Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Apple's Cash: No Dividends, No Stock Buybacks, Or Acquisitions Just Because Apple Can

“There will be a special guest…” is the only thing that is mentioned on the invitation for Apple’s 2025 special event.  And on the day of the keynote, Tim Cook goes on stage and tells everyone just how Apple just added another $30 billion in cash just in the last quarter.  He makes a joke about how a Starbucks grande latte now costs $15 and money ain’t what it used to be and receive a chuckle from the audience.

Then he said that Apple has been working on something really special and it would change just about every industry and market in the world – military, labor, and even education.  Audience is quiet, on the edge of their seat, all waiting in anticipation.  They expect Tim Cook to bring on Phil Schiller to unveil this next Apple product.  But he doesn’t. Tim goes on to talk about the industrial revolution and the automobile and then it’s about the telephone and personal computer.  He spoke fondly about the old iOS devices – iPhones and iPads.  And he finally touched on the revolution that wearable gadgets that Apple ushered in and bring new meaning to the “roaring 20s”.

Should Apple Offer Mountain Lion For Free To Mess With Google And Microsoft?

The question to the title of this post is absolutely.  And there is precedent for this as well.  And should Apple go through with giving away Mountain Lion and maybe charge on a biannual basis or whenever they figure the upgrade is big enough to warrant a charge.

And Mountain Lion is a bit upgrade from Lion.  However, this is a sense of urgency in this.  Apple is on a roll in both the mobile and PC market - growth beyond anything I expected.  I'm not alone in this.  Giving away Mountain Lion will add fuel to Apple's success in 2012.

Furthermore, Apple can really mess things up for Google and Microsoft.  First, Chrome OS, while still trying to find a footing in the PC market, can further be disrupted by Apple's own OS improvements.  It's not the same segment of the PC market that Apple and Google but every bit of goodwill that Apple generates help.  Media attention on Mountain Lion and the fact that it'll be free could generate a halo effect on iOS device sales.

And then there's Microsoft that is poised to take back control of the PC growth and launch a massive assault on Apple's dominated tablet market.  Even now, there are some doubts that Microsoft with the Windows brand can really hurt Apple's iPad.

First, there is the issue of cost and whether Microsoft's partners can match iPad's pricing in the tablet market.  And on top of that, we already know that ultrabook makers have been making hay over their inability to match the prices of Apple's Macbook Airs. Apple already gives away iOS for free. So, Apple can reward Air owners with free Mountain Lion copies. Windows OEMs will have to license Windows for a fee - be it for the tablet or laptops.

Second, Mountain Lion will bring iOS features that many iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch users are already familiar with.  Not just the multitouch gestures but also the apps with iCloud support.

One more thing, Mountain Lion harmonizes the UI between the Macs and iOS - making it easier for not only regular mobile warriors like me to operate and switch between Apple devices but also for student and business users alike.  Many of them already swear by an iPhone or iPad.  In the last quarter alone, Apple's Mac sales to enterprise grew more than 50%.  I'm sure that put a lot of hurt on Apple's competitors from Microsoft to HP and Dell.

How likely is this to happen?  Well, Apple has stated in its SEC filings (MacdailyNews) that it will defer a portion of each Mac sale to account for free software upgrade.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Apple God As Spoken: iPad 3 Coming Out Party Next Week

Update:  note that in the invitation, the iPad depicted has no home button...interesting...

Okay, it's official.  Apple will unveil the next iPad update next week, March 7th, in San Francisco.

Really, need not say more.  Anything else will be speculation.  It was rumored a few weeks back that it would be on the 7th and this mornnig, CNBC tweeted as such.  But this invitation to the chosen ones confirmed it.

And yesterday, we also speculated that it is possible that Apple could charge a premium for Retina Display.  I still think it's possible Apple can charge more for it but at the same time, it could also be something Apple puts out just to throw everyone off.

Personally, as an average mobile warrior, I am hoping that Apple will keep things the way they are.  Meaning, $499 for the low-end iPad and up.  Maybe keep the iPad 2 around just to mess with the low-end of the tablet market and Android competitors.

Then the next question is how will we receive our iPads?  Pre-order and have it sent to us like last year or order and pick it up in the store?  I've got my credit card ready and set to go.  However, I'm kinda hoping that Apple will allow us to line up on a Saturday to make the pickup.  I've already organized a breakfast for some close friends that are going to be picking one up.  yes, it better be a Saturday, March 10th or 17th.

So, which would you prefer?  Have Apple ship it to you or be able to line up early to pick one up?

Monday, February 27, 2012

iPad Update With Retina Screen Could Cost More - Probably $100 More

One of the highlight features for the upcoming iPad, iPad 2S or 3, is the Retina Display that it'll certainly sport.  So, word on the Internet now is that it'll cost more than the current iPad 2 baseline.  Some are guessing that Apple will charge an additional $70.  Others think it'll be $80.  Me?  I think it'll be a nice round figure:  $100.

Now, I don't like to traffic in Apple rumors (though I enjoy reading them when they sound plausible, come from reputable sites, and does not come from DigiTimes), in this case, we can speculate about Retina Display pricing.  And I reckon the new high resolution displays are difficult to make, lower yields (meaning more waste), and is not something Apple's competitors are capable of matching at this moment.

So, a premium, $70 to $100 more, isn't out of the question.  Make no mistake.  I'm as disappointed as you if our speculation turns out to be true.  This is it leads me to believe that Apple will continue to offer the iPad 2 similar to the current configuration to take the lower price points, $350 to $400.

Still, something bugs me.  What'll happen to Apple's $500 price?  Will it be occupied by the iPad 2 or the newer iPad?  It would make sense for Apple to have a new iPad take the $500 and lower the prices of the iPad 2.

Obviously, no one, including myself, knows what Apple will do.  If this was the Macbook, I can see Apple offer new laptops with standard screens with an option to upgrade to higher resolutions as they do with the Macbook Pros. Can Apple offer the new iPads with the same iPad 2 screen, 1024x768, and for $100 more, upgrade to the Retina Display, doubling the resolutiont to 2048x1536?

It's possible.  And along with the the doubling of the resolution, Apple could sweeten the deal with a better CPU with beefier graphics processing power.

What I am suggesting does complicate things a lot.  Nevertheless, Apple is well into the post-PC era and the iPads represents the future of mobile computing.

Well, we'll know in a couple of weeks.

iPhone Losing Out To Competitors In Countries With Austerity Measures Or On Verge Of Bankrupcy – NO One Should Be Surprised

Apple is a premium brand.  However, it’s not the same thing as saying that Apple products cost more than competing devices or computers.  Rather, it’s about Apple’s unwillingness to compromise.  The “premiumness” is about Apple’s talented teams of designers, programmers, and engineers making the best products they can.  That is what makes Apple such a sought after brand and why people line up year after year to buy its products.

So, we learn now that Apple’s iPhone is not doing well in countries where carriers do no offer subsidies.  In fact, Android smartphones had take Apple to school when it comes to market-share.  So what?

There are going to be many analysts and tech pundits who will push for Apple to release a cheaper iPhone to address those market.  Screw that.  If Apple could not lower it self to make a PC at the $500 price point that was not a piece of junk, what makes anyone believe that Apple will make a $200 or even a $300 smartphone that not worthy of the name “iPhone”.

The other issue is that Apple wants a certain kind of customer.  Not necessarily affluent ones though that definitely helps the bottom-line.  What Steve Jobs, Tim Cook, and others want are the type of customer who recognizes a product that was developed with the meticulous care that Apple has put into.  And it’ll certainly cost money to buy it but it’ll be worth it.

Furthermore, there are other things at play.  One that quickly comes to mind is the economic factor.  Take a look at this chart.  The iPhone isn’t doing too hot in Greece and Portugal.  If you’re not too up and up on the latest financial market news, here it is:  Greece is on the verge of bankruptcy while Portugal has had their bonds rattled by downgrades and austerity measures are in full play.

Android devices in general are good enough for the vast majority of the market.  No, not everyone needs the iPhone or even high-end Android device like the Galaxy S II.  A $200-$300 unsubsidized device is good enough.  I know a few big mobile warriors doing just fine in a $300 Android device on Virgin Mobile but I also know that if not for the $25 prepaid plan they’ve got grandfathered in, they would have long jumped ship to an iPhone.

In conclusion, Apple is never going to make a $200 iPhone that is garbage because it’s not in their DNA.  I wouldn’t want Apple to either.  Apple could conceivably lower the price of the iPhone 3GS to $300 someday for economically troubled markets and even the 3GS is still head and shoulders above competing devices in that price range.

Source:  Cult of Android.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

2011 Was Year of the iPad 2, 2012 Will Be Year of the Tablet

Mobile World Congress has started and leaks are already happening.  And guess what, tablets are huge this year and it should not be a surprise to anyone if tablets get more attention than smartphones.  After all, this is the year when Google gives it another shot at the iPad while Microsoft makes a very risky bet, albeit a necessary one, by making Windows 8 its chief competitor to the iPad.

Take the quad-core tablets powered by Nvidia's Tegra 3 chip that will soon flood the market with many Android tablet makers using specs to help them muscle in to take some marketshare.  It's likely many Taiwanese companies will try to outspec competitors on similiarly pricted tablets.  What's interesting is the response from the top tier tablet makers.

More at Greenjava.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Sun, High Gas Prices, And Mobile

It's that time of the year again. Daylight savings is coming and and heat. At least in Calfornia, we have been having quite a warm winter and I don't see that changing much. To top that off, we are having quite a ride at the gas pumps. So, I've tooled up my bike, make sure everything is working as it should, and take it out today.

So, I'll be looking to start up my recording of how much money I'll be saving by biking insteading of driving around my SUV.

And where does mobile fit into all this?

Our smartphones are yesterday's note pad. I used to use a little note book to record my bike rides in school, both high school and in college. It was neat to see just how much money I've saved over time because of all this.

And since I've been looking for an app to do do just this, maybe I ought to write an app to do this for myself.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Wireless: Spectrum Crunch - No Easy Way To Alleviate It, Cost To Go Up

There is a spectrum crunch that is creating problems for users and the wireless companies.  What’s causing the spectrum crunch in the US?  According to CNN, the following are the main causes:

  • Leading off is iPhone, iPad, & other mobile devices like Androids that are using more data than expected. Also the adoption rate of these mobile devices have increased.
  • Inept government regulation – what used to work doesn’t anymore and the FCC has not moved fast enough
  • Industry protectionism like the TV broadcast industry trying to wall off their spectrum.
  • Hoarding – there are spectrums out there that are not being used.  Dish Network, we’re looking at you.

How much of this can be fixed quickly isn’t known.  We can use more Wi-Fi but all of this is giving carriers reasons to ration and cap wireless use – thus driving up costs for end users like us mobile warriors.

The problem isn’t really the users but a combination of carriers, industry players, and the government not working together to solve this.  As the article mentioned, there is not one quick solution.  What will get us through this is going to be a patchwork of new technology, policy reforms, and new innovative thinking.

And it’ll take a while.  A long, long while because there is just too much fear and too much entrenched interests.  And new comers are in no hurry to make things happen.

Translation:  costs could go up for the average mobile user.  Our only long-term hope is that the winners of any spectrum war or realignment will not have too much power to dictate how we use our wireless devices or have the ability to charge us whatever they want.

Source:  CNN Money.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Should Apple Make Available A Special iPad For School For Far Less? It Would Make A Lot of Sense and Doable (and Money For Apple)

First, let me say that what I’m predicting here is way in no way based on anything I’ve read or have been told.  This is just my own musing on how Apple can get iPads into the hands of million of students across the US or any other country that might be interested in giving their students the best opportunities that mobile computing can give today.  At the end of this post, I’ll reveal what I believe Apple can charge for it.

Each iTexbook for Apple is going to cost about $15 a textbook.  And from K-12, we are talking anywhere from 4 to 6 textbooks per pupil.  That’s comes out to about $60 to $90 per student per year.  And let’s suppose that each student will be assigned an iPad that is good for three to four years.  Maybe even five.

Now, let’s do the math.  At three years, that means the textbook revenue per student comes out to $180 to $270 per student.  Apple’s 30% is about $54 to $86.40 per student.  If you extend the iPad lease to 4 and 5 years, Apple’s cut becomes $72 to $115.20 and $90 to $144 respectively depending on the number of textbooks per student.

Apple can easily subsidized a price cut from the low-end $500 and really drive the price down a 9.7” iPad.  And with manufacturing cost going down year after year, there is more room for Apple it wants to go even lower.

At the end of it all, Apple can lease iPads on a 3-5 year basis and cut prices down to about $300 per iPad and make quite a bit of money still with revenue from textbooks helping to subsidize the cost.  Imagine a recurring upgrade of tens of millions (or hundreds of millions) of iPad every year for as long as iPads are needed to educate students.

Apple can will be able to count on its iPad to bankroll the company for decades to come.  Suppose Apple does adopt a plan similar to one that I am proposing, we already believe that Apple will keep the iPad 2 around even after it introduces the next iPad upgrade with a $100.  For schools, Apple can further achieve added cut from the textbook revenue and move the price even lower.

All the way down to $300.

Of course, it would have to be a packaged deal.  The school would have to be willing to lease the iPad and buy textbooks from the iBookstore in for Apple to drive the price this low.  Should the School choose only to go with the iPad, they can obviously settle for any educational discount or package that Apple offers.  And if the school or the student choose to, they can buy the iPad from the school or Apple for a low cost of say $100-$150 per iPad.  Everyone wins.

Making money from these student iPads aside, Apple will have achieve something that Steve Jobs dreamt of; revolutionize education.  And on top of that, legions of students, generation after generation of them, will grow up using Apple’s products.  iPads, Apple TV, and Apple’s mobile vision.

There simply is no company out there that could make this happen on such a scale in the tablet market except Apple.  And I believe Apple will make a $300 iPad available for schools and still manage to maintain a healthy profit margin.  After all, didn’t Apple jus tell Wall Street their margin was the best ever in the company’s history?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Siri on the Mac? Hope So But Apple Might Not Offer It

I’ve just begun to play with Mountain Lion, OS 10.8, Apple’s next update to the Mac operating system that includes many iOS specific features like Messages and quite frankly, changes to key features with iCloud integration.  One feature that appears to be missing from all this is Siri.  Granted, Siri is still missing from the iPad 2, an oversight that I hope Apple will rectify with the next iPad release.  But would it be stupendous if Apple also makes Siri available to the Macs as well?

I am thinking not just from a fan standpoint but also from a competitive standpoint in the mobile marketplace.  Windows 8 will be out by the third quarter of 2012 and tons of tablets and laptops that run Microsoft’s latest and greatest OS will be flooding the market.

Right now, I think most analysts and bloggers are just concentrating on the meaning of Apple’s surprising and cryptic preview of Mountain Lion and pour over what’s there, and not what isn’t there like Siri.  See, typically, Apple likes to schedule big media events for things like these previews.  They’ve done it numerous times with OS X and just about every single time with iOS.  This time, it was different.

Sandwiched between an educational media event in January for the iBooks and digital textbook publishing and a likely iPad event in March, I can understand why Apple doesn’t want a huge OS X update to overshadow what they are going to do next.

However, some believe that Apple saw a lot of what they like in Windows 8.  Let me correct myself.  As users, they might have seen a lot of improvements in Windows 8 that can have a major impact on iOS and OS X – meaning sales of iPads and Macs.  So, some have speculated that Apple is simply trying to upstage Microsoft’s own launch.

Others, who are less kind, believed Tim Cook and company blinked and panicked.

Whatever the reasons are, it is good to see that Apple is demonstrating to the market its more concerted effort to update the OS for the Mac.  In fact, Apple has indicated that like the iOS, the OS X will now be getting annual updates.

Back to Siri.  We all saw what Siri, still in beta, did for the iPhone 4S sales.  Now consider what it will do for the iPad sales if Apple enables Siri with the next update.  So far, Google has nothing that can even come close.  And Microsoft was caught flatfooted when Siri was announced and its speech in Windows Phone or Windows, while they exist just like they do for Android, is nowhere near what Siri can do along with the accompanying personality.

Now, consider what Siri can do to the Mac sales just against Windows.

Not just for padding Apple’s cash reserve but Apple stands a good chance of bring a whole new computing dynamics to the Mac as well.  Along with Apple’s growing and evolving multi-touch interface and voice command, mobile warriors can really take computing into a whole new direction with the more powerful Macbooks.

What I want and what Apple will do are two vastly different things.  Quite under the reality distortion field of Steve Jobs for years if not decades to come, Apple will do things that only makes sense, not because it’s there and they’ll put it in.  While it might be a no-brainer for us to want Siri on the Mac, Apple might have its own reason that are completely different from ours to include it or leave it out completely.

It’s likely that Apple sees the Mac computers, while growing compared to the rest of the PC market for years now, obviously does not hold the huge potential that exists in the smartphone and tablet market.  By not including Siri in OS X, Apple will have a better success of stirring people towards iOS products.

That makes sense.  Nevertheless, the PC market is not going to go away any time soon and there is still a lot of battles to be fought on the mobile PC front.

So, while I love to have Siri on my 11” Macbook Air come this summer, it’s Steve Jobs’ vision that will make that final determination.

Apple Fans Needs Google To Release The Nexus Tablet

We've seen the Android 4 and what it is doing with the Galaxy Nexus - and anyone without the Nexus  simply will have to wait, either for the hardware makers to make Android 4 available as an update or to wait for new hardware like the Samsung Galaxy III to be on the market.  And while Android has done great in the smartphone market, Android tablets have not.  In fact, it has been the Kindle Fire, which really isn't an Android tablet given what Amazon has done to the OS, that has helped stem the iPad tide.

This is why we need the Nexus tablet more than ever.  And there are many reasons why a Nexus tablet is so important.  Again, Apple continues to push ahead with the iPad and the next version, the iPad 3, is likely just weeks away.  And as much as I like the Galaxy Tab 8.9, Samsung for whatever reason is pricing them right up there with the iPad and has limited success as far as market-share goes.

Furthermore, Windows 8 is coming and if it does well, we are talking about Microsoft's OS becoming the default alternative to the iPad.  Keep in mind that after Honeycomb's release along with Xoom, we were all thinking it would only be a matter of time before Android overtakes the iPad.  Nowhere was Windows in the discussion.

And now, Android is in danger of fight for a second place, possibly a distant third.

Second, as a mobile fan, regardless which mobile platform you're using or a fan of, we need competition in the marketplace.  The harder Apple, Google, Microsoft, and even RIM or HP compete, innovate, and fight for our hard earned money, the better off we are as mobile warriors.  We'll get better tech and innovation faster than if it was just a one-horse race as it is now with the iPad.

Third, look at what the Nexus One did to the Android smartphone image.  Before that, it was my G1 from T-Mobile, the very first Android device, the original Google phone.  But it was really the Nexus One that served as a template on which others like the Droid and Galaxy S was built upon.

Essentially, Google said to its partners as well as the marketplace, "Make it as good as this or try to do better".  And Android devices have improved each year as competition with rivals as well as with the Nexus line.  After all, if the Galaxy line sucked, people, would would be turning to the Nexus devices.

Competition, innovation, and benefits to mobile users are all great reasons why we need Google to step up and make their tablet plans known as soon as possible.  Perhaps, we'll see it at the Mobile World Congress in Spain in a couple of weeks.  And if that happens, it could not happen fast enough.

Personally, I love to see a Nexus tablet with a quad-core chip, Android 4, 32 GB, Retina Display screen like those that we are expecting on the iPad 3, and 12-15 hours of battery life all weighing in at around one pound, which is just .2 lbs less than what the Galaxy Tab 10.1 weighs in or weighing 25% less than the iPad 2.

So, Google, show us your Nexus tablet already, ya?

Note:  I left out how much I think Google's Nexus tablet should weigh in at.  I honestly don't think anyone can keep up with Apple on pricing in the near term, like the next three to five years, because of the huge investment Apple is able to make on components and the supply chain.  Only Amazon is capable of competing with Apple in this regard and only because they're selling the Kindle Fire at a loss.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Google Exploited Holes And Act Like The Bad Guys But Apple Also At Fault

Let's be clear about the settings for Google using a vulnerability in Safari that allows itself and other online advertisers to set cookies even when the user has explicitly disallow third-party cookies to be uploaded.  Google acted like a hacker in this.  Forget about the technical details of how this happened.  They did it, got caught, and came up with the only explanation they have:  the opportunity was there and we took it.  And Apple is at fault for allow this to happen because this vulnerability is only inherent with Safari, not even with Chrome or Android's browser which shares the same Webkit framework as Apple's own browser, Firefox, or Microsoft's Internet Explorer.

Now, Congress is looking into this matter.  The thing is that Apple could have made this all go away had they come up with the patch to plug this old from the start.  I can't understand how Apple could have possibly not know about this.

So far, Apple has stay customarily silent on this matter.  And even with a more vocal Tim Cook at the helm, I think for the moment, they would be happy to allow the various reports on the Internet to crucify Google and allow Google's own explanations to hang itself.

That doesn't mean that Apple should not say more publicly about this.  After all, Congress is looking into this and, probably, the FTC, FCC, and the DOG are going to want to chime in.

So, Apple is at fault in some of this.

Now, about Google.  It acted like a hacker.  It broke the faith that users have with Google and went against even the spirit of the Internet as far as trust and privacy is concerned.  Google was very much evil in this situation.  We did not want to be tracked and Google used a form trick to allow them to install cookies on other sites we visit.

Again, we said "no" to tracking and Google insisted.  I hope they get burn big time, regardless of the fact that they claim no personal information was taken.  Who really knows if that is even true?  We trusted Google on this "no tracking" thing so we can't well take Google's word at this either.

Back to Apple.  They really need to make sure that our mobile privacy is protected.  Apple has to institute an opt-in policy, which will make it stand out among its competitors like Facebook and Google that has a much more privacy-busting opt-out policy at best and "we're sorry" policy at worst when they are caught trying to circumvent fundamental understandings of privacy.

And Apple should not only allow universal privacy settings like some others have.  I like Apple's notification and location services options in settings in its iOS devices.  I like to see Apple bring those kinds of control to not just contacts but also other Internet services.

So, hopefully, with future iOS settings, Safari updates, and the upcoming Mountain Lion update for the Mac, Apple will give us the tools to fend off these predatory practices coming from Facebook, Google, and other ad companies.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Why We’ll see a 8-9” iPad – Because Kids Don’t Need To File Their Finger Down (Plus, They’ve Got Better/Newer Eyes)

First of all, we’re been pecking on our 3.5” iPhone screen for years now and we’re doing just fine.  On top of that, Steve Jobs, who’s known for misdirection on what Apple will or will not ship, said that we would have to file down our fingers just to use the icons on them useless 7” screens.

Well, as limiting as those 7 incher screens are as far as screen real estate goes, I can life with a 8 or 9 in because I’ve tried it with the Galaxy Tab 8.9 and it works great.

So, we’ve got years of great multi-touch experience on 3.5” iPhones, not just one finger touch and proof from Samsung that their 8.9” tablet works great, what is keeping Apple from releasing an 8” tablet?

Oh, them fingers that need to be filed down?  Don’t worry.  8” iPads would be great for kids.  First, they’ll probably be cheaper to make and sell.  On top of that, those grade-school kids have little hands and fingers.  I’ve been them on my two, five, and eight years old nephews and seven year old niece.  Their fingers will work great on an 8” iPad.

So, I’m wagering we will definitely see a sub-10” iPad, maybe not in 2012 but beyond.  Keep in mind that when Steve Jobs was blasting away at the Android tablets, he specifically referred to the 7” models.  He never said anything about bigger sized screens like an 8 or 9”.

Apple Like to Buy Twitter Before End of the Year

This is just my prediction:  Apple will eventually take over Twitter and integrate it more into its ecosystem for its Mac and mobile users.  So, folks who want dividends, sorry, I hope you don’t get it.  I rather have Apple spend its money in this manner.

How did I come to this conclusion?  Well, of all the social media properties out there, only Twitter seems to be more open and less about selling user information than the likes of Facebook, My Space (yes, they’re still around), or Google+.  The reason is because Twitter users, more than anyone else, are more open with their tweets knowing that what they broadcast is for general consumption.

On Facebook, your updates may be for your friends or a group of friends on a list but Facebook still sell that information to the highest bidder.  The same could be said of Twitter but the vast major of Twitter users don’t go turning on the feature only their followers or a subset of their followers to get their update.

And this works better for Apple than others.  And should Apple eventually buy Twitter, Apple is likely to integrate its own ad system, iAd, which is on life support at this time after failing to “revolutionize” the mobile ad space.  And Twitter’s social network would probably be similar to what Apple would create had it done so from scratch.

And today, we learn that Apple’s upcoming OS X update, Mountain Lion, will gain the same Twitter integration as iOS 5 devices have.  And with a Twitter buyout, Apple would instantly gain hundreds of millions of users that it could potentially convert and add to its ecosystem.  Apple is likely to sweeten things up by offering iCloud integration, making Twitter the social component of Apple’s cloud strategy.

Right now, the lack of a cohesive social network for Apple’s other social efforts like iTunes (forget about Ping), Game Center, iMessage, and iBooks could be solved with a Twitter buyout.  I mention iBooks because a virtual book club is just something that Apple can go next with its ebook effort.

You’re arguing right now that Apple can achieve all this now without buying Twitter.  Absolutely. Just without the control that Apple traditionally have.  Keep in mind that the disagreement between iTunes data with Facebook has kept Ping from being something that Steve Jobs hope.  And Twitter could well become someone else’s takeover target in the future.

After the Twitter buyout, Apple should and will continue to keep Twitter as we know it now the way it is.  The only different will be seen by those who use Twitter along with iOS devices or Macs.

I believe the deal between Apple and Twitter in iOS 5 was just a test run for Tim Cook and company.  It’s worked out great for both and in the coming year (I’ll allow myself to stretch that into 2013), Apple will make Twitter officially a part of the family.

Mountain Lion - What It Means For iOS Users

For many of you, you might be on a Mac running Lion or a variant of the Leopard OS, regular or snow.  But today, Apple unveiled "Mountain Lion", an update to Lion that was released almost a year ago.  It gained many new iOS features like iMessage and greater iCloud integration.  Oh, and for gamers, Game Center is coming your way.

I've left my Macbook Air at home backing things up while downloading Mountain Lion.  You'll have to be an Apple developer in order to do that.

I'll check back with actual user notes later this evening.  I can't way to try out iMessage.  Oh, by the way, iMessage is free to download right now. You' don't need to be a developer in order to do that.  So, go give it a go!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Privacy Should Be Apple's Stronghold But It Let Users Down - Twitter Steals Contacts

Bad Apple!  That’s about all we can say about the Twitter accessing user contact information without telling people about it and without asking for permission first.  What’s up with that, Apple?  This is just plain stupid and wrong.

And here is Twitter’s response after getting caught red-handed:  “We want to be clear and transparent in our communications with users. Along those lines, in our next app updates, which are coming soon, we are updating the language associated with Find Friends — to be more explicit. In place of ‘Scan your contacts,’ we will use “Upload your contacts” and “Import your contacts” (in Twitter for iPhone and Twitter for Android, respectively).” (Source:  Media Bistro)

Seriously, this is the type of behavior I expect from Facebook, maybe even Google, but certainly not Twitter, Apple’s iOS social partner.

What now?  Certainly, apps like Twitter and Path last week should never have had access to user contacts with their explicit approval.

Now, Apple is saying that future apps will need to get user permission before getting access to those private data.  

Congress will certainly be looking into this because privacy is becoming a hot topic due to past bad behaviors from Facebook and Google.

What Apple needs to do now is review the whole approval process as well as app policies to make sure this doesn’t happen again.  And Apple has to be very transparent about privacy.  Done right, it could make Apple the champion for the average mobile warrior and force competitors to follow.

Google First With NFC But We Still Need An iPhone With NFC To Make Mobile Payments Ubiquitous

I saw my first Google Wallet payment system over the weekend at a gas station of all places.  There are probably more in my area that I am not aware of.  But let’s be honest, Google, for most folks, is about search and gmail.  Androids they know about but that’s about it.  And even with the attention given to the Galaxy Nexus with its NFC feature, there simply isn’t enough of them out there for merchants to begin rolling out mobile payment systems.

Even a leading Android blog, Droid-Life, admits that until Apple has an iPhone featuring NFC will mobile payment actually begin to take off.  Just ask Starbucks about their app for mobile payment.  It’s taken off as more and more iPhone users embrace it.  Helps that you get rewards for using it.

Unless Google is willing to “pay” or reward users to use NFC to pay for goods and services and has enough devices with NFC capability to reach a critical point, it’ll be a long time before I can pay for my bean burritos at Taco Bell or my nephews’ Happy Meals at MacDonald’s.

But we’ll definitely get there faster if Apple adds a NFC chip to the next iPhone and they begin to flood the market by the tens of millions.

So, if you’re a mobile warrior looking to leave your credit or debit cards at home, I personally look forward to the day when I can leave my wallet at home, then let’s hope Apple comes through for us soon.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

iPad Trademark In China Isn't About Who's Right - It's about the Two Million Apple Employs

Apple is in a dogfight with a small money losing company called Proview in China that claimed to own the “iPad” trademark in China.  And now, they’re looking to milk it with a Chinese legal system that is less about law and more about who you know and what political points can be scored in the long run.  And let’s not forget that there’s a transfer of power in Beijing at this moment.  Not sure if that’ll have an impact.

Here’s a summary of this.  Apple bought the rights to the trademark “iPad” worldwide from Proview’s Taiwanese counterpart.  Proview in China said that sale doesn’t include the use of the name in China.  Hence, the lawsuit that for the moment looked to be looking good for Proview as it has won a case against Apple.  Apple is appealing, obviously.

Now, Proview is looking to exert pressure on Apple by requesting that China ban export of iPads.  The legal details aren’t important to us mobile warriors.  What’s important is how Beijing will react to all this.

Will it try to strike a blow against a foreign company that also employs about a million or two of its workers?

Yeah, tough call on the surface but if you come down to it, it’s not.  You want political stability and to enhance your reputation about rules of the law or try a go at nationalism.  And Beijing cannot allow underlings to handle this because they’re looking for their own self-interests, not that of their country.  So, they’ll need to step in and reach some kind of a deal on this quickly.

Oh, not that anyone in China is reading this blog but trying to get Apple to capitulate by taking away few dozen iPads is not going to scare anyone.  If anything, I reckon this is just a show until Apple “wins” its appeal or a deal is struck.

This is just the political and economic reality in China.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Wireless Providers Behaves Badly And Only the Media Seems Surprised

No one should be surprised by what wireless carriers or providers do anymore.  A contract isn’t a contract like the old days when they’re allowed to change them on the fly.  Or contracts that say they can change terms on customers whenever they want.

This MSNBC post that customers are surprised by AT&T’s move against unlimited data strikes me as disingenuous because the writer cannot possibly believe the crap AT&T is giving him for the article.  This isn’t about bandwidth or anything of that nonsense that AT&T used to try to buy T-Mobile.

It’s about money and control. The industry lost their control when the iPhone-lead and then Android waves hit them.  We’re used to doing wireless a certain way and they want to control that.  Furthermore, they want to milk as much as they from users as they risk becoming the dumb pipes they deserve to be.

Why?  Well, the wireless industry was slow to react when Apple and Google assaulted the wireless market with their innovations and revolutionize the mobile industry.  And this is the only way they can try to slow things down or buy time until they can figure out how they would respond.

And the wireless lobby in Washington has scared the politicians in Washington and made the FCC impotent.

And this teethless MSNBC post does nothing except to tell us what we already know.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Mobile War For Google Is About Search; For Apple, It's Just One Small Battle

Interesting note here about mobile search.  By 2016, a majority of searches will take place on mobile devices, specifically, wirless over smartphones.  AllthingsD suggests that a Bernstein report excluded tablets.  Had that been included, we may well see search on mobile, including smartphones, tablets, and devices like the iPod touch, move ahead of traditional desktop searches even before that.  Perhaps by 2014 or 2015 at the latest.

ATD goes on to suggest this is what Apple and Google is fight over.  I think its only one aspect of the larger mobile war.  After all, the mobile market isn’t just about searches.  Rather, searches will become only a small part of the growing and ever-changing mobile experience.  Even app uses will continue to evolve.

Rather than replacing Google with Bing or even something else, Apple will do what it does – and no one really knows what that is.  Siri would be my guess.

Apple and Google used to be good friends.  The only reason that changed was when they began to compete in the mobile hardware market.  And they are both still competing with Microsoft’s vastly improved Windows Phone so it’s not like Apple will get into bed with Redmond any time soon.  It doesn’t want a resurgent Microsoft and have to fight Google and Microsoft at the same time.

I wouldn’t put it past Apple to try to hurt Google on search at all.  And mark my word:  Apple will because it also recognizes that search is what puts food on the table for Google.  As to how, again, Siri perhaps.  As to when?  That’s the question.  It could be happening now, slowly.

See, Apple isn’t consciously out to destroy anyone in particular.  Had Google not come out with Android and was content with just doing web services and search, things between Apple and Google may still be cool.  Now, all bets are off.

For Google, search might be the war but for Apple, it’s just one of many battles it has to eventually fight on in the larger mobile war.

Source: AllThingsD

Thursday, February 9, 2012

After the iPad 3, Apple Should Continue With The iPad 2 - But How Much?

Apple should and probably will make the iPad 2 available even after introducing the iPad 3 in the next 4 to 6 weeks.  That is almost a certainty given the educational focus that Apple wants starting with the special education event in January with the focus on etextbooks and iBooks Author.

After introducing the iPhone 4, Apple kept the iPhone 3GS on the market with a $100 price cut to entice mobile warriors who are unwilling to shell out $200 for the iPhone 4.  That was in 2010.  In October of 2011, Apple unveiled the iPhone 4S at the price points of the original iPhone 4, pushed the iPhone 4 into the 3GS spot, and gave the iPhone 3GS out for free.

How about the iPad 2?  At what price point should Apple make the iPad 2?  Cutting $100 and make the iPad 2 available starting at $399 is a natural move.  It'll be something that is expect from Apple.

But I really would like Apple to go lower, not for my sake.  For the moment, I plan on keeping my original iPad as my mobile weapon of choice.  Rather, I hope Apple could make the iPad 2 available at $350 with 8 GB of storage for the sake of the hundreds of thousands if not millions of students who could really benefit from learning revolution that Apple is leading with its mobile devices.

I don't want to say that this is wishful thinking on my part.  Rather, Apple can achieve a couple of things by making the iPad 2 at the $350 price range.  One, this will really give Apple the tablet momentum that it might needs against Android 4 and Windows 8 tablets that will come out throughout 2012.

Another point:  education.  What I thought missing from Apple's January 19th education, which focused on textbooks, e-learing, and iBooks Author, was that Apple did not address how they were going to get an iPad into the hands of the student.  If you ask me, Amazon with the Kindle Fire, even with its diminutive 7" screen,  offers an affordable solution.  Now, I know the argument that the 7" screen is too small to do much.  Hey, I understand and know that to be a fact.  However, you think those educators strapped for cash are going to care at that point?  $200 for the Fire versus $500 for the iPad.

By pricing the iPad 2 closer to $350, the price difference becomes much more manageable.  On top of that, should Amazon release its own 10" tablet, Amazon would have to price it in the money-losing $250 range to give itself some pricing room.  But ta $100 different, what would you go for?  A proven iPad 2 or a 10" Kindle that likely have many features taken out that should be in a modern tablet so Amazon can keep the price down?  The answer is obvious.

And with a pricing range from $350 all the way up to $830, Apple has pretty much the whole tablet market covered - iPad 2 from $350 to $399 and the iPad 3 from $500 up to $830.

And getting the iPads into the hands of these students is critical to Apple's future.  Apple will be able to corner a large segment of the k-12 education market as it leads and revolutionizes the future of learning.  This move could potentially translate into sales for Apple's other products as these students go to college or join the workforce.

We're talking about iPhones, iPods, Macs, and even Apple TV or Apple HDTV.

Hey, who knows.  Today's iPad-taught kindergartener may well be tomorrow's proud new owner of the iCar when he or she turns sixteen.

Not Saying The iPad 3 Is Coming But...

I'm not saying that the iPad 3 is coming.  Nor am I saying the iPad 2S is coming.  I simply don't know what's coming but I do know that Apple is up to something.  And if you're a tech fan or fellow mobile warrior, you probably know that Apple has released a new iPad in the late winter or early spring timeframe.  So, I think I'm am not too far off if I say that Apple is going to be releasing something in the next 4 to 6 weeks.

This four to six weeks is just enough for me to be within the ball park.  The original iPhone introduced by Steve Jobs on January 27, 2010.  However, preorders did not start until March 12th and did not start shipping until April 3rd to long, long lines.  I know.  I was there.

The iPad 2 was unveiled on March 2, 2011 and did not start shipping until March 11, 2011.

For the next iPad update, I think I am within that ballpark.  It's unlike that Apple will delay its release by months the way it did last year with the iPhone 4S.  It's possible but highly improbably.  Apple wants to keep the momentum going and release a new iPad now will really keep consumers who bought into the original iPad an opportunity to grade while try to keep the pressure on its competitors.

Now, we don't know with certainty what new features will accompany the new iPad nor will we know what suffix it'll have, 2S or 3 or entirely something else.

There's been talks that we might see a natural improvement with the processor and the screen.  Just as Apple gave the iPhone 4 the Retina Display and the A4 chip, we are hoping that the next iPad will sport an improved processor with better graphics capability as well as higher pixel density screen.

Over the next three weeks, we're going to hear a lot of rumors.  As a matter of fact, we go plenty of juicy iPad 3 rumors (which I won't go into - again, I don't traffic in rumors. Speculations, yes.  Rumors, no).  The pace of these rumors will pick up.

So, you've been warned.  Plausible iPad 3 rumors galore headed our way with chances of heavy wishful thinkings at times through into the mix.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

With Avid Studio, Did the iPad Hit Puberty?

I've used iMovie on the iPhone and iPad and it's great.  I like it a lot.  And I'd like it even more if I had an ounce of creativity for making music and video.  Alas,  I don't but you know what, that might not really matter.  iMovie is really easy to use and this week, Avid Studio from Avid was released for the iPad.

So, I pose this question: has the iPad hit puberty?  And the tablet market is due to explode as professional mobile warriors, particularly the creative sort, find more innovative uses for tablets and realize their full potentials.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

5.3" Galaxy Note Could Be More Acceptable To Mobile Warriors

The Galaxy Note running Android from Samsung could well be a silent hit in ways that no one expects. And it isn't just the huge screen with dense resolution though I love it. It isn't the stylus though I can see why Samsung included.

First, we need to figure out what the Note is. Well, is it a smartphone or a tablet? It can barely fit into one's pocket and you look ridiculous holding it up to your head to make a call. And by most definition, the screen, which is a bit bigger than the top end Android devices, is too small for tablet use. At the end of the day, most users will use the Note for productivity rather that using it as a phone. So it is safe to call the Note a tablet that makes phone calls.

More than that, Samsung is on to something. The note is a truly unique productivity pad that is useful across a broad range of disciplines. Students, office workers, mobile salespeople, the law enforcement, etc.

I can really see myself with the Note sitting at Starbucks studying and taking notes or doing a paper.

And if I need to make or take a call, I can simply use the wired or Bluetooth headset.

Go forward a couple of years, the Note may be connected in some manner to those wearable PC or watch that some mobile companies are developing. This will further enhanced a mobile warrior's productivity.

We know that Apple is entirely dedicated to the 3.5" screen on the iPhone and iPod touch and 9.7" on the iPad. Its competitors like Samsung have experimented with different screen sizes in the marketplace.

The Note is one such experiment that has gained momentum in the market. Hopefully, we will see a WiFi only version as well.

More at Wired.

- Posted using BlogPress

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

VW Superbowl Commercial Part 2!!! (With Little Vader...Maybe)

So, the little Darth Vader captured our heart with the VW commercial last year.  It was brilliantly done.  I've provided it as a reminder.  But now, there's a sequel.

Hey, George Lucas.  Please take note.

How We Got To Best Buy Using Pioneers In Their Superbowl Commercial

Here are two posts that I thought would merger well together today.  Actually three.  And it’s about Steve. As in Steve Jobs.  First is one about Best Buy being inspired by Steve and instead of using celebrities, they will use some folks we consider to provide more meaningful services or, what we consider today, builders of some sort.  Second is a post on the eve of Facebook’s IPO where Mark Zuckerberg, who we all know doesn’t give a rat’s ass about his users’ privacy.  Third, is about Steve and his return to Apple.

Put all three together, it’s about coincidences and that not even folks we consider geniuses are always right.  Sometimes, they’re so wrong but circumstances pulled them right back “on track” if you will.  Or put it another way, history will not be denied.

First, Best Buy's Superbowl commercial will be using tech pioneers like Kevin Systrom of Instagram .  This was done from the inspiration of Steve Jobs but I surmise it’s probably the iconic Apple commercial, “Here’s To the Crazy Ones”.  But think about it.  Had Jobs not come back to lead Apple, will this have happened?  Or was history going follow Steve no matter where he goes?

See, I started reading this post about Mark Zuckerberg and his early days of developing Facebook.  Apparently, he wasn’t too keen on keeping Facebook as his main focus.  As luck would have it, events forced him to stay and focus on develop Facebook.  Had he left Facebook early on, perhaps Zuckerberg would have left his mark on something totally different.

The same can be said about Steve Jobs as he resurrected Apple – iMacs, iPods, iPhones, iPads, and, quite possibly, Apple’s push into television.  But if you read through “Steve Jobs” and other information online, Steve was helped along by a series of events that did not necessarily have anything to do with his decision.

For instance, after Steve returned to Apple, he was not keen on selling Powerbooks to enterprise because if the inherent IT bias towards Macs.  And yet, Macbooks are thriving and even threatened to disrupt Wintel machines in businesses more than ever before.

Sure, the dude was a visionary with no one coming in close.  He saw things that no one else did and make it all work out.  Supposedly, had Steve Jobs accepted the CEO position at Google when the founders wanted him, could any of the iOS revolution still have taken place?

How would today’s mobile revolution look like?  I reckon it would still have happened.  Google would still be great but in a vastly different way.  Apple might not be around but with the bulk of us using gOS instead of iOS or Android.

Which comes back to Best Buy’s Superbowl commercial.  Steve could still have made waves in mobile, music, and disrupted all these industries that Apple did.

Think Different might still have happened but it would have just been “different” because genius will not be denied.

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...