Fascinating teardown of the new Thunderbolt cable from Apple by iFixit revealing that the true value might be closer to the $49 price tag than anyone expected. The cable contains “a total of 12 larger, inscribed chips, and tons of smaller electronic components”. I’m not an engineering type but I still find the teardown’s like this intriguing and I’d love to hear the first estimates of what the cable costs to make. People have an expectation of Apple that they overcharge for cables and peripherals, but it’s already been reported that the inclusion of Thunderbolt could cost as much as $100 to add to hardware.
I don’t even think it’s an issue of the average consumer comparing the offerings and then making an educated decision that they want an iPad instead of a Xoom or a PlayBook or a Samsung Galaxy Tab. The average consumer likely doesn’t even know about all the other tablets that are out there. To them there is the iPad and there are some knockoffs they saw zip-tied to a cardboard end cap at Best Buy while they were buying a printer.
Completely true, I think as well the way Apple is promoting the iPad is perfect, they churn out a new advert every few weeks with a new focus to appeal to brand new people each time and constantly keep it fresh in peoples heads. It’s also very telling that when there is a new iPad, damn do people know about it, it’s on the news the very same day and it’s the first thing people talk to me about when they next see me. In contrast, the PlayBook has recently gone on sale in the UK and BackBerry have started running ad’s as well, I haven’t heard a peep from anyone about it. Apple have already captured the complete mind share on tablets, and no-ones going the get it back.
This sounds really rather crass to me. The obvious thing people are picking up on is the fact that Lodsys (the current owners of the patent) are suing independent developers for using Apple’s in-app purchase system rather than suing Apple directly, which is a pretty large issue in itself as the developers have no responsibility over what the in-app purchase system consists of. Lodsys are praying on the weak who can’t afford to defend themselves rather than treating this like an actual case and going straight to Apple, which gives me a real feeling they’re just doing this to inflict damage on the indie dev’s, rather than doing it to protect their IP.
Looking at the patent Lodsys claim these developers are infringing on though really adds another level of obscurity to the whole debacle. I’m not going to pretend to be a lawyer of any sort but even I can see some flaws in this infringement claim1.
In an exemplary system, information is received at a central location from different units of a commodity. The information is generated from two-way local interactions between users of the different units of the commodity and a user interface in the different units of the commodity. The interactions elicit from respective users their perceptions of the commodity.
This is the abstract overview of the patent in question, titled ‘Methods and systems for gathering information from units of a commodity across a network’ which already doesn’t sound like the kind of thing developers would be infringing on by implementing in-app purchase, secondly what really got under my skin was the examples used in this patent were the figures used, this stuff is seriously archaic, making references to fax machines and connections via a phone line. Furthermore though it appears the focus of the patent is to collect user feedback using these ‘methods and systems for gathering information’ so that the service using the technology can be improved via an update, and i’m not talking anonymous user data, the kind of thing lots of apps do, which you could contort to fit this patent. It uses examples of a straight up user surveys asking ‘How much did you like or dislike the method that you just used to program the fax machines user settings?’ the kind of thing you see every day.
The patent takes advantage of the idea that with user feedback, the service the consumer is using will get improved service in return via updates2 - give and get back - and Lodsys are claiming this is the same as a user paying money to make an in-app purchase and getting an update or extra content in return. I don’t understand this asinine move by Lodsys or their motive for doing this, as the patent isn’t outlining a purchase system, it’s describing a feedback system, I would be surprised if they won this battle, but the indie dev’s will lose regardless as they just don’t have the money to put up a defense.
‘Patent attorneys are not cheap. This is costing me everything I have.’ - Jonathan Freeman
Polishing a Rubix Cube
After the announcement of Samsung’s Series 5 Chromebook and Acer’s unnamed Chromebook as well today, I felt a little guilty for thinking they didn’t look half bad, so I thought i’d talk over why I really like the idea of the Chromebook. As a disclaimer though, the sound quality is horrid and this recording was more for my benefit than for yours to try and run through what’s in my head, so listen with caution, but try to enjoy!
We just asked Andy Rubin how the 18-month update commitment will work in light of every manufacturer’s customizations — a source of considerable heartache in the Android upgrade picture so far. His answer? They’re “actively thinking it out right now” with the partners that have been announced — they’ve been “tasked with figuring out how to make it work.” He says details should start to emerge in the next few weeks, but we imagine there’ll be some heated conversations behind closed doors in the process of banging this out.
Talking about the size and constituency of the partnership so far, Rubin says that “it’s an open invitation” to any manufacturer or carrier that wants to participate — but that it made sense to start out small for the sake of manageability. Long term, “there’s no reason not to have everyone in it.”
Well isn’t that terribly encouraging? What Google announced today about better updates isn’t even anything yet. I actually really enjoyed the keynote and i’m excited to see more of Android Ice Cream Sandwich, but I really don’t see how this new update initiative is going to work out, mainly because it isn’t an initiative yet and it’s still being figured out with each party. The deals will probably end up being fragmented from carrier to carrier and manufacturer to manufacturer, causing yet more confusion for the consumer who think things are going to get better but still have no idea how.
The phrase “new devices will get updates for 18 months” also suggests getting as little as two updates over 18 months and then being allowed to be abandoned entirely, which i’m sure will be the case for some of the involved parties as a complete cop-out. The fact that companies like HTC and Motorola struggle to update phones to the latest version of Android because of their elaborate skins just instills even more doubt.
What really sent a shiver down my spine though was the use of the term “If the hardware allows” which although could be Google just being realistic, makes me think of the 2GHz dual core chips which we’re supposed to be seeing by next year, if any of the manufactures went all in with a new skin optimized for the 2GHz processor they could completely abandon former customers and leave them versions behind, just like they have been. To be clear though, i’m not hating on Google here, i’m super excited about Ice Cream Sandwich and all the stuff its offering which i’m hoping Apple will follow suit with when they show off iOS 5 at WWDC, but i’m just pointing out the gaping wholes in Google’s announcement which haven’t quite been explained yet, it could all work out but i’m doubting it will, and it’ll be the customers who lose out, sold on a false promise.
This weeks episode of The Talk Show was pretty great, namely because John was relatively talkative for the first time in a while on there, why I really liked the show though was because it got me thinking - why do Apple make Final Cut? They have obviously taken on a lot with this total re-write of the application, so why to they still do it?
Dan Benjamin made a good point in that Final Cut, Aperture and Logic all make getting a Mac Pro or a MacBook Pro a valid purchase. I think it just comes down to wanting to be relevant though. Clearly the Mac’s aren’t Apple’s biggest source of revenue, but they think they still have their place, and although the Final Cut users might not constitute a massive chunk of Apples Mac user base, everybody knows they’re there. When I first wanted to get a Mac, the obvious quotable positives are that “they’re good for creatives” and “they’re virus free”.
If Apple had announced yesterday that Final Cut was dead, and that if you wanted to edit video on a Mac to just use iMovie, Apple would obviously lose a large chunk of the Final Cut user base of professional video editors who would have to start using PC’s, but they would also lose some of their relevance as the media would throw up a shitstorm screaming “Apple is abandoning the pro market”, and that kind of stuff does eventually trickle down to become the average consumers perception, and then, what would OS X have over Windows? It would be virus free, yes. Which from a Windows users standpoint is impressive, but it really shouldn’t be.
In the same way that Windows has always been considered good for the enterprise, because you can do a spreadsheet on it, Mac’s are bundled with the preconception that they’re good for creatives, and if they abandoned that, they would stop being relevant to a lot of people. From the average persons perspective, they’d just be Windows, but a little bit different.
Naughty, naught Nokia. It’s pretty shameful that this even made it onto their website in the first place, one would assume there a processes in place to stop crap like this happening.
It’s disgusting that analysts get paid for this drivel, whats worse is that he doesn’t really say anything.
“At first thought, Schmidt moving to Apple would rather seem unlikely, but not impossible either. ‘While not necessarily likely, we think this scenario is at least a possibility,’ Jefferies analyst Peter Misek wrote in his note to clients…
So he’s saying Schmidt could be Apple’s next CEO, but probably wont. Based on that same sound logic, the Führer could rise from the dead and lead Apple to true world domination, he probably wont, of course.
I’ve recently started using Ecoute, the iTunes client by the guys from PixiApps, and i’m in love with it, using it I realize how large and cluttered iTunes is when it could just be a tiny window. But I do miss just how linked in iTunes is with Apples network - I can listen to podcasts in Ecoute (which is a huge step forward from the last update) but I can’t download new ones, if the guys at PixiApps added multiple libraries, podcast updates within the app and iPod syncing it would BLOW MY MIND.
I realize it would take a lot of backwards engineering and it’d be pretty much the same story as Audion I posted earlier this week - the developers constantly updating the app so it would work after Apple patched the exploit - but all that functionality packed in a small little window would be amazing. Apple need to stop shoehorning any shit they can into iTunes and break it up for the launch of Lion at least. I don’t even care if its all apps (iOS and OS X) in the Mac App Store, media in iTunes (with an interface like Ecoute) and Ping all on its lonesome - it just needs to change.
If it had the cloudy-ness and free 3G of Chrome OS teamed with the actual functionality of OS X, i’d be sold, no doubt that much data would bring even Apple’s new data centre to its knees though. I wonder if they could do it in time for OS XI…
Now this would be very useless and it will be a brilliant idae from Apple. I would jump on board regardless of the cost; well to a certain extent.
An awesome read from the awesome guys over at Panic Software, telling the heart melting story of their application Audion, the reason it’s appropriate today of all day, is because, as you may or may not know, it’s iTunes’ 10th birthday! So happy birthday iTunes, you’ve come a very long way! Anyway, I digress, reading this post from the guys at Panic is the closest your going to get to the inside scoop on what made iTunes. It’s a lengthy read but totally worth it; if you’ve got an hour going spare - it is ten at night, at time of writing, so i’m sure you do - check it out now, otherwise, whack it in Read it Later or Instapaper, you have to read it though, you wont regret it.