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Articles: techwatch: 2011 October

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Steve Jobs: I Finally Cracked It
Monday, 2011 October 24 - 11:45 pm
Much is being made of a cryptic quote from Steve Jobs in the biography written by Walter Isaacson being released tomorrow:

"I'd like to create an integrated television set that is completely easy to use," [Steve Jobs] told me. "It would be seamlessly synced with all of your devices and with iCloud." No longer would users have to fiddle with complex remotes for DVD players and cable channels. "It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine. I finally cracked it."

Taking on the cable and satellite companies would be Apple's biggest undertaking since taking on the music industry with iTunes. (Look how that turned out, eh?) The three major hurdles for Apple:
  • The cable companies are entrenched, with long-term deals with content providers and a presence in almost every living room in the country.
  • Cable companies also provide broadband internet access for a lot of their subscribers, and they could make it tough for customers to unbundle the two services.
  • Content providers will be leery of handing control over to Apple after seeing how much control Apple gained over the music industry.
But then, look at what Apple has going for it:
  • Both content providers and customers, by and large, hate cable and satellite companies. With the never-ending rate hikes, shoddy hardware products, abysmal software interfaces, and poor customer service, customers are fed-up. Meanwhile content providers are sick of being held hostage whenever contracts are up for re-negotiation, and might prefer selling content directly to the customers.
  • Apple has a track record of making complex and poorly-designed products simpler and more appealing to consumers, and customers generally trust and like Apple products.
  • There is already a trend towards cord-cutting and Internet-available content, and it just needs a spark and a cohesive strategy to pull it together. Apple is exactly the kind of company that can provide those things.

The fact that cable companies control Internet access... that's a tough one; unless, Apple has an answer for that too, in the form of ubiquitous WiFi, a nationwide LTE network, or a partnership with a company who can provide that. Here's a super-crazy theory... what if Apple partnered with their biggest current rival to make that happen? A rival whose interests in this area perfectly align with Apple's? A rival who has been active in blanketing cities with Internet access?

What if Apple teamed up with Google to take down the cable industry?

Maybe that's a stretch. But it would be utterly breathtaking. I would love to see the look on the faces of Time Warner executives on the day something like that was announced.
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Posted by Ken in: techwatch

Apple Speed-Bumps Macbook Pros
Monday, 2011 October 24 - 11:03 pm
Apple introduced "new" Macbook Pro models today, though the changes are so minor you might wonder why they bothered. Essentially all the models got a slight speed and storage bump but otherwise the specs are unchanged. I wonder what's next for the Mac line as a whole; Apple seems to be treating the product category as mature and not in need of major improvements. Given the post-PC era they're clearly promoting, maybe we've already seen the last of splashy new Mac models.
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Posted by Ken in: techwatch

Dennis Ritchie
Thursday, 2011 October 13 - 12:02 am
class dennis_ritchie {
dennis_ritchie() { create_c_language(); create_unix(); }
~dennis_ritchie() { rest_in_peace(); }
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Posted by Ken in: techwatch

Apple Introduces the iPhone 4S
Tuesday, 2011 October 4 - 11:02 pm
Apple CEO Tim Cook took the stage along to introduce the newest iPhone, dubbed the "iPhone 4S". The important new specs: a significantly faster A5 dual-core processor; an 8 megapixel camera with improved sensor and optics (f2.4 aperture!); HD video recording; Siri voice-recognition assistant; dual-mode CDMA and GSM radio; and availability on Sprint as well as AT&T and Verizon.

There seems to be widespread disappointment that Apple didn't announce a radically new iPhone 5. I'm not sure I understand this. Perhaps if Apple had called it an iPhone 5 and given it a new case design, people would have been happier?

I mean honestly, exactly what features do people believe are missing? I guess some people were hoping for a bigger screen, but the cost of that would have been lower pixel density, application compatibility issues, increased power consumption, poorer display quality, or some combination of those factors. LTE? I'd rather not sacrifice the battery life for a network with limited coverage and availability. I personally would have liked to have seen a near-field radio chip, but I can see that the infrastructure isn't there to support it yet. So really, what's missing?

It's an incremental improvement on an already-great phone. It has a best-in-class camera, display, processor, graphics chip, operating system, and application ecosystem. Oh, and there's Siri, which looks like something straight out of a science fiction movie. And still people complain.

The most ridiculous complaints come from people who own the iPhone 4, saying "it's not worth the upgrade". Well you know, most iPhone 4 owners aren't eligible for the carrier-subsidized price yet anyway. No, the 4S is mainly targeted at people like me, who have the 3GS and have been waiting for this upgrade opportunity, or for first-time iPhone buyers who would have bought the 4 this summer if not for the pending upgrade. There's a big pent-up demand, and the iPhone 4S is just what we were waiting for.

I'll be pre-ordering two on Friday.
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Posted by Ken in: techwatch

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