Wednesday, December 21, 2011

No shit, Sherlock

John Gruber, Daring Fireball

Darrell Etherington, GigaOm:

When comparing the two countries, the Chinese App Store for iPhone devices was just 18 percent of download volume vs the U.S. at the beginning of 2011. By November, that share had climbed to 30 percent, meaning China jumped from less than a quarter to nearly a third over a 10-month period. The numbers are even more interesting when examining the iPad: China’s take is just south of 50 percent of combined downloads between the two countries.

I think sooner than later, China will be Apple’s biggest market.

I think sooner than later, China will be EVERYONE'S biggest market.

Monday, November 28, 2011

4", 1024x768px

The current iPhone has a 3.5" screen, with a resolution of 960x640px. In thinking about a 4" screen, one wonders what the new screen resolution would be. Simply making the screen bigger, but reducing the pixel density, doesn't seem like Apple's style.

While the aspect ratio would need some adjustment, making Retina displays slightly larger seems like a simple solution. Apple could create 4" displays with the same 1024x768 resolution as the iPad. Not only would this make sense from a pixel-density standpoint, but the existing catalog of 1024x768 iPad apps would be supported natively.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Amazon 4-eva? Maybe later...

Like many of the gadget obsessives, I've been playing around with this new Amazon Kindle Fire. I keep running into little things that make me wish there were a bit more to this product/service. I know that, in time, the service will mature to match similar competitive offerings, but I can't help but wonder if it's going to be worth the wait. First and foremost, the idea of having to maintain a subscription to get the content I want on a device I've purchased is feeling like a tough pill to swallow.

Here's how it's all playing out in my head. It's really a decision between two ecosystems:

  • I can buy media from Apple. I buy it, download it, and it's available on my devices. That's pretty much the end of it. If I decide I never want to buy anything from Apple again, I still have access to all the content I have purchased in the past.
  • I can buy media from Amazon. I buy it, maybe I download it, and it's available on some of my devices (if I downloaded it, and/or the device supports Amazon's media services, which many do). I can get a Prime subscription, and then I get a bunch of other content, and expedited shipping.

I know that what I buy from Apple will 'just work' with my Apple devices, and should work with my PC if necessary. But that doesn't seem to be the case with Amazon. Getting content to and from the Kindle Fire seems only possible through Amazon.  Of course, I'm already heavily invested in the Apple ecosystem, so trying to bring an alien device in it bound to be problematic. Still, Amazon feels like much a riskier investment right now. The ecosystem just feels...incomplete.

What happens when I cancel my Prime subscription or don't want to pay for storage? It seems like there are a lot of these questions in the back of my head, and until I hear an answer I'm a little apprehensive about spending too much on Amazon content.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Sound of Silence

It seems particularly odd that, on a day when there's news of a serious security flaw in iOS discovered by one of the most reputable names in Mac security, certain members of the press (ahem, John Gruber) have nothing to say.

In the very least I would expect them to acknowledge the issue, and yet nothing. Maybe he's taking his time, or waiting for an official response from Apple before saying anything. But this just seems too important and potentially dangerous to ignore.

In this case, silence speaks volumes.

ps. I have no doubt that Apple will issue an fix for the security issue in short-order, and it will effectively be a non-issue. However, as of this writing, it hasn't happened yet.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

FUD creeping in at Apple?

"Apple executives are saying that the low priced Kindle Fire could actually be a good thing for the iPad because it introduces another level of fragmentation in the Android platform."
Read more:

Why even address an unreleased competing product? This reeks of fear.

I fully expect Apple will release a lower-priced 7" model of the iPad to compete with Android in that space. It's easy to see how a smaller version fits into the product line, especially when you look at how the iPod product line has changed over the last decade. And it makes sense, since in many ways they were defining a new type of device: the portable multimedia player.

With the original iPad, Apple was defining a new category of computing, so it made sense to focus on what they determined to be an optimal screen size for the experience. Now that the iPad is a runaway hit, and the only place that Android tablets seem to be getting any traction is at the 7" screen size.

My guess? When the line expands, we'll see an "iPad mini" with a 1024x768 resolution 7" screen, along with an iPad HD sporting the anticipated Retina display at double the resolution.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Commentary on Microsoft's vision of the future

Today I read a list of items that someone took issue with in a video created by Microsoft and repeatedly dismissed by tech pundits such as John Gruber, among others. After watching the video, which to my eyes only shows a vision for what technology can become, I couldn't help but write this response to the list.
And here's my response to the list (also posted as a comment on the blog):
Talk about focusing on the unimportant minutia and missing the point completely. How utterly presumptuous of Microsoft to have a vision and create a video to express some their ideas.
In response to your list…
1. Font. Seriously? Who cares? Obviously fonts are something that can be changed in an interface, and really it’s more a matter of taste than anything. So lay off.
2. Uni-taps. It seems to me that every time a tap happens, a little microphone icon shows, indicating that voice input is being used. Even for the copy/paste operation the nice lady performs. Maybe that’s why it’s not confusing to anyone. I know it’s a stretch, but you need to imagine that they’re speaking even though you can’t hear it.
3. Gadget dimensions. It’s clear that this video represents all future device development, and that all categories of device are represented here.
4. Input methods. So your expectation is that devices won’t get better at handling a variety of different inputs, and manage them more effectively? Or that new input methods will be devised and used in different ways for different devices?
5. The hand pause. Have you actually used a touch device? There are typically a lot of hand pauses while you wait for visual feedback from the device. Try a kids education app (such as the one in the video) and you’ll see that a lot of the interactions are very similar to the one depicted here.
6. You hate Office. We get it. So do we. Get over it and don’t use it.
Seriously, what is your beef? I’m no lover of Microsoft products myself, but this video shows something we don’t usually get from them, including creativity and vision. Rather than smacking them down for it, maybe they should be encouraged to pursue these lofty goals. It might actually help make for a better tomorrow.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Perspective Matters

While watching the latest ads for Apple's new iPhone 4s, it occurred to me that in most of the shots only the bottom half of the actor's face is shown. You see their mouth, sometimes their nose, occasionally the eyes. As the ads progress, they show a little more of some faces, but it's clear that the focus is on the person speaking to the phone. This is incredibly important, obviously, as they're marketing a voice assistant feature, but the connection they are able to create is profound.

What I find interesting is that there's nothing to focus on in the shot other than what the person is actively doing. The tight shots create an intimacy with the viewer, as if you're eavesdropping on the people in the spot as they carry on a conversation with their phone.

The ads also begin and end with a POV shot looking down on the phone. The effect of these bookend shots is to place the viewer into the context of using the device, and it's remarkably effective. One can instantly imagine actually using the new feature of the phone that's just been demonstrated.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Steve's most important lessons

"You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle.
I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.
Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.
Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary."
- Taken from the 2005 Stanford commencement speech given by Steve Jobs

Many people have posted one paragraph or another from the speech Steve Jobs gave at the 2005 Stanford commencement. I just wanted to collect the life lessons he learned, removed from the stories he included in the speech. I think it's one of the most poignant assessments of what truly important in how you live your life.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Where are all the Kindle Fire haters?

So here's what I don't get. Why aren't all the Android fans trashing the Kindle Fire? Shouldn't they be dissing this thing with it's gimped feature set? I mean, just look at this crap-tastic spec sheet:

  • Non-HD screen
  • No 3G or 4G
  • Only content from Amazon
  • Curated app store

It just seems like all the people who have been talking shit about the iPad for a variety of reasons would be up in arms over the lack of features in the Fire. In fact, the contrary seems to be true. People are calling the iPad overdone, or too feature-rich. That this is the tablet for the masses. That could be true, but I think it remains to be seen. I think the Fire look a like a fantastic little media device. I'm still on the fence about getting one myself, but I know they're going to sell a ton of them. I just think that the iPad is really a different class of device.

And do people really think that Amazon won't try to make the same experience available to users on iPads too? They already have a Kindle app, and Cloud Player works. There's no reason they can't put it all together to do a bit a more.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Are you readyto take the "natural scrolling" challenge?

When Apple released OS X 10.7 Lion, one of the primary gripes among power users (myself included) was the switch implemented with "natural scrolling". This changed the previous scrolling behavior, in which the content moved down when the finger moved down (either on a trackpad, or by rolling a scroll wheel). I, like others, though they just couldn't leave well enough alone. But I decided to give it a try for a while, just to see how it felt. After just a few days I found that I actually preferred the new "natural scrolling". So much so, that when I switch back to a machine running Snow Leopard or Windows, using a trackpad for scrolling feels unnatural. I really think they might be on to something here, especially as we move into a more touch-oriented era of personal computing. So I challenge all the Lion users complaining about this change to "give it a week". You might actually end up liking it.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Gruber: 96% is a lot

It's true.

But dinging Google for making a high percentage of revenue on 'advertising' is like being critical of Apple for making the majority of their revenue on 'hardware'.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Why Gruber is wrong about the iPad 3 release 3

In a recent post, John Gruber speculates that the iPad will get another revision to bring it's release schedule in line with the iPod. Read the full post here: Daring Fireball: The Next Six Months. John is great at analyzing Apple's product cycles and update strategies to accurately predict what's coming soon from the company. Combined with a growing group of sources close to or within the company, and he should (and does) get a lot of respect for his predictions. That said, here's why he's wrong...

He's missing a key ingredient in the mix, and that's who the primary purchaser for the product is and what the major buying events are for that part of the year. In late-sping/early summer you have two major consumer purchase events - Mother's Day in April, and Father's Day/Graduation in June (Dad's & Grads). This exactly the audience that is looking to give/get the iPad. It's a premium product with a higher price point, which I think makes it a more adult oriented product. Counter that with the fall iPod event, which is more geared toward high school/college kids heading back to school. It's also the lead up to the holiday season, and is often combined with a 'Back to School' computer purchase deal.

These two separate and focused cycles make a lot more sense to me than trying to roll them up into one. So that's why I think we'll see the iPad stick to the March/April release window. Mom and Dad get iPads on their designated days and can use them to check in on work from the backyard over the summer, while the kids get iPods for going back to school and into holiday season.