Tech Headlines From The Last Week.


As I continue to fight off some sort of cold, or flu, or death, or whatever it is, it’s time for another review of recent headlines.

Leopard’s Translucent Menu Bar.

OK, I’m convinced I’m the only one who likes the Leopard menu bar. Fine, sue me. As near as I can tell every Mac user on the planet but me cannot sleep and will not rest until the menu goes back to its (*yawn*) former self.

That’s fine, and as long as I can keep mine the way it is I’m all for people getting back to the Tiger bar if that’s what they want.

However, some of the arguments against the new bar are just silly. Not least of which is the one presented here. OMG! The “o” in an iTunes menu looks weird! How could Apple not have caught this in QA?! This is clearly proof that Apple doesn’t know what they’re doing!


Oh, and those of you who hate the new Dock, I disagree there, too. Oooh, there are multiple shadows on the iconc, it’s a travesty of design! Are you people only ever in a room with one light source? You got a spotlight on you all the time? I frequently see items with multiple shadows, and so would you if you were half as observant in the real world as you’ve been with the Dock.

That said, I believe the color of the Dock shelf is too light for the desktops I tend to choose, so I went with a darker color and love it. With or without the color change, Tiger’s Dock looks lifeless, flat, and so 2000 to me now.

Again, whatever.

MS Surface Delayed Until 2008.


Does this surprise anyone? The demo video Microsoft put together is known to be half-vapor anyway, and the technology is nothing new. But as I pointed out at the time, in the iPhone Apple’s technology is not just a different approach than Microsoft’s (and others’), but also a practical one. Since then, Apple has sold a million and a half portable, real-world touch-screen devices in the USA alone, while MS has had to delay their “big ass table”.

Linux Question And Answer.

I found this interesting because it’s a great example of outlining a lot of stuff that can never happen to claim what will make something a success. It’s like saying if Mercedes Benz could sell their cars for half-price they’d be more popular. So? It’s never going to happen.

When I look at this list, frankly, I see items 2, 3, 7, 8, 9, 11, and 12 as never happening. Indeed, don’t 3 and 12 run counter to Linux distros? Why tout “free”, then include licensed items? And you can’t ignore the “nerds” because they’re the ones that kept you (and are helping to keep you) alive. In fact, aren’t they the ones contributing the most code?

I think the items require a degree of agreement that the various parties required simply won’t ever come to.

Let’s face it, Linux’s primary feature for the consumer is that it’s “free”. But it’s only “free” if you happen to have a PC hanging around on which to install it. If you buy a PC with Linux pre-installed, where’s the “free”? Seriously. I can get a Vista laptop from HP or Dell, or a MacBook from Apple, or a Ubuntu laptop from System 76. The latter’s Gazelle, outfitted similar to a base MacBook, is $1,027. At only $74 more, the MacBook includes better software in iLife, a web camera, longer battery life, “N”-spec wireless networking, in a smaller, lighter package. (You can get better video and a webcam in the Gazelle for $200 more).

So, where is the “free”? The fact is the OS is not that great a cut of the computer pie at anything other than the dirt-cheap level, and anyone buying there is, frankly, not that particular about what they get.

Dell Price Advantage Disappearing.

Like a lot of Mac “news”, the price advantage shrinking between Dell and Apple has actually been true for a while.

At the mid- and high-end of desktops, Apple has been competitive with similarly configured PCs for a while. They’re not always the least expensive but they’re competitive, especially given their aesthetic and software advantages. I wrote about this in the areas of price and software shortly after I got my iMac.

Apple has a better price edge in their laptop line than in desktops. In other words, starting where Apple enters the laptop market (i.e, the base MacBook) they are immediately competitive with similarly configured laptops. This is different than desktops, where Apple enters the market with the Mac mini, which is not particularly competitive against similarly configured PCs.

Excellent Music Commentary: The Greenfield Report.

A couple of my favorite quotes:

“The major labels will not rule the music landscape in the future. No way. They’re just too fucking stupid. Holding on so tightly to what they had, and wanting acts to give them ever more. It’s not about the disc business, or the t-shirt business, but the FAN BUSINESS! And the majors have disrespected fans FOREVER! Until the majors realize THEY made music free, they’ve got no hope.”

“Oh, what a long strange trip it’s been. And who do we have to blame? Industry strongmen Doug Morris and Zach Horowitz. Who not only refused to embrace Napster, but sued Bertelsman and everybody else involved. Winning the battle, but losing the war. Making some money now, but destroying the future.”

I still think the future of music business and sales is up in the air. People point to Radiohead’s online distribution of their album as the future, but I disagree. At least I disagree with the way Radiohead did it, which I considered to be as disrespectful to downloaders as the labels have been. Clearly, some artists want to dictate how their music is consumed, the customer be damned. Ultimately they will do no better than the labels.

I keep waiting for some label to approach Apple (or Amazon) with something truly different: DRM-free music, individual tracks no greater than 79 cents, albums no greater than $5.99. The fact is the biggest issue even with DRM-free music files is that $10 for an album is too much. If can sell physical CDs (all of them) for only $6.99 each, and eMusic can sell downloaded albums for an average price of around $3.50, then iTunes and Amazon charging $9 or $10 is borderline robbery.

Movie Rentals May Be Coming To iTunes.

This is just a rumor but I thought I’d comment on it anyway. I am not a video guy, but I really think an iTunes video rental would be a great idea. People like to rent videos, and iTunes could pull it off nicely since I think the terms would be relatively generous, and we know the user experience would be nice.

Biggest question I have is if the content providers (which provide Apple squat for video sales) would be any nicer about rentals. They’re trying to kill Apple in the video market, so it will be interesting to see if they’d open their catalogs for rental. If not, then this cannot possibly be the success it could otherwise be; currently there’s simply not enough video content in iTunes upon which to build much of a rental store.

Google’s New Non-phone.

Wasn’t Open Social vapor enough? Now Google has formed a handset alliance and, no matter how you read it, it’s purpose is to allow Google to get ads all over your phone. Who really wants this?

And with 30 companies involved, how can the resulting designs avoid the “designed by committee” look and function? That’s never a good thing. Or, if they don’t all follow each other, then how can they avoid being just as different from each other and carrier-specific as they are now, so then what’s the point? It seems like a lose-lose to me (except for Google, of course).

It’s interesting how quickly second-rate or desperate players in the game will line up behind a big dog even when the big dog is attempting something that dogs don’t normally do. Why believe that Google can suddenly write killer software? Why believe users will have no issue with ads plastered on their phone? Why believe Google is even remotely interested in the alliance members and won’t ignore or drop those that don’t seem to be doing them any good?

With these phones at least a year off it means a lot of players who might possibly (though not likely) have competed with the iPhone are now tied up for a year. A year in which Apple will not stand still, that’s for sure. A year from now there will certainly be more than one iPhone model (and price point) to compete against.

Meanwhile, as we all wait to see the fruits of this alliance’s collective wisdom — and our phones covered with ads — keep in mind there’s at least one other attempt at advertising that’s even worse.

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