Virtual Boy, Microsoft tablet, Dell phablet, and more
We all love innovation...when it works. Unfortunately when it comes to technological breakthroughs, timing is everything. For instance, did you know that Microsoft showed off its tablet PC way back in 2000? And who could forget Nintendo’s attempt at a VR headset with its Virtual Boy in 1995?
Somebody had the good idea to put a camera into a cellphone. This was a good idea. It was a great idea. What made it even better was including a slot for a Micro-SD card. I have a 32-gigabyte chip in my phone and I haven’t run out of storage yet. I can shoot photos or movies wherever I go—and email them immediately. I can read e-books or listen to music or watch videos. (The Samsung Galaxy phone has a great screen.)
The smartphone is a combination of many good ideas and its overall usefulness should be a guide for all manufacturers of portable electronics. So why doesn’t the iPad have a memory card slot? Why doesn’t Amazon’s Kindle Fire have a slot for an SD card? Who knows, but here are some other good tech ideas that need to be implemented ASAP.
While it may be coming in well under the radar, we’ve got a feeling that as it crops up in more and more locations over the next few years, the latest version of Microsoft Surface could have what it takes to be the next piece of computing technology to change the way we work, shop and live on a daily basis.
The path of human progress is paved with tiny innovations. While most technological progress has been barely perceptible throughout the history of human invention, a handful of breakthroughs have radically changed the way humans live in the world. Here are 30 of the most life-changing technologies of all time.
Remember when the hard drive industry tried to convince us they would never be able to pump out hard drives bigger than 100GB? Well according to Samsung the platter density war is still alive and well, and a new breakthrough has allowed them to hit 1TB per platter densities well ahead of schedule. What does this mean for us as enthusiasts? Lower cost high-speed 3TB drives, along with 4TB versions in the not too distant future.
See what this means for notebook drives after the jump.
Brass’s bone of contention is the way Microsoft handles competition. Despite allocating tons of resources, and employing hundreds of bright, creative engineers, innovation is often stifled, if not outright trampled because there is no centralized mechanism for governing competition and shepherding innovation. Rather, it’s one big cage match, where the entrenched technologies hold sway over the newly emergent, innovative ones. Competition at Microsoft, says Brass, “created a dysfunctional corporate culture in which the big established groups are allowed to prey upon emerging teams, belittle their efforts, compete unfairly against them for resources, and over time hector them out of existence.”
Not so fast, responds Shaw. Yes, it may be true that Microsoft may be slow to innovate, but that’s because so many people depend on Microsoft’s products. Getting in a bit of a dig at Apple, the shadow lurking in this background, Shaw says “For Microsoft, it is not sufficient to simply have a good idea, or a great idea, or even a cool idea. We measure our work by its broad impact.” The delays in ClearType, an example offered by Brass, were due not to limitations on innovation, but were because Microsoft had to be sure it was a good idea before inflicting ClearType on the masses--that it was “innovation at scale.” (For the moment, let’s leave Vista out of this.)
There’s a tit-for-tat over Xbox, Zune, and tablet PCs that make both of these worth reading. In the end, it is possible to side with either Brass or Shaw, or with both. There’s no real dispute over the basic facts. But, like in Rashômon, each sees these facts as telling a different story about Microsoft's capacity to innovate.
It’s a fun read, actually. One worth a few moments of your time. Over at the Google Blog Jonathan Rosenberg, Senior Vice President of Product Management, defines what Google means by an open system, and lays out an argument for why open systems “win”.
Rosenberg starts with a definition of an open system. An open system has open technology and open information. Open technology consists of two parts: (1) open source: the release and active support of code; and (2) open standards: adherence to accepted standards, where they exist, and creation of such standards where they do not. Open information, says Rosenberg, is “when we have information about users we use it to provide something that is valuable to them, we are transparent about what information we have about them, and we give them ultimate control over their information.”
Rosenberg structures his support for open source by noting that closed systems, the current model, stymies innovation, harms the industry, and shafts consumers. Such a system, Rosenberg says, creates a competitive advantage by making a product popular, then “milking it” through its product life cycle. All you can expect to see is incremental change, rather than true innovation. Because customers are viewed as ‘captives’, Rosenberg argues that complacency sets in: “If you don't have to work that hard to keep your customers, you won't.”
What’s open source have to offer? Rosenberg says three things: innovation, value, and freedom of choice for consumers. If no single entity has ownership of an idea, then any number of competing solutions can be had. Each new innovation adds to the collective wealth of the industry, which in turn promotes more innovation. Ultimately, consumers are benefitted by this continually churning process of making and offering ‘better’ products or services.
One way to parse Rosenberg’s thesis is to consider the National Football League (NFL). The NFL is careful in the management of inter-team competition, through the use of rules and revenue sharing, so that no team dominates the others, such as the New York Yankees do in Major League Baseball. Overall, all teams ‘profit’ from this relatively even competitive balance. (For example, the Arizona Cardinals appearing in the 2009 Super Bowl, and the New York Giants winning one in 2008.) Rather than manage the Internet in the same way, Rosenberg argues that an open environment will produce the same outcome. And while the process may be “chaotic”, it will also be “profitable” for those who understand it and move well within it.
Mozilla has issued an open invitation to all people with a vibrant imagination, regardless of their calling, to posit ideas that could determine the future of Firefox and the web. It is especially interested in bringing aboard designers that haven’t worked on open source projects hitherto. Mozilla Labs’ website is asking for people to turn in their ideas that can be “a sentence, paragraph, or even bullet-points kick-start the process.” If Mozilla sights real potential in the idea it will turn them into reality. The website also flaunts a number of exciting browser concept videos. If you have any fascinating ideas, feel free to deposit them in the comments section.