How NOT to announce new products. Google Nexus.

UPDATE: 20121123 Google’s Nexus 4 Smartphone and Nexus 10 Tablet sold out 20 minutes after the Google Play store opened.

By now it is pretty clear that we love Google (most of the time). But the company can learn a thing or two from Apple, especially when it comes to important product announcements. On Monday, while Hurricane Sandy was hitting the East Coast ,and 7.5 million people in 16 states have lost power, Apple announced that the company’s senior vice president of iOS was getting fired for (apparently) refusing to apologize publicly for the Apple Maps mess. The timing was impeccable, since nobody noticed nor cared. Well, at the very same time, Google was announcing three new Nexus devices; a smartphone, a 7-inch tablet, and a 10-inch tablet. Guess what happened? Nobody noticed nor cared. They sold out.

All three devices run Android 4.2, which Google describes as “a new flavor of Jelly Bean.” The Nexus 4 is Google’s latest 4.7-inch, quad-core Nexus smartphone, developed with LG, and priced well below analysts expectations. It will be available for $299 (8GB) and $349 (16GB) for unlocked, contract-free units. However, the best deal seems to be the 16GB unit on T-Mobile for $199. We can’t really predict how sales will perform, but what is certain is that the Nexus 4 will make a strong impact on the smartphone market.

Based on the promo video, it seems that Google is focusing the tablets on education. We have written extensively about technology and education here, here, and here.

Although we are more excited with Samsung’s Galaxy Camera, one of our favorite features of the new Nexus smartphone is Photo Sphere, a camera app/Google Maps hybrid that allows users to create and share 360-degree panoramas.

Click to keep reading  (more…)


How to optimize your reading experience.

Shocking but true: Once upon a primitive time, there were no ebooks. For the past 15 years or so I’ve read an average of 50 books per year, or roughly one book per week. Now, my annual average is close to double this number—all thanks to ebooks, and, more specifically, because of the Kindle reader app and the public library system.

If I buy a book, I’ll read it 20% of the time, since I always use the “I’ll read it tomorrow or next weekend” excuse.

If I check out a physical book from the public library, I’ll read it 50–60% of the time. This situation has an added bonus—since it takes time and effort to pick up and drop off the library books, I make sure that I only get the ones that I really want or need to read.

For the past six months I’ve been getting ebooks in the Kindle format, from both the public libraries in Manhattan and Brooklyn (for some odd reason they work as separate entities) and from Google and Amazon’s vast selection of free ebooks. I am reading them (and this means finishing them) about 80% of the time. So, not only have I doubled my annual reading productivity, but I am finishing 80% of the books I check out as opposed to 20% of the books that I buy.

Free ebooks

A few things might explain this surprising improvement. First, I carry the books with me all the time, either on my phone, tablet, or laptop. The Kindle Cloud seamlessly syncs all the books, bookmarks, and even highlighted sections and notes!

Second, since there is a set deadline for the book to expire (you can read Kindle books for seven or 14 days with NO option to renew) I am fighting against time and (mostly) read them in “chronological” order, which means that I read them by expiration date.

Amazon Kindle Cloud Reader

And third, the wait time to get Kindle books from the public library can be REALLY long, especially at the Manhattan branches. Sometimes there are 15 copies available and 250 people waiting for them. Since people can check them out for up to 14 days, the wait to get a book can take years, so it’s best to read it while I have it.

Reading on a tablet is visually compelling, and highly portable. Nothing beats the romantic vision of reading a great book on a rainy day while seated next to the fireplace in that cabin on the lake. But reality is quite different. Being able to read on long subway commutes or while waiting for a boring presentation to end is a godsend.

What’s your take?