How Apple, Google, Samsung, And Microsoft Differ On ‘Bragging Rights’

Product differentiation is the key to product marketing. Properly differentiated products can separate the successful products from a long list of also-rans. Differentiation also works hand-in-hand with bragging rights.

bragging rights pl. noun
a temporary position of ascendancy in a closely contested rivalry: “he walked off with a guaranteed $25,000 and bragging rights for at least a year.”

Bragging rights are important indicators of differentiation, though often relegated to feature and benefit bullet points. Are there examples of bragging rights related to Apple?

Apple’s iPhone and iPad lines have faster, more capable 64-bit CPUs; other smartphone and tablet manufacturers do not. Apple wins.

Samsung sells the most smartphones and tablets (according to Samsung, who never divulges an official number, and according to various and sundry analysts who merely ‘guess’ at the totals). Samsung wins.

Google’s Android OS is the OS of choice on 80-percent of the world’s smartphones. Google wins.

Microsoft’s Surface tablets-cum-notebooks run Windows apps and Office. Microsoft wins.

Viewed another way, though less meaningful to customers than Apple or the company’s competitors, the iPhone maker walks away with 80-percent of the smartphone and tablet industry profits, leaving competitors to scrap for crumbs and waste precious financial assets subsidizing products that do not make a profit.

One of the key differences between Apple and the few remaining competitors of substance is that Apple does not seem to care as much about traditional bragging rights. Lower price? Apple doesn’t care. Fastest CPU on the market? Apple doesn’t care. Number of CPU cores or GPU cores? Apple doesn’t care. Number of units sold manufactured and stuffed into the distribution channel? Apple doesn’t care.

What Apple often cares about, but not entirely, is a number of basic attributes beneficial to the customer. Features and usability in the latest versions of iOS and OS X, respectively. What the 64-bit CPU in iPhones and iPads can do for apps and games. How Apple’s stores make for a better buying and service environment than competitors.

Apple touts the money it pays to app developers, the number of songs, TV shows, and movies available and downloaded, as well as how clean and green the company’s products are. Apple’s customers are better educated, have more disposable income, and often are concerned about the environment. Apple touts the company’s many green initiatives as a sign of corporate responsibility.

Bragging rights.

Radio stations often brag about being number one, numero uno, and with so many stations in each market serving many different demographics, every station is probably number one in something.

In product marketing, bragging rights are an important part of the product marketing equation. The question that should be asked is, ‘Which bragging rights?‘ They’re not all created equal. Android OS on 80-percent of the world’s smartphones sounds like pure bragging rights? How much of it is really bragging when Google’s Android device makers lose money while a much smaller rival takes the lion’s share of profits, and tops customer satisfaction and loyalty surveys (at least, those not sponsored and paid for by Samsung)?

Chrome Is Everywhere

Quick. Which web browser has the largest share on all major platforms? Microsoft’s Internet Explorer? Mozilla’s Firefox? Apple’s Safari? Google’s Chrome? James Kendrick:

Google has constantly adapted Chrome to be a complete ecosystem that branches across Windows, Macs, Android, and Chromebooks. Chrome keeps the user’s work environment the same across all devices under his or her control. You open up Chrome on any synced device, and everything is the same as it was yesterday, on another device and platform.

Internet Explorer has no presence on mobile devices. Firefox is not on iOS. Safari is not on Android or Windows PCs.

If you want to be cross platform, it’s Chrome or nothing.

Just What Apple Needs

Friend and co-worker Bambi Brannan on Yahoo’s attempts to put a wedge between Apple and Google, and why it’s a good idea (it is).

Google’s advertising business is going downhill. It’s a one trick pony and the pony is wheezing up a fur ball (tail ball?) of financial bad news. Profitable? Yes. Growing? Not so much. Once investors realize that Google hasn’t been able to diversify like Apple, well, let’s just say, the arrows on the charts will be red and pointing toward the shade where Dolly Parton’s toes rest.

Why Apple Is Making A Larger iPhone

Cameron Fuller spills more beans on the pile of spilled beans. Apple will make a larger iPhone this year. Why? Do tell.

Most likely it’s competition that is forcing Tim Cook’s hand.

Duh.

Ultimately, the increase in size most likely comes as a response to flailing market shares for the iPhone and iPad. There is a trending feeling, perhaps because of convenience, perhaps because of necessity, that since smartphones are getting even more capable, there isn’t a need to have a redundancy device like a tablet. Hence the “phablet” market.

I would go for a larger iPhone in a heartbeat. And probably give my iPad mini to a relative. Apple would prefer I own an iPhone, an iPad, and a Mac.

On Smartphones And Tablets: ‘Cheating On The Count’

Despite our addiction to smartphones some of us still listen to the radio. A few weeks ago my favorite New York radio disc jockeys uttered this phrase:

Here’s the 5th of three songs in a row. That’s how we play more music on WKTU. We cheat on the count.

The jock must have been taking a cue from Apple nemesis Samsung. How many smartphones and tablets has Samsung sold? Unfortunately, Samsung has admitted to cooking the books, fudging the numbers, and simply cheating on the count.

For years Apple has divulged, for better or worse, the number of Macs, iPhones, and iPads sold each quarter. Name another manufacturer that does the same thing.

Crickets.

Now we find that whatever numbers Samsung has divulged are likely wrong, the result of a corporate culture riddled with executives who lie, cheat, and steal their way to financial success. Except that Apple’s methodology appears to bring in greater success than Samsung’s methodology.

What else has Samsung lied about? And why are analysts and researchers so quick to accept Samsung’s numbers without verification (especially when Samsung’s executives go to jail for misdeeds)?

Look around. What do you see? iPads. To hear market analysts and researchers tell it, Apple’s iPad marketshare has dropped to the low double digits in the face of an onslaught of Android and Windows tablets.

If so, where are they?

Crickets.

Everywhere you look you’ll see iPads. From time to time you’ll see an occasional Kindle reader (Amazon never announces their own sales numbers), and about as often a non-iPad tablet, but everywhere else it’s iPad, iPad, iPad.

Maybe Samsung truly sells the largest number of tablets, just as they purportedly sell the largest number of smartphones. Only Samsung knows for sure and their numbers cannot be trusted. If that’s the case, what can you believe?

Believe your eyes.

Heartbleed Bug: Android, 90,000,000. Apple, 0

If you haven’t heard the Heartbleed security risk news, then you’ve been traveling abroad. As in Jupiter. Who’s affected the most? People who shop online, have online bank accounts, or log in through standard SSL-enabled websites.

Second on the list? Owners of Android-based smartphones. Jordan Robertson on the problems with Android 4.1.1:

Security researchers said that version of Android is still used in millions of smartphones and tablets, including popular models made by Samsung Electronics Co., HTC Corp. and other manufacturers.

How many smartphones are affected? Google estimates about 10-percent of Android devices are vulnerable.

More than 900 million Android devices have been activated worldwide.

How many Apple iPhones are affected? Zero.

Samsung’s Fingerprint Scanner Hacked, Paypal Accounts At Risk

This is more sensationalistic than worrisome but it points out two obvious issues. Samsung copies Apple. Samsung’s copies are not as good as Apple’s originals. Zach Epstein on the problem with Samsung’s new Galaxy S5 fingerprint scanner.

The good news is that we have spent plenty of time testing it, and we’ve found that it works very well. The bad news, however, is that it has apparently already been hacked, leaving Galaxy S5 owners’ devices and their PayPal accounts at risk.

How?

The fingerprint scanner on Samsung’s Galaxy S5 can easily be spoofed using a lifted print. In mere minutes, the group was able to create a “dummy finger” using an actual fingerprint to gain unauthorized access to the phone.

The same thing happened to Apple’s new Touch ID fingerprint sensor. What’s the difference?

With Apple’s Touch ID system, users are required to input their password one time before using a fingerprint for authentication. The password must be used again once each time the device is rebooted.

iPhone 5S users have one extra layer of security not found in the Galaxy S5.

On Samsung’s Galaxy S5 however, no password is needed to access the device. Even after a reboot, a simple swipe of a finger will unlock the phone. And what could be much more alarming is the fact that, even after a reboot, users don’t need a password to access PayPal and make payments through the app if it has been configured for fingerprint authentication.

Ouch.

Apple’s Future Is Tied Up In One Word

There are two aspects of Apple Inc which set the company apart from competitors. The first is the emotional bond that Apple’s products create with customers. It’s based upon a tight melding of hardware and software which make usability a pleasure rather than a pain.

The second is Apple’s ability to leapfrog competitors and move advanced technology into the mainstream. The large multi-touch screen on the iPhone is a perfect example. All one needs to do to see how Apple moved the industry forward is to look at an Android phone or Samsung phone prior to the iPhone.

So, what’s Apple’s next leap into the future?

You may have heard the speculation about this technology before, but in a word, it’s not Liquidmetal.

Apple invested over $100-million in Liquidmetal technology and doesn’t have much to show for it. Yet. Yes, Apple raced ahead of competition with the 64-bit A7 CPU and 64-bit iOS 7 in the iPhone and iPad. That’s part of the future, yes. If I had to sum up Apple’s future in a single word it would be this one.

Graphene.

Think of graphene as a one-atom thick layer of graphite laid out in an atomic-scale hexagonal pattern. That makes it the strongest man-made material, but also incredibly light and flexible, it conducts heat and electricity, and it can be transparent.

What could Apple do with graphene? Lighter notebooks and mobile devices which would be stronger than anything on the market today come to mind rather quickly, but that’s old school thinking of the smaller, faster, lighter aspects of current products.

What other products could Apple be working on that would benefit from ultra light, amazingly strong and flexible materials? Wearable devices of the iWatch and iGlasses category come to mind, but Apple tends to surprise us with the ability to take technological advancements and bring them to everyday products.

Researchers already are working on batteries with graphene and silicon that could recharge in minutes and last for a week on a single charge. Think of a touchscreen that is so small and light it can roll up or fold up. Unlike other materials, graphene won’t oxidize in water.

Unfortunately for Apple, competitor Samsung is already hard at work on graphene (though, to be fair, so are many others).

That graphene is in Apple’s future will be hard to deny because graphene may be in the future for all of us. The real question is, ‘What will Apple do with graphene?

Heartbleed’s Lesson: Passwords Must Die

The concept is sound, but the devil is in the details. Jason Perlow updates an article from three years ago on why passwords must die.

The Heartbleed bug in the Open Source OpenSSL library has brought renewed attention to the weaknesses of passwords, the mechanism that has been the foundation of computer security for at least 50 years.

It’s how we’ve used computers since the dawn of computers.

Today, as modern computing users, we’re inundated with passwords on all sorts on web and social networking sites. I use GMail, Google+ and all the Google Apps, such as Calendar, Analytics, Docs, et cetera. I use FaceBook. I use LinkedIn. I use Instagram. I use Twitter. I use Flickr.

Jason got hacked.

With all of the strong password precautions I took at the time, I still have no idea how that account was compromised.

Therein lies the danger. We use passwords everywhere; online, apps, Mac, Windows PCs, iDevices. It’s how we use computers.

The point is, it doesn’t matter. If someone like me can get compromised, so can anyone else, especially someone who isn’t keeping track of their online accounts and behavior as much as I do.

Let’s face it — passwords suck. Once someone knows what they are, your security is in a world of poo. I would have used a much stronger term than “poo”, but I’ll let Private Pyle do this for me.

If you don’t mind the extra page read and a few more ads, Jason has the solution. Biometrics. Is there a major tech company using biometrics?

Android: ‘Toxic HellStew Of Vulnerabilities’

You won’t hear Google talk much about malware or Android fragmentation, but both are real and growing problems that don’t really exist on Apple’s devices.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes:

Android itself is a strong operating system, but the way that the platform is delivered to end-users is critically flawed. Rather than taking the iOS approach where updates are sent to users directly, Google chose to adopt a much more convoluted approach.

Critical security and bug fixes are pushed out to the OEMs (cellphone handset makers) who have little incentive to push the update to users. The end result?

Bottom line, unless you buy a smartphone or tablet from Google — and pay the full, unlocked price — then you’re at the mercy of the OEM and carriers. One of the biggest problems with this fragmentation is that a huge number of users – numbering the hundreds of millions –are being left vulnerable to malware and data theft as a result of bugs and vulnerabilities in the code.

To paraphrase Yankee great Yogi Berra, it’s Windows déjà vu all over again.

Small iWatch, Big Price Tag

That’s the analysis from Bambi Brannan on Apple’s highly anticipated iWatch.

Alright, so my prevailing wisdom and a few clever examples dictate that when it comes to Apple, smaller devices come with larger price tags.

If so, how could any bona fide, card-carrying, certified Apple Watcher™ think that Apple’s upcoming, long anticipated, already criticized and doomed iWatch would be anything but vastly more expensive than most watches, and certainly more expensive than the current crop of electronic gizmo gear from Samsung, et al?

Anyone hoping for an iWatch at $199 does not understand how Apple operates. Smaller means more expensive.

How Did Tablets Become So Cheap?

Remember the original iPad from 2010? Everyone knew Apple was going to launch a tablet (it’s just a big iPhone without the phone) months in advance, and pundits expected a sky-high price tag approaching $1,000. Why? Tablets were expensive to make. Big screen. Big battery. Blah, blah, blah.

Then, Apple received Applause when the iPad launched with a $499 price.

In typical Apple fashion, though, extra storage came at a premium so average selling prices were even more than $499. Since then, Apple has introduced newer, faster, lighter, thinner iPads and kept the price in the same range. Even the diminutive iPad mini is a mere quarter pound less weight, and $100 lighter on the pocketbook.

What about the competition?

It doesn’t seem possible that a competitor can make a better tablet and sell it for more, so Apple owns the premium end of the market, therefore, most of the industry’s profits.

What Apple’s competitors have managed to do is make tablets cheaper. And cheap. That appears to be the only way to compete against Apple. Lenovo just launched a budget line of Android tablets with three models, 7-inch, 8-inch, and 10-inches, respectively, priced between $129 and $249.

Is it any wonder that Apple owns the lion’s share of the smartphone and tablet industry’s profits?

How does a company make any money by manufacturing and selling an Android tablet for $129? Well, the answer is obvious. They don’t.

Think about the situation, though. Apple spends a lot of money to develop, update, and distribute iOS for iPhone and iPad. Apple’s own apps are best of breed on each devices. Apple owns and maintains an expensive ecosystem; retail stores, online shopping for apps and media, and, best of all, Apple doesn’t scrimp much on the manufacturing process (aluminum ain’t plastic, folks).

What does Lenovo need to do to compete?

Android OS is free, so Lenovo saves on OS development. Google’s Play app store and media store are free, so Lenovo saves money there, too. Lenovo doesn’t have retail stores (no Genius bar) and no ecosystem to speak of. Finally, Lenovo’s products don’t have the same hardware capability as Apple’s new line of iPads.

Everything about the process of developing and shipping a tablet is less expensive than Apple’s methods, therefore, Lenovo’s prices are much less. And they have to be. Otherwise, what’s the incentive to buy? What’s the incentive to switch from an iPad to a Lenovo Androided plastic tablet?

Android-based tablets, like their Android-based smartphones, outsell Apple’s iPad and iPhone by a large margin. When it comes to marketshare, as always (except iPod), Apple loses. And laughs all the way to the bank.

What Do Amazon Shoppers Think Of Fire TV?

It’s still early in the game but Michael Comeau checked out the reviews for Amazon’s Fire TV (what some are calling Apple TV ‘Plus’). Out of over 1,200 reviews, average score is 3.5 starts. Good, right?

So how does that compare to the competition?

Not so well.

As of 9:26 a.m. ET today, Fire TV was the lowest rated of the four, while Apple TV was the highest. Roku was a close second, with the $29.99 Chromecast in third.

That’s from Amazon’s own customers on Amazon’s site.

Busted Shopping Myths

Great list from Victor Paul Alvarez on the common shopping myths that need busting.

Please step away from that expensive HDMI cable. You don’t need it. A $4 HDMI cable is just as good as the $50 cord some retailers want you to buy.

What else?

  • 4K TVs Are Better Than 1080p TVs (on regular TV and movies)
  • Only Off-Brand Tablets See Discounts
  • 3D Printers Are Notoriously Expensive
  • Plasma TVs Are Dead & Not Worth Your Money (they’re dead)
  • Expensive HDMI Cables Mean Better Image Quality (laughable)
  • Faster Processors Translate to Smoother Performance
  • Apple Products Never See Discounts (maybe at the Apple Store)

What’s Cheaper At Whole Foods

I love shopping at Whole Foods but money is an object for me at the store where money doesn’t seem to be an object for many customers. Gina Briles has a list of what’s cheaper at Whole Foods.

Nicknamed “Whole Paycheck” by snarky shoppers, Whole Foods Market has earned a reputation for unaffordable prices. Although it’s true the health-food giant stocks plenty of high-end goods, many items are actually less expensive than comparable products at a traditional grocery store

What, pray tell?

  • Organic Milk
  • Non-Dairy Milk (is it really ‘milk’?)
  • Shredded Mozzarella
  • Organic Popcorn
  • Organic Frozen Veggies
  • Organic Quinoa
  • Organic Chicken Broth
  • Organic Pasta Sauce
  • Elbow Macaroni
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil

How Apple Disrupted Yet Another Tech Industry

The more I think about it, the more I may understand why Google became so fearful of Apple’s iPhone. First, Apple’s version of the smartphone was leaps and bounds ahead of every other technology then available, so much so that even Google’s Android team had to start over. Google was forced to give away Android for free to smartphone makers to prevent Apple from owning the entire industry (count the profits; Apple is still the dominating force).

Why was Google so afraid? The iPhone was more advanced that other smartphones, yes, but Google’s business– revenue and profits– hinged on search engine advertising on desktops and laptops, and the iPhone is a platform dominated by apps. That left Google’s bread and butter lying on the floor.

More than a few members of the technorati elite claim that Apple should buy Yahoo and get into the search engine business to compete with Google and Microsoft. Why? To what end? What’s in it for Apple? Hasn’t the company disrupted the search engine business enough already?

Google’s search business marketshare is about three times that of second place Microsoft Bing which is nearly double that of third place Yahoo. Google makes a boatload of profits on search engine advertising for traditional desktop and notebook PCs, but not so much on mobile devices. Indeed, the majority of Google’s mobile revenue and profits come from iOS devices.

Why should Apple get into the search business? Search has already been disrupted by a billion or so iPhone, iPad, and Android devices users who don’t use search the traditional way in a web browser. Instead, apps are the way users search and that often bypasses Google’s standard business model.

Is it any wonder that Google gives away Android OS for free to smartphone and tablet manufacturers? How else do you explain Google’s Chrome OS which eats away at the bottom feeder prices of traditional Windows notebooks?

Google is desperate because, and with little fanfare, Apple has disrupted the company’s revenue stream and profits. Apple’s iOS devices are so plentiful in number that if Apple simply built it’s own search engine, by passing a purchase of Yahoo, and made it the default search on all iPhones and iPads, Apple would come close to equaling Microsoft’s Bing marketshare with the next release of iOS.

Should Apple buy or build a search engine? Why? Apple has already disrupted the entire search engine landscape, almost without trying.

Steve Jobs On The ‘Television Problem’

Good roundup of the issues for and against an Apple television. Zachary M. Seward with a quote from Steve Jobs:

It’s not a problem of technology, it’s not a problem of vision, it’s a fundamental go-to-market problem.

There isn’t a cable operator that’s national. There’s a bunch of operators. And it’s not like there’s GSM, where you build a phone and it works in all these other countries. No, every single country has different standards. It’s very Tower of Babble-ish. No, that’s not the right word: balkanized.

I’m sure smarter people than us will figure this out.

So far, no one has figured it out.

Beer You’ve Never Heard Of

Every legal drinking age member of the MacKenzie family loves a good beer, and we have plenty of variety in New York. Here’s a list of beers I’ve never heard of from Joanna Prisco.

  • Anderson Valley Wild Turkey Bourbon Barrel Stout
  • Thirsty Dog Wulver
  • Sierra Nevada/Russian River Brux
  • Goose Island Pepe Nero
  • Caldera Hopportunity Knocks
  • Avery Dugana
  • Dogfish Head Piercing Pilsner
  • Thomas Creek Conduplico Immundus Monachus (Latin for The Double Dirty Monk)
  • Brewery 85 Sweet Tea Sour
  • Quest Kermesse Pumpkin Saison

‘I’ll Believe It When I See It’

Charge your smartphone in 30-seconds? Brad Reed with details on Israeli startup StoreDot:

The charger works by using “‘nanodots’ derived from bio-organic material that, due to their size, have both increased electrode capacitance and electrolyte performance, resulting in batteries that can be fully charged in minutes rather than hours.

The video is impressive.

What’s Amazon’s Answer To Apple TV? An Apple TV Named ‘Fire’

The game of one-upsmanship is what all the big technology companies play these days. Here’s how it works. Apple introduces a new product which combines existing technologies in a new and attractive way (Mac, iPod, iTunes, App Store, iPhone, iPad, etc.). The technorati elite skewer Apple’s new toy as too little, too late, too expensive, too underpowered.

Customers buy Apple’s new toys by the tens of millions, disrupting a few industries along the way. Then, competitors introduce similar products with mildly different specifications and capabilities packaged in a device which looks and works similar to Apple’s products, but at a lower price point.

Enter Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos with his company’s answer to Apple TV (which quietly became a billion-dollar industry last year).

It’s called Fire TV, a flat $99 box that’s the latest answer to Apple’s Apple TV business. Hardware wise Fire is merely an advanced version of Apple TV with the usual and necessary accouterments tech companies need to compete against Apple.

Amazon Fire TV

Fire TV doesn’t have the rounded corner esthetics of Apple TV. The device is larger, comes with a remote control (with a built-in microphone for voice control; a nice touch), an HDMI port, optical audio, and connectors for Ethernet and USB. That’s not much different than the overall design Apple TV which has been around a few years.

Inside Fire, Amazon claims powerful hardware– 2GB RAM, quad-core CPU, dedicated GPU, Wi-Fi, Dolby Digital Plus Surround Sound, 1080p HD video streaming– which, ostensibly, will make content load faster and run smoother, though neither has been much of an issue with my Apple TV.

The key to Fire TV isn’t so much the hardware and Amazon’s shameless copying of Apple’s form factor should indicate that Apple got it right– it’s the software.

Let the latest round of one-upmanship begin.

If Content is King then Fire TV wants to jump far enough ahead of Apple TV that Apple looks like it’s playing catch up.

For instance, Fire TV comes with a 30-day trial of Netflix and Amazon Prime. From then on it’s a who’s who list of streaming services– Amazon MP3, Pandora, iHeartRadio, Hulu Plus, WatchESPN, YouTube and hundreds of thousands of TV shows and movies for rent or purchase.

Wait. There’s more.

Amazon is throwing it’s considerable weight behind Fire TV in an effort to catch up to a market grown to non-hobby status by Apple TV. That means Amazon content– music, movies, TV shows, videos, and something the Apple TV does not have– games.

Well, actually Apple TV has games and probably half a million or so, many of which stream wonderfully through Apple TV to your television via AirPlay.

Fire TV also includes access to Amazon’s Cloud Drive to store photos and videos which can be streamed to your TV through the device. The built-in ASAP technology, Advanced Streaming and Prediction will help to reduce the five or 10 second lag between pressing Play and watching streaming media.

Amazon’s answer to AirPlay is called Second Screen which plays media from smartphone or tablet to Fire TV and your television. Whispersync syncs video and music across all your devices so you can start watching or listening on one and pick up on another.

For now, Fire TV is compelling, with updated hardware, and a long list of content and promotion options which will look more impressive when compared to Apple TV, a form factor which hasn’t seen much love from Apple since 2010.

What’s interesting about Fire TV isn’t that the hardware trumps Apple (tech competitors play one-upmanship on hardware all the time), or comes with a lengthy list of content to match or exceed Apple TV.

Where’s the future? Where’s the next big thing in TV? One could easily argue that Fire TV is merely an updated Apple TV (which itself hasn’t been updated in a few years) so Amazon can take advantage of a billion dollar industry grown to fledgling maturity by Apple.

Amazon’s New Fire TV

Just in time to compete with Apple’s Apple TV, Google’s Chromecast, and Roku is Amazon’s new Fire TV. CEO Jeff Bezos:

Tiny box, huge specs, tons of content, incredible price—people are going to love Fire TV.

Specs include a quad-core CPU, dedicated GPU, Wi-Fi, 2GB RAM, Amazon content by voice search, and an option for Android games. Only $99 with a free 30-day Netflix trial and Amazon Prime.

Still 32-bit, though.

Fantastical For iPad

My favorite iPhone Calendar substitute, now available on the iPad. Fantastical.

Redesigned and reimagined for your iPad with iOS 7. With the convenient Fantastical Dashboard, you’ll add, view, and interact with your events and reminders with ease.

Great for those who find Calendar limiting but need a better screen layout. The only negative is that Fantastical is not a universal iOS app, but rather a separate purchase just for the iPad.

Wife Dies, Husband Wins Lottery Next Day

I’m not sure whether to call this good fortune or bad luck. Susanna Kim:

A California truck driver was hit with tragedy and a windfall in the same weekend when his wife died of a heart attack on March 22 and he won $650,000 from the state lottery the next day.

How much did he win?

McDaniel won $500 per week for 25 years on a $1 “California Lucky for Life” Scratchers ticket.
He opted for the cash option for a lump sum of about $375,000 before taxes.

Lump sum seems like a good idea, considering the circumstances.

OS X And Reminders: Speedy Is Better

To avoid becoming a jaded technorati elite who complains about everything Apple does not do (the way I expect or want), it’s good to recognize that Apple has a wide spectrum of customers. Take OS X’s Reminders app. It’s good for what it does, but there are better options for the more discriminating Mac user.

What would make Reminders for the masses of Apple customers better than it is already?

Speedy Reminder.

Apple’s much neglected Menubar in OS X could use an overhaul because it gets cluttered quickly, but it’s just so darn convenient to use. Always visible, always available in every Mac app, with useful utility just a click away.

Speed Reminder does just one thing. It lets you create reminders for Reminders without having to open and find the built-in Reminders app. Just click on Speedy Reminder in the Menubar, and fill in the details.

Speedy Reminder

You get quick access to create reminders with notes, a title, alarm and due date, recurring capability, and even priority.

Instead of opening Reminders, or keeping it open and switching to it from your current app, Speedy Reminder does it all with a click so you keep your focus on the foremost app on your Mac’s screen.

As it should be, Preferences are nominal, and options are basic and self explanatory.

Speedy Reminder

Speedy Reminder is exactly the kind of utility app which makes using the Mac’s Menubar so great. Unfortunately, it highlights the growing problem with the Menubar. App clutter. It’s easy to collect more Menubar utilities than there is space in the Menubar. Worse, how do you control the apps in the Menubar?

MenuBar ReArranger. This add on utility makes Menubar app management and organization a bit more civilized. At least it does until Apple figures out what a valued resource the Menubar can really be.