Many of you probably heard that San Francisco’s Bay Area Rapid Transit shut down cell phone service around a station Aug. 11 to thwart a protest. But shutting off cell phone service ignited protests and drew comparisons to Middle Eastern dictators (Egyptian authorities cut off nearly all Internet and phone service in the country during the January revolt).
But aside from the dictator comparison, BART’s actions are questionable under the First Amendment. This situation opens up a new side of the law that will have to be re-examined in the context of mobile technology. BART undoubtedly took action to halt public assembly by restricting communication lines, but is that actually in violation of the law?
Protesters organized by the hacker group Anonymous assembled in San Francisco Monday night, drawing arrests and temporarily closing a station. See raw video from the scene here from San Francisco’s local ABC station.
HP TouchPads are cheap and suddenly in demand.
In fact, if you wanted a tablet but didn’t have more than $100 to spare, this weekend was like winning the lottery. HP discounted its TouchPads to $99 in a fire sale as it plans to discontinue the tablet and sell or spin off its hardware business. The tablets were selling for $499 as recently as Friday.
Major retailers such as Best Buy sold out of the products quickly as customers jumped at the opportunity to buy a tablet without the hefty price tag.
And while the TouchPad was far behind in the market, which is dominated by Apple’s iPad, many consumers showed they were eager to snap up a bargain tablet even if it is about to disappear.
A further aspect to the tablet market that’s worth mentioning is pricing, given that the $99 TouchPad fire sale has resulted in a near-total inventory sellout in just days. Consumers are willing to pay from $100 to $150 for a product that offers solid basics. The TouchPad certainly has glaring software gaps, but excels at browsing, e-mail, calendar activities, and messaging, to name a few functions. Even though the future of webOS as a platform is murky at best—as is third-party developer support for a platform that has no hardware to run on—a basic tablet at low cost may be hard to keep on store shelves.
-Kevin Tofel of Bloomberg Businessweek and GigaOm
I am going to come back to that for a later post I am working on. If you were in the market for a tablet, would you save up for the iPad or seek out a bargain from other brands?