AMITIAE - Wednesday 11 January 2012

Cassandra - Wednesday Review: The Week in Full Swing

apple and chopsticks


By Graham K. Rogers

Cassandra - the girl who saw the future but whom no one believed

Opening Gambit:

Lots of CES and cloning of Apple by others: comments by Apple columnists. Apple rumours and new product changes. Tim Cook gets about $400 million in Apple shares. Ballmer does his least memorable (and last) CES keynote: outshone by the Twitter chorus. IBM news of a new processor fabrication in New York.

Apple Stuff

We know that the iOS 5.1 update is on its way, but one of the revelations from the recent developer version that is doing the rounds right now, according to Andrew Wray on iMore, is that Siri may find its (her?) way into the iPad. What next, we wonder? One thing, of course, will be Siri clones.

Rumours also come by way of patent filings and this week Patently Apple has a good one in a system for the iWallet era and have some useful background information in the article, including the name of Bud Tribble VC of Software Technology at Apple.

We have lots on CES and what has been cloned there, but you cannot clone success. Sam Oliver on AppleInsider reports that Apple may have sold 1.2 million MacBook Air computers over the holiday period while others may have been affected by the shortage of hard disks.

We have written and linked to a lot about patent disputes that Apple has become involved in over the last year or two especially. Philip Elmer-DeWitt is quoted in an article by Steve Sande on TUAW as writing about the patent problems, but suggesting that it is in Apple's interests not to settle lawsuits concerning the iPhone quickly. While Apple could lose which is thought unlikely, winning may mean a golden payout with licensing fees: so much for Open Android for example: and that will not be Apple's fault. As a thought, if the worst case came about and Apple did lose, that rather large cash hoard might really come in handy and Apple would hardly notice the difference, even if a payment ran into billions. Neil Hughes on AppleInsider also comments on this idea and refers to the Deutsche Bank article that Elmer De-Witt also used.

And slightly related to what comes below on CES is news I read on
Electronista that the editor of iLounge has had his hands on an iPad 3 (which was perhaps an old version) while at CES. Slightly thicker than the iPad 2 with much else that is identical (on the outside at least): the agonising may begin.

Apple did have a partial victory this week in Italy we were told on MacDaily News who link to a Yahoo! Finance item By Zacks Equity Research who report on Samsung's failure to have the iPhone 4S banned there (as well as in France earlier). The report is quite detailed and suggests all is not yet over.

Something that came a bit late for me with the wet iPhone I had in the floods, but Victor Agreda Jr. reports on TUAW on a waterproofing product called Liquipel that seems to waterproof the device and there is a picture to show this. A couple of days to have it done (in the US of course) and the covering will certainly deal with the odd wettings, although whether it would deal with the total immersion mine had in the pocket of my shorts is not confirmed.

Someone doing the job right (as we knew he would) is Tim Cook who has been awarded stock worth almost $400 million we are told by Reuters among others.

Cloning at CES

Many of the Apple-centred press (and some that were not so biased towards Apple) were in shock this week by the way that so many Apple rip-offs were at CES. Daniel Ionescu at MacWorld led the charge and highlighted the ultraslim clones, the tablet copies and even duplicates of Apple services, such as Photostream, which Acer lifted (they changed the order of the photos and the shape of the cloud) while claiming correctly that Apple did not invent the cloud. As we have seen before, invention and development are vastly different, while just announcing them does not mean they are ever going to appear on the shelves.

The whole thing brought Daniel Eran Dilger out on his white horse on Roughly Drafted: always a sure sign that he is on the attack if he is on here rather than AppleInsider. He goes through some of the myths of CES and what it means when we look at Apple and those Apple copies. There were some neat observations and early on he wrote that "it's becoming increasingly difficult to blow off the company and its achievements as an aberration of reality, a delusion of some cult of worshipers of a foreign god" (I had several people and publications in mind when I read that).

It never has been a cult. Many Mac uses like the products because they do the job better. If Windows users want to use their PCs: so be it. On Windows -- or at least Microsoft -- Dilger gives us a history of what we were told at CES over the years from 2000 up to 2011, what the reality was, and how Apple's parallel world looked like. This year, as in others, CES is about Apple and what has come out of Cupertino: ideas, hardware, software. And copying Siri apparently.

The mantle has now shifted to Google as the ones not to be trusted (see below), but there are some who still want Apple failure at any cost and that Samsung is the good guy, which may prove rather costly in the end. Near the end, he makes a comment I thought was pretty close to the mark (for several reasons): "Apple has successfully maintained the same outlook as a group of master brewers or bakers who are passionate about making great tasting beer or bread."

In line with this the comments of John Gruber on Daring Fireball are worth reading also as they add context to the above and to the idea that Apple and Android are in some form of competition. It is pretty unequal if it were this, but this misses what Apple does and how it operates. MC Siegler adds to this with what he hates about Android. We also later saw a useful and more personal comment from Federico Viticci on the way this all looks to those of us who are more familiar with the ins and outs of Macs with "a trend that . . . is tiresome and deeply annoying." Where is the innovation? Or as someone else said, this is all like Ford copying Ferrari.

Other Matters

On Monday we mentioned a report that had several handset makers accused of giving the Indian military a backdoor to their phones. Although RIM and Nokia were also involved, Apple was blamed as it always is: first letter of the alphabet and all that; first name you love to hate (in some cases). Iain Thomson on the Register writes that these companies are denying all of it even though some hackers found a document; while RIM "pointed out that it has no ability to provide its customers' encryption keys and doesn't do deals with specific countries." That may be untrue. We have heard of several ways that RIM was forced to help countries like Indonesia and some in the Middle-east. At that time, India was also mentioned. There will be more on this.

IBM is still churning away in the background and is still one of the more serious players, even if the corporation does not hit the front pages so often these days. A press release from Armonk tells us that they have begin semiconductor fabrication at a facility owned by Global Foundries in Saratoga County, New York -- sometimes called New York's Silicon Valley. There is much more information in the Press Release.

Microsoft is still shedding execs we read on the Register in an item by Gavin Clarke who tells us that 16-year veteran Robert Wahbe is out of the door. He was Corporate vice president for server and tools. No one knows why he is going (at least not yet) but he is being replaced by Office product management group corporate vice president Takeshi Numoto.

Microsoft did not come out of it too well at its last CES Keynote with Peter S. Goodman telling us that Ballmer was straining for credibility: fantastic really considering just what Microsoft is. Like others Goodman mentions the Twitter chorus that is likely to be remembered long after Ballmer has strutted of his current stage and also brings in the comments of another HuffPost report when he tells us that Bianca Bosker wrote that the never-appearing MS "transformation has gone approximately as well as British Petroleum's labors to burnish its image as a lover of handicapped dolphins." Goodman also thinks that the Ballmer image may be beyond burnishing and he had nothing relevant to say.

Late News

  • We hear this morning that an exploit that allows a hacker to crash Adobe Reader or Acrobat and control the system is to be fixed with an update (Topher Kessler).
  • Apple are being sued (or perhaps prosecuted) by a Spanish company -- who were accused by Apple of counterfeiting -- of extortion; while Kodak is also suing Apple over 4 patents, as well as HTC for 5 (Foss Patents).
  • Another biography of Steve Jobs is available, this time in comic book format and it is available for download (Josh Lowensohn).

    Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs.



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