Thursday, December 30, 2010

Apple Should Come Out With Own Magazine As Model For Others

Apple should come out with their own magazine for the iPad that would serve as a model for other media publishers to follow. Another alternative is for Apple to work closely with a couple of major magazines that can serve as showcases on how to transform print into the digital age.

Nexus One, Google's model smartphone, was a brilliant move even though it did not sell in the numbers expected but it did act as a showcase device for other device makers to follow and gave a kick in the butt for those in the Android market. Without it, the Android market may not be where it is at today. It is why Google continue this with Nexus S.

It's a model that Apple can follow. Steve Jobs should lead a team that can put together and publish an Apple-backed magazine. I don't know what subject it could be about. Anything really. But it will allow Apple to lead the way and show how to leverage technology and tools such as social media that are readily available for publishing a digital magazine.

I think a showcase along the line of The Project from Virgin is a good start. And while I applaud Virgin's effort and first time out, there is much more The Project can offer as its team gain more experience. Apple can leapfrog all that and put everything else in the app store to shame.

See, I don't think the reports of stagnating sales of magazine apps for the iPad is an issue about Apple not offering a subscription scheme for publishers. That has appeared on blog after blog and it's a rather easy excuse for everyone to latch onto.

The more serious problem is that everything thinks that just by offering a digital copy of the magazine would satisfy readers. Sorry, my friends, is not the case. The current magazines being offered on the iPad offer a few videos and sounds but nothing more. And most of what's available for the iPad can be obtained online.

Apple needs to approach the magazine and newspaper industry the way it did with music, mobile, and tablet markets. Shake things up and lead through innovation.

When Will iPhone For Verizon Be Announced? Don't Know But It Won't Be Verizon Doing It

I don't know where this came from but I found it absolutely ridiculous when I heard it. And if I had to guess who the culprit is, I'd have to say it came from an idiot Wall Street analyst.

So, essentially, there is talk about Verizon would announce the availability of a CDMA iPhone at CES beginning next week. Right. Verizon Wireless will announce to the world that Apple will make available the iPhone on its network.

This is the same Apple that left Macworld a couple of years ago and said that it doesn't want to be a part of any trade shows that force it to make announcements when it was not ready. The same Apple who's Steve Jobs said that by making announcements so close after the Holidays, its engineers were not able to spend time with their families.

So, bottom-line is this: Apple makes its own product announcements. Apple does not give up control to someone else to market their products and risk being screwed up or misrepresented to the consumers.

When will Apple tell the US consumers that they will have a choice of another network for the iPhone? Only Apple knows when that'll be but one thing is for sure. It won't be Verizon Wireless making that announcement.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

iBookstore SDK Is Needed To Shake Up The eBook Market For Apple To Win

I know that Apple has made it easy to design, code, and publish apps for the iOS devices.  Three hundred thousand apps and likely five hundred thousand apps by the middle of 2011 is a testament to how Apple can really shine when it wants to.

However, outside of iTunes and the App Store, Apple's effort into other media has been met with mediocre success as with TV and movies.  And it has so far floundered with ebooks.  What should Apple do?

How about an iBookstore SDK?

Gauging Apple's Mobile Success By Examining Its Vision, Not Stock Price

I do own a couple of shares of Apple that I did not sell from way back when things were still bad. As a believer, albeit naïve at the time, I thought things would turn around. The naïve part would have come true had Steve Jobs not entered the halls of Apple Proper and took things over and shook the music, PC, and, now, the mobile markets.

I was watching a CNBC video today where two analysts, pretty much clueless about tech and what we mobile warriors are about, took both sides of the Apple stock. One thinks it’ll go up while the other thinks things about to come to a head for Apple’s stock price.

Where do I stand?

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Review of iSpot And iPod Touch

I've been using the iSpot for about three weeks now with the iPod Touch.  My goal is to determine whether the combination of these two devices, iSpot providing wireless Internet and the iPod Touch acting as a communication gateway, can effectively replace the more expensive iPhone 4 with its $70 and up monthly plan or other smartphones with similarly priced monthly fee.

In my last update, things more or less worked out as I had hoped.  More than less.  To quickly summarize, I hooked up my Google Voice number to my Whistlephone number.  Whenever I dial out, I use the Google Voice app which then connects to my Whistlephone app.  The iPod touch will notify me of an incoming call, I'd answer it, and the call to whomever goes through. When someone tries to call me on the Google Voice number, the call gets forwarded to Whistlephone (Whistlephone offers free domestic calls in the US).  Great and it's free.

And while it was not intended to be so, this past Christmas weekend was a good test to see how this scheme would work as I drove all over Los Angeles, venturing in Orange County, and visit new spots where I had no prior knowledge if Clearwire has WiMax support or not.

How did it go?

On Saturday, I was Los Angeles and in safe areas where WiMax coverage exists.  Calls went out just fine.  Most calls were received but a few did get missed that was quickly picked up by the Google Voice app on the iPod touch.  The annoying thing is that incoming calls are delayed for a second or two before being connected with me hearing the other party going "hello?  hello?  hello?".  

But it's free. Can't complain really.

What I did notice was that Whistlephone was not picking up during those missed calls  Well, that's fine.  When I got home for Christmas dinner, I downloaded and installed the Whistlephone application for the Mac.  I figured a land-connection would be more robust than WiMax.  Well, the voice quality, for some reason, was worse on the Mac than on the Touch.  Still, free.  

On Sunday, the real adventure began.  We drove to Downtown Los Angeles.  Coverage there was fine.  I was near the Staple Center and I reckon Clearwire would want good coverage where thousands of people gather on a regular basis for sporting events and concerts.  Would not be good for image and business of folks complain about services.

Then we started driving to Orange County.  The freeway coverage ranged from good to moderate.  I tried to stream NPR and I did get cut off a couple of times.  This was much better than when I headed to Long Beach about ten days ago.  Once we got to Irvine (capital of the financial and mortage meltdown west of the Mississippi), coverage was hit and miss. 

Driving to the South Coast Plaza and getting into the parking lot, I noticed very spotty and bad coverage (red or flashing red on the iSpot - weak signal or that it was looking for signal).  I had tried to make a call to my brother but was unable to.  Once I got out of the mall and got back into the freeway towards Tustin, coverage got better once again.  

When I got to my brother's house, the iSpot light indicator was yellow, which means good.  I like the green that indicated strong signal.  Fine.  Still usable until I got into the house.  But my touch quickly switched over the house's wifi coverage so that was good.

When a couple of hours later, I had to drive to another part of Irvine to my cousin's house.  And along the way, I had to pass through some farming fields.  No idea what they were used for.  Oranges?  I saw no trees.  But along the way, I was surprised by the strong signal that was indicated on the iSpot.

But as I got closer to my cousin's house, the iSpot quickly went from green to red.  By the time I got to her street, it alternated between red and yellow depending on where in the car I had placed the iSpot.  

During that time, I missed a few calls.  More than at any other time during the day and more than at any other time when I used the iSpot.  I couldn't understand why.  Instead of telling me that is an incoming call, the push notification would tell me that I had missed a call here or there.  I was concerned.  

My calls were still going through as before.  It was just the incoming calls that was being missed.  

I was not able to tell if this was a connection issue or Whistle issue.  But with other operations such as using the Maps app, emailing, streaming audio, or checking e-mail or updating Facebook, it worked without a hitch.  What was going on?  Was my plan to use free VOIP for mobile in jeopardy?

When I finally returned home, I found the answer.  I think I did.  Apparently, the calls may have been going through the Whistlephone application that was still running on the Macbook  After using Whistle to make a call that lasted nearly an hour, I quit it and subsequent calls came through just fine on the touch.

By that time, I was on the wifi network at home.  Still, I think it was the two Whistle applications that were competing for the same call that was causing my afternoon calls on the Touch and iSpot to not come through.

So, it was not exactly the iSpot, iPod touch, or Whiste that did not pass my test.  Over all, I remained convinced that I've made the right choice as far as going the nontraditional for my mobile communication needs.  And given more time, this experience will continue to be more robust and additional choices will be available for not only the iOS devices, but for Android and other mobile platforms as well.

I see a future where wireless providers, whether they become dump pipes or not (it's their choices but I'm not optimistic), will be forced to move away from voice plans to providing exclusive data plans and devices like the iPod touch will gain 3G or 4G connectivity and all voice chats will go through VOIP or video solutions

Note:  I am eagerly waiting for Google to make available to Android and iOS apps VOIP capability.  When that happens, I will no have to route my calls through Whistle or any other options.  I believe that will come soon in 2011.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

iPad Means No Need To Watch TV For My Nephew

As it happened, I ended up babysitting on this fine rainy weekend in Southern California. And one of the things that I thought my brother and his wife had really ruined for my god-son is that they allow him to watch a lot of TV.

Well, no more.

In the past, we would spend all day watching TV. There was just no way to entice him to do anything else. Even when we are playing, he wanted the TV on. It's the same for the baby (14 months old).

With the iPad, the TV was not on until my brother's wife turned it on because she wanted to watch. Still, my nephew paid no heed to it. He was content with drawing and playing matching games on this magical device.

Still, I have to say that the iPad is no substitute for human interaction. I forced him to sit through a couple of physical books and played with his toys.

But in a short time, he has been able to learn and trace some letters.

So, I am not a TV guy for kids and the proliferation of iPads and tablets will really change how today's children spend their free time. But do make sure they go out and play too.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Waiting For A Quad-Core 17" Macbook Pro

Just for fun, I like to go to the Apple's online store and put together various Mac configurations.  From Macbook Air all the way to the 17" Macbook Pro, it allows me to see just how much a decked-out mobile Mac computer will cost.  Then wisely, I close the browser.

On a couple of occasions, I even put it on my shopping cart.  Just to feel what it's like. Obviously if I wanted to, my credit doesn't have the heft to carry such a balance anyway.  

But I was struck by the fact that there still isn't a quad-core CPU option for any of the MBP while PC makers happily sell them to users.  Perhaps that is why I never went ahead and ordered a MBP, 15" or 17", because for the same amount of money, I could have gotten a 27" iMac with quad-core support that'll let me fly when I work on my videos.

So yesterday, I learned that Intel's Sandy Bridge mobile chips will only come out with quad-cores at first had me really excited.  Perhaps, we'll see 2011 as the year Apple offers quad-core CPU for the Macbook line.

So instead of paying $4500 today for a 2.92Ghz dual-core 17" Macbook Pro with a 512GB solid-state drive and 8GB of RAM, I can get a 2.8Ghz quad-core 17" with Lion by June of 2011.  

Meanwhile, this'll give me time to save up some money and continue to work with my late-2008 13" Macbook, which I am still quite happy with.

I know that argument that if you wait a bit, you'll always find a faster computer around the corner.  I think in my case, it's a bit different.  I think with the next generation CPU from Intel, we are not talking about an incremental increase in processor speed but that coupled with a whole new design with Lion and other iOS integration.  

So yeah, it'll be worth the way for me.

Apple Mac App Store: Opening January 6th, 2011

Apple announced the Mac app store will be available on January 6th, 2011.  Imagine waking up to this this morning.  Apple isn't known for making product or feature announcements without a major press event.  However, we have known for quite some time that the app store was going to open up soon.  But the question remains:  is the Mac app store going to have as big an impact as the iOS app store?

Only time will tell but given some of the chatters, the MAS (Mac app store) will have quite a few restrictions.  No demo.  No in-app purchases.  Kind of a bummer.  But perhaps this is likely because we are merely in the infant stage of the store and Apple will incorporate new features once both developers and end-users have had time to work out the kinks and the bloggers have had their say.  Isn't that what happened with the iOS app store?

And I have questions that I think most users will want answered:

  • Will we need an iTunes account to use it or is the Apple ID enough?
  • If it's only the Apple ID that is needed, I wonder what MobileMe features might be liberated for all and not just paying users?
  • Is the North Carolina data center going to be used for the app store?
  • Is Apple asking for 30% for the fee from developers when developers now can keep 100% of the revenues for themselves if they sell the app through other means?

Those are just a few questions that popped into my mind when I found out this morning about the MAS.  Hopefully, more details will be unveiled throughout the day.  Meanwhile, prepare for Apple to release another OS X update that will incorporate the Mac app store feature.

Despite some questions and the restrictions placed on the apps, I do look forward to this.  I think Apple has another feature that Redmond is likely firing up their copiers to add to their next Windows update.  And I also believe the Mac app store will be a benefit to both developers and users once everything has been worked out.  

Consider the six to nine months of the app store to be a part of the beta period.  Not even Apple can foresee everything despite their experiences with the iOS app store.  Plus, Lion will be available in June.  I think that will also impact the development of the Mac app store as well.

More at Apple.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

When Is iPhone 5 Coming?

Convention says that the iPhone 5 will not be out until the middle of 2011.  June has been the month that Apple released new iPhones since the iPhone 2G.  That did not change for the 3G, 3GS, or the iPhone 4.  Could 2011 be the year that Apple changed all that?  Here's why I think perhaps they might go ahead and change things up a bit.

There is a lot riding in the mobile market.  Tens of billions and Apple and Google are locked in an epic war for supremacy.  And with Google and its multiple Android hardware partners, they can easily stagger their device releases through the year, giving mobile warriors the appearance that something new and fresh is coming out of the Android camp.  

But with Android 3 release coming in the first quarter, giving Google the ability to attack the tablet market, I think Apple is in a position to consider moving up the time table for the iPhone 5 release. 

Just this week, Best Buy in the US gave out the iPhone 3GS for free with a two year contract while Radio Shack went ahead with a $50 discount on the iPhone 4 that cleared out its inventory.  So make no mistake that Apple is barely able to keep up with demand on the iPhone, but what Best Buy and Radio Shack may indicate that Apple is open to tweaking their sales model.

And if that was the case, Apple may also be open to adjusting their iPhone release plans.  And with so much at stake, I can see two things happen.

First, Apple might move up the release of iPhone 5 from June to March or April.  This will stunt any moves by its competitors to find solace in a period that typical is safe for them to release their smartphones without going up against the iPhone.  Remember when Palm released the Pre just a week or so before the iPhone 3GS?  Yeah, that didn't go well, did it?  And the Pre was a pretty neat phone by my reckoning.

Second, Apple might update the iPhone 4 with some hardware changes.  Google just announced the Nexus S with near field communication capability.  Apple might also jump on this and get into the mobile payment market before the iPhone 5.  Also, remember that we are still missing the white iPhone 4.  Apple said it will be available in Spring.   That might also keep the iPhone sale momentum going as millions of consumers look to satisfy their need to have a white iPhone.  

So adding NFC and a white case could be just enough to keep consumers from going with whatever new hardware that Google, HP, or Microsoft comes out in the first half of 2011. 

And let's not forget that Apple will be updating the iPad as well.  There are talks about hardware enhancements that I still consider as rumors.  However, my own speculations and observations of the market with the Samsung Tab release, the upcoming Playbook from RIM, and other Android tablet rumors seem to indicate most if not all of the iPad chatters are true.

Are we likely to see an earlier release window for the iPhone 5?  I wouldn't say it's impossible but it's not likely to happen.  I'd say some minor changes to the iPhone 4 is more likely.  And that is beyond just release it in white.  Personally, I would love to see an enhanced iPhone 4 move up to March and the iPad release moved up to February.

We'll just have to see how much pressure Apple is willing to take from its competitors.  And with the iPhone selling out or in short supply, I'm not sure Apple feels the need to budge.  Let's go back to what Best Buy and Radio Shack is doing for the Christmas season.  If that can happen, anything can.

Friday, December 10, 2010

AirPrint Is Nice But I Don't Need It; Nor Should You

With the arrival of iOS 4.2.1, Apple finally gave us the ability to print from the iOS devices via AirPrint.  And while that is a great feature to have, I am one of those who will not benefit from this new feature.  And today, with new firmware upgrades, 

With Instapaper, iBooks, and Goodreader, I have been able to get just about everything I need from the Web and books without having to print them out to read.  This is especially true when I use the iPad.  Think about it.  Instant access to all the files I need with apps on the iPad.  

Unless a mobile warrior is in a specific job where printing docs is necessarily, I don't see the rest of us who use the iPad to consume information finding all that much use with AirPrint.

And frankly, will Android need this feature?  I am sure Google will have a similar implementation as Android push deeper into enterprise.  HP will most assuredly add direct printing into its future Web OS devices.  

But hey, this is 2010 going on 2011 in a couple of weeks.  We don't need paper any more.  Enterprise should try to wield itself from having to print docs and its own workforces and even customers.  It'll not only save time but cut down on a lot of costs.  Not to mention that the forest will thank you for it.

More at Macrumors on HP firmware upgrades.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Preliminary Impression of iSpot

After some hairy moments with Fedex on the delivery of my iSpot, I finally got in after days of back and forth with more customer service agents than I hope to deal with.

And yeah, I am very happy with this mobile investment. In fact, I was able to get it up and running in less than 5 minutes of opening up the box the iSpot came in.

iPad and WWDC Prediction: Apple Will Upgrade Siri And Users Will Not Be Able to Choose Between ChatGPT or Gemini

At this year's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), Apple is set to unveil major upgrades to its virtual assistant Siri. These enhanc...