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.

American Oil Independence In Coming Years Could Mean Greater and Stabilizing Engagement With the World

Source:  NYT.

Along with every American, I look forward to the days when America achieves energy independence, which would be a great boost to national security and possibly free up billions that could potentially create a new Economy 3.0 or even 4.0.

However, in this NY Times post, while it rightly suggests that American engagement in the Middle East and other troubled spots in the world won’t end, I reject the idea that it could continue to go badly in the future.

New regimes that could potentially come to power or those that want to stay in power in oil rich nations will need to prepare for the future that comes a time when their coffers are no longer filled with oil profits.

The might of the US military and missions in any given region means hundreds or billions in cold hard cash.

Of course, having plenty of natural resources and energy does not automatically mean things will go well.  Again, ask the Saudi how stable their kingdom really is.  Or Russia where it takes the hands of a strong man to keep things together.

Then again, while we have our own issues, the United States isn’t any one of those countries.  I look forward to 2017 and beyond where American international policies will like change quite a bit and hopefully a much more steady peace.  And maybe, just maybe we won’t have the Chinese as our bankers.

Of course, we hope whoever is in the White House won't take us on various war campaigns or try to use any new political power as leverage.  As you well know, with great power comes great responsibility.  It applied to Peter Parker when Uncle Ben said it to him and it applies to any president or nation as well.

This Kinda Sucks: Galaxy S 4’s 16 GB Storage Really Has Only 9 GB And Lame Design Explanation

Source:  Droid-Life.

I think my title says it all.  Remember back during the Surface days when we found out that Microsoft’s Windows 8 RT tablet had only half of its storage available to the user?  We were pretty harsh on them and just about every anti-Microsoft and pro-whatever chimed in to rip on Redmond.

Well, now we find out that Samung’s flagship Galaxy device will only have 9 GB available to users.  The rest are packed with wares that most users won’t care for, probably won’t use after the novelty wears off, and will end up jail-breaking it to get pure Android back.

I think this is certainly something that reviewers and sellers has to inform potential buyers about.  Of course, that would never happen. So my fellow Android and mobile readers, now you know.

I know that Samsung is working hard to differentiate its mobile offerings but they need to know that there’s a balance between trying to offers features few developers will support and real world uses of their devices.  I’m sure they’ve got the data to know that.

Now, couple that with complaints about cheap plasticky build and it’s convoluted explanation why its devices are designed the way they are.  Except, of course, we have seen it and it’s called “the Galaxy S III”.

However, at the end of the day, Samsung will sell lots of the new Galaxy S 4’s.  A lot and it may not matter too much at the end of the day.

Design-wise, Nexus 4 has me very impressed as does newcomer, HTC One.  Though it remains to be seen if HTC One also suffers from the Galaxy S 4 storage problem.

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

Twitter As A Future/Better Bloomberg? Yeah, I Can See It

I scoffed at this Fortune post when I first read it.  Then I gave it a few minutes to sit and then realized that Twitter can be not only be a future Bloomberg or newswires but it might even be better and make money in the process.

Twitter might be able to position itself as a cheap alternative to business and data terminals in ways that was not possible before and charge only a minimal cost.

Basically, Twitter can partner with news organizations like Reuters, AP, CNBC, or anyone else and create a list that is accessible by subscription.

In fact, it doesn’t have to be related to business or regular news at all.  Lists or categories could be created that allow paid subscribers to more tweets than public ones or at least provide them first for subscribers.

Pretty soon, financial disclosures or company plans could be unveiled via Twitter and other social networks and bypass or augment traditional disclosure routes.

Right now, Bloomberg has added a Twitter channel, not unlike those I've set up for myself for social and tech news in addition to their regular feed.  Twitter can offer curated lists to paid users with exclusive content or just offer them free with more ads.

After all, Twitter is where many tech and news junkies to these days.  In the aftermath of Google announcing its decision to kill Reader, I've begun using Twitter as an alternative source for hour-by-hour updates.

Will Twitter replace Bloomberg or traditional newswires   Probably not completely if ever but Twitter can position itself as a viable alternative.

Of course, Twitter accounts are prone to hacking so Twitter will have to find a way for better authentication if it chooses to go down this route.  This week, AP’s account was hacked and a tweet about the White House shook the market causing billions to be lost before the market recovered after learning it was a hoax.

Such a business plan can extend to other types of Twitter services.  A magazine can offer subscribers special tweets or a celebrity can provide more details about their lives to paying fans.

Twitter will have to strike a balance between the service it offers now, which is essentially free and paid for by ads and any potential paid services in the future so that the free portion of Twitterverse doesn't get degraded to the point that traditional users felt left out and abandon the service.

Dead Boston Marathon Killer: If The Russians Wanted Him, Maybe We Should Have Heeded Warning Signs

Here's a very interesting WSJ post regarding what the dead Boston Marathon bomber/killer did with his six month stay in Russia, Dagestan, and Chechnya.  It asked a lot of good questions and offered hints that we might not be at the end of this terrorist saga.

It's a good read.  The WSJ is best when it is doing articles like this and not getting into bait-click posts like bashing Apple or Google and mischaracterizing data.

There is currently an American team there to investigate what's going on.  However, I doubt we'll learn much unless we receive full cooperation from the Russians.  There seems to be attempt by Dagestan and the killer's father to deflect notions that radical elements in central Asia had anything to do with the killer's Islamist indoctrination.

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.

Social: AP Allowed Its Twitter Account To Be Hack to Spread False Tweet Regarding POTUS

Source:  Politico.
Rather embarrassing fpr the AP.  But first, I want to say that we’re glad to hear President Obama is fine.  Apparently, there was a tweet out of AP the president was hurt in an explosion.

First, that is not likely to ever happen because the security around the president, any other future or previous presidents, and their spouses are the best in the world.  Second, it’s only one source which was AP at the time and no one else who have sources in the White House knew about it.

It’s certainly another boo-boo for the new media.  If anyone is to be blamed, it’s the AP, and not Twitter.

Just last week, CNN, Fox News, New York Post, Reddit readers, and other various media sources blamed the Boston bombing on the wrong kid.

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.

Facebook Home at 500,000 Downloads – Seems Like A Dud. Should It Be A Million or More?

Source:  Droid Life.

Facebook Home shows that Facebook’s brand power is nowhere near those of other apps like its own Instagram or even paid apps like Angry Birds.  So, 500K does seem like a big fail.

Having said that, we want to be fair.  Home is only available to a subset of Android devices.  What are they?  Galaxy S III, Note II, HTC Ones.

So sure, limited availability and all that but the fact that it is limited to a segment of high end Android devices makes that a huge deal.  It means high-end Android users, who may also be Facebook users, are not interested in getting bombarded with updates from friends all day long.  Nor do they want their home screen splattered with ads.  So that probably also mean they don’t like having their privacy violated more than it already is by Facebook.

Even when I was on Facebook, I check it at most once a day.  Sometimes a week or two can go by without me logging in.  I think that’s likely the case for the vast majority of high-end Android users.

And that in and of itself should worry Facebook and its supporters.  You naturally think high-end Android users, like iPhone users, probably will be more engaging than Android users who use the phones as they are without buying apps or media.  That means Facebook Home is inherently being avoided by high-end users who are likely to spend money for apps and services.

What’s also worrying is the two stars Home has on Google Play while the standalone Facebook and Messenger apps have 3.5 and 5 stars respectively.  Even competitor Path has almost five stars.  (Furthermore, I don’t think Google is looking to promote the heck out of Home which many, including us, believes Home is a play by Facebook to replace Google as the face of Android.)

Even now, Facebook Home doesn't work with Google’s flagship device, Nexus 4.  And over weekend, I had dinner with friends who had Nexus 4 as their main devices and not one plan on install Facebook Home on there.  A couple don’t even have Facebook apps installed.

However, I think it is still too early to tell.  The first Facebook phone, the HTC First, isn’t out yet and we have to see if anyone bites.  Having said that, retailing for $99 with a two-year contract and unless the user is a dead on Facebook addict, the mobile buyer has too many choices to pick from not to mention better devices for the same price or free.  And in a few months, the First will probably be free on contract.

Home is Facebook’s beachhead to get into mobile.  And Android is the easiest place for it to make that happen.  What next is easy to guess.  We’ll likely see a future app store from Facebook just like Amazon had an app store before the Kindle Fire went on sale.  After that, we’ll see a full fledge device with Home, Facebook’s app store, and its other services completely replacing any mention of Google.

Facebook is patient because it can afford to be even if downloads are so far a dismal failure today.  Unless you’re selling high-end devices like Samsung to make money off Android, monetizing mobile traffic and content is slow going after years at it by Google and Microsoft.  Facebook will try and try until it finds a winning strategy or failing that, end up alienating its mobile users.

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

Social: Comedy Central and Twitter Takes Entertainment and Jokes Up To A New Level

I hope that whatever Comedy Central and Twitter has cooking up for us via hastag #ComedyFest doesn't get me fired if I laugh out loud too much at work.  But there's a danger in that so I warn all my readers.

Comedy Central has partnered with Twitter using the customary 140-character tweets along with Vine's 6 second video to send out jokes and videos.

Folks, this is some clever use of social media.

We already know the popularity of Twitter as a means to send out information and forment revolutions but for this level of partnership, it could lead to greater engagement that has not been seen before.

Right now, for a movie or television show, producers, directors, actors, and the studios involved would be engaging users on Twitter, Google+, and that other privacy-killing thing (starts with a F) to drum up publicity with leaks, pictures, videos, and direction communication with users.

Official unveiling will happen tomorrow and start on April 29th.

Looking forward to this.

I Want To See A Nexus 5 (Or 5.5)

Google And Samsung.  Samsung and Google.  Partners?  Definitely.  Friends?  At times.  The common perception now is that Samsung is using Android for a major of its mobile devices but could be moving on in a few years as Tizen matures.  So, I like to see Google really prepare for that day.

There is talk that Google's Motorola won't be joining the specs war with Samsung, HTC, or others by releasing bigger screens and, maybe, faster CPUs with more and more cores.  However, I would like to see a pure Android with a 5" or greater screen from Google, and the Nexus line would be the perfect place for such a device.

So, I want a Nexus 5 or 5.5 to compete with Samsung's Galaxy S 4, HTC One, and Note 2 and 3. What got me really think about this is when my mom asked for a Note 2.  She felt the iPhone 5 screen just was not cutting it.

But this isn't about the puny 4" screen on the iPhone 5.  This is about the Android experience.  I will eventually get her an Android device with a bigger device but not until it's a full Android experience.  Nothing that is forked or semi-forked with Samsung's fingerprints or that of Facebook.

Truthfully, I think only Google understands in the in-and-outs of Android and with that comes better updates and security.

So, Google.  How about it?  5" Screen or better for the Nexus?  A Nexus 5 or 6 if you will?

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.

Boston Marathon Bombing: Was the Cheering After The Ordeal A Good Or Bad Thing?

Saw cheering crowds all over Boston, especially in the immediate aftermath after the capture of second Boston marathon bomber?  I figure everyone has.  I was glad the ordeal was over and I live on the other coast.  I did not start thinking about it one way or another until I got together with friends and they voiced their opinions about the cheering.

Most thought maybe the celebration should not have been so overt.  I was of the opinion that this was something unprecedented in America where a whole city was locked down and fear that someone was on the loose with bombs strapped to his body ready for more bloodshed.

The whole event lead me to think back to the celebration in some parts of the Middle East after 9/11 where crowds celebrated our pain and thank God and prayed for more of our destruction.  It didn't hurt me.  Like every American, I wanted to strike back at those who caused my fellow citizens pain and death.  Coldly, I thought "wait till we come after you".

Of course, the folks we wanted dead were in Afghanistan.  There are bad guys in the Middle East as we later find out in Iraq and pretty much everywhere else.

But I think those celebrations in Boston and the ones on the Middle East and elsewhere regarding 9/11 are different.  We know why those took place after 9/11.  For the Bostonians, their lives were threatened.  Disrupted.  For a day, they lived in fears not knowing when the next terror attack was coming from.  And they were forced to stay in their homes.

And when the last of two terrorists were captured, the Bostonians cheered the end to the ordeal.  They were not cheering to the capture of a cold-blooded murderer.  Because I know this:  those same folks cheering would gladly forgo that if it would bring back the lives of those killed in the marathon bombing, the MIT officer killed while sitting in his patrol vehicle, and put back the lives and limbs of those injured.

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.  

Friday, April 19, 2013

Uncle of Boston Marathon Bombers Called His Nephews "Losers"

There really isn't much to say about this beyond what's in the title.  The two suspects' uncle call them losers.

A couple of interesting notes.  He said what his nephews, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev , did had nothing to do with the Russian war and control in Chechnya.  The other is that he believed his nephews had problems settling in into the American society.

The second point is interesting because all morning, the media has been reporting how the two brothers were well-liked and fit in well.  Not loner-types.

Also, I wonder what the uncle would think of his nephew Tamerlan being out of the US last year for six months and the possibility of Chechen connection.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Bad Day: Bomb Threats and Police Shootings

Today could have been a good day. The FBI has potentially ID two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing. But then as the day wore in, other things were being reported.

Two bomb threats were called in locally. Cal State Los Angeles and USC both had bomb threats called in. Nothing came of that.

And tonight, a campus officer at MIT was shot and killed.

All college related. And the fertilizer plant situation in Texas is ongoing.

Generally been a bad week for America. But these kinds of events also served to remind us how we are one people and the magnitude of our resiliency and resolve as Americans.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

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.

Apple Should Prepare to Leave China (There Is Still Time To Execute Such A Plan)

At first glance, you might think that the title of this article is a clickbait considering that China is the second biggest economy in the w...