Since T-mobile anti-iPhone ad are great, their pro-iPhone ads could be delicious

Apple’s revolutionary iPhone coming next to T-Mobile USA?

[Via MacDailyNews]

Now that AT&T’s exclusive hold on the iPhone in the U.S. is over…

[More]

T-Mobile went right after the iPhone in their ads, although they really hit at ATT and its network. Smart since they want the iPhone on their network. So they really made the iPhone a great phone with a bad carrier.

It was a nice campaign that burned no bridges with Apple. So if the get an iPhone, I expect some cute ads.

How do we regain civility in our discousre?

To Regain Civility in American Politics, We Need to Rethink Media, Education, and How We Participate
[Via Big Think]

Whether it is climate change, immigration, or income inequality, America seems incapable of making progress on solving complex problems. In fact, it seems that the country is locked in a downward cycle of incivility and polarization. In an interview I did last year with Big Think, I discussed three specific areas where institutional changes can occur that could increase active public participation on what seem to be eternally gridlocked issues.

[More]

Well worth watching. Better idea dissemination, doing a better job with education and better participatory processes would go a long way.

Of course, perhaps higher employment levels would do so also.

Someone else discusses Microsoft’s difficulties

steve ballmer by Microsoft Sweden

Microsoft’s tablet could take years, stirring doubts about Windows tablets beating out Apple’s iPad
[Via MacDailyNews]

“Instead of unveiling an elegant response to the iPad, Microsoft came to the tech industry’s premier gadget show with a collection of exposed computer guts,” Jessica Mintz reports for The Associated Press.

[More]

And they weren’t very nice about it either. As I mentioned earlier, MS is doing great in the gaming world. Not so well elsewhere. This analyst does not seem impressed by the virtual demo of a tablet which may still be years away. Their phone strategy is a mess and the duopoly of Wintel may be at an end.

But here is why a lot of analysts are pretty stinging int heir criticisms:

Mintz continues, “It’s hard for anyone to applaud Microsoft without noting the threats posed by the growing popularity of Apple Inc.’s iPad. It’s also hard to see Windows as a tablet contender amid an onslaught of new tablets running Google Inc.’s Android software… Those concerns have been weighing on Microsoft stock, which has hovered around the $20 to $30 range for the past decade. Apple, on the other hand, has seen its share price more than triple since the first iPhone was announced in early 2007. Last year, Apple’s market capitalization surpassed Microsoft’s, making Apple the second-largest U.S. public company after Exxon Mobil Corp.”

It always comes down to stock price. Since 2007, MS is down almost 3% and Apple is up 255%. Since Ballmer took over in 2000, MS stock has lost half its value while Apple’s has gone up 10-fold.

I wonder who they will get to replace him, as if that would really make any difference.

I imagine some Mac App Store developers are very happy also

mac app store by Rob Boudon

Apple Mac App Store downloads top 1 million in 1st day; Steve Jobs ‘amazed at incredible response’
[Via MacDailyNews]

Apple today announced that over one million apps have been downloaded from the Mac App Store…

[More]

Considering everyone had to also download a new update to OS X in order to even access the Mac App Store, this is pretty amazing. I expect I will overcome my normal hesitancy about new OS updates and download 10.6.6 later today.

And 1 million downloads with only 1000 apps available. What happens when the app environment really takes off and there are 100,000 apps.

But as one of the commenters mentioned, even people who have been buying software for the Mac since the 80s are now easily finding apps they had not heard about. I think some of the social networking aspects of this (yop 10 lists, etc.) will drve a lot of sales.

That plus the impulse pricing.

What will Adobe’s response to the Mac App Store be?

Apple’s Mac App Store takes dead aim at Adobe
[Via MacDailyNews]

Apple’s launch of the Mac OS X App Store appears to be an instant success…

[More]

So, Aperture is now on the Mac App Store for almost 1/3rd the cost of the equivalent Adobe application. And Pixelmator for $29.99 does much of what Adobe Photoshop Elements (about $80). Apple is slowly killing Flash. iMovie for $15 versus Adobe Premiere Elements for $80.

As good or better products for much lower prices. Will Adobe start cutting its prices? Offer better bundles?

I expect it will do what it has done the last decade or so – buy some other company’s technology and try to market that.

Just a few more weeks until a Verizon iPhone

Verizon iPhone launch set for February 3 – Rumor
[Via Edible Apple]

Well the cat’s out of the bag. Hot on the heels of a report that Apple has prohibited retail employees from taking vacation time in February comes some sleuthing from BGR suggesting the iPhone on Verizon will launch on Feb. 3.

BGR has confirmed with a source close to Apple that the company has blacked out employee vacation requests between February 3rd and February 6th — Thursday through Sunday. The four-day vacation freeze has been confirmed to be in effect in several regions in the United States. A recent report suggested the vacation black-out would cover a period of three weeks beginning in late January and extending into February, which still could be true in some regions.

[More]

This could really nice but I’m thinking it had better be an LTE iPhone. Verizon just announced all these new phones it will be selling in 6 months that are the latest Android and are also LTE. A CDMA iPhone will seem old fashioned.

We shall see.

Curated app stores may win the battle

Amazon, Apple, LG launch new app stores, Google Chrome Web Store dries up
[Via AppleInsider]

As Apple prepares to bring its wildly successful App Store phenomenon from iOS to the Mac, Amazon is launching its own Android app store while LG and others open TV apps stores, even as existing ones, including the Chrome Web Store, flounder.

[More]

Amazon will create a curated store, keeping malware and such away for Android phones. Not so for Google which continues to allow programs with problems and huge numbers of ripoffs to be downloaded. Even developers are complaining.

But now we have a fragmented marketplace. Where should the developers place their wares? Google’s Android Market drives all apps to free, meaning the only revenue source comes from Google’s ads.

Amazon holds out more hope but it will also have the ability to determine the price the developer sells at, slashing prices as it sees fit. Only Apple’s App Stores permit the transaction between developer and customer to occur unencumbered with the changing business models of the bazaar owner. It simply takes it cut. Everything else is up to the people involved int the transaction.

Apple – free as in speech; Google – free as in beer

beer by DeusXFlorida

Google’s Android is not about creating a great mobile platform or devices
[Via MacDailyNews]

“Google is building Android not so they can make great mobile devices and sell them to consumers,” Kyle Baxter writes for TightWind. “Rather, they are making them for these two simple reasons: (1) to disrupt Apple’s growing dominance of mobile devices, both so Google doesn’t have to rely on Apple for access to their users and to eliminate their paid-for application model; and (2) so Google can control the mobile industry and thus secure advertising from it.”

[More]

More on the report I discussed earlier. Google wants everything to be free and only supported by ads. That is how it makes its money. So it will create environments where ads are the ONLY way for developers to make money. They have little or no say over the worth of their product – Google gets to set the rates and determine what the apps are ‘worth.’ To recoup development costs, software engineers will be totally beholden to Google’s rates for ads.

That is where Google’s ‘free’ approach is moving towards.

Google’s approach neither services their users nor developers in ways that provide much freedom for either. Users get software for free but have to put up with ads. The developers then have no choice but to use ads to support their work but not in a way that really allows them to use a free market to determine price. They are stuck with whatever Google decides to pay for ad-cicks. They will not be able to lower prices to increase sales. The only way to increase revenue is to get Google to raise ad rates.

Google maintains complete control over all transactions that are allowed to occur.

On the iOS store, the developers are free to determine price and the user is free to decide how much they want to pay. There are free, light versions of software that may be ad-driven. There are also versions that cost money but have added benefits, such as no ads. The developers are free to have sales, where they lower prices and are able to judge where to set the price. They can increase sales by lowering the price.

The market place eventually finds the proper place based on interactions between the seller and the buyer. It is a true bazaar where Apple only takes a cut of the transaction but really does not care how the transaction is made. It acts simply as a broker, not as an integral part of the course of the transactions.

In Google’s world, they want to control all of the transactions, driving them all through its ads filter so it can make money. Direct interaction between seller and buyer is increasingly discouraged.

This explains why Google is fine with getting in bed with big media to cripple net neutrality. It really does not care about open access. It cares about eyeballs and if Verizon or Comcast can deliver more eyeballs, that is the direction it will try and head. It needs controlled access through its ad-prism in order to survive. As long as it controls the eyeballs, it makes money.

There is irony in the fact that the walled community Apple has created may be a more open market that better services both developer and customer than Google’s community built on more open standards. It demonstrates that Open Software does require that the resulting marketplaces are free – free as in freedom, not beer. Libre vs. Gratis.

Google gives us free software (gratis) but with restrictions that both users and developers have little control over. Apple gives us software that we are free (libre) to buy or not, without outside restrictions on the transactions.

The world is more complex than many people want it to be. I would rather live in a world where the market place is free (libre) hosted by a broker who simply gets paid based upon the transactions that freely occur than where the market place is free (gratis) but controlled by an organization with its own, divergent needs.

Goggle uses the same basic model as TV and newsprint – eyeballs

eyeball by Maggiejumps

All About the Ads
[Via Daring Fireball]

Kyle Baxter on Google’s motivations for Android:

Google isn’t a web application company—they’re an advertising company. That’s what they do best, and that’s what drives their company. Of Google’s $23.6 billion of revenue in 2009, all but $760 million of it was derived from advertising, and nearly 70 percent of it was from Google’s own websites.

Everything Google does must be understood within this context.

[More]

It is all about eyeballs. The customers of broadcast TV or news media are not those that peruse the content. Their customers are the organizations that advertise on those media. Those are the ones they service and the service is eyeballs for the ads.

Anything that drives eyeballs is what will be used, even if it does not serve the purposes of the users.

Now Google has done a better job of trying to keep the needs of the consumers and the needs of advertisers congruent but if they diverge, as they often do with other media, then Google will have to follow the path of the advertisers. That is where the money is.

So, if the advertisers, say book publishers, demand access to your email etc. in order to allow Google to sell books, Google may just have to do that. I’m sure they will ut up a fight but eventually, the need to service their real customers will create a conflict with those using their devices.

This is one reason so many media outlets are having problems – their need for capital now outweighs any real duty to the readers. Simply doing things that drive eyeballs is what they all attempt to do these days. At least those beholden to ads.

In contrast, the only people Apple really needs to service are those that buy their wares. There are really no other groups acting to push Apple away from that path.

Cool iPhone App – GoodGuide

How to stay chemical-free: just pick up your iPhone
[Via PLoS Blogs]

Happy New Year! My first post of 2011 will be a cheerful one: I’ve made a new and potentially very useful discovery. I frequently harp on the fact that household and personal care products are rife with nasty chemicals (even the ones that say they’re not!), but I’ve never found an easy way to avoid them. How can you tell which products are the safest when you’re browsing the drug store aisle without your computer?

Well, turns out there’s an iPhone app for that. The GoodGuide, a database that ranks household products according to their health and environmental impacts, has a new feature on its free iPhone application that uses the phone’s camera as a barcode scanner. Simply pick up a product, use the camera to scan the barcode, and within seconds you can see its GoodGuide score (the higher the number, the better the product). I discovered this new feature yesterday and ran around my apartment scanning barcodes like a mad woman. I’m proud to note that most of what I scanned scored quite well—but that’s probably because I do my homework before I go shopping. Now, though, I won’t have to. Yet another excuse to be lazy.

Download the Goodguide’s free iPhone app here.

[More]

I’ll be downloading this one. Simply scan the barcode and get information on a products sustainability, safety etc. Looks useful and the price is right.

They simply do not work!

power balance by iStyleMagazine
Sweet justice
[Via Pharyngula]

Power Balance is a company that prospered on gullibility: they sell overpriced silicon rubber wristbands with an imbedded hologram that do absolutely nothing, but which they claimed would enhance athletic performance. And they got suckers to shell out $60 for them.

The law caught up to them and forced them to publicly retract their claims. Here’s what you’ll find on their website now.

In our advertising we stated that Power Balance wristbands improved your strength, balance and flexibility.

We admit that there is no credible scientific evidence that supports our claims and therefore we engaged in misleading conduct in breach of s52 of the Trade Practices Act 1974.

If you feel you have been misled by our promotions, we wish to unreservedly apologise and offer a full refund.

To obtain a refund please visit our website http://www.powerbalance.com.au or contact us toll-free on 1800 733 436

This offer will be available until 30th June 2011. To be eligible for a refund, together with return postage, you will need to return a genuine Power Balance product along with proof of purchase (including credit card records, store barcodes and receipts) from an authorised reseller in Australia.

This Corrective Notice has been paid for by Power Balance Australia Pty Ltd and placed pursuant to an undertaking to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission given under section 87B of the Trade Practices Act, 1974.

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I wonder how many millions they made making outrageously unsupported statements? Well, according to this article, they have sold over 2.5 million. At $60 per, that is $150 million for something that is no better than a rubber band.

And all they have to do is say Sorry. No fines at all for false advertising.

This was placed on them by the Australians. What about consumer protection for Americans?

Maybe they can claim that it was all satire, like the instructions for a Pet Rock.

The America that used to be

detroit by Bob Jagendorf

Detroit in Ruins
[Via Daring Fireball]

Powerful photographs of a once-great city, by Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre. (Via Dave Winer.)

[More]

So many beautiful old buildings falling down. Built in an earlier, more optimistic time. Now they just look like something from a bad zombie movie.

Wikileaks and Apple – why does Apple not leak anymore?

[Crossposted at SpreadingScience]

steve jobs by Collin Allen

Wikileaks: traditional liberalism with balls?
[Via Boing Boing]

The mainstream media likes to suggest, with a nudge and a wink and abuse of the word “cyber,” that Wikileaks represents a radical ideological position. But if there’s a moral crusade to be found, maybe it’s rooted in a tradition closer to home: classical Western liberal-democratic principles.

In The New Republic, Noam Scheiber takes for granted that Wikileaks is here to stay, with relentless pressure on big business and big government that permanently hampers their ability to prevent leaks. This will result in smaller, more humane organizations.

I have no idea what size organization is optimal for preventing leaks, but, presumably, it should be small enough to avoid wide-scale alienation, which clearly excludes big bureaucracies. Ideally, you’d want to stay small enough to preserve a sense of community, so that people’s ties to one another and the leadership act as a powerful check against leaking.

To make this point, Scheiber reminds us that Wikileaks’ stated aim–making organizations operate more ethically–is a mainstream one: “It’s easier for honest CEOs to run an honest business, if the dishonest businesses are more affected negatively by leaks than honest businesses,” he quotes Julian Assange.

Scheiber’s argument seems to be that Wikileaks’ disclosures could have more subtle and far-reaching effects on organizations than it expects.

[More]

Apple demonstrates today the sort of company Scheiber discusses. Maybe it is because Jobs hates leaks.

Scheiber’s article is one that should be read by everyone. It is a very important one in its implications. Wikileaks, and the ideas behind it, may alter how businesses work and adapt. It touches on some of the ideas of David Brin in The Transparent Society – the same technologies that permit the powerful to spy on us can, and should, be used to spy on the powerful.

Scheiber postulates, and I agree, that the inability of large companies to stem leaks may result in the greater proliferation of corporate ‘cells – it is easier to control the flow in smaller groups without stemming the tide totally. Inefficiencies in small groups can be overcome when needed. In larger groups, it can be deadly.

Luckily, we also have the ability today for smaller organizations to leverage the abilities of others to succeed. The small biotech company I was VP, Research at had perhaps 3 of us who were working in the lab. But we did not need more because we could have other companies do the sequencing for us – no need for a core facility with tens of people. We could have other companies synthesize DNA for us – no need for a core facility with tens of people. We were able to accomplish great work with a company with 10-20 fold fewer people than it would have taken just 10 years earlier.

So, there will be business pressures to become smaller and more adaptive as well as information pressures.

That is why I think Apple is the first of its kind – a truly large company that has somehow maintained the abilty for small company adaptability. It acts small, has research abilities that are far beyond the modest number of people it has doing R&D. It is able to run rings consistently around other companies. It is one of the largest companies by capital value on the planet yet it acts like a startup.

I don’t know all the details of why but we all know that Jobs is the reason. But I think part of the way this new sort of company came about was because of Jobs’ reaction to leaks.

Apple used to leak like a sieve with whole websites devoted to writing about them. Jobs pretty much stopped that, so much so that a lost iPhone became a cause celebré.

One would have expected this sort of iron control on information leaks would have harmed Apple. Most organizations respond to by clamping down on information flow but, and this is especially true of large ones, this is like giving themselves a lobotomy. Information flow slows, making it very hard to make good decisions and adapt properly to changing conditions.

That is what Assange claims he wants to do with Wikileaks – cause the old dinosaurs to react in ways that result in their own downfall.

Well, Apple shut down leaks and actually became a better and stronger company. I’d love to know the details but I expect that Jobs actually implemented some of what Scheiber discusses. Break the groups down into more manageable units and use pressures to make leaking a violation of social mores.

Of course, this is a two way street and these same social mores can push back on the company to be more ethical, etc. Even the smallest group is open to leaks when some feel the company is acting unethically. It all becomes a system of controls and feedbacks that does not harm the information flow needed to adapt.

I believe that when it is all said and done, we will discover that the same things that ended most of Apple’s leaks also led to a large amount of their success. That somehow Jobs’ response actually did not stifle creativity but enhanced it.

If we can replicate this elsewhere, then things like Wikileaks would not need to be feared by most organizations. In fact, Wikileaks would become irrelevant for the vast majority of us.

Understanding Apple’s iOS as a complex system of devices

iphone by Gonzalo Baeza Hernández

★ Emotional Rescue
[Via Daring Fireball]

There was an interesting thread of iOS-vs.-Android news and punditry over the weekend, starting with this report by Seth Weintraub for Fortune:

I had a chance to speak with Jim Tran, VP/GM Handset Line of Business for Broadcom, who was able to elaborate on the details of the new processor and what it meant for the industry. […]

But the kicker is the price. Tran says that phones made from the BCM2157 chipset will retail for under $100 and may dip as low as $75. Those devices should debut in just 3-6 months (and we might hear about them next month at CES). […] To be clear, That sub $100 price is not the cost of materials, it is the suggested retail price after the manufacturers (and carriers) have taken their profits.

In other words, $100 Android phones within the next year.

I’m not sure how this qualifies as news, though. US discount carrier Cricket already sells a Huawei Android phone with reasonable specs for $130. I’m not aware of anyone paying attention to this industry who hasn’t anticipated a race to the bottom from discount Android handset makers.

Here’s how Weintraub concludes his report:

What’s most interesting is that unless Apple has a plan to keep up, their iPhone, once one of the only usable smartphone games in town, may wind up back where most Apple products are slotted — at the top of the market, affordable only to those willing and able to pay a premium for Steve Jobs’ aesthetic sensibilities.

In other words, ever-cheaper Android phones spell trouble for Apple.

I expect better from Weintraub. He says the iPhone “may wind up” relegated to the top of the market. But isn’t that exactly where the iPhone started, and has remained, from 2007 through today? The key is how much of the “top”. There’s a big difference between, say, dominating the top 5 percent of a market and the top 30 percent of the same market.

In July 2007, by some measure of the word “usable”, Apple had 100 percent of the market for, to use Weintraub’s term, “usable smartphones”. Things only look disastrous for Apple if you count their ever-declining share of “usable smartphones”, rather than the company’s share of phones, or even just smartphones.

The real story, if Weintraub’s report of $100 Android phones in 2011 pans out, is the elimination of the distinction between “phones” and “smartphones”. Horace Dediu gets it:

What strikes me about the claim from Broadcom is that a $100 retail price for a smartphone implies an ASP of about $85 or so (assuming $15 or a very modest 18% channel mark-up).

That means that a smartphone could be built using this chip which would have nearly half the average price of all branded phones sold last quarter.

It would also be priced cheaper than the average price Nokia charged for all its phones (75% of which were non-smart phones.) […]

Note that I’m not suggesting that the market for high-end smartphones is threatened yet–there is still a lot of innovation that still needs to happen to shape that market into one of mobile computing (vs. mobile phoning).

Instead, what I am suggesting is that the bottom of the phone market is very vulnerable to becoming smart.

In other words: $100 Android smartphones in 2011 would be cheaper than the typical non-smartphone that was sold in 2010. Such phones will be a much bigger threat to traditional handset makers — Nokia, perhaps, particularly — than Apple.

Think of it this way: Apple has been competing against $100-150 cell phones ever since the iPhone was announced. Most of these phones are given to customers “free” when they sign or extend a two-year contract. The difference going forward is that even low-end phones are going to be what we today call “smartphones”, by any reasonable definition of the term.

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A fascinating say about Apple’s position with regard to the iPhone. WHat is partly discussed here is that Apple has created a complex ecosystem with its devices, a system no one else has. Many pundits look at each piece as if it represented Apple in toto.

But Apple has created something else. They are well on the way to having a single OS for ALL computing devices, from mobile to tablet to laptop to desktop, an OS that developers can leverage against all these devices. All the other devices fall into separate ecosystems.

In a biological sense, most phones, tablets, laptops, and desktops occupy separate niches, ones with very little information/development flow between them. So what happens on the tablet has little effect on the mobile device. The danger here, as with life in a real ecosystem, is that environmental changes can devastate anything that can not adapt rapidly.

But Apple lives in multiple niches at once, is able to adapt to changing environments by altering its devices as needed or putting more effort into others – for example, iPod sales are down but the overall iOS market is way up.

As mentioned by John, Jobs realized when he first saw a graphical user interface, he knew immediately that this would be how all computers would work. The Mac made this so and soon every computer looked the same on the screen. The iPod came out with its scroll wheel and soon, most MP3 players had similar hardware. Apple came out with the iPhone and soon smartphones looked like it. Apple came out with the iPad and soon tablets had the same look.

Things like iTunes and the App store hold this system together. But it really seems like something unique to me.

Like with humans, there are other animals that can do some things better than us, but none can do so many, especially when we demonstrate an adaptability not seen elsewhere. I expect Apple will continue to be more adaptive than any others in this market. That is why they are doing so well.

The Apple-Nokia patent battles look like career work for lawyers

Apfont-size: medium; color: #999999;”>Brainstorm Tech]

A simple patent dispute has escalated into a legal contest of Dickensian complexity

Click to enlarge. Source: FOSS Patents

In Oct. 2009, when Nokia (NOK) first complained in a U.S. federal court that Apple (AAPL) had infringed on 10 of its telecommunications patents, the case could be summarized in a fairly simple chart like the one at right created by FOSS Patents‘ Florian Mueller.

Fourteen months later, that relatively straightforward patent dispute has escalated through suits and countersuits into a legal battle of Dickensian complexity now being fought in seven different venues, from Delaware to Dusseldorf.

Mueller, who tackled the Android vs. iOS patent battleground three weeks ago, has scoured thousands of pages of legal documents and posted what is likely to be the definitive map of Nokia vs. Apple. The finished document covers 19 “moves,” 11 reference pages, 31 PDF slides and more than 75 individual patents.

Look below the fold to see Mueller’s representation of the nightmare that Oct. 2009 suit has grown into.

Click to enlarge. Source: FOSS Patents

[More]

The complexity of this case makes it appear likely that the lawyers working on it will spend most of their careers working on it. I expect the goal is to get some sort of cross licensing but to make it as painful as possible. Does Nokia have the mettle to go against Apple and spend wads of cash in court?

Just amazing.

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