When Steve Jobs said the MacBook air was the computer of the future he wasn't just talking about it's hardware. Lacking both a optical and hard drive is nice and allows for a slim design, but that's just the beginning.
If anyone paid close attention to Apple's October Special Event, the OS X Lion presentation subtly showed us how the future of OS X computing would become largely Finder irrelevant for most tasks. But how exactly will this work? Enter the cloud.
Last week The Nielsen Company released the latest Connected Devices Research Report that showed only 63% percent of iPad users downloaded a payed app. When I saw this I was a little surprised since the apps are the main reason to buy an iPad. They also said 32% never even downloaded a free app, which was even more surprising. I can see a few people only using it only for web browsing and email, but 32%? Something didn’t add up right.
Well, this week The Nielsen Company has amended there report with a few differences. Any guess how the numbers have changed? Yeah, the updated report only shows 9% of iPad users who have never downloaded an app with all 91% of the rest downloading payed apps. These number look much more accurate, as the apps are a major part of the iPad experience. The top category for iPad apps are Games with 62% of the payed downloads. Some of the other winners include books, music, shopping, and news. Surprisingly only 32% of the payed apps are sports related.
With news that Apple’s North Carolina data center is about to open soon, we have wonder what are they up too? More rumors are coming out that Apple may be building a second identical data center right next to the first as well. That will be a lot of servers that Apple can use for some sort of cloud based product or products. Are they bring iTunes to the cloud or Dropbox type service to MobileMe? What about bring Time Machine online, which could be like carbonate.com?
More rumors are floating around about Apple buying Facebook. Could this be the big purchase that Steve is talking about? Facebook already has a datacenter in Oregon, so they don’t need to move it to NorthCarolina, but Facebook could be tightly integrated into iTunes and Ping. There are many privacy concerns when it comes to Facebook and the user generated content that Apple could solve if they purchase Facebook. With 500 million users, that is a lot of potential iOS and Mac customers. My guess is Apple is looking at securing a better user experience with Facebook for iOS and Mac users. It may mean buying a large stake in the company, but not buying outright. This would keep Apple’s options open if another site comes along to de-thrown Facebook.
Adding both of these rumors up, I think Apple is planning some major cloud based announcements in the next six months. It may be a major upgrade to MobileMe, or a series of upgrades to a number of different products like iTunes and iWork.com. Either way, I believe Apple is taking a big step into the cloud.
So I took the plunge and plunked down the entry fee of $99 to play in the Apple TV game. My family doesn't watch a lot of movies, but every now and then we like to watch a good story. Up until now, I've downloaded movies onto my MacBook Pro and then connected it to our TV. It isn't elegant solution, but it works. With Apple TV2 I thought I could keep my laptop at my desk and then use ATV2 to download and watch (isn't that what it's for?).
SETUP a BREEZE
I was surprised how small the Apple TV was (I was expecting something larger — like a Mac Mini). With only two cables to connect (HDMI and power) it took less than 10 minutes to get up and running. Immediately we started watching movie trailers. Since we live a rural area our connection speed is slow (1.5-2.0 Mbps). Watching a 2 minute trailer takes about 2 minutes to buffer. Not bad, not great, but living in rural America we understand our bandwidth limitations.
HP is set to launch the first iPad competitor, the HP Slate 500. Since HP acquired Palm earlier this year, you would think it might be running the webOS? No, this is the Slate that Steve Balmer showed us at CES in January. It runs Windows 7 with a ATOM processor. It basically is a netbook without a keyboard. It will cost $799 for the 64GB version, a $100 more than the iPad version. It has a 8.9” screen instead of a 9.7” that the iPad has. It does have an SD card slot, which the iPad does not. HP is trying to market this to business users instead of consumers. I can see why, no consumer would want to buy it.
How does it compare with the iPad for business? It has more processor power than the iPad, which is needed because it runs Windows 7. That processor power will translate into 2-4 hours of battery life. How many business users are going to want a under powered netbook without a keyboard and short battery life? Not many. The iPad is already selling well in many parts of business and I don’t see this being much of a competition. When a webOS version comes out sometime next year, I predict HP will kill the Slate 500.
It does have one more thing, that the iPad does not. It has a retractable tab for certification logos and licenses, like the Windows License sticker. Yeah, there is a good idea, make a whole new slot just for logos. You can find a picture of this tab was well as other images at Engadget’s hands-on gallery.
Apple quietly announced that it will not longer be updating or developing new versions of Java for Mac OS X in their developer section today. Java will still be included in the OS for now, but may be removed from future versions of the operation system. In the early days of Mac OS X, java was a big part of the OS as Apple was trying to bring in more applications. Now that most applications run natively on the Xcode development platform, Apple does not see to need to dedicate man hours to keeping it up-to-date. Java has had lot of security issues lately and Apple may also not want to deal with those issues anymore.
What will happen to Java on the Mac? Either Oracle will develop a Mac version of the Java runtime or someone else on the open source community will create a version. Either way it will not have the Mac look and fell like it does today, but Java should still run.
Apple had their “Back to the Mac” Special Event today. You should be able to watch the keynote on the Apple website in the coming days. You can get the all the information on iLife 11 and the new MacBook Air on their website was well. The Mac OS 10.8 Lion sneak preview is only on the keynote and other news sites.
iLife updates iPhoto, iMovie, and Garage Band with some new nice features for the consumers out there. The upgrade is only $50, which makes it much easier to upgrade if you use the iLife application and want the new features. Otherwise most will just get it when they buy a new Mac. It is interesting that they didn’t update iWeb or iDVD. iDVD is on the way out, but I am not sure about iWeb.
The Macbook Air is a great piece of hardware that is both minimal and light. If you want lots a drive with lots of space or a fast processor, this is not the Mac for you. If you want something easy to carry and you don’t push the processor, the Air could be the right laptop for you. With the base price of $999 for a 11.6” Macbook Air, it makes it much more affordable Air than before. There is a lot of features like flash install drive, solid state storage, and no optical drive in the Air that will move to the Macbook Pro and even the iMac. The Air is the next step in laptop designs that the rest of the industry will continue to try to copy, but fail.
Apple also added a Facetime app for the mac, you can download the test right now on their website. Just one more step to put Facetime on everything.
The sneak peak for Mac OS 10.8 Lion was all about bringing the iPad to the Mac. App Home Screens will make your Mac will like an iPad with multi-Touch gestures on your mouse or trackpad. Mission Control combines Expose, Spaces, Dashboard, and Full Screen Apps into one App than allows you to use gestures to move around the OS. Apple is really moving fast to bring the iOS and the Mac OS closer together.
The big feature for 10.8, which will also be for Snow Leopard, is a Mac App Store. The Mac App Store is basically the iphone app store for the mac. You can browse, and search for the best apps all in one place. When you find that app you want, it is an easy one click install that comes with automatic updates. Apple is not locking down the Mac to the Mac App store, so you still can install apps from other locations. The problem for developers is if your App is not in the store, are people really going to try to find it. It may not work for professional applications, but any consumer application will need to be in the store to be successful.
More talk about this event on our next Podcast.
Today, HP announces webOS 2.0 and Palm Pre 2. It looks like HP is entering the phone business even though they said when they purchased Palm for a tablet OS. HP has a lot more cash than Palm had and a lot more enterprise costumers, which will help keep the webOS around a lot longer. We also know they will be making tablets sometime in the future.
So now we have both Microsoft and HP entering the phone business with new OSs. What looked like a two horse race with Apple and Google, now became a four or five horse race. RIM is still there, but was slowly falling behind. What does this mean for Apple? This should only be good news for Apple, as webOS, Phone 7, Blackberry, and Android all compete for the same customers. The greatest threat to the iOS is a single phone OS that has a dominate market share. If one phone dominates, then the people and developers will move to that phone or OS. It would be Microsoft vs Apple all over again. Android, two months looked like it was starting to dominate. Now you add both Microsoft and HP, two companies with lots of cash to add competition for Android. I see them bringing down Android, not Apple. By dividing the market-share between all the major competitors, it adds confusing for the customers as well as the developers.
Apple today reported earnings of $4.31 Billion compared to last years Q4 of $1.82 billion. They beat Analysts estimate of $4.08 a share with $4.64 a share. 3.98 million Mac were sold in the 4th quarter along with 4.19 million ipad sold. They also sold 14.1 million iphones.