Coffee Break, and Posting.

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The workday done, it’s time for a coffee break and some further reading up on today’s Apple announcements.

Got most of it covered, and have already installed iTunes 9 on three Macs (Home Sharing is awesome!). Also got iPhone OS 3.1 installed on an iPhone and iPod touch.

More to come.

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The Beatles in iTunes Tomorrow? I Doubt It, But Not Because of the Rolling Stones.

The Beatles Tomorrow? I Doubt It, But Not Because of the Rolling Stones.
Lots of people seem to think Apple couldn’t announce the Beatles resmastered work for sale on iTunes tomorrow because the invitations for the event used a variation of a line from a Rolling Stones song: “It’s only rock and roll but we like it.”
I don’t think that’s the reason at all. Here’s why:
Does it mean there is a Rolling Stones announcement tomorrow? Doubtful. Yet according to the theory there could be no other music sales announcement since a Rolling Stones song was used.
Had they used a Beatles song quote, surely it would have tipped their hand and, rumors aside, Apple would like to keep it under wraps as long as possible.
OK, but if the quote doesn’t preclude a Beatles announcement, then why do you think it won’t be announced?
Rock Band has been pumping up the volume on this for months, ever since the deal was inked. Further, there’s amajor push for the remaster themselves. I suspect the inytent is for RB ro fuel remasters sales, and vice versa. They don’t want the media frenzy to have a third story to write about (i.e., digital downloads). Yet.
It would be logical to hold off on the digital tunes to get as many early adaptors to buy thge boxed set. Presumable there’s moe money incolved there.
It wouldn;t even surprise me if digital download were specifically (and contractually) prohibited for X number of weeks/months after the 9/9 launch.
Why make a big deal out of the ultra-fidelity of a reamster, anbd then sell it as a compressed music file?
Here’s where it gets interesting, though. Could the Beatkles remasters be the event that finally kicks off a catalog avaialble in lossless format? That would crtainly address point #4 above. Sure, the file sizes are much greater, but Apple is routinely delivering movies and TV shows now so it’s not the isue it was when the store wa sopened six years ago.
IF lossless will be avaialble, then maybe it could be avaialble tomorrow, but it would still run counter to #2 above. Further, if any downloads were going to be available, why wouldn’t SApple have allowed pre-oreders, as they usually do, and as Amazon (and others) are doing for the boxed CDs?
Ultimately, I think no Beatles download sales tomorrow, but I do hope that when they are made avaialble a lossless option will be available.

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Lots of people seem to think Apple couldn’t announce the Beatles remastered catalog for sale on iTunes tomorrow because the invitations for the event used a variation of a line from a Rolling Stones song: “It’s only rock and roll but we like it.”

I don’t think that’s a valid reason; here’s why: Continue reading

More Apple-Bashing Nonsense: Since Microsoft Was So Bad, Shouldn’t Apple Be Stopped?

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Previously I wrote that the trolls are out for Apple, and to expect more ridiculous articles. Well, who better to supply one than Paul Thurrott, that constant source of Microsoft disinformation and FUD? Occasionally Thurrott reaches a new high in low, and did so with his post on Apple’s “culture of lies”. His ranting in this piece rivals that of Jason Calacanis’ recent nonsensical babbling about Apple; it’s that bad.

So Many Words, So Few That Matter

The only two things worth noting in the entire screed are these:

As I write this, Apple doesn’t quite have a monopoly in any given market

Yep, thanks, that covers Apple.

Microsoft got into antitrust trouble because they behaved in a manner that was illegal, but only for a company that holds monopoly power.

This is Paul’s way of admitting that Microsoft was operating illegally. Though he normally spends most of his time ignoring their history or re-writing it, today he’s coming clean. He added the last bit to setup the real purpose of his piece, which I’ll get to shortly. The bottom line is you can’t abuse a monopoly unless you are a monopoly, and simply becoming a monopoly doesn’t mean you’ll abuse it.

If you read the piece and think the above two quotes aren’t the only ones that matter, I suggest you check your driver’s license to see if your name is Ed Bott, or Randall Kennedy, or Mary Jo Foley, or Rob Enderle, or… well, you get the idea.

Why The Confession?

What it boils down to is that Microsoft is incredibly abusive. The Microsoft Tax was real, stolen code was real, back door deals and threats of retribution were real. There are thousands of pages of sworn testimony and emails from numerous court cases attesting to this. Microsoft is a text-book monopoly abuse case. (Just like past abusive monopolies, when cracks in the armor appeared the founder ran off and began his philanthropy.)

So why is Paul copping to Microsoft’s true history now? Simple. If he claims Apple could become the same thing, maybe he can get the public and government to do what Microsoft and their partners can’t: Put a dent in Apple’s growth and prevent them from stomping most everyone in the marketplace with their superior products.

Apple Abuse?

But to suggest potential abuse by Apple down the road is kind of silly. What are they gonna do?

  • Threaten the non-Apple 90% of PC manufacturers that they must bundle iTunes on their PCs or Apple will crush them? Heck, iTunes isn’t even bundled now, customers have to download and install it. There is a bundled media player, but that would be Microsoft’s.
  • Sell music tracks with DRM tied only to their own players with no way to defeat it? No, that was Microsoft. Apple never did, and ultimately removed DRM on music altogether.
  • App Store rejections? Compared to the ~70,000 apps approved, the percentage is tiny, and many were reconsidered and accepted. Most have shown to be a misunderstanding, or telling only one side of the story, or simple PR. Apple has admitted they’re working on the acceptance process, that’s not abuse.
  • Refuse to let iTunes “see” third-party devices? Nope. The devices are seen as external storage free to drag tracks onto. They don’t use Apple’s wonderful “sync” because Apple made that an advantage of their software. Other companies are free to do the same.
  • Refuse to let other companies write sync software for their devices? Nonsense. As I’ll discuss later, RIM already has.

Where is the abuse when there are no barriers of entry to compete with Apple? Microsoft’s proven this time and again as they continue to enter contestants (that keep getting clobbered). Google entered the fray with Android and nary a ripple from Apple. RIM made the Storm and Apple couldn’t have cared less. Palm did their Pre and, except for their pirating iTunes software by hacking, Apple doesn’t care. Further, any of these guys can write their own desktop software for their own devices to compete with iTunes any time they want.

The reason companies don’t want to write their own software now is because it takes time and effort, and they’re already so far behind they want to take shortcuts, including hacking into Apple’s good work. Wah! We didn’t have Apple’s foresight and vision, so they must let us use their stuff! It’s like the squealing two little pigs banging on the door of the house of bricks.

“I Know You Are But What Am I?”

For a while now, Microsoft and their press buddies have utilized a campaign to make Apple out to be just like them. They do this because they know they’re hated while Apple is not. Windows 7 is a service pack? Yeah, well so is Snow Leopard. Windows 7 leaves XP users in the dust (upgrade to painful)? Yeah, well Snow Leopard doesn’t work on non-Intel Macs. Windows is strewn with viruses? Hey, the Mac had a Trojan Horse so it’s just the same.

It’s odd that no one at Microsoft questions this strategy. I mean, when the worst insult you can hurl at your competitor is that they’re just like you, it reflects more on you than the competitor. It’s an acknowledgment that you suck, but the competitor rightfully says “No, we’re not like you, but thanks for admitting you suck”.

What Thurrott Really Wants

The real purpose of Thurrott’s piece is to get somebody, anybody, to stop Apple. So he threatens us with the only “weapon” he has, which is to claim Microsoft’s been a tyrant for 20 years and, gee whiz, let’s not let Apple be the same. He admits Apple isn’t there, but apparently Microsoft was so bad that we shouldn’t even wait this time! Let’s stop Apple before they’re guilty of anything. Wow.

There are just a few things wrong with Thurrott’s plea:

  • Exclusive phone deals were (and are) commonplace, and he never cared until Apple did it with a vastly superior smartphone, crushing Windows Mobile in the process.
  • Zune’s software works with Zunes and not, say, the Palm Pre, but he never cared about this type of software being “open” until Microsoft’s failed while Apple’s remained successful.
  • Microsoft’s Plays For Sure partners were completely screwed when the exclusive Zune came out, but he never cared about that.
  • Every company is free to compete with Apple with their own software without any retribution from Apple or demands to “knife the baby“. But Thurrott didn’t care that they foolishly chose not to until it was obvious they missed the boat and have a lot of catching up to do. Catching up Thurrott apparently feels won’t happen.
  • Even the mighty Google is free to put Google Voice on their own mobile OS (Android) and compete in the marketplace — which Apple reminded them they should do. But Thurrott doesn’t care because, like Google, he knows it’s not compelling enough for people to consider as an alternative to the iPhone.

This is the most ridiculous plea Thurrott has made since he begged those who value “your very livelihood” to band with him in demanding that Microsoft “respond to the challenges”. Well, now we see how they responded. Too bad it’s in the form of shameless rhetoric, not in the market place.

Thurrott’s apologies in the past, and rant of the present, seem to indicate that a free market and competition are foreign to him. He simply can’t imagine any company doing business without either being an illegal bully, or bullied by some other company or government. The whole concept of actually earning your place by making game-changing products that work as expected and are backed with stellar customer service completely eludes him. It eludes Microsoft as well.

Is There No Alternative?

Of course there is. For example, Research in Motion gets it. They stayed true to their successful BlackBerry devices while toying with an iPhone competitor in the Storm. They’ve also brought their own desktop software to the Mac. They didn’t whine or cry like Microsoft or Palm. They’re not trying to hack into Apple’s technology and leach their hard work and foresight. They’re building their own.

Instead of crying for help, they focused on their own core strategies and business plans. It’s clearly paid off; they’ve been as successful — maybe even more so — in the iPhone era as they were before it. And if their new stuff isn’t quite up to snuff yet, at least it’s a start, and they’ll make it better (witness the Storm 2).

But Apple Must Be Evil!

Thurrott’s shameless begging for someone to stop Apple from something he admits they’re not even doing reminds me that there are only two possible reasons for which these types of articles are written:

  • To stop Apple, or slow them down, in any manner possible except via the marketplace, where attempts by all comers have failed. In short, the articles are propaganda. Thurrott’s piece, and those of the rest of the Microsoft shill choir, fall into this category.
  • Page hits, tied to ego and self-importance. Face it, if you write a “Microsoft is Evil” piece, no one cares. Everyone already knows it; it’s nothing new. But if you write an “Apple is Evil” piece, people flock to it wondering if there’s some smoking gun. Instead, it’s just self-serving FUD, innuendo, and speculation. Arrington’s recent ravings, as well as the aforementioned Calacanis crap, fall into this category.

Both categories contain nothing but garbage.

Another App Store Save: Phil Schiller and Company Call Again.

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An article on TechCrunch today tells a story of yet another instance where Apple’s Phil Schiller communicated with developers regarding an issue at the App Store.

The first occurrence was to Daring Fireball in relation to Ninjawords, the second was to Panic developer Steve Frank regarding his boycott of the iPhone due to Apple’s rejecting the Google Voice app, and this third was to a developer trying to get Rising Card — a magic trick app — approved.

As I’ve stated before, I think the visibility at such a high level is great, but TechCrunch seems almost suspicious, or at the very least concerned:

But I still find it a little crazy that it’s Schiller who is personally doing this. On one hand it’s great, but it’s also odd. Perhaps that speaks to this being more serious of a situation then just some apps being rejected.

In my opinion it was indeed “more serious”. I felt that it had gotten out of control. In other words, it had reached the point where there were too many people with too little oversight making too many judgement calls. It was a mess, and not going to be addressed at anything but a concerted executive level.

The TechCrunch piece goes on to state:

When MobileMe was having troubles following its launch last year, Steve Jobs stepped in to right the ship, and it worked. It looks like Schiller may be doing the same now with the App Store. Let’s hope that works too.

Good comparison, and it’s exactly what I said was needed 10 days ago: “Personally, I think it’s time Apple personel had a meeting like they did after the MobileMe rollout debacle.

I am glad to see this attention from Apple, and glad to see it has filtered down a bit, from Schiller to Phil Shoemaker (Director of App Technology). The latter is critical as it must filter down through the organization to become effective. Still, things keep looking better even though the task has just begun.

Apple Responds to Ninjawords Dictionary Issue

There was much concern over yet another rejection in the App Store a couple of days ago. I wrote a piece on the Apple Blog requesting that Apple address this at a higher level to get a handle on the issue.

The good news is that today Daring Fireball published numerous parts of a lengthy and thoughtful response from Phil Schiller:

Contrary to what you reported, the Ninjawords application was not rejected in the App Store review process for including common “swear” words. In fact anyone can easily see that Apple has previously approved other dictionary applications in the App Store that include all of the “swear” words that you gave as examples in your story.

Apple did not ask the developer to censor any content in Ninjawords, the developer decided to do that themselves in order to get to market faster. Even though the developer chose to censor some terms, there still remained enough vulgar terms that it required a parental control rating of 17+.

You can read the entire Daring Fireball article for more.

While the response was targeted to Ninjawords — and Gruber could point out other inconsistencies regarding dictionary apps — I wholeheartedly agree that Schiller sending such a detailed response is a great sign.

What I hoped for out of this episode were two things:

  • Visibility and acknowledgment of App Store approval issues at the executive level.
  • Real communication from Apple, not just the blanket one-line comments (or silence) we’ve been getting.

With Schiller’s response we got both. This is indeed a good sign.

Apple (Rightly) Stops Palm Pre iTunes Syncing

NoPreSyncThe latest release of iTunes (8.2.1) puts an end to the Palm Pre’s syncing with iTunes. Some have expressed surprise, but it was an obvious and proper move on Apple’s part.

I wrote about this issue on two separate occasions, and believed it was clear that Apple needed to address the exposure Palm was taking advantage of.

In the first article I pointed out that:

it has everything to do with denying Palm a seat at the table to which they’re not entitled. Let the Pre use the old iTunes API, if possible, as others have, but not appear as an iPod. I don’t see why Apple should stand idly by while a third party walks in and acts as an equal member of the iPod/iTunes system.

In the second article I mentioned another reason for which I felt Apple should take action:

In other words, forget the Pre, or even Palm. There’s an exposure for iTunes here that could have BlackBerrys, LGs, Nokias, etc. all passing themselves off as iPods. Again, the obvious question to me is that, having learned there’s this hole in iTunes, Apple should take steps to close it.

In both articles I said there would be many who complain about it if Apple put an end to this, and that’s already begun. But the reality is Apple didn’t build the iPod/iTunes environment for others to trick their way into using. Apple isn’t putting a stop to seamless syncing, Palm and other manufacturers are free to write that functionality for their own devices, just as Apple wrote it for their own. Or Palm could team up with a third-party to distribute something “official” (current Pre users may want to consider these solutions).

Just because Apple has a huge head start (it’s called foresight and vision) doesn’t mean potential competitiors get to use their work for free. The whole point of competition is to build something better, not trick your way into offering someone else’s work.

TAB – The Palm Pre is an iPod? Yes, But We’ll See How Long That Lasts

A big story recently is how the Palm Pre syncs seamlessly with iTunes. It does so by making itself appear to be an iPod to iTunes.

Further details came out during an interview at the All Things Digital conference that indicate only non-DRM music and photos can be synced. It’s unclear whether non-DRM videos sync, or whether it syncs other iTunes data (bookmarks, contacts, podcasts, etc.).

Even with those restrictions, the ability to plug in and use iTunes to sync music is a pretty big deal. How can Palm do this? Why did they do this? What, if anything, should Apple do?…

Read the rest of this article on theAppleBlog >>

TAB – Amazon, iTunes, Other? Where Do You Buy Your Digital Music?

I know some people who’ve settled on one source for digital music purchases (I also have a friend who buys CDs and rips them himself, but that’s another topic). This made me wonder what the buying habits of our readers are. I’m curious as to how many people pretty much limit themselves to one source, vs. how many of you “shop around” before you buy…

Read the rest of this article on theAppleBlog >>