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Microsoft Laptop Hunter Ads Sans Prices After Apple Complains: So What?

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httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-XOtCFNaNUg

Apple recently complained to Microsoft about its “Laptop Hunter” ad series where pseudo-everyday consumers go on a shopping quest to buy computers on a limited budget.

In what Microsoft Microsoft Chief Operating Officer Kevin Turner called “the greatest single phone call,” Apple lawyers rang up to lament the ads weren’t accurate — since the company shaved prices off Macs, some by as much as $300 hundred dollars, in June.
Microsoft agreed to edit the ads to reflect this.

So what changed in the ad campaign? Not much.

The first edited ad is “Lauren and Sue,” where a mom-and-daughter team are in the market for a computer for under $1,700.

Originally, the ad showed law student Lauren declaring:

“This Mac is $2,000, and that’s before adding anything.”

“Why would you pay twice the price?” asks Lauren’s mom. “I wouldn’t,” says Lauren, who heads to the checkout with a $972 Dell laptop.

In the updated version, the specific price is edited out but Lauren does a drive-by of the Macs, dismissing the MacBook Pro (“this one only has a 250GB hard drive”) before sentencing: “It seems like you’re paying a lot for the brand.”

Microsoft’s Turner told journalists that his company plans to “keep running them and running them and running” the Laptop Hunter ads — and it’s easy to see why. They don’t need specific prices to use the expensive-but-not-really-worth-it Mac argument.

Via Ad Age

Dear Apple: The iPhone Battery Aftermarket Exists for a Reason

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Having now lived with an iPhone 3GS for the better part of three weeks, I remain incredibly impressed with the device. It’s powerful, fast, and running extremely mature software that’s delightfully quirk-free.

That said, it’s also become apparent that if you’re actually interested in using the phone for its intended use (web browsing, e-mail and video), battery life is ridiculously inadequate. In spite of assurances at WWDC, the 3GS only lasts marginally longer than the 3G, and I often need to charge up mid-afternoon to make sure i have decent battery for my train ride home.

Yesterday, things really went out of wack, and I could literally watch my charge diminish by 2 percent per minute when I was doing nothing so much as leaving it on my desk. A restart fixed it, but it was an extreme case of a persistent problem.

I started thinking about all of this thanks to Joel Johnson’s review of the Mophie Juice Pack Air over at BB Gadgets today. I still think having any case would be a downer, but the extra battery power is becoming increasingly necessary to enjoy my long-awaited iPhone in the manner I choose. That said, I can’t really bring myself to by one of those big battery packs that hold four times the charge, or what have you — afraid of losing it.

What’s been your experience? Do you moderate your Flight Control play to preserve your talk time? Or do you sport a bonus battery pack?

3GS Launch Has Apple Way Behind on App Store Approvals

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Hyperwall in WWDC 2009, Live from App Store from Imagebakery on Vimeo.

By all accounts, the iPhone 3GS launch has been a tremendous success for Apple. Despite launching in a down economy, the new model managed to sell as many units in its first weekend as its predecessor with little sign of slowdown. It’s also been an incredibly smooth launch. Though the iPhone 3G launch was marred by product shortages and buggy software, Apple’s kept a steady supply of hardware in the channel, and iPhone OS 3.0 is quite stable for such a new release.

But as effective as Apple has become in managing all of the aspects of the iPhone that it controls (hardware and first-party software), the launch also reveals the challenges the company faces in its efforts to take advantage of a larger network. AT&T’s signal strength continues to be a subject of much heated debate, and more crucially, Apple’s position as minder of a large software platform with thousands of developers looks increasingly untenable.

I don’t need to go into detail about the numerous cracks in the App Store facade of the last year: the baby shaking app, the unapproved porn, the copyright infringement, the excellent apps inexplicably rejected for arbitrary reasons and the apps that never made it out of the approval process one way or another. What I can say is this: the release of the 3GS has inspired a burst of app submissions the likes of which Apple has never seen before. When the App Store first opened a year ago, it had a flurry of submissions, but a smaller pool of developers. This is the first real “event” period since the iPhone dev community has grown, and the submission pool is not unlike the giant hyperwall of apps that dominated the conversation at this year’s WWDC.

A developer friend tells me that a pre-release version of his app was checked off and approved in a week in the period immediately before the 3GS announcement. The final release, submitted the day of the WWDC keynote on June 8, took nearly four weeks to get through the system, and I’m told that Apple has even notified its developer community that all apps are taking between three and four weeks to vet. That means it takes four times as long to get new products to consumers, four times as long to fix bugs, and four times as long to go from finished work to money-making.

If Apple wants to maintain the dominance of the iPhone and the success of the App Store, it needs to find a more effective way to manage the sheer volume of submissions it’s tackling. Too much crud is making it through, and too much brilliant code is sitting on the shelf. The iPhone is by far the best mobile platform today. Unless Apple learns to treat its developers better on the front end (I hear payment works brilliantly), they won’t be loyal when the next Next Big Thing comes around.

Fake Steve Jobs Is Back

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Dan Lyons at a San Francisco book signing in 2007 with tech podcaster Veronica Belmont and Bike Helmet Girl, a recurrent character in the Secret Diary.

Steve Jobs may not be back to work yet, but Fake Steve is.

Fake Steve Jobs (aka Newsweek columnist Dan Lyons) has started blogging again.

Over the weekend, Fake Steve made a series of off-color jokes about Steve Jobs’ recent liver transplant. The posts are classic Fake Steve  — sick, tasteless and LOL funny.

Unfortunately, it may not last.

Safari 4 Tops 11M Downloads, 6M On Windows.

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Safari 4 has several unique features, like full history search with Cover Flow images of sites visited. Image: Apple.

Safari 4 has been downloaded 11 million times is the first three days of release, Apple said in a press release on Friday — and 6 million of those were on Windows. There’s more Windows users running Apple’s  browser than Mac users.

Eleven million downloads in three days is quite impressive, but not a record. In June last year, Mozilla set a Guinness World Record with 8 million downloads of Firefox 3 in one day — the most downloaded software in 24 hours.

Apple claims Safari 4 is the fastest, most innovative browser available (It executes JavaScript nearly 8x faster than IE 8 and loads HTML web pages more than 3x faster than IE 8, Apple claims).

The browser will get better with the release of Snow Leopard in September. Says Apple:

“In Mac OS X Snow Leopard, available later this year, Safari runs as a 64-bit application, boosting the performance of the Nitro JavaScript engine by up to 50 percent. Snow Leopard makes Safari more resistant to crashes by running plug-ins in a separate process, so even if a plug-in crashes, Safari continues to run and the user simply has to reload the affected page. Safari running on Snow Leopard also delivers HTTP streaming, making it easy to deliver high-quality audio and video in industry standard formats from any web server without the need for browser plug-ins.”

Safari 4 was officially launched on Monday at WWDC, but had been widely available for months as a beta.

Apple Confirms: Steve Jobs Back To Work In Weeks

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CC-licensed picture by Marc Amos

It’s official — Steve Jobs will be back to work as planned at the end of June.

Speaking at WWDC, Apple’s top marketing executive, Phil Schiller, reiterated the company’s line that Jobs will be returning to Apple at the end of this month after six month’s medical leave.

“That’s still our statement,” said Schiller, who is Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide product marketing.

As one of Apple’s top executives, Schiller’s word is as good as gospel.

It’s not the first time the company has said Jobs will returning to work in June. At Apple’s annual shareholders’ meeting in late February, the company said he planned to return to work this month.

Meanwhile, Jobs has been deeply involved in the company even while on leave.

“These products have been in development for a while, so of course Steve has been very involved in them all along,” said Schiller. “You could say that Steve has stayed on top of some of the key strategic things at Apple throughout [his leave].”

Jobs unexpectedly took medical leave in January, saying his declining health was “more complex” that previously believed. He said at the time he would be returning in June, but his rapid weight loss in 2008 and various conflicting statements about his health has led many to be pessimistic about his prospects of returning to work.

Link: Daily Telegraph.

New iPhone Specs Support Claims of Faster Performance

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T-Mobile.nl has posted specs for the iPhone 3GS that indicate Apple’s new 16GB and 32GB mobile devices will sport 600 MHz processors and carry 256MB of RAM when they hit the market later this month.

Current iPhones operate with a 412 MHz chip and have but 128 MB of RAM, so it would appear the new models will be equipped to fulfill the promises of a much faster, snappier UI that Apple made in introducing the phones Monday at WWDC in San Francisco.

The company has given developers at WWDC few details about the guts of the new models, but they are believed to run a new PowerVR SGX graphics processing unit which provides support for OpenGL ES 2.0., which is good news for users, though it could cause headaches for developers who want their apps to be backward compatible with original iPhones and 3G models introduced in 2008.

Stay tuned for the inevitable iFixit teardown shortly after the phones are released to find out what’s really underneath that oil-resistant glass.

Latest Snow Leopard and iPhone 3.0 OS (With Tethering) On Bittorrent

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The latest developer build of Snow Leopard and the iPhone 3.0 OS software (which aqllows tethering) are available on the Bittorrent file-sharing network.

Programmers at WWDC got the latest version of Snow Leopard on a DVD, but now the same build (10a380) is available on Bittorrent. The build is 5.84GB and will require a dual layer DVD burner to install. Apple said on Monday the developer build of Snow Leopard is “near complete,” but will likely see extensive changes between now and September, when it will be officially released.

Likewise, the final version of the iPhone 3.0 OS — which will be available officially next week on June 17 — can be downloaded from the file-sharing networks. And for some inexplicable reason, the software supports tethering.

The 3.0 software can be easily installed via iTunes onto an iPhone or iPod touch. However, users have to download the correct version of the software for their device. That is, the firmware for the original iPhone will not work on the iPhone 3G. The 9to5 website says the software may make it harder to unlock the phone’s SIM. In the comments, the site’s readers report no major problems installing or running the software.

“It works fine,” said one commenter. “You can upgrade your current 2.0 firmware in iTunes and not lose any data – all my apps still work perfectly and the phone has been running fine all day (installed last night), snappier than before even. seem to be losing the cool ‘fade’ action you get when quitting an app a lot of the time though.”

Previous developer builds of the 3.0 software have been available on Bittorrent for some time, but installing it required registering the device’s ID through a developer’s account. The latest OS build however does not require device registration, and is said to the same software that will be officially available next week.

To enable tethering, go to Settings > General > Network > Set Up Internet Tethering

NOTE: Only a desperate freak installs dodgy software off the internet onto their cell phone just a week before getting it officially, and for free. Proceed at your own risk.

Twitter On Fire With Anti-AT&T Complaints

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Twitpic by John Atilano

One day after Apple’s triumphant WWDC, angry iPhone users are burning up Twitter with invective aimed at AT&T.

Twitter users are complaining in their thousands about the ways AT&T has dropped the ball: no iPhone 3G S subsidy for current iPhone customers; and no support for important new features like MMS and tethering when the new iPhone launches on June 19.

The #attfail hashtag is attracting many of the complaints about missing features and upgrades, as is the #iphone3gs hashtag, and AT&T’s official corporate account. Hundreds of complaints are being sent directly to the account, and there appears to be no messages at all defending the company.

Meanwile, a pair of Twitter petitions, or “twititions,” are hoping to pressure AT&T and 02, the UK iPhone carrier, to offer “reasonable upgrade prices” for current iPhone 3G customers.

The O2 twitition has attracted about 2,500 signatures by Tuesday afternoon (PST), and the AT&T twitition about 1,500. The AT&T twitition was started later in the day, but both are spreading fast through retweets.

What It Would Really Take For Apple To Crack the Enterprise Market

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Outside of the iPhone brouhaha, much of the buzz at WWDC today has been about whether the system-level support for Microsoft Exchange e-mail and calendaring in OS X Snow Leopard and various encryption options for Mac and iPhone would finally allow Apple to make serious in-roads in corporate America. Well, at least if corporate IT guys will give them a chance, that is.

In spite of Lonnie’s optimism, I think Apple is just as far today from mainstream adoption in big business as it was yesterday and pretty much every day of its entire history. As I’ve written before, the Steves founded Apple in large part because they thought that the IBMs and HPs of the world were holding back the potential of computers to transform our society.

Consequently, the organization’s entire self-image and frame of reference over time has been that big business is all too willing to adopt mediocre technologies based solely on a reputation for reliability. Macs have long provided superior tools for creative endeavors like graphic design and video editing, which is why Macs have a huge niche in corporate marketing departments, but the same can’t be said for other business pursuits.

Apple has a huge opportunity right now to make serious in-roads in the enterprise market while corporations resist upgrading to Windows Vista and don’t yet know whether or not they can trust Windows 7. But Apple won’t make big gains unless they take more drastic measures, three of which I outline below. Bear in mind, I’m not saying this is what Apple should do, just that this is what it would take to succeed in business.

Start making cheap computers with standardized parts.From the early 1990s until the sale to Lenovo, IBM’s ThinkPad line of notebooks defined the look, feel and attitude of computers for business. They were black, rugged, and nearly identical in industrial design. A machine from 1999 looked pretty much the same as one from 2003. Corporate IT managers loved ThinkPads because people generally couldn’t tell if their co-workers had a newer or better machine than theirs — the exterior was always a constant. All that, and frequently replaced parts like batteries and power supplies were common across the decade. If it worked on one, it worked on another.

Recent years have seen the trend that IBM began extrapolated upon in the corporate market. These days, it’s not just that corporations prefer to buy identical machines for employees at all levels — they’ve also chopped their budgets for PCs dramatically while increasing spending on servers and data centers. And that means that low-cost strategy players like Dell and HP are winning with large-screen machines for less than $500 (or significantly less at large volumes). If Apple wants to even think about competing, it would need to get cheap quickly and make compromises that the company has diligently avoided over the years. And do you really think business wants a line-up of laptops without replaceable batteries? Not in this galaxy.