Apple’s Midsummer Nightmare

July 4, 2010

The release of Apple’s iPhone 4G has become a midsummer blockbuster. No vampires — just out of control electronics, deceitful software, and scary artificial limbs.


It started as a winner


But a problem fixed became a problem created…


And of course the lawsuits start flying left and right.


Suddenly Steve Jobs generates one of his infamous reality distortion fields.

On July 2nd, as America clambered into a long holiday weekend, Apple issues a letter (not a press release, mind you), stating that the problem wasn’t so much caused by hardware as by the signal strength indicators in the software.


The letter is a hoot, as this expert translation reveals…


    So what’s the solution? 


According to the face-saving announcement “third-party ‘skins’ for iHand offering additional colorings, beauty marks, scars and a ‘hairy hand’ option will be available by the end of July.” 


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The Apple iPad: Push or Pull?

January 27, 2010

When we evaluate new technology I believe that the key equation is “push or pull.” It is the rare new technology product released to the public where the reaction is an immediate: “I want that.” I suppose Facebook and Twitter are recent examples of “I want that” being a very common refrain. It certainly didn’t hurt that they were free. Microsoft pushed Vista for years without much success. Windows 7 is being pulled by consumers and businesses in record numbers.

Many new products need to be pushed hard onto the public, with the vendor hoping that it will catch on, “cross the chasm,” and thereafter an eager public will pull the product close, egged on by great reviews and great word-of-mouth.

In the case of Apple’s new iPad, was the public looking for something that met an unfulfilled technological requirement, or just hoping that Apple would provide a newfangled “must have” device?

I imagine that most (myself included) were looking for the latter. Did Apple fulfill that promise? I think not.

As Steve Jobs clearly stated in the hyped-filled product intro, he too recognizes that Apple’s task is to offer a must-have product. Jobs positioned the iPad as a pioneer in a new genre of computing, somewhere between a laptop and a smartphone. “The bar is pretty high,” he made clear. “It has to be far better at doing some key things.”

With the exception of a large and beautiful (albeit LCD) screen, we are apparently being offered a very large iPhone, without built-in telephonic features.

We can now access iBooks, a late and thus far weak entry to the eBooks foray (albeit in color).

The pricing is better than expected, although if you sign up for the whole package, the price does exceed $1,000 in year one (and most consumers will be drawn to get all the storage available as well as 3G).

Is Steve Jobs delivering on our needs or hopes? David Pogue points out in today’s New York Times, “My main message to fanboys is this: it’s too early to draw any conclusions. Apple hasn’t given the thing to any reviewers yet, there are no iPad-only apps yet (there will be), the e-bookstore hasn’t gone online yet, and so on. So hyperventilating is not yet the appropriate reaction.”

As a general observation Pogue makes a good point.

Based on the rumors of what the Apple tablet would offer I planned to buy one. Having looked fairly closely at the iPad, I’ve put my credit card back in my wallet.


Where Steve Jobs Says that Apple is Positioned

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New iPad is a Large iPhone

…except that you can’t use it as a phone (not out of the box, at any rate).

The iPhone Gains Weight; Becomes Deaf

The iPhone Gains Weight; Becomes Deaf

And it’s not really a computer, because it runs on the iPhone OS. So yes, as Steve Jobs pointed out, there are currently 140,000 applications for that OS, but most of them are better described as “applets” rather than “applications” because they do so little (as makes sense when trying to work on a small phone). Jobs introduced several developers working on either expanding their existing applets for the iPad or developing new ones. Most were games. Apple has re-crafted its own iWorks for the iPad, which provides a modicum of mature computer-like functionality, but with OS X out of sight, the real Mac and Windows applications will also remain out of sight, unless some expensive development work gets underway to convert existing apps to the iPhone OS, assuming that would be possible.

The reaction from the press and public has been mixed thus far. Those who feel Apple can do no wrong feel, for the most part, that Apple has done no wrong, and many think it a home run. Those of us who, while admiring Steve Jobs, consider him still as human, not deity, suspect he’s well short of a home run on iPad V1.

More to follow…

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Smartphones and Tablets Could Doom Netbooks

January 7, 2010

Above is the headline in a tiny article in today’s New York Times.

I reference it because it states what I believe to be true: “Stuck between the still-evolving smartphone and the emerging tablet computer, the netbook computer would seem to be doomed.”

It’s not so much that I necesarily feel that the NetBook is doomed, but I am certain that the evolution in portable computing devices is increasing at a very rapid pace.

There have been a slew of announcements of new eBook-type devices this week at the CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas. And a slew of other tablets, and other types of non-traditional portable computing devices. When I first heard the iPhone called “a portable computer” I thought it was hyperbole. Now that I use one, I see that it is true. But changes to the form factor are still required, and those changes are imminent.

By the end of 2010 our notion of a portable computing devices will have changed drastically.

Stay tuned.

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Steve Jobs, The Economist and I All Agree!

September 21, 2009

I’ve been preaching ad nauseum that a dedicated eBook reader just doesn’t add up. In Thad’s The Laws of the Future of Publishing I’ve often quoted law #19: “There is a limit to the number of separate digital devices people want to carry. That limit is one.” People often say, “But what about the cellphone…won’t that remain separate.” I reply: Look at the iPhone and at Nokia’s new N97mini, and then decide.

Today I discovered a David Pogue blog entry from September 9th, where he managed to get a few minutes with Steve Jobs after the Apple iPod event. Pogue wrote:

A couple of years ago, pre-Kindle, Mr. Jobs expressed his doubts that e-readers were ready for prime time. So today, I asked if his opinions have changed.

“I’m sure there will always be dedicated devices, and they may have a few advantages in doing just one thing,” he said. “But I think the general-purpose devices will win the day. Because I think people just probably aren’t willing to pay for a dedicated device.”

He said that Apple doesn’t see e-books as a big market at this point, and pointed out that, for example, doesn’t ever say how many Kindles it sells. “Usually, if they sell a lot of something, you want to tell everybody.”

Meanwhile, in an August 27, 2009 article in The Economist headlined: “Screen Test: Electronic-Book Readers Multiply,” the article concludes:

Yet there are already signs that consumers may prefer to read e-books on devices that do other things as well. According to some estimates, more people use Apple’s iPhone to read digital texts than use the Kindle. And Apple is hard at work developing a multimedia “tablet” that will probably act as an e-book reader too. Gizmos such as these are the likeliest heroes of the next chapter of electronic bookselling.

I just can’t see dedicated eBook readers, “crossing the chasm.”


December 1, 2010: I’ve been wrong more than once, but rarely as wrong as on this assessment. Dedicated eBooks Readers may not have truly moved into the mainstream of all consumer purchasing, but they’ve certainly taken dedicated book purchasers and the book reading public by storm. The transformation has been illuminating.

Steve Jobs’ assessment: “I think the general-purpose devices will win the day” certainly proved accurate with the success of the iPad.

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