Sunday, February 24, 2013

Top 10 Stories Of 2012 Part 2

Okay, who had February on the betting pool? Personally I had march for the next post. And, in all honesty, that almost happened. I, sheepishly admit, misplaced my notes for the second half of the Top 10. No really. Crusing through a backup draft version is how I even can list the below information. Its kind of the digital equivalent of a dog eating my electronic homework right? Oh well…

During the span between posts, we did have that awesome “Year in AT” special. It has some great commentary on the year that was and it was a ton of fun sitting down with the gang to jaw about the big stories. You can find the archive at this link:

Returning to the countdown,

5. Panasonic Announces Line of 30 UK Televisions with Text-to-speech Capabilities

Here’s the blurb from Blind Bargains…

And I didn’t have much to say about it. So, quite rightly, it was not used for the article. Its not pretty, however, these were my thoughts at the time.

It’s good to see that this kind of access has arrived. I just wish I liked the construction, menus, remotes, sound and picture of Panasonic’s sets more. Still, in a form of competing features, voice input has been coming to other set makers in order to jump ahead of any Apple entry into the space. I’m hoping that they will take a nod from Panasonic and not make these features something extra you have to pay for by making it a standard across the product line. Kudos for Panasonic reaching out. And sorry Panasonic for being a Samsung fan when it comes to Televisions.

Not much has changed and I said something like the above when I introduced the story on our podcast. Its neat and I hope it starts a trend. Years of selling televisionin the 90s has colored my likes on TV makers though.

4. NVDA Releases Several major Updates

Thoughts from the panel can be found at….

If you didn’t read my thoughts there, here they are!

If this isn’t the year where NVDA hit critical mass in the public conversation of Screen Readers, then 2013 will be that year. The fledgling screen access solution has continued to gain a following and it has also managed to promote some unique features that have others using it in their daily toolboxes for fixing what ever needs accessed on the web and elsewhere. The issue that faces NVDA is the continuation of secure funding in order to keep those bits and bytes flying around the web. If you haven’t already, then please go to their site and donate. As I’ve said before, nothing on the web is free. And NVDA needs Community support to provide the services that they do so they can be responsive to the constant updates that come with Windows and it’s

Of all the stories we covered in the podcast version of the Top 10, this was my favorite group discussion of all of them. If you want to hear it, jump to about the 2 hour mark to get thear plus th ecomments on the other two top stories.

3. iPhone 5 released

I’ve said on SeroTalk a few times that I saw the iPhone 5 as a lesser story than the iPad 4 and iPad Mini release. And I even think that, in 2012 at least, the release of iOS 6 isn’t that big of a story. So far in 2013 that may not be the case if they keep patching the darn thing. We’re a long way from “antenagate” yet I still wonder how the old guard, silly trap we all fall into and more on that in a bit, would have responded to anything past the iOS Maps dilemma. Anyway, this was my paragraph to JJ on iPhone 5.

The lighter, thinner and new dock connector sporting iPhone 5 is more of the same. The A6 chip makes voiceOver and Siri run faster or better. But many of the phone’s improvements matter more to those who have low vision. Where the story gets interesting is that the form factor of the phone had to change in order to compete with Android, whose market is now bigger outside the U.S. market, and Apple for the first time in a while is playing defense to its rivals. Apple isn’t in trouble by any measurement of where it was in 1999, however, Apple is now facing the fact that it has lost the “Wow” factor with phone buyers to breakout hits from Samsung like the Galaxy S 3 and honking big phablets like the Galaxy note. At the end of the day, if you had an iphone and you are at the end of your contract, chances are you’ll get whatever the current gen iPhone offers. Even if it detracts from the experience you just had with loss of features and new $30 accessories along the way. Acceptance of this kind, along with the Roach motel nature of the ecosystem, is a dangerous thing for users. With that said, they sold a lot of them. Does that continue with a 5s, 6 or beyond in 2013? Only time and sales will tell.

Yes, the iPhone 5 sold well… in the U.S.. And yes, those numbers are very impressive. At launch though. Videogame consoles have the same problem with product cycles. You sell huge at launch then the numbers can dive off a cliffe. Just ask Nintendo and Sony about their last two product releases. For me, the fact that the iPhone 5 did well in the launch months isn’t a story. That it sells well until June is more the key here. Because, gentle reader, pent up demand and cashing in on those who skipped a generation matters to Apple’s bottom line. While great sales numbers, again I admit, the problem is that the iPhone continues to cost more to make and means less of a margin for the company at the end of the day. Therefore, just like with videogame consoles, the longer life of the handset… the more money the company makes. That means the 18 million iPhone 4s units sold last quarter actually represents a better number to Apple than the 5. Okay, that and it means that in 20 months those 18 million better buy the iPhone 6s or whatever it is in the Holiday 2014 season at any rate.

Apple has to worry about two things now. The first is getting beyond being a U.S. centric sales company. They are working hard on that now with pushes into China and that crazy rumored cheaper iPhone for Emerging markets. The second though is something every company faces and that is the retention of your customer to the brand. Like it or not, but the competition has caught up to Apple. And I’d even say they have jumped ahead in some places. The wild card moving forward is that Tim cook’s Apple is not Steve jobs’s Apple. Trying to parse things in the “what would Steve Do?” mental hopscotch game isn’t just impossible, since we couldn’t know what he was thinking on a good day in the past, but Cook has made some drastic changes to make the exercise pointless before you ever lace up the running shoes. For the first time in a long time, Apple is worth watching for no other reason as to see how they will respond to the market pressures over the brand that dictated what the mobile industry had to do to keep up with them for almost a decade.

Remember, you can hear some great commentary about all things Apple at “Triple Click Home”

2. Nexus 7 and Android 4.1 include major accessibility changes

Behold the article link to the blind Bargains story

And here are my thoughts from that article:

Google, in 2012, demonstrated they could change the conversation in the mobile marketplace. If it wasn’t Samsung selling like gangbusters with the Galaxy S 3 and Galaxy Note lines, and taking the number one phone maker in the world title to boot, it was Google its self-having hits with the Nexus 4. Tablets also saw competition from Google with the amazing Nexus 7. And in the cases with the Nexus 7 and the nexus 4, along with the Samsung aided Nexus 10 and other nexus models, Google won the war on Android’s biggest issue with version fragmentation. This is key as jellybean 4.2 offers a very viable and welcome improvement to the level of access previously seen with Talkback. For those who have been Android loyalists, this release may bring a mixed bag in its more iOS Voiceover approach to access in Explore by Touch. But for those wanting to have options and a more Apple like experience, this version of Android should be the very lowest version number considered when dipping a toe into the water of Android devices. Also, the Nexus 7 is way more cheaper than an iPad mini.

Well if that wasn’t a lengthy thing to read on the subject, ahem, you can also check out the huge nexus 7 special we did on “That Android Show” for even more about the device. It’s the best, and most affordable, way to keep up to date on stock Android. Also, it’s a good starting point for those who want to begin to learn the OS but not lock themselves into a two year handset contract in the process. You can catch the Nexus 7 special here…

Drum roll please!

1. Fleksy keyboard for iPhone

No other story in 2012 hit on so many levels. Here’s a company whose app went from being Blindness related to having mainstream success with a product that could be used universally. That is except for the fact that the iOS ecosystem really demonstrated its limitations to both sets of users as the functionality desired is not allowed by Apple in iOS. Then you have the possibility of the app moving to Android and doing everything it couldn’t do on iOS. Plus, the gang at Fleksy is just a great group of people. Making the success even better all the way around. Sure some may not have been thrilled about the price drops, the options on iOS initially but the company has been very forthcoming about what is possible and what they see as the potential in their future releases. This drive in their outward facing efforts, especially in social media, has been astounding, and for me, this app’s triumphs in so many arenas are why I believe that it was the biggest AT story in 2012.

And to hear our SPN interview from the show floor of the NFB 2012 National Convention, warp on over to the SeroTalk page at:

Oh, before I go, I said I would show you all my votes for last yer’s ballot. They were not too far away from where the panel landed.

1 Fleksy keyboard for iPhone

2 Nexus 7 and Android 4.1 include major accessibility changes

3 NVDA Releases Several major Updates

4 iPad Refreshed Twice, iPad Mini Added

5 Focus 14 Braille Display Released, Focus 40 Refreshed

6 Firefox accessible on Android

7 Windows 8 Released, includes some more built-in access

8 Jaws 14 Released with Flexible Web

9 HumanWare Releases Deaf Blind Communicator App for iOS Devices

10 GWConnect Updated, causes debate with ad-supported model

11 Amazon Adds Accessibility to some Kindle Models, but falls short

12 Panasonic Announces Line of 30 UK Televisions with Text-to-speech Capabilities

I’ve got one more post about 2012, found that one in my backup files as well, to come in march. Its more lighthearted and fun though. And more ‘inside baseball’ for how we do things on the podcast front.

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