Linked List: January 2011

The iPhone’s Share: 17.25 Percent of Smartphones, 4.2 Percent of All Phones 

Horace Dediu:

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 

Leander Kahney:

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.

Yup.

iPad’s Future Prospects for Tablet Market Share  

Bloomberg:

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 

Eric Raymond:

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 

AnandTech:

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 

Todd Bishop:

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 specific number.

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 isn’t public.

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.

Jeffrey Zeldman on HTML5 vs. HTML 

A rose by any other name.

On the Term ‘HTML5’ 

Jeff Croft:

Sometimes we just need a word to rally behind.

The Talk Show, Episodes 26 and 27 

If you like The Talk Show, you’re going to love this week: one regular episode, plus, a special episode with me reporting from Macworld Expo in San Francisco. And I haven’t even mentioned Goldfinger.

Two great sponsors for this show: MailChimp, and Sound Studio 4 from Felt Tip.

Transmit 4.1.5 Now Half-Available 

The times, they are a-changin’.

Wigglehop 

My thanks to Plastic Trophy for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote Wigglehop. Wigglehop is a fast, easy way to make movie plans on the iPhone, iPad, and the web. The app has a great feel, and its workflow is really thoughtful. You start by picking your favorite movie theaters (and the app can use Location Services to list theaters near your current location). Then you pick the movies you’re interested in, and the showtimes you can make. Boom: now you’ve got your own personalized movie listings, showing only the theaters, movies, and showtimes you want.

Great interface, great experience. And: Wigglehop is a free download from the App Store.

Jeff Yang on Apple and Sony 

The headline is “How Steve Jobs ‘Out-Japanned’ Japan”, but it’s more about how he out-Sony’d Sony. Spot-on analysis.

Jonathan Mann’s Daring Fireball Song 

“Don’t follow him on Twitter.”

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 its pockets.

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 

Fraser Speirs:

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 curated.

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 

Jim Dalrymple:

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 newspaper.

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 

PPK:

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”.

Benchmarking HTML5 Games 

Cory Ondrejka, Facebook:

With wide adoption and industry support, HTML5 will transform desktop and mobile gaming, creating amazing user experiences that are only a link away. Already, over 125 million people visit Facebook using HTML5 capable browsers just from their mobile phone, and that number skyrockets when we add in desktop browsers. The future is clear.

How Well Are Windows Phone 7 Devices Selling? 

Ina Fried, quoting Microsoft Senior Product Manager Greg Sullivan:

Sales are an important measure of success over the long term, but perhaps not even the best indicator of the platform’s long-term success, Sullivan said.

“One of the key ways that we’ll measure success of Windows Phone is did we ship a phone people love,” he said, pointing to its customer satisfaction data that said that 93 percent of early customers are “satisfied” or “very satisfied,” adding, “That’s a really great number.”

Translation: Not selling well at all.

Cathode 

This is fun: a vintage terminal emulator for Mac OS X. Run it in full screen mode for the best effect. Clever licensing model, too: it’s free to use but the image quality slowly degrades over the course of a session until you pay for a license. $20.

I’m having fun imagining going back in time and showing this to my, say, 1991 self, and trying to explain why we in 2011, with our magnificent LCD displays, would find comfort in an app that takes great effort to mimic decrepit CRT text terminals.

Android In-App Payments Coming Soon 

MG Siegler:

When asked about the status of an in-app payment system for Android, Chu noted that it was set to launch last quarter, but it was forced to be delayed. Why was it delayed? “Developers were busy with their Christmas applications,” Chu said. “So we couldn’t get enough feedback,” he continued.

OK, yeah, that makes sense.

Amazon Launches Kindle Singles 

Amazon:

Three months ago, Amazon made a call to serious writers, thinkers, scientists, business leaders, historians, politicians and publishers to join Kindle in making a new kind of content available to readers—Kindle Singles. Typically between 5,000 and 30,000 words, each Kindle Single is intended to allow a single killer idea — well researched, well argued and well illustrated — to be expressed at its natural length. Today, Amazon is introducing the first set of Kindle Singles to the Kindle Store.

It’s like an app store for articles. I bought “Lifted”, a report about a Swedish bank robbery by Evan Ratliff, and started reading it over breakfast. Great story.

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 open-source DEFLATE implementation in Javascript — really — and the bookmarklet compresses the page data right there in the browser before sending it.

The Oatmeal Winter 2010 State of the Web 

Spot on.

‘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’ 

37signals:

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 

Details matter.

Arik Hesseldahl: Apple Hires David Rice as Global Director of Security 

Arik Hesseldahl:

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 public hazard.

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 Google;
  • Displaying Google ads does not help a site’s rankings in Google; and
  • 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 ? 

Paul Thurrott:

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.

Teaser Site for Upcoming Toshiba Tablet 

Whole site is made using Flash; when iOS devices load the site, they show this:

Such a shame. Add this to the list of interesting places on the Internet you can’t see on your device. Of course, if you had a Toshiba Tablet, you would enjoy the entire Internet. Yep, Flash sites too.

The most interesting thing to me is that Toshiba is another long-time Windows OEM that’s switching to Android.

Update: If you lop the “apple.html” off the end of the URL Toshiba redirects iOS browsers to, you get this nice little pure HTML mobile site.

Eric Schmidt, in Control 

Eric Schmidt, back in October 2009:

One day Larry and Sergey bought Android, and I didn’t even notice. Think about the strategic opportunities that has created. Sergey found Google Earth one day while he was surfing on the Web. And then he walked into my office and told me he bought them. And I said, “For how much, Sergey?” And it turned out to be a few million.

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 step down.

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.”

Sourcebits 

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 perfect solution.

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 

The Telegraph:

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.

June 2007:

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 form factor.

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.

Verizon iPhone Commercial 

Nice.

On Google, and Evil 

John August, on being approached to write a screenplay about Google:

The producer wanted to focus on the early days, which is understandable: it’s an underdog story, with scrappy geniuses inventing the future. He was particularly keen on Google’s “Don’t Be Evil” philosophy.

I jumped in: “And then, of course, the second act is about how they become evil despite themselves. It’s like Animal Farm. The pigs make all these noble rules, and then systematically subvert them.”

Crickets. I won’t be writing the Google movie.

The WSJ on Google’s Management Change 

The WSJ:

In a conference call, Mr. Schmidt said the three had been making decisions together, but it was a slow process. The new organization is expected to streamline things by “elevating me and having Larry running things day to day,” Mr. Schmidt said.

Sounds to me like they elevated him right out of the building.

Eric Schmidt Steps Down as Google CEO, Larry Page Takes Over 

Google, in its quarterly finance announcement:

  • Starting from April 4, Larry Page, Google Co-Founder, will take charge of Google’s day-to-day operations as Chief Executive Officer.

  • Sergey Brin, Google Co-Founder, will devote his energy to strategic projects, in particular working on new products.

  • Eric Schmidt will assume the role of Executive Chairman, focusing externally on deals, partnerships, customers and broader business relationships, government outreach and technology thought leadership — all of which are increasingly important given Google’s global reach. Internally, he will continue to act as an advisor to Larry and Sergey.

Does this signal a change in direction, or was it in the works all along? (My guess: a change in direction.)

Update: Blog post by Eric Schmidt announcing the change. What is “technology thought leadership”?

‘Apple Reaches for Greatness Without Apology’ 

A reader at Andrew Sullivan’s The Dish, on Apple’s singular status:

Then there is this: Apple reaches for greatness without apology. Market share and profitability are important only as outcomes. They are not its purpose, which is to achieve the “insanely great.” It is as if they are on an ongoing Grail quest. (As Professor Henry Jones said to Indiana: “The search for the Grail is the search for the Divine in all of us.”)

Gabrielle Giffords Standing Up and Using iPad 

Reuters:

Just 12 days after she was shot in the head, U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords can stand with assistance, has tried to speak and is using an iPad, doctors and her husband said on Thursday.

Sounds like an Onion headline, but it’s true. Unbelievable.

Rob Flaherty’s iPad View Source Bookmarklet 

Handy when developing mobile-optimized layouts. (I’m using it now, to investigate a recent problem where DF looks way too small, sometimes, on the iPad.)

Apple ‘Screwing’ iPhones Out of DIY Repair 

No one can resist a “screw” pun.

Update: To solve this grievous problem, you can buy a $10 screwdriver set from the people reporting the problem.

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 

Ian Hickson:

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 

Philip Elmer-DeWitt:

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 (3.94%).

The Problem With Not Going 2x 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 

Andy Zaky:

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 

Apple PR:

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 the quarter.

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 

Jesse Thorn:

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.

Steve Jobs Takes Medical Leave of Absence 

“I love Apple so much and hope to be back as soon as I can.”

Stuxnet Worm Used Against Iran Was Tested in Israel 

How was the Stuxnet worm so effective against the Iranian nuclear program? It was tested against the same centrifuges in Israel’s wink-wink-nudge-nudge never-officially-acknowledged nuclear facilities, reports The New York Times. How clever is Stuxnet? This clever:

The worm itself now appears to have included two major components. One was designed to send Iran’s nuclear centrifuges spinning wildly out of control. Another seems right out of the movies: The computer program also secretly recorded what normal operations at the nuclear plant looked like, then played those readings back to plant operators, like a pre-recorded security tape in a bank heist, so that it would appear that everything was operating normally while the centrifuges were actually tearing themselves apart.

Shortchanging Your Business With User-Hostile Platforms 

Alex Payne on services that do things like use Adobe Air instead of building proper native apps:

Imagine a new restaurant that wants to make the most of their burgeoning lunch traffic. They start serving low-quality meat: after all, it’s cheap, plentiful, and requires nothing more than placing a different order with their distributor. For a few weeks, profits are up. But pretty soon, so are customer complaints, and the stars on their Yelp page are rapidly dwindling. The owner doesn’t understand. The meat isn’t great, sure, but it’s perfectly edible, and for a while it seemed like the restaurant was making more money and attracting new customers. What went wrong?

World’s Smallest Instagram Gallery 

Great idea: put your Instragram photos on your iPod Nano. The small size and square crop make for a perfect match.

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.

AccountEdge 

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 wasn’t sustainable.

So, (a) he thinks Chrome just killed the HTML5 <video> element.

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 

MG Siegler:

But buried in their post is another interesting nugget worth highlighting by itself: WebM plugins are coming shortly for Safari and IE9.

Yes, plugins.

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’ 

Ed Burnette:

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 the <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 in Chrome?

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 this change.

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 that, either).

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 feature.

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 

Ryan Naraine:

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 Bulgaria. […]

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’ 

Interesting chart.

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’ 

John Paczkowski:

“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 

Graphicology:

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 

Peter Kafka:

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’ 

Peter Bright:

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 their partners)
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 updates
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 relationship.

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? 

Ian Bogost:

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 meaning implies.

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 AP:

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 

BBC News:

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 provide.

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 break businesses.

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.

Slashdot Comment on Google Dropping H.264 in Chrome 

“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 

Bang.

On Android 2.3’s Web Browser’s Support for HTML5 and Mobile Web Apps 

Maximiliano Firtman:

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.

Ryan Singel: ‘Twitter’s Response to WikiLeaks Subpoena Should Be the Industry Standard’ 

Ryan Singel:

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.

Indeed. Bravo.

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 technologies.

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:

  1. It’s the same iPhone 4, except it uses CDMA.
  2. 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 

Jon Armstrong:

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 conversation.

Joe Stump:

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.

Tweet of the Day 

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.)

Christina Green, the 9-Year-Old Victim in Arizona Shooting 

She was born on September 11, 2001, and “an A student interested in politics”. Her grandfather is Dallas Green, manager of the world champion 1980 Phillies. Unsurprisingly, she played Little League baseball — the only girl on her team. So sad.

Steve Dorner, Creator of Eudora, Has Cancer 

Dorner is documenting his experience on a weblog. Via Ric Ford, who writes:

Thanks for all you’ve done, Steve, and the way you’ve done it, and don’t forget that there’s a huge community of people out here who appreciate you and support you.

Couldn’t say it better. Lots of good wishes below Ford’s remarks at MacInTouch.

Update 14 July 2011: Good news from Dorner.

‘Violent Acts Are What Happen When You Create a Climate of Hate’ 

Paul Krugman:

You know that Republicans will yell about the evils of partisanship whenever anyone tries to make a connection between the rhetoric of Beck, Limbaugh, etc. and the violence I fear we’re going to see in the months and years ahead. But violent acts are what happen when you create a climate of hate. And it’s long past time for the GOP’s leaders to take a stand against the hate-mongers.

Palin Aide Claims Crosshairs on Target Map Aren’t Gunsights 

Brian Beutler reports for TPM:

“We never ever, ever intended it to be gun sights. It was simply cross-hairs like you’d see on maps,” said Rebecca Mansour on the Tammy Bruce radio show. Moreover, there was “nothing irresponsible” about the image, and to draw a line connecting Palin and Saturday’s shooting is “obscene” and “appalling.” […] Mansour called the crosshairs “surveyor marks.” Palin has removed the list from her PAC website, but not from her Facebook page.

Sarah Palin, on Twitter, immediately after the election:

Remember months ago “bullseye” icon used 2 target the 20 Obamacare-lovin’ incumbent seats? We won 18 out of 20 (90% success rate;T’aint bad)

‘There’s Consequences to That Action’ 

Gabrielle Giffords, back in March:

We’re on Sarah Palin’s targeted list. But the thing is the way that she has it depicted has the crosshairs of a gunsight over our district. People who do that, they’ve got to realize there’s consequences to that action.

iPhone = Mac 2.0 

Jean-Louis Gassée on the “iPhone is going the way of the Mac” trope:

I have my own set of questions about the Mac’s “failure”.

First, shall we agree that Microsoft “open” model is the exception rather than the rule? How many other examples of the Microsoft platform licensing model, with its caveats, prohibitions, and insistence on fealty, do we see? Have we forgotten that Microsoft’s methods led to a conviction of being a monopolist?

Second, there is the Mac’s rebirth. Last year, its US market share approached 10%, with a 90% unit share in the $1k-and-greater segment. For the past five years, Mac unit sales have grown faster than the PC industry.

Great piece.

Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords Shot in the Head at Public Event in Arizona 

Sarah Palin’s political action committee placed ads which put a gunshot target over Giffords.

Her opponent in last year’s election held a campaign event at a gun range, to “get on target” to “remove Gabrielle Giffords from office”.

DOJ Subpoenas Twitter Records of Several WikiLeaks Volunteers 

Glenn Greenwald:

It was issued on December 14 and ordered sealed — i.e., kept secret from the targets of the Order.  It gave Twitter three days to respond and barred the company from notifying anyone, including the users, of the existence of the Order.  On January 5, the same judge directed that the Order be unsealed at Twitter’s request in order to inform the users and give them 10 days to object; had Twitter not so requested, it would have been compelled to turn over this information without the knowledge of its users.

Kudos to Twitter. They didn’t have to ask for this.

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”.

Cwora 

“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.

For one thing, it seems like Aperture has access to some JavaScript scripting magic that third-party developers don’t have — or at least don’t have yet.

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 

Chris Liscio:

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 

Matt Buchanan:

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 

Peter Cohen:

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 price points.

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 App Store].

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.

And:

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:

  1. 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 

Horace Dediu:

At this year’s CES two unthinkable things happened:

  1. The abandonment of Windows exclusivity by practically all of Microsoft’s OEM customers.
  2. 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 arch enemy.

These actions confirm the end of the PC era.

Twitter for Mac (a.k.a. Tweetie 2) 

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 

Apple PR:

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 

Ben Rooney:

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 world-wide.

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.

R-UIM 

Wikipedia:

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 

Matt Rosoff:

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? 

Jim Dalrymple:

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.

Kool-Aid 

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 package.

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? 

Andrew Munchbach:

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 

David Friedman:

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 

Amazon:

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.

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 are junk.

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 battery.

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.

The Care and Feeding of the Android GPU 

Sharp criticism from Charles Ying on Android’s lack of GPU acceleration for UI rendering:

Android has two major technical UX problems: animation performance and touch responsiveness.

Android’s UX architecture needs work. UI compositing and the view system are both primarily done in software. Garbage collection and async operations frequently block UI rendering. […]

Android engineers say that better hardware will eventually solve the problem — an insane rationale for the problem. On mobile, power efficiency is king. Throwing dual cores or more GHz at the problem is just going to get you more average performance with zero battery life, and even then, as long as your screen doesn’t get too big.

Todd Alcott’s Seven Part Analysis of ‘The Shining’ 

Speaking of Kubrick’s The Shining, Todd Alcott’s analysis of it is smart and wonderfully detailed.

‘iSPEC’ 

2003 short by Tron Legacy director Joseph Kosinski, presenting a futuristic iPod that allows the user to enter an immersive virtual reality recreation of settings from feature films. The user’s choice in Kosinski’s demo: The Overlook hotel from Kubrick’s The Shining.

There’s a higher-res version available here at Kosinski’s own site.

The Macalope Looks Back at 2010 

The Macalope:

Initially, it did seem like corporate IT was going to run the standard anti-Apple playbook against the iPad. But the pages of the playbook, worn from years of overuse, may have finally fallen out of their three-ring binder. The aging quarterback has proven unable to execute on the field, leaving Apple way ahead in this already annoying football playbook analogy.

IT executives smell a winner with iOS, and they want to hitch their careers to that wagon. It helps too, of course, that it’s a great platform.

Goldman Invests in Facebook at $50 Billion Valuation 

The New York Times:

In a rare move, Goldman is planning to create a “special purpose vehicle” to allow its high-net-worth clients to invest in Facebook, these people said. While the S.E.C. requires companies with more than 499 investors to disclose their financial results to the public, Goldman’s proposed special purpose vehicle may be able get around such a rule because it would be managed by Goldman and considered just one investor, even though it could conceivably be pooling investments from thousands of clients.

It is unclear whether the S.E.C. will look favorably upon the arrangement.

Unclear, eh?

Best Take on Alarmgate 

Farad Halime, reporting for The National on Apple’s New Year’s iOS alarm bug:

“If these small problems here and there continue happening, there will be a story and people will think it’s not worth it with the hassle and move to BlackBerry,” said Farouk Miah, an analyst who covers telecoms at NCB Capital in Saudi Arabia.

I guess they take alarm clock bugs pretty seriously in the Middle East.

Detroit in Ruins 

Powerful photographs of Detroit’s ruined former grandness, by Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre. (Via Dave Winer.)

iOS Bug Prevents Alarms From Going Off for Two Days 

Methinks the alarm system in iOS is in need of a good code auditing.

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