Friday, February 27, 2009

The $2.5 Million Dollar iPhone!

Quick... check your pockets and see if you got a spare $2.5 million or so bucks that I can borrow? I need it, and I need it bad, because the AllTechnoBlog just pointed out this amazing bargain that I just got to have, so if you will please hurry up and lend me that $2.5 million, I can buy it ....... a new diamond encrusted iPhone, the perfect thing for having in this recession, so, pleaszeeee..... lend me the doe, you know, before someone else snaps it up before I can! Now seriously, you wouldn't want to see a grown man cry, now would you?

Yes, I know that the idea of a multi-million dollar iPhone might seem a little bit over done, but I still want it, ok? I mean if a jeweler like Peter Aloisson from Austria can take the time to produce something as elegant as this, the least I can do is buy the bloody dang thing. After all, the iPhone's main operating button alone is worth it, and for a mere $2,517,345 this thing can be either yours, or mine, provided you have it in your heart to lend me the money. I promise, I'll faithfully pay you back at 50 cents per week, ok?

With some 138 high-quality diamonds, set in solid 18-carat gold, at least chances are good that I will have the coolest iPhone around while I'm waiting in the unemployment line, or dinning in one of my neighborhood's fine soup kitchens! This type of thing usually doesn't just pop up everyday, especially in a major recession like we are all experiencing.

You have to admit that this thing is just perfect for working in the garden, cleaning the toilet, bathing the dog, or even just plain showing off! This phone is really pretty (not to mention pretty expensive!) and as the world's most expensive iPhone to date, it is probably safe to say that you won't be hearing, anytime soon, the words:

"Attention K-Mart shoppers.... Apple 3G 'Kings Button iPhone's' are now on sale in the main aisle - 50 cents off!"

So, thanks to the All Tech Blog for pointing out this bargain for us. It's bargains like this that helps make the credit crisis all seem a wee bit easier to bare.

And that's my 2 cents 4 this Friday, February 27, 2009

Thursday, February 26, 2009

iPhone Games: 3 Little Gems!

There's now thousands of apps for the iPhone and iPod Touch, including some very amazing gameing titles, so in an attempt to vary my posts by including some shorter ones, I am presenting this short, YouTube style, post featureing 3 little iPhone/Touch gaming gems: Alpine Racer, Let's Golf and my favorite - Kerosen 3D.

The first game, soon to be released, Alpine Racer, has some pretty spiffy looking graphics and is the type of game that I would to love play while waiting, like forever, in my doctor's office. A doctor's office, for me, is the perfect place to play such a game, since I'm such an uncoordinated goofball, that I'm pretty sure that by the time I that got to see my doctor, I probably, more than not, would have already broken both my arms, legs and my neck while playing this little jewel of a game!

Below, in the next video, we have another great game with some more great graphics - Let's Golf. I love this game's trailer, because it's 'cartoon' golfing type characters are just so cute and adorable. The colors in this game are so bright and the game play so fluid, why it's the perfect way for me to kill time while waiting for my doctor to finally mend my broken limbs and neck from playing my first game, Alpine Racer!

Now that I have seen my doctor and she has bandaged me up, from head-to-toe, from playing the first two games, I'm now ready (and crazy enough) to attempt my third - exploring brand new computer generated planets via the amazing Kersosen 3D! This program is one of my all-time favorite iPhone/Touch games, because, and as you can see below, it generates some amazing looking scenery, on-the-fly, that you can easily fly through in real time! As a child I was forever creating imaginary new cities, countries and planets in my mind, so this program is right up my alley. After surviving my injuries from the first two games, well, this flying game might just get me killed, but at least I would have had a blast in the process!

And that's my brief visual look at Alpine Racer, Let's Golf and Kerosen and it's R.I.P. for this very short post, so until tomorrow, take care everybody.

And that's my 2 cents 4 this Thursday, February 26, 2009

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

OmniWeb 4 OS X - Now Free!

Apple's new beta of Safari 4.0 got a lot of attention yesterday, but little known was the fact that the Omni Group also released a very cool browser called OmniWeb. Omniweb is a Mac only browser that was listed by some as one of the best reasons for upgrading to OS X when it first came out. OmniWeb goes back, however, to 1995 where it was first developed for the NextStep computer system that eventually went on to become the heart and soul of OS X. Unfortunately, as nice as OmniWeb has been, over the years, it never really caught on with the public due mostly to the fact that it came with a price - a rather steep one at that! If my memory serves me right, it went for about $35 way back when?

Yuppers, up until yesterday, OmniWeb was still being sold last year for up to $15 per copy! That's better then before, but it's still a lot of moolah when every other browser happens to be going for the dang-tooting price of absolutely free! Since I was requested to write a review of OmniWeb for another website last year, no doubt that price may have been lowered somewhat, but I'm not sure, I never checked? All I know, is that the final price - FREE - has got to be the sweet spot this time around and I'm hoping that it leads to a greater adoption of this wonderful browser. I have always felt that it deserved far greater recognition and, hopefully, now that it's finally free it will achieve that recognition.

It's about time, so I really hope so anyway?

So, what do you get with OmniWeb? For starters, it comes with a very clean and modern interface with some pretty dang tooting performance to go along with it. I especially love the tab browser feature, with it's mini previews that you can place to the left or the right as you can see below. I also love that you can just drag and drop the preview icons anywhere on the bar. This unusual feature of tabbed browsing was implemented among several new features in 2004, and it has remained ever since, and frankly I'm glad it did. I love it!

The current version of OmniWeb stands at 5.9 and ever since I played with the very first version way back in the earliest days of OS X Cheetah, I have wanted and lusted after OmniWeb. Sadly, however, I could never quite justify the cost of actually buying it, being the poor, poor soul that I am. So, you can just imagine how happy and delirious I was to see the day finally come when the latest and greatest version of OmniWeb became what it is now - totally free!

Happy dance time everyone!

Sadly one thing that I miss about today's OmniWeb's was it's original and exclusive rendering technology. It was eventually replaced because it was not completely compatible with many of today's existing standards. This is quite sad, because, frankly, OmniWeb's original rendering technology rendered everything so much more cleanly then anything that we see today - it just seemed to jump out at you! It was so clear, so sharp and chrisp that it was marvelous, just marvelous, I tell you and I really miss it a lot! It made every other browser and especially Internet Explorer for the Mac, look just like utter and total crap! Seriously, it was that good! The way it rendered fonts was nothing short of amazing!

So, in conclusion, if you happen to be a browser whore, like myself, then I highly recommend OmniWeb, if not as your main browser, than surely as an alternative. It's fast, stable and has a lot of great features such as it's spiffy tab browsing, cool Short Cuts, essential Ad Blocking, and some very nice RSS News Feeds, Bookmarks and it's el-neat-o Workspaces. OmniWeb was always a great browser and now that it is FREE..... it's even more so! With Chrome about to hit the Mac soon, FireFox and now, what seems to be shaping up as the one of the most fabulous browsers ever - Safari 4.0, why would you want to add this ' made just for Mac' browser to your Mac?

Simple, as the OmniWeb Group elegantly states:

"Sure, you can use a standard web browser, with standard features. But you didn't choose a standard software experience - you chose the Mac. Why not try a browser built just for discriminating people with fabulous taste, like yourself?"

I rest my case.

And that's my 2 cents 4 this Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

It's Cool, It's Fast, It's Fun - It's Safari 4.0 Beta!

Today Apple unleashed a new beta version of Safari 4.0 for both Windows and the Mac, which you can download here. So far, I must say that even though it's still in beta form, it still feels pretty dang fast, and definitely, pretty dang spiffy looking.

I love the cool animated views that you can now have when browsing your 'history' via CoverFlow and other visuals such as Safari's new Top Site.

All-in-all, Apple claims that there are now some 150 features to be found in Safari and even though I have yet to check em all out, what I have seen thus far certainly does seem to give Safari some definite oomph!

Just some of Safari's new features:

ARIA Support, which supports Accessible Rich Interactive Application which allows ARIA sites to take full advantage of advanced technologies such as AJAX and JavaScript.

Full-Page Zoom, which enables you to zoom in or out on web pages using keyboard short-cuts and can even allow for multi-touch gestures!

HTML 5 Offline Support, which allows developers to create applications that you can use even when not connected to the web.

Acid 3 Compliance, is the first, Apple claims that is the one and only - web browser to pass the Acid 3 test, and, as well, the Acid 2 test.

Nitro JavaScript Engine, which allows Safari to execute JavaScript up to 6 times faster than Internet Explorer 8, or up to 4 times faster than FireFox 3.1

CoverFlow and the new History View are, as mention earlier, very sleek and cool looking and something that will please the heart of anyone who is into such eye-candy, like myself.

In addition to these, of course, there are many other new features such as, Pin Top Sites and Safari's new Smart Address Field, and, as well, many others, too numerous to list.

So far, in the past 30 or so minutes that I have been using Safari 4.0 beta, I'm very pleased with it's speed, it's overall stability and it's dang-tooting cool visuals. How I will feel come tomorrow, that I can't say, but so far I think that anybody who is not afraid of using beta's should seriously check this one out. Of course, that said, I would still make sure that you have another browser or copy of Safari handy. After all, a beta is a beta, and, at lest this way, if you ever do have any significant problems you can always revert to another browser or copy of Safari. That said, this beta comes with an uninstaller that should return you to Safari's 3 original state. However, being the paranoid that I am, I still would make sure you have other backup options, because you never know, you know, just what might happen when using a beta.

I will say that I'm extremely please that, so far at least, Safari 4.0 seems to be taking up a lot less CP cycles than Safari 3 ever did! This is at least according to iStats menu, a wonderful free menu bar item, which you can download free here. This is a very good thing indeed, because Safari 3 was eating up so many cycles that I was forced to switch to using Fire Fox 3.1 as my main browser, but now, thanks to Safari 4.0, not anymore! As of today, Safari beta 4.0 is now, once again, my main browser of choice! And as a dedicated Mac user, that's the way it should be!

And that's my 2 cents 4 this Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Monday, February 23, 2009

Back to the Future with Apple's Knowledge Navigator!

Today, thanks to NetworkWorld, I was reminded of a video concept that Apple produced some 22 years ago for it's advanced "Knowledge Navigator." This was, and still is, an incredible concept and I was wondering just how likely any, or all, of this concept eventually could ever be expected to see the light of day?

As you can see, by clicking on this five-plus minute YouTube video, Apple's Knowledge Navigator is more like something that you would expect to see from the Jetson's, or from a Star Wars or Star Trek movie. It's almost like having an electronic secretary or librarian at you beck-and-call, 24/7.

Of course, I have no doubt that the Knowledge Navigator would probably require a lot more powerful hardware and advance artificial intelligence software than we currently have available today, but, just as well, I'm also equally confident that in the very near future we will have both. Today, regardless of whether it's from the hardware or from the software perspective, technology is now advancing to the point that we should have the ability to build the Knowledge Navigator soon, and who knows, maybe Apple is actually working on the thing as we speak?

As amazing as the Knowledge Navigator is, one thing that I would love to see added to it, or, for that matter, added to the Mac or the iPhone, would be the addition of a re-sizable 3D holographic screen projector! Imagine, in the case of the iPhone, for instance, being able to not only have a screen that could be re-sized from the present iPhone screen or larger, but, at your convenience, also having the ability to project a life sized, 3D holographic image of the person that your talking to! Truly, it would be the next best thing to actually being there with the person in question!

At the moment, it may all sound a little bit far fetched, but remember - the current iPhone would have been thought of being a little too far stretch not all that long ago too! In fact, already, scientists are working, with some success, on producing things that are straight from out of the Star Trek movies, including teleportion and, as well, in creating an invisibility shield, or cloak, just like them nasty old Klingon's! True, they are only in the very, very early stages, but they are now very confident that they are on the right track of actually being able to duplicate what we see in the science fiction movies, even though they still have some doubts about acutally teleporting humans, teleportation, however, is definitely coming they firmly believe.

Of course, the Knowledge Navigator and my additional wish of a 3D holographic, re-sizable screen projector, are still only concepts, but concepts, none-the-less, that are doable and within future reach. When we may see any of this, if any, is impossible to say, but the very idea that they are now actually working on teleportation and in building an invisible cloaking device, to me, anyway, is truly mind-bending and proves to me that devices like the Knowledge Navigator are indeed coming!

In the meantime, while we all await such futuristic devices, like the Knowledge Navigator along with my re-sizable 3D holographic projector, I'm still waiting, in the meantime, for Apple to finally unveil it's long over due and much anticipated next versions of it' s latest iMac, Mini and Mac Pro. No, they won't be anywhere near as sophisticated or exciting as the Knowledge Navigator, invisibility cloaks, or teleportation, or what have you, but at least for me, I will be just as excited to see them finally arrive as I would the Navigator and 3D holographic projector.

And that's my 2 cents 4 this Monday, February 23, 2009

Friday, February 20, 2009

5 Top Apple Posts of the Week

It's been awhile now, so I decided to do another one of my 'Favorite 5 Apple Posts of the Past Week', with my first revolving around Microsoft's plan to ape Apple yet again with their own brand of retail stores. This post, from the Balitmore Sun, not only highlights Microsoft copying yet another Apple innovation, but even more importantly, it proves to me that Microsoft lacks any innovation or originality of it's own!

In this post, the writer, David Zeller, states:

"It’s enough to make you rub your eyes, blink and squint to make sure you’re not hallucinating. But it’s true. Microsoft plans to open its own chain of retail stores. On Thursday the Redmond company announced it had hired former Wal-Mart executive David Porter to make it happen. Microsoft seems to think it can duplicate Apple’s retail success, using a chain of stores to improve the “Microsoft retail purchase experience” and to combat the stereotypes – artfully reinforced by Apple’s “I’m a Mac” TV ads – that owning a Windows PC is fraught with difficulties. I hardly know where to begin, so let’s start with the first thing many people will think when they hear of a Microsoft Store: “Oh, just like Apple.”

Well, for one, I have to agree that the idea of Microsoft opening it's own chain of stores is pretty amazing - amazingly stupid, that is! Apple's own stores have been big money makers, and have become social gathering places, not only for Apple fans, but for Windows and Linux fans as well! After all, it's not by accident that over 50% of new Mac's are sold to Windows users!

I also have to agree with David, that I too hardly know where to begin? I mean, seriously, what are they going to stock these stores with? Maybe box's and box's of Windows box's! Yes, Microsoft also does hardware, such as keyboards and mice and what have you, but really, a whole store full of them doesn't sound too interesting to me. They could, of course, like Apple, sell third party equipment, such as HP's Touch Smart computers, who knows?

Whatever, like a lot of folks, I think this is totally lame, and a very, very boring idea to begin with! And like all lame and boring ideas, Microsoft will probably and eventually try to sweep it under the carpet like they have with Vista, because, like Vista, I think this thing is going to end up becoming just another huge embarrassment for Mr. Softie. I won't say it will fail, however, because that is exactly what they said about Apple opening their stores, and we all know what happen there, don't we?

My second favorite posting for this past week comes from Pocket Gamer and their article entitled, "Oberon: iPhone will put pressure on Nintendo's handheld dominance." Indeed it already has, and it should continue to do even more over the next few months and coming years.

Stuart Dredge, who wrote the post, says, regarding the iPhone gaming abilities:

"It's leap years ahead of the carrier decks, it's made mobile gaming sexy again, it's making some companies fortunes."

Yeah, tell me about it, or better yet just talk to some of the people who are making fortunes overnight developing games for the iPhone/iPod Touch, just like the fellow who's game, iShoot, shot to the number one spot in the App Store, netting him in a few months the incredible sum of $600,000! No wonder he decided to leave his full-time position with Sun Micro! Why work for a sinking ship when one can work at home doing something a lot more fun, and obviously, a lot, lot more profitable!

Apple's App Store, like the iPod and the iPhone, has been shaking up the the very nature in which applications are bought and sold, allowing more titles, at less cost, to find their way to market. The App Store delivery system is not only revolutionary, but it also has turned Apple into the Microsoft of the mobile space, and basically overnight!

My third favorite Apple related posting from the past week was from Forbes and their post, " Steve Jobs Haunts Barcelona". In this post they describe how Jobs and company have become the 800 pound gorilla, overshadowing everyone and everything else in the room, despite not even setting foot in the place.

Yes, it seems that everyone and everything in the room revolved around products or plans for new software, hardware and services that, in one way or another, was designed to emulate the iPhone and it's App Store. Companies like Palm with their much touted Pre, Microsoft with it's newest Windmobile 6.5, Nokia and virtually everyone else - they have all become Apple wannabe's these days!

Yes, Apple may have not been physically at the big Barcelona event, but it's spirit loomed big over the event and was very much in evidence as Forbes stated:

"Apple's not here, there's no stand and the only iPhones you can see are those in people's hands," said Geoff Blaber, an analyst in CCS Insight, from the Barcelona conference. "But we've seen a couple of "app stores" launched -- they've definitely defined that -- and the focus on touch and user interface all comes back to the fact that Apple have raised the bar significantly."

Apple's impact with the iPhone is clearly seen in the competitions efforts to catch up and surpass it. Whether or not Apple will be able to continue to keep ahead of it's competition, that's something that is yet to be seen, but I believe that as great as some of the competitor's iPhone copycat devices have become, Apple's next iPhone, expected around June, will again raise the bar and will make it all the harder for the competition to catch up, at least for a long while yet.

Just as the iPhone influence has been greatly felt in the mobile area with phones and portable hand-held gaming, Fortune on Wednesday had a great article, my fourth favorite for the week, that talked about just how pervasive Apple's quirky culture has spread far beyond it's own walls and into seemingly every other Silicon Valley firm. The article, written by Brian Caulfield, was entitled, "The Apple Mafia", and in his post, he says:

"The biggest Valley brand, however, is Apple (nasdaq: AAPL - news - people ). To the world, Apple is known for its cutting edge devices and its larger-than-life founder and chief executive, Steve Jobs. Inside the Valley, Apple is known for producing hard-nosed industrial designers, interface gurus and entrepreneurs who thrive on turning raw technology into a slick mass-market sensation--people a lot like Steve Perlman, who left Apple in 1990. Perlman, now chief executive of tech incubator Rearden LLC, developed much of the multimedia technology used in the color Macintosh."

Yes, it's certainly true, not only has Apple designers heavily influenced almost every other designer, but many of the highly praise work done by other companies were created, in part, by former Apple employees. Take Palm for instance. Do you think that the much praised Palm Pre would have come about if it wasn't for all of the former Apple designers that it lured away from Apple, including former employees such as John Rubenstein? I don't think so, and if you ask me, the Palm Pre is a phone that comes just a little to bit close for comfort, and it's now a waiting game to see what, if anything, Apple will do about it, since it is clear that Palm is directly in violation of Apple's recently granted patents.

Finally, from yesterday, my last favorite post is from CNet and is entitled, "Apple snaps up flash memory for new iPhone?" Of course, even though a new iPhone is highly anticipated to arrive sometime around June, it's by no means certain that it will. However, this story certainly has raised the likely hood that this will indeed be the case, and some are hoping that finally, like the iPod Touch, the iPhone will see it's memory expanded to a full 32 GBs or above, and some are even hoping that it might even go as high as 64 GBs! Now that really would be sweet!

Tom Krazit, the writer, pointed out that:

"Think Equity Partners put out a report this week, spotted by AppleInsider, that says Apple has essentially cleaned out Samsung's supply of flash memory in recent weeks. Apple has also asked Toshiba and Hynix to step up with more flash memory, according to Think Equity, as it prepares for an iPhone launch."

Well, it would seem to me, if that's the case, and this should indeed put quite some pressure on other OEM's who are looking for adequate supplies of flash memory. This should be reflected in their cost of doing business, making their products just a little more expensive to produce than Apple's, a negative for them, but a positive for Apple!

Of course, as important a having a reliable and inexpensive supply of flash memory is, what we all want to know is just what Apple will be using in the area of other chips, such as possible new CPU's and GPU's as well? It's rumored that Apple will be using newer, more powerful, less engery hungry, multi-core chips and I am expecting, and hoping, to see a lot more 'wow' like additions for the next iPhone, something that will require a lot more flash for it to effectively pull off, and the news that Apple is shoring up adequate supplies of flash is one of the first major indications that it is about to do so.

So, there you have it, five slightly old, but still up-to-date and great posts from some great sources and some great writers and I hope you get to check em all out, if you haven't already. So, until next Monday, have a great and safe weekend.

And that's my 2 cents 4 this Friday, February 20, 2009

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Why the Mac is Back and Here To Stay!

Once again, Apple and the Mac has come up on top as having the highest customer satisfaction ratings of any other firm, or computer, according to a study conducted by ChangeWave Research. In fact, not only did Apple come out on top, but it virtually blew past any and all comers by scoring a whopping satisfaction rate of 81 percent! This is miles ahead of it's nearest competitors such as Asus with with it's second place 67 percent showing, or by Acer and it's 61 percent!

Having the highest satisfaction rate, I believe, is just one of the big reasons why more and more people have been switching in increasingly more numbers to the Mac and why it's here to stay. The high satisfaction rate is directly proportional to the Mac's success - the higher the satisfaction rate, the higher the adoption rate as well. Apple's phenomenal satisfaction rate, as shown by ChangeWave's recent study, should bode well in helping to increase the Mac's acceptance even further in the future. However, it is not the only reason that has contributed to the Mac's success. There are other reasons such as:

Media coverage! Yes, a lot of the Mac's success is due primarily to the media frenzy surrounding everything that is Apple. More than any other company, Apple attracts the press like no other firm can, or could ever hope to. It's every move, it's every whim is closely watched, analyzed and reported on. In addition to it's high satisfaction rate, the high quality of it's products and Apple's amazing string of innovation, the media's increasing fascination with Apple and that of it's high-profiled CEO, Steve Jobs, the media has played a very big part in Apple's success. How many companies, after all, get to see their newest products splashed all over the cover of major newspapers and magazines such as Time? Not too many, that's for sure, and it is my belief that this media coverage will continue and increasingly guarantee the future success of the Mac platform .

A third major reason for the Mac's success is Apple's own media department, one that is recognized as one, if not, the best in the business. In addition to helping to feed the press with teasers and press releases, Apple's own ads, such as it's ubiquitous, "I'm a PC, I'm a Mac' ads, among others, have contributed in helping push the Mac to newer and dizzying heights. As far as Apple's ads go, some people may hate em; some people may love em - but no one can ignore them! Apple's ads are everywhere these days and, so far, they have been very effective in getting out the message that the Mac is back, and I expect that Apple will be increasingly devoting more money and resources in this area, and, directly, as a result, we should continue to see even more new Mac converts in the process.

Another major reason for the Mac's current popularity is simply due to the influence of the many people who have already made the switch, and the impact that these people have made on their friends, relatives and business associates. Of all the reasons why people end up switching to a Mac, this positive word-of-mouth advertising has been one of most effective. Actually hearing and seeing your trusted friends, colleges and family members all describe how just  great their Mac experience has been, is something that money simply can't buy, and something that Microsoft should have learned before they invested in a massive $300,000,000 ad campaign aimed at directly countering Apple's adverts.

A fifth major factor contributing to the Mac's success has really nothing directly to do with the Mac at all - it's called Windows! And that goes especially for Vista! All of sudden, all of the many complaints with Windows is finally having an effect, and prompting it's users to consider looking elsewhere for solutions. Frankly, people are just getting plain old tired of Microsoft and it's half-baked products and the excuses that goes along with them. The "Wow' just isn't there, if it ever was? Windows is certainly usable, but painfully so! Using Windows means putting up with a lot of bloat and crap ware, as well as putting up with it being slow, buggy and much too prone to various security issue's. When comparing their experience's to that of using OS X, suddenly, XP seems so cartoonist, so boring, and so out of date! By borrowing heavily from OS X, Vista fixed that to a a certain degree, but at a considerable cost - it too was slow and as buggy as hell! Windows 7, hopefully, has learned a thing or two both from OS X and Vista, if and whenever it finally gets here. By then, I would expect that Apple's latest OS X updates will continue to do what they have already done so well in the past - blow Windows out of the water!

The last major reason for the Mac's success comes from people directly getting to see and use it in person, be it from being directly displayed in a store, at work, or from a friend or family member. Only after a person can get to kick the tires so to speak, and after they can get to see just what it can do, up close and personal, and just how different and how much better a Mac really is, can they fully appreciate and make the decision to finally switch! As influential as the Mac's media coverage has been, or how well done are Apple's ads, or how impressed their friends have been their new Mac's, it's the final, close up, one-on-one, experience of actually using a Mac that ends up converting them!

There will always be reasons why some people will never consider owning a Mac. The reasons are many as they are diverse, with some reasons being justified, and some not. However, in spite of all of them, and in spite of the recession, or any successful launch from Windows 7, I fully expect that we will continue to see the Mac grow and evolve exponentially, both in it's market share and in it's overall innovation and technical superiority! The recession and other factors may temporarily slow it's down, but, clearly, and in spite of everything else, when all is considered and said, it's plain to see that - the Mac is back and here to stay!

And that's my 2 cents 4 this Thursday, February 19, 2009

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

How Long Before the Recession Clobbers Apple?

Like all companies, Apple is certainly not immune to the negative effects of any recession, let alone the unprecedented worldwide recession that we now find ourselves in. However, despite all of the gloom and doom out there, Apple has surprisingly been doing far better than most and it's January figures suggest that, at least for now, that Apple seems to be mostly recession-resistant!

The question is: for how much longer?

Thus far Apple's financial performance has been nothing short of remarkable, especially when considering that thousands of business's have been anything but. Apple, no doubt, will naturally feel some pain eventually down the line if the recession becomes longer and more deeply entrenched, but thankfully, up till now, Apple has been fairing very well indeed.

According to recent market research and numbers from NPD, Piper Jaffray's research analyst, Gene Munster, is now predicting that Apple could sell an estimated 2 to 2.2 million Mac's in it's next quarter, which is -6% growth compared to the almost 2.3 million Mac's sold during the same time last year. Considering that most companies sales have been dropping as much as 50% or more, this is quite a remarkable feat to say the least.

It is certainly very impressive for anyone, now a days, to simply be able to keep their heads above water, but, again, the big question is just how much longer can Apple continue to do so, let alone grow it's business? Of course, as obviously is the case, that will depend on many different factors, and factors coming from both within Apple's control and those outside of it.

Apple, like everybody else, simply doesn't hold all the cards, and it will have to play it's cards the best it can, because, in part, it's profitability will remain very much dependent on the actions, even the whims, of other forces such as government policies, both at home and abroad, as well as the supply and availability of raw materials, resources, and the highly-skilled people to bring them altogether, as well as many others. Just how long and just how hard the current recession continues, more than anything, will be the deciding factor for Apple as it will be the case for all business's. If  the recession is short (here's hoping?) the better for Apple;  if longer, naturally, the worse it will be.

NDP is indicating that iPod's could be off as much as 15% for the next quarter, but than again, didn't all the analysts say pretty much the same thing about Apple's last quarter, a quarter that saw the iPod actually end up breaking it's all-time sales record! Hopefully, just like the last time, where the introduction of the MacBook Air helped to counter falling sales in the desktop category, so too, will sales of the new uni-body MacBooks also do the same thing this time around. Likewise, in addition, any introduction of new iMac's, and/or Mac Minis, which are long over due and expected, could also go a long way in counteracting any negative recessional effect on Apple's next quarterly numbers as well, as Tom Kravit, writing for CNet,  speculated that they might.

The economy has been in the pits, and as long as it remains there, so too will be the outlook for Apple and the rest of us. It really doesn't matter how amazing, or how sexy, or how insanely great Apple's products are, or anybody's else's for that matter, as long as people are continuing to lose their jobs, or simply living in fear that they might, then people won't likely be buying any of Apple's products if they can't afford them! As great as Apple products generally are, they still take money, something that most of us can really afford to part with so freely in these trying times. 

Even though I'm no prophet, nor do I have any idea on just how severe or just how long the current recession will last, I'm still expecting to see Apple post some pretty decent numbers, next quarter, that one's that should be far better than most others will report, or could even could hope for. As was the case with the last recession, I expect that Apple, once again, will innovate it's way out of this mess, much like Steve Jobs said they would and actually did the last time around! 

One way or the other, all I can say, in conclusion, is that I sincerely hope that President Obama's massive gamble with his economic stimulus package will work and help lift the economy out of the doldrums the way he promised, or, otherwise, if it doesn't, then the rotten economy will eventually end up producing one rotten-Apple, at least as far as it's sales go, and it's ability to continue to do what it does best - what's in it's very DNA - continue to produce the easiest to use, most functional, sexiest and most innovative and game changing products in the industry, and ones that continually out-class it's competition, time and time again, and that by a good country mile! 

As for Apple and the economy, my fingers are crossed!

 And that's my 2 cents 4 this Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Apple financial stock chart: Yahoo  

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Apple's Enormous Influence at CES 2009

There are rumors that Apple might attend next years CES, but this year, even though Apple is not physically there, it's spirit and that of it's industry changing iPhone certainly is, and that spirit is dominating the World Mobile Congress 2009 like a 800 pound gorilla, which Apple, more-or-less, has now become, all thanks, in part, to the iPhone.

Apple's immense influence can easily be seen by the sheer number of companies, for instance, that are rolling out their own versions of Apple's wildly successful App Store. You name it, from Nokia, Google, Palm to Microsoft - they are all copying and scrambling, like bees over honey, to catch up to Apple and cash in on it's success.

Of course, one can get a amazing glimpse of just how trend-setting, and just how dominant Apple has become by simply glancing at some of the many photos of different smart phones that are coming out of this year's CES and elsewhere. Here, below are just five such phones, and as you can see, it's quite easy to see where they got their basic design cue's from.

They are as follows:

Palm's much raved about Palm Pre has been obviously inspired by the iPhone and looks like a fat, short and much more rounded version of Apple's, and one that some people think even out does it! That is, unless and until, of course, Apple ever decides to go after them for their flagrant violation of it's multi-touch patents? Every wannabe iPhone killer, of course, has their own unique features and the Palm Pre is no different - it copied the Mac's OS X Dock - with Palm simply palming it off as their own, as is plainly evident from this photo below from BoyGeniusReport.

Below, we find another photo from BoyGeniusReport , this one is of the stunningly beautiful new Samsung OmnialHD i8910. This phone is a real looker and is the second phone to feature an Apple OS X like dock, running vertically on the left! A very, very nice phone indeed, and from a company that I have always much admired.

Our third smart phone, below, as you can see from this photo obtained from Engadget, is of a phone which also just happens to look an awful lot like a certain little phone from 'you-know-who?' This phone, Giabyte's S1200, could easily be mistaken for the Jesus phone, if, or at least until you take a much closer look.

Again, below, we find our fourth phone, who's photo hails from InformationWeek , the good looking Toshiba TG01, that also, shall we say, bears a slight resemblance to that little device from Cupertino. This is another phone that also could easily be mistaken for an iPhone on casual inspection. All-in-all, it looks to be a great phone too, so I'm eagerly awaiting more info on it.

Also, as you can plainly see from the above photo, via Engadget, our fifth wannabe iPhone killer is none other than the Inventec V112. Again, just look at the pic, it just screams - iPhone, iPhone, iPhone! This phone might be the last one presented here, but it is by no means the last phone that has been inspired or influenced, or will be in the future, by the iPhone in one way or the other. To list them all, be they smart phone's or just regular phone's, that have taken cue's from the iPhone would be well beyond the breath and scope of this little practice blog of mine.

So, simply by judging from the above photos, it's easy to see that they all have one thing in common - the iPhone! Be that in the looks department or it's features department. Of course, even though all of these phones may have been inspired, or influenced, in some way, by the iPhone, they still all can boast of having their very own unique features or contributions, some of which, in certain areas, equals or even supersedes those of the iPhone. Some may have physical keyboards, some may have bigger screens, while others may have some cool and unique animation effects, or while others may offer better cameras, they still all seem to be rooted in their basic features and overall design to that of the iPhone!

Despite all of the above, and despite any of the competition's own particular unique features or strengths, none of them, thus far, anyway, has yet to come close to replacing the iPhone as the phone to beat! The iPhone is the phone that all others are directly compared to and for good reason - it's simply the best dang phone, overall, out there! Furthermore, I don't expect that this is likely to change any time soon, and that's for the simple reason, that - as surely as the rising of tomorrow's sun, and just as sure as the competition is working hard on killing off the iPhone, another company is even working even harder to kill off the current iPhone and that company is none other than - Apple itself! Yep, you can bet your last pair of starched underwear and knickerbockers that it will be Apple which will be the one to finally kill off, not only the present iPhone, but, in the process, also possibly kill off all of these so-called iPhone killers as well!

Just what this next iPhone will feature, well, that's for another day, but rest assured, it's coming and it's coming soon! Some are even speculating that it could be here by mid-year, something that I currently hold to as well. This should be great news indeed and it should have a the competition going back to all of their respective drawing boards, resulting in more innovative phones by and from all, both from Apple and it's competition!

And that's my 2 cents 4 this Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Battle of the Mac Clone Wars: Who Will Win?

The war of the Mac clones continues on, as feisty little American and German cloners, Psystar and HyperMeganet UG , boldly face, head-to-head, up against one of the largest consumer and richest corporations in the world, Apple Inc.

Psystar, for it's part, has recently submitted an amended copyright abuse case to the court. In it, Pystar claims that Apple has deliberately planted and hid code in OS X that automatically triggers kernel attacks on any and all equipment other that of Apple's own. This is a clear violation of copyright law Psystar alleges. For it's part, Apple now has 20 days in which to respond to Psystar's claims before the court decides the fate of whether Psystar can, or cannot continue to produce Mac clones, or whether or not Apple is within it's right to keep OS X restricted to and on Apple's more expensive, but higher quality, sexier and more elegant machines.

On the other side of the pond, well you have those brilliant and clever Germans with their PearPC, who are now claiming that German loopholes give them the legal right to produce Mac clones without any fear, regardless of Apple's army of lawyers may think or do!  The German cloner, AppleInsider reports, is contending that:

"The German law says explicit[ly], that restrictions made after buying a product are not valid," Bloessl said. "So, because Apple's EULA can [only] be first read after buying and starting the setup, they are invalid in Germany."

That is, since the system has already been paid for and turned on before the End User License Agreement ever appears, Apple can't make "restrictions" on the use of the operating system, HyperMegaNet argues."

As for Pystar vs Apple, their big court date is still some nine months away.

As for HyperMeganet UG vs Apple, they are confidently saying on their website:

""First, we try to settle with Apple out of court," Dirk Bloessl told Computerworld in an e-mail. "But if necessary, we are not afraid of going to court with Apple."

As for Apple, well, they are claiming that Psystar is at the center of a cabal consisting of several other companies , all trying to steal it's intellectual property, namely OS X, for their own commercial gain, and all at it's expense.

Personally, I have to believe that Apple may be right on this, and I'm sincerely hoping that before all is said and done, that at the end of the day, that Apple will have been able to not only prove it's case, but will be able to reveal the names of those companies involved. I won't say who I think that they might be, but some firmly believe that they may include some of the biggest and most famous PC companies around! I don't know that for fact, so I can't say who they are, but it would be very interesting indeed if this turns out to be the case. After all, when and if your going to go head-to-head with one of the biggest and richest corporations on the face of the earth, well, it goes without saying that your going to need a lot of really, really good lawyers on your side and that means your going to need a really lot of money. Where on earth would a small start up get the cash to hire some of the biggest names in the legal world, as Psystar has managed to do? Well, that the $64,000 question and something that has a lot of people asking, and this why I too believe that Apple may be right in claiming that Psystar may be a part of a bigger conspiracy.

Even though many predict that Apple will eventually legally end up crushing Psystar to smithereens, the consequences for Apple losing would be huge. No doubt, even if Apple wins the first round by knocking out Psystar, or even HyperMeganet UG out of the ring, many other potential Mac cloners are going to continue to prop up like weeds to test Apple's metal and resolve.

As far as the German clone maker is concerned, well, even if there really is a legal loop hole with the present German law, I'm sure that Apple will eventually be able to pressure the German government in closing it. Apple and it's lawyers are anything but stupid and I'm sure that they have already prepared themselves for any such a situation.

What's really interesting, in all of this, is that it proves, and it proves beyond any reasonable doubt, that the Mac is not only back, but that it is here to stay! OS X is now, not only a very real alternative to Windows, but, even more importantly, it clearly shows that people are not only becoming increasingly disenchanted with Microsoft's ho-hum and buggy Windows, but, as well, that people are discovering that there are real, better and more viable alternatives out there, alternatives such as OS X and Linux. People are proving and voting with their wallets that OS X is more than an alternative too - but that it's much more preferable and better one than Windows to boot!

In fact, what makes Windows 7 so much superior than any Windows OS before it, is frankly what it has learned, copied and adapted from OS X! From Windows Aero interface, to it's new TaskBar, Windows best ideas are really nothing more, for the most part anyway, just reworked OS X ideas, all palmed off by Microsoft as if their own!

Thanks in part to the problems associated with Windows XP and with the horror that has become Vista, people have started to want and really look for more choices in OS's other than just Windows. After all, no one would want to be confined to having only one choice of car, one choice of color, one choice of telephone, tv or other providers, etc., so too is it with their operating system.  Having only one choice is really no choice at all!

No, Windows and Microsoft won't be going away anytime soon, nor should they, nor would I want to see them go away for that matter! As I said, choice is good. Thanks to OS X, as well as the failure of Vista, people, from now on, are going to be demanding more freedom from being tied down to a single OS - and that means Windows especially! Thanks to OS X and Linux, no longer will Microsoft be able to simply dictate, willy-nilly, whatever and however people use their computers. From now on Microsoft will be forced to have to work, and work really hard to keep what is left of their shrinking market share, or other wise, both the Mac OS X and the various Linux distro's will continue to eat away at Windows market share and it's installed base.

Regarding the Mac clone wars, well, I'm hoping that Apple will win! Otherwise I feel that it will give Apple far less incentive to continue to push the Mac's technical envelope, by spending the necessary billions of dollars needed to continue to advance the world's most advance OS even further than it is now!

Of course, then again, I'm equally sure that the cloners feel that no one should be forced and tied down to buying a Mac from just one single source, namely - Apple! In the end, since I don't know all the answers, but I do at least think it's safe to say, that what ever ends up being the best for the platform, over all, be it a win by Apple or be it a win by the cloners, this is ultimately the side that I hope eventually wins, because that would mean, in the end, that the real winners would be all of us - we, the growing millions of  Mac users! And this is that way it should be!

And that's my 2 cents 4 this Monday, February 16, 2009

Friday, February 13, 2009

Apple Official -Officially Hints at Possible Mac NetBook

Despite the fact that Apple has so far indicated that it's really not interested in developing any type of cheap 'netbook' computer, hints in that direction have recently been reported to have been made by Steve Jobs temporary replacement, Tim Cook. reported that analyst, Toni Sacconaghi, said  that after meeting with Tim Cook, CFO Peter Oppenheimer and marketing chief Phil Schiller, he came away with hints that Apple had some very exciting news coming concerning future new iPhones, rate plans and news that Apple had some interesting ideas in the area of netbook computers!

Of course, having interesting ideas doesn't necessarily mean they are actually going to develop any of them. None-the-less, this is definitely the biggest hint, so far, that Apple is indeed seriously considering doing so, if not actually developing one. Just what those 'interesting' ideas are, and just what they could all mean to the fast emerging netbook market, Apple isn't saying? However, when it comes to Apple, they like to take their time, but once they do commit to something, they like to 'think different' and not only develop new things, but to completely redevelop existing things, be they mpg3 players, phones, or what have you, and turning them into cooler, much better and more desirable versions. Take the iPod and the iPhone for instance - need I say more? 

Mr. Sacconaghi pointed out that Apple doesn't appear to be creating any type of netbook for 'imminent' release, but personally, and this is just my gut feeling, I feel that Apple is indeed working on some type of netbook technology, though your guess is as good as mine to when they will unveil it.

So, what on earth could Apple possibly add that would make it's netbook different then the rest of the pack? A lot! For one thing, Apple is famous for it's style, ease of use, functionality and for just plain thinking different. And that is exactly what we should expect to see in any Apple net book - a sexy, easy to use netbook with a lot of functionality, and unique features that would make it different from any other netbook, and I'm expecting that it will forever alter and change the netbook market, turning it on it's head, and have the competition scrambling as they try to copy it and kill it off. 

I'm also expecting that any Mac net book will come with some type of App Store, just like the iPhone's. The App Store is a huge success and I am, expecting to see it modified to handle the software needs of any Mac based net book.

Possibly, also like the MacBook Air, Apple wouldn't include any CD or DVD drive, but instead rely on the Air's feature which allows you to wireless use your existing PC or Mac CD/DVD! This saves space and unnecessary cost. Of course, you would also, no doubt, have the option of also adding a portable unit, and one that worked either directly by cable or by wireless connectivity.

Also, another nice feature would be to see it designed to also double as a 'Kindle' type of book reader! Man, oh man, now that scenario would have to scare the living daylights out of Jeff Bezzo and his Kindle team! After all, netbook's have screens that are comparable to that of the Kindle in size, but they also boast of having much better resolution and, in addition, feature color! 

Of course, I'm just speculating here and since I am, I might as well throw a few things into the mix that I would love to see as well, including having both radio and tv tuners built in, and, as well, a fully dedicated GPS unit! Yeah, now were talking..... imagine using a netbook's 7 to 10 inch color screen to display GPS information superimposed on a detailed map or aerial image - sweet! This would make it a suitable replacement for anyone considering paying for a dedicated GPS device from Garmin and others. 

In addition, it should also double as a dedicated digital camera, and I don't mean a crappy iPhone type camera either! I'm talking about a really good 5 megapixel or better camera - a virtual replacement for some of the ones that you find from Canon, Nikon, Pentax, etc.  Also, wireless printing would be nice, and, maybe even giving it a built-in printer? Again, that would be sweet, very, very sweet! Also, it should double as a movie camera, because video is the wave of the future and so should be part of any Apple net book as well, and I'm sure that it will be.

Then again, Apple is reported to be planning what is believed to new  iTune features that would allow one to use your Apple net book to stream music, pictures and videos directly to the cloud,  -  no need for you to store everything directly on your computer where it can be stolen or lost! This also provides unlimited storage - all via the cloud, and would really enhance any net book! 

And, how could we forget multi-touch? The fact is, we can't. Apple wasn't the first to come up with the idea, but it's the one that brought it to the market first and made it practical and available to all, while everyone else was just playing around and experimenting with it.  Unlike other multi-touch devices, with it's brilliant multi-touch track pads, Apple could easily and cheaply add multi-touch to it's net book without the need for an expensive touch screen. Everyone else, sorry, you'll just have to eat your hearts out and tack on the cost of any such screen.

Since any Mac net book would rely heavily on wireless connectivity, I think that Apple should also give it's net book a dedicated telephony option as well. If you want that feature, of course, you'll have to go through AT&T or an other provider, but that, again it would be just an option. Yes, that would basically make it a larger version of the iPhone, and even though you couldn't put it in your pocket, it still would make it, by far and away, the most powerful and useful phone and net book of them all!

Yes, as I see it, my version of any future Mac net book would not only be a replacement for dedicated digital cameras, including video, or GPS units, book readers, phones, or what have you, but would also offer, in addition, everything else that today's other net books do, such as: surfing the net, word processing, emailing, and other basic tasks.

It also would also, I believe, cream the competition, and send them scrambling in a desperate attempt to catch up to Apple - yet again! It would replace many of the devices that we now use individually, at lower coast and more conveniently and it would become the true convergent device, the one and only portable device that you could possibly ever need or want.

Of course, the big question would naturally be the price? How much for a device that could replace all of the dedicated devices listed above? Well, it wouldn't come cheap, but, overall, the money that you saved replacing all of the the others would more than make up for what Apple would charge. Not only that, having all that power and convenience in one single device would pay for itself in the convenience that it offered. This is the type of device that Bill Gates always dreamed Microsoft would deliver someday, but never could - but Apple, I believe, can and will. 

I don't drink tea, so I can't read the tea leaves on this one, but I sure hope and believe that this is exactly what Apple is thinking and planning. Again, I don't know, for sure, what it will cost or when it will be here, but will most likely it will cost somewhere between $700 to $1,000 and arrive sometime between late this year, or by the middle of next, so to be on the safe side - I predict that it will actually cost, for certain, somewhere between ten  cents to 50 billion dollars and arrive sometime within the next ten seconds or within the next 1,000 years, or so! There now, hopefully, in the meantime, that should safely cover me?

Also, in the meantime, while we are waiting for Apple's net book, Mr. Sacconaghi says that he expects to see an all new iMac sometime in March, which for me, will help kill the anticipation. Even though netbooks are certainly cute, trendy and they certainly peek my curiosity, none of them, so far, have ever made me want to go out and buy one. Can Apple come up with one that will?  Maybe, maybe not, but most likely,  we will find out soon enough. In the meantime  -  it's the waiting part that kills me! So, since Mr. Cook, more-or-less, has already hinted at such a device, here's a little hint for him:

What are you waiting for - Christmas? Hurry up and give us what we all want, what we are all waiting for - give us a Mac Net Book - finally!

And that's my 2 cents 4 this Friday, February 13, 2009

Tim Cook photo via: Apple

Thursday, February 12, 2009

iPhone Accessories: The Best One of Them All - The Juice Pack Air!

It takes no stretch of the imagination to realize why the iPhone has become so incredibly popular. It's sexy, fast, functional, easy and extremely fun to use. As a phone it's often imitated, but, as of yet, no one has either quite equaled, let alone surpassed it, though, for obvious reasons, everyone and their little brother has been trying.

However, despite all of the many great features of the iPhone, from it's multi-touch gestures, to it's awesome display, to it's fantastically successful App Store, brimming as it is with thousands and thousands of first-class applications, the iPhone sadly still lacks in one very critical area - battery life! Or is it more the lack there of?

Anyway, if like some, you were holding back on getting an iPhone because of it's paltry battery life then great news - you need not do so any longer! That's because of all of the many attempts to give the iPhone more battery juice, someone has now finally gotten it right and have actually succeeded in giving the fabled device not only more juice, but in doing it with style and flair!

That company is none other than Mophie with it's soon to be released, Juice Pack Air. This device, unlike others, doesn't increase the iPhone's battery life at the cost of adding a bulky unattractive contraption to the iPhone, one that takes from it's sleek and sexy look and feel. No, in actual fact, there are those who feel that this is one device that actually improves the overall look and feel of the iPhone itself and even consider it to be a game changing accessory. It does, mind you, add a little extra bulk and weight, but nothing significantly to mention.

Furthermore, Mophie's Juice Pack Air is more than just cosmetic value too, because this baby means business - it will virtually double your battery life, increasing them as follows:

Increase your standby time: Up to 270 hours

Increase your talk time: Up to 4.5 hours for the 3G; up to 9 hours for the older G2 version.

And it will increase internet use: up to 4.5 hours (3G), and increase Wi-Fi use up to 5.4 Hours

Audio playback increase: Up to 20 hours, and up to 6 hours playback for video!

These are pretty impressive gains, and to think that it all comes bundled in a sexy, sleek package that doesn't take away from the overall appeal of the iPhone! Not only is it pretty impressive, but, frankly, if I were Apple, I would feel a little ashamed and embarrassed that they didn't think of offering it themselves as an optional accessory in the first place!

Another great feature of the Juice Pack Air, if you ask me, is the price - only $79 for a sexy addition that will have you rocking, talking and surfing the net more often, and considerably longer than you would otherwise! Yes, this might just be a game changer as far as the iPhone is concerned after all. I've read comments from many people and one of the biggest complaints about getting the iPhone, for them, was the fact that it was either tethered to AT&T, didn't have a physical keyboard, or have cut-n-paste (not yet, anyway) and a better or much more suitable battery life. That my friends, is no longer the case at least with the latter, thanks to Mophie's deliciously new Juice Pack Air!

Another great thing, by the way, about the Juice Pack Air is that it's more than just a great looking, rechargeable 1200mmAH external battery - it also does double duty as a great protective case, and comes in several colors to match your iPhone or your mood!

For me, the Mophie Juice Pack Air is one of those 'you just got to have it' type of accessories and one of those things that, quite frankly, should have been an Apple option from the very get-go !

The Juice Pack Air is now available for pre-order and I suggest that anyone who presently owns, or is thinking of owning an iPhone in the future, well, what in dickens are you waiting for - this is probably one of the best investments that you could possibly make to increase the functionality and overall use of your precious device, and all at minimal cost to you, so by all means, for the love of your iPhone - check out the Juice Pack Air today. You can thank me later.

And that's my 2 cents 4 this Thursday, February 12, 2009

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Spotify: Finally, A Real iTune's Killer?

Could it be possible that iTune's seemingly unstoppable music dominance is about to come to an end? Well, according to Mark Hattersley, writing for MacWorld UK, that could finally now be a very real possibility, and all thanks to a new Swedish service called Spotify.

So exactly what is Spotify, and how does it work? For starters, Spotify is sort of a cross between the Napster of old and the iTune's of the present, and thus it could potentially represent the future of most, if not all, digital music delivery. Spotify doesn't require you to pay or download any songs to your hard disk at all - the entire service is paid for by featuring a section of streaming advertisements in a side panel. In other words, it's a cloud base service, and even though it looks and works much like iTune does, what it basically does differently is to allow you only to listen to songs, not buy them! I liken it to a kind of 24-hour all request radio station, a station that allows you to request any song, by any artist, any old time that you feel like!

As low as iTune's prices are, well, I have to admit that it's going to be hard for Apple to compete with FREE! Spotify, is sort of like Linux for music, and one very important thing to note, is that Spotify has managed to sign on all of the major music labels! This gives Spotify one of the fastest growing music libraries in history. This growing and vast library offers Spotify's user's a great choice and style of music to choose from, including those from the past and, as well, many recently released titles!

Of course, there is no such thing as a free lunch and this applies equally to Spotify. On the negative side, the biggest two complaints with Spotify is that you have to listen to an audio ad every 30 minutes or so, in addition to seeing a stream of ads popping up in a side panel. However, if you want to avoid having your music interrupted by those annoying audio ads altogether, well, than your going to have to pony up approximately $20 per month! Ouch! Either way, remember, the music is not yours to own, just listen to.

On the positive side, as Mark also stated, you don't have to worry about taking up any hard disk space, or worry about managing any play lists either. As he states, if you wish to permanently add a song to your phone or iPod, you could always, however, use a program such as Wire Tap Studio to record any songs that you listen to and like. However, if you ask me, that all sounds somewhat legally questionable, but still doable if your so inclined!

There have been other services in the past, like Spotify, who's names I can't even remember, and names that I'm too lazy to look up, and they have all failed! Some of these even included the right to download and keep your music and yet they still failed! Will Spotify do the same and fade into the sunset? Well, apparently, now that Spotify is opened to anyone in the U.K, and after trying it out for himself, Mark certainly thinks that the experience is more than good enough to pose a real threat to iTunes and it shouldn't go the way that the others have!

Unfortunately, here in Canada, the United States and mostly everywhere else, Spotify is not currently licensed to work, but I'm sure that those crafty Swedes are working hard to correct that. Spotify is so good that Mark also feels that if Apple wants to prevent Spotify from hacking away at it's now universal dominance, well, they had better start taking notice of these Swedish upstarts before it's all over for iTune's! I'm not sure, not having had the opportunity to test Spotify personally, but based on Mark's opinion and the facts of the case, well, sadly for iTune's this new service may, in deed, be a very big and credible threat to iTune's, at least in the future.

However, if there's any company that won't stand still and let others and steal it's thunder, well, it's got to be Apple. I'm also sure that Apple already knows about and is studying Spotify, and will hit back hard, if and when, Apple ever feels that it might pose a credible threat to it's dominance. Then again, just as Spotify could be a major threat to iTune's, it could also, one the other hand, be a huge opportunity for iTune itself!

How so, you ask? Well, since iTune's already gives it users access to unlimited free music through it's free radio station section, then, if necessary, Apple could easily add a similar service to Spotify's to iTune itself! If a small company like Spotify can do it, why couldn't and shouldn't a big company, like Apple, also not be allow to do it as well? I see no reason why that couldn't be the case. If anything, a large company should, by extension, not only be able to do it, but should be able to do it bigger and better! Such an iTune addition would be complimentary to existing t iTune features, where Spotify, on the other hand, is more of an iTune's replacement and a direct threat, and as Marks said, Apple can't afford to ignore.

So, could Apple already be considering such a Spotify type addition to iTune? I don't know, but I would bet that it's thinking of it, but, in the meantime, more-or-less, it's just holding back first to see how Spotify develops. However, if and when, in the future, Spotify does get major traction in the market place, I'm pretty sure that Apple will to jump in the game as well.

Personally, as stated, I have yet to try Spotify, but after reading Mr. Hattersley's post, I'm now convinced, more than ever, that the whole concept behind Spotify sounds and looks very interesting indeed, and if Apple doesn't, or it is too slow to react, then it could be a major threat to iTune's indeed. As far as the free subscription model went, in the past the problems were due more to it's execution rather than it's underlining concept, and if Spotify gets it right, well it could be very bad news for iTune's, Amazon, Napster, etc, but, also, at the same time, could be great news for all us music lovers. Hopefully, Spotify has ironed out any such problems, but whether it will actually succeed and kill off iTune's will yet remain to be seen?

In conclusion, I think that services like Spotify could be one of the best things to ever hit music lovers in a long time, and even though it's not available yet for the vast majority of music lovers quite yet, you can, in the meantime, if your still interested in hearing any song that you like, any old time that you like, well then there's a new site that will allow you to do just that. It's called, Like Spotify, it too will allow you to 'just listen' to just about any song that you can care to think of, but not anywhere near the quality that would be comparable to a service such as Spotify, Amazon or iTune's, but it's certainly good enough for casual listening. I know, because I've tried it and me likes it, me likes it a lot! Yes, it's new and at least for now, somewhat a wee bit little slow, but that should improve the more people discover and use it, at least I hope so.

And that's my 2 cents 4 this Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Spotify images via: Spotify and MacWorld

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Next iPhone: What to Expect?

Just as Helen of Troy launched a thousands ships across the sea, so likewise, has the iPhone similarly launched a thousand copycat phones and for a very good reason: it's the coolest thing since sliced bread! But with that said, what can we expect to see in the next iPhone? What could Apple possibly add and do to make the world's coolest phone even hotter?

I, of course, don't have any special inside knowledge of exactly what Jobs' and company will be revealing next, but there are some pretty strong signals lately of what we might expect to see., for one, has an interesting post on what they expect for the next iPhone, the iPhone 4G. They bring out the possibility that iChat will make a big showing, and when you really think about it, it makes a lot of sense that this would be the case. After all, one of the best features of the Mac is iChat. This program brings one of my favorite and most longed for childhood dreams finally to life - namely, the video phone.

One of the things that I like about iChat is that it allows you to video chat in surprisingly high-quality - and in full screen, no less! I'll never forget the first time my friend and I first tried iChat, it was freaking and totally awesome! Both of us just sat there, jaws to the floor, as we got to video chat with this real neat guy from Seattle, Washington! This was a dream come true for me, not only being able to hear, but to also see him in high quality was totally amazing! The picture quality, though not perfect, was more than acceptable and being able to not only hear him describe his Macintosh collection, but to actually see him show us, well, it gave us both that "Wow!" factor that Vista promised, but sadly failed to deliver. As you can see from Rodolphe Desmare's 4G cool conceptual design below, having a video chat feature that didn't have to be jail-broken would be totally cool! I expect to see this soon, especially after Apple increases the iPhone's future processing capabilities.

Another thing that you can bet your last Tootsie Roll on seeing in future iPhone's will be further use of much more sophisticated and powerful multi-touch capabilities, and ones that go far beyond any that we find in today's device. These may even include adding customizable multi-track gestures that individual users could easily adapt to and for their own individual needs. For example: a two-finger rotation could automatically call up specialized applications for blind users, or still others that could remotely start up your car, call and notify 911 that you need assistance and even give them your exact location even if you couldn't speak for some reason! Also, hunters could assign a unique gesture that would automatically send an email to their wife's, alerting them that they were safe or at a particular spot, not that I personally approve of hunting, mind you. Multi-touch is a big, big part of the iPhone and it's no wonder why Apple went out of it's way to make sure that it patented every aspect of it. It's even being reported that the main reason why Android doesn't feature multi-touch, even though it's technically feasible of doing so, is simply because Apple asked them not to! And no wonder - it's what makes the iPhone, well - the iPhone, plain and simple!

Another possibility that we might see in the next major iPhone update was suggested by Paul Murray writing for ZDNet. He suggested that Apple could challenge the recent netbook craze head on by making a netbook size iPhone! That also makes a lot of sense, because what netbooks offer best, besides their low, low prices, is their ability to work as a simple portable word processor, email and internet device. Besides surfing the net, writing and receiving email, netbooks are really not capable of doing much else. The iPhone, however, offers all of these, but with one big advantage - it's also one of the most important of all devices ever created - it's also a Phone! However, what netbooks offer that the iPhone doesn't is that large screen! With a similarly sized screen, the iPhone, with it's muilti-touch and phone capabilities, would be something no netbook would would be able to match, but only if it was offered at a similar price as today's netbooks. One advantage such a future iPhone would offer over netbooks would be it's amazing App store and all of it's thousands and thousands of apps! Again, when it comes to the iPhone, somebody ...... please.... think of the games - will somebody, for crying out loud - somebody, please............ think of the games? The iPhone already has thousands of such games, all of which would really come to life on a netbook size screen! This would make the iPhone the killer of all hand-held gaming devices, so watch out Sony and Nintendo, you may just have met your match?

The next iPhone, for certain, will be sporting a lot more silicon muscle under it's sexy black skin. Apple didn't buy PA Semiconductors for nothing, after all, so expect to see some exciting and some powerful new capabilities in this direction. Much more powerful and sophisticated multi-core cpu's are coming and they should be matched with equally more powerful and sophisticated next generation graphic silicon as well. In the worst recession in the past 50 years, the iPhone has helped Apple to not only maintain it's financial health, but to actually grow it, making Apple one of only a few giant companies to do so! I expect this to continue, regardless of just how long or just how protracted the current economic climate lasts.

Just how far Apple can push the iPhone is yet to be seen, but one thing is sure - we haven't seen nothing yet baby! As great as the current iPhone is today, tomorrow it will seem just like an old model T Ford chugging down the highway as it's covered from the dust from a passing Mercedes S class as it speeds past!

And that's my 2 cents 4 this Tuesday, February 10, 2009