A blog by Jacob
Today Apple announced some new portable devices, perhaps most notably, the iPhone 5. Here are some of my thoughts about today’s announcement:
Recently, the new CEO of HP, Leo Apotheker, told the BBC, “I hope one day people will say ‘this is as cool as HP’, not ‘as cool as Apple’.” While I know nothing of Apotheker’s plans to be cool, I suspect he is focused on making cool products, while not understanding the source of that cool.
The style of any product line comes from the culture of the people designing the product. Apple has a culture that cultivates “cool,” while HP does not. HP’s culture is more scientific, focuses on doing more, and is more conservative. That is why products from Apple are simple and elegant, and products from HP tend to have too many buttons and too much bloat without bravely crossing into cutting edge.
I suspect that Apotheker doesn’t realize that “cool” must permeate through the company as widespread culture, instead of being a goal in product design. For example, I’ve seen some of my friends receive job offers from Apple that come in a well designed stylish folder with organized papers. My HP offer came as a poorly formatted email.
Once while I was working at HP, there was a contest to give a component board a cool “Apple-like” name. They had a few dozen suggestions, but in the end, the only name that was acceptable to the HP culture came in the form of a four letter acronym.
So if Apotheker really wants HP to be cool, he is going to have to start with the very difficult task of changing HP culture.
What is missing from Apple’s App Store? One word answer: apps. I looked over all the OS X applications that I use every day, and I searched the App Store for them. I only found one: a text editor named Smultron which used to be free but now sells for $5. But I did find lots of dumb, cheap apps that remind me of the try-and-trash apps available on my iPod.
A friend of mine who is an Apple employee, Quinn Taylor, tweeted, on the day of the iPad launch, about the use of Flash by Hulu and other online video providers. Presumably, he is responding to criticisms that the new iPad, as well as older iPhones, do not support flash and won’t play videos from Hulu. This is what he said:
When is Hulu going to get with the times and support H.264 and HTML 5 like YouTube & HD content? Flash is an enemy to openness & innovation.
So apparently, a system which requires a proprietary SDK to create videos, which then need a proprietary (free) player in order to view videos, is an “enemy to openness.”
Of course, the iPad isn’t exactly the perfect friend to openness. I mean, to develop anything for the iPad, you have to download the proprietary SDK, use it only on a newer Mac, pay to join Apple’s iPhone developer program, submit any developed application to Apple, hope that Apple approves your app, wait for people to find your app in Apple’s App Store, and then if it gets that far, users can download and use the app on the proprietary iPad device.
I just want to point out that on the conversation of enemies to openness, we could use the new iPad as a perfect example, as everything is locked down and closed from beginning to end.
Today Apple announced the Mac Book Air and new ultra-slim laptop computer. Weighing only 3 pounds, this notebook is like someone flattened a Mac Book. Here are a couple of deal breakers for me with the Mac Book Air:
On the other hand, it is a cute little computer that would be quite a bit more comfortable hauling around all day in my backpack. I am still. however, exceptionally worried about the built in battery. I’ve had two batteries on my iBook be recalled because of their poof-potential. I would hate to have to go through the trouble of servicing my laptop or watching it explode if ever the battery were to explode.
GPG is a way to digitally sign email messages so that other people can know that they came from you. It can also be used to encrypt messages. Getting GPG to work is easy if you know the right way to do it, or difficult if you don’t. Here are some steps for the Mac user to get started with GPG: Read the rest of this entry »