We are taking Monday off in observance of Memorial Day. We thank all of those who have given their lives in the name of freedom.
This week the U.S. Senate brought Apple executives before one of its publicly held sub-committee hearings. The topic was Apple using Ireland and other techniques to avoid paying U.S. taxes on products and services sold off-shore. Among all the Congressional hubris that took place, one big fallacy remains: Corporations do not pay taxes, we do.
For every dollar or tens of dollars taxed and regulated onto companies, whether it be Apple, Coke or Bob's Deli, we pay those costs. In reality, companies pay zero taxes, as they simply pass those costs down the line to the consumers of their products. Thus, we pay every dime of every regulation and tax bestowed onto corporations, every – single – dime.
Unless you've been living under a rock the past few months, it has been virtually impossible to escape Microsoft's Surface ad campaign. TV, the web, and probably soon, radio and direct mail Surface SPAM will be entering your life. The Redmond software giant is using a massive portion of it's $1.5 billion advertising budget to promote Surface. However, advertising budgets do not equal sales, something that Microsoft does not seem to understand. Surface sales continue to fail even the lowest of expectations.
Microsoft launched the Surface under a campaign known as "The Surface Movement" containing youth oriented Dubstep music, with young and attractive business professionals, all dancing with Surface tablets. This ad campaign failed miserably, so Microsoft is trying a new approach. This week the campaign shifted to an all out attack on Apple's iPad. Two ads have been released so far, but they are attempting to use Apple's ad format in an effort to discredit the iPad as limited and dated when compared to Surface. The main issue with these ads is they approach the viewer as if it were 1990, assuming the public is truly ignorant about what make tablets work.
Apple, Inc's World-Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) is fast approaching, and while Apple CEO Tim Cook has allued to having no new hardware arriving until this fall, software will be the big focus for Apple's annual developers event. A new version of Apple's mobile iOS and desktop OS X software is going to be shown, but perhaps more important than these fundamental pieces of Apple's ecosystem is iCloud. The future of computing, how we access and manipulate data is rapidly moving to server-side solutions, or "cloud" architecture, and Apple has been falling behind its competition at a rapid rate.
Google and others have taken an aggressive approach in developing a wide array of cloud services and tools, wasting little time in building robust ecosystems. Google, clearly out in front with an impress user base, has built a formidable Microsoft Office competitor in Google Docs. But Google's cloud platform has gone well beyond email or users loading and creating documents stored online. Google's entire cloud platform covers development for data mining, custom cloud storage, Enterprise search and much more.
AirDrop allows Mac users to send files from one Mac to another on the same WiFi network. This feature comes in handy with larger files or folders that are too difficult to send in other ways like email. It is one of the easiest ways to share files between Macs on the same network.
Sending files to other Macs are great, but most users have only one Mac. They do have multiple iOS devices and AirDrop does not help them because it is only available for the Mac. Most users want to send files across Mac and iOS devices so they can bring files with them. Apple may have a solution coming soon with iOS 7 and Mac OS 10.9, but not now. For users looking for a solution, there is an answer now.
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Samsung is hosting a competition for developers. Samsung hopes to lure more developers from other platforms to their hardware so they can compete with Apple’s App Store. This is a move to improve Android’s biggest weakness, software.
Samsung is a hardware company, not a software company. The South Korean giant is realizing that in order to keep its dominance in the smart-phone business, it will need strengthen its software quality and options. Succeeding in the low end smart-phone market does not require quality software, since most users are not looking for applications or willing to pay for them. However, Samsung's dilemma is keeping those low-end smart phone users on there emerging platform, because those customers have not invested in any additional software.
Microsoft’s latest Windows 8 mobile phone ad is admittedly somewhat clever. It shows a wedding where the bride’s side of the aisle is filled with Google Android phone users, while the groom’s side is made up of all iPhone users. Another, and more subtle note, is that the Android side is filled with mostly hip, young people, while the iPhone side of the aisle is populated with older people (40+). During the ceremony an iPhone user asks a person from the Android aisle, “Would you mind moving your enormous phone?” because the Android person is using their oversized phone to take a picture. This question is really a thinly veiled derogatory statement. What quickly follows is a humorous exchange of insults between Android and iPhone users. Soon after a fight breaks out.
Standing in the middle of the fight are two caterers who have red and yellow Nokia Lumia phones running Windows 8. For some reason they aren't drawn into the fight nor does the fight ever come to them. As they stand in the middle of this chaos taking pictures and scrolling through the Windows 8 tiled interface (for whatever reason), one caterer asks the other, “Do you think if they knew about the new Nokia Lumia they'd stop fighting all the time?” The other caterer responds, “I don't know. I think they kinda like fighting.” The commercial ends with a man ripping his shirt open (ala Superman) and tattooed onto the center of his chest is an Apple logo. Immediately he is knocked over from behind by an unseen Android user. Microsoft’s tag line is “Don’t Fight. Switch.”
What the next version of AppleTV will look like or whether it will even be called AppleTV (some rumors think it will be called iTV) is anyone's guess. Mark Reschke has postulated that the next AppleTV will include a 60" screen and be 4K. It is not a far fetched idea, if Apple can keep the price down so mere mortals can afford one. Apple surprised everyone with the incredibly low introductory price with the original iPad. They certainly could do this for a 4K HDTV too.
Yet another feature rumored to be on the horizon for the next generation AppleTV is Siri. Siri would change the way people interact with their TVs. Instead of looking for that silly remote that likes to hide between couch cushions and run away to rooms far, far away, you could just use your voice to control what show or movie plays on your TV. However, a big feature no one seems to be talking about, that would be huge, is Game Center for AppleTV.
Apple's former Senior VP of iOS, Scott Forstall has been missing in action ever since his abrupt ousting by CEO Tim Cook in October 2012. Forstall does has a Twitter page up, with an impressive 60,988 followers, but has yet to post a single tweet. Forstall is following one account, and it's Conan O'Brien. Ironic, since O'Brien was also treated with little respect upon being ushered out the door by NBC.
Google announced a slew of new services at its I/O developers conference today. Many of these services are new from Google, but they are not new to the market place. The company showed their continued march to integrating as much as possible into Google+, clearly taking aim at converting Facebook users to Google+ users. But the overall results of Google's announcements were very Microsoftian, being late to the table with little to differentiate their products from others already in the market with well established solutions. The show seemed more tailored towards Google fanboys, and the fact they should give up Pandora or Facebook simply because Google now offers their own also ran products.