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November 7, 2009

Google plays the openness card

While Apple has blocked the Someecards app because some of the cards have made fun of public figures, Google has asked the app to port on over to Android phones.

(BTW, I got a Droid today.)

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October 29, 2009

Taking sides with Droid: Hippies vs. Geeks

I’m finding the cultural politics of Droid‘s marketing to be fascinating.

Droid is Motorola’s competitor to the iPhone, based on Google’s open source Android operating system. Of course it’s marketing itself head-to-head against the iPhone. Verizon’s “iDon’t” ad was totally in iPhone’s face: iPhone doesn’t do x, y, and z, but Droid does.

But Droid isn’t just going against iPhone’s features. It’s drawing a cultural line. Apple is for hippies, it’s saying. Droid is for power geeks.

For example, at Verizon’s “Droid Does” page, if you click on “Open Development,” the message is:

Droid doesn’t judge app makers. We don’t care about their politics, their lifestyles or their attitude. If they make a great app, we will share it. That’s how we have over 10,000 apps in Android Marketâ„¢. Simple, isn’t it?

This is cross-over geek and business trash talk.

At “Hardcore,” the text is:

This is no granola crunching, flower child phone. It’s more powerful than you need and faster than you can handle. Basically, it’s everything you’ve ever wanted. And it’s ready to do your bidding. What shall you have it do first.

Weird anti-hippie, geek power lord, high-performance sports car, S&M vibe.

“Power” continues the sports car trope:

Look under the hood of this machine if you dare. There’s a fast CortextA8 processor, 16gb of memory expandable to 32gb and a WVGA 854×480 screen. Now step back. It’s revving up.

Out of my way, hippie!

And perhaps: Out of my way, girls! The Droid marketing is hitting a lot of (traditionally) male notes.

The cultural alignment will be fascinating to watch.

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August 12, 2009

Apple: Totalitarian art

Jason Calacanis has an excellent post making the case against Apple, from an Apple fan’s point of view. I’m basically with him.

Doc Searls has long said that the key to understanding Steve Jobs — and thus to understanding Apple — is that Job’s an artist. We understand when an artist wants to maintain complete, obsessive control over his creations, especially when they are as beautiful as some Apple products are. But it’s not just artistry at work at Apple. Apple tends towards totalitarianism.

You can see why in its computer architectures: Its products work because they’re relatively closed systems that run tightly controlled hardware, unlike Microsoft’s operating system that has to be able to work on just about every piece of hardware that comes along. And Apple’s stuff generally works beautifully. (I switched from Windows to the Mac about three years ago.) But the hardwired connection between the iPod and iTunes — only recently loosened — is there not to benefit users, but to meet the DRM needs of recording companies and to tether users to Apple. The hardwired connection between the iPhone and the App Store represents a disturbing direction for the industry, in which Apple acts in loco parentis to protect users from their own software decisions, and (apparently) to exclude products they believe hurt the business interests of their partners. The App Store’s success makes it particularly threatening; it’s easy to imagine Apple’s rumored tablet adopting the same strategy, then other companies following suit.

It’s not an unmixed picture, of course. The removal of the egregious DRM from iTunes is a step forward, and seems to have been a step Apple eagerly took, and the movement of the Mac’s OS onto Unix added admirable transparency. Plus, Apple makes some beautiful stuff that works beautifully.

I just wish that going forward, I felt more confident that Apple is on our side, not just as customers but as digital citizens.

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May 23, 2009

Degenerative computing

Here’s a future I fear:

Apple comes out with the iBook, a netbook that’s also perfectly designed as an e-book. It’s a Kindle-killer because it’s an actual computer, as well as being way cool in the way of things Apple.

Apple extends its App Store approach to this seemingly semi-special purpose device: The only apps you can get have to come through Apple.

The Apple iBook becomes a huge success. It is the future of reading the way the iPod is the future (well, the present) of listening.

The iBook replaces many laptops. It becomes the primary computer for many people.

Thus we go from generativity to locked down computers.

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March 29, 2008

Third motherboard, same crashes

For those who are keeping track (= me), the new new motherboard on my MacBook has not prevented the same old problems from recurring. I still am getting random app crashes, most well-behaved by an occasional crash to blue. (Actually, only Keynote crashes to blue.)

I’m feeling pretty certain that we’ve eliminated the mobo as the source of the problem. Since these same problems have occurred in two separate operating systems, including through a clean install of the second one, I don’t think it’s an OS thing. Since they’ve persisted through the creation of a clean user account, I don’t think it’s a software thing. Because the RAM has passed repeated testing by me and by the service professionals, I don’t think it’s a RAM problem.

I am therefore taking it personally.

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January 20, 2008

When IP goes bad: Berkman retaliates against cyberlawâ„¢ & Apple patents ordering from a menu

Item #1

A cyberlawyer named Eric Menhart has trademarked “cyberlaw,” according to slashdot.

In response, the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law is changing its address from cyber.law.harvard.edu to eric.menhart.harvard.edu, will rename its annual conference to the EricMenhart conference, and is petitioning Google to do a search-and-replace on the 75,400 pages containing harvard berkman cyberlaw.

All your EricMenhartâ„¢ are belong to us.

[Legal notices: I don’t speak for the Berkman Center. And one of those jokes was Ethan Zuckerman‘s.]


Item #2

20070291710

Inventors: Fadell; Anthony M.; (Portola Valley, CA)
Correspondence Name and Address:

BEYER WEAVER LLP
P.O. BOX 70250
OAKLAND
CA
94612-0250
US

Assignee Name and Adress: Apple Computer, Inc.

Serial No.: 485142
Series Code: 11
Filed: July 11, 2006

Abstract

A processing system is described that includes a wireless communication interface that wirelessly communicates with one or more wireless client devices in the vicinity of an establishment. The wireless communication interface receives a remote order corresponding to an item selected by at least one of the wireless client devices. A local server computer located in proximity to the establishment generates instructions for processing the remote order received from the wireless communication interface. The local server computer then passes the processing instructions to an order processing queue in preparation for processing of the remote order.


Yes, Apple is patenting using a cellphone to order food.

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January 16, 2008

Losing my urge for Air

When I first heard that Apple had introduced a 3-lbs Mac, technolust heated my blood. But from my very first poking-arounds about it, my tremors of desire have quieted.

On the basis of preliminary reports, it sounds like Apple threw everything overboard in order to achieve a single design ukase: Thou shalt be the thinnest! No CD/DVD player, yet another freakish video out, no ethernet port, a battery that requires a trip to the factory to be replaced (and given that my MacBook battery is failing rapidly after 8 months…), a single USB port, no firewire port, no good way to plug in an external drive (assuming you have a mouse plugged into your USB port), no mic input, yet another unique power supply. Dongle city! And the Mac Air ain’t cheap.

Thinness is an aesthetic criterion, not a utilitarian one. Art triumphs over usefulness yet again, driven by Steve “One Button” Jobs.

Good. I can enjoy my MacBook unruffled by envy. Well, at least not much envy.

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