MonthJune 2008

‘Marketing iPhone apps shouldn’t just be a field of dreams’

Spot on analysis by Macworld’s Peter Cohen about what’s likely to happen to iPhone developers who think just putting their software on the iApps store will magically make everyone flock to it.

Not so fast: For many, iPhone 3G=price, not speed bump

I wrote an article for The Mac Observer and iPod Observer today that points out that if you don’t live in an area served by AT&T’s 3G network, you’ll wind up paying extra for service you may never enjoy. The bottom line: if you already have an iPhone and you don’t live within a 3G network, you’re probably much better off just hanging on to your current iPhone.

Here’s a link to the story: leave some nice feedback if you feel so inclined.

Trib Blogger: iBlog, therefore I don’t have to double-source

In his “iPhone, Therefore I Blog,” er…blog, The Chicago Tribune’s Scott (hmm, his last name doesn’t seem to appear on his own blog post) reports the earth-shattering, riot-inciting news that AT&T will require current iPhone owners to hand over their old phones in order to get a 3G version.

Naturally, Scott (and his commenters) are up in arms. “To be told that I need to turn it in to qualify for my next iPhone,” writes Scott, “is a slap in the face that hurts more than a strong San Francisco wind on the Golden Gate Bridge.” (I’ve never been slapped by Golden Gate wind, but from Scott’s description, I infer that it hurts quite a bit. Wait, maybe not, since Scott also describes the situation as “almost hurtful,” so perhaps the wind on the bridge isn’t so strong after all. I’ll admit to being a little confused on this point.)

Luckily, it is clear that Scott is a journalist so, as he is quick to assure us, “I definitely didn’t misunderstand in this case.” OK, that makes it seem like he has a history of misunderstanding in other cases, but let’s forge on. He “finished an exchange with an AT&T spokesperson,” he tells us. See? As a professional journalist, Scott waited until the exchange was finished before reporting on it. I suppose he could have checked with a second AT&T spokesperson (we could call that something like “verifying through multiple sources” if we were so inclined), but he was probably coming up on deadline or something. And I’m sure this spokesperson was emailing Scott through his official att.com corporate account, so why assume his or her story needed checking, right?

Anyway, Scott (and his commenters) are righteously indignant about the sleazy underhanded tactics AT&T is using to steal our full-priced, un-subsidized iPhones from us. Scott bravely advises all his readers to make sure to let “anyone who doesn’t read this blog” to know about this “breaking news story,” regardless of the hoardes of page views it may inflict on his blog (and its advertisers). Now that’s selflessness.

Oops. In navigating my way to the blog’s home page in search of Scott’s last name (Kleinberg, it turns out), I discovered that Scott has exhibited another mark of the true journalist: follow through. In his third posting on the topic (the second having been posted on the bus on the way to work — what a trouper, that Scott!) he explains that “whew!!” (both friendly lowercase and two exclamation points — Scott knows how to connect with his readers!) “False alarm.”

It seems that Scott’s trusted (but solitary) source was wrong after all, in spite of Scott having both “checked and rechecked.”

It’s only folks who buy their iPhone after May 27th who have to turn in their iPhones, and that because AT&T will give them a brand new iPhone 3G. Wow, we can all share a good laugh at that one!

Naturally, Scott doesn’t included the update in his original post where it might disrupt the flow of his prose (or educate his readers). He writes a new post where far fewer people are likely to be bothered by having to read a correction (journalists hate those.) Unfortunately for Scott, it looks like some cranky editor (journalists hate them, too) has made him add the update to the original post. Sorry, Scott.

And finally, in what appears to be his very own catch-phrase signoff (another sign of a professional journalist), Scott tells us all: “Thanks for calling.”

No, Scott — thank you!

First indication that ‘Snow Leopard’ will be Intel-only?

Apple’s been mum about the rumors that the next version of Mac OS X — Snow Leopard — will not support PowerPC machines, but the webpage describing the new OS may hold a clue:

Snow Leopard dramatically reduces the footprint of Mac OS X, making it even more efficient for users, and giving them back valuable hard drive space for their music and photos.

Taking all that PowerPC code out of your OS would certainly go a long way towards reducing its footprint now, wouldn’t it?

The best thing about the WWDC Keynote: I still like my iPhone

Maybe the application demos dragged on a little longer than they could have, but there was a lot to like about yesterday’s WWDC Keynote: the iPhone 2.0 software looks great, from third-party apps to MobileMe support to improvements in iCal; and the new iPhone 3G is impressive, too. As Apple says (and this is the talking point from the keynote): the new iPhone offers twice the speed at half the price. Now priced lower than many other smartphones, I think this will open the floodgates: the iPhone is about to become a mass consumer device.

What I liked best about the announcements, though, is that I walked away from the keynote still loving my iPhone 1.0. Unlike the updates that came shortly after I bought my first iPod, I will get all the benefits and new features of the new operating system, third-party apps and all. My iPhone won’t get 3G, but I’m really fine with EDGE–and I’m not entirely sure I’d be willing to pay $30 a month to get 3G anyway. And while I still think it’s a typo, Apple’s webpage explaining the 2.0 software upgrade to existing Mac users seems to indicate that we’ll get true GPS, too. Is there a hidden GPS chip already in older iPhones just waiting for a firmware update to wake it up? I doubt it, but either way it’s alright with me. While it would be nice to have real GPS, Apple’s location system using cell towers and WiFi routers works really well in my experience.

So Apple has (finally) managed to introduce a really impressive upgrade that doesn’t leave existing customers–the early adapters–behind. We can cheer right along with those who haven’t jumped on the bandwagon yet. Our iPhones may not be the latest and greatest anymore, but they’re still far from obsolete, and the iPhone platform still doesn’t discriminate.

Notes on .Mac to MobileMe transition

Apple has posted a FAQs page on its transition from .Mac to the new MobileMe service it announced at WWDC. I’ll just cover a few of the more burning questions I’ve seen.

  • .Mac to MobileMe transitions are automatic; the subscriber does not have to do anything to activate MobileMe
  • Storage space, which recently increased for .Mac subscribers, is being doubled: Individual subscriptions go from 10GB to 20GB; family packs now get 40GB–20 for the main account and 5GB for each sub-account.
  • You can keep your current mac.com address. You will also get a new me.com address with the same username, e.g., if your .Mac address is jdoe@mac.com, you will also get jdoe@me.com–that’s a pretty cool address, in my opinion.
  • If you have .Mac home pages or galleries, their current URLs will still work. They will also be accessible in a me.com version of the URL.
  • You can use either your mac.com or me.com screen name in iChat (or AOL, I presume). However, if you cancel your me.com subscription, only the mac.com screen name will work.
  • Some .Mac features are being discontinued: Web access to bookmarks (bookmark sync between your Macs and/or PCs is still supported), iCards, .Mac slides, and support for Mac OS X 10.3 Panther sync.

iPhone 2.0, 3G announced at WWDC; both due early July

iPhone 3GFor those of you who weren’t reading the liveblogging of Apple’s WWDC Keynote, the company unveiled both its new software and hardware for the iPhone.

iPhone 2.0–the next-generation of the mobile device’s operating system, will be available in “early July,” the company announced. The new phone itself got a more specific due date: July 11th. The new OS will allow third-developer applications and will be supported by a revamped and re-branded dot-Mac service dubbed “MobileMe,” and will support “always on” wireless updating of contacts, email, calendars, etc. (I may have missed it, but I don’t recall hearing that syncing to-do lists were supported.)

One the hardware side, the new iPhone 3G will feature faster 3G networking, built-in GPS and a lower price: $199 for the 8GB model and $299 for 16 gigs.

More details are available at news sites including Macworld. Apple’s own site had not been updated as of this posting.

Only briefly mentioned was the next version of the Macintosh operating system, referred to as “Snow Leopard.” Apple CEO Steve Jobs said more details would come in an afternoon session, presumably covered under the conference’s No-Disclosure Agreement (NDA).

[UPDATE: Andy Ihnatko made a great observation: Apple’s webpage describing the 2.0 software update for existing (i.e., non-3G) iPhones specifically mentions the addition of GPS. As Andy says: “Signif(icant), or typo?”]

Under the wire: WWDC speculation on MacJury

MacJury 807The latest installment of MacJury went live on Friday. In it, host Chuck Joiner and a panel including Jean MacDonald of SmileOnMyMac, John Moltz of Crazy Apple Rumors and Macworld, Jeff Gamet of The Mac Observer and yours truly pontificate about what we expect to see and what we’d like to see announced at this year’s WWDC Keynote (scheduled for today as I write this).

It’s a show with a short shelf life, but in my opinion one of the most fun segments of the series so far. I mean where else will you hear ponies and pink MacBook Pros thrown out as possibilities for a Steve Jobs keynote?

If you’d like to give it a quick listen before the keynote, you’ve got just enough time to download it and hear it before Jobs take the stage. Even more fun, though, might be to listen to it after the announcements and see just how far off base we were.

My thanks to Chuck and the whole panel for making this show so much fun. You can subscribe to the show via iTunes or listen to the show directly from the MacJury website here.

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