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Research In Motion (RIM) has wisely decided NOT to call it’s tablet the BlackPad after all.

The BlackBerry PlayBook was announced September 24th with much fanfare at a 3 hour press event touting impressive tech specs including Micro USB, Micro HDMI, front and rear-facing cameras.

Availability of the PlayBook was announced as sometime in 2011. As the ad above says, “You’ve never seen BlackBerry like this”. And so far, we still haven’t. There was no working prototype for journalists to play with. We’ll see if it’s actually released or if it’ll go down as a footnote in tech history like the ill-fated Palm Folio.

Tech companies typically don’t release detailed specs (processor, RAM, screen resolution, etc.) to the press so far in advance of the product launch. After all, why tip off your competitors on the gritty details of your future product so many months before?

Could RIM’s true intention be to slow iPad holiday sales with the promise of something bigger and better down the road? Actually, something smaller and better because the PlayBook will have a 7 inch screen versus the iPad’s 9.7 inches. With the iPad selling like hotcakes, competitors scrambling to bring tablets to market will do everything they can to slow the Apple juggernaut. They certainly realize that once consumers have a significant investment in hardware and software, it becomes very difficult to convince them to move to a different platform. Just ask the Apple Computer of the 1990’s after the Mac lost market share to Microsoft Windows.

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Rumors abound that Research In Motion (RIM), makers of the Blackberry, will release an iPad competitor dubbed the BlackPad. If true, it would be a serious marketing misstep for RIM. Naming their device the BlackPad would show weakness and concede that Apple is the leader and innovator. In their effort to capture market share, does RIM really want to send a message to consumers that they are not a leader but are following the leader, Apple?

If RIM wants to carve out a significant segment of the tablet market, they are one of the few big players in a position to do so. RIM can leverage its strong customer loyalty and security reputation, especially with business customers, to gain market share.

RIM must innovate quickly though, while they’re still relevant. With iPhone, Android and the soon to be released Windows 7 Mobile capturing most of the attention, RIM is starting to look like an “also ran”. To paraphrase Wayne Gretsky, if RIM skates to where the puck is now rather than to where it will be in the future, they’ve already lost.

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In response to the iPad’s success, Amazon announced new, lower priced Kindle ebook readers. A 3G wireless plus WiFi model at US$189 and a Wifi only version at US$139 will be available August 27, 2010.

Taking a design cue from Apple, the new Kindles are much sleeker than the clunky original Kindle. They boast upgraded specs and are presently the best single-purpose ebook readers on the market.

The Kindle’s major advantage as an eReader is the E ink screen which is easy on the eyes and can be read in bright sunlight making it great for lazy days at the beach. It’s also lighter than the iPad at 8.7 oz. vs. 1.5 lbs. and at $139 it’s easier on the wallet it lost, damaged or stolen.

The advantages end there, however. The iPad runs circles around the Kindle in all other respects. It reads all ebook formats, including the Kindle format. It works as large iPod touch, can make Skype calls, and with the plethora of apps available through the iTunes Store, it’s a laptop replacement for many people.

At US$139 the base Kindle is an inexpensive option for anyone interested only in books. But other than that, the iPad is a much better overall value.

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The Dev-Team has done it again! Just days after the U.S Copyright Office ruled that jailbreaking mobile devices does not violate federal copyright law, the iPhone Dev-Team, thanks to comex, has released the simplest jailbreak yet for all iPads, iPhones and iPod touches.

Simply visiting www.jailbreakme.com from Safari on your iPad will jailbreak your device with a single click. It doesn’t get easier than that. Jailbreaking will allow you to install software not officially sanctioned by Apple.

Naturally, as everyone rejoices this one-click jailbreak we need to also keep in mind that this is a huge security hole in Apple’s devices. If the Dev-Team can exploit this flaw to install software so can others who may not be as altruistic. Malicious malware hackers are likely furiously working on exploits.

There’s no doubt Apple is working on a fix. In the meantime, enjoy your jailbroken iDevices but proceed with caution!

wpid-maytag-repairman1-2010-07-23-19-12.jpgAs the iPad rolls out in more countries today, computer geeks around the world are no doubt feeling threatened.

In the early days of personal computing, computer enthusiasts were seen as nerds and generally shunned by the cool kids. But as computers evolved and the Internet made computers mainstream, suddenly the nerds were in high demand and held power over the average computer user. As Bill Gates became “cool”, so did millions of computer “nerds” who were reinvented as computer “geeks”.

Computer geeks have slowly been losing power for many years. Operating systems like Mac OS X and Windows 7 have made our computers much easier to use than the days of DOS and the command line. It wasn’t that long ago that we needed highly trained technicians to set up a computer network. Today, most of us can go to our local computer store, pick up a $100 router and be networked in minutes.

The iPad has been under constant attack by many in the tech community, sight unseen, since before its release – a sure sign of fear. The iPad with it’s “instant-on” access and simple, intuitive operating system has removed a layer of complexity from computing that makes it easy for toddler to senior alike.

Is the iPad the future of computing? Maybe or maybe not. But just as the iPhone has shaped all smartphones that came after it, the iPad has disrupted the computer industry. The geeks fear our computers turning into simple appliances like our refrigerators and toasters. As the iPad and devices like it become more popular, they’re afraid of becoming the next lonely Maytag repairman.

wpid-ipadbook-ca1pxvcuprct.jpgThe Apple iPad was released in the USA last week. Did you or do you plan to get one? As much as I might like one, it doesn’t fit into my computing lifestyle. For me it’s an “I’d like to have” not a “must have” device.

Unfortunately the iPad was released 2 years too late for me. I bought a MacBook Air in 2008 because I needed an ultra portable notebook. The Air is 3 pounds compared to the iPad’s 1 1/2 pounds. But between my Desktop computer, the MacBook Air and the iPhone, it’s hard to imagine how useful the iPad would be. I can think of a few situations where the iPad would be better than either the Air or the iPhone, but not enough to introduce another device into the mix.

If today I was replacing the MacBook Air ($1,499) I would be tempted to get a MacBook ($999) and an iPad ($499) instead for the same money. Or if I was in the market to for an e-book reader and/or a decent digital picture frame, I would certainly add a few extra dollars and get the iPad instead.

As much as I might like an iPad, it just isn’t for me right now. So who is it for? It’s for anyone that wants to browse the Internet, Twitter, Facebook, email, watch YouTube, movies and TV, listen to books, podcasts and music, display pictures, read books, comics and magazines, play games and do hundreds of other things. All this with “instant-on” access and without the complexity of a “real” computer. Did I mention that the iPad has amazing battery life? It’s very tempting indeed.

(watch the interview)

In a recent interview with Mike Arrington of TechCrunch, Facebook Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg gave some lame, self-serving justification for Facebook’s new position on privacy.

Zuckerberg claims that Facebook is simply following social norms. Who doesn’t see that as self-serving bull? It’s been well publicized in the last few months that Facebook has been trying to monetize its content by making more of it accessible to search engines like Google. In December Barry Schnitt, Facebook’s Director of Corporate Communications and Public Policy essentially acknowledged to Marshall Kirkpatrick of ReadWriteWeb that more openness will lead to increased traffic and advertising revenue. What will stop Facebook from selling data to marketers? How convenient that this new openness is also now the new “social norm” according to Zuckerberg.

For years Facebook touted its privacy policies selling everyone on the idea that your information was secure and private. Less than 2 years ago Zuckerberg told Marshall Kirkpatrick that privacy control is “the vector around which Facebook operates.” That sure sounded good when they were trying to build their network. But now that they’re up to 350 million users, facing pressure from Twitter, likely considering an IPO and needing to justify their unrealistic, sky-high valuation to investors, the change in “social norms” couldn’t have come at a more opportune time.

In the Arrington interview, Zuckerberg says, “A lot of companies would be trapped by the conventions and their legacy of the systems that they’ve built. Doing a privacy change for 350 million users is not the type of thing that a lot of companies would do. But we viewed that as a really important thing, to always kind of keep a beginner’s mind and think what would we do if we were starting the company now and started the site now, we decided that these would be the social norms now and we just went for it.”

Yes, Mr. Zuckerberg. I would hope that most companies would not indiscriminately change the privacy rules for 350 million users and brazenly declare, “we just went for it” like an impetuous child. Especially when it’s a complete about-face from its previously stated policy. And need I say a policy that lured users into a false sense of security to begin with. A company with any respect for its users would not make these changes so flippantly.

Perhaps Mr. Zuckerberg should consider that Facebook with its 350 million users is no longer in a position to simply react to social change but rather can now itself be a catalyst for effecting social change. A responsibility that should not be taken lightly. Perhaps all the brilliant minds at Facebook are oblivious to the fact that most users will naïvely accept Facebook’s recommended privacy settings in the much the same way so many click through EULAs. I doubt they’re oblivious after their repeated privacy blunders. Maybe it’s time we realized they simply don’t care about your privacy and have no respect for you.

I’m not a Facebook user but I know many who are. Some use it for its original intent and share their photos and information with a tight network of friends and family while others “friend” everyone under the sun and would fit right in with the new Facebook. But that’s their choice.

Call me paranoid but I never trusted Facebook from the beginning. Maybe I can attribute it to a good “poker read” that their privacy statements sounded disingenuous to me. But probably it was Facebook’s Terms and Conditions that basically said that they owned your data and could do with it what they pleased. And certainly the news of one indiscriminate privacy decision after another justified my giving it a wide berth.

Here’s a news flash. Facebook and Zuckerberg don’t care about you or your privacy.

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