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Greg’s bite: assorted Apple issues in the news

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By Greg Mills

Let’s check the score on Apple vs Microsoft. The Mac OS is gaining market share, Windows is losing market share. The iPhone is thriving, the Kin has just been killed. The iPad is thriving, the Microsoft slate computer project was killed before it was even launched. Windows mobile platform is losing both market share and manufacturers while the iOS is thriving. The iTunes store and app store are thriving, the Microsoft answer to both is a joke. Apple stock is soaring, the Microsoft market cap is half what it was the day Gates stepped down and turned it over to Ballmer …  sounds like a rout to me on every front.

I read where Steve Jobs has decided the BluRay technology for HDTV is sort of going obsolete and that digital download is the future for video rental and sales. Certainly, the patent licensing issues for Blu-ray devices have hurt its application in both Mac and PC hardware. Blockbuster is in decline, and we know media formats come and go. Jobs and the brain trust at Apple generally get it right about such issues. The problem for many of us is the period of some frustration in the meanwhile, it would be cool to burn movies on Blu-ray.    

My thoughts on the Blu-ray issue are that for consumers to give up a physical copy of a movie or quit renting DVDs from Netflix or waddling into the neighborhood Blockbuster, there needs to be a deep discount that is not there now in digital download content pricing. This is true of magazines, movies, newspapers and music. I noticed “Wired” magazine cut its download price a dollar an issue from $4.95 to $3.95. That is a start and illustrates my point that the market place and economy of scale will drive prices down. The tendency will be for content providers to slowly reduce the price of online magazines, until the price is low enough for people to give up the hard copy.  

I was amused that when Microsoft killed the Kin product, they didn’t also fire the people that designed the Kin. Rather than firing them, they were folded into the Windows Mobile OS 7 project. Microsoft declared the Kin technology innovative? Funny, how the public disagreed in the market place. Doesn’t it just give you goosebumps knowing the great minds behind the Kin are now hard at work on the Windows Mobile 7? I know I feel a whole lot better.  

I am an Extra Class Ham, AB6SF is my call sign. Having a bit of experience with radio wave propagation and the theory behind me,  I think the cool antenna solution in iPhone 4 is just a thin layer of electrical insulation short of brilliant. If I were Steve Jobs I would throw in a free “color of your choice” bumper with each iPhone sold. In volume, they have to cost under a dime to make. Don’t tell people they are holding it wrong! If a person is smart enough to buy an iPhone, willing to pay big bucks and put up with AT&T, let them hold the darn phone any way they like.  Give away the glorified rubber bands! 

As to the “shock” at Apple, that the iPhone OS has been calculating the bars for signal strength wrong all this time, give us a break. We all know that on AT&T’s network you can drop a call with all five bars showing. The signal  strength the phone is seeing and performance you get are not related unless you have no bars — which also happens. With digital radio signals you either have a connection or you don’t.  It was analog radio where you could fade in and out. With a digital connection, it just drops the call.  

It has been noted, that Apple recently put out feelers for engineers with radio and antenna experience. I wonder if heads rolled over this “shock” at Apple. How would you like to be the engineer at Apple who had to explain this issue to Jobs? Keep in mind, the nearly brilliant iPhone 4 antenna design and the incorrect bars showing are not really directly related. The antenna parts being shorted out by the users’ fingers touching the gap is a hardware issue. The wrong bars showing is a software issue. I see both issues being fixed in the short term with a free bumper to protect the gap and a software update to fix the bars, both coming soon.

(Greg Mills is currently a Faux Artist in Kansas City. Formerly a new product R&D man for the paint sundry market, he holds 11 US patents. He’s working on a solar energy startup using a patent pending process of turning waste dual pane glass into thermal solar panels used to heat water. Married, with one daughter still at home, Greg writes for intellectual web sites and Mac related issues. See Greg’s web sites at http://www.gregmills.info . He can be emailed at gregmills@mac.com)

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