Tuesday, June 08, 2010

The never-ending Apple Revolution

Steve Jobs just announced the iPhone 4, with a slew of new features and his usual hyperbole. But let's stay clear of discussing the hyperbole, which Apple fans and foes alike love to argue upon. Just the facts ma'am, and here are some hard ones.

Fact: iPhone 4 is extremely powerful, using the A4 system-on-a-chip that's also in the iPad, even though we don't know if it'll run at the same speed. Nonetheless, it's so powerful that it has literally clearly transformed the smartphone into a multipurpose handheld computer replacement: 720p hi-dev video camera, book reader on a screen with the quality of printed paper, music and video player, games machine, etc...

Fact: iPhone 4 has a front-facing camera. That's nothing new hardware-wise, but this time it comes with software that makes video-calling straightforward. Watch the operators scramble once again to increase their bandwidths.

Fact: iPhoneOS is now officially iOS (not to be confused with Cisco's IOS). It has grown up from its toddler years into adolescence: solid APIs, proven UI paradigms, runs on multiple devices, supports heavy-duty gaming and all manners of application types.

If you now ask why I consider iOS to be an adolescent, and when I'll see it grow to adulthood, my answer is simply the day you'll see Apple computers ship with iOS. It is my firm belief that Apple's iOS is its next-generation operating system across all devices, from laptops to servers and AppleTV. Think about MacBooks with dual screens, the keyboard area being replaced by a second haptic screen. The "laptop" can then be turned sideways into a "book" with two pages when you're running an ebook reader. And of course the MacBook can be sold as-is in every country in the world, no keyboard layout issues. Think about the cost savings.

Incidentally, I only keep my MacBook Pro because I can't yet run XCode to program iOS apps on the iPad. The day XCode runs on the iPad (or the iPhone+screen+bluetooth keyboard), I will never again need my trusty battered OS X 10.6 MacBook Pro.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is the NeXT Step. Soon.
In the meantime, enjoy the music, book, video, mobile phone and gaming revolutions that the wizard Mr. Jobs has thrust upon us in the past decade.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Enough with DRM already!

Ars Technica (a great publication, in case you didn't know of it) has an article about the problems plaguing eBooks: No universal format, fight over DRM, etc...

If you read the comments section, there are only two universally acclaimed places from which to buy books online: Baen (webscriptions.net) and O'Reilly. And guess what they have in common? Absolutely ZERO DRM and therefore the ability to provide the books in a multitude of formats, including the ubiquitous PDF.

Personally I've been buying and reading books from Baen on my iPhone and computers for 2 years now, and it and O'Reilly are the absolute only two places I buy books from. It's easy, prices are good, and I never have to worry about which device I'm reading the book on.

DRM must go. Check out the author Eric Flint's introduction to the newly-created Baen Free Library in the year 2000, and then his followup rant on DRM in 2006. Publishers and authors have been getting this kind of market research continuously for 10 years now, and they still don't get it. Looks like books are going the way of music, movies and video games (Ubisoft, I'm looking at you): how to best shoot oneself in the foot by screwing the customer.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

On the need for basic statistics training

These days anyone will do anything for a bit of exposure, for search engine positioning or otherwise. And sometimes it borders on the idiotic (well, in some cases it truly is Jackass-level idiotic, but that would be on purpose).

Here's the latest beautiful example that I was just given, courtesy of Business Insider: CHART OF THE DAY: Here's Why The Mobile Ad Market Is Still Small

This report on a survey, and accompanying chart, attempts to convince us that the mobile ad market is small and very few people research or purchase products on their cell phones. Sure, the basic idea that weekly only 8% of people research products on their cell phones may be correct. I don't dispute that.

But if I were to say that 32% of all smartphone owners research products weekly on their smartphones, which by the way, are geared to receiving high-quality mobile ads, wouldn't you rethink the conclusion?
Furthermore, while only an assumed 25% of all mobile phone owners today have smartphones, the smartphone share is exploding and therefore so will the mobile ad market.

Lies, damned lies, and statistics