Analyst Shaw Wu expects “vintage conservative” guidance from Apple ahead of their quarterly earnings report this Thursday. While he still expects Apple to have a big holiday quarter, he believes that Apple will partially absorb quality control costs associated with the iPhone 5.
Beyond the iPhone 5, Wu believes that Apple’s margins will also be pushed lower by the anticipated launch of a smaller 7.85-inch iPad. He expects Apple will sell its so-called “iPad mini” at lower margins than the full-size iPad, at least initially, allowing the company to achieve a lower price point and take on competitors like the Amazon Kindle Fire HD and Google Nexus 7
Wu expects Apple to sell 25-26 million iPhones, 16.5 million iPads, and 4.8 million Macs. Wu believes Apple’s near-term gross margins will be between 40.5 percent and 41.5 percent, slightly lower than Wallstreet’s estimate.
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I’ve been a digital media analyst pretty much as long as mainstream music piracy has been around. I’ve tracked the rise and fall of many sites, services, networks, applications and protocols, including MP3.com, Napster, Music City Morpheus, iMesh, Audio Galaxy, Bear Share, eMule, Gnu Network, Kazaa, Limewire, Pirate Bay, Rapidshare, Megaupload etc etc. The point I’m trying to make – other than my career’s slightly concerning alignment with the rise of music’s grey market – is that the sector is built upon reinvention. And that power of reinvention is the key reason why the music industry has a bigger piracy now than it has ever had before.
Of course there are statistics that suggest the file sharing is on the wane in a few markets – notably Germany – but overall the problem is getting bigger because:
- Non-network piracy is in the ascendency. P2P is declining in importance as a medium for piracy. Non-network sharing (hard drive swapping, darknets, Bluetoothing, mini-nets, digital lockers, forums, binary groups, Instant Messaging, music blogs) are collectively more widely adopted than P2P in many major markets and are growing fast. All tactics of course which are much more difficult to track and police than P2P
- P2P is getting smarter. And for those who still do use P2P there is an ever growing array of tools at their disposal that make it harder for their activity to be tracked, ranging from encrypted versions of mainstream P2P apps through to the Pirate Bay’s current shift from Torrents to Magnets
Of course media industries are upping their game too, with major legislative efforts in the US, UK and France, though all with mixed levels of success. The lesson of the last decade plus though, is of course that whatever actions the media companies take, the piracy problem will be more than a step ahead. Legislation, judiciary process and enforcement are all slow moving beasts. Typically by the time media industries catch up technology and consumer needs have moved on. For example the Pirate Bay looks like it could be blocked from consumers in the UK but a quick search on Google for the name of your content of choice followed by the word ‘torrent’ will serve you up an exhaustive list of alternatives. Pirate Bay simply isn’t needed anymore.
Do we have the right services?
All of these dynamics are probably familiar to most, but I think we may be on the verge of something very different and of far greater concern for rights holders. One of the key reasons – some would argue *the*key* reason – piracy is still growing is because the $0.99 cent download and the heavily delayed movie release simply don’t appeal to most digital consumers. US VC Fred Wilson recently stated in a Paley Centre debate that ‘we are all pirates’ and that if ‘99% of people are breaking the law then it is the wrong law’. My twist on that statement would be that if ‘99% of people aren’t using the services that they are the wrong services’. (Of course more than 1% use legitimate services but we are still talking about a nice minority).
Don’t get me wrong, we have some absolutely fantastic services out there for the current installed base of digital music customers, but they are patently not the right services for majority of consumers who account for the 95% of total downloads which are illegal (according to the IFPI). Regular readers will know that I have been building a case for a music format revolution (you can download my Music Format Bill of Rights report here for free). There are some really promising first steps happening from some promising start ups but rights complexities are acting as a major decelerator on innovation in this space.
What happens if digital piracy starts to learn from the mobile App revolution?
Of course the grey market has no such problem. They only ever concern themselves with rights issues if they get taken to court or decide to try to go legit (Napster, Limewire, iMesh, Kazaa etc). To date the focus of piracy technology has been evading the music industry. But now, with the revolution in high quality user experiences that the App market has created, there is a very real risk that much of this ethos will bleed through to the grey market. Indeed there is undoubtedly some direct overlap between the App developer community and the piracy developer community.
The nightmare scenario for media companies is that the pirates turn their attentions to developing great user experiences rather than just secure means of acquiring content. What if, for example, a series of open source APIs were built on top of some of the more popular file sharing protocols so that developers can create highly interactive, massively social, rich media apps which transform the purely utilitarian practice of file sharing into something fun and engaging? If you though the paid content market was struggling now imagine how it would fare in the face of that sort of competition.
In the longer term one could hope that such a scenario would act as an accelerator for liberalization and innovation of rights owner practices, but in the nearer term it would be a death knell for many of the current services that have worked so hard to get achieve what they have within often suffocating confines.
Content monetization strategies need reworking too
I’ve said it many times before and I’ll say it again now, and many times again: fighting piracy requires a big fat carrot to go along with the stick. More than 300 $0.99 download stores in Europe and North America alone is not a carrot. Now is the time to give the legitimate sector the tools, licenses and support to innovate like never before. It is also time to recognize that just because piracy users don’t always spend money does not mean that they are not spending. In the digital age consumers transact in three equally valuable currencies: Money, Data and Time. Those currencies however are not equally valuable to all industries (e.g. TV broadcasters value time more than record labels, online newspapers value data more than book publishers etc) But it is time for those three currencies to be equally tapped by digital content strategies across all industries (regardless of whether that currency is valuable to them), with supporting ‘virtual commodities’ trading marketplaces in the backend to ensure that all stakeholder ultimately end up getting paid in the currencies they value most.
Unless user experiences and monetization strategies are innovated beyond recognition then the grey market will do it instead, creating a wave of digital piracy that will do for media revenues what the iPhone did for Nokia’s smartphone business.
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It was in July 2010, the United States government ruled that the jailbreaking and unlocking of Apple iPhones, as well as the rooting of Android devices was to be deemed a legal act, as long as the process wasn’t being carried out with the intention of circumventing copyright. We ran with an article directly after the ruling was made which outlined the full details of the new DMCA legislation which once and for all set to rest the misconceptions surrounding the legalities of jailbreaking a device
Obviously, the court’s decision to rule the act of jailbreaking as entirely legal was a major blow for Apple, considering they have invested so much time and money into making their devices and operating systems as secure as possible, and have always been public advocates for making jailbreaking an unlawful act. Apple understandably remained tight lipped on the situation at the time, choosing to make a short statement, which drew attention to the fact that jailbreaking, whilst officially legal, would still void any official Apple warranties:
Apple’s goal has always been to insure that our customers have a great experience with their iPhone and we know that jailbreaking can severely degrade the experience. As we’ve said before, the vast majority of customers do not jailbreak their iPhones as this can violate the warranty and can cause the iPhone to become unstable and not work reliably.
It seems like yesterday when we were mulling all over the court’s decision, and reading the updated DMCA ruling which allowed millions of jailbreak fans to rest easy that they weren’t law breakers. But it seems as if that time is coming around again, with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) lobbying for users to add their electronic voice to a petition which aims to ask the United States government to declare once again that jailbreaking an iPhone does not violate the DMCA. The EFF are also asking for this initial exemption, which is set to expire, to be extended to cover tablet devices as the Apple’s iPad is not currently covered in the original ruling.
Well known iOS developer, Charlie Miller, is an advocate for this change and has been alerting his Twitter followers to the petition, directing them to the EFF website to add their voice. A recent tweet by Miller makes a public plea for users to head on over to the online petition:
Judging by his follow up tweet, it would appear that a number of his followers believe that the previous ruling is permanent, and that no further action is needed to be taken, but Miller has been quick to point out that this simply isn’t the case. So just why should people care whether or not the exemption was inserted into Digital Millennium Copyright Act expires or not? Well, first of all, the recent download and usage statistics which relate to the new Absinthe jailbreak tool clearly show that jailbreaking is not only still popular, but is a thriving and expanding community. Not only do we need to think about the end users who pay a large premium for the device and should ultimately have the freedom to do whatever they want with it, within the realms of the law, but a growing number of developers actually make their living from the software and tweaks which they sell on Cydia.
To allow this exemption to expire, and cast the world of jailbreaking back into the dark days would not only be a huge regressive step, but would also play a huge part in killing off innovation and development talent which we have seen flourish in the last eighteen months.
To make your voice heard, you can head on over to the Electronic Frontier Foundation website and send your comments to the Copyright Office using the links provided. All comments must be received by February 10th at 5PM Eastern Time.
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After an unruly crowd disrupted the release of Apple’s iPhone 4S at its flagship location in Beijing, Apple has decided to postpone the sale of its best-selling handset at its official retail locations in China, though the device will still be available through its carrier partner and authorized resellers [updated].
Update: Apple has confirmed in a statement to AllThingsD that it will delay sales of the iPhone 4S at retail locations in Beijing and Shanghai.
“The demand for iPhone 4S has been incredible, and our stores in China have already sold out,” an Apple spokesperson told the publication. “Unfortunately we were unable to open our store at Sanlitun due to the large crowd, and to ensure the safety of our customers and employees, iPhone will not available in our retail stores in Beijing and Shanghai for the time being. Customers can still order iPhone through the Apple Online Store, or buy at China Unicom and other authorized resellers.”
Apple retail staff at the Sanlitun Apple Store in Beijing put signs out Friday afternoon with a note saying, “This store will not be selling the iPhone in the recent future.”
Apple had previously announced that the iPhone 4S would go on sale at its Sanlitun retail store in Beijing at 7AM local time (6PM Eastern), but altercations between scalpers and line-waiters have allegedly delayed the launch. As of 8AM, the store had yet to open.
The imminent launch of Apple’s latest handset in China had attracted thousands of customers outside the company’s five stores throughout the country. Security barricades had originally been set up to manage the crowd at the Sanlitun store earlier in the week, but they were taken down sometime on Thursday night or Friday morning.
One journalist on location in Beijing claimed that Apple had canceled the launch because fights had broken out during the night, while some crowd members claimed Apple would take orders for the iPhone 4S at the store on Friday without distributing the devices.
Groups of professional line-waiters and scalpers could be seen congregating outside the store early Friday. As the 7AM launch time came and went without Apple opening its doors, a number of them became disgruntled. Shouts of “Open the door!” rang periodically rang throughout the crowd. At one point, a group of unhappy line-waiters left shouting profanities at Apple. Several individuals were forcefully escorted away by security officials, though it was not immediately clear why they were being removed.
Bloomberg reported on Friday that some angry customers pelted the Apple Store with eggs after it was revealed that the device would not go on sale. According to the publication, the Apple Store in the Pudong district of Shanghai opened an hour early and has begun selling the iPhone 4S.
The 16GB iPhone 4S is selling for 4,988RMB ($790) on Apple China’s online store, while the 32GB and 64GB models sell for 5,888RMB and 6,788RMB, respectively. Estimated shipping time is currently two weeks. China Unicom is also offering iPhone 4S for free with a multi-year contract on plans starting at 286RMB ($45).
The well-organized secondary market in Beijing has led to conflicts at the Sanlitun store in the past. Last year, the release of the iPad 2 and white iPhone 4 was marred by an incident that resulted in a broken glass door and several injuries.
In addition to China, Apple is scheduled to launch the iPhone 4S in 21 more countries on Friday
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2012 is thought to be the year of the Ultrabook, but though these slim machines may prove successful they can’t disguise one odd fact: The laptop is a dead design. When will it actually pass away and leave room for a future device?
Intel has been pushing a reference design on Eastern manufacturers for months now, and the pressure is finally paying off. Maker after maker has revealed its own take on what’s dubbed the Ultrabook. Consumers may be pleased by the focus on high design, Intel will be pleased it has a new vehicle for its processors, and manufacturers will be pleased they have a seemingly new toy to promote and sell for profit. The Wall Street Journal has even written a piece on them: “For PCs, Hope in a Slim Profile,” and they’re predicted to be everywhere at CES 2012. The thing is the Ultrabook isn’t new, nor is it revolutionary. It’s proof that the laptop is now an evolutionary dead end in computer history.
A lightweight PC with long battery life, petite format, and full-featured PC functionality … that’s a rough description of an Ultrabook. Remember this, we’ll come back to it. But in essence the Ultrabook is a MacBook Air, only slightly more typically PC-like, and sporting some flavor of Microsoft Windows 7 aboard it as its OS. In the Mac versus PC war, this is perhaps the most complete example of a Mac design being cloned into a PC design paradigm–so much so that some Ultrabooks to be released are sure to attract the attention of Apple’s IP lawyers, so similar are they in shape, format, arrangement of ports and sockets, and color.
Apple’s innovation was to build an all-metal chassis (which actually permits the shape to be slimmer due to its monocoque structure) around a full-powered computer that lacks an optical drive and eschews a hard drive in favor of solid state drives that are faster and more power-friendly at the expense of large capacity, and favors only a few output ports. It’s a Jon Ive special, one might say–the Air is a laptop boiled down to its simplest essence, just a keyboard, screen, trackpad, and a few ports. The Air has become one of Apple’s fastest-selling machines, with users loving its almost instant-on speed, light but strong body, and pure, attractive design.
That’s what Intel is chasing, of course. The Ultrabook plan has hit a few flaws, with many early headlines suggesting makers were having difficulties meeting the Air’s $999 price point thanks to the raw cost of components and later headlines noting makers had to switch to alternative cheaper materials and forcing Intel to drop prices. But it looks like Intel’s effort will work out, and more and more ultrabooks will probably arrive in 2012. With Apple rumored to be leading the charge, bringing the Air format to a 15-inch laptop, the Ultrabook format will probably sway the design of the majority of laptops produced from 2012 onward. They will sell because they do offer significant benefits to users.
But remember that description of the Ultrabook? Almost to a word it fits an earlier laptop reinvention–the netbook. These cheap half-powered machines were incredibly popular a handful of years ago when the economic outlook was dim, and compared to the weighty “full” laptop, they seemed to offer a new degree of portability and extended battery life that promised new experiences to users.
They sold by the millions, but then the star faded: The economy picked up, users realized they weren’t fully capable machines that could in all circumstances substitute for the full-feature laptop of which they were a pale echo, and though the netbook is still on sale it’s now merely another type of computer on sale.
We are drawing the comparison between the two here–the Ultrabook is perhaps a more considered, full-featured version of the netbook.
But Apple’s Air is the touchstone for what may be a laptop design evolution, but it’s not a revolution in the same way the iPhone was to the smartphone business. The Air and the Ultrabook are merely the calm, polished peak of laptop design. There’s nothing extra, there’s nothing superfluous, they offer powerful processing, speedy responses, and longer battery life than you may have expected from their tote-friendly mass. But they still need laptop staples: a keyboard, a webcam, ports, wireless powers, a quality screen, and a pointing device–in Apple’s case the simplest most innovative implementation of the trackpad, in giant size.
There’s nowhere to go from here. How may one improve the Air into the Air II? It’s about as simple an edition of the laptop format–which Apple, to some extent, invented, that’s possible. By definition, the Ultrabook is the same. You may add features like a touchscreen or perhaps 3-D, a built-in pico-projector, or some other tricks, but that would be gilding the lily, and the essential format is the same. And it works–we’re all used to portable computing, and to using a keyboard and trackpad to control a windows/icons/mice/pointers user interface such as OS X or Windows 7.
And yes, if it ain’t broke … don’t fix it.
But it means the laptop is dead. There’s literally no place left to take it, innovatively. Makers will churn them out for several years yet, but they’ll be rewarmed editions of what we see in 2012. And when this sort of evolutionarly cul de sac is reached, it means one thing: Massive scope for an innovative new product to revolutionize portable computing for the consumer around the world. Shrewd industry observers will suggest the tablet PC is perfectly poised to slot into this niche: It has a totally new user experience, it lets consumers relate to computers in a wholly new and more intimate way, it offers new interactions that aren’t possible with the unweildy hinged format of a laptop–such as motion controlled gaming–and it’s a true go-anywhere device. If it evolves a little more past its current perceived “lightweight” computing uses, it’ll be an even stronger contender.
We’re not saying laptops are going to disappear momentarily. They’re still selling incredibly well, and they will do for some time. But the Utrabook isn’t the silver bullet to securing their future–they’re instead almost like a well-polished, perfectly refined full stop at the end of the design description of the device. Something better will soon hove into view, and we’ll love using it. That’s why the portable computing game is so hot, why there’s so much scope for innovation and that’s why the immediate future is so exciting.
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One step along that path attempted to employ Microsoft’s Windows Mobile 6.1 platform. At Mobile World Conference in early 2008, Samsung introduced its flagship Omni and Sony Ericsson unveiled its XPERIA X1, with both companies betting that WiMo could help them catch up to the iPhone experience Apple had introduced. They lost the bet.
In late 2008, RIM introduced its touchscreen BlackBerry Storm, which its fans assumed would be like a black iPhone with more serious Enterprise credentials. What they really got was a terrible phone that wasn’t ready for prime time, oddly lacking support for even basic features such as WiFi. The phone signaled the beginning of the end for RIM, which saw its dominant position among Verizon smartphones rapidly whither away in favor of Android in 2010, and then the iPhone itself last year.
Around the same time, Google and HTC collaborated to deliver the T Mobile G1, a keyboard-based phone patterned after the Danger Sidekick. The phone was rushed to market with such haste that it could not be officially supported even by the next 2.0 version of Android released a year later.
That “lack of foresight in design” trend would continue for Android, as well as with other mobile platforms that systematically abandoned new phones as quickly as they could deliver new updates. At the same time, Android shifted direction dramatically in 2009 to focus on essentially producing iPhone clones.
At CES in early 2009, attention dramatically shifted to the Palm Pre, which claimed that it would best Apple’s second generation iPhone 3G and take back smartphone sales for Palm and its new webOS. Instead, just as it launched in June Apple released the iPhone 3GS, a model Apple still sells (and supports in the latest iOS 5). Palm barely remained alive, barely finished its webOS, and after being bought up by HP, even its remaining group didn’t survive long enough to see the iPhone’s fifth birthday.
iPhone 3GS: iPhone OS 3.0
Apple’s third iPhone didn’t dramatically change its form factor, but did enhance its internal components, adding a faster ARM Cortex-A8 processor and PowerVR SGX 535 graphics core, 256MB of RAM, a more competent 3 megapixel camera with video recording features, a digital compass and improved 7.2 Mbps HSDPA 3G wireless features.
In software, iPhone OS 3.0 added support for three features being held out at the time as conspicuous omissions: copy/paste, MMS picture/data messaging, and support for tethering. Apple made the software available to all iPhone users, but for the first time, it became obvious that Apple could deliver a software solutions that mobile carriers might not immediately be able to support. AT&T didn’t support MMS for months, and it took nearly a year before the carrier enabled support for data tethering from iPhones, even though both features had been widely supported on the carrier’s network for other phones.
While Apple was enjoying a network effect of snowballing sales, the flip side was that so many people were buying iPhones that it was changing the market itself; AT&T struggled to keep up with the iPhone’s advancement, because adding a new feature on the iPhone meant supporting it across a growing army of millions of iPhone users.
Apple also introduced an array of accessibility features for the iPhone 3GS, as well as introducing system wide Spotlight search (a key feature promoted by Palm’s webOS), a new push notifications system for third party developers that borrowed the same functionality and technology supporting Apple’s own MobileMe push messaging features introduced the prior year, the CalDAV calendaring standard and 1,000 new APIs for developers.
iPhone competitors: 2009 – 2010
Just after Palm introduced its new webOS Pre, Microsoft began teasing Windows Mobile 6.5, presenting it as a credible platform with a new app launcher (creatively rethinking Apple’s square grid of icons and replacing it with a fresh, staggered honeycomb arrangement!) and a rival new app Skymarket just like the iPhone’s.
iPhone 4S: iOS 5.0
For its its fifth year of iPhone, Apple launched iPhone 4S, an improved version of the iPhone 4′s overall design with a much faster A5 processor borrowed from the iPad, improvements to its camera, 14.4Mbps HSDPA and new support for 1080p HDMI or VGA output or 720p wireless AirPlay.
In software, Apple added a variety of features including iMessage for automatically sending text and multimedia messages via WiFi, Newsstand for delivering subscription content, a new Notification Center for managing local and remote push alerts, and support for Apple’s new iCloud services, as well as PC Free setup and configuration.
Exclusive to iPhone 4S is Apple’s new Siri voice assistant, which adds intelligent responses to spoken requests as a secondary natural user interface, next to the iPhone’s pioneering multitouch interface. Siri can search the web and translate voice to text, but more importantly serves as a way to interact with calendar items, messages, reminders and notes.
The future of iPhone competitors: 2011 – 2012
After a year on the market, Microsoft has found it nearly impossible to find interest for WP7 among consumers. At the beginning of 2011, Nokia announced that it would be dumping its own Meego and Symbian platforms to focus on a new joint venture with Microsoft, although it noted that the fruits of its efforts wouldn’t be ready for nearly another year. Microsoft also has parallel efforts in place to launch Windows 8 as a viable PC and tablet platform, which is also a year away.
RIM is now in a similar predicament to where Microsoft was a year ago, facing delays in getting its new PlayBook operating system to work on its smartphones, and reportedly eying plans to license the software to third parties for production.
After largely wasting 2011 on failed tablet-oriented efforts with Honeycomb, Google has delivered Android 4.0 as its unified smartphone/tablet version of its 2011 efforts, but it is not making it widely available in a way most existing Android users can download and install. Instead, it’s leaving it up to manufacturers and carriers to do the work needed to make its raw code work on existing devices, an expensive effort few are excited about undertaking. Meanwhile, Amazon has derailed Google’s tablet aspirations with the Kindle Fire, which like the Barnes & Noble Nook, uses a year old version of Android 2.3 to deliver a customized, incompatible, closed tablet platform.
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The photos application that comes as stock on Apple iOS devices is probably one of my favorite apps on my iPhone and iPad. I know, it seems like a bizarre statement to make considering the amount of amazingly innovative and beautiful applications that exist amongst the 543,000 on the App Store. However, the simple nature of Photos App, mixed with its functionality and deep integration into the operating system has made me fall in love with it.
But, as we all know, falling in love is easy, it is human nature after all, but the difficult part is remaining in love. I am now onto my fourth iPhone and second iPad and there is a consistent, niggling little gripe that I have with the Photos App that could have produced a ripple in our otherwise perfect relationship. I am far from being an accomplished photographer, but I do love taking photographs. Whether it is a shot of a loved one (usually my dog), or a quick snap of a shop window when I am out and about, my Photos App is full of a random collection of images. Imagine my distress when I was out of the country, trying to email some photographs home and my beloved Photos Application let me down by refusing to allow more than five images to be selected for emailing.
Prior to this, I had never known there was a limit to how many photographs you could send to the Email App from within Photos. I guess it is one of those limitations that you never come across until you come across it, and then you are totally perplexed by its existence. iOS 4 and 5 brought some great improvements to the application, with the ability to create individual user albums from your camera roll and actually seeing a world map which shows the locations of where photographs were taken thanks to a clever geotag embedded in the photograph at the time of capture.
Thankfully, Cydia has come to the rescue again with the recently released and aptly named ‘Mail More Photos’ tweak. An iOS developer known as ‘noppers’ has entered the Cydia store with an initial 1.1 release of his tweak, released onto the ModMyi repository. So often is the case in the jailbreak community, a developer comes across an issue which causes them distress and they decided to ‘fix’ it, which I like to think is the case in this instance.
The Mail More Photos tweak hooks directly into the Photos App and effectively allows an infinite number of photographs to be selected and shared via email. A very nice extra with the tweak is the real time update it performs on the navigation bar of the application when the user is selecting photographs to share. The nav bar is actually updated to show how many photographs are selected and what the total size is in terms of megabytes, which is extremely useful if you are intending to email the images to an email address with an inbox receiving limit.
Mail My Photos is available now for $0.99 on the ModMyI repository within Cydia and requires a device running iOS 4 or above.
You will obviously need to have jailbroken device to run it. For jailbreaking iOS 5 untethered, follow our complete step by step instructions posted here to jailbreak iPhone, iPad, iPod touch on iOS 5.0.1 using Redsn0w.
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New details have emerged courtesy of iLounge‘s Jeremy Horwitz, who has been tweeting fresh info of what could be in store when the third iteration of the world’s favorite tablet does finally surface which, if true, make for a very exciting prospect.
The next-gen device, which we’ll presume to be called the iPad 3, is purported to be packing much more of a punch on the camera front – bringing it up to speed with those iPhone cameras popular on sites such as Flickr. The iPad 2 arrived in a blaze of glory last March, and despite a decent tech spec, both front and back cameras were pretty shoddy – especially when users had been used to the crisp 5 megapixel snapper of the iPhone 4.
That may all be about to change though, with the front camera of the next model set to be capable of HD for FaceTime calls, and the main camera technically identical to either the iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S. There has been talk of Apple prototyping next-gen iPads with the 8-megapixel camera of the 4S, but it’s always key to take speculation with a pinch of salt until something concrete arrives.
According to Horwitz, the price point of the iPad 2 will fall down to $399, which will in turn be a huge bargain for buyers:
Looks likely that iPad 2 will stick around at lower price point, say $399, and next iPad with high-def screen + cameras will sit atop it.
Citing those clichéd sources familiar, Horwitz also stated the device will be a rather minor millimeter thicker than its would-be predecessor to make room for the hardware improvements, but the design will remain largely similar to the iPad 2:
“Curve radiuses on the body will change only a little to accommodate the added thickness, not dramatically. Think iPad 2 Pro, not a redesign.”
As for the release date, the sources suggest the new model will hit shelves around a year after the iPad 2, so March or thereabouts.
The notion of two iPads dropping has been toyed with frequently over the past couple of months, but it does appear as though Tim Cook’s company will follow a similar structure to its smartphone division – selling the previous model as the ‘entry level’ under-study to the new release – just how the iPhone 4 currently deputizes for the iPhone 4S.
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The idea of limitless growth gives sleepless nights to environmentalists, but not to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. He espouses a law of social sharing, which predicts that every year, for the foreseeable future, the amount of information you share on the Web will double.
That rule of thumb can be visualized mathematically as a rapidly growing exponential curve. More simply, our online social lives are set to get significantly busier. As for Facebook, more personal data means better ad targeting. If things work out, Zuckerberg’s net worth will follow a similar trajectory to that described in his law of social sharing.
That law is said to be mathematically derived from data inside Facebook. In ambition, it is closely modeled on Moore’s Law, which was conceived by the computer-processor pioneer Gordon Moore in 1965 and has been at work in every advance in computing since. Also an exponential curve, it states that every two years twice as many transistors can be fitted onto a chip of any given area for the same price, allowing processing power to get cheaper and more capable.
There’s a hint of vanity in Zuckerberg’s attempt to ape Moore. But it makes sense to try to describe the mechanisms that have raised Facebook and other social-Web companies to power. The Web defines our time and is being rapidly reshaped by social content—from dumb viral videos to earnest pleas on serious issues. Facebook’s success has left older companies like Google scrambling to add social features to their own products (see Q&A, November/December 2011). Zuckerberg’s Law can help us understand such a sudden change of tack from a seemingly dominant company, just as Moore’s Law has long been used to plan and explain new strategies and technologies.
Inasmuch as Facebook is the company most invested in Zuckerberg’s Law, its every move can be understood as an effort to sustain the graceful upward curve of its founder’s formula. The short-term prospects look good for Zuckerberg. The original Moore’s Law is on his side; faster, cheaper computers and mobile devices have made sharing easier and allowed us to do it wherever we go. Just as important, we are willing to play along, embracing new features from Facebook and others that lead us to share things today that we wouldn’t or couldn’t have yesterday.
Facebook’s most recent major product launch, last September, is clearly aimed at validating Zuckerberg’s prophecy and may provide its first real test. An upgrade to the Open Graph platform that unleashed the now ubiquitous Like button onto the Web (see “You Are the Ad,” May/June 2011), it added a feature that allows apps and Web sites to automatically share your activity via Facebook as you go about your business. Users must first give a service permission to share automatically on their behalf. After that, frictionless sharing, as it has become known, makes sharing happen without your needing to click a Like button, or to even think about sharing. The most prominent early implementation was the music-streaming service Spotify, which can now automatically post on Facebook the details of every song you listen to. In the first two months of frictionless sharing, more than 1.5 billion “listens” were shared through Spotify and other music apps. News organizations like the Washington Post use the feature, making it possible for them to share every article a person reads on their sites or in a dedicated app. Frictionless sharing is also helping Facebook drag formerly offline activities onto the Web. An app for runners can now automatically post the time, distance, and path of a person’s morning run.
Frictionless sharing sustains Zuckerberg’s Law by automating what used to be a manual task, thus removing a brake on the rate at which we can share. It also shows that we are willing to compromise our previous positions on how much sharing is too much. Facebook introduced a form of automatic sharing four years ago with a feature called Beacon, but it retreated after a strong backlash from users. Beacon automatically shared purchases that Facebook members made through affiliated online retailers, such as eBay. Frictionless sharing reintroduces the same basic model with the difference that it is opt-in rather than opt-out. Carl Sjogreen, a computer scientist who is a product director overseeing Open Graph, says it hasn’t elicited anything like the rage that met Beacon’s debut. “Everyone has a different idea of what they want to share, and what they want to see,” says Sjogreen. Moreover, judging by the number of Spotify updates from my Facebook friends, frictionless sharing is pretty popular.
Privacy concerns will surely arise again as Facebook and others become able to ingest and process more of our personal data. Yet our urge to share always seems to win out. The potential for GPS-equipped cell phones to become location trackers, should the government demand access to our data, has long concerned some people. A South Park episode last year even portrayed an evil caricature of Apple boss Steve Jobs standing before a wall-sized map labeled “Where Everybody in the World Is Right Now.” Six months later, to a mostly positive reception, Apple debuted a new iPhone feature called Find My Friends, which encourages users to let Apple track their location and share it.
It’s not hard to explain why we seem eager to do our bit to maintain the march of Zuckerberg’s Law. Social sites are like Skinner boxes: we press the Like button and are rewarded with attention and interaction from our friends. It doesn’t take long to get conditioned to that reward. Frictionless sharing can now push the lever for us day and night, in hopes of drawing even more attention from others.
Unfortunately for Zuckerberg and his law, not every part of that feedback loop can be so easily boosted. Frictionless sharing helps, but getting others to care is the bigger challenge. In 2009 a new social site called Blippy was launched; it connected with your credit card to create a Twitter-style online feed of everything you bought. That stream could be made public or shared with particular contacts. Blippy got a lot of press but not the wide adoption its cofounder Philip Kaplan had hoped for. “Most people thought Blippy’s biggest challenge would be getting users to share their purchases,” he says. “Turns out the hard part was getting users to look at other people’s purchases. Getting people to share is a small hump. Getting them to obsess over the data—making it fun, interesting, or useful—is the big hump.”
Sjogreen has that problem in his sights. He says he is working on ways to turn the impending flood of daily trivialities coming from frictionless sharing into something fun, interesting, and useful. Repackaging the raw information to make it more compelling to others is one tactic. “It’s the patterns and anomalies that matter to us,” he says. For example, if you notice that a friend just watched 23 episodes of Breaking Bad in a row, you may decide you should check out that show after all. Or if he sets a new personal record on his morning run, the app in the phone strapped to his arm could automatically tout it to friends. Perhaps Blippy would have thrived if it highlighted significant purchases like vacations, instead of simply blasting people with everything from grocery lists to fuel bills.
We can only guess at the effectiveness of Sjogreen’s future tactics, but it is certain that they can sustain Zuckerberg’s Law for only so long. Gordon Moore put it well in 2005 when reflecting on the success of his own law: “It can’t continue forever. The nature of exponentials is that you push them out and eventually disaster happens.”
Facebook’s impending problem is that even if the company enables future pacemakers to share our every heartbeat, the company cannot automate caring—the most important part of the feedback loop that has driven the social Web’s ascent. Nothing can support exponential growth for long. No matter how cleverly our friends’ social output is summarized and highlighted for us, there are only so many hours in the day for us to express that we care. Today, the law of social sharing is a useful way to think about the rise of social computing, but eventually, reality will make it obsolete.
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The latest buzz is that ‘face-recognition’ considered being one of the most sought after privacy tools in the recent time might now come to your iPhone and iPad too. Apple Inc. known for its persistent affinity towards innovation at the highest level has filed for a patent at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. In a recent free publication, the patent Office has divulged details of Apple’s applicationto offer “low-computational” face recognition capabilities.
“This specification relates to low threshold face recognition, e.g., a face recognition system that can tolerate a certain level of false positives in making face recognition determinations.
Most face recognition systems fall into one of two categories. A first category system tends to be robust and can tackle various lighting conditions, orientations, scale and the like, and tends to be computationally expensive. A second category system is specialized for security-type applications and can work under controlled lighting conditions. Adopting the first category systems for face recognition on consumer operated portable appliances that are equipped with a camera would unnecessarily use an appliance’s computing resources and drain its power. Moreover, as the consumer portable appliances tend to be used both indoor and outdoor, the second category systems for face recognition may be ineffective”.
So, how will it help…
The ‘face-recognition’ tool will help iOS users with a forward-facing camera device to customize their profile with personalized wallpaper, apps and settings. Therefore, your profile cannot be accessed by anyone other than the face recognised by the device.
Face-recognition technology for devices has recently been adapted by several makers for their products. However, there have been a serious many debate as to if the robust facial recognition systems that worked under various lighting conditions could be taxing on an electronic device. Apple’s technology on the other hand, proposes to help reduce the impact of lighting conditions and biometric distortions on an image. In the application filed, Apple Inc. has described it as a “low-computation solution for reasonably effective, low threshold, face recognition that can be implemented on camera-equipped consumer portable appliances”.
Thereby, instead of analyzing the entire face of a user, which Apple believes would consume much time and resources, the Cupertino Company’s proposed patent would depend on “high information portion” of a human face, such as the eyes, mouth and tip of the nose. It would rather seek to measure the distance between a user’s eyes and mouth, and reference this against the original image to ascertain the identity of the user. The patent application stresses on the fact that owing to the low power consumption, the face-recognition function could be constantly active; thus potentially allowing users to turn on the screen and unlock their iOS device by pointing it at their face.
What are your views on this ‘face-recognition’ system patent sought after by Apple? Do you think this will prove to be a useful tool?
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