. The original designer of the mainframe was settled at law as being John Atanasoff and the French courts ruled that the personal computer was developed by Fran├žois Gernelle."  Oh dear, the book is over 600 pages long and it all seems to be written like this, the writing style is horrible. However, that's just my opinion, you can decide for yourself.

Change of Title

My publisher Springer Praxis doesn't like my book's title "The Universal Tool." Well it was only a working title and they'd like it changed. For the time being we've agreed on "The Universal Machine: from the dawn of computing to digital consciousness." Changing it to the Universal Machine at least means it now is a direct quote from Alan Turing who referred to computers as a universal machine. The subtitle I quite like as it neatly indicates that the book is both about history and the future.
Note: at some point in the future this blog will change to reflect this to be called "The Universal Machine."

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Very Exciting!!!

I'm at the Science Museum in London to see Babbage's Difference Engine No.2 replica & other exhibits. They have half of his brain on display. Bit weird really, why? Where's the other half?