Opinion

iPad iOS 5 vs Windows 8 Slate

For Apple, China looms Large

Apple’s decision to make China top priority in its global expansion is proving increasingly prescient. The company’s four Chinese outlets are already among the most heavily trafficked Apple stores in the world. And they generate blockbuster sales and profits. For the first three quarters of fiscal 2011, Apple’s revenue in greater China topped out at $8.8 billion, a six-time multiple over a year earlier.

That’s incredible growth, and to hear tell from analysts, it’s really just the beginning.

Waiting for Thunderbolt - One Port to Rule them All

Since the late 1990s, USB has been the dominant PC connectivity technology for external devices. As anyone who remembers the era of parallel, serial, and PS/2 connectors can tell you, USB is a wonderful thing--whether you're talking about the original 1.1 standard, the now-pervasive 2.0 version, or the still-emerging 3.0 variant.

But what if there was a connectivity standard that was faster than the fastest version of USB? And what if it worked with even more types of devices, including displays? And what if it was even compatible with USB itself, through the use of an adapter?

It's no fantasy--it's Thunderbolt.

Steve Jobs and the Eureka Myth

Steve Jobs's resignation from Apple has sparked plenty of commentary on his achievements, his personality, and his vision. He deserves the attention: This is a man who transformed the technology world and helped build Apple into what was, at least for a few hours earlier this month, the world's most valuable publicly traded company.

But the idea, so common in this week's media coverage, that Jobs was an inspired savant who succeeded by taking big risks on personal hunches, is way off the mark.

Why I'm not committing to Lion -- Yet

Allow me to provide a little insight into how stories with headlines like these generally work. The Author distends his or her minor objections to New Technology X to the point where said technology becomes something that anyone with a lick of sense approaches only with sterilized tongs and a throwing net. This is done, in part, so that The Reader can choose A Side and shake the nearest gardening implement in either support or fury.

In what I hope breaks from this mold, may I say—without vilifying Apple’s latest Mac OS release or those people who’ve chosen to embrace it—that Lion isn’t yet for me. At least not for the Macs I use for getting much of my work done. I spent many hours with the Lion betas and lived with the final Lion release on my MacBook Pro for a couple of weeks while traveling. I have to admit that I was relieved to return to my Mac Pro running Snow Leopard. And here’s why.

Steve Jobs as Apple’s CEO: a Retrospective in Products

It’s hard to believe, but Steve Jobs has only been Apple’s CEO for the last 13 of the company’s 35 years in operation.

During that time, he’s been responsible for a number of new products that have transformed entire industries around them — and he’s managed to do it several times over. Now that Jobs is stepping aside and leaving the role to Tim Cook, we thought we’d look back at Steve’s tenure as CEO through the lens of those products, which stand as testament to one of the most remarkable stories in American business history. Join us, won’t you?

Five Ways Apple will never be the Same without Jobs as CEO

Steve Jobs stepping down as CEO will inevitably put Apple’s future at risk. You’re going to read a lot of articles in the coming days where people are going to tell you all of the reasons that Apple is going to be fine and that the legacy of Steve Jobs will be enough to sustain the company for decades, and that Apple will be like Disney after Walt Disney’s departure. Here’s the bottom line — there’s simply no scenario in which Apple can be better without Steve Jobs as CEO than they were with him there.

Here are five big questions that Apple will have to face without Jobs involved in the day-to-day operations of the company. None of them have good answers, and that’s why Apple will be hard-pressed to continue its unbroken run of successes as Jobs exits the front of the stage.

Ruminations on Apple’s Second ‘Post-Jobs’ Era

The resignation of Steve Jobs yesterday as CEO of Apple may not have been surprising, but it was still a shock. Entire industries are reeling today, trying to make sense of what it will all mean to them. From computer manufacturers to mobile phone makers to entertainment executives, Jobs departure has high-level, closed-door meetings happening in boardrooms all over the world.

The short truth is that Apple will not change much in the next few years, mostly because it will be running more or less the same way it has for the last few.

Subtle Irritations in Lion

Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, has been, by all accounts, a sales success, with over one million copies downloaded on its first day of release and undoubtedly millions more since. These stellar sales results do not necessarily reflect a perfect product, but merely one that has been much discussed and long anticipated. Just as with the initial releases of 10.6 Snow Leopard, 10.5 Leopard, 10.4 Tiger, and all the other big cat releases, this one has its share of minor changes from previous versions that irritate and baffle, plus new bugs that confound and confuse.

Don’t misunderstand the point of this article. Our goal is to call out subtle aspects of Lion that feel as though they’re making us — and many other long-time Mac users — less productive on our Macs. Our hope is that Apple will revisit the discussions that resulted in these changes to Lion and reevaluate how they affect not just usability for new customers, but productivity for loyal Mac users who live and die by their Macs. And, for those who might have felt that using Lion seemed awkward but couldn’t quite identify the issues, perhaps our descriptions will let you figure out how to adjust your workflow to compensate.

Here are some of the minor cosmetic and operational changes that have irked us.

Tablets aren't the "Third Device" I'd hoped For...

Hang tight just a second -- let me preface all of this with a quick reminder that I'm speaking on a personal level, and I'm absolutely certain that slates have a place in this world somewhere. We could go back and forth for hours with use-case scenarios (and the same could be done with cars, time machines or your luxury good of choice), but this isn't about proving that a tablet can do one or two things; it's about the limitations and awkwardness of using one that no one seems to talk about.

After years of watching the masses fawn over the iPad (and every other PC maker scramble to come out with something that serves a similar purpose), I still can't ever imagine myself investing in one, let alone actually using one in place of a smartphone or laptop.

Why Do People Buy iPads?

That’s the question asked by Christopher Phin at Tap! Magazine. Phin’s basic answer boils down to this:
People buy iPads both specifically because they can see where it’s going to fit into their home or office lives, and because they’re understandably drawn to a shiny slab of Apple gorgeousness – from where the useful, practical, productive bit often follows.

I can certainly see that logic. He is not saying that iPads are useless, but that often people just don’t know what the hell they are going to use them for when the get them — but they just want one because they look so damned neat.

Why Cheap Color Laser Printers are a Dicey Deal

Most people shopping for a color laser printer want one because they think it will print quickly, produce good-looking output, and cost less to run than an inkjet printer. But the sad evidence from our tests and research shows that for the cheapest color laser printers, the opposite is true: They tend to be slow, their print quality beyond plain text is mediocre, and their toner costs as much as (or more than) the ink for a comparable inkjet.

Is a cheap color laser printer a good deal for anyone?

Disruptive

Dear Anyone Else Who Thinks They Have A Chance In The iPad Market...

You don’t. The iPad is the fire that sucked all the oxygen out of the room. Apple zigged and you guys are still trying to figure out what a zag is. It’s sad really, to see companies that were once at the top of the NASDAQ stumble around digging for pocket change in your high-end sofa cushions.

It is time to stop looking and, like HP, face a simple truth – you can’t win playing the iPad game.

HP To Apple: You Win.

As I write this, I’m sitting in a cafe. Around me, there are five people on laptops — four of them are MacBooks. Four other people are using tablets — all four are iPads. Welcome to the Post-PC world.

That phrase was one of the first things that jumped to my mind today when I heard the news that HP was not only killing off their TouchPad and Pre webOS-based products, but also trying to spin-off their PC business. The largest PC business in the world, mind you.

And HP’s statements during their earnings call today only further reaffirmed the

A Year Traveling with the iPad

There is an argument to be made for the iPad being the greatest travel gadget ever made. Its portability and versatility are unrivaled in any other device I can think of.

If you are going on an extended trip and are not worried about writing long articles, then you might just be better off taking an iPad over a laptop. If you are only traveling for short periods of time, such as a weekend, you might be better off with just an iPad.

If you are going on a long term trip with the intent to do work while you are on the road, I’d recommend bringing a laptop in addition to an iPad.

It doesn’t do everything, but it does a helluva lot.

Modern Tablet Concept is Apple’s; Everything Else is just a Feature

Tablets have been around for years, and while there was a lot of interest in what the platform could do, they never really caught on. It wasn’t until Apple released the iPad that tablets became a popular device.

Apple didn’t invent the tablet, but they did perfect the way we use tablets in our modern lifestyle. The concept of the tablet is now Apple’s.

The proof is all around us. Look at Apple’s competition — everything being released today looks and acts exactly like an iPad.

Subtle Irritations in Lion

Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, has been, by all accounts, a sales success, with over one million copies downloaded on its first day of release and undoubtedly millions more since. These stellar sales results do not necessarily reflect a perfect product, but merely one that has been much discussed and long anticipated.

Just as with the initial releases of 10.6 Snow Leopard, 10.5 Leopard, 10.4 Tiger, and all the other big cat releases, this one has its share of minor changes from previous versions that irritate and baffle, plus new bugs that confound and confuse.

Lion Security: Building on the iOS Foundation

It has long been a truism among tech pundits that Apple users suffer few security attacks due to relatively low market penetration making Macs uninteresting to professional cybercriminals. That may have been true five to ten years ago, but thanks to the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, we can now say with assurance that obscurity is no longer Apple’s primary defense against attacks.

With over 220 million iOS devices sold, Apple dominates the tablet market and is one of the major players in the smartphone market, placing the company right on the front lines of the security wars.

How does this relate to Lion?

Lion Is a Quitter

In my view...the attempt to copy the iOS experience onto the desktop is inappropriate. Apple’s entire agenda here is misguided.

Moreover, there’s a larger question at stake: Who, precisely, is in charge? I think it should be me, but Lion disagrees — and not in this respect alone.

iPad a Game-Changer. It’ll do to Tech what the iPhone did to Mobile

The PC and tech industry are undergoing a fundamental transformation that will leave it vastly smaller in the coming years. The game-changer is Apple with its iPad, iCloud and iPhone offerings.

Many called the iPhone a fad, including the CEOs of Nokia, RIMM & Palm. Today, these companies are barely surviving. Their employees are in disbelief as everything around them has been reduced to rumble in a span of three years, and continues to crumble. The iPad is doing the same thing. It is fundamentally altering the technology stack and its all downhill for the thousands of companies invested in the old PC and tech industry.

Apple’s iCloud Pricing vs. the Competition

Apple has announced pricing for its upcoming iCloud service. In typical Apple fashion, the company kept things simple. 5GB of online storage is free; 10GB is $20 a year; 20GB is $40 a year; 50GB is $100 a year.

So is Apple’s pricing a deal?

OS X Lion: One week later

Apple’s new operating system, OS X Lion, has been out for a week, giving the Apple community some time to digest all the changes.

Lion is a dramatic departure from Snow Leopard, with a new, mobile-inspired user interface. Apple reportedly sold 1 million copies of the operating system, priced at $30, in the first day. Nearly all the new features were revealed from the moment Lion hit developers’ previews, so customers knew what they would be getting before they bought.

I can’t complain about the system’s features, speed or usability. It’s forward-looking, user-friendly and evolutionary. That said, I’m not quite sure how I feel about it.

5 Best Streaming Music Services

Whether you prefer free streaming at your computer, paid streaming on the go, or the ability to host your own music in the cloud, there are more streaming music services coming online now than ever before.

Here's a look at five of the most popular ones.

Why there's no grown-up Quicken for OS X Lion

If you're on a Mac, you might think Intuit has abandoned you. There's Quicken 2007 for the Mac, but nothing serious after that. And if you upgraded to OS X Lion, Quicken 2007 will no longer work on your Mac.

It's the most infamous of the applications that have been left behind by the latest version of the Mac operating system, which no longer runs apps written for the PowerPC architecture, as Quicken 2007 was. What's worse, if you upgrade to Lion, you won't be able to extricate your data from Quicken at all, as no other app can read its proprietary format.

How did Intuit end up screwing over loyal Mac Quicken users so thoroughly?

How Apple uses its Cash Hoard to its Advantage

Over the last few years, Apple has stockpiled cash in such huge amounts that investors often question Apple about its strategy of keeping so much money around. When asked about it, Steve Jobs and team always points out that the market is unstable and they need to have cash in place for good times and bad, as well as have money available for major acquisitions, as part of its growth strategy.

And even though this answer normally keeps its investors at bay, as Apple continues to grow its cash reserves, which currently sits somewhere around $70 billion, investors and media alike continue to tell Apple that perhaps it's time to release a dividend to shareholders. But Apple is steadfast about its position. An interesting post from an anonymous writer on Quora recently shared a fascinating view of why.

Spotify coming to the U.S.: How Free will It Be?

The European streaming music service, Spotify, has announced that it’s officially coming to the U.S. Travel to Spotify’s website and you’ll see these words:

“The award-winning music service that’s taken Europe by storm will soon be landing on US shores. Millions of tracks ready to play instantly, on your computer and your phone. Any track, any time, anywhere. And it’s free!”

The key question is “How free?”

Steve Jobs in 1994: The Rolling Stone Interview

The story of Apple CEO Steve Jobs is one of the most familiar in American business -- shaggy Bob-Dylan-loving kid starts a computer company in a Silicon Valley garage and changes the world.

But like any compelling story, it has its dark moments, and they're not limited to the recent announcement that Jobs will be taking leave from Apple for health reasons. Before the iPad or the iPhone, Jobs, then the head of the short-lived NeXT Computer, sat down with Rolling Stone's Jeff Goodell. It was 1994, Jobs had long ago been booted from Apple, the internet was still the province of geeks and academics, and the personal computer revolution looked like it might be over. But even at one of the low points in his career, Jobs still had confidence in the limitless potential of personal computing. Read on to get Jobs' prescient take on PDAs and object-oriented software, as well as his relationship with Bill Gates and why he wanted the internet in his den, but not living room.

Brace for Apple's Shift from MobileMe to iCloud

Every few years, Apple has the need to change the name and overhaul the functions of its hosted mail, synchronization, and file-storage service.

It started as the free iTools site in 2000, shifted to the paid offering called .Mac in 2002, and pivoted — in a remarkably bad initial execution — to MobileMe in 2008.

Now, in 2011, Apple launches iCloud and starts a MobileMe phaseout. Free in its basic form, iCloud has two add-on fees some users will pay. Let's hope this switch goes better than the last.

The Cube: Apple's Daftest, Strangest Romance

Ten years ago on Sunday, Apple called it quits on one of its oddest products ever, the G4 Cube. The Cube was a strange and wonderful machine that continues to fascinate today - but it was widely perceived to have failed. Some people thoroughly enjoyed the failure, thinking it served Apple right.

But the Cube was different. The Cube looked like Buckminster Fuller talked; the Cube looked like it might have fallen to earth from an advanced civilisation, eager to escape orbit and looking to throw some ballast overboard. Or like a millionaire had given a mad bloke on a bus an unlimited budget.