Staples’ decision to carry the Surface RT probably won’t do too much to help such a consumer-focused device, but Best Buy’s carrying of it is bigger news. As much as the additional distribution will help Microsoft, Best Buy may be the bigger winner. Not only will it add to Best Buy’s selection, but it will drive store traffic to offer exposure to a host of other Windows RT and Windows 8 devices. In contrast, there was little to cross-sell Surface customers at Microsoft’s popup stores beyond perhaps a copy of Halo 4 and it stocked only two Windows devices beyond Surface.
DoorBot is but of the latest in an increasing number of DIY connected products. It is an interesting product taken alone, but made far more interesting and useful since the developers are integrating with the Lockitron Internet-controllable appcessory. But what may be even more interesting than DoorBot itself is the site on which the campaign for it is being launched: Christie Street. The name refers to the street on which Edison developed the light bulb, showing that not everyone shares disdain for the man most commonly associated with the incandescent bulb.
There are two things about Christie Street that stand out:
- It positions itself specifically for inventions, not the “creative works” like albums, music videos, and photo books that run deep in Kickstarter’s roots and which are a somewhat strange fit for the kinds of high-profile tech that tend to gain a lot of attention in Kickstarter’s Product Design section.
- It is as committed to protecting buyers — yes, buyers, not backers — via an escrow system. Is it fullproof? Probably not. But it is welcome to see a crowdfunding site take responsibility for how its users view transactions as opposed to clinging to its liability-limiting self-definition.
In short, if you’ve been a fan of noteworthy crowdfunded gadgets such as the Pebble smartwatch, Swivl rotating imaging and video base, Memoto lifelogging camera and others, Christie Street may evolve into a better destination for these kinds of projects, both for gadget creators and consumers.
iHS senior principal analyst Jordan Selburn draws a comparison between the e-reader and other portable electronics, such as portable media players and point-and-shoot cameras, that have seen their functionality incorporated into the smartphone. Fair enough, while the smartphone was the spiritual successor to the PDA (or basically a cellular-connected PDA with voice).
Still, while average e-reader screen sizes (and especially those of e-readers like the Kobo Pocket) are smaller than those of tablets, they were close enough where I always thought that that the defining attribute of the e-reader was the display. As soon as companies can affordably combine the color and multimedia of today’s LCDs with the sunlight-readability and long battery life of today’s e-paper, we will see the e-reader marginalized.
This holiday, consumers will have at least three strong new consumer electronics products from which to choose converging around a $299 entry price — the Nintendo Wii U (basic set), the Kindle Fire HD 8.9, and the iPod touch. The other product that comes close and which may give that all a strong run for their money is the $329 iPad mini.
While these products may come with different descriptions worthy of Breakfast Club-style stereotypes — the video game, the tablet and the media player — it’s a sign of the times is that all are platforms and converged devices. The main differences are the size of the screen they address and the maturity and the strength of the ecosystems they support.