NY Times: “Ramen noodles are a dish of effortless purity.”
Greenspun: “What I want is a phone that won’t make calls from inside my pocket.”
Gizmodo reports that Apple also (quietly) announced (but didn’t ship) a new Pre-N wireless router.
PS: Thanks to the Gawker guys who snuck me a bogus pass to the Showstoppers event last night, where I shot Renee blowing kisses (one more time). Bouncers who don’t recognize the self-proclaimed co-inventor of RSS should be hung from the nearest tree. In the meantime it’s good to have friends watching your back. :-)
Paul Andrews says I should be in San Francisco instead of Las Vegas. I am. I quietly returned to the Bay Area this morning. I’m going to dinner with a bunch of friends in the city this evening and should have a lot more data on what Apple announced. And while I am of course interested in the phone (like everyone else) I expect I’ll be able to shed more light on the TV box. (Don’t expect me to gush, I think it’s the wrong way to go, and not because of its resolution.)
Michael Gartenberg fills in an important blank about the iPhone — it’s a closed box? Really. How could that be since it runs Mac OS and wifi and it’s a phone for crying out loud. Confused and disappointed. BTW, we still need an iPod that can have its personality enhanced by developers.
Engadget report on Apple’s phone. But of course it’s also a Mac, which is what makes it interesting.
AP has a lot more details.
Lance Knobel on the opening of Davos.
Fascinating report on the internal view of developers at Microsoft, circa 1996. I knew James Plamondon, he was one of the good guys, relatively speaking. I overheard a worse conversation on a bus at Microsoft in the same period, and wrote it up in a DaveNet story. Of course this didn’t win me many friends at Microsoft, but it cemented my relationship with the few people who worked there then who really wanted to do great stuff, which imho, we went on to do. Today, the bad people at Microsoft won, bigtime, leaving them as mediocre as any tech company you can think of. Apple, a much smaller company, is completely, utterly, kicking their ass. Which would be even more gratifying if Apple had a culture of supporting, even celebrating developers.
I’m typing this post from the Las Vegas airport where they have free wifi that performs pretty well. All you have to do is enter your email address in a form. I said I was firstname.lastname@example.org.
That’s the good news. Now here’s the strange news.
I happened to have iTunes open, and in the left panel I noticed a new list named “Shared” and under that, the libraries of four nearby people, not sure whether they’re running iTunes or what, but it looks like I’m supposed to be able to access their music, but I can’t. Here’s a screen shot.
Explanation: I missed a few Jobs keynotes before I switched to the Mac late in 2005.
Used to be when Microsoft wanted to take a market from a successful competitor, they started by seducing their users with something comfortable, a product that worked just like the competitor’s, and was better in some major way.
My first experience with that was with the IBM PC in the early 80s. I was a developer for the Apple II and III, and was very familiar with the limits of these machines. The Apple II was the juggernaut, it was the machine that ran Visicalc, but it was limited by CPU, screen, memory and disk; and the Apple III, which corrected those limits, was unreliable, and incompatible with the Apple II.
Enter Microsoft, with its partner IBM and their PC. A big blank machine. More than 10 times the memory. Blazing fast. But a very similar architecture to the Apple II. It took less than a month to port my software. For users, the switch was even faster. And once we switched, we never looked back. Apple was stuck, IBM and Microsoft was the way out of their mess, for users and developers.
One more example. When IE came on the market, it worked keystroke for keystroke the same as Netscape. You could switch in a couple of hours. And it was faster, prettier, just nicer in every way. Even though it was the dreaded monopoly slaying the smart but arrogant upstart, IE had enough for users that you actually felt good about using it. Finally someone cared about users. Netscape, which had forgotten about the browser, obviously didn’t.
On Sunday, after waiting for hours to hear Bill Gates talk, I sat through the first half hour of the talk, and was amazed that they had nothing new to offer users. Just more empty words about how great Vista was. Gates even said we should care how much time and money they put into it. Why? I had left them between XP and Vista because they left their users to fend for themselves against all kinds of malware.
I walked out after they put up a slide showing their mediocre line of Windows cell phones, with a parenthetical afterthought in the title. “Outsells Blackberry.” I am a Blackberry user. In the old days, when Microsoft was smarter, they would have embraced Blackberry users. There would be something special in the connection between the Blackberry and Vista, that made Vista irresistable to a Blackberry user. Today’s Microsoft can only offer that, when added together, all the different Windows cell phones sell more. But are their users happier? We love our Blackberries, the same way we loved Apple and Netscape, before they sold us something better. Today’s Microsoft doesn’t seduce. The old one did.
Zune is another perfect example. It seems that as an iPod user, I should be able to pick up a Zune and begin to use it. Not so. Yesterday I had my first chance to try one. The controls don’t work. How should I hold the thing? Sometimes the display is horizontal, and other times, it switches to vertical. I don’t seem to have any control over this. The scroll wheel, which is shaped exactly like the one on the iPod, doesn’t scroll. It’s as if the PageDown key on the IBM PC didn’t do more or less the same thing as the one on the Apple II. As if the Back button in IE didn’t do the same thing as the Back button in Netscape. The scroll wheel is that central to the use of the iPod.
Will Microsoft be able to fix the broken controls on the Zune? Not without breaking their users. They’ve painted themselves into a corner, there’s no way to win. The iPod people at Apple must be laughing. Microsoft could have easily found way to embrace and extend, the old Microsoft surely would have.
Later… Continuing the story — Microsoft is behaving now like their foes of the 80s and 90s. Consider that when Apple asked Microsoft to make Mac software, they didn’t say “We’re coming out with something better called Windows, and rather than support a competitive platform, we’ll focus all our effort on Windows so we can make sure the Mac is weak, so we can win.” Instead, they went gung-ho into the Mac, won the spreadsheet market with Excel, and Lotus was stuck with the character-based PC market.
Then, in the late 80s, when IBM split with Microsoft, and was planning to erase Windows with their OS/2 Presentation Manager, the same Lotus decided not to develop a spreadsheet for Windows, instead they focused all their effort on the Presentation Manager, so they could make sure WIndows was weak, so they could win. It backfired, Windows won, and Lotus is now a forgotten division of IBM and their chief architect is now Microsoft’s chief architect.
Moral of the story: If you’re big, or aspire to be big, cover all the bets you can, and never assume your lack of support will hurt your competitor. Get in bed with the guy whose lunch you want to eat.