Friday, March 30, 2007

Why the iPhone is a safe bet for Apple

Does Apple run a huge risk with the iPhone? It has been pointed out several times just how competitive the cellphone market is, how unfamiliar Apple is with the sector, and how hard it may be for the company to succeed.

It might appear that Apple has sunk tremendous R&D costs into developing the iPhone: it's truly a revolutionary product, with hundreds of patents and breakthrough features. In creating the iPhone, Apple even ported OS X to a different processor, and shoehorned it into a tiny handheld device! And unlike the clumsy mobile version of Windows (whose name is seemingly changed more frequently than Steve Ballmer's underwear), the iPhone OS actually seems like a product that has actually been adapted to the needs of its users.

What if the iPhone fails? Will Apple just write off all the time and money it invested into it? Will all that great technology be thrown out, and will the company sulk back to manufacturing Macs and iPods?

No. First of all, I think the iPhone is very unlikely to fail. I think people want it badly. They can hardly wait to get one. The momentum that has been building up behind the iPhone should be strong enough to guarantee exceptional sales.

But even if initial reaction proves to be less than stellar, Apple can pretty much still fix the product in software: it can add killer features, it can open it up as a development platform, and so on. The possibilities are endless, especially in light of the Cocoa frameworks that enable rapid software development.

But let's imagine the worst-case scenario, a Cube-style disaster. Let's imagine that the iPhone sells so badly that Apple needs to discontinue it. Then what?

Here's what would happen then. Apple's stock would tank. Paul Thurott, Rob Enderle, and that other idiot whose name I forget would celebrate by tap dancing and farting.

And about three seconds later, Apple would release a new generation of the iPod that would make everyone's jaw drop.

It would be the iPhone without the phone. It would play widescreen movies. It would use multi-touch. It would have your photo library on it. You could take notes with it. It would still be a PDA. It would have WiFi, it would have Safari, it would have Google Earth, it would have Skype.

It would do things that AT&T/Cingular would never let the iPhone do. It would have dozens of gigabytes of flash memory. And it would sell below $400.

And this thing would sell like nothing has sold ever before.

How do I know?

Easy. That's because such an iPod is coming anyway. Can you imagine this not happening? Will the iPod forever have a screen the size of a keyhole? Starting June, if you want the best iPod Apple has made, you will have to buy the iPhone. That's yet another way Apple wants to help the sales of the phone. But obviously, that will change eventually: shouldn't the iPod be the best iPod ever made? How long can it afford to be out-iPodded by another product?!

Obviously, Apple's releasing a higher-end product first. If it created a widescreen iPod before the iPhone, the latter would sell worse. So the new iPod will have to wait. How long it will have to wait depends largely on the success of the iPhone, I think.

But I'm convinced that the new, "iPhone without a phone" iPod is already ready, and mass production could start any moment a certain red phone rings.

And of course, now that OS X has been ported to a tiny device, Apple will never be the same company again.

And it's not an isolated phenomenon, either. Apple TV has turned out to be a stripped-down Mac, running Mac OS X, performing a dedicated function. For $300. Am I the only one who thinks that the implications of this are huge?

Apple is taking computing into completely new places. It's porting OS X left, right and center. Who knows what products Apple has in the pipeline?

The iPhone is just a beginning. Sure, it's important for Apple that it succeed. Yet even in the unlikely event that it fails, the technologies behind it are ready to power several other products, including iPods with pretty much guaranteed sales.


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

George Ou: all your gerbils are belong to us

George Ou is a blogger for ZDNet. You may be familiar with the clueless ramblings of this anti-Apple zealot, especialy if you've followed, in an ultimate test of geeky monomania, the story that Crazy Apple Rumors (seriously) covered under the apt title Security Bitch Watch, a sad series of events with so many twists, turns and so much idiocy that it would leave your head spinning, hadn't you fallen asleep about two minutes into it.

In his latest misguided rant, he argues that Apple shouldn't mock Vista's user access control system as annoying and insecure, since the Mac's similar system is even more so: it actually requires you to type your password (so it's more annoying), and requires that pretty rarely (so it's less secure). Touché!

But the true embarrassment arrives in the comments string, where Ou attempts to drive his point home by referring to none other than the infamous Joseph Gerbils.

Joseph Gerbils.

At first I thought I was missing some American cultural reference. But after staring blankly at the screen for about 20 seconds, frowning, and finally saying the name out loud, it dawned upon me that Ou actually meant to say Joseph Goebbels.

The Macalope gently classified this as a typo, but I beg to differ.

This ain't no typo. A typo means that you know how to spell something, but you miss it.

Spelling Goebbels as Gerbils means that you've never seen that name written down. You've only heard it spoken. And you may or may not have a clue who the hell this archvillain actually was.

In any case, you're talking about things you don't know that much about.

Um, when was that other time Ou was talking about stuff he didn't know much about? Was it maybe all the time?

Ou has this to say about the whole fiasco:

If that's how you want to judge me, that's your prerogative. I'm an IT guy; I don't spell German very well especially when I'm posting improvised notes in a comment section. But if that means you won't take my IT advice seriously (or at least objectively), I can only ask you to reconsider. Thanks for the correction.
He doesn't spell German very well.


I didn't know he was trying to spell German there. Good thing he told us. I thought he had what may be called a "brain fart." One of those embarrassing moments when you absent-mindedly do or say something really stupid. A momentary lapse of reason.

But no, this was a real attempt at spelling German. He made an effort, and now thinks, based on the result, that his German spelling skill is "not very good."

Let me help clarify things a little here. If you spell Goebbels as "Göbbels" or "Goebels," we can agree that your German spelling is, no offense, but really "not very good."

However, if you spell it as "Gerbils," you're a jackass. It's hysterical. It's All Your Base caliber. You deserve to be laughed at till the day you die.

George Ou apparently thought that the way to spell a German word was to find the rodent whose name sounds the closest in English.

There's no use in trying to explain it away. Here's my advice to George Ou: quit writing. Now. And hide in a cave.

By the way, "advice" is spelled "Rat" in German. Don't try to pronounce it.

Update: There must have been a horrible misunderstanding. Joseph Gerbils was real. Read the comment below!


Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Quote of the week from Daniel Eran

History reveals that partnering with Microsoft is like accepting a dinner invitation from Hannibal Lecter. One might as well just roll in seasonings and jump in the oven.
Gotta love the man. Great article, too.