Apple

I’ve never been a huge Apple fan. They make some good stuff but price points keep me away. I do have an ancient iPod and an iPhone, however. I have the iPod simply because my former employer – who, like Lord Voldemort,  shall not be named – offered it as a gift for 20 years of thankless labour. I got the iPhone because it was less than $100.00 as an upgrade from my late and unlamented Blackberry. I probably should amend the bit about the iPhone because we became a two-iPhone family in the last days of 2012.

My wife had been using the same cell phone since 2003 and the technology was old even back then. We signed up for Nextel because of the push-to-talk feature. I could never get my wife to use push-to-talk in the nine or so years that we had the phones. (Heck, I can barely get her to turn the thing on!) In early Feb. of 2012, I gave up & moved over to the Sprint network. Well, the Nextel network is going bye-bye around the end of June so it was time to find her a new phone. Sprint was offering a $100 dollar upgrade for the iPhone 4S so we did as switcheroo and I got the newer iPhone & she took my old – but still perfectly good – iPhone 4. At this point, she still hasn’t gotten the hang of touch-screens and Siri is not speaking to me. (Was it something I said?)

The preceding has be a circumlocutory way of leading in to the three bits of Apple news I have for you today so let’s get down to business.

  • Apple is rumoured to be planning a cheaper iPhone. Since Cupertino has seemed to finally grasp the idea that ordinary folks don’t have the cash to splash out on their hardware, they are said to be considering a polycarbonate plastic rather than the standard aluminium case and possibly using parts from recycled iPhones. Since refurbished keyboards. headphones and mice are a so-so kind of experience, Dr. Data is not too keen on having to rely on recycled phone parts. Read the full story on ZDNet.
  • Apple + Internet = Mess or so says a former Apple Engineer who is a die-hard dyed-in-the-wool Apple fan. The ZDNet article by Charlie Osborne – no, she does not appear to be related to Ozzy even though she is British – goes on to list a plethora of Apple internet services that aren’t up to snuff. The aforementioned Apple engineer also indicates that Android is gaining a significant advantage over iOS. Read the full article on ZDNet.
  • Just because you’re not paranoid doesn’t mean that they’re not out to get you. The former CEO of Apple’s big Israel acquisition, Anobit, shares his experiences of Apple culture and how the company’s 1990s ‘near death experience’ still shapes it today. OK, I “borrowed” the article summary from ZDNet but nonetheless, the story is well worth your time. Read it on ZDNet.

Now that copies of Windows 8 are flying off the shelves – both physical and virtual – let’s turn our attention to Apple. If you can remember that far back, the boys from Cupertino introduced the iPad mini – among other things – on Tues., Oct. 23rd. Here’s a few articles about the mini and the Company.

  • For some tablets, iPad Mini is a big threat in a little package –  Now that Apple is kinda sorta in the 7″ tablet business, what does that mean for makers of Android tablets? Some have more to worry about than others. Read the full story on c|net.
  • Fact-checking Apple on iPad Mini vs. Nexus 7 – Is apple worried by the success of Android tablets? Apple executive, Phil Schiller, seemed to embody that concern as he devoted more than the usual amount of time bashing the competition. C|net’s Scott Webster did a bit of fact-checking on Phil’s claims. Read the full story on c|net.
  • Is Apple A Religion or A Cult? –  An anthropologist seems to think so. ZDNet’s Charlie Osborne disagrees but Dr. Data is leaning towards the cult theory. Read the full story on ZDNet. Note to Apple Fanboys: Stay away from the grape Kool Aide!
  • Why did Apple Change its Mind? – Saint Steven of Jobs once gave a sermon on why Apple would not launch a smaller iPad. On Tuesday, Oct 23rd, all that changed. Rupert Goodwins gives us a bit of insight. Read all about it on ZDNet.
  • Is Microsoft’s Surface tablet like a flying car? –  Apple CEO, Tim Cook, sure seems to think so. Read what he had to say on c|net.

If you happen to live anywhere on planet earth, you will probably know by now that Apple finally announced the iPad mini – the worst kept secret in tech for many moons – on Tuesday, October 23rd. If you were paying attention, you will also know that the iPad mini has what is, for all intents and purposes, essentially an eight inch screen. Yes, it is a smaller iPad but is it as pocket-able as a 7 inch Google Nexus? Apple also announced a $329 price-point for the low-end model; a mere $170 cheaper than the low-end iPad. $329 is awfully close to a $499 iPad and quite possibly not the price-point that the consumer market was hoping for.

Yes, the iPad mini  is incredibly light and incredibly thin but Dr. Data remembers what happened with the first MacBook Air. Upon the day of annunciation, Saint Steven of Jobs demonstrated the thinness and lightness of the laptop by inserting it into a standard inter-office envelope. A fair number of consumers did similar things with their latest toy and more than one of these laptops were thrown away by mistake. Sometimes thinness and lightness can work against you.

As for a price-point, consumers were hoping for something along the lines of that for the Kindle Fire and Nexus 7; $199. With the iPad mini, you do get a larger screen and a tablet that you can hold in one had – provided you have a fair-sized mitt – but is that really worth the extra $130? The current economic climate have made consumers quite price conscious and they may very well eschew the cachet of owning an iPad for the price practicality of the Kindle Fire or Google Nexus. Women are looking for something that they can easily slide into a purse or handbag while Guys are looking for something that will easily slide into a shirt/coat pocket or shoulder bag. It remains to be seen if that will be as easy to do as with the Nexus 7.

In the run-up to this long-awaited announcement, some market research indicated that the iPad mini might elicit more ho-hums than huzzahs from consumers. The Apple faithful may sing hosannas as they queue  up for the iPad mini but the rest of the market; no so much. The $329 price point seems to help  ensure this prediction coming to fruition.

For a comparison of the iPad mini, the Kindle Fire and the Nexus 7,  see the article about this on c|net.

Whilst we are on the subject of the 6,000,00o ton gorilla from Cupertino, here are two other items submitted for your consideration:

  • Some Russian Orthodox Christians view Apple’s logo as a symbol of sin that they would like to see outlawed. Read all about it on c|net.
  • Venture capitalist, Robert MacNamee wonders if Apple has become a “dumb monopolist”. Those of you extant and old enough to stay up late and watch Super Bowl commercials in 1984 will surely remember Apples landmark “1984” commercial that ran once and only once. Back in the day, Apple was the iconoclastic rebel striking a blow against Big Brother – read Microsoft. Dr. Data has wondered for quite a while  if Apple is now more like the characters in that other novel by George Orwell; Animal Farm. For those of you who may have forgotten your Civics and Government classes in high school or college, by the end of the story, the Pigs had become indistinguishable from the human masters they once sought to overthrow. Read the full story in the Upstart Business Journal.

It’s Official. Apple will host a press event on October 23rd in San Jose, California.

After multiple sessions of rumour roulette, Apple e-mailed invitations on Tues, Oct. 16th asking if the press knew the way to San Jose. Will it be the debut of the worst kept technology secret in many a moon or will it be some new add-on for iPhones? Most everyone is betting on the former. Read the full story on CNN.com.

Keeping in mind the fact that Microsoft’s Surface tablet debuts on Oct. 25, it is the conventional wisdom that the success and acceptance of both new tablet offering will depend on pricing. Read about their race to find the sweet-spot on TechRepublic.

Dr. Data is an interested bystander in all of this but he does not plan to buy one or the other anytime soon. Dr. Data has no money. That can, of course, be remedied by one of the folks who keep browsing his resume actually making him an offer.

Have You Received Your Invitation to The Launch Yet?

The time has long passed for the invitations to the launch of the vapourware iPad mini and there has been nary a peep from Cupertino or the industry press or anyone else for that matter. On the other hand, no one has said “Sorry boys; false alarm” either. The latest date from those supposedly in the know is now supposed to be Oct. 23.

Since Microsoft is launching Windows 8  AND  its new line of Surface tablets on October 25  – both of which will go on sale the following day – the revised date for the iPad mini – from those supposedly in the know – is now October 23. From a strategic standpoint, this date – indeed, if there is any date at all – makes a certain amount of sense. By announcing the iPad mini a couple of days before Redmond hosts its big to-do, Apple would steal a considerable amount of Microsoft’s thunder. one-upmanship between the two giants is, after all, nothing new.

Dr. Data became suspicious that something was wrong when a report in the industry press stated that the iPad mini was already being manufactured in Brazil and two days later read a report that the devices were being produced in Asia. There may really be an iPad mini or this may just be a case of a company starting or promoting rumours just to see how high the industry press – and the public – will jump. Of course, word of the October 10th mail-out was reported by Fortune Magazine – which subsequently issued a retraction – but who fed them the information in the first place? Only time will tell.

Read the full story in PC Magazine.

Here’s what we have for today:

  • Apple’s iOS maps get better – Apple has been quietly improving  the data returned by the iOS 6 Maps application. Good news for those using the latest version of the OS, but shouldn’t this have been done BEFORE  both iPhone 5 & iOS 6 launched? Dr. Data depends on maps from his iPhone and wonky data is the last thing he needs. Was it because Apple wanted to get its latest phone out there in time for holiday shopping or did someone drop the ball in QC? Read the full story from Tech Republic.
  • Apple in a post-Jobs world – It’s been a year since Steve Jobs ascended in to passed away and there have been ups and downs for the company. There are two articles that are worth reading if you follow the goings-on in Cupertino. The first is from ZDNet and the second is from PC Magazine.
  • Win 8 Kill Switch: Threat or Menace? – If you’re contemplating moving up to Windows 8 anytime soon, this may give you reason to think again. Windows 8 includes a “kill switch” which allows the remote editing of applications and the deletion of  software and possibly data. Is this Nirvana for hackers? Read what John C. Dvorak in PC Magazine has to say.
  • Windows 8 is available before its time – HSN.com – the online arm of the Home Shopping Network began offering PC’s with Windows 8 installed and ready to go. Before you decide to jump the gun, you should note that the machines are loaded with Crap-ware. These are applications that come pre-installed on a new machine and usually include a lot of things that you may not want as well as “trial versions” of software. Read the full story on ZDNet.
  • Samsung’s Apple “attack ad” – If the political season wasn’t bad enough, Samsung is airing an attack ad that touts the technological superiority of its latest   smartphone over the iPhone 5. Geek.com does a bit of fact-checking for you.

It now seems to be a forgone conclusion that Apple will announce a 7 inch version of its popular iPad over the next few days. As was reported in yesterday’s technology Digest, the invitations to the press et al are supposed to go out today. The next 24 to 36 hours should tell the story.

Back when Steve Jobs was leading Apple, he scoffed at the notion of a smaller iPad saying that the user would not be able to have the full iPad experience. In the time since that declaration, Google has launched its popular Nexus 7 and Samsung has continued to make hay off of its 7″ Galaxy Tab, perpetual litigation on behalf of Apple not withstanding. Then there is the Kindle Fire and the Nook from Barnes & Noble that have begun to move from being an e-reader and purchasing platform to a serious alternative to the competition. In other words, the little guys are eating Apple’s lunch and Cupertino only owns 52% of the tablet market nowadays.

Apple’s Ouija Board must have packed up leaving no communication with the great beyond because they appear to have taken notice of the tablet market as a whole. For once, they are a follower rather than a leader. While it is great that Apple has taken notice of what real people may want, the 7-inch iPad may signal another opportunity for Cupertino to throw its considerable weight around.

PC Magazine’s Mark Hatchman has an article and side-show on 6 Ways the iPad Mini Could Beat the iPad. While a couple of these “ways” seem to be somewhat frivolous, price and portability are serious talking points and the article is well worth a look.

A few items today requiring only a wee bit of blether:

  • 22% of American Adults own a Tablet – A study by the Pew Research Centre has revealed that the tablet has become a mainstream device. In addition to the 22% ownership, another 3% borrow one belonging to someone else. Another finding is that only 52% of tablet owners have an iPad as opposed to 81% in 2011. Read the full article.
  • Fortune Magazine intimates iPad mini announcement –  Long rumoured to be in works, Fortune claims that invitations to the launch of a 7″ iPad will go out on Oct. 3rd with the big press event coming the week of Oct. 8th or 15th. Is Apple trying to steal Microsoft’s thunder? Read the full article on C|NET. PC Magazine has a similar article with additional details. A second article on C|NET reports that the device is already being manufactured in Brazil. Remember, you heard it here first!
  • Scientists seek to float a boat on Saturn’s moon, Titan – Instead of water, Titan host lakes of liquid methane so skinny dipping is not an option. Read the full story on C|NET.

Here’s a few items for today’s digest:

  • HP has announced a “true” business tablet. No it’s not an updated version of its TouchPad; A great tablet that fell victim to stupid business decisions. The HP ElitePad 900 will run Windows 8 and is  1.4 millimeters thicker & .2 lbs heavier than the iPad 3; A minuscule difference that Apple’s marketing department will no doubt exploit. Release is set for January, 2013 and will most likely be competitively priced with Microsoft’s Surface tablet. HP’s newest product is reviewed by both ZDNet and C|NET.
  • Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, has issued an apology over the less than stellar performance of its iOS 6 Maps application in which he admits that the company fell short of delivering a world-class product. Mr. Cook also took the unprecedented step of suggesting that users try one of the competing mapping applications until Apple Maps is ready for prime time. Read the full article.
  • If you’re gobsmacked at the though of Apple apologising for an underachieving product, you should be cognisant of the fact that this is not the first time that Cupertino has cried mea culpa. Read the full story of Apple’s lamentations.

This is a new feature of The Parsons Rant. Quite often, there are news items in the computing press where the article is short, everything that you need to know is contained within the article itself and there’s not much that Dr. Data can add in the way of commentary. So, rather than having 3 very short posts, Dr. Data will combine these small bits into one big byte. These digests won’t be a daily or even weekly occurrence but they will appear as situations warrant.

Now that that’s settled, let’s get on with today’s bits and bobs.

Google’s Sub-Aquatic Street View

A good many of us know and love Google Maps and find it extremely helpful to see a street view of the address. Google has unveiled a new feature that will allow you to see a “street” view” of what’s under the water starting with the Great Barrier Reef. There is no word at this time if places of interest will be marked such as Neptune’s Palace, sunken treasure or mermaid hang-outs. Apple’s maps currently place Neptune’s palace in the vicinity of [ANYTHING-POPUP:3].

See the full article.

Siri Still Causing Problems

Not all of the problems with Siri have been resolved in the release of  iOS 6. Reports are coming in that something must be askew in how Siri processes location information as it is delivering inaccurate weather forecasts. Ask it for the weather in NYC and you just might get the current conditions in Boomer, NC.

See the full article.

Has Apple Lost Touch?

As long as we’re taking potshots at Apple, one blogger is beginning to think that Apple is dropping the ball more and more since Steve Jobs’ departure.

See the full article.

 New Beta Version of START 8 Released

Stardock Corporation has released a new beta version of its START 8 menu feature for Windows 8. Dr. Data will be going into the labs at Parsonage Data Services later today to take at look for himself.

Learn more at Stardock.com.

 

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