AMITIAE - Tuesday 21 January 2014
Cassandra: Midweek Comment - Apple Doom and Rumours; What Apple Must Do; iBookstuff; and Other Ideas
By Graham K. Rogers
Running the video again and listening to the reaction of the audience, I remember how much of a leap the idea of formatted text on a screen was at that time. To us it seems commonplace now, as does the idea of music coming from a computer, but not then. And as for the mouse. . . . And the software. And the fonts. And the voice (highlight text and use the key combination - see System Preferences - Dictation & Speech).
One of the givens that had appeared at the end of last year and the beginning of this year was that Apple was going to fail with its latest iPhone, the 5s; and as for the iPhone 5c. . . . Apple made the mistake of not following all those "needs to" articles (see my Weekend comment, and below) by not coming out with the cheap iPhone that many Wall Street experts predicted, and insisted Apple needed to produce in order to survive.
Only, it appears they were wrong (not surprising for those who have been following Apple properly for a while) and Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Fortune reports that the consensus appears now to be that Apple sold lots and lots of iPhones: a figure of just over 55 million for the quarter is suggested. Not bad for a company that persistently follows its own guidance. Maybe they know something.
Using the Fortune report, Ben Lovejoy on 9to5 Mac also has some comments on this 16% increase and on the good sales of the iPads as well. Shane Cole on AppleInsider also had some similar information. On AppleInsider, Daniel Eran Dilger had some real analysis of the iPad sales figures and the way certain trends have been reversed.
One of the "needs to" products for a while has been the Phablet - a larger sized iPad. Jeff Gamet on The MacObserver looks at a rumour that has appeared in a new report, suggesting that pressure from Samsung is forcing Apple to release such a model.
I am not sure that Apple has ever been under much pressure from Samsung and the idea of rushing out a product because (a) another manufacturer is; or (b) analysts say they "must", ignores much Apple history. A note here, Jeff Gamet is just a messenger, not the source of the rumour. He rightly points out that DigiTimes is less than 100% reliable when it comes to Apple (much less); but he does want to back the Maybe horse, just in case.
Just to get some of this into a proper context, I give you The Macalope and "Apple doom enters 37th consecutive year"
He does include Henry Blodget who is often loud but wrong about Apple, but not John Dvorak who has been wrong about Apple from the get-go ("The Macintosh uses an experimental pointing device called a "mouse". There is no evidence that people want to use these things") and several times since. Trip Chowdhry deserves a mention to for financial analysis that misses the Apple mark over and over (Philip Elmer-DeWitt: "How wrong-headed can one Apple analyst be?"): how do these people keep their jobs.
Unsurprisingly, few of these would-be Apple experts write about the iBeacon. Now that's something that will make a difference in a few months time.
I have never been convinced by these rumours and doubt that Apple are developing such a product. Of course, this is about as bad as predicting that it exists, because I could be wrong. It would be one product I would not buy: haven't had a watch in years; and the last one had a long chain on it and went in my top pocket. I doubt that the iFob would ever come into being.
Along with this iWatch thing, we now have hot rumours about the next iPhone, which all the experts have dubbed the iPhone 6. And we know what it is going to have, don't we? Before continuing, I would remind anyone who has got this far about the firm information the rumour mill gave us concerning the iPhone 4, the iPhone 4S, the iPhone 5 the iPhone 5s and of course that sure thing, the cheap iPhone that Apple needed in order to survive. Shane Cole on AppleInsider picks up on another rumour that appeared (as well as the iWatch) on the Chinese-language website QQ Tech.
This came from a Chinese analyst who said that production is about to begin for a debut at the June WWDC. Just think about that for a moment: Apple never has a product that is in production 6 months before its release. That would mean a major tie up of distribution channels (Tim Cook's area of expertise) as well as a lot of capital, plus the risk of products leaking. She also thinks this will have a larger 1280 x 720 display. We will see.
I have mentioned the use of iTunesU before and there is usually a deer-in-the-headlights look from those I am speaking to. It is as if I am talking heresy. The idea of sharing teaching materials. Online. For others. Why? What would they get out of it? No recognition as publication. Others might take their materials and use them unacknowledged.
Although the press release says that iBooks Textbooks are available via the iPad, there was nothing there when I tried other than the usual copyright free content. I tried the link on the Apple iPad in Education web page, but when I clicked the "Browse iBooks textbooks" link I was told in iBooks on the Mac that this was only available in the US Store.
I guess reading the fine print (and checking the punctuation) it appears that iBooks textbooks "51 countries now including Brazil, Italy and Japan" does not include Thailand. However, iTunes U Course Manager, is "available in 70 countries now including Russia, Thailand and Malaysia. . ." or maybe the Textbooks section is coming soon. This is not clear and different sources have different interpretations, but with no "paid" iBookstore, my guess is that Thailand lucks out again. Never mind, iTunesU has some valuable content that is accessible if anyone here bothers to look.
Mind you, the chief security expert in the UK suggests that this is not all bad and that 123456 is better than no password at all, The Guardian reports. I sometimes wonder about the UK, which was at the forefront of computer development in the 1940s and perhaps the 1950s, but has played follow my leader since. For example, it has taken over a week for someone to (apparently) find me on Facebook and send me a picture. Only I have not been "friended" by anyone from the UK recently, and certainly received no images.
Late on Tuesday I also saw a link to a video of a presentation called "To Protect and Infect: The Militarization of the Internet" by Claudio Guarnieri and Morgan Marquis-Boire. This is a theme which is becoming more and more evident with the amount of information appearing since the Snowden revelations began: governments want control or supervision of all aspects of internet use
Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand where he is also Assistant Dean. 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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