Tag Archives: Apple

The Mac Clone: Pointless in 2008

In case, you’ve missed, a company called Psystar is selling a Mac clone for $399 & up. As the Guardian noted, they are either operating out of mom & dad’s garage or in a new office.

For $399, they are offering you a Mac Mini (specs) encased in a large (but nice looking) PC case.

For some reason, this seems to excite people as if what we really want in life is a cheap knockoff of something, REALLY? This is really a goal in life? Don’t sell me the real thing, I’d rather pay slightly less money for a thing like the real thing?

A clone made sense when not just Macs but all personal computers sold in the $2,000+ range. Of course, at that price point, I’m willing to compromise a little here and there for a computer in the $999 range.

But for a savings of $200 versus a Mini? What is really the point?

They like to talk expandability as if that’s some great thing worth the savings of $2,000 versus a MacPro desktop. (Um, never mind the MacPro has a quad core and thing isn’t even a duo core).

Sure, in the days of serial ports and wonky SCSI on the Mac side, anything you could install internally pretty much meant it would be easier for the OS to find and for it to work.

But now with firewire and USB, I can daisy-chain 128 firewire devices and nearly as many USB drives with powered hubs. Sure, they don’t don’t look as attractive but how many drives can you fit into most cases anyway, 4? I can buy 4 1TB drives that stacked on top of each other take up about as much desktop space as 4 inside a desktop case.

Expandability inside the case is not that important anymore – with USB & firewire, EVERYTHING is expandable in less than 5 minutes and no chance to cut your hand open trying to fit a HDD onto a tray inside a computer.

If anything, it’s better because if an external drive is really going down, I can unmount it and plug in a new drive without even restarting.

And If you are the 5% of users who will actually replace their graphics card, are you really going to buy a underpowered $399 Mac clone just to spend $2,000 on a graphics card?

Even as recent as 10 years ago, the margins on the PC side were that you could save substantially by building your own but now if your time is money, there’s no real savings. You have to be the type that enjoys tinkering because if a component breaks, you think it’s bad trying to get Dell to admit the power supply went down now, good luck getting a power supply you bought and installed replaced yourself from some company in Muncie? And yes, you can save a little here and there but the quality of the components? How many no-name fans are built for about 6 months before they start making noise slightly louder than a F-22 flyby?

And sure, you can save $200 by not buying a Mini … but what is iLife worth to you?

Or what is it worth to you that Apple has 200 stores around the globe open and ready to take responsibility and answer any question for your Mini (or any other Mac you buy?)

The time is passed for clone makers. The $200 dollar difference is too miniscule (never mind that the website sort of implies that they don’t guarantee any other OS other than 10.5 will run on this – and never mind the legal issues or that this business seems to have started last week). Even if you started selling these at a retailer where customers could return it such as Wal-Mart, $200 savings is just not enough of a difference – now if this clone were selling for $99 or $149, then you might have a business as saving $450-$500 dollars, that’s actually substantial enough to make a difference.

But right now – pointless.

(and yea, Apple will sue – if Apple doesn’t, customers will walk into Apple stores trying to get tech support or more likely, warranty support – your OS is bundled with it?! Apple could care less if you wanted to sell an open source $399 computer but bundling Apple OS as if they had a license to bundle or sell it – implying to customers there is a relationship? That won’t fly).

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Microsoft to Open Retail Stores: Bullet Proof Glass Industry Rejoices!

Appropriately, a web site called Fudzilla is reporting that Microsoft is going to open retail stores.

It’s time for shareholders to weep a little more.

Everytime, Microsoft has a brainstormin’ meeting, it’s more money down the drain:

Let’s buy Yahoo! ($45 BILLION)

Let’s launch a DAP/MP3 Player! (3% marketshare) ($1 BILLION)

XBox – The Xbox division is @$16 BILLION in the hole after 8 years.

MSN – $1.1 BILLION in R&D & a marketing blitz is all we need to get MSN going ($700 million – 2002), 2005 & 2007).

MSN is down to 8.4% (Google at 70%). Nice use of $2 BILLION dollars. Most people lose 50% of their market share in 2 years by not spending any money on a product, only MS can spend $2 BILLION for the same result.

Let’s spend 6 years and $6 BILLION on creating Vista … and of course …
“Microsoft is planning to promote the launch with a $500 million marketing campaign”

The list goes on and on – why? The simple fact is that when consumers have a choice, they do not choose Microsoft. This isn’t some whim. Microsoft worked hard to destroy their credibility as the leading edge of technology from 1995. After that, they simply thought they had everyone else locked down and out and could just rest so they offered products such as OSes riddled with hundreds of thousands of different infections … or me-too products such as PDA’s, watches, Talking Barney’s, video consoles, MP3 player, home networking or MSN and both an ISP & as search … all failures in the sense that they offered nothing new and they are ALL are losing money or losing market share.

In fact, they have become the “dollar-store” of technology. They are only worth buying if it’s rock bottom $399 pricing – why PC makers margins are all falling because of association with MS OS … why bother paying for even a $999 machine when it’s just going to run as well/poorly as a $399 machine?

Hey, if the shareholders don’t care, why should we?

Now, another meeting and another “brilliant” idea without mentioning you-know-who in the meeting.

It is almost laughable how clueless they are.

It would be like the IRS opening retail stores. Come. Mingle. Hang out.

Though this is a good plan for the bullet proof glass industry. You know Microsoft, they’re not just going to open 1 store at a time, that’s no way to spend money fast, if the budget isn’t a $1 BILLION, why bother so I’m sure they’ll sign 20-year leases at 100 locations.

Photo Courtesy of Pacific Bulletproof.com (where I go for my bullet proofing ;-) )

“Sir, I can’t help you, it’s a hardware issue – reformat the drive and then come back … yes, this is bulletproof glass, why do you ask? Have a nice MSN/Live Day!”

So, how exactly are you going to find employees to staff this place?

Who here would like to stand at a desk and answer questions about why ME, 2000, NT, XP or Vista is not functioning correctly?

Who thinks there might just be a few slightly annoyed to raging Windows customers?

Will they be taking red-button-of-death XBox returns and softly announce they’ll get another in 4-6 weeks?

Will they answer why Microsft Plays4Sure WMA is not the same as Zune WMA?

Can they point us to where the Apple store is in the mall?

Microsoft doesn’t really get that consumers don’t really like them. They don’t seem to notice that when consumers have a choice, they don’t buy MS. The OS issue is a heated one but let’s look at some more neutral markets. Look at the home networking gear they tried to sell. While there are some known brands, there are plenty of detractors for #1 & #2 but MS couldn’t even crack that market – why? Because MS poisoned the brand name. The average consumer took a look and decided – NO MORE IN MY HOUSE, DO NOT WANT.

Or using MSN search. It’s 100% FREE and takes 2 seconds to type and bookmark but now down to 8% market share? What does that tell you? That either their search results are poor or that consumers don’t believe their ‘technology’ is any good – either way, bad, bad news for MS.

That is why their retail stores will be a miserable failure as branding because they rank somewhere near the IRS. How often will you step into an IRS store to hang out?

AND at the IRS store, you know if you complain too much, they’ll audit you but aren’t you just going to go into the MS to vent and unload?

Yea, good luck finding employees.

(on the corporate side, they’re doing fine, IT guys made a choice and now are stuck with MS so whatever but when you’re spending your own cash, MS – DO NOT WANT).

Yet again, it proves that they are clueless about their place in the consumer’s mindset.

MS will build a 100 retail palaces because they think they are the king … but MS is really like those local cable ads where the guy wears a crown selling the very ordinary at a huge markup.

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Microsoft & Yahoo – Yep, We Can Say Goodbye to Both

Why MS buying Yahoo will not change anything.

INTERNET SEARCH is the purest form of customer service & “sales” EVER.

There are virtually zero barriers to entry (there are over 300 by our count).

Users/customers can switch in the time it takes to type and bookmark a new url.

So, if you can’t deliver results that are satisfying to users – they type a new url and you’ve lost them perhaps forever. Some brick & mortar stores get customers coming back merely because it’s convenient and others get customers by buying up all the competition or by driving them out of business.

For internet search, there’s no discounting, no free shipping, and not even an easy to use web site really makes that much difference.

The bottom line is results and at no cost to the consumer, they can switch at any time.

Google wins this purest of competition hands down for a reason.

They deliver what people want & expect fast and accurate enough. Of course, it’s not perfect but it’s what people want today, right now and the results are enough so they come back. That is why they are still growing while their main competition has stagnated.

You can test this out yourself. Pick a random topic and do a search on Google, MSN, Yahoo & Ask … Other than very specialized searches (see our link above) – Google wins by a landslide in better results 90% of the time.

That is why MS buying Yahoo will matter very little – combined, their market share will be 30% of so to Google’s 65% but I am willing to go out on a limb and say if MS actually buys Yahoo, their market share will actually drop 10% to about 20% or perhaps to the % that MS holds now – about 12%.

Because 50% of Yahoo users loath MS

MS’ search function is so weak that they’ve tried to pay people to use it! And still it’s a failure (program started last summer) … in fact, 66% of Microsoft EMPLOYEES use Google for seaches … surprise – at the EXACT same percentage as “normal” people.

The only real reason MSN and Yahoo still have search numbers are that people are lazy about changing their home pages (or don’t realize they can change it) … I know someone who still has an Excite Start Home Page (yes, I was surprised to see that Excite still actually existed) … and Yahoo of course has dozens of home page & useful features that people who like them just for convenience sake, they can just scroll up and types in a search bar instead of going to Google.com but if MS were to take over Yahoo, MS would slowly chip away and force you to sign up for their ID or a Hotmail account to access anything and people would switch in droves. Everytime MS buys an online community, the first thing they insist on is that you sign up and get an MSN/MS ID to access anything.

Yahoo already had enough trouble in annoying FLIKR users when they insisted that people log in with a Yahoo ID name & password – MS will only be that much more annoying. MS doesn’t seem to have realized that is why hardly anyone wants anything to do with MSN Groups or MSN Forums, etc … because of having to sign up for all things MSN to read and sign up for it – while Google & Yahoo want you to sign up for email and be registered for many apps & features, for the most part, they do not care if you want to continue to use another email address as your signin one – but not MS, if we can’t track you 100% of the time, you can’t come in.

MS doesn’t trust you the user and wants complete control. Case in point – in Apple’s iTunes, you can click one button and the iTunes store is NOT listed and out of sight, out of mind. To Apple, of course they want you to buy tracks on iTunes but hey, if you’re not going to, you’re not going to – you’re an adult, you can decide for yourself what you want. With MS, it’s our way or the no way. This attitude is fine if you’re selling server software or even software 10-20 years ago – there was no internet, no open source, you had to look at the fearure set and decide if it’s what you want – just like digital, your choice was YES or NO. And MS won that battle by controlling your choices either directly by undercutting competition, buying them up or indirectly by buying up their distributor or locking in exclusive deals.

So, if MS buys Yahoo, they will pretend to play nice for a few days, then point out Yahoo is a stupid name and start changing things to LIVE! (as if that was not an idiotic WTF name already?) – so Yahooligans will start to leave the company in droves leaving only those who nod silently … and pretty soon it’s all folded into Redmond’s control.

Well, maybe higher than 50%.

Steve Ballmer might be a billionaire but he had lots of help …

Steve was the right guy 20 years ago. Bill Gates needed a sargeant who could yell at people and who could talk up the sales game to the troops in going out and selling DOS, Win 1.0, servers, Office, etc … and someone who could help gloss over ethics (see the hundreds of government indictments & settlements) in getting things done. He was fine for a time when you could control distribution and the marketplace through aggression, assertion and cutting some legal corners but now in the age of the internet-open source-linux-open distribution, he is still trying to fight the last war of 10-20 years ago. He is the old general (now) who only fights what he understands. I’ll buy up market share and then tackle Google by cutting them off.

Only problem is now he’s standing at the mouth of the Mississippi with ONE MSN sandbag but he’s convinced if he shouts loud enough and throws enough money into his one sandbag, he can divert the users.

10-20 years, if you spent money to implement Windows server, you’re not going to switch after building your network and system … but the internet and in particular internet search is not that battle anymore. Anyone can switch in 2 seconds to another search engine but why don’t they? Buying Yahoo & Ask and a dozen others won’t change anything – typing http://www.yahoo.com and typing http://www.newsearchengine.com takes about exactly the same amount of time. No rewiring, no software to load, no apps to buy, no one for MS to undercut, no one for MS to underbid … but Steve Ballmer doesn’t realize that – instead he wants a legacy other than BG’s bad cop character. He think merging with Yahoo will get him into striking distance of Google and then if he pays enough people, he can claim the greater piece of the $50-$80 billion dollar online ad pie and retire to eat some real pies. He can in theory control 30% of the outlet where people buy ads to place on internet search BUT for that to equate to an ongoing business of 30% of the ad dollars, he needs people to continually visit MSN/Yahoo search and that is simply not going to happen. If MS buys Yahoo, there will be an immediate chunk of users who leave just to protest MS … then there will be another mass exodus when MS really takes over and insists that people have a Live or Hotmail address to access anything … MS will simply muck it up and the problem is people can switch very easily.

Gee, where else can you find a free email address? Or TV listings? Or the weather? Or stocks? FLICKR is great but still great under MS or should we switch to Picasa or about 25 other choices? That’s something that Steve Ballmer doesn’t understand -what he doesn’t get is that people on the internet can switch at the drop of a hat … GeoCities? Friendster? … Or that popular sites now like Digg or Fark or ArsTechnica are built on the rubble of companies/sites that people abandoned like SlashDot and dozens of others … if MSN weren’t part of MS, they would be considered abandoned already.

MS Couldn’t Integrate a Company If It Really Tried

MS’s culture used to be arrogant & aggressive alpha males (even the women) which while annoying and sometimes illegal is at least a path that can lead to success … but that time is gone because they’ve all left for greener pastures or fresher kill … leaving the remaining employees? Those left have successfully navigated the walls of corporate fiedom and politics … leaving only the arrogant bureaucrats … so not only do they believe they are smarter than you, they will show you with their filing system and forms in triplicate. This is why it took MS 6 years and $6 billion dollars to come with Vista, the WG authentication and the monthly virus program – that is the creativity of a bureaucrat. Can you merge these guys with the DMV?

More Bad News For Shareholders

Being an MS shareholder is already tough enough – here’s a company that throws off cash from two divisions to the tune of $12 billion dollars, their other divisions randomly lose $2 to $6 billion a year on Microsoft’s attempt to be hip & cool in automobile technology, video games and portable mp3 players. The Xbox division would require selling 1-billion XBoxes to break even but hey, it’s only the shareholder’s money … but now for the first time, MS is going to spend $20 BILLION in cash and either throw in equity as in stocks or borrow the rest to pay $45 billion dollars for a whisper of a whim.

It was actually smart of MS to pay $240 million for a sliver of a sliver of FaceBook – valuing the company at $15 billion because MS has essentially set the price to prevent Google or anyone from buying it cheap. $240 million to own .2 of FaceBook is much better use of corporate funds than the quarterly loss at the Xbox division.

But to pay/offer $45 billion for Yahoo? This is as if Hugo Chavez decided to invite Britney Spears to be his first lady … it is not only not going to end well, it doesn’t even sound right to begin with – if it smells like duck s***, is that how the saying goes? Steve Ballmer would be better off trying to marry Carla Bruni.

ZDNET Might Be Right, This is the Beginning of the End

Sure, it took ZDNet 753 feature articles where they are scarily off-base but this one might actually be right.

As the article points, the online ad fight is about money but no one questions why MS has to chase it – as the author points out, why not buy up platnium futures – there’s huge money in that but the bigger problem is this …

Because after 9 months, there won’t be a Yahoo – MS will chase away all the non bureacrats at Yahoo and merge all the sites into MSN/Live. 50-75% of the regular users at Yahoo will pick up and leave and while MS might hold 30% of the online “potential capacity” of internet search, they’ll have spent $45 billion to buy maybe 5% more users and more ad dollars … at what cost? MS will have tapped all their reserves and go into long-term debt for perhaps the first time since their early days – not a smart way to spend $45 billion. But try telling Steve Ballmer he’s not smart about technology is like trying to convince a 3-year old he should eat the lollipop later.

Other Suitors?

No, Apple is not going to buy Yahoo. Apple could fling open the doors of .Mac and replicate most of the features of Yahoo – no need to spend $45 billion to buy a LESSER name. While the name Yahoo is nice, other than maybe one of the Chinese search engines coming on board or maybe India’s Tata who will buy nearly anyone … no, there really aren’t a lot of suitors because Yahoo is a unique brand who’s main appeal is that it’s not MS or Google. Yahoo shareholders probably want the deal to get max value but if MS buys Yahoo, that is the end of Yahoo and probably MS … so I suppose if you hate MS, here’s your chance to root for the carnivorous fungi that devours the ant from within before shooting outward and killing the ant (close up footage from Planet Earth TV series – not safe for the easily queasy :-) ).

fish.jpg

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A Million Unlocked iPhones Being Shown Off All Around the World – That’s a Tragedy?

valentine-gifts-iphone.png

Even if the numbers of a million iPhones being unlocked are correct, that’s a MILLION iPhones walking around all over the world as FREE marketing and advertising for Apple – the most effective advertising of all – because it gives those users the cachet of doing something “not quite legal.” That they are “above the law,” and of course, eager to show off they know how to break the rules of normal society … (in reality, they just bought a phone but shhh, don’t tell them that ;-) )

Has Apple sold them a phone subsidized like nearly every phone on Earth at a 75-100% discount? No. Apple got full list price – even if someone marked it up, Apple made at least $399 or £299.

As for the revenue they are giving up that is recorded as future revenue in monthly chunks? Sure, but when you have to service cash, there are costs associated with servicing that cash …

Conversely, they also give up a lot of costs associated with it and saves them a lot of money. They don’t have to offer any tech support or service for these 1-million phones. How much accounting reserve is set aside normally for phone tech support that are locked to a service?

But it’s all just a gray number because how many tech-gadget companies would turn down an opportunity to seed a product in dozens of countries to build awareness & word of mouth? How much money would they have to spend to demo this product in dozens of countries – and less efficient than a “worldly” fan using word-of-mouth and a live demo to his/her friends? What could be better chachet than spending full price to own an “illegal” phone? AND then when the phone is available legally in that country? Won’t they be likely the first to convert anyway to get all the feature sets?

Isn’t all this worth the $10 dollars in revenue per month Apple “loses” (per person) if the phone were locked to its native carrier? Might this not be the CHEAPEST advertising possible AND Apple gets all the revenue upfront without having to share with anyone?

And of course, an “unlocked” phone is still entitled to the full range of services that the iTunes store sells. Of course, that varies from country to country but the most convenient choice is still the iTunes store. So it really a tragedy if Apple trades $10 from AT&T or Orange and instead sells a few iTunes movies, music tracks or videos?

It’s like anything else. When you sell something, you hope to garner a revenue stream down the line – as a car dealer hopes you always bring it back to them for service but at the end of the day, if you sold it at full price, then the rest is gravy.

Sure, you can view the future revenue stream as a 100% loss in accounting terms but if you look at the broader implications, it’s simply a tradeoff in overhead, advertising, marketing and a shift in revenues and expenses.

NY Times readers chime in on doing their part in advertising the iPhone everywhere around the world.

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Amazon Mp3 Will Affect Amazon Revenue More Than Apple’s iPod or iTunes

It’s pretty amazing the number of journalists who don’t look at a situation before just plowing ahead and writing words and “a conclusion.” They either choose to ignore the real world or they simply don’t understand it. Either way, it’s appalling.

Yes, Amazon’s entry into the “unlocked” DRM free Mp3 market will affect Apple & the iPod but its *affect* is DIFFERENT than you think.

If the iPod did NOT play the mp3 format, it would clearly have a major affect – just as when Sony’s players did not play Mp3′s directly (it would convert to ATRA mp3), when the iPod entered the market, people quickly choose the iPod over the Sony for the simple reason it played mp3′s very easily and transparently. Yes, the iPod looked nice and it was easy to use but if it did not play Mp3′s – there might be a few million out there versus 150 million.

There is no discussion. Mp3 is the preferred format for LEGAL and ILLEGAL downloads. Yes, there are others that hold some interest: mp4, FLAC, APE and even WMA but I don’t think anyone is going to argue that the preferred format OVERWHELMINGLY is not mp3 … sure, audiophiles can argue there are better formats but that’s not the issue.

It’s mp3.

You can do the math. 150 million iPods sold, 5 billion music tracks. That works out to about 34 tracks per iPod. Of course, it’s not 100% accurate as the bulk of iTunes sales are only in a few countries but even presuming double the number in the US per iPod user … and if iTunes music sales drops to ZERO for some reason?

How much is Apple losing in iTunes music store purchases per every iPod if that were true?

@$13.60

Apple is presumed to make $.20 per iTunes music track – not counting the cost of running the iTunes store and credit card fees … so actual profit is maybe $.07 a track but that’s presuming iTunes stores sales drops to zero which is unlikely … if Apple were to lose $7 per iPod in lost sales, I think there are dozens of ways Apple could make up that revenue including shaving $7 in costs from the iPod itself … but the bottom line is that the iTunes music sales are NOT the main reason people buy iPods.

Clearly, even people with iPod Shuffles have more than 34 or 68 tracks on their iPod. Whether it’s 100% legal converted from their own CD collection or LEGAL tracks downloaded from musician sites or other sites like iLike.com or ILLEGAL tracks, people know how to load tracks (1,000+ tracks) on a Nano (or up to 20,000+ tracks) on the Classic iPods. The iTunes store is a small part of the reason they buy an iPod.

So, what does that mean for Apple?

How about this ad from Amazon.com?

ipod.jpg

That’s right. It might even help Apple sell MORE iPods, NOT less.

Because for all the people who hated the iTunes store for its DRM, now they have a reason to buy an iPod. Sure, it might help sell a few more SanDisks and Zunes but it’s clear that 7 out of every 10 mp3/DAP buyers are iPod buyers AND now that mp3 player sales overall are slowing, it’s rapidly becoming inefficient to stay in the marketplace if you’re 10th or even 5th in marketshare … leaving consumers with fewer choices down the line and we know what’s still the first choice with or without iTunes store purchases.

AMAZON?

If anything, this territory might be scary for Amazon than Apple.

Why?

Amazon sells about 6% of the 500 million CD’s sold in the U.S. or about 30 million CD’s. If we presume the average selling price is around $13 – that’s about $400 million in revenue for Amazon. Now, if you have the choice to buy 4 tracks of a CD for $.99 a piece (some tracks are less on Amazon, some more but let’s say an average of $.99) as an mp3 download or the full CD for $13, what’s your choice? That’s hard to say, of course but that’s precisely what Amazon has to deal with. Is that previous $13 purchase staying the same in revenue? Are you going to buy 13 tracks from 3 artists or are you going to stop at 4? In other words, is Amazon trading a $13 CD for $13 in downloads or are they trading $13 in revenue for $4 in revenue?

It’s impossible to say but the bottom line is that is the choice consumers have to make – sure, maybe instead of buying a $13 CD, that consumer can buy $25 in downloads … but what was holding back consumers before?

DRM?

If we know the average iPod user was spending @$34 at the iTunes music store, what held them back from spending more?

DRM? Really?

Are you that convinced it’s all about the DRM – that without DRM, sales would be up 50%, 100? 1000 percent?

Digital sales are increasing 50% a year anyway but for people WILLING to buy LEGAL tracks online were not doing so because they said DRM was the major hinderance?

I’m not saying the Amazon store won’t sell a lot of tracks but is Amazon trading CD sales for fewer downloads? What is the age breakdown of CD buyers? Is the music industry losing the bottom end of 12-24′s who are downloading free LEGAL tracks from their favorite bands from the musician’s MySpace page/iLike page and of course, clearly, they know how to download illegal tracks to fill their iPods?

Are these the same people who know how to convert tracks to a CD-R?

Sure, there’s a lot of blog talk about hatin’ DRM (and I certainly am NOT for it) but it’s sort like arguing against burning down the Amazon rain forrest, right? Who outside of 300 Brazilians arsonists are for it? But what are people really doing about it?

BOTTOM LINE

My prediction is that sure, Amazon will grab some market share from iTunes music store but as Amazon’s ads say – BUY an IPOD to add Amazon tracks … Apple merely shifts revenue from iTunes to iPods – not exactly a tragedy and if Apple convinces you to buy a few tracks, rent some movies, buy a music video – there are pretty much back to $34 in iTunes revenue AND they’ve sold you another iPod.

The people who really hate Apple and think they should hate the iPod are not going to swayed by this anyway. They are buying SanDisks and Creatives as it is now – this won’t change anything.

The 75% who own iPods might switch and buy some tracks from Amazon but for less savvy users who like being able to preview, buy and sync with one click don’t care about DRM – nothing will change.

And in 6 months or a year, the record labels will be forced to sell DRM free on iTunes … a) because they can’t ignore the place where 70% of the digital music online market is and b) they’ll be sued for restraint of trade by not selling the same thing to everyone – will the iPod marketshare drop to some small percentage? No. Will there as good of a user tie-in as iTunes to the iPod as SanDisk’s, Creative’s or even MS for their software to their hardware? Unlikely.

Now that Apple has added movie rentals and more movie choices, the only real scenario is that the iPod will maintain its market share or more likely, grow slightly. Apple is still the leader in every aspect except the bottom end. There is no small player with the screen, movie rentals & audiobooks to match the Nano, for those who want 160GB, there is no competitor at the same price and of course, the iPod Touch trumps them all and has the highest margins/pricetag – so another 6 months of clear sailing for Apple and the iPod.

Sure, the iTunes store might drop a few percentage in market share to the Amazon mp3 store but the Amazon store has no movie rentals or TV shows (the Unbox has both but no portable player).

The Amazon mp3 store affects Apple just as if you were to open a Best Buy across the street from an Apple store. The revenues would shift around a little but at the end of the day, Apple actually comes out ahead because all you’ve done is given the consumer another reason to buy an iPod.

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MacBook Air: Not For You So Don’t Panic

Quick, name the perfect product for everyone?

Air, the other one? The thing we breathe? Yea, how is that air in Houston in August or in Beijing?

Um, not so perfect.

Water? Who here only drinks tap? Don’t we like it flavored, carbonated, with taurine, mint or almost anyone other than tap?

So, not water … but apparently if it’s announced from Apple, it must be 100% perfect for everyone at all times.

Yea, not too high of a benchmark so that anything that falls slightly short of that is a “failure” or “disaster.”

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The MacBook Air is what it is. It’s a lightweight fairly speedy laptop with emphasis on lightweight.

Is it for everyone? No.

It’s for road warriors and those who are tired of carrying a heavy laptop around. For those that have NEVER traveled for an extended period with a laptop – you just don’t know. Holding it in a store for a minute is NOT the same thing. At the store holding it for a minute, you can’t justify spending a few hundred dollars extra but try running down a mile-long airport terminal or carrying a bag full of printed collateral and then ask yourself if 2 lbs, 4 lbs, etc. extra is worth the difference? Until you’re at that point you simply don’t know or don’t need an Air or any other ultraportable.

All you see is what’s “missing” but when you’re schelping a 5 lb or 7 lb laptop from room to room and then around a giant Pentagon like building – that’s when you wonder – how much weight are those extra CAMERA memory slots or how many peripherals do I need to plug into this thing at once? This is NOT a desktop machine for everyone. Is Apple not manufacturing any of their other lines or computers? No. You want full power and have the room? Buy the desktop Mac Pro. You want an all-in-one? Buy an iMac. You want portability on a budget and are willing to trade a little speed and screen size? Buy a MacBook. Need the most features, speed and screen size? Buy a MacBook Pro. You choose what you want – everything in this world including Macs are a compromise in some way because there’s no perfect for everyone 100% of the time but for those who want thin, light, good enough speed, a nice screen, OSX, and a full keyboard?

The MacBook Air has a lot of nice touches …

The Apple Air has built in WiFi and the new Remote which lets you mount a CD or DVD on a nearby machine – what more do you need?

Want security or recovery utilities – a 16 GB USB stick weighs a few ounces or would you rather carry around a bulky optical drive internally or externally?

Still without WiFi at home or at the office? How about a $8 connector from Ethernet to USB that weighs a few ounces.

Can’t live without extra USB ports? Unpowered or Powered.

At home, you can add the Apple Time Capsule so you can print, share a hard drive and of course access the internet via WiFi:

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As for the “non-removable” battery, AppleInsider points out it’s a three minute job but more importantly, in a few weeks, I’m sure there will be a USB long life external battery which is even BETTER that it’s external. First, you’re going to have to carry a spare battery anyway whether it’s internal or external, they both weigh about the same – and with an external battery, you can charge it without having to insert it into your larop OR carry around its own charger AND even better, when your internal battery goes low, you can simply plug in the external battery (presumably through the USB) and best of all, without having to shut down and remove the other battery.

So for those worried to no end about a battery that is not removeable is simply over worrying the solution. Of course, the perfect solution would be a battery that would run for 19 hours but until we get to that point, saving a few lbs is much more important than whether the additional 1 lb battery I have to carry anyway is external or internal.

The MacBook Air is clearly NOT for everyone but finally a full sized laptop in screen, speed & keyboard but one that weighs much like a sub notebook. The thin-ness is an extra bonus. Just ask the ‘road warriors’ what’s at the top of their wish list? The MacBook Air delivers 98% of what’s most important – bulk, screen size, processor speed, battery life and keyboard size.

Along with the built-in WiFi and a USB stick, the remaining 2% is easily manageable.

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Hello From MacWorld 2008

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Not actually blogging from here since we’re only #72,000 on Technorati :-) … there are only about 15 seats … maybe next year.

Other than the keynote, there’s not much to see that’s new – I don’t think Adobe is even here. The nicest booth by far is Belkin’s

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If this were in Venice, it’d be about $900,000.

The coolest booth is Crumpler (they make messenger and brief bags). It’s a castle made up of interlocking cardboard or some sort of polymer board.

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Only thing I bought From XtremeMac:

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I took a photo of the MacBook Air but not only were there way too many people crowded around it, there is no way a photo can do it justice in how thin it is. If you have a pad of yellow legal pads … yea, that’s your MacBook Air. It’s pretty amaazing and of course, me wantee. Apple website. Ad for Air. Guided Tour – multiple resolutions + downloads.

The updated AppleTV looks very nice – also with a Guided Tour. In case you missed it, the big news is Movie Rentals from all the movie studios and even in HD!

And linked with Leopard’s “Time Machine” backup feature, Time Capsule with allows you to back up wirelessly.

So, nothing as startling as last year’s iPhone but honestly, how many iPhone-like cottage industries can you pull out year afer year :-)

Not sure why some people were so sure about a 3G iPhone … the 3G iPhone is ready to go when AT&T is ready and when Apple needs the sales boost.

The Tablet Mac? Pleezeee … Outside of 5,000 people and apparently 900 squeaky-wheel bloggers and analysts, hardly anyone cares or actually wants one – how are those WIN tablet sales? EGGXACTLY!

Everything released was nice, interesting and useful – it’s nothing revolutionary but that’s fine. Not every keynote can be revolutionary. Making food into pellets is revolutionary but sometimes you just want a juicy burger, eh?

Speaking of food, of course, just one block away – a dozen Beard Papa’s fresh giant cream puffs …

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The best food surrounding a convention center in America … unless of course, you enjoy $8 pizza made in 2005 and reheated … oh, and it’s sunny and 65 degrees here in SF so come on by!

(PS – Of course for those that keep track of such things – Best Booth Babes – Skull Candy and best DJ!)

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Microvision Pico Movie Projector for Your iPod

You’re on a plane, the movie they are offering is NORBIT or the edited 9-minute version of DEADWOOD … fortunately the rotund dude in front of you who had to buy two tickets is sound asleep and he’s wearing a white shirt – just attach the Pico Movie Projector to your iPod and you use his shirt as your projection screen … your own drive-in movie … Now all you have to do is convince the marshall sitting next to you to switch with the drunken cheerleader …

In the CES demo, it’s a snippet of CARS …

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Microvision Website.

Via GIZMODO with video.

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The Apple CGI I’m a Mac Santa Holiday Ad

In case you missed it – cute, funny, nicely done!

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(click on screen shot – Apple.com)

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iPhone Caller ID: Glitch Fix

This might not apply to everyone but if you added additional information to the phone number in ADDRESS BOOK and after transferring/syncing – the iPhone cannot interpret the additional text and the iPhone CALLER ID feature won’t work correctly.

As a result, it will only display the incoming numbers only when the person is in your phone book – so you stare at it thinking, this phone number looks vaguely familiar but you can’t quite place it … (some people just hate when you don’t immediately recognize or hestitantly answer the phone … your wife, for example :-) )

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As in this case, because I added ASPEN after her number, when Leslie calls, only her number will display – the iPhone attempts to match the incoming caller ID info with your address book but since ASPEN is not part of the incoming caller ID information – the iPhone blanches as a call NOT from someone in your phone book – so no caller ID info.

This also applies to people with landline phone extension numbers you might’ve added to their regular phone.

The solution is there but not necessarily apparent.

In the ADDRESS BOOK>PHONE, select CUSTOM

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In ADDRESS BOOK, “custom” is smart (as is a lot of Apple apps), it’s ONLY custom to this person so in this case, I enter in ASPEN H but you can essentially enter any info you want – you get about 10 letters before it gets truncated.

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Voila!

(then of course, sync …)

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