I shouldn’t have found Gruber’s comment to be such a revelation. Last year, I wrote about Richard Stallman and Eric Raymond’s comments upon the death of Steve Jobs; both of these leading lights of open-source software compared Apple customers to jailbirds. I figured out then that they have a problem with technology users whose priorities are different than theirs. And really, since the prison metaphor is so manifestly silly, what the people who make it are doing is objecting to the choice that Apple’s customers make. The idea that other people take pleasure in something they dislike upsets them.Here’s the sad part: Lee and Eckersley make some really good points. I too wish that Apple would introduce an optional ability to install unapproved apps. Although, when you think about it, jailbreaking provides that ability right now, which means that the world isn’t all that far from Lee and Eckersley’s desired state.I also share the authors’ alarm over Microsoft’s decision to allow the distribution of Windows 8 Metro apps only through its own Windows Store. Microsoft would never, ever have made that move without the App Store’s example, so sure, let’s go ahead and blame Apple for it.But by bringing up the prison thing, the EFF’s authors aren’t making their case more compelling. Instead, they’ve giving readers a convenient opportunity to roll their eyes and reject their argument. Especially readers who happily use Apple devices, and who bristle at people suggesting that they’re patsies for doing so.
Harry McCracken takes a look at the New iPad:
“Even a year after its release, the iPad 2 is superior overall to any of its Android competition, including some contenders that sell for more.”
I’d love for there to be some serious competition for the iPad. But at the moment, it’s just not there. And the gap is getting wider, not narrower.
AT&T posted its fourth quarter results for 2011 on Thursday and highlighted smartphone sales in particular, which reached a record high of 9.4 million devices, beating the standing company record by 50 percent. Apple should be very happy with those results, too, since 7.6 million, or 80.9 percent, of those smartphones were iPhones.
So 80% – eighty per cent! - of the smartphones AT&T sold were iPhones. More than 50% of the smartphones Verizon sold were iPhones. Yes, this was a quarter with a fair amount of pent-up demand for iPhones, given the “delay” to the iPhone 4S, but remember that phone buyers tend to have to wait until their contracts run out before buying – something which tends to smooth out the spikes a little.
UPDATE: As the inestimable Richard Gaywood pointed out to me on Twitter, this is conflating two types of figure: 9.4m smartphone sold and 7.6m iPhones activated. You might not think there’s much difference, but there is: activations include second-hand iPhones, hand-me-downs, and so on. That doesn’t meant that Apple didn’t make AT&T very happy bunnies, but it does mean that it’s less than 80%. How much less? No one outside of AT&T really knows.
I’ve recently been using a Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9, one of the newest generation of Android tablets running Honeycomb (an Ice Cream Sandwich update is in the pipeline. Even though it’s not significantly cheaper than the 10.1in Tab, I got it because of the different form factor: it’s significantly lighter and easier to carry around than the iPad I already use, and makes a nice contrast to the bigger tablets.
However, it also illustrates the issues with using an interface which is designed for larger screens on a smaller touch screen. Some of the applications which are designed specifically for Honeycomb have controls and buttons which are perfect for touching on a 10.1in screen, but which are just a shade too small to accurately hit on something a couple of inches smaller.
This is a point that Harry McCracken makes very well in his post on how it must be possible to build a good 7in tablet. As Harry puts it:
No, the reason that a 7″ iPad seems unlikely in the short term is because it would only have a shot at greatness if it had an interface and apps designed with a 7″ display in mind. A 7″ tablet isn’t just a big smartphone, and it’s not a tinier 9.7″ tablet. Building a 7″ iPad by essentially making the iPhone’s pixels larger or the iPad’s pixels smaller would be the wrong way to go about it.
Part of the problem that Android tablets face is that the free-form nature of Android development means that any vendor can decide on sizes and simply hack its own version of the operating system on to the tablet. If Android applications then don’t fit properly, it’s not the vendor’s problem. It’s just the user’s
Here’s an early Christmas present for me and for quite a few of my friends and colleagues: Scrivener, the marvellous long-form writing tool for Mac, is coming to iPad and iPhone:
It’s still early days, though – we are about to embark on the design process proper, and all we can say in terms of a release date is that our iPad and iPhone versions will be out some time in 2012
There’s a link to share your ideas about what should be in it too. I know from my perspective the thing I’d like to see are integration with iCloud on both the iOS and Mac side, so that I could seamlessly carry on working on a project no matter where I was.
Charles Arthur, reporting for The Guardian on an IDC/Appcelerator survey of developers:
“App developer interest is shifting back toward Apple as fragmentation and “tepid” interest in current Android tablets chips away at Google’s recent gains in momentum, according to a new survey of more than 2,700 developers around the world.
In the survey, 91% of developers said they were “very interested” in iPhone development, and 86% said the same for the iPad. For Google, interest in Android phone add development fell 2 points to 85%, and for tablets – particularly Honeycomb – down three points to 71%, after having risen 12 points in the first quarter. The figures are within error margins for the survey, but don’t match the growing interest that has been seen in Android over the past year.”
Jim Smith, who knows a thing or two about mobile, pokes around in the controversial consolidated.db database on the iPhone and comes up with this:
“I’m pretty certain that consolidated.db is used to seed the assisted GPS used for iOS location servers. If you open the map, or check in via FourSquare, it will look to see if the cell you’re in is one it knows about. If it is, then that greatly reduces the need to look for satellites. This also explains why it doesn’t store the older (or less accurate?) locations. My guess is that the algorithm says something like: have I been here before? If yes, is my accuracy better than last time? If yes, replace the old entry with a new one.”
Which answers the question that’s been bugging me, which is why that database wasn’t purged regularly. For this purpose, it’s important to keep it on your phone, where it can be queried fast.
“But if someone searches for and downloads The New York Times app — after the Times has spent more than a century building up its brand, as the cost of billions of dollars — can it really be said that Apple has “brought” that subscriber to the app, and that they deserve 30 percent of the revenue the app generates, forever?”
To which the obvious and correct answer is: No, they don’t deserve it. Apple’s argument that it “brings” customers is hogwash. It’s like Mozilla claiming that Amazon ought to give it a percentage of my spend there as it “brings” me, just because I’m using Firefox.
It’s a good article, well worth an in-depth read.
Brilliant comment from “Chucky” on a post from from Michael Tsai:
Microsoft in 1997 had a very specific corporate strategy. They had a temporary situation of great market leverage. And rather than concentrating on making better products for their users, they began to concentrate on two objectives:
1 Using their leverage to avoid the rise of middle-wear.
2 Using their leverage to grab a rent-seeking slice of the commerce their users did out on the internet.
Microsoft in 1997 was willing to be incredibly evasive and disingenuous in its pursuit of those goals.
Does any of this remind you of Apple in 2011 in any way?
Apple has steadfastly avoided the creation of middleware on iOS – stuff like Flash, which acts as a layer between the OS and the application. And it is now using its leverage over the platform to grab a slice of all the commerce people do through apps.
Who’d have thought that Steve Jobs would have stuck so closely to the playbook written by Bill Gates?
“Music and video services do not have a 30 percent margin to give away to Apple NSDQ: AAPL. It means you’ll see them exit the market on iOS devices, paving the way for Apple’s own iTunes streaming.”
Does the subscription system include music content? No one knows, and Apple isn’t saying.
Does it cover content sold piece by piece, like books? This quote:
“We are now requiring that if an app offers customers the ability to purchase books outside of the app, that the same option is also available to customers from within the app with in-app purchase.”
… from Apple’s Trudy Muller certainly says it does. But no one really knows, and Apple isn’t saying.
I doubt that Amazon could follow this rule, even if it wanted to. What’s more, the only ambiguity in that statement is around “outside of the app” – because if that also means “in a browser from any machine” then Kindle on iOS is dead in the water. Is Apple confident enough of its own position to do that?
Of course, some publishers will just go for it. Apple is betting that the publishers will see the opportunity as great, and the risk of being left behind as greater still. The fear factor of missing out will loom large.
But it will leave a sour taste, and publishers will know they’ve been screwed over. In the short term, that won’t matter much. But when a company keeps playing hardball constantly, insisting on the same cut no matter what service it provides because it’s in a position of power, sooner or later it gets bitten back.