Tag Archives: Iphone

Light reading September 29, 2013

Articles of interests to techs, geeks, and capitalists.

It appears Android has overtaken iOS in unit numbers of, but declarations of the iOS demise would be premature. If Apple spun out its iPhone business it alone would be ranked 10th based on revenue in the S&P 500. Bloomberg has compiled a slew of other iPhone fun facts.

This would be humorous if it wasn’t so creepy. The NSA can scan our social network, phone, email, and travel itineraries, but a federal judge allows a class action suit against Google to proceed because Gmail’s ad serving technology might violate federal wiretapping laws.

As baseball’s regular season winds down, Jonathan Mahler of the New York Times asks why such a wildly successful enterprise like Major League Baseball feels so irrelevant. Could it be that TV killed baseball? Is the Game Over?

And finally, the obligatory Breaking Bad reference. This Economist column favorably compares the lessons learned from Walter White to a Harvard B-school MBA.

From Stone Age to Phone Age

It’s high school graduation season. I’m at that age where friends, family, and colleagues are celebrating. There’s a timelessness to graduations. At every ceremony I’m reminded of my graduation. Look in the face of any kid in cap and gown and you’ll see your friends’ faces from years ago. But look down a few inches and there’s something new – the phone. It’s the all-consuming device. Kids don’t have conversations any more. They simply get together and use their phones in the same physical location.

The data streams they create and process are simply amazing. Thousands of text messages and hundreds of images per month, and perhaps dozens of videos. Like our grandparents with their Polaroid cameras, most of the images receive no further processing – point, shoot, share. No Photoshop, no iMovie. Just send. And this is where it gets interesting because now we see the rise of apps such as Hipstamatic. Many have mused that just as the cameras in our phones became capable of producing decent images, a generation of tools specializing in degrading those images emerges. Seems crazy.

Hipstamatic allowed me to set the eery mood of this swamp in the field rather than having to load it on my Mac and tweak it in Photoshop.

As a software designer for today’s content creators and an instructor to the next next generation of creators, I look at it differently. There are now creative tools that allow the artist to look at an image and decide the look to apply at the moment of capture. It’s understood that the Hipstamatic or Instagram shooter has forfeited access to a raw file to process in Photoshop, but that’s not much of a forfeiture when the image was unlikely to be processed anyway.

These tools add a degree of creativity back into the photographic process that was lost in the era of one button to Facebook simplicity. Personally, I’m enjoying these gimmicky tools, and I’m finding they often do a pretty damn good job helping me realize my vision.


What does number one really mean?

Earlier this week, Apple’s market capitalization topped Microsoft’s. From a bragging rights point of view it just doesn’t get any better than this for Steve Jobs and Apple. Even the staid gray lady, the New York Times laid it on thick.

This changing of the guard caps one of the most stunning turnarounds in business history for Apple, which had been given up for dead only a decade earlier, and its co-founder and visionary chief executive, Steven P. Jobs.

Of course, market capitalization represents Wall Street’s take on which company is more valuable. And it can be argued that neither company is worth nearly $220 billion. Remember the free market is only accurate over the long haul. The less accurate it is over time, the longer the long haul gets as defined by the experts. It’s the closest we have come as a society to perfecting the perpetual motion machine. The less accurate analysts and forecasters are, the more they are able to convince us of their importance. But I digress and would be remiss if I failed to note that the contrarians have come out in droves. A sampling from MarketWatch:

But how many times in a row can Apple pull yet another rabbit out of its hat? When a company is riding a wave of investor euphoria, its stock price already reflects the expectation of many more rabbits. Almost by definition, any unexpected developments from such companies will be bad news.

Stock talk is of virtually no interest to me. I could claim the high road as an adherent of the Random Walk hypothesis, but I’m not. Call me a proponent of the Random Mugging theory – walk down Wall Street enough times, and some punk out of Wharton will find a way into your wallet.

The last time Apple was number one

At the dawn of the personal computer era, Apple was the undisputed leader. IBM wasn’t much of a player but wanted in. IBM embraced MS-DOS and its more open ecosystem. Apple kept its platform mostly closed, and the rest is history.

Pretty much the same thing is happening now in the mobile space. Apple’s keeping its iPhone platform closed. Google’s entered the space with its open Android platform. I’m not deaf to the argument that times have changed. In an age of virus and malware attacks, privacy threats, and rampant generalized paranoia, the market may very well reward a closed and apparently safer platform. Steve Job’s bizarre promise of “freedom from porn” might play well in Peoria, assuming one can get an AT&T signal in Peoria. But we can take it a step further and put forth the proposition that the iPhone also gives us freedom from Verizon, Sprint, and T-mobile.

It really does look like 30 years ago all over again, but looks are deceiving. Only a fool underestimates Steve Job’s adaptability. Do not forget that the man who made it job #1 to kill the Newton upon his return to Apple is the man who brought us the iPad.

Excuse me if I opt not to place a wager on this race.

Forget the iPhone, unchain the iPod

Dear Mr. Jobs,

If you really want to own the hand-held device market, forget about the iPhone, just add some real functionality to the iPod Touch. As I’ve stated numerous times, I’ll never switch to AT&T, and approximately two-third of Americans are with me on that. Even you can sway us. You see, we still need our phones to make calls.

Just yesterday I was out and about with my iPod and clicked the Safari button to see what would happen. There was a WiFi network available, and that’s becoming more common every day. So why not ditch this phone thing, get in with Google on the bandwidth buying spree and go with VOIP?

Look you don’t play well with others — especially those old-school blue chips. Remember Motorola? You can’t tell me that the AT&T story will end any differently.

So here’s what you do for total hand-held domination:

  • Put an email client on the iPod. Web-based email — excepting .Mac of course — sucks. Everyone hates it.
  • Get Skype working on the iPod. How hard can that be? You’ve done a hell of a job with YouTube. In fact, just buy Skype and make it less dorky. I hear the honeymoon at eBay is over. They’ll part with it.
  • Fix Safari. We can understand why you don’t love Flash, but the rest of the world does.

AT&T web site
Now you have a hand-held device that’s better than the iPhone because AT&T is out of the picture. I mean, look at them, they’re selling refurbished PDAs for $30 next to your lovely iPhone. Mr. Jobs, they are not worthy. Move on before they embarass you further.

Sure, AT&T is going to sue you, but Apple lawyer’s are pretty good in court. And it’s pretty easy to renege on a deal with them. NASCAR screwed them pretty good and got away with it.

I’d make Apple my carrier tomorrow. I bet the other two thirds of Americans might too.

Apple phone home

If Sony, Creative, HP, and company can’t seem to slow the iPod jaugernaut, maybe Nokia, LG, and Samsung can. Earlier this month, ABI Research cited the possibility of 4-gigabyte hard drives in mobile phones rendering the portable MP3 player obsolete.

“As the cellular handset becomes the one device that the world carries, the standalone MP3 player may well be left behind,” says Alan Varghese, ABI Research’s principal analyst of wireless semiconductor research. “What’s important to many users is having one device that handles mobile music as well as the other functions—phone calls, digital photography, email, web browsing—now performed by mobile phones.

Intersting point. I need to carry a phone, but choose to carry an iPod.

Only two things stand in the way of this outcome. The ingenuity of the MP3 player designers, especially Apple, and the really awful marketing track record of mobile carriers.

It’s not so secret that Apple’s working on some sort of wireless communication device. The patents have been applied for, and the rumors have been flying. If Sony or Apple were to design the ultimate mobile phone, it surely would bypass the mobile carriers’ online music (and video) services.

There’s evidence that consumers would prefer such an outcome. Strategy Analytics reports that mobile carriers price their music offerings 100% to 150% beyond what consumers are willing to pay. The report notes customers are willing to pay a 35% premium for access to their tunes on a wireless device. Sony and Apple would happily take that… after you buy their phone.

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