Jul 202010

After Apple’s “Antennagate” press event on Friday left the tech press J-School flunkies murmuring about having no carcass left on the horse to kick, there was still an air of apprehension going into Tuesday’s earnings conference call. Would the 3 day window between the release of the iPhone 4 and the end of the quarter significantly cut into sales? Would iPod sales continue to flag? Would the desktop Mac models continue to pull their weight, or would the spike from the refresh have run its course?

The answers: hell no, meh and hell yes, respectively.

Oh – and Apple destroyed the most bullish of estimates for what seems like the 20th quarter in a row. Seriously, Street: when are you guys going to get a fucking clue?


Revenue: $15.7 billion (vs. $14.75 billion predicted)

Earnings: $3.25 billion or $3.51/share (vs. $3.11/share predicted)

iPads: 3.27 million units sold (tough for analysts to blow that one since Apple has been announcing sales)

Macs: 3.47 million units sold (vs. 3.2 million predicted)

Lowlights (courtesy of WSJ Marketwatch):

Francisco Jeronimo, a mobile analyst with IDC, said Tuesday that the antenna issue may still impact results for the fourth fiscal quarter. His firm’s research indicates that 66% of current iPhone owners were delaying their upgrades until a solution was announced.

My research indicates that IDC is a shill rag and 66% of Francisco Jeronimo’s family thinks he’s a jackhole. I don’t know the compensation basis for IDC analysts, but being right is not among them.

Just goes to show despite the efforts of frothing media putzes and characteristically clueless analysts, Apple just keeps printing money.

Jul 202010

TMA once had a dream of ubiquitous media that required 2 things Apple lacked: a buttload of server capacity and a codec that would make HD streaming bandwidth-friendly. Last year, Apple started work on a monster server farm in North Carolina. I speculated of the high-definition Red codec under development at the time:

If this codec materializes‚ even if proprietary‚ it will be “proof of concept” for the folks in Cupertino (who know a thing or two about codecs themselves).  This may be the solution to the bandwidth problem.

TMA just quoted himself in his own blog. And he’s referring to himself in the third person. Awesome.

So yesterday Hardmac, who TMA has never heard of before, threw out a rumor that Apple actually is working on their own codec based on the same wavelet compression Red uses.  Consistent with other Apple-backed codecs like AAC, it’s based on a royalty-free format, so let me be the first to speak on behalf of Cupertino to the freetard community: you’re welcome.

The hardware exists, the library exists, and the capacity soon will. The codec would be the last and arguably most important piece of the puzzle: a low bandwidth way to distribute HD content to Apple devices. Prepare yourselves for one of the biggest “one more things” Apple has ever unleashed.

Jul 192010

Google announced that they’ve received their very last shipment of Nexus Ones, the only phone that currently runs the latest version of the Android operating system. It also happens to be the only phone that doesn’t include craptastic UI overlays like “Sense” and “Blur”.

Google is no longer interested in cutting out the middlemen and selling directly to consumers. The reasons for this are not Eric Schmidt’s:

“It was so successful, we didn’t have to do a second one. We would view that as positive but people criticised us heavily for that. I called up the board and said: ‘Ok, it worked. Congratulations – we’re stopping’. We like that flexibility, we think that flexibility is characteristic of nimbleness at our scale.”

The real reasons that don’t sound batshit stupid:

1. Customers are a pain in the ass. Google “gets” customer service about as much as they “get” intuitive UI.

2. People are still buying Google-infused phone despite manufacturers’ OS meddling and the fact that their over-the-air updates aren’t current.

Why spend money on bullshit like selling and customer relations when you can have HTC or Motorola handle the meatbags while you grift their identity and online habits for free?

Jul 182010

The iPhone was released in 2007. This winter, Microsoft’s response, Windows Phone 7, will be released with no cut and paste, no multitasking and no Flash.  Microsoft has a history of stanching the arterial bleeding of its piss-poor consumer electronics with cash from its successful Windows, Office and Server businesses, so releasing a mediocre 1.0 product usually isn’t a problem.

It might be a problem if your 1.0 sucks ass, which if you believe the usually-pro-Microsoft InfoWorld, is exactly what Windows Phone 7 does.

Good thing they got some practice killing products recently. Might come in handy.

Jul 152010

On June 7, John Ciancutti, VP of Personalization Technology for Netflix announced the availability of Netflix for the iPhone “this summer”. A month later, not a word more about the port. The topic’s discussion thread on the Netflix board is filled with “where is it?” posts with nary a peep from management in reply.

So what could be the holdup? I mean, the app exists for the iPad; it’s essentially the same port. These announcements are usually followed by a product in relatively short order. What could be responsible for the delay?

Unlimited. Data.

You see, there’s a shitload of iPhone users out there (present company included) that didn’t think a $5/month savings on their AT&T bills was worth it – especially when 3G streaming media options were in still their infancy.

There are 14 million Netflix subscribers and over 35 million iPhone users. This is in no way scientific (and doesn’t account for Microsoft’s Silverlight abomination, which doubtless adds overhead) but while monitoring my Netflix stream on my laptop, the smallest pull I could achieve was about 250kb/second. If this is even close to what an iPhone app would pull, AT&T’s network would be toast.

AT&T may be stonewalling until more people switch to capped plans or new users join (unlimited data is no longer an option for new accounts); it may have no intention of allowing the app it at all. I don’t believe the company is in any position to allow its network to be jammed up any further, and that’s exactly what Netflix on the iPhone would do.

Update: On August 26, Netflix finally released their iPhone port. In my testing, it played flawlessly over WiFi and just about as flawlessly over the black hole of 3G also known as Manhattan (there was a 2 second period of stutter when I first started “Objectified”). The only 2 drawbacks in my limited experience: you can’t manage your DVD queue from the app and for some reason the “Resume” button means “Start me over”, which is annoying. All in all, a great addition to the iPhone and a huge win for people who decided to stick with unlimited data on their AT&T plans.

Jul 152010

Tech’s most popular head-to-head pairing, Apple vs. Google, is a battle originating and fought mainly on the mobile phone battlefield. The iPhone OS and hardware are made by Apple, and despite its problems with AT&T in the U.S., its carrier relationship is the envy of every other phone maker in the industry. This integration of hardware and software, leveraged relationship with its carriers and the closely-curated nature of its App Store allow Apple to deliver a consistent, fluid user experience.

Contrast this with the relationships Google has with its Android partners. Google supplies the OS, HTC or Motorola provides the hardware and any one of a number of carriers provides the service. Its App Store is a loosely-managed free-for-all of copyright-challenging ringtones and mostly minor titles from fringe developers.

So what’s the worst that can happen? Motorola’s recently-released Droid X provides some insight. Gizmodo, who I generally despise precisely for its gratuitious fellating of Google, absolutely panned the device as a giant (5″ x 2.6″, 5 1/2 oz.), spec heavy, performance retarded amalgmation of Android 2.1 (even though the vastly superior 2.2 has been available on the Nexus One since mid-June), Motorola’s Blur social networking overlay and enough pre-installed crapware to make Sony blush.

On paper, the Droid X is one of the best Android phones ever made. But unlike Apple, who controls every facet of the product experience aside from the carrier, the up-and-coming OS’s implementation is a victim of several unleveraged relationships. God help me – I’m about to quote Gizmodo:

The software—a discordant melange of the not-so-fresh Android 2.1 and various bits of the Blur “social networking” interface from Motorola’s lower-end Android phones—is the shudder-inducing poster child for the horrors that can occur when most hardware companies try to make software. It’s ugly, scattershot, and confusing. It feels almost malicious.

If Google had manufacturer and carrier control, they wouldn’t have to deal with this shit, which is why I imagine they took a shot at selling the Nexus One themselves. This phone would ship with Android 2.2 and be stripped of both the crapware (which I suspect was not Google’s idea) and Motorola’s joke of an OS overlay. Instead, a device that’s a specification juggernaut is transformed into a Frankensteinian shitshow that makes everyone involved look stupid.

And that’s what I mean about 2 degrees of fragmentation – and if the carrier was actually responsible for any of the crapware pre-installed on the X, that would be 3. There’s the experience of the Android OS from Google, which has limited control over it (which is why there are 3 major versions of Android in circulation) and there’s the Blur overlay forced onto the device courtesy of Motorola (HTC also has the Sense overlay for many of its Android devices, but it’s not nearly as obtrusive or shitastic).

So when people ask their friends about “an Android phone”, they might get the enthusiastic answer version from a geek running Froyo on a Nexus One or the serious buyer’s remorse answer from someone who was marketed a superior device that’s hamstrung by an old OS and an aneurism-inducing faux UI provided by their meddling manufacturer.  And despite what Google execs would have you believe, fragmentation is not a fairy tale. It pisses consumers off and makes people wipe their asses with your brand. Then again, as long as people are granting Google the right to exploit their search habits and identity, I don’t think they care how many different versions of their derivative OS exist – as long as all of them keep pumping the ducats into Google’s coffers.

Jul 142010

If you believe any of the whining you hear from famous actors about life in the spotlight, it’s tough to be popular. For every person that wants to be like you is someone who wants to tear you down. Witness this any time you’re waiting at the checkout in the supermarket. Mostly marginally-talented people have traded their anonymity in for life under a microscope. “Brad Still Wants Jen”, “Sandra’s New Heartache”; thousands of inane headlines pollute the eyes and titillate the stupid every week as mainstream media greases this country’s rail to illiteracy.

The tech industry rags are in a similar race to ding the popular to their benefit. And Apple is without question the biggest target. The latest hit-magnet: tales of the iPhone 4’s antenna woes. Your EVO’s battery lasts 2 hours, your Eris connects your 911 calls then mutes both parties, but the best iPhone ever made gets all the ink because some users encounter some problem some of the time when they hold the handset a particular way.

Fire up the presses!

Although this will make zero difference in the proliferation of poorly-written hit-whore pieces designed only to sensationalize a non-issue with the most popular mobile phone on the planet, I’d like to offer one piece of rational advice for those who have yet to take their Google-sponsored whack at the Apple piñata.

Wait until the company releases the software update it promised to address the problem.

Until then, frothing masses of the blogosphere, your contributions to knowing what the problem is, and therefore being in a position to recommend a course of action, mean shit. You have no clue what combination of hardware and software variables are contributing to this non-issue. Your speculation about what Apple can and should do is about as well-grounded as the latest about Britney.

For a moment, think about the tradition of respectable journalism that kept this country free.

Take a pass.

Jul 072010

With the recent Kin debacle, some people who talk about tech for a living have started to look at Microsoft as a company that might actually suck. Whispers about the company’s slow demise can be heard as far as the hallowed halls of ZDNet and Computerworld. Somewhere, the riders of the apocalypse are saddling their horses.

Take MiniMicrosoft, for example. Always a voice of straight talk within the Borg, MiniM$ went on a tear about the Kin. An awesome quote from a former Danger (the company that Microsoft acquired to squander their innovations with the Kin) employee sums it up nicely:

Consider this, in less than 10 years with 1/10 of the budget Microsoft had for PMX, we created a fully multitasking operating system, a powerful service to support it, 12 different device models, and obsessed and supportive fans of our product…

When we were first acquired, we were not taking long lunches and coffee breaks. We were committed to help this Pink project (the project that evolved into Kin) out and show our stuff. But when our best ideas were knocked down over and over and it began to dawn on us that we were not going to have any real affect on the product, we gave up. We began counting down to the 2 year point so we could get our retention bonuses and get out.

Of course, anyone with an iota of sense who isn’t on Microsoft’s payroll in some way has been on them about destroying the value of any of their consumer product offerings – whether developed or acquired. It’s like some kind of CE shit-finger. The Dimunitive One taps the nose yet again:

…we only excel at taking the financial boon of Windows and Office and giving it over to leadership that totally blows it down the drain like an odds-challenged drunk in Vegas. And the shareholders continue to suffer in silence. And the drunks are looking for their next cash infusion.

The stink lines have been streaking off this carcass since they first started thinking they could innovate with the same talent they showed using their monopoly power to run competitors out of the market. First Google destroys them in search – and then mobile devices. Then Apple parlays superior offerings into a industry force that crushes their market cap. I only hope Ballmer sticks around long enough to see it through to the end that’s so obviously coming.

Jul 022010

Excellent article by Daniel Eran Dilger on why it makes zero sense for Apple to release a CDMA version of  the iPhone with Verizon – or even maintain it as a skunkworks project. The money paragraph:

The top 15 global mobile carriers handle around 3,000 million subscribers, and they’re all GSM/UMTS carriers. Below Verizon and AT&T, there’s another 800 million subscribers handled by the next 15 largest mobile carriers, and again, they’re all GSM/UMTS carriers too. So should Apple aim at selling the iPhone to 3,800 potential subscribers worldwide, or should it focus its attention on making a single new generation of CDMA iPhone to target some of the 140 (million) subscribers in the US with a phone that will be obsolete in two years?

Analysis like this absolutely shames the majority of Apple punditry out there. Not only does he box Rob Enderle’s ears periodically (see the first comment), his articles at Roughly Drafted are simply the best deconstructions of anti-Apple cruft out there.

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