‘Gadget Man’ and his outlook on 2010

When I started this blog some 18 months ago, my more ambitious hope was that I would be recognised as a leading commentator on academic matters and on the growth of the knowledge society; and maybe as someone with something to say on arts and culture; and an astute political analyst – that sort of thing. So have my dreams come true? I don’t know, really. A couple of weeks ago I was introduced at an event as ‘an important blogger, with a special emphasis on technology and gadgets.’ Oh yes? Well perhaps that was correct, because this week I got an email from what the TV broadcasters like to call ‘a member of the public’ (how do you acquire membership?), which addressed me as ‘the key European expert on the Amazon Kindle’, in which capacity he was asking me for advice.

It is indeed true that my three or four posts on the Amazon Kindle have gathered more readers (from a global readership) than anything else I have written. But an expert? I own two Kindles, and am about to order another (see below), and indeed developed a workaround for using it in Ireland before Amazon was ready to let me do that – but an expert?

Oh well, maybe for the purposes of this post at least I shall throw away my intellectual, academic, artistic and political pretensions and present myself solely as a gadget enthusiast; indeed maybe that’s where my career should take me…

And 2010 looks like it will be a bumper year for gadget freaks. After all the gloom and depression of 2009, it seems like tech companies are anticipating that we will want to burst out of the recession this year and trade up in our gadget portfolios. First out of the gate is Google with its Nexus One smartphone, based on its own Android operating system. This has been anticipated for a while, and will attract some attention in part because everything that Google does is observed widely, but in part also because it will be analysed for its potential as an ‘iPhone killer’. In fact look at any of the reviews, and inevitably it is all about how the Nexus One compares with Apple’s market leader. I haven’t directly seen or held one of the Google gadgets – and indeed Irish customers will have to wait a little – but my prediction is that, lacking some of the iPhone’s versatility and the sheer volume of the applications available for it, it will not kill off Apple’s market dominance or indeed get anywhere close to doing so; but competition is always good.

Apple in turn is expected to announce a multi-media touch screen tablet computer, incorporating an e-book reader and possibly television capability, early in the year. No further information is available at this point, but you can expect a sleek, design-conscious versatile gadget. But that too will not be without competition, as Microsoft and HP are combining to launch their own tablet computer, and may in fact beat Apple to it. And in the meantime Amazon will provide the Kindle DX (which has a larger screen than the original Kindle) for customers outside the United States; and of course I have one on order.

In the meantime more traditional technology will decline. Nearly 26 years ago I bought my first CD player and, with it, my first CD, and the beauty and versatility of this technology just amazed me. And who would have thought that this innovation would be so short-lived, because right now the CD is in free-fall decline, as music downloads (lawful and unlawful) take over. And now we can observe how the music industry, and indeed musical artists, are scrambling to salvage some sort of business model from the resulting situation.

But there is one other gadget I have just acquired that I find exceptionally satisfying, but in this case in an extremely retro sort of way. I have splashed out and bought a Montblanc ballpoint pen. So I can say if you’re tired of new technology and want something quite special in a more traditional range, these pens are awesome. I can’t see them disappearing from the market, no matter what the tech companies do. And when I put my Montblanc just next to my Apple Macintosh PowerBook laptop, it creates a particularly pleasing image. Something old, something new.

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5 Comments on “‘Gadget Man’ and his outlook on 2010”

  1. Aoife Citizen Says:

    There are Android phones available here in Ireland; I have one, the Nexus One is just the first phone google will sell themselves, but Android runs on lots of devices.

    Of course, while Android is open source and will offer a more diverse range of products and uses, Apple will continue to appeal to users wanting a more finite, more controlled experience.

    The best comment I’ve seen is this retweet from @timoreilly:

    Love @bgurley’s take on Android: “Apple is well positioned to be the “Apple” of the smartphone market.” http://bit.ly/83BQXc (via @Jakewk)


  2. Aoife, it may be worth reproducing the complete quote:

    ‘With its disruptive and leveraged strategy, it is Google that is attempting to be the Microsoft of the smartphone market. Perhaps ironically, Apple is well positioned to be the “Apple” of the smartphone market.’

    What that is intending to suggest is that Google is aiming for the cheaper mass market, and that its motives are less to do with mobile telephony and much more to do with information and search management.

  3. Vincent Says:

    My Parker 51 does me nicely, ta very much. And if ever I need something to stab a tin of peas. I have been a dedicated shopper of Lidl specials, so I have Instruments to do all sorts of jobs. I even have a set of tiny ‘Watch’ screwdrivers that mock me, so far.

  4. Wendymr Says:

    Okay, I have to ask: how on earth do you manage to use two Kindles, let alone three?


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