Articles of Interest

Regarding the iPad:

  • Common complaints about the device include: no Flash support, the screen’s “boxy” 4:3 aspect ratio, no user-facing camera (present even in cheap netbooks), and no multitasking. It is, in the words of many, “a big iPod Touch.”
  • RE: Kindle vs. iPad, a succinct argument by Paid Content: “Total cost of owning an iPad (assuming a $30 monthly data plan and 3 yr product life) is roughly 6x-7x the cost of a Kindle 2 (priced at $269 and likely going lower). Also, with an E-Ink screen, smaller form factor, lower weight, and better battery life, the Kindle may appeal more to serious book readers.” [I’ll add: these are solid arguments, but it’s worth mentioning that until we know the average price of apps in the Kindle App store, it’s very hard to estimate the “total cost” of ownership for a future Kindle owner.]
  • Penny Arcade elegantly captures the average enthusiast’s reaction to the iPad
  • Bottom line: I’d never bet against Apple, but that doesn’t mean I’d necessarily bet *on* Apple in this particular case. The prospects for v1 of the iPad are questionable enough (and the app store crowded enough) that I’m inclined to wait and see how things shape up post-launch. The Kindle App Store, on the other hand, intrigues me. There are supposedly a few million Kindle v2’s out there, and the App Store shouldn’t feel crowded at launch. The audience for the Kindle is older but generally tech-savvy. Seems like a nice potential opportunity for small, agile indies.

Wal-Mart and Best Buy have ended the sale of used games in their stores, forcing E-Play (the kiosk startup they were partnered with) to shut down.

A former Microsoft VP wrote an op-ed for the New York Times which slammed the company for fostering an organizational culture that actively thwarts innovation. His complaints mostly pointed to intense and destructive internal politics. IMO, the same complaint can be leveled against *most* large companies, so it’s unclear how much there is to blame here. That said, I have to admit that the politicking (plus strategic indecision) at MS really could be dizzying… especially when it resulted — as it frequently did — in major reorganizations! Three to four reorgs *a year* were not uncommon in my experience.

A large research study found that managers generally believe “recognition for good work” is the most important driver of positive morale and motivation for knowledge workers. The same managers considered “making progress in their jobs” to be the *least* important driver of morale and motivation. But when knowledge workers themselves were studied, the researchers determined that making progress was, in fact, the *most* important driver of morale! This won’t come as much of a surprise to anyone who has worked on a game that was ultimately canceled, or on a project that was undone by corporate politics (see the previous note on MS for added irony.)

As noted in my previous AoI, DS title sales appear to be softening. Michael Pachter is blaming it on piracy in Europe and cannibalization by iPod Touch games. How about rising consumer apathy towards the platform? I’ve used my DS just once in the past year, to play Scribblenauts.

There’s more to life than games:

Kristof on eastern Congo: “Sometimes I wish eastern Congo could suffer an earthquake or a tsunami, so that it might finally get the attention it needs. The barbaric civil war being waged here is the most lethal conflict since World War II and has claimed at least 30 times as many lives as the Haiti earthquake…. Human Rights Watch estimates that for every Hutu fighter sent back to Rwanda last year, at least seven women were raped and 900 people forced to flee for their lives.”

BoingBoing shows how incredibly adept criminals have become at using “skimmers” to steal ATM card information and rob banking customers. “The U.S. Secret Service estimates that annual losses from ATM fraud totaled about $1 billion in 2008, or about $350,000 each day. Card skimming, where the fraudster affixes a bogus card reader on top of the real reader, accounts for more than 80 percent of ATM fraud.”

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