It was interesting to see a little while back John Naughton refer to 1984 and Brave New World in the context of Apple and the iPad. I even blogged about it and I’m now wondering if he’d read Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death first. I stumbled upon it as Ken Auletta refers to it in his book Googled in the context of their rather lax attitude to privacy and whether or not we are happy to trade away our data for a subsidised service.
Contrary to common belief even amongst the educated, Huxley and Orwell did not prophesise the same thing. Orwell warns us we will overcome by an externally opposed oppression. But in Huxley’s vision, no big brother is required to to deprive of their autonomy, maturity and history. As he saw it, people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo the capacity to think…Orwell feared those who would deprive is of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much information we would be reduced to passivity and egoism.
Well are we happy for that to happen?
I got to use an iPad yesterday for the first time and I’m now more confused about what it’s for. OK let me clarify. I now want one less than I thought I did. No amount of hyperbole can disguise the fact that it is in fact an oversized iPhone and whereas many journalists and pundits see this as a slight I don’t, it’s the iPad greatest strength but also ironically it’s key flaw.
The form factor is better than I expected and shows Apple’s slavish and justified obsession with design, if everyone else was as fanatical about aesthetics we’d certainly live in a far better looking world but also one where fewer people are prevented rather than enabled by technology. With the OS being a scaled up version of the one millions are familiar with on the iPhone and Touch again Apple seem to have got it about as right as we can justifiably expect. And who can argue with the apparent two million units already shipped, although I wonder how many of these are already existing iPhone, iMac or Macbook owners. Based on the limited and statistically unsupportable straw poll I’ve carried out it’s 100%.
The problem as I see it isn’t the device at all but Cupertino’s approach to what goes on it and how you’re forced into an Apple playground where like Number Six you know something isn’t quite right but not sure what it is. Let’s take the promising Apple iPad Dock Connector to VGA Adapter as an example. Now you could justifiably have concluded as I did that if I was going to do a presentation why not take take an iPad instead. Ah but wait. It doesn’t work like a normal VGA adaptor which simply duplicates the screen onto a larger monitor, it only displays applications or particular content Apple allows to travel down the short £25 white cable. And let’s not get into the vice like grip on the developer community and the control over any content Apple deem unsuitable.
Oh well the £500 I don’t have will now not be spend on the Canon 550D I hadn’t intended of purchasing instead.
With Apple remaining typically tight lipped it hasn’t stopped t’internet getting into a frenzy of speculation and Chinese whispers over the iSlate/iTablet/iHalfwaybetweenaniPhoneandaMacbook. Cupertino course loves it but what ever the eventual product looks like it will either delight or disappoint depending on your view of Apple’s walled garden. That is of course if it exists at all. Richi Jennings does a great round up of current comment and speculation.
Google too are believed are getting in on the ‘tablet’ act using an HTC device unsurprisingly running Google’s upcoming Chrome OS as they too attempt to create a walled garden. The Google approach is an interesting one as it appears benign to the open source crowd but will operate a Google ‘approved’ approach like Apple. At least I suppose Apple are up front about it what is and isn’t verboten…well sort of. Throw in the wonderfully named Nexus One Smartphone from Google, again using on an HTC device, to try and knock some of the shine off iPhone and we have a year which promises much in Walled Garden Wars or WGW as I think I’m going to call it.
Which side of the fence you sit on, if sit on the fence you do in this instance, is I imagine down to which approach you prefer. Apple of course will control the value chain from end to end and charge a premium, Google has to partner with HTC in this case and use both devices to push ads.
Happy New Year!
Love this but not for the reasons you might think. 10 things Linux does better than OS X
It’s the sheer pointlessness of it, you might as well write a piece on “10 things a van does better than an estate car” or “10 things a biro does better than a pencil”. Hang on there’s an idea.
Apple’s iPhone hasn’t quite been the sales success many thought and after a strong run up to Christmas post the festivities it’s declined.
I don’t think the problem is not the device itself, I’ve played with one and was impressed by the form factor and the UI, although I don’t know if some aspects to all that gesturing might begin to be plain annoying after a while. But the real issues are the lack of an out of the box connector for work based email and….the price. All up with the 18 month contract we’re talking a penny short of £900, the handset itself being the fat end of £300, which for a country raised on discounted or free handsets is about as popular as Jade Goody. Prices have already fallen in the US and the 4Gb model has dropped so maybe the UK market reciprocate.
Apple prove once again that when it comes to form they pretty much are the gold standard and the new ultra thin, and I do mean thin, Macbook Air is the latest ‘object of desire’. It’ll sell on looks alone. But like Kate Moss all that thinness comes at a price and I don’t just mean the hole it’ll leave in your credit card, to make it anywhere near useful to most mortals you’ll need a carry a rucksack full of addons. CD Drive, USB Hub, SD/Flash card reader and if you’re a hoarder an external hardisk, Apple do offer a 64Gb Solid State Drive but at over £600 all but the most devote, not to say flush, Apple fanboys and girls will bother. Prices start at about the £1200 mark so add a fair chunk to that to get an Air you’d be happy with….with the SDD it’s an eye watering £2020…give or take.
So who is this the Air aimed at? I don’t think it’s the PC World brigade as Windows laptops can be had for a fraction of the price…OK they aren’t as sexy, there’s an understatement, but they are as functional. I suspect that this will have a bigger impact of those considering a Macbook or at the price a Macbook Pro and that seems a little self defeating as these people were going to buy a Macbook anyway.
Ah sod it…if I had the money I’d have one.
I’ve used OSX on a few occasions and rather liked it, Karen is an ex Mac engineer and I rather also have a fondness for the Apple esthetic. As I recently purchased an HP Pavilion for Karen and replaced the old home PC with a Shuttle box destined to be a server at some point I’m not sure the ‘Gadget Police’ would let me sneak a new Mac into the house.
Another alternative that presents itself is running OSX on the Shuttle and why not after all OSX runs happily enough on Intel powered Macs, so why not Intel powered PCs? Of course I’m not the first to think of this as many pondered the possibility as soon as Mr Jobs realised Intel wasn’t so bad after all. Of course it’s not quiet that simple as Apple’s licensing agreement doesn’t allow OSX to be run on hardware they don’t own, they make money on the hardware after all, but that of course hasn’t stopped people trying. It is of course a hack as the Trusted Platform Module prevents OSX installing without one so unless you’re OK with this idea you’ve hit a brick wall.
Actually there is an alternative. If BootCamp allows you to run Windows on a Mac why not an emulator/virtual machine for other way around? It seems PearPC could offer a solution.
Still it seems a lot of effort just to run Garageband!!!
Nothing like a bit of flame bait to get the blogsphere talking, especially if it contains the word Microsoft, and at first glance it’s difficult to see Paul Graham’s piece as anything else. You might as well claim IBM is dead or Oracle or BT, so you’d be forgiven for thinking ‘dead’ in the Y Generation’s dictionary actually means ‘trendy’ or ‘ not Web 2.0 bubble approved’. Despite the provocative headline claiming ‘Microsoft is Dead’ it wasn’t actually not what Paul was saying, surprise, surprise, but that startups and VCs not longer have to include MS in their thinking. In fact so misconstrued does Paul feel that he’s felt the need to pen/type a second piece to clarify his position.
Fellow ‘Softie Steve Clayton has blogged already about this and I have a few ideas of my own although some do concur with Steve’s.
I agree about Google, they are a tough competitor and lead the way with search no question. Microsoft has a lot of catching up to do.
The server vs client app question has been around the block more than once, I was at Lotus when IBM spend a huge amount of money developing and pushing Network Computing with eSuite (anyone remember that?) but no one was convinced and many still aren’t. Steve mentioned security and connectivity as two reasons for server side apps not cutting it and I’d like to add two more, trust and privacy.
Broadband isn’t broad enough for many applications or reliable or ubiquitous enough. One day…maybe…and for the foreseeable future the ability to do stuff disconnected from the Internet is a given, nay a blessing.
Jeff Ventura agrees with Paul Graham’s assertion that Apple, particularly OSX, has been key in ‘the downfall’ and this is where I think both are flat wrong. You’d have to be a fan of Columbian Marching Powder to think that OSX’s 4% marketshare vs Windows 96% marks some kind victory for Cupertino, in fact many of the Apple Acolytes don’t want OSX to become more popular because it’ll make it a target for hackers (oh yes it will) and nothing destroys the cache of being a member of a tight knit community than going mainstream. Also Apple’s turn around is due to the iPod not OSX and the truth that dare not speak it’s name is that Windows is the most popular OS to plug an iPod into not OSX.