The MacBook Is the Worst of Both Worlds
Every now and then I hear someone ask why Apple’s MacBook couldn’t fill that middle ground between using an iPad and a MacBook Pro. One thing is certain, only people who primarily use a Mac ask that question.
Factory Automation Is Our Only Hope
About once a month Glenn Beck freaks out on his radio show over the coming AI apocalypse. He’s worried that one day companies will have so many robots that no one will have jobs to do. His problem is that he constantly talks to people who know a lot about tech. But not much about manufacturing or economics.
Step 1 – Get into consumer’s homes with an always-on listening cylinder
Step 2 – Add a 7” screen to make video calling possible
Step 3 – Make it thinner and give it an all-day battery so that it’s portable.
Step 4 – Add a small pocket-sized version with cellular so that you can take it with you out of the house.
Remember the great economic collapse of 2008? Millions of people lost their jobs…and their health insurance. When the Democrats try to make the argument that Obamacare has allowed millions of people to get health insurance, they always compare to this specific low point. It’s a bogus stat that is doctored for propaganda purposes. As the economy recovered and the unemployment rate went down, guess what happened? More people gained health insurance because they got a job.
Tablets Make More Sense in the Office
I enjoyed the movie The Circle and highly recommend it. Before it came out I had written about how it appeared to be more about Google than Apple. But after actually seeing the movie, I think it's probably more about Facebook than anyone.
I Told You So
Privacy is kind of like your local police force. It’s crucial to an orderly society, but most people don’t need it very often. Nonetheless, it’s crucial that both privacy and your local police force are maintained.
Ars Technica is reporting this week that more Android apps than ever are covertly listening for inaudible signals in broadcast media.
The apps silently listen for ultrasonic sounds that marketers use as high-tech beacons to indicate when a phone user is viewing a TV commercial or other type of targeted audio. A representative sample of just five of the 234 apps have been downloaded from 2.25 million to 11.1 million times, according to researchers, citing official Google Play figures. None of them discloses the tracking capabilities in their privacy policies. –Dan Goodwin, Ars Technica
The Free Market Works
If I could interview any one person in the Trump administration it would be Ajit Pai. This guy is brilliant and probably one of Donald Trump’s top three appointments. He’s a free market capitalist that understands the big picture of the internet and the threats that are arrayed against it. I heard him on a podcast while out running today and couldn’t resist posting a link to his fifteen-minute interview by Glenn Beck.
You’ll need to fast-forward to the 1:11:20 mark:
5/2/17 – Ajit Pai, Christina Hoff Sommers, and Steve Deace Join Glenn Beck
Net neutrality is a horrendous idea that threatens the very foundations of the internet economy. It is the equivalent of enacting 1950’s communist Russian policies in America. In other words, it stifles innovation. Most tech blogs don’t understand the ramifications of net neutrality and have an almost child-like understanding of economics. Their primary error is in believing that the net owes the little guy equal access to resources. This isn’t true in the real world nor should it be true on the internet.
Let me give you a brief example. Let’s say that you think you could build a better iPhone. You draw up your schematics and go out to buy your materials. You are then shocked to find that you can’t get as good of a price for memory chips, displays, and aluminum as Apple (AAPL). Your competitor to the iPhone is going to cost you $2,000 per unit to produce. You cry foul that the system is rigged against you. Your material vendors say “No, you just don’t buy enough materials to get an Apple-level discount.”
This is why small businesses rarely attack large corporations head-on. They look for niche markets where the big guys don’t want to play, and they can charge higher prices to cover their cost of business. Internet companies will have to be no different. If you want to attack Google by starting a business out of your basement, good luck with that. But if you design something unique like Plex, more power to you.
But using government regulations to ensure everyone has equal access to resources is a communist idea that no one outside of North Korea should be gullible enough to believe.
The Danger of Net Neutrality
Net Neutrality and the California Drought
iMessage Could Be the Big Winner
I had written last week about how Apple could play the low-price game and win. They haven’t yet, out of a fierce protectionism around their premium iPhone business. This tactic makes sense when you are getting fat profit margins on massive volume. Apple is set up to harvest as much profit out of the iPhone as possible. Perhaps to the detriment of its services.
Pushing the Boundaries of the Material World
When it comes to iPhone hardware, Apple is doing exactly what I thought they should do. They’re “going deep”.
Only in the last month, three things have come up which show either how Apple is getting further involved in new components or getting more of a return from it.
Renting vs Streaming Your Music
A couple of years ago after Apple announced Apple Music, I decided to bite the bullet and do the math behind what the real cost of renting my music library would be. I tried to evaluate the choice the same way a corporation would evaluate a rent-vs-purchase decision. Anyone considering signing up for a streaming service should read this just so that they’re aware of what they are giving up.
Don't Mess With Privacy
So, the New York Times is reporting that Tim Cook threatened to pull Uber from the App Store.
For months, Mr. Kalanick had pulled a fast one on Apple by directing his employees to help camouflage the ride-hailing app from Apple’s engineers. The reason? So Apple would not find out that Uber had secretly been tracking iPhones even after its app had been deleted from the devices, violating Apple’s privacy guidelines.
But Apple was on to the deception, and when Mr. Kalanick arrived at the midafternoon meeting sporting his favorite pair of bright red sneakers and hot-pink socks, Mr. Cook was prepared. “So, I’ve heard you’ve been breaking some of our rules,” Mr. Cook said in his calm, Southern tone. Stop the trickery, Mr. Cook then demanded, or Uber’s app would be kicked out of Apple’s App Store. –Mike Isaac, New York Times
But Why Would They Do It?
Periodically the manufacturing analyst in me wonders what kind of market share Apple could command in the mobile-phone space if they were to intentionally make a push into the budget arena. Not that that they ever would, and I don’t think I’d ever recommend it, but I can’t help but ponder the question. Would Apple be successful at it?
Android Could Be in Trouble
Apple has spent a long time cultivating a big lead in mobile processors for its iPhone and iPad. They aren’t sparing any amount of time and treasure, and yet, very few seem to be asking why. Apple isn’t interested in simply owning bragging rights by consistently beating Samsung in mobile phone speed tests. The big picture is…bigger.
So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish
In the world of tech journalism they don’t come any bigger than Walt Mossberg. He is to journalism as Tom Brady is to Football. Huge. I started reading his stuff when he was with the Wall Street Journal and later when he co-founded Recode. And yet, no matter how big of a celebrity he got to be, his writing was always to the common man. I appreciated that. Now after 47 years of journalism he’s retiring.
Walt wrote me a nice e-mail a couple of months after I had started my blog and complimented one of my posts as being a “smart piece”. I was absolutely beaming for a week. The thing was, unbeknownst to Walt, I was on the verge of giving up on blogging. His compliment came at just the right time that I decided to keep going.
Even though Walt was at the top of the tech world I appreciated his willingness to take a few minutes out of his day to say a few kind words to a nobody like me. He may even have forgotten, but I never will.
Thanks Walt and enjoy your retirement.
Apple Needs to Add One More Disclaimer
My wife and I enjoy going out for walks after dinner. We always take our iPhones with us but we never use them. They only serve as communication beacons for our Apple Watches. Often while out walking, one of us may punctuate our conversation with a quick text back to the kids to remind them about something. Or we’ll receive a text that needs a quick response.
Single-Threaded Performance Is More Important Than Multi-Threaded
This is too funny to let slip by unmentioned. So what happens when you gather the best that Android has to offer and put them up against Apple's aging iPhone 7? The iPhone is already past halfway through its life cycle.
Now Samsung Values Hand Feel?
I had written yesterday about a couple of reasons that I didn’t want Apple to make Samsung’s mistake in opting for a taller and narrower aspect ratio. This form handicaps both watching landscaped video in portrait mode and reaching the top of the screen.
But the drawbacks don’t stop there. There is also the issue of how websites look on a mobile phone screen. Simply put, the web looks better on a wider screen than a narrow one. More horizontal space allows for larger font sizes for your text. Extra vertical space does not. You get more text, but the font size isn’t any larger. The net result is that web pages are much more readable on phones that have a fatter aspect ratio.
Width Is Good and the Galaxy S8 Was a Mistake
All the rumors about Apple changing the aspect ratio of the next iPhone to a taller and narrower screen are troubling. I’m hoping that they’re wrong but the release of Samsung’s Galaxy S8 in a taller and narrower configuration have me starting to think it might happen.
Some Things Get Better With Age
Apple’s Live Photos are seriously cool. Only, I didn’t realize this until about a month ago because Live Photos are like an old school yearbook. When you first get it, you thumb though the pages once and throw it on a shelf to collect dust. Only years later do you actually appreciate seeing the names and faces of people who you never thought you’d forget, jogging your memory.
Apple(AAPL) announced last week that they are starting over with the Mac Pro and redesigning it from the ground up. We were told not to expect it any time in 2017. Which has a lot of people asking a couple of questions.
The Majority Subsidize the Few
I was never really worried that Apple would kill the Mac Pro. It’s the MacBook Pro that has me worried. Most people would find that preposterous because the MacBook Pro is the lions share of a stable market. Further, Apple’s executive management has just came out verbally stating their commitment to the Mac. Everyone assumes that applies to the MacBooks as well.
I’m finding Apple’s new Theatre Mode on the Apple Watch quite handy. I used to get self-conscious about my watch going off in concerts, classes, or church because I didn’t want the screen to light up if I raised my arm in the air. So a big thanks to Apple for putting my mind at ease about that.
Anyone who doesn’t think that something like this is in our future either has their head in the sand or is a Mac App developer. Samsung's dockable Galaxy S8 is yet another entrant into the smartphone as a computer market for a big reason. I’m surrounded daily by busy professionals who spend more time out of their office than in it. These guys for the most part manage their days using Apple’s iPhone. More and more, laptop computers are becoming like those big wired phones that sit on everyone’s desk. Anyone who ignores this new trend does so at their own peril.
Big Data Is Not the Answer
Great interview with one of the leading experts on AI, Gary Marcus, by Alice Lloyd George who was writing for TechCrunch. Like myself, he’s skeptical of how far companies like Google can get with big data when it comes to artificial intelligence.
The Limits of Artificial Intelligence
Manufacturing and distribution analysis since 1993.