AMITIAE - Monday 23 April 2012
Cassandra - Monday Review: It Will Soon be Friday
By Graham K. Rogers
Opening Gambit:News on the iPad: coming to Thailand this week; not yet in China; but Proview are holding talks with Apple (surprised?). Why others fail with their iPad clones. Bulls and bears play with Apple shares. Coincidence: the quarterly results are coming this week. More Apple doom merchants. Google, Oracle and Java: maybe, can't remember, a mistake. Censorship in Asia: none to report in Thailand (trust The Next Web).
Apple StuffDespite the announced arrival of the iPad in Thailand this Friday (27 April), the online store has not been changed for pre-orders, so I presume that there will be no online ordering until the concrete and glass stores have begun to sell the devices.
We noted on Friday that one of the few countries not to have the newest iPad as yet, is China and there was some speculation on whether this was a sort of pressure concerning the iPad name and Proview. Electronista reported on Friday that the two companies are now in "active talks" as part of a way to bring this to a settlement, even though Apple claims it has bought the name once already.
I have often looked at the way other companies have tried to come up with an iPad competitor and not been surprised as they have fallen by the wayside one by one. Many think that the form factor is all that is needed, but the whole infrastructure and ecosystem that the iPad has, is missing. Pathetic attempts by the Taiwanese manufacturers, especially that ridiculous Padphone thing all give good indications that none of these guys have their eyes on the ball. Ben Bajarin on Tech Pinions is pretty much right when he examines how these other makers miss every time: "the companies attempting to create competing touch computers don't understand touch computing or the market dynamics for tablets". I also like his look at the cost fallacy -- cheapest is best -- which local politicians might want to consider as the Thai schools tablet program proceeds: or doesn't. My original link for this good article was MacDaily News
After a period of climbing, Apple shares began to become erratic a couple of weeks ago as the bulls and bears gnawed at the bones. There is nothing wrong with Apple, but it is probably more to do with market plays (I will not use the word, "manipulation") as dealers try to make the most out of the volatility and reap the biggest profits. It was not too long ago, that an announcement of record profits -- several quarters in succession -- would almost certainly guarantee a fall in the share price, including one quarter in which Apple exceeded its own predictions, but not the wild estimates that the "experts" had thought might appear.
But this is not enough for some and the doom merchants are at it again with Rocco Pendleton on The Street, writing that Apple can only survive with Steve Jobs and that with little evidence claims that Tim Cook is going to be the main reason for Apple's fall back to mediocrity. Good call Rocco, we will get back to you in 5 years. And to suggest that Bezos is in the same league as Jobs, tells us how valuable your opinions really are. My link for this was MacDaily News.
Another doom merchant is Stephen Foley on the Independent who suggests that Apple may not be as sweet right now and that the share prices swings are a reflection of this. Foley is another in the mould of Rob Enderle (cruel, I know) and Cupertino just cannot do anything right for this man. Google makes this all so easy these days, so let us reflect on headlines like,
Anything positive? Nope. Looks like the associate business editor of the Independent with a grand total of 834 Twitter followers, has a permanent down on Apple, but I bet he would be able to write, "I own several Apple products and love the company's products. . . ." which is about as respectful as "With all due respect, Sir."
The Canadian media are also on the attack. The government has done anything about the pricing argument that the US DoJ is working on, but that is not good enough for the Canadians. Fortunately at least one of them (and there are probably many more of course) is highly critical of the way the press pack has rounded on Apple for what Rene Ritchie on iMore thinks is "not a story."
I guess it is about Internet access to the initial location and if you have a reluctant link to the outside world, like True/CAT et al, things are going to drag to the point of infuriation. If I try it when offline, the page reloads right away. But this is not all: in a similar way, when I try to load RSS feeds -- the browser may tell me there are a number of new items to view -- sometimes a similar event occurs and despite there being data, the page cannot be opened. Wait a couple of minutes and there it is. None of this happened before Lion.
So why do parents give their offspring the account password -- come to that, why give kids a smartphone? Some do, and a group of them is being allowed to sue Apple, Mikey Campbell reports on AppleInsider, because their kids were able to run up large bills. Are these parents idiots or what? They don't control their kids, give them access to credit cards for purchasing and then get all twisted when the kids do exactly what they were allowed to do.
Other MattersIt has been really hotting up in the case of Google and Oracle. The more I read the more obvious to a casual observer it is that Google knew what they were doing with the implementation if Java in Android and they either thought it didn't matter, no one would notice, or they could ignore the whole issue and hope that it would go away. Or (D), none of the above.
As Google knew, the Lindholm emails imply enough intent to have them hung, drawn and quartered, so it is no wonder they tried to get them ruled inadmissible seven times. There has been much revealed by the emails and the exchanges Lindholm had with others inside Google, like Andy Rubin. Florian Mueller of Foss Patents has been following the case for 20 months or more and has some interesting observations on the revelations and how they are playing out in court. He also mentions that there are a number of key players still to appear, but that some of the decisions will come down to copyright and several APIs in question. On Monday morning, there was an additional article on the Foss Patents site in which Florian Mueller explains about the 37 APIs in question.
Earlier, Florian Mueller had posted an interesting series of observations on the testimony of Tim Lindholm and was not wholly convinced by the evidence or by the man. Also Bryan Bishop on The Verge tells us that Joshua Bloch, who is supposed to be the chief Java architect at Google (although he says it is only a fancy title), told the Court that it was "likely that some of the code he contributed to Android was indeed copied". Gasp!
It was a mistake he says, and he is sorry. Not half as sorry as Google may be.
Local ItemsAn article on The Next Web by Jon Russell looked at censorship in Asia and had some particular focus on certain countries like China, with some useful links. However, while Russell manages to mention the iPad arrival here next week (such an Apple expert these days) there is zero on censorship in Thailand in his section on South-east Asia. That's because there is no censorship, right, and those MICT stickers I see on the screen when I try to access certain sites, must be a figment of my imagination. Or maybe the TNW page was censored.
Yes, Who? was the question on everyone's lips. They make a fair range of flat screen devices, but are a bit of a mystery, with a poorly assembled website that looks as if most has been typed up on an old DOS-based PC and in not all that good English. Shareholders? I can't find that using search engines. Neither the President nor the major execs are named on the site.
Now we hear that capacity of this opaque company may have been exaggerated and instead of the announced 24,000, only 1,000 tablets per day can be produced, we read on the Bangkok Post over the weekend. As the contract has not actually been signed, this is a perfect time for the company to be dropped and Huawei to come to the rescue like a knight in shining armour.
Rather than worrying if the children will be able to use the tablets which was one rationale for delaying (read, cancelling), the MPs were happy to reward themselves with iPhones and iPads (although the use of smartphone technology by at least one of them in the last week or so has left parliamentarians with red faces. Elected officials always seem to manage to avoid the essence of what they should be doing.
As an additional question: who were the experts that were assembled to make these decisions? As far as I have seen most teachers or Ministry personnel are still locked in the quill pen and Copperplate mindset so what technical skills or expertise on teaching with tablet computers were brought to the table may have been slim at best. What they should have done was sit a group of 8 - 10 year olds down with a selection of tablet computers and asked, "What's wrong?"
In early days of writing for the Bangkok Post, when I had a game to review, I would pass a copy to a kid of 7 I taught each week and he would crack it within a day or two. As with any teacher, his expertise now far surpasses mine and I am so pleased that this is so.
Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs.
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