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How Deloitte Made Learning a Game


“Training is a funny thing,” James Sanders, Manager of Innovation at Deloitte Consulting, told me recently. “No matter how easy you make it to access, or how brilliant the learning programs are, training is simply not the first thing people think of doing when they have some free time. Let’s face it, for most people, on a typical Sunday morning, if given the choice between ‘Am I gonna watch ESPN, or am I gonna do some training?’ training will not win out.”

And yet, by using gamification principles, Deloitte has seen use of its Deloitte Leadership Academy (DLA) training program increase. Participants, who are spending increased amounts of time on the site and completing programs in increasing numbers, show almost addictive behavior. Since the integration of gamification in to Deloitte Leadership Academy, there has been a 37 percent increase in the number of users returning to the site each week.

Gamification takes the essence of games — attributes such as fun, play, transparency, design and competition — and applies these to a range of real-world processes inside an organization, including learning & development. The technology research firm Gartner, Inc. predicts gamification will be used in 25 percent of redesigned business processes by 2015, this will grow to more than a $2.8 billion business by 2016, and 70 percent of Global 2000 businesses will be managing at least one “gamified” application or system by 2014.

Deloitte is well on its way to staying ahead of the trend. DLA is an online program for training its own employees as well as its clients. DLA found that by embedding missions, badges, and leaderboards into a user-friendly platform alongside video lectures, in-depth courses, tests and quizzes, users have become engaged and more likely to complete the online training programs. The Academy has had over 20,000 executive users since its inception in 2008.

DLA uses content from such top tier business schools as Harvard Business Publishing, IMD, Melbourne Business School, and Stanford Graduate School of Business. The content on the site falls into three categories: videos, “in-depth content,” and self-assessments (tests and quizzes). Some are interactive forms and others are PDFs, but all offer a section for learners to interact with each other or to leave questions or comments. To help solidify the community, each learner’s home screen receives news feed updates from the users they follow. They can then interact with each other’s status updates, in a format similar to that on Facebook.

Before learners even begin the online learning programs they must complete their first mission, dubbed the on-boarding mission. They do this by watching a 3-minute video, which explains how to use the website, and in the process of watching the video, they are instructed how to personalize the site to their individual learning priorities. Upon completion, learners receive a badge for their on-boarding mission and then have the option to connect to their personal networks on Linkedin and Twitter so they can easily upload a profile and photo. This level of customization is important, because it breeds a higher level of engagement.

As learners complete each online learning program, they receive a badge to mark their achievement. Most of those badges are won upon completion of straightforward competencies, but some are ‘secret’ badges, dubbed “Snowflake” badges. These are created to surprise and delight learners and are unlocked only by achieving certain goals. For example, if all members of one department watch the same video during the same week, they all receive a snowflake badge. “This is an unpredictable reward, which is a surprise and a delight for our learners,” says Sanders. The average user completes enough online learning programs to earn three badges.

DLA’s design of its leaderboard is also instructive. Instead of displaying one standard list of the top ten scorers overall, each general “level” of user has its own top-ten leaderboard, so that each user’s competition for top-ten is limited to other users on that same level. That board resets every seven days. “Traditional leaderboards are, in fact, counter-productive,” Sanders says. “The same consistent top users, with astronomic scores, turn off everyone who knows they have no chance of beating them.” Instead, with Deloitte’s model, “Every week you have a new chance to be the best learner on the site,” he says. This seven-day reset also means that executives won’t be discouraged from using the site just because they missed a few weeks — and fell behind in scores — while on vacation or traveling for work.”

Getting Started: Using Gamification For Learning & Development

Executives interested in implementing this popular new tool should think of gamification as a business improvement initiative, and start by asking business-related questions such as:

What are your business goals? Define the business problem that gamification is trying to address as clearly as possible. Determine if gamification is something that can contribute to solving this problem or if it will supplement existing plans. Benchmark what your peers in similar organizations are doing with gamification and understand what works and what does not work.

For example, do you want to add gamification for learning as a way to have more learners complete their certifications or compliance programs? Or are you appealing to a growing segment of Millennials who express a desire for learning to be fun, engaging and highly collaborative?

Who is your audience? Will this be directed to internal employees or external stakeholders such as dealers or distributors? Do you want to design prescriptive missions or create more open experiences? View the game from the learner’s point of view. No one wants to perpetually be at the bottom of a leaderboard. Instead demonstrate to users how they can progress toward higher levels of mastery.

The goal is not to “game” or manipulate target audiences, but rather to mesh behavioral science with social technologies to increase collaboration and engagement levels among your users.

How will you track success? Have a plan in place for measuring the effectiveness of your gamification efforts. It’s not enough to capture data; you need to analyze it as well. Some measures to think about include: level of engagement among users, number of power users on the site, learning completion rates among users, satisfaction rates among users and the relationship between engagement and achievement levels on the site and individual promotions, and other external career progressions among your users.

via HBR.org http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2013/01/how_deloitte_made_learning_a_g.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+harvardbusiness+%28HBR.org%29

Just in time for New Year’s, RunKeeper upgraded to 3.0


Around New Year’s Day, many of us desire to do something to make ourselves better. That means resolutions are written (that are usually broken within a few weeks) to eat better, drink less, and exercise more. The best app for tracking exercise and sharing it with friends, RunKeeper (free), has just been updated to version 3.0 with a newly streamlined UI and new features.

One thing I’ve always enjoyed doing while out on RunKeeper-tracked walks is taking photos. Frankly, it’s always been a bit of a hassle. Well, the company has enhanced the photo-taking features to make it easier to shoot pictures while on a run or walk and then share the images with friends through Facebook and Twitter without leaving the app.

If you’re an Elite member of RunKeeper ($19.99 per year), another new feature allows you to turn on live activity tracking so friends and family can track you. That’s perfect for letting your friends know where you are when you’re six hours into your first marathon.

Gallery: RunKeeper 3.0

As you can see from the screenshots in the gallery, RunKeeper now has a cleaner design with less text. It’s easier to read and to navigate. RunKeeper 3.0 is available for download now on the App Store.

Just in time for New Year’s, RunKeeper upgraded to 3.0 originally appeared on TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Mon, 31 Dec 2012 09:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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via TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog http://www.tuaw.com/2012/12/31/just-in-time-for-new-years-runkeeper-upgraded-to-3-0/

Frog Design’s Hartmut Esslinger Reveals Early Apple Designs in New Book (Juli Clover/MacRumors)


Juli Clover / MacRumors:
Frog Design’s Hartmut Esslinger Reveals Early Apple Designs in New Book  —  Designboom (via The Verge) today got a hold of some photographs of early Apple computer designs from Hartmut Esslinger’s new book, Design Forward.  —  Esslinger founded Frog Design, the company that Apple partnered …

via Techmeme http://www.techmeme.com/121228/p43#a121228p43

A Case for Getting Personal with Productivity


Productivity is a very personal topic for me. At times it has gotten too personal, but that has helped me develop such a close understanding with the art and craft of personal productivity. It’s what has helped me become a productivityist. Task management apps have simply helped me along the way.

Now I’ve made no secret about the fact that I’ve used numerous task management apps – I’ve gone through a similar journey as Gabe over at Macdrifter is writing about as of late. I am able to move between them – either by abandoning them or simply testing them and using them for specific purposes – because “what’s good for the goose isn’t always good for the gander”, as they say. Apps like Asana come to mind, along with IQTELL. I’ve used Things and The Hit List, and I pay for and use Flow.

I test apps. I play with them. I even have a workflow set up so that when I do use a new task management app, I can copy and paste the details of that workflow in there so that each one is evaluated on on an even playing field. It took me a while to get the place I’m at now, where I can shift almost seamlessly from app to app. I think that a lot of it has to do with what Cal Newport wrote about this week: I use the apps I’m testing for the shallow work. I use the ones I’ve added to be workflow for the deeper work

So what task management apps allow me to do the deeper work?

For individual task management, I always come back to OmniFocus. I like having a separate app for myself and myself alone. I like how OmniFocus gives me both the time and space I need to create – the things I need to make great work happen. I think that adding a collaborative component would take that much-needed space that I need, which would result in a lack of focus. I’ll leave my collaborative task management to the apps that do those well (such as the aforementioned ones) and let OmniFocus be my productivity safe haven. So my deeper work generally begins with capture and ends with a checkmark in OmniFocus. As for the other apps in my workflow that help me get the deeper work done…I’ve written about them over at The Next Web.

There’s nothing wrong with using multiple tools as long they are being used with the purest of intentions in mind. Going against that mindset will result in failed experimentations (see my Evernote experiment) and friction that simply is there of your own design. I use all of my tools for the reasons I use them. I know what they are to be used for and i use them for that. My goal – to put it in lifehacking terms – is to hack life, not hack the things that hack life. A productivityist’s goal is to be productive…not do productive.

This week on Mikes on Mics, we spoke with Ken Case (CEO of The Omni Group) and the conversation revolved around the current iteration of OmniFocus…and even waded into the waters of what we might be able to expect from Omnifocus 2. You can listen to Episode 47 of the Mikes on Mics podcast here.

via Productivityist.com http://productivityist.com/a-case-for-getting-personal-with-productivity/

Quick tip: Using 1Password when you can’t use 1Password



1Password is almost always the first app I install on a new machine. It’s my key to opening all of the necessary accounts and it holds all of my software licenses. It’s literally indispensable. I’m going to just go ahead and assume you use it or are at least familiar with it and move along.

You may know this already, but there’s a hidden gem in your 1Password keychain file. If you locate the 1Password.agilekeychain file (PreferencesGeneral, first item) and right click it in Finder, you can view the package contents. Immediately inside you’ll see a file called 1Password.html. It’s a web-based means of accessing all your data without 1Password. Just open it in your browser and go.

Note that Google Chrome as of about v14 is horrible for running local files (and bookmarklets on SSL sites… another story). To avoid this, I launch Chrome with a wrapper script:

/Applications/Google\ Chrome.app/Contents/MacOS/Google\ Chrome --allow-running-insecure-content --allow-file-access-from-files &

If you don’t feel like dealing with command line flags, though, open your 1Password.html file in Safari. Whatever you do, don’t open it in Firefox — because that would mean you’d have to use Firefox. Just trying to keep you safe.

Mike Rose in the comments notes that you can use a Dropbox URL instead of accessing from the local file, avoiding the Chrome issues and alleviating the need to sync the keychain file locally. Smart one, that Mike Rose.

With this feature, you can get to your passwords even when you can’t run 1Password. Accessing your Dropbox-synced keychain file through the web interface is the most practical example. I’ve been setting up a couple of remote machines where I never intend to use the GUI and am trying to avoid installing apps in general. I install Dropbox1, though, and I can get all of the info I need without installing 1Password everywhere.

Second use case: you use really long passwords and/or need to copy extremely long serial numbers when installing apps. You have 1Password on your iPhone, but it’s not doing you much good with things you can’t type, and you don’t have a clipboard catcher on the machine your working on.

Just the serial numbers, please

Don’t want to deal with syncing the keychain file, but need a bunch of serial numbers? Go to your Software folder in 1Password, select all and choose “Export Selected” from the File menu. Check the necessary fields (probably just title, registered email, registered name and license code) and export it as a plain text file. SCP/FTP that to a remote machine or put it on a USB drive.

Now you can just search for the software by name and get the registered name and serial number with almost zero hassle. I use bash function that runs a command like grep -i sublime licenses.txt | awk '{print $4}' | pbcopy to output just the serial number for Sublime Text 2 straight to my clipboard.

I don’t recommend doing this with your passwords. There’s a reason you keep those in 1Password and not strewn about on post it notes or in plain text files.

  1. Pro tip: Use selective folder sync in Dropbox preferences on remote machines to just sync a single folder with things like 1Password keychains and your dotfiles. Alternatively, make a secondary free Dropbox account for your synced items and share the sync folder back to your main account. Just use the secondary account on remote machines and you’ll have all your synced files, without the extra 150 gigs in your account. 

Originally posted on BrettTerpstra.com at Quick tip: Using 1Password when you can’t use 1Password

via Brett Terpstra http://brettterpstra.com/quick-tip-using-1password-when-you-cant-use-1password/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+BrettTerpstra+%28Brett+Terpstra%29

Two Dollar Tuesday


The following apps have been discounted to $1.99 in the Mac App Store for one day only.

TaskPaper (normally $24.99) – TaskPaper - Hog Bay Software

Chronicle (normally $14.99) – Chronicle - Bill Management - LittleFin LLC

Ulysses (normally $9.99) – Ulysses - The Soulmen GBR

DropZone (normally $9.99) – Dropzone - Aptonic Limited

Codebox (normally $9.99) – CodeBox - Vadim Shpakovski

DragonDrop (normally $9.99) – DragonDrop - ShinyPlasticBag Apps


*Purchase Supports Mac App Deals

via Mac App Deals http://macappdeals.com/2012/12/18/two-dollar-tuesday-28/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+MacAppDeals+%28Mac+App+Deals%29

What If You Don’t Want to Be a Manager?


Imagine that you’ve invested years of blood, sweat and tears at work, and have successfully climbed the corporate ladder, only to wake up one day and realize that you sort of hate what you’re doing. Sure, you used to love it, and the more successful you became, the higher up the ranks of management you went. But now, instead of doing the hands-on work that you loved, you find yourself buried in managerial tasks like budgeting and supervising people that leave you feeling numb at best. You find yourself in the ironic position where all your hard work and success have landed you in a job that leaves you feeling empty, frustrated, and unfulfilled. That’s what happened to me. But how? Or better yet, why?

As I rose through the executive ranks to my last incarnation, EVP and Worldwide Creative Director for Nickelodeon, instead of feeling directly connected to the creation of our programming and other content, I found myself spending nearly all my time in meetings with corporate peers and higher-ups. In theory, I should have been happy. I was working with good, creative people (many of whom remain my close friends), I was earning a great income, and the company made cool stuff that my own young kids loved. But. But. I was merely managing the people who actually did and made things. I no longer operated in my personal sweet spot, where my sense of accomplishment after closing a difficult sale or launching a new product was contingent on my having had a concrete deliverable and the sense that my efforts were integral to its success. Being a manager caused me to feel disconnected from what career analyst Daniel Pink has identified as the three primary motivators of behavior: autonomy, mastery and purpose. I had little autonomy, little interest in gaining mastery as a manager (in spite of myriad coaches), and felt dissociated from my true self.

Why do we reward success on the job with a promotion out of the job and into management? It’s a phenomenon that reveals antiquated flaws in organizational design (neither employees nor companies are in the long-term pension-building loyalty business anymore) as well as a 20th century, pre-behavioral economics lack of understanding about what really makes people tick at work. Companies continue to cling to the notion that one of the only mechanisms they have to acknowledge employees’ talent is to make them managers and then to continue to promote them into ever-higher levels of management — reflecting the misguided assumption that being good at something also means being able to (and wanting to) manage others doing the same thing. Once in management, its trappings — 401k’s, bigger compensation packages and offices, fancy titles — don’t really satisfy many of us who, like me, miss the doing. But because we often identify ourselves with our job titles (I’m Director of Marketing) — buying into the idea that clear titles confer status and meaning — it remains hard to envision work in the absence of titles. Management titles allow us to mark our growth, and our maturity. And it’s for all of these reasons that it took me a long time to realize that being in management was wrong for me.

I know now from my research into the science of emotion, that as corporate executive I felt like I had to pretend to be something I wasn’t — I didn’t like being a manager, but I was a manager, so I had to appear to be interested in all the stuff that went along with being a manager. This is something social scientists call “emotion labor” — what you experience when you feel obliged to act differently from your natural inclinations. Eventually, I quit my job and, over the course of several years and false starts, I reinvented myself as a journalist and author — a job where I manage no one (autonomy), make my own rules (purpose), and have very concrete results (mastery) when my work is published.

When I made my leap, I discovered that while there are countless books and courses about how to be a better manager, there are pretty much no roadmaps for how to keep succeeding if you decide you don’t want to manage others. So, here are a few thoughts, based on my own experience, for others who feel that management may be wrong for them:

You Can Stay at Your Company, But Forge a New Path

Unlike me, perhaps you don’t have to leave. Talk to your bosses about your issues and partner with them to create a different track for yourself. For example, when my husband started as a young writer at Time magazine, there was only one career path — work hard as a staff writer, and eventually you might be promoted to senior editor. In the early 80s, Time created a position for those who did not want to go into management — “senior writer,” which came with internal prestige, and commensurate salary bumps.

This is something more companies need to address. To remain globally competitive, organizations need to devise innovative ways to encourage and reward creativity. The unorthodox titles embraced by start-ups — directors of fun, ministers of information — can seem ridiculous, but the emphasis on improvising new ways of doing business is important. Furthermore, research conducted by Office Team found that 76% of employees did not want their boss’s job. If employees are no longer responding to the old carrots, it’s time for companies to establish new means of rewarding talent.

You Can Find A Company That Shares Your Values

There are plenty of companies that are doing away with traditional corporate structures. For example, Michael Abrash, a member of the Valve software developer community, has a radical notion of corporate structure, where project teams coalesce and dissolve continually within an organization. He believes that fixed organizational structure impedes innovation. And plenty of other people feel the same. You may find yourself more in tune with an organization that has this type of flat hierarchy.

You Can Strike Out On Your Own

And of course, you can always forge your own path. Just be sure to think through the following before you take the leap:

  • Have a clear idea of what success means to you. It sounds obvious, but most of us unthinkingly internalize others’ definitions.
  • Know that income flow will have peaks and valleys. Few of us are lucky enough to land clients on retainer, so understand out of the box that your income will fluctuate from month to month.
  • Don’t quit without figuring out your monthly nut, especially including health care — and then figure out how you can reduce expenses. Make your nut fit the dream, and not the other way around. And don’t quit without a reserve to handle the times when there’s little or no monthly income — anticipate your worst-case scenario. Mine happened a few months after I’d quit my big job when my husband was fired from his well-paid (management) job.
  • Understand that as a freelancer, you will have to be a consummate sales-and-marketer of yourself and that you’ll have to develop thick skin to handle the rejection.
  • Know that there are days where you’ll feel lonely working by yourself. Fortunately, the networked world can mitigate this problem as never before.
  • Embrace the idea of moving from project to project as a way to learn and grow and stay relevant.

One thing that people who have left management may underestimate is the blow to self-esteem that can happen when you can no longer simply define with a title what it is that you do for a living. Although that’s changing in the emerging world of co-working, freelancing, and zig-zagging careers, titles still have meaning, and it requires clarity and courage to say “thanks, but no thanks” to that management position. But take it from me: being an ambitious round peg in a prestigious square hole is no way to spend a working life.

via HBR.org http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2012/12/what_if_you_dont_want_to_be_a.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+harvardbusiness+%28HBR.org%29

The OmniFocus Mail Drop


The last few days there has been something of a coming out party for early beta testers in Omni’s Mail Drop Service. So at this moment I can’t help but stand up and say, “My name is David, and I’m an Omni-holic.” The kind folks at the Omni Group let me start testing this quite awhile ago and it has been absolutely killing me that I couldn’t tell anyone about it. The way this service works is really simple.

1. You get a special, super-secret, email address and add it to your address book.

2. You forward any email worthy of an OmniFocus task to that address.

3. You move on with your day. At some point you’ll find yourself back in OmniFocus and you’ll find an new inbox entry with the text of the mail in the note. It actually happens in just minutes.

I’ve been using this for months and it works exactly how you’d expect it. The only downside is that it doesn’t give you a one-click link to jump to the mail message the way the Clip-O-Tron does on the Mac. Having used this for awhile though, I can say I miss that feature far less often than I thought I would.

Moreover, the ability to send emails to OmniFocus from my iPad and iPhone with nothing more than a forwarded email feels like nothing short of magic. You’ll need to be syncing your data through Omni’s servers to pull this off but, frankly, you should already be doing that anyway. At this point I recommend running here and getting in. It will change your game.


via MacSparky http://forums.omnigroup.com/showpost.php?p=118013&postcount=1

Notes on notes


Shortly after the 24:00 mark in the latest episode of Gabe Weatherhead’s Generational podcast, Gabe’s guest, Walton Jones, starts talking about his system for annotating and summarizing academic papers. If you can listen to that 8- to 10-minute stretch without being inspired to improve your own methods for managing the flood of information in your job, then you’re dead to me.

Walton’s system

To be sure, Walton’s system is highly tuned to the specifics of his profession. As a scientist, a good portion of his time is spent analyzing and synthesizing the research of others. That research comes to him in the form of PDFs of journal papers. He adds color-coded annotations to the PDFs as he reads them: red for summaries, green for references, yellow for results, and so on. This may sound like nothing more than a digital version of Post-it notes, but Walton has an amazing trick up his sleeve. When he’s done reading a paper, he runs an AppleScript that goes through the PDF and creates a Markdown document with all the paper’s annotations listed by page number and organized according to category (summary, reference, result, etc.). The Markdown is then turned into a new page in a VoodooPad document.

So he has this VoodooPad document with his notes on the papers he’s read, which is nice, but that’s not the end. Each individual note in VoodooPad is linked to the page of the PDF to which it refers. The power of this system is that he can search through his VoodooPad document, which has his notes and therefore uses terminology that come naturally to him while searching, and when he finds what he’s looking for, he can click a link and be taken immediately to the right spot in the right paper. This is so much better than simply searching through abstracts or lists of keywords, all of which are words chosen by others.

But don’t just go by my description, read Walton’s own explanation of his system.

My system

While I don’t pore over research papers anymore, I do deal with a menagerie of documents—drawings, photographs, videos, test reports, deposition testimony, presentation slides, email trails—that are increasingly in some sort of electronic format. I try to organize this mess by turning everything except the photos and videos into PDFs. Like Walton, I make notes on these documents as I go through them, but I don’t do it the way he does.

My system is based on talking. Long ago, I talked into a voice recorder. Later, I started talking into my iPhone, using Griffin’s iTalk app. With both of these systems, I’d replay the recording to myself and type up the notes, usually cleaning up the sentence structure as I went along. For the past two months, though, I’ve had a much better system: Siri.

Say all the mean things you want about Siri; for me, she’s a great dictation transcriber. The individual notes I make as I read through a document are typically one or two sentences long, which is just about the perfect length for Siri. In Notesy, I tap the microphone button on the keyboard, say my one or two sentences, and tap Done. A few seconds later, the note appears. Unless I’ve hemmed and hawed or there’s a peculiar word, the transcription needs no editing and I move on.

I have a particular format I prefer, with the page number on a line of its own, then the note itself, then a blank line. A typical session would be me saying something like

Fifty-two. New line. A solid or liquid to a change in direction will be as great as a ton per square inch. Period. There are many transformations of motion. Period. New paragraph.

which comes out in Notesy as

Siri dictation in Notesy

Notesy syncs to Dropbox, so the file will be on my Mac when I’m done making notes. The format is not exactly Markdown, but it’s easy to run a global search-and-replace to add a pair of space characters after each page number to provide the line breaks I want in the output. Marked then turns the text file into a PDF.

This is a pretty good system, but what’s missing—and what Walton inspired me to add—are links from my notes to the page numbers in the original documents. Since I keep my summaries in the same directory as the original documents, the links could be added this way in Markdown:

A solid or liquid to a change in direction will be as
great as a ton per square inch. Period. There are many
transformations of motion.

I’m currently working on a script that’ll do this. It works, but it isn’t especially robust and there’s too much “by hand” work in turning the Markdown into a PDF. I’ll do a complete post when I get those problems solved.

I should mention here that neither Preview (under Lion) nor PDFpenPro handles page number links correctly. Preview opens the original document (sometimes—other times it refuses and says I don’t have permission to open it, which is probably some kind of sandboxing stupidity) but won’t go the linked page number. PDFpenPro doesn’t even get that far; it opens a blank document that it claims in the title bar is original document.

Skim, on the other hand, handles page number links like a boss. This was a little surprising to me, because Walton says in another post that it doesn’t and that he had to write a script to word around that limitation. All I can say is that Skim has worked fine in all my tests so far. I just need to get that script working so I can start using summaries with links.

via And now it’s all this http://www.leancrew.com/all-this/2012/11/notes-on-notes/

The iPad Mini and the cost of Retina


The iPad Mini is a conflicted product.

It’s much better than the iPad 3 and 4 to handle, carry, and hold up during use. It has the best external design of any iPad to date. It runs cooler than the iPad 3 or 4, it has almost the same battery life despite its much smaller size and weight, and it matches the iPad 2 and 3 in most performance benchmarks. It charges more quickly than the iPad 3 or 4, and it’s more versatile in charging, since it’s the first iPad able to charge at full speed from an “iPhone” AC adapter. The Smart Cover even sticks to the back better when it’s flipped around.

And, of course, it’s much cheaper than the other iPads.

But the non-Retina screen is rough. If you’ve never used a Retina-screened device, you probably won’t care, but if you’ve been spoiled by Retina, you’ll notice the lack of it in the Mini almost every time you turn it on. I stop noticing after I start doing something with it, of course, but those first few seconds are a rough reminder every time.

The iPad Mini is conflictingly high-end and low-end. It’s the cheapest, “entry-level” model, but since this is Apple and this is their second-most-important product, it’s not bad, much like the 11” MacBook Air. On the contrary, the screen is the only thing about the iPad Mini that feels low-end. If they release a Retina iPad Mini next fall — and I don’t expect one earlier — no part of it is likely to feel low-end except the price, a recipe for a fantastic product.

Despite being the cheapest model, the Mini has top-notch build quality and materials. Almost every hardware spec is great: great battery life, great performance, great storage and cellular-data options. It doesn’t feel cheap at all, and no part of it feels like it was short-changed or underpowered because of price alone.

Including the screen.

A Retina screen at iPad resolution has a much higher cost than the price of the panel. I’m convinced that the other tradeoffs and costs are why the Mini doesn’t have a Retina screen.

This isn’t theoretical: we can see the cost of Retina for ourselves with the iPads 3 and 4. The iPad 3 was the first Retina iPad and showed us the initial issues, and the iPad 4 shows us the best Retina iPad that Apple could ship with the technological improvements available since the iPad 3.

We can see that a Retina iPad screen is a much bigger power hog than a non-Retina screen of the same size. That’s why the iPad 3 needed to be thicker and heavier than the iPad 2, and why it takes so long to charge: the battery is huge. The iPad 4 has roughly the same size, weight, and battery as the iPad 3, so we know that technological progress hasn’t been able to meaningfully shrink it yet.

And we can see that pushing four times the pixels needs four times the GPU power to keep performance similar to the non-Retina equivalent, especially in games. To achieve this, the iPad 3’s A5X needed to be inelegant: it was physically huge, it drew a lot of power, and it ran noticeably warm even under routine tasks like web browsing. The iPad 4 was able to improve significantly with the much faster, die-shrunk A6X, but its GPUs still need a lot of power and it still runs warm.

It’s not hard to imagine, given what we see with the iPad 3 and 4, what an iPad Mini with a Retina screen would be like with today’s technology. Its battery life, portability, or performance would suffer significantly. (Probably all three.)

Apple didn’t make an arbitrary decision to withhold Retina on the Mini to save money, upsell more buyers to the iPad 4, or “force” the first generation of iPad Mini owners to upgrade next year. They chose not to ship a Retina iPad Mini because it would be significantly worse than the previous iPads in very important factors.

Imagine the fallout if a Retina Mini shipped with only three hours of battery life, or was inelegantly thick and heavy. Or, very importantly to the iPad’s market, imagine if its GPUs were slower and it ran existing iPad games extremely poorly. And then add the component-price differences: imagine a Retina iPad Mini that was bulkier, shorter-running, or much slower (or all three) and that started at $399 instead of $329.

That’s why we don’t have a Retina iPad Mini yet. It’s not only about price: it’s because the resulting product would suck in at least two other important ways.

Until a good Retina iPad Mini can be made, it will be an unfortunately conflicted product: high-end in every way except the screen, which is a big one. But this tradeoff is anything but arbitrary.

via Marco.org http://www.marco.org/2012/11/12/ipad-mini-cost-of-retina