High Tech Cruises

Here’s a look at the cruise ship for people who hate cruises. Justin Bachman on RCI’s new Quantum class. It’s wired.

The subdued design is just one element the cruise line has deployed on the new ship, which carries 4,180 passengers and 1,500 crew members. Quantum of the Seas is, in many respects, the first cruise ship designed for people who hate cruising.


The Quantum employs some technologies that are relatively new to the industry, such as bag tagging that lets passengers use smartphones to track the location of luggage from drop-off at the pier until it reaches their cabins. Reservations for dinner and further activities are made on tablets around the ship, and waiters are expected to record a diner’s preferences via that technology so that other dining venues will know how you take your coffee or whether you prefer red or white wine, Fain says. The satellite-based Wi-Fi onboard is fairly speedy for sea-based system

As if the Quantum class ships were not begin enough with over 4,000 passengers, there’s a new class coming in a few years.

Royal Caribbean has two more Quantum-class ships on order for its fleet, with Anthem of the Seas arriving next fall, and a third, dubbed Ovation, in late 2016. All three are much smaller than the line’s two Oasis-class behemoths, which each carry more than 6,000 people per sailing.

I like cruises but how is cruising on a shopping mall and hotel with 4,000 other people really a cruise?

U.S. Government Warning On iPhone And iPad

This is why the world is in trouble. The headline is sensationalist and over the top and it came from Reuters. “U.S. government warns on bug in Apple’s iOS software,”

The reality? A little different.

The network security company, FireEye Inc, disclosed the vulnerability behind the “Masque Attack” earlier this week, saying it had been exploited to launch a campaign dubbed “WireLurker” and that more attacks could follow.

Old news from China for iPhone and iPad users who jailbreak their phones and install non-App Store apps.

There was the potential for hacks using a newly identified technique known as the “Masque Attack,” the government said in an online bulletin from the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center and the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Teams.

So it wasn’t really a government warning at all. A government agency merely repeated FireEye’s disclosure.

Apple’s response?

We designed OS X and iOS with built-in security safeguards to help protect customers and warn them before installing potentially malicious software. We’re not aware of any customers that have actually been affected by this attack

So, much ado over not much, but lots of fear mongering.

Lost And Alone In The Mobile Revolution, Microsoft Is Ready To Abandon Windows

What’s become of poor Microsoft? Alright, ‘poor’ is a relative term. Microsoft basks in riches far beyond the scope of most modern technology companies. Except maybe when compared to longtime nemesis Apple, which is richer than many countries and deities. Combined.

No, Microsoft is poor in the figurative sense, as in blind, lost, and alone as the mobile device revolution sweeps by leaving the Windows and Office maker to lick wounds and dust. Based on the company’s recent actions it is not far fetched to see that Windows is no longer the last, great hope, but as part of a coherent strategy to make it to the future– Microsoft’s once dominant operating system seems abandoned.

What happened?

As many tech companies do when they run into riches, Microsoft ran out of ideas. Stealing from others is not a long term or viable strategy, so Microsoft did the next best thing. It gave tens of billions to investors. It wasted tens of billions more trying to diversify beyond Windows and Offices, the two first great cash cows of the 21st century. To the former, giving away billions, Microsoft and co-founder Bill Gates were crazy successful. To the latter, few companies have wasted more money to create more new revenue and profit streams and reached failure more often than Microsoft.

Once mighty Windows hit 95-percent marketshare among operating systems Apple’s Mac appeared demolished, demoralized, and left it in obscurity. Or, so Microsoft’s executives, not to mention technorati elite and market naysayers, thought about the situation. Not only did Apple’s Mac live, it thrived, and grew, even as traditional PC sales wavered in the revolution that missed Microsoft completely. The Mac is beyond back. It rocks.

Today, the world absorbs more smartphones and tablets than PC desktops and notebooks, Microsoft’s total share of the combined technology OS market is about to hit 20-percent, and the company has only a negligible presence in the area that grows the fastest– mobile devices. Microsoft is so desperate that you can hear the gear shifting a continent away, here in Brooklyn.

The future for Microsoft is in the cloud, and I have no doubt company executives have waded through a thousand Excel spreadsheets, Word documents, and PowerPoint presentations which highlight the new direction the company must go. It must.

It’s not like those executives learned much by reading similar spreadsheets, reports, and presentations on dozens of failed acquisitions over the past 20 years, none of which have added Diddley Squat™ to the company’s bottom line, but which expanded costs, structure, and inertia beyond Microsoft’s ability to function against more nimble competitors.

No, the future of Microsoft is the cloud, and guess what’s not in the cloud? Windows. Microsoft apologist Mary Jo Foley sees the light, too, and thinks Microsoft is going platform agnostic in the future and that means Windows is the relic OS that gets left behind; profitable on PCs, but less so, a familiar name in technology for technology that users are increasingly abandoning in favor of cloud services and mobile devices.

Windows on mobile devices is a non-starter in the marketplace, aging far before its time, and Microsofties can only hope there’s enough fuel in Windows among traditional PCs to make the lumbering and long slumbering giant make it to a new future where profits roam but buffalo don’t. Windows won’t go away on PCs any time soon, but you won’t see it or hear much about Windows in Microsoft’s new future.

Woz: iPhone 6 Too Late

It’s hard to argue with the premise that Apple could have and should have launched larger iPhones two or three years ago (while Samsung was growing the market), but how would you know since Apple’s sales have only increased year over year, the brand is the most popular and most profitable, and the larger iPhone 6 models are the hottest sellers on the planet. Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak:

Apple could have had a much bigger share of the smartphone market if it had a larger-screen iPhone for the past three years. It could have competed better with Samsung.

Duh. But it’s not like Apple ‘lost’ to Samsung. Some analysts say Apple will sell 10-times the number of iPhones than Samsung will Galaxy Note models. The most popular large smartphone in South Korea is the iPhone 6.

Glenn Beck’s Brain

Jason Hughes on Glenn Beck’s struggle with a mysterious neurological illness which may help to explain, well, Glenn Beck:

He described phantom pains in his limbs, as if bones were broken or he were stepping on broken glass, and the slow degradation of his memory. At first, he would lose the ability to recall when things happened, but it escalated to the point he struggled with whole conversations and people’s faces.

Now we know the origins of Beck’s crazy conspiracy theories. He didn’t talk about it in the video but I think he was abducted.

12 British Sayings That Americans Don’t Understand

I travel to England on business three to five times a year and this list of odd sayings by Megan Willett spot on:

Everyone knows that for the Brits, an elevator is a “lift,” an apartment is a “flat,” and those chips you’re snacking on are actually called “crisps.” But British people also say some other really weird, confusing things.

Spoiler Alert!

  • They lost the plot (lost their cool)
  • I haven’t seen that in donkey’s years (a long time)
  • Quit your whinging (whining)
  • He’s such a chav (white trash)
  • Let’s have a chin-wag (brief chat)
  • I’m chuffed to bits (thrilled about something)
  • That’s manky (dirty, disgusting)
  • You’re taking the piss (being unreasonable or taking liberties)
  • I’ve dropped a clanger (embarrassing gaffe)

350-Year-Old High Heels

Who knew high heels were available way back when. Laura Geggel on an archeological find in in a castle in Ireland:

The pit at Rathfarnham Castle contained artifacts dating from 1650 to 1700, including pointy high-heeled women’s shoes, porcelain plates and teacups imported from China… The archeologists also found shoes — pointy high-heeled ones for women and square-tipped shoes for men decorated with buckles and ribbons.

But no right shoe or left shoe. Both shoes were the same shape, men or women.

Apple’s iPhone, iPad, And Mac: Tools Of The 1-percent, For The 99-percent

The past few years of social turmoil have brought to the fore once again just how unequal society is these days, and not just in the United States. For example, the disparity between Corporate CEOs and their employees is greater than ever, giving rise to the phrases “the 99-percent” and “the one percenters” to describe the gulf between rich and poor.

In an interesting but somewhat accurate way we can describe Apple and the company’s products as the tools of the 1-percent, for the 99-percent. Alright, the percentages are wrong, but the exact amount is less important than the actual differences between the privileged and less privileged. 1-percenters may own 40-percent of the country’s wealth, half the country’s stocks, bonds, and funds, and 25-percent of national income, but, the 99-percent buy enough goods and products to make the 1-percenters what they are. Similarly, Apple owns a disproportionate percentage of the profits for PCs, smartphones, and tablets.

Does that not make Apple’s products tools of the 1-percenters, and tools for the 99-percenters?

Again, the percentages are not accurate, but the disparity is and it remains. For example, the Mac accounts for about half the entire personal computer industry’s annual profits, on barely 15-percent of total PC sales. Likewise, Apple’s iPhone and iPad collectively account for over 75-percent of the smartphone and tablet industry’s profits, on barely 15-percent of total units sold.

In any given category, Apple’s product lines are usually the most expensive (hence, the most profitable), and are easily distinguished and differentiated from competing brands. What is unique in this situation, though, is that Apple’s products are not used only by the 1-percent of society with the most assets. Apple’s products may be the premium brands in each segment, but they’ve become affordable luxuries for many of those in the 99-percent.

That means Apple itself is a member of the 1-percent segment of industrial society, while Apple’s customers are made up of both the well-to-do 1-percenters, and sprinkled throughout the 99-percent, too, because, the company’s products are affordable luxuries.

When in history has such a similar event occurred where the richest and most powerful company provided goods and services which benefited the masses most? The list may read as a who’s-who of industry titans from oil to banking to automobiles. Apple’s ability to design, manufacture, and sell premium products at premium prices for premium profits to both 1-percenters and enough of the 99-percenters to garner the lion’s share of industry profits is not unique in history, but few technology companies today are in a similar position.

Microsoft’s New Strategy: Free Office

Tom Warren on Microsoft’s new and apparently desperate strategy to gain relevance in the rapidly growing mobile space (where the company has almost no presence).

Microsoft’s Office suite for iPad, iPhone, and Android is now free. In a surprise move, the software giant is shaking up its mobile Office strategy to keep consumers hooked to Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents. Starting today, you’ll no longer need an Office 365 subscription to edit documents or store them in the cloud. The move comes just days after Microsoft announced a strategic partnership with Dropbox to integrate the cloud storage service into Office across desktop, mobile, and the web. You can now download Office for iPad and store all your documents on Dropbox without paying Microsoft anything at all. Microsoft is also releasing a brand new iPhone app today, alongside a preview of Office for Android tablets, all with Dropbox integration.

Alright, that just sounds crazy. Microsoft’s Office marketing chief Michael Atalla.

It’s an extension of the strategy that we’ve got. It’s not a total strategic shift, as much of an extension of the existing strategy. We’re taking that same user experience we provide online to the native apps of iOS and Android. We want to make sure that our customers can be productive across all the devices they have.

OK, but how does Microsoft make money if the product is free? I didn’t go to business school but that strategy just sounds messed up.

iPhone Malware Should Terrify You

Are iPhone users at risk from a serious malware attack? The not-so-smart-as-you-might-think geniuses at Boy Genius Report think so.

Researchers at the Palo Alto Networks discovered the program, called WireLurker, which can be used for many purposes including spying silently on users. It seems to already have affected hundreds of thousands of users in Asia.

I’m scared already.

The point of entry seems to be OS X computers, with researchers having found 467 malware OS X applications in the unofficial Maiyadi App Store in China that were downloaded more than 356,000 times in the past six months in the region.

So, download software from a non-Apple app store in China and what do you get? Malware. What a shocker.

Microsoft Surface Pro, Meet Apple iPad Stand

Microsoft just can’t catch a break. The company has a deal with CNN for desktop product placement where the sponsor’s Surface Pro tablets are neatly lined up in front of CNN’s anchors. James Kosur tells what happened.

CNN anchors were using the Microsoft Surface Pro during election night, but their use of the gadget was somewhat silly. Anchors used the tablets and their clever kickstand feature to hold their Apple iPads in place.

You heard that right, CNN anchors used the Surface Pro as a kickstand for their Apple tablets.

There’s a reason people are not using Surface Pro. It’s an expensive tablet and an expensive notebook, and not all that good at being either one. Microsoft has to pay people to use it, and even then they prefer to use something else.

Poor Samsung: First Korea, Now China

Apple continues to defy the tech and market critics who declared the company mostly doomed at the feet of Samsung’s marketing and technology prowess. A funny thing happened along the way to reality, though. Apple didn’t stumble, as predicted by the technorati elite and market doomsayers, and, well, Samsung did.

The real question to ask the experts is, “How did you not see this coming?

Apple is a premium brand. Samsung is not. So, Samsung’s smartphone and tablet business got caught in a squeeze between Apple at the high end of the spectrum (where all the profit is), and the low end where all the cheap Chinese knock-off manufacturers live (where profits are not important, apparently.

Guess what? It gets worse for Samsung.

Hot on the heels of Apple’s iPhone 6 and 6 Plus launch in Korea comes news that the iPhone is outselling Korea’s own Samsung Galaxy brand. Ouch. Apparently Samsung pulled some money from its shrinking marketing budget and got local media to talk up a potential recall of Apple’s hot selling iPhone models. Why? Some of the Samsung parts might be bad.

It’s probable that some of that marketing budget when to lawmakers in Korea who don’t want local cell phone carriers to subsidize the iPhone at the expense of Samsung sales, despite the fact that customers (and, ostensibly, voters) seem to prefer iPhones over Galaxy plastic.

Wait. There’s more!

Now there’s word from China that Samsung is no longer the number one brand in the world’s number one largest smartphone market. Guess who’s the new number one? Yeah, you guessed it. China Brand Research Center’s new 2014 index puts Apple atop Samsung in the latest rankings.

Here’s the problem.

Samsung sells to both ends of the product spectrum; from premium to entry level. Worse, those Samsung smartphones run Android OS, which is more or less or mostly the same Android OS that runs on cheaper Chinese knockoffs– but not on Apple’s really truly deeply premium brand, the iPhone.

That differentiation and branding problem is exactly the same as most PC manufacturers have faced for years. While all the Dells and Lenovos and HPs of the world run Windows and look and work much the same, Apple gobbles up the premium end of the product spectrum (where most of the profits are) with the hot selling Mac.

Poor Samsung just can’t catch a break recently. But neither can Dell, Lenovo, HP, Asus, Acer, HTC, Motorola, Microsoft, et al, so they’re in good company.

Apple’s iPhone ‘Recall-gate’ Scandal

This news comes from South Korea where Apple’s iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are outselling Samsung’s own flagship Galaxy line, so take it with more than the usual grain of salt.

I’m calling it ‘Recall-gate:’

Apple pretty much dismissed any concerns with iPhone 6 Plus bending, even though there’s plenty of proof that, given enough pressure, the phone does indeed bend. We haven’t experienced that under normal usage situations, however, and that problem seems to have mostly quieted down.

Maybe that’s because it wasn’t really a problem. The Eiffel Tower is likely to bend, too, ‘given enough pressure.’

Good grief. What’s next? The unofficial gobbledygook from Business Korea:

Apple opted to use triple-level cell (TLC) NAND flash storage in the iPhone 6 Plus to save costs over multi-level cell (MLC) NAND flash storage that’s used in other iPhone models. The problem, Business Korea explained, is that while TLC can store more data, it’s also slower and less stable than the other options available, which may be one reason why the iPhone 6 Plus with 128GB of storage crashes. The site also points to known problems with the controller IC, or integrated circuit, that has also been recognized in Samsung SSD products that use the same NAND flash.

Wow. That sounds serious. How will Apple respond?

Some in the industry think that if TLC flash is indeed the cause of the defects, Apple might recall all of the products that have been sold so far.

Some in the industry?‘ I wonder; do they work for Samsung? Meanwhile, my 128GB iPhone 6 Plus works just fine.

Half Price Oil, Not Half Price Gasoline

Maybe you noticed that gasoline prices have dropped in recent months. That’s due to the price of oil nearing the half way mark from all-time record highs. Loren Steffy:

Oil prices on the world market have fallen more than 25 percent since June, and the price of West Texas Intermediate crude, the U.S. benchmark, is now trading at a three-year low of $76 a barrel, down from more than $107.

Isn’t it funny that gasoline prices, though down, haven’t dropped a similar percentage?

My Father’s Sadness

My father hails from Scotland, where drinking is an art form. He was saddened by this bit of news from Japan:

A Japanese single malt whisky was named the world’s best for the first time by a prestigious guide released Monday, which failed to place a Scotch in its top ranking.

The Yamazaki Single Malt Sherry Cask 2013 was described as “thick, dry, as rounded as a snooker ball” by Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible, which awarded it a record-equalling 97.5 points out of 100.

Hence the sadness. How did this happen?

Whisky has been made commercially in Japan since the 1920s after a Japanese student who studied in Glasgow, Masataka Taketsuru, moved home with his Scottish wife and helped start the Yamazaki distillery near Kyoto.

What about the great U.S. makers?

Yamazaki’s maker, Japan’s Suntory Holdings, bought the US maker of Jim Beam bourbon for nearly $16 billion earlier this year.

My father is in mourning and you know what the Scots do when they mourn?

Why And How Apple Pay Succeeds (and why and how Walmart-backed MCX fails)

The mainstream tech media seems to think Apple is locked in yet another battle that, inevitably, it will lose, going up against Walmart-backed MCX (Merchant Customer Exchange) in the rapidly growing mobile payment arena.

Here’s the problem with that analysis. It is shortsighted, self-serving, and just plain wrong. Here’s why.

First of all, Apple Pay works on the existing network of NFC systems, which, by this time next year, will be nearly ubiquitous across the U.S., dwarfing MCX, despite the presence of Walmart and other big box store merchants looking to shave a percent or two off their credit card feeds.

Second, for now, MCX is debit card, not credit card, which means it’s aimed more at the lower socio economic strata of card holder– the Walmart folks– and not those with more discriminating tastes regarding purchases, finances, and methods of payment.

Third, NFC-based mobile payment systems have been available in the U.S. for a few years, including Google Wallet, and the tens of millions of Android smartphones with NFC installed. Yet, only now are mobile payments growing because Apple Pay entered the market, and within days became the most used mobile payment system.

Finally, MCX is doomed, at least in the current incarnation, because of the effort required to make a purchase. I base this upon personal experience with all three systems– Google Wallet, MCX and CurrentC (the iPhone app), and, now, Apple Pay and my iPhone 6. Try all three apps and tell me which one you want to use.

Once my bank and credit card were available for Apple Pay it took all of about one minute to get it set up, and almost 15-seconds to make a purchase. I entered my newly approved credit card into Passbook on the iPhone. It took less than a minute to enter and get verified. Then I went shopping. The first purchase took 15 seconds. My purchase was scanned by the clerk. I pointed the iPhone 6 at the NFC scanner. My bank card icon appeared on the iPhone screen. I pressed Touch ID. Transaction completed.

That’s how to buy something, Apple style.

Google Wallet has been around awhile already, as have NFC-equipped Android smartphones, and Apple Pay topped the number of users and transactions on mobile payment systems in a week (and only on iPhone 6 models). MCX is a mobile payment system designed for the retailer to collect information about the customer, and to bypass the major credit cards and their fees. Google Wallet is a mobile payment system designed for Google to collect information about the customer’s usage and buying habits to sell to advertisers.

Apple Pay, already more secure and easier to use than other systems, is also the most private. The merchant does not know who you are. They get their money and that’s about it. Even Apple doesn’t care what you bought or when or from whom or why.

It doesn’t matter much if Apple retains the title of most used mobile payment system in the U.S., as a system that brings delight to tens of millions of customers, it will succeed because it is secure and customer centric. So, I’m a little unclear on the specifics dear technorati elite media writers. How is it again that Apple Pay will fail because of big bad Walmart and Google?

Read The Reviews

Walmart’s MCX-based Apple Pay competitor is the CurrentC app, for Android and iOS devices. Check out the reviews on the iTunes App Store. Over 3,000 reviews, averaging one star. A sample.

Terrible. Design fail. What idiot green lit this? Use at your own risk. I wish I could give less stars. Do not support. Insecure and outdated. Horrible. Be ashamed. Be very ashamed. Hacker paradise. Useless. Nightmare. Absolute failure.

Those are collected titles on the first page of reviews. Many are worse.

Amazon: Fire Phone Pricing ‘Wrong’

What a shock. Charlie Osborne with the skinny on Amazon’s latest in a long trail of product failures.

Last week, the online retail giant released third-quarter financial results which fell far short of expectations. The Seattle-based firm reported a net loss of $437 million, and Amazon CTO Tom Szkutak disclosed the firm took a $170 million charge “primarily related to Fire phone inventory valuation and supplier commitment costs.”

Amazon’s VP David Limp:

I think people come to expect a great value, and we sort of mismatched expectations. We thought we had it right. But we’re also willing to say, ‘we missed.’ And so we corrected.


The Father Of Android Says ‘Buh Bye’

Co-founder and former head of Google’s Android mobile business, Andy Rubin, is leaving Google. WSJ:

Google executive Sundar Pichai took over Android from Mr. Rubin in early 2013. Mr. Pichai is considered a more open, collaborative executive more suited to the task of keeping Android’s various partners, including handset makers and wireless-network operators, in the fold.

Whereby none of the entities ‘in the fold’ make much money, Google included.

Beleaguered Samsung

Everything you ever wanted to know about how Android’s flagship manufacturer is falling on hard times. Jan Dawson on what went wrong:

Differentiation has always been the key to high margins in consumer electronics, and Samsung has failed to achieve it. Differentiation at the high end would mean a focus not just on premium materials but premium software and services, a far cry from Samsung’s past focus on gimmicks and unattractive UIs. Differentiation at the low end is much tougher, because it comes down to acceptable performance at the lowest price, which others now do at least as well as Samsung.

Android is like Windows. Both brands are perceived as ‘cheap’ so customers don’t migrate to more expensive (and more profitable) models.

Revealed: How I Capture Articles Online To Share Between My Mac, iPhone, And iPad

Apple’s customers are the company’s biggest asset. It’s not design or engineering or stores or distribution. It’s the customers. We evangelize, we criticize (with love), we tolerate mistakes and gaffes (with patience), and we’re willing to stand in line among our brothers and sisters to await Apple’s latest products.

Part of my evangelizing nature is to share applications I use and the reasons they’re worth trying. Here’s a perfect example of a perfect app that fits perfectly within and between Apple’s Mac, iPhone, and iPad– and performs a singular duty to help us organize an increasingly complex digital world.

The app is called Pocket. It’s free. It runs on Mac, iPhone, iPad, and a bunch of other devices. All it does is let you save and sync articles, videos, and the like– to Mac, iPhone, iPad, or other device.

For Apple products, installing Pocket means it shows up as an option to save. Once you save an article from a website or Flipboard or whatever, it gets synchronized between your devices running Pocket, so you can read the aforementioned article whenever and wherever.

Pocket for the Mac looks a bit like an RSS reader but unlike RSS, you’re in control of what you save for later.

Pocket for Mac

I use all three versions of Pocket about equally; Mac, iPhone, iPad. What is especially useful is the offline feature. Pocket doesn’t care if you’re connected. Once items are synced, they’re viewable anywhere. Mountaintop or subway.

Pocket is just one of those new age apps that fits today’s mostly digital information lifestyle. The business plan worries me, though. Pocket is a free app. The sync service is free, too. Pocket Premium comes with a nominal monthly or annual price tag and, like Evernote, probably is worthwhile to the very serious reader, researcher, student, or media hound, as it comes with enhanced tags and search functions.

One issue of the information age (or, as some call it, the mis-information age), is the disparate sources of information collection and viewing. I use Pocket, an RSS reader, and Evernote; each is a bit different, used differently, but valuable enough to keep around and mold into the daily workflow.

Wouldn’t it be great to have a single app that does all those three apps do?

Unlimited Doesn’t Mean Limited

I dumped AT&T because their unlimited data plan was throttled, which limited unlimited data. Years later the FTC agrees. From L.A. Times:

The Federal Trade Commission is suing AT&T Wireless, saying it is seeking millions of dollars in restitution for customers who were promised unlimited data plans by the wireless carrier, only to have their mobile network speeds slowed in a practice known as data throttling

FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramierez:

The company has misled millions of its mobile customers … with so-called unlimited data plans that were in reality not unlimited at all… We think that millions of customers have been affected, and we hope to put money back in their pockets

AT&T’s response:

The FTC’s allegations are baseless and have nothing to do with the substance of our network management program. It’s baffling as to why the FTC would choose to take this action against a company that, like all major wireless providers, manages its network resources to provide the best possible service to all customers, and does it in a way that is fully transparent and consistent with the law and our contracts

Maybe the FTC’s lawsuit has something to do with AT&T changing the definition of unlimited to mean limited.

TV: A Whopper Of A Change

IF the FCC gets what it wants, we’ll see a tidal wave of change hit the television industry in a few short years. Nilay Patel:

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler just proposed a rule change that would require cable and broadcast networks to sell their programming to any company that wants to be a TV provider, not just cable or satellite companies. That means Apple could set up an internet TV service and get all the channels it needs to actually replace your cable box — not just a handful of streaming deals like it has now, but a full-on TV package. Microsoft could do the same thing and properly integrate live TV into the next version of the Xbox One, instead of the ill-fated IR blaster hack shipping now. And Google could actually deliver on the promise of Google TV, instead of wiping out so hard it almost crushed Logitech into a fine powder

It could be a huge change, but I’m not holding my breath. The FCC’s recent history of doing the right thing isn’t all that good.

The Crazy World Of Apple’s ‘Limited’ Product Line

At first glance it may seem that Apple does not design, manufacture, and sell many products. Apple CEO Tim Cook brags that all the company’s products would fit on a kitchen table. Maybe so at a basic level, but Apple’s product line is much longer than you might think.

For example, there’s the Mac. That means MacBook Air and MacBook Pro. And the iMac and Mac Pro. Toss in the Mac mini, and all together they won’t take up much space on the kitchen table. Except the MacBook Air comes in two screen sizes, 11-inch and 13-inch, not to mention many variations for CPU, storage, RAM, etc. Ditto for the MacBook Pro line, at 13-inch and 15-inch, respectively. There’s even a MacBook Pro model with a disk drive, and another with an almost defunct SuperDrive.

The iMac line is equally complex, starting with a few inexpensive 21-inch models, a variety of CPU and storage options, a separate line of 27-inch screens, and the high end 27-inch iMac with Retina 5K display.

Apple sells only the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, right? Not so fast. The iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c are still around, and each comes in a variety of models based on color and carrier and storage capacity.

The iPod continues to sell, though is relegated to niche status, though not so niche-like with various models in multiple colors– iPod shuffle, iPod nano, iPod touch.

Probably the most convoluted product line on the kitchen table is the iPad. There’s just the new iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3, right? Yeah, except for the fact that the iPad Air and iPad mini 2 and the original iPad mini are still around and still selling, starting at $249, each with options for Wi-Fi only, or Wi-Fi plus Cellular, and in various storage capacities. Apple even promotes the iPad’s various CPUs, from A5 to A7 to A8x.

Good, better, best still lives at Apple in 2014.

Apple’s seemingly limited product line isn’t really limited much at all. Choices abound, though all product models have a similar look, and distinct product segmentation. Starting next year, Apple adds to the line with another single product, the Apple Watch, which, when you start looking at the options for bands and cases, could be an inventory nightmare.

Apple’s product line starts with simplicity, but quickly evolves into an array of options topped among competitors in the marketplace only by Samsung (I’m making a guesstimate; hit samsung.com and you’ll be treated with large graphic displays of the Galaxy line of smartphones– and washers and dryers and refrigerators and notebooks and links to a gazillion other products from TVs to Galaxy Gear to cameras to microwaves; no way all that fits on a kitchen dining table).

There’s not much that’s limited in Apple’s product line.