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Rumor: Fake Steve = Andy Ihnatko?

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It’s late July. Do you know who Fake Steve is yet? According to buzz on the web today, a new top candidate has emerged as the fake iCEO, and this one’s actually plausible.

Some clever dudes at Sitening created a tracker link to a fairly lame iPhone haiku, trusting that Fake Steve would take the bait. He did, and they traced it to a Boston IP address. That points to Andy Ihnatko so far as the Sitening guys are concerned (and most of the rest of the commenters). It’s also consistent with previous accusations, including one from Fake Steve Ballmer.

What’s my take? Well, it makes sense, if nothing else. I can’t think of many people I would call “Macintosh Humorists,” but Andy is one of them. His old MacWorld columns were a hoot, and I learned many key phrases from him, including “web that smut!”

On the other hand, I don’t actually ever want to know who Fake Steve is – his anonymity makes him powerful, and even leaves open the possibility it’s actually Real Steve (it’s the perfect cover!). Unfortunately, we probably will know, and soon, and the fun will be gone.

This all makes me think of Mac the Knife, the weekly rumor columnist for MacWeek back in the day. No one ever copped to penning the column, which was the best in the business at its time. There’s a prevailing rumor that former editor Matthew Rothenberg was MtK, but it’s never really been proven. And that’s powerful. We’re in a different era now, but it makes me nostalgic for a time when the silent crusader could remain silent.

But Andy, if it’s you? You’ve been doing a great job. Keep up the good work – or get John Mackey to do it for you.

Via Apple 2.0.

Updated: Parallels Posts, Yanks “Get a Mac” Parody

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Update: Ben Rudolph, Parallels’ spokesman, says the ad’s removal is nothing major:

Nah, just testing out some marketing concepts, getting feedback, etc.  Nothing that sordid. :)

Original post: Remember when the Internet was 89 percent “Get a Mac” parodies? You know, back before bad iPhone parodies were in vogue? Well, that era briefly resumed today as Parallels, makers of virtualization app Parallels Desktop, posted their own “I’m a Mac, I’m a PC” commercials. As you might expect, the traditional rivals work together well for the first time ever in the four Parallels parodies.

Then, as suddenly as it arrived, the post vanished. Not only is the official blog linking the files gone, but the videos are clear off of YouTube. You can read the original link at a Google cache, and it’s clear that this was a deliberate PR campaign to start:

Everyone’s seen Apple’s great “I’m a PC. I’m a Mac.” commercials, and you knew it was only a matter of time before we did our own.

We took a different approach than the “official” ads…rather than talking about why PCs and Macs are different and arguing which is better, we decided to show how you can experience the best of both worlds with Parallels Desktop for Mac.

Take a look. They’ll (hopefully) make you laugh:

I’ve written to Parallels to see if Apple is involved with a C&D here. I would be surprised to learn that this isn’t protected as parody – I don’t believe the rules are different if the creator has a commercial interest. Still, a mystery.

Via DownloadSquad.

Brilliant (and fake) iPhone Ad About New York

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Kudos to Alec Sutherland, who has put together the best fake ad for a real product I have ever seen in the form of “iPhone New York,” a brilliant, professional spot that shows people of every language and culture raving about the iPhone. I almost teared up, and I’m all West Coast and stuff. Bonus points for use of “Young Folks” by Peter Bjorn and John, too.

I think Apple’s very demo-oriented “Here’s what it can actually do” campaign is perfect for the iPhone launch, but a treatment like this one could kill for a second phase. They should call Sutherland when the time comes.

Via Digg.

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iPhone in the Wild Spotted On My Commuter Rail

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Of all the weeks to need to drive my car. As widely reported on the Net, most notably at Engadget, we’ve got what looks to be a legit iPhone sighting, courtesy of a snap by Mark Trammell. And not just anywhere, but on Caltrain, the San Francisco to Silicon Valley commuter rail I normally ride twice a day. But this is what happens the second you stop watching for it.
The Boy Genius Report suggests the user in question might actually be Mike Matas, an icon designer. I’m not sure the resemblance is strong enough…

iPhone spotted in public? – Engadget

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Pure Digital Claims it Will Sell Unlocked iPhones

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If you’re among the many people in the United States who either can’t use AT&T/Cingular or choose not to use the carrier’s services based on negative experiences, take heart — there still might be a way to use an iPhone without the company’s blessing. The iPhone ships in four weeks. And though Apple is officially keeping the device exclusive to AT&T for five years, never underestimate the black market for unlocked phones.
According to Ars Technica, Pure Mobile is now claiming it will sell unlocked iPhones for an undisclosed (read: EXORBITANT) rate almost as soon as the devices hit the market. As a T-Mobile user, this is very heartening news, but I can tell you there is no way I’m going to spend $1,000 or more for an iPhone. Maybe when the iPhone nano hits in two years, and someone unlocks that…
Anyone willing to take the unlocked plunge?

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Video Released of Journalist Alan Johnston Alive

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BBC News: “A video has appeared on the internet showing the first pictures of BBC correspondent Alan Johnston since his abduction in Gaza on 12 March.
It is said to have been posted by the Army of Islam, the group that says it is holding the reporter.
In the video, Mr Johnston says he is in good health and that his captors have treated him well.”
This is great news. I hope to God he’s released without harm.

Fact or Fiction: Video Shot on iPhone?

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The next four weeks are going to be crazy. Maybe, once the iPhone is truly released into the wild, hysteria over sightings will recede until that day, however, the Internet is wild with any news of an iPhone in public. I won’t even cover one of the big iPhone stories of the weekend here (a photo of a man who is either holding an iPhone or possibly any other object that fits in the hand is not news), but I am intrigued by this video find.

It purports to be an Apple Store employee sneaking an iPhone onto the floor of the shop, then shooting video of himself being shown on a store iMac’s iSight. It looks pretty real. It could be faked pretty easily, though it would basically have to b e done with another camera phone or pocket video recorder dressed in an iPhone costume. What do you think?

iPhone Camera Video Mirror [YouTube]
Via TUAW

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Mac Mini is Unloved, Not Dead in the Water

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I’m genuinely puzzled by AppleInsider’s melodramatic post pronouncing the death of the Mac mini. The article recounts Apple’s many slights of its lowest-end platform and then proceeds to show know evidence that the line will soon be killed off.

It has seen just four updates since inception, one of which was so insignificant in Apple’s own eyes that the company didn’t even bother to draft a press release. Even now, the current minis’ 1.66GHz and 1.83GHz Core Duo processors are a far cry from the silicon offered in the rest of Apple’s PC offerings.

Well, that’s actually to be expected. And I would say that hardware is significantly better than a lot of low-end PCs from other manufacturers. But that’s neither here nor there. Apple needs the Mac mini just to get people looking for a cheap Mac in the door. The AppleTV might be incredibly popular as a hackable Mac substitute, but that’s not what it is out of the box. Apple still needs a low-end entry, and the Mac mini costs very little to develop and revise. I don’t see Apple just walking away.

And this quote says it all:

Whether Apple will squeeze another revision from the mini, and how long it plans to allow existing models to linger, are both unclear.

Oh, so at some point in the future, possibly after Apple releases new Mac minis, Apple will stop selling the Mac mini. Yep, dead as a doornail. What?

AppleInsider | Closing the book on Apple’s Mac mini

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Are Tech Analysts Ganking Rumors from Prominent Mac Sites?

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MacRumors founder Arnold Kim makes a very interesting point regarding the rumored new MacBook Pros and iMacs that Piper Jaffrey analyst Gene Munster unleashed on an unwitting public yesterday. Like many others, I was fairly impressed that Munster took the trouble to determine the average life cycle of both iMac and MacBook Pro generations.

Well, as it turns out, Munster might not have calculated the numbers himself:

These numbers correlate exactly to the [MacRumors] Buyer’s Guide averages. Some have asked couldn’t he have come up with these numbers on his own? It’s possible, but exceedingly unlikely as he would have had to choose the same releases (2002 PowerBook, 2003 iMac) to start counting in order to achieve the exact same averages.

Kim also implies that Munster’s assumption that Apple will release new Macs at WWDC might be directly drawn from an earlier ThinkSecret report, which makes the reliability of tech analysts’ reports about Macs questionable. Which they absolutely are.

Apple is the rare computer company that won’t play nice and let analysts see their stuff earlier than the general public. There’s no question that most reports or based on assumptions and reading rumor sites. I do question a commenter’s conclusion that any of this is new. From what I can tell, the Mac rumor sites have been ahead of the analysts since the day Steve came back.

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New Macs at WWDC? (Well, Yeah)

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Analyst Gene Munster (not to be confused with Herman) today predicted that Apple will roll out new MacBook Pros and iMacs at the Worldwide Developer Conference in June. That’s not the world’s edgiest guess, given that it’s been almost nine months since either product line was updated. What is rather shocking is Munster’s baffling logic for the update:

Munster added that he “expects” new MacBook Pros (1, 2) to make a
showing at the developer conference and that it’s “also possible” that
Apple will introduce a redesigned iMac. He notes that on average, the
Cupertino-based company has updated its professional notebooks every
182 days, with the most recent generation having launched 209 days ago
(data presumably gathered via help from the MacRumors buyer’s guide).
Similarly, he said, iMacs have traditionally seen updates every 168
days but the current generation is now a whopping 257 days old.

Wow, and I thought it was just that Intel had new processors on the market and Apple’s just about last to roll out hardware sporting the chips. I am mildly interested in the rumor that the iMac would actually be redesigned and not just refreshed. Looking back at it, the timing might be right. The iMac G4 was on the market for about 30 months, and we’re now at 33 months for the iMac G5 enclosure. I think Apple is more than due for a real new design statement on its computers, so this will be one to watch.

Image via Wikipedia
Via Engadget

Hello Again, ‘Hello.’ Apple Leads Ad Revival

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Interesting article in the New York Times today about the resurgence of the world “Hello” as an ad tagline. Apple has a long tradition of using the word dating to the original Mac, so it’s only fitting that they’ve revived it for the iPhone, but this is a bigger trend, as reflected in the creepy “Hello, Delicious” ads for Level Vodka:

“Advertising being an annoying, interruptive medium, ‘Hello’ is kind of
a nice salutation, a friendly way of introducing yourself,” said Lee
Clow, chairman and chief creative officer at the TBWA Worldwide unit of
the Omnicom Group who has long worked for Apple.

That’s one way to view it. You know what I think it is? It’s Thursday, that’s what it is.

Extra Reading, If You’re Bored

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If you’ve ever wondered exactly what I mean when I talk about innovation, feel free to take a gander at my other two blogs, both of which pertain to the subject. This stuff has a huge influence on my thinking about Apple, so it might help you understand where I’m coming from a bit more.

The first blog, Better than New, is one I run with a friend. It’s basically like what we do here, but as it pertains to design, innovation, cultural needs, stuff like that. It’s newer but way more frequently updated.

The second, Pattern Linguist, is a misguided attempt to blog the complete history of the field of innovation as we know it today. It takes a long time to research, and I tend to be thoughtful instead of snarky here. Still, there’s ample fodder at both. Check ’em out!

Whose House? Apple’s House

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I snapped this photo walking home through Union Square the other night. It was a huge Volkswagen outdoor advertisement on a pillar, and someone decided to let the German carmaker know who runs San Francisco. It can only be Apple.

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The Saga of a Fake Apple Internal Memo

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In case you missed it, the full story of how Engadget came to post a fake Apple internal memo announcing delays of the iPhone to October and Leopard to January is now up at the site. It’s pretty a long and pretty involved tale, but the most interesting piece is this: Someone with access to Apple’s internal e-mail systems sent the original memo. Apple sent a second e-mail denying that the first message was real, but it all feels fishy.

After all, we know Apple has started fake rumors in the past just to flush out leakers. Could the Steve now be applying this logic to his own employees?
Regarding yesterday’s Apple news [Engadget]

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John Mayer Betrays Apple with a (BlackBerry) Curve-ball?

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John Mayer never ceases to irritate. Much as I love Steve Jobs and Apple, their insistence on putting the soft-rock crooner on the stage whenever they roll out a new product always grates. At this January’s iPhone introduction, the rumor was that Paul and Ringo would take the stage to kick off Beatles music on the iTunes Store, but we got John Mayer yet again.

And now, to what purports to be his own blog, Mayer has allegedly announced that he has an advance copy of RIM’s BlackBerry Curve, a direct iPhone competitor with a similar feature set, if implemented in a less-exciting way. In Benedict Arnold’s own words:

Just got an advance of the Blackberry Curve… I guess you could say I’m ahead of the… Nevermind.

lights will guide you home…

But never back to Cupertino. Who’s with me? No more Steve-notes for Mr. Mayer?

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Analysis: Wait, Are Sun, Google and Apple Teaming Up or Ready to Kill Each Other?

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Silicon Valley makes no sense. In January, Apple and Google got so close that the rumor mills buzzed with word that they would form an alliance with Sun to take on Microsoft…again. Yesterday, Sun made some pretty big announcements: They rolled out JavaFX development platform, which truly promises to deliver on the dream of “write once, run everywhere” that the company has promised since it launched Java more than a decade ago, and that always means more opportunity for apps to come to the Mac.
On the other hand, they showed off a mobile phone platform that will try to compete with Apple’s iPhone by, you know, LOOKING EXACTLY LIKE AN iPHONE, but across manufacturers and at a cheap price. While I think Apple’s ability to make data syncing a snap is the real competitive advantage of the iPhone and that the company’s implementation of multitouch will be better than anyone else’s, I still think other companies aren’t out for the count yet. Sun might be making the platform for that competition. And the Valley is still buzzing on word that Google might release its own phone. So why are Apple, Google and Sun best buds one moment and worst enemies the next?

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Two Online-Only “Get a Mac” Ads Available — And Bad

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As if to counter the high quality of “Choose a Vista” and the other two official “Get a Mac” ads rolled out yesterday, two rather poor and underdone unreleased ads have trickled to the web. And they’re dire, making lame jokes about drivers and viruses. Let’s just hope these literally came from the cutting-room floor, shall we?

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New ‘Get a Mac’ Ads Mock Vista Again and Again

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The more I try to cantankerously deny my love for Apple’s “Get a Mac” ad campaign, the more they manage to win me over. The best of a new crop posted Monday night is “Choose a Vista,” which features John “PC” Hodgman spinning a game wheel to select a version of Vista. Cries of “Big Operating System! Big Operating System! Daddy needs an upgrade!” Will stay with me for a long time. The other ads, “Genius” and “The Party’s Over” are after the jump.

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Cult of Mac Invades BusinessWeek Innovation Blog

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Apple owns the discourse around design and innovation these days. Everyone wants to be like Steve Jobs, and everyone wants to invent the new iPod. People also want to be Google, but being Google seems to be a lot harder, and the founders aren’t terribly charismatic, so Apple gets a lot more attention regardless.

As a result, and because of the world I live in at my day job, I get into a lot of discussions about the role of design strategy and the value of innovation. Specifically, that understanding what people really need is the best way to create new products, services and businesses that will really connect with people.

All of which is a preface to encourage you to check out a comment of mine that BusinessWeek Innovation honcho Bruce Nussbaum highlighted into a blog post over there. It was at the end of a business day, so I think I might sound a little more snarky than I meant to:

YouTube’s actual future is far from certain, and Second Life will surely be passed by another player, as it superceded The Sims, which superceded a lot of MUDDs and the like. Bill Moggridge even asked, “What is the YouTube of design?”

And I have to say, I don’t particularly care. YouTube, Second Life, Flickr, Vlogs, blogs, they’re all different solutions trying to meet some very core needs of people, whether they know it or not. And needs outlast solutions. I won’t perform a straight-up needs analysis on these sites, but they definitely come from wanting to express oneself creatively, connect with other people, feel famous or even lead a different life, as in the case of Lonely Girl 15 and some others.

By the time we start analyzing a solution, the next way to meet the needs it addresses is already underway. We’re going to miss the most important opportunities unless we see beyond the fun and exciting solution we hold in our hands.

Check it out.

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Speaking about Nike + iPod at Stanford

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I know this is late notice, but I wanted everyone to know that I would be speaking about the Nike + iPod at the Second International Conference on Persuasive Technology April 26 with my Jump colleague Conrad Wai.

Persuasive tech, if you’re scratching your head right now, is any technology that attempts to persuade its user to do something differently. This includes smoking cessation aids, political attitude adjusters, fitness motivators, with the Nike + iPod Sport Kit obviously being the latter.

Conrad and I are putting a stake in the ground: Persuasive Technologies Should Be Boring.

Anyway, I thought you might want to know. We’ll be posting our paper on the subject to the Web in the next few days, so I’ll hook you up when the time comes.

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