Opinion

Survey: Tablets replacing Laptops, eReaders

New survey results from Nielsen show that users are ditching their laptops, abandoning their ereaders, and leaving their MP3 players behind. For a large, and growing segment of the population, the tablet is the new primary computing and entertainment device.

It makes sense. Is it a better computer than your laptop? Probably not. Is it a superior platform for reading electronic books? Not necessarily. Is it the most convenient method of carrying and listening to your music collection? No. But, it has an advantage in that it is capable of doing all of those things—and doing them quite well in most cases—in one portable device.

Apple building Crowdsourced Traffic Service for iPhone Users

An interesting bit of information has come out from Apple's announcement today addressing the location-tracking controversy. Apparently Apple is working on a crowd-sourced traffic service for iPhone users. From the press release:

What other location data is Apple collecting from the iPhone besides crowd-sourced Wi-Fi hotspot and cell tower data?

Apple is now collecting anonymous traffic data to build a crowd-sourced traffic database with the goal of providing iPhone users an improved traffic service in the next couple of years.

While today's news of a crowd-sourced traffic database tells us nothing too concrete about Apple's maps plans, it does appear that Apple is gearing up to add turn-by-turn direction and increased real-time accuracy to its future map offerings on iOS.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs on How the iPhone uses Location Information

Apple CEO Steve Jobs said Wednesday that the iPhone database that people have assumed was their personal information was, in fact, the relevant chunk of a global crowdsourced database that the company uses to deliver location-based information.

“We haven’t been tracking anyone,” Jobs said in a telephone interview with Mobilized on Wednesday. “The files they found on these phones, as we explained, it turned out were basically files we have built through anonymous, crowdsourced information that we collect from the tens of millions of iPhones out there.”

Earlier on Wednesday, Apple issued a statement, noting that it isn’t tracking iPhone users’ locations, but acknowledging some bugs in the way location information has been collected and stored. It promised to change some of its practices in forthcoming software updates.

Apple’s Jobs and Schiller On Why making the White iPhone was so Darn Tough

It turns out that white is a whole lot harder than black, at least when it comes to making iPhones.

“It was challenging,” Apple senior vice president Phil Schiller said during a joint interview with CEO Steve Jobs on Wednesday. “It’s not as simple as making something white. There’s a lot more that goes into both the material science of it–how it holds up over time… but also in how it all works with the sensors.”

Steve Jobs on Apple Marketing

Apple sues Samsung: a Complete Lawsuit Analysis

Apple sued Samsung yesterday, the latest in a long line of IP lawsuits against Android device manufacturers. (See: Apple v. HTC, Apple v. Motorola, Microsoft v. Motorola, Microsoft v. Barnes & Noble.)

The case is remarkable for several reasons, not least because Samsung is one of Apple’s critical component suppliers: the Korean giant manufactures everything from DRAM and SSDs for MacBook Pros to the A4 and A5 processors in the iPhone, iPod touch, Apple TV, and iPad. That relationship doesn’t seem to have softened Apple’s tone; the company’s complaint bluntly says “Instead of pursuing independent product development, Samsung has chosen to slavishly copy Apple’s innovative technology, distinctive user interfaces, and elegant and distinctive product and packaging design, in violation of Apple’s valuable intellectual property rights.”

Oh boy.

Silly Season

It must be silly season.

Over the weekend, clamor about a future Apple Television kicked up again. No doubt fueled by rumors of channel checks indicating that a new unicorn was near.

As much as I’d like to replace my off-brand 32” HDTV with something shiny from Apple, I do not believe Apple will launch a television. At least, not yet.

Some have pointed to the stranglehold that regional cable monopolies possess — at least in the U.S. Or the warehousing issue. Or the fact that people don’t buy televisions every year.

But each of those arguments focuses far from the real intractable issue of TV: the content owners’ veto.

30 Best Photography Apps for iPhone

iPhone photography has come a long way in the last three years since the advent of the App Store. Every once in a while we like to make our way through the ranks of the photography category to see what kind of cool apps are out there for iPhone shooters these days.

This is a carefully compiled list of camera replacement, editing studio and single-effect apps that will help enhance and enable your iPhone photography. There’s something in here for everyone from basic to advanced users and the choices range the gamut from perennial favorites to joyful new discoveries.

iPhone 4 is Flickr’s Top Camera. Point & Shoots? The Opposite.

What’s the most popular camera used in terms of pictures taken that are uploaded to Flickr? Right now, it’s the Nikon D90. But in about a month or so, it will be Apple’s iPhone 4. What’s amazing is that D90 is nearly three years old. The iPhone 4 is not even a year old. Just look at a the chart above. The rise has been spectacular.

But it’s hardly the first time an iPhone has risen this quickly. Back in 2009, the iPhone overtook the Canon EOS Digital Rebel XTi as the most popular camera on Flickr. The difference is that at the time, Flickr was counting all the iPhone models together. That meant the original iPhone, the iPhone 3G, and the iPhone 3GS were all clumped together to overtake the Canon model. Now they’re split up, and the iPhone 4 alone is still going to be the most popular camera on Flickr in under a year. It’s pretty remarkable, really.

Flipboard: Threat and Opportunity

Every media company should be afraid of Flipboard. The Palo Alto startup epitomizes the best and the worst of the internet. The best is for the user. The worst is for the content providers that feed its stunning expansion without getting a dime in return. According to Kara Swisher‘s AllThingsD, nine months after launching its first version, Flipboard’s new $50m financing round gives the company a €200m valuation.

Many newspapers or magazines carrying hundreds of journalists can’t get a €200m valuation today. Last year, for the Groupe Le Monde, an investment bank memo set a valuation of approximately $100m (net of its $86m debt at the time, to be precise). That was for a 644 journalists multimedia company – OK, one that had been badly managed for years. Still, Flipboard is a 32-people startup with a single product and no revenue yet.

So, what’s the fuss about?

Has Everyone but Me had great Experiences with the Apple "Genius" Bar?

Hello,

Over the past few months, I have frequently heard you guys discussing how wonderful the service is at Apple Genius Bars. I am curious if your listeners have also found this to be the case, because quite frankly, I have had nothing but terrible service from the geniuses. I wonder if my local Apple Store (Victor, NY, near Rochester) is especially bad.

Quick summary of my experiences:

- I dropped my PowerBook a few inches and it did a lot of damage for such a minor bump - crumpled a corner and damaged a connection between the keyboard and screen. It was my fault, but I hoped the Apple geniuses could tell me how to get it fixed. The guy basically said, "Can't really help you," "Apple will charge you $1200 up front and may not fix it." Most maddeningly, he told me I was lying when he said "there is no way a 2 inch drop would have caused this much damage."

He offered no other suggestions. Eventually, I found a local Apple specialist, he told me a story of damaging his computer even more with a minor bump, and then he fixed the problem very inexpensively.

- We had two AirPorts that suddenly stopped working. We had multiple computers under AppleCare, and both AirPorts were less than a year old but were out of warranty. The Genius quickly looked at them and said he didn't know what the problem was and didn't have time to deal with it (because the time block was only 15 minutes), and offered us a 10% discount on new AirPorts. We declined and went home. Eventually, we managed to get them working (and we are not geniuses!) - and they have worked for 3+ years since then.

Why Cisco killed the Flip Mini Camcorder

It's easy to understand why Internet infrastructure giant Cisco Systems needed to get out of the consumer electronics business, but did it have to send a popular product, like to the Flip camcorder, to an early grave?

Cisco on Tuesday announced that it will stop making the Flip camera, a popular pocket-sized video camera it bought only a couple of years ago from a company called Pure Digital. The reason? The company said it is strategically realigning its business to focus on selling its core products.

Many experts and fans of the Flip camcorder wonder why Cisco didn't try to sell the business unit, especially since the Flip products are considered market leaders. According to NPD's Stephen Baker, "there is no compelling evidence that Flip was failing. It remains far and away the leading consumer video camera company."

And yet Cisco still decided to stop selling the Flip camera.

Apple wields its Hammer, smashes SuperMeet

If news broke that Apple was finally going to attend the annual Final Cut Pro User Group SuperMeet to announce a brand new version of Final Cut Pro, you might think it would be cause for celebration.

Apple has periodically attended past SuperMeets, held for the last ten years during NAB. But except for an appearance last year, the company hasn’t had much of a presence or sponsorship for some time. As a result, you might assume every SuperMeet attendee would welcome the news that the very secretive Apple, which rarely shows previews or announces products before they ship, will show up.

Well, you’d be wrong.

Is WWDC Broken?

With last night's announcement that the s011 WWDC has already been sold out, the blogsphere is weighing in on both sides of the issue.
Read these two articles and let us know what you think:

Hey Apple, WWDC is broken

On WWDC Now Being "Broken"

No iPhone, iPad or Mac Hardware coming at WWDC

Apple closed the door this morning on any speculation that it would announce new hardware at its Worldwide Developers conference saying it would focus on iOS and Mac OS. Apple’s apparent focus on software in its WWDC announcement backs up what my own sources are saying about the annual conference. That is, expect a software show in 2011, not a hardware event.

At past WWDCs, Apple might show off a new piece of hardware, but Gartner analyst Michael Gartenberg warns about getting too caught up in the past.

“You get caught up in patterns, and it holds true, until it doesn’t,” Gartenberg told The Loop. “There is no reason for Apple to follow a predictable yearly pattern, and it keeps their competition off guard a little bit.”

Why the NY Times digital subscription plan is not about digital subscriptions

Subscribers who take home delivery (of any kind), get free and unlimited access to all digital content. That means you can take the cheapest subscription available for the paper edition ($161.20/year) and get digital content that the Times says is worth $455/year for free. Even if you throw the paper edition away or put it on permanent “vacation” mode, you can pay significantly less than half the price of a digital-only subscription.

I’m not defending the pricing. Far from it, I think it’s a disaster. I do understand it, though, and it has nothing to do with trying to promote digital subscriptions. Rather, it’s a result of a traditional publishing mindset. The Times sees no value in digital subscriptions. They are ephemeral, non-substantive. Only paper is real; only paper subscriptions “really count.” There may be a lot of reasons for this, not the least of which is the impact on advertising rates for the paper edition. But I think there’s an old-school bias at work here, too.

Happy 10th birthday, Mac OS X!

It's hard to believe that 10 years ago today, Mac OS X made its official debut after several months of a paid public beta.

Mac OS X v.10.0 "Cheetah" was released on March 24, 2001 for US$129. It was slow, clunky and made many users want to throw their Macs out the window, into the closest body of water or quickly scurry back to the safety of OS 9. Despite the plethora of errors, it was clear that 'Classic' Mac OS's days were numbered.

Analysis: AT&T's Acquisition of T-Mobile could benefit iPhone Users

The news that AT&T would be acquiring its rival T-Mobile USA from its parent company Deutsche Telekom came as a surprise, even to those who keep close tabs on the wireless technology field. But, in the wake of the announcement, questions have already begun to arise about what the deal means for the future of the iPhone.

The deal, worth $39 billion, would make AT&T the nation’s biggest wireless carrier in terms of subscribers, adding 34 million T-Mobile customers to AT&T’s current 95.5 million. That number will dwarf the current market leader, Verizon, which boasts 101.1 million wireless phone customers.

Of course, before any major changes come to pass, the two companies will have to get regulatory approval from the U.S. government, which will attempt to ensure that the combining of two of the country’s big four cell carriers will not hamper competition in the wireless carrier market. But once the dust begins to settle, how will the impact be felt on existing iPhone customers, and on Apple itself?

What the AT&T/T-Mobile Deal means for Apple

AT&T intends to acquire T-Mobile over the course of the next year, the companies revealed Sunday. It’s far from a done deal, since it still has to pass muster with U.S. regulatory authorities, but if it does ultimately result in AT&T taking the top spot in the U.S. wireless industry away from Verizon, what can Apple and users of its devices expect to gain or lose from the deal?

First, T-Mobile may get the iPhone after all, according to a statement made during the AT&T/T-Mobile conference call Monday morning discussing details of the proposed deal. Ralph de la Vega, president and CEO,Mobility and Consumer Markets at AT&T, said T-Mobile’s customers will get access to an industry-leading portfolio of devices which will include those from Apple, Microsoft and RIM in response to an analyst question about what AT&T was willing to offer to make the deal palatable to U.S. regulators.

The statement isn’t an out-and-out guarantee, however, and could relate to the iPad.

How did a British Polytechnic Graduate become the Design Genius behind £200billion Apple?

This month Apple, the fabulously successful technology company – indeed, now the world’s biggest, having surpassed Microsoft – launched its latest piece of technology, the iPad 2. The machine was the result of this sort of research, and Ive’s preferred process of making the same product over and over again; in this case, carving metal and silicon until the product was one-third thinner and 0.2lb lighter than its predecessor.

Ive could be defined by his devotion to detail. When Apple boss Steve Jobs asked him in the late Nineties to create colourful, cheap cathode-ray-tube computers – what would become the first iMac – Ive spent hours in a sweet factory to get inspiration for the colours that would tell the world this wasn’t just a machine for work: it was for fun, too.

And so it has been for nearly 14 years – the time Ive has been Apple’s star designer, a fact little known and less publicised in his native Britain due to the obsessive culture of secrecy at Apple. (His laboratory remains sealed off even from the rest of Apple’s leafy corporate ‘campus’ in San Francisco.) The impact of the 44-year-old, Essex-born, Staffordshire-raised graduate of Newcastle Polytechnic has been incalculable.

He is worth hundreds of millions of pounds to the company, which is itself currently valued at a staggering £200 billion. The last decade has belonged to him: his designs for the Californian company have revolutionised everything from music and television to mobile phones and hand-held computers.

How the iPhone led to the Sale of T-Mobile USA

Deutsche Telekom’s announcement over the weekend to sell its American wireless unit, T-Mobile USA, to AT&T for $39 billion ended a decade-long foray into the American market that was undermined, in part, by one big event: the advent of the iPhone.

Until Apple introduced its highly popular touchscreen device in 2007, which went on to become the world’s leading smartphone, Deutsche Telekom had been generating decent sales from its American operation, with growth in some years surpassing that achieved in Germany.

But after the iPhone went on sale, sold exclusively at first by AT&T in the United States, T-Mobile USA began to lose its most lucrative customers, those on fixed monthly plans, who defected to its larger American rivals — AT&T and Verizon Wireless, which began selling the iPhone in February.

“The iPhone effect cannot be underestimated in this decision,” said Theo Kitz, an analyst at Merck Finck, a private bank in Munich. “Without being able to sell the iPhone, T-Mobile was in an unsustainable position and T-Mobile USA became a problem child.”

10 Years of the iPod

It's 10 years since Apple's original iPod shuffled on to the scene, changing the way we listen to and buy music for good. But could it soon be time to hang up our white headphones?

Apple Japan goes Above & Beyond during Crisis

Apple Japan has been quietly going above and beyond during the earthquake and tsunami crisis engulfing the country, according to an unnamed employee at one of the company’s Japanese retail stores. By his tale, Apple kept its stores open for people to use its resources to check in with family, allowed employees and their family to stay at its store, and covered some transportation and lodging costs incurred by employees.

Said employee is friends with entrepreneur, blogger, and tech-maven Kevin Rose, and sent him an e-mail detailing some of what he saw during the crisis. With all of the hardship and tragedy Japan is dealing with right now, hearing about Apple’s quiet efforts to do right by its employees, customers, and non-customers is refreshing, to say the least.

Chris Breen "Talks to Spammers"

One of my jobs at Macworld is to help moderate our forums. And part of that job is to keep the forums as free of clutter as possible. Some of that clutter comes in the form of spam—a lot of it from Chinese companies promoting media conversion utilities.

It happens that, at the same time, some of these companies solicit us for reviews of their software. I find it a little nervy that on the one hand, they’re using sleazy marketing tricks to promote their stuff and gain Google hits by the sheer number of Web mentions generated by their spam and, on the other hand, attempting to promote their software as legitimate.

These companies work this way.

Mac OS X Lion, and how It showed Me that I am an Idiot

So, I was an idiot.

I got so excited about the Mac OS X Lion features that Apple was touting that I downloaded and installed the developer preview of the new OS. That’s not idiotic. What was idiotic, though, was that I installed the Lion preview on my main machine. On its sole partition.

Stupid, stupid Lex.

Don’t get me wrong: Lion is awesome. Or, more accurately, Lion clearly shows indications that it will be all kinds of awesome. But right now, it’s still a developer preview. Which means, it's not yet an officially released Apple product.

Forrester Report casts Doubt on iPad Competitors

Last week, Forrester, the market research firm, issued a report on the state and near future of the tablet marketplace. If you were a manufacturer whose name did not rhyme with “Snapple,” it was not very pretty: The report’s title is “iPad Challengers Have Flawed Product Strategies.”

The report’s main conclusion was that, in spite of a flurry of activity among iPad competitors, none had addressed issues of pricing, distribution and product differentiation adequately to make a case for itself to consumers. Let’s take a look at some of the report’s conclusions, along with some analysis of its major points.

Bon Jovi On Jobs

That’s Steve Jobs. Responsible for the iMac, the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad.

Not responsible for broadband, Napster, CD burning, hard-drive swapping and the rest of the elements that contributed to the demise of the old recording industry. As a matter of fact, Jobs was last. Macs came without CD burners. And Rio released the first MP3 player. All Steve Jobs did was make the experience easier and more elegant. And provided a way for the rights holders to get paid via the iTunes Store. Yes, before then, music online was FREE! There was nowhere to pay.

But you know all this.

It’s only Jon Bongiovi who does not.

Round Up of iPad 2 Reviews

Synopsis of all of these iPad 2 reviews: "If you don't have one, buy one. If you do have one, give it to someone else, buy an iPad 2." See how much time I just saved you? You're welcome. :)

Which iPad 2 should I get?

Apple’s not offering preorders for the iPad 2, giving everyone lots of time to agonize over which one to buy.1 There are 18 configurations: how do you choose?

We’ll start with the obvious question:

Should you get an iPad 2?

Will there be an Apple HDTV? Steve Jobs already Answered that Question

There've been more rumors lately about an upcoming Apple television set, with one article going so far as to call it inevitable. But in watching Steve Jobs at the D8 Conference last June I think the question was already asked and answered.

Below is an exchange between a conference attendee (Dan Simpkins, CEO of Hillcrest Labs) and Jobs. Jobs does a good job explaining the fundamental reason it's hard to innovate in the television space. One can sense a certain resignation in Jobs' answers that signify, to me at least, he knows Apple can make better use of their resources than to try to break into such an ingrained system.

Jobs' remarks indicate that Apple will continue to dabble in the set top box approach, improving it as they go, but that an iPhone-like breakthrough TV is not possible in the current television market.