I'm finishing my coffee...

Saturday, June 02, 2007

What a Week!

This was a pretty amazing week for product announcements. With Microsoft, Apple, and Google all announcing major projects and Walt Mossberg's All Things D Executive Conference (Lollapalooza for nerds) there was excitement in the air and I found myself checking the calendar to be sure that this wasn't MacWorld/CES week.

In the interest of full disclosure, I am the co-manager of webcast.berkeley (we manage UC Berkeley's presence on iTunes U & Google Video). I was aware that an iTunes U section of the iTunes store was going to launch shortly before it happened. I had no idea that Apple would announce iTunes Plus or the ability to stream YouTube content to your Apple TV. These announcements have served to whet my appetite for WWDC. These seem like pretty big announcements and for them to be made only a week before Steve Jobs delivers the WWDC keynote leaves me thinking that there must be some pretty major announcements in store (See my predictions here).

In addition to all the Apple goodness that we witnessed earlier in the week, we also saw Google announce Google Maps StreetView. It is pretty radical, if a little big-brotherish. One of the first things our student employees found while using streetview was a colleague on her way back from lunch waiting for a light to change. I can't wait to see what the mash-up community does with this product. Check out the vid of this Googler in Spandex explaining the product:

Not to be outdone, Microsoft announced Surface. A coffee table sized computer that allows users to interact using a touch based UI. The first look the provided of the product showed off some pretty interesting UI interactions with images. I am curious to understand what MS thinks the target market for Surface is. I would question the value it will add to the client experience at a restaurant or hotel, which is apparently the only place that will have them until the are commercially launched. I am sure that casinos will buy a ton of these things, though.

Some of the features of the Surface are pretty compelling and I will be interested to see how MS incorporates bits and pieces into new products. I guess the strangest thing about the Surface is the ever increasing presence of the Redmond giant as a hardware manufacturer. Over the years Microsoft has made computer peripherals such as mice, keyboards, joysticks, and even a beta version of the recently announced Surface. But their hardware ventures have become increasingly ambitious starting with the success of the XBOX 360 (not mentioned in their hardware history timeline), now the Surface, and even Roundtable in the near future. I wonder if Microsoft hasn't learned something from Apple after all. Wonder what is next from these guys.

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