Thursday, September 27, 2007

consolidation and repurposing

I can feel it coming, there's a change in the wind.

With three blogs, two websites (one venerable and the other just recently put to use), and one registered domain, I'm feeling the need to bring a little more order to this online presence business.

I have the beginnings of a plan, but want to let it steep for awhile before making any changes that would be difficult to reverse, or saying more.

Don't worry, nothing beyond my own degree of distraction depends upon this.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

ebb and flow

This is why I would be very hard pressed to write a regular column; I don't always have something to say.

It might be easier if I didn't get so caught up with the next big thing coming (usually) from Apple. Right now it's mainly Leopard (and Xcode 3), although Mac OS X 10.4.11 is looking ready to drop any day now. The tension is palpable; Leopard's release will be huge! And I can hardly wait to start reading the details about Objective C 2.0 and to try out the new development environment.

Acquired tastes, I realize, but there it is.

Meanwhile the rest of the world muddles along much the same as if I were giving it my rapt attention. That's a very liberating thought, I've discovered, and I no longer beat myself up over my various obsessions and what I'm not getting done while pursuing them.

Monday, September 10, 2007

one month to go

Leopard, Mac OS X 10.5, which was originally expected to ship earlier this year, now appears to be just about ready for release, with a target date that still reads October, so make that a month plus or minus a couple of weeks to go.

Given the delay, it's easy to lose track of why this matters. Ho, hum, another operating system update, another big cat name, big deal, right?

Well, yeah, it IS a big deal. For a reminder of why, click here.

Friday, September 07, 2007

iPod Touch as SIP Terminal

Apple's new iPod Touch may not be a phone, out of the box, but it lacks only a microphone and a bit of software for use as an Internet phone, for example using SIP.

Since the iPhone and all recent full-size iPods use the same dock connector, and there are already microphones that work with it [(1), (2), (3), (4)], all that remains is software.

Since the iPod Touch uses the same software foundation as the iPhone, and work on SIP for the iPhone is already well along, it shouldn't be long, perhaps just a matter of days, before that is also in place.

Not that it matters all that much in a world of millions of sales; it isn't likely to be more than a tiny niche for the time being, but it's a COOL niche!

Thank you, Apple!

Masters of damage control that they sometimes/usually are, Apple has seen the light in almost record time, and will be offering $100 credits to those who purchased iPhones prior to the cutoff date for their standing price protection policy, provided they paid full retail and haven't received some other form of refund.

For myself, with the release of Leopard coming up soon, that $100 credit is as good as cash! ;-)

Thursday, September 06, 2007

What, ME hypocritical?

As anyone who's been following this blog might recall, on June 24th I posted a response to Chris Barylick's screed about not getting respect from from Apple (and AT&T), including the following:

"Apple could very probably charge a couple hundred dollars more than the announced price, stating in advance that they'd be dropping that price by $50 per week for the first month, and still sell nearly as many iPhones over the same period. Frankly, I wish they would. Heck, let the people for whom price is no object pay a little more to get theirs first, if that's what they want."

Well, guess what, just over two months after its introduction they've dropped the price of the iPhone by $200, and I'm inclined to have sympathy for those who are crying foul.

The essential difference between what I suggested on June 24th and what Apple has done is the lack of notice, the lack of even so much as a credible rumor to suggest that the price might be coming down precipitously so soon, which left people like myself, who could afford the iPhone only by digging into credit, and who might just as well have waited for the price drop, had we known to expect it, feeling pretty foolish.

Yeah, I understand about making an attempt to establish a high value for a new product, and rolling back the price as a fallback plan, and also about creating desire for a product that's perceived as being overpriced and then jerking the price down to where those who've held out will be tempted beyond resistance. I also understand about using an initially high price combined with a massive advertising effort to measure the strength/softness of the market, while giving production a chance to get ahead of demand. It's also likely that they didn't make the decision about when and how much to drop the price until after the introduction, and that it's a reaction to softening sales. Evenso, I feel pretty foolish.

The difference between me and those who are screaming bloody murder is that I'll be over it by tomorrow, or the next day at the latest. I made the decision to buy knowing that the price might come down rather dramatically, although I didn't expect it to happen before Thanksgiving. My choice, my responsibility, and no one to blame but myself if I chose badly.

And frankly I'm not certain that I did. $3 per day seems a little steep for the privilege of being among the first owners of a cool new gadget, even one as earthshaking as the iPhone was two months ago, and including the opportunity to get an early start with becoming comfortable with it and learning how to use it. On the other hand, $1 per day for all of that would have been a bargain.

So, while not exactly a happy camper, I'm at least looking at it multidimensionally. I got the iPhone to see if it might change my phone use habits (only turning my phone on to check voicemail, and forgetting to do even that for days at a time), and it has. I still sometimes experience frustration in trying to use my iPhone, but not nearly the anger that used to rise up in me over using my previous phone. It's a huge improvement, and it's not like I got no value at all for that $200.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

one more thing

The rumors were right; Apple is bringing the touchscreen interface it developed for the iPhone to the iPod, which means OS X whether they say so explicitly or not. (Note the Leopard-like dock on the iPod Touch!)

The new iPod Touch looks very much like the iPhone, so much so in fact that you might just as well think of it as an iPhone without the phone hardware and software. Everything else is there, including the browser, which uses a WiFi connection (802.11 b/g).

It's just part of their iPod lineup, with the Fatty and Classic still using the clickwheel.

Chances are the clickwheel won't ever disappear, but will instead move into software, as suggested by a patent Apple received sometime back.

Oh, the "one more thing"? That was about the new iTunes WiFi Store, which allows you to buy music using your iPod Touch (or iPhone after an upcoming software update) and a tie-in with Starbucks which will provide free use of the hotspots located in their stores for the purpose of buying music they're currently playing or have just played.

Overall, pretty cool!

And still one more thing. They're knocking $200 off the price of the 8 GB iPhone. What costed $599 yesterday now costs $399. The 4 GB is also $200 cheaper, at $299, while supplies last. I expect there are a lot of people, those who already bought iPhones at yesterday's prices, who are feeling like they've been taken, and chances are a lot of those people won't be standing in line to buy the next new thing when it first comes out...but someone will be.

Monday, September 03, 2007

the ubiquity and future of OS X

A few years ago, before Apple announced the switch to Intel processors, some pundits were pointing to the iPod and predicting that it signaled the impending end of the Macintosh computer platform.

The pundits said Apple was refocusing its business and moving away from general purpose computers towards smaller gadgets with higher profit margins. They were partly right, in that Apple has gotten into that business in a big way (and we probably haven't seen the whole picture yet in that regard), but they were wrong in that the manner in which Apple has chosen to do so reinforces the Macintosh rather than undermining it.

While the iPod was initially too limited a device to handle in this manner, more recent gadgets, the Apple TV and iPhone, run versions of OS X. Exactly what this means is confidential, but it's clear that major components of Mac OS X have found their way into the newer devices in quite recognizable form, and that any extensions and optimizations developed for these devices are very likely to find their way back to the Mac, where applicable. It's also clear that there is a much closer association between OS X on Apple TV or the iPhone and Mac OS X than there is between Windows Mobile and Windows Vista, which don't share much more than a name.

Now, rumor has it that the iPod is about to come full circle, that the new iPods to be announced this Wednesday (9/5) will also be running a version of OS X, likely one quite similar to that which runs on the iPhone.

This means that, with the exception of AirPort Express and the possible exception of AirPort Extreme, Apple's entire product line will be based upon the same collection of computer code. Not every aspect of that code will apply to every product, but there will be basic components that apply to all, and others that need only minor specialization.

While this sounds a little risky, like putting all your eggs in one basket, it does mean that Apple's focus is on OS X, that there are multiple payoffs for Apple in putting further effort into its development, and that there is good reason to expect Apple's products will work together seamlessly, since they'll all draw from the same codebase. In particular it means that Apple will be able to bring new products to market with a minimum of effort, since much of the software will be off-the-shelf.

This is about as close to a guarantee that OS X won't become an orphan platform as it's possible to get, although another 10% share of the computer market wouldn't hurt. ;-)