Apr 082014
 

We probably won’t get a better look into how Apple operates than through the filings submitted as part of the company’s legal battles against Android OEMs. One of the latest windows is a Jobs draft itinerary for Apple’s super-secret 2011 Top 100 meeting strategy retreat. I found the part about the Magic Wand particularly interesting, especially since I think they already have the template for a product.

 Posted by at 11:09 am
Mar 212014
 

Google Glass has been taking quite the beating lately, and if you’re an obnoxious bar-goer wearing a pair in the Bay Area, chances are you’ve recently taken a literal beating. The reason underscores the fundamental problem with Glass – and Google more broadly: they just don’t grok social boundaries. So what does a company having a perception problem with one of their products do? Why post a list of 10 misconceptions about Glass and call them “Urban Myths”, as in “you obviously don’t understand our product, let us explain why you’re wrong.” Google’s attempt to dispel these “myths” does nothing but mischaracterize the actual concerns in an attempt to mollify an increasingly-sour public perception. Let’s take a look.

Myth 1 – Glass is the ultimate distraction from the real world
Instead of looking down at your computer, phone or tablet while life happens around you, Glass allows you to look up and engage with the world. Big moments in life — concerts, your kid’s performances, an amazing view — shouldn’t be experienced through the screen you’re trying to capture them on. That’s why Glass is off by default and only on when you want it to be. It’s designed to get you a bit of what you need just when you need it and then get you back to the people and things in life you care about.

First of all, Glass sits on the bridge of your fucking nose. If you don’t already wear glasses, this is already a distraction. Secondly, the screen is well within your peripheral vision. Maybe Google needs a word other than “distraction” to focus on, because the placement of a device on your face and the presence of the device’s screen within your field of view qualifies it as a distraction. Insisting that Glass is less distracting than a smartphone makes Google sound more willfully ignorant every time the byte squirts out of its PR’s backside.

Myth 2: Glass is always on and recording everything
Just like your cell phone, the Glass screen is off by default. Video recording on Glass is set to last 10 seconds. People can record for longer, but Glass isn’t designed for or even capable of always-on recording (the battery won’t last longer than 45 minutes before it needs to be charged). So next time you’re tempted to ask an Explorer if he’s recording you, ask yourself if you’d be doing the same with your phone. Chances are your answers will be the same.

No shit. No one thought these nerdvision goggles would be 24/7 surveillance devices. Thanks for clarifying. The problem, as I’ve discussed before, is that you can be recording at any time, so in the mind of the average person, that’s all the time.

Myth 3 – Glass Explorers are technology-worshipping geeks

I wonder where people got that impression

I wonder where people got that impression

Our Explorers come from all walks of life. They include parents, firefighters, zookeepers, brewmasters, film students, reporters, and doctors. The one thing they have in common is that they see the potential for people to use technology in a way that helps them engage more with the world around them, rather than distract them from it. In fact, many Explorers say because of Glass they use technology less, because they’re using it much more efficiently. We know what you’re thinking: “I’m not distracted by technology”. But the next time you’re on the subway, or, sitting on a bench, or in a coffee shop, just look at the people around you. You might be surprised at what you see.

The part that begins “We know what you’re thinking…” is a perfect encapsulation of the condescending “you just dont understand” tone Google has adopted with Glass. They’re saying “You say this, but if you were really observant, you’d realize you were wrong” No, Google, we wouldn’t. We wouldn’t be surprised. We’re not going to have some heaven-splitting epiphany the next time we take in a scene of people checking their smartphones and tablets in a Starbucks. We’re already familiar with that scene. And we’re not fucking idiots.

Myth 4 – Glass is ready for prime time
Glass is a prototype, and our Explorers and the broader public are playing a critical role in how it’s developed. In the last 11 months, we’ve had nine software updates and three hardware updates based, in part, on feedback from people like you. Ultimately, we hope even more feedback gets baked into a polished consumer product ahead of being released. And, in the future, today’s prototype may look as funny to us as that mobile phone from the mid 80s.

No shit. It’s a Google product, isn’t it? Our Lady of Perpetual Beta?

Myth 5: Glass does facial recognition (and other dodgy things)
Nope. That’s not true. As we’ve said before, regardless of technological feasibility, we made the decision based on feedback not to release or even distribute facial recognition Glassware unless we could properly address the many issues raised by that kind of feature. And just because a weird application is created, doesn’t mean it’ll get distributed in our MyGlass store. We manually approve all the apps that appear there and have several measures in place (from developer policies and screenlocks to warning interstitials) to help protect people’s security on the device.

Because google would never include anything dodgy – like allowing a Glasshole to activate the camera on the device remotely from their Android phone, until they decide to do it.  MyGlass is a Google-made app, mind you. And even though Google may not be implement a certain function, you can bet the intrepid community of hackers will find a way to incorporate it. It’s already been jailbroken, which will allow a user to bypass any privacy feature that Google doesn’t eventually strip out itself. Stay tuned for the pivoting of bullshit platitudes like these “myths” to statements like “we designed it to be free and open” once the device is exploited to its full creepy potential. No one pulls off the Pontius Pilot hand wash as cleanly as the folks in Mountain View.

Myth 6: Glass covers your eye(s)
“I can’t imagine having a screen over one eye…” one expert said in a recent article. Before jumping to conclusions about Glass, have you actually tried it? The Glass screen is deliberately above the right eye, not in front or over it. It was designed this way because we understand the importance of making eye contact and looking up and engaging with the world, rather than down at your phone.

Whoever said “a screen over one eye…” is an idiot, not an expert. Google understands the importance of social interactions so deeply that they built a device that sits on your face and is capable of surreptitious recording of your interactions. But it doesn’t “cover” your eye – that would be a distraction for the person you’re talking to!

Myth 7 – Glass is the perfect surveillance device
If a company sought to design a secret spy device, they could do a better job than Glass! Let’s be honest: if someone wants to secretly record you, there are much, much better cameras out there than one you wear conspicuously on your face and that lights up every time you give a voice command, or press a button.

Once again, Google caricatures a rational concern about privacy to make it easier to defend. Yes, there are more capable surveillance devices on the market, but they’re not being billed as a mainstream piece of consumer electronics. And the bit about “lighting up every time you give a voice command?” You might think that means Glass has a recording indicator light, but that’s not what they said! There is no indicator light for recording; Google claims that the illumination of the screen should serve as ample enough warning to bystanders. But that person could be doing something else besides taking a photo or shooting video. That’s the point of a big red fucking light. And as I mentioned above, Google bypassed the “voice command/button press” necessity themselves when it allowed Glass to be controlled via smartphone.

Myth 8 – Glass is only for those privileged enough to afford it
The current prototype costs $1500 and we realize that is out of the range of many people. But that doesn’t mean the people who have it are wealthy and entitled. In some cases, their work has paid for it. Others have raised money on Kickstarter and Indiegogo. And for some, it’s been a gift.

In some cases, user’s wealthy or entitled employer has given them a pair. Three other people on the planet have somehow convinced others to pay for theirs. And still others have received them from other wealthy people, probably because they successfully expressed their entitlement to them. This myth is basically saying “People who own Glass aren’t necessarily the 1%ers making people in San Francisco homeless, so please don’t punch them in the face on sight.”

Myth 9 – Glass is banned… EVERYWHERE
Since cell phones came onto the scene, folks have been pretty good at creating etiquette and the requisite (and often necessary) bans around where someone can record (locker rooms, casino floors, etc.). Since Glass functionality mirrors the cell phones (“down to the screen being off by default), the same rules apply. Just bear in mind, would-be banners: Glass can be attached to prescription lenses, so requiring Glass to be turned off is probably a lot safer than insisting people stumble about blindly in a locker room.

Wow-either we’re getting to the end of a too-long list or Google are absolutely shitting themselves by putting this one in there. Once again, Google wants to draw a comparison to cell [sic] phones that does not apply. It is obvious when you’re using a smartphone for nefariuos purposes. IT IS NOT THE CASE WITH GLASS. And invoking a threat to safety by banning Glass in locker rooms? The stench of desperation could knock out a fucking horse.

Myth 10 – Glass marks the end of privacy
When cameras first hit the consumer market in the late 19th century, people declared an end to privacy. Cameras were banned in parks, at national monuments and on beaches. People feared the same when the first cell phone cameras came out. Today, there are more cameras than ever before. In ten years there will be even more cameras, with or without Glass. 150+ years of cameras and eight years of YouTube are a good indicator of the kinds of photos and videos people capture–from our favorite cat videos to dramatic, perspective-changing looks at environmental destruction, government crackdowns, and everyday human miracles.

What a bunch of drama queens. No one thinks Glass “marks the end of privacy”. Anyone claiming that probably also said “but they cover one eye!” Besides, you fuckers cornered the market on that era when you introduced Gmail. What Glass is is the ever-present possibility of imposition on personal space in a way that a smartphone can’t achieve. It’s a device that by its presence makes the social interactions that people currently engage in – rare as they are these days – awkward. That may change, but we’re not close to there yet. That’s the reaction people are having to Glass. It’s not an overreaction and it’s not a lack of understanding. Google needs to get over themselves and stop trying to explain itself to the general population like its talking to a 5 year-old.

 Posted by at 10:23 am
Mar 202014
 

Yesterday, Motorola announced its first entry in the wearable device genre – as well as its first major product announcement since being ejected from the Googleplex like a batch of Norovirus-infested potato salad. To hear the folks still employed there talk about the Moto 360, you’d think it’s a pretty big deal.

Jim Wicks, Head of Consumer Experience Design, says “This is all about reinvention of the modern day timepiece.”

Leslie Hicks, who leads Design Trends and Materials, says “The Moto 360 begs to be killed worn.”

Product Engineer Shakil Barkat calls it “A game-changer.”

So you probably heard the distinguishing characteristic of the Moto 360 is that it’s round, which is apparently some kind of minor engineering miracle. Wicks insists that a round watch design is more intuitive since timepieces have historically assumed that shape. According to him, 80% of the wristwatches sold today are round. I don’t doubt it. So I guess it’s more accurate to call the Moto 360 “A modern interpretation of a traditional timepiece”, since we’re letting millennia of design decisions dictate how it looks.

I personally find the proportions of the watch acceptable (as opposed to others’ wearable masonry) and I honestly like the device’s materiality. Three things I’d like to note:

1. If Moto is designing its watch as a traditional watch, how many constraints does that shape carry with it? Moto can show all the footage of designers with reams of swatches it wants, it can’t compete with high-end watches as an accessory. Wicks obviously thinks a lot of his work on the 360, but Motorola isn’t Omega. Sorry. A device whose functionality is compromised by a shape that puts it in competition with products it can’t match is a Motorola recipe for disaster.

2. As a Google Gear product, the potential consumer is yet again being teased with vaporware videos instead of actual product demos. Motorola hosted a 22-minute Google Hangout that featured Wicks and some marketing bobble-head yapping – with 360s on their wrists. See if you can spot anything useful for yourself.

3. Motorola has launched many, many pieces of consumer electronics in the last decade and all of them have been flaming turds. Interesting piece of trivia: Jim Wicks has been designing at Motorola for 10 years. Draw your own conclusions.

It’s less of a brick than the Gear, but the Moto 360 is still a product that is thinking of itself the wrong way. The Moto 360 isn’t a 150 year-old timepiece; it’s a smartwatch. Instead of letting history dictate or limit the things it can do because it’s worn in a place historically occupied by a watch, maybe Motorola should think about what they want the device to do and let those things dictate what it looks like. I’ve heard of a certain Apple designer who thinks of what he works on that way and he’s regarded as pretty good at what he does. Even if a round design is really what that thing on your wrist wants to look like, as of now it’s still sporting a vaporware ideation of its OS. Vaporware is distilled future disappointment, something I thought Motorola would have learned from the days when it was under Google’s thumb.

 Posted by at 2:11 pm
Mar 202014
 

I made a link reference to Trip Chowdhry as “the worst Apple analyst on the planet” after his appearance on CNBC. The venerable Philip Elmer-DeWitt has taken a couple of shots at his particular brand of analysis, including my personal favorite ”How wrong-headed can one Apple analyst be?” Apparently, Chowdhry took the title of that piece as some sort of challenge, because his latest note to investors is a tour de force of anti-analysis. It’s captivating in a “The Counselor” kind of way, except people expected that movie to be good, whereas anyone who has ever seen this muppet in action knew he had it in him.
They see me trollin' They hatin'

They see me trollin’
They hatin’

Chowdhry’s opus vomitus takes the form of a report filed March 8 calling for, among other things, Tim Cook’s firing. Rocco Pendola must feel vindicated. You can download the full report here to bear witness yourself (link provided due to the utter absurdity of its contents), but I’d be remiss if I didn’t take some shots at Trip’s latest tirade.

RESEARCH: Every month we attend 8 to 11 Technology conferences, Summits and User Group Meetings,

One month, we attended 12, but to be conservative we eliminated the outlier and stuck with 8 – 11

and speak to no less than 300 people.

Because 300 is the minimum number of people from which to extract credible opinions. And Global Equities Research is nothing if not credible.

Here is the converged view on Apple

KEY MESSAGE:

  • Apple Shareholders, Apple Employees and the Developer Community at-large have lost confidence is Apple’s current leadership
  • Apple’s CEO Tim Cook is being incentivized to operate in a comfort zone of complacency until August 2016
  • To prevent further destruction of shareholder value, Apple’s CEO and CFO need to be replaced sooner rather than later
  • The team of Jon Rubenstein (Father of iPod) as CEO and Fred Anderson as CFO, may be best to revive Apple
Trip Chowdhry knows kung fu - which he just used to kick common sense in the balls.

Trip Chowdhry knows kung fu – which he uses to periodically kick common sense in the balls.

People, people, PEOPLE! Let’s give Chowdhry the opportunity to explain his thinking…but more likely bury himself with his own words. But possibly explain his thinking!

DETAILS:

Apple shareholders have lost confidence in Apple’s CEO and CFO – Destruction of $130 Bil of Apple’s Shareholder value is more than 2x the destruction of Shareholder value at Enron.

Note the date range in the upper left-hand corner

Note the date range in the upper left-hand corner

  • Apple’s Stock is at $530, which is 23% below its high of $702, while S&P 500 is up 27% and Nasdaq is up 36%, in the same time period.
  • Apple’s employees and investors are not oblivious to the fact that, while other stocks and broad indexes have created large amounts of shareholder wealth in the last 12 months, Tim Cook and Peter Oppenheimer have systematically erased $130 Bil of shareholder value.
  • When $63 Bil of shareholder wealth was destroyed at Enron, it shook everyone’s confidence…

When…how…what the FUCK happened WHERE?! Did someone pretending to offer advice on Apple in exchange for money actually compare it to Enron? That has to be the analytical equivalent of Godwinning a comment thread.

…Apple’s destruction of shareholder value is much larger and has occurred in just over 12 months

This is something pointed out by the infinitely more polite J. M. Manness, but bears more explicit treatment just to illustrate the staggering level of stupid we’re dealing with here. That date range I pointed out in the chart caption is 17 months, which I guess qualifies as “just over” in Jackassia.

You’ll notice, as Manness did, that Apple actually rose 20% over the last year.

Screeny Shot Mar 19, 2014, 10.19.01 PM

 

Chowdhry can’t even be bothered to consult a calendar when cherry-picking.

  • Tim Cook’s and Peter Oppenheimer’s “returning cash to the shareholders” has only resulted in a 23% decline in shareholder value, outflow of cash from the Balance Sheet and an inflow of debt. It is not clear where all the cash is going.

If you have any kind of allergy to disassociated, nonsensical logic, I hope you brought your epi pen. The 23% AAPL is down – in market cap, mind you, can now be attributed to one cause: the company’s buybacks. And it’s pretty clear where the cash is going if you can be bothered to read a financial statement.

Possible Explanation:

  • Tim Cook’s compensation and incentives are for NOT maximizing the value of Apple stock until August 2016.
  • Tim Cook’s compensation package prior to June 2013 enabled vesting of 500,000 shares in August 2016. This incentive was consistent…

I’m going to spare my readers the chart, graph and seven bullet points that follow. It’s a shame too because it looks like a decent amount of research went into making Chowdhry’s point. It’s too bad that the presmise, which is that Tim Cook is not running Apple aggressively because he wants to wait until his stock options mature before he releases any new product categories, is complete garbage.

Think about that assumption for a second: the CEO of the most valuable company in the world is actively stalling its product pipeline for the express purpose of maximizing his personal wealth. And he intends to do it for over 3 years. Thank God Trip Chowdhry is here to save Apple investors from standing behind the man that has increased the company’s market cap by 36% since he became CEO.

Apple developer community –at-large has lost confidence in Apple CEO – No new Products and Zero Innovation

  • Apple’s developer community continues to be frustrated by Apple’s CEO. “Under Tim Cook, Apple has not launched a single new product…where is the iWatch, where is the AppleTV”

Where are some of the other product categories that analysts have been whacking it to? Where are the products that Apple never mentioned were in development, but really, really should make because analysts know more about running the company than Apple does? The ones that have been nothing but unmitigated failures to this point when brought to market by Apple’s competitors?! And I’m really not sure who is being quoted above – maybe one of the voices in Chowdhry’s head.

  • Apple developer community members have started to put more of their effort on Google Android Platform, as they are seeing rapid innovation on Google platform vs. Apple.

For developers, apparently “rate of innovation” is a substitute for “actual money” when it comes to sustaining a business because despite Google’s super duper pace of innovation, iOS developers still make 5 times what Android developers do. I guess that’s why so many of them are developing for Android first, just like Eric Schmidt said they would.

  • Some Apple developer community members have left iOS platform for writing applications for the Pivotal Big Data Platform

“Some” (where n is between ”one” and “all of them”) have left iOS for this Pivotal Big Data Platform…company? Religious movement? Is PBDP our new Data Overlord? Is it the Borg? Your guess is as good as mine. I wonder if this is what Charlie felt like at the end of “Flowers for Algernon“.

  • Apple developer community sees zero innovation under Tim Cook, and the majority would like to see him replaced.

INT. DAY – A LARGE HOTEL CONFERENCE ROOM

The entire Apple developer community has assembled. Assorted awkward laughs and snippets of app store submission horror stories can be heard in the crowd.

NECKBEARD 1: I call this meeting to order! First item of business: the replacement of Apple CEO Tim Cook. All in favor?

A stunned silence falls over the crowd, punctuated by the occasional throat-clearing. Finally, an interpid developer raises his hand.

NECKBEARD 1 Yes?

NECKBEARD 2: What. In the fucking hell. Are you talking about?

THE CROWD BURSTS INTO UPROARIOUS LAUGHTER AS VARIOUS ITEMS OF PRODUCE ARE LAUNCHED TOWARD THE PODIUM

Apple’s CEO Tim Cook and CFO Peter Oppenheimer are out of Touch – QUALCOMM has stolen the Proximity Commerce market from Apple … and Apple’s CEO and CFO have not even realized it.

  • With the launch of Apple iOS7, Apple brought a very compelling new technology iBeacon to market, which had the potential to propel Apple into leadership position in mega-billion $$ Proximity Commerce market
  • However, Qualcomm also saw the opportunity in Proximity Commerce and seized the opportunity by creating its own proximity commerce platform called Gimbal
  • Qualcomm has recruited a developer community of more than 10,000 developers who would create Gimbal based Proximity commerce
  • Qualcomm also went into full scale production of Gimbal Beacons priced from being Free to $20 depending on the type of Application
  • Qualcomm, by being fast is well poised to own this multi-billion Proximity Commerce market and has beaten Apple in its own game, as Apple has been complacent

What a steaming pile of fuck-all that was. Where to even begin?

First of all, I don’t see anything that says that Qualcomm’s efforts and Apple’s are mutually exclusive. In fact, Qualcomm is the company that made the iBeacons for the MLB.com At The Ballpark events on baseball’s opening day. Does Trip actually think Apple is the company making iBeacons? This point may be lost on Trip (it is), but the people who own iPhones already have the user end of iBeacon technology. That’s hundreds of millions of devices already in the wild.

  • “Qualcomm, with its Gimbal platform is eating Apple’s Lunch…What is Tim Cook gonna do” asked a frustrated Developer

It’s a bullet point, it’s a quote: it’s a quoting point. A quote that makes no sense given that Qualcomm has bought into iBeacons. And it’s from one developer. Out of a population of about tens of thousands. The classic “according to my friend Larry, ergo, the broad consensus is…” trope. And of course this developer is anonymous, because there was absolutely no other way for the bullet point to mean less. 

Jon Rubenstein (sic) (Father of iPod) as the new CEO and Fred Anderson as the new CFO can rescue Apple

  • Apple needs a new CEO who has created new products and can bring innovation back at Apple
  • Apple needs a new CFO who can increase shareholder value by fundamental innovation and not by gimmickry
  • We think Jon Rubenstein, the Father of iPod as CEO, and Fred Anderson, the prior Apple CFO, would be best to turnaround the destruction of shareholder value at Apple.

Now I love me some Jon Rubinstein. In addition to being the “father of the iPod”, he was this close to succeeding with now-defunct Palm Pre, perhaps the most thoughtful iPhone competitor to date. But the reason one should consider someone not even running a company in the Valley over, let’s say – sigh – Elon Musk is…

I know you didn’t expect to see any justification. I was just testing you.

And Fred Anderson – why, WHY? Please Trip, tell us why, aside from the fact that he served under Steve Jobs for the entirety of his tenure, should Fred Anderson return as CFO? Someone who hasn’t been at Apple for 10 years and has not one fucking clue what the company is like today?

Yes, I should just stop testing you now.

Pls Ask Q’s – 650-[REDACTED]

Trust me on this one, Trip.

After choking down hundreds of articles panning Apple, I’ve come to a realization: there is an art to good Apple trolling. Back in the day, I despised Madonna as a musician yet respected her popularity, which was undeniable. Successful Apple trolls lay out just enough bait to inspire rage-clicks, but restrain their bias just enough to maintain some air of credibility.

Trip Chowdhry, however, is not an artist. He takes the basic trolling model and does things to it that are illegal in at least 23 states under some permutation of anti-bestiality law. It’s actually a little stunning how someone so logically disconnected and willfully ignorant can receive any recognition whatsoever for his vowel-and-consonant pustules. The crazy guy outside of Penn Station who wears a sandwich board calling out the FBI as paid killers for big Pharma makes more fucking sense than Chowdhry - on a good day. For a nanosecond, I considered inducting him into the hallowed halls of Douchebag’s Row, but his presence would make a farce out of a collection of people with the faculties to be trolls. Chowdhry can’t even muster that level of competence.

This is what the tech news ecosystem has become. Once upon a time, you could get your name in the tech press by slamming Apple just enough to make people question their understanding of the company. Nowadays, between the Yukari Iwatani Kane wankfest and tripe like Trip’s, the trend is clear. If you’re not painting the worst case scenario for Apple – regardless of whether or not everything you cite to reach that conclusion is wrong – your voice disappears into an echo chamber of unclicked me-toos. Chowdhry is a new kind of worst-in-breed: he selects only the narrowest band of data and draws conclusions that have no causal relationship whatsoever. It’s anti-analysis wrapped in a chewy coating of misspellings, awkward grammar and diction. He’s a caricature analyst, a bloated-head model of embarrassment for the analyst community – and considering the snake’s belly standard for that lot, that’s saying something.

Update: Incredibly, on the heels of the excrement he slung above, Chowdhry again landed on CNBC, this time on its website as the first analyst quoted regarding the “iWatch”. From the fecal fountainhead himself, after claiming Apple had but 60 days to produce an iWatch (no chance of source link, but hat tip to Gruber):

“It will take years for Apple’s $130 billion in cash to vanish, but it will become an irrelevant company … it will become a zombie, if they don’t come up with an iWatch.”

When I said the tech news ecosystem was a steaming pile, I never thought I’d get affirmation so soon. Add CNBC to the list of dipshit media outlets willing to let people calling themselves analysts parade their intellectual incontinence down their street.

 Posted by at 10:13 am
Mar 182014
 

It had been rumored that Google was working on some form of “wearable” and today the company announced its intentions via its official blog in a format that has become Mountain View’s consumer electronics signature: a vaporware video.

The Android Wear Developer Preview will allow the army of intrepid Android copyright and trademark-stomping hackers to port notifications to devices that Google will be releasing “later this year”. The partners include the usual cast of profit-neutral characters such as Asus, HTC, LG, Motorola and…Samsung? I guess Samsung has no qualms about nuking the offerings of its own 2nd generation product line because…reasons. That’s about as realistic as the vaporware video, which should look familiar to anyone who remembers the Glass announcement.

You’d think that a company that has face-planted as incredibly hard as it did with the Qi and Chromebook Pixel would want to mitigate unrealistic expectations for its future products. Then again, I have no insight into why Google positions itself for the greatest possible degree of failure prior to the launch of a product except for some weird money burning fetish.

 Posted by at 3:23 pm
Mar 032014
 

On Sunday night Apple put out a press release with further detail on its efforts to port iOS into your car’s dashboard. Dubbed CarPlay, Apple’s formerly-known-as “iOS in the Car” was also name-dropped at the Geneva Motor Show this morning with Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo announcing that CarPlay-enabled vehicles would be available on models introduced this week. Honda, Hyundai and Jaguar will offer the functionality in 2014 model year while BMW, Chevrolet, Ford, Kia, Land Rover, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Open, Peugeot-Citroën, Subaru, Suzuki and Toyota will introduce it at some point beyond 2014.

Apple’s means of integration is deceptively brilliant: instead of requiring access to the vehicle’s dashboard hardware, it’s the iPhone (iPhone 5′s and later models) that provides the access. This is different than the widely-panned approach Microsoft is taking with Sync, which is driven primarily by the in-dash hardware. While the approach doesn’t eliminate the wrinkles in iOS that Apple will have to iron out across manufacturers’ implementations, it does limit the hardware responsibility to those devices that Apple already makes.

I’ve heard some rumblings in the Twitters that Android’s Open Automotive Alliance has some kind of nascent advantage over what Apple is offering. I can kind-of, sort-of see the logic: Google has more experience overlaying an OS on others’ hardware, evidenced by the bazillion handsets Android has in the wild. But to the current members of the Open Automotive Alliance – Audi, GM, Honda and Hyundai - and to companies such as VW Automotive and Chrysler who have yet to commit, let me ask you a couple of pertinent questions that may have a bearing on whether or not Google and NVIDIA should be your dashboard dance partners:

  1. Which of the 2 players has a track record of backing their major plays with a consistent level of support? Hint: it’s not the company that championed the GoogleTV, Qi and Chromebook Pixel.
  2. Which of the 2 has actually demoed how the integration is going to work, as opposed to waving their hands over a press release with details TBA?
  3. Which of the 2 has the more bulletproof OS and software ecosystem? Do you really want to cede dashboard control to a company whose wares represent the target of 99% of newly-discovered malicious mobile programs?
  4. Which of the 2 is more interested in making money off of hardware people want to buy (and use in their cars) than from the driver’s personal information?

Maybe the most important question these companies should be asking themselves is “Which consumer electronics brand is synonymous with excellent user experiences?” No offense to the current crop of carmaker offerings, but all of your efforts suck comparatively. I can only assume that’s why some of you would think to court Microsoft.

Take a lesson from the handset manufacturers that decided to put all their hardware into the Android basket. Check out how profitable that bunch is (or was, if they’re still solvent). They really didn’t have a choice to partner with Apple; you do.

To the otherwise-committed and the undecided I say: pull your heads out of your asses. You’re welcome.

 Posted by at 5:45 pm
Feb 242014
 

Samsung took to the stage to announce its latest flagship phone, the S5. Judging by the mild waters being excreted in the hands-ons and the crickets chirping in my twitter feed during the event, it’s safe to say it didn’t blow off anyone’s doors. Let’s take a look at some of the things Sammy was passing off as features.

Fingerprint Sensor

Brace yourself: It appears that Samsung has taken a feature from a successful Apple product and shamelessly used it to headline its own offering. I know you’re all as shocked as I am.

Hear that Lucy? You’re doing great work!

Anyway, in the great Samsung tradition of knocking off Apple’s innovations, it managed to talk a lot about something that reviewers weren’t quite as excited about once they inevitably got their hands on a review unit. From Dan Seifert’s coverage at The Verge:

Samsung’s version (of TouchID) requires a vertical swipe over the home button to activate the scanner, and we found it to be quite unreliable and virtually impossible to activate when holding the phone in one hand…it was very particular about the speed and orientation of the swiping motion used — if we weren’t doing a perfectly straight swipe down, it would refuse to unlock the phone.

Is there anything more predictable than Samsung ripping something off from Apple and fucking up its implementation? But take heart, Apple fans: Samsung wasn’t content to just rip off Apple…

Heart-rate Sensor

Another new hardware feature (actually it’s the last thing one could say differentiates the S5 from the S4) is the inclusion of a heart rate monitor into the backside flash of the camera. Holding your finger for 3 seconds or so will yield your beats per minute – just like the Withings Pulse, released last November and currently residing in my pocket.

Screeny Shot Feb 24, 2014, 4.09.26 PM

Samsung’s Innovation Will Never Stop™

It’s heartening to see Samsung’s shame doesn’t limit itself to aping the features of Apple products. I guess.

What Else?

In addition to these two features, what does the S5 bring to the table? Decidedly not much. To go with Samsung’s current mobile device fitness kick, it announced that the S5 was dust and water resistant to the IP67 standard – whatever that means. Whereas the SIII (S3?) was described as revolutionary mostly because it was the first in the Galaxy series not to straight-up copy the iPhone by blowing the roof off the screen size (from the SII’s 4.3″ to 4.8″) and the S4 vomited a bunch of non-features into a decidedly non-plussed sea of reviewers, the S5 offers a slightly less shitty dimpled back (the fat man’s ass), another tenth of an inch of screen size, a slightly better camera and slightly better battery life (courtesy of a larger battery, natch). In other words, not enough to distance itself from an avalanche of other Android handsets that were introduced before and during this year’s Mobile World Congress. For example, Sony’s Xperia Z2, announced earlier in the event, has a better display and superior level of water and dust resistance.

One thing has become abundantly clear: Samsung is being dragged into the maws of its Android competitors inch by inch. Once upon a time, they were the first manufacturer to break away from the Android pack, a feat accomplished by shamelessly copying the iPhone. When this strategy was smacked down in the courts, each progressive iteration of the company’s Galaxy series has been met with more and more apathy. It won’t be long until Samsung joins the rest of its kin in the Android commodity handset bin. No amount of Sammy advertising bucks can stop that now.

 Posted by at 5:49 pm
Jan 302014
 

This blogger has been snickering at Google’s acquisition of Motorola for $12.5 billion since it was made. At the time, it was spun to be about making hardware and acquiring patents. Neither of those endeavors turned out to be worth shit, but the purchase did allegedly warm the Google offices in Manhattan for an entire winter.

"At Google, we flame roast billions of our ad dollars every year."

“At Google, we flame roast billions of our ad dollars every year.”

In the market, Motorola’s Android handsets performed about as you’d expect handsets to perform in a market supersaturated with Samsung and others’ plastic covering every conceivable price point. So yesterday, like the spoiled rich child that serves as the metaphor for so much of what Google does, they lost interest in their new toy and sold it off to Lenovo for $2.9 billion (.23 Motorolas).

Albatross: PASSED!

Albatross: PASSED!

Yes I know Google got Lenovo stock in the deal that mitigated their losses (assuming the acquisition isn’t the camelback straw that tanks it).

Yes I know Google kept the patents and the Advanced Technology and Projects group.

None of this matters. The drunken sailor acquisition – that lasted as long as it took to close (9 months) – shows that Google is a strategically oblivious entity that could learn good spending habits from lottery winners and superstar NFL rookies. I’m sure the street will crucify the company, given that this move was made just a day before Google’s Q4 earnings call in a pathetic attempt to cover up Motorola’s continued hemorrhaging of…

Yea - I got nothin'

Yea – I got nothin’

As opposed to Apple, which bulls-eyed their expectations this week, setting sales records for iPhones and iPads on its way to the 4th largest quarterly profit in the history of business…

Absolutely nothin'

Absolutely nothin’

So this week I learned that Wall Street knows as much about why they love Google and hate Apple as Google knows about making smart acquisitions.

 Posted by at 12:24 pm
Jan 172014
 

Android users are also consumers. Ones who have no interest in paying for stuff, which is wholly appropriate given that the company responsible for their mobile OS shares the same worldview. One only need browse through search terms like “Disney” and “Famous person x” in Google’s own store to see how few fucks Mountain View gives about copyright and/or trademark. Even though Google believes that the only value intellectual property holds is that which can be used to countersue others for their infringement on it, it’s always amusing to hear a developer of one of these apps go on the record in an attempt to defend their business model.

Which bring us to DoubleTwist co-founder and president Monique Farantzos.

You may remember DoubleTwist as the company that released an iTunes clone for the Mac. They recently introduced the discretely-named AirPlay Recorder, which does pretty much what you’d think: it records songs from iTunes Radio stations via AirPlay. You might think this is shady (because it is), but Farantzos has no qualms. Her comment to Engadget:

Recording has been around for decades, from audio cassettes (remember mix tapes?) to TuneIn radio’s recording feature. Given that Apple built their iPod empire on letting millions of people rip CDs based on fair use, we don’t see how they could object to this app.

I remember mix tapes, but I’m having trouble equating the practice of using my TC-66 to record the Hot 15 on 104.1 in upstate New York when I was 13 with automating the process for millions of other users for some company that serves up ads to make money. The real laugher is that Farantzos equates the function of his company’s scummy recorder to Apple’s “fair use” ripping of CDs onto iPods. Yea, asshole, you seem to have missed a word: “…people rip their CDs…” There was an exchange of money for product at some point, which is why the term “fair use” applies. iTunes Radio is a free service, which is probably why Apple didn’t build a recorder into their own app. It’s also why, despite Farantzos’ inability to see any possible objection, AirPlay Recorder’s existence will be measured in hours. Hope your company didn’t put too much work into that app, Monique.

The only thing DoubleTwist is “liberating” is a revenue stream off the backs of artists and diverting it into their pockets

Edit: I mistakenly assumed DoubleTwist’s revenue model involved ads because that’s how most of Android’s “free” apps maintain their freedom. DoubleTwist serves up your music in craptastic 32 Kbps for free; high-quality AAC rips are available via in-app purchase.

 Posted by at 10:32 am
Jan 142014
 

Like a lot of people, Arment wasn’t pleased at the news that Google acquired Nest for $3.2 billion. He elaborated in a post today ripping Nest’s privacy statement. The only thing I’d add is that anything that Matt Rogers or Tony Fadell have to say about their Nest products really isn’t relevant anymore; they’ve been acquired.  That’s what makes the “Will Nest customer data be shared with Google?” so laughable. Shared? Like maybe if Google said “pretty please?” They fucking own Nest. Neither permission nor apology is required. That Nest feels the need to post some disingenuous hug-speak just highlights the fact.

I don’t begrudge Nest; it’s a coup for them. It just sucks for the customers that bought its hardware with the expectation they wouldn’t sell out to an ad company that sees hardware as a means to an end.

 Posted by at 11:06 pm
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