Better is NOT Perfect

April 26, 2009

3rd Generation iPhone? My money is on June 26, 2009. [Updated 4X]

Filed under: I Love Apple Hardware, I Love Apple Integration — Tags: , , , — Gerald @ 1:59 pm

Apple’s annual World Wide Developer’s Conference kicks off June 8. Expected topics of conversation include Snow Leopard and iPhone OS 3.0. What is also expected is new hardware announcements. My call? A solid release date for new models of iPhones (including a 32GB Model), a vague release window for Snow Leopard (“This Fall” or “In October”), and if there is any new hardware at all, it won’t be announcement worthy – just a few bumps in memory or hard drive space on existing models. (That’s right. No mini-tower Mac, No Tablet, No netbook.)

[UPDATE: June 3 Apple updates much of the line with no fanfare whatsoever.]

Also, I expect Steve Jobs to be a No Show.

[UPDATE: May 13: CONFIRMED! Phil Schiller will be giving the keynote]

So… if new iPhones are announced at the Jobs-less Keynote on June 8, when can we expect to have one in our grubby hands?
I’m calling the last Friday in June. Does ANYONE disagree? I didn’t think so.

Beware any “analyst” who suddenly gets a report of parts shortages and/or FCC hang-ups. Many are just seeking page hits and some are even shorting the stock. Always consider the source. Investigate an analyst’s history with Apple predictions before believing anything they say.

Of course… the price of any company’s stock is based on perception, not reality. I’m predicting the rumors will start swirling the last week of May
[UPDATE: May 22: CONFIRMED]
but will die down immediately following WWDC 2009. Things will remain quiet until about a week before the announced iPhone launch date (I’m calling June 26). Then, expect a doozy of a rumor. Repeat for the announced Snow Leopard release date. Invest accordingly.

[UPDATE: The iPhone 3GS will ship June 19 – missed by six days.]

[Disclaimer: I have no idea what I’m talking about and if you follow my investing advice you will end up penniless.]

P.S. I hope I’m wrong on the tablet and the mini-tower, but I doubt it.]

March 28, 2009

Apple: Building gear for less geeky geeks for over 30 years.

Filed under: I Love Apple Hardware, I Love Apple, Inc. — Tags: — Gerald @ 11:11 pm

What made the Apple I unique was that it came pre-assembled. Before then, if you wanted a computer, you had to be good with a soldering iron and an oscilloscope. The Apple I was easier for the less geeky geek to build into a whole computer. They sold it as a way to raise funds for the Apple II.

In 1977, the Apple II was a whole computer sold at a time when everyone else sold kits. It was easier for the less geeky geek to get into software.

The Apple II was the first computer that actually LOOKED like what we now think of a computer as looking like. Every desktop machine that followed took its design cues from the Apple II, much like how all modern notebooks look like the Powerbook 100, all personal music players look like the iPod, all smartphones are beginning to resemble the iPhone, and all GUIs look like Apple’s Desktop Metaphor (Apple didn’t invent the GUI – just most of the elements contained in modern ones, including pull-down menus, resizable overlapping windows, File folders, and the trashcan. MS invented the Help Menu and Alt-Tab.).

The factors that led to Microsoft’s success (incompatible file formats between different programs running on different OSes, different plugs for different brands of computers, and incompatible data disks between manufacturers) don’t exist any more. End users didn’t choose MS because it was better. They got stuck with it because that’s what the person paying for the computer chose. The person paying for it chose it because it was compatible with all the other IBM systems the company already owned.

Through the 80s and 90s MS survived on inertia and lock-in. That time has passed. Now, communications protocols (802.11), file formats (XML, HTML, OpenDocument, TXT, etc.) and connectors (USB, IEEE1394) are all standards-based and buyers no longer have to stick to one platform to ensure compatibility. A USB plug on a cell phone is the same as one on an MP3 player, which is the same as on a PC. Your data can move freely.

In the 21st century, America saw a shift in purchasing – end users were making purchasing decisions in greater numbers than ever. IT departments, no longer burdened by a monoculture, allowed people to choose their own machines.

And because the rise of the internet, more people were buying a computer for “personal use” and spending their own money to buy them.

…and studies have shown, when paying for a computer with your own money – 2 out of 3 choose a Mac.

Apple corporate culture has always put END USERS over builders, IT departments, developers, and even over it’s own team. This ticks off people in tech, because most of them are builders, in IT departments, or want to develop for the platform (which explains why they see Apple as controlling and secretive, because from their perspective it’s the truth). However, if you are among the 97% of the population who has never built a computer, formatted a hard drive, or knows who made their RAM – Apple, Inc. is a breath of fresh air in a geek-controlled environment.

Mostly from I’m in Love With My Own Comments @ Prospere

March 9, 2009

Addiction, Not Lock-In, is Apple’s Motive [UPDATED x3]

[NOTE: This article was originally posted on January 5, 2009 on my personal blog.]

Addiction, Not Lock-In, is Apple’s Motive

I was reading Sean Devine’s thoughts on the App Store. I believe he is correct in Apple, Inc.’s actions, but not the motive.

Apple clearly is giving no preferential treatment to “quality” apps, just making it easy to get at the quantity of them. Sean believes the purpose of this Large Selection focus is to lock people in via a large investment in native apps.

I disagree.

I think that as a hardware-sales-based-profit-model organization, every software related action Apple, Inc. takes is to increase the disability of the hardware it sells.

The KEY to maximizing iPhone profit is to create very high switching costs for users, just as they did for the iPod via the iTunes Music Store

The iTunes Store (both apps and music) run on the slimmest of margins, and (according to Apple) exists only as a perk for their hardware customers and a “value booster” of their hardware.

The fact that native apps (DRM’d or not) cannot be moved to another platform is a technical barrier and to blame it on an attempt at lock-in is assigning malice without cause. Yes, Apple benefits from this, but they benefit equally every time an iPhone specific web site shows up or an iPod user pirates a song off bittorrent.

DRM on music can go away tomorrow and while it would wreak havoc on AAPL’s stock price, it would have zero negative effect on Apple’s bottom line.

Likewise, if all iPhone developers pulled their App Store app and put it on their web site recompiled to run on Android – the iPhone 3G would STILL be more useful than the original iPhone, which people loved.

I’m not suggesting a mass developer exodus wouldn’t hurt Apple or the App Store, I’m just suggesting that Apps are not the gotcha in a customer snare-and-trap scenario.

I believe Apple is snaring customers, just not by locking them in. Apple is snaring customers with the out-of-the-box gadget itself and keeping them happy (and compliant) with apps.

It’s the apps, but then again it’s the object itself.

Unlike a game console, the outer shell of the hardware (and not technical specs or benchmarks) is more important to the vast majority of the people slapping down their cash (aka the non-geeky).

The non-geeky lust after the gadget itself first, THEN what apps you can get for it.

The only ones who are even aware that you can add features to phones is the 7% of the population that knows how to install hard drives in their PCs, the 2% of the population that have downloaded an app to their existing phone, and developers.

The iTunes Store purchases that “locked people in” to iPods never seemed to erupt into an issue, even after hundreds of millions of iPods and billions of DRMed songs. Why? People were addicted to the iPods, not the store purchases.

I doubt App Store purchases are tying people to their iPhone any more than iTunes purchases tied them to iPods.

Evil Apple, Inc.

All of the negative stereotypes (Selfish. Greedy. Smug. Control Freak. Superior. Arrogant. Secretive.) about Apple, Inc. as a company or Steve Jobs as a person can be boiled down to four basic corporate policies:

1. Apple writes their own machine-level code rather than outsourcing it.
2. Apple designs their own baseline hardware rather than using snap-together pieces.
3. Apple writes code that it doesn’t license to others.
4. Apple follows the model of Loose Lips Sink Ships.

These four policies put Apple at an advantage with all their partners, vendors, developers, and customers – and a lot of them complain loudly. Others carry it farther and assign dark motives for these policies and attempt to predict future actions based on those dark motives.

Lock-in is a dark motive, as it keeps you prisoner. With Apple products you aren’t a prisoner as much as you are an addict. (Getting people addicted is also a dark motive, but in manifests itself differently than a lock-in motive.)

Once they’ve locked users in, they’ll shift focus to mine as much profit as possible from each of those users each year.

Like how they’ve constantly raised prices on music in their 75+% marketshare music store, and pushed prices higher with their 90+% marketshare of a TV/Movie store? Like how they won’t allow any non-DRM’d material on their hardware? No, wait… they’ve never done any of those things.

What HAVE they done? They’ve fought with music studios against raising prices. They’ve waged a public war against DRM and used the RIAA’s instance on it as a bargaining chip to get the least restrictive copy protection in the industry.

They’ve prioritized HTML5 and h.264 over proprietary extensions and plug-ins.

Do you think they were doing it for the benefit of all mankind? No. Open file formats and communications protocols puts all platforms on a level playing field – and Apple believes that when all things are equal, their physical/tangible gear is more desirable than the gear sold by other hardware makers. (The arrogant bastards.)

Their existing customer base agrees. They become rabid at the release of any new hunk of plastic, glass, and metal that gets the Apple Seal of Approval.

What Addiction Looks Like
Jeremy Horwitz had to go 24 hours without his iPhone.

What hasn’t been publicized as much is the iPhone addiction factor—the “you couldn’t pry this thing out of my hands without a gun” survey question—which will be the key to understanding whether, as a key Palm investor claimed last week, the first wave of iPhone users are itching to be free of their two-year contracts come July and ready to won over to Sprint, or rather, that they’re just waiting for the next big iPhone release in order to make another Apple purchase.

My gut feeling is that, absent some really big screw-up by Apple come late June, there will be no tidal wave of departures from the iPhone’s existing userbase—at least, to smartphones at similar price points.

[…]

Yet from (a) my wedding day to (b) the birth of my daughter to (c) the day when I went from the original iPhone to the iPhone 3G, an iPhone hasn’t left my side—or been out of use—for any significant length of time since the original day of release. It has become something close to indispensable for keeping in touch with people, pretty good for music and movies, and even more of a draw since the launch of the App Store.

I don’t think Jeremy is even considering getting a phone from a different maker any time soon, do you? I don’t think he’ll even be seriously looking at them.

Apple’s M.O. is simple:
Phase 1:
1. Build a Better Mousetrap, then make it gorgeous.
2. Let the world know about your better mousetrap in a Spectacular Fashion.
3. Remove all barriers to your door, then make more doors.
4. Profit!

Phase 2:
1. Addict them with something new and shiny.
2. Release something newer and shinier.
3. Repeat and Profit!

As long as you are hooked on their gear, you won’t even LOOK at anyone else’s. If you don’t look at anyone else’s, Apple can convince you they invented fire and the wheel.

And you’ll be happy to believe them.

February 4, 2009

A Question for Gamers: Used Mac Pro, Yes or No?

Filed under: I Hate Apple Users, I Love Apple Hardware — Gerald @ 2:02 pm

The PowerMac G3 and G4 each had a long upgrade life, with CPU upgrades from Sonnet and other manufacturers and a host of expansion card makers giving the community what Apple wouldn’t. Many of these machines are still in use, a decade after they were built.

The PowerMac G5 upgrade market never blossomed. It was cut short by the once-every-ten-years architecture switch. (I should have seen it coming. I did own an Apple II in the 90s! I even tried buying a 640K upgrade card in 1992 to keep it alive.)

My barely-a-half-decade-old Dual 2.0 won’t play Spore, it won’t play Sims 3 when it comes out, and it won’t run Boxee. It definitely won’t be able to run Next Year’s Latest And Greatest OS: Snow Leopard.

So it’s time to upgrade.

A big complaint among the gamer community is the Mac Pro’s price tag. Until the subject of money comes up, techie people can argue both ways as to if it’s a good machine or not… and the upgradability of the machine renders many of the points moot.

Unfortunately, it always devolves into one side complaining how you can get twice the machine for half the price complete with links that only prove that they don’t know how to squat about speccing out a machine (or think that 15% less is “half”) and the other side talking about how much the “free” OS X and iLife are worth should be counted for Apple’s side and the price of MS-Office, yearly Anti-Virus software, and yearly tech calls should count for the PC side. NO HELP AT ALL.

So I ask the gamers out there, would you buy used? Fully upgradable used Mac Pros can be had at a very good spec-to-dollar ratio if you’ve got the Google Fu to find them.

More importantly, if you DO own a Mac Pro, would you ever get rid of it? Can you swap out motherboards if CPU/RAM/HD/Video upgrades aren’t enough? Have Mac Pro motherboards changed AT ALL since introduction? Are there any “bad models” I should avoid?

I keep looking for a FrankenMac (the opposite of a Hackintosh) community to spring up around the Mac Pro like it did around the PowerMac G3 and G4 and the Mac Mini… but so far even my Google Fu has failed me.

So I’m throwing this out into the ether: Should I buy one of the affordable used Mac Pros online, or should I save my pennies and buy new and even get AppleCare? It’s like a thousand dollar difference.

Oh, and one other thing: This will be both my primary machine AND my media center. (Yes, I live dangerously.)

January 31, 2009

Hello world! (Or, Version 1 of my “About Me” Page)

When you start a new WordPress Blog, by default it has one post. This post. Hello World!

Hello World!
Based on my blog’s title, who am I? . . . ? Your answer will determine how I’ll sound to you in all my posts.

I’m a Hater
I’m on the Microsoft payroll and am just pulling a Dvorak and trolling for page hits. I’m Dan Lyons. I’m Fake Dan Lyons, I’m Fake Fake Dan Lyons. I’m a Microsoft PR Move to deflect from [insert bad news here]. I’m a gamer and build-it-yourself type who thinks everyone should know how to upgrade their RAM and add a second hard drive. I think that Bill Gates was a visionary, but was taken down by jealous companies who couldn’t compete in the market and had to get Big Brother to fight for them. I’ve never touched a Mac, except in Middle school and it kept freezing up; they’re overpriced and under-specced and I won’t waste money on a fancy case with a logo on it.

I’m a Fanboi Apologist
I worship at the altar of Steve Jobs. I drank the Kool-Aid and only pretend to grumble so I can make excuses. I’ve never owned a PC because I’m rich. I have Apple stickers on my car, my bicycle, my skateboard, and my dorm-room door. I like to think I’m a rebel, and I’m Different, and therefore better and cooler than you. I have all my hair, and it hangs down to my ass. I believed in Apple II Forever. I bled in six colors. I believe that Jeff and Andy were creating two very different machines, and Steve made the Mac into neither and both. I think Apple is that iPod/iTunes company with the cool bus ads and has something to do with The Beetles.

Who am I really?
I’m a nobody. I’m your brother. I’m Steve Jobs. I’m Fake Steve Jobs Twice Removed. I’m a fourteen year old who just got his own room and a new Mac. I’m the original 40 Year Old Virgin.

OK, it’s not funny anymore.
Well, it was for me. Spoiled sport. Truth? I’m no one you’ve heard of. I write things that you don’t care about and definitely don’t agree with. You shouldn’t read this blog at all. Go away. You’ll thank me.

You think this is comedy gold, don’t you?
I think I’m kinda cute. Of course, that’s the crap they use to rake you over the coals later.

Cute, or Smug?
See! It’s happening already. You’ve put me in a box.

Who are you talking to?
Isn’t that.. me? I mean… you’re me, right? There’s no interviewer giving voice over. I mean, I’m not doing voices out loud or anything.

You want to do it out loud into the empty room, now. Don’t you?

Don’t you?

*sigh*
Yay!!

January 7, 2008

MWSF2008: What I want vs. What I expect

[NOTE: This post was originally published January 7, 2008 @ 7:35 on my personal blog. It has been moved here to consolidate all my Apple-Related rants in one place.]

We all know the format. Rock music is playing while the auditorium fills. Backstage Stephen Jobs, businessman, readies himself for his performance as The Steve. He’s in costume, he’s well rehearsed, and he has his water. The music stops and he walks onstage to a thunderous applause.

First he talks about Old News (existing products, sales reports), then New News (doling out the goodies).

New software first, then (if any) new hardware and hardware bumps. The earlier he reveals new hardware, the more new hardware we’ll get.

Then one more thing. Maybe. He doesn’t do them every time.

Sometimes a thank you and goodbye, sometimes a musical guest.

So what will be the specifics? Until next week, we can only guess.

He’s my two cents:

iPod:
What I expect: The lineup got a complete refresh in October, including a new model. I don’t expect hardware to change in capacity or price at all. I expect firmware 1.1.3 for the iPod Touch to come out with all the rumored features.

What I want: A video/voice VOIP handset. Call it the iPod Chat. or the iChat Mobile. Or the skunkcabbage vomit machine. Who cares what you call it? Just make it. Please.

iPhone:
What I expect: Firmware 1.1.3 and a loose date for the SDK.

What I want: Immediate release of the SDK and a developer’s preview of Firmware 1.2.0 which it will require.

Portable Macs:
What I expect: Processor and hard drive bumps on existing models.

What I want: Wide touchpads on all models, including a new Macbook Mini, and the functions in OSX to take advantage of it (like resolution independence, Ink, and gestures). Also: A mini tablet that you hold like a PSP.

Desktop Macs:
What I expect: Processor and hard drive bumps for the iMac and Mac mini. Nothing for the Mac Pro.

What I want: A whole new desktop machine. Shaped like a small drawing board, it does away with the pointer and introduces a different GUI paradigm.

AppleTV:
What I expect: After two years in the making, there will be movie rentals.

What I want: TV Show rentals at ridiculously low prices. Low enough to consider cutting out your cable bill and going all-internet.

Cinema Displays:
What I expect: Nothing.
What I want: New 24″, 26″ 42″ and 52″ models. Standard with iSight, BTO without.

Partnerships:
What I expect: Skip lines @ Starbuck’s. All Starbuck’s in airports are now wired for iPhone.

What I want: iPhone now works other places like it does at Starbucks. Music off the air, browse the iTunes Music Store, and order food if available. (Like the pizza/hotdogs at Costco)

Software:
What I expect: iTunes 8
What I want: OS X 10.5.2, and updates to iLife and iWork.

One More thing:
What I expect: He didn’t do a “one more thing” at all between September of 2004 (iPod nano) and October 2007 (iPod touch). I wouldn’t expect one this time.

What I want: I want it all. Duh.

Musical Guest: Nobody. Too much new hardware.

April 28, 2007

WWDC07 Rumor: VirtualBox + BootCamp = Migration Assistant 2

[NOTE: This post was originally published April 28, 2007 @ 10:00 on my personal blog. It has been moved here to consolidate all my Apple-Related rants in one place.]

Anyone who has set up a Mac is familiar with the Setup Assistant. It’s the first thing that runs when you turn on a New Mac. During this process, if you have an old Mac, you can connect it via firewire and it will tell your new Mac everything it needs to know. You can transfer your accounts, settings, preferences, applications, documents, and data. It gives you the option of not moving old applications if the new machine has a newer version so you never have to fear that you are “downgrading” your new machine.

Users of Mac OS X 10.4.0 or later got the sister application Migration Assistant in their Utilities folder. Migration Assistant works just like setup assistant. You hook the computer you want to grab an account from to your Mac, and it grabs it.

I hear switchers and potential switchers out there saying “What if your old computer is a PC? I’d love to Boot Camp into my old setup.” (I’ll forgive my imaginary readers for verbing the noun Boot Camp, if you’ll forgive me for verbing the noun verb.)

Current the answer is no, for two reasons.

First, Migration Assistant 1.0 depends on Macintosh’s Target Disk Mode. It’s a hardware thing, programmed into the EFI on new Macs (and the OpenFirmware of every Mac made for the last decade), but not into the BIOS of any PC. No manufacturer demanded it so it simply isn’t there. Sorry.

Second, Migration Assistant 1.0 officially supports only Firewire, which has been standard on Macs for a decade but is a relative latecomer to the PC world, and still doesn’t appear on most low end and mid-range PCs. MA1.0 unofficially supports external USB drives, which hints at the direction Apple is heading.

Solving both of those problems is a small application, let’s call it PC Helper, running on the PC. It takes control of 1 firewire (or USB) port and emulates a Firewire (or USB) drive.

Migration Assistant 2 will have Boot Camp built-in. If your old computer is a PC, instead of moving accounts and settings, it will fire up VirtualBox.

VirtualBox is an open source, cross platform VM. Thanks to PC Helper, VirtualBox can grab the contents of your PCs hard drive and Boot Camp can put it on your Mac.

As with all rumors, take with an appropriate amount of salt.

April 7, 2007

WWDC07 Early Prediction: The Return of the Cube

[NOTE: This post was originally published April 7, 2007 @ 15:18 on my personal blog. It has been moved here to consolidate all my Apple-Related rants in one place.]

WWDC is still nine weeks away… which means Rumor Season starts soon! The oldest rumor of all, The Return of the Newton, came semi-true at Macworld this year with the introduction of the iPhone, and took the Apple-branded Cell Phone Rumor along with it.

I think the Apple-branded Plasma Rumor might return, in an iPod Hi-Fi kinda way. But the big one will be: The Return of the Cube.

Steve Jobs can’t build a 32′ glass cube and not resurrect this rumor.

Rumors have legs of their own, with specs showing up quickly. It’s mostly wishlists with a dash of pragmatism. Here’s my stab:

It will have 1 CPU (available in 2-core or 4-core) and have one of its two expansion slots filled with the video card. They will not be the latest bleeding-edge type slots, so the Slashdot crowd will poo-poo it, and it will cost more than a 17″ iMac, so the Digg crowd will poo-poo it.

It will also have some weird esoteric Macism that doesn’t affect 99% of users, but the tech press will echo it endlessly, like a 4200RPM hard drive or an under-clocked GPU. A thermal image of it will show up on Flikr within 48 hours.

Oh, and it will sell like hotcakes.

The name of this new cube? The Macintosh.

What’s your prediction for the Rumor Mill? Will it be outragous, like The Nike+ Bicycle or The iCar, or is this the year of The Touch Tablet Rumor?

March 26, 2007

The Cons of Switching from Windows to Mac. Ten Quick Ones.

[NOTE: This post was originally published March 26, 2007 @ 9:36 on my personal blog. It has been moved here to consolidate all my Apple-Related rants in one place.]

The Cons of Switching from Windows to Mac. Ten Quick Ones.

1. Everything has a learning curve. Remember learning to tie your shoes? It won’t be nearly that hard.

2. It’s different. Yes, I know this is a Pro, but it goes along with that learning curve thing.

3. Firewire and USB 2.0 only. Gotta dump that ancient printer, finally.

4. When you ask for help, people will try to “solve your problem” rather than answer your question. They will also question your motive for doing it YOUR way. It’s a right-brained/left-brained thing, I think.

5. You will become a magnet for every Apple hater around. You will be surprised how personally offended others are by your choice in electronics purchases. Heaven forbid you buy hardware from a manufacturer that writes its own OS rather than outsourcing it!

6. Mac Memory. When you switch from PC to Mac you will have to break the habit of buying the cheapest RAM you can buy and/or cannibalizing old/dead machines. You will have to buy quality pieces of hardware. Quality hardware is expensive when one is used to bottom of the barrel and freebies.

7. WMV files with one or more of the many types of Microsoft DRM on them go from being “confusing and overpriced” to “completely useless”.

8. Hardware Manufacturers who must sign away the rights to include Mac or Linux drivers with their products (or mention on the box that it works AT ALL) in order to get the “Designed for Windows” logo necessary to compete turns buying gear into Russian Roulette.

9. Software Companies who have to halt development of Mac versions in order to get those same logos. This is happening less and less. In fact, software that halted development of Mac versions in the 90s are returning to the Mac. *cough* Premiere *cough*.

10. Owning a Mac makes you want to own more Apple gear. It sounds like a joke. It isn’t.

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