Posts Tagged Apple

Google and Apple and Schmidt, Oh My

google-apple-schmidtThere was an interesting article by Tom Krazit on Webware today.  In it, he directly addresses the CEO of Google, Eric Schmidt, and calls for Schmidt to step down from his seat on the Board of Directors at Apple.  While some in the comments became hung up on the delivery of the message, found an opportunity to take a shot a Microsoft, or talked about the Google conspiracy of stealing all of your secrets, I read more into the meat of the article.

The quick background as to why Krazit wrote his article is because Google announced today that they will be releasing a new product called “Google Chrome OS” next year.  The OS, or Operating System, is the “root” of what runs your computer’s software, modern mobile phone, GPS and just about anything else.  In the PC world, there are several, most notable are Microsoft Windows, Apple OSX and many flavors of Linux.  Google already had a web browser, released last year, called Chrome.  The big deal here is Chrome OS is it’s own operating system that sits on a Linux kernel.  The main focus will be accessing the web, and that’s it.  Because it cuts out the idea of native applications (apps that are installed locally and thus take up system resources), this OS can be stripped down to the bare minimum, and be extremely fast and versatile.  Anything that it runs will be web-based, which means anything that you can access now online will run on it.  Google explained further that it will be available, initially, on netbook computers starting in the latter half of 2010, a year from now.  You have to start some place, right?  Oh wait, they already did!  Google acquired the mobile phone software company, Android, back in 2005, and created (along with the Open Handset Alliance), the Android mobile phone operating system, which was installed on mobile phones starting last year.  People who use it like the phones, although the hardware itself gets more of the negative press.

We’re in a world of technological change, and that change is happening faster than anything we have ever seen before.  It’s not only because of the big companies and their big software.  A lot of the driving force now is from the small developers.  Apple opened the iPhone/Touch App Store to any developer, and allowing those developers to set the prices.  At last press release in June, Apple stated there were over 50,000 apps in their Apps Store.  Research In Motion, the manufacturer of the Blackberry phones, created their own App World with the same concept back in April, and already has over 2000 applications.  The Android Market boasts the same for Android users.
Another aspect of this drive is something called “open source”.  Basically what it means is the code is free to the public to alter, update, fix and enhance, collaboratively.  This has been around for a long time, and is what the Linux OS and it’s many flavors is based on.  There have been many open source applications available for essentially all platforms, and most of that software is free.  Because it’s run by the community, the support is usually excellent and fast, if you know where to look.  Never is the support for an open source program outsourced to someone not speaking your language who has no knowledge of what you’re talking about, and is simply running through a prepared script.  Well Google stated that Chrome OS will be released to open source later this year.  The myriad of “new eyes” will optimize the code, make it more secure, and concentrate on web coding standards that the likes of Internet Explorer abandoned and manipulated for their own purpose in years past.

Innovation will be the end result of all of this.  Innovation driven by independent coders.  They will continue to see the opportunity to build a business for themselves, take part in something they love doing, or take pride in making something better for others.  Innovation driven by competition.  Microsoft, the behemoth, has been slapped around in the browser wars lately because faster, less bloated, and more standards-compliant browsers have been released by Mozilla (Firefox), Apple (Safari), Google (Chrome) and Opera.  It has forced Microsoft to go back and do things differently.  Internet Explorer 8, released in March, is faster and more standards-compliant than it has been in a very long time.  (Still not good enough for me to go back to, but that’s a digression.)  That’s good.  Apple and Linux OS releases have also hurt Microsoft’s Windows foothold and gained ground in the install base.  No small feat considering the market share Windows has enjoyed.  Granted it’s partly because of Apple’s rebirth, Linux becoming more mainstream-friendly, and in no small part Vista’s horrendous launch and subsequent 2-1/2 year marketing damage control efforts.  We’re hearing from many locations that the new version, Windows 7, is better than all previous releases.  That’s good.
If they push each other, if the coders push on each other, and consumers push via our money… we win, as innovation happens.

Getting back to Mr. Krazit’s call for Schmidt to step down from Apple’s board, I agree.  Government regulators have come down ridiculously hard on Microsoft regarding their anti-trust practices.  Was Microsoft practicing hard-handed anti-trust?  Of course they were.  But some regulators have taken it far enough to stifle some of Microsoft’s innovation, and in some areas it seems Microsoft is playing catch-up.  Regulators have started paying more attention to Google because of their increasing size and scope.  If the CEO of Google, who is now in the business of application development as well as operating system development, is also on a Apple’s Board, who also develops applications and operating systems, these regulators will pay even more attention.  More attention may lead to government intervention, anti-trust issues, extensive costs, and less innovation.

I use products from Microsoft, Linux, Apple and Google every day.  I do love them, but I want them to be better.  I’m selfish.  I want innovation.

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Apple and the State of Biased Tech

OK, here’s the background on yours truly.  I’ve never owned an Apple product, until the iPod 3rd Generation (first non-Mini with the click-wheel).  Now we (my wife and I) have a total of three Apple products.  I have my iPod (and use it every day for my podcast and audiobook absorbtion on my commute), an iPhone 3G as my phone, and my wife has an iPod Nano.  I’ve always owned, and built, PC’s based on Windows.  In my years working in IT (over 20 now), I’ve never come across an Apple computer that I had to support.
apple-iphone-3g-sSo as can be assessed by this little bit of information, I’m in no way an Apple fanboy.  My iPod changed the way I ingest media, as I no longer carry CDs in my car, I listen to a bunch of podcasts and also listen to audiobooks on my 45+ minute commute each way.  All of our CDs are boxed up in the basement.  My daughter sleeps to music every night, and until recently listened to “kids music” on CD… then she became a Beatles fan.  We have The Beatles: One, and she asked for the CD to listen to… it took 20 minutes to find the damn thing!  I almost considered buying her an iPod, but her radio doesn’t have an input jack… but I digress.
My iPod changed the way I listen to music, and more importantly to me, how I get entertainment in my car.  My iPhone changed the way I use my phone.  Admittedly it’s the first true “smart phone” I’ve ever had.  I played with a few PDA’s in the past, but they lost their luster for me quickly.  They were either clunky, feature-poor, or just not a good user experience.  My iPhone is the first device where I have my phone, email, gaming and the full Internet on one device, right in my pocket.  Never have bathroom breaks been more enjoyable!  This is the second generation iPhone, not the original one.  I wish I were an early adopter, but to be honest, I can’t afford to be one.  Instead, I rely heavily on unbiased consumer opinions moreso than the mainstream tech “pundits”.  I consider myself a smart consumer as a result, mostly out of necessity… I personally can’t drop hundreds of dollars on an unproven piece of tech, no matter how awesome it may seem, and more to the point, how much I may wanty.  For me, it was just good timing all around.  My three-plus year old Motorola Razr was literally falling apart (one of the two hinges had a piece missing, so I had to be careful with the flip of my flip phone), I was “eligible for an upgrade” (one of the biggest pieces of bullshit anti-consumerism out there, but I won’t talk about it right now), and the iPhone 3G was just released.  I was interested in the original iPhone, but it wasn’t until the advent of the iTunes “App Store” that really had me excited.  The fact that any developer could create applications for the iPhone was huge, and iPhone (and iPod Touch) owners were no longer just tethered to the limited number of applications that come pre-installed… well that was the selling point.
In the eleven months that I’ve had it, I’m amazed at how many practical things I’ve been able to do with it, look up on it and help me make decisions with it.  It’s a computer with Internet connectivity, and it happens to have a phone built in.

So what prompted all of this is last week was the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference, where historically, Apple will announce new and updated products.  As expected, they announced an updated iPhone, the ’3G S’ model.  It’s faster, has a better camera, a new magnetometer, larger drive, but most of all, the updated operating system, version 3.0.  The phone itself comes out today, June 19th, but they made the OS available to us existing iPhone and iPod Touch users on Wednesday.  It’s an incremental update, and includes a bunch of features that should have been in the device from the very beginning (cut, copy & paste, a universal search ability, a voice recorder), but the Apple fanboys rejoice and jump around like it’s the coolest tech in the world (despite other devices already having those things).  I know that fanboys exist in anything related to tech and where “sides” can be chosen.  I’ve always been of the side of where it works best, regardless of who made it.  I mean, who really wants to get in a debate over whether a PC or a Mac computer is best?  Who really needs to throw barbs as to how the iPod is superior to the Microsoft Zune? (maybe a bad example here)  What person needs to belittle another over the “fact” that an XBox 360 pwns the PlayStation 3?

I don’t get it.  I’m thrilled that there is competition, and it drives the others to release better, more innovative products.  I’m a PC, but I love the fact that Mac is gaining market share… Windows 7 is looking great so far as a result.  I wonder how hard Microsoft would have pushed their R&D if the Nintendo Wii didn’t come from left field and take market share, mostly because of their innovative new controllers.  Microsoft announced Project Natal at E3, a full body controller (I wrote about it in a previous post).

Taking sides?  I choose innovation, over ANY side.  I want things to be better, stronger, faster.  I want my gaming, online and media experiences to wow me.  If it edges in that direction, I win, hell we all win.  I’ll choose the direction of my purchases based on the honest opinions of the reviewers out there.  If your review has high praise, and there’s a single “but”, I’ll take you seriously.  If you do nothing but praise and love and buy a product simply because it has “Apple”, “EA”, “RIM” as the manufacturer, then take your review and shove it.  You’re a putz not worthy of my read, simply open your eyes already, will you?  You’re an elitist, congratulations… now bite me.

I’ll sit down and tell you WHY I bought a product, and if I realize that I made a mistake after the fact, I’ll admit it.  I won’t, though, sit down and tell you why I’m right and why you’re wrong… and don’t try that with me.

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