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Netbooks Are Dead, Long Live Tablets


Image Credit: bit-tech

If you were hoping CES 2013 might bring about a netbook resurgence you may want to brace yourself: ASUS and Acer, parents of the lilliputian notebook category, announced Sunday that they’ve stopped manufacturing netbooks.

Netbooks may have been doomed from the start, but the beginning of their five year journey shook the technology industry to its core. The tiny Atom processors that powered first generation netbooks couldn’t run Windows Vista, forcing Microsoft to finally focus on cutting crap and cruft out of Windows. They also gave Linux its first real chance to challenge the desktop market, a chance ultimately squashed by an undead Windows XP and consumer confusion (I have fond and not-so-fond memories of hours spent trying to help my school librarian fix the awful Linux installation on his EEE PC).Their low price point was the catalyst for Apple’s research into creating a lower cost computer that wasn’t crippled and compromised, an investigation that helped create the first iPad, and introduced computers to all kinds of neglected, price conscious markets.

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If You Want to Back a Winner, Get the New Kindle Fire

Image Credit: The Verge

Today’s Kindle announcements made one thing clear: if any Android tablet manufacturer is going to hold their own against Apple’s iPad or the flood of upcoming Windows slates, it’s Amazon.

It’s weird to type that, because what Amazon announced today wasn’t that impressive. The new Kindle Fire and Fire HD look a hell of a lot nicer than Amazon’s first tablet, but they’re still not up to the build quality of an iPad or a Transformer. The software isn’t that good, app selection is mediocre, and the core carousel interface isn’t exactly inspired. The screen is good, but Apple and others have better. The price beats the competition, but it won’t stay that way for long; Asus’ and Samsung’s prices are a hairs breadth away from Amazon’s, and what’s to stop them from shaving another seventy-five bucks off come Christmastime?

No, Amazon has the edge because they have something no one else in the Android ecosystem, not even Google, has—focus. They don’t just want the Fire and the Fire HD to succeed; they need it to. Amazon is a massive conglomerate, the Internet’s 1990’s Microsoft. They sell server space, shoes, books, IMDB subscriptions, free shipping, and local daily deals. They run a Netflix competitor and an iTunes Match clone. They knocked off Dropbox and bought Audible. You name it, they probably do it, or will do it, or have done it. Like Google, they try everything once and most things twice.

But unlike Google, Amazon has decided to put everything together in one product. IMDB, the bastard stepchild Amazon bought for a lark? It’s now powering contextual trivia searches in your movies.  Audible audiobooks? Amazon will read them to you while you look at your e-ink copy. All of those media services everyone forgets come with their Prime subscription? It’s all at your fingertips on the brand new Kindle Fire. The original Kindle Fire was a portal to Amazon content, just like the Kindle was a portal to Amazon’s books. Sure, it was integrated with all of Amazon’s other stuff, but just because that’s how Amazon justified selling hardware at a loss. The Kindle Fire then didn’t feel like the future of Amazon; it felt like the future of the Kindle, one small part of Amazon, an unfocused web giant.

With the new Fire, things feel different. It feels like Amazon is making the Fire line the priority of the entire company, not just the content departments. Any service they have, no matter how unrelated it might seem, is going to find its way into Amazon’s tablet line up. Bezos has made selling the new Kindle Fire the priority of his entire company. And you know what? What Bezos wants, Bezos gets. Early Amazon succeeded because Bezos focused the entire company on books. He wanted to transform a single industry, and he did. Since then, Amazon has stretched out, grown, gotten bigger. But in the process, it’s gotten slower, messier. It was starting to lose its focus and its edge. Now, things are changing. There’s a goal line, a plan, and a flagship product everybody has to get behind. The Amazon that is is becoming more like the Amazon that was. And the Amazon of the old, the ruthless bookseller that drove everybody out of business? That’s not a company I would bet against.

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Short Read: Nexus 7 tablet developed in just 4 months

Image Credit: AllThingsD

AllThingsD’s Ina Fried got the chance to sit down with Google’s Andy Rubin and Asus’ Jonney Shih yesterday to discuss the development of the Nexus 7 Android tablet. One of the more interesting facts to come out of the interview is that Google gave Asus just four months to develop the Nexus 7 tablet.

“We went from zero to working product in four months.” Rubin told AllThingsD. Shih revealed further details about the development process, explaining that Asus sent a team of at least 40 engineers to Silicon Valley to work closely with Google and meet their goal of building a high-end tablet that could sell for just $200. “They ask a lot,” Shih said of Google, “Our engineers told me it is like torture.” Of course, all that hard work paid off, and Rubin was very grateful toward the hard-working Asus team. “I don’t think there would have been any other partner that could move that fast.” he said.

Check out Fried’s full story on AllThingsD.

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Google Unveils Asus Nexus 7 Tablet With Android 4.1, Starting at $199

After months of rumors and leaks, Google has finally unveiled their first Nexus tablet, the Asus Nexus 7. The 7-inch tablet comes with Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean), a 1.2GHz quad-core Tegra 3 processor with a 12-core GPU, 7-inch IPS display with 1280 x 800 HD resolution, 1.2-megapixel, front-facing camera, 1GB of RAM, 8GB or 16GB of storage, and a 4,325mAh battery giving you over 10 hours of usage. The Nexus 7 starts at $199 for the 8GB variation, and $249 for the 16GB version. Initially, the Nexus 7 is available for pre-order now in the US, Canada, UK, and Austrailia, with devices shipping in mid-July. A worldwide rollout is expected within months.