CNNMoney has hit out at Apple by saying that it should momentarily forget about its position as an acclaimed product manufacturer and instead “focus on its mediocre software.”
While acknowledging that Apple builds some of the most coveted laptops, tablets, and smartphones around, writer Adrian Covert nevertheless singled out the company’s suite of software applications as the “one dark cloud” which looms over Apple. Although apps like iPhoto, Pages, iCal and Mail are functional enough, Covert claims, better alternatives exist, while iTunes and defunct social network Ping are varying degrees of broken.
Updates on the French and German versions of Amazon.com suggest a new, replacement Apple TV coming the day after this week’s Apple announcement – just in time for Christmas.
The prospect of a shiny new Apple TV product makes everyone think of a radical new Apple TV box with crazy new user interface options, or an actual Apple TV set, both of which people have been predicting for years.
And then that Scrooge MG Siegler comes along to say he’s hearing that the Big Apple TV Update has been delayed, and that maybe there will be a minor update to the existing product.
Whether something grander has been delayed or not, I think TV will be the most interesting product at the Tuesday announcement — not because of hardware, but because of a new software interface and new deals I think Apple will announce.
Apple was found guilty in July of conspiring with publishers to fix the price of eBooks. As punishment, Apple must delete existing contracts with publishers and negotiate new ones, one at a time to avoid new conspiracy. The government is also pushing for Apple to let Amazon and others sell their books from Apple’s iPhones and iPads.
The whole story is framed like this: Apple and publishers are the bad guys, conspiring against victim Amazon to screw readers out of reasonably priced eBooks. So government, the hero, steps in and sets it right. Everyone lives happily every after.
It sounds like a bad fairy tale. Unfortunately, the true story that nobody is telling is actually something of a Shakespearean tragedy.
Here’s the true and tragic story of how Apple ended up helping Amazon become the Mother of All Monopolies.
Apple was caught last year selling Apple Certified refurbished hardware on eBay using the pseudonym Refurbished-Outlet. Allegedly.
The prices and details of these products were generally the same as refurbished products sold on the apple.com site. The products come with a one-year warranty and mobile devices contain a new battery.
But this week it emerged that Apple is lowering the prices on eBay, sometimes by quite a bit. For example, Apple normally charges $999 for a refurbed MacBook Air with 128 GB. But that same system with the same Apple inspection and one-year warranty went on sale in the eBay store for $899. Prices on other hardware products were slashed similarly.
(In addition, we learned, the company as been apparently working with “power sellers” on eBay to sell Apple hardware. For example, until they ran out of the 500 units put up for sale of 13-inch MacBook Pros selling for $999. These are new devices, not refurbished, and Apple is probably using the “channel” to clear out inventory.)
It seems to me that Apple is working behind the scenes to experiment with different models for selling refurbished and excess inventory. I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple was also trying other channels for doing the same thing that we don’t know about. And I also wouldn’t be surprised if refurbished gadgets vanished from the Apple site altogether, and for those items to be sold in the darker alleys of the Internet (like eBay) exclusively instead.
But I think there’s a ginormous opportunity here for embracing “used” in a big way — and it’s something only Apple could pull off.
Apple’s current “hobby” — also known as Apple TV — doesn’t tell us much about Apple’s future plans for the living room.
It’s a good product under the right circumstances. But five years from now, living rooms are going to be transformed by all-encompassing systems that turn TVs into video phones, gaming systems, home automation control centers and artificial intelligence assistants.
Does Apple have what it takes to compete in the living room?
Steve Jobs was a Buddhist, a religion founded on the concept of the impermanence of all things.
And everything is impermanent. Especially Apple products.
A lot of users complain about Apple’s everything-is-temporary philosophy. But I think Apple will increasingly embrace it — and even launch a social network whose main feature is the deletion of your posts.
Your MacBook Air might be the fastest, lightest, portable-est Mac you ever owned, but it is likely also one of the most storage-deficient Macs you have ever owned, in modern times at least. That will all be solved when bus-powered Thunderbolt drives start to show up, but in the meantime, take a look at Western Digital’s new 2TB My Passport USB drives.
Like an ugly duckling transforming into a beautiful swan, VLC 2.0 for Mac also comes in black. Image Felix Kühne/Flickr
VLC, the cross-platform play-everything-and-we-mean-everything video client is about to go 2.0 on the Mac. And amongst all the new features is one very welcome change: A completely re-designed interface that makes it look a lot more at home on Apple hardware than the open-source v1.x ever did.