It’s The Sensors, Stupid

What’s becoming more clear about Apple’s so-called iWatch, is that it’s not about the watch at all. It’s all about biometric sensors. WSJ:

The new wrist device from Apple will incorporate more than 10 sensors including ones to track health and fitness, these people said. Apple aims to address an overarching criticism of existing smartwatches that they don’t provide functions significantly different from that of a smartphone, said a person familiar with the matter.


The smartwatch will likely come in multiple screen sizes, said one person familiar with the matter. Another person at a component supplier said shipments of the smartwatches are estimated to total between 10 million and 15 million units by the end of this year.


The exact specifications of Apple’s smartwatch are still being finalized before mass production starts, said people familiar with the matter.

Yes, The Wall Street Journal paid someone to write that drivel. Italics are mine. No sources, and no details on what the watch laden with biometric sensors will actually do.

Amazon Fire Phone: It’s Good For Amazon

Quentin Fottrell on the real reason for an Amazon phone:

By creating a mobile wallet smartphone, Amazon hopes to reduce any existing friction to mobile Amazon purchases and further disrupt physical retail sales — a 21st Century equivalent of Amazon’s one-click purchase. And shoppers don’t just go crazy on Amazon when they shop on their devices. Americans spend up to 20% more on their iPads than Android devices, according to a 2012 study by payment processing company Ayden. iPad owners spend $158 per order — the highest of any device — versus $105 by people on other mobile devices.

Amazon, still playing catchup.

Best Pre-flight Speech Ever

Lindsay Putnam with the details and a video from a Southwest Airlines flight attendant (he’s wearing shorts):

That seatbelt needs to be low and tight across your hips just like the hot pink Speedo I’m gonna be wearing when I finally get the three of us to a hotel hot tub tonight


Folks, it’s $2,200 for tampering with the smoke detector in the lavatory, and you know if you had $2,200, you’d be on United Airlines in first class.


For those of you traveling with your children, why? For those of you traveling with two of your children, what in the world were you thinking? But when those masks fall, you’ll want to put the mask on the bright one — that one’s going to contribute to your retirement most successfully.

When is that guy scheduled to be on The Tonight Show?

Apple, Google, Samsung, Microsoft, Amazon And The Death Of Disruptive Innovation

Just in case you haven’t heard, Apple is doomed. Again. Why? How? The company has failed to innovate since co-founder and former CEO Steve Jobs died. There’s just one problem with that meme. It’s wrong.

When it comes to the traditional PC business, Apple’s Mac included, and the nascent smartphone and tablet industry, iPhone and iPad included, there is plenty of innovation. There’s just not much disruptive innovation these days, the likes of which Apple has a long and storied history (Apple II, Mac, Apple Stores, iTunes, iPod, iPhone, App Stores, Apple TV, iPad).

It doesn’t take much to be an innovator in technology these days. Disruptive innovation takes planning, work, luck, and persistence.

For a few examples, consider that Apple disrupted the fragmented portable media industry with the iPod. It further disrupted the smartphone industry with the iPhone. And, then again the struggling tablet industry with the iPad.

Disruptive vs. innovative changes.

What’s an example of the latter? Retina display on iPhone and MacBook Pro. That was an innovation, yes, but hardly an industry disruption. Today, everyone makes Retina-caliber displays.

Here’s another. Remember the MacBook Air with solid state drives? SSDs? Innovative, yes. Disruptive, no. Everyone has SSDs these days.

Apple disrupted the smartphone industry with a large display, icons for apps, a good email and web browser. Years later we see that every smartphone sold today follows Apple’s disruptive lead, but new features on competitors phones do not disrupt. They’re merely another level of basic innovation.

Consider Amazon’s new Fire Phone. It’s a mid-size smartphone at 4.7-inches, Gorilla glass, rubberized frame, and it’s specially tuned to make it easy to shop Amazon and store and use digital content. The 3D-like ‘dynamic perspective‘ display is innovative, yes, but disruptive? No.

While the Fire Phone costs less than an iPhone, it’s not that much less. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos:

Fire Phone puts everything you love about Amazon in the palm of your hand—instant access to Amazon’s vast content ecosystem and exclusive features like the Mayday button

In other words, Fire Phone is a portable portal to Amazon’s online store. And it’s a phone. Amazon sweetens the pot with all sorts of promotional and technological gimmicks to differentiate Fire Phone from Apple’s iPhone and Samsung’s Galaxy line, but in the end it’s a portable portal to Amazon. Buy a Fire Phone and get 12 months of Amazon Prime (normally $99 a year). There’s nothing disruptive about Amazon’s attempt to hold their fragmented ecosystem together.

Every company in the title above does the same thing. Apple’s iPhone killed the iPod business. Google’s Android OS disrupted the smartphone industry. Samsung is the only other smartphone and tablet maker making meaningful profits. Microsoft has stooped to making their own hardware. And, well, there’s Amazon, the giant store in the cloud with a need to keep customers coming back.

Carrying around an Amazon store in your pocket is innovative, yes, but won’t disrupt anyone else’s business.

Amazon: ‘It’s The Ecosystem, Stupid’

Talk about not being able to keep a secret– Amazon announced what everyone expected. A smartphone. The Fire Phone. BGR has photos and details:

The phone looks like any other full touchscreen smartphone, but the handset’s key differentiating features revolve around a unique combination of sensors and four front-facing cameras that track the user’s head in order to facilitate a variety of 3D effects and gesture controls.

There’s the gimmick part of Amazon.

Amazon’s handset is powered by a quad-core 2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor and it features a 4.7-inch 720p HD display that Amazon says is bright enough to be visible in outdoor lighting. It also includes 2GB of RAM, dual stereo speakers, a 13-megapixel rear camera and front-facing camera for video chats.

Who else is better than Amazon at blending high end tech specs and gimmicks? “Is it live or is it Memorex?” Is it 3D, or is it ‘dynamic perspective?’

Amazon’s handset features six individual camera modules in total, which is a first for any smartphone. Four of the camera modules are low-power units that track the user’s head in order to help facilitate the 3D effects and motion gestures that make up the most novel features Amazon’s phone has to offer.

Obviously, there’s the required integration with Amazon’s Prime services, Kindle app to read eBNooks, the nifty Mayday support service, and something that might catch on except that every other smartphone already has it.

Another key feature on the Fire Phone is FireFly, which uses the camera to scan barcodes on products and pull them up in Amazon’s store. FireFly can also listen to music or TV shows using technology similar to Shazam to recognize them and pull them up in Amazon’s digital shop.

Catching up, are we, Amazon?

Lots of cute little gimmicks in Fire Phone but at $199.99 for a 32GB model ($100 more for 64GB) with a two-year contract only on AT&T, the rest of the smartphone industry has little to worry about a disruption from Amazon.

J.Lo’s Trials And Tribulations

Kevin Fallon slicing and dicing the diva.

She’s an actress who hardly acts (apologies to Ice Age: Continental Drift fans). She’s a singer who can’t get people to listen to her songs (did you even know Jennifer Lopez was releasing an album today?). She’s succeeding as a celebrity, sure. That American Idol money is nothing to scoff at, we’re forever obsessed with who she is or isn’t dating, and it’s a pretty big deal to be asked to do the World Cup song, even if it is crap. Plus, we still care about her. (Hello, you’ve read at least this much of an examination of her career.)

Who’s Kevin Fallon?

Dr. Oz, Scolded

Congress loves to grill celebrities. Dr. Oz was the latest. AP on Senator Claire McCaskill’s questioned Oz on his promotion of a magic weight loss cure for every body type:

I get that you do a lot of good on your show, I don’t get why you need to say this stuff because you know it’s not true.

It’s time to drain the swamp, Dr. Oz.

iWatch Is Real

Says who? Apple employees (at least, according to Cherlynn Low):

Apple is expected to unveil a slew of devices later this year in addition to the possible iWatch, including the hotly anticipated iPhone 6. In fact, Apple executive Eddie Cue boasted in late May that the company has the “best product pipeline” in 25 years.

Low produce a great headline combined with four paragraphs of nothing.

iWatch? Apple Television? No. This Is The Product Apple Needs Next

CEO Tim Cook and his executive team continue to say 2014 will be a great year for new products from Apple. Maybe so. After all, who doesn’t want to see Apple disrupt yet another industry with a product category that puts to shame lame efforts from competitors.

Samsung has been copying Apple at the atomic level for a few years and the latest Galaxy tablets are so advanced they’re slightly thinner, slightly lighter, slightly faster than Apple’s iPad mini and iPad Air from last year.

That’s not disruptive innovation, folks?

Neither is bolting on a bucket of features that make Android OS a pain to use. Neither is a Microsoft notebook that can also be a gigantic tablet.

Disruptive innovation from Apple may come in the form of wearable technology devices, or some cool new way Apple re-invents television, or, thanks to the executive team from Beats, saves the music industry. Again. Those are all well and good and somewhat expected, but here’s the product combo Apple needs to save the tech industry.

Privacy and security.

It might be easier to publish a list of all the companies that have not been hacked in the past year. AT&T announced a breach yesterday, but it occurred in April. In fact, it seems as if every week we read of a bank, a retail store chain, an online store, or a government agency that gets hacked; customer data stolen, credit card numbers obtained, social security numbers ripped off, and user IDs and passwords taken.

Apple works diligently to differentiate Mac, iPhone, and iPad from the likes of Google, Samsung, Microsoft, Amazon, and a growing plethora of also-ran tech companies. Beyond usability and durability, Apple’s customers need privacy and security.

That should be a hallmark of Apple’s product focus. Differentiate OS X and iOS by making both platforms ultra secure and private.

Doesn’t Apple do that already? After all, the Mac, iPhone, and iPad are far more secure and in less danger than Windows PCs or Android-based smartphones, right? Yes, but that’s not something Apple brags about, partly because security and privacy are often fleeting, and Apple doesn’t want to paint a target on the backs of their customers.

What needs to be secured and protected on Apple’s products?

It’s a laundry list that ranges from device access, to email and data encryption, to cloud storage and security, to biometric-based security access. Indeed, Apple seems to be moving slowly in the direction of greater privacy and enhanced security, and the company stands above other PC, smartphone, and tablet makers, but if ever there was an industry segment ripe for disruption, this is it.

Privacy and security are major issues with customers, and could be a massive differentiator for Apple. The problem may be that complete security and privacy just isn’t possible, technologically speaking, of course (quite often the user is the weakest link). As any PC, smartphone, or tablet user if their data is valuable and should be kept private and secure and the answer will be yes.

Privacy and security. That should be rallying cry from Apple’s customers.

Only Apple

John Gruber on how Apple is being shaped and how it performs under CEO Tim Cook. This is the best analysis and insight you’re likely to find on Apple these days:

Recall again that in 2007 Apple was forced to admit publicly that they had to pull engineering, design, and QA resources from the Mac in order to ship the iPhone. This year, new products are coming and but iOS and Mac development not only did not halt or slow, it sped up. In recent years, the company grew from being bad at walking and chewing gum to being OK at it, and most of us thought, “Finally”. But that wasn’t the end of the progression. Apple has proceeded from being OK at walking and chewing gum to being good at it. Thus the collective reaction to last week’s keynote: “Whoa.”

Whoa, indeed.

How The NSA Listens To Your iPhone’s Mic When Off

Is it really ‘off?’ Or, just ‘playing dead?’ Thanks to Edward Snowden this really is an issue. Noemi Tasarra-Twigg with details on how the NSSA pulls of such a stunt:

Edward Snowden made everyone with an iPhone panic when he claimed that the NSA can still listen to your iPhone’s mic even when the device is turned off. While the guy has made lots of claims which have proved to be true, it seems impossible for the NSA to be able to do this, right?

What do the experts say?

They say that it is indeed possible for the NSA to listen to an iPhone’s mic even when the phone is off.

How is that possible?

Software could make the phone look like it’s shutting down but actually entering a low-power mode that leaves key communication chips on.

So, it’s not really off, right?

As to the app that can do such a thing, how does it get installed on an iPhone?

10 Mysterious Features of Earth

Interesting list from Alan Boyle. My favorites:

Mount Baldy Sinkholes – “The dune may cover trees, which rot away to create the holes. The dune was once mined to use the sand in glass making, so the phenomenon may be caused by humans.”

The Permian Extinction – “The most intense extinction in Earth’s history was the End-Permian mass extinction. An estimated 93–97 percent of species on the planet were wiped out. The cause of the extinction is one of the biggest debates in paleontology.”

Messinian Salinity Crisis – “Around six million years ago, the Mediterranean Sea turned into a desert. It stayed that way for around 630,000 years, an era now known as the Messinian Salinity Crisis. Scientists agree that it was almost certainly because the sea became blocked from the Atlantic. The mystery is why, and there’s no shortage of theories.”

Verizon’s New York Wireless Mystery – “Remember when Verizon lambasted AT&T for crummy cell phone service in New York? Who’s laughing now? It’s a mystery why Verizon service is so poor in Manhattan.

Alright, that last one came from me.

About Those Photos Of iPhone 6

Color me skeptical but there are enough Photoshop wizards in the world to doctor or create photos of almost anything you can imagine. The latest round of photos purporting to be of Apple’s upcoming iPhone 6 are a perfect example.

As the comic XKCD pointed out some time ago in the Settled strip, the percentage of people carrying cameras everywhere they go has implications.

XKCD - Settled

Billions of people have smartphones, and most of them, particularly in the U.S. and other developed nations, have very good cameras (for photos and movies). Where’s visual proof of flying saucers? Lake monsters? Ghosts? Bigfoot? And the iPhone 6?

Ben Thompson tweeted a bunch of very bad photos which claim to be the elusive iPhone 6.

Maybe so. But why are the photos so crummy? Seriously.

Ben Thompson Tweet

I’m guessing that industrial espionage is just not what it used to be. Every photo purporting to be of Apple’s newest iPhone borders on photos of Bigfoot. My grandmother, who lives in an old home in Scotland and doesn’t own a mobile phone, could take better photos with an iPod touch.

There’s little doubt that Apple goes to great lengths to prevent such leaks, so why can’t industrial spies carry around a newer smartphone with a decent camera? The photos supposedly of the iPhone 6 are blurry, out of focus, and poorly framed. Why?

How long does it take to whip out last year’s iPhone model and take a few decent closeup photos? Or a movie? Geez, on the iPhone you don’t even have to enter a password to take a photo.

Whether the photos are real or fake, it doesn’t take much to figure out how the iPhone 6, in all models, is going to look. Think iPod touch (rounded edges) meets iPad mini (rounded edges). With so many billions of smartphones already in the world, one has to wonder why photos of unreleased products are so crummy.

Maybe there’s something else that explains why there are few decent photos of flying saucers, lake monsters, ghosts, bigfoot, or iPhone 6. Humans, when under stress, or in fear of being eaten, killed, probed, or abducted, just can’t take a good photograph.

12 Hidden Tricks Advertisers Use to Sell You Stuff

Liz Stinson pulls a few of the more blatant tricks from Marc Andrews’ book Hidden Persuasion; tricks advertisers use to get you to buy, whether you want to or not.

Heineken is playing a visual trick on you every time you go to the beer aisle. Next time you’re standing there mulling over Budweiser or the Dutch brew, just take a moment to look at the latter’s logo. You might not notice it at first, but in comparison to the other letters, the three “e”s in Heineken are slanted slightly backwards, their bottoms curved, grinning up at you with a toothless smile. “There’s nothing human about a typeface, but this slightly turned “e” gives the feeling of smiling,” says Marc Andrews, a creative director and psychologist from Amsterdam. “And this gives you a totally different relationship to the brand.”

Marc Andrews:

People think that their decisions and choices are most of the time made consciously and rational, relating to their wishes, interests and motivations. Fact is, that most of our decisions in daily life are made on an unconscious level, which means we are quite vulnerable to persuasion attempts which effect our unconsciousness.

How many similar tricks does Apple employ to get us to like the company, trust the company, and buy more toys from the company?

Whole Foods Bans Half Of Walmart’s Groceries

This shouldn’t surprise anyone. Walmart has become the nation’s grocer, but much of what is sold in the behemoth’s aisles wouldn’t see light in Whole Foods. Isaac Pino:

Whole Foods bans roughly 54% of Wal-Mart’s fare due to the presence, in its words, of “unacceptable ingredients for foods.” These 78 banned ingredients include everything from recognizable sweeteners like high-fructose corn syrup to the tongue-tying dimethylpolysiloxane.

Good rule. If you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it.

Whatever Happened To Apple Maps?

Yours truly writing for Mac360 on the ongoing problems with Apple’s Maps apps?

The guy in charge of Maps is the same guy in charge of iTunes, iTunes Radio, Apple TV and other products that are struggling to remain relevant– Eddy Cue. Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine, the newly minted executives from Beats Electronics won’t be able to do much to get Maps back on track. That’s Cue’s job. And it’s Tim Cook’s job to make it happen. If Eddy Cue leaves Apple any time soon then we’ll have a clear indication of ongoing executive level problems in Cupertino.

Maps is hard work, but problems need to be fixed.

Apple And Economics: From Apps To Competitors

My father hails from Scotland and knows how to put the pinch on a penny. What I learned from him about money management probably wouldn’t make me a successful business executive, but I wouldn’t go broke from trying.

When looking at the landscape that surrounds Apple I see two areas where money is an issue. But not for Apple.

First, there’s Apple’s competitors. Across the board, from PC manufacturers to smartphone and tablet makers, the number of companies that make a heft profit can be counted on a single hand (with a few fingers left over).

For example, Samsung makes a profit, though not as much as Apple. Microsoft makes a profit from Windows and Office but little else. Who’s left? Google is highly profitable with traditional search engine advertising, but has yet to figure out how to diversify the business model in the post-PC era of mobile devices.

Every other device maker struggles for relevancy, feeding off the bottom end of the price spectrum where margins are lower than low. Nokia and Motorola were sold for scraps. HTC may build the best smartphones that no one buys.

How long can a company continue to lose money fighting against Apple’s profit machine?

Second, there’s the app business. Apple’s platforms may provide plenty of customers and revenue for some app developers, but not all. Many new apps are freemium– free to try, but added functionality comes with a price.

Other apps have a price, collect many users, but the app they bought originally becomes orphanware as the app developer abandons the app and ongoing upgrades in favor of a 2.0 version– all new. With a new price. No upgrade.

Let me use GoodReader as an example. It’s a great iPhone and iPad app to read various files– from PDFs to Word to audio and many other formats. But you paid separately for the iPhone and iPad versions.

The latest version adds more features, costs more, but it’s also universal. A few dollars more but the app now runs on both iPhone and iPad. There’s no upgrade option from the old version to the new version. What you bought may work now, but may not in a few more versions of iOS. For that you’ll need the new version.

Developers need to make money, and Apple’s iOS platform and stores– for iPhone and iPad– does that better than Google Play and Android. These days, when I buy a new app, I check the Updated date. If it hasn’t been updated in the past year or so I usually move on an look for something else.

Infrequent updates tell me that an app may have become abandonware or orphanware. App development is business economics. Developers need to have enough revenue coming in to cover their costs, and upgrades from the current customer base can make that happen. Unfortunately, Apple doesn’t provide an easy way for customers to upgrade to a new version of app– a paid upgrade– without buying the whole shebang all over again.

As a certified Apple watcher, I wonder how much longer competitors can go on losing money competing against Apple’s bread and butter– Mac, iPhone, and iPad. And, I wonder how long before Apple realizes that paid upgrades are still part of the application business.

Apple’s Direct Assault Against Google and Android

Insightful look from Gene Steinberg on how Apple has marginalized Google’s search engine prowess on OS X Yosemite and iOS 8.

Now when it comes to Google, it’s also telling that Safari searches will also rely on Spotlight for results, and that, again, means Bing. Adding DuckDuckGo, a search engine that promises not to track you, as another option under OS X, must further dilute Google’s prospects. Sure, if Google remains the default when OS X Yosemite is released, and previous defaults settings would likely be retained, that will still give the world’s number one search engine the upper hand, but in an environment where there’s more to lose.

In passing, I wonder why Apple doesn’t just buy DuckDuckGo, though that might cause a political problem with Microsoft. But the price has to be real cheap.

By reducing Google’s impact on Apple devices, does Apple truly need a search engine? I say no.

Yes, iPhone vs. Android Is Exactly… Like Mac vs. Windows

Friend and Mac360 colleague Bambi Brannan on how iPhone vs. Android has turned out very much like Mac vs. Windows:

The hundred billion or so in profits Microsoft has gathered this century have been wasted in efforts to diversify the company away from cash cows Windows and Office. What success has Microsoft had?

Absolutely zero.

Google, too, has made tens of billions in profits this century, and invested a large chunk of that to diversify the company away from the cash cow of desktop search engine advertising. What success has Google had?

Absolutely zero.

Apple laughs all the way to the bank.

Why iTunes Radio Sucks

Take this with a grain of salt because no sources are named, but Aylin Zafar thinks this is why Apple’s iTunes Radio hasn’t put a dent in Spotify or Pandora. Quotes from an ex-Apple employee:

  • Pandora is an awesome radio that blows iTunes Radio out of the water. Seriously, iTunes Radio sucks and it sucks because of Apple’s arrogance
  • The management in particular were pretty much tone-deaf in what Spotify was and that’s why they’re panicking now. They didn’t understand how Spotify worked, which is why they thought iTunes Radio would be a Spotify killer
  • They’re having trouble capturing the younger generation… The Apple coolness is kind of fading away

Sour grapes? Or, reflective of reality? Either way, look for Jimmy Iovine to change that.

11 Reasons Why You Need To Wash Your Jeans

Ronna Benjamin:

Last week, Chip Bergh, the CEO of Levi Strauss & Company, caused quite a stir. In response to a question about how often we should wash our jeans, he admitted that he hadn’t washed the jeans he was wearing in a year. Really, a whole year.

As it turns out, two weeks or year is about the same level of ew (bad).

A 2011 study conducted by the University of Alberta compared bacteria levels on a pair of jeans not washed for over a year with a pair washed after almost two weeks of wear, and found that they were practically identical.

Benjamin came up with nearly a dozen reasons why jeans should be washed more frequently. My two favorites.

  • Gotta go, gotta go, gotta go… but we don’t always make it on time. Unless your favorite perfume is eau d’pee, those jeans need to see the washing machine.
  • Many of us women measure our weight gain by the feel of our jeans. If we never wash them, we never get a reality check. Unwashed jeans for a year may inadvertently result in millions of women gaining weight.

Been there. Done that.

A Clever Way To Encrypt Files On A Mac

Let me start this with a simple question. Do you use Apple’s built-in FileVault encryption tool? It’s the one in System Preferences > Security & Privacy, in the FileVault tab. I do not. Why?

Apple says:

FileVault secures the data on your disk by encrypting its contents automatically.

That part sounds good, and FileVault uses what is known as full disk XTS-AES 128-bit encryption (tech speak for very tough encryption). FileVault encrypts the Mac’s entire disk. Apps and files are decrypted on the fly and it happens so fast you’re not likely to see any difference.

OS X FileVault

FileVault 2 is tough, free, and built in to OS X Mavericks. All you need is your system password and a safe place to put the Recovery Key. You know, just in case.

So, why don’t I use FileVault? First, I don’t have files that are all that valuable or that are not backed up elsewhere or that I worry about if someone else gets them. Second, Apple says it best:

WARNING: You will need your login password or a recovery key to access your data. A recovery key is automatically generated as part of this setup. If you forget both your password and recovery key, the data will be lost.

That whole ‘data will be lost‘ part bothers me. However, I do have some files which I want to encrypt and store. For that I found a free friend already living on my Mac. It’s the Disk Utility app in the Applications > Utilities folder.

Instead of encrypting the whole disk drive as FileVault does, Disk Utility, something of a Swiss Army Knife tool for Mac disks, can create, convert, backup, compress and encrypt disk images. Think of a disk image as a magical folder where Disk Utility is the wizard.

Disk Utility

Disk images can be created to store whatever files and folders of files you have, all locked up nice and tidy with compression, encryption, and a password. Setup disk images in whatever size you want (they can be resized as needed).

Add a Name to the disk image. Select a Size. Choose a file format. Select from the encryption options. And, that’s about it; you’re ready to go. What I do with sensitive files that I don’t want someone else to have is to put them on a disk image, encrypt it, add a password, and store it as a backup on my Mac (or, server or Dropbox). The whole process is simple once you’ve done it a few times. It’s totally free, very Mac-like, as safe as you’re likely to get, and built in to each Mac.

Plus, there’s not the ever present danger in FileVault of losing a password and recovery key and being locked out of your Mac forever.

SMS Text Messages To The Mac

Apple is bringing SMS text messages to the Mac. iMessage (Messages) works fine between Apple’s devices but neither Mac nor iPad can handle text messages to a phone number the way an iPhone can. OS X Yosemite on a Mac changes that.


With OS X Yosemite and an iPhone running iOS 8, you can send and receive SMS and MMS text messages right from your Mac. So when friends text you — regardless of what phone they have — you can respond from whichever device is closest. All the messages that appear on your iPhone now appear on your Mac, too. You can also initiate a text message conversation on your Mac by clicking a phone number in Safari, Contacts, or Calendar.

Which means you still have to have an iPhone to send SMS text messages (non-iMessage) from a Mac.

Jim Dalrymple:

Most of the folks I interact with work with iMessages, but when I run into someone who doesn’t my workflow grinds to a halt. I have to pull my phone out of my pocket, type a response, perhaps wait for their response, all while switching between my phone and Mac.

What about iPad users?

Apple: Hardware? Software? Or, Ecosystem?

Eric Jackson argues that Apple is neither a hardware or a software company. It’s an ecosystem company.

Apple has been able to maintain consistent profitability in an industry where almost everyone else is unprofitable. I think it’s more to do with the Apple ecosystem than anything else.

As time goes on, Apple continues to give more and more benefits to its users who choose to buy Apple accessories with their core iPhone (and, yes, your Mac has now become an accessory to your iPhone).

All of which is true, but customers buy into the ecosystem by purchasing hardware. The software is included in the ecosystem, which, itself is so seamless and useful that nothing else is comparable, therefore, the competitive edge, a barrier difficult for competitors to overcome.