Tribute to Steve Jobs (1955-2011), iPhone 4S and iPad 2

iSad candle imageWith his vision, marketing savvy, attention to design & usability details, and ability to deliver total solutions around complete value chains, Steve Jobs revolutionized almost everything he touched, even turning technology into fashion. Those white earbuds, for example, tell people you are cool. The CNET video below takes us through the ups & downs of a career that changed both the tech industry and our culture at large.

In his 2005 “connecting the dots” Stanford commencement speech, Jobs spoke of finding work you love and the inevitability of death, which he described as “the single most important change agent of life.” Jobs said the end of one life makes room for others and told graduates, “your time is limited, so don‘t waste it living someone else’s life.” He concluded by advising them to “Stay hungry; stay foolish.”

Somehow I find it ironic that Jobs later got a Liver transplant ahead of many others because he was wealthy enough to have access to a private jet to get him there stat. I’m not complaining, just reflecting on this as an example of medical ethics issues that I find difficult & fascinating.

Perhaps the greatest tribute to Steve Jobs came from a 19-year-old graphic design student in Hong Kong, Jonathan Mak Long, which he posted to his Tumblr blog to honor the Apple CEO’s departure. Upon the death of Jobs, the image below went viral.

Apple logo with Jobs' profile by Jonathan Mak

Apple launches iPhone 4S

photos of iPhone  4SI also find irony in the fact that Jobs died just one day after Apple announced the iPhone 4S with CEO Tim Cook taking over as MC.

The new iPhone 4S is technically impressive, with its new A5 dual-core processor – the fastest in a smartphone by far – and its Siri natural language voice command assistant, which is the smartest speech recognition technology in a mobile device. But without Jobs’ enthusiasm and his “oh, one more thing” tradition of holding the best feature to last, the announcement seemed flat. You see, people expected to see an iPhone 5, not a phone that looks just like the iPhone 4. Potential buyers might think, “how will others know I’m better than them.” Few people understood the potential of the Siri speech technology, because Jobs wasn’t there to show them. Even the Siri video demo doesn’t show off the features that I expect are there but not yet touted.

Even if the announcement was relatively drab, I think the iPhone 4S will be a hit, although not as big as if Jobs announced it. Its antenna is much-improved to help eliminate dropped calls. Its 8 megapixel camera is better. Its battery life is longer. Internet apps load much faster. It uses a new Qualcomm Gobi Baseband chipset to support worldwide markets with both CDMA and GSM. And it’s based on the new iOS5 operating system and iCloud.

iPhone 4S and its competition

click to see a chart comparing iPhone 4S and its competition

Also, Sprint signed up to sell 30M iPhones in a move that Wall Street called betting the ranch (and the barn and the cattle) on iPhone in an attempt to recover lost market share. Their recent decline is driven largely by the fact that they’re #3 and did NOT carry iPhone. Given that Apple shipped 100M iPhones worldwide since the first version, Sprint’s 30M commitment is HUGE. And then there are the rumors of an iPhone entry into the China market. Between China Mobile and China Telecom, that’s an addressable market of about 700 subscribers.

photo of Amazon Kindle FireApple iPad gets competition from Amazon Kindle Fire

Last Wednesday Amazon announced a new line of tablets, including the 7-inch Kindle Fire that may challenge the iPad with a significantly lower price ($200 vs. $500). Kindle Fire has a nice color screen and can access Amazon’s huge library of books, music and movies. It works with Amazon’s cloud to accelerate the speed of web browsing by anticipating web pages you may want next.  It can also switch between streaming video to the Kindle Fire and, without losing your place, to your high-def TV.

But the Kindle has no microphone or camera and can’t make phone calls or video calls. It’s primarily a content consumption device, not a content creation one like iPad, so its role in home healthcare is limited to providing reference material about health issues. Still, at $200, it could get quite a following.

image showing how USA Today compares Amazon Fire and Apple iPad 2

USA Today: click for larger image comparing Amazon Fire and Apple iPad 2

India demos $35 tablet computer for rural poor

If you think the Kindle Fire is cheap at $199, then watch this video of India’s $35 tablet.

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