NYC Apple Store: 3/18/11

On Friday, I dropped by the Apple Store on the Upper West Side of NYC near Lincoln Center to touch the feathery light iPad 2.

As I approached and looked through the plate glass storefront, the interior was less than crowded, practically empty by Apple standards.

Then I noticed a sign taped to the door, which said that the iPad 2s had sold out for the day and that customers should come back tomorrow.

It just meant that I wouldn’t have to wait in line to try out this thinner, faster, and dual-camera-ed  iPad.Continue reading

iPad's Cost Advantage

Samsung Galaxy Tab Review

Samsung Galaxy Tab

I had to gulp when I first heard about the pricing for Samsung’s Galaxy Tab.

I’ve since recovered my composure upon learning of the more reasonable carrier offers at around $400 (with a two-year contract) and a WiFi-only version of Tab for $499.

Samsung’s tablet is the best of the Android lot, and even they’re having trouble keeping up with Apple’s iPad.

ZDNet’s Larry Dignan nicely explains why the rest of the pack won’t equal the pricing and functionality of the current version of the Ipad for some time.  Cupertino’s wizards nimbly build the hardware they need to differentiate  and outsource the rest.

And Apple’s IOS tablet software won’t have any serious competition for another Android OS rev or two.  Continue reading

Dueling Headlines on Apple's Magic Trackpad

Magic Trackpad: “Swipe me!”

For the record, I do most of my work on a MacBook Pro.  One reason I was able to break the spell cast by Dell and live happily ever after in Steve Jobs land is the Mac’s magical multi-touch trackpad. He/she  that masters it—and it doesn’t take much—will enjoy effortless web navigation, healthy wrists and knuckles, truly higher productivity, and never having to shlepp their mouse in endless circles on their desks.

So it is amusing to read the conflicting headlines on Apple’s announcement yesterday to introduce this Mac technology to PC users in the form of the Magic Trackpad.  Over at Silicon Alley, Dan Frommer lobbed this headline at the Apple gadget: “Hands On With The New Apple Magic Trackpad: It’s Weird But Could Be Useful.”  At TechCrunch, MC Siegler has, for my money, a  more insightful take:  “Apple’s Magic Trackpad Signals The End Of The Mouse Era.”

I realize writers don’t necessarily choose their headlines, but Frommer is pretty clear that he thinks the Trackpad is kind of a novelty — an incense candle for those that need to connect with their Mac spirituality.

He is wrong.Continue reading

Android: The Evil Side of Openness

Fred Wilson, managing partner of Union Square Ventures (Foursquare), recently called Apple an evil company. The reason?  “They believe they know what is best for you and me. And I think that is evil.”

It’s a definition of evil I think most of us would not agree with. On the other side of Wilson’s argument, you’ll find a few light-weight thinkers such as Socrates (see Plato’s Republic).  So … doctors are evil because they claim to know what’s best for us. Add to the list accountants, plumbers, carpenters, and architects.

I think Wilson has a different gripe with Apple. Apple has successfully shown that the America consumer has an appetite for quality products, even though they’re based on walled-off hardware and software.  While passing Wilson’s test for goodness, Google’s open-source Android platform is not necessarily a path to quality and may actually do some evil.Continue reading

Afternoon in NYC with Galaxy, iPhone, and Droid

Why not see three of the newest smartphones during a hot Saturday in NYC?  Since the  Apple store on Upper Broadway is a five-minute walk from where the Samsung Galaxy S was receiving visitors in the Time Warner building,  we could hop from one air-conditioned venue to another without getting broiled.  Along the way we could also check out the Motorola Droid X at a cell phone shack.

It seemed like a good idea when my friend, let’s call him Dr. Smartphone, suggested it to me this past weekend.  He was anxious to see how Galaxy’s 4” super AMOLED 800×400 display performed, and I had yet to gaze upon the iPhone 4.  Continue reading

Dueling Headlines on iPhone 4

Duct tape: also helps iPhone reception

I’m getting a little dizzy reading the opinionating and newsitorials on Apple’s antenna problem in its newest iPhone.  The latest data point that’s being argued about is Consumer Reports’ lab test. The venerable pro-consumer testing magazine couldn’t recommend the iPhone 4 after detecting signal degradation in their radio frequency isolation chamber.  And  CR placed the blame on the iPhone rather than the AT&T network.

However, they did suggest a quick fix: afix duct tape or another non-conducting material to the lower left hand corner of the iPhone.

In any case, the Consumer Reports story has generated some amusing  headlines.  Take a look at two Dan Frommer’s pieces today in Silicon Alley Insider: Suddenly, Everyone is Talking about an iPhone 4 Recall (this morning, 9:51 am) and Sorry, But This Whole iPhone 4 Thing is a Non-issue and Will Blow Over (11:17 am).Continue reading

The AT&T-Verse

Waves of bad news coming out of AT&T recently stand as a reminder of what life would be like if the crown was restored to this former monarch.

First there was the iPad security escapade wherein a group of hackers fooled a very insecure AT&T web form to display email addresses of iPad owners. Then the pre-order web meltdown in which customers for Apple’s iPhone 4  were faced with an AT&T back-end order entry system that stopped working. Then there’s the customer who received a terse cease-and-desist voicemail response after he emailed AT&T’s CEO Randall Stephenson to complain about the new caps on data—Zappos’s Tony Hsieh is probably smiling and FedExing a copy of his latest book, Delivering Happiness, to Randall.

Add to this brew the usual problems with AT&T’s 3G coverage (see TechCrunch’s  wireless frustrations) and barely acceptable customer service, and you’ll get a pretty good sense of how telecom was delivered in the Middle Ages (circa 1970s) when AT&T and the Bells were the only games in town.

And to rub salt into our wounds, AT&T is threatening to cut off investment in its U-verse/IPTV cable rollout if the FCC doesn’t reconsider its reclassification of cable broadband as Title II telecommunications.Continue reading

From AT&T Picturephone to Apple FaceTime

AT&T Picturephone

It’s been a long standing journalistic practice that when writing about the failure of yet another video phone product, you march out AT&T’s Picturephone launch at the 1964 New York World’s Fair. I believe it’s a pretty safe bet that Apple’s new FaceTime will break the long losing streak of this concept and make video chats as natural and popular as, well, a cell phone call. Even though we finally have a video phone winner, it’s still instructive to look at that early Bell product, if only to understand why it will take a company like Apple to make it a mass success.

AT&T gets credit for pushing the idea of a two-way video conversation back in the 1960s. They understood that this intrusive technology meant a loss of privacy, but thought it would be counterbalanced  by the public’s just-under-the-surface narcissism. Their original advertising slogan was “Some Day You’ll be A Star” (see P. Coburn’s, The Change Function). This was a  bold call to arms for a pre-Internet, pre-Facebook, and pre-Youtube America.Continue reading

Apple: World's Most Profitable Mobile Manufacturer

According to tech research firm Gartner, Apple sold over eight million mobile handsets in 1Q 2010 for a 2.7% share of the market and ranks 7th on the leaderboard (hat tip to

Nokia is in the first spot with over 110 million units sold in the first quarter.

However, Apple’s iPhone sales add up to over $5 billion, while all of Nokia’s unit sales across its many models accounted for $9 billion.Continue reading