Apple News, Analysis and Podcasts
In this day and age parents are extremely cautious when letting children use computers. Most computers are connected to the internet and for curious children whose nature it is to explore and discover, it doesn't take long to find something inappropriate or dangerous — either intentionally or unintentionally. However, who would have though letting a child use an iPad to play a game — downloaded for free — would end up draining your bank account?
| Problems in Toyland
|For Apps that target children Apple needs to make In-App purchases require a password all the time.
That's what Kelly Rummelhart of Gridley, California found out the hard way. According to the Washington Examiner, Kelly let her four year old son play a game on her iPad called "The Smurf's Village". While the game is free to download, the game allows (and encourages) the purchase of "Smurfberries" and other virtual items to help you do better in the game — with real money! This is all possible because of Apple's updated SDK that allows developers to create In-App purchases. This SDK enhancement makes it easier for App developers sell more features inside their App with just a couple of taps.
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The biggest weakness of the iOS platform right now is the lack of a user accessible file structure. Without a file structure or Finder app, iOS devices can not be a complete mobile platform. Right now, Apple tells us that files should be stored in applications on the iOS. This may be fine in the short term, but over time Apple's current file strategy will turn into frustration as users try in vain to access all their files. There needs to be a place to store, edit, and transfer those files from application to application. Organizing files into folders is a must on any computer platform. Without a directory structure, all those files will turn into a mess. Even Google's Gmail, which was supposed to be all about search, now has folders. So, we all must hope that the current app file storage is only a stop gap until Apple comes up with AirFinder for the iOS. This new AirFinder must be designed specially for today's mobile user. You don't just create, edit, and store your files on a single iOS device anymore. The files need to move with you as you go from device to device. This new Finder needs to sync between all of you computer platforms seamlessly, in the background. AirFinder will allow you to access these files at anytime and anyplace.
The strongest crop of productivity applications in the App Store right now have either added Dropbox or are planning to add it. Why is Dropbox so popular on iOS? It allows seamless transfers between your iOS devices and any other computer or device you have from Macs to PCs. This is exactly what a mobile user is looking for. With Dropbox, you don't need to sync your iPad or iPhone with iTunes to get your latest files. All your latest files will be accessible via the Dropbox cloud service. This turns the iPad into a major productivity device saving tons of valuable time. It is not only good for productivity, but also for application preference syncing as well. I use 1Password by Agile Web Solution for password and private data storage. Dropbox allows me to sync that data between all my devices in the background. I no longer have to manually sync my valuable data between devices or even remember which device has the latest files. The list of uses for Dropbox can go on and on. Since Dropbox is not part of the OS, it does come with many disadvantages. One of those being, you have to add it your apps to use it.
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On October 3rd, Target revealed it would be selling iPads. Within weeks of Target's announcement Walmart and Sam's Club (a member of the Wal-Mart corporation) began selling iPads. A natural assumption would be that Costco would also be selling iPads in the near future, but that is not what has transpired.
Not only is Costco void of iPads, but iPods are not longer available at Costco — replaced with SanDisk Sansa MP3 players. Costco Wholesale has carried iPods for years, often prominently displayed in their Majors Department near the entrance of their warehouses. Target, Walmart and Sam's Clubs are now selling iPads and iPods, while Costco has been left out in the cold.
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Intel CEO, Paul Otellini, reportedly stated at the Barclays Capital investor conference "It is fashionable to write off the PC about every three or four years, and it just doesn't die." On the surface, the comment seems dead wrong. It would appear Intel's CEO should be preparing for early retirement, but Otellini went on to describe what a PC actually is. "The PC you bought 15 years ago looks nothing like the one you have today," he said. Paul went on further to discuss notebook and netbook growth, promoting Intel's Sandy Bridge architecture.
Mr. Otellini discussed tablets and how they interact with laptop designs, and this is when his view of the marketplace veered off course. "I don’t think, at the end of the day, tablets are cannibalizing it. They are not replacements for notebooks. They are a competitor for discretionary income disposition. So you walk into Best Buy and you’ve got $400 burning a hole in your pocket, or in the case of the iPad, $600 burning a hole in your pocket, and you want to buy something cool for Christmas for your wife or kid or something. It’s a competitor."
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Today, Google announced Chrome OS for the third time. Chrome OS essentially turns your browser into an operating system. Everything you do, you do it online including accessing your files. It basically turns your shiny new computer into a dumb terminal for the web. All of your files are on the internet or what many refer to as the cloud. I could see certain business applications that could take advantage of this browser based operating system. For most users though, this does not seem like a realistic operating system. The browser is one of the main applications we use on a daily basis. But to remove the rest of the applications makes for a very limited computing environment.
Most people who live in the real world go in and out of internet coverage. Why limit your computing time to just those times you have coverage. In large businesses, that is not a big deal because they have plenty of bandwidth to the internet. But this is a major disadvantage to the browser only computer system for everyday users. When you go out of internet coverage, like on an airplane, you lose access to those files. Unlike big businesses, most users still don't have fast internet access to their homes. Even those who have fast internet speeds, their desktop application are still much faster. Total cloud computing is not realistic in the real world.
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Microsoft has been the golden child of the tech industry for a long time. And while there is no need to deeply rehash the last 30 years (we've all lived it or read about it ad nauseam), here is a quick recap before covering what's in store for Microsoft this decade:
- 1980's: DOS/PC revolution
- 1990's: Windows and Office revolution
- 2000's: Microsoft has no revolution
- 2010's: Microsoft cannot make up lost ground. The rest of the tech industry moves on.
- Desktop software continues to take a back seat to mobile solutions.
- Microsoft delivers Windows Phone 7, a product that holds no relevance in the marketplace. Win Phone 7 fails. Consider it the Kin III.
- Consumer and business mobile device markets continue to explode. Microsoft cannot keep up with Apple, Google, RIM and HP.
- IE continues to have it's market-share eroded, falling below 50% by 2015 with a sub 5% in mobile share. Silverlight becomes irrelevant in the face of HTML 5 and mobile apps.
- Microsoft is relegated to server and .net database solutions.
- Microsoft becomes the new IBM. A silent company working in the background of corporations and backbones, nothing more.
The year 2011 is looming over Redmond and tablets are poised for explosive sales. Whether you buy into Piper Jaffray's 40 million 2011 tablet shipment figure (23.2 million million of them iPads), or Gartner's rosy looking 54.4 million figure, the point is well made - 2011 is the year of the tablet and Microsoft is nowhere to be found. Unlike iPods and iPhones, tablets will make a profound impact on Microsoft's Windows stronghold.
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It's almost that time of year again, and you have no idea what to get that Apple Fanatic in your circle. Fear not, T-GAAP has put together a quick list of Nine Smart Apple Stocking Stuffers (three from each of us):
||While this might cost more than a traditional stocking stuffer, it's sure is the right size!
|Belkin Video Stand
||Give your friend's iPhone a proper place on their desk.
||Start out the new year with the up-to-date version of Apple's digital lifestyle suite.
||The “new” way all the hipsters are now working with their Macs.
|Apple Magic Mouse
||If you’re gift recipient is more traditional, then get them the best mouse — ever.
|Apple Wireless Keyboard
||Unless you are giving to an accountant, fear not in losing the keypad, this is a great keyboard.
|Bower & Wilkins MM-1 Speakers
||Nothing says "Yes, I'm rich, and want you to know it" better than these great sounding speakers.
|Moshi Universal Media Reader
||The perfect gift for the Mac user who wants to clutter their life by clinging to physical media formats.
|Apple Battery Charger
||Stay Green and Save Green with Apple's AA Battery Charger
Be sure to let us know your favorite Stocking Stuffer or add to the list with a comment below. Prices are list USD.
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In business there is nothing like having enough cash to do what you want to help your business grow. Whether that is hiring key talent, purchasing new equipment or buying out a competitor, having money in hand is important. Matter of fact the number one reason businesses don't make it past year #1 is cash flow. Having enough “walking around money” to take advantage of key opportunities that may only happen once is a critical factor to a business' success.
Fortunately, Steve Jobs and Company know this all too well. Almost every financial quarterly conference call contains a question about, "What is Apple going to do with their billions in cash?"
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Everything seems to be going right for Apple lately. iPods appear to be selling stronger than conventional wisdom had believed, iPads are in the midst of a large growth curve, and Mac sales continue to eat away at PC market share, quarter, by quarter, by quarter...
There are two areas that would stop Apple from making such a move. No matter what size of sales increase, iPhone's gross margin would take a hit and Wall St. is already wary Apple's recent decline in this area. Secondly, Apple's brand is delivered through their product's perceived value, not cheap price points. If the Verizon effort stalls, and Apple believes they need to make a move, Steve Jobs could pick up the red phone and give the order, leaving Android's hardware vendors running for cover.
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I remember back when I was in college having to log into a workstation or a mainframe through a dummy terminal. Mainframes and workstations dominated the computer industry and were big and expensive. If you wanted to use a computer, you had to use one of these. By the time I graduated, that had all changed. Personal Computers were cheap enough to not only fill a computer lab, but also for students to even own one. Intel and the x86 processor helped to start this computer revolution. The x86 processor brought computers down to an affordable level. The personal computer was much slower than a mainframe or workstation, but they were also much cheaper and fast enough to do the basic things. The personal computer (or PC) began to dominate over these more expensive mainframes and workstations. You can still buy Mainframes today and they are still much faster than personal computers, but they are only used where they need that extra processing power. Intel has come to dominate the personal computer market for processors. Apple used to use the PowerPC chip, but recently move to Intel due to lack of performance with the PowerPC. AMD still makes a drop in replacement for Intel's x86 chip, but most computers still come with an Intel chip inside. The prices for their chips range from as little as $100 all the way up to almost $900 per chip. That is nothing compared to mainframes which start out around $400K.
You may be wondering why I am taking this trip down memory lane. Well, history is about to repeat itself with a new player — who is not really all that new — ARM. ARM originally stood for Acorn RISC Machine. ARM processors are used in all kinds of imbedded devices from smart phones to digital video recorders or DVRs. Acorn Computer Ltd started making the ARM processors back in 1983. Apple got involved with the ARM chip back in the 1980s and Acorn spun off their partnered project into another company called Advanced RISC Machines Ltd. Apple then used these new ARM chips in the Apple Newton PDA, the first real mobile computer. Later, the company changed the name to ARM Ltd. ARM began licensing their chip in the early 2000's. The ARM chips have continued to be developed over the years, getting more powerful, yet still are very power efficient.
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