links for 2010-04-01

  • For the past week or so, I have been testing a sleek, light, silver-and-black tablet computer called an iPad. After spending hours and hours with it, I believe this beautiful new touch-screen device from Apple has the potential to change portable computing profoundly, and to challenge the primacy of the laptop. It could even help, eventually, to propel the finger-driven, multitouch user interface ahead of the mouse-driven interface that has prevailed for decades.
    But first, it will have to prove that it really can replace the laptop or netbook for enough common tasks, enough of the time, to make it a viable alternative. And that may not be easy, because previous tablet computers have failed to catch on in the mass market, and the iPad lacks some of the features—such as a physical keyboard, a Webcam, USB ports and multitasking—that most laptop or netbook users have come to expect.
    (tags: ipad mossberg)
  • For Microsoft to regain its reputation as an innovator, it’s not enough for consumers to declare “I’m a PC,” as they have in the company’s high-profile ad series. They also need to get on board with Windows Phone 7, Microsoft’s attempt to reboot its mobile strategy and introduce an operating system that’s more consumer friendly. With its new offering, the one-time frontrunner is hoping to recapture momentum in a U.S. smartphone market dominated by Apple’s iPhone and Research in Motion’s BlackBerry, with Google’s Android platform quickly gaining buzz. Microsoft needs a bold move to regain lost ground, Wharton experts say, but it’s unclear if Windows Phone 7 is enough to make the software giant “phone fashionable” again.

  • America’s health care reform may be out of the emergency room, but its prognosis remains sketchy. Passage of the historic 2,400-page legislation that President Barack Obama signed into law on March 23 by no means ended the health care debate, say Wharton experts: It just splintered one massive question mark into a lot of new big ones.
    “The fat lady hasn’t even come on stage yet,” says Wharton professor of legal studies and health care management Arnold. J. Rosoff. “The current legislation is going to be in play for a good long time.”
  • Nearly 11 million homeowners who bought at the peak of the real estate market before the economic downturn, or who took cash out of their homes through readily available refinancing, are now feeling the pain of owing more than their properties are worth. That population — roughly one-fifth of those who pay mortgages — is big enough to make even the most cavalier consumer think twice before buying a home, especially when key pricing indexes are showing continuing weakness in markets across the country. According to the Case-Shiller 10-city composite house price index, real house prices dropped by more than 31% between the end of 2005 and the end of 2008.
  • A report by AdMob Inc., which Google is buying for $750 million, says Google’s Android operating system for mobile phones is the biggest likely threat to Apple Inc.’s iPhone.
    “Android was the fastest growing operating system in the AdMob network year-over-year,” the report said.
    The report is in line with earlier growth trends reported by the company.
    San Mateo-based AdMob, led by CEO Omar Hamoui, who started the business, reported that the Android system had about 24 percent of the cell phone market in February. That makes the Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) system No. 2 in the space behind Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL), which has about half the market with its popular iPhone.
    AdMob said Symbian, owned by Finland’s Nokia (NYSE: NOK), was No. 3 at 18 percent, while Canada’s Research In Motion Ltd. (NASDAQ: RIMM) trailed with 4 percent and Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) had 2 percent.
  • When Steve Jobs announced in January that Apple’s new tablet would be called the iPad, some fans ridiculed the name, saying it conjured up images of feminine hygiene products rather than cutting-edge mobile gadgetry.
    Two months later, branding experts say the name has punchy appeal and that jokes won’t deter women—or men, for that matter—from buying Apple’s (AAPL) tablet computer, which goes on sale in the U.S. Apr. 3. “The minute you hear it, you know who brought it to you, how it’s going to work, that it’s high quality, and how it even looks,” said Hayes Roth, chief marketing officer for brand consulting firm Landor Associates. “The name does all that in just four letters. That’s amazing.”
    (tags: apple ipad)

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