(You're reading all posts by Pete Mortensen)
About Pete Mortensen
Pete Mortensen is a design strategist for consulting firm Jump Associates and the co-author of Wired to Care: How Companies Prosper When They Create Widespread Empathy, a book and blog that are significantly more interesting than you might initially think. Pete's particular Apple avocations are both around design--interface and industrial. Follow him on Twitter!
If you’re an iPhone-craving Verizon customer, I have some bad news for you. They’re all gone. In just over 17 hours, Big Red managed to sell out of its complete allocation of CDMA iPhone 4s available ahead of the long-awaited device’s Feb. 10 launch.
This is not to say there won’t be more at Apple and Verizon stores come next Thursday, just that you might find yourself waiting outside at 4am in a blizzard if you didn’t get in on the action today.
What do you reckon? A million sold already?
– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad
The senseless attack on a Tucson, Ariz. political rally for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords two weeks ago has had many secondary effects: a million accusations from both sides of the political aisle accusing the other side of bearing some culpability or seeking some advantage; calls for some measure of weapons control from both the right and left (including by Dick Cheney); and, most signifcantly, eloquent and sincere memorials from across the country.
And, though this is a small thing in the larger scheme of things, I find downright moving the fact that part of Rep. Giffords’s remarkable recovery has been flipping through family photos on an iPad with her husband.That’s a heart-rending scene if I’ve ever heard of one.
It might be sappy to say, but I genuinely feel it’s an endorsement of the view of technology that Apple has been championing from the start. Why should computing be made as simple and intuitive as humanly possible? To let the maximum number of people possible use them.
And that means a public official and wife brutally cut down in broad daylight can touch a magic window and see her family. Technology can’t aspire to higher aims. Our best wishes to Rep. Giffords and the other survivors of the Tucson attack for their continued speedy recoveries.
This past week finally saw the unveiling of Google’s long-awaited Chrome OS. Surprising few to none, the big revelation is that Chrome the browser is actually the entire operating system. Using cloud web applications, it will be possible to run a bunch of desktop-ish apps on a Chrome-based netbook at home, then go to work, fire up Chrome on Mac or Windows on your work laptop, and have the same experience there. Pretty snazzy stuff.
It’s yet another take on what cloud-based consumer computing could be (insert “network computing” if you’d like to relive 1996), an heir to the promise of Java and so many others. And it looks to have some legs, even if we’re still quite some ways from seeing commercially available hardware ready to run on it. Many developers will create apps for the platform, and its write-once, read-anywhere (WOMA!) promise is mighty seductive. It would be very easy to imagine a world in which no one develops for traditional desktop operating systems anymore, except for professional applications like video editing and design work. Sounds like bad news for Apple, right?
Silvio Rizzi had a damn good day. Not only did the Swiss creator of Reeder, the must-have Google Reader, um, reader for iOS, pushed out version 2.2 for iPhone, adding Facebook integration and a one-swipe gesture to send an article to Instapaper, but he also released Reeder for Mac Draft 1, a beta but still extremely polished RSS for everyone’s favorite non-touch OS.
How can you tell when a company is in trouble? When the CEO bashes a rising competitor’s strategy while copying it at the same time. Such is the unfortunate predicament with our friends to the north, Research in Motion, makers of the BlackBerry.
Earlier this week, RIM CEO Jim Balsillie proclaimed that “We believe that you can bring the mobile to the Web but you don’t need to go through some kind of control point of an SDK, and that’s the core part of our message”, effectively declaring that Apple is an enemy of freedom or whatever is regarded to be bad at the moment while making the case for its vaporous PlayBook tablet. At the same time, the company unveiled an ad campaign for BlackBerry as the platform of choice for “Super Apps,” which are, wait for it, applications that bring mobile to the Web through an SDK. Basically, they’re like iPhone apps, but of far lower quality.
There’s a lot to criticize here, but I’d like to focus on the core contradiction at hand. RIM is trying to argue that Apple is bad, because its most exciting functionality isn’t vanilla web pages, while at the same time arguing that the BlackBerry platform is exciting because it has applications that are tightly integrated with the OS. You literally cannot have it both ways. Either Apple has cracked the formula on making mobile computing as capable as desktop computing, or mobile is irrelevant as a platform and a good web browser is all we need.
It seems clear to me that the establishment players in mobile are still in a state of shock at the success of both the App Store and the Android ecosystem. When a platform developer is advertising Flash and Adobe Air compatibility as a point of differentiation (also known as the “Hey! We’re like a Netbook without a keyboard!” argument), they have seriously lost the plot of what makes them competitive. It would be nice to see the iPad get some credible competitors. That won’t happen until someone recognizes that tablets are their own category of computer for which application exclusivity matters. If you don’t believe that, read Robert Scoble’s “data points” post and weep.
On Tuesday, Apple made the addition of the Beatles’ repertoire to iTunes the story of the week (ho-hum though the story was), and this Sunday, the company made the new partnership the centerpiece of every NFL game, flooding the airwaves with multiple ads drawing on still images from the Get Back/Let it Be sessions (and occasional Ed Sullivan performances).
It’s all a bit retro, but there is some kind of nice unifying warmth to the band that made Helvetica rock-and-roll being featured by the company that made Helvetica high-tech.
The ads are nice, though, particularly if you’re enjoying a holiday beverage or two and are feeling nostalgic about the excitement of four friends, a recording studio, and creativity. Take a sip, sit back, and remember that love is all you need.
I have an embarrassing confession to make: I wear out headphones the way most people wear out socks. Whether from Shure, Ultimate Ears, Sony, Koss, or 99-cent Chinatown bootleg, one of the ears won’t be playing sound within the first three months I own them. Fraying cables, rusty headphone jacks from rain, shorted audio drivers from running-induced ear sweat (?!), and many more have kept me from my music collection. I can’t help it; I wear my headphones everywhere. Consequently, I’m increasingly interested in durability as a key design consideration beyond just audio quality and a comfortable fit.
And I might have finally found the ideal iPhone headset for the active, occasionally irresponsible urbanite: V-Moda’s Vibrato headphones.
Previously on Cult of Mac, I decried the growing alarmism of tech punditry regarding Apple’s as-yet-unreleased Mac App Store. GDGT’s Ryan Block citing something about the cloud or something, noted that his pet applications are probably not going to be hosted by the App Store, which therefore means that meaningful innovation in desktop software is impossible. I begged to differ.
But my greater scorn has been reserved for the subject of this post, the Gizmodo commentary “Big Brother Apple and the Death of the Program,” by Matt Buchanan. If you haven’t read it, do yourself a favor and check it out. It’s a doozy of tortuous logic, FUD, and faulty analysis well-worth your time. The following is my rebuttal to several of its most absurd assertions.
I’ve noticed an alarming trend over the five days since Steve Jobs introduced the Mac App Store at Wednesday’s Mac-focused media event. On all sides, the internet is being overrun by otherwise savvy tech pundits who have decided that Apple’s efforts to provide an easy-to-use, accessible, and intuitive marketplace for Mac software is irrelevant at best and, though you didn’t hear it from me, evil, too.
The most alarmist such pieces I have encountered thus far are Ryan Block’s “Will the Mac App Store have enough to sell?” from GDGT, and Matt Buchanan’s “Big Brother Apple and the Death of the Program.” The former, as you might imagine, argues that desktop software is dead, while the latter, predictably, foretells a grim future in which you won’t be able to read these words, and the keyboard I’m typing this post on write now will instead devote itself to composing Jobs-praising hymns.
I don’t often give myself over to Fisking, but I think it only makes sense to deconstruct these pieces by responding to specific arguments within. I am, necessarily, only excerpting from each piece, so I encourage you read them in their entirety — the full context is as ridiculous as the smaller slices. Up first, Ryan Block tells us why your notebook doesn’t have any software on it.
Though much of the buzz in the wake of today’s “Back to the Mac” event has been about the pair of sleek new MacBooks Air that Steve whipped out during one more thing (guilty as charged), the most revolutionary announcement was the Mac App Store. In one slide, Apple flipped the way people buy software for PCs on its head. Big ad budgets will soon be less important than a good relationship with Apple.
There’s a lot to debate about the Mac App Store (which we’ll do from now until a few years after its launch), but I want to touch on something no one is talking about yet: it makes Apple the greenest computer company on the planet.