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Archive for the ‘Apple’ Category

If you didn’t see the 90 minute MacWorld keynote here is a quick summary of the product launches yesterday.  Jobs photo courtesy of Apple.  

  • Ad:  Hi I’m a Mac and I’m a PC — New Years ad ran which poked fun at Vista…what are you going to do in ’08…  Then Jobs enters stage.
  • Time Capsule:  backup hardware device the same size as the Apple TV product.  Two models both include Airport 802.11N in a 500MB and 1TB configuration.  Priced at $299 and $499 works in conjunction with Time Machine (back up system) which is included in OS X Leopard.
  • iPhone: 4M sold in the first 200 days (averaged ~20K/day); currently has 19.5% MSS (more than combining the bottom three companies – Palm (9.8%); Motorola (7.4%); Nokia (1.3%).  Enhancement announced:
    1. Maps w/ locations (joint effort by Google and Skyhook Wireless (drove the US & Canada mapping 23M wi-fi hot spots and allows triangulation on the hot spots.  Google triangulates off cell towers and Apple uses both systems in iPhone for identifying location)
    2. Webclips (clipping links to favorite web sites or sub-site
    3. Custom home screen (up to 9)
    4. SMS multiple people at the same time was only one prior
    5. Chapter search for videos and song lyric’s displayed if available
    6. Free software update for all current owners which include the above enhancements
  • iTunes: 4Billion songs sold through iTunes; Christmas day sold 20M songs in one day – highest ever; 125M TV shows sold (more than any other service); 7M movies sold (more than anyone, but didn’t meet expectations).  Enhancements announced:
    1. iTunes Movie Rental (music users have not wanted music rental); Studio’s on board at launch (20th Century Fox, TouchStone, Miramax, MGM, Lions Gate, New Line Cinema, WB, Disney, Sony, Paramount, Universal – essentially all of the studios; More than 1000 films by February
    2. Films available for rental in the 30 days after DVD release
    3. Watch anywhere (PC, iPod or TV)
    4. iPod Touch added 5 new apps including maps, email, SMS, web clips and chapter search
    5. Didn’t state, but looks like progressive download as the movie starts within seconds of the rental purchase
    6. 30 days to watch the movie and 24 hours watch it once started
    7. Can transfer the movie watching to another device in the middle (start on a PC then xfer to iPod for a flight)
    8. DVD quality, but also providing Hi-Def (100 titles today growing fast) with 5.1 Dolby surround sound
    9. Pricing is DVD library release – $2.99; DVD New Release – $3.99; HD library – $3.99 and HD new release – $4.99
    10. Service started today in the U.S. and goes International later this year
  • Apple TV: stated that we’ve all missed (Microsoft, Netflix, Nubu and other logos on screen) how to get the movies to the flat panel in the living room.  Apple TV was designed as an accessory for iTunes & computer, but it’s about Movies, Movies, Movies.  Enhancements announce:
    1. Price dropped from $299 to $229
    2. All new user interface
    3. Leverages the new iTune movie rental service
    4. Rent directly from the Apple TV box – no computer needed now
    5. Photo from Flickr can be streamed or from your dot mac accounts
    6. Will auto sync with your computer if you want
    7. Free software upgrade to all existing users and get the functionality
  • 20th Century Fox: Jim Gianopolos (Chairman & CEO) on stage to discuss movie rental deal.  Talked about biz models being super important, gushed about how great it is to work with Jobs and put a major plug in for Blu-ray winning the format war as the crowd applauded.
  • MacBook Air: launched a new ultra-thin MacBook to compliment the notebook line up. Standard model priced at $1799.  Model with the 64GB SSD flash over $3K,.  Compared the “Air” to the Sony TZ series which had previously set the benchmark in this category.  The thickest part of the Air is thinner than the thinnest part of the Sony for comparisons.  Features:
    1. .76 to .16 thin (no optical device, can get one external if you need)
    2. 13.3 inch LCD back light display
    3. Full size and backlight keyboard
    4. Multi-touch (similar to the iPhone – swipe, pinch etc.) capability on the trackpad
    5. 80GB HDD and optional 64GB SSD (pricey however)
    6. 2GB memory and 1.6GHz Core 2 Duo (C2D) standard or optional 1.8GHz
    7. 802.11N and Bluetooth 2.1 with EDR
    8. Usage model changing and driving wireless even for software download – now leverage a PC optical drive across the network
    9. Talked about environment: mercury free, arsenic free glass, Bromide Fire Retardant (BFR) and PVC free
    10. 56% less packaging waste
    11. Jobs applauded the joint effort and working with Intel
  • Intel: Paul Otellini was invited on stage to evangelize the 30% reduced form factor of the C2D.  Gave Jobs a souvenir of one and gushed about how great it was to work with Apple.  For those of you into little known factual tidbits, it was interesting to note that the video graphic overlay while Paul walked on stage used the old Intel dropped “e” logo.  The graphic/name/title on the projected stage TV was correct.
  • Summation: In the first 2 weeks of the New Year Apple launched:
    1. Fastest ever Mac Pro desktop system
    2. Time Capsule
    3. Software updates for iPhone, iPod Touch along with new apps for Touch
    4. iTunes Movie Rental
    5. Apple TV (software upgrade) along with HD video content
    6. MacBook Air – Ultra thin laptop
    7. Last slide stated…And there’s still 50 weeks left….
  • Randy Newman: Music artist extraordinaire played a couple songs for the audience.  Newman photo courtesy of YouTube. He starts by telling us about his trip to Europe, where he noticed that “they don’t like us so much.”   And he sang a song he wrote about it…”A Few Words in Defense of Our Country.”

 A couple of parting thoughts about Randy Newman.  The song choice was odd.  If Apple signed off on the first song he sang they have some guts.  A little piano ditty that compares the U.S. to Nazi Germany, Stalinist Russia and Europe during the time of the Inquisition.  Now that’s an interesting mix of art meeting commerce.  Highly political and bashed a number of things which will only add to the blog fodder I’m sure.

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synctvLet’s see, I slept for 7 hours; it’s a new day and an announcement of yet another start up in the internet video space.  This seems like a daily ritual. 

The newest is Sync TV, a spin off from consumer electronics company Pioneer, which launched a beta download service.

The audio and video quality of the TV shows is comparable or superior to the same show on DVD.  SyncTV will provide HD programming across some of the different channels and will also have programming available in discreet 5.1 Dolby Digital Plus, giving you the “home theater” experience.  They allow you a great deal of flexibility in how you play back the TV shows you download. You can play back shows on up to five ‘home’ devices which mean PCs/Macs now and other home entertainment devices in the future (read portable players). 

That’s the good news.  The bad news is yet another DRM (Digital Rights Management) technology for the consumer to try and get their head around.  Sync TV is using an open-standard DRM called Marlin.  Yet another group of top electronics manufacturers joining forces to develop a standard for content management and protection.  Marlin is also referred to as “OMArlin” because it supposedly bridges between the Open Mobile Alliance (OMA) DRM v.2.0 and the Marlin DRM standards.  Does anyone care, outside the companies involved?  Not really.  Consumers might agree that content protection is a good idea but, they just want to play their stuff on all their devices. And they want everything to be cheaper, too. 

It’s another set of companies trying to protect what they see as their intellectual property and make money. You could make the claim as the same motive as Microsoft, Apple, RealNetworks and others in the DRM struggle.  The marketing spin tries to convince us that DRM is intended to make it easy for us to buy content and share it, without being encumbered by content protection schemes.   But, adding Marlin to this mix will be yet another failed attempt to create a DRM “standard”.   

What I do find interesting with Sync TV and all the regulatory noise about bundled programming, is the fact that users can subscribe a-la-carte for a variety of programs they want to watch. Each channel costs about $2 each per month, and currently there are four subscription channels available. Showtime is the foundation partner with promise of more.  

The Sync TV launch underscores the two worlds that now exist–the heavily regulated telecoms and broadcasting sectors and the almost entirely unregulated internet channel.  

Where do you think most of the innovation is?

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itunes cardsI don’t know about you, but I’m bummed over the end of the Starbucks and iTunes music promotion which ended last month.  The promotion ran October 2nd and ended November 7th to be exact, but every time I go to Starbucks I can’t help but look for the little “redeem-me-now” credit sized cards. Maybe I’m in a need deprivation state of mind?   

I remember first learning about the promotion where I get a free, new song every day in Starbucks. It made my morning stop so much more pleasant.  The first artist was Dylan and included other greats such as Gloria Estefan, Dave Matthews, John Mayer and many more.  Personally, I thought this was a great combination of two awesome products, coffee and music, brought to me by folks who know how to pamper my whims and do it so well, “Bucks” and “Mac”.  I don’t have an exact count on the total number of artists, but I collected 31 of those little redeemable cards and punched in 100’s of alpha-numerical characters to obtain the music goods.  How many did you collect?

But, don’t worry about my Apple/Starbuck-withdrawal-syndrome (ASWS).  I continue to frequent the place and now find myself trying to resist the urge to buy a CD every time I get a latte!  Maybe that was the intent…everytime I sip a latte I think of a song?!

 Hey don’t forget — you have until the end of December to redeem all those Song-of-the-Day cards.

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November is an important month in the global mobile business.  First off, Apple launched its iPhone in the UK, Germany and France, after a successful launch in the US. Google put a line in the sand on the mobile space with the release of Android and the formation of the Open Handset Alliance.

According to a report from Informa Telecoms & Media , worldwide mobile penetration hit 50 percent. The report states there are 3.3 billion mobile subscriptions worldwide. At the end of September there were mobile networks operating in 224 countries, which is up from 192 countries in 1997 and 35 in 1987. Even though there are now an estimated 3.3 billion mobile subscriptions activated currently, its important to note that some countries have a mobile penetration rate of more than 100 percent, meaning some users have more than one subscription.

And in related mobile news, Apple plans to release a developer kit for the iPhone in February.  That is notable since they have routinely controlled access to many of their products, but now will welcome software written by outside programmers.

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Wand Waving My iPhone Remote

iphoneOdds are that as a developer you went to college, earned a degree to specialize in something and avoid a career serving up burgers and fries at the local grill. But now day’s developers are spending most of their week developing mobile applications for the fast-food giants.  That’s ironic! 

According to Adweek, consumers are facing mobile advertising saturation and a growing number of brands are turning to mobile developers to create interactive wireless services and tools in lieu of conventional mobile media buys.  Advertisers are investing in “branded utility”–i.e., services they believe enable their customers to perform tasks, rather than interrupt the mobile experience. 

And speaking of branded utility, AppleInsider reports that Apple filed a series of patents for sensor layouts, mobile sensors and compliant conductors, together indicating they are working on a multi-touch device that recognizes more intricate gestures–e.g., grabbing or swiping motions with one or more fingers–and selectively disables input depending on context. In the patent, Apple explained that pressure-sensitive technology could recognize rolling, tilting, or twisting motions for manipulating content in 3D. And because the touch controls need not be flat, the technology would enable more unique and ergonomic device designs. 

I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to the day where I can twirl and whirling my iPhone to buy a burger and then roll that perfect 300 bowling game!

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iWait in iLine

Kris Tate and ScobleImage credit, Gabe Rivera of Techmeme

In reading RSS feeds this morning people started lining up at 3am in Palo Alto. It’s a once in a life time event…well, that is until the next game console gizmo releases this fall. They are all there at the Apple store…podcasters (Robert Scoble), the Zooomr CEO (Thomas Hawk), the CTO (Kristopher Tate), legendary Apple developer Bill Atkinson, Digg founder (Kevin Rose – hey Kev, still waiting on that return phone call…guess you’re busy!).

Speaking of PR, Zooomr knows how to get free press.

What sticks out in my mind is that homeless guy (at least he looks homeless from the picture) wearing a Zooomr sticker on his shirt, sitting 5th in line. Now $600 is a lot of money to spend on a combined phone/iPod, but to get your Zooomr logo on the front page of media all over the country—that is priceless!

And speaking of PR (blunders?) a semiconductor company in Santa Clara, CA — launched/unveiled the latest phase of it’s expanded 2nd Life presence — on the same day as the iPhone launch — rounding out what is now known as the Intel Island.

Cool, but a rather difficult day to get PR visibility with all the iPhone noise…

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HP
You can find a lots of websites on the Internet that spend their time arguing whether Mac OS X or Windows is superior. Most of these websites offer nothing but heated debate that is based more on personal opinions and biased attitudes than actual facts.

It’s easy to be distracted by all of this “noise” because there’s so much of it on the Internet. I recognize that every user has a different need, and I’m not blogging to create more heated commentaries or Windows rhetoric babbling.

The above “logic puzzle” from HP clearly suggest that consumers using Mac OS X have an easier go of it and the differences of the OS are found in the details.

That can’t be good for Microsoft…

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