Why the iPad is going to be the killer tool for one-on-one presentations and sales

One of the things I missed in the initial flurry of news about Apple’s iPad tablet is the fact they’re releasing it with Keynote, Pages and Numbers from the iWork Suite.

The killer there is Keynote, Apple’s incredibly powerful, stunning and easy to use presentation package.

Having Keynote on an iPad is going to make it a real killer for doing one-on-one presentations out on the road.

Keynote gives the iPad a serious business audience, and I think that it could be Apple’s backdoor to get the iPhone and App Store economy into a lot more corporate and enterprise environments.

Imagine, now if you’re pitching or selling, you have all of the following:

– a gorgeous, cool, sexy tablet.
– easy to carry, ultra portable, light-weight
– runs the best presentation software on the market
– allows you to present “with” a prospect, sharing the tablet like a booklet or piece of paper, rather than both staring at a computer and keyboard or throwing the projection on a wall.
– 10 hours of battery life – you can be out and about with this thing all day.

I think it could give “let me take you through this together” a whole new meaning for presentations done one-on-one, something that with laptops and conference rooms has always had a lot of overhead and pain.

It turns the iPad from being a consumer-focused intimate web and media device, and makes it an absolutely fabulous sales tool.


Apple’s iPad tablet is something special in the history of computing

Coverage of Apple’s iPad tablet computer release today is dominating TechCrunch and the tech social news sites. It’s no surprise there is so much buzz about it. This little pad is going to be something special in the history of computing.

Two of the most interesting things in Apple’s announcement of the iPad today are that the 3G wireless will be unlocked (on the 3G models), and that the starting price is under $500.

I’d figured they’d release it with high-speed broadband with a price starting under $500, so I was wrong on the wireless and right on the price. The options are wifi and 3G. But at least by having the 3G unlocked they open it up to a wider potential audience and get rid of the AT&T penalty that the iPhone has been saddled with.

Apart from lacking a high-speed wireless broadband option, I think they’ve nailed the specs. The full Apple specs are here:

And from TechCrunch (http://www.techcrunch.com/2010/01/27/ipad-ibooks-500/):

“Some specs: The device has a 9.7 inch display, weighs 1.5 pounds, and is half-an-inch thick. It is powered by new chip made by Apple itself, a 1 GHz A4 and will come with 16Gb to 64 GB of storage. It supports WiFi, has an accelerometer, compass, and built-in speaker and microphone, just like the iPhone. The screen is a full capacitive multi-touch screen. Battery life is supposed to be 10 hours. In addition to WiFi, it will have a 3G option from AT&T. The Wifi-only version, with 16GB of memory, will cost $499. A 32GB version will be $599, 64 GB will be $699, and with 3G from AT&T it will cost $829 (for the 64GB version). All the 3G iPads, however, will be unlocked, meaning they can be used on other carriers as well.”

It’s interesting too that they’ve gone with their own chip. Anyone who thinks Apple is going more open over time for the sake of openness is wrong. They’re driven by creating great products and using proprietary advantage to sustain superior profit margins.

It’s going to be interesting to play with the SDK (http://www.apple.com/ipad/sdk/). The combination of mobility and the touch interface with a larger screen and more power is going to open up the potential for a whole new class of filthy rich media applications and mobile gaming.

If they really can get 10 hours battery life and the manufacturing is as rugged but elegant as the iPhone, then this is going to be a smash hit.


Why the Apple Tablet is not going to save the electric sheep

I’m pretty sure it’s a scene in Blade Runner where Rick Deckard picks up a newspaper with motion video images on an otherwise textual page. That’s the sort of sci-fi that old school media executives have been raised on for the last nearly thirty years. And as the sales of their newspapers and magazines have fallen into a neo-noir landscape of their own, it’s likely their dreams of Jetsons tablets and throwaway electronic papers have become more and more fevered.

Blade Runner is set less than a decade away in 2019. E-ink and tablet technologies are coming along pretty nicely, and ebook readers like the Kindle are finding some real traction.

Now, this month Apple is set to announce its own Tablet scheduled for release in March. It’s the big brother to the iPhone rather than little brother to a laptop. It looks like being the first great tablet. According to the WSJ, it’s likely to have a 10 to 11 inch screen with full color and be bundled with decent wireless Internet rather than just 3G, and it’s likely to be priced between the Macbook at $999 and an iPhone. I’d guess $499 with a 24 month wireless Internet contract.

At the same time, Apple’s App Store has just reached three billion downloads, according to TechCrunch, (which sadly failed with its own attempt at a Tablet device, the CrunchPad). Three Billion. That’s just for apps for the iPod Touch and iPhone with a tiny screen on a device from a single manufacturer. The market for applications for a larger screen Tablet with a fast wireless connection is likely to be massive in the next 3-4 years assuming Apple gets similar cult product status with its Tablet.

I think it could. The device size looks right to me. Small enough to be portable, but large enough for usable web browsing, video and games. If it’s got that gently ruggedized feel of the iphone and you can throw it around a bit, and if it has a day’s battery life, it will be compelling.

It’s clear that media executives see tablet computers and e-readers as a panacea for people ditching their dead tree products. They’ve formed their own consortium to provide an “itunes for content” and produce physical e-readers for magazines and newspapers. Clearly they don’t want an Apple to dominate magazine and newspaper electronic sales like Apple does Music with itunes, and lose out on the opportunity to control the electronic distribution themselves.

But, as a recent Slate piece pointed out, they’re missing the point and assuming there will be a large market for both dedicated e-reader tablets, and for content sales for them, and they’ll be able to count the sales like electric sheep.

Most people aren’t going to buy a purpose-built device to read magazines, newspapers, or even in most cases books. Some very decicated customers and early adopters might and are as the Kindle shows. But most customers won’t.

Most consumers will want a general purpose device that can play games, browse the web, read ebooks, play music and video and run Apps. A big iPhone. Something like the Apple Tablet.

The driving use for these tablets is definitely NOT going to be reading books, magazines and newspapers. That’s a fantasy. It is one activity of many that people will perform, and I think one of the lesser ones, except maybe with older users.

The biggest uses for an 11in tablet with fast wireless are going to be live gaming, video applications, and web browsing.

And consumers won’t use a dedicated “itunes for content”. They just want to get content from the web, or maybe download publisher apps along with all the other games, apps and content from a general App Store, and videos and music from iTunes. That’s how I use the WSJ iPhone App today. (As an aside, it’s a great little App, but I think it’s a scam for the WSJ to charge a separate subscription to customers already subscribing to the online Journal. That’s the kind of fleecing your best customer behaviour that holds back paid content everywhere.)

Whether Apple can maintain its proprietary dominance over Apps on these devices remains to be seen. Apple has been incredibly sucessful at using proprietary control to establish premium pricing and provide good customer experience, and as a result established entirely new product categories very quickly. But over time with the Android, ChromeOS and other portable and mobile alternatives like the Nexus One covered by TechCrunch today, and developer dissatisfaction at lock-in and unfair policies with the App Store, you’d figure the mainstream market will open up.

In the meantime, I suspect media executives will be left dreaming about androids and electric sheep, while the rest of the world wakes up to Steve Jobs bringing down Tablets from the mountain.


How to set up the ideal WordPress PHP development environment in Eclipse

I’m really just posting this in case anyone else is looking for help on how to get set up quickly and easily for doing development of WordPress blogs and websites using Eclispe on a local development box.

Everyone at some point needs to set up a blog or simple content-managed website, and although Blogger is great for quick hosted blogsites, and at the other end of the scale web frameworks like Python/Rails are great for custom apps, there is a certain type of site for which WordPress is great.

However, the moment you need to start customizing themes or do any actual dev work, it’s handy to be able to use WordPress with a real development tool like Eclipse. Being able to work in Eclipse brings all the benefits of a sweet IDE, Subversion or other source control, Trac and Mylyn for integrated task management, and first class code editing and debug tools.

I’ve never worked with PHP, so it took me a little while to figure out the best way to get Eclipse set up with PHP and WordPress using PHP Development Tools (PDT), as most of the other references out there talk about PHPEclipse, but the process is straightforward. My set up was with Ubuntu Linux but the steps should be very similar for Mac OSX and Windows.

The basic steps are:
– install Eclipse and PHP Development Tools
– install XAMPP (easy standalone LAMP stack)
– download and set up WordPress and download any themes/plugins
– configure Eclipse projects to point their source to paths linked from XAMPP.

1. Install Eclipse and PDT

I’d recommend the full Eclipse IDE for Java EE Developers Eclipse from http://www.eclipse.org/downloads/ and then install PDT as a plugin from http://www.eclipse.org/pdt/

The easy option if you’re happy to run it standalone is to install Aptana Studio then add the PHP Development Tools (PDT) using the Install Plugins link built in to the starter page:

2. Install XAMPP

XAMPP is a good, easy to configure lamp stack with Apache, MySQL, PHP and more.

There is a good walk-thru of install XAMPP for Ubuntu here:

Download XAMPP from http://www.apachefriends.org/

You can either use the bundled myPHPadmin or your regular MySQL Workbench or MySQL GUI tools for administration:

Create a wordpress_db database and wordpress_user user account with full privileges on it.

The XAMPP stack runs PHP apps from /opt/lampp/htdocs, so put a link to a working directory in your home path from htdocs with:
cd ~
mkdir ~/public_html
cd /opt/lampp/htdocs
sudo ln -s ~/public_html /opt/lampp/htdocs/$USER

Terminate any existing apache/mysql before running. XAMPP runs from its own /opt/lampp directory separate to any regular apache/mysql servers already installed. There is a neat control panel to bring it up and down.

You can start the server with:
sudo /opt/lampp/lampp start

3. Download WordPress and configure

Download the latest WordPress zip file:

Keep a clean copy somewhere, and for each WordPress project you want to work on, create a folder ~/public/[projectname] and copy the WordPress contents into it.

Customise by adding any downloadable themes to wp-content/themes and plugins to wp-content/plugins.

To save time, I create a master WordPress folder and copy in my favourite themes and regularly used plugins.

4. Configure your project in Eclipse.

Open Eclipse and switch to the PHP Perspective.

Create a new ‘PHP Project’ using the File/New wizard. On the first screen, give the project a name, and select “Create project from existing source” and select the path to the WordPress project folder you created above, and complete the new project wizard.

You can now add this project to source control using a [projectname] right-click “Team/Share Project”, and integrate with tasks etc.

If you make any manual changes to files in the public_html path, remember to right-click the project and Refresh to update them.

Now, to get the WordPress project running, follow the easy WordPress admin installation as per:

Once you’ve created the database and edited the wp-config.php file, you’ll run the install through a web browser using:

Use the wordpress_user and wordpress_db you created earlier.

The WordPress site will run live from the XAMPP Apache path below without needing any further configuration:

And there you have it. All the power of Eclipse with the simplicity of setting up a WordPress site in PHP.

There are some other useful references here:

PHP Development using Eclipse

Using Eclipse for PHP Development