I can’t vouch for the maker of the video, but it’s legit enough to have made it to Fark.com (it and another Galaxy fire issues have made it to a few other news sites). This wasn’t his first video about the incident; it was Samsung’s reply to his complaint that (rightfully, I’d argue) caused him to lash out. It will be interesting to follow this over the next couple of weeks to see if more complaints surface.
One facet of Apple’s meteoric rise over the past 15 or so years that has been misunderstood is what to attribute their success to. Most trumpet the Steve Jobs-led company’s innovation, producing several market-reinventing products: the iPod, the iPhone, the iPad, the iTunes music store, and (to a slightly lesser extent) the iMac. While each has been a resounding success that has fueled other products in Apple’s ecosystem, the word innovation doesn’t completely fit the scenario. As the guys on a recent Macworld podcast pointed out, innovation connotes creating something new, something completely different from anything that’s been introduced or imagined. While there is some innovation involved in the aforementioned products, none of them are completely new ideas. The iPod was a late comer to the portable MP3 player; I had owned two (a Rio Karma and an S10) before I picked up my first iPod Nano. The iPhone was hardly the first smartphone; Blackberry ruled that market long beforehand. iTunes wasn’t the first online digital music store, the iPad was predated by about a decade by other (failed) tablets, and the iMac was just a reimagined PC (even if it was one of the first to combine the monitor and tower). What Apple did was perfect a concept that had already beed advanced. The market for that perfected product may have been generated by the product, but in each case it was a process of refinement more than invention.
It can be hard to predict what market or product will be the next to be reimagined and remade in the manner that Apple has with so many products. Pundits have pointed to televisions and wearables (specifically the smart watch) as the next in line, but both have had multiple attempts with little real success. Plenty of manufacturers are including ‘smart tv’ features in their sets; few new TVs don’t come with streaming media options and a host of other computer-esque features. There are quite a few smart watches on the market now, but none have been widely embraced by the consumers.
I’d argue that the next product reimagining is quietly happening now. With the ascension of the iPhone (and smartphones in general) there has been a consolidation of previously widespread items: the first was the wristwatch. While hardly in danger of extinction, wearing a watch has been made more of a fashion statement than necessity thanks to the ever-present smartphone. Then there’s the wallet- I’ve discussed my attempts to find the perfect iPhone case to replace a wallet out of both need and necessity. There are a host of different cases that can act as varying degrees of wallet replacement, from slim cases that can hold a card or two to ones that look more like a fashion clutch than a phone case.
So rather that just replace a thing, the real way to reinvent a market seems to be to improve the concept. The smartphone offers more than any wristwatch even in timekeeping due to it’s power and flexibility; while an iPhone can’t compete with a Rolex’s looks, it can offer a great deal more utility. Card cases haven’t been universally used because they don’t improve on an idea, just offer utility be allowing the user to carry one less item.
The Coin card could be showing the next big reinvention- personal finance. I and many others have excitedly written about the possibilities of the Coin. It’s got the right elements- it allows you to reduce what you carry, one card instead of multiple reward/credit/debit cards, and it offers functionality and security that a traditional card can’t (like proximity alerts should the card be left behind).
Adding to the mix of possibilities are all of the personal finance apps and device features that have popped up over the past couple of years. There are many card replacing apps, from Apple’s own Passbook, to card consolidating apps like Lemon Wallet, GoWallet, KeyRing, and Google Wallet. There are some apps that offer similar functionality like 1Password- while its best known as a secure password repository, the app has the ability to securely store credit card information. Then there are old standbys that have their sights on expanding, like PayPal. While its still my preferred means of online financial transactions, the company has been positioning itself to be a method of physical retail payment as well.
I already rely on my iPhone for many daily tasks outside of the obvious communication and entertainment uses. It simply makes sense to capitalize on a multipurpose device you already carry to help declutter your life, be it through simplifying what you carry or providing additional functionality. While I am a self professed sucker for new gadgetry, I’m excited about the possibilities of what products like Coin and apps like Lemon Wallet and stalwarts like PayPal can offer.
Posted in Opinion | Tagged apple, GoWallet, iMac, iphone, ipod, itunes, PayPal, Steve Jobs | Leave a Comment »
You’ve likely already been inundated with ads for various Black Friday specials. Just about any gadget or device you could imagine will be on sale this Friday at a variety of retailers, both online and traditional outlets.
While some of these deals really are outstanding (the various discounts on the latest iPad models stand out in particular- if you’ve been waiting to get a new iPad now is definitely the time) but for those of you that aren’t fixated on a particular gift (and this IS the best time of the holiday season to start Christmas shopping) or are just looking for a good value for yourself, consider one of the various deals on iTunes cards.
I know, I know- a gift card? To a media store? Yes- the iTunes Store has the largest and most complete library of music, movies, television, and books online, and an iTunes card allows the receiver to tailor the gift to their particular tastes. Very few out there can accurately predict what another will love when it comes to media, and this takes the guesswork out of the equation. Best of all, there are some fantastic deals on the cards. Many retailers are offering a higher face value for the card than the purchase price- $40 for a $50 card, for instance.
If you really have your heart set on a new Apple device then consider the Apple online or retail outlets- Apple is running a promotion offering various gift cards with the purchase of a device instead of traditional discounts on the price of the purchase.
As for me, I refuse to brave the crowds on Friday. Any shopping I do will be via my preferred method- at my desk in front of my iMac. There are more deals to be had this year than in recent memory, so if you don’t see what you’d like don’t settle- the extra shopping just may net you the deal you’re looking for.
Quick update: apparently European Apple customers will be getting traditional discounts instead of the iTunes gift card offers that US customers have been offered per several news outlets Friday morning.
Posted in Advice | Tagged apple, bargains, Black Friday, Christmas and holiday season, Friday, Gift card, gift cards, iMac, ipad, iphone, ipod, itunes, online shopping, Shopping | Leave a Comment »
The naming scheme of the latest iPad models have caused a bit of pontification in punditry. The full sized iPad is no longer just numerically named, it’s been dubbed the iPad Air. Apple explained the designation by noting the extreme thinness and lightness of the new iPad, much like Apple’s MacBook Air laptop lineup. But because of this comparison some have taken it a step further- could the designation of Air mean that there will be a matching Pro model as there is in the MacBook lineup?
Bringing some validity to the question are the reports that Apple may be bringing a larger 12.9 inch iPad (dubbed by some as the iPad Max). There isn’t much to the rumor other than the idea that it would simply be an iPad with more screen real estate- enticing enough for some, but simply making a large screen iPad doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. The cost would likely be close to that of the 11 inch MacBook Air; the only differentiating factor would be iOS versus OSX. The iPad has a wealth of Bluetooth keyboards that can be used- some even hold the iPad in clamshell mode making it appear to be a thin laptop. The larger iPad would almost certainly sport a Retina display, better than the 11 inch Air’s 1366 by 768 resolution, but would lack the full operating system’s ability to properly multitask.
To date other attempts at making tablet forms run a desktop operating system haven’t been very successful. Microsoft’s first generation of Surface tablets have been widely judged to be a commercial failure, and the second generation haven’t been widely embraced despite a huge advertising and product placement push. Third party manufacturers have tried to create new product hybrids to take advantage of Windows 8′s touch screen support, but again they haven’t been successful enough to create a new market niche. From laptops that have a detachable tablet screen, to laptops that follow older ideas of flipping or rotating the screen.
It’s not common knowledge, but there IS a tablet that sports a full installation of OSX. Modbook provides a service as much as a product- it’s Modbook Pro is a reconfigured MacBook Pro, not an original creation (thereby not violating Apple’s terms of service). The Modbook Pro’s interface is based on a Wacom pressure-sensitive stylus, but still sports just about all of the features of a proper laptop- input slots like USB, a DVD drive, and the ability to boot to Windows via Bootcamp. The Modbook Pro is a fascinating device, but it’s not an iPad replacement due to it’s thickness and weight; the device is a fringe device developed for specific users.
OSX has incorporated some of the touch-based design of iOS. The Magic Trackpad and Magic Mouse has allowed Apple to incorporate the multitouch gestures of iOS, and things like Full Screen App mode and Launchpad have given OSX a very iOS feel. It wouldn’t be inconceivable to envision a device like an iPad Pro that harnesses Apple’s engineering might coupled with the software trends in its dual operating systems to try to do what Microsoft hasn’t been able to.
Apple is known for product testing a number of devices and configurations that never make it to market. The larger iPad could easily be yet another such a device. For Apple to release a product to market, it has to offer some unique value to both customers and the organization. They have some devices that overlap (the 13 inch MacBook Air and 13 inch MacBook Pro, for instance) but the devices have enough difference to not cannibalize sales. Should an iPad Pro be in the future I’d wager that it will be something other than just a larger version of what we already have.
Posted in Opinion | Tagged apple, Axiotron Modbook Pro, ios, ipad, MacBook, MacBook Air, Magic Trackpad, Modbook Pro | Leave a Comment »
I see a lot of new products during my daily RSS activities. Most are from mainstream providers- the latest and shiniest gadget, the most recent update to laptops and desktops, new niche products. Less common but more interesting are the accessory makers; those secondary manufacturers and brave souls with (what they hope to be) a good idea and some venture capital that strike out into uncharted territory. Some, like TwelveSouth and Grove, make a name for themselves by offering products that improve on an existing ecosystem; creating a synergistic effect by making a product like the iPhone or iPad that much better.
Many of these solo manufacturers were able to bring their products to market thanks to crowd funding outlets like Kickstarter and Indiegogo. I’ve gladly supported many campaigns, from iOS accessories like the Une Bobine to multipurpose devices like NuPlug, to fantastic animation like Bee and Puppycat (and if you haven’t seen it, YOU NEED TO). Some never find their way to my feeds, but thankfully reach their funding goals and see another day. The most recent (and very worthy) addition to this list is Coin.
Coin is the perfect juxtaposition of cool tech idea and useful product. Simply put, it offers a single device to take the place of all of your existing debit, credit, and rewards cards (that use a magnetic stripe). A small plug in device similar to what merchants use for point-of-sale transactions scans the data from your card for replication on the Coin card, allowing you to forgo that stack of plastic for the one card to rule them all.
The utility of the Coin is staggeringly obvious, especially given the increasingly cash-free environment we live in. I’ve looked long and hard for suitable card-carrying iPhone cases due to my shortage of pockets in my work scrubs. I’ve gone through many cases (and the Wally, a Kickstarter-funded non case solution). All have offered value, but my search was limited by my need to carry multiple cards- at the very minimum an ID, my debit card, and one credit card. The Coin allows for me to carry my entire financial card library with me, in one convenient and secure package. As the YouTube clip showed, there are mechanisms in place to safeguard your financial information, and limit the use of the Coin when you offer it for payment. While I haven’t been able evaluate it physically yet (it’s still in pre purchase status for early adopters) I’m excited about the possibilities that it offers.
As I’ve stated many times, I’m a sucker for new and cool tech. Anyone that shares a fascination for technology would understand the joy of being able to partake in something new. That enjoyment is exponentially compounded when that new tech actually lives up to its billing, much like the iPhone did. While the Coin won’t serve to be the multitasker that the iPhone has grown to be, it may very well change my daily routine and needs.
Posted in News | Tagged Coin, credit card, debit card, IndieGoGo, ipad, iphone, Kickstarter, The Coin, YouTube | Leave a Comment »
Some thoughts on a recent article at TUAW (The Unofficial Apple Weblog) discussing the wide variety of contemporary accessories that iOS devices (specifically the iPhone) that use the headphone jack as the portal of interaction with your device. I have to admit, when pondering accessories that require input into an iOS device the sole physical portal that I (or most people) consider is the data sync port- that flat slot for Apple’s formerly iconic 30 pin connector on older devices, or the tiny jack used by newer Lighting cables. Apple has had a few adaptors for the data port for quite some time; for instance the misleadingly named camera adaptor has long been used for a variety of uses thanks to its USB port and SD card slot. Most accessory makers interact with iOS devices the way that Apple likely thinks is most appropriate- wirelessly via Bluetooth or wifi.
But for those inventive few that prefer a hardware connection there’s another option- the headphone jack. It has quietly acted as a means of interaction since the iPhone 3GS, allowing users to first play/pause/skip audio tracks and answer phone calls (and act as a microphone). As with most useful tools those with imagination will find new and inventive uses for it, as the TUAW article shows- from a laser pointer to a “smart” thermometer that via an accompanying app will provide more than just temperature. These various accessories use the audio port as both a means of input and external control of other devices.
As many medical device have become more computer based it’s easy to imagine devices like the iOS ecosystem providing even more broad functionality via hardware accessories. The ultrasound equipment that I use for cardiac and vascular imaging are essentially just specialized PCs; they run Windows XP embedded and have the same software that their accompanying PC reading stations use. The only differentiating factor is the specialized input hardware. In a similar vein my primary care physician has forgone the traditional EKG cart for a laptop with a specialized input accessory and software; the functionality is identical but the now digital platform can provide a great deal more flexibility while being more cost effective. The power afforded by an iPhone or iPad has grown exponentially since their introduction; given the right input hardware and app development they could likely be used as lower cost components for many everyday devices used in healthcare.
So let’s hear it for the visionaries that see the potential in devices like the iOS lineup. Their inventiveness might benefit you more than you realize.
Posted in Opinion | Tagged accessories, apple, Bluetooth, Handhelds, headphone jack, ios, ipad, iphone, Smartphones, TUAW, Universal Serial Bus | Leave a Comment »