Monday, April 29, 2013

Social: Is There A Time When It's Okay To Be Tracked?

I abhor Facebook.  I think its campaign to erode privacy to allow Facebook to sell the best product it can, you the Facebook users, to the highest bidder is just horrible but it essentially undermines what privacy is all about for generations of users and it'll only get worse over time.

It's why I am not on Facebook and it's why more folks are waking up to the realization that they don't want to be sold by Facebook to advertisers.

However, not all tracking is bad if there is a benefit to the user as well.  Sure, companies like Google track users and also pushes ads out to us but at least we are getting great suites of apps and services.  Facebook offers none of that.

Take Google Now.  It's been on Android for a while and most people who use it love it.  And now, it's also available in limited functionalities for the iPhone.

So yes, Google is absolutely not giving away its apps and services for free out of the kindness of its corporate heart.  It’s doing it so it can shows you ads and buy goods and services from/through it.  It wants to sell ads that you want to see and click through.

So, while some have issues with that, and I certainly do at times when companies try to pull a fast one on us regarding privacy issues (that does include Apple and Google), there is good to providing some trusted companies with a certain amount of personal details like search results and some geolocation data.

Apple collects info so that it can ultimately provide you with services or apps you want and design/engineer hardware so that it can sell you hardware.  Google does it because it want to make money but it does provide valuable apps and services.

Google Now is a good example.  Siri is also a good example.  Google optimizes searches to help users become more efficient.  All of these services require some information be collected.  At times, we give Google more information than we should or even realized that we are doing it.  It's why we have to keep an eye on Google and other companies that maintain huge databases about its users or subscribers so that no abuses happen.

I have had issues with Apple and Google in the past regarding their privacy issues and it's important that we as mobile users raise our concerns when warranted.  In general, I think companies and governments collect more information than they really need.

At this time, society is faced with a lot of new technology and mobile/social computing practices that no other generations have had to deal with.  There will be companies like Facebook who will keep tearing away at the walls of privacy or a government agency or legislation that overreach.  We just have to push back hard and make sure we don't give up too much freedom or privacy in the name of free and/or useful products.

There is a balance that can be reach.  It's a delicate balance but it's doable.

Twitter Not Thinking IPO

No IPO for Twitter.  Not thinking about it.

Good.  I think they see the headaches public companies like Apple have had to go through.  Apple buying back more than $50 billion stocks and dishing out $100 billion over the next couple of years.

Other cash rich companies like Google and Cisco to name a few will eventually entertain this route.

Don’t be surprised as time go on, Apple gets fed up and goes private.  Twitter, take your time on IPO or don’t go that route at all.  You’ve got enough cash to do small acquisitions you need and there really aren’t big companies you need to buy up.

iTunes Ecosystem In Terms of Stickiness And Filter and the Uncompromising 5” iPhone

Source:  Appleinsider.

There is no doubt that monetizing apps, ads, and services is easier and greater percentage on Apple’s iOS than on Android even though Google’s mobile platform has the lion’s share of the market in terms of units sold.  Apple retains the grown in terms of profit with over 70% of the mobile profit and similar numbers in terms of app and ad sales.

So, I found this Appleinsider post to have a lot to say about stickiness.  Once you’ve spent years using one platform and invested in it in terms of apps, music, and other media, it’s hard to make that switch to a new platform and having to start all over again.

Without DRM, it’s easy to do that with music but iOS apps will not work on Android devices and iTunes video like TV and movies will only work in Apple’s iOS and OS X ecosystem.  It’s no wonder the analyst in the post changed his mind at the last moment and opt out of the latest and greatest from Samsung.

So far, there is very little that Samsung can compete with Apple, Amazon, or Google on the whole ecosystem front.  And I specifically mentioned Samsung because of its drive to differentiate itself from the rest of Android competitors and position itself as an alternative to Apple.

Market Filter

However, there is one other thing that the whole stickiness issue could well work on Apple’s favor in ways that we don’t know if it’s good or not.  Certainly, Apple’s iOS devices like the iPhone plays in the keep end of the mobile market:  the high-end part of the mobile pool.  That is where in all likelihood where mobile users are willing to spend money and experience mobile computing and entertainment beyond those in the general mobile market where Android dominates but are less likely to take up purchasing apps, music, and media.

And with more Android users willing to leave Android and go over to iOS than iPhone users are willing to migrate over to Android and iPhone users generally more loyal and satisfied with their iPhones, it could create a market filter of users on one end who are willing to broaden their mobile experiences through all that the iOS ecosystem provide and another general mobile market who use their devices as it and are less likely to spend money for apps and media.

This isn’t an indictment on Android or Samsung or to say that Apple can just sit on its butt and think that its ecosystem will save it.  It is only a snapshot of the mobile market as it current stands.  Android owns the market share in units sold with Samsung leading the charge as the world’s biggest phone seller while Apple now dominates in terms of profitability.

5” iPhone

The analyst in the AI post mentioned the hole on Apple’s iPhone lineup which is a 5” iPhone.  I generally did not buy into Apple’s line about its unwillingness to make a tablet with a smaller than 10” screen but look at where we are today with the iPad mini.  So, last year when Tim Cook carefully phased his argument that the 4” screen on the iPhone 5 was the best screen Apple made for one-handed use and other attributes like resolution, colors, and brightness as a whole, I knew he was not excluding a bigger iPhone whether it will be used as a phone or more as a true mobile device.

At the most recent financial call, Tim Cook said Apple would not ship a 5” iPhone until certain factors and compromises are addressed.  He called them “trade-offs”.  The most important thing was that he did not dismiss the notion outright.

Basically, he did two things.  Apple will ship an iPhone with a 5” screen or whatever it picks to be the best for Apple’s users when it’s ready and it’s the best device they could make without major compromises.  Meanwhile, he poked at his competitors by suggesting their 5” or great devices were filled with flaws and trade-offs that Apple was unwilling to make.

Once Apple does ship an iPhone with a bigger screen, look out.  It could be the last piece of Apple’s mobile lineup that will solidify its hold on the high-end market.

Sure, 2007 was an important year because it was the first year that Apple released the iPhone.  The following year, the 3G iPhone was huge.  We got the Retina Display in the iPhone 4 but most will agree that the 4S and the 5 were mere incremental upgrades.

However, a 5” or bigger screen iPhone could give Apple a boost in the mobile market mobile warriors have been waiting for.  And it would be a huge deal to Apple fans, its investors, and super-charge the mobile market not seen since 2007.

And if you thought Apple’s hold on the mobile market was strong now, in a year or so, the 5” iPhone and with even stronger iTunes content and services, Apple may begin to choke off more profits from its competitors, even Samsung.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

SWYPE Confirmed Previous Talk with Apple

Source: Mac Daily News, 9to9Mac.

This is huge and it looks legit. SWYPE has spoken to Apple about getting the SWYPE keyboard layout on the iOS devices. However, that is not to say that the talks went anywhere. On any given day, Apple is approached about new technology, features, or app ideas. Apple might even reach out to companies as well.

However, with Tim Cook in charge, I can see the possibility of Apple opening up a few cracks in its walled garden for a privileged few like Twitter, Vimeo, and even Facebook.

In the interview, Aaron Sheedy, a SWYPE VP, only confirmed that talks had taken place and called Apple smart. My guess is that Apple did not say yes (but it didn't completely closed the door on the idea) and SWYPE calling Apple smart was a way of it trying to make sure it doesn't run afoul of Apple's good grace regardless of whether Apple was receptive to SWYPE bring a keyboard option on the iPhone.

If this happens and SWYPE is an option in the future, just think of the possibilities. There are other services that could come to iOS was an option that was previously unavailable. We already have options of search engines and emails, so maybe one day, we might see Apple open to allowing users to change their default mail or browser app.


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Apple: In Tim We Trust

Since Tim Cook took over for Steve Jobs, what we have seen at Apple is quarter after quarter of growth.  It’s insane what Tim Cook has achieved.  And he has the advantage over other CEOs at competing companies in that he worked under Steve Jobs.  No matter now you look at it, I’m sure some of the reality distortion magic has rubbed off on Tim Cook.

And despite the fall of Apple’s stock price, the reality is that Apple as a company has been dominating every market that it has a product in in terms of profitability.

In the immediate aftermath of Apple’s latest earnings result that came out on Tuesday, we can safely say that Apple continues to be in good hands under Tim Cook’s guidance.  He has learn and grown.  Case in point is the iMac fiasco which he owned up and said that he should not have announced the iMac back in October of 2012 when Apple just was not ready to ship yet.

No CEO at any other company would do this.  Think, folks.  This is huge!  Never will you see the CEOs of Google, Microsoft, HP, Dell, or Samsung own up to their mistakes.  Because of this, Apple fans and investors can proudly declare “In Tim We Trust”.

Going forward, we can look at Tim Cook’s management in this matter.  Software and hardware development will continue hand-in-hand smoothly given the changes in personnel last year.  Ives will have all the room he needs to make the best product he can design.

And products will be launched when they’re good and ready and they’ll be good and magical because the are products that Apple’s liberal art influenced programmers, designers, and engineers would want to make for themselves.

Tim Cook hinted no new products until fall of 2013 and into 2014.  He doesn’t want to rush things.  When the timing and the right technology is at hand, he'll pull the trigger.  He already projected Apple's 5" iPhone.  Until trade-offs are addressed, Apple will not release it.

There will be short term pain in the stock market.  A lot of distractions but he’ll do his best to shield the rest of Apple, the Apple that as a company is doing well, from it all.  He’s already promised to give back $100 billion to investors.

Also, Steve Jobs’ vision for Apple’s place in the living room will continue to evolve as the whole iTunes ecosystem is augmented with new deals from content owners.  Apple TV will eventually graduate from hobby to being a major pillar in Apple’s strategy for mobile and home entertainment.

Meanwhile, Tim Cook will also be laying the ground work for the future in terms of supplies and manufacturing.  He’ll make nice with the corrupt Chinese government and continue to make inroads into India to grow Apple’s markets there.

All the while, Apple will push into new markets.  Take this week’s iBeetle which provides us with a taste of what Apple’s plans are for the automotive industry.  Will Apple make a car or just be happy that cars in the future will be iOS ready?  No one knows for sure and Tim Cook and his team will evaluate and see now the market evolves.  Maybe Apple will be just fine and happy with drivers bring their iPhone into their car to act as the vehicle’s brain or maybe Apple will see something no one else has and get into the market with its own Jony Ives designed vehicle.

New products with no compromises, growing ecosystem, new markets, continuing search for markets to disruption.  That’s what Apple will continue to do.  It was like that under Steve and continues to be the case under Tim.

Twinkies Making Their Yummy Return In July!!!

The title said it all…NBC News has more.  The rest of the Hostess brands also coming back.

I should end the post here but I can’t help but take another dig at the union.  Look, I get that unions are good.  They have a purpose but when unions become an entity unto itself and tries to get bigger at the expense of the individual workers, well, it becomes what I like to call “cancerous”.

Again, unions are good if they do what they are supposed to but in the case of the Hostess company, all those unionized bakers and support staff all lost out because it put its interests as an entity above the workers.  Isn’t that what cancers do?

Once more, hooray!  Twinkies are coming back!!!  Now, to commemorate this occasion, someone make a Hostess mobile app and game!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

LSD Conference – For Real Or Just Trying To Create Another Steve Jobs

Source:  Southern California Public Radio.

So, kinda a full circle. In middle school, we were told how drugs, expecially like LSD, was going to ruin our lives and I generally still believe that which is why I don’t ever be experimenting with any kind of mind altering additives for whatever reason.  However, a psychedelic conference will be discussing how LSD and other similar drugs can be of benefit to neuroscience and medical benefits to treating conditions like alcoholism.

Of course, as you well know by now, Steve Jobs tried LCD during his younger years and had an eye opening experience.  Whether that is attributable to his genius or not, well, who knows.  Jobs certainly thought it was one of the most profound experiences of his life.

He also suggest that Bill Gates should try it because he was just such a boring guy.

Wireless Mergers: MetroPCS Approves T-Mobile Takeover, Sprint Would Benefit from Softbank

Source:  Wireless Week.

When President Obama was about to sign into law the Affordable Care Act, an open mic caught Vice-President Joe Biden telling POTUS “it’s a big fraking deal”.  I substituted “frak” with the other well known “f” word.  And whether you agree with it or not, it was.  And while recent moves in the wireless merger and acquisition market are that earth shattering, T-Mobile bulking up with MetroPCS after its revamping of the whole wireless industry in the US with its new pricing plans and Softbank (though it isn’t over given Dish is trying to muscle in) looking for a foothold in the lucrative US market by buying Sprint, those are big deals too.

Today, MetroPCS approved of the deal to merge with T-Mobile.  The newer bigger company will provide competition to AT&T and Verizon Wireless neither have seen before.  And Softbank will give Sprint a life line that not even the iPhone can provide.

Both companies will offer greater variety in a wireless market increasing dominated by AT&T and Verizon.

And if you don’t remember even five years ago, you were unable to get flagship devices on any carrier but the top ones.  Today, flagship devices have proliferated across national and regional carriers because of competition among the carriers and between the device makers themselves.

So, while not healthcare reform “big deal”, a stronger Sprint and T-Mobile are huge deals for the wireless market and awesome for mobile warriors.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

No 5” Or Greater Screen for iPhone While Trade-Offs Exist

Someone ask Tim Cook during Apple’s financial call today.  What Tim Cook gave as an answer was very interesting.

First, he gave the same Apple line about iPhone’s screen.  It’s the best out there.

Of course, you think that would be it and then ask for the next question.  What he said next was interesting and gave me hope that we might see a future iPhone with a bigger screen, 4.5”, 4.8”, 5”, or greater than the 4” screen on the iPhone 5.  Cook said that as long as certain trade-offs exist, it’s a non-issue.  So, if whatever these trade-offs are met, then we will lkely see a new form factor iPhone with a bigger screen.

What could these trade-offs be?

While near 5” and 5” screens on iPhone’s competitors exist and are flooding the market, such as the Galaxy S 4 and HTC One, Cook seem to suggest that they are made with these technological trade-offs.  Screen quality is one thing.  However, from what I can see, 720p and 1080p screens on 4.5” and 5” screens look great.

I think the larger issue is also battery life and to some extent, the graphics that has to be pushed out to power these big screens.

Size, namely form factor and Apple’s insane fetish with thinness, battery life, and graphics are all issues that Apple has to deal.  Similarly, we saw this in the iPad and iPad mini.  The iPad 2 did not come with a Retina Display as many had hoped because of the power required to drive such a display while maintaining its size and weight.  And when the iPad 3 did finally get the Retina Display, there was a slight increase in weight and thickness.

The disappointment in the iPad mini released with no Retina Display is also an issue as well – Apple just was not able to fit in a Retina Display within the thins form factor and weight they were aiming for while having the battery life be the same as the regular iPad.

We are seeing the same thing is a potential 5” iPhone.  Apple is shooting for this in the 5” iPhone:

  • Weight.  It has to be lighter than competing devices.  And it cannot weigh significantly heavier than the iPhone 5
  • Thiness.  It has to be at least as thin as the iPhone 5 but still maintain its form factor without compromising the integrity of the screen so that it can crack easily.
  • Graphics.  Apple’s silicon team has to find a way to drive a 5” screen with conceivable higher resolutions, which means driving more pixels than ever, without using more power.
  • Battery Life.  At the very least, it has to have the same usage per charge as the iPhone 5.

So, in order for Tim Cook to release a 5” iPhone, it would have to be as thin as the iPhone, screen has to be stronger, still very light, and maintain performance parity or better than the iPhone 5 which now stands at 8 hours of Internet use (10 hours on WiFi), 10 hours of video, and 40 hours of audio playback.

Actually, as far as performance and battery life goes, Apple will try to shoot for iPad like numbers in terms of performance and battery life.

So, once all these factors are met, we’ll get our 5” iPhone.

Signs That Your Mobile Device Is Infected By Malware Or Viruses

Windows used to be the playground of malware and viruses and it still is but as more and more users migrate over to mobile, the spread of bad apps and data stealing malware have spread especially on Android.  There is no denying that.

Here is a sort of a beginner's post from Read Write regarding virus and malware on your mobile and signs that your device might be infected.  While the post is directed at Android devices, make no mistake, it's about all mobile including iPhone, Windows Phone, and other platforms as well.

First, your battery life.  True if the malware is doing stuff in the background.  The post talked about displaying ads.  I think worse things can and probably are happening.

Then there's dropped calls.  I'm not so sure about this one.  While the post hesitates to blame the carrier, I don't have that issue.  However, the rest of the post are more interesting.  Slow performances, higher than usual phone bills, and data spikes.

Now, keep in mind that none of these alone could be attributed to malware.  Battery life on any device is pretty bad in general even a pristine Android install like that on a Nexus 4.  And yes, while Apple has done wonders with the battery life of the thin iPhone 5, it's still "meh" to me.

But you get bad battery life, lots of data, slow performance, and you getting charged for things you did buy or services you don't have, that's usually a good sign your device is infected.

Monday, April 22, 2013

No, Apple Is Not Secretly Trying To Out Tim Cook - Forbes Now Just A Regular Blog And Throws Journalism Out

There are a couple posts since this week that seemed like an orchestrated effort to discredit Tim Cook specifically and Apple in general.  See, there are folks who are suggesting that Apple has begun looking for Tim Cook’s replacement.  Bull crap (feel free to go stronger than that).  I’m not going to be linking to them because it just feeds this beast.

So, I’ll like to Fortune’s counter post on this and I recommend reading it as it puts what’s going on at Apple in perspective – namely, a dysfunctional stock market with blatant abuses and manipulations that the government is helpless to do anything about and an once respected business magazine (Forbes) that has turned to company hacks with agendas or axes to grind.

Apparently, and I've felt this as well, Forbes has hired itself out to be used as an investment and agenda driven blog site for "financial" and tech bloggers that has questionable analytic skills and documented biases towards one company or another.  And these days, Forbes knows that to drive traffic, getting on the Apple bashing bandwagon gets eyeballs.

In fact, on this Tim Cook replacement topic, Forbes has competing posts about that.  What better way to game the click-bait game than to play both sides?

However, it’s not to say that Tim Cook isn’t without blame.  Heck, I’m not sure he is to be blamed for anything.  All I am saying is that maybe someday, just maybe Tim Cook may be replaced for something he did.  After all, no one is perfect.  Even Steve Jobs made a few blunders at Apple and elsewhere.  But if does happen, it’ll be cause Apple fans demand it.

And right now, Apple fans and bloggers are just as happy with Tim Cook as they have been with Steve Jobs.

Whatever happens or results from Apple’s earnings for the last quarter, I only know that they’ll make billions and add that much if not more in cash to its accounts and will do what’s good for the company with it and the stockholders be damned.

Tale of Two App Discovery Apps: AppShopper Back But Big-Mouth AppGratis Can Forget About It

Source:  Pocketgamer.

AppGratis as we know by now gets developers to pay for installation.  It’s a manipulation of Apple’s ranking as Apple sees it but others like the AppGratis investors think it’s a form of advertising.  The way to set things right would be for AppGratis developers to try to talk to Apple and find a common ground.  In fact, AppShopper probably did just that – opening a dialogue between itself and Apple.  The result?  It’s now back in the App Store.

On the other hand, CEO Simon Dawlat lied about AppGratis’ business model which he said the app doesn’t take payment from developers for installation and promotion in an attempt to manipulate app ranking. And when documents leaked online that showed he lied, he still would not back down.  In Apple or anyone’s book, that’s a no-no.  This TechCrunch post explains it all.

What also isn’t likely to make Apple happy is an online petition to get AppGratis back into the App Store.  Dude, I could have told them this would not work.  If anything, AppGratis is screwed entirely.

Meanwhile, AppShopper is back in.  AppShopper probably was pulled because it attempted to be an app store within Apple’s App Store.  Now, that’s changed.  What’s new is a social component and gone are rankings for the time being.  Personally, I don’t care for the ranking because I realized I like apps that are not necessarily high up anywhere.  But I do like the wish list function, which drives me nuts because I think it’s something Apple should include in all of its stores across iTunes and iCloud.

It’s a lesson for developers in this app drama when it comes to dealing with Apple.  Private dialogue is preferred over public outrage that means absolute nothing to Apple and only serves to alienate Cupertino all the more.  On top of that, trying to game Apple’s rules just isn’t the way to engage Apple and to manipulate its users.

As for AppShipper Social, I think this is a good first step and I like to see better social engagement in future versions.

Apple Donates Money and Devices to The Chinese Affected By Major Quake

Source: Arstechnica.

Apple is donate about $8 million dollars to the Sichuan region of China that was hit by a major earthquake.  On top of that, it’ll also be donating devices to schools affected by the disaster.  It’s a PR move.  It’s also a good move.  And Apple is letting the Chinese know about it.

However, knowing the leech mentality of the Chinese government, they’ll find some way to discredit the help from Apple and other foreign entities by suggesting it was inadequate or something worse while playing up domestic help that may not even come close.  This kind of myopic focus on national pride has already shown signs that it is wearing thin on the masses.

Transcription Would Be A Bigger Deal If Apple's Voice Dictation Works Off-Line But Google Already Does That

I'm sure the voice dictation function built into iOS and OS X devices will eventually work off-line, like Google's does now.   Eventually, Siri I have phone functions that were off-line.  By off-line, I mean without having the need to connect to the Internet and send the voice thing Apple server farms.

I started thinking about this when I thought how great iOS will work if it also has a powerful transcription. It will serve a lot of professionals.  Doctors, lawyers, writers, journalists, and even students.

It has taken me a while to get used to voice dictation. I try to use it as often as I can. So the most part, I avoid doing it because either I am in public, at work, are at a place where there is no Internet connection. And of course, speaking into an iPhone and having that information sent through the Internet to Apple and getting the results does take a valuable battery power. No, iPhone battery life these a lot to be desired.

I have found a few apps that does transcribing for you.  You speak into the app and that gets sent to the company that offers the app and you get the results back.  And while the apps are free, some of these companies charge by the minute.

And, as far as I know Dragon Dictate also requires the user to have a live Internet connection.

That leaves only Google's: users of Android devices can dictate to their messaging app or email app or any other text app without requiring live Internet connection.

For my fellow mobile warriors, I really encourage you to give dictation thingies regardless of whether you're an iOS or Android user. In fact, I am dictating this post instead of typing. There are some corrections that I may hear there, but for the most part it has been keyboard free.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Apple, Please Release A 5" or 5.5" iPhone

My mom called me today and said the iPhone 5 sucked.  Well, she didn't exactly used those words but I know the lady, giving birth to me and all.  In fact, I gave up the iPhone 5 and took her iPhone 4S for my own.  I think she considers the 4S to be Steve Jobs' last iPhone.  But that's not the reason why she wants to give up the iPhone 5.

She thinks the screen is too small.  I think she saw more and more of her friends with Galaxy devices from Samsung.  Maybe even the Note 2.  I don't blame her.  I've thought for months about getting a Note and I'm think I'll wait for the Note 3.

My only issue for not getting her the Note 2 is because she's overseas a lot and if she has a problem now, I would not know how to deal with it because I don't have a reference unit here to help walk her through it.

So, Apple, you may have to think twice about the perfect size for the iPhone.  I do think the 3.5-4" screen is perfect for a major of the mobile market.  But I think there is a segment of the market who would like to have a 5" or greater screen that still fit into one's pocket.

Okay, no stylus.  I don't need a stylus.  It's too limited unless Apple can really work some magic on that front.

A 5" screen or greater iPhone with LTE would be something that would sell like hotcakes and may even revitalize the market's confidence in Apple, especially Wall Street despite their stupidity.

For my mom, her interest in Note had to do with gaming.  She plays tons of game on her iPad mini.  However, when she's out and about, she doesn't want to be carry the iPad mini around with her all the time.  It's not convenient.

So, the has her iPhone 5 with her.  However, playing games from the 7.85" iPad mini screen down to the 4" iPhone 5 screen did not offer the same experience.  I'm not sure a 5" screen would either but it still is better than a 4" screen.

More and more of my friends are switching over the Android because of the screen size.  Sure, they complain about the experience from time to time but I think Google will one day close that experience gap.  After that, there would be nothing to keep some users from sticking with the iPhone.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Game Center Should Become Social Center

I have been thinking long and hard about this for a while.  Even before Facebook released Home for Android.  But I think Apple should do something about Game Center and I'm not talking about the look of GC but about what it can offer.  From day one, I thought it would make sense for Apple to allow messaging.  Then of course, we got iMessage instead.

What Apple should do is turn GC into Social Center.  Notifications, messages, widgets, game updates, and social components that give Apple users, Mac and iOS, a place where their social networks like Twitter, Facebook, and even Apple's own updates, can be located in one place.

It is possible?

I don't know if that's the direction Apple would ever consider taking but it does make sense to do this.  Social Center would gather up iTunes, Messages, social networks, gaming and media into one place.

And what's more, the value of Social Center will only serve to augment other features and products that Apple wants to push out.  As it stands now, I don't know how many people actually use Game Center but with Social Center, maybe more people will discover the value Game Center offers which could lead to more engagement and game sales.

Adding a component for music and other media sharing from friends and family could also lead to iTunes sales.

Apple should also add its own social layer that provides updates.  Think of Path, a social network app, and you'll know what I'm talking about.

With Path, you can upload pictures, update status, sharing locations, and tell your friends what you're watching or listen to.  Apple should adopt a similar approach (or buy Path outright).  And Apple should be able to allow users to update that information to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ or other social networks.

The bottom line is that Apple would then also have its own social network that could make sure it doesn't have to be at the mercy of competitors like Facebook or Google.

Social Center would instantly give Apple an added cool appeal that some said has been sorely missing in the last couple of years.

The question in people's mind is whether this could happen.  Sadly, no.  This is not in Apple's DNA.  In all likelihood, Apple got stung by the failure of Ping and has sworn off social media services and apps.  Game Center is as close as it'll ever come to that.  To a lesser extent, iMessages is as social as Apple will get.  Furthermore, Apple seems content to leave creating social apps and services to third party developers.

It's a shame.  A native social layer would greatly enhance the values of not only Apple's hardware but its services like iTunes, iCloud, and future media pushes.  Social Center would be the kind of next step achievements that Apple should be going after.

Should Apple's Share Price Be A Concern For Mobile Users, Not Just iOS Users?

Apple's price has been down and out of Wall Street favor for a long time now.  Maybe a better part of a year since reaching high into the 700s.  Personally, while I like to see stocks rise, not just Apple but for Google, Microsoft, or any other company, I take a particular interest in Apple because I've been a long time Apple product user and have lived through the "dark days".  Yeah, you know what I mean and that brought back bad memories for those of you who knows what I'm talking about.

The difference here is that Apple today is in a much stronger position than the Apple in the 90s that was weeks away from bankruptcy before Steve Jobs successfully turned things around.  And that took years to do.  Today's Apple was not an overnight success.  It took around seven years before people started to believe.

It's not Apple's successful story that I want to discuss here.  Rather, it's Apple's lost decade in the late 80s and 90s that I am afraid may be repeated.  The creative juice and innovative energy that Steve Jobs instilled in Apple endures and will probably do so under Tim Cook.  However, I do see Apple today more as a company than a creative shop that was under Steve Jobs.  

Jobs cared nothing about money.  About dividends and stock prices.  Maybe it was easier when things were better and the rise of Apple's value was the sky.  And through not Tim Cook's fault, Apple's stock prices today may force Tim Cook to waiver a bit from Steve Jobs' vision for Apple and innovation in general and stir Apple more towards being a corporation and less of a place where magical devices are created.

Investor pressure could for Cook to direct his teams to make products that sell for short term gains like the fabled "cheap iPhone" rather than telling them to make products that will continue Apple's legacy.

Make no mistake, however, that what I am expressing is only a fear that it can happen.  I'm not saying that it absolutely will happen or that there are signs it is already happening.  But should that happen, mobile warriors could be used to see innovation in the mobile market happening at neck breaking speed in the last five years come to a slower pace.  

Even now, Apple fans are increasingly more vocal about the stale state of look and function of iOS.  Make no mistake that we are talking about wholesale defections from Apple to other platforms.  It's just that while the UI for iOS works, it has gotten boring while others like Windows Phone and Android have tried doing different things to differentiate themselves from Apple and each other.

And while I'm not a fan of Facebook, I have to say that Home is definitely something I like to see in the mobile market.  It offers a different perspective on mobile use even as it takes a frightful attempt to obliterate privacy.  

In the next twelve to eighteen months, we will see where Apple goes.  As a matter of fact, the same can be said of Google.  Both of their mobile heads were replaced within months of each other which suggests change of pace or direction where Apple and Google wants their mobile efforts to move respectively.  One might assume that big changes are coming.  


We won't know what mobile users can expect from Apple until the second half of 2013.  Yeah, aside from increasing the iPad's top-end mobile with 128 GB, there has been a dry spell.  Apple's annual World Wide Developer Conference in June is the earliest when we should see any new product from Apple this year.  And they're probably going to be Macs and Macbooks, not iOS devices like the iPhone or iPad.

For those, we will have to wait until fall.  Hopefully, Apple will grace us with a glimpse of what iOS 7 going to be like and that will only be a partial unveiling.  We won't know if Apple will continue to care not about the stock price and exist as it currently does now or becoming a company that cares more about the bottom line until the next iPhones and iPads are released.  

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Microsoft Tries To Be Helpful By Saying Google Will (Or Should) Block Facebook Home

Source:  The Guardian.

Here is a must read post regarding Google, Facebook, and Android.  The gist of the post stemmed from statements from Microsoft’s head of Windows Phone division.  Needless to say, Terry Myerson provided some analysis and statements that took digs at Google while promoting how Windows Phone was actually doing.  The Guardian went to Google chairman, Eric Schmidt, for his response.

I agree Schmidt who at one point asked who was anyone listening to Microsoft about Google.  Google isn’t doing a thing to stop Facebook from making Home more widely available on Android.  It runs counter to Google’s claim that Android is open.  So, it can’t and won’t stop Facebook doing Home or eventually forking it or adding its own app store if it wanted to.  Just like Google could not stop Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or the plethora of Chinese vendors making their own Android variants.  However, it remains to be seen if Facebook won’t eventually overtake Google in monetizing the mobile platform in ways that Samsung is doing by selling Android-based hardware.

As for Microsoft, well, let’s just say that Windows Phone is treading water right now and further analysis will have to wait for another post on another day.

One more thing.  You can forget about any talk that Facebook will bring Home to the iPhone or Windows Phone as it currently exists on Android.  Yes, further integration will likely happen between Facebook, Twitter, Weibo, or any other social networks on iPhone or Windows Phone but only in small increments as allowed by Cupertino or Redmond.

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