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MacWorld Review: Where Were the iPrinters and iBatteries?

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While Apple product makers ignore these real problems, they find solutions to other problems that don't actually exist.

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The best innovations always come as solutions to real problems. Of course, some innovations also create some of these problems.

This weekend I went to MacWorld, Apple's iFans and iProducts show, searching for such problems and solutions. After all, I am an entrepreneur myself.

The Intoxicase is a good case example of creating solutions to problems which technology itself helped create. An iPhone case, Intoxicase helps you open your beer. The app that comes with it will also tell you that you had too many beers and help you call a cab (or find where you parked your car).

Some problems created by technology are caused directly by mobile device usage. We all carry a phone in addition to our keys and wallet these days. The iLidMK-1 eliminates some of our carry-on, combining them in a slick iPhone case that functions as a wallet as well. This is indeed a solution to a real problem. No need to carry so many items anymore. Put your key, cards, and cash in the wallet-case, and you're good to go.

Another problem consumers face with the rise of mobile devices is ease (or rather, unease) of printing. HP (HPQ) and Xerox (XRX) were showcasing humongous, high-resolution color printers. But perhaps a more widespread need might be small and simple portable printers, to go along with your mobile device. We were told at the HP booth that they used to have a small printer for photos, but they stopped producing them a year ago. Their current small printer (HP Officejet 100 Mobile CN551A), on the other hand, is not even Apple-compatible ("ePrint" as they are called by HP).

I don't understand why. Wouldn't you want to print easily from iPhones and iPads, on the go? Currently, there are two ways you can print from an iDevice. One way is by using Apple's (AAPL) "AirPrint." However, you have to install certain software, and it is only possible in select printers. Remember, this is Apple, with its infamous closed garden. However, I did not find any small and portable "AirPrint"-ers in MacWorld.

The other method is by using some apps or software (such as Readdle's or Printopia's), for which you will need to install software on your computer, and be within its specific Wi-Fi network. So, no solution I looked at was either small or portable. You have to be within reach of both your computer and your old-fashioned printer. Maybe in a few years someone will see the market opportunity. (Or perhaps small toner sales aren't worth it for them?) After all, at the end of 2010 ("ages ago"), smartphone sales surpassed PC sales.

But the biggest smartphone problem of all is associated with power. We all love our mobile devices and can't do without them for very long. (We seem to forget that just a couple of years ago we didn't have them at all.) Today, at any rate, we feel almost naked if we leave the house without our phone. We feel disoriented if it "dies" and we don't have a charger.

This is especially true with the rise of smartphones. The more sophisticated they are, the more energy they consume; much more than what phones used to. My iPhone can't survive a full 24-hour day without being charged. My laptop can't last for much more than two hours, even though my first mobile phone could go for three days straight without being charged, while my first laptop kept working for eight hours (!). Seems like a sweet dream now.

There were some battery solutions at MacWorld, such as HyperJuice, selling portable extra batteries. Or Anthro's charging stations for large quantities of iDevices (most likely geared toward corporates). All these and others are cool, but they seem to cater to the symptom, rather than solve the underlying problem. I presume the real solution would not be in MacWorld, and should come from Apple, battery manufacturers, or other innovative energy engineers. Because what we need are phones that can hold up longer, not workarounds for our problems.

Even though nobody dazzled show goers on this frontier at MacWorld, two weeks ago at the Consumer Electronics Show, SpareOne announced a phone designed for a long battery life. The company claims the phone could remain active for 15 years without charging. Now that's what I'm talking about! True, it's very basic, but at least the SpareOne works. We should only hope for apple to provide a similar solution. Or perhaps SpareOne or other innovators could help out all the iFans, who experience their battery disappointment daily. Who knows, maybe they are already working on an Android solution. If
I could get even a week's worth of battery life, I would switch to an Android in a heartbeat and never look back.

As it is now, even according to the 4S specifications, you only get six hours of 3G Internet. That is merely two-thirds of a workday! And don't get me started on laptops.

Overall, among all the iHeadsets, iCleaners, and iStands at iWorld, I was mainly disappointed not to find our iBattery solution yet. I guess our iKnight (in shining power armor), will just have to sweep us off our feet next time.
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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