Friday, February 28, 2014

No New Apple TV Model Coming Despite Today's $25 iTunes Giftcard Deal With Current Model Apple TV Purchase?

I got all excited this morning when I saw in my RSS reader that Apple was giving everyone who buys a current model Apple TV, which was introduced almost two years ago, an iTunes credit of $25.  At the time, the first thought jumped into mind:  Apple is looking to clear out inventory so they can make way to release a newer model with more bells and whistles.

Well, it appears that is not the case.  With his famous one word "nope"  Jim Dalrymple of The Loop Insight dispelled that line of wishful thinking.  I mean "c'mon!", right?

Well, the dude has not been wrong as far as I know.  And while I'm not sure if he calls into Apple or someone from Apple calls him about it, Mr. Dalrymple seems pretty tied into some of what's going on in Cupertino.  

However, can you blame a guy for thinking this?  It's not unheard of for companies to discount products or to add incentives to move sales to make way for an upgrade product.  

Essentially, you're getting the Apple TV for $75 and you've got $25 spend on iTunes.  One other likely scenario here is that Apple is feeling some competitive pressure from Google's $35 Chromecast which probably is selling well and gaining new features and apps by the week.  

Regardless, it's an awesome if you don't already have one.  

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Social: Facebook's $16 Billion Bill for Whatsapp Made the $3 Billion It Offered Snapchat Look Low-Balled

As you may well know by now, Facebook bought Whatsapp for $16 billion in cash, stock, and retention.  A few months ago, some quarters of the Internet was abuzz with Snapchat's rejection of the $3 billion overture from Facebook.

I'd would have sold.  Take my billion and move onto something else.  Given the Whatsapp deal, Snapchat was right in not dealing.  It could have asked for two to five times more from Facebook.

Still, it's hard to fathom if all of this will pay off or are we in the midst of a social network bubble not unlike when Internet companies in the late 90s and early 2000s were throwing money away left and right.

The question now is what's next for Facebook, what it'll do with Whatsapp (supposedly, nothing will change...right), and how will other social networks or competitors like Google arm themselves.  There are plenty of other messaging "giants" out there that could be for sale given the right price.

Like Snapchat or Line.

Science: Man Nearly Mugged By Giant Octopus

You think the ocean is big enough where humans and sea creatures, both large and small, mammal or otherwise, can co-exist.  Maybe never even bump into one another.  Maybe even safer than say walking on the streets of NY at night with your iPhone hanging out for all to steal.

Not so as this diver soon realized.  An giant octopus lashed out and tried to grab his camera away.  Who would have though that you'd get mugged by a sea creature just for going for a swim.

And as you'll see, the dude would not none of that and made sure the octopus didn't make off with his gear.  Me?  I'd drop the thing and swim back up to surface.  I'd be like "giant octopus! Screw that!  You can have my camera!"

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Reinvent Before It's Too Late And I've Got Sony In Mind

I like that Sony has bowed out of certain markets and continues down that trend.  More recently, they're shedding the TV and PC businesses.  Bravo!  But it was done because they finally saw the writings on the wall.  See, in reading this Bloomberg post about former Apple excutives.  It really has nothing to do with the subject matter of this post except that I came across a section in it that we already know from Apple's history and its brush with dead before Steve Jobs 2.0 came in and reignited the innovative flame at Apple, enriched our lives with great new technologies, and positively disrupted market after market.

Apple had to shed a lot of dead weight before that happened. That was going on before Jobs' return and continued further when he got rid of the Newton, simplified the Mac line, and dropped other less or money losing ventures.

Once that was one, all the clutter and noise was gone, Apple got back to work and on track.

I believe Sony should use this moment in its history to do the same. And with the right visionary leader, I think the iconic brand, which Jobs once admired, could become relevant again.  But more than that, it would need to also shed some old ideas and notions that that the company once held.

Obviously, as markets chance, companies that repond quicker tends to reap the benefits.  Or as in Apple's case, come into the market later with a disruptive product or service.  I believe in Sony and I think it can do that.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Mobile: It's about Time To Call It - Windows Phone Is Microsoft's Alone

I love the world that Nokia has done to prop up Windows Phone.  And it certainly has given Android a run for its money on the low-end but that's about it.  And now, with Microsoft buying out Nokia's mobile biz, which pretty much consisted of Lumia devices running WP and only because Microsoft paid them to, even HTC is looking to move away from investing any more time and money on it (PC World).

Without the sheer will of the money generated by profits from Windows and Office, it's doubtful anyone, including Samsung, would want to make Windows Phone devices at this point.  And without special deals, it's also doubtful anyone is interested in making Windows RT devices or tablets running the full Windows versions.

Most PC guys are interested in doing convertibles because, let's face it, people still will buy Windows laptops that double as tablets but not tablets that double as laptops.

As for Windows Phone's future, Microsoft seems content in being a distant third to Android and the iPhone for the moment.

The question is what is next from Microsoft and its new CEO?  It's unlikely that Microsoft will abandon the consumer market and try to live off the PC market until it can find a course that does not include fighting a losing battle.

It's not to say that Microsoft can't still win the mobile war.  We need Microsoft to be in the game, if anything, to continue to put innovative and competitive pressure on everyone else.

But right now, things do not look good.  And the possibility that Windows Phone could turn out to be a Zune is not out of the realm of possibility.

I have a Windows Phone. It's a Lumia (of course, right?).   Microsoft's unique UI definitely sets itself apart from competing devices on the market.  However, I'm not sure I want to invest much more time into the device beyond what apps I've bought given the uncertainty of the future for the platform.  Maybe after Microsoft has finished digesting Nokia, I might change my mind.  

Regardless, third party hardware running Windows Phone has ran its course.  It's over.  Now, it's only Microsoft's Lumia left.  

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Apple's Wearable Devices To Disrupt (In A Good Way) Life And Health

There's been a lot of talk in the last year about Apple's unicorn iWatch.  First, we don't know that it's a watch.  If anything, based on what's swirling around the Web, it's more of an iLife device.  Not iLife like the suite of Mac and iOS apps but about your life and health in general.

Regardless of whatever you want to call it, when Apple does release it, it will attempt to disrupt a whole new market and quite possibly change the way we live with respect to this device.

And it's not going to the market we think - not the watch industry.  Not directly.  Devices like the Nike Fuelband or Fitbit's arsenal of pedometers will be impacted but only an ancillary impact or afterthought of this new Apple device.

It may well be the whole healthcare system that Apple is going after.  Tackling a whole host of issues and problems all at once.

Hypertension, diabetes, and obesity to name a few.  In essence, this iLife device could be a condition-based system to monitor existing conditions like heart disease.

Imagine if the device detects an onset of a life-threatening condition when it detects a change on your heart rate - a heart attack or something.  It can call 911 directly or send out an alert to your doctor or someone else.  Or if you've fallen and you can't get up, this iLife device could allow you to send an alert regarding your precarious condition.

On another level, it may be a device everyone wears as a part of any preventive care plan to keep diseases and conditions from developing. This is where it would act more like a Fuelband.

Sure, there will be some mobile features like alerts.  Even games.  Apple will make sure this iLife device is neatly integrated into the whole iOS, app store, and iTunes ecosystem.

Just how much Apple can fit into the iLife device really depends on how ambition it is and what is technically possible at the time of its release.  To be sure, it isn't going to be like the so-call smartwatches we now see on the market.  Don't expect an app store like what Pebble has.  Don't expect it to just offer simplified notes and alerts from your iPhone or iPad like the Galaxy Gear.

In fact, it's best for Apple fans to focus on what Apple's wearable devices are not going to be.  From there, the possibilities become endless.

Oh, one more thing.  Though it's not a watch, I'm pretty sure it will be able to tell time.

Shade of News: Apple TV - Bloomberg Is Likely Wrong About The Timeline And Other TV Stories That Aren't Stories

Yesterday, there was a lot of TV news for our favorite fruity-themed tech upstart, Apple.  Some are relevant but others are and folks will try to blow this out of proportion or twist it in ways that are beyond the scope of the original story.

First, Bloomberg came out with a post that Apple will be unveiling a new Apple TV in a couple of months but the release will be later in 2014.

Second comes news that Comcast has bought Time Warner Cable.  Okay, this is actually news but spinning it towards Cupertino (Apple's HQ) has already begun.

Third, there is news that Apple's chief content negotiator, Eddy Cue, has been busy and that Apple's scale for the Apple TV has been reduced because of resistance from content providers who feared losing their tried-and-true revenue from cable operators.

Let's address those starting with the second one.  There has been rumors that Apple could be working with Time Warner Cable to get content onto the Apple TV.  Essentially, TWC subscribers would be able to watch their shows via the Apple TV.  That has always been a rumor.  Very delicious one at that I'll admit.  Still, a rumor.  I'm sure Apple has been talking to just about everyone who it thinks can help move its living room agenda forward.  This includes video game makers as well as potential accessory partners for the Apple TV.

It's not really Apple TV news but it will be made that way through the day and rest of the week because it was given a new coat of what I like to call "shade of news".  It really is just a rumor that Apple and TMC are close to a deal.

Then there is the third note about Apple VP Eddy Cue, anti-trust, and negotiating with Hollywood.  That isn't something new at all.  Apple is always working on acquiring new content for its ecosystem.  It's just an opportune time for Fortune to come out with this article right now.  Any video content Apple want now is related to Apple TV only in presentation and how viewers can gain access to them.

Again, no news, just a coat of paint that smells like news.

As for Apple TV being introduced in the first half of 2014, it's definitely going to happen.  There is just too much chatter out there in cyberspace (does show how old I am, doesn it?) that this is building up to be launch in the near future.

As for Apple introducing hardware and shipping it six months or more later, the last night this happened was in 2007 when Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone.  Since then, that has not happened.

I'm not sure what to make of this.  There is no precedent to fall back on regarding the Apple TV, which is still a hobby.  However, Apple has given it a front-and-center space on its online store.  There is something that has made Bloomberg believe that Apple won't release it until later in 2014 but I still believe new Apple TV hardware is coming our way sooner rather than later.

Just a belief on my part.

Personally, I'm more interested in an app store for the Apple TV than full-blown cable TV services.

Let's sum it up here.  It's coming, a new Apple TV.  What it may or may not include as a part of new video services, only a few folks at Apple know for sure.  Hollywood does work different and leaks are common.  But they are often leaked with a specific agenda.  And the media will try to give it a shade of news to confuse us.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

24: Jack Is Back!

Watch this video and it'll explain it all.

Who would have thought, right?  Seriously, this is what Fox should have done.  I think by bring 24 back for a limited series (12 episode-run), this could be a model for future drama, be it crime, science fiction, or a comedy show like Arrested Development.

There is precedent for this.  Again, Arrested Development went off the air before it was resurrected by Netflix.  And who can forget Sherlock from BBC?  The long hiatus between series 2 and 3 did not dampen the exciting and ratings for the show.  It just goes to show that if you have good material, fans will keep coming back.

On top of that, have a series go off the air and letting fans have the chance to revisit it is a good thing.  Furthermore, consider how Arrested Development grew its fan base after Netflix subscribers who previously did not watch the show get a chance to see it online.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Letting Mac Run iOS Apps - Not Ever Going To Happen But Widgets Should Be Given Another look

Here is an idea that I had long thought would be a great but Apple would never go for. That is iOS apps running on the Mac. Apple has made it clear that iOS and OS X will never be merged. Microsoft tried it with Windows 8 and we know how that is going.

This idea about iOS apps being a part of Mac was rehashed again on this blog post from The Mac Observer.

But maybe widgets on OS X should be given another look. It has been years since Apple has upgraded Dashboard in any significant manner and I am not sure anyone is aware that it is still around.

TMO did come up with a list of reasons why iOS apps should be allowed to runs in its own environment. The outlined reasons each have their own problems - least of which is that there are other ways native Mac apps or the Web won't take care of. Plus, there are iOS apps that have companion apps on the Mac.

The only advantage I think widgets will have over native apps is the ability to be able to exist within a separate environment that potentially can be sandboxed.

What I like to see is maybe cloud and iCloud integration for future Dashboard upgrade. Even better iOS integration beyond what we see now.

As I understand it, many widgets are based on Web standards which are robust enough that native-like apps can be created. And as much as we are used to the App Store and separate apps, webapps won't go away and will become more full featured and robust over time.

Perhaps, this is why Apple has not done anything with Dashboard. My hope is that they have been working on this in the background and will release an update for it and not see it die of a slow death.


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

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