Holy Sellouts, Batman! I received an email from Apple at 6:44am Pacific time on Wednesday, April 25:

WWDC2012. Apple Worldwide Developers Conference. June 11-15 in San Francisco. It’s the week we’ve all been waiting for. Register now!

A little more than an hour later, I clicked the link. On the WWDC page, a box said

Sorry, tickets are sold out.

That’s par for the course for Apple’s WWDC. The same thing happened in 2011, and in previous years as well, especially since the introduction of iOS. And at Google I/O, which similarly sold in half an hour when tickets became available on March 26. Google’s conference is June 27-29, also in San Francisco.

Clearly, there’s something driving developers to focus on mobile. As you can see in a recent study on enterprise developers that we did at BZ Research, more than half of organizations are building mobile apps. While there are plenty of enterprise developers at conferences like Apple WWDC or Google I/O, there are also many entrepreneurial developers hoping to come up with the next Angry Birds.

As we prepare to hold our own mobile developer conferences for Android and Windows Phone app developers, it’s exciting to see this much activity in the development market.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

Get ready for an onslaught of high-resolution displays, coming to everyone from smartphones to tablets to laptops to desktops.
As I wrote about last month in “In the iPad 3 era, pay attention to the pixels-per-inch,”, Apple computers users are enjoying screens with much higher PPI (pixels per inch) than has been the industry norm. But they’re not alone.
A standard desktop computer monitor or notebook PC shows about 100 pixels per inch. An iPad 2 tablet has a sharper screen with a PPI of 132.
Samsung ups the ante with devices like the Galaxy Tab 10.1, an Android tablet with a 1280×800 10.1-inch display. That’s a PPI of 149. Want more? Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 7.7 crams the same 1280×800 resolution into a 7.7-inch form factor. That’s a PPI of 197.
What? You want more? Apple’s iPad 3 shows 2048×1536 on a 9.7-inch screen, which computes out to a PPI of 264. And the iPhone 4/4S is 960×480 on a 3.5-inch screen, which is an amazing PPI of 326.
Photographs, text and icons on those high resolutions are stunning. But they are consum more bandwidth to transmit, more storage, more processing power, more electrical power. The iPad 3’s battery is considerably larger than the battery in the iPad 2, and the iPad 3 also has a stronger GPU. Yet battery life and apparent performance are about the same. The new model needs more horsepower simply to break even.
High resolution is about more than tablets and phones. The Liliputing website reports that we’ll be seeing these types of displays everywhere – desktops, notebooks – in only a year or two. The site’s story “Intel: Retina laptop, desktop displays coming in 2013” says this is what Intel sees happening in the computer space over the next few years:
Phones and media players with 5 inch, 1280 x 800 pixel displays
Tablets with 10 inch, 2560 x 1440 pixel displays
Ultrabooks with 11 inch, 2560 x 1440 pixel displays
Ultrabooks with 13 inch, 2800 x 1800 pixel displays
Laptops with 15 inch, 3840 x 2160 pixel displays
All-in-one desktops with 3840 x 2160 pixel displays
You should read the story – it does a good job of explaining the relationship between PPI and the viewing distance, and the limits of “retina” displays. At some point, the human eye simply can’t perceive any improvement in resolution.
But as anyone who has compared a iPad 3 or Galaxy Tab to a desktop screen knows, we have a long way to go.
By the way, I don’t want to give the impression that the high-PPI domain belongs exclusively to Apple or the Android tablet makers. Everyone is jumping on this bandwagon. In fact, Microsoft’s Steven Sinofsky has published a fascinating article, “Building Windows 8: Scaling to different screens,” explaining the company’s take on high-resolution displays. Read it to learn why 1024×768 screens are the bare minimum for those that use Metro-style user experiences.
Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

I wish a fond farewell to Embedded Systems Programming magazine. ESP was launched by my friends Don Pazour (publisher), Ted Bahr (associate publisher) Regina Starr Ridley (executive editor) and J.D. Hildebrand (editor) in 1988.

ESP was renamed as Embedded Systems Design a few years ago. According to a newsletter published by embedded guru Jack Ganssle, “I have been informed that Embedded Systems Design magazine, too, is kaput. It will end with the May issue, and I’m told there are no plans for an on-line version. Instead, the focus will be on enhancing the companion web site, embedded.com.”
You can download the first issue of ESP here: www.ganssle.com/misc/firstesp.pdf
Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

Once upon a time, IBM’s OS/2 operating system was the future. As we commemorate the 25th anniversary of its April 1987 launch, it’s instructive to look back on OS/2’s failure in the market.

OS/2 played a large part in my own history. Ted Bahr (the other founder of BZ Media and SD Times) launched OS/2 Magazine together in December 1993; I edited every issue until Miller Freeman, the publishing company, finally pulled the plug in January 1997.

It’s often forgotten, but IBM and Microsoft collaborated to bring OS/2 to market as the successor to the 16-bit MS-DOS and Windows 3.x. OS/2 was ahead of its time a 32-bit operating system with preemptive multitasking. It was much more stable than the DOS-based Windows 95 and the other graphical DOS shells then on the market.

OS/2’s failure certainly can be largely attributed to Microsoft’s marketing prowess around Windows 95. However, IBM is equally at fault, because Big Blue was never committed to its own product.

Incredibly, the IBM PC Company refused to preload OS/2 onto its own desktops or servers – which were offered with Windows instead. Top management didn’t force the issue. IBM’s own software for OS/2, with the notable exception of DB2/2, were substandard for the industry, and also ridiculously overpriced on per-seat or per-server licensing.

IBM never bothered to take care of its partners. The company never demonstrated to ISVs and IHVs why they would profit by supporting OS/2 instead of (or in addition to) Windows. With few exceptions, like a short-lived catalog program, IBM didn’t help its ISVs market the third-party products that did appear.

Worse, IBM treated programmers as a lucrative revenue source to be exploited – not as vital allies necessary in building a successful platform. ISVs and enterprise developers had to pay an arm and a leg to get poor-quality tools – which were again fantastically overpriced relative to compilers, editors and libraries for other platforms.

Despite Big Blue’s not-so-benign neglect, OS/2 garnered a loyal following, including some who still believe in the platform today. Die-hard fans continue to patch and augment OS/2 to support modern networks and the Internet. (OS/2 loyalists are up there with those who still revere Novell’s NetWare 3.x and the Commodore Amiga.)

Here are some other reminiscences of OS/2:

Esther Schindler: OS/2 is 25 Years Old

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols: OS/2 Turns 25
Steve Wildstrom: Happy Birthday OS/2
Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick