Sony Sinks

ZDNet on Sony’s mobile division:

Sony’s mobile unit is heading for trouble, after the electronics giant cut the unit’s outlook amid falling smartphone sales.

Chief executive Kazuo Hirai announced on Tuesday [PDF] a massive impairment charge of about $1.7 billion. But he said Sony remains committed to the business, keeping it as one of three core Sony divisions, despite slow market growth.

It’s a bad sign when sales fall from negligible.

7 Privacy Settings To Change In iOS 8

Apple released iOS 8 for iPhone and iPad and already someone has a list of changes you need to make immediately. Why? Zack Whittaker has the scoop:

iOS 8 has a number of new features tied to your location. It also has new privacy settings, allowing users to limit how long data is stored for, such as message expiry features and new private browsing settings.

But why should they be changed?

Before you do anything like customizing your phone, loading new apps, or syncing your data for the first time, these first seven settings need to be checked, and if necessary, changed.

Oh, so now it’s merely to be checked. Here’s my favorites (which happen to number seven, too):

  • Limit apps from tracking your location in the background
  • Prevent apps from accessing, uploading your data
  • Enable ‘Find My iPhone’ for lost and stolen devices
  • Allow iMessages, voice, and video to expire over time (good one)
  • Prevent sharing your location to others
  • Prevent iPhone location-based tracking
  • Limit advertisers tracking your location, data

Disappointing Record Sales For New iPhone

You knew this would happen, right? As soon as Apple announced record sales for the first day of availability for iPhone 6 models, someone would come out of the woodwork to announce that the record sales number was disappointing. Last year Apple didn’t announce pre-sales numbers, but still managed to sell 9-million iPhones during the launch weekend. This year pre-orders were announced so we’ll have to wait until next week to see how many iPhones were actually sold.

Who cares?

Apple critics care. Apple watchers care. Samsung cares. The cell phone carriers care. For everyone else in the world, it’s pretty much business as usual; just another giant iPhone launch.

How giant?

How about 47 iPhones sold every second during the first 24 hours? Apple may have been able to sell even more if all the online sites could have handled the customer volume, and it’s clear that they could not.

47 iPhones per second is 2,820 iPhones per minute, which is 169,200 per hour, which ends up at just over 4-million iPhones for the first 24 hours. How many Galaxy S5 models did Samsung sell in the first 24 hours of availability? How many Amazon Fire Phones were sold the first weekend?

Nobody knows because Samsung, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, HTC, Motorola, and anyone else who sells anything that competes with what Apple sells seems to be eerily quiet about how many they sell. Or, maybe it’s more accurately phrased, ‘How few they sell.’ For some reason the industry’s many critics only focus on Apple’s numbers, despite the company’s paltry marketshare in smartphones, tablets, and personal computers.

Why is that?

It’s because no other company is as interesting as Apple, hence the gargantuan amount of misplaced, outsized attention for every new Apple product launch.

Here’s a thought. While it may be another six months before we see an Apple Watch in an Apple Store to hold and touch and view and fawn over, does anyone else besides me think that Apple may not have announced everything said Watch can and will do when it is launched next year?

Thanks for sharing, Apple– at least now, following the launch of Apple’s latest products, we know what Xiaomi’s new smartphones will look like; we know what features Samsung will add to next year’s Galaxy S6, and we’ll know what functions will be in all the so-called smartwatches in 2015.

A Killing Field

As if Microsoft doesn’t have enough troubles with the Surface Pro notebook tablet hybrid and the now defunct Windows Phone, here’s another example of a killing field at the low end of the PC market– Android apps coming to Chromebooks. ZDNet:

At Google I/O earlier this year the company announced plans to let Android apps run on the Chromebook. It’s starting small, but the first few apps are now available for a Chromebook near you… Android apps will run under the App Runtime for Chrome (Beta) which creates a virtual machine on Chrome OS for handling Android apps.

Not many apps yet, but the flood will come. Microsoft is getting damaged at the low end of the notebook spectrum, while Apple owns the high end and all the profits.


Mark Reschke thinks Apple just dropped a bomb on Samsung:

Forget about Apple’s courtroom battles with Samsung. On Tuesday Apple launched what can only be described as an all-out nuclear attack on Samsung. Apple has taken the war from a nearly broken court system and onto the consumer battlefield. Apple’s dual combination product launch wasn’t just a shot across Samsung’s bow, it was a devastating blow to Samsung’s front line which is rapidly collapsing.

Samsung’s profits have diminished in the past year or so while Apple’s profits have increased and the company has solidified its perch as the premium brand.

With Apple hammering away at Samsung with iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus along with Apple Watch being announced, coupled with Apple moving semiconductor business away from the Asian tiger, all piled on top of Asian competition blasting away at the low-end, Samsung’s future looks dim. Meanwhile, Apple is moving into a new golden area, being rewarded for their innovative efforts, while Samsung 15 minutes of fame has just been blown away.

Samsung wants to be like Apple so much that their executives cannot sleep at night.

Apple Pay Tops Credit Cards

Bernice Napach on how Apple Pay works better than the traditional credit and debit card methods for payments:

The app uses chip and pin technology, instead of the magnets that credit cards currently use, to keep information secure. The chip generates a one-time authorization code for each purchase and the pin is the unique number a consumer will have to tap into a retailer’s credit card reader for each purchase.

The biggest obstacle to a more secure credit card system isn’t the card, or the iPhone, or Apple Pay’s adoption. It’s the data readers.

How Does It Stack Up For Business?

Ridiculous article from ZDNet asking a ridiculous question:

The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are “the biggest advancements in iPhone history,” Apple CEO Tim Cook told Apple fans around the world yesterday. But is a bigger iPhone a good idea for business users?

iPhone is used more in business than all over smartphone models combined. Nothing in iPhone 6 will reduce Apple’s share of the enterprise.

A Few Thoughts On Apple’s New Products

The noise has abated and the dust has settled. Everything you want to know about Apple’s iPhone 6 lines is available online, and, as usual, the world is dividing itself in half over Apple Watch. Some love it. Some hate it.

The haters are the typical crowd who also hated the iPod, iPhone, and iPad (think Henry Blodget and John Dvorak, among others with very poor track records at prognosticating Apple’s failures and successes). You can be sure that if Blodget and Dvorak don’t like it, the Watch will sell in big numbers.

The lovers are also a typical crowd who simply appreciate well designed products that work well together, look great, and provide additional and more convenient functionality. But make no mistake about it. Apple Watch is just like every Apple market disrupting product since Steve Jobs’ second coming. It’s a polarizing device that won’t sell in the same numbers as competitors, but Apple will reap most of the product segment profits.

First, the iPhone 6 line.

There are some surprises, but not many. Bigger, faster, lighter, better performance everywhere, and the camera options are to die for. On the negative side, what’s with the protruding camera? Where’s the highly anticipated sapphire screen? What’s with those line tattoos on the back? Where’s the 32GB model? Where’s the iPhone 6c (last year’s iPhone 5s)?

Second, the Apple Watch.

This is a luxury item and Apple has the design and infrastructure to support it. Multiple watch models, multiple designs for each model (love the black and gold), multiple watchband designs (easily removed, so look for a huge third party watchband market), and probably an infinite number of screen layouts (especially as third party developers get in the act). Yes, it’s a beautiful, highly customizable design, a visually desirable watch, but there are some negatives.

It’s too thick. It’s rectangular only. What’s the battery life? Watches that start at $349 are expected to last for 10 to 20 years. Does anyone believe they’ll still be wearing the same Apple Watch in five years? Planned obsolescence rules, folks.

There is little doubt that iPhone 6 will become Apple’s best selling iPhone ever. There’s plenty of pent-up demand, and usability with iOS 8 takes the phone to another level of seamless integration and usefulness.

What about Apple Watch?

Beautiful and well designed, yes, but does anyone really, truly, deeply need a luxury smartwatch with limited functionality? The difference between iPhone and Watch is that we need a phone, and all the capabilities that come with it are icing on the cake. We don’t need a watch. It’s a combination of utility and luxury and Apple Watch seems to be lean on the side of luxury, with more utility than a standard watch, but less luxury than a luxury watch.

Alright, that said, it was easy to spot plenty of usage in Apple’s online Watch videos. When you are driving, walking, or on public transportation (or even sitting down at home or restaurant), a watch is an easier device to use than an iPhone which is stuck in a pocket or purse. Think Maps and directions, Messages, Mail, Notifications, sports scores, and everything else we check on our iPhones daily– but don’t have to dig into back pocket or purse to use. That convenience is worth something.

The typical Apple haters will hate Apple’s latest iAnything even if it was blessed by Jesus himself. The typical Apple fan folks will line up to try and buy, too, but will the great unwashed masses bother? Not all, but some will. We just need to remember that Apple Watch will not succeed in the same numbers as the iPhone already has.

But now we know what next year’s Samsung Gear and other smartphones will look like.

Free iPhone 6: For Life

Gregory Wallace:

The iPhone 6 hasn’t even been released yet, but there’s already a way to get it for free. In an unusual move, Verizon Wireless announced Tuesday it would give away one of the phones.

In other words, a free iPhone. What’s the catch?

Customers must turn in their old iPhone and sign a two-year agreement with Verizon.

I guess carrier subsidies didn’t really die.

Disruption: Apple Redefines ‘Smartwatch’

Apple Watch is coming. The rumors were true, and even the last minute leaks of a rectangular case design were spot on. Bambi Brannan on what we don’t know about Apple Watch:

At first glance, Apple Watch appears to be leaps ahead of Samsung Gear and Motorola’s Moto 360 as well as all other so-called smartwatches. At a starting price of $349, Apple again takes the premium end of the market segment. That means the Edition model and the larger, 42mm Watch, will likely cost more. What about battery life? Apple says Watch will last ‘all day’ but that amount isn’t defined. How long will a recharge take? When will Apple Watch be available?

Apple may have answers to some of those questions by ‘early next year’ but here is what is about to happen to the smartwatch industry.

One thing is absolutely certain. Future smartwatches from China, Samsung, et al, are likely to look and function much like Apple Watch, so, yes, Apple is about to disrupt yet another industry.

But will it sell?

Apple Pay: David, Meet Goliath

Yours truly on Mac360 with a perspective on Apple Pay:

Both Visa and MasterCard have provided incentives for merchants to upgrade their systems by the end of 2015. So, Apple Pay is coming, just not overnight, not everywhere, and not without a few issues, including educating customers and merchants.

I don’t expect Apple Pay to sweep away the nation’s archaic merchant payment system any time soon.

The 5 Steps To Perfect iPhone 6 Security

Apple’s stellar reputation for security took a few hits last week as celebrity iCloud accounts were hacked, and revealing photos revealed. How did that happen? iCloud’s security wasn’t as tight as it needed to be to prevent a little brute force door knocking on celebrity accounts.

With the arrival of iPhone 6, Apple can be expected to beef up security measures to prevent additional tampering with user accounts, and deny access to iPhone and iPad to unauthorized users. Here’s the problem and here’s how it can be corrected to provide ease-of-use and more security layers.

As is usually the case, the user becomes the weak link in most security issues. Who wants an iPhone with a 14-digit alpha-numeric-symbol password just to reply to a text message, or check Instagram. That’s the conundrum. Ease-of-use vs. tight security.

Enter my 5-step plan to perfect iPhone 6 security for the paranoid non-celebrity Apple customer.

Apple already has all the hardware needed in iPhone 5s and iPhone 6 models. Touch ID, microphone, and front facing camera. Put all the pieces together and a single iPhone app could easily provide near bulletproof security.

#1 – Touch ID: This works well and is not easily compromised. Touch your assigned finger to the Home button and you’re in. Fast and simple. Add another layer by adding additional fingers, to be touched in a particular sequence.

#2 – Voice recognition: Record a series of phrases or words and let your Mac listen to your voice and match what you say, both voice and keywords, to your recorded voice pattern and you’re in.

#3 – Retina scanner: – The iPhone already has a front facing camera. The built-in security app could be set to scan your eye– color, shape, size, retina, lashes, eyebrows– to provide another layer of security, which is enhanced even more if Touch ID and Voice Recognition are required at the same time.

#4 – Facial recognition: – Prior to your eye being scanned at the eyeball or retinal level, iPhone 6’s security app could also recognize your face using advanced facial recognition. Again, it’s an extra layer of security that can work quickly and automatically.

The security app should be set to require all four steps in sequence or all four within an assigned time period (three seconds, for example).

#5 – Keypad swipe: – Instead of using a four-digit password, or a much larger password, Apple could easily incorporate a keypad swipe; one finger, swiping across the screen in a specific pattern, which would unlock the iPhone.

That’s five layers of security, any one of which can be used standalone or in concert with others, applied in a specific order, or within a specific time frame, or both. Security problem solved.

8 Things You’ll Love About Apple’s New iOS 8

Jack Linshi:

While the iPhone 6’s specs aren’t known yet—rumors say bigger screens, sapphire glass and near field communication—something we do know about is the software it’ll run. iOS 8.

Spoiler Alert!

  • QuickType – predictive typing
  • Spotlight – easier to use
  • Health – app based on HealthKit
  • Siri – teams up with Shazam
  • Text replies – reply without the app
  • Photos – looks much like Instagram (no it doesn’t)
  • Calls over Wi-Fi – great idea.
  • Sharing – up to six family members can share apps, etc.

That Was Quick

Yesterday Amazon’s Fire Phone was priced at $199. Today, the day before Apple announces the new line of iPhones, Amazon’s Fire Phone is 99-cents. That’s a fire sale for the Fire Phone. ZDNet:

Amazon’s gameplan here is pretty clear. It’s a “get people into the ecosystem as fast as possible—and at any cost” move. With the iPhone 6 so close, I sense that Amazon is taking some drastic steps to keep the Fire Phone in the game in the face of what is likely to be very still competition.

Anyone besides me notice that Apple mentions how many Macs, iPhones, and iPads are sold every quarter, but Amazon never announces a number for it’s Kindle Fire tablet and Fire Phones?

The ‘Depends’ Tablet

Let’s call this what it really is. Sean Portnoy on the AARP RealPad, a tablet for senior citizens.

“[I]t’s bigger than a smartphone yet smaller than a laptop computer.” That’s how the blog for AARP introduces the RealPad, a new tablet that the advocacy group for people older than 50 has just announced it will be selling to a market it considers vastly underserved: older adults who haven’t taken the tablet plunge… Finally, a year’s membership in AARP is included in the price.

I call it the ‘depends’ tablet. Marketing it to seniors is an insult to their intelligence. Take a look at any Apple Store on Saturday morning and you’ll see plenty of seniors learning to use a tablet– an iPad.

Is It Too Late For Windows Phone?

Ed Bott answers the question that customers ask.

The real missed opportunity for Microsoft so far is in its traditional core business, selling to enterprise customers. New Windows Phone devices have manageability features that should appeal to traditional IT buyers. The trouble for Microsoft is that those once powerful customers aren’t making the buying decisions for most mobile devices, which are purchased by consumers and then brought into the business.

Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Dropbox and the Cloud vs. iWork, Apps, and iCloud: Business? Or, Feature?

Steve Jobs once said that Dropbox– the cloud storage service– is a feature, not a business. Yet Apple’s competitors are rushing toward the cloud with reckless abandon, while Apple moves in another direction, tacking on cloud-like functions to Mac, iPhone, and iPad, all of which enhance the ecosystem but don’t pay the freight.

Is Apple on to something by not following the crowd into the cloud? Or, is Apple about to be overshadowed and trumped by cloud-based competitors?

It’s not as if Apple does not have the technical chops to create, sustain, and grow a real cloud-based service business (despite using Microsoft’s Azure cloud service for a chunk of the company’s cloud efforts). After all, can you name another company that has more customers who use their cloud services than those who use Apple’s iCloud? Even Apple’s cloud-based iWorks trio– Pages, Numbers, Keynote– get high marks for usability and compatibility.

In the cloud space, this epic battle has a number of notable and competing interests.

There’s Google, a company which makes a hefty living by using the cloud to cull, gather, store, and distribute your personal information. Google loves the cloud as much as Amazon loves the cloud.

There’s Microsoft which is in transition from a software company to a cloud services company, hence Office 365, a monthly or annual subscription service to use Office anywhere, on any device– even while the company gives Windows away for free to manufacturers who sell very inexpensive devices that compete with Chromebooks and Android devices.

Finally, there’s Apple, which makes money the old fashioned way, by building a product and selling it, and where cloud services are just that– a service used as a feature, not a real business.

Google is proof positive that cloud-based technology can make tremendous profits for some, but not all. Beyond Google, though, what other companies, besides those who sell the hardware and bandwidth and software necessary to make cloud services work, actually makes the kind of money that Google makes? What other hardware company makes the kind of money that Apple makes?

My view of the so-called cloud is simple. Different strokes for different folks. Criticisms of Apple for not embracing cloud services the way Amazon, Google, or Microsoft use the cloud are not any more valid that Amazon, Google, and Microsoft’s successes at making hardware.

Cloud services work well for Google, though the company’s attempts to diversify beyond advertising have met mostly with failure. Adobe made a successful move to subscription services, though the application suite has not translated to the cloud. Microsoft’s attempts to diversify away from Windows and Office have mostly failed, and the company has little presence in the mobile device segment of personal computing.

Apple uses cloud technology as a set of features, and as a backend for customer facing products (iTunes, iCloud, Apple TV, come to mind), but not as a product or business. That doesn’t work for Apple any more than selling mobile device hardware has worked for Google, Amazon, or Microsoft.

New York Nemesis: King Kong, Godzilla, Now Bed Bugs

If it’s not one thing, it’s always something in New York. Joe Costales from the Transport Workers Union:

We’ve never had sightings to this magnitude… It’s no longer an isolated scenario. It’s throughout the system.

I use the subway daily to go from Brooklyn to Manhattan and back. None. So. Far.

The Fatberg

I wonder if we have anything like this in New York. Jim Edwards on London’s “fat berg:”

Thames Water, the company that keeps sewers flowing freely under London, has released a set of disgusting pictures of a “fatberg” that took a week to remove from a 262-foot stretch of Shepherd’s Bush Road in West London. The water authority says it was the size of a Boeing 747, if it were buried underground.


Fatbergs are composed largely of cooking oil that has been poured down drains while hot and runny. Once in the cold water of the sewer system, however, the fat congeals. The solid mess then combines with “wet wipes.”

That would make it difficult for the crocodiles to live in the sewers, right?

Do You Need A Mac, iPhone, And iPad, Or Will One Device Do The Job?

How many Apple devices do you own and use? For me, I have an iMac on the desk in my cubicle at work, carry a MacBook Air when I travel, but for shorter trips I take the iPad Air instead, and, of course, the iPhone goes everywhere.

That’s four Apple devices. Yes, they love me in Cupertino. I’m Brooklyn’s Poster Child for Apple Inc. But the question I have is simple. “How many Apple devices do you need?” The answer is subjective, of course– everyone’s computing needs are different.

I ask the question because I read James Kendrick’s article on the gear that keeps him mobile. His desktop has a Kindle Fire HDX, a MacBook Air, a MacBook Pro, a Samsung Galaxy Note 2, an iPad Air, an iPhone, an Asus Transformer Book T100, an Acer 720 Chromebook, and a lot of wires.

Tablet sales have been tanking for the PC industry, and Apple’s own iPad has hit the skids with dropping sales. Maybe that’s a sign of the times. We have too many devices to carry around.

For me, the iPhone goes everywhere because it’s also a phone. If the iPad Air or mini came with calling capability, that might later the landscape a bit, but for now, the iPhone is a necessity.

As for MacBook Air and iPad Air, the biggest different between the two are applications (those on the Mac are usually more powerful), and input (the Mac has a built-in keyboard, while the iPad Air uses the onscreen keyboard; convenient, but not good for anything more than a few moments of typing).

Yes, you can add a good keyboard to the iPad Air, but then it weighs and costs nearly the same as the entry-level MacBook Air, which is a more powerful device.

If I were forced into a minimalist role I would drop the iPad Air. It doesn’t do anything the MacBook Air can’t do, though it does less (and at a pound, easy to toss into a backpack). The desktop iMac I use in the cubicle farm at work is quad-core loaded with RAM and storage, but it runs the same apps as I carry on the MacBook Air, so I could go all minimalist on my bad self and plug and external display into the Mac notebook and save money.

So, in a pinch, the iMac and iPad Air could be sacrificed, and only the MacBook Air and iPhone become necessities. That’s still two devices. Could I function with only one device? Probably not, and that’s because of the professional level apps that run on the MacBook Air which do not run on the iPhone.

What’s your situation? How many devices do you use for your computing chores now? Could you get down to a single device? Would you go for a hybrid iOS-OS X device with a keyboard and calling capability?

The iPhone 6 Is Coming! Or, Is It?

Apple made it official. Something is coming on September 9th. But what? iPhone? iWatch? Apple’s message and invitation to the media:

Apple Event

The only clue is ‘Wish we could say more.’ Or, is there more? Yes. At least, a few clues.

First on my list is the venue; the Flint Center for the Performing Arts in Cupertino, California. That’s where Steve Jobs unveiled the first Mac in 1984, and the iMac in 1998, so one could expect this to be a big announcement.

Second on my list is Apple’s acknowledgement that OS X Yosemite and iOS 8 would be available “in the fall.” It’s still summer.

Third, why would Apple announce both iPhones and iWatch devices on the same day? Why not spread it out a few weeks or a month and double the amount of free hype and hysteria that Apple gets with every new product?

Google Tracks Every Step You Take

This really should not come as a surprise. BGR:

Google’s mobile Maps apps for Android and the iPhone track everywhere you go. Every single day. All of the time… Even when the app is closed, your every move is tracked and stored on Google’s servers. Every day, every week, every year.

What does Google do with all the data?

This data is put to use in a number of ways. It helps Google better tailor its services to each individual user, and it also obviously helps Google build a more accurate advertising profile of each user.

Can you opt out of the collection process? Yes.

Photos Of Ghosts

What can you do with a quantum camera? Take pictures of ghosts. Bryan Nelson:

By utilizing a process that Einstein famously called “spooky,” scientists have successfully caught “ghosts” on film for the first time using quantum cameras.

Chris Carter was right. The truth is out there. But can you get a picture of it?

The “ghosts” captured on camera weren’t the kind you might first think; scientists didn’t discover the wandering lost souls of our ancestors. Rather, they were able to capture images of objects from photons that never actually encountered the objects pictured. The technology has been dubbed “ghost imaging.”

So, no real ghosts despite the headline ‘New quantum camera capable of snapping photos of ‘ghosts’.

Chipotle To Replace Fast Food Joints

Hubris lives, even in the moribund fast food business. Hayley Peterson:

A Chipotle executive blasted “traditional” fast food chains, such as McDonald’s and Burger King, as “irrelevant” and said his company will eventually replace them.

The numbers I found online are a couple of years old, and they can be sliced and diced a few ways, but McDonald’s, Subway, Burger King, Wendy’s, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Jack-in-the-Box, Arby’s, and Dairy Queen have almost 80,000 restaurants. Chipotle has less than 2,000.

Chipotle co-CEO Monty Moran:

The predominant goal [for traditional fast food chains] is the cheapening of the raw ingredients, the automation of the work such that anyone could do it… so that they turn over their employees without any care for them, where it’s a game of value meals and cheapening the food experience… That is traditional fast food, and we think that’s going away. We, and others like us, will replace that.

Maybe so. It just won’t happen quickly and the major fast food restaurants are likely to modify their business methods to respond to such changes.