By Chris Sorensen - Wednesday, January 30, 2013 - 0 Comments
Wall Street’s crisis of confidence doesn’t have to be Apple’s, too
Shares of Apple, formerly the world’s most valuable company, have lost more than a third of their value since September, tumbling from a high of US$705 to below US$450. Investors are concerned that Apple has suddenly lost its mojo just as competition facing its flagship product—the iPhone—mounts. Last week’s quarterly results, though not shabby by any stretch ($13.1 billion in profit on $54.5 billion in sales), did little to change anybody’s mind. Analysts were hoping to have their expectations surpassed. Instead they were barely met.
By James Cowan, Canadian Business - Thursday, January 24, 2013 at 1:45 PM - 0 Comments
Once seamless devices now frustrating
Yesterday Apple posted the largest quarterly profit in the company’s history, and still somehow managed to disappoint investors. The stock was down nearly 11% this morning, with analysts citing myriad reasons for disappointment: slowing growth, lower-than-expected iPhone sales and the launch of the iPad Mini, which offers slimmer profit margins than its full-size compatriot.
Now, let’s be clear: Apple is not a company in crisis. It sold 47.8 million iPhones in the last quarter, a 78% improvement over the previous year, and sold 7.5 million more iPads over this Christmas season than it did the previous one. But any expectation the company could maintain this kind of skyrocketing growth indefinitely is—and always was—unrealistic. If Apple’s growth for the next five years matched what it’s done in the past five, the company’s revenue would hit $1.2 trillion, according to a recent report by A.M. Sacconaghi, an analyst at Bernstein Research—roughly equal to the GDP of Australia. Unless investors expect Apple to start printing its own currency and opening embassies, they need to accept an inevitable slowdown in growth.
Apple cannot afford to simply stare at its balance sheet and assume everything is fine. Research in Motion made a similar mistake, assuming their customers would stay loyal and their profits would stay healthy, even as warning signs mounted around them. Indeed, Apple is banking on the same consumer devotion to its products as RIM once did. “At Apple, it’s important to us that we make products that customers not just like, but love,” CEO Tim Cook told analysts yesterday.
That love for Apple is increasingly fickle. Consumers once enraptured with the iPhone can now cast their eyes to Samsung, or a fleet of other phones running the Android operating system. Apple hasn’t done much to maintain consumer loyalty with a widely derided revamp of iTunes and the complete failure of its in-house map application. As people live with Apple products, they develop grievances and gripes about their idiosyncrasies. “For glassy-eyed fanboys like me, the seamlessly magical Apple experience has frayed a little at the edges lately,” Canadian Business columnist Bruce Philp recently wrote.
Part of that fraying is the fault of the company, no doubt. But it also has to do with a general shift in the digital world. Apple has always made beautiful objects, but consumers now expect their gadgets to play well together. The new expectation is that we can, say, download a song on your phone, and then stream it to your stereo. Or store our photos in the cloud and view them on our tablets or TVs. This is a great idea, in theory, and one that Apple is clearly chasing. The company’s iCloud service, which now has 250 million users, is intended to provide this seamless experience. Anyone who’s used it, however, knows that the reality is far from it, requiring plenty of fiddling with menus and network settings. For the company that built its reputation on “It just works,” this is a serious problem.
Apple garnered love by selling fuss-free products. That’s a considerable challenge even when you’re building a single device. The challenge becomes exponentially greater with each phone, tablet and laptop added to the equation. And further, Apple has long relied on a “Halo effect,” where consumers enamoured with their iPhone decide they might love an iMac as well. But if those two devices don’t communicate, it creates a temptation to look elsewhere instead.
Apple’s short-term health seems assured. But unless it can make cloud computing and networking as elegant as it once made the iPhone, it won’t be feeling the love forever.
By Chris Sorensen - Wednesday, January 23, 2013 at 5:59 PM - 0 Comments
With concerns mounting about slowing growth and increased competition from rivals, Apple investors were hoping the iPhone—and iPad—maker would blow the doors off of its first quarter financial results. But while the Cupertino, Calif. company came close, it didn’t quite meet Wall Street’s expectations.
Apple reported earnings of $13.1 billion (U.S.) in the first quarter, about the same as what it earned during the same period last year. But investors were focused on Apple’s $54.5 billion in sales, which was less than the $54.9 billion that was expected by analysts. Another key figure—profit margin—also came in below the Street’s expectations at 38.6 per cent instead of 39.5 per cent, suggesting Apple’s ability to command a premium price for its products in the face of competition from rivals like Samsung is slipping faster than anticipated. Shares of Apple dropped below $500 in after-market trading. The stock has fallen by 26 per cent since September.
As for device sales, Apple said it sold 47.8 million iPhones, 22.9 million iPads, 4.1 million Macs and 12.7 million iPods in the quarter.
CEO Tim Cook reminded analysts on a conference call that Apple remains an impressive story, noting that it has so far sold well over half a billion devices running its mobile iOS platform. He also took on rumours that demand for the iPhone, which accounts for nearly half of all sales, was faltering amid reports it had cut orders for parts from some of its suppliers. “The supply chain is very complex,” Cook said, adding that it would be a mistake to try to interpret a single piece of data, even if it’s accurate, as being representative of Apple’s broader business. He also said initial iPhone 5 sales were constrained by Apple’s ability to make them quickly enough.
Apple is still an impressive company with impressive prospects. But investors have grown accustomed to being dazzled. Good simply isn’t good enough anymore.
By Jesse Brown - Monday, October 22, 2012 at 2:00 PM - 0 Comments
I bring you big news on Apple tablets, a full day before the official announcement of the iPad Mini:
Yes, $250, the expected starting price of the new iPad Mini (or Air), is also the going Craigslist rate for used 1st generation iPads. It’s tomorrow’s price today, and as a bonus you’ll get a full-sized screen. If it’s scratched, you can probably haggle it down to $230. You’ll meet an interesting new person, and you won’t pay taxes.
Hate me yet?
Sorry everybody, but there’s no better time than right before a Cupertino product announcement to
troll Apple fansquestion society’s troubling devotion to the Apple cult. I’ve been called a partisan for suggesting Android tablets as an alternative to the pricey and constraining iPad, so let me clear the record by stating definitively that the iPad remains, by a small margin, the best tablet computer I’ve used. The problem is, none of the advancements since the first iPad have improved the experience much, while the sticker-price has yet to rationalize.
After a decade of technological innovation, Apple is now coasting on fumes, offering minor upgrades or pointless variations in increasingly transparent efforts to keep the product cycle spinning. Whereas once their products changed our lives, they are now marketed in Apple-speak as revolutionizing only themselves. iPhone 5, as the slogan goes, is ”the biggest thing to happen to iPhone since iPhone.” Not since the Smurfs smurfed us very much has a product degenerated into such nauseating solipsism.
So: is the world clamouring for smaller tablet computers? Not really. But there exists a huge untapped market for cheaper tablets, which Apple doesn’t want to surrender to Android or anyone else. Without cannibalizing their own top-tier iPads, they are set to offer a down-market product in the form of the iPad Mini, which it seems Apple is slashing its profit margin on.
It’s an aggressive move to bring new markets (educational and developing nations included) into the Apple fold, where they will be constrained from buying music, apps, movies and books that are not sold by Apple.
As an independent critic who doesn’t get kickbacks (or even product loans, for God’s sakes) from any tech company, far be it for me to advertise for the competition by suggesting that an open alternative like Android might be the way to go.
Instead: if you want a cheaper iPad, by all means, buy an old iPad. It’s the best iPad to iPad iPad since iPad.
Follow Jesse on Twitter @JesseBrown
By Gabriela Perdomo - Tuesday, May 15, 2012 at 9:58 AM - 0 Comments
That means developing more business apps, and taking on RIM
After only two years in the market, Apple’s iPad has been a remarkable success, cornering 68 per cent of the global tablet market, with 11.8 million units sold in the first quarter of 2012 alone. But to really secure its place as the king of tablets—and to prove its device is more than just a consumer toy for Web browsing and playing games—Apple is planning to conquer one final frontier: the business world.
The company has launched an aggressive global campaign to lure developers into building more business applications for the iPad. One of the centres of this push is Vancouver, home to a thriving community of software companies that have created successful consumer apps for Apple’s iOS platform, used on the iPhone and iPad. Apple is organizing regular developer meet-ups in the city with thousands of participants and inviting software companies to showcase their business apps to sales staff at Apple stores.
Angela Robert is CEO of Vancouver-based Conquer Mobile, one of the companies that is now focusing solely on developing business apps for the iPad, like Colligo Briefcase, which helps view, share, and edit content in a secure environment. Robert says she’s never seen Apple come after developers so aggressively. (With consumer apps, it was usually developers courting Apple.) She says the current offering of business apps is, so far, insufficient to convince company decision-makers that they need iPads. “It’s just like [Apple] did with the iPhones,” says Robert. “People bought iPhones only after they saw all they could do with apps.”
By Peter Nowak - Friday, April 27, 2012 at 10:17 AM - 0 Comments
The Kindle Touch starts shipping to Canada today. Having been given a run-through of the new e-reader at Amazon’s headquarters in Seattle earlier this week, and having had the chance to put it through its paces since, this is good news for book lovers.
As its name implies, the Kindle Touch finally adds the long-missing functionality of a touch screen to Amazon’s e-reader. I’d often chuckle while watching people try to flip pages on previous Kindles by swiping the screen, only to see nothing happen. Mind you, I now sometimes have the same experience watching children swiping TV screens. How quickly the world has changed.
Anyway, other e-readers, such as the Kobo, have had touch screens for a while, so this isn’t really anything new. What I like about the Kindle Touch, though, is its “Easy Reach” feature, which makes 90 per cent of the screen an active next-page area. So, if you’re left-handed and holding the device with one hand, you don’t have to stretch your thumb all the way to the right to turn the page. You can touch the middle instead.
The remaining 10 per cent, around the edges of the screen, is for going back. Kindle director Jay Marine told me this was done because readers only rarely want to go backward in their books.
By Peter Nowak - Wednesday, April 18, 2012 at 1:43 PM - 0 Comments
I saw the most frightening thing last week while I was heading down to New Orleans. The fellow who was sitting across the aisle from me on the plane was browsing through photos on his iPhone. I casually glanced down at his device only to see an entirely unexpected and different kind of device: a picture of fully nude man lying on a bed, his junk displayed in its full glory.
I quickly looked away in silent chastisement. That’s what I get for nosing around, I told myself.
The shock of what I’d seen eventually faded and was soon replaced by thoughts about an issue I’ve been considering for a while, and one that would be crystallized upon my returning home this week–that for all its elegant products, Apple’s iTunes is a giant mess.
It has always been particularly bad with photos, with the man on the plane possibly serving as a great example. My seeing those goods may not even have been his fault. Perhaps he’s a little kinky–I’m not here to judge–and the photo somehow ended up on his phone. It’s easy enough to accidentally sync photos you don’t want from your computer onto your mobile devices.
By Kate Lunau - Thursday, February 23, 2012 at 10:10 AM - 0 Comments
And offer zoo researchers insight into their brains
The three orangutans at the Milwaukee County Zoo have a new toy. Once a week, zookeeper Trish Khan brings out an old iPad for them to play with. “I downloaded a bunch of apps I thought might interest them,” she says. One favourite is Doodle Buddy, a fingerpainting program; they also like apps that turn the iPad into an instrument that can be tapped like a drum or strummed like a guitar. “They love to watch videos,” she says. The adult female, MJ, “loves David Attenborough,” who makes natural history ﬁlms. Khan carefully holds up the iPad instead of handing it over; the ape could easily break it in half.
Milwaukee’s project has been such a hit that zoos across North America, including Toronto, are clamouring to get some. “We’ve got about 20 zoos waiting,” says Richard Zimmerman, director of the non-proﬁt Orangutan Outreach, which is running a campaign called Apps for Apes that aims to get more tablet computers to zoos. Eventually orangutans in different zoos will be able to visit each other via Skype or FaceTime—maybe even start Internet dating. “Orangutans have to move zoos for mating,” says York University’s Suzanne MacDonald, who studies animal behaviour and cognition. “It would be really cool if they could meet over the Internet ﬁrst and see if they got along, or if they’re terriﬁed of each other.”
Milwaukee got its ﬁrst iPad almost by accident. “Our gorilla keeper was on Facebook and saw a picture of a gorilla on an iPad,” Khan says. “She commented, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if I could get my gorillas an iPad?’ So a gentleman who’d just bought a brand new one gave his older one to the gorillas.” The zoo now has four split between gorillas and orangutans, but orangutans seem to prefer them. “Gorillas have a different way of interacting,” MacDonald says. “They look at things sideways, because it’s a threat to look at it directly. Orangutans like to look directly at things and ﬁgure them out.”
By Peter Nowak - Friday, February 3, 2012 at 4:45 PM - 0 Comments
Remember when the iPad first came out and Apple touted it as the device that would fill the void between smartphone and laptop? The jokes came along pretty quickly about how long it would be till someone tried to squeeze something more into the space between smartphones and tablets.
Well, laugh no more because Samsung is going there.
The South Korean electronics giant is spending a pile of money on a 90-second commercial during Sunday’s Super Bowl to promote its new Galaxy Note, a weird device that launches in Canada on all three big wireless carriers on Feb. 14.
By Davide Berretta - Tuesday, January 17, 2012 at 2:52 PM - 0 Comments
Away from the hype that surrounds some of the hottest Internet companies in Silicon Valley, scores of developers are tackling the lucrative, accelerating sector of technology for children. “Backpacks will slowly shrink… Textbooks will pretty soon be delivered on tablets,” says Warren Buckleitner, editor of Children’s Technology Review, a publication that since 1993 has been tracking new releases and trends in this increasingly busy domain. “It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.”
The boom in technology designed around children’s needs was catalyzed by the launch of Apple’s iPad in 2010, says Buckleitner, a former teacher with a Ph.D. in educational psychology. The tablet, he says, was the first reasonably priced device to bring together the must-have features of a blockbuster piece of hardware for kids: wireless Internet connection, powerful batteries, an App Store that has galvanized independent developers as well as those working within companies, and a large multi-touch screen.
“We knew that magic happens when you put touchscreens in the hands of children,” says Emil Ovemar, producer and co-founder of Toca Boca (which means ‘touch mouth’ in Spanish), a maker of games for Apple devices within Bonnier, a large Swedish media conglomerate with yearly revenues of almost US$4 billion. The work-and-play philosophy behind Apple devices seems to fit particularly well with the way children operate. “The most natural way to learn something is through play,” notes Ovemar.
By Anne Kingston - Monday, October 17, 2011 at 8:50 AM - 2 Comments
Jobs didn’t just sell Macs and iPods, he made beautiful objects—a revolutionary idea in his industry
When Steve Jobs introduced the iPod in 2001, he did something that would have been counterintuitive for any other consumer-product company CEO: he showed the back of it first. “I’m in love with it,” he said of the elegant, shiny surface reflecting the Apple logo in matte relief. “It’s stainless steel; it’s really, really durable. It’s beautiful.” By then Apple devotees expected such attention to detail from the man in the black mock turtleneck who took computers from geek to chic—the imperative was embedded in his company’s very DNA.
In his 2009 TED lecture talk about inspirational leadership, Simon Sinek observed that Apple challenged the status quo and expressed its ability to think differently precisely by making products that are consistently “beautifully designed, simple to use and user friendly.” And certainly the public’s appetite for innovative, human products is reflected in consumers’ willingness to pay a premium for Apple products. But Jobs’s greatest design legacy was reframing its parameters in the mass market. As he told the New York Times in 2003, Apple didn’t see design as product veneer: “That’s not what we think design is. It’s not just what it looks and feels like. Design is how it works.”
The iPod, coveted to the point of theft, exemplified Apple’s fusion of function and form: the technology was revolutionary (“You can put your entire playlist in your pocket,” Jobs boasted), yet every user touch point was carefully considered to be familiar and seem pleasing—its gift-like packaging, playing-card proportions, intuitive scroll wheel, even the tiny clip that prevented its distinctive white earbuds cord from tangling when it was packed up. The Museum of Modern Art put an iPod in its collection and extols the device for raising expectations for all consumer products—and also “stimulating manufacturers to recognize the importance of good design and to incorporate design considerations at the highest levels of their corporate structures.”
By Jesse Brown - Tuesday, October 11, 2011 at 6:00 PM - 19 Comments
The Aakash is a pretty crappy tablet computer. Made in India, the Android gadget’s touchscreen is small, with no multitouch functionality. Its battery only lasts for a few hours, its processor is fairly slow, it has no camera, and though it has WiFi, you’ll need a USB dongle to connect to the mobile Internet when away from wireless broadband. Compared to the iPad, the Aakash is a piece of junk—except for the one stat where it blows Apple completely out of the water: price.
The Aakash costs $37.98 to manufacture. Ten thousand units are currently in the hands of Indian students. Thanks to a government subsidy, they cost $30 each. A retail version of the Aakash is expected soon, with 90,000 units shipping to Indian stores bearing a sticker price of $50 to $60. There’s no word on a North American release just yet.
Here’s a short video report on the Aakash from NDTV: Continue…
By Sara Angel - Wednesday, October 5, 2011 at 10:30 AM - 0 Comments
David Hockney never expected his digital drawings to end up as a major exhibition
According to David Hockney, if the 17th-century Dutch master Rembrandt were living today, he’d be using an iPad. Hockney should know. Not only is the British-born painter, printmaker and photographer recognized as a virtuoso himself, he’s an authority on Old Master techniques and the first major art-world figure to have a show featuring iPhone- and iPad-made pictures, Fresh Flowers, which opens Oct. 8 at Toronto’s Royal Ontario Museum. “In Rembrandt’s drawings you can see that he worked very fast. That’s what the iPad permits,” explains Hockney from his studio in Bridlington, a seaside resort in Yorkshire. “Without ever having to get up for a pencil, you can draw from the ﬁrst moment of inspiration.”
At 74, neither Hockney’s age nor his struggle with deafness has diminished his interest in innovation. He is as famous for his Fauvist landscapes and vibrant images of California swimming pools (in 1964 he fell in love with L.A., where he still has a residence) as his career-long embrace of new methods for making pictures.
In the seventies, Hockney arranged Polaroids as well as 35-mm prints to create photo-collages of a single subject. In 1989, he sent his exhibition art to the São Paulo Biennial via fax. As Charlie Scheips, curator of Fresh Flowers, explains, for decades Hockney’s work “has questioned the role of media and reproduction in art.”
By Anne Kingston with Alex Ballingall - Thursday, September 15, 2011 at 11:30 AM - 6 Comments
As ‘cell-fishness’ hits an all-time high, a backlash against mobile devices includes outright bans
Last June, Kevin Newman delivered the commencement address at the University of Western Ontario. Reading from his iPad, the veteran TV news journalist extolled social media’s increasing role in shaping global events—and how it’s destined to make the graduating class “the most consequential generation in more than a century.”
Afterwards, the 52-year-old, who received an honorary doctorate at the ceremony, took his seat on the dais and began typing into his iPhone. Once, in the paleolithic pre-Facebook era, a guest of honour displaying such distracted behaviour would have summoned dismayed cocked eyebrows. But if the university’s robed dignitaries were offended, they showed no sign. Nor did the graduates facing the stage, many of whom were quietly typing away on mobile devices themselves.
Newman, CTV’s newly appointed “digital news evangelist,” says he sees the tableau as the way of the world: “That’s how I live my life now. I capture moments and experiences,” he told Maclean’s. His behaviour was “within the boundaries of etiquette in a social-media age,” he says, admitting that these rules are being established on the run, often by the user himself (Newman only posted photos to his Twitter feed from backstage, didn’t text during the formal part of the ceremony, and says he wasn’t “too showy” about it).
By Peter Nowak - Monday, August 29, 2011 at 11:07 AM - 4 Comments
I’m back from my short vacation and what’s the first thing I see? A character assassination attempt by my fellow blogger Jesse Brown.
Just kidding. I have nothing but respect for Jesse and love his stuff (his interview a few years back with Jim Prentice, where the industry minister hung up on him, is one of my all-time favourites). He messaged me while I was gone to ask if I was okay with him rebutting my blog post the other day about Steve Jobs and Apple’s importance to technology over the past decade. Of course I was, so he had at it.
To summarize, Jesse challenged my assertions that Apple changed everything with a slew of products that included the iPod, iTunes, the iPhone and the iPad. He went on to say that Google has been the far more important technology company over the past 10 years. Continue…
By Peter Nowak - Thursday, August 25, 2011 at 12:08 PM - 4 Comments
And the big tech news just keeps on a’rolling. I’m on a mini-vacation in Quebec, but I couldn’t not write something about Steve Jobs’s resignation, which was as surprising as Google taking over Motorola or HP announcing its exit from the consumer business, both of which happened last week. Jobs has been battling illness for some time so the news isn’t that unexpected, but just like the company he built, the man himself seemed somewhat unstoppable so it’s shocking nonetheless.
There will be a lot of commentary extolling what Jobs has meant to the world of technology and not much of it will be overstated. Simply put, no company—probably not even Google—and certainly no individual has made as much of a difference or changed the way things work over the past 10 years as Apple has under Jobs. Continue…
By Jesse Brown - Friday, July 29, 2011 at 3:22 PM - 79 Comments
First, my job is to talk about what’s going on in the world right now, not to foretell the future. It’s weird how often tech journalists are looked to for their soothsaying powers (it’s also weird how often they’ll play along). We don’t ask, say, business reporters for their stock picks, but somehow anyone who reviews a gadget is deemed capable of prophesying the fate of massive companies and their products.
Second, guessing at the future of technology is a mug’s game. You will almost certainly be wrong, and therefore you are almost certainly making an ass out of future you. I like future me. I like his hovercraft pants and his metallic beard, and I refuse to embarrass him from this meager past.
That said, I will now break my rule and make a technology prediction. Even worse, I will make a tech prediction that was made by someone else, two days ago.
There will eventually be more Android tablets in use than iPads.
This of course was stated as fact, not prophecy, by a research firm called Informa. Informa should change their name to Obviousa, because theirs is the safest prediction I’ve heard in a while.
The phenomenal growth of Android smartphones illustrates the new normal when it comes to mobile devices: there’s Apple and there’s everything else, and everything else will run Android. Hardware companies have finally got the message that they are hardware companies—consumers don’t want their crappy, proprietary, incompatible software. Android is free, open and good, and as more and more of the unApple world adopts it, it will soon boast more apps than Apple.
But I bet you’d still take an iPad. Fair enough, but consider this: iPads remain expensive toys for grownups in countries like Canada. Teens and kids here would sooner spend that cash on an Xbox, and folks from poorer nations just want stuff that works. Any Android slab—even a lousy one—works. As long as it’s a glowing touchable rectangle running Android, you’ve got the basic functionality of an iPad. Reviewers like to pick at the details—maybe it’s a bit heavier, not as bright, less responsive, whatever. To 91% of the world’s population it’s 91% of the way there, and if it sells for 19% of the price, then that will be the determining factor.
In a sense, Apple has screwed itself by making the iPad so elegant and simple. How can they continue to differentiate it? Change the colour, make it thinner, slap a camera on each side—and then what? Additions will only subtract.
The tablet is a great invention, but it will ultimately be rendered generic. The race is now on price, and Android will win it.
So it is written, so it shall be.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, July 11, 2011 at 9:45 AM - 0 Comments
Unlike Barack Obama, Stephen Harper prefers to limit his Blackberry use
When, in the lead-up to the last federal election, the Conservative party wanted to portray Stephen Harper as dedicated and hard-working, the resulting television ad showed a solitary Prime Minister at his desk, going through stacks of presumably important files. Nowhere to be seen were the familiar trappings of the modern ofﬁce: no BlackBerry, no computer, just a man and his pen.
According to the Prime Minister’s Office, Harper does use a laptop and an iPad—to research his hockey book, check on the status of bills through Parliament’s website, and work on speeches. But Harper has, in fact, never owned a BlackBerry. And he stopped using a cellphone and email after becoming Prime Minister in 2006. “I’ve actually taken the view as Prime Minister that if I start using these things, then I’ll be doing them myself instead of my staff,” he told the Toronto Star a couple of years ago. “So I make sure the staff knows how to work all the BlackBerries and all those things, and I try and keep focused on the big picture.” The Prime Minister also acknowledged security concerns.
U.S. President Barack Obama famously fought to keep his BlackBerry when he took office. He was ultimately allowed to keep the cherished device, but with added security measures, including a select list of friends and advisers with whom he is allowed to communicate. Obama has since said the gadget had lost some of its appeal under his new circumstances. “I’ve got to admit, it’s no fun because they think that it’s probably going to be subject to the Presidential Records Act, so nobody wants to send me the real juicy stuff,” he told The View last year.
By Alex Ballingall - Monday, July 11, 2011 at 9:10 AM - 0 Comments
Samsung and Apple are trying to get each others’ products banned from the U.S.
Samsung upped the stakes in its patent dispute with Apple last week when it called on the U.S. International Trade Commission to ban imports of Apple’s iPhone and iPad from China, where they are made. Apple is expected to respond with a similar request, raising the possibility that the tech giants will be choked off from the American market. The two sides have traded accusations of copyright infringement since April, when Apple accused its South Korean rival of ripping off its smartphone and tablet designs. For its part, Samsung has filed similar lawsuits against Apple in Germany and Japan.
While Apple has dominated the tablet market, Samsung has emerged as a big player, too, and is expected to pass Nokia as the world’s top producer of smartphones this year. Ironically, the two companies have enjoyed a close business relationship. Apple is one of Samsung’s biggest buyers of computer chips and screens.
By Jason Kirby - Tuesday, April 26, 2011 at 9:20 AM - 3 Comments
RIM’s PlayBook tablet launched to mixed reviews and plenty of doubters. But so did the iPad.
The official launch of Research In Motion’s PlayBook device in New York City, on April 15, didn’t muster the same international media blitz that accompanied the debut of Apple’s iPad a year ago. But the two events shared one thing in common—both sparked a fierce backlash over what the tablet makers failed to include.
As it stands, the PlayBook doesn’t come with email, contacts or calendar programs. Those applications can be accessed by wirelessly bridging the PlayBook to a BlackBerry smartphone, thus extending RIM’s airtight security features. But those without a BlackBerry must use online services, or wait for a promised update later this year. There were also complaints that PlayBook users have access to just 3,000 tailored apps, versus 65,000 for the iPad. The Wall Street Journal tech reviewer Walt Mossberg called the PlayBook “a tablet with a case of codependency,” and said he couldn’t recommend the device to anyone but “folks whose BlackBerrys never leave their sides.”
It didn’t help that just days before the launch, RIM’s co-CEO Mike Lazaridis walked out of an interview with the BBC because he was angry over the reporter’s questions. A Google News search for “Lazaridis and BBC” turned up nearly half as many hits as “Playbook and launch” for the past week.
By Jesse Brown - Friday, April 22, 2011 at 9:18 AM - 13 Comments
Okay, so Apple has been tracking your whereabouts through your iPhone or iPad without your consent for the past 10 months. So what?
No, really – so what? You don’t need to worry about Apple knowing where you’ve been. As they’ve explained (.pdf), they’re tracking you for your own good! By triangulating your whereabouts through cell phone towers, Apple can vastly narrow down the range of your possible GPS coordinates, making your GPS-reliant apps run much quicker. Feel better yet?
Maybe not. Okay, but consider this- even though your device secretly rats out your location to Apple every 12 hours, this data cannot be linked to you. Apple assigns you a randomly generated number that changes every 24 hours. It’s this number that’s linked to your location history, not your name. So even if law enforcement presented Apple with warrants, demanding the complete history of your whereabouts (as they routinely and successfully do with mobile carriers), Apple would be technically unable to drop a dime on you, even if they wanted to.
So don’t worry about the fact that Apple has your location data. Instead, worry about the fact that you do.
Your iPhone or iPad automatically generates an unencrypted file called “consolidated.db” which contains the last 10 months of your location data with time stamps. Any computer synched to your Apple device also has this file. Anyone who gets their hands on your gear can easily tap into the file and get an exact log of your movements. There’s already a handy app to turn this raw data into a pretty map.
U.S. Senator Al Franken has sent Apple a stern letter (.pdf) demanding answers on this flabbergasting revelation, and you can expect every privacy commissioner in the land to soon do the same. In the meantime, here’s how the nervous among you can delete your consolidated.db files – so long as your iPhone is jailbroken.
By Chris Sorensen - Thursday, March 31, 2011 at 1:34 PM - 2 Comments
Dell’s global head of marketing, Andy Lark, has become the subject of Internet ridicule after he trash talked the iPad— the very same device people are lining up around the block to buy. In a recent interview, Lark suggested Apple’s approach would ultimately fail when it comes to business customers because the iPad runs on a closed OS and is too expensive. “Apple is great if you’ve got a lot of money and live on an island. It’s not so great if you have to exist in a diverse, open, connected enterprise; simple things become quite complex,” Lark said. He went on to suggest the iPad’s price tag puts it out of reach for most people, particularly once you throw on a bunch of accessories like a peripheral keyboard, mouse and a fancy case. “An iPad with a keyboard, a mouse and a case [means] you’ll be at $1500 or $1600; that’s double of what you’re paying,” he said. “That’s not feasible.” (Not to be outdone, an HP executive also recently criticized Apple’s heavy-handed relationship with partner companies, calling it potential weakness).
Blogs were quick to provide Lark with a reality check. “Okay, timeout,” said BGR. “[US]$1,600 for an iPad, case, keyboard, and mouse? Let’s do some quick math: 64GB 3G iPad 2 $829, ridiculously expensive leather Smart Cover $69, Apple Bluetooth Keyboard $69, Apple iPad Dock $69 (not mentioned, but why not), Apple Mighty Mouse (which won’t work with an iPad, but we’re going with it) $69. That’s a grand total of $1,105, just $400 to $500 off Lark’s estimates.” Apple Insider drew a similar conclusion: “It is unlikely that a keyboard, mouse and case would cost the same as an iPad.”
Lark may have a point about potential demand for cheaper tablets, but Dell would be wise to focus on improving its own products (anybody have a Dell Streak?) instead of criticizing Apple’s. Apple has sold nearly 16 million iPads worldwide and currently commands three-quarters of the market. And some analysts are dramatically upping their forecasts following the success of the recent iPad 2 launch. A quick look at stock price performances over the past year tells the story: Apple’s shares are up nearly 50 per cent. Dell and HP? Down 3 per cent and 22 per cent respectively. Clearly Apple is doing something right.
By Nicholas Köhler, Julia Belluz and Nancy Macdonald - Friday, March 4, 2011 at 10:17 AM - 0 Comments
The ‘world’s fattest contortionist’; farewell, Fidel; and a few kind words for Bernie Madoff, from Bernie Madoff
And other acts of God
When a 6.3-magnitude earthquake rocked New Zealand last week, killing dozens and toppling the steeple of Christchurch Cathedral, it took a Canadian, Christchurch Bishop Victoria Matthews, to give nature its due. “People shouldn’t think they’re in control of Mother Nature,” she said. The long-time Anglican bishop of Edmonton arrived in her antipodean idyll three years ago. Her words echo poet Alden Nowlan, who described Canada as “a country where a man can die simply from being caught outside.” Matthews, who is working to get churches open and parishioners dug out, acknowledged her ignorance of some of nature’s talents. “I knew about snowstorms, I knew about hurricanes,” she said. “My Canadian education was woefully lacking about earthquakes.”
She learned from the best
Michèle Alliot-Marie, the French foreign minister, is the latest casualty of Tunisia’s fallen regime. Her reaction to the protests that led to the Jasmine revolution surprised many—she offered French savoir faire to stamp out dissenters. Later, it was revealed she was on holiday in Tunisia as the revolt heated up, and her family has close connections with ousted Tunisian president Zein al-Abidine Ben Ali. She resigned over the issue, and President Nicolas Sarkozy swiftly replaced her with Alain Juppé, his trusted defence minister. Like the Arab autocrats, Alliot-Marie did not go quietly. In her resignation letter, she insisted she’d done nothing wrong, adding: “I have been the victim of political, then media, attacks.”
Hard out there to be a thief
Taking time from his 150-year jail term for defrauding investors of tens of billions of dollars, Bernie Madoff gave another interview this month, this time to New York magazine. He talked of his silent suffering in carrying his secret for years. He mused, as he did to the New York Times, that banks and investors who were getting rich surely knew something fishy was going on—or should have. “Am I a sociopath?” he asked his therapist, in one vulnerable moment. (She said no—he feels remorse.) For some that may be offset by his petulance that all the good he did is forgotten and he’s judged too harshly by public and media. “I am a good person,” he insists.
No fairy-tale ending here
Both buzz and fury are brewing on the eve of the release of the new film by Twilight director Catherine Hardwicke. Hardwicke’s new project is in territory not far from her last. Her Red Riding Hood is a supernatural tale that plays up the latent sexuality of the Brothers Grimm original (a wolf, dressed in ladies’ clothing, luring a girl into bed?). The buzz is understandable: it stars the luminous Amanda Seyfried. The fury is over the tie-in book, by Sarah Blakley-Cartwright. You can buy it now—but fans discovered when they got to the last page it won’t reveal the ending. Instead there’s a link to a website that will go up once the film is out. The griping has already begun in the blogosphere. Suffice it to say this is one plot twist that won’t stay a surprise too long.
Look—a fluffy dog!
Want to get Queen Elizabeth II‘s mind off potash—a neat trick if you’re the premier of Saskatchewan and have just helped block an international deal to take over Saskatoon-based PotashCorp? Meeting the Queen during a visit to London designed to assuage ruffled feathers, Brad Wall, the premier in question and a former disc jockey from Swift Current, Sask., presented the Queen with children’s books written by Regina-born folksinger Connie Kaldor—books with titles like A Duck in New York City and A Poodle in Paris. The books are destined for Savannah Phillips, who became the Queen’s first great-grandchild when she was born last year.
Some fashion advice: zip it
Less than a week before John Galliano, head designer for Christian Dior, was to present his latest collection in Paris, he’s been axed by the fashion house. The firing was prompted by a video showing the fashion bad boy drunkenly taunting patrons in a Paris bar with anti-Semitic slurs such as “people like you would be dead,” and “your mothers, your forefathers gassed.” He added, “I love Hitler.” Dior’s head, Sidney Toledan, condemned the remarks, as did actress Natalie Portman, who has signed an endorsement deal with Dior. “As an individual who is proud to be Jewish,” she said, “I will not be associated with Mr. Galliano in any way.”
Call him a fan
American Filmmaker Michael Moore‘s romance with Canada has been long and multi-faceted: 10 years ago he loved those trusting unlocked doors he found in Toronto filming Bowling for Colombine; in Sicko, he heaped praise on our universal health care. Last week, he picked a new darling: the people of Thompson, Man., who he says are “fighting a front-line battle” in the “war of the world’s rich on the middle class.” In a blog post, he skewers Brazilian mining giant Vale, which plans to shutter operations in Thompson and put 500 people out of work, even though it recently got a $1-billion loan from the Canadian government. “Don’t be embarrassed if you need a map to find Thompson,” writes Moore, who complains U.S. media “only tell you about Canadians if they have some connection to Justin Bieber.” Yet many Canadians will be just as clueless about remote Thompson’s location, as jazzed about Bieber, and as indifferent to Thompson’s workers.
Another one for Gwyneth (yawn)
Poet/author/actor/soap star James Franco wasn’t the only overachiever in the room Oscar night. Halle Berry was readying for her Broadway debut, and there was GOOP publisher/style maven Gwyneth Paltrow in her third recent musical turn, belting out Coming Home. Actors. We know there’s nothing they can’t do, but must they actually go out and do it all?
Castro goes, long live Castro
Another global political heavyweight may be on the way out. Fidel Castro is expected to resign as Communist party leader in April. Cuba’s “El Jefe” will likely hand over the job to his brother Raul, who became president in 2008, due to Fidel’s declining health—which means that, for the first time, a non-Castro will take the party’s secondary slot.
Fat is not a contortionist issue
His weight fluctuates between 400 and 450 lb., yet he can do the splits and touch the soles of his feet to his cherubic cheeks. Edmonton’s Matt Alaeddine, 30, bills himself as the “world’s fattest contortionist” and has travelled the globe with the freakish Jim Rose Circus, having got his start at the Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival. “Obesity! It’s working for me,” he recently told the Edmonton Journal, for a story that generated worldwide curiosity, likely due to an accompanying video of the performer staging impromptu feats of fleshy derring-do dressed in a gold nylon two-piece apparently bought at American Apparel. “I know you’re in shock; you can still clap!” he told a crowd of clearly uneasy Edmontonians at a local transit station.
A big bite out of Apple
Apple’s superstar designer, Jonathan Ive, may be leaving the company, which is suffering a period of uncertainty in the wake of Steve Jobs‘ medical leave. Ive, Apple’s highest-profile employee after Jobs, heads the design team responsible for its most famous products, including the iPad, iPhone and Macbook. The 41-year-old is “at loggerheads” with the California-based company over plans to return to his native Britain, where he hopes to educate his twin sons, according to Britain’s Sunday Times. His imprint and value to Apple—and its stock price—is immeasurable.
Call it documentary activism. Louie Psihoyos, the American director of the Oscar-winning movie The Cove—about the annual dolphin hunt in Taiji, Japan—was so keen the people of Taiji see his film he sent Japanese-language DVDs to every household in the fishing village. “To me the film is a love letter to the people of Taiji,” he said. “They’ll realize that it is just a handful of local environmental thugs giving a whole nation a black eye.” The love may not be returned. The town office said it had received copies of the film, but no one had watched it yet.
Apparently Equatorial Guinea’s dictator, Brig. Gen. Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, hasn’t learned from the uprisings roiling North Africa. Word has leaked that Teodorin Obiang, the son he is grooming for succession, has commissioned a super-yacht worth $380 million—three times what the oil-rich African country spends on health and education each year. Teodorin, who lives in a $35-million Malibu mansion, reportedly fills his days with naps and Rodeo Drive shopping sprees with his Playboy bunny girlfriend. The next Guinean leader is described in Foreign Policy as an “unstable, reckless idiot” by a former U.S. intelligence official who knows him well.
A little bit of country
Kate Middleton was keen on a village wedding. So while her nuptials will take place at Westminster Abbey, she and Prince William are bringing a bit of village to the city. A butcher, a pub landlord, a postman and convenience-store owners from Bucklebury, her hometown in Berkshire, were among the 2,000-odd guests to receive a gold-embossed invitation. Chan Shingadia and her husband, Hash, who run the store, will rub shoulders with the likes of David Beckham. Mrs. Shingadia said she’s accepted, and told the Telegraph Kate “is really caring, and she is always a good customer.” The pair pop by so regularly, she’s always stocked with the very common treats they favour: Haribo sweets and mint Vienetta ice cream.
By Jesse Brown - Thursday, March 3, 2011 at 1:35 PM - 164 Comments
Apple sold 15 million iPads in nine months. But so what? The gadget is a dud.
Too harsh? I don’t think so. A year ago, there were some pretty high expectations for the iPad. It was “transformative“. It was “magical“. It was going to change computing. It was going to save publishing. It was going to kill netbooks—probably laptops too.
It has done none of these things. After the cool factor wore off, iPad owners were left with a nice way to surf the web on a couch. Compare it to the iPhone, a truly transformational device that owners interact with hundreds of times a day. My dad (not exactly a luddite, but close) got one as a gift, and within a week he couldn’t remember how he had lived without it. He now has a dorky little holster for it on his belt. It’s adorable. My mom followed up by buying him an iPad. He played with it for a day or two and hasn’t used it since. The iPhone is a crucial tool, the iPad a toy. Boys get bored with their toys.
Now we’re supposed to get excited all over again because the toy comes in white. Yes, it’s also a bit thinner and a bit faster. Guess what? Computers will always get smaller and faster. The problem with the original iPad wasn’t that it was too slow or too big. It’s that it was a solution in search of a problem. It didn’t let me do anything I couldn’t do before.
Perhaps this will change. As more and more people acquire iPads and other tablets (especially those that run on open platforms), new uses for them will emerge. New apps will be developed, and eventually someone will come up with something awesome that we will want to do all the time and that can only be done with a tablet. But when that happens, it will be despite Steve Jobs, not because of him.
Apple has steadily devolved from a maker of beautiful machines for creators to a censorious manufacturer of shiny doodads you can’t easily type on or share files with. Whereas once they led by innovating, they now aim to stay on top by using their market clout to bully others from doing so—see yesterday’s post by Chris Sorensen on Apple’s attempt to monopolize the touchscreen market.
Hoarding components—how magical!
By Kate Lunau - Thursday, December 9, 2010 at 8:40 AM - 0 Comments
Maybe it’s the red hair, but actress Emma Stone, who got rave reviews for her performance in this year’s edgy teen comedy Easy A, has been called the new Lindsay Lohan—minus the antics. Stone, who also appeared in Zombieland and Superbad, recently landed the female lead in an upcoming Spider-Man prequel: she’ll play Gwen Stacy, Peter Parker’s love interest. Unlike her best-known characters, all redheads, Stacy’s a blond—coincidentally, Stone’s natural shade (turns out that her famously red hair is a dye job).
THE DOUBLE DOWN
Amid both celebration and horror, KFC launched its Double Down—bacon, melted cheese and Colonel’s Sauce, sandwiched between pieces of chicken—across the U.S. and Canada. Named after a blackjack move, this bunless wonder represents something of a gamble for even the most devoted fast-food fan. Even so, the phrase “heart attack on a bun” suddenly seemed outdated thanks to the Double Down’s limited, four-week Canadian run.