Tag Archives: amazon

It’s an iPad mini, Not an iPad Shuffle

Reading the Twitter and App.net reactions to the mostly positive reviews of the iPad mini today, I’m left with the impression that many people wanted

  • $199 price point
  • Retina display
  • 10-hours of battery
  • aluminum case, and all the fit and finish you expect from Apple

And anyone who doesn’t criticize Apple for not having all of these is a shill.

But design is about compromise, remember?

There’s no physical way Apple could have kept its “legendary” battery life (Tim Cook’s word, not mine) with the mini without sacrificing the Retina screen. And there’s no way it would have that beautiful aluminum fit and finish for $200. So choices were made. And if you follow Apple at all, you know why they made the choices they did.

Now, you can say that you would have preferred the Retina display in a cheap plastic case, or that you could live with five hours of battery instead of ten. But you have to make choices yourself in your imaginary preferred device. No one can currently make a device with all four of those things.

That’s not to say that Apple doesn’t deserve to get dinged in a review a little for having a screen that’s sub par compared to its competition. But from what I’ve read, the mini has been getting that ding. Most reviewers, even those who tend to be Apple positive, are wishing the mini had Retina.

(I’ll agree that rationalizing, i.e. “most people don’t care about Retina” is silly. Of course they care. And they will notice. But I’m betting the mini will still win most of them over.)

Apple operates on the “all or nothing” principle when it comes to resolution. It’s quadruple the pixels, or it’s not. There’s no in-between resolutions, where none of your apps work right or everything is fuzzy. Obviously I’d rather have a Retina screen on my mini, as I think that would be my ideal iPad. And by next year, when that’s physically possible, thanks to more advancements in battery technology and power management in iOS, I’ll have that. But in the meantime, I absolutely think Apple made the right choice to go with non-Retina before sacrificing battery life or making it even more expensive. And I certainly wouldn’t want a screen with 1200 x 900, or some other in-between resolution that made my apps look like crap.

As far as price goes, I’m also hearing a lot of talk about how Apple could “crush” its competition if it just made the mini $200. Sure. It could crush it even faster if it made the mini $100. Or heck, why not give it away?

Take a look at Amazon’s latest earnings report if you want to know how the cheap tablet market is doing. I don’t think Apple needs to crush anything. Those cheap tablets are money pits. Wall Street may give Amazon a pass for losing money on everything they sell, but when Apple warns profit margins will be lower than their usual 35%, the stock takes a nose dive. I think Apple is right to wait it out until it can make a profitable tablet at that price.

Are people still seriously thinking Apple needs to get into the razor-thin margins game? Because that’s how Apple got to be the world’s largest company, right, by competing on price?

Didn’t we learn anything from Netbooks?

I was as surprised as everyone else when I saw that $329 starting price. But mostly because it’s such a goofy, Marketing un-friendly number. Once I thought about it for a minute, I figured, “Well, that must be the compromise that went along with the manufacturing process.” This is what Apple does. Rounded corners, when squared corners are cheaper. Aluminum, when plastic is cheaper. Glass, when a plastic screen is cheaper. They build a great product, then price it as cheap as they can, not the other way around.

Anyone who takes a look at an iPad mini and a Kindle Fire will immediately know why the mini is more expensive. And they’ll choose according to what suits them best. Apple is happy to let them make that choice. They don’t cater to cheapskates.

But what about the iPod? I can hear some arguing. What about it? It was several years before Apple made an iPod that was cheap enough to not leave the “price umbrella” under it, and that iPod didn’t have a screen.

I have no doubt the umbrella will be gone in a few years. But that will take time, technological advancement, and a lot more creative thinking. Remember, this is the iPad mini, not the iPad shuffle. That’ll come later. In the meantime, let the competitors lose money for a while. Market share is not remotely important compared to making profits and keeping your reputation for best-in-class products.

You can’t beat Amazon in a pricing war. Why would you pick that fight, knowing you’re going to lose?

Apple, Amazon, and the DOJ (Again)

Apple bashes Amazon and proposed ebook settlement — paidContent:

“In all, the Government met with at least fourteen Amazon employees—yet not once under oath. The Government required that Amazon turn over a mere 4,500 documents, a fraction of what was required of others.”

(Via. paidcontent.org)

Remember back in April, when I said the DOJ case against Apple regarding eBooks seemed like it was authored by Amazon? Yeah, looks like it just about was. 

And now they’re trying to force Apple into a settlement, though Apple wants to go to trial. So much for due process. 

There’s some seriously screwed up stuff going on lately with our justice system here in the U.S. 

Username/Password Needs to be Taken out to Back and Shot in the Head

How Apple and Amazon Security Flaws Led to My Epic Hacking | Gadget Lab | Wired.com: “In many ways, this was all my fault. My accounts were daisy-chained together. Getting into Amazon let my hackers get into my Apple ID account, which helped them get into Gmail, which gave them access to Twitter. Had I used two-factor authentication for my Google account, it’s possible that none of this would have happened, because their ultimate goal was always to take over my Twitter account and wreak havoc. Lulz.

Had I been regularly backing up the data on my MacBook, I wouldn’t have had to worry about losing more than a year’s worth of photos, covering the entire lifespan of my daughter, or documents and e-mails that I had stored in no other location.

Those security lapses are my fault, and I deeply, deeply regret them.”

(Via. Wired)

While it’s tempting to say he’s right here, that it really is his own dumb behavior that led to this, it’s also important to remember that this is a nerd with major street cred we’re talking about. Compared to the average computer user, this guy is way ahead of the curve when it comes to security. And he still got hacked. 

Worse yet, he didn’t get hacked by some brilliant but malicious programmer who figured out a secret path through the back door via sharp technical skills. The guy just called Amazon and Apple and was handed the keys to the kingdom. 

Remember that next time your customer support rep doesn’t believe you’re you, and won’t let you in without proper identification. 

The bottom line is that we have a broken system. Period. Tech companies (I’m looking at you Apple and Amazon) need to be innovating in this area more. The whole username/password thing is way past its expiration date. We’re storing our lives on these machines. We’re trusting companies with our most precious data and private information. We need a better way for the computer to know who it’s talking to. 

No matter how many times you tell people to turn on two-factor authentication, use better passwords with numbers, letters, and symbols, use different passwords for all your accounts, etc., it’s not going to happen. 90% of people are still using their dog’s name with a 1 or 2 tacked on the end. It’s human nature. 

So while I applaud Google for having a better authentication system than Apple on this one, it still puts the burden on the user, and thus is essentially useless. The vast majority of people, even if they were scared into turning two-factor on by this story, will turn it back off again after two weeks of being inconvenienced by it. 

In other words, don’t tell me I have to type a 16-character password every time I want to use my phone. Make a better phone that knows the difference between me and a stranger without me having to do anything. 

The thing that’s made Apple products better than everyone else’s over the last few decades is that they always put the user’s needs ahead of the designer or programmer. It’s time Apple stepped up and did that again, this time with an authentication system that works with near zero effort on the user’s part. Yes, that’s hard. Too bad. It’s the only way we’re going to fix this. 

And meanwhile, Apple, stop using the last four digits of a credit card number as proof of anything. Wow. Talk about bone-headed. That’s worse than the bank using your mother’s maiden name.

More on eBooks and the Justice Department

Amazon Low Prices Disguise a High Cost – NYTimes.com:

““It is breathtaking to stand back and look at this and believe that this is in the public interest,” he said. “The only rationale is e-book prices will go down, for how long? What happens when there is no one left to compete with them?””

(Via The New York Times.)

This article sums up my feelings about this weird eBook DOJ case. Sure, in the short term prices may go down, but once Amazon has 100% of the market, where will the prices go? The short-sightedness of this whole thing is jaw-dropping.

This case has nothing to do with preserving competition. The government is guaranteeing the opposite by giving the already de facto monopolist Amazon an even bigger upper hand. When I read the official complaint, my first gut reaction was that someone at Amazon had actually written it and handed it over to the DOJ to copy verbatim. I guess Amazon has stronger lobbyists than Apple and the book publishers do.

iBooks can’t have links to Amazon books – Duh

Apple rejects iBook with links to Amazon’s store:

Before anyone starts yelling about censorship, keep in mind that this is Apple’s playground, and it can take its ball home whenever it wants, no matter how inane the reason. But this reason seems particularly inane — Apple can’t really be worried about one link in a ebook promoting a competitor’s sales, right? Not to mention that the book in question was a hardcover copy, and unless I’m mistaken, wasn’t even sold on Apple’s iBooks store anyway.

(Via TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog)

Well, actually, it’s several links to Amazon’s store, not one. And I don’t find that an inane reason at all. I don’t remember ever going into a Target and buying a product there that gave me several tips on how to buy things at Wal Mart.

This argument is silly to me. It’s simply bad form to try and sell a product in one store that repeatedly refers customers to another competing store. End of story.