Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Editorial on iTablet Rumors

Here's a post I wrote at Onxo on dealing with iTablet rumors.  I think it's great to be able to indulge in them but we just have to prepare ourselves to be disappointed when what we hope for and what we get doesn't compute.

Basically, enjoy the rumors but until we see Steve Jobs on stage holding an iTablet, it may as well be free because it still doesn't exist.  Yet.

More at Onxo.

App Store Suggestion: Apple Should Take Out Apps That Doesn't Work

I know that Apple already has an iron grip on the app store approval process. Personally, I haven't had too many run-ins with the enigmatic exercise. But recently, I decided that I was going to get on board with Barnes and Noble's ebook initiative. Boy, was that a mistake.

Here's a bit of my history with ebooks. I've been reading on a mobile device since Palm V back in 2000. Been reading ever since despite what Steve Jobs would like us to think. And for more Apple fans, I think you all pretty much read ebooks or otherwise. Some of these books are downloaded and other bought from and Fictionwise (Fictionwise bought eReader and, in turn, Fictionwise was bought out later by Barnes and Noble).

I have a couple of books with Kindle on the iPhone as well, one of the better things to have happen to the iPhone and iPod Touch in my opinion. But what has kept me from siding with Amazon is the little fact that Amazon feels it has the right to come into your mobile device or Kindle to steal back books you already bought whenever it feels like it. No, let's not splice this. Amazon reserves the right to do this. Fine. I'm sure others do as well but with BN and others, I can make a backup copy of everything I buy.

So, I decided I was going to go with BN for all my future ebook fixes. The probably is that for BN, you either have to use the Nook or the iPhone app (assuming you're using an iPhone or iPod Touch). The Nook is viritually not for sale as there is a long wait. Hence, you're stuck with the iPhone app.

But it doesn't work. I mean there's some quirky things going on with the app that makes it crash right after startup. I don't know what the deal is but BN really dropped the ball on the app and it has seen complaints rise on its own website as well as on iTunes while the app's ratings and reputation plummeted.

Now we get to the meat of this post. Apple ought to provide a process of pulling bad apps like this from the store until developers can fix complaints such as thing. Apple already has a tight control of the app store process, it might as well as exert greater control in issues where quality of the app is at play.

When we use the iPhone and iPod Touch, or any other Apple products, we pay a small premium because Apple gears just work. And when it doesn't, as in the case of the BN reader app, Apple ought to pull it until BN's software guys can fix this.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Qik: Live Video Streaming For Mobile Warriors

Qik. I like you to meet the company that’s going to be on the forefront of mobile video streaming. And it’s not just ordinary stream I’m talking about here.

With the Qik app for the iPhone and Android devices, any mobile warrior can become a broadcaster.

Qik has been around for a bit now but it was only recently when Apple allowed Qik to stream live video from the iPhone app that it has suddenly gained a lot of attention in the media and blogs.

For instance, I was able to provide a live stream from my iPhone 2G tethered to the G1 via Wi-Fi Tether and show off a couple of minutes of video from last night’s dinner to a friend overseas.

There is a wide range of implications for this new mobile app. Forget citizen journalists providing near instant updates with still pictures, now folks can report on news right from their mobile device.

How about for folks who can’t make it birthday parties and weddings? No problem if someone at the event is kind enough to provide some live video of the vow or candles being blown out.

The video quality for Qik was good enough consider where we are today with streaming technology and I’m confident that we’ll get to play with better quality videos as mobile devices become apt at handing the load and wireless speed improve with additional 3G upgrades to 7.2mbps or 4th generation wireless. Keep in mind that I was streaming through a tethered iPhone over 3G.

But there is something that I have to come back to: battery life. Wow, did Qik kill my battery on the iPhone. It wasn’t the app’s fault. It’s a fact of life, you know? If live user-provided content are to make inroads, battery life has to improve vastly. I’m going to try this weekend to see what kind of battery life I’ll be able to get out of this.

I’ve got an external battery glove for the iPhone and I’m also able to stream directly from the G1. And I’ve got an extra battery for the Android phone.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Apple's Dec Shipment Costs for iMac or iTablet?

Here, I’m going back to the last financial call between analysts and Apple executives. Specifically, the part about the December transportation cost being higher than normal. I visited this in past posts but I think it’s time to do it again since we have some new developments.

The first likely theory is that the transportation costs to air freight products is related to the iMacs. Apple in its wisdom has anticipated the popularity of the iMacs. Hence, we’re seeing a 2-week delay in shipment. I did a couple of walkthroughs myself and haven’t seen one in stock. In trying to satisfy its likely high net-worth customers, Apple is shipping backordered iMacs by air.

Okay, that was the more likely scenario for the higher cost associated to shipment. Now’s less probable scenario. Apple has been stocking up on the iTablets. And once that announcement is made at a time and venue of Steve Jobs’ choosing, which most people agree it to be in January, he will also say that you can rush out and pick one up right away.

Improbable but not impossible. Apple has been able to secure new product into production and shipment without anyone getting a whiff of it. The most recent example in memory was the iPod Touch. No one had any idea, including partner ATT, that Apple would be shipping a, now very successful, phoneless iPhone.

But it makes sense that this is something Apple has the resources to pull off and is capable of scaring its sourcing partners into silence. Remember when Foxconn set up on the employee who lost an Apple preproduction device? Yeah. I do too.

Now back to reality. I don’t see this in our hands until the February or March time frame. That might not be a bad thing for Apple as many folks may be awash in tax returns.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Will Apple Being Butt of SNL Joke Make Jobs Abandon ATT As Exclusive Carrier?

It's hard to imagine Steve Jobs doing what others want because of external pressure.  Well, that pressure was upped a couple notch as Apple became the punchline and punching bag of a SNL skit.

But I think this kind of publicity isn't what Apple looks for and this is compounded by the fact that Apple is unable to control the message.  Suffice to say, the iPhone continues to outsell everyone else without the need for special deals like Blackberries, Pres, or Droids.  So that says a lot.  Nevertheless, any bruising of Apple's image as far as Cupertinonites are concerned is a worrying sign.

So I wonder if this will put back on the table any works that Apple might have to to move the iPhone onto another network something that is now pushed to the forefront of the mobile agenda. I think more likely, any deal to have the iPhone on Verizon or T-Mobile has already been worked out long ago.

Still, that can't come any sooner.  I think any debate about ATT's worth as a viable network for the iPhone is useless until we've got something to compare it with, say Verizon's claim of having a more reliable network.

More at Appleinsider.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Three Issues That Needs To Be Addressed In iPhone OS 4.0

We're at the about the half way point of the a new iPhone release.  It's incredible how the iPhone 3GS has come so far in the marketplace.  More than 7 million iPhones sold in the last quarter and we're headed for another record sales.  For iPhone and Apple fans, things can't be better.

Well, it can actually.  I've identified two things that Apple needs to Address in iPhone 4.0.  I'm talking specifically just about the OS.

App management and navigation.  It's time Apple come up with a new innovative scheme to address this.  I've got all the desktops filled with apps.  I've ran out of room.  Fine.  I can deal with that.  Except all the swiping.  It gets kinda old, you know?  I can think of a couple of ways to deal with it but I'm sure Apple's talents have come up with 10 better ways to do deal with app management and getting from one app to another.

I'm okay with swiping but as Apple is likely to increase the number of apps that the user can install, swiping through 15 or even 20 desktops to get to the right app can get tedious.  If I'm VW or Sprint, I'd make fun of this fact in a commercial or something.

Furthermore, iPhone and iPod Touch are due for another doubling of memory in about six months' time.  The iPod app will also needs to be addressed.  I'm all for more room to put my video, music, audio books, and podcasts on my  upcoming 128GB iPod Touch but maybe Apple needs to make navigating between contents easier.

I'm predicting that the iPhone will get a better and bigger screen with higher resolutions.  That can make things easier for Apple to address management of apps and other contents on the iPhone and iPod Touch.

Answers to widgets.  I've discussed "skins" and widgets in past On Apple posts as others like the Cliq, Hero, and the Pre all have an easy access to contacts, e-mails, and messages.  I like to see Apple address in the form of a Dashboard function that runs in the background like what we've already got in the Mac OS.

Wouldn't that be neat?  Here is another post regarding how Apple can do this.  And Apple must employ a new scheme but in its own way.  I think we'll see that in iPhone 4.0 and it'll be awesome.

Why do I have such faith?  It took Apple to release iPhone 3.0 to include copying, cutting, and pasting.  It's about getting it right.  iPhone 4.0 is a good time for Apple to release something to wow us all in terms of UI.

Background processing.  It's about audio.  I'm no for someone crunching a spreadsheet in the background but gosh, push notification doesn't address the fact I can't listen to live broadcasts or streaming audio.  I think Apple means well as it tries to balance the mobile experience between access and battery life.  Too much address like the Android and Pre and you end up with crappy battery life.  Right now, the iPhone is on the other extreme.  Pretty good battery life but it is life with a lot of switching back and forth between apps and not being able to enjoy music.

With these three issues addressed, Apple will go a long way in putting more distance between the iPhone and the rest of the field.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Where Is the New Product Associated With Apple's Higher Freight Cost?

During the last financial call, Apple executives hinted at a higher than usual cost for air freight charges.  Immediately, the Internet was buzzing for what it could be for.  Added to the mix was that Apple said it was not for the iPhone.

What can it be?  the iMac?  It is the most recent prodct Apple refreshed that's out on the market.  And it seems like supplies should be more than adequate for the other items in Apple's product line.  No issues with the iPods.

It seems the Macbooks are selling well but also no reports or hints of tight supplies at the store.

For Black Friday, foot traffic in the Apple stores were lighter than last year but sales online were up by a large margin.  So, things seem alright with having enough stock to sell for this quarter.

Still, we're still left wondering what specific Apple product is impacting the shipping cost.  It's nearly the middle of December so nothing new is about to come on to the market from Apple.

So, it has to be one of the existing products, right?  If I have to guess, it is likely the Macbooks.  It was one of the heavily discounted items by authorized third party sellers online with some models being offered $100-200 off Apple's retail price.

We'll know for sure in January when analysts inquire about it.  So far, this is all that I can think of.

At the time when we all heard it, we noted it in our blogs but what no one said was that we secretly hope that it'll be the fabled iTablet, as improbable as it was for Apple to spring it on us.

There is a possibility that the Apple TV can make a new presense though that is not going to happen.

With all that said, could there have been a new product that Apple was trying to get out the door in time for the Holidays?  If there is, I'm guess that was a last minute glitch and the launch was pushed back.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Glimpse to iTablet

Today, former Crunchpad, now called Joojoo, is unveiled.  And it won't be available for another 8-11 weeks, according the a news event unveiled and covered by Engadget reported.  It's no longer called the Crunchpad because of a legal dispute between Michael Arrington who first came up with the vision to develop a $200 Internet pad and Fusion Garage who Arrington picked to partner with.  If you want the gory legal details, you'll have to find it yourself.  It's interesting but ultimately, not worth knowing about.

Here are the specs the Joojoo unveiled by Chandra Rathakrishnan of Fusion Garage :
  • Intel Atom Chip
  • 12" Touchscreen
  • HD movies
  • 4GB storage
  • Wi-Fi only - 3G access in the future is possible
  • Accelerometer
  • 5 hours of battery life - I am guessing it's less.  More like 4 hours.  My Macbook does better.  
  • 2.5 pounds.  Heavy for a tablet.
Simple and straight-forward.  Almost downright boring.  Now, here are what I expect Apple's iTablet to be:
  • Chip - unknown at this time but I don't expect Atom
  • 10" Multi-touch
  • 32-64GB SSD
  • HD movies out with access to iTunes
  • Wi-Fi with 3G option
  • Acceleroter
  • 10-15 hours of battery life.  This might be what Steve Jobs settle for but I think Apple will likely aim higher
  • Runs a new variant of OS X or just the iPhone OS.
  • Access to 100K apps in the App Store.
  • 1.0-1.5 Pounds
This is easily a good look at that the iTablet competitors will look like.  I don't know what Joojoo runs on but it seems like something Chrome OS is claiming to do.  Other competitors will run Android or Windows.  The fact that Joojoo, it means "magic", can be rushed to the market in about two years' time is very impressive.  However, from the look of things, it feels a bit rushed.

Oh, the Joojoo will debut for $500.  Personally, I'll wait for the iTablet. And if by chance there really is no iTablet, I'll be sticking with my iPhone or get a new iPod Touch.  I'll also consider an Android tablet before I give the Joojoo a second look.

Why?  A number of reasons.
  • It isn't an iTablet.  I've been spoiled by the iPhone and Android and knowing what I know is possible, the Joojoo falls short of that.  
  • $500 for a keyboard-less netbook?  No thanks.  What ever happened to the $200 Internet pad?
  • The legal issues between Arrington and Fusion Garage is going to be messy.
  • Rushed.  Not a lot was said and to me, that's a bad sign.
  • More legal issues - I get the feeling that there are patent lawsuits coming.  Call it my "blink"-esque feeling.
More at Engadget on the Joojoo and the live conference.

Note:  There is one that can change the game a bit and make Joojoo more survivable in the soon to be crowded MID market.  It runs Atom and it's possible that like the netbooks, it's hackable.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

More Mean Ads From VW, Moto, And Google

You know those ads from Verizon Wireless?  They've been hitting ATT and Apple's iPhone pretty hard and it just got harder.

But you know what?  I absolutely love it!  It's like the PC-Mac ads Apple put out but without the humor.

I think this will get Apple, Steve Jobs in particular, pretty pissed off.  And you don't want Jobs pissed off.  I think the gloves are off as far as Apple and Google are concerned.

More at Onxo Mobile Society.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Apple, Please Let Us Do More With iChat (For iPhone too)

I don't know what to do with iChat on my Macbook. I've used it a few times. Mostly, I click it by accident when I'm in a rush to fire up Safari. Instead, I've been using Adium since I found out about it. With Adium, like Trillian on Windows, I can put together my MSN, Yahoo, AOL, Gtalk, and, now, Facebook contacts in one application. It's really efficient.

So far, I can use AOL and Gtalk with iChat but it doesn't let me do much else. Frankly, I'm not sure Apple really has any plans for iChat other than to just havesomething for the MobileMe crowd.

But if there is a way for Apple to include voice, VOIP, or something else, that would be fantastic. And with Google snapping up Gizmo5 and merging it with Voice, Appple's iPhone and Macs are really left at the mercy of their Mountainview neighbor who is increasingly more of a competitor on the mobile and desktop front.

I think it's about time Apple get serious about iChat and doing more with it. 30 Billion in the bank, I am sure Steve Jobs and company can put a couple of billions into some startups and catch up rather quickly. Hey, maybe even work with Cisco at the beginning to learn a few tricks about communication.

And the perfect time would be when iPhone 5.0 comes out. What happened to 4.0, you ask? While I hope to see the VOIP features in version 4 of the iPhone OS, I think it's too soon and Apple doesn't have to rush yet. They've got a couple of years before things get desperate. But I've got hope as there are evidence that Apple is working towards this end.

Since the release of iPod Touch, it has gained capabilities in hardware as well as other subtle features with each upgrade. First it gained the ability for Touch users to do voice (voice memo app). Then it gained small, albeit lame, speakers but speakers nontheless. It almost feels like Apple is using the current generations of iPod Touch users to fine tune a mobile device capable of so much more in a few years.

Note: I know that Apple probably gave the iPod Touch lame speakers as not to upset ATT or cannibalize the iPhone.

When are the Macs Getting M4 Chips? Prediction: MacBook Pro With M4 At the WWDC

What are the new M4 chips? Presumably, Macs could get the M4 chip tomorrow if Apple decides to pull the trigger on them.  First, let's a...