Postmortem on the Daily

Writing on Reuters, Felix Salmon has a good postmortem on the demise of the Daily, Rupert Murdoch's iPad-only, $30,000,000 subscription-based newspaper, which folded yesterday. Among other things, he writes about print media's enthusiasm for iPads, and the inability of closed ecosystems to out-iterate the open Web:

When the iPad was first announced, there were lots of dreams about what it could achieve, and how rich its content could be. But in hindsight, it’s notable how many of the dreamers came from the world of print. Web people tended to be much less excited about the iPad than print people were, maybe because they knew they already had something better. The web, for instance, doesn’t need to traffic in discrete “issues” — if you subscribe to the New York Times, you can read any story you like, going back decades. Whereas if you subscribe to a publication on a tablet, you can read only one issue at a time...

Similarly, when the iPad launched, it allowed people to do things they could never do with a print publication: watch videos, say. But at the same time the experience was still inferior to what you could get on the web, which iterates and improves incrementally every day. The iPad then stayed still — the technology behind iPad publications is basically the same as it was two years ago — even as the web, in its manner, predictably got better and better.

I was skeptical of the iPad for this reason from the start:

I think that the press has been all over the iPad because Apple puts on a good show, and because everyone in journalism-land is looking for a daddy figure who'll promise them that their audience will go back to paying for their stuff. The reason people have stopped paying for a lot of "content" isn't just that they can get it for free, though: it's that they can get lots of competing stuff for free, too. The open platform has allowed for an explosion of new material, some of it rough-hewn, some of it slick as the pros, most of it targetted more narrowly than the old media ever managed.

The impossibility of tablet-native journalism (via Making Light)

Windows Surface reviews

Mat Honan at Wired: "This is a great device. It is a new thing, in a new space, and likely to confuse many of Microsoft’s longtime customers."

Joshua Topolsky at The Verge: "I wanted to love this device."

Sam Biddle at Gizmodo: "Should you buy it? No. ... It's a tablet-plus, priced right alongside the iPad and in most ways inferior."

Tim Stevens at Engadget: "The Surface is a slate upon which you can get some serious work done, and do so comfortably. You can't always say that of the competition."

Joanna Stern for ABC: "The Surface is full of potential, but until its software performance and apps are as strong as its hardware, I, unfortunately, will still drag both a laptop and an iPad through security."

Zach Epstein at BGR: "It really is the perfect combination of a tablet and a notebook thanks to the Touch Cover and the Type Cover, and I felt right at home with the Surface the moment I turned it on."

Harry McCracken for Time: "For an audacious version 1.0 product, it's impressive. Now "it's up to Microsoft to prove that it's serious enough about this PC business to forge ahead with Surface until it's impressive, period."

Avram Pilch for Laptop Magazine: "The Surface and its innovative Touch Cover proves that Microsoft can make hardware to rival the iPad, but the app ecosystem needs to catch up."

Comic legend Mark Waid on the medium's future

Turnstyle's Noah Nelson interviewed comic book great Mark Waid, longtime creator of adventures for Superman, Batman, Spider-man and The Incredibles. He's now mastering the format's transition to digital media such as the iPad.

“That doesn’t change the image but it completely changes the context of what the story is.”

Take the comic Waid wrote for Marvel’s new “Infinite Comics” line. A hero hurtles through space, a red-orange blur behind him. When the reader swipes the screen, the page doesn’t turn. Instead the image shifts focus. The blur becomes the fiery cosmic Phoenix, the X-Men’s most deadly foe.

“I got news for you, I’ve been doing this for 25 years and this is the hardest writing I’ve ever had to do,” Waid said.

Be sure to play the audio at Noah's article: it's fantastically produced.

Asus Nexus 7 tablet

Google and Asus have a tablet, reports The Verge, ready to run Android 4.1; Modaco.com has a screengrab with specs: a 1280x800 display, 8 or 16GB of storage, 1GB of RAM and a 1.2MP webcam.

Don't call it the ZunePad

After Microsoft announced its in-house Surface tablet, the critical response was warm but cautious. It looks good, but we just don't know enough about it. One sign that it's a contender: Microsoft's omnifailing tablet partners are already hating it publicly. At Gizmodo, Mat Honan zeroes in on the most interesting feature: the innovative-looking hardware keyboard.

Sony's dual-screen Tablet P arrives

Sony's double-screened Vaio P Tablet comes with "4G" internet via AT&T, dual 5.5" touchscreen displays, and a selection of apps optimized for the new format. Running Android 3.2, the data plan costs $35 a month for 3GB and $50 for 5GB. At $550, though, it'll be a difficult sell. With a two-year contract--itself a thousand dollar proposition--it's $400. Product Page [Sony]

Kindle Fire reviewed

Glenn Fleishman reviews the Kindle Fire for The Economist: "The Fire is not an iPad killer. But nor does it need to be."

Why Microsoft killed the Courier tablet

The short version: it was killed because making a cut-down Windows for tablets would "threaten" the desktop version that runs on all the hugely successful UMPC/MID/Slate tablets (pictured) that gave Microsoft its unassailable lead over Apple and Android. Then Bill Gates asked where the Exchange client was and had an allergic reaction when iPads were explained to him. [Cnet]

Enthusiasm for tablets grows in government

Government workers are dying to get their hands on tablet computers, according to documents released under the Freedom of Information Act and published by Government Attic. The files show, however, that security protocols may result in a slow roll-out at some agencies.

The Federal Trade Commission, National Archives and Records Administration, Deparment of Veterans Affairs, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Tennessee Valley Authority each produced internal records which discuss the merits of iPads and similar devices.

Read the rest

Firefox comes to Android tablets

The Mozilla Foundation is pressing hard with mobile Firefox efforts; the Android tablet edition sounds very tasty. Firefox has been my browser of choice for years, and I'm just about to try out a new Android tablet -- looking forward to seeing how they get along.