Mobile device is a fashion industry

People usually think that the mobile industry is a technology industry. Actually it isn’t. It is a fashion industry.

Mobile devices have a fashion life cycle: What ever the specifications of the device it will last a fall-winter or spring-summer collection. I remember a selection process of devices with an operator, a famous one, where we discussed design 55mn out of  1 hour. The last 5mn where about the products specifications. And frankly nobody cared.

A device featuring the latest processor and camera will not sale in 1 year from now or at such a discount it will damage the product image.

Nevertheless technology counts because the technology in the device will drive the services and applications consumers will be able to use in the next 18 months thus driving the operators revenue.

As in fashion, everybody is copying the leaders. That’s the reason why we enjoy so many slate / monolith formfactor to the point it gets really boring.

As in fashion, a few teams are most propably finalizing their new formfactor that will change the next collections of mobile devices…

OLPC next project: the $75 tablet

Nicholas Negroponte said that his organization behind the OLPC project (one laptop per child) is developing a tablet. This tablet will cost around US$75 and feature Android and a 9 inch display. What is the most interesting is that tablet should be able to work in the sunlight, reflecting the light of the sun, and indoor thanks to a back-light.

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ILMzuS2qZfc&feature=player_embedded]

A first prototype should be available before the end of the year. Definitely 2010 will be the year of the Tablet.

Even though one may have some doubt about the industrial part of the project, one must remember that the OLPC gave birth to what we call today Netbooks, this new category of small and cheaper laptops. Negroponte’s target for OLPC was a US$100 device. Manufacturers are currently offering US$200 netbooks.

Negroponte is setting the target for the whole category and showing the way.I wouldn’t be surprised if the price of Tablets stabilizes around US$150 within the next 18 months making it a massive market and a huge opportunity for manufacturers.

But without any doubts one of the winner will be Google, as the market is polarizing itself between iPad and Android powered device for the rest of the manufacturers.

iPad pre-launch attractiveness

Here are the results of the poll on the Apple’s iPad to  be launch end of march. 52 of you, readers of this blog, have answered it and here are the results:

38% of you are very positive about the device, 54% are more in a wait-and-see stance and 8% definitely reject the device.

There is another very interesting survey from All Things Digital whose findings are that the initial iPad demand is greater than the initial iPhone demand.

> read the article

13 percent of the 3,200 respondents who participated in this survey were either somewhat or very likely to purchase the device. So the readers of this blog are more positive on the iPad than the average American guy.

Personally, I foresee a great success if the device has no flaw or bugs and by the end of the year the competition will get tough as many PC manufacturers will enter the battlefield.

Apple integrated business model

I didn’t get the chance to play with the iPad for a few minutes yet. So I can’t tell anything about the look and feel, the design or the UI. Nevertheless the videos are impressive. Have a look at Engadget iPad guide or Telcoms.com article.

Apple iPad

Apple iPad

What I really find impressive is Apple business model. As far as I know this is the only integrated manufacturer. Apple controls all the key items of its value chain:

  • the CPU with its new A4
  • the OS: iPhone OS, MacOS X
  • the software: iWorks
  • the hardware: iPhone, iPad, iPod and Macs
  • the content aggregation: iBooks, iTunes
  • the service: MobileMe
Apple Value Chain

Apple Value Chain

It looks like the IBM good old days, but in a much more competitive environment.

Apple A4 CPU

Apple A4 CPU

By controlling the whole value chain, Apple is in position to extract all the value from it, leaving to its competitors or partners only small bits of it. And by controlling every bolt Apple is in position to provide an outstanding experience that reinforce the consumer value proposition.

Apple has just created a virtuous circle which generates more and more value, unless a part breaks down or the ship misses direction. Then the card house may fall, but not for the moment.

2010, the year of the Slate

2010 will be the year of the MID, eh … sorry of the Tablet … well not exactly, it will be the year of the SLATE. You know the Magic Slate like the one you used in nursery.

Magic Slate

Magic Slate, the old way

The Magic Slate is the concept of this year: a 5″ to 15″ flat screen with as less buttons as it is possible. The concept has been declined is every form at the last CES: eBooks, Computer, Phone.
The most impressive are the computer ones as they seem to be usable especially with Windows 7. Ballmer has presented the HP Slate during his keynote, and Apple is expected to announce its own by the end of this month.


Have a look at Gizmodo to know everything about the rumours on Apple’s Slate. By the way guess the name of the product. An easy one : iSlate or Magic Slate.

Archos has already one very nice the Archos 9, ready for shipping.

Archos 9

Archos 9 Slate Computer

It’s all very nice, but was is really missing is the usage. What will you do with a Slate? I believe people are fed up by technological blabla and want a clear value proposition. That’s the reason why MID didn’t take off. There was no real value proposition except: you’ve got an Internet Browser in your bag. Who will pay 300€ for a device with such a low value proposition?
So far, the Slate value proposition and usage aren’t very clear. Let’s wait until the end of the month. Usually Apple has got very clear view on these kinds of things.