Category: Apple

When I started to hear rumors about the iPhone5 earlier this year I was worried. I heard that Apple was definitely increasing the size of the screen. I always thought the iPhone had a great form factor for what people do with a smartphone. Here are my top 10 activities:

  1. Check Email
  2. Twitter
  3. Facebook
  4. iMessage
  5. Phone Calls
  6. Spotify
  7. Camera
  8. Foursquare
  9. Chrome
  10. Weather

Notice something missing from that list? Phone manufactures often tout the user experience of watching movies on some huge screen, but I never watch extended video clips on a phone. Sure, on occasion I will bring up a clip at restaurant, like showing my relatives a black bear eating from my father’s birdfeeder, but I don’t watch movies or TV from my phone. Laptops and tablets provide a superior video watching experience.

I see a lot of handset manufactures coming out with these huge bricklike phones that do nothing to help my top 10 use cases. Sure a bigger screen is nice, but its not nice when the phone can’t fit in your pocket and weighs ton.
With the iPhone5, my biggest fear did not come true. The footprint of the actual device is less than the iPhone4, even with the extended screen. Its noticeably thinner and lighter, which I really like. I also don’t have to bother with a bumper case since the antenna issue that plagued the iPhone4 is resolved.

While I’m not a fan of all the needless lawsuits going on in the smartphone industry, the prototype device pictures reminded me of the phone I used prior to the original iPhone.
Treo 650

I really loved my Treo 650, it was the first phone I owned that did e-mail well. You could even install “apps” and browse the web in a very limited fashion. It could definitely fit in your pocket, but it was a tight fit to say the least. It interesting to see the “bigger is better” smartphone trend. It reminds me of the SUV trend of the 90’s. At some point there will be a backlash.

Of all the phones I’ve owned over the years, probably the ultimate form factor for it’s time was the Nokia 8260.
Nokia 8260
The 8260 was an awesome phone considering it came out 12 years ago. It was absolutely tiny for the time, had great battery life, and an easy to use interface. Instead of looking to tablets for design inspiration, smartphone makers should spend some time with the Nokia 8260.

Today, as I prepare to buy the Ipad 2, I want to revisit my orginal Ipad rant titled “Why the Ipad will be synonymous for failure.” A year later, the Ipad is obviously not a failure. So lets look at some of the points from my previous post.

The Kindle is a Superior E-reader

This is still true to this day. The Ipad is not a good book reader. Most people I know with Ipads also own a Kindle. At the time of that post, there was no Kindle application, and no indication from Apple that competing e-reader applications would be allowed.

Why buy an Ipad when your smartphone already has the same functionality?

I made a really stupid assumption. The assumption was that human beings are logical when it comes to making purchasing decisions. The fact is, people buy things based on appeal and desire, not left brain analysis. The world economy is driven by illogical purchasing, and I’m just as guilty as anyone else.

Lack of multitasking and user profiles makes it a bad product

Apple fixed the multitasking issue for the most part, but the user profile concern is still valid. However; most people don’t care about such a feature and Apple sure as hell doesn’t want to promote people sharing Ipads. Steve wants to sell more Ipads.

There is no camera, there is no video out, there is no usb port

The camera issue is fixed with the Ipad2, and there is a video out adaptor. I prefer the built-in hdmi adaptor on the Xoom, but I’m not sure I have a use case for video out on my tablet. A USB port would be nice, but Apple doesn’t want to sell the Ipad as a computer and they don’t want expandability. I expect that to change as the competition from Android matures over the next two years.

It all started with a few e-mails. A bunch of receipts for $50 iTunes purchases. When I first saw them, I assumed they were phishing attempts. A lot of phishers will use fake receipts that contain links to lure people to fake websites for acquiring passwords. I looked at the source of the e-mail and it looked legit, so I went on iTunes and discovered that my account was hacked.

There were several $50 purchases that use a feature called “Itunes allowances” which allow people to give others iTunes credit. The allowances were sent to a bunch of Yahoo! china e-mail addresses. Needless to say, I was pretty shocked. My password security is pretty good, and I’m very careful about what I do on the Internet.

So after finding out I was hacked, the first thing I wanted to do was call Apple. Want to actually call Apple about something? You’re shit out of luck. The only way to contact Apple about iTunes fraud is to send them an e-mail, and don’t expect a timely response. It took 12 hours to get a reply. Apple doesn’t really handle fraud at all. They tell you to contest the charge with your credit card issuer or Paypal. I was shocked at how poorly Apple handled the situation, which I guess is why scammers are using iTunes as a platform for exploitation.

My Apple account was tied to my Paypal account. Apple forces iPhone owners to have some form of billing setup, even if you don’t actually buy anything from Apple. I had my Apple account linked to my Paypal account. The eight $50 charges went to Paypal, so I contacted Paypal too.

I have to give Paypal some credit, someone called my cell within 10 minutes of me filing the fraud compliant. Paypal will be sending me a refund. However, the refund process takes 10-15 days! Paypal instantly withdrew $400 from my bank account, but it takes them over 10 days to issue me a refund. Oh, and here is the best part. The refund is sent to my Paypal balance! Then I need another 3-5 days to transfer the money back to my bank account.

How did my itunes account get hacked? I’m not sure. My computers are all secure, but I did reuse the Itunes password on several different other websites. It was a password that I used on quite a few Internet forums. My best guess is some forum site got hacked, and thats how my e-mail/password was grabbed. Thats my best guess. My security questions are too tough for anyone to guess, and while Apple is completely inept when it comes to security, I can’t imagine anyone brute forcing my iTunes password.

There was a lot of buzz about this year’s Macworld keynote, but for the first time in awhile, Steve Job’s keynote was a bust.

The two big announcements were Itunes movie rentals and a super thin Macbook.

Movie Rentals?

Anybody with a Netlfix account has to laugh at Itunes movie rentals. With Itunes, you can rent standard definition movies for $3 or HD movies for $5. The DRM on the movies disables viewing 24 hours after the first view. Why would anybody use this? Netflix gives unlimited rentals of SD or HD discs for $14/month. If you want to watch movies on your computer, you can stream any movie you want at no additional cost with Netflix.

With Itunes, if you want to actually want to watch movies on a TV, you need to buy an Apple TV device for over $200 to get the same movies on-demand functionality that your cable provider already provides. Apple’s moves in to video distribution have largely failed, and the Itunes movie rental service will continue Apple’s pattern of failure when it comes to video.

Macbook Air

I’ve been waiting for a Mac ultraportable for 5 years. The Macbook Air is probably the worst Apple laptop design since Steve Jobs returned to the company over a decade ago. The Macbook Air is a clear example of overfocusing on a design element, while sacrificing usability. The laptop is thin, and it looks stunning, but at what cost?

  • The battery is NOT removable.
  • There is no wired Ethernet port.
  • The processor is slow.
  • The disk is small and slow.
  • There is only ONE USB port

I will never recommend a laptop to anyone that has a non-removable battery. My Macbook Pro turned 1 this week, and both batteries are about 50% life. There is no wired Ethernet port? How the hell is anybody going to use this laptop at a business? Professionals are the #1 consumer of ultraportable laptops, and most businesses have no or limited wireless access for security reasons.

Performance wise, the Macbook Air is a dog. Its processor and disk are slow. Apple would have been much better off not focusing on thinness. Weight is the most important aspect of an ultraportable. If the Macbook Air was .5 lbs heavier with beefier specs and a removable battery, it would have been a hit.

Instead, Apple focused on the superficial (thinness), sacrificing the Macbook Air’s utility.

apple store nyc

The New York Times has a great piece on the success of Apple’s retail stores.

When Apple first launched retail stores in 2001, I thought was a dumb idea. Why bother with brick and mortar in 2001? I was dead wrong. Apple’s success at retail is really amazing, especially when you consider how badly other companies have failed at retail. Think Gateway stores..

There are a lot of aspects to Apple’s retail model which make it a success, but the number one characteristic seems to be attention to detail. An Apple store feels more like high end fashion boutique, than a small “electronics shop.”

Looks like someone has finally released a decent online music store. Amazon MP3 is superior to iTunes.

  • No DRM
  • Web Based
  • Works with any MP3 Player
  • Integrated with iTunes
  • Reasonable Pricing
  • Incorporates Amazon Recommendations
  • Music encoded at a reasonable quality level

I’ve avoided online music stores for years because of DRM, poor quality, and device lock in, but Amazon MP3 gets rid of most of my concerns. Its not perfect though, here is what I would like to see:

  • Lossless FLAC downloads for a premium price.
  • Linux Support

If Amazon MP3 provided lossless and Linux support, I would buy all my music via digital download. Until then, I will stick to CD’s and use downloads for only casual purchases.

People should avoid iTunes like the plague. Apple’s consolidation of media distribution and media players has made a bad situation worse.

Its crazy to think about it, but there hasn’t been truly new genre of music in over a decade. Think of all the genres in popular music from 1910-1995. In the past 10+ years? Nothing!