The real Tablet Wars will have to wait until next year

Even with the much publicized release of the Galaxy Tab this week, it looks like the real battle to upend the iPad won’t happen until next year. Lenovo’s chief executive confirmed that its LePad tablet won’t hit the market until 2011. LG also pushed back the release of its tablet until next year. Both are waiting to launch their tablets with Android Honeycomb, the upcoming release that is designed for tablets. Meanwhile, those who want RIM’s BlackBerry PlayBook or a webOS-based tablet will also have to wait until early next year.

This isn’t to say that competitors aren’t lining up offerings right now. Samsung is predicting it can sell 1 million Galaxy Tab devices running Android 2.2 by the end of this year. Acer is expected to unveil new tablets running Android later this month. And Dell has released the 5-inch Streak, which runs an older version of Android.

But Google has said that, currently, Android isn’t designed for tablets. And it looks like Gingerbread, the update that is scheduled to be released any day now, won’t be optimized for tablets. So Android tablets, even if they’re released this year, probably won’t hit their stride until Google releases Honeycomb.

Right now, manufacturers are torn between moving forward and trying to get some traction like Samsung is attempting to do, or waiting until the platform matures, but risk Apple zooming ahead again with the iPad 2. That some like LG and Lenovo are sitting it out suggests they’d rather nail it the first time with the right software rather than put out something that initially disappoints…

The iPad will surely get serious competition and will undoubtedly lose its 95 percent share of the tablet market. But it looks like we’ll need to wait for next year when Android tablets, along with a BlackBerry PlayBook and a webOS tablet from HP, can make a real run at the iPad.

Many of these firms make it sound like they’re getting better at responding to Apple’s R&D opening new marketplaces. I’m not as convinced. It takes a great deal of process management to accomplishment a complete rollout for a breakthrough product like the iPad. It also helps to have an infrastructure like the App Store + apps + designers ready and willing to design for the new platform.

The only product I see stealing market share from the iPad is this. My wife’s arrives Monday.

Walgreens tackles food deserts with fruit and veggies

Among students of the contemporary metropolis, “food deserts” have become a widely known problem. The term is generally used to describe urban neighborhoods where there are few grocers selling fresh produce, but a cornucopia of fast-food places and convenience stores selling salty snacks (though, strictly speaking, the term can be applied to rural or suburban areas, too). Often the problem afflicts low-income areas abandoned or shunned by food businesses that focus on better-off consumers; the residents of food deserts, apparently, are not providing enough profit to be offered more healthful grub. These are places where the market for nutritious sustenance has essentially failed.

Perhaps the marketplace can reverse its own failure, but a little prodding from other entities may be required. One example emerged this summer in Chicago when Walgreens, the drugstore chain founded in that city more than 100 years ago, started selling an expanded selection of food, including fresh fruits and vegetables, at 10 locations selected because they were in food deserts. The experiment in creating these “food oases” is intriguing because it involves a well-known retail brand not typically associated with groceries — and, really, because it involves a well-known retail brand at all…

A drugstore might not seem the obvious venue for solving a grocery-store problem, but Walgreens offered something useful: ubiquity. “That’s the exciting thing about Walgreens, they’re in so many places,” Mari Gallagher says. (It was during her research on Detroit that she was struck by the fact that pharmacies were practically the only mainstream chain presence, aside from fast food, in many neighborhoods.) Thus the pharmacy chain did not have to open new stores in food deserts, because it was already operating in plenty of them, and could use Gallagher’s data to pick locations for its experiment. Still, refitting the stores to offer 750 or so new products, including whole new categories, without expanding their actual size was a big undertaking. (About 20 to 25 percent of the square footage in each participating store is now given over to food.) And Walgreens had to line up new suppliers and adjust to the risks of selling things like lettuce and bananas that can go bad on the shelf if not bought quickly, says Jim Jensen, the chain’s divisional merchandise manager for consumables.

Then again, if you’re a big retailer looking to explore a new category, there are advantages to knowing in advance that the market isn’t exactly saturated. Walgreens is offering few specifics about how the test run is going. (The company put me in touch with Bridgett James, manager of the 67th and Stony Island Avenue location, who said that customers love it.) But Don Whetstone, senior director of new format development, frames groceries as a business opportunity. “We didn’t build this just for Chicago” he says…

RTFA. “Food deserts” is’t a concept new to these eyes. I’ve lived in a few. Gallagher – and looks like some of the marketing folks at Walgreens – sees this experiment as a decision to let the marketplace help expand business.

Canada works hard at luring more immigrants


John Woods for The New York Times

As waves of immigrants from the developing world remade Canada a decade ago, the famously friendly people of Manitoba could not contain their pique.

What irked them was not the Babel of tongues, the billions spent on health care and social services, or the explosion of ethnic identities. The rub was the newcomers’ preference for “M.T.V.” — Montreal, Toronto or Vancouver — over the humble prairie province north of North Dakota, which coveted workers and population growth.

Demanding “our fair share,” Manitobans did something hard to imagine in American politics, where concern over illegal immigrants dominates public debate and states seek more power to keep them out. In Canada, which has little illegal immigration, Manitoba won new power to bring foreigners in, handpicking ethnic and occupational groups judged most likely to stay.

This experiment in designer immigration has made Winnipeg a hub of parka-clad diversity — a blue-collar town that gripes about the cold in Punjabi and Tagalog — and has defied the anti-immigrant backlash seen in much of the world.

Rancorous debates over immigration have erupted from Australia to Sweden, but there is no such thing in Canada as an anti-immigrant politician. Few nations take more immigrants per capita, and perhaps none with less fuss…

“When I took this portfolio, I expected some of the backlash that’s occurred in other parts of the world,” said Jennifer Howard, Manitoba’s minister of immigration. “But I have yet to have people come up to me and say, ‘I want fewer immigrants.’ I hear, ‘How can we bring in more?’ ”…

Relative to its population, Canada takes more than twice as many legal immigrants as the United States. Why no hullabaloo..?

French and English from the start, Canada also has a more accommodating political culture — one that accepts more pluribus and demands less unum. That American complaint — “Why do I have to press 1 for English?” — baffles a country with a minister of multiculturalism…

The Manitoba program, started in 1998 at employers’ behest, has grown rapidly under both liberal and conservative governments. While the federal system favors those with college degrees, Manitoba takes the semi-skilled, like truck drivers, and focuses on people with local relatives in the hopes that they will stay. The newcomers can bring spouses and children and get a path to citizenship.

RTFA. Lots of details – about good sense, building a strong economy, solid education and health care, friendliness.

You remember those qualities don’t you?

Sentence reduced for Mom who killed brain-damaged son


Frances Inglis – her son, Tom

A mother who gave her severely disabled son a lethal heroin injection to end his “living hell” lost her appeal against her life sentence for murder today, but has had her sentence reduced to five years.

Frances Inglis, 58, from Dagenham, east London, killed her 22-year-old son Tom in 2008 after he was left in a vegetative state by an accident when he fell out of a moving ambulance.

She was ordered to serve a minimum of nine years in January after being found guilty of murder and attempted murder.

Though she has never denied deliberately giving him a fatal overdose in his hospital bed – and attempting to do the same on an earlier occasion – she was appealing against both her conviction and sentence.

Inglis’s case prompted a public outcry and was widely compared to that of another mother, Kay Gilderdale, who helped her 31-year-old daughter to kill herself. Just a week after Inglis was sent to jail, Gilderdale walked free from court with a 12-month conditional discharge.

Inglis’s husband and two remaining sons backed her after her conviction and were present at the appeal court hearings…

Inglis was horrified to learn that the only legal way to let him die was to apply to the high court for an order to withhold food and nutrition, which would result in a “slow and painful death”.

Many aspects of this case were tough to decide. Though I’m an advocate of dignity with death, assisted suicide, it’s almost beyond comprehension reflecting upon the hell of a mother deciding to kill her child. Even to save him from paid and suffering.

She’s already in prison for the rest of her life. The state should have taken that into account.

Why chocolate protects against heart disease

Numerous studies have shown that cocoa has a protective effect against cardiovascular diseases. The reason for this has now been uncovered by researchers at Linköping University in Sweden. When a group of volunteers devoured a good-sized piece of dark chocolate, it inhibited an enzyme in their bodies that is known to raise blood pressure.

The findings, now being published in Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology, were revealed by a group of drug researchers headed by Ingrid Persson. “We have previously shown that green tea inhibits the enzyme ACE, which is involved in the body’s fluid balance and blood pressure regulation. Now we wanted to study the effect of cocoa, since the active substances catechins and procyanidines are related,” says Ingrid Persson…

When the study took place, everyone in the group — ten men and six women between the ages of 20 and 45 — ate 75 grams of unsweetened chocolate with a cocoa content of 72 percent. To analyze what happened with the ACE enzyme, blood samples were taken in advance and then a half hour, one hour, and three hours afterward.

In the sample taken three hours afterward, there was a significant inhibition of ACE activity. The average was 18 percent lower activity than before the dose of cocoa, fully comparable to the effect of drugs that inhibit ACE and are used as a first-choice treatment for high blood pressure.

When the activities of the enzyme decline, the blood pressure goes down with time. As expected, no such effect was found in the subjects. To show this, the study would have to continue over a longer period.

Now I have to track down more work by Dr. Persson since she says her main goal is to help people live a heathy lifestyle that doesn’t need as many pharmaceuticals to live a long, satisfying life.

James Murdoch says apps cannibalize his newspapers

Sales of newspaper apps for devices like the Apple iPad are cannibalizing sales of physical newspapers, says James Murdoch, head of News Corp’s operations in Europe and Asia.

News Corp in June closed its free Times of London website. The Times, the Sunday Times and Britain’s best-selling Sunday tabloid the News of the World — also owned by News Corp — are now available online only to paying subscribers.

News Corp’s British newspaper arm News International said this month the titles had lost up to 90 percent of their online readership and now had 105,000 paying customers, including those who had bought the iPad and Amazon Kindle apps…

James Murdoch welcomed the opportunity to sell through Apple’s iTunes online store, despite the fact that Apple takes 30 percent of the publisher’s revenue.

We go to the iTunes store because it’s frictionless. They charge a percentage but the guy on the newstand and the newsagent charge a percentage, and they don’t even merchandise it properly,” he told the Monaco Media Forum.

But he said apps for mobile devices, with which readers typically engage far more than they do with computer websites, were more dangerous to print sales.

“The problem with the apps is that they are much more directly cannibalistic of the print products than the website,” he said. “People interact with it much more like they do with the traditional product.

Reuters tries to be Mr. Nice Guy and tucks a blurb in at the end of their article mentioning other people “offering tablets.” Har! It is to laugh.

Almost nothing is ready to ship. Almost nothing is available with apps or an app store. By the time most iPad competitors are on the street – Apple will be offering Gen 2.

What I am interested in – is publishers planning on making the online edition their prime arena – and a print version [if they have one] as secondary. I truly wonder how that will play out.

Is this a candidate you could vote for?

A Polish singer and tabloid celebrity has put up posters of herself stretched out on the sand in a provocative bikini as part of her campaign to win a Warsaw district council seat in municipal elections on November 21.

Several of the posters…are to be seen around Warsaw’s Bemowo district bearing Sara May’s slogan: “Beautiful, independent, competent.”

The deeds count, not the words, so I will not promise anything. I live in Bemowo in Warsaw,” May, whose real name is Katarzyna Szczolek, wrote on her English language website, adding that she would try to make the city a better place to live in.

Ah, yes. Poland maintains their tradition of interesting poster art.

The election? Oh.