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iPhone Impressions

I recently spent some time in an Apple store and it was the first time I personally used an iPhone. I was impressed with how small and sleek it was. Turning it to the side to switch to the widescreen mode wasn’t as smooth as I would like, but that could have been specific to the display model I was using. Also, typing with my big hands was nearly impossibly since I couldn’t get it to delete any characters I mistyped and I couldn’t type some other letters. I would need a larger typing area if I was to buy an iPhone, or a system that worked better. But I did enjoy flipping through music albums and zooming in on photos with my fingers.

I must have spent a half hour checking it out and listening to the eclectic selection of music they loaded onto the display iPhones. I was impressed, but not enough to switch to AT&T/Cingular. I would love a phone that worked on Verizon and let me make free calls from a WiFi connection.

Posted 08/4/07 by Jason Schramm in:

Invisible Shield

The Invisible Shield uses a abrasive-resistant film that can cover an entire gadget, or just the screen. I saw one at DigitalLife last year that was protecting an iPod from a bunch of rocks in a container. The shielded iPod worked fine and looked great even after being tossed around, though I wouldn’t recommend doing that with your iPod. I had been trying to get a demo shield, but I may just have to break down and buy one before my Second Generation iPod Nano gets scratched. So far I’ve handled it with kid gloves and it still looks great. Once I get a shield I will write a more personal review based on hands-on experience.

What are your experiences with an Invisible Shield? Good or bad.

Don’t have one? Love your gadgets? Protect them with the invisibleSHIELD!

My New Macbook

I recently ordered a new Macbook. It came with a 2.16 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 2GB of RAM, and a 120GB hard drive. I had been waiting to purchase one until they updated the line. With this minor update I was able to finally order my Mac with little worry of missing out on an upgrade. Sure they will come out with new models toward the end of this year or the beginning of next, but I needed it and couldn’t wait much longer. It is lightning fast and only gets a little warm near the power supply connection. Below are some pictures of it. With this new Macbook I plan to write original reviews for AppleWatch, and update the site a lot more often. A new era of activity begins now.

Macbook Unboxing photo album

iPhone News Roundup

In a previous story, I wrote that Softbank was working with Apple to develop mobile phones with built-in iPod music players. The story was later discredited, but in the past few weeks more information has been leaked that suggest an iPhone may be closer than we think.

First, Think Secret reported that Apple and Cingular have signed an agreement that will make the cell phone service provider the exclusive carrier of Apple’s coming phone for the first six months of its release in early 2007. After that other providers would be able to sell the phone. They also reported that Apple’s phone will feature acandy-bar design with a 2.2-inch display and 3 megapixel camera. (Source: Think Secret)

Second, AppleInsider discovered that Apple filed for a trademark on the term iPhone. In the September 15th filing, Apple describes iPhone as “handheld and mobile digital electronic devices for the sending and receiving of telephone calls, faxes, electronic mail, and other digital data; MP3 and other digital format audio players.” It may also play games and a prototype may be near completion. (Source: AppleInsider)

And lastly, AppleInsider reported on a Prudential report that believes Apple plans to introduce two iPod-based cell phone models. One including an integrated keyboard, video and music capability. The other being a slimmer phone with only music functionality. (Source: >AppleInsider)

The reports should be taken with a grain of salt, especially that last one based on a Prudential analyst’s research. Many people have gotten it wrong when it comes to figuring out what Apple is up to, yet many have also been right. It makes sense for Apple to release an iPhone, and it makes even greater sense to have an integrated device that can go up against the likes of the Treos and Blackberrys of the world. Could this be the evolution of the Newton?

17″ MacBook Pro Soon?

Lately I’ve been trying to not report on rumors, but I just had to mention this one. AppleInsider is reporting that Apple will unveil the 17-inc MacBook Pro at the National Association of Broadcasters conference next week. They say the notebook is expected to run at speeds faster than the 2.0GHz 15-inch MacBook Pro and have greater storage capacity.

This is the machine that I have been eagerly anticipating, especially with my birthday just around the corner. I’ve tried the 15-inch when I was in Texas for a conference a few weeks ago and the screen did look great, but I prefer at least a 17-inch display. For far too long I was stuck with 15-inchers and I won’t go back to that dark period of computing. We shall see if this notebook does indeed get released.

CNET MacBook Pro Name Article Baseless

CNET has an article that says that bloggers hate the “MacBook Pro” name. Yet they link to no sources. Either they forgot to put them in the template, or they were hoping to find some sites to backup their stance before the article was set to go out.

CNET Article

Seriously, what does it matter as long as Apple makes another great product? So far the reactions I’ve read have been positive.

Update: 5 hours after the article was first published and it looks like they finally filled in the missing comments and links.

Video iPod and Movie Store

In a follow up to my previous story, there has been buzz lately surrounding a possible video iPod and/or a movie download service. Apple has already been offering a few music videos for download as part of its iTunes Music Store. I know, I’ve seen them advertised. According to this Wall Street Journal article Apple “has recently held discussions with major recording companies, seeking to license music videos to sell” through their iTunes Music Store. The service could be ready as early as September and videos would likely sell for $1.99 with a possible discount if a consumer buys a music video and a song at the same time. This could then give Apple the footing it needs to expand into other visual media including television shows and movies. And while Mr. Jobs has said he doesn’t see how watching a feature-length movie on a small screen would appeal to consumers, that still leaves other shorter length media as fair game. And Jobs has a tendency of speaking out against a technology or practice and then incorporating it in later products, such as the flash-based iPod Shuffle. And, what about downloading a feature-length movie and transferring it to another device? Or downloading it right to your Mac Mini, which looks an awful lot like a media center.

CNET does a good job of rounding up various rumors and details into a comprehensive overview of Apple and their forays into visual media. And Cringley seems to support my previous story that the switch to Intel isn’t just about pricing or future PowerPC chips, plus he thinks we will see an “iTunes Movie Store” and a Video iPod. Being the major video player would also allow Apple to have a say in the copyright protection scheme used, much like they have with the iTunes Music Store.

Though, Cringley’s idea that Apple would have a say in what protection schemes are used for video would contradict my previous story in which I detailed how the Trusted Computing platform could be a significant reason for Apple to use Intel chips. Trusted Computing is all about creating open specifications for companies to use to secure against software-based attacks. That would mean Apple would likely have to play well with others.

You’re a month early

Come on guys, April 1st is less than a month away. You can wait that long, can’t you?

Waiiiittttt… they’re serious? Oh, what more would I expect. A short while ago Apple introduced the Mac mini (I hope that’s not news to you) - with the sole purpose of winning over PC users that were used to paying less than $899 for a computer. Well, apparently Intel missed the point. They’re trying to win those users back over before Apple’s even put the mini into their hands. And they’re trying to do it with a bizarro Mac mini.

I’m torn between wether this is a publicity stunt, or an actual product idea. I can almost see Intel showing this box off just to prove “Hey! We can do it to!” - then never deliver the product. But it’s almost stupid enough that they’d do it. I mean, Dell finally released their “DJ” didn’t they?

The fact is though, they have no actual product. This is basically a over-hyped piece of plastic that could theoreticly, eventually hold the contents of a PC. At who knows what price. For that matter, who knows what specs. They didn’t really say. Just pure speculation. Even after all is said and done, there’s no telling that the needed PC innards will actually fit.

So, yeah. Basically what I’m saying is, get your pre-order in now.

The Return of the Switch Ads

Rumor has it (well there’s basically a rumor covering every subject - so that doesn’t mean much) that Apple is on the verge of re-introducing the Switch ad campaign. This time with actual TV ads and everything - not just a few stories hidden on Apple.com (they’re currently under the “Mac OS X” and “Switch” tabs on Apple.com). They’re doing this for good reason too. With the Mac mini reaching new uber-cheap computer price levels, and the iPod shuffle being distributed everywhere like a cheap whore.

With the shuffle creeping into such Apple no-no territory (that’s what I call it anyway) as Wal-Mart, (despite my constant pleas with Steve Jobs) there isn’t a better time to start advertising to the crowd your now selling to. Also known as “the masses”. A few ideas on how Apple can re-invent their Switch campaign to actually work this time.

1. Be more specific with the stories
Everyone’s heard the usual “Windows screwed up yet again” story. They’re used to it. This time around, go into depth. Have the story tellers describe how they felt when 5 unsaved documents were open at the time XP decided to crap out. Something most people can relate to. Sharing how cartoonish XP looks and feels would also be a good substitute.

2. More Ellen Feiss
The only saving grace of the failed campaign was a half-drugged girl Apple recorded. Everyone loved her. Message boards couldn’t stop discussing her. Websites were created. Fan clubs started. It’s basically the only thing people remember the ads for. Get more interesting people, with interesting stories. Please, if you can, get Ellen back again for this round of ads.

3. Show your stuff off
One thing that plagued Switch ads of yore was a lot of “With the Mac I could…” which is fine and dandy (mostly fine… not so much dandy) but please show some examples. Show the person actually using the Mac mini, show how easy it is to set up. I know this is a bit against Apple’s track record of commercials - but if your going to sell to the masses, speak to them. Powerful, huh?

4. No cute background music
I’ll make this short and sweet. The switch ads featured such music that was suitable for the Mario Brothers (bonus points if you can tell me the Mario Brothers’ last name). Apple, stick to what you do best music wise. Introduce cool, new songs no one’s heard before - not some cheesy elevator music.

5. Make the transition easier
One of the big things I hear from people is “I don’t want to re-learn how to use a computer”. Show the public how easy it is to use Mac OS X and (God forbid) the similarities it has to Windows. Explaining why Windows is so similar - not so important. Going into excruciating detail what Microsoft stole in the 80s won’t exactly win over the crowds. Another common quote - “But I already have bought all this software for my PC”. Show people they don’t have to sell the farm in order to re-stock their new computer (half the farm - maybe. Just not the whole thing). Show off iLife and iWork, demonstrate how easy and freakin’ cool GarageBand is to use. Explain that Microsoft Office is in-fact available for the Mac.

Apple should also introduce a trade-in program. PC users can trade in all their used software for uber discounts on Mac products. Just don’t make it cheesy like Dell did with their iPod trade-in.


Not only these ideas, but please Apple - no more white backgrounds. The ads could use a bit more excitement.

Giving new meaning to the word pathetic

Here we go again. You all remember Ellen Feiss from the old Apple Switch TV campaign don’t you? (”ellen feiss”, which oddly enough is one of the few Google searches that returns with pictures in the search results - something Google is testing with a select amount of keywords) Well maybe you don’t. I’ll refresh your memory.

You know about the Switch campaign right? Well too bad, I’m not refreshing your memory about that. You see, this girl - Ellen had some problems looking non-high in the taping of her commercial. Apple decided to air it anyway. Within weeks, fan pages, dedicated blogs, Yahoo and Google groups sprung up all about this girl. They didn’t really have anything to report, or anything new to say. Just obsessing over the girl that appeared in one commercial.

Well apparently Apple fans have a tendency to idolize girls that appear briefly in their commercials. A guy who (hopefully anonymously - you know, for the sake of his dignity) goes by the name Justin has started a blog completely dedicated to the girl that just innocently opened a Pepsi bottle to listen to some music. You know the girl at the beginning that gets her Pepsi out of the fridge? Yeah, her. Personally, I think this blog hit a high note when Justin wrote a poem posted The Beatles’ song Michelle as a tribute to her:

Michele, ma belle.
These are words that go together well,
My Michele.

Michele, ma belle.
Sont les mots qui vont tres bien ensemble,
Tres bien ensemble.

I love you, I love you, I love you.
That’s all I want to say.
Until I find a way
I will say the only words I know that
You’ll understand.

It continues… Poor guy.

Posted 02/10/05 by Jesse Perry in:

Why availability is and isn’t everything

Yes, yes. You’ve heard it before, so I won’t reiterate it. Too much. The Mac minis and iPod shuffles issued last month are selling like hot cakes, not to the surprise of most. And what also isn’t surprising, (to me at least) this time around - they’re as hard as ever to get your hands on. Less than a month old product, and supply is already a major issue. Or is it? Apple could just really know what they’re doing. Just a chance.

In all 98 of it’s retail stores, Apple has yet to report stock of the mini or shuffle. That is not true though, at least for 1 Apple Store - which reported they had a grand total of 3 Mac minis on their shelves.

“Out of stock” for Apple does not mean they’re losing business. In fact, quite the contrary. It stirs up the product, gets people talking, and makes good PR. “They’re flying off the shelves!” sounds a lot better to the public than “Yeah, they’re selling pretty good, but we have plenty left. Want one?”.

It creates a buzz. It shows that within weeks Apple can create a run-away success purely by the fact that there are none left. And Apple likes it that way. Heck, what company wouldn’t? Apple’s just smart enough to capitalize on this effect.

On average, there are over 120 people at each of the 98 stores on a waiting list for the iPod shuffle. Those are guaranteed sales. And who knows how many are waiting at Amazon.com, Best Buy, and now, Wal-Mart. Countless more. Apple’s not losing business, they’re creating more by sheer demand.

In total, Apple has sold over 10 million iPods - almost half of those - 5 million iPods, were sold during this past Christmas season, alone. Apple knows when to create demand - and when to feed the demand, actually shipping the product.

They did just that, at the Christmas shopping season, iPods were suddenly in vast supply - ready to be bought up by those eagerly waiting for months. It paid off - Apple reported their most successful quarter, and can now rest easy, restarting the hot-demand cycle for 2 new products.

Them’s fightin’ words

Blatantly attack Apple until market share declines just a few points. That’s the name of the game. Desperation. Napster is following suit, today they launched a flat rate all-you-can-eat music service for $15/month they’ve been testing for a while.

They plan to launch an aggressive ad campaign, targeting the Apple + Pepsi sponsorship that’s planned to take off on Super Bowl sunday. The ad which also will air sunday, is said to “compare spending $10,000 on iTunes for 10,000 tracks, while on Napster it would be $15″.

If anyone reading this listens to 10,000 tracks in one month… wow. I guess… this service is for you. You sort of deserve it. I guess. But if it’s not (which I’m assuming it won’t be for 99.9% of the people reading this) - Napster doesn’t have a lot of options left. They’ve reportedly spent $30 million on this ad campaign which includes the Super Bowl ad.

Don’t they know what they’re doing? Companies have tried this before, it just doesn’t work. People like owning their music. At least that’s the word on the street. The word on the street isn’t always in the know, so you can’t necessarily trust that.

How would you feel if you build up a list of some 500 songs you got off this service, one day you just don’t feel like paying the $15 anymore and then you realize you’re sort of SOL because you’re actually renting the music. How cool.

If anything, attacking Apple straight on, even naming iTunes in their commercial, they’ll end of giving Apple even more publicity. Like they need it.

iTunes Music Store recommendations actually worked

Now that’s a first. Usually I go to my iTunes shopping cart, just glance at the recommendations up top for the heck of it, normally I’ll see just more of the same artists I’m already buying. Or just a random U2 album that has nothing to do with my selection (convenient ad for U2?). Not exactly smart technology going on behind the recommendations.

But this time, I was getting the new Chemical Brothers album, and it suggested the album “Love Is the Greatest Revenge” by Tremolo. The cover looked pretty nifty, so I checked it out. Previewed a few songs, and was surprised when I actually liked what was playing and ended up buying the album. Either it was a good coincidence or Apple has secretly smarted-up (is that a word?) the recommending system. Either way, I’m a happy customer.iconiconicon

Posted 01/29/05 by Jesse Perry in:

The Mac mini is hardly all about movies

I’m going to go out on a crazy limb here and claim what Robert Cringely had to say in his “The New Mac mini All About Movies” column, is about 7% true (actual percentage may vary). In case you haven’t read this yet, it’s been passed around the internet pretty heavily for the past 2 days and you can read it here.

Basically what it states is that Apple will without hesitation, after initial Mac mini sales drop, will announce the iTunes Movie Store (he doesn’t really make a name for it - but I hope it’s not ‘iTunes Movie Store’, because that just makes no sense. But as it stands, the only software that Apple could deliver movies through is iTunes. Or QuickTime, but one of his reasons that he believes this store will happen is one night he wasn’t able to watch trailers on QuickTime). With the new Movie Store, Apple will also announce that Mac minis are the sole player for the movies you’ll purchase.

One problem here - no company in their right mind would just abandon the previous advertising campaign - the original market and say it’s now “your brand new media center!”. Especially not Apple. It would feel like a used car for most people when they bought it. When Apple first announced the Music Store they already had a player - the iPod, with a sturdy background and a good year under it’s belt.

But in this case they would have to introduce the player and the Movie Store the same time - definitely a no-no. That’s suicide. You’re risking twice as much as you normally would. If one fails, the other does too - and you double your losses.

Another thing, Internet speed - too slow. In the time frame Robert gives, the majority of America (I say only the US, because Europe is quite a bit faster on this front than we are) won’t have the correct Internet connection to reasonably download movies.

Even with most “high-speed” connections, downloading would be painfully slow. No one would endure that, and let it tie up their connection for half the day. Unless they really needed that copy of Napolean Dynamite. Something I can see happening in extreme cases. But not something Apple can make a profit off of.

And speaking of profit, Apple is just now making a slim profit off the Music Store. They would only get a slim shaving off any movie sale. Not to mention cost of storing said movies and bandwidth that would have to be involved. Not worth it for Apple.