The iPad 2 Cometh

Last week I contacted a local Apple store for the third time since the launch of the iPad 2. "I don't suppose," I began as I reached the store's business desk, "You have an iPad 2s?" After she asked what I was seeking (a 64GB AT&T version), she told me that she didn't have what I wanted, although they did have some iPad 2s (primarily Verizon and WiFi-only, it seems). She also asked if she could put my business into their system. I answered in the affirmative and let it go, figuring I'd keep my eyes open and maybe check back in a few weeks.

That all changed the next day.

I received a call from the Apple Store in the morning asking for my credit card information. During that call, her colleague asked, "When can you come get your iPad 2?"

"What???!"

20 minutes later, I walked out of the store with my new black iPad 2 64GB AT&T, a tan leather Smart Cover, and a few accessories. I've been using it since I sync'd it so it would have all of my apps, incuuding the WordPress app I'm using to write this post.

While I will review the iPad 2 in an upcoming post, right now I'll just say this: Mark Sigal is right. With the benefits of the Apple Stores and Apple's profit margin, it will be extremely difficult for Motorola or Samsung to make inroads into the Apple market.

...and that's a very big deal.

CES 2011 - Verizon's Big Splash with 4G LTE

It is 10:00am PST on Thursday, January 6, 2011, and the CES show is now open. As I mentioned in previous posts, the CES show has a gigantic focus on mobile, broadband, and portable devices. Since I have spent the past 3 months working with team members from Verizon and Ericsson developing a 4G LTE demonstration, I am looking forward to letting you in on all that Verizon is doing.

The Verizon booth shows the breadth and depth of the 4G LTE ecosystem, showing LTE-connected devices ranging from enterprise telepresence to gaming, home automation to live broadcast television, a connected OnStar car to a broad range of smartphones and tablets. The point is that high-speed wireless access is available today from Verizon nationwide, the footprint is growing, and the capabilities are imaginative and useful for virtually everyone.

In the smart home area, Verizon is showing devices that control home temperature, shades that are remotely controlled, and of course entertainment over both FiOS and LTE. Alcatel Lucent is showing augmented reality systems running over the LTE network. Panasonic is showing HD enterprise teleconferencing over LTE, and Nomad Innovations is showing their LiveEdge.tv system for broadcast media electronic news gathering.

I will get a closer look at devices both in the Verizon booth and in other booths in the area and I will let you know if I uncover anything surprising or especially innovative. But, right now, if you're in the market for wireless broadband, Verizon has to be on your list.

CES 2011 - Apple Follow the Leader?

As I have walked through the CES halls as all the exhibitors prepare for the onslaught of attendees starting tomorrow, the pre-show expectations have largely proven true. As expected, mobile devices like smartphones and tablets are all the rage, and Verizon is making a big splash with the 4G LTE network roll-out. Since I am spending my time working with Verizon and Ericsson in the Verizon booth, I'll hold off on specifics until tomorrow. Suffice it to say for now that there will be a lot of high-speed mobile devices to discover and explore. I've been getting Facebook and Twitter messages with questions about what technologies people are interested in understanding, so I'll be looking especially hard for those. If you have areas of interest, be sure to let me know either with a comment here on the blog or a message on Twitter or Facebook.

My observation thus far is this, however: CES is going to be a game of "Follow the Leader," and the leader isn't even here.

That leader is Apple.

With a $300B market cap and the most innovative products in the markets it serves, Apple's leadership cannot be disputed. Here are CES, smartphones are compared to iPhones, tablets to iPads, and mobile business to Apple's iOS ecosystem.

My question is this: Where's the innovation? I'll be looking for it. Any idea where I might find it?

The Real iPhone Impact

Recently, Apple parted ways with Executive Vice President Papermaster. Antennagate was a convenient time to part ways with Papermaster. He didn't really fit in to the Apple culture. You'll see the Verizon iPhone in January, I think, with CDMA/LTE. What isn't clear is whether it will be able to be an international phone, which may also be an issue. With Qualcomm effectively custom-designing this chipset for Apple, though, it could actually potentially be CDMA/GSM/LTE, which would be VERY interesting from a marketplace impact perspective.

I view this all as great for competition. All devices are vastly improved from the state of the marketplace in 2007 (when most people had to compromise and carry a Treo, a Blackberry, or one of the abjectly awful Windows phones). I expect Apple to continue to push the envelope of capabilities for mobile devices, keeping everyone on their toes and finding ways to make devices better and better.