You Just Knew Someone Would Make A Mac Photo App To Do What We All Do Already, Right?

Guess what? Celebrity autographs are obsolete. Says who? None other than celebrity Taylor Swift, now a Wall Street Journal Columnist.

I haven’t been asked for an autograph since the invention of the iPhone with a front-facing camera

Why not? Autographs are obsolete. How so? They’re replaced by the ‘selfie.’

Disclosure: I own every Taylor Swift album. I have attended a number of Taylor Swift concerts. I secretly long to be tall, slender, beautiful and a musician and singer.

Otherwise, Swift’s analysis is spot on. Selfies are the new autograph. Autographs can be had from almost any celebrity with a quick visit to eBay. A selfie of you and a celebrity won’t have any eBay value at all.

So, what took Mac app developers so long to come up with a Mac photo enhancement app called Selfie? Well, Selfie is here, it’s fun and it’s only 99-cents.

All Selfie does to capitalize on the name and the trend is to add dozens of cute effects to your photos. Drag and drop photos, use the slider bar to select the effect, done.

Selfie Controls

Selfie can use the Mac’s built-in iSight camera, too, but works easily with drag and drop. Need a caption? Selfie can add that, too. Type in the caption, select the font, use a slider bar for the font size, change the color. Save.

What makes Selfie different that any other Mac app which adds a few dozen effects? Not much, hence the price is not much.

The built-in effects are not much, either, but Selfie is fast and easy.

More Selfie

Granted, Selfie is an extra step before uploading a photo to Instagram or Flickr or Twitter, but it’s easy and cheap. The weakness is that Selfie relies on the most basic of photo enhancements, but it’s more than usable considering the 99-cent price tag.

iPhone 6 Pre-orders

That didn’t take long. Zach Epstein:

More than two dozen sellers have taken to Alibaba’s Taobao marketplace in an effort to capitalize on the incredible amount of hype surrounding Apple’s upcoming iPhone 6. The phone is expected to be the first iPhone to feature a significantly larger display… sellers are offering to assist customers in purchasing Apple’s new iPhone 6 once it launches by obtaining phones from the United States and Hong Kong. There is no guarantee that phones will be delivered to customers in a timely fashion following the iPhone 6’s launch, however, and required deposits range from $80 to nearly $1,300

Apple is doomed.

iPad Savior: IBM

Apple’s iPad has strong but declining sales. Why? CEO Tim Cook isn’t worried. Zack Whittaker with more details on the Apple-IBM deal:

Apple currently has iPads in 99 percent of the Fortune 500 companies, including banks, technology companies, and others. But that could mean just one iPad lurking in someone’s cubical. It doesn’t mean anything. The penetration rate, Cook said, is low. It’s just 20 percent. Compare that to its penetration of its Mac line-up in business, which is 60 percent, Apple has some work to do.

I don’t see the IBM deal as a savior to the iPad. Worse, larger screen iPhones might cut into the iPad mini’s sales.

Programmed To Be Happy

Somebody must be the happiest nation on earth. Guess who? Kari Paul on a DNA study covering over 130 countries:

Researchers at the University of Warwick’s Centre for Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy wanted to find out why countries such as Denmark and the Netherlands regularly outrank similar high-GDP European countries in happiness. They found three kinds of evidence suggesting high levels of life satisfaction may not be entirely due to standard of living, but rather to genetics.

It’s in the genes. If you’re not happy, blame your parents.

The Free Alternative To Amazon’s $10 Kindle Unlimited ‘Netflix For Books’ Service

New technology is determined to be valuable based upon simple math. Take the new Vessyl electronic cup. This $99 techno-wizardry is a drinking cup loaded with sophisticated sensors that can tell you what you’re drinking, including contents, calories, and even caffeine amounts. I think of it as Google Glass for healthy nerds.

Similarly, there’s Amazon’s new “Netflix for Books” service, inappropriately titled Kindle Unlimited, a $9.99-per month service that lets you read any or all of over 600,000 books from the massive Kindle library. If you buy a book a month, and the book is on the Amazon Kindle Unlimited’s limited list of books then the math could work for you.

Or, you could save $120 a year and get a public library card.

Everything I can see about Kindle Unlimited tells me it is indeed limited. Even if you could read all 600,000 or so books in a month, that’s all you can read, so, you know– limited. 600,000 books is limited (though, to be fair, far more books than most public libraries).

There’s also the convenience of having the electronic books downloaded to your Kindle reading device, smartphone or tablet so you can take them wherever you go to read them whenever you want. Just like books checked out from the public library.

In essence, Kindle Unlimited is a public library with a subscription price tag. You don’t own the books. You rent the books. For a month. For $9.99. For all the books you can read, provided they’re in the Kindle Unlimited library. Which is limited.

What’s the catch?

As it turns out, there are plenty of catches to Kindle Unlimited. Other than it’s really limited in scope. From what I can see none of the five largest book publishers in the U.S. allow there books in the Kindle Unlimited library, so, right away, more limits on Unlimited.

You may find a book by a favorite author listed in Kindle Unlimited but not necessarily your favorite book by the same author. Amazon isn’t the first book distributor to enter the monthly subscription fee for books, either. Scribd is another one, it’s $8.99 a month, comes with a free trial but has less than 500,000 books available.

Here’s the deal.

Kindle Unlimited, Scrib, and others subscription services offer limited selection and plenty of convenience for the monthly fee. You won’t have to drive to a public library, search through rows of shelves to find a book or two you may want to read (then return the book after it’s been read). Most public libraries are free, of course, and offer other services in exchange for your time and tax dollars, but you won’t shell out as much as you would for a subscription service.

Still, Kindle Unlimited is merely another take on the growing trend of subscription services for media. That’s the Netflix model. Limited selection of movies, one monthly fee. Ditto for music subscription services such as Spotify, Rdio, and Google Play Music All Access (the name just rolls of the tongue, doesn’t it?).

In a way, book, music, and streaming movies and TV shows are much like the cable TV model we all use but hate. One monthly fee, access to everything. Everything? Everything that’s available for the monthly fee.

All of these services are limited in scope. Just as Amazon Unlimited limits you only to the books they can provide, cable TV and music subscription services offer access to limited TV shows and music.

What we want, of course, is full access to everything for an affordable monthly fee. Nobody does that. Yet.

Now What?

Microsoft announced that 18,000 employees would lose their jobs in the largest corporate restructuring ever for the Windows maker. Now what?

Gene Steinberg:

Microsoft has made a move that may seem perfectly logical to the bean counters who look at dollars and cents and efficiencies. It may well be that it was truly necessarily to cut 18,000 people from the payroll to get the company moving forward again. But if this decision is to make sense, it would have to be followed by a clear and cogent plan to set things right. Indeed, the one would hope that, if Microsoft can fix the damage caused by years of wrong decisions, maybe there will be a place for some of those who are now losing their jobs to return to the company.

So, what’s next? No one at Microsoft is saying, and I suspect that no one knows.

Samsung Executives Return Bonuses (kind of)

Samsung has missed revenue and profit projections for three straight quarters, thanks to intense competition in the smartphone and tablet industry, especially at the low end of the spectrum. ZDnet says smartphone executives have returned 25-percent of their achievement bonuses.

Bonuses given semi-annually by Samsung to departments or divisions within the company that reach their targets or perform outstandingly. They are graded as either A, B, C or D. Those who are judged in the A grade can receive up to 100 percent of their monthly base pay as bonuses.

Mobile division executives were graded A for their first half performances but volunteered to downgrade them to B and receive only 75 percent of their initial incentives.

I wonder how many Microsoft executives returned a portion of their bonuses?

Missing From The Apple-IBM Deal

The match between two giants which seems to be made in heaven is missing something. So says Frederic Paul:

There’s one critical piece missing from the deal that may tend to undercut the deal’s importance for both Apple and Microsoft. The deal is all about iOS, it makes no mention of the Mac, even as Apple’s traditional computing platform makes inroads into the corporate market… Blackberry is fading fast, Android is still up and coming, and Windows Phone hasn’t caught on in big numbers. So while the IBM deal should help Apple maintain its mobile dominance in the enterprise, it’s not going to open up a brand new market.

Interestingly, the iPod’s halo effect brought new customers (from Windows PCs) to the Mac. The iPhone’s halo effect brought new customers (from Windows PCs) to the Mac. The same halo effect will bring the Mac deeper into the enterprise.

Why? How?

The Mac works seamlessly with iPhones and iPads and that fact won’t go unnoticed in the era of BYOD.

Android’s Biggest Challenges

Nice list from Adrian Kinglsey-Hughes on the massive problems facing Google’s Android project.

Things might seem rosy in the Android camp. After all, it commands some three quarters of the global shipment market share, and Google is seeing some 1.5 million new devices activated daily.

All seems good, right? Maybe not.

Scratch beneath the surface a little and you start realizing that there are some huge challenges facing the platform, and if left unchecked will weaken the operating system’s grip down the line.

So, what are these problems?

Heavy reliance on Samsung to do the hard part of selling devices

Spoiler Alert!

  • Fragmentation – too many old versions of Android in the wild
  • Forked Android – about half the Android ecosystem
  • Enterprise Lost – no traction with businesses
  • Users – customers don’t want to spend money

Slaughter At Microsoft

You knew the train wreck was coming as soon as Microsoft bought Nokia. Polly Mosendz on the what may come to be known as the ‘Slaughter At Microsoft.’

Microsoft will actually be firing 18,000 employees. That’s exactly 14.16 percent of its global staff of 127,104. This is three times larger than their previous largest job cut, and very far out of the norm. Microsoft usually cuts several hundred people at once, not several thousand.

12,500 of the employees are in the Nokia division. What’s sad about this is that the employees suffer for management’s misdeeds. Former CEO Steve Ballmer walked away with billions while letting Microsoft rot on the vine.

Free Macs, iPhones, And iPads?

Which company makes the most money manufacturing personal computers, smartphones, and tablets? It’s not Samsung. It’s not Microsoft. It’s not Google. It’s not any of the Chinese hardware and gadget makers.

It’s Apple.

How is it that Apple has become the most profitable company on planet earth? Because Apple quelled the 30 year old debate and decided that Apple was a hardware company and not a software company. pay for the hardware. Get the software for free.

That business model is diametrically opposite the industry trend which is moving rapidly to a point where much hardware and software will be free. Most Google applications are free. Many smartphones are available for free or a few dollars. Decent tablets and Windows PC notebooks are a few hundred dollars and the trend is downward.

How is it possible for an industry to survive when there are free Android-based smartphones, and free Chrome-based notebooks? They’re not free yet, but the prices go ever lower because of Google’s business model.

To Google, the commodity is hardware. The company makes money by providing free apps on low priced hardware, culls the user for information, and sells the data to advertisers. Similarly, Amazon makes money by selling content which resides on notebooks, smartphones, and tablets, so hardware is priced accordingly. Amazon sells content to users. That’s where the profit lies.

It’s not a stretch to think that both Google and Amazon could be giving away hardware within a few years, fully subsidized by advertising sales, and media content sales. Think about it. Free hardware (PCs, smartphones, tablets). Free software (at least, all the basic apps most of us use or need).

Though Apple remains clearly the most profitable PC, smartphone, and tablet maker, how can the company survive when what Apple sells is given away practically for free elsewhere?

The key to understanding Apple’s precarious position and ability to not only survive, but prosper, lies in one word.

Differentiation.

Windows and Mac computers do far more for users than any Google Chromebook, regardless of price. Apple’s iPhone and iPads are the industry standard bearers among smartphones and tablets– in hardware, in software, and in customer usage. As long as Apple can continue to differentiate product capabilities and delight customers, the company will prosper, even while much of the rest of the PC, smartphone, and tablet industry goes completely communist.

Communist?

Communism (from Latin communis – common, universal) is a socioeconomic system structured upon common ownership of the means of production and characterized by the absence of classes, money, and the state; as well as a social, political and economic ideology and movement that aims to establish this social order.

What Google proposes with a model of free software and free hardware, in exchange for free applications and the loss of privacy and personal information, seems to border on communism to me. Free hardware and software means common usage, where every user has access only to the same apps running on similar hardware, all to the benefit of the state (Google).

What I don’t understand about this scenario is why Google isn’t as popular in Communist China as it is elsewhere in the world. Oh, wait. It’s no longer Communist China. It’s capitalism China. That’s why the Chinese love Apple products.

Apple And IBM: 3 Losers

Bloomberg has details on Apple and IBM’s new corporate business alliance:

The deal unveiled yesterday gives Apple access to an IBM sales force that will recommend Apple’s devices to customers in industries such as health care and banking, which have never been priorities for the consumer-focused iPhone maker. IBM gets a boost in a long-running effort to sell software and services to companies seeking to manage workers’ smartphones and tablets.

The big losers? Google’s Android, Samsung smartphones, and to a lesser degree, Microsoft.

Comcast Is Hotel California

One way to prevent the loss of paying customers is to never let them leave. Brad Reed on America’s Worst Company, with this exchange to former customer Ryan Block:

“Why don’t you want the faster speed? Help me understand why you don’t want faster Internet.”
“We are the No. 1 provider of Internet and TV service in the entire country. Why is it that you’re not wanting to have the No. 1 rated Internet service, the No. 1 rated TV service available?”
“I’m just trying to figure out what it is about Comcast service that you don’t want to keep?”
“For nine years, you’ve been a Comcast customer… all of a sudden you’re moving and you want to change?”“So you’re not interested in the fastest Internet in the country? Why not?”

Because love means you never have to say you’re sorry.

Rose McGowan Looks Like Michael Jackson

I couldn’t help myself. Charmer Rose McGowan went all ape$#@& after posting a photo on Instagram and a reader said “You look like Michael Jackson.” McGowan:

Has anyone stopped to think that Michael Jackson used to be black, and tried to turn himself into a white, possibly Irish person with a cleft chin and a tiny nose? I was born Irish. So f–k off losers

She does look like Michael Jackson.

Privacy And Security: Apple, Take Off The Kid Gloves

It’s time for Apple to step up and call it as it is. Beyond the smartphones and tablets we all love and use; beyond the apps and which platform is best for whom and why, beyond the competition between Apple and Google, there are the two major issues of our time.

Privacy and security.

Apple has moved itself to the correct side of both issues. How so? The company doesn’t make a living by tracking and selling user data. And, across the board, OS X and iOS devices are more secure for average users than Windows or Android (save your outrage for another time; this is based on the number of malware apps available and running on each platform; Apple wins).

So, why doesn’t Apple blow the horn louder on privacy? Customers using Macs, iPhones, and iPads are not tracked for profit as much as those who use Windows PCs or Android smartphones and tablets.

And, why doesn’t Apple blow the horn louder on security? Customers are safer using Macs, iPhones, and iPads than people who use Windows PCs or Android smartphones and tablets.

Every now and then Apple will rise up from the slumber of disinterest differentiation and point out the obvious. Steve Jobs did it by bashing Adobe’s Flash back in 2010. Apple CEO Tim Cook did it recently when he pointed out to app developers that Android fragmentation is a “toxic hell stew of vulnerabilities” (a quote from Adrian Kingsley-Hughes).

More recently, Chinese Central Television said Apple’s location tracking features represents a threat to state secrets. Apple fired back and pointed out that Apple doesn’t collect or use personal data, unlike Google which makes a living doing just that.

These are mere tepid examples of blowing the horn of differentiation. What is Apple afraid of?

Is Apple afraid Google will remove their apps from the App Store? Apple doesn’t make any money on Google apps, but Google does. Why not run advertisements that point out all the malware on Android devices? Why not run TV commercials that point out how Google gives users free apps and cheap phones so they can track their personal lives and information (ostensibly to make a buck, and turn over to the government)?

These are black and white issues yet Apple does not have a loud and public voice. Come on, Apple. Take off the kid gloves and pound Google’s cocky public face into the ground.

What can Google do? Deny that Android has more malware than iOS? Deny that they give away free apps so they can track user data and sell it to make a profit?

Come on, Apple. Take a few swings. Make Steve Jobs proud.

Another Shakeup At Microsoft

There’s a sure sign things are not working at a company when one shakeup is followed by another which is followed by yet another. Tom Warren on yet another shakeup on the way at Microsoft:

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella sent a broad email to all employees today outlining the company’s ambitions for the new financial year. Top of the agenda is reshaping what the “core” of Microsoft is, and Nadella admits the devices and services description, introduced by former CEO Steve Ballmer, was helpful, but that “we now need to hone in on our unique strategy.” That unique strategy is a Microsoft that’s focused on mobile and cloud

Microsoft has had almost zero success diversifying the company away from the cash cows Windows and Office, now on the endangered species list thanks to what Apple has done to the mobile device world.

Now Aereo Is A Cable Company

Richard Lawler:

Despite Aereo’s best efforts, the Supreme Court decided that its service was too much like cable TV and therefore its unlicensed streaming of TV broadcasts were illegal. Now, after putting its service on pause, Aereo has filed a letter with the US District Court saying that since the Court said it’s like a cable system, it is entitled to the same statutory license that cable companies pay broadcasters.

Just what cable TV needs. Competition from anywhere and everywhere.

10 Ways Marriage Can Bring Out the Worst in You

As one who is getting ready to tie the knot I’m collecting these items. From Jenna Birch:

Remember the early days of your relationship, where things felt easy and exciting? After the post-wedding glow, no matter how much you care for your spouse, married life can become a breeding ground for lazy behavior and troubling habits

What happens?

  • You lose your friends
  • You fight dirty
  • You withhold
  • You let yourself go
  • You stop flirting with each other
  • You don’t respect each other
  • You stop singing his/her praises
  • You expect too much
  • You don’t ask for what you need
  • You become a control freak

Lot’s of ‘you’ in the list.

Color Me A Little Paranoid But An Apple Wearable Device With Sensors Should Scare You

Guess what? Apple has big plans for a wearable device that is loaded with biometric sensors, location sensors, motion sensors; sensors upon sensors. Whether this device is called iWatch or not doesn’t really matter. I’m more concerned about what the device senses and what it does with the data.

Paranoid much, Kate? Yeah, a little. But the fear is growing. Here’s why.

It’s one thing to have a wearable device loaded with sensors that tells time, alerts us to email and texts, tracks our walks, and notifies us when we’re breathing too hard or sweating too much, but it’s something else again when all that collected data can be used against us; either at the mall, or in a court of law.

First, think about the Apple ‘cool factor‘ as it applies to you. A wearable device that acts like an extension of your iPhone; with a touch screen for notifications, built-in sensors to monitor heart rate, sweat, and the usual array of goodies; pedometer, accelerometer, thermometer, proximity sensor, and blah blah blah.

Cool, right?

Second, think of what all that data can do if someone else has access to it. Not only is it possible the NSA or advertisers (as if there’s much difference) will know where you live, but where you are at any moment during the day– and they will know what your hand is doing (maybe even determine your signature from the hand motion), what happens to your heart rate when you view something on TV, who is nearby and talking to you, what you ate for breakfast, what direction you’re traveling, what clothes you’re wearing.

Hey, if Amazon’s new Fire Phone can sense a gazillion products and sounds nearby and report that information back to Amazon World Domination Headquarters™, then Apple can shove similar functionality into a device attached to your wrist, and make it so cool you’ll be proud to wear it to bed during sex just to see how well you performed against the national average. Or, your neighbors.

It isn’t just the individual sensors that have me worried. A motion sensor can be a handy way to measure how far you’ve walked. But when a dozen sensors are combined and the data collected is combined and attached to your personal profile, what happens? They say that ‘knowledge is power’ and if someone else or something else is gaining knowledge about you, then isn’t it plausible to assume they’re gaining power over you?

Are You Boneheaded?

If you don’t run antivirus apps on your Mac then you’re boneheaded. So says Adrian Kingsley-Hughes:

In fact, choosing not to run antivirus on a Mac is a boneheaded move that people choose to make based on nothing more than fanboy idealism, and has no place in the real world. Doubly so if your Mac undertakes BYOD duties.

Why, pray tell?

If you believe that your operating system is secure, you’re deluding yourself. And if you try to tell others that your operating system of choice is better than someone else’s, you’re trying to delude others and don’t be surprised if people think you’re foolish.

Kingsley-Hughes isn’t even an employee of an antivirus software company. Right?

iPhone 6, Made In China By A Robot

Reilly Dowd on one way to beat poor labor conditions in the Chinese factories that make Apple’s iPhone:

Foxconn parent company Hon Hai is set to deploy an army of 10,000 assembly-line robots to help meet the demands of producing the highly anticipated iPhone 6.

No surprise there but I am curious when we can expect robots to replace our politicians. If corporations can be people, then why can’t robots run for office? Skynet aside, could they be any worse?

iPhone 6 To Cannibalize iPad mini

Yours truly on Mac360 writing on how the large screen iPhone 6 (I think it will be called ‘iPhone Air’) will cannibalize the iPad mini, but Apple doesn’t care.

What I see taking place is obvious. Many of us have an iPhone, a Mac, and an iPad, either Air-class or iPad mini.

That’s three devices. Apple is happy when we buy three devices. The company makes plenty of money from repeat business.

The problem here is that Apple is a little late to the large screen smartphone party, and the purported 5.5-inch iPhone Air could easily negate the need for a customer to buy an iPad mini also.

That’s product cannibalization, Apple style.

Indeed. Apple is fearless.

Suing For Sleeping

You can’t make up this stuff. Mike Oz:

Andrew Rector, 26, fell asleep during the April 13 game between the Yankees and the rival Boston Red Sox. It was nationally televised on ESPN, and Rector was noticed by cameras and talked about by commentators John Kruk and Dan Shulman… People on the Internet made fun of Rector (shocking, right?) and now he’s filed a defamation lawsuit against the Yankees, MLB, ESPN, Kruk and Shulman. Rector is seeking $10 million in damages after the “unending verbal crusade.”

Shocking.

On The iPhone 6 And iPhone Screen Sizes

You know what’s interesting about all the rumors on the iPhone 6? Two important aspects haven’t received much publicity? Across the board, the Apple blogosphere predicts two screen models for the iPhone 6: a 4.7-inch model, and a 5.5-inch phablet-like model.

That Apple needs to have more iPhone models and larger screens is a given. One way competitors could differentiate their anemic products from Apple’s iPhone was with larger screens with over-saturated colors. Look at the Samsung Galaxy S5 and you’ll see what I mean. As usual, Apple is late to the large screen party.

What seems to be missing from the blogosphere’s rumor mills, which always work overtime in the months preceding a new iPhone launch, is the iPhone’s name, and the screen resolution.

On Screens And Resolutions

What we’re not nearing from anyone is the screen resolutions for the iPhone 6 and how Apple will solve the resolution hole they dug themselves into by not having a resolution independence built in to the iPhone in the first place.

Here’s what I think will happen. Ultra Retina. Or, put another way, quad-pixel resolution. Apple may have figured out a way to keep good battery life while pushing four times the number of pixels to the screen.

That may work great for a 4.7-inch display, one which is nominally larger than the current 4-inch display on an iPhone 5s, but what will the resolution be and how will that look on a gargantuan iPhone 6 with a 5.5-inch display?

Also not discussed much in the blogosphere is what will happen to the 4-inch iPhone model? After all, the iPhone 5s, with a 4-inch screen, is the world’s most popular smartphone. Will Apple ditch the 4-inch model in favor of the 4.7-inch? Or, will Apple manufacture three models? 4-inch, 4.7-inch, and 5.5-inch?

On iPhone Names

The original iPhone was just an iPhone, and it took a few years for Apple to settle into the current numeric naming scheme. iPhone 3S to iPhone 4. Then iPhone 4s. Then iPhone 5. Then iPhone 5s (and 5c).

We’re expecting an iPhone 6, right? But with two to three iPhone models, how will Apple differentiate them? iPhone mini for the 4-inch model? iPhone 6 for the 4.7-inch model? iPhone Air for the larger 5.5-inch model?

Clearly Apple does not want to continue with a numbering scheme indefinitely, right? Think of how cumbersome it is to say iPhone 11s. Or, iPhone 17c. There’s precedent for eliminating a numbering naming scheme, too. There’s no number used to differentiate models on the iPad, iPod, Mac mini, MacBook line, Mac Pro, or iMac models.

How about MacBook Air, iPad Air, and now iPhone Air? Fair enough, but note that the MacBook Air is the low end of the Mac notebook line, while the iPad Air is the high end of the iPad line. Let’s face it. Apple has a naming scheme problem to overcome with iPhone 6.