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Mike Elgan Mike Elgan writes about technology and culture for a wide variety of publications. Follow Mike on Google+, Facebook and Twitter.

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There’s Just No Getting Around Apple Buying Yahoo

Screen Shot 2014-03-29 at 2.47.31 PM

Apple should buy Yahoo.

This is neither a new idea, nor one acceptable to the Apple fan base. But since people briefly talked about it last year, it’s become an increasingly good idea — maybe a necessary one for Apple’s continued growth and success — and I’m going to tell you why.

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How an Under-Appreciated iOS 7 Feature Will Change the World

firechat

A curious download hit Apple’s app store this week: a messaging app called FireChat.

It’s a new kind of app because it uses an iOS feature unavailable until version 7: the Multipeer Connectivity Framework. The app was developed by the crowdsourced connectivity provider Open Garden and this is their first iOS app.

The Multipeer Connectivity Framework enables users to flexibly use WiFi and Bluetooth peer-to-peer connections to chat and share photos even without an Internet connection. Big deal, right?

But here’s the really big deal — it can enable two users to chat not only without an Internet connection, but also when they are far beyond WiFi and Bluetooth range from each other — connected with a chain of peer-to-peer users between one user and a far-away Internet connection.

It’s called wireless mesh networking. And Apple has mainstreamed it in iOS 7. It’s going to change everything. Here’s why. 

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Why Aren’t People Freaking Out About iBeacon?

ibeacon

The new iOS 7.1, which Apple launched this week, contained massively improved iBeacon functionality.

Among these improvements is that Apple has cancelled an element of user permission. Once you’ve installed a store’s app — say, for example, Apple’s own Apple store app — that store can put messages on your lock screen even if the app isn’t running!

I think it’s a real improvement. But I’m surprised privacy fans aren’t freaking out.

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Corning Is Being ‘Unclear’ About Sapphire iPhones

sapphire

Corning — or at least a representative executive of said company — did its best this week to shatter excitement around Apple’s Sapphire embrace — or, at least, make the benefits of Apple’s glass strategy less clear.

Corning Glass senior vice president Tony Tripeny laid on the FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) pretty thick during a Morgan Stanley conference this week.

Here’s what Corning doesn’t want you to know about sapphire iPhones. 

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Why I Support China’s ‘Scam’ Frankenstein iPhones

refurbiphones

The Telegraph newspaper brought to light this week an apparently widespread practice in China in which broken old iPhones are stripped for parts, and functioning iPhones are built with those parts.

The newspaper called it a “scam,” because the sellers of such phones often lie and say they’re new. And in fact that is a scam.

Our own Buster Heine calls them “Frankenstein iPhones,” and that’s a monstrously good name for it.

But I call the general idea of a large-scale refurb effort one of the best ways to improve the environmental impact of a dangerously irresponsible industry.

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No, Apple Doesn’t Suck At Peddling Ads

iads

A really great article published in Advertising Age this week by data specialist Kate Kaye about Apple and Amazon said (to paraphrase Breaking Bad’s Saul Goodman): “You two suck at peddling ads. Period.”

Well, that’s what Madison Avenue thinks, anyway, according to the piece. Here’s why Madison Avenue is wrong.

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Why Apple Shouldn’t Let Comcast Buy Time Warner

twc

TV sucks.

The reason TV sucks is that the companies who control it make it suck on purpose because they believe that’s more profitable.

It’s technically possible for viewers to watch any TV show, movie or online video ever made at any time at either low or no cost.

This possibility is only theoretical. In reality, certain companies artificially prevent viewers from getting what they want. They create artificial scarcity in order to make more money.

A movie comes out in the theaters. But it’s not available for download. This non-availability has nothing to do with technical reasons. The studios are withholding it from you to make you go to the theater and pay for a ticket.

After it’s gone from theaters, there’s often some amount of time before its available online. And when it is available, you often can’t “rent” it. You can only “buy” it. It’s another form of artificial scarcity designed to trick people who are impatient, designed to exploit fandom, designed to manipulate the public into paying more for something.

And then there’s TV. Ugh! What a cesspool of customer-hating manipulation and exploitation.

There are two kinds of companies in existence. There are companies trying to make money enabling you to watch what you want when you want to watch it. And there are companies trying to make money by preventing you from watching what you want when you want to watch it.

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Why Your Next iPhone Won’t Need a Case

sapphire

Evidence that Apple is going big with sapphire is overwhelming. But the reasons for Apple’s sapphire obsession range from scratch-resistant screens to solar-charging screens.

I have another theory: Apple wants to eliminate both the need and the desire for an iPhone case, cover or sleeve. There’s a lot more to this idea than simple scratch resistance.

Here’s my case for Apple’s case against cases.

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The Super Bowl Kicks Off iBeacon Season

nflibeacon

The Super Bowl is tomorrow, and Apple’s iBeacon will be there. The New York Times reported this week that iPhone owners in East Rutherford, New Jersey (where MetLife Stadium where the Super Bowl is) — and also in some areas of New York City — will be part of an iBeacon-based advertising gimmick. The NFL Mobile app has been iBeacon enabled, and users will get pop up messages with advertising, offers to buy merchandise and information about NFL exhibits. Here’s the best part. When iBeacon detects that you’re in a long line at the game, you’ll get an alert telling you where in the stadium you can buy the same junk food but with shorter lines. 

The use of iBeacon creates a high-visibility showcase for Apple’s new indoor location technology. But the Super Bowl is just one of many splashy applications.

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Apple Is Already Way Ahead In Mobile Payments

thing

Pundits (including me) have been predicting Apple’s entry into the mobile payment space — using a smartphone instead of a credit card to buy stuff in the real world — for years.

It hasn’t been a hard prediction to make. The financial rewards are enormous, and Apple has filed multiple patents around mobile payments over the years.

Now, it’s finally happening. And although Apple hasn’t really started yet, they’re already way, way ahead of just about every other player.

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