(You're reading all posts by 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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Don’t look now, but here comes India.
While everyone obsessed yesterday over Apple finally launching on the world’s largest carrier, China Mobile — and the Chinese market in general — smart companies are starting to focus on the smartphone market of the future: India.
The country’s 1.2 plus billion people are kinda hard to ignore. Also: India is so much more than the “other China” when you dig into the details of that smartphone market. Everything about India is an opportunity for smartphone companies and providers of mobile anything. And the major companies are each taking radically different approaches.
I think Apple’s strategy is the best one, and I’ll tell you why.
Apple products are usually over-hyped. But there’s one that’s radically under-hyped: Apple’s iBeacon positioning system.
So I’m here to turn up the noise on this quiet revolution. You really need to know more about this, because it’s going to change everything.
Apple acquired today a one-man startup called SnappyLabs for an undisclosed amount.
The startup makes just one product: A 99-cent iPhone app called SnappyCam.
Apple hasn’t said why they acquired SnappyLabs, and probably won’t say. But such an acquisition would make sense as both an aqui-hire of founder and sole employee John Papandriopoulos (pictured), who has a PhD in electrical engineering, and also an IP purchase of the amazing thing that Papandriopoulos built.
Here’s what Apple bought and why it makes perfect sense that they bought it.
Apple is increasingly shipping hardware products with specific features that are crazy overkill — far more power than is necessary or even usable.
Here’s why I think that when it comes to some technology features, too much is just right.
Apple, Google and Microsoft all want to be your phone company. But with both competitors’ communication offerings in disarray, Apple has an opportunity to offer the best, most elegant and integrated communication platform.
All they have to do is keep moving in their current direction, make a couple of key rumors come true and keep Steve Jobs’ promise about FaceTime.
Car makers next year will begin selling vehicles that support Apple’s new system for connecting iPhones to the in-car entertainment systems built into the dash.
Nice, but it doesn’t go far enough. Here’s why Apple should start building the in-car entertainment systems themselves.
The new system, called iBeacon, is a low cost, low-energy way to achieve actionable “indoor GPS” in which “beacons” use Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) signals to figure out exactly where you are and send messages relevant to that specific location.
I’ve written before that Apple’s larger iBeacon plan is brilliant, and it is.
But Apple Stores are probably the least-compelling iBeacon scenario I can think of.
Your typical Apple store is a glass box, a single room with a door in the front, a Genius Bar in the back and tables and shelves in the middle. It’s impossible to get lost in a regular Apple Store and trivially easy for customers to find any of the tiny number of products for sale. Also: Apple doesn’t do in-store promotional discounts except for one day a year (Black Friday).
Right now, you participate in the Apple Store iBeacon system by launching the Apple Store app (which I imagine most iPhone owners don’t know exists) and changing your iPhone’s settings to use iBeacon (which most iPhone owners don’t know how to do) and granting permission to get in-store promotions (which most iPhone owners probably have no interest in).
Once all that happens, iBeacon interrupts you to nag you about trading in your old iPhone, and offers help like Microsoft’s Clippy when you’re looking at a specific section of the store: “I see you are looking at iPads? Would you like to know more about the iPad?” (I made up the wording, but the intent of some iBeacon messages is identical to that.)
As a result, iBeacon in Apple Stores mostly annoys. I can think of a hundred scenarios where iBeacon could be incredibly great. But the greatest of these: My house.
Apple agreed this week to buy Israel-based PrimeSense for $350 million.
Does this mean Apple plans to make its own Kinect? Maybe. But I think Apple may be thinking about something far more interesting.
Yes, Apple maintains a press “blacklist,” a list of people in the media who are shunned and ignored — “punished,” as it were, for “disloyalty.”
“Blacklisted” reporters, editorialists and media personalities are denied access to information, products and events.
Once you’re on the list, it’s almost impossible to get off. (I’ve been on it for more than a decade.)
Here’s what everyone needs to know about Apple’s press “blacklist.”
The smartphone industry is dominated by two companies: Apple and Samsung. Absurdly, Canaccord Genuity recently reported that Apple and Samsung earn 109% of mobile industry profits.
(That impossible percentage results when the losses of competitors are factored in.)
Specifically, the research firm estimates that Apple earns 56% of industry profits and Samsung 53%. (Apple is actually further ahead of Samsung in profits than these numbers show, because some companies count tablet profits and others don’t.)
BlackBerry makes -4% of the profits (that’s negative four percent), Motorola -3%, and Nokia, LG and HTC each had -1%.
They’re weird numbers that don’t add up. But the point is that once again we learn that Apple and Samsung are making nearly all the money, some companies are making zero money and other companies are losing money.
But one of the dominant companies — Samsung — has a creepy approach to business, which is that they steal, cheat and lie apparently because the penalties of being unethical are far less than the rewards.