Virgin EV Against Tesla, Apple Likely To Go At It Alone

There is plenty of chatter that Richard Branson is up there with Elon Musk as far as space goes but Branson is missing something Musk has and is considering getting into that game:  electric cars.  That in and of itself isn't news.  What I had originally though of, for all of ten seconds, is that maybe Virgin should partner with Apple.  But the more I think about it, the more I believe Apple will likely go at it alone - no deals with Mercedes, MBW, Telsa, or anyone else.

After all, the most likely partner Apple is likely to go with is Telsa and we already know from the poaching war that it is not going to happen. 

However, Branson's entry into the high-end electric car market should be a welcoming move for auto lovers.  Competition.  And that is what Telsa lacks even as it continues to innovate.  And while a Virgin challege is good, it won't be like the kind of competition and disruption that Apple can bring. And the Apple way is what will likely end up with Apple doing it on its own.

Imagine in 4-6 years when Apple, Telsa, and Virgin's electric cars are all going up not just against one another but the offers from traditional auto makers like BMW - beautiful sleek and fast cars that run 400+ miles on one charge powered by a green power grid. 

Of course, for a fact, only Tesla and BMW are major players in the electric car market.  Apple's entry is still just a rumor and there is just as much as chance as we'll see an Apple car as likely not.  Short answer is no one knows despite all the smoke from Cupertino. 

As for Virgin, Branson's musing about Virgin's entry into the auto market are just a few off the cuff comments.  Nothing more.  Not even a whiff of smoke.

But we can dream of the possibilites, can we?

With 2015 Macbook, Apple May Mark a Turning Point From Intel In Favor of Its Own Chips

It's like 2015 is going to be remembered as the year when Apple set in motion for its in-house developed chips to replace Intel chips in Macs.  This started with Apple using a relatively underpowered, by today's standard, Intel chip in the new Macbook as the much anticipated iPad Pro wait in the wings to be introduced with an updated iOS 9 more suitable for power users.  And this iPad Pro will sport a brand new A-series chip with comparable computing power but a longer battery life than the Macbook.

In fact, the iPad, since the very first iPad introduced by Steve Jobs, have a longer battery life than most of the Macbook variants including this 12" Macbook.

One can assume, then, that Apple will allow this new Macbook battle it out on the market with the iPad Pro.

More at On Apple.

Social: Interesting Article from BBC About Limo Drivers On Oscar Night

This post from BBC talked about the thousands of limos and other vehicles used to chauffeur stars and other "important" folks around Los Angeles on that all "important" night for Hollywood.  As someone who has lived in LA and taken these things for granted, I found the post interesting.

The closest Hollywood related events I've been to are premieres, especially those in Westwood by UCLA.  Streets would be cordoned off for blocks depending on how bit the movie is and who will be there.

Of course, that was nothing like the award shows like the Oscar.  I could not imagine what it would be like to be a part of something like that, either sitting in traffic because of that or someone like a driver who is an integral part of that.

Already, LA traffic is pretty bad.  Those of us who have lived here most of our lives know to avoid those areas.  What I found interesting is that the Hollywood Bowl (wiki) is essentially turned into a limo parking lot.

I imagine dispatchers at these limo companies use technologies akin to those used by air traffic controllers to keep track of drivers, routes, arrival times, etc.

Apple TV: Recent TV Moves and Deals By Apple Explains Why There Is No App Store Yet (If Ever)

There are no apps on the Apple TV other than those that Apple put there.  Video, music, podcast, and Netflix to name a few are the only ones there.  In fact, there are quite a few choices for users to select regardless of music, video, or live streaming media.  What is not there is an app store that many have been asking for or rumored about.  And to be frank, there may never be an app store for the Apple TV.

Apple has so far been adding "windows", if you will, that allows the user to consume content without any actual interaction.  No social graph.  You can play games on your iPhone or iPad via Airplay, mostly through mirroring, hardly ideal.

And let's face it, the currently Apple TV is good enough for streaming and Airplay, nothing more.  And until Apple updates the hardware on the Apple TV, we won't know what Apple may have planned. 

And once Apple's own streaming video service is available, it might be all that Apple needs - more content.

If anything, Apple will add apps relating to its "kits".  By that, I mean HealthKit and HomeKit.  There is so much potential there but Apple will likely move slow on those fronts as well, especially HomeKit.  It could take years for something tangible to develop, a "wow" factor that has so far been missing.  For the most part, Apple is happy to sit back and let others play with them and let developers and hardware makers figure out how to best use Apple's services. 

And if you think about it, what apps do you really need on the Apple TV that works better on a TV than on an iOS device.  Games quickly come to mind but Apple's support for third-party hardware like game controllers has been muted.  Again, it just feels like Apple was testing the water with the controllers until they see a breakthrough.  Apple TV plus an iOS equals a gaming console. 

There have been rumblings about a new Apple TV each and every single year but in 2014, it did feel like Apple was finally going to open up the floodgate a bit.  Apple stopped calling it a "hobby" for one thing.  And with the recent price cut, the $99 price point is available for a newer Apple TV.

Let's just see what the rest of 2015 have in store.  Or 2016.

Crimeans Now Regret Their Decision To Join Russia

This was sort of expected but to see people in Crimea voicing their regrets to turn their back on Ukraine and accept a bad deal from Putin should be an eye-opener to those who buy into propagandas without really thinking it through.  I'm not saying we don't have that in the West but this is very telling.

Crimea is experiencing all the bad things that Russians have gone through and realized it now.  Long ass lines for services.  Job prospects gone due to sanctions which is compounded by a talent flight as professionals leave and go back to the Ukraine.

If anything, the West should continue to hold a strong line on sanctions and the Ukrainians need to become a strong voice against Putin's agressions.  Build a new and open nation and become a beacon of "leave if you want.  You're getting none of prosperity and openness". 

Let Crimea turn into an economic wasteland like much of Russia will soon be if Putin doesn't go.

It's sad to see the people suffer because of Putin's pride.  I get that Russia is worry about security but it's not like the NATO or the EU will invade.  It's ideas fight ideas.  That is all it is these days. That is now wars are waged.  And Putin knows that his corrupt system, his only means of staying in power is by buying off his cronies, will not stand compared to the greater prosperity in the West. 

Frankly, Russians should not stand for this.  Putin is using Russian nationalism against itself.  Russians should look at themselves and see the proud people they are and say "we deserve better". 

Source:  Bloomberg.

Cord-Cutting: Apple TV Channels Coming This Year

With HBO Go on board, Apple is on the verge of debuting its own TV service supposedly with around 25 channels for about $40.  This is as concrete as we are going to get given years of rumors and, frankly, disappointment.

According to Wall Street Journal (via Cult of Mac), Apple has lined up major networks like ABC, Fox, and CBS.  Considering how long it has taken and subscribers already with Sling TV as a choice at $20 a month and 14 channels, it might not be that great a deal.  And furthermore, from what we can tell, it's not "cord-cutter" friendly.

A lot can still change between now and this year's Worldwide Developers Conference, supposedly when Apple will unveil the service.  However, if history is any indication, it's unlikely Apple will pick the WWDC for this unveiling as Apple tend to want to focus on iOS and OS X during the conference.

If Apple does unveil its streaming TV service, it'll likely be in the fall when Apple updates iOS devices like the iPhone 6S and iPad.

What channels are we likely to see?  Based on Sling TV's service, ESPN and a few Disney properties are likely on board.  If CBS is a part of the deal, perhaps Comedy Central might be a part of it.  You can't have a package without CNN.  And as for Fox, perhaps the FX network.

Also, in addition to being HBO Go's exclusive launch partner, Apple may be offering an online version of Showtime, a property of CBS.

Which we are unlikely to see consumers giving the ability to subscribe to channels that they want, what Apple and Sling TV are offering could be the next best thing.  A small subset of popular channels with value-added packages depending on what the subscribers want to watch.

Is this a good thing?  Absolutely.  Slow but surely, consumers will have more choices and competition in the market as we move closer to the death of the current TV and cable models.