All the World’s a Stage

Now that Osama Bin Laden has been snuffed out, you can be sure that just about every major video game franchise out there set in modern-day war zones will have offer some sort of reenactment of the the event.

I know it’s wrong, but what will that be teaching us? I play a lot of video games, and the militaristic, “Nuke ’em all!” sentiment that video games can generate is very subtle and incredibly powerful. The problem is, we don’t know the effects that these mass-media and major cultural events will have on future generations. The difference between this and something like Grand Theft Auto (as the poster child of video game extremism) is that we, as a society, condone killing in a militaristic and highly organized fashion. We tell people it’s OK to put on a uniform and kill people, that holding a gun and putting bullets into “terrorists” is a good thing, as long as the “terrorists” are wearing turbans and the settings are all in dusty hamlets with Arabic-sounding names.

It’s not. I’m not sure how I feel about the possibility of this type of stuff getting into peoples’ heads as “awesome.”


Mixed Messages

CHART OF THE DAY: Surprise! Microsoft Has Sold 3 Times As Many Windows 7 Licenses As All Apple Products Combined.

Apple’s humongous success has made it the most valuable tech company in the world. The market value of the former tech alpha dog, Microsoft, meanwhile, has shriveled.
But let’s keep things in perspective!

For all of its mind-blowing success, sales of Apple’s computing products are still just a fraction of Microsoft’s Windows 7 licenses.

As you can see in the chart below, since Microsoft launched Windows 7, Apple has sold ~150 million iPhones, iPads, iPod Touches, and Macs. Microsoft, meanwhile, has sold ~350 million Windows 7 licenses.

Let’s think about this. On the one hand, this chart asserts that Microsoft is a powerhouse in the desktop computing space. There’s no question there. What this chart also says, however, is that mobile OS products (like iOS) are becoming powerful in their own right. I would venture that iOS adoption will continue to rise as Apple integrates the powerful OS into their primary computer line. People will like it more, and businesses will begin to see incredible value in an easy-to-use, bulletproof OS for their road warriors.

Let’s see where this chart is in five years.


This is the End

YouTube – Live.

Cutting the cord is now becoming a reality.  Netflix is producing a TV show, YouTube is going live, and what do you want to bet that Hulu follows suit within the next two months?  This trend is not going away, and the corporate maniacs who think that they can control how and when people get access to the media they want to watch or listen to are wrong.

They know it, they can’t fight it, but they will.  In the process, they’ll cause damage to the infrastructure that is actually supporting them right now because of their greed.  They don’t want to actually provide interesting things for people to watch or read, they just want to wrap it in an iron cage so people have to pay through the nose to get it, just like the diamond industry.


In Like a Lion

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One of the most powerful developments in recent years has been the creation of “cloud computing.” Folks familiar with the technology know that it’s essentially doing for your computer what email services like Gmail and Yahoo! have done for your communication–they’ve taken your messages, contacts, and other personal information and stored it on secure servers across the nation to make it easily retrievable in the case of an emergency or hardware failure. Instead of relying on a single storage point (your home PC, for example) to store all of your communication, Google, Yahoo, and dozens of other websites offer to handle of those tasks in exchange for showing you advertising or using some non-identifiable information to craft better algorithms.

For most people, the immediate benefit of these systems was apparent. Access your mail anywhere, store contacts somewhere that won’t be affected in the case of a system crash or loss of a single device (like a phone), and integrate these services with your web browsing. Easy, and powerful. The systems that provided these services long ago have evolved significantly, now allowing entire operating systems to essentially run through your broadband connection, piping only the data necessary for input and allowing massive supercomputers to handle all of the processing.

That all sounds fine and good, but what does it mean for you?

Cloud computing, so named because of its pseudo-omnipresence, changes the role of computers significantly. They no longer exist as a single point of storage for all your information. Instead, the computer is more of a gateway, a portal to your data that is stored in massive servers. One analogy I can draw is that of a dry cleaner. With the old model of computing, it was as though you were standing at the front of a dry cleaning factory trying to look for a specific shirt. You might not even know where the shirt was located, but you’d still have to find it yourself. With the advent of search, that process was trimmed a bit- you tell someone else what to look for and where to look, and they find the shirt.

Now, with cloud computing, we see that yet another layer of interaction is slowly melting away. We’re doing away with the fetching entirely. You don’t even really need to know where you’ve stored your data, you just need to run a search, and you can pull down results from the stuff you have stored locally on your computer as well as the files floating up with the sun and moon. We are no longer limited by how much space is on our devices, how much storage we can buy. The only limiting factor is the infrastructure that connects all these devices together. Some people have asked me, almost accusingly, “Well what happens if the network goes down? What then, huh?”

If the entire United States suddenly experiences a simultaneous and catastrophic shutdown of all of its network infrastructure, we will have much bigger things to worry about than listening to our music or accessing the documents on our cloud folder. That’s akin to asking what would happen if all paper in the United States suddenly caught fire. I don’t want to hypothesize about the events or circumstances that would need to exist in order to facilitate such a terrible reality, but, assuming it was both spontaneous and total, I doubt anyone would be worried about their fourth grade diary.

Digression. Apologies.

In recent news, we’ve heard rumblings of Apple’s new iOS 5 being cloud-based, a total overhaul of the OS. I can’t even begin to fathom what that means. The OS seems just fine as it is, but the cloud is where it’s at these days, and that darn data center that’s been occupying so many of my thoughts and predictions seems like the perfect use of all those massive petaflops (or whatever they use to measure data centers of that magnitude). It all seems to be coming together now.

What we will start to see is more unity across Apple’s various OS products. Remember back in 2005, when Steve was asked what kind of OS the iPhone was running? Does anyone remember his response? Let’s recap, shall we?

Jobs admitted that Apple is a new player in the cell phone business, saying “We’re newcomers. People have forgotten more than we know about this.” Jobs noted that the operating system to run the iPhone — Mac OS X itself — has been in develop for more than a decade (its roots like in NeXT’s Nextstep operating system). Mossberg suggested that the iPhone doesn’t have the entire operating system on it, but Jobs protested.

“Yes it does. The entire OS is gigabytes, but it’s data. We don’t need desktop patterns, sound files. If you take out the data, the OS isn’t that huge. It’s got real OS X, real Safari, real desktop e-mail. And we can take Safari and put a different user interface on it, to work with the multitouch screen. And if you don’t own a browser, you can’t do that,” said Jobs.

This shift is not overnight, and it is not a new direction for Mac OS. Once Apple began work on the iPad, they started planning for this shift, possibly even before that. I seem to remember some folks discussing the origins of the iPhone, how it was actually rooted in an experimental side project that Steve Jobs somehow got a look at and recognized as brilliant, and that said side project was actually more akin to the iPad than the iPhone. At any rate, it looks to me as though Apple has been planning this shift for years, possibly even the better part of a decade. I believe that Apple designed iOS with unification in mind all along, seeing a desire to create a powerful OS for new mobile devices that hadn’t even been developed yet. It seems fairly obvious when you look at their last “Back to the Mac” event, and even more glaringly obvious when you see something like this coming out of Gizmodo.

Adobe demonstrated Photoshop for iPad yesterday. Not a sub-product like Photoshop Express, but the real Photoshop, with a new skin. Sure, it doesn’t have some of the advanced print and web publishing oriented features of the desktop behemoth. But it has everything you need, from layers compositing—including a 3D mode to show people how they work—to what appeared to be non-destructive adjust layers, levels, color controls, and all the features I use every day in the desktop Photoshop. From the little we have seen, the application was fast and smooth.

I believe Apple has succeeded in ushering in a new age already; I can’t wait to see them throw the doors wide open to a future we’ve only dreamed of.


The Sky’s the Limit

Let’s not talk bout how Apple’s stock is falling anymore, mmmmkay?


Apple Stock Takes a Tumble

Amidst growing concerns that Foxconn’s factories won’t be able to keep up with demand, Apple’s stock is dropping rapidly.

A slowdown in Foxconn’s manufacturing may have a negative impact on its future supply of Apple products. According to JMP Securities, “(Foxconn) growth decelerated from 84% (year over year) in the month of December to 37% in January and then again to 26% in February.”

The reasons for this deceleration are not known, but the slowdown is concerning enough that JMP has downgraded its outlook on Apple from “Market Outperform” to “Market Perform.” This unfavorable assessment is not based on the quality of Apple’s products, but on Foxconn’s ability to deliver Apple products in a timely manner.

This comes in the midst of a practically complete and total sellout of Apple’s new iPad 2, which is a follow-up to the most quickly-adopted consumer device ever made, and Barrons’ recent price target update of $450.00.

BTIG Research analyst Walter Piecyk today raised his price target on shares ofApple (AAPL) to $450 from $375, concluding that the iPad will probably generate $24 billion in revenue this calendar year, which is $4 billion more than he’d originally expected, and which, as he puts it, “would represent more than 20% of revenue for a product that is less than two years old.”

I am amazed that the stock is taking a hit amidst the Foxconn news, but I can see why it’s important for the business to actually put product in the hands of folks who want it.  For anyone who’s still on the fence, it’s probably a good time to start.  After all, if you’d have gotten into the game back in 1997, you’d be able to buy lots and lots of iPads. (via)


iPad 2 shipping estimates now three to four weeks, retail availability hit and miss — Engadget

iPad 2 shipping estimates now three to four weeks, retail availability hit and miss — Engadget.

I don’t know of many consumer electronic devices that have had launch day-esque lines continuing days after they’ve launched. Kudos.

I’m still waiting on mine, natch.