AMITIAE - Friday 30 December 2011

Cassandra - Friday Review: The Weekend Arrives.

apple and chopsticks



Opening Gambit:

April Fool, South America style. Android activations reach 3.7 million over Xmas, but Apple activations are reported as 1.6 million higher. Apple TV rumours. Apple Archives at Stamford U. The iPad in government (not in Asia of course); the iPad for Orangutans; and new iPads.

Apple Stuff

It seems as if we may all have been caught out by an Argentinian version of the April Fool's joke we are told by Anna Heim on The Next Web. Like many others -- this went viral by late Wednesday -- we reported that Argentina was banning the BlackBerry and the iPhone in favour of home-produced handsets because of the economy. Unfortunately, Dia de los Santos Inocentes is a day when countries in South America have the same flirting with the truth that westerners love come April.

We have read much about the (so far) mythical Apple TV and its expected release some time after mid-2012, but there are lots of comments on the invisible device. Josh Lowensohn reports on the ideas of an analyst who suggests that a way the company may shake up TV is by using a la carte channels. Those of you outside the US do not hold your breath. More news on the product comes from Sam Oliver on AppleInsider who suggests that the TV will be running on custom-built chips similar to the iOS devices. This would fit with the idea that iOS was to be a significant part of this new machine. This would also be significant as other companies would neither have access to the processor design, nor the fabrication facilities.

Walter Isaacson seems to have been a one-man publicity machine since the release of his Steve Jobs biography: actually before. The way he has been appearing on TV and in print articles has made him almost as famous as his most famous subjects. MacNN tell us he was interviewed recently by Adam Lavinsky of Fortune, who also has a Steve Jobs book in the pipeline and the transcript of this event at the Commonwealth Club of California is online, although the MacNN article has a lengthy summary.

There is also now a fictional account of Steve Jobs' life during the 1980s in comic books form, Michael Grothaus reports.

Other Apple history appeared recently when information about just what Apple archive materials Stanford University has was detailed in an item by Terence Chea on Huffington Post. Some of the interview material must be priceless for the insights it will give. Matt Brian on the Next Web writes about one of the archive items, Blue Busters, a video that certainly has Steve Wozniak in it and may have Steve Jobs.

When the iPad 2 came out, President Obama was given his own personal one, a couple of days before anyone else outside of Cupertino: it is not unusual for leaders to have special treatment. However, the Prime Minister of the UK not only has an iPad but he is to have his own app, developed within Whitehall, we are told by Matt Brian on The Next Web, that will give him realtime access to some of that essential data that Mrs Thatcher used to pull out of her handbag. The term, "Handbagged" was used in reference to those unfortunate Ministers and bureaucrats who tried BS on the lady, who had always done her research, even if they hadn't. Will Cameron be able to iPad his ministers: iPadded does not have the same ring to it.

And I can think of one or two governments round here who have not quite seen the light in the same way as in some more progressive countries. Indeed the orangutans are there first and Electronista reports that in Milwaukee have their own iPads.

We are sure that a new iPad is coming soon, but Steven Musil has information that suggests there could be two devices revealed and one of these will be that supposed 7.85" version. I cannot admit to being convinced by the rumours on this and nor can Steven, but who knows with Apple? A later report from Josh Lowensohn suggests that there is some doubt about those rumours concerning CES or MacWorld.

Another nice little hint from OS X Daily this time concerning a wifi utility that is installed on our Macs and that few people know about. This is called Wi-Fi Diagnostics and it is hidden in the /System/Library/CoreServices? folder. Navigate to there and have a look.

Half and Half

A couple of days ago, there were lots of reports of a crowing Andy Rubin who was claiming 3.7 million activations of Android devices over Xmas. Thinking that is all phones (not just smartphones) I decided to leave that out: different market and all that. However, now we are told by Lance Whitney that as well as that huge number Apple may have had around 1.6 million more with 4.1 million iOS devices activated. Steven Musil reports, however, that Samsung is still top seller of smartphones with Apple gaining. We have been critical in the past of those who want Apple to announce a dividend and erode all that pile of money that keeps the wheels well oiled. In recent years it has become the mantra of most companies that they serve the shareholders and that everything is subsumed to making profit for them. Steve Denning on Forbes puts this in some perspective and begins his analysis of what he calls, The Dumbest Idea in the World, by quoting Peter Drucker: "There is only one valid definition of a business purpose: to create a customer."

We note that with Apple, the purpose was not to shore up the share price and certainly not to share profits with shareholders (no matter how the pundits wailed) but to make good stuff for the customers.

I caught a glimpse of a Facebook entry for Tony Li on Thursday. For years, Tony had been Apple's Director for Product Marketing, South Asia based in Hong Kong. At one gathering in San Francisco it was mentioned that he had been with the company (then) for over 19 years. The Facebook entry however now shows that he is VP North Asian Marketing at HTC. From the frying pan into the fire? I mean . . . HTC.

Happy Birthday to the MacObserver whose Bryan Chaffin reports that they were 13 on Wednesday.

Other Matters

What a surprise. In a move that is full of the usual level of innovation that we expect from Redmond, it seems that Microsoft is about to develop a mobile phone backup service in the cloud, we are told by Josh Lowensohn without a hint of irony.

Another surprise was the price that HP wanted for WebOS. We are told by Vlad Savov on The Verge that while the company bought Palm for $1.2 billion, when they put the TouchPad's operating system on the market, they wanted . . . $1.2 billion. I guess others did the maths too. In the end they may get nothing by putting it out to Open Source.

We know that CES is coming up early next month and there will be scores of new toys and product announcements at that time. We also expect Apple to dip a toe in the waters just to steal some of the thunder. Indeed, not long after I wrote that, Jeff Gamet on the MacObserver reported the idea that an announcement could be made at MacWorld, although he is slightly dubious. Right now, however, there is another conference running, ISS World, and this is in Kuala Lumpur, we read in a comprehensive report by Vernon Silver on BusinessWeek. The conference is about security. Not just the basic CCTV approach to deter thieves, but there is a wide spectrum of commercial and law enforcement attendees, all of whom are invited.

Something that has come around 30 years too late for me is a new device from Leica that the UK government is buying for police forces to scan the scenes of major accidents and enable a 3D image of the scene to be created, Sam Byford reports for The Verge. I used to draw a rough map in my pocketbook, take as many measurements as possible which was precious few when the traffic was heavy and then drag the cars and trucks off with a Range Rover, sometimes still on their roofs.

Local Items

I had to wait days to get mine. Hundreds of people lined up at midnight at Siam Paragon to be first to get theirs. Now we read in a Tweet that the iPhone 4S is available on the ShopAt7 website. A bit of an anti-climax isn't it. Of course, 7/11 is part of the Chicken People conglomerate, as is True.

And by the time the next Cassandra column comes round, it will be 2012, so Happy New Year.



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