Linked List: February 2012

Who Decides What Gets Sold in the Bookstore? 

Seth Godin:

I just found out that Apple is rejecting my new manifesto Stop Stealing Dreams and won’t carry it in their store because inside the manifesto are links to buy the books I mention in the bibliography.

Quoting here from their note to me, rejecting the book: “Multiple links to Amazon store. IE page 35, David Weinberger link.”

And there’s the conflict. We’re heading to a world where there are just a handful of influential bookstores (Amazon, Apple, Nook…) and one by one, the principles of open access are disappearing. Apple, apparently, won’t carry an ebook that contains a link to buy a hardcover book from Amazon.

Would Amazon carry a book that linked each book in the bibliography to the iBookstore? I don’t know, maybe they would. But would Barnes & Noble carry a book that contained coupons to buy additional books at Borders? (Pretend Borders is still in business.) Why not link to iBookstore versions of the books from the iBooks edition?

Keep in mind that Apple isn’t blocking Godin’s book from being read in iBooks — they’re simply not selling it in their e-book store.

‘Fabricado no Brasil’ 

Apple is now selling Brazilian-assembled iPhones in Brazil.

Verisign Seizes .com Domain Registered via Foreign Registrar on Behalf of US Authorities 

Mark Jeftovic, writing on the EasyDNS blog:

But at the end of the day what has happened is that US law (in fact, Maryland state law) as been imposed on a .com domain operating outside the USA, which is the subtext we were very worried about when we commented on SOPA. Even though SOPA is currently in limbo, the reality that US law can now be asserted over all domains registered under .com, .net, org, .biz and maybe .info (Afilias is headquartered in Ireland by operates out of the US).

This is no longer a doom-and-gloom theory by some guy in a tin foil hat. It just happened.

This is just awful.

New ‘MLB at Bat’ App Is Available 

Clayton Morris has the details on the various subscription levels available. So great.

Peter Weyland at TED 2023 

Brilliant:

A TEDTalk from the future as envisioned by Prometheus director Ridley Scott.

‘Be Fair to the Truth’ 

From NPR’s new Ethics Handbook:

At all times, we report for our readers and listeners, not our sources. So our primary consideration when presenting the news is that we are fair to the truth. If our sources try to mislead us or put a false spin on the information they give us, we tell our audience. If the balance of evidence in a matter of controversy weighs heavily on one side, we acknowledge it in our reports. We strive to give our audience confidence that all sides have been considered and represented fairly.

Jay Rosen:

With these words, NPR commits itself as an organization to avoid the worst excesses of “he said, she said” journalism. It says to itself that a report characterized by false balance is a false report. It introduces a new and potentially powerful concept of fairness: being “fair to the truth,” which as we know is not always evenly distributed among the sides in a public dispute.

Mike Kruzeniski’s Favorite Metro Apps 

Some good UI design on the Windows Phone side, too.

Android Niceties 

“A collection of screenshots encompassing some of the best looking Android apps, and / or apps with interesting user interfaces, hopefully providing some inspiration or insight into Android UI conventions.”

Top-shelf Android UI design is getting better.

AOL/TechCrunch Traffic Plummets 

You know when you flush the toilet, and for a while the water is circling, spiraling downward, and then there’s that moment of silence right before the flush is completed? That’s where AOL/TechCrunch is.

Lenovo Stops Selling Netbooks Online 

Agam Shah, reporting for Computerworld:

Lenovo has stopped selling netbooks through its website and hasn’t decided if it will start selling them again there in the future, the company said on Friday.

The netbook models that were available have sold out and are “not being replaced in the near future,” Lenovo spokesman Ray Gorman said via email. He didn’t say if Lenovo will continue selling netbooks at retail.

Yours truly, three years ago: “Netbooks, Eh?”.

Samsung: ‘We’re Not Doing Very Well in the Tablet Market’ 

Roger Cheng, reporting for CNet from MWC:

Samsung Electronics admitted that its attempt to breach the tablet market has largely been a flop, with one executive offering a sobering summary of its performance. “Honestly, we’re not doing very well in the tablet market,” Hankil Yoon, a product strategy executive for Samsung, said today during a media roundtable here.

Refreshing honesty.

Right Versus Pragmatic 

Marco Arment:

The pragmatic approach is to address the demand.

Google Plus Is ‘a Virtual Ghost Town’ 

Amir Efrati, reporting for the WSJ:

It turns out Google+ is a virtual ghost town compared with the site of rival Facebook Inc., which is preparing for a massive initial public offering. New data from research firm comScore Inc. shows that Google+ users are signing up — but then not doing much there.

Visitors using personal computers spent an average of about three minutes a month on Google+ between September and January, versus six to seven hours on Facebook each month over the same period, according to comScore, which didn’t have data on mobile usage.

Ouch.

MG Siegler adds: “The only people I know that use Google+ regularly are people who work at Google (and Robert Scoble).”

The Little Boy Who Cried ‘Don’t Be Evil’ 

Nick Bilton on Google’s stream of privacy incidents:

“The past two months have been unprecedented; there has never been anything like it at the company,” said Danny Sullivan, editor in chief of the blog Search Engine Land, who has closely covered Google since the company began. “They are a big company, and any big company is always going to have something happen that they don’t expect. But these things keep happening where you can’t even trust their word.”

When I asked Mr. Sullivan if Google was now too big not to be evil, he said, “I don’t think they were ever not evil.”

Google says nothing has changed.

Exactly.

Apple Announces iPad Event for March 7 in San Francisco 

“We have something you really have to see” — sounds like something Steve Jobs would say.

A Show With Ze Frank 

Ze Frank has a Kickstarter campaign to bring back his show:

In 2006, I launched a show called “The Show With Ze Frank.” It was one of the most strange, exciting, difficult, and amazing things I have done so far. I think it is time to do something similar, what with the economy in the crapper and the election coming up. If Newt can do it, so can I. So can we.

Hell yeah, I’m in.

Why Android Is Faring So Much Better in Phones Than Tablets 

MG Siegler, responding to the aforelinked “there’s no organized way for consumers to recognize it as a viable platform” interview with Andy Rubin on Android tablet sales:

Okay, if that’s true, why isn’t the same true for Android phones, which are obviously selling very well?

It may be because the organizational entity that Rubin fails to mention isn’t Google, but the mobile carriers. And right now, the mobile carriers don’t matter nearly as much in the tablet space as they do in the smartphone space.

Maybe that changes, maybe it doesn’t. But to me, this is Rubin essentially admitting that Android’s rise in smartphones has less to do with Android, and more to do with the carriers. In that light, Google’s decision to turn their backs on their original ideals for Android and instead get in bed with the carriers was a smart one.

My hypothesis has long been that Android has very little traction in and of itself. What has traction is the traditional pattern where customers go to their existing carrier’s retail store to buy a new phone, listen to the recommendations of the sales staff, and buy one of the recommended phones. Tens — hundreds? — of millions of people have done this and walked out of the store with a new Android handset. (By my theory, this is why Android phones are so under-represented compared to the iPhone in terms of usage — things like mobile web traffic. A lot of people think of them just as phones.)

There is no such traction for the idea of going into your phone carrier store and buying a computer. That’s why carrier-subsidized netbooks didn’t take off, and that’s why carrier-subsidized Android tablets haven’t either.

Google to ‘Double Down’ on Android Tablets in 2012 

Nilay Patel, covering MWC for The Verge:

It’s no secret that Android tablet sales have lagged far behind Apple’s iPad, and Google’s planning to do something about it. In a meeting with reporters today at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Android chief Andy Rubin called the 12 million Android tablets sold thus far “not insignificant, but less than I’d expect it to be if you really want to win,” and said that “2012 is going to be the year that we double down and make sure we’re winning in that space.”

Rubin said that the biggest problem for Android on tablets is “there’s no organized way for consumers to recognize it as a viable platform,” and that Google wants consumers to see its tablets as part of the broader Android ecosystem.

In a separate article, The Verge confirmed with Rubin that Google’s “activation” numbers include each unique device only once, and don’t count based-on-Android-but-not-using-the-Google-experience devices like the Kindle Fire or Barnes and Noble Nook.

Apple has sold a little over 50 million cumulative iPads to date. Just me or does it seem like you see a lot more than five iPads per Android tablet in the wild? (A guess: a lot of junky 7-inch Android tablets gathering dust in drawers.)

The Eleven Companies That Have Been the Biggest by Market Cap 

Interesting visualization from the New York Times.

Eric Raymond’s Advice to Mobile Carriers: Drop the iPhone 

Eric Raymond, back on February 8:

OK, so there might be a second level to the argument: each carrier might be thinking that if it doesn’t carry the iPhone it will have its marketshare eaten by others that do. The trouble with this theory is that Android is still growing userbase and marketshare faster than the iPhone. And though T-Mobile (the one carrier without iPhone) ain’t doing so well, nobody in the industry thinks lack of iPhone — as opposed to, say, weak execution and lack of the capital mass to pursue its buildout — is its problem.

Actually, that’s what everyone in the industry thinks is killing T-Mobile, including T-Mobile’s CEO:

Without the iPhone, T-Mobile lost 706,000 contract customers in the fourth quarter of 2011. In fact, Apple’s iPhone was mentioned a total of seven times in a press release issued by T-Mobile, well more than any phone that the carrier actually does offer.

“Not carrying the iPhone led to a significant increase in contract deactivations in the fourth quarter of 2011,” T-Mobile USA President and CEO Phillipp Humm said.

Back to Raymond:

From any carrier’s point of view, the case for dumping iPhone, or at least threatening to do so in order to renegotiate Apple’s subsidy requirement away, seems pretty open and shut.

The problem the carriers face is not that they can’t turn a profit selling the iPhone. It’s that selling an iPhone is not as profitable for them as selling other cheaper phones (which cheaper phones still come with the same data and voice plans, and same two-year contracts, as the iPhone). But if they don’t carry the iPhone, customers who want the iPhone will leave for a carrier that does carry it. What the carriers want is a world where the iPhone doesn’t exist or isn’t so popular.

Dell Executive: ‘We’re No Longer a PC Company’ 

Nicole Kobie, PC Pro:

Speaking at the launch of new enterprise hardware at an event in Twickenham, West London today, the president of Dell’s enterprise solution group Brad Anderson said: “We’re no longer a PC company, we’re an IT company.”

I say just shut the company down and give the money back to the shareholders.

(Via The Verge.)

Arrested for Breaking the Law of Large Numbers 

Dr. Drang:

I don’t really have a problem with the central premise of the article, which is that Apple can’t grow forever at the pace it’s been at recently. I’m not sure why such a self-evident truth needs to take up space in the New York Times — any company that’s growing faster than the economy as a whole can’t continue to do so forever because eventually it would have to become larger than the economy it’s part of — but then I don’t understand why the Times publishes a lot of things.

Awesomize 

My thanks to Awesomize for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote their imminent new iPhone photography app. (Keep clicking.)

Android Version Fragmentation 

Interesting analysis by Chris Sauve:

In fact, I feel it is conservative to state that 2012 will be the year of Gingerbread, at least in terms of version distribution. Gingerbread appears to be on the verge of peaking as a percentage of the total devices in use, but it took Froyo over 6 months after reaching the peak of its relative distribution to be overtaken. As I’ll go into next, Gingerbread is still adding devices 14 times faster than ICS.

It seems pretty clear that with Android, the current year’s phones tend to run the previous year’s software. Best to think of today’s Ice Cream Sandwich as a developer preview of next year’s mass market Android phones.

Teller Reveals His Secrets 

Teller:

You will be fooled by a trick if it involves more time, money and practice than you (or any other sane onlooker) would be willing to invest.

So great. (Via Michael Lopp.)

Setting the Record Straight on Google’s Safari Tracking 

Jonathan Mayer, the researcher who first uncovered Google’s circumvention of Safari’s cookie privacy settings:

Apple’s purpose was not messing with Google. The default cookie blocking feature that Google circumvented was implemented in Safari 1.0, which shipped in 2003 — long before Google was in the third-party display advertising business, and long before relations between the companies soured over smartphones. Furthermore, Safari has repeatedly been a pioneer in browser privacy. Safari 1.0 included a simple “privacy reset” choice for clearing browser settings; the other major browsers followed with similar features. Safari 2.0, released in 2005, was the first browser to provide a “private browsing” mode; again, all the other major browsers followed.

Overall, a rather scathing indictment of Google’s explanation for its behavior here.

The Death Star Is a Surprisingly Cost-Effective Weapons System 

Star Wars mixed with economics? Count me in. (I seem to recall, but can’t find, a long-ago analysis of the Death Star which suggested that the real cost wasn’t the construction of the space station itself, but rather the energy cost of the planet-destroying weapon.)

Scorekeeper 

Clever little app for keeping track of scores in board games. Available for iPhone, iPad, and, believe it or not, PlayBook.

So Why Do iPhone 4S Users Consume More Data? 

Marco Arment, on why iPhone 4S users purportedly consume more data than iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS users:

The camera, of course. Every iPhone after the 3G has shipped with a higher-resolution camera than its predecessor. People capture and share a lot of photos on their iPhones, so a very likely culprit for higher data usage, controlling for OS version and tethering abilities, is that the photos are simply much larger with each new iPhone.

Bigger pictures consume more data, but I think the real explanation is demographics. The type of people who consume higher-than-average amounts of data on their iPhones are exactly the sort of people who upgraded to the iPhone 4S as soon as it came out. I’d bet these numbers wouldn’t look much different even if the 4S had the same camera as the 4.

Like Exchange 

Chambers Daily:

I look at Office for iPad like I look at Exchange support for Mac, iPhone, and iPad. Apple would prefer that it didn’t have to build support for it, but the Exchange environment is so huge in business that its hard to ignore.

Good way to put it. I remember being skeptical (and wrong) about Apple supporting Exchange in iOS, but that wound up being a huge reason for its success in the enterprise.

Juniper Networks: Android Malware Up 3,325 Percent in 2011 

Could be worse; could be 4,000 percent.

iSuppli Claim Chowder 

iSuppli, back in April 2010:

Chief in realizing this upside potential is Apple’s ability to address the lack of Flash support in the iPad. Some have called the long-term viability of the iPad into question because of its nonsupport of Adobe Flash — the multimedia platform from Adobe Systems Inc.

“Until Apple addresses this issue one way or another, its decision not to support Flash — communicated earlier on by Apple CEO Steve Jobs — will have a limiting effect on the iPad’s sales potential,” said Francis Sideco, principal analyst, wireless communications. “This is because one of the key use cases of the device, as marketed by Apple, relates to web browsing or consumption of online content. Absent Flash, iPad users will not be able to enjoy Flash-driven content, which is used in a considerable amount of websites as well as web-based games and videos.”

They predicted 14.4 million iPads would be sold in all of 2011, and 20 million in 2012. Apple sold over 15 million last quarter alone.

Apple Confronts the Law of Large Numbers 

James B. Stewart, writing for the NYT:

If Apple’s share price grew even 20 percent a year for the next decade, which is far below its current blistering pace, its $500 billion market capitalization would be more than $3 trillion by 2022. That is bigger than the 2011 gross domestic product of France or Brazil.

Put another way, to increase its revenue by 20 percent, Apple has to generate additional sales of more than $9 billion in its next fourth quarter. A company with only $1 billion in sales has to come up with just another $200 million.

Clear’s UI, Replicated in HTML5 (Best Viewed on Your iPhone) 

Very clever replication of Clear’s UI in HTML5, by Evan You. And it’s a perfect example of why I said “Good luck with that” regarding the aforelinked mobile web app store from Mozilla. This demo only works properly in Mobile Safari on iOS. Parts of it work in Android’s standard Browser app, but it’s flickery as hell. It works better in Chrome for Android (no flickering for example), but it doesn’t work completely (no pull-to-create-a-new-item for example) — and Chrome is only available on Android 4, which means it’s only available on about 1 percent of Android handsets in use. The demo doesn’t even render at all in IE on Windows Phone 7.5.

Mozilla to Open Mobile Web App Marketplace 

Mike Swift, reporting for the San Jose Mercury News:

Mozilla is expected Wednesday to announce plans for its own app store, to be called the Mozilla Marketplace, offering mobile apps that could run equally well on an iPhone, an Android phone or a Windows Phone device. Mozilla is also working to develop a smartphone that would not be locked into the “walled gardens” of apps, operating systems and devices that are now controlled by Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon and a few others.

Good luck with that.

How Bad Reporting Is Ruining The Washington Post 

This piece by Paul Farhi in The Washington Post is a month old, but I missed it when it was new (I blame Macworld/iWorld Expo). Headline, “How Siri Is Ruining Your Cellphone Service”:

Siri’s dirty little secret is that she’s a bandwidth guzzler, the digital equivalent of a 10-miles-per-gallon Hummer H1.

To make your wish her command, Siri floods your cell network with a stream of data; her responses require a similarly large flow in return. A study published this month by Arieso, an Atlanta firm that specializes in mobile networks, found that the Siri-equipped iPhone 4S uses twice as much data as does the plain old iPhone 4 and nearly three times as much as does the iPhone 3G.

It doesn’t take a genius to spot the logical error here. Assuming Arieso’s data is correct, that iPhone 4S users consume more data, they offer no proof that Siri has anything to do with it. In fact, the word “Siri” doesn’t even appear in Arieso’s report. (Here’s another story from three weeks earlier, also in The Washington Post, making the same claim based on the same report: “Apple’s Siri Uses Three Times More Data Than Earlier iPhones”.)

Here’s some real reporting on how much data Siri actually consumes, from Jacqui Cheng at Ars Technica:

If you use Siri 2-3 times per day at an average of 63KB per instance, you might expect to use 126KB to 189KB per day, or 3.7 to 5.5MB per month. For 4-6 times a day, that might come out to 252KB to 378KB per day, or 7.4 to 11MB per month. If you use it 10-15 times per day, you might end up using 630KB to 945KB per day, or 18.5 to 27.7MB per month.

I.e., not much.

iMore: Apple Getting Ready to Ditch the Traditional Dock Connector 

Rene Ritchie:

We’ve heard that Apple is getting ready to ditch the dock connector as it’s currently sized and implemented on iPods, iPhones, and iPads. The reason isn’t anything political, like a new desire to conform to an outdated micro-USB standard, but typically Apple: to save space inside the iPhone 5 for what are now more important components.

I’ve heard nothing about this, but I’m surprised it’s taken this long. The 30-pin dock connector is big, relatively speaking, and it isn’t very elegant. Why not switch to wireless charging? And if not wireless, surely Apple can come up with something smaller.

More Thinking About Microsoft Office Getting a Spot on Stage at the iPad 3 Introduction 

Jim Dalrymple:

Apple likes to highlight cool software for the device it’s introducing, so why not Office? It would be more beneficial for Microsoft than Apple, but still I think Apple would give them a place at the keynote.

Having given this more thought, I think it comes down to short-term vs. long-term strategy. Short-term, highlighting Office for the iPad would clearly be in Apple’s interest. The iWork suite is an alternative to Office, but not a feature-for-feature replacement. Surely there is some number of people who aren’t buying iPads who would if it did have Office, and that number is, I’d bet, significant.

Long-term, though, giving Microsoft a spot on-stage, however brief, would only serve to reinforce the notion that serious computing platforms need Microsoft Office. The iPad has, to date, been sending the opposite message: that you don’t need Office. Another long-term strategic angle: does Apple want to lend credence to the notion that Microsoft can write first-class touchscreen tablet apps, when Microsoft is set to ship its own tablet-savvy version of Windows later this year?

But it’s best not to overthink this. Office for iPad would sell a lot of iPads. That’s the bottom line.

Nobody’s Cutting Our Eyeballs 

This week’s episode of America’s favorite casual indoor footwear podcast. Topics include: Nightline’s Foxconn report (and the broader story of Apple’s Chinese supply chain in general), scam apps in the App Store, Google’s purported HUD glasses, laser eye surgery, web cookies and privacy, and more.

Brought to you by the fine folks at AppsFire and MailChimp.

Microsoft to Google: ‘Please Don’t Kill Video on the Web’ 

Dave Heiner, deputy general counsel at Microsoft:

You probably take for granted that you can view videos on your smartphone, tablet, PC, or DVD/Blu-ray player and connect to the Internet without being tied to a cable. That works because the industry came together years ago to define common technical standards that every firm can use to build compatible products for video and Wi-Fi. Motorola and all the other firms that contributed to these standards also made a promise to one another: that if they had any patents essential to the standards, they would make their patents available on fair and reasonable terms, and would not use them to block competitors from shipping their products.

Motorola has broken its promise. Motorola is on a path to use standard essential patents to kill video on the Web, and Google as its new owner doesn’t seem to be willing to change course.

I’m greatly enjoying Microsoft taking the role of chief “Google, stop being so evil” critic.

CNet: ‘Google Music Not Living Up to Expectations’ 

Greg Sandoval, reporting for CNet:

Three months after launching, Google Music hasn’t lived up to expectations, CNET has learned.

The Google Droid was a centerpiece at Google Music’s launch party on Nov. 16, 2011. Google’s managers have told counterparts at the labels that customer adoption and revenue are below what they expected, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the talks.

Harder than it looks.

Google to Replace Motorola Mobility CEO 

Peter Burrows, Brian Womack, and Hugo Miller, reporting for Bloomberg:

Google Inc., which won U.S. approval for its acquisition of Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc., is close to naming Dennis Woodside to run the business when the deal closes, three people familiar with the matter said.

Woodside, who led Google’s ad sales in the Americas before leaving that job to oversee the merger, would succeed Motorola Mobility Chief Executive Officer Sanjay Jha, said the people, who declined to be named because the decision isn’t public.

No surprise. The only success Jha had at Motorola was forcing Google to buy them by threatening an all-out patent war against other Android handset makers.

Not sure what to make of the fact that they’re replacing him with an ad sales guy.

Dilbert Gets a Design Contract From Samsung 

“So you want me to design something that is a bad tablet and an even worse phone?”

Rich Mogull on Gatekeeper 

Rich Mogull, writing at TidBITS:

OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion includes a transformative security technology called Gatekeeper. It’s a major new advance in operating system security designed to reduce dramatically the ability of an attacker to trick users into installing malicious software. It could be the key to preventing a future malware epidemic.

It’s a terrific overview, and if you want even more technical analysis of how Gatekeeper works, Mogull has a detailed follow-up on his Securosis site.

Tumult Hype 1.5 

Terrific update to Hype, the excellent interactive HTML5 animation/development tool. Among the many new features: the ability to export directly to an iBooks Author HTML widget.

Nicholas Carr: Why Publishers Should Give Away E-Books 

Nicholas Carr argues that book publishers should include e-book versions with print books:

So why give away the bits? Well, traditional book publishers have three big imperatives today: (1) protect print sales for as long as possible (in order to fund a longer-term transition to a workable new business model); (2) help keep physical bookstores in business (for the reasons set out in this article by Julie Bosman); and (3) do anything possible to curb the power of Amazon.com, the publishers’ arch-frenemy. Bundling bits with atoms helps on all three fronts.

Disney, for one, does this with their Blu-ray movies. You buy the Blu-ray and you get three editions of the same movie: a Blu-ray disc, a DVD disc, and a digital download. You pay once and you can effectively play the movie anywhere.

MLB Gameday Audio 

One difference between the old free and paid versions of MLB At Bat was that the paid version included access to live audio streams of every game. Looks like there’s a new subscription level for audio listeners: $20 for the season. One way or another, audio listeners will have an option for unrestricted access to audio streams without having to pay $125 for the full MLB.tv subscription.

Update: The $20 subscription is for desktop audio. As for mobile, Clayton Morris reports on Twitter:

MLB has confirmed to me that live game audio will be available for the price of $14.99 in the At Bat 2012 app. Free with the TV package.

Seth Weintraub on Google’s HUD Glasses 

Seth Weintraub had the scoop on Google’s purported HUD glasses a few weeks ago:

The heads up display (HUD) is only for one eye and on the side. It is not transparent nor does it have dual 3D configurations, as previously speculated.

One really cool bit: The navigation system currently used is a head tilting-to scroll and click. We are told it is very quick to learn and once the user is adept at navigation, it becomes second nature and almost indistinguishable to outside users.

The one-eye-only thing seems weird to me. Actually, the whole thing seems weird to me, but I’m trying hard to keep an open mind about this.

Screens 2.0 

Very nice update to my favorite remote desktop software for Mac and iOS. I rely on Screens for accessing my primary Mac from my iPhone, iPad, and other Macs. I recommend it wholeheartedly.

Speculation on the Microsoft Office for iPad Rumor 

MG Siegler, on the kind of weird non-denial denial from Microsoft regarding The Daily’s report that they’re nearing completion of a version of Office for the iPad:

But what if we all missed something obvious going on here? What if Microsoft was being so cagey — and maybe even disingenuous — for a very real reason? What if they don’t want to spoil a very big surprise set for a certain Apple event taking place in a couple weeks? […]

It’s very clear at this point that Apple and Microsoft both hate Google far more than they hate one another. And both sides seem willing to do whatever it takes to destroy Android. What if Microsoft is planning to do Office for tablets as an exclusive for the iPad (until the Windows 8 tablets come out, of course), while totally shafting Android?

I agree that would be a pretty big deal. And I can see why Microsoft would agree to it. If they’re going to do Office for iPad, and they’re near completion, why not accept a spot in Apple’s iPad 3 announcement keynote to promote it?

But what would be in it for Apple to offer such a spot to Microsoft? You can argue that the iPad with Office available is an even more attractive platform/device than the iPad as it stands today, sans Office. But why share the spotlight with Microsoft? Apple doesn’t need to. The only other tablet computer with any traction in the market is the Kindle Fire — and the Fire is not competing at all in the business productivity market that Office for iPad would target. Android tablets don’t need to be shot down — they still haven’t gotten off the ground. Why give credence and attention to Microsoft in a market where so far Microsoft has had no success?

I’m not saying it’s impossible, but if Microsoft does get a demo slot on stage during the iPad 3 keynote, Microsoft would be getting much more out of it than Apple.

‘Googlighting’ 

Oh, Microsoft, you’re so adorably awkward.

NYT: ‘Google to Sell Heads-Up Display Glasses by Year’s End’ 

Nick Bilton:

People who constantly reach into a pocket to check a smartphone for bits of information will soon have another option: a pair of Google-made glasses that will be able to stream information to the wearer’s eyeballs in real time.

According to several Google employees familiar with the project who asked not to be named, the glasses will go on sale to the public by the end of the year. These people said they are expected “to cost around the price of current smartphones,” or $250 to $600.

My first thought was to laugh, but, hey, at this point, let’s give Google the benefit of the doubt and hope these things are actually useful and cool. We’re not going to be tapping on 3 to 5 inch pieces of glass for the entire future of mobile computing. Something’s got to come next. Maybe heads-up displays are next.

Here’s what gets me about Bilton’s report:

Everyone I spoke with who was familiar with the project repeatedly said that Google was not thinking about potential business models with the new glasses. Instead, they said, Google sees the project as an experiment that anyone will be able to join. If consumers take to the glasses when they are released later this year, then Google will explore possible revenue streams.

If they’re planning to sell them for “$250 to $600”, isn’t that a good business model? Why is it simply accepted without debate that companies like Amazon and Google won’t turn a profit from hardware but have to find profits only through advertising or selling content? Surely Apple isn’t the only company that can turn a nice profit selling $600 gadgets.

Heavy Hangs the Bandwidth That Torrents the Crown 

Andy Ihnatko:

The Oatmeal made an unintentional point that was just as important as the first, however:

The single least-attractive attribute of many of the people who download content illegally is their smug sense of entitlement.

Agreed completely.

How to Remove Your Google Search History Before Google’s New Privacy Policy Takes Effect 

Easy and painless.

HP Reports First Quarter 2012 Results 

HP:

HP today announced financial results for its first fiscal quarter ended January 31, 2012. For the quarter, net revenue of $30.0 billion was down 7% from the prior-year period, and down 8% when adjusted for the effects of currency.

Net earnings — profit — are down 44 percent year-over-year. The PC business is not looking good:

Personal Systems Group (PSG) revenue declined 15% year over year with a 5.2% operating margin. Commercial client revenue declined 7%, Consumer client revenue declined 25% and Workstations revenue was flat. Total units were down 18%, with a 19% decline in desktop units and an 18% decline in notebook units.

Seems like a trend.

Fun With Charts, Fox News Edition 

Almost comically shameless.

Polar Bear Farm’s One-Day Sale to Help Christchurch, New Zealand 

Must-read letter from Layton Duncan, founder of the software shop Polar Bear Farm in Christchurch New Zealand, on the one-year anniversary of the earthquake:

Our city has been destroyed. It’s hard to find a natural disaster anywhere which has a larger effect on a country than this earthquake is having here. In relative terms, the effect on New Zealand is equivalent to around 8 Hurricane Katrinas, or around 3 2011 Sendai earthquake and tsunamis. Christchurch needs serious help to recover from this once in 10,000 year event. […]

On Wednesday 22nd of February 2012, all our apps will be reduced in price. 100% of the proceeds of all sales for the day will go into seeding the formation of a charitable trust with the explicit purpose of kickstarting the creation of a built environment for a safe, vibrant, sustainable downtown Christchurch people can inhabit again.

Great apps, great prices, great cause.

Nightline: Apple’s Chinese Factories (Requires Flash) 

ABC News’s exclusive behind-the-scenes look at Foxconn’s Apple product factories. I thought it was both fair and fascinating. Absolutely worth watching.

‘Dell’s the Computer to Use if Taking Photos of Fat Guys Farting Is Your Thing’ 

I know what you’re thinking — you’re thinking this headline from The Loop’s Peter Cohen is an over-the-top bit of anti-Dell sensationalism. But it’s actually an accurate description of this artsy fartsy video.

Update: As Tim Coulter observes, it’s obviously a spoof, because the production values are too high for an actual video from Dell.

MLB Simplifies Pricing for iPhone and iPad Apps 

Christopher Meinck, EverythingiCafe:

In previous years, baseball fans who subscribed to MLB At Bat were charged an additional fee to use MLB At Bat for iPad and yet another charge for the iPhone app. This year, we’ve just confirmed that MLB At Bat 12 will be free with your subscription, which remains at $119.99 for existing subscribers. New subscriptions will be priced at $124.99. This enables you to receive 150 Spring Training games and all 2430 regular season games (some games are subject to blackout), with no added cost for either the iPhone or iPad apps.

I like this change. Previously they had separate free and paid apps, plus the subscription fee for watching live ballgames. This is much simpler: apps are free, subscriptions cost $125. Easy. (If you like baseball, trust me, it’s money well spent.)

(Via 9to5 Mac.)

Dell’s Predicament 

Dustin Curtis:

After basically admitting defeat in the consumer PC market and promising to focus on enterprise IT and “mobile services” last year, Dell has found itself in the midst of a confusing transition. It is caught between two markets that are dramatically changing. Consumer PCs are dying. Enterprise IT problems are being solved increasingly by “cloud-based” solutions using generic or custom-built equipment. The future viability of Dell’s hardware products, which already have razor-thin margins, does not look great.

Put another way, Dell has no strengths in any market that’s growing. They’re a relic.

As a side note, I found this quote from Michael Dell interesting. The Journal asked him what had most surprised him since returning as Dell CEO four years ago. He replied:

I’d say [the] rapid rise of the tablet. I didn’t completely see that coming. Tablets aren’t really new, in the sense that the tablet PC idea’s been around for a while. Obviously, more recent products have been much more successful.

“More recent products”. I’ve started to notice a trend where Apple competitors can’t bring themselves to mention the iPad by name. There are no other successful tablets. It’s just one: the iPad.

Helpful Tip for Messages for Mac Beta Users With Mac.com AIM IDs 

Dan Frakes:

With Messages beta, my colleagues don’t see me as being online. Fewer work interruptions, I suppose.

I had the same problem. I could see my AIM buddies, but none of my AIM buddies could see me. (Listeners of The Talk Show live broadcast last week could hear me discover this problem.) I think the problem only affects AIM users with a @mac.com AIM ID. When you upgrade from iChat to Messages, Messages assumes you want to use @me.com as your AIM ID. Apple itself treats example@me.com and example@mac.com as synonymous, but AIM does not. So what Messages is doing is logging you in as example@me.com, but you need to be logged in as example@mac.com for your buddies to see you.

Solution: Delete your AIM account in Messages’s preferences, then recreate it. In addition to restoring your visibility to your buddies, it also restores your ability to transfer files.

iPhone Mail Tip: Re-Open Most Recent Draft Message With One Tap 

I seldom use draft messages on the iPhone because it’s so cumbersome to get back to them. This tip might change that. (Via Dan Frakes.)

Ubuntu for Android 

Newly announced project from Canonical to create Android phones which you can dock and get a full Ubuntu desktop. Perhaps the first realization of Philip Greenspun’s “Mobile Phone as Home Computer” idea from 2005? This is sort of the opposite of cloud computing. Cloud computing is “access your stuff from any device”; this is “take your stuff with you”. I don’t think this is the way to go, but it’s an interesting idea.

Jamie Keene at The Verge has a hands-on with a prototype.

The Curious Case of the (Cr)apps That Make Money 

More on App Store scam apps, from Trevor Gilbert at PandoDaily. Apple needs a zero tolerance policy on this crap. (Via Shawn King.)

Clear 

Speaking of Phill Ryu and Impending, they collaborated with Realmac Software on a new to-do list app for the iPhone. I don’t like everything about it (I don’t think apps other than games and video players should hide the status bar, for one thing), but my complaints are niggles. In the large, it’s a damn clever app, with a very thoughtful interaction design focused on letting you do a few simple things very easily.

My cardinal rule of to-do list apps is that priority should be implicit by task order. Drag more important/urgent items up, drag less import/urgent items down. Clear gets this right. Apple’s Reminders app gets this completely wrong.

Phill Ryu on the Rise of Scam Apps in the App Store 

At one point this week, two of the top ten paid iPhone apps were outright scams. Phill Ryu has a good set of suggestions for how Apple should address this. Being able to get a refund within a short window after first installing the app, for example.

Oscar Voters: Old White Men 

John Horn, Nicole Sperling, and Doug Smith, reporting for the LA Times:

A Los Angeles Times study found that academy voters are markedly less diverse than the moviegoing public, and even more monolithic than many in the film industry may suspect. Oscar voters are nearly 94% Caucasian and 77% male, The Times found. Blacks are about 2% of the academy, and Latinos are less than 2%.

Oscar voters have a median age of 62, the study showed. People younger than 50 constitute just 14% of the membership.

Pretty obvious that Academy membership skews old, white, and male — and always has — just by looking at the movies that have won Oscars. Or by looking at the great movies that didn’t win.

Sandboxing Deadline Extended to June 1 

News from Apple:

We have extended the deadline for sandboxing your apps on the Mac App Store from March 1st to June 1st to provide you with enough time to take advantage of new sandboxing entitlements available in OS X 10.7.3 and new APIs in Xcode 4.3.

If you’re interested in a deep, thoughtful take on the problems Mac developers are running into with sandboxing, Daniel Jalkut wrote a good piece last week. For some concrete problems encountered in a sandbox-enabled app as things stand today, see Craig Hockenberry’s brief piece on xScope 3.0, and Manton Reece on his decision to pull Clipstart from the Mac App Store.

If they had asked my advice, I’d have suggested postponing mandatory sandboxing until Mountain Lion is released. The problem here isn’t really about app developers needing more time to update their apps; it’s about Apple needing more time to improve the sandboxing rules and APIs.

Mountain Lion Details 

Nice list of new stuff in Mountain Lion from Serenity Caldwell at Macworld.

Microsoft Office for iPad Coming Soon? 

Nice scoop by Matt Hickey at The Daily.

Update: Nice scoop, if true. Mary Jo Foley:

A Microsoft spokesperson said the screen shot accompanying The Daily’s story is not a real picture of a Microsoft software product. But the spokesperson also said Microsoft is declining to comment as to whether or not the company has developed a version of Office for the iPad and/or when such a product may come to market. I’ve asked Daily Editor Peter Ha for a response (via Twitter). No word back so far from Ha.

So they’re saying the screenshot is phony, but that’s a non-denial denial that Office for iPad is in the works.

Pitcher and Catcher 

Yours truly, saying nice things about a Red Sox pitcher.

The Apple/Google Cold War 

During last week’s The Talk Show, I mentioned that Pocket-Lint got a statement from Apple PR regarding YouTube’s omission from Mountain Lion’s new system-wide sharing feature:

Most interesting of the three is the inclusion of Vimeo over YouTube, a choice that is bound to give the professional video-sharing site a boost in awareness and audience numbers, but also leave users wondering why no Google support from day one?

When asked why there was no YouTube support at the moment in the developer preview, Apple told Pocket-lint: “We have Vimeo, and we don’t have YouTube.”

Allow me to translate: “Fuck Google.

Mobile Safari ‘Accept Cookies’ Setting Keeps Changing to ‘Never’ 

After linking to this Danny Sullivan piece yesterday, I’ve gotten a bunch of emails from readers who report that on their iPhones, Mobile Safari’s “Accept cookies” preference is set to “Never”, even though they never changed it manually. Here’s an Apple support discussion thread about the issue. Sounds like a real pain in the ass, since without cookies, you won’t stay signed-in to any website. It turns Mobile Safari into the guy from Memento.

Here’s another thread on the same bug.

Lex Friedman Makes the Case for Siri on the Mac 

Lex Friedman:

And, of course, there’s transcription. Apple has never been hesitant to offer built-in competition to existing third-party apps, and while I’m sure the folks at Nuance wouldn’t appreciate an OS-level transcription service, I’m equally confident that Apple’s customers really would.

Siri on the Mac would be a huge accessibility win, if for the speech-to-text dictation alone.

The Oatmeal Tried to Watch ‘Game of Thrones’ and This Is What Happened 

Infuriatingly spot-on.

Not Just Safari 

Dean Hachamovitch, vice president of Internet Explorer:

When the IE team heard that Google had bypassed user privacy settings on Safari, we asked ourselves a simple question: is Google circumventing the privacy preferences of Internet Explorer users too?

Guess what the answer is. Just guess.

Google Didn’t ‘Track’ iPhones, but It Did Bypass Safari’s Privacy Settings 

Danny Sullivan has a good summary of last week’s WSJ story about Google circumventing Safari’s default setting to disallow third-party browser cookies. (I’m pretty sure he’s wrong that Mobile Safari defaults to disallowing all cookies, though.) Bottom line: the Journal story sensationalized what Google was doing, but Google still doesn’t come out of this looking good.

Update: I just double-checked on an iPhone restored to factory settings, and Safari’s “Accept cookies” preference defaults to “From visited”.

Dan Frakes on What’s New in Mail in Mountain Lion 

Lots of improvements, and one interesting omission: RSS feed reading has been removed.

That’s a Blank, All Right 

Jack Schofield, writing for ZDNet UK, “Apple Briefs Bloggers, Blanks New York Times”:

Apple has a track record of playing favourites with publications, so that a handful of journalists get treated like royalty while the plebs consider themselves lucky if they can extract a “no comment”. Of course, these very select American publications retain their editorial independence, but there’s always a hidden threat: they know that if they don’t provide the right sort of coverage, they can be excommunicated. And it looks as though that’s just happened to The New York Times.

Except that’s not what happened at all. Schofield’s “correction”, appended to the column:

Good for Pogue. It doesn’t change the fact that Apple is playing favourites, and Fortune’s Philip Elmer-DeWitt — who says he has been covering Apple since 1982 — has published Apple public relations’ new media pecking order.

It may not “change the fact that Apple is playing favorites”, but it does change the entire premise of Schofield’s column — that Apple “excommunicated” The New York Times because of its reporting on Apple’s use of Chinese manufacturing. No doubt the Times would have loved to have scored the exclusive Tim Cook interview, and, let’s face it, the “iEconomy” series certainly didn’t help their case. But the fact is, the Wall Street Journal probably would have gotten the same exclusive interview regardless if the “iEconomy” series had run. And David Pogue’s A-list status as a product reviewer is unchanged.

Regarding yours truly’s status on that same A-list, Schofield writes:

Someone with Apple Royalty status, such as The Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg, might well be blasé about this level of attention, but it’s pretty unusual stuff for bloggerdom.

No, it’s not. Previously, it’s true that Apple PR’s “prerelease access to new stuff” A-list included only the major national newspapers and news weeklies: the NYT, WSJ, USA Today, Time, and Newsweek. Over the last few years, however, that list has expanded to include writers from several online-only publications: MG Siegler, Josh Topolsky/The Verge, Jim Dalrymple/The Loop, Engadget, Slashgear, and others.

This level of attention from Apple is no longer unusual for “bloggerdom” — at least for those denizens of “bloggerdom” who get things right and don’t publish fabricated scurrilous accusations that have already been publicly refuted.

(As regards Elmer-DeWitt’s aforelinked “pecking order” — any writer who published a review of Mountain Lion with pre-announcement access to the software surely received the same sort of one-on-one briefing I did. The briefing goes hand-in-hand with the access to the pre-release product.)

Why Do We Still Care About the Dow? 

Sharp piece by Adam Davidson for the NYT Magazine:

And those are the least of the Dow’s problems. More troubling is that it ignores the overall size of companies and pays attention to only their share prices. This causes all sorts of oddities. ExxonMobil, for example, divides its value into nearly five billion lower-cost shares, while Caterpillar has around 650 million more expensive ones. Therefore ExxonMobil, one of the largest companies in history, pulls less weight on the Dow than a company less than a fifth its size.

I knew the Dow was imprecise and rather arbitrary compared to something like the S&P 500, but the more I learn about the Dow the more nonsensical I realize it is.

Tower 

My thanks to Fournova for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote Tower, their excellent and powerful Git client for the Mac. Git is the most popular modern version control system, but its command-line interface is, to say the least, a bit difficult. Tower makes Git way easier by wrapping a great Mac interface around it. Tower even includes built-in support for Git-hosting services like GitHub and Beanstalk.

Download the free trial and see for yourself. Buy it now and save 25 percent off the regular price.

Jumping to Conclusions 

Erik Wemple of The Washington Post notes this exclusive Mountain Lion-announcement-day interview the WSJ scored with Tim Cook and somehow concludes that Apple is giving The New York Times reduced access because of the Times’s “iEconomy” investigative reporting series. Problem is, The Wall Street Journal has been Apple’s favorite publication for exclusive leaks and interviews for years. For as long as I can recall, really. The Journal, for example, got the biggest exclusive in Apple history: the June 2009 leak that Steve Jobs had a liver transplant three months earlier.

It’s certainly possible that The Times might have been granted an interview with Cook as well if they had not run the iEconomy series, but Wemple doesn’t show any evidence of that, and recent history suggests they would not have.

Jackass stock swindler Henry Blodget reads Wemple’s report and concludes Apple’s “retaliation” against the Times includes blacklisting David Pogue:

The NYT’s gadget guru, David Pogue, did get a sneak-preview review copy of Apple’s new operating system for a week, which is another favor Apple PR gives to approved journalists. But he does not appear to have gotten access to Apple’s execs, the way John Gruber and the WSJ did. It would have been self-defeating for Apple PR to completely snub Pogue, who has his own following and who generally writes breathless reviews of Apple products. So Apple’s retaliation, in other words, appears to be cleverly subtle. Did we mention that Apple’s PR team is really good at this game?

By sheer coincidence, I can report that this is nonsense. When I left my briefing with Schiller last Wednesday in New York, waiting in the hallway for the next briefing was: David Pogue.

Microsoft’s Biggest Miss 

Intriguing argument from Patrick Rhone (and wife) on how Microsoft’s underestimation of iOS let slip the Office empire.

Osfoora for Mac 

Great new Mac Twitter client, $5 on the App Store. I’m giving it a shot as my primary client.

‘8:31 AM’ 

This week’s episode of The Talk Show, recorded yesterday with special guest John Siracusa. We talk about, of course, Mountain Lion. If you don’t enjoy this show, you’re not hooked up right.

Brought to you by Rackspace and Squarespace.

Steven Frank on Gatekeeper 

Steven Frank:

But I can’t find it in me to disparage this goodwill effort that Apple has undertaken to not turn every third-party developer upside-down with regard to app distribution. To me it’s a great sign that they’re aware and at some level sympathetic to our concerns, while remaining committed to a high-security experience for users.

Further cementing this feeling is the fact that we were invited to a private briefing at Apple about Gatekeeper a week before today’s announcement. Cabel was told point-blank that Apple has great respect for the third-party app community, and wants to see it continue to grow — they do not want to poison the well. I think their actions here speak even louder than their words, though.

Talk about doing things differently.

Wil Shipley’s November 2011 Call for Apple-Signed Mac Developer Certificates 

Wil Shipley, back in November:

There are three primary ways Apple increases security of applications running on the Mac and the iPhone: Sandboxing, Code Auditing, and Certification. While all these are incrementally valuable, none is perfect on its own.

The problem Mac developers are facing is that the two that Apple is enforcing on the Mac App Store (Sandboxing and Code Auditing) are implemented currently to be actively bad for developers and not particularly good for users. And the method that would provide the most benefit for developers and users (Certification) isn’t enforced broadly enough to be useful.

When I linked to this then, I wrote, “Let’s hope Apple is listening.” Looks like they were, because Mountain Lion’s Gatekeeper is very close to what Shipley asked for.

Farhad Manjoo: Apple’s Stock Price Is Still a Bargain 

Farhad Manjoo:

Not only is Apple not peaking, it is likely not even close to reaching its potential earnings in its two biggest markets, smartphones and tablets. Indeed, I suspect that one of the reasons Apple’s share price is so low is that it has been difficult, on a purely perceptual level, for investors to understand the financial opportunities the company is poised to realize. The numbers are just too big; it simply doesn’t seem possible that a single company could capture such a large part of the market. But not only is it possible — it is happening. The iPhone accounts for only 9 percent of the market share in smartphones, but Apple is earning 75 percent of the profits in smartphones. Its dominance in the tablet market is even more staggering.

I think one reason why Apple’s stock price has started to rise again regards the rule of thumb that investors dislike uncertainty. Especially in broad, simple terms. Steve Jobs’s health was uncertain. Apple’s ability to thrive without Jobs was uncertain. Tim Cook’s leadership was uncertain. I think we’re getting to the point now where the market, collectively, thinks Apple is going to do just fine with Cook as CEO.

Apple Sold More iOS Devices in 2011 Than All the Macs It Sold in 28 Years 

It’s getting harder and harder to put iOS’s success in perspective. The lesson: simplicity sells.

Update: Another thought: this fact is the definitive response to those arguments that Android is going to do to iOS what Windows did to the Mac. iOS is in uncharted territory for Apple.

Macworld’s Mountain Lion Coverage 

Hands-on coverage of pretty much everything that’s new in the developer preview. E.g., an entire article looking at Gatekeeper.

Messages Beta for Mac 

Much like Apple did with FaceTime, the new Messages app with iMessage integration is available early as a free beta — not something you need to wait for Mountain Lion to start using.

Christa Mrgan on the Evolution of Piezo 

I’m a sucker for these illustrated design-process stories.

There Are Now Over 100 Million iCloud Users 

Matthew Panzarino, on Cook’s Goldman Sachs appearance:

He also announced that its syncing service iCloud now has over 100M users. Just last month, Cook said that the service had 85M users, making this a growth of 15M users in 21 days.

Maybe this just correlates with the number of new iPhones and iPads sold over the past three weeks, but even if so, it shows that Apple has been successful at getting users to sign up for iCloud. It’s not just early adopters who rushed to sign up when it debuted — it’s millions of new users every week.

The S&P 499 

Speaking of Apple’s effect on market indexes:

Earlier this month, Jonathan Golub, the chief U.S. equity strategy at UBS AG, caused a stir among his clients by publishing two versions of his regular quarterly earnings update: one for the companies that make up the S&P 500, and another for what he calls “S&P 500 ex-Apple.”

“In two and a half years, I haven’t got as much response as I did to that note,” Mr. Golub says.

Kind of reminds me of the “non-iPad tablet market”.

Apple, Cisco, and Dow 15000 

Adam Nash:

Of course, being who I am, I went home and built a spreadsheet to recalculate what would have happened if Dow Jones had decided to add Apple to the index instead of Cisco back in 2009.  Imagine my surprise to see that the Dow be would over 2000 points higher.

In real life, the Dow closed at 12,874.04 on Feb 13, 2012.  However, if they had added Apple instead of Cisco, the Dow Jones would be at 14,926.95.  That’s over 800 points higher than the all-time high of 14,164 previously set on 4/7/2008.

Can you imagine what the daily financial news of this country would be if every day the Dow Jones was hitting an all-time high? 

Interesting to think about — but it’s really more of an argument against using the Dow as a measure of the whole market than an argument that Apple should have been included.

Transcript of Tim Cook’s Appearance at Goldman Sachs Technology Conference 

Regarding Apple TV:

Apple doesn’t do hobbies as a general rule. We believe in focus and only working on a few things. So, with Apple TV however, despite the barriers in that market, for those of us who use it, we’ve always thought there was something there. If we kept following our intuition and kept pulling the string, we might find something that was larger. For those people that have it right now, the customer satisfaction is off the chart. We need something that could go more main-market for it to be a serious category.

No hint from Cook, though, whether he thinks Apple has figured out what that “something” could be.

Note too how Cook emphasizes the centrality of iCloud to Apple’s strategy for the coming decade.

‘Insanely Simple’ 

Ken Segall:

I’ve written a book.

Something tells me you won’t be surprised when I tell you it’s about Steve Jobs and Apple. But this book is different. Really.

That’s because (a) I had a unique vantage point to some pivotal events in Apple history, and (b) this book focuses on one thing alone — the core value that has driven Apple since the beginning.

I’m greatly looking forward to this.

Samsung’s Galaxy Note Is the Most Useless Phone Jonathan Geller Has Ever Used 

Jonathan Geller:

The phone is too big. You will look stupid talking on it, people will laugh at you, and you’ll be unhappy if you buy it. I really can’t get around this, unfortunately, because Samsung pushed things way too far this time.

Hard to believe how much promotional effort Samsung and AT&T are putting behind this thing.

Samsung’s Super-Sized Galaxy Note 

Abdel Ibrahim and Jon Dick:

After just days with a Galaxy Note, my forearms have never been so toned, and my apartment’s never been so bare. Is it a tablet? Is it a phone? It’s everything.

iOS Apps and the Address Book: Who Has Your Data, and How They’re Getting It 

Dieter Bohn, The Verge:

Stated simply: any iOS app has complete access to a large amount of data stored on your iPhone, including your address book and calendar. Any iOS app can, without asking for your permission, upload all of the information stored in your address book to its servers. From there, the app developer can either use it to help find your friends, store it in perpetuity, or do any number of other things with it.

Over the course of the past day, we have been using the method explained by Arun Thampi (who discovered Path’s privacy violation) to investigate several dozen popular iOS apps. Our findings should bring both comfort and concern to any iPhone user — and to be frank the work of doing a similar investigation on Android and other platforms remains to be done.

Makes me wonder whether any apps are playing similar shenanigans on the Mac, where most apps still have unfettered access to all your data. (I say “still” because this is one of the problems that app sandboxing is meant to mitigate, but few third-party Mac apps are sandboxed yet.)

Apple: Access to Contact Data Will Require Explicit User Permission in Future Version of iOS 

John Paczkowski:

“Apps that collect or transmit a user’s contact data without their prior permission are in violation of our guidelines,” Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr told AllThingsD. “We’re working to make this even better for our customers, and as we have done with location services, any app wishing to access contact data will require explicit user approval in a future software release.”

I think this was inevitable.

iOS ’86 

This is fun, but the font should be Geneva 9, not Chicago, and the industrial design of the phone is all wrong. Should have looked like a little Apple IIc, or maybe something like this.

AAPL $500 

Ajay Makan and Dan McCrum, reporting for The Financial Times:

The technology group’s success has also given a healthy glow to corporate America. Were Apple’s results stripped out, Barclays Capital estimates earnings growth at S&P 500 companies that have reported fourth-quarter results would be 2.9 per cent rather than 7 per cent.

Apple: Fair Labor Association Begins Inspections of Foxconn 

Apple PR:

Apple today announced that the Fair Labor Association will conduct special voluntary audits of Apple’s final assembly suppliers, including Foxconn factories in Shenzhen and Chengdu, China, at Apple’s request. A team of labor rights experts led by FLA president Auret van Heerden began the first inspections Monday morning at the facility in Shenzhen known as Foxconn City.

This is the biggest challenge facing Apple today.

Mooresville School District, a Laptop Success Story 

Alan Schwartz, reporting for the NYT:

The district’s graduation rate was 91 percent in 2011, up from 80 percent in 2008. On state tests in reading, math and science, an average of 88 percent of students across grades and subjects met proficiency standards, compared with 73 percent three years ago. Attendance is up, dropouts are down. Mooresville ranks 100th out of 115 districts in North Carolina in terms of dollars spent per student — $7,415.89 a year — but it is now third in test scores and second in graduation rates.

WSJ: ‘Apple, Suppliers Test Tablet With Smaller Screen’ 

Lorraine Luk and Jessica Vascellaro, reporting from Taipei for the WSJ:

Officials at some of Apple’s suppliers, who declined to be named, said the Cupertino, Calif.-based company has shown them screen designs for a new device with a screen size of around 8-inches, and said it is qualifying suppliers for it. Apple’s latest tablet, the iPad 2, comes with a 9.7-inch screen. It was launched last year.

This is not the iPad 3, which I believe will have a same-sized (9.7 inches) double resolution display. This is a different iPad, which, last I heard, Apple was only considering, not committed to bringing to market. I wouldn’t bet on it.

Ed Bott: Why Windows on ARM Has a Desktop 

Ed Bott:

Why Windows Explorer? Because the new Metro style environment doesn’t have a full-strength file manager.

But why not write a file manager using Metro? Same for the decision to include both the desktop and Metro versions of IE — if the desktop version of IE has certain essential features, why not just add those features to the Metro version?

I still don’t get it.

Samsung Doesn’t Think Apple Can Compete in the TV Market 

Brian Ford hears echoes of former Palm CEO Ed Colligan in Samsung’s pooh-poohing of the potential threat of Apple TV sets.

Cancel or Allow Overload 

Justin Williams:

When we are overwhelmed or confused, we either leave the situation or just blindly access whatever it is. Do you ever read the end user license agreement for iTunes before you click the “Agree” button? Probably not, because it’s an overwhelming amount of tiny text. The same can be said for complex permissions and access dialogs. If you put too much in the face of the user, they will likely disregard it and say yes to get into the product itself.

Maybe the answer to the iOS address book situation is to require the user to grant explicit permission through a dialog box, but it’s not a slam-dunk decision. Every dialog box has a cost.

The Differences Between Intel and ARM Processors 

Fun nerdy piece by John Brownlee for Cult of Mac:

Is ARM really a threat to Intel? Yes, absolutely, and especially as we transition into Apple’s Post-PC world. But there is next to no chance Apple will replace Intel chips for ARM-based ones any time in the next five years. In fact, there’s a good chance the exact opposite could be true, and Intel chips will be powering our iPhones and iPads by then. Here’s why.

Digital Espionage 

Nicole Perlroth, reporting for The New York Times:

When Kenneth G. Lieberthal, a China expert at the Brookings Institution, travels to that country, he follows a routine that seems straight from a spy film.

He leaves his cellphone and laptop at home and instead brings “loaner” devices, which he erases before he leaves the United States and wipes clean the minute he returns. In China, he disables Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, never lets his phone out of his sight and, in meetings, not only turns off his phone but also removes the battery, for fear his microphone could be turned on remotely. He connects to the Internet only through an encrypted, password-protected channel, and copies and pastes his password from a USB thumb drive. He never types in a password directly, because, he said, “the Chinese are very good at installing key-logging software on your laptop.”

Fascinating story, but with regard to his password technique: clipboard history loggers are just as easily installed as keystroke loggers, no? If your device has been compromised, there’s no safe way to enter a password.

iOS Address Book Access Should Prompt the User for Permission 

Marco Arment:

When implementing these features, I felt like iOS had given me far too much access to Address Book without forcing a user prompt. It felt a bit dirty. Even though I was only accessing the data when a customer explicitly asked me to, I wanted to look at only what I needed to and get out of there as quickly as possible. I never even considered storing the data server-side or looking at more than I needed to.

This, apparently, is not a common implementation courtesy.

Instagram Now Asks for Permission to Share Contacts 

This is how it should be. (Couple of other nice new features in the latest update, too.)

Audio Hijack Pro 

My thanks to Rogue Amoeba for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote Audio Hijack Pro, their indispensable audio recording app for the Mac. As they say, if you can hear it on your Mac, Audio Hijack Pro can record it. Skype conversations, streaming radio, or recording a note via your microphone — you name it. Audio Hijack Pro even works to capture audio from sandboxed App Store apps.

Download their free trial, then purchase from Rogue Amoeba’s store. This week only, Daring Fireball readers can save 25 percent using coupon code “DF201202”. Great app at a great discount.

A Conversation With Amy Jane Gruber 

For your weekend enjoyment, even more podcast fun: my wife Amy is the guest on this week’s Let’s Make Mistakes.

Wow, Is That a Pen? 

This week’s episode of The Talk Show, with topics including iPad 3 rumors, Windows 8 on ARM, LTE hardware, Google’s purportedly imminent Dropbox competitor, Super Bowl ads, and Path doing the wrong thing the wrong way.

Brought to you by Smile and Sourcebits.

Bookle 

New app from Stairways Software — a $10 Mac e-book reader for DRM-free ePub books. Included with the app is, self-referentially, Take Control of Bookle, by Adam Engst.

No Third-Party Code on the Windows on ARM Desktop 

Peter Bright, Ars Technica:

The built-in Windows apps — including Explorer and Internet Explorer 10 — and four Office apps — Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote — would run on the desktop, but nothing else would. Third-party applications would be prohibited, and there would be no provision to port existing desktop applications to run on the ARM desktop.

This led to an immediate, if somewhat surprising, reaction across the Internet. “But what about browser plugins? Will they also be forbidden?”

The answer to that is “Yes.” Or perhaps even “Yes, of course they are, since it was stated in unequivocal terms that there would be no provision to run third-party code on the desktop. That means you, Flash.”

So maybe I was right that Windows on ARM would go Metro-only — it’s just that they’ve made an exception for a few built-in apps from Microsoft itself. Why include desktop versions of Explorer and IE, though? Why include two different versions of IE if even the desktop version doesn’t allow plugins?

Also: this seems to suggest that the Office suite is included free-of-charge with Windows on ARM. That’s a pretty bold move considering how much money Microsoft makes from Office licensing.

Leaked Download Counts for USA Today Tablet Apps 

Todd Bishop:

The undated slide shows 260,000 downloads of the USA Today app for Kindle Fire, the Android-based tablet released by Amazon last fall. That is double the 130,000 cumulative downloads of the USA Today app for other Android tablets.

It still pales in comparison to the more than 2.9 million total downloads of the USA Today iPad app, but the iPad has also been around for a lot longer than the Amazon tablet.

Even the HP TouchPad has double the downloads of all Android tablets combined.

Joanna Stern Reviews the MacBook Air as a Windows 7 Laptop 

Joanna Stern:

I could go on and on about how much better the touchpad experience is on the Air, but the big question I’ve always had is: why? Why is it that other laptop makers haven’t mastered the touch experience and Apple has been able to make it work so fluidly, even with another operating system?

Because no one other than Apple gives a shit about doing the hard work to get things like this right.

Interesting note on battery life: the Air got over 6 hours of battery life running Mac OS X, but only 4 running Windows 7.

‘Can You Hear Me, Dave?’ 

Apple’s 1999 Super Bowl ad. It’s like they made this one just for me.

Paul Thurrott Giveth Common Sense, Paul Thurrott Taketh Away 

Not so good a piece by Paul Thurrott:

But the big takeaway here is simple. Windows on ARM, or “WOA,” as Microsoft calls it, looks like more than a credible answer to the iPad. In fact, it looks like something that will relegate the iPad to the backwater of the tablet market, much as Windows did to the Mac.

That’s simply not going to happen. Comparisons to the Mac are impossible — the iPad is now far more popular than the Mac ever was. They sold over 15 million iPads last quarter; in the old days, when the Mac-vs.-DOS/Windows war was running hot, Apple sold around 1 million Macs per quarter. I say Windows 8 should be deemed a success if it simply joins iOS as a successful tablet computing platform. It’s not too late for others to join the tablet party, but it is too late to keep the iPad out.

And they will ship with full, but touch-enabled, versions of the coming Office 15 apps, which should be a neat final nail in the coffin of those overpriced luxury items from Cupertino.

There’s a kernel of wisdom here, which is that the Office 15 apps should be the best selling point in favor of Windows 8 tablets versus the iPad, for those buying tablets for use as a secondary or even tertiary computing device in a job that’s already dependent upon Microsoft Office. When I travel, I see gobs of corporate businesspeople using iPads; with a real version of Office, many of those people may well be using Windows 8 tablets a year from now. It’s a genuinely compelling hook.

But “overpriced”? Really? If anything, the opposite remains the case: no one can match Apple on pricing for comparatively-spec’d tablets. Remember when everyone thought the iPad was going to start at $999? (Including Thurrott himself?)

Why Microsoft Shouldn’t Focus Only on Windows 

Good piece by Paul Thurrott, arguing that “Office everywhere” might be a better strategy for Microsoft than “Windows everywhere”:

So what would an unfettered Office look like? […]

You’d also target other popular computing platforms — primarily iOS/iPad but also iOS/iPhone and Android for both smartphones and tablets. You’d make sure that Office ran as well as possible on all of these platforms, and not just a single app but as many Office apps as possible. You’d speak openly about how the computing world was changing and that for a large percentage of customers, just having an A-1 product on Windows PCs wasn’t enough.

Motorola Exec on Android Upgrade Delays: It’s the Hardware 

Sascha Segan, PCMag:

It’s the hardware, said Christy Wyatt, senior vice president and general manager of Motorola’s Enterprise Business Unit. The issue at hand, according to Wyatt, is that writing code to support hardware other than Google’s Nexus model has proven to be a tall order for smartphone makers.

“When Google does a release of the software … they do a version of the software for whatever phone they just shipped,” she said. “The rest of the ecosystem doesn’t see it until you see it. Hardware is by far the long pole in the tent, with multiple chipsets and multiple radio bands for multiple countries. It’s a big machine to churn.”

Presumably this will change for Motorola once they’re a Google subsidiary. In the meantime though, the simple truth is that if you want Android 4.0, you’ve got to buy a new phone.

Today’s Social Media Landscape Explained With Donuts 

A little sad that Flickr doesn’t even warrant a mention.

Kodak to Stop Selling Digital Cameras 

Dana Mattioli, reporting for the WSJ:

The decision to shutter the business, which Kodak says will save it more than $100 million a year, is the strongest symbol yet of the sea change in consumer electronics and decades of missteps that forced the former blue-chip company to seek bankruptcy protection last month.

A sad fate for a once-great company. But when not selling a product saves you $100 million a year, you know you were in the wrong business or doing business wrong.

Google Wants 2.25 Percent Royalty for Every iPhone Sold 

Florian Mueller:

Google’s letter spans over four pages but fails to provide satisfactory answers to those burning questions. With sincere intentions, Google could have put on a page — or a page and a half — everything that other companies in the industry, and consumers using the ubiquitous standards over which Motorola is suing others, need to be reassured about. Look at Apple’s and Microsoft’s concise and crystal clear statements. Why can’t Google provide clarity like that? Because its four pages aren’t meant to improve anything. Google is basically saying that it will do exactly what Motorola is already doing now.

Apple can be a dick about patents. Microsoft can be a dick about patents. But of the three, only Google is a hypocrite about patents — against their use as a competitive weapon only until they have their own to use.

Windows on ARM to Include Traditional Desktop Interface 

Steven Sinofsky:

Using WOA “out of the box” will feel just like using Windows 8 on x86/64. You will sign in the same way. You will start and launch apps the same way. You will use the new Windows Store the same way. You will have access to the intrinsic capabilities of Windows, from the new Start screen and Metro style apps and Internet Explorer, to peripherals, and if you wish, the Windows desktop with tools like Windows File Explorer and desktop Internet Explorer. […]

Some have suggested we might remove the desktop from WOA in an effort to be pure, to break from the past, or to be more simplistic or expeditious in our approach. To us, giving up something useful that has little cost to customers was a compromise that we didn’t want to see in the evolution of PCs. The presence of different models is part of every platform. Whether it is to support a transition to a future programming model (such as including a virtualization or emulation solution if feasible), to support different programming models on one platform (native and web-based applications when both are popular), or to support different ways of working (command shell or GUI for different scenarios), the presence of multiple models represents a flexible solution that provides a true no-compromise experience on any platform.

Count me in as one who suggested they go Metro-only on ARM. I believe this is a grave error on Microsoft’s part; that they’re ceding the future of personal computing to Apple and the iPad by doing this.

WSJ: Google Developing Home Entertainment System 

Amir Efrati and Ethan Smith, reporting for the WSJ:

Google Inc. is developing a home-entertainment system that streams music wirelessly throughout the home and would be marketed under the company’s own brand, according to people briefed on the company’s plans.

The effort marks a sharp shift in strategy for Google, which for the first time would design and market consumer electronic devices under the Google brand.

If Amazon can get into the hardware business, why not Google too? I have to presume that such a device would work with video, too, not just audio. Audio-only doesn’t make any sense to me.

See also: Dan Frommer.

How to Take Pictures of Receipts (or Anything Else) and Automatically Add Them to Yojimbo With Whatever Tags You Want 

Great tip from Shawn Blanc, tying together Dropbox, Yojimbo, Folder Action scripts, and a new-to-me iPhone app called QuickShot.

Detox 

Nifty Safari extension by Shaun Inman:

Ever wonder why links you find via Twitter don’t show up in your browser history and aren’t suggested by autocomplete in the url bar? The t.co link shortener serves known browser user agents an HTML page containing a JavaScript or meta refresh redirect (instead of the standard Location header) so that Twitter can stake itself out as the referrer when coming from third-party clients. This confuses Safari.

Keeps your history from filling up with indistinguishable untitled t.co URLs.

Twittelator Neue 

I sing the praises of Tweetbot every few weeks, but I still believe what I wrote almost three years ago: “Twitter Clients Are a UI Design Playground”. Another new iOS Twitter client that deserves attention is Twittelator Neue, from Stone Design. In a sense it’s a rather opposite design approach from Tweetbot — light vs. heavy.

Stealing Your Address Book 

Dustin Curtis:

Usually, when I am curious about something Apple has done, I try to understand the design thinking that went into the decision. In this case, I can’t think of a rational reason for why Apple has not placed any protections on Address Book in iOS. It makes no sense. It is a breach of my privacy, and it has allowed every app I’ve installed to steal my address book.

I understand that Apple doesn’t want us to be badgered by too many permission-granting alerts, but address book data is sensitive enough to warrant it, in my opinion. Why not treat it like they do location data?

John Williams Turns 80 

Five of his classic scores, with a bit of his own commentary. You could argue that Williams is the most successful artist in the history of film. (Via Jim Coudal.)

John Paczkowski: Apple to Announce iPad 3 First Week in March 

John Paczkowski:

Sources say the company has chosen the first week in March to debut the successor to the iPad 2, and will do so at one of its trademark special events. The event will be held in San Francisco, presumably at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Apple’s preferred location for big announcements like these.

I believe it.

Guilt by Dissociation 

Chuck Jordan:

It was never just about getting a name wrong. It’s that even when you take Blue’s backpedalling at face value, it’s still offensively dismissive of women in tech. […]

Correcting and dismissing Blue’s posts was never about Men vs. Women. It’s about accuracy vs. inaccuracy, good writing vs. bad writing, journalism vs. whatever the hell it is she’s doing, and misogyny vs. respect.

Nicely said.

Fountain: Plain-Text Markup Format for Screenwriting 

What Markdown is for web content, Fountain is for screenplays. Looks great. See more in the announcements from co-creators Stu Maschwitz and John August. (Writes August, “Good ideas sometimes sit around for a while.” True.)

Tweetbot for iPad 

My favorite iPhone Twitter client is now available for the iPad too. I’ve been using it for a few weeks and it’s just terrific. I love it.

How iTunes Match Works for Copyright Holders 

Jeff Price got his first iTunes Match royalty check, and he’s happy:

A person has a song on her computer hard drive. She clicks on the song and plays it. No one is getting paid. The same person pays iTunes $25 for iMatch. She now clicks on the same song and plays it through her iMatch service. Copyright holders get paid.

Same action, same song, one makes money for the copyright holder, and one does not. This is found money that the copyright holders would never have gotten otherwise.

I wasn’t really sure before how artists would get paid for iTunes Match.

Path Makes Things Right 

Dave Morin, CEO of Path:

We believe you should have control when it comes to sharing your personal information. We also believe that actions speak louder than words. So, as a clear signal of our commitment to your privacy, we’ve deleted the entire collection of user uploaded contact information from our servers. Your trust matters to us and we want you to feel completely in control of your information on Path.

In Path 2.0.6, released to the App Store today, you are prompted to opt in or out of sharing your phone’s contacts with our servers in order to find your friends and family on Path.

Perfect response.

Inside Instagram 

Nice profile by Mat Honan:

Instagram isn’t just small; it’s tiny. It’s miniscule. It is famously located in Twitter’s old digs in San Francisco’s South Park neighborhood. But here’s the thing: Instagram subleases its space from another company. Instagram isn’t in Twitter’s old office, it’s in Twitter’s old conference room. The entire company is nothing more than a collection of desks arranged bullpen-style in a room that is smaller than most two-car garages.

Nothing Personal 

Cade Metz, reporting for The Register a year ago:

“The proliferation of Flash [on mobile] is actually happening,” David Wadhwani, executive and senior vice president for Adobe’s Creative and Interactive Solutions, told reporters on Thursday during a gathering at Adobe’s San Francisco offices. “Flash does not run in the browser on iOS devices yet, but we’re confident — given the momentum we’re seeing on other devices and the consumer interest — that we’re on the right track [in the rest of the market].”

That didn’t last long.

Steve Jobs’ rather personal attack on Flash only encouraged his competitors to embrace the technology — in a big way.

The thing is, it wasn’t personal. Read Jobs’s Thoughts on Flash again. His argument is rational, technical, and strategic — and holds up very well in hindsight. The ones who allowed personal feelings to enter the equation were those who mistook Apple’s stance toward Flash as a spiteful vendetta.

Path Uploads Your Entire iPhone Address Book to Its Servers 

Arun Thampi, after examining the network traffic between Path’s iPhone app and their servers:

Upon inspecting closer, I noticed that my entire address book (including full names, emails and phone numbers) was being sent as a plist to Path. Now I don’t remember having given permission to Path to access my address book and send its contents to its servers, so I created a completely new “Path” and repeated the experiment and I got the same result — my address book was in Path’s hands.

Path’s reaction, paraphrased: Hey, no big deal. We’re only using the data to help you find your friends.

Everyone else in the world’s reaction: Dude, that’s fucked up.

Gartner: Western European PC Shipments Fell 16 Percent in Fourth Quarter of 2011 

Gartner:

PC shipments in Western Europe totaled 16.3 million units in the fourth quarter of 2011, a 16 per cent decline from the equivalent period in 2010, according to Gartner, Inc. For the year, PC shipments numbered 58.5 million units in Western Europe in 2011, also a 16 percent decrease from 2010.

The PC market in Western Europe has suffered four consecutive quarters of shipment decline.

Sounds like a trend.

Chrome for Android Won’t Support Flash 

Remember when Android’s (and the BlackBerry Playbook’s, and WebOS’s) support for Flash was supposed to be a competitive advantage against iOS?

Chrome for Android 

MG Siegler reviews the brand-new and long-awaited Chrome for Android:

First of all, yes, Chrome for Android is here. Second, it’s only compatible with Ice Cream Sandwich which is currently on — wait for it — 1% of Android devices. But in an attempt to add some silver-lining to the 1% joke, I will say that Chrome for Android is of a much higher class than the previous Android browser, the aptly-named and horribly icon’d: Browser.

Browser is dead. Long live Chrome.

Thus ends the single most perplexing thing about Android: why its web browser was so horrendous. Conventional wisdom says Apple is the one pushing native apps and Google is the web-first company, but you’d never guess it judging by their respective mobile web browsers.

I installed Chrome on my Galaxy Nexus review unit and I concur with MG — it’s good. It still doesn’t zoom or scroll as well as Mobile Safari (not even close), but it’s so much better than the old Browser it isn’t funny. My biggest gripe with Chrome for Android is that it feels overly skewed toward search. Bookmarks are tucked several taps away, unlike Mobile Safari where they’re one tap away in a menu at the bottom of the screen. But overall, the interaction design is good: useful, attractive, obvious, and efficient.

That’s No Moon 

Samsung is heading into Gordon Gekko territory.

Alternate Joke: If your phone is bigger than your face, you have polio.

It’s Been a Long 15 Years 

If you want a visceral sense of just how far Apple has come since the NeXT acquisition and Steve Jobs’s return, you’ll do no better than watching this video from Macworld Expo 1997. Then-CEO Gil Amelio rambles on and on, woefully unprepared and unrehearsed. Then, Jobs takes the stage, unusually-dressed but with a tight presentation and an actual plan. Then Amelio returns to preside over what must be the worst and most awkward product introduction in company history.

Salon: 33 Percent Fewer Posts; 40 Percent Greater Traffic 

Salon editor Kerry Lauerman:

We’ve also — completely against the trend — slowed down our process. We’ve tried to work longer on stories for greater impact, and publish fewer quick-takes that we know you can consume elsewhere. We’re actually publishing, on average, roughly one-third fewer posts on Salon than we were a year ago (from 848 to 572 in December; 943 to 602 in January). So: 33 percent fewer posts; 40 percent greater traffic.

Good news. But it shouldn’t be surprising that for a certain audience, quality is far more important than quantity.

Apple Shopping New Apple TV to Potential Broadband Partners? 

Intriguing report by Rita Trichur, Grant Robertson, Boyd Erman, and Steve Ladurantaye, for the Globe and Mail:

While the iTV product remains cloaked in secrecy, sources say Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple has approached Rogers and Bell as it actively pursues partnerships with Canadian carriers.

“They’re not closed to doing it with one [company] or doing it with two,” said one source who is familiar with the talks. “They’re looking for a partner. They’re looking for someone with wireless and broadband capabilities.”

Another source, also speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Rogers and Bell already have the product in their labs.

I’ve never heard anything about this before, but if true, it suggests that Apple is approaching this new (or perhaps just updated?) TV product as something akin to the iPhone — with broadband providers playing the role mobile carriers do with the iPhone.

The Best Super Bowl Ad 

Jim Cramer:

But there was one ad that struck me as the most honest, most riveting and most compelling of all. You see, the game had just ended, and Colts great Raymond Berry ran the Giant gantlet with the Lombardi Trophy. Suddenly it seemed like every other Giant pulled out an Apple iPhone to snap pictures of the moment. One after another after another. And I said to myself, there it is, not some pet dangling a bag of chips or some headlights killing vampires or King Elton getting trapdoored. Nope, there was an ad worthy of Steve Jobs and the company he built.

Screenshots here.

New High-DPI UI Resources in 10.7.3 

Have you noticed that Safari’s hovering-over-a-link pointing-finger cursor looks a little different in Mac OS X 10.7.3? It’s not just that the finger is at a slightly different angle — it’s a new UI resource that scales gracefully to larger sizes. That’s not the only new high-DPI image resource in 10.7.3: the grabby hand in Mail, the camera cursor for selecting an individual window to take a screenshot of, and a few other UI elements got the high-DPI treatment in 10.7.3.

The simplest explanation is that Apple only just now got around to increasing the resolution of these elements for the benefit of users who use the cursor-zooming Universal Access feature. But, combined with the fact that some people with Mac Minis connected to TVs via HDMI are reporting that after upgrading to 10.7.3, their system rebooted in HiDPI mode, I can’t help but wonder whether we may be on the cusp of Apple releasing HiDPI Mac displays and/or HiDPI MacBooks. I.e.: retina display Macs.

I’ve been anticipating super-high-resolution Mac displays for over five years, so take my conjecture here with a grain of wishful-thinking salt.

Steve Ballmer Laughs at iPhone in 2007 

After noting that Apple’s iPhone business now generates more revenue than all of Microsoft combined, MG Siegler linked once again to this classic 2007 interview with Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

Nobody enjoys laughing at utterly-wrong-in-hindsight claim chowder like I do, but in all seriousness, this interview, to me, is all the proof Microsoft’s board needs that Ballmer should be asked to step down. (Or, really, that he should have been asked to step down a few years ago, as soon as it became clear just how successful the iPhone was going to be.) The damning thing isn’t that Apple got there first; it’s that even after Apple revealed it, that Ballmer didn’t get it, that he didn’t see instantly that Apple had unveiled something amazing and transformative. All Ballmer could see was the near future, the next few months where the iPhone was indeed too expensive and where typing on a touchscreen was a novelty.

Of course Microsoft’s CEO wasn’t going to sing the iPhone’s praises. But if he had a true understanding of what they suddenly found themselves up against, he sure as shit would not have laughed at it.

Honeywell Goes After Nest Learning Thermostat for Patent Infringement 

So depressing. It’d be one thing if Honeywell had an even vaguely Nest-like product to defend. But they don’t. And how did they get a patent for this:

U.S. Patent No. 7,634,504 - this patent was filed in 2006 (issued 2009) and covers displaying grammatically complete sentences while programming a thermostat.

Why Didn’t Apple Advertise During the Super Bowl? 

Lance Ulanoff thinks Apple should have advertised during yesterday’s Super Bowl:

I worry that without Steve Jobs, Apple may have lost some of its fighting spirit. For all his quirks, Jobs was a fighter. He liked to deride the competition and then beat them, as publicly as possible. Imagine if right after the Samsung Super Bowl ad, Apple had run some sort of iconic spot for, say, the Apple iTV: “Television is about to change forever, thanks to the company that, 28 years ago, changed computing forever. Watch…” Now that would’ve been cool. Jobs would have done it.

No he wouldn’t have. The 1984 Super Bowl ad was amazing, but it’s ancient history. An Apple Super Bowl ad yesterday teasing an upcoming product — Apple TV, iPad, anything — would have been a sign of post-Jobs strategic change.

Jobs is only dead for a few months, but Ulanoff has seemingly already forgotten how he ran the company. I can’t remember the last time Apple ran a Super Bowl ad. Super Bowl ads bring high-profile attention to major announcements. Apple doesn’t need to pay for Super Bowl ads to get high-profile attention for major announcements. Apple uses TV advertisements to reinforce the message and branding of its most popular existing products. The Super Bowl is of questionable value for that sort of advertising.

Apple doesn’t tease upcoming products. They announce them when they’re ready. As for Samsung’s ads mocking those who wait in line for new Apple products, I imagine Apple sees no more need to respond than Coke does to Pepsi’s decades-long “we’re happy to be in second place” advertising strategy of making fun of Coke.

Whoops 

Chris Davies, SlashGear:

HTC “dropped the ball” on its 2011 devices, the company’s CFO has admitted, with LTE-equipped handsets simply too thick and offering insufficient battery life. Speaking on the company’s financial results call today, following HTC’s unappealing Q4 2011 results, Chief Financial Officer Winston Yung conceded that HTC had plenty of work to do improving both “design and components.”

I, for one, am shocked — shocked! — that big thick phones with poor battery life fared poorly.

The iOS-ification of Apple’s Ecosystem 

Federico Viticci:

The iOS-ification of OS X is, at this point, inevitable, and anyone who doesn’t see it, or tries to neglect, is either software-blind or has some kind of interest in that way of thinking.

Prime 

Terrific short film by Ben Wu and David Usui about Prime Burger Restaurant, a midtown Manhattan institution. (Via Rusty Blazenhoff.)

Name Rings a Bell 

Robert McMillan, writing for Wired:

Could the low-power chip design that’s used in your iPhone someday show up inside the chips built by Intel rival Advanced Micro Devices?

Definitely maybe. Or as AMD’s brand new Chief Technology Officer Mark Papermaster put it to us: “The answer is not no.”

Yeah, that Mark Papermaster.

Doxie Go + Wi-Fi 

My thanks to Apparent for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote their new Doxie Go + Wi-Fi — a tiny, portable, wireless scanner that works anywhere. It includes great Mac software that creates searchable PDFs and integrates easily with just about any imaginable workflow. Save scans to Dropbox, Evernote, Yojimbo, your iPhone/iPad photo roll, or keep them in the Doxie app. And with Wi-Fi, your scans push wirelessly and instantly to your Mac, iPhone, or iPad.

Doxie Go helps you go not just paperless, but wireless. I bought one a few months ago and love it.

Judge Not By What They Do, But Rather By How They Spin 

Avram Piltch of Laptop magazine, talking to Li Qiang, founder of China Labor Watch:

“Dell and Hewlett Packard are not doing as good as Apple is doing right now,” Li Said. “But when we talk about publicity and public relations, it’s another story.”

So who does CLW spend the most effort criticizing — the companies whose actual labor practices are worse, or the one whose “public relations” (read: willingness to take a meeting with CLW) are worse? Take a guess.

Apple Updates iBooks Author With Clarified EULA 

Matthew Panzarino:

Apple has updated its iBooks Author app in order to clarify the language of its End User License Agreement. The changes to the EULA clarify that Apple does indeed intend the packaged product to be sold on the iBookstore only, but also make it clear that it does not lay claim to the content that you use to create the book, nor does it try to limit what you can do with that content elsewhere.

First 

Horace Dediu:

Apple reached 75% of profit share, nearly 40% of revenue share and 9% of units share.

Apple and Samsung combined for about 91% of profits with RIM third at 3.7%, HTC fourth at 3.0% and Nokia last at 1.8% of a $15 billion total for the quarter.

Not bad.

In Praise of Cheap Labor 

Paul Krugman, writing for Slate back in 1997:

Such moral outrage is common among the opponents of globalization — of the transfer of technology and capital from high-wage to low-wage countries and the resulting growth of labor-intensive Third World exports. These critics take it as a given that anyone with a good word for this process is naive or corrupt and, in either case, a de facto agent of global capital in its oppression of workers here and abroad.

But matters are not that simple, and the moral lines are not that clear. In fact, let me make a counter-accusation: The lofty moral tone of the opponents of globalization is possible only because they have chosen not to think their position through. While fat-cat capitalists might benefit from globalization, the biggest beneficiaries are, yes, Third World workers.

Keep in mind that Krugman is, by anyone’s standards, a true liberal.

Planned Parenthood Action Center 

If you’re as disappointed as I am with the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation’s decision to drop funding for breast cancer screening at Planned Parenthood, do what I did: donate to Planned Parenthood.

(Cupertino-area readers, take note: Planned Parenthood is a registered 501c3, and thus eligible for a matching donation from Apple.)

iTunes Store Credit 20 Percent Off 

The good news: Best Buy is selling iTunes gift cards at 80 cents on the dollar.

The bad news: you have to shop at Best Buy.

Microsoft Pushes for Plugin-Free Web 

John Hrvatin from the Internet Explorer team:

The transition to a plug-in free Web is happening today. Any site that uses plug-ins needs to understand what their customers experience when browsing plug-in free. Lots of Web browsing today happens on devices that simply don’t support plug-ins. Even browsers that do support plug-ins offer many ways to run plug-in free.

Metro style IE runs plug-in free to improve battery life as well as security, reliability, and privacy for consumers.

How long until Google joins the party?

Five-Year-Old Analyzes Logos 

Astute and adorable.

Backpedalling 

Shawn King on Violet Blue’s odd response to having it pointed out that the Macworld/iWorld “booth babe” she wrote about was not a booth babe:

All is not lost. I have a solution for Violet Blue and ZDNet. First, offer a public apology to Piroska Szurmai-Palotai. Secondly, restore the story to its original writing. Yes, both are embarrassing actions but ones that real journalists recognize must be done from time to time. Offer a sincere mea culpa to both the developer, the Mac Community and to journalists everywhere.

And finally, offer to pay for the same booth for Ms Piroska Szurmai-Palotai and her company at next year’s Macworld.

See also this follow-up.

Caviar and Champagne 

This week’s episode of America’s second-best podcast features discussion regarding Macworld/iWorld, the evolution and future of cameras and camera makers, and Apple’s Chinese manufacturing partners.

Brought to you by FreshBooks and MailChimp.

Zuckerberg’s Share 

Nick Bilton and Evelyn Rusli, reporting for the NYT on who’s profiting from the Facebook IPO:

Mr. Zuckerberg, 27, has 533.8 million shares, worth $28.4 billion based on a company valuation of $100 billion, or $53 a share. He also has undisputed control of the company, a remarkable achievement since the company has received financing from some of the world’s top business minds. He owns 28.4 percent of the company outright and he controls 57 percent of the voting rights. […]

Bill Gates controlled only 49.2 percent of Microsoft as it went public in 1986. Google’s co-founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, each owned about 15 percent of their company when it went public in 2004.

I’m not much interested in and don’t use Facebook, so I seldom write about them. But that Zuckerberg was able to hold onto so much stock and an astounding majority of the voting rights is proof that his success is no fluke. The guy must be a badass at the negotiating table.

Dangers of Fracking 

Clever, informative website by Linda Dong.

Having a Wee Bit of Trouble 

Siri comes to Scotland.

Comparison of First Seven Quarters: iPod, iPhone, iPod 

Nice little chart from the great Horace Dediu. If you asked me what the most underrated aspect of Apple is today, I’d say it’s the speed at which iPad sales have grown. The iPhone took off fast, but the iPad has taken off way, way faster. I suspect many Apple watchers consider the iPad an iPhone-like success — but it’s far bigger.

Dalrymple: ‘Apple Will Not Hold an Event in February’ 

As usual, I would not bet against Jim.

Red Blooded 

Sweet video for a sweet notebook; effects all done in-camera.

Not Everyone Copies Apple 

Interesting contrast between the new CEOs of Apple and Sony.

The Global Handset Business in One Chart 

Informative data visualization by Benedict Evans.

‘Think Profit’ 

MG Siegler compares Apple’s profit-focused business approach to Amazon’s:

As their dance with the dreaded red line proves, Amazon isn’t anywhere close to operating the way Walmart does yet. In fact, Amazon’s margins are so slim that Facebook, which just filed to go public today, recorded nearly double the profit of Amazon last year ($1 billion versus $631 million). That’s pretty crazy when you think about it.

Avid Studio for iPad 

$5 video-editing iPad app from Avid. No word on an Android version.

Like Royal Weddings 

Nat Torkington:

Tech Giant IPOs are like Royal Weddings: the people act nice but you know it’s a seething roiling pit of hate, greed, money, and desperation that goes on a bit too long so by the end you just want to put an angry chili-covered porcupine in everyone’s anus and set them all on fire. But perhaps I’m jaded.

Bonus points for tagging the post with “porcupines”.

Apple Passes LG to Become World’s Third Largest Mobile Phone Manufacturer 

Eric Slivka, MacRumors:

Apple’s share of the market hit 8.7% in the fourth quarter and registered at 6.0% for the full year. Steve Jobs famously noted during the iPhone’s 2007 introduction that Apple was shooting to take 1% of the massive overall mobile phone market, and the company has clearly exceeded that goal and can now set its sights on a 10% quarterly share during the next spike in sales.

I’ve long held that Apple’s share of the overall phone market is a far more interesting metric than their share of “smartphones”. All phones will soon be smartphones.

Dixons Apparently Sucks 

Ben Rooney, writing for the WSJ:

Presumably Mr. Browett interviews really, really well, and perhaps Apple CEO Tim Cook has yet to visit a PC World or Currys (Dixon’s face of retail in the U.K.), but the two retail experiences are poles apart.

Apple stores are the epitome of tasteful design, with no visible cash registers, highly trained staff and an exacting attention to visual appeal; think gleaming white counters, bleached wood floors, minimal and tasteful signage.

Currys and PC World are more in the “stack ‘em high, sell ‘em cheap” end of retail, with all of the associated aesthetic appeal of that school of selling: garish purples, violent yellows, stacks of products, cluttered, aggressive, frenetic.

You can argue that Target (Ron Johnson’s gig prior to his Apple stint) isn’t much like an Apple Store either, but at least Target is tasteful, places value on design, and strives for a pleasant shopping experience. Those are values shared with Apple. Dixons and PC World seemingly share no values with Apple.

I’m not implying that Browett was hired to or intends to Dixons-ify the Apple Store experience — just pointing out that it’s a curious hire, also given how rarely Apple hires executives from outside the company.

Macworld 2012 

Astute summary of last week’s show by Shawn Blanc.

Similar take from Chris Foresman at Ars Technica, who summed the changes thus:

As a tech journalist, Macworld has gradually become less interesting. As a user of Apple’s products and a geek in general, however, the show has become perhaps more interesting.

70 Percent of All Smartphones Sold by AT&T and Verizon Last Quarter Were iPhones 

Android’s market share victory is imminent.

This Is Sad All Right 

Violet Blue, writing about last week’s Macworld/iWorld Expo:

I was, in fact, looking at The Saddest Booth Babe In The World. […]

She sat on a stool in between two large monitors across the aisle from us. The pretty brunette was in one of those big corner booths that paid a few bucks for that sorta-prime real estate you know is a gamble for whoever forked over the money to sell wignuts or widgets or iPhone cases or other sundry USB landfill.

Her shoulders were hunched and her hands sat limply in her lap beneath breasts that were packaged air-tight in a tight, branded t-shirt.

She stared at the floor. Unlike her counterparts, she never smiled. Sad booth babe was sad.

But as Shawn King points out in the comments under the photo, the woman in question doesn’t look anything at all like a “booth babe” — she simply looks like a developer who happens to be a woman manning her booth. And according to subsequent comments by Tim Breen, that’s exactly what she is:

The woman in the white top appears to be Piroska Szurmai-Palotai, the (sole?) developer for NeoPlay Entertainment. She has three apps currently in the App Store and was a first-time exhibitor at the Mobile Apps Showcase this year.

Update: The woman in the photograph is Zsófia Rutkai, who works in PR for NeoPlay Entertainment.

AT&T and Samsung Finally Upgrade the Infuse 4G to Android 4.0 

Wait, did I say 4.0? I meant Android 2.3.

iPhone 4S Camera Made by Sony 

That’s one way for camera companies to thrive in the face of declining point-and-shoot sales: to become component suppliers for smartphones and other devices.

No Longer Loving Google 

Nelson Minar:

I imagine half of my readers are smugly thinking “See, I told you Google was evil all along”. I don’t think that’s right. In particular I refuse to give in to a cynical view of Google’s “Don’t be evil” motto; that ethos was very real, a sincere and important guiding principle. And if a big company like Google can’t avoid being evil, then what world-changing enterprise can? But I think Google as an organization has moved on; they’re focussed now on market position, not making the world better. Which makes me sad.

Apple Updates Final Cut Pro X With Multicam, Broadcast Monitoring 

Finally.

In Praise of Apple’s .ibook Format 

Joseph Pearson, of the e-book startup Bookish:

So we were surprised and delighted by some aspects of the .ibook file that iBooks Author spits out. Their extensions to EPUB are done precisely the right way. They’re not done with dollops of embedded JavaScript — a fact that Baldur Bjarnason laments. (You can be sure EPUB’s governing body, the IDPF, is lamenting that too.)

Instead they’ve done it with microformats. […] They’ve said: this stuff is up to reading software developers to implement. Like Apple. Or Amazon. Or Kobo. Or Booki.sh. What we need to do is give the ebook authors enough opportunities to customise the functionality, not recreate it for every single book.

This is exactly the right stance. We’re thrilled to see this, although it means a whole lot of work for us.

Apple’s approach suggests that they think “write once, run everywhere” is no better a strategy for e-books than it has been for any other sort of software.

Making Mistakes 

To top off those panel appearances, while in San Francisco I stopped by the palatial Mule Design studio to make an appearance on Let’s Make Mistakes, hosted by my friend and American McCarver co-contributor Mike Monteiro and Katie Gillum. We talked about everything from conferences to NFL team uniform design.

Less Than Perfect Apps 

My second appearance was on this panel moderated by Lex Friedman, featuring Glenn Fleishman, David Wiskus, Paul Kafasis, Guy English, and yours truly, talking about the flaws that bother us in apps that we love.

The State of Apple 

I made two speaking appearances last week at Macworld/iWorld. The first was this one, with Jason Snell and Andy Ihnatko, on the state of Apple (and, really, the state of the industry).

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