The iPhone’s Share: 17.25 Percent of Smartphones, 4.2 Percent of All Phones ★
The iPhone ended the quarter with 17.25% smartphone share and 4.2%
phone share. Share of revenues was about 22% and share of earnings
was about 51%.
I still hold that 20% smartphone share is possible for the iPhone.
As the smartphone market slowly becomes the entire phone market
that share will be worth something.
Can Apple dominate — or at least co-dominate — the mobile market with 20 percent share of smartphones sold? The answer may depend on whether the remainder of the market is split between several winners, or if Android winds up with a giant 60 or 70 percent share. But maybe Android’s growing market share lead won’t matter to Apple any more than Symbian’s previous (and fading fast) market share lead. How important is “smartphone” market share compared to overall mobile OS market share (counting things like the iPod Touch and iPad)? I don’t think the answers to these questions are clear.
Here is Dediu’s fourth quarter mobile phone industry overview. Apple made a majority of the industry’s profits selling just over 4 percent of the phones.
Canalys: ‘Google’s Android Becomes the World’s Leading Smart Phone Platform’ ★
The iPhone doubled, but the year-over-year growth for Android is just astronomical. According to these numbers from Canalys, the iPhone doubled in terms of shipments year-over-year, but dropped slightly (one-third of a percentage) in overall smartphone market share. RIM’s shipments are up, Nokia’s shipments are up, but the only OS with year-over-year smartphone market share gain is Android.
This is only for phones — so the numbers for last quarter don’t include 10 million iPod Touches and 7 million iPads — but still, Android’s growth is amazing.
Many Macworld Attendees Don’t Have a Smartphone ★
Here’s a surprising statistic from Macworld 2011: about 40% of
show goers don’t have a smartphone.
That was the number given to me at a meetup on the show’s last
night. It was from someone who ran a competition all week in one
of the booths. To win a prize, entrants had to download an app to
their smartphone — and about 40% didn’t have a device that
could download apps.
“I was really surprised,” said the source, who asked that
neither she nor her company be identified. “Especially in a city
like San Francisco and at a show like Macworld.”
That does seem high, but I think the obvious answer is that smartphone monthly plans simply cost too much. And Android isn’t any cheaper than the iPhone in this regard.
Update: Another theory, submitted by several readers: Many of these attendees did have iPhones (or other smartphones), but claimed not to because they didn’t want this company’s app.
Why Is Dropbox More Popular Than Other Tools With Similar Functionality? ★
Michael Wolfe, on Quora:
Well, let’s take a step back and think about the sync problem and
what the ideal solution for it would do:
- There would be a folder.
- You’d put your stuff in it.
- It would sync.
They built that.
iPad’s Future Prospects for Tablet Market Share ★
A wider range of cheaper devices with Google features like YouTube
and Google Maps will probably erode the iPad’s market dominance,
said Neil Mawston, director at Strategy Analytics. Its share of
the global tablet market will probably drop to 67 percent this
quarter, he said.
We now know this is factually wrong. Those numbers are based on Samsung’s claims of two million “sold” units, when in fact they only shipped two million units to retailers. Samsung has not revealed how many Galaxy Tabs have actually been sold.
The cheapest version of the iPad, which only has Wi-Fi
connectivity and 16 gigabytes of memory, costs $499 in the U.S.
Acer plans to introduce an Android powered tablet in April that
will likely sell for as little as $299, Jim Wong, Acer’s head of
information-technology products, said in November.
“Apple’s volumes will continue to go up, but market share will
inevitably go down,” Mawston said in an interview. “Even at $500
retail, based on some of the research we’ve done, that’s
probably two or three times more than what most mass market
consumers are expecting to pay.”
This assumes that Apple won’t push toward lower prices. That’s a bad assumption. Apple has kept the iPod on top of the music player market for a decade by lowering pricing.
“If you were to ask me in two years time, will Apple have less
than 50 percent of the global tablet market, I think that’s a
certainty,” Mawston said.
A certainty, eh?
It’s also worth pointing out that Neil Mawston is the same analyst who, back in June, declared that the iPhone’s “honeymoon period is over”:
“The honeymoon period for Apple in the mobile world is clearly
coming to an end,” Strategy Analytics analyst Neil Mawston
wrote. “Apple was criticized for its intensive production
methods in China, while the iPhone has been heavily criticized for
its poorly designed touchable antenna, and may have lost some
heartshare in recent weeks because of its perceived mishandling of
the antenna problem.”
The iPhone 4 is now the best-selling handset in the entire world.
Eric Raymond Analyzes the Smartphone Market ★
First: We can expect Verizon’s iPhone sales to be anemic. A bit
of arithmetic applied to this chart tells us Verizon has been
churning about 93M * 1.42% * 3 = 396K customers a quarter — about
the same as that deadly 400K. The smart way to bet is that most of
Verizon’s potential Apple customers decamped to AT&T long ago
and are part of that 90% saturation.
Well, that’s one opinion.
Intel Discovers Bug in 6-Series Chipset ★
The fix requires new hardware, which means you will have to
exchange your motherboard for a new one. Intel hasn’t posted any
instructions on how the recall will be handled other than to
contact Intel via its support page or contact the manufacturer of
your hardware directly. In speaking with motherboard manufacturers
it seems they are as surprised by this as I am.
Intel will begin shipping the fixed version of the chipset in late
February. The recall will reduce Intel’s revenue by around $300
million and cost around $700 million to completely repair and
replace affected systems.
Hardware bugs are expensive.
The Hilarious Everything Bagel ★
Kottke at his best.
Windows Mobile 6 Beats Windows Phone 7 in Initial Quarter ★
In a surprise twist, smartphones running Microsoft’s old mobile
operating system grabbed more market share than new Windows Phone
7 devices did in the U.S. in the fourth quarter, according to data
released by the NPD Group research firm this morning. Devices
running the legacy Windows Mobile registered 4 percent of the U.S.
consumer market in the quarter, down from 7 percent a year
earlier. Windows Phone 7 debuted at 2 percent.
Windows Phone 7 devices weren’t available all quarter long, and they still aren’t on Verizon, but this is bad news for Microsoft.
John Barry, RIP ★
Barry scored, composed, and conducted the music for most of the early James Bond films. It’s impossible to imagine James Bond without Barry’s music, but apparently it almost happened:
Shortly after this Barry would receive the fateful phone call from
Bond producer Harry Saltzman. “I got a phone call from Harry,”
recalled Barry in a 2006 article in the Telegraph. “He never used
to come down to the recording sessions, and he says: ‘John, that
is the worst fucking song I ever heard in my life. We open in
three weeks’ time, otherwise I’d take that fucking song out of the
picture. I’d take it out! Out!’”
Some great examples of his Bond work, here.
‘1984’: As Good as It Gets ★
Steve Hayden, writing for Adweek:
The brief for “1984” was simple: Steve Jobs said, “I want to
stop the world in its tracks.”
Samsung Galaxy Tab Sales Actually ‘Quite Small’ ★
Evan Ramstad, reporting for the WSJ:
In early December, Samsung announced it had sold 1 million,
declaring that sales were going “faster than expected.” Then,
in early January, Samsung announced sales of 2 million.
But during the company’s quarterly earnings call on Friday, a
Samsung executive revealed those figures don’t represent actual
sales to consumers. Instead, they are the number of Galaxy Tab
devices that Samsung has shipped to wireless companies and
retailers around the world since product’s formal introduction
in late September.
Pressed by an analyst at an investment bank, the Samsung
executive, Lee Young-hee, acknowledged that sales to
consumers were “quite small,” though she didn’t give a
I’ve never seen a Galaxy Tab out in the real world. I see dozens of iPads — and Kindles — every time I get on an airplane. This whole issue of companies announcing how many units they’ve merely shipped to retailers as “sold” is pernicious. Almost everyone, myself included, took Samsung’s previous announcements the wrong way.
Claim Chowder: Bloomberg on the Verizon iPhone ★
Amy Thomson, reporting for Bloomberg way back on June 29:
Verizon Wireless, the largest U.S. mobile-phone company, will
start selling Apple Inc.’s iPhone next year, ending AT&T
Inc.’s exclusive hold on the smartphone in the U.S., two people
familiar with the plans said.
The device will be available to customers in January, according to
the people, who declined to be named because the information
Off by a week, but I award full credit. Bloomberg nailed it.
Microsoft Loses Another $543 Million Online ★
Jay Yarow and Kamelia Angelova:
Every quarter Microsoft reports earnings, and every quarter it
reports a massive loss in its online operations. Today it reported
a $543 million loss for its December quarter. This gives Microsoft
a trailing-four-quarter loss of $2.5 billion. That’s simply
astounding. We’ve asked it before, and we’ll ask it again: Has any
company lost as much money online as Microsoft?
Just keep digging.
Novelist Time vs. Blogger Time ★
Novelist Michael Chabon, after filling in for Ta-Nehisi Coates for a week:
Novelist time is reptile time; novelists tend to be ruminant and
brooding, nursers of ancient grievances, second-guessers, Tuesday
afternoon quarterbacks, retrospectators, endlessly, like slumping
hitters, studying the film of their old whiffs. You find novelists
going over and over the same ground in their novels—TNC was
talking about Gatsby last week, Fitzgerald’s a prime
example—configuring and reconfiguring the same little set of
preoccupations, haunted by missed opportunities. That may be
because getting a novel written, or a bunch of novels, means that
you are going to miss a lot of opportunities, and so missing them
is something you have to be not only willing but also equipped by
genes and temperament to do. Blogging, I think, is largely about
seizing opportunities, about pouncing, about grabbing hold of
hours, events, days and nights as they are happening, sizing them
up and putting them into play with language, like a juggler
catching and working into his flow whatever the audience has in
I can’t speak to what it’s like to write a novel, but that sure describes what it’s like to write Daring Fireball.
How the iPad Wants to Be Used ★
The iPad is an intensely personal device. In its design intent it
is, truly, much more like a “big iPhone” than a “small laptop”.
The iPad isn’t something you pass around. It’s not really designed
to be a “resource” that many people take advantage of. It’s
designed to be owned, configured to your taste, invested in and
Macworld Live ★
Macworld (the website/magazine) is broadcasting live from their stage on the show floor at Macworld (the expo/conference). I’ll be on stage for a panel about the future of the Mac later today, at 3:30 Pacific.
2011 CES Tablets ★
Shawn Dubravac lists the 100+ tablet devices announced at CES earlier this month.
Update: Here’s another similar list, assembled by Engadget.
Apple, News Corp to Hold Event to Launch The Daily ★
According to the invitation received by The Loop on Thursday, News
Corp Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch will be joined by Apple’s
Vice President of Internet Services, Eddy Cue to introduce the
The event will be held in New York on February 2, 2011 at
11:00 am ET.
Eddy Cue runs the iTunes Store. Apple’s role in this is about enabling subscription payments to app developers.
Tim O’Reilly on Mobile Phones as Payment Devices ★
Here, O’Reilly is quoting Karl Fogel from an email:
Independently of operator billing, using phones should massively
cut down on credit-card fraud. If your credit card is a
fully-functional computer that can verify its owner interactively,
then one can use a different “credit card number” for every
transaction… And we’d no longer be in this silly situation where
merely knowing a 16-digit number (plus a guessable expiration date
and zip code) enables people to impersonate others in purchases.
From what I hear, Apple is working like mad on this stuff. But, of course, in Apple’s plan, it won’t be carrier billing — it’ll be iTunes account billing. And that, in turn, has a different and more limited scope than what PPK wrote about in the aforelinked piece. I know you can charge up an iTunes account with gift cards, but I suspect most people have their iTunes accounts backed by a credit card. What PPK’s talking about is the vast untapped worldwide market of people who don’t have a credit card.
PPK on Operator Billing ★
For instance, it has been estimated that the global app market,
which requires credit cards, is worth US$ 3.8 billion right now.
However, one single ringtone, Crazy Frog, made its creators a cool
half billion back in 2006. (Source: one of those huge Tomi Ahonen
articles under “Missed the app store”.)
Thus, four years ago one successful ringtone that sold for more
like 9 cents than 99 was worth one-eighth of this year’s entire
app store economy. It was so successful because it wasn’t
dependent on those silly credit cards and could reach all people
with a mobile phone.
Update: Half a billion dollars for a single ringtone seems impossible, no?
The New York Times’s Dealings With Julian Assange ★
Editor in chief Bill Keller’s fascinating first-hand account of The Times’s relationship with Assange and WikiLeaks. Worth it just for the sly description of WikiLeaks as “a secretive cadre of antisecrecy vigilantes”.
Eric Schmidt Expects to Spend Another 10 Years at Google ★
I’ll bet the under.
Michael Lopp Interviews Marco Arment ★
Marco Arment, on Instapaper’s bookmarklet:
The way it does this is ridiculous: instead of calling a simple
GET request to save the page, since an entire page’s contents
would quickly overrun any URL-length limits in the stack, it
injects a FORM with a POST action and populates a hidden value
with the page contents.
But form-data requests from browsers aren’t Gzip-compressed, so
the resulting data is huge and needs to be sent over people’s
(often slow, often mobile) upstream connections. So I found an
and the bookmarklet compresses the page data right there in the
browser before sending it.
The Oatmeal Winter 2010 State of the Web ★
‘It’s About Us, John’ ★
There’s only one upcoming film I’m more intrigued and excited about than Malick’s The Tree of Life, and it’s this one:
The Other Side of the Wind portrays the last hours of an ageing
film director. Welles is said to have told John Huston, who
plays the lead role: “It’s about a bastard director… full of
himself, who catches people and creates and destroys them. It’s
about us, John.”
The unedited film has been hidden away in a vault until now amid
doubts that it could ever be shown.
Rumours of its release have surfaced repeatedly since it was shot
in 1972, but an ownership dispute has always scuppered any plans.
However, a Los Angeles lawyer told the Observer last week that the
film will finally be seen.
I mean, holy shit.
37signals: ‘We’ll Be Retiring Our Support of OpenID on May 1’ ★
We first jumped on the OpenID bandwagon back in 2007 when it was
seen as a promising way to make logging into websites simpler.
What we’ve learned over the past three years is that it didn’t
actually make anything any simpler for the vast majority of our
customers. Instead it just made things harder. Especially when
people were having problems with the often flaky OpenID providers
and couldn’t log into their account. OpenID has been a burden on
support since the day it was launched.
Pixelmator Grosses $1 Million on the Mac App Store ★
In 20 days.
Macworld 2011: Industry Forum ★
I write these words to you from 36,000 feet in the sky, en route to Macworld Expo. I’ll be speaking there tomorrow, at a new event called the Industry Forum. Among the other speakers: Jason Snell, Harry McCracken, and Bill Atkinson. Yeah, that Bill Atkinson. Here’s the full schedule and session descriptions, and here’s where you can register to attend.
Google Nexus One Gets Small Update to 2.2.2, Users Still Awaiting 2.3 ★
I thought the whole point of the Nexus series was to put the software entirely under Google’s control — and that users would get timely OS updates? Android 2.3 has been out for over a month, but remains available only on the brand-new Nexus S.
Why Can’t We Walk Straight? ★
Fascinating NPR report by Robert Krulwich, delightfully animated by Benjamin Arthur. (Via Swissmiss.)
Why 3D Doesn’t Work and Never Will ★
Walter Murch, in a letter to Roger Ebert:
The biggest problem with 3D, though, is the “convergence/focus” issue. A couple of the other issues — darkness and “smallness” — are at least theoretically solvable. But the deeper problem is that the audience must focus their eyes at the plane of the screen — say it is 80 feet away. This is constant no matter what.
But their eyes must converge at perhaps 10 feet away, then 60 feet, then 120 feet, and so on, depending on what the illusion is. So 3D films require us to focus at one distance and converge at another. And 600 million years of evolution has never presented this problem before. All living things with eyes have always focussed and converged at the same point.
I think 3D is fun in very small doses, like in attractions at Disney World, where the movie is only around five minutes long. But I have never enjoyed 3D in a feature. Avatar was closest.
Lawsuit to Taco Bell: Where’s the Beef? ★
Bob Johnson, reporting for the AP:
An Alabama law firm claims in a lawsuit that Taco Bell is using
false advertising when it refers to using “seasoned ground beef”
or “seasoned beef” in its products. […]
The lawsuit says that Taco Bell’s “seasoned beef” contains other
ingredients, including water, wheat oats, soy lecithin,
maltodrextrin, anti-dusting agent and modified corn starch.
None of those ingredients are seasonings.
‘My Trilogy Kicks Your Trilogy’s Ass’ T-Shirts ★
The power of typographic branding.
How the iPhone Mail App Decides When to Show You New Mail Messages ★
Arik Hesseldahl: Apple Hires David Rice as Global Director of Security ★
Apple has tapped security expert and author David Rice to be its
director of global security, several sources have confirmed to me.
He’s expected to start at Apple in March. […]
He’s a 1994 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and has a
master’s degree in Information Warfare and Systems Engineering
from the Naval Postgraduate School. He served as a Global Network
Vulnerability analyst for the National Security Agency and as a
Special Duty Cryptologic officer for the Navy. […]
His 2007 book, “Geekonomics,” has been described as the
software industry’s equivalent of Ralph Nader’s “Unsafe at
Any Speed.” In it he argues that software is modern
infrastructure — just like a bridge (hence, the picture on the
cover) — and if it’s poorly made or insecure, it constitutes a
The Monkeys You Ordered ★
“Literal New Yorker cartoon captions”. Count me in with Elaine Benes (and, presumably, Larry David): I generally don’t find New Yorker cartoons to be funny at all. But re-captioned literally, they’re fucking hilarious. Sadly, the author of The Monkeys You Ordered has just posted an entry that suggests Condé Nast might be trying to shut the site down. I say Condé Nast should buy the site and hire the guy.
Google Search vs. Content Farms ★
Google’s Matt Cutts responds to the spate of recent complaints about the rise of content farm sites in Google search results. (Examples: Jeff Atwood, Vivek Wadhwa at TechCrunch, Richard MacManus at ReadWriteWeb, and maybe the most comprehensive: Anil Dash.)
Cutts’s response is a little circuitous, to say the least. He spends the first few paragraphs talking about outright search spam. That’s not the issue at hand. Content farms aren’t spam in the classic sense — they’re low-quality ham that is designed specifically to appear within search results. And it’s a real problem. In response to Google’s very effective defenses against outright spam, it’s like spammers have evolved to become as minimally spammy as possible to get through Google’s defenses. It’s insidious.
What’s worrisome about content farmers is their means of monetization: typically, Google AdSense. This leads to the cynical conclusion that Google doesn’t see it as a problem at all when such sites are ranked too high in search results. Cutts addresses this charge head-on:
To be crystal clear:
- Google absolutely takes action on sites that violate our quality
guidelines regardless of whether they have ads powered by
- Displaying Google ads does not help a site’s rankings in
- Buying Google ads does not increase a site’s rankings in
Google’s search results.
I have my share of criticism for Google these days, but I believe Cutts. “Trust but verify”, though — let’s see when these changes actually appear.
Immaculate Reception ★
Jim Matthews on how his iPhone got online in England, despite having data roaming turned off and not having connected it to his hotel’s Wi-Fi network.
Update: Fireballed at the moment. Cache.
Cook : Apple :: Ballmer : Microsoft ? ★
And I think there are some parallels to draw between this event
(Cook’s taking over day-to-day operations at Apple, expected to be
permanent) and Steve Ballmer’s ascension at Microsoft. And not to
ruin the surprise, but this may be bad news for Apple. The
simplest way to explain this is to simply provide the closing
quote in the article: “He will not be the visionary, but that’s
O.K. because there are other talented people around him.” Sure.
That’s what they said about Ballmer too. Just a thought.
I’m not linking to this to be inflammatory, and, I don’t think Thurrott posited this analogy to be inflammatory. There are some parallels: an operations executive succeeding a visionary product-oriented founder. But, I’d say Cook-as-Ballmer is pretty much the worst case scenario for Apple.
The warnings signs with Ballmer have been there for years. He’s been out of touch for a long time. Remember when he laughed at the iPhone? Said it had “no chance”? Let’s not worry about Tim Cook until he starts saying dumb things.
NY Post: ‘Google CEO Eric Schmidt Considering a Career in TV’ ★
It’s The New York Post, so take it with a grain of salt, but still:
Sources say the outspoken chief, who broke the news that he’s
passing the CEO title to 37-year-old co-founder Larry Page in a
sarcastic tweet — “Day-to-day adult supervision no longer
needed!” — has been consulting with CNN’s “Parker Spitzer”
executive producer Liza McGuirk on developing a show featuring
himself as host.
Olbermann Leaves ‘Countdown’ on MSNBC ★
Bill Carter, on Keith Olbermann’s abrupt exit from MSNBC:
Keith Olbermann, the highest-rated host on MSNBC, announced
abruptly on the air Friday night that he is leaving “Countdown
with Keith Olbermann” immediately.
The host, who has had a stormy relationship with the management of
the network for some time, especially since he was suspended for
two days last November, came to an agreement with NBC’s
corporate management late this week to settle his contract and
In a closing statement on his show, Mr. Olbermann said simply that
it would be the last edition of the program. He offered no explanation other than on occasion “all that surrounded the show – but never the show itself – was just too much for me.”
My thanks to Sourcebits for again sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Sourcebits is a contract developer specializing in iPhone, iPad, mobile, Mac, and web software. Their iPhone apps have been downloaded over 4.5 million times from the App Store, and they have a growing list of Android and BlackBerry apps, too. If you’re looking for software development services, check out Sourcebits’s website for examples of their work — for the iPhone, the iPad, Android, and more.
‘They Were There’ — Errol Morris Film for IBM ★
30-minute film by Errol Morris, commissioned by IBM to celebrate the company’s centennial. Music by Philip Glass. I’ve only watched the first minute and I’m hooked. (Thanks to DF reader Scott Ivers.)
Nilay Patel: ‘Android Source Code, Java, and Copyright Infringement: What’s Going On?’ ★
On the other hand, Nilay Patel argues that it doesn’t matter whether the files in question were just tests, or even whether they shipped in actual Android handsets:
From a legal perspective, there’s no question that these files
create increased copyright liability for Google, because the state
of our current copyright law doesn’t make exceptions for how
source code trees work, or whether or not a script pasted in a
different license, or whether these files made it into handsets.
The single most relevant legal question is whether or not copying
and distributing these files was authorized by Oracle, and the
answer clearly appears to be “nope”. […]
Why does this matter? Because we’re hearing that Oracle is
dead-set on winning this case and eventually extracting a
per-handset royalty on every Android handset shipped.
Idea to Market in 5 Months ★
Nice write-up from Dan Provost on his and Tom Gerhardt’s experience bringing The Glif to market.
Regarding Today’s Allegations of Copied Sun Java Code Found in Android ★
Ed Burnette has seemingly debunked these allegations from Florian Mueller that Google’s Android source code improperly contains Java code from Sun. As the saying goes, “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”
Nilay Patel on Wearing an iPod Nano as a Watch ★
Nilay Patel, back in November:
And here’s the biggest problem: you can’t just glance at your
wrist and check the time! The screen is completely dark when it’s
asleep, so you have to reach over and hit the wake button with
your other hand to see the time, and worst of all, hitting the
wake button doesn’t light the screen up instantly — there’s a
significant and noticeable delay of over half a second before the
clock is displayed. We’d love to see something like the Nokia N8’s
AMOLED screen tech that dimly self-illuminates with zero power
draw to display a clock while asleep used here — it feels like a
Relevant today because I just got my TikTok band for the Nano, as my reward for backing the wildly-successful Kickstarter project. The TikTok is everything I could have hoped for: the Nano fits perfectly and the wristband is supple and comfortable. But for the reasons outlined by Patel above, the current Nano just isn’t ideal for use as a full-time wristwatch. I can definitely see using this when I run though.
But just playing with the thing makes me realize that wearable computers are inevitable. Imagine a Nano with an always-on display and a Bluetooth connection to your iPhone, allowing the Nano to serve as a status display for live information.
TestFlight: Over-the-Air Installation of iOS Beta Apps ★
I beta-test quite a few iOS apps. The regular process for installation is a bit of a pain — download new beta, drag to iTunes, confirm that you want to replace the previous version, connect iOS device via USB, then sync. A few of the apps I beta test have switched to TestFlight (while TestFlight itself was still in beta — it’s betas all the way down). Compared to the regular process, TestFlight is magic. Way less hassle for testers to install the apps, and, from what I hear, less hassle on the developer’s side too. In short, it just works.
Ovum Analysts: iPad Will Be Surpassed by Google by 2015 ★
By 2015, however, when 150 million sales are expected, the
proportion of tablets based on Apple software will have plummeted
to 35 percent, the analysts Ovum said. […] The main beneficiary
will be Google, and by 2015 its share of tablet sales will have
risen to 36 percent, Ovum said, edging ahead of Apple, currently
the world’s most valuable technology firm.
So we’re predicting things four years out now. Let’s look at Ovum’s track record from four years ago.
Apple has set itself a target of 10 million units by the end of
2008, but we think this will be a challenge. The device is selling
at a high price point and will not be a mass market device.
Apple wound up selling around 14 million iPhones in calendar year 2008. In March 2007, regarding whether Apple would ever open the iPhone to third-party developers:
Even if [the iPhone] is opened up to third parties, it is
difficult to see how the installed base of iPhones can reach the
level where it becomes a truly attractive service platform for
operator and developer investment,” Cripps countered.
The Ovum analyst added that even if a Software Development Kit
(SDK) was to be released, Mac OS X developers would have a hard
time porting desktop variants of their software to the iPhone due
to basic differences in elements such as the user interface and
Apple’s apparent ditching of conventional application paradigms
for mobile phones seems ill-advised if the company really wanted
the iPhone to be perceived as a smartphone and to take on mobile
juggernauts such as Nokia, Microsoft and Motorola.
Well, I have to admit they nailed that one.
Why Is Eric Schmidt Stepping Down at Google? ★
Ken Auletta, at The New Yorker:
Was Eric Schmidt pushed or did he jump? Both.
Free as in Beards ★
Brett Smith, for the Free Software Foundation:
We applaud Google for this change; it’s a positive step for free
software, its users, and everyone who uses the Web. For a while
now, watching video on the Web has been fraught with peril. Most
of it is delivered with Flash, which is proprietary, nonstandard
software. Free software alternatives like GNU Gnash are
available, but the user experience isn’t always as seamless as it
ought to be.
To say the least.
In order to make sure the Web stays free for everyone, we need a free codec to prevail as the de facto standard with HTML5. WebM can be that codec: Google provides a patent license with the standard that is compatible with free software licenses, and even got the development ball rolling by releasing a free implementation.
All it takes now is for everyone to switch entirely to free software. Easy.
Some reaction to Google’s move has suggested that it represents a
step back for standards on the Web, because H.264 is supported by
more hardware and software. Those comments represent a fundamental
misunderstanding of the vision of the Web as free and
unencumbered. We can only be free if we reject data formats that
are restricted by patents.
This paragraph represents a fundamental misunderstanding that standards and freedom aren’t the same thing.
Today, we’re also urging Web site operators to distribute videos
in the WebM format, and abandon H.264.
Free beards for everyone.
Professional Analysts’ First Year iPad Sale Forecasts ★
Everyone, myself included, underestimated how many iPads Apple would sell in 2010. But some of these numbers are laughably low. 1.1 million?
Using Moore’s Law to Project When the iPad Will Get a Retina Display ★
Clever analysis by Avery Pennarun. Spoiler: 2014 if Apple waits for 330 pixels per inch, but 2012 if they’re willing to settle for 2048 × 1536 at the same physical size, which works out to 264 pixels per inch. His conclusion jibes with what I’m hearing.
Goldman vs. Apple ★
John Cassidy compares and contrasts Goldman Sachs and Apple:
Another thing that differentiates Goldman from Apple is how much
it pays its employees. In 2010, Goldman’s 35,700 employees took
home an average of $430,700. Apple doesn’t publish much
information about its labor costs. According to the jobs Web site
Simply Hired, the average salary at Apple is $46,000. Another
Web site, Salary List, quotes a substantially higher
figure—$107,719—but that doesn’t appear to include people
working at Apple’s more than three hundred retail stores.
Whichever number is more accurate, the basic message is the same.
Apple employees earn a lot less than their counterparts at Goldman
despite the fact they generate a much higher return — private and
social — on the capital they use.
Time to ask for a raise if you work at Apple.
HTML Is the New HTML5 ★
The WHATWG HTML spec can now be considered a “living standard”.
It’s more mature than any version of the HTML specification to
date, so it made no sense for us to keep referring to it as merely
a draft. We will no longer be following the “snapshot” model of
spec development, with the occasional “call for comments”, “call
for implementations”, and so forth.
Low on hype, high on practicality — that’s why I admire the WHATWG.
Creating James Bond ★
Nice essay by Robert Cotton on how Terence Young, who directed the first, second, and fourth James Bond films, created the screen character:
Charm. The one thing no one can accuse the Bond of the books of
possessing to any great degree. Young reasoned that a 1962
audience might not buy a hero who simply did his job and in the
meantime slept with any woman he felt like, without seeming as
derelict as the villain he was disposing of. Young knew that if
James Bond were going to differentiate himself from the standard,
run of the mill hero, he needed three things that heretofore the
character was lacking. Style, wit, and charm.
Hypercritical and Back to Work ★
Speaking of podcasts at 5by5 co-hosted by Dan Benjamin, there are two new ones: Hypercritical, with John Siracusa; and Back to Work, with Merlin Mann. Almost enough to make me wish I had a daily commute.
The Talk Show, Episode 25 ★
Blah blah blah with Apple financial news and iPad 2 display resolution. Then the good stuff: talking about my favorite James Bond movie, 1963’s From Russia With Love.
Brought to you by two fine sponsors: Postmark and Rackspace.
Glenn Beck: ‘Philadelphia Sucks’ ★
This, one day after Beck’s radio show was canceled here in Philly:
Talk-radio host Glenn Beck took a shot at Philadelphia on the
air Tuesday, calling the area around Independence Hall “the
killing streets” and proclaiming that the city was “not a place
you want to be.”
The remarks irked city officials. Mayor Nutter’s spokesman told
The Inquirer that Beck was suffering from a case of “verb-arrhea.”
Philadelphia Police Lt. Ray Evers called Beck “misinformed.” The
historic district, Evers said, “is actually one of the safest
parts of the city, if not the country, with the number of law
enforcement. Who listens to him, anyway?”
I can vouch that the area around Independence Hall is almost absurdly safe. Philly radio host John DeBella is going to walk around there today with money literally hanging out of his pockets.
Keeping Score on Apple Finance Predictions ★
In our ranking of the best and worst Apple (AAPL) analysts for Q1
2011, which lists them based on how accurately they predicted
seven key numbers — revenue, earnings, gross margins and unit
sales — the unaffiliated analysts (blue in the chart at right)
took 9 out of the 10 top spots.
The bottom 20 spots were all held by professionals working for the
banks and brokerage houses. Taken as a whole, the numbers they
sent their paying clients were off by a margin (9.04%) more than
twice as big as those generated by the guys who do it for free
The Problem With Not Going 2× With a Higher-Resolution iPad Display ★
When I say the UI scaling math only works out with a scaling factor of 2, this piece by Rene Ritchie is exactly what I mean. Nicely illustrated, too. At any factor in between 1 and 2, there’s no way to avoid resorting to anti-aliasing — and anti-aliasing is just a nice word for “blurriness”.
On the Title Sequence for ‘From Russia With Love’ ★
Astute piece by Emily King on the terrific opening title credits of 1963’s From Russia With Love. Not a bad rumination on the early Bond films as a whole, either. (Thanks to DF reader Martin Stroschein.)
Samsung Denies That They’re Charging Carriers for Android Updates ★
Well, whatever the reason, the Galaxy S is still on Android 2.1.
Apple COO Tim Cook on Android, Components, and More ★
Macworld’s transcript of Tim Cook’s comments on the quarterly earnings analyst call earlier today. Things that stood out to me:
- Demand for the iPhone 4 is still outstripping supply. They can’t make them fast enough, and haven’t even launched on Verizon yet.
- For phones, he’s talking about the “handset market” in general, not just smartphones. Going forward, “smartphone” market share isn’t the number to look at. It’s handset market share, period. All phones will soon be smart phones. People with feature phones are future smartphone buyers.
Regarding components, Cook said this:
On the operational side of the house, as you probably remember,
we’ve historically entered into certain agreements with
different people to secure supply and other benefits. The largest
one in the recent past has been, we signed a deal with several
flash [memory] suppliers back in the end of 2005 that totaled over
a billion dollars, because we anticipated that flash would become
increasingly important across our entire product line and
increasingly important to the industry. And so we wanted to secure
supply for our company. We think that was an absolutely fantastic
use of Apple’s cash, and we constantly look for more of these.
And so in the past several quarters, we’ve identified another
area and come to some recent agreements that Peter talked about in
his opening comments. These payments consist of both pre-payments
and capital for process equipment and tooling. And similar to the
flash agreement, they’re focused in an area that we feel is very
strategic. And so I’d prefer not to go into more detail about
what specific area it’s in, but it’s the same kind of thinking
that led us to those deals.
My guess is that this is about touchscreen display technology. Apple is ahead of the entire industry here — no competing device has a display as nice as the iPhone 4. I think they want to push ahead technology-wise, and are paying up front so they can meet demand.
Regarding iPad competitors:
Then you have the Android tablets, and the variety that are out
shipping today, the operating system wasn’t really designed for
a tablet, and Google has said this. This is not just an Apple view
by any means. And so you wind up having a size of tablet that is
less than what we believe is reasonable or even one that would
provide what we feel is a “real tablet experience.” So
basically you wind up with a scaled-up smartphone, which is a
bizarre product, in our view.
So those are the two that are shipping today, and frankly
speaking, it’s hard for me to understand, if somebody does a
side-by-side with an iPad, I think some enormous percentage of
people are going to select an iPad there. Those are not tablets
that we have any concern on.
Translation: “We still don’t have any competition.”
Macworld’s Overview of Apple’s Financial Results ★
Worth it for the charts alone.
Update: But their chart on Apple’s revenue-by-product contains an error: for the just-completed Q1 2011, they used the iPad’s unit sales (7.3 million) rather than its revenue ($4.6 billion). So the iPad hasn’t yet passed the Mac in terms of revenue, but probably will within the next quarter or two. (Source: Apple’s SEC filing.)
Update 2: And just like that, a few minutes later, Macworld has fixed the chart in question.
Hope He’s Hungry ★
Alex Cook on 3 April 2010:
I don’t buy the iPad hype. Analyst expectations for iPad revenue
are way overblown. If I turn out to be wrong, I’ll gladly eat my
words, but I’m pretty sure that I’m not wrong.
A Hint That Steve Jobs’ Departure Date Has Been Planned for a While ★
About a month ago, when Apple released the date when it planned to
report its fiscal Q1 earnings results, I found the date extremely
peculiar. Here’s why:
Since 2007, Apple has always chosen to report earnings during the
last week of the month in order to avoid the manipulation that
usually comes with options expiration week. If you go back at
least 14-16 quarters, Apple has reported during the last week of
the month in every one of those reporting periods. I remember that
it started doing this in response to reports of complaints of
share manipulation during OPX.
But now that we have the Steve Jobs news, the reporting date makes
a whole lot of sense.
With the holiday yesterday and blockbuster results today, I think it’s fair to say that yesterday was the single best day of the entire calendar year on which Jobs could have announced a medical leave of absence.
Claim Chowder: How Many iPads Sold in 2010 ★
Back on April 2, on Fox News’s Strategy Room, host Clayton Morris asked how many iPads Apple would sell in 2010. This was one day before the Wi-Fi version went on sale. The answers from his guests:
- Jason Snell: 3 million
- Andy Ihnatko: 3 million
- Yours truly: 8 million
- Mike Rose: 4.5-5 million
- Ross Rubin: 5 million
- Natali Del Conte: 5 million
- Clayton Morris: 9 million
The actual answer: 14.8 million.
Software Updates: Windows Phone vs. iPhone ★
Paul Thurrott on the lack of software updates for Windows Phone 7, three months in:
To summarize, the Microsoft of 2011 doesn’t compete effectively
with the Apple of 2007. How, exactly, are they going to compete
with today’s Apple?
I wonder if Microsoft sees that this is a problem, but are stymied by the handset makers — or if they really don’t see that Windows Phone 7 is already falling behind?
Bomb Found Along MLK Day Parade Route in Spokane ★
Violence begets violence.
Apple Reports First Quarter Results ★
The Company posted record revenue of $26.74 billion and record net
quarterly profit of $6 billion, or $6.43 per diluted share. These
results compare to revenue of $15.68 billion and net quarterly
profit of $3.38 billion, or $3.67 per diluted share, in the
year-ago quarter. […]
Apple sold 4.13 million Macs during the quarter, a 23 percent unit
increase over the year-ago quarter. The Company sold 16.24 million
iPhones in the quarter, representing 86 percent unit growth over
the year-ago quarter. Apple sold 19.45 million iPods during the
quarter, representing a seven percent unit decline from the
year-ago quarter. The Company also sold 7.33 million iPads during
I’m almost certain Apple has never before sold 4 million Macs in a quarter. And I love the almost off-handed tone of the sentence announcing the iPad number.
They really did beat Wall Street’s revenue consensus by $2 billion.
LBJ Buys Pants ★
In 1964, Lyndon Johnson needed pants, so he called the Haggar
clothing company and asked for some. The call was recorded (like
all White House calls at the time), and has since become the stuff
of legend. Johnson’s anatomically specific directions to Mr.
Haggar are some of the most intimate words we’ve ever heard from
the mouth of a President.
Engadget Has ‘Renders’ of Upcoming WebOS Tablets From HP/Palm ★
Reminds me of something I’ve seen before.
Macworld’s Live Coverage of Apple’s Q1 2011 Earnings Call ★
Call starts at 5pm Eastern, but the numbers should be released any minute now.
The Ambiguity of ‘Open’ and VP8 vs. H.264 ★
Remarkably good look at the H.264/WebM/HTML 5 video codec saga by “Antimatter15”.
Why U.S. Galaxy S Phones Still Run Android 2.1 ★
Samsung isn’t building a software platform. They’re just selling phones.
Boring Old AAPL ★
Bespoke Investment Group makes the case that AAPL is a boring stock:
Over the last year, AAPL’s average daily move has been a relatively calm 1.24%, and the last time the stock declined more than 3% in a day was 109 trading days ago, back on August 11. While AAPL is getting a lot of headline attention today over Steve Jobs’ medical leave, the most notable fact of the whole saga is probably that the stock is down only 2.5% on news that the founder and CEO is taking an indefinite medical leave of absence.
How to Shoot an Anvil 200 Feet in the Air ★
Now you know.
Badge of Shame ★
Jeremy Keith on the W3C’s attempt to use “HTML5” as an umbrella term for just about every modern web standard technology:
What. A. Crock.
Regarding the Necessity of Flash ★
Haavard, of Opera Software, on the question of whether Chrome’s removal of H.264 support for HTML5 video is a step backward for “openness”:
One important thing to keep in mind is that Flash is already
ubiquitous. If you want to do any kind of video on the web, you don’t
have a choice. Flash is needed. However, the “battle” over HTML5 video
is still raging. There is no clear winner, but with Google dropping
the closed H.264, it is much more likely that an open format will
prevail in the end.
So the question of Google’s bundling of Flash is a red herring which
takes away the focus from the real issue: Whether native video support
in browsers is based on open or closed technologies.
Regarding the “red herring” bit, MG Siegler responds:
The problem is that it isn’t a red herring. It’s just another, actually larger, issue which he’s sidestepping.
What I see as the glaring flaw in Haavard’s argument is this: “If you want to do any kind of video on the web, you don’t have a choice. Flash is needed.” iOS is existence proof that this is not true. It has no Flash, but plays plenty of video on the web. The reason it doesn’t need Flash, though, is because it supports H.264 in HTML5 video.
I.e., to be useful today, a web browser needs either (a) Flash or (b) H.264 with HTML5 video. Some browsers support both, but every browser needs at least one. In the name of “openness”, Opera, Mozilla, and now Chrome have chosen Flash.
Engadget on the iPad 2, iPhone 5, and Apple TV ★
Lots of interesting info here, including a purported SD card slot in the next iPad. If true, I’d think it’s so you can directly import photos and video from a camera, not for use as additional storage for the iPad itself:
From what we’ve been told, the thinner, sleeker tablet will sport
a new screen technology that is akin to (though not the same as)
the iPhone 4’s Retina Display and will be “super high resolution”
(unlike reports to the contrary). The device will remain at 10
inches but will now feature both front and rear cameras (not a
huge surprise), and… there’s an SD slot.
If the screen is higher resolution, my money is on the same physical size, at 2048 × 1536 resolution. It’s not about reaching some arbitrary pixels-per-inch resolution, but about being exactly double the pixel dimensions of the existing iPad, so that the math for scaling the UI works out. Just like the iPhone 4 — quadruple the pixels in the same physical space. That many pixels on an iPad, though, would require a lot more RAM and one hell of a mobile video card. I hope it’s true, because it’d be beautiful, but I’ll believe it when I see it.
My thanks to AccountEdge for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. AccountEdge — formerly known as MYOB — has been providing small businesses with reliable cross-platform accounting software for over 20 years. Even better, they’ve always had strong support for the Mac. Not just this past decade, but during the ’90s too. That says something about the company, in my book.
Accounting software isn’t something you can get people very excited about, but this is pretty cool: AccountEdge now has a free iPad app (with an iPhone app on the way) that allows AccountEdge users to take their work on the road.
Adobe’s John Dowdell on Chrome Dropping H.264 ★
He’s downright giddy:
The VIDEO tag was simply not well-considered at the outset. Its
original rationale was: “You don’t require a plug-in to view
images… video is the next natural evolution of that.” But from
the very start the practical questions about use were swept under
the rug… at least until the rug started piling up too high. It
So, (a) he thinks Chrome just killed the HTML5
Video publishers need the VIDEO tag for one purpose only: to
support Apple’s non-standard HTML browser and its denial of
third-party extensibility via APPLET, OBJECT, and EMBED.
And (b) Dowdell thinks
<video> is needed only for iOS devices, and (c) that MobileSafari is non-standards-compliant because it doesn’t support plugins like Flash. I.e. Flash is standard,
<video> is not, and we’ve always been at war with Eurasia.
(a) Might be true, (b) obviously is not, and (c) is pretty much the craziest thing I’ve read in a while.
But: we have an answer to my question about who’s happy about Chrome dropping H.264 support.
Google Says WebM Plugins Coming Soon for Safari and IE9 ★
But buried in their post is another interesting nugget worth
highlighting by itself: WebM plugins are coming shortly for Safari
This is both humorous and terrifying on a few levels. First and
foremost, the point of all of this H.264/WebM stuff is so that the
web can shift to an HTML5 video standard going forward. Of course,
since neither IE nor Safari will support Google’s, Mozilla’s,
and Opera’s preferred codec for that standard, we’re right
back to plugin land! Why don’t we just call WebM, Flash 2.0?
Ed Burnette: ‘Chrome Users Are the Latest Casualty in Google’s Crusade Against Apple’ ★
On paper, Google is taking a principled stand in favor of open
technologies. But they’re not really. First, WebM is not truly
an open technology because it almost certainly uses patents owned
by MPEG-LA or its members. Right now, the patent holders are
ignoring it because it’s too small to bother with. We’ve seen
this tactic many times before (for example, NTP vs. RIM): bide
your time until a lot of people are using the infringing software
and then hit it with a massive lawsuit for maximum profit. WebM
is its own patent trap, and Google refuses to indemnify users
against possible claims further down the road. If they were
certain it was IP-clean then why hesitate to provide that
protection? Clearly they don’t want that unknown, possibly large
liability on their balance sheet.
Google: ‘More About the Chrome HTML Video Codec Change’ ★
Mike Jazayeri, Google:
As it stands, the organizations involved in defining the HTML
video standard are at an impasse. There is no agreement on which
video codec should be the baseline standard. Firefox and Opera
support the open WebM and Ogg Theora codecs and will not support
H.264 due to its licensing requirements; Safari and IE9 support
H.264. With this status quo, all publishers and developers using
<video> tag will be forced to support multiple formats.
Or they’ll take the path of least resistance, and continue supporting only H.264, requiring Flash Player for browsers that don’t support H.264 natively.
Unsaid is that Apple and Microsoft are surely as unwilling to support WebM as Mozilla and Opera are to support H.264. The impasse is unchanged. However, with Firefox and Opera, users can still be served H.264 through Flash Player. With iOS and Windows Phone 7, users cannot be served WebM, because there are no plugins. (There could be plugins for Mac OS X and Windows 7, but aren’t yet.)
Q: Does this mean I will no longer be able to play H.264 videos
H.264 plays an important role in video and the vast majority of
the H.264 videos on the web today are viewed in plug-ins such as
Flash and Silverlight. These plug-ins are and will continue to
be supported in Chrome.
Thus, Chrome users will continue to be served most video, with the possible exception of YouTube, through Flash.
Our announcement was only related to the
<video> tag, which is part of the emerging HTML platform. While
the HTML video platform offers great promise, few sites use it
today and therefore few users will be immediately impacted by
And fewer sites will use HTML5
<video> than if Chrome had continued to support both H.264 and WebM. This move is about encouraging web video publishers to stick with Flash.
Girl Falls in Mall Fountain While Texting ★
Cue the Nelson Muntz “Ha-ha!”
Ten Changes Macworld Would Like to See at the Mac App Store ★
Pretty good list.
11 iPhone GPS Apps Compared ★
Terrific work from Glenn Fleishman for Macworld. These sort of comparisons are an essential resource.
Mike Arrington, Working for The Man ★
Jay Yarow reports on the intra-AOL spat between Mike Arrington and Engadget (which spat, shockingly, strikes me mostly as Arrington being a jackass).
Embrace, Extend, Extinguish ★
Matt Drance on Chrome and WebM:
Why dump H.264 entirely? Why not hedge your bets, especially if H.264 is working right now? Google says “our goal is to enable open innovation;” what it in fact means is “we prefer patents we own.”
Sarah Perez: ‘iPhone to Android: One Month With the Nexus S’ ★
Great review of life with a Nexus S from a former iPhone user. Matches my experiences with the Nexus S almost exactly. On battery life:
To prolong the battery life, I’ve learned to do this little dance
with my phone. Arrive somewhere, turn on GPS, check-in on
Foursquare, turn off GPS. Turn off Wi-Fi, if none present. Turn on
Wi-Fi when I get back home. Turn off Sync when I’m worried about
the battery draining too quickly and I’m far from home. Turn
everything off if the phone is going to sit around for a while,
unused. Turn Auto-Brightness on, turn it off. Turn 3G on, turn it
off. Over and over, I’m tapping the little Settings widget. […]
I asked my (non-tech savvy) husband who totes the Galaxy S if he
had the same problem. His response, and one I’ve seen echoed among
Android’s many fans, is that it’s “no big deal” to switch
something off if you’re not using it. “It’s like turning off the
lights when you leave the room,” my husband said. (I’m not good at
And the lack of iTunes for TV and movie content:
I have to say it frustrates me to no end when I hear Android users
say that you can duplicate the iTunes experience via apps. For
example, the Android Market, plus DoubleTwist and Spotify (or
Rdio, MOG, etc.) No you cannot. You cannot!
People who say this act as if the only things iTunes provides is
music and apps. They completely dismiss the large, and very
complete, collection of iTunes video content, for example. Where
do you find both current and older TV shows on Android? No
seriously, please explain where you’re getting this content.
BitTorrent? How do you watch movies? mSpot? Illegal torrents? My
guess is, Android users either torrent videos and copy them to
their phone or they don’t watch movies and TV shows at all, so the
thought doesn’t even cross their mind that Android lacks this
She’s got many positive things to say about it, too: superior Maps app, voice recognition, and she found replacements for many of her favorite iOS apps. But the battery life issue is something that doesn’t get enough attention. I couldn’t get through a whole day on a single charge with the Nexus S. That’s not a problem with the iPhone 4.
The Strange Disappearance of Dancho Danchev ★
Zero Day blogger and malware researcher Dancho Danchev has gone
missing since August last year and we have some troubling
information that suggests he may have been harmed in his native
Last month, we finally got a mysterious message from a local
source in Bulgaria that “Dancho’s alive but he’s in a lot
of trouble.” We were told that he’s in the kind of trouble to
keep him away from a computer and telephone, so it would be
impossible to make contact with him.
Dan Frommer: ‘Android Hasn’t Been Hurting the iPhone, It’s Been Hurting RIM’ ★
App Store 10 Billion App Countdown ★
True story. Tomorrow is my son’s birthday, and his first-grade class has a “birthday circle” at lunch on Fridays for birthday celebrants. Parents are invited, so my wife and I had lunch today with some first graders. The main topic of discussion: games for the iPod Touch — and it wasn’t me who brought it up. First graders, obsessed with apps.
Charlie Wolf: Verizon iPhone Will ‘Suck the Wind Out of Android’s Growth’ ★
“The installed base of smartphone subscribers is a small
percentage of the installed based of mobile phone subscribers in
the U.S.,” Needham and Co. analyst Charlie Wolf told me. “Just
23 percent of Verizon’s 83 million post-paid subs (Q3
release)…. Where the iPhone will have a dramatic impact is on the
brand choices of feature phone users migrating to smartphones
going forward. The iPhone will suck the wind out of Android’s
growth on Verizon.”
One thing I’ve been thinking about in this regard is that no matter how cheap Android handsets get, the monthly plans are still the biggest cost. And check out this screenshot from Verizon Wireless’s home page — they list three categories of phones: iPhone, Smartphones, Feature Phones. That says it all.
The Talk Show, Episode 24 ★
It feels like I’ve had a fairly prolific week here on DF, but even so, I haven’t written much, at least yet, about the Verizon iPhone announcement. One reason is that Dan Benjamin and I talked about it at length on this week’s The Talk Show. Other topics: Google’s decision to drop H.264 support from Chrome, and the first James Bond movie, 1962’s Dr. No.
Brought to you by two fine sponsors: Sourcebits and Campaign Monitor.
Branding Should Have a Backbone ★
The point here is that more companies should do what Comedy
Central did when they launched their new look. They gave people
the reason(s) behind the move in a way that resonated with who
they were and basically told people to deal with it.
The Hardware Choice Trade-Off ★
Marco Arment makes the case that the plethora of Android devices has numerous downsides. One point of several:
The manufacturers and carriers have very little incentive to
maintain the software on devices that are still relatively new and
under contract, because they want everyone buying the newest ones
instead. We’re already seeing carriers and some manufacturers
refusing to release new Android versions to handsets that were
launched as recently as 6 months ago, even though most users
bought them with 2-year contracts.
He also mentions the lack of cases for any individual Android phone, compared to the iPhone, where there are just two form factors covering the last three years of iPhones: 3G/3GS, and 4. Update: Maybe two-and-a-half form factors, given the slightly different positioning of the mute toggle on the just-announced CDMA iPhone 4. But still.
Apple, News Corp. Delay ‘The Daily’ iPad Publication ★
Apple and News Corp. have made a joint decision to push back next
week’s planned launch, according to sources familiar with the
companies’ plans. The delay is supposed to give Apple time to
tweak its new subscription service for publications sold through
its iTunes platform.
“Weeks, not months”, say his sources.
Peter Bright: ‘Google’s Dropping H.264 From Chrome a Step Backward for Openness’ ★
Video distributors wanting to support both Flash and HTML5 users
will have to encode twice; once in H.264, for Flash users, and
again in WebM, for HTML5 users. This doubles the computational
cost, doubles the storage requirements, and as an added bonus will
tend to hurt quality. This is inconvenient for a small site with
one or two videos; for sites like SmugMug it’s an enormous
headache. They can either suffer the doubled costs and complexity,
or ignore HTML5 altogether and stick with Flash.
It looks like sticking with Flash and ignoring
<video> is indeed
what SmugMug may end up doing. And who can blame them? Flash
works for almost every Internet user, and Flash supports H.264.
Practical vs. idealistic thinking.
Claim Chowder: Joe Wilcox on Verizon and Apple ★
Joe Wilcox, on Saturday:
Verizon isn’t AT&T. The United States’ largest cellular carrier
isn’t accustomed to taking crap from handset manufacturers.
Verizon controls everything on its network and is quick to
customize handsets with its software and services. […] Perhaps
18 months ago, Verizon would have ceded more to Apple
I’ll leave the claim chowder rundown to commenter “iphonedroidberry”:
So, to recap, here is how Verizon “takes no crap from suppliers”,
and how Verizon “is in the driver’s seat”, and how Verizon “won’t
cow before Jobs” and how Verizon “set the terms of the deal”:
a) no V-cast software
b) no Verizon software/bloatware/crapware (of their own or of
c) no Verizon selling of games music or apps
d) no Verizon branding on the hardware
e) no Verizon control of software/firmware or updates
f) no Verizon control of scheduling of release dates for software
g) NO exclusivity deal for a USA CDMA version of iPhone
Beyond those tiny little things, if you overlook items a thru g,
yes, Verizon is definitely wearing the pants in the Apple/Verizon
Jon Stewart on the Verizon iPhone ★
Seven-minute sketch on The Daily Show, all about the Verizon iPhone and how shitty AT&T is. This is what I mean about this being bigger news than all phone-related news at CES combined.
(Ironically and alas, the video requires Flash Player.)
What Is an App? ★
I’ve been thinking about this question a lot over the past year.
It may sound silly, given the ubiquity of the word, but despite
all the “apps” on our phones and webpages and other devices, I’m
not sure we have a good sense of what it means, or what that
I disagree with his analogy at the end of the piece, but it’s a thoughtful take, and I do agree with his basic premise: that there’s something deeper going on than a mere shortening of “application”.
Linguists Vote ‘App’ Word of the Year ★
The tech slang “app” was voted the 2010 “Word of the Year” Friday
by the American Dialect Society, beating out Cookie Monster’s
“nom, nom, nom, nom.”
The shortened slang term for a computer or smart phone application
was picked by the linguists group as the word that best sums up
the country’s preoccupation last year.
I don’t think there can be any argument that Apple pioneered this usage, but it’s still just a word. That’s what we call computer applications now: apps. “Apps”, no matter who coined it, are not specific to Apple platforms.
But: Apple’s trademark application isn’t for just plain “app”. They’re asking for a trademark on “app store”. There’s a department store chain with a registered trademark for “Christmas Tree Shops”. “The Container Store” is a registered trademark. Given those, could Apple get “The App Store”?
But: I would think that I could open a store called “The Gruber Container Store”, or “The Daring Fireball Christmas Tree Shop”. I suspect that what Apple wants to block with this trademark application is something like “WebOS App Store” or “Windows Phone App Store”. So the more I think about it, the more I think Microsoft is right, that Apple shouldn’t be granted a trademark on just plain “app store”. It’s true that Microsoft has a trademark for “Windows”, but they aren’t selling actual windows. Whereas Apple’s App Store is a literal store for apps.
‘Make It Better’ ★
Fun little typographic animation by Climent Canal and Sebastián Baptista.
Six-Year Google Trends Chart for ‘App’ ★
There’s a decided spike in mid-2008, and a steady climb ever since. And if you check the trend for “app store”, it doesn’t even exist as a common search term until mid-2008.
I don’t know whether “app store” should be trademarkable. I’m leaning toward no, that it is too generic, and that they should only be granted trademarks for Something App Store — Mac App Store, iOS App Store, iTunes App Store, etc. But a lot of companies have gotten trademarks for pretty generic words when they’re used in a specific context. Steve Jobs has been using the word “app” for as long as I remember, easily back to the NeXT years. I remember thinking it always sounded awkward, too cutesy, whenever he said it, because it wasn’t in common usage.
Microsoft Seeks to Block Apple ‘App Store’ Trademark ★
The company says the term is too generic and competitors should be
able to use it.
“An ‘app store’ is an ‘app store’,” said Russell Pangborn,
Microsoft’s associate general counsel. “Like ‘shoe store’ or ‘toy
store’, it is a generic term that is commonly used by companies,
governments and individuals that offer apps.”
“The term ‘app store’ should continue to be available for use by
all without fear of reprisal by Apple.”
I agree. Just like the generic term “Windows”. Or “Office”. Update: See this piece for further, better-reasoned thoughts on this.
President Obama’s Speech at the Memorial in Arizona ★
A very good speech. (It’s encoded using H.264, both wrapped in Flash and as a direct download. Still looking for the WebM-encoded download link.)
Ed Bott on Google’s H.264 / WebM Decision ★
Bott on H.264:
There’s no royalty trap. The fear implicit in this entire
argument is that when the H.264 license has to be renewed in
2016, MPEG LA will unconscionably raise those rates. If that fear
were legitimate, would more than 800 companies, including Google,
have already decided to license H.264? Maybe they actually read
the license agreement, which specifies that “the License will be
renewable for successive five-year periods for the life of any
Portfolio patent on reasonable terms and conditions. … [F]or the
protection of licensees, royalty rates applicable to specific
license grants or specific licensed products will not increase by
more than ten percent (10%) at each renewal.”
So the most the rates can go up is 10 percent, once every five years. Yet many of the supporters of Chrome and Mozilla’s position on H.264 vs. WebM cite “uncertain future licensing” terms as a primary reason. Don’t buy it.
Who’s Afraid of the Verizon iPhone? ★
Marco Arment, commenting on this fine piece from Watts Martin:
Whenever I’ve overheard conversations about smartphones in real
life, by “normal people” (not geeks like us), it has always
been clear that the true battle happening in the U.S. phone market
wasn’t iPhone versus Android, but iPhone versus Verizon.
The decision that people were discussing wasn’t “Do I get an
iPhone or an Android whatever?”
It was always “Do I get an iPhone or do I stay on Verizon?”
I get the feeling that very few people except anti-Apple geeks
really care about Android itself.
I concur. We’ll soon see.
BGR: ‘Apple Will Remove Home Button on Next iPad and iPhone’ ★
On the other hand, Jonathan Geller reports:
Our source said Apple employees are already testing iPads and
iPhones with no home buttons on the Apple campus, and it’s
possible we will see this new change materialize with the
next-generation iPad and iPhone devices set to launch this year.
We’ll see, I guess. How in the world would you get home on an iPhone using a five-finger pinch while holding it in one hand? The iPad seems like a “maybe”, but I find it really hard to imagine a Home-button-less iPhone. And even with the iPad, what about people who don’t have five fingers on one hand? No iPad for them? The iPad is very popular with impaired users. What about taking screenshots?
Can the New iOS 4.3 Switching Gestures Obviate the Home Button? ★
A bunch of DF readers on Twitter are wondering whether the new four-finger gestures in today’s iOS 4.3 developer beta suggest that Apple might remove the Home button from future iOS hardware. I think not.
These gestures do mean that you don’t have to use the Home button. But there’s a serious discoverability problem with them. The physical Home button is impossible to miss. That it is the one and only button on the faces of these devices is a big part of why normal people are able to pick them up, start playing with them, and figure out how to get around with no help. How in the world would a normal person figure out or guess that they need to do a “five-finger pinch” to get back to the home screen?
I’m not saying these are bad gestures. But they’re like keyboard shortcuts on the Mac. For any command you expect normal people to actually find and use, there needs to be a visual way to find it. You can add a keyboard shortcut for expert users to memorize, but you can’t have only a keyboard shortcut. Same with these gestures. Oh, and the same goes for double-tapping the Home button to bring up the switching tray. Most people don’t even know about that. They don’t need to. They just tap once and switch between apps using the regular Home screen.
I don’t think the iOS Home button is going anywhere.
Manton Reece on the App Store’s 30 Percent Cut ★
Smart piece from Manton Reece on the frustrations developers face dealing with the App Store:
Apple provides a unique service and it’s their right to charge
whatever they want. Developers can choose to pay it or restrict
development to more open platforms. I’m inclined to think the 30%
is high but not unreasonable for everything Apple hopes to
But here’s where everything breaks down: for $3000 I expect
someone at Apple to tell me what the $%!# is going on.
It’s not just review times, or emails that go into the void,
unanswered for days or weeks or ever. It’s that Apple isn’t able
to communicate about the fundamental issues that will make or
If you know Manton like I do, you realize how frustrated he is to use a strong word like “$%!#”. One concrete problem Manton faced: his excellent Clipstart spent seven weeks in the approval queue for the Mac App Store, with no feedback regarding why. The good news: it finally hit the Mac App Store today. (Seriously, check it out; I use Clipstart for storing all the personal video I shoot.)
Apple Seeds iOS 4.3 Beta to Developers ★
Highlights: personal Wi-Fi hotspot for tethering (i.e., what Apple showed at the Verizon event yesterday was in no way exclusive to Verizon), wider support for AirPlay streaming, an option to restore the iPad’s side toggle to a rotation lock, and new system-wide gestures for app switching.
Windows Everywhere ★
Good piece by Paul Thurrott on the “Windows Everywhere” philosophy that is ruining Microsoft:
In fact, in a Q&A last week, Ballmer said that the future was mainstream Windows, running on a variety of devices, including smartphones, tablets, set-top boxes, traditional PCs, and servers. If you’re a Windows Phone advocate, as I am, that has to give you pause. If you’re a potential Windows Phone customer, in fact, it should make you question the future of this platform beyond your two-year wireless network commitment.
I, along with many others, have wondered why Microsoft named Windows Phone 7 “Windows”. It doesn’t look or act anything like Windows (the PC OS) or the old Windows Mobile. It feels like something brand new, that deserves a new name. I’m wondering now if they called it “Windows Phone” because calling it “Windows” Something was the only way they could get it approved by Ballmer.
An Open Letter From the President of the United States of Google ★
Tim Sneath equates WebM with Esperanto.
Short Answer to a Simple Question ★
The Macalope answers my “Who is happy about this?” question.
“Znu”, on Slashdot:
This serves two strategic purposes for Google. First, it advances
a codec that’s de facto controlled by Google at the expense of a
codec that is a legitimate open standard controlled by a
multi-vendor governance process managed by reputable international
standards bodies. (“Open source” != “open standard”.) And second,
it will slow the transition to HTML5 and away from Flash by
creating more confusion about which codec to use for HTML5 video,
which benefits Google by hurting Apple (since Apple doesn’t want
to support Flash), but also sucks for users.
Don’t be evil.
This Week’s Cover of The Stranger ★
On Android 2.3’s Web Browser’s Support for HTML5 and Mobile Web Apps ★
The new browser does not support any of the promised and expected
features. It seems to be the same browser with some minor core
updates, such as support for better exception handling with new
object constructors like SyntaxException, EvalError or URIError.
There is still no support for SVG, Animated GIF, Web Sockets or
other HTML5 stuff (besides HTML5 compatibility in 2.2). And there
is no support for Device Motion, accelerometer, camera or speech
support, as promised in Google IO (see video1 — starting at
6:00 — and video2).
Apple’s “closed” iOS web browser has better support for mobile web apps than Google’s “open” Android browser. I’ll bet Google closes that gap eventually, but it’s curious that they haven’t yet.
John Nack: Flash Player 10.2 Video Playback to Be ‘Dramatically More Efficient’ ★
John Nack (a month ago, but relevant today with the news about Chrome dropping native H.264 support):
Good news, though: the new Flash Player 10.2 (download the
beta) offers a new, video-playback-optimized mode called Stage
Video. Building on top of the GPU acceleration added earlier
this year, Stage Video can:
leverage complete hardware acceleration of the video rendering
pipeline, from video decoding to scaling/blitting, enabling
best-in-class playback performance. Stage Video can dramatically
decrease processor usage and enables higher frame rates, reduced
memory usage, and greater pixel fidelity and quality.
Color me skeptical, but we’ll see how it works in practice when it’s out of beta.
Tablet vs. Slate vs. iPad ★
MacHoopla on the search frequency for “tablet”, “slate”, and “iPad” over the past year.
(Cf. Marco Arment’s “There Really Isn’t Much of a ‘Tablet’ Market” piece from two weeks ago.)
Moved Mute Switch on CDMA iPhone 4 Means Bumpers, and Many Cases, Won’t Fit ★
Some cases just have a big opening for the volume buttons and mute switch, and should fit fine. But oddly, Apple’s own bumpers won’t fit — they have a very precise opening for the mute switch. I think that’s a good sign that this final design for the CDMA iPhone was completed after the GSM iPhone 4 shipped.
Update: 9 to 5 Mac reports:
[…] an Apple spokesperson told us that Apple will be slightly
updating their iPhone 4 case to support the Verizon version’s
new control placement too.
Next: CDMA iPad for Verizon ★
Greg Bensinger, Bloomberg:
Verizon will get an embedded chip in the iPad for use on its
network, Francis Shammo, chief financial officer of Verizon
Communications Inc., the parent of the wireless unit, said today
in an interview in New York. iPad users currently need an extra
device to connect to Verizon’s network. Shammo declined to say
when the change may happen.
This was published by Bloomberg at 2:09pm. My guess is that Shammo got a phone call from Apple about keeping his mouth shut around, oh, 2:10 or so.
Jonathan Geller: ‘Why I’m Switching to the Verizon iPhone: I Need a Phone’ ★
Curiously, AT&T hasn’t retweeted this one yet.
Twitter introduced a new feature last month without telling anyone
about it, and the rest of the tech world should take note and come
up with its own version of it.
Twitter beta-tested a spine.
Google Dropping Support for H.264 in Chrome ★
Mike Jazayeri, Chrome product manager:
We expect even more rapid innovation in the web media platform in
the coming year and are focusing our investments in those
technologies that are developed and licensed based on open web
principles. To that end, we are changing Chrome’s HTML5
<video> support to make it consistent with the codecs already
supported by the open Chromium project. Specifically, we are
supporting the WebM (VP8) and Theora video codecs, and will
consider adding support for other high-quality open codecs in the
future. Though H.264 plays an important role in video, as our goal
is to enable open innovation, support for the codec will be
removed and our resources directed towards completely open codec
A bold move, to be sure. H.264 is widely used. WebM and Theora aren’t. Perhaps this move will push more publishers toward serving video encoded with WebM. The big problem WebM has versus H.264 is that there are hardware decoders for H.264. This is key for mobile devices. It’s the hardware video decoding that allows mobile devices to get such long battery life and smooth performance for video playback. There’s no way publishers can drop H.264. To support Chrome, they’d have to add WebM-encoded versions of each video.
My bet is that this is just going to push publishers toward forcing Chrome users to use Flash for video playback — and that the video that gets sent to Flash Player will be encoded as H.264. Google can fix this for YouTube on its own, and admittedly, that covers an awful lot of web video. But I think everywhere else, H.264 will continue to dominate, and instead of getting native playback, Chrome users will get playback through Flash. This should be great for Chrome OS laptop battery life.
Update: Here’s a thought. If Google is dropping support for H.264 because their “goal is to enable open innovation”, why don’t they also drop support for closed plugins like Flash Player? As it stands now, Chrome not only supports Flash, it ships with its own embedded copy of Flash. I don’t see how Google keeps Flash but drops H.264 in the name of “openness” without being seen as utter hypocrites.
Are Any Verizon Apps Preinstalled on the Verizon iPhone? (Spoiler: No.) ★
From Verizon’s iPhone FAQ:
Q: Will any Verizon Wireless apps be available on iPhone?
iPhone will have the 3G Mobile Hotspot app pre-installed, and it
will also have other popular apps available in the market such as
VZ Navigator, and V CAST Media Manager.
Where by “iPhone will have the 3G Mobile Hotspot app pre-installed”, they mean, “You can configure the mobile hotspot using the tethering preferences in the built-in Settings app.” Ars Technica reports:
Apple’s own Phil Schiller assured the press that Verizon would not
be loading up the device with crapware, too. “We want the
experience to be the same for every iPhone user. So there are no
special Verizon Apps preinstalled,” Schiller told Ars. “AT&T
offers customers some apps via the App Store. I’ll let Verizon
comment if they are working on anything for that.”
I.e., the Verizon iPhone is just another iPhone 4. No logos on the hardware. No preloaded apps from the carrier.
iPhone 4 on Verizon Will Offer Mobile Hotspot Pairing ★
On AT&T, the iPhone only offers tethering for one device over USB or Bluetooth. Verizon’s hotspot feature will support up to 5 Wi-Fi clients.
The crazy thing is, though, Verizon didn’t announce pricing info for iPhone data plans. No word on what standard plans will cost, no word on what tethering will cost.
Engadget’s Live Coverage From Verizon’s iPhone Event ★
Here’s the bottom line, of what was a very brief event:
- It’s the same iPhone 4, except it uses CDMA.
- It will work better on Verizon than AT&T because Verizon’s network is better.
I’m not saying that’s true. I’m just saying that’s the message from the event.
From the post-announcement Q&A, which included Apple COO Tim Cook:
Q: Why didn’t you go the LTE route?
Tim: Two reasons — the first gen LTE chipsets force design
changes we wouldn’t make. And Verizon customers told us they want
the iPhone now. I can’t tell you the number of times we’ve been
asked ‘when will it work on Verizon.’
Q: Will it be on a one year refresh cycle?
Tim: We don’t comment on that.
Q: Can you address how many you’ll manufacture in the 1st year?
Tim: I’m not going to get into our forecast. I think it’s fair to
say that both of us think there’s tremendous opportunity.
Apple: iPhone 4 — Available on Verizon February 10 ★
“Qualified Verizon Wireless customers will also have the exclusive opportunity to pre-order iPhone 4 online on February 3, ahead of general availability.”
‘For All Our Failings, Despite Our Limitations and Fallibilities, We Humans Are Capable of Greatness’ ★
Today seems like the right time to relink this wonderful short film by Michael Marantz, based on an excerpt from Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot. (Thanks to Chris Henslin for the suggestion.)
As I watched, my wife was in the next room helping our son count past 200, higher than he’d ever counted before.
Not Helping ★
This part of “The Left” is not tying Sarah Palin or trying to
pin blame on her (yet) to the heinous assassination attempt and
murders this Saturday past. This part of “The Left” wants to
have a conversation about the tone and is using Sarah Palin’s
recent violent imagery and language as an example to start that
Right can point the finger back all they want, but we’re not
the ones putting crosshairs on peoples’ backs and telling
people to reload.
PerversionTracker Returns (Again) ★
Oh, this should be good:
Awoken from our slumber by the ungodly appsplosion of the past few years, we emerge to do battle once again with the forces of mediocrity.
Here’s my personal favorite from the PT archives.
AT&T’s official Twitter account retweets a post from BGR titled “Why I’m not switching to the Verizon iPhone: Need for speed”.
SmallWorks BrickCase for iPhone 4 ★
What a great idea: a Lego-compatible iPhone case. I’ve never regularly used a case to hold my iPhones, but I received one of these in the mail from SmallWorks last week (black, of course), and it’s the first case I kept on my iPhone for an extended period of time. It fits great on the phone, and bricks fit great on the case. My six-year-old Lego-obsessed son went nuts for it. You have to love their slogan: “Brick your phone.”
You can order them from Amazon for just $20.
Joe Wilcox: ‘Why Verizon Won’t Let Apple Announce iPhone’ ★
Joe Wilcox on why Verizon didn’t announce its iPhone deal last week at CES:
It’s not that Verizon wasn’t allowed, the carrier didn’t want to take away from other new handsets on its network before they were announced — that’s the more sensible conclusion. This week Verizon announced some of the hottest Android handsets available on any US carrier — from HTC, Motorola and Samsung.
Right. And which of those phones is front-page newspaper news? Which are the ones people will line up around the block for on day one?
Verizon isn’t AT&T. The United States’ largest cellular carrier isn’t accustomed to taking crap from handset manufacturers. Verizon controls everything on its network and is quick to customize handsets with its software and services. AT&T is different, or was when Apple launched the original iPhone in June 2007. AT&T made lots of concessions to get iPhone, such as granting Apple control over the software and updates.
Does Wilcox think Verizon will have any control over the iPhone’s software and updates? Does he think there’s going to be a Verizon logo stamped on the hardware?
(To be clear, I don’t think there’s any conflict between Apple and Verizon over this announcement. I think both companies
are happy to have it hosted by Verizon in New York. Why would Verizon prefer to announce it tomorrow rather than last week at CES? Easy. More publicity and attention this way. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that the iPhone coming to Verizon is bigger news than all phone-related news at CES combined. Maybe even all of CES combined.)
‘Dive Into HTML5’ Stats ★
Mark Pilgrim, on the analytics for the web edition of his Dive Into HTML5 website:
98.7% of the search engine traffic came from Google. Less than 1% came from Bing. The rest came from search engines that I didn’t know still existed.
John Gruber sent me three times as much traffic as Bing.
Let’s make it more: Dive Into HTML5 is a remarkably good book. Detailed, comprehensive, and carefully written. Pilgrim is a natural teacher.
Another neat stat: despite the popularity of the free web edition, the print edition from O’Reilly is selling very well, too. (Perhaps it’s selling well because of the free web edition.)
Mutual Mobile ★
My thanks to Mutual Mobile for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Mutual Mobile is a large mobile consulting firm based in the U.S., and has multiple job opportunities — they’re looking for experienced mobile designers, developers, and project managers. Clients include Google, Audi, and Beatport, and their website features example work from many more. The company plans to add about 100 employees this year; check out Mutual Mobile’s jobs page to apply.
Intel Exec at CES: Microsoft’s Tablet OS Too Long in Coming ★
Translation: “Fuck me? No, fuck you.”
CoverSutra Now Exclusively Available on the Mac App Store ★
Another Mac app that’s gone App Store exclusive. This one’s not a hit with existing users though, because Sophiestication previously promised “free upgrades until version 3”.
“A continually spamming collection of unanswered questions created, edited and organised by no-one who uses it.”
The Future of Mac App Store Installs ★
Daniel Jalkut pokes behind the scenes of the Mac App Store installation process, and finds some interesting stuff:
What’s most interesting about all this is that there is clearly
an infrastructure in place for allowing a wide variation of
behaviors, all centering around the multi-purpose Buy/Installed
button in the App Store.
Nokia’s Ovi App Store ★
Step 1: Click on an app. Any app, just pick one.
You’re going to love step 2.
Verizon Sends Invitations to Press Event in New York Next Week ★
The horrendous JPEG compression on the invitation nicely conveys the sense that the carriers can’t do anything right.
It doesn’t say anything about the iPhone, but trust me, this is the iPhone-on-Verizon announcement. One tell: Gizmodo didn’t get an invitation.
TapeDeck Goes Exclusive to the Mac App Store ★
TapeDeck’s customers have made it clear to me that licensing and
demo limitations are the largest blemish on TapeDeck’s
reputation. I am so glad to finally offer an improved solution for
customers from now on.
I am also looking forward to a better track record for product
updates in the field. Many customers requesting support appear to
still be using older copies of the software, having chosen to
disable the automatic Sparkle updates. I can only assume that the
Mac App Store will make this a better experience by offering
system-wide update checking.
Free updates to the 1.x product will continue for paid customers
of TapeDeck. It means a bit of extra maintenance on my part, but I
will do my best to keep my existing customers happy.
TapeDeck is a great app — with the sort of look-and-feel that makes you think it was designed with the App Store in mind all along. I suspect it’ll do well there.
BlackBerry PlayBook Has No Built-In Email or Calendaring ★
The question is: Who, besides BlackBerry users, is going to want
to buy it? The core email and calendar apps are completely
tethered to a BlackBerry. Without your BlackBerry, there is no
native email or calendar app—just access through the (admittedly
good) web browser.
Here’s my question. Is RIM doing it this way simply as a stop-gap measure? I.e., perhaps they want to get this to market as fast as possible, and requiring a tethered BlackBerry for email and calendaring saved them time. In that scenario, eventually, the PlayBook will have built-in email and calendaring and won’t require a tethered BlackBerry phone for anything. If so, this strikes me as a reasonable 1.0 compromise.
Or, does RIM actually think this is a good idea? If so, they’re lost.
Pixelmator Goes Exclusive to Mac App Store ★
If you want to download Pixelmator, the popular image editing
software for the Mac, the Web site will push you to the Mac App
Store. The developers have taken the bold move of announcing that
the Mac App Store is becoming their exclusive sales channel.
That is bold. Has anyone else done this?
If I Bought Your App Already Can I Update It Through the Mac App Store? ★
Bookmark this one.
Without Proper Code Validation, Mac App Store Downloads Are Easily Bootlegged ★
Copy the App Store receipt from any legit Mac App Store download — including from any free app — and paste it into a bootleg download of Angry Birds, and it’ll run.
This isn’t true for all paid Mac App Store apps. For apps that follow Apple’s advice on validating App Store receipts, this simple technique will not work. But, alas, it appears that many apps don’t perform any validation whatsoever, or do so incorrectly, like Angry Birds. (Angry Birds checks for a valid receipt, but doesn’t check to see that the bundle ID for the receipt matches its own bundle ID.)
Apple should test for this in the review process, and reject paid apps that are susceptible to this simple technique.
Samsung’s CES 2011 Keynote ★
Samsung may be copying a bunch of things from Apple, but they’re sure doing some original work in terms of keynote presentation style. Choose “oldest first” in the sorting options, so you can read it chronologically.
Mark Alldritt on Find and Replace User Interfaces ★
The old way (e.g. TextEdit) is to have a separate find/replace window. The new way (e.g. Safari) is to do it inline, in a shallow horizontal bar atop the content area. The problem with the old way is that the Find window covers the content. The problem with the new way is that there isn’t much room for additional search controls. Mark Alldritt has some good ideas here. (Via John Siracusa, with whom I agree, as usual.)
Florida Professor Arrested for Having a ‘Suspicious’ Bagel on a Plane ★
Todd Wright, reporting for NBC Miami:
A Florida professor was arrested and removed from a plane
Monday after his fellow passengers alerted crew members they
thought he had a suspicious package in the overhead compartment.
That “suspicious package” turned out to be keys, a bagel with
cream cheese and a hat. Ognjen Milatovic, 35, was flying from
Boston to Washington D.C. on US Airways when he was escorted
off the plane for disorderly conduct following the incident.
“Suspicious Bagels” would be a good name for a bagel store. (Thanks to DF reader Collin Bennett.)
‘Read the Fucking HIG’ ★
Best new site of the day: a collection of terrible UI design from the Mac App Store. Brings to mind the greatness of Ladd Van Tol’s old PerversionTracker.
Bloomberg: Apple Said to Have Approached Blackstone’s Laurence Tosi to Becoming CFO ★
C-level executive intrigue. Bloomberg reports:
Apple Inc. approached Blackstone Group LP Chief Financial Officer
Laurence Tosi to become its finance chief, three people with
knowledge of the matter said.
Tosi told Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman that he plans to stay,
rather than join Apple, said two of the people, who asked not to
be identified because the talks were private. Steve Dowling, a
spokesman for Apple, said the company is “not conducting a CFO
search.” Current CFO Peter Oppenheimer “loves the company and
is extremely happy in his role,” Dowling said.
Why might Apple have approached Tosi? Maybe they’re getting ready to spend some dough:
Tosi, 42, would have brought Apple more experience with corporate
acquisitions. Blackstone, the world’s largest private equity
firm, made more than 30 purchases last year, according to
Bloomberg data. Apple made four, the data show.
Remember when Apple was on the cusp of acquiring AdMob, but the deal somehow got blown at the last moment and Google was able to swoop in and snatch them? The explanation I’ve heard is that the negotiations between Apple and AdMob were slowed down because they had to go through Steve Jobs — and he’s busy. So I suspect Apple is looking for someone specifically to focus on M&A.
The Mac App Store by the Numbers ★
Richard Gaywood’s detailed analysis of the kinds and prices of apps that debuted in the Mac App Store:
As you can see, apps broadly fall into a few pricing categories.
Almost half of the apps in the Mac App Store are in the
cheap-and-free sub-$5 bracket; an informal survey reveals a lot
of ports of iOS games falling into this area. There’s then a bit
of a no-mans-land between $5-10; then huge numbers of apps in
the $10-50 brackets. Again, informally surveying the store,
these appear to be mostly traditional Mac software packages that
have been ported over to the store and broadly maintained their
How Your Tablet Can Compete With iPad ★
Great piece from Andy Ihnatko:
I’m a slave to my readers and I want them to have a wide gene
pool of terrific hardware to select from. So I’m willing to
explain to ASUS, Motorola, HP, RIM, and every other company how to
build a slate that can answer the question “But why would I buy
this instead of an iPad?”
Sony Ericsson: No OS Updates for Xperia X10 Beyond Android 2.1 ★
Vlad Savov for Engadget:
The farce that has been Sony Ericsson’s bungled, delayed, and
deservedly maligned Android upgrade story for the Xperia X10
family is coming to a fittingly silly end. Questioned by Android
Community on the possibility of a Froyo (Android 2.2) upgrade for
its initial set of Android handsets, the SE team has just come out
and admitted that there’ll be no future OS upgrades, at least in
terms of Android iterations.
It was only released in the U.S. in August — five months ago.
Google Confirms Android Bug Where SMS Messages Are Sent to the Wrong People ★
These two bugs have been in the news this week:
When some users tap to open a message in the Messaging
application, they’re seeing a different message appear instead. We
don’t believe this issue is affecting many users, but we’ve
developed a fix that we’re preparing to deploy. Of course,
double-checking the displayed message before hitting “Send” will
prevent any messages from being sent to the wrong recipients.
We’ve found in testing this issue, it is more likely to occur if
you tap on a message before the Messaging app is fully loaded, so
we recommend waiting for all the elements to load before clicking
on the message you want to display.
Separately, some users have reported that their SMS messages are
being delivered to the wrong people. It took us some time to
reproduce this issue, as it appears that it’s only occurring very
rarely. Even so, we’ve now managed to both reproduce it and
develop a fix that we will deploy.
This is where the slow deployment of Android OS updates to non-Nexus phones matters.
And if you enjoy the taste of claim chowder, you might like Chuck Falzone’s piece on the AndroidGuys blog from a few days ago: “The ‘Android SMS Bug’ Does Not Exist”. (Hint: “I don’t see the bug” doesn’t mean “the bug does not exist”.)
(Insert your own “Well, at least the Android alarm clock app worked on January 2” neener-neener here, if you wish.)
Restoring Angry Birds Saved Game Data ★
Christopher Breen on how to move your Angry Birds saved game data from an iOS device to the Mac, for use with the new Mac version of the game. PhoneView is a great utility for this sort of jiggery-pokery.
Panic (Inc.) on the Mac App Store ★
Cabel Sasser on what it’s like for existing Mac apps that are now in the App Store:
PS: If you’re a current customer, there’s no way to convert
a previous purchase into a Mac App Store purchase — that
requires a re-buy. But remember, what you have now will
continue to work just fine.
UPDATE: The Mac App Store may show software bought from us
previously as “Installed”, even though they’re two different
licenses. You will not get Mac App Store auto-updates unless you
purchase from the Mac App Store. To re-enable the “Purchase”
button in the Mac App Store, just drag the app to the trash. Your
preferences/sites will not be affected.
In other words, for apps that use the same bundle ID for both the Mac App Store and non-App Store versions, the Mac App Store will not install updates to already-installed non-App Store versions, but it will recognize them as being already installed. If you want to get updates via the Mac App Store, you’ll have to re-buy the app through the App Store.
Update: Daniel Jalkut (of Red Sweater Software) tweets:
Notes from support-land: the presence of some apps as “Installed”
is making customers believe they are fully integrated into [Mac
Which kind of makes sense. If the Mac App Store “sees” the existing app, why not assume it’ll provide updates for it, too?
Again, Why the First iPhone for Verizon Won’t Use LTE ★
Another stream of emails today, in the wake of that leaked new iPhone enclosure yesterday, asking if maybe the SIM card slot means that the initial iPhone for Verizon will use LTE. I covered this back in August:
The whole point of expanding to Verizon is to gain market share in
the U.S. It’s about high-volume iPhone sales, coast to coast. A
big part of the reason there’s so much demand for a Verizon
iPhone is that so many people aren’t satisfied with AT&T’s
coverage and quality. Even if their LTE rollout goes exactly as
planned — a big “if” — LTE is going to be a niche
technology in January, available in a few dozen cities. There may
well be tens of million of Verizon customers in those cities, but
Apple would want a Verizon iPhone to be aimed squarely at all
Verizon customers. The message: “Everyone waiting for a Verizon
iPhone: here it is.”
The original EDGE iPhone is also a good example of Apple’s
relatively conservative pace of adoption of cell network
technology. AT&T (née Cingular) already offered 3G service when
the iPhone was announced. But coverage wasn’t widespread, and
Apple was concerned about its effect on battery life.
LTE is untested, has spotty coverage, and consumes more power. There will be LTE iPhones eventually, but not soon. Trust me, take it to the bank: the upcoming Verizon iPhone won’t be LTE. I don’t even think the second iPhone to hit Verizon will use it.
‘I Expect to Make the Best Movie Ever Made’ ★
Letters of Note has a 1971 unfinished draft from Stanley Kubrick to MGM about Napoleon:
- It’s impossible to tell you what I’m going to do except to say
that I expect to make the best movie ever made.
And they’ve got a letter from Audrey Hepburn to Kubrick, politely turning down his offer to play Josephine. Imagine that. (Via Coudal.)
Horace Dediu on the Real News From CES ★
At this year’s CES two unthinkable things happened:
- The abandonment of Windows exclusivity by practically all of
Microsoft’s OEM customers.
- The abandonment of Intel exclusivity by Microsoft for the next
generation of Windows.
Many of Microsoft’s customers chose to use an OS product from
Microsoft’s arch enemy. Some chose to roll their own. Microsoft,
in turn, chose to port its OS to an architecture from Intel’s
These actions confirm the end of the PC era.
My new favorite Mac Twitter client.
AT&T Cuts Price on iPhone 3GS to $49 ★
A low-end iPhone is the only advantage AT&T has left against Verizon, and even that will only last for six months or so. Here’s how I see it playing out: Verizon starts selling the iPhone 4 at the end of this month or early February. It costs the same as it does on AT&T, $199/299 for 16/32 GB models. Then come June or July, when Apple releases the 2011 iPhone, it debuts on both Verizon and AT&T at the same time, the iPhone 4 drops to $99 (or less?) on both carriers, and the iPhone 3GS goes away.
Apple Releases Mac OS X 10.6.6, Including the Mac App Store ★
Entirely new apps, as well as current Mac favorites, are available
from developers such as Autodesk, Ancestry.com and Boinx. iPhoto,
iMovie and GarageBand apps from Apple’s popular iLife ’11
suite are available individually in the Mac App Store for $14.99
each, and Pages, Keynote and Numbers apps from iWork are available
for $19.99 each. Aperture 3, Apple’s powerful photo editing and
management software, is available for $79.99.
Before today and the App Store, Aperture cost $199.
The Talk Show, Episode 23 ★
While you’re waiting for the Mac App Store to launch, why not listen to this week’s episode of The Talk Show? This one turned out pretty good.
Brought to you by two excellent sponsors: Zendesk and Shopify.
EU Standard Phone Charger Regulations Allow for an Adapter ★
The common charger will be based on the “Micro USB,” already
widely used as a connector for computers and peripherals. Although
the new standards only apply to the 27 states of the EU, the
Commission hopes that with some 400 million potential consumers in
that market, it will drive manufacturers to adopting the standard
The Memorandum of Understanding signed by the 14 manufacturers
does provide some wriggle room for companies like Apple that have
their own bespoke leads. The agreement does not prohibit
manufacturers from having their own nonstandard plugs as long as
they make available an adaptor.
So Apple doesn’t have to put Micro USB ports on their products to comply with these regulations in Europe.
Removable User Identity Module (R-UIM) is a card developed for CDMA handsets that extends the GSM SIM card to CDMA phones and networks.
So maybe this explains the SIM slot in those purported photos of the CDMA iPhone 4.
Microsoft’s Tablet Strategy ★
Earlier today, computer maker Asus kicked off the Consumer
Electronics Show a day early by announcing four upcoming tablet
computers. Three of them run Google’s Android operating system.
One runs Windows 7. See if you can guess which one is the outlier:
- Eee Pad MeMO: starts at $499
- Eee Pad Slider: starts at $499
- Eee Pad Transformer: starts at $399
- Eee Slate: starts at $999
I get the feeling Microsoft knows they have a big problem here. They need to shut up, get to work, and build a real tablet OS — and they know it. The problem is they can’t completely shut up. The iPad is too big a sensation, and is attracting a bunch of competitors, almost none of which are using a Microsoft OS. But they were way more blustery about “slates” at last year’s CES than they were at this year’s.
Mac App Store Launches at Noon Eastern? ★
According to my sources, the Mac App Store will be available at
12:00 pm (noon) ET on Thursday. That puts it at about 9:00 am PT
where Apple is headquartered in Cupertino, Calif.
Microsoft Sold 8 Million Kinects in 60 Days ★
Very impressive. Seems like Xbox has taken a decided lead over PS3. But announcing this makes it all the more glaring that they still haven’t released any sales numbers for Windows Phone 7.
Engadget Hands-On With BlackBerry PlayBook ★
Looks impressive, particularly the multitasking. But still no word on pricing.
Flickr for Windows 7 and Windows Phone 7 (Flash Video) ★
Looks good — far more interesting than Flickr’s lame, buggy iPhone app. But it’s not shipping yet.
Micro-USB vs. Apple’s 30-Pin Dock Port ★
I mentioned on this week’s The Talk Show that one of the little things that’s struck me while using a Nexus S over the last few weeks is that the Micro-USB port is much smaller, and aesthetically more elegant, than the proprietary 30-pin adapter port on Apple’s iPods and iOS devices. Usually it’s the Apple technology that’s “smaller and more elegant”. So why has Apple stuck with the 30-pin port? For one thing, it does more than USB: it transmits video and stereo audio. How long does Apple stick with this? The iOS-based Apple TV 2 has a Micro-USB port, but doesn’t need video or audio to go out over that port because it also has HDMI.
Joe Wilcox on Samsung’s just-announced Series 9 laptops:
Samsung has the eye-popper of the Consumer Electronics Show (OK,
so far), and it’s sure to make MacBook Air owners whine with envy
(that is if they’re between Apple Kool-Aid fixes). Hell, I want
one. The Samsung 9 Series packs big performance in a little
So MacBook Air owners are Kool-Aid drinking cultists, but sane, rational Joe Wilcox is declaring something he’s never used or even seen in person a “MacBook Air killer”. OK. (It is a nice-looking laptop.)
Android 3.0 Preview Video ★
“Built entirely for tablet”.
Samsung’s Catchily-Named RMC30D Universal Remote Control ★
Looks vaguely familiar. Can’t quite put my finger on what it reminds me of, though.
Future iPhone Parts Caught on Video? ★
A firm named GlobalDirectParts has put together a fairly
extensive, five-plus minute video showcasing what they claim to be
parts from Apple’s next generation iPhone (referred to as the
iPhone 5 in the video). We get a crystal clear look at the
charging-port flex-cable and outer aluminum skeleton of the
device. There are several key differences between the iPhone 4
parts and the new parts we are being shown — displayed side by
side in the video — including the absence of several of the
black, plastic strips on the casing.
Crazy. My guess is that these are parts from N92, the upcoming (but as yet still unnannounced) CDMA iPhone 4. But why a SIM card slot? World compatibility?
Update: The video was pulled by YouTube, “due to a copyright claim by Apple, Inc.” SmartPhone Medic has a few pictures of the same parts, and, frankly, a few still photos are all you need to get the gist.
Idea: Crowdfund a Mission to Put a Monolith on the Moon ★
The goal: Erect a monolith on the moon. (See 2001 for reference).
Is there an upper limit to the amount of money you can raise on
Kickstarter? Because I guesstimate this project will require about
half a billion dollars. So I only need to find 5 million
geeks-like-me worldwide who think this is a cool enough idea to
donate 100 bucks. That seems pretty doable, especially considering
Kickstarter’s rule that nobody has to pay anything if I can’t
raise all the money I need, so people can donate with confidence.
Best Kickstarter idea ever.
The Amazon Appstore ★
You may have seen the buzz in Android blogs and forums about
Amazon doing something… appy! Today Amazon.com launched the
Amazon Appstore Developer Portal. You can find the Portal at
developer.amazon.com. It is a new self-service tool that allows
mobile application developers — Android developers in
particular—to join our Appstore Developer Program and submit
apps for the upcoming launch of the Amazon Appstore for Android.
My guess is that this will be much more successful than Google’s Marketplace. Amazon knows how to sell stuff. Here’s their FAQ (but you have to be signed into an Amazon account to see it). Same terms as Apple — 70 percent cut of the selling price, and $99 a year to join the developer program. Regarding DRM:
For each app that you submit to the Appstore, you can choose to
apply DRM or make your app available without any rights management
constraints. If you do choose to apply DRM to one of your apps,
you must use the DRM system provided by Amazon through the Amazon
Appstore Developer Portal.
Sidenote: months ago, I heard from two separate iOS developers who were contacted by Amazon. The pitch: Amazon wanted them to port their iPhone apps to Android, specifically for inclusion in Amazon’s app store. I’m curious to know how successful this outreach has been for Amazon.
Starbucks Updates Its Logo ★
Usually I have an instant yea or nay reaction to a logo redesign. This one, I don’t know. It still feels Starbucky at least. I think I’ll go with “yea”.
MacTech’s Virtualization Benchmarks ★
Extensive benchmarking of running Windows on Mac OS X using Parallels Desktop 6 and VMware Fusion 3.1.
Update: This one was fireballed for a while earlier, but it’s back now.
Newton 2.0 ★
Speaking of John Battelle’s Apple predictions, here’s one from last year:
Apple’s “iTablet” will disappoint. Sorry Apple fanboys, but the
use case is missing, even if the thing is gorgeous and kicks ass
for so many other reasons. Until the computing UI includes
culturally integrated voice recognition and a new approach to
browsing (see #4), the “iTablet” is just Newton 2.0.
In hindsight, I think the use cases for the original iPad are simplicity and delight.
“Newton 2.0” was intended as a disparagement, in the sense that the Newton never sold well. But I still say that Apple’s competitors could do a lot worse than copying UI ideas from the Newton.
‘User CSS’ Safari Extension ★
Nice Safari extension by Kridsada Thanabulpong for customizing the CSS for any web page. (Via Mark Otto, who created a black-text-on-white-background stylesheet for DF.)
Justin Williams on Windows Phone 7 ★
Justin Williams on the Samsung Focus:
Windows Phone 7 as an operating system is a delight to use, and I
really look forward to where Microsoft plans to take it going
forward. The biggest hurdle it faces right now is the lack of
quality applications. There may be 5000 apps, but 4990 of them
Insightful, detailed review.
All About the Ads ★
Kyle Baxter on Google’s motivations for Android:
Google isn’t a web application company—they’re an advertising company. That’s what they do best, and that’s what drives their company. Of Google’s $23.6 billion of revenue in 2009, all but $760 million of it was derived from advertising, and nearly 70 percent of it was from Google’s own websites.
Everything Google does must be understood within this context.
Skating to Where the Puck Is Going to Be ★
From John Battelle’s list of predictions for 2011:
Apple will begin to show signs of the same problems that plagued
Microsoft in the mid 90s, and Google in the past few years:
Getting too big, too full of themselves, and too focused on their
own prior success.
Could be. That’s certainly the tendency for companies that reach the sort of height Apple did in 2010. But “too focused on their own prior success” pretty much sounds like the opposite of Steve Jobs. His greatest gift to the company, I suspect, is that his enthusiasm is always on the Next Big Thing, no matter how big the Last Big Thing was.
Picasso’s Influence on the Finder’s Icon ★
Great artists steal.
Update: Fireballed. Cached version here.
Never Said About Restaurant Websites ★
“I enjoy clicking on separate menu links to view the Appetizers, Salads, Meat Entrees, Fish Entrees, Pastas, and Desserts.”
David Carson’s Upcoming ‘Carson’ Magazine ★
Ray Gun was the only magazine I can think of that I enjoyed, but which I didn’t enjoy reading. (Via Jason Santa Maria.)
Hacker News Thread on Charles Ying’s Piece on Android and GPU Acceleration ★
The Hacker News thread on Ying’s article is interesting. There’s an Android user named Jonathan Rockway who first comments:
But the thing is, nobody actually cares about this. I have used an
Android phone since the beginning. Touch responsiveness is not
something I have ever noticed. Any delay in rendering web pages is
due to the network.
But later on in the thread Rockway acknowledges:
I turn animations off. Useless eye candy that just wastes the
Also, is it really fair to compare the N1, a phone that’s over a
year old, to brand-new WP7 phones?
So one of the few people in the thread defending Android’s UI performance is someone who admittedly turns off animations.
“Android has a stuttery UI” doesn’t mean “Android is bad” or “Android is useless” or even necessarily “Android is not the best mobile OS”. It just means that Android has a stuttery UI.
Update: What I find fascinating about this is how many Android partisans continue to insist not that the problem doesn’t matter, but that the problem doesn’t exist. That it’s a fabrication made up by iOS (and, now, I suppose, Windows Phone 7) partisans. Tell an iPhone fan that the iOS notification system is kind of lame and they’ll probably agree. Tell an Android fan that their UI rendering is stuttery and they lash out.