944 posts • joined 23 Apr 2007
Here, read this, for a measured and well reasoned response to the alarmist reaction in your post:
Consider that interoperability has always weighted heavily in favour of fair use. The examples that you provide are typical cases of attempts to interoperate with a system via its API. In the case of Android, no attempt was made at interoperability wi Java. None. You cannot execute a Java application in Android, and you cannot execute an Android application in the JVM. The API was copied as a way to attract Java developers and shortcut the barriers to adoption.
This is a fundamental difference when considering a fair use defense. In fact, this is the reason copyright cases and fair use arguments are applied on a case-by-case basis, rather than by precedent alone, because the nuances in the answers to all the questions regarding fair use applicability, are so significant.
¡Una Navidad latina!
I grew up in Puerto Rico (a small Yank colony in the middle of the Caribbean Sea), and our traditions were a strange mixture of European customs brought in by the Spanish, African delicacies introduced by black slaves, and quick and cheap fare handed from the Americans.
However, emulsifying that heaping mess is a beautiful, purely Puertorrican flair and flavour, which is truly unique within its Caribbean peers. It's not an exaggeration to say that "Christmas Day" spans several weeks of holiday feasting and partying in Puerto Rico.
Needless to say, I left it all behind once I escaped my shackled roots and moved to the mainland USA.
So "traditionally" the missus and I prepare mainly a goose with various accoutrements, such as brandy-date sauce, calvados and sage sweet apples, and a healthy dose of dauphinois lovely confitted in the bird's golden drippings. Yum. I look forward every year to this feast, and ache for months once its over.
That is... until last year, when fate and circumstance brought me back to visit what remained of my family on the island. I was once again exposed to that wild and lovely melange of the typical Puertorrican Christmas feast. In memoriam of my recently deceased mother, I ended up roasting my own pork, with the siblings helping prepare all sorts of brilliant delicacies I've had not enjoyed (or appreciated) since my long gone youth.
So, that has sparked a brand new tradition in the DZ's household: we will roast a gorgeous piece of pork leg (we call it "pernil"), marinated and seasoned in traditional Puertorrican way, just like our grandparents used to do; to be accompanied with all sorts of mandatory dishes, like "arroz con gandules" (rice stewed with pigeon peas, sofrito, pork belly, etc.), root vegetables roasted in various fats, and traditional pies. And for dessert, my favourite: "tembleque," a cocoanut flan-like custard with cinnamon. :)
All that going down with all sorts of spirits, from the traditional rum, to fancy aged whiskeys and cognacs, ports and sherries (or Xerez, for the ibero-educated) -- plus our very own family recipe of "coquito," a traditional Puertorrican cocktail made with cocoanut milk, condensed milk, and lots and lots of rum!
Ahhh... Christmas... How I love thee. I am ready to start the weeks-long celebration. Gotta honour your roots, you know. ;)
It is worth it, you just have to try it...
For all those complaining about "how easy can it really be?" You need to consider the actual use of the device. If you've never actually used one, then you are not really in a position to compare, are you?
I have three of these devices in my house, due to having multiple zones and HVAC units. Having had the experience of using a Nest for several years in my previous house, I am a convert. I too once thought it was just a gimmick, until I actually installed and used one.
It truly is easy to use and convenient. You may not want to admit it, but part of the reason you tend to "set and forget" your current timer/beige box at a single temperature and never change it is because it is so Byzantine and clunky to change. It is just easier to find a compromising temperature that you can live with and be done with it.
With the Nest, I just spin the wheel and watch the rather large number change. I don't have to think in schedules, program it or anything. It will remember that I like it at, say, 70F during the afternoon and 62F at night for sleeping (Fahrenheit, because I'm a yank); that my high-traffic areas should maintain a more constant temperature than my bedroom, which is only occupied at night; that during summer I want cooler temperatures, while warmer temperatures are welcomed during winter; etc. I don't think about it, I just dial it in as I feel, and it will just learn it. If my mood changes, I can adjust it as necessary, and if the pattern persists, it learns that too. It's brilliant.
It's hard to convey the convenience to someone who has never experienced anything other than an arcane beige box. It reminds me of trying to explain Netflix back in 2005 to my father: "Why do I want to rent DVDs online??? I can just drive to Blockbuster whenever I feel like watching a movie..." My response was always, "I thought the same thing, but then I tried it and now, I can't imagine having to walk into a video store to stare at the rack of discs for several hours to pick a movie!!!"
Really, the Nest thermostat is a very convenience and well designed bit of kit. Your mileage may vary, but please understand that things can be different -- and sometimes even better -- from what you are just accustomed to.
The effect is not only visual...
For all the focus on "realistic-looking" faces, people seem to forget that Masahiro Mori's original thesis regarded not the "look" of robots, but their movements. His argument was that, if we were looking to apply robots to any industry populated by human workers, we must make sure that they move in accordance to the way humans do, lest the workers will feel unease and distrust, which will impair productivity and increase the chance of injury.
His particular points were to do with the way contemporary robots moved too fast, or much too geometrically perfect, or how they jerk when switching directions, with instant acceleration or deceleration -- all qualities devoid in human movements.
Later on, this research was applied to visual appearance as well, since the same uneasiness is experienced when something just looks "too real" yet not quite enough. Sometimes, a human-looking robot looks absolutely real while standing perfectly still, only to break that illusion when it attempts to move in a non-organic way.
Re: Utility vs Service
Let's be clear: a lot of those "loopholes" and inconsistencies stem from using an inadequate legal framework to deal with this issue. It is really not only about QoS or "wear and tear" of the pipes, or pricing, or accessibility. It's about myriad things that affect the entire Internet usage of consumers.
You are right, it is a complex issue with many facets and needs to be considered carefully to protect consumers and level the market. That means we need new laws and regulations specific for the Internet and its related services.
The problem is that saying you are either "pro-" or "anti-net neutrality" means absolutely jack shit. That's like arguing you are "pro-" or "anti-regulation" or "pro-" or "anti-equal rights" or "pro-good" or "anti-evil," when arguing about the nuances of specific statutes. It's not constructive. I am neither, or both, depending on the specific argument being discussed.
Of course I want to lower prices for consumers. Of course I want to improve services. Of course I want to enable future creative uses and business models. Of course I want a fair market place with healthy competition. However, I do not agree that changing classification of ISP's brings those things or at least not in the best or most practical way.
You can call me "anti-net neutrality," but that obscures the fact that we are on the same side and have the same ultimate goals. Moreover, it pits us against each other which is absolutely convenient to the corporate greedy interests, since as long as you and I are arguing over this, we are not coordinating to pressure Congress to change the law in our favour. This is one of Mr. Orlowski's observations, and as I said before, we should know better.
Re: Utility vs Service
In other words, we agree that regulation is needed. What we may disagree on is that reclassifying as "Title II" is the correct regulatory approach.
I agree with Mr. Orlowski: we need Congree to change the law and be specific, and to give it "teeth." What we do not need is to contort the existing non-applicable and inadequate laws just for the sake of "doing something." This invariably results in advantages to some party over another.
You may want to follow the author's links to read his previous comments on the issue.
His position on the debate is quite clear, he just didn't seem to wish to rehash that on this article, because it's purpose was more to comment on the hypocrisy of the "net neutrality" campaigns being carried out today. This is why it's marked as "COMMENT," when in the past most of his articles are tagged as "EDITORIAL" or "OPINION."
My interpretation of Mr. Orlowski's position, which I share to some degree is:
- The market for Internet services, both for access and for usage, is broken and the parties involved are playing political tricks to get their way at the expense of the other -- but mostly at the expense of the American consumer.
- Because of this, we need Government intervention to set new regulation.
- Such regulation needs to be adequate and apply specifically to the aspects and uses of the current technology involved and consider implications on the impact they have on the evolving digital marketplace.
- That the FCC has proven itself incapable of preparing or enforcing such regulation due to either incompetence, corruption, legal constraints or jurisprudence -- or any and all of the above.
- That using the "Title" classification was a "hack" in order to give the FCC some powers to regulate the industry -- using legal tools created for a completely different industry using a completely different enabling technology; and therefore inadequate.
- That both sides of the fight are obfuscating all of this by reducing the argument to very simplistic "double-dipping," "highway-toll," "pro- vs. anti-net neutrality," or "us vs. them" scenarios; which is not constructive, it's in fact divisive, and serves to pit the actual consumers against their own interests.
Mr. Orlowski can correct me if I'm wrong, but this is my understanding of the arguments posed in his articles for the past several years.
Re: Utility vs Service
First, the Title I vs. Title II argument is a bit like wanting to tax horses and oxen for being employed to do work. If the argument is "they are beasts of burden, therefore we cannot tax them because the tax code does not support taxing animals"; the solution surely must not be to declare that horses are people. Sure, it may seem expedient, and by doing so at a stroke you enable all sorts of regulations you thought would be useful; but it carries with it a host of implications that should never ever apply in the first place.
The correct response, should there were one, is to demand from Congress a change in the law to account for cultural and technological changes which may have given owners of beasts of burden an unwarranted or undeserved benefit or advantage.
Likewise, changing the classification of ISP's to "Common Carrier" (a definition mostly made and applicable to a kind of technology available at some historical point in time) for the sake of being able to regulate them, is problematic and even nonsensical at some levels. As Mr. Orlowski has suggested in the past, the correct response is not to call your Web Browser a "telephone," or your Internet service a "broadcast TV signal," but to demand from Congress changes in law to support and regulate this brave new technological world upon us.
So that's the problem with the Title definition. Now, on to the analogy you offered.
Sure, the government should not care whether your lorry carries bricks or lumber; but it does care whether it carries people or things, whether it is small or large, and whether it weighs one or 40 tonnes. The point is that there are indeed classifications for vehicles by class and use, and there are distinct regulations for each. Some roads may not even permit a lorry to drive through -- and this is all by design.
So it is, in a fashion, with Internet service: although the government or the carrier, or the pipe should not care about the content of the message that the bits carry; they all should care about the class of message contained in those bits. Just like lorries, a movie delivery stream requires more bandwidth, higher quality of service, and faster transmission speeds than, say, a slow poke e-mail or Tweet. In turn, a video conference service requires even more resource and expediency in order to be truly useful.
These are resources incurred by the transport, the pipes, and the roads -- and those responsible of managing them. Who pays for that is the BIG QUESTION that everybody is trying to phrase to their own advantage. We all agree that it needs to be regulated, but again, just calling it a telephone or a CableTV broadcast for the sake of giving it _some_ regulation is shortsighted, impractical, and inadequate.
Those fighting for "net neutrality" want to paint everything in black-and-white terms: you are either for or against it; you either want to "save the Internet" or "kill it in a fire." This is disingenuous and misses the nature of the problem. It also masks the motivations of those pushing such an agenda: to avoid REAL regulation of the industry and to have someone else pay for the resources required by the nature of their services. The parties at BOTH sides of the issue (i.e., the pipe owners and the application service providers) are guilty of this, and we should all know better.
You can now read e-mail, open menus, play solitaire, watch movies, and even chat on a Web Browser! Soon you may even be able to do some serious work on it, just like we did on PCs at the turn of the Millenium. Innovation!
Re: Universidad de Salamanca
In Puerto Rico, we say "la Internet." This comes by metonymic gender assignment, from "la inter-red," "net" being an anglisism of the proper Spanish word "red" (net).
Surprising that La Real Academia chose differently. Now for the important stuff, ¿dónde está la cerveza?
Re: Aereo is NOT broadcasting
The definition of re-broadcasting or public performance does not stipulate the size of the audience. Do you mean to say that if I am the only person sitting and watching a movie in a theater, the owner no longer has to pay licensing fees? That is ridiculous.
The point of the ruling is that Aero are renting access to a mechanism that allows content re-broadcasting. Regardless of whether it is to a single person or many, the fact that *they* are facilitating the broadcast (and making money out of it), infringes on content owners property rights.
To the second point that everybody seems to make, it is prohibited by Copyright law to make copies or re-distribute protected content. Individuals are granted an exception for personal use under the fair use clause.
However, this exception is acknowledged specifically because personal use has a self-limiting effect on any such infringement. The moment that this use is mechanised by clever technology to overcome such limiting factors--and especially when its sole purpose is to make money off it--it is no longer fair use. It is as simple as that.
You want to lay a long cable from your house to an external antenna outside the city, fine: you deal with the costs and risks, and it is your personal problem.
You end up with a nifty setup and want to start renting it out to others? That's no longer the same, and you will be found infringing.
As such, Aero was exploiting a loophole with clever technology, and was caught.
>> My point is there isn't any features in Glass that is not in a phone so logically banning Glass from resale should mean phones should also be banned from resale for the same reasons.
"Logically," a phone is different because,
1. It has other functions (e.g., phone);
2. Under normal and common usage, it is not ever-present on the face of the user, ready and willing to snap photos or record video at an instant;
3. It is harder to use for surreptitious recording, since a stock phone needs to be placed in line of sight, which is not necessarily the optimal position for common personal usage;
4. Is not as creepy.
Not being able to perceive nuance in real life situations is the mark of a basement-dwelling nerd. So, take your self-involve, anti-social, Aspergers view of the world elsewhere. In the real world, things are a bit more complex than merely saying "x looks like y, ergo x = y. QED. I HAS TEH LOJIKS."
>> I'm really struggling to see their rationale for this.
It's simple, and the article spells it out explicitly: Microsoft have recognized that they have lost their monopoly position, and so in order to ensure their future survival, they are changing business strategies to concentrate on large enterprises--the ones that have the money. This is the same strategy Oracle took, ignoring the SME and hobbyist, and focusing on the big bucks.
Supporting small to medium businesses does not pay the bills--certainly not any enterprise that counts its pennies so much that it feels the need to "cheat" by using trial licenses for actual lab and deployment testing. That won't do, and Microsoft needs to let to of any "dead weight" that does not add to the bottom line.
I'm not saying it is the correct strategy. However, it is not wrong either. It is just a realization by MS that they just can't do whatever they want anymore--they need to focus on making money and guaranteeing their future success.
Re: Doesn't it miss the point somewhat?
That is a fallacy. It is equally dumb as suggesting that all male priests are child-molesting sociopaths because the vocation requirements attracts that sort of sensibility (or lack thereof).
I assert that sociopathic, non-empathetic nerds, unskilled in inter-personal relationships are NOT the most productive nor the best qualified for IT positions, including computer programming. For the same reasons that every other vocation or industry of substance in modern civilization tries to immersed its apprentices in the humanities, IT personnel would do well and best to enrich their experiences with art, history, social sciences, and all other human endeavors.
Problem solving, logic, and thought are enriched and hightened by human experiences, and are not the exclusive domain of robots. In fact, they most categorically exclude robots.
Re: I have always found "BigCorp's" paranoia when dealing with customer complaints very.......
Because it doesn't work as you say.
Case in point: "AntennaGate" and Jobs response. The company maintained secrecy and admitted to nothing, and when Jobs finally came out to say something, he was assertive and direct, and told everybody how it was all blown out of proportion, and that it was a common problem to all mobile phones.
Do you recall what happened next? The problem went away. It was no longer in the news and only the hard-core anti-Appleist continued to talk about it. The public relations imbroglio was diffused, and the conversation changed to the next Internet meme.
Most of the time, Apple never responds to those issues publicly, and eventually they go away just the same.
Contrast this against the "iOS Map Incident" and Cook's response. Cook came out with his tail between his legs, crying mea culpa at the media and the masses, admitting the error of their ways while begging profusely for forgiveness, and promising to make it all better.
And what was the result of that? To this day, whenever Apple is in the headlines of any newspaper or online publication--especially if it's due to a problem--they seldom fail to mention the "recent problems with the release of their mapping application," and proceed to make a comparison. The conversation changed to focus on Apple being in a precarious position of weakness, and their serious problems at product releases.
Right or wrong, "AntennaGate" went out of the public sphere of discussion, while "MapGate," being a self-admitted public defeat, remains a point of attack forever.
You should go back to Customer Relations 101, and review your notes. Then offer some pointers to Cook as well.
Except that nobody cares any more. IT departments are not "allowing" users to bring their own devices--the practice was imposed on them, due to executive and business pressures, in spite of their policies.
I really doubt that enterprises are now going to seriously entertain going back to some limited functionality, encompassed in some alien platform interface, for the sake of some purported security benefit. Especially on iOS devices.
Re: Not convinced..
For all the apologizing that everybody seems to be doing, saying that it is just a developer preview, that the design is still in flux, that it's merely a "mid-stride snapshot," yadda, yadda; the fact is that Apple released this design to the world: they put it squarely on the front page of their web-site, added a new section showcasing the new design, and made TV commercials for it. The new design was released, even if the software was not.
This was not a half-baked (well, aesthetically it is), let's-show-what-we-have-so-far effort--they thought they were done with it and were very proud. It may have been rushed, but they were satisfied with it enough to announce the new design publicly, outside the context of the WWDC, and to wax philosophically to the world about it.
If they change those icons now, or tone down the garish design before the actual release of the software, it'll be precisely due to the vociferous criticism and ridicule they have just received--it won't be because they planned it that way.
That, or the entire effort was an unmanaged and confused mess of people doing their own thing without communication or coordination, and completely lacking someone with a bit of taste and sufficient power to stop them from showing a half-done product.
Either way, it's a new kind of Apple, and it's that pretty.
It went something like this...
Cook - "We gotta do something! This Samsung ripping us off has got to stop! Google, Nokia, HP, they can't leave us alone! We gotta do something. Get me Jony!"
Cook - "Jony, is there a way to make our look and feel 'copy-proof'? You know, add some fancy DRM or something that would prevent others from copying it...? Is there?"
Jony - "Hmmm, I don't think it works like that, sorry."
Cook - "Argh! There's gotta be a way!"
Intern #1 - "Sir, I think there may be a way..."
Cook - "Give it to me!"
Intern #1 - "You may not like it..."
Cook - "I'm desperate, hit me!"
Intern #1 - "What it... What it we made the screen... ugly? What if we designed it so crap-tastic, that nobody would touch it?"
Intern #2 - "With funky psychedelic colours!"
Intern #1 - "And tiny illegible fonts!"
Intern #2 - "And weird indecipherable icons!"
Intern #1 - "better yet--cute, childish my little pony icons!"
Intern #2 - "Yeah!"
Cook - "You know, that is so crazy, it just might work!"
Cook - "Jony?"
Jony - "I'm on it!"
Cook - "Oh and Jony, don't forget to write it up as the pinnacle of design... You know, for the snobs..."
Jony - "Got my thesaurus and Architectural Digest right here."
Re: Bad timing last time?
The thing that you--and the article author--is missing is that H.264 succeess was not due to ubiquitousness on the Web, but to its pervasive use throughout the entire content industry, including consumer media-delivery electronics.
This is the reason why VP9 will also fail against H.265: as long as Google keeps on directing its efforts at the "Web delivery" side, they will miss the introduction and proliferation of H.265 throughout the content creation pipeline. This includes direct hardware support for the codec on every aspect of production, such as cameras, film-editing devices, etc. Why would anybody even consider re-encoding their product for the Web when the major and popular browsers already support the native encoding of your content?
That has happened many times before. The JPEG format became popular on the Web because it was a standard for digital photography that existed prior to its inclusion on web pages. It was only natural to include support for it in web browsers and enable a myriad images at once, rather than force everyone to re-process all their photos just to put them up on a web page.
As long as content is produced off-Web first, non-Web-specific codecs will permeate the industy and the Web will have to adapt to support them. Enterprises like Apple and Microsoft understand this. This is why QuickTime and AVI were always intended to be content industry standards, not plain PC codecs. Google's VP9 is not being proposed as a new standard for the film industry as a whole, but as a Web media solution. As such, it'll remain a niche player, if it remains at all.
The part you are missing is that, pay attention now, IT IS NOT A VIDEO PORT. Did you get it? It is a generic, multi-purpose, serial link providing raw information.
This significantly simplifies the internal design of the device, lowering it's cost and failure potential. One single port, as opposed to myriad dedicated sockets.
The thing to keep in mind is that not everyone will require wired video output (indeed, most within the Apple ecosystem will just stream wirelessly). They will be spared the expense and complexity of having a dedicated port for it.
Those that need such a thing can buy an adaptor that implements the necessary transcoding of the signal. Being controlled by software means that it can easily be upgraded and improved.
It is a rather clever and elegant solution to future-proofing the device.
Happy B'day, Perl!!!
I've been using Perl since the late '90s, ever since I was "baptized by fire" by a boss giving me a text-processing/CGI task, handing me the Camel Book, and demanding that it be completed in 6 days.
I discovered, to my amazement, that the book read so pleasantly from start to finish; a testament to Mr. Wall's wit and literary prowess. To my further amazement, I discovered that Perl, too, was a pleasant tool to work and play with--again, testament to Mr. Wall's background and experiences.
I love Perl. I particularly adore its two most important features, in the words of Tom Christiansen: "getitdoneness" and "whipituptitude."
Happy Birthday, Perl! Here's to another 25!!!
Re: When will Google realise
They need to continue pounding on the ChromeOS nail. You see, Android is a fluke. It was intended to tide them over on the mobile space (giving them an entry against the BlackBerry behemoth), while they worked on their real project: the take-over of the PC market and expansion of their online ad/search business with an always-on, browser-only, cheap netbook-like PC.
That was the plan. The world would use cheap netbook PCs that ran *everything* on the browser, and required a constant connection to (guess what?) Google for all it's services, not the least web search. This is where Google makes its money from, remember? Up until 2006 or 2007 every tech company was banging on about how The Web will be the platform of the future.
All roads would lead to the Web and they all would pass through Google.
Then something weird and unexpected happened: the iPhone and then the iPad showed how mobile was to be, and it wasn't the mighty Web. It was small devices, running native myriad applications, including games. Android--the free, open source side project, of all things--became immensely popular. Who knew?
So Google has tried since then to follow through, but they just can't shake it: the world does not want an always-on, web-browser-only cheap netbook. The world wants smartphones and tables that include the web as a mere addition to the many other features they have, most of them including native applications.
Android keeps getting more popular and ChromeOS keeps falling deeper into obscurity. But they can't let that happen, you see, because (and here's the secret, so pay attention), THERE IS NO MONEY ON ANDROID.
Re: Forstall was a polarizing figure, so this may be good for Apple
You have a point. However, keep in mind that, as polarizing as he may be, Steve Jobs managed to keep him along and make him and everyone else work together on many successful products for 14 years.
If anything, this shows an issue with Mr. Cook's leadership and ability to keep the lights on and the trains running on time after Job's passing.
Legions of consumers complain about the myriad buttons and complex nature of modern remote controls, yet they still use them, rather than walk over to the darn set to switch the channel.
And now, you expect them then to stand up and walk over to the other side of the room every time they want to show a picture or play a song?
Less than useless.
Re: I simply don't get...
That's because Samsung's lawyers are absolute idiots that couldn't defend themselves out of a paper bag, and obviously didn't even know how to show prior art to ridicule Apple. Had they even shown a single old smartphone from 2004, or even a screenshot of a Star Trek episode, the judge would have immediately thrown out the case in favor of Samsung.
Perhaps the case is a bit more complex than what you are supposing, and the prior art that you suggest does not really defend the *actual* claims of the suit. Perhaps the evidence presented to the jury by both sides has more depth and nuance than what you have picked up from blogs or Twitter feeds. Perhaps the case has more merit than what nerd-rage fueled posters in a tech rag can conceive.
Re: OSX is shoddy, hardware is commodity, only iOS?
>> "I don't really understand..."
>> "franken-GUI with all sorts of crap tacked on..."
>> "the outmoded, rubbish video drivers..."
>> "I would call it pretty..."
Wow. talk about emotionally charged phrases. Such angst! Such passion!
You should really let them be and think of your own. Stop wasting yourself hating a face-less company that has done nothing to you.
You'll be happier, trust me.
Re: "it’s hard to argue that it’s still the best."
First, the hardware components are not necessarily the same. Second, the operating system is not the same as the cheap crap you buy without brand.
And finally, when you say "everything thinks," you mean "you think," right? Or did you take a poll across the planet?
No, you are wrong. That is the definition when the phrase is used in a philosophical or rhetorical context. As such, it is a term of art.
However, when used in normal communication, as the article does, it is not a term of art; it means exactly what the English words would mean in that sentence: raise a point that has not been dealt with; invite an obvious question.
When being pedantic, it helps to read actual reliable reference sources and not, say, Slashdot--where your complaint is usually thrown about rather vociferously. The definition above, for instance, comes from the Oxford Dictionary, which also includes the definition to which you alluded.
Nice application of the spirit of the Rubiyaat to an observation on technology.
That's actually one of my favorite verses, from Fitzgerald's translation:
"The moving finger writes, and having writ,
moves on; and all your piety nor wit
shall move it back to cancel half a line;
nor all your tears wash a word of it."
Strangely sad and profound.
>> They chose seven inches for two reasons: it's more mobile and - perhaps the really important criterion - it's more readily distinguishable from the iPad.
Really? And here I was--with the rest of the rational people of the planet--assuming that the reasons the competitors chose a 7" tablet instead of ~10" was:
1. Production costs - This cannot be understated: all manufacturers discovered that they could not compete with the iPad at the same price point, and the only reasonable way to lower the price was to produce one with cheaper components. Some did this (Asus, I'm looking at you!) and others just picked smaller screens.
2. Availability of materials - it's been widely publicized that Apple bought pretty much the manufacturing capacity of certain components, which prevents other device manufacturers from acquiring them in large enough quantities for a consumer product.