Apple’s best commercial was actually a 1998 iMac ad

As popular as Apple’s “1984” commercial is, I don’t think it’s their best one. I prefer this commercial for the iMac, in which a revitalized Apple promotes how easy its iMac is to use compared to the competition.

Keep in mind that Apple practically disappeared from the public consciousness in the early 1990s, after Steve Jobs was ousted from the company. Computing in the mid-1990s, for most households, meant buying a big desktop with a separate monitor and possibly, an external modem. Anyone with a new PC had to connect several components to each other, and then connect power cords and a phone line their wall. Everything would usually work, but not until people ended up with a tangled mess of cords behind their wall.

The brilliance of this ad is that, unlike Apple’s modern current commercials, the company doesn’t tell the viewer that buying Apple will make them cool. It simply tells the viewer that their product is easy to use, and I like the straightforward approach.

RIP Steve Jobs

Apple announced this meeting that its chairman and co-founder, Steve Jobs, died today at the age of 56.

Jobs, one of the computing industry’s pioneers, was one of the most important American business figures of the last half century. As the founders of Apple, Jobs and business partner Steve Wozniak, were instrumental in bringing the computer to the household and the classroom.


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Apple announces iPhone 4s instead of iPhone 5; humanity somehow continues to exist

Apple today announced the iPhone 4s, an upgrade to its popular iPhone 4 that is not the iPhone 5.

Many had expected the iPhone 5, a technological marvel that would have raised its owners’ children, prepared five-star cuisine and paved the way for comprehensive peace settlements across the globe.

Instead, Apple announced a new phone that is reportedly an upgrade from a previously released product. It also has a voice-recognition feature called Siri.

Here’s the real story from the San Jose Mercury News:

In a closely watched but ultimately anticlimactic product launch, Apple (AAPL) on Tuesday unveiled its latest iPhone, with a low-key Tim Cook emceeing his first event since iconic CEO Steve Jobs resigned in August.



Disappointed fans jumped all
over Apple for releasing merely an upgrade to the iPhone 4, dubbed
iPhone 4S, instead of the widely expected iPhone 5. But analysts
reminded them that many cool features — faster operating system,
slicker camera and video — were hiding under the hood.



“The improvements in software and
the new camera, for example, are impressive,” said analyst Roger Kay
with Endpoint Technologies Associates. “But if you don’t have a new look
on the outside, people tend not to get as excited.”



Cook seemed comfortable on
stage but was working a room clearly missing the energy Jobs used to
infuse into these events. The real star of the show was Siri, the new
voice-recognition feature billed as the user’s “personal assistant,” a
female voice that soon will be helping millions of Apple fans answer
e-mails, make dinner reservations and remember to pick up the dry
cleaning, all without a single key stroke.

As of this writing, the world has not fallen apart.

Wolverton: Amazon’s new Kindle Fire can compete against Apple’s iPad

San Jose Mercury News tech columnist Troy Wolverton today delivered this column on Amazon’s newly-introduced Kindle Fire tablet, which he says may be the first “worthy competitor” to Apple’s iPad.

Apple, of course, has the big advantage of creating a market for tablet computers like the iPad and being able to deliver a product to its fiercely loyal fan base. Other companies, like Hewlett-Packard, have tried to break into the tablet business but have not been able to knock the iPad from its perch. Hewlett-Packard, of course, made the bewildering decision to cancel its TouchPad tablet this summer, mere weeks after entering the marketplace.

Amazon seems to have been
paying attention to the failings of other iPad competitors. Unlike
previous tablets, the Kindle Fire is not trying to be an iPad clone.
It’s got a much smaller screen than the iPad. It has a much smaller
amount of storage space. It doesn’t have any cameras, so you can’t use
it to take pictures or do video chats. And it only connects the Internet
via WiFi, not the cell phone networks.

But those differences
help make the Kindle Fire distinct — and allow Amazon to offer it for a
much lower price. At $200, the Kindle Fire is in a completely different
league than the iPad and the iPad knock-offs. That price is even $50
cheaper than Barnes & Noble’s Nook Color, a similar device that’s
marketed as an eBook reader. It’s a price that, in these tough economic
times, is going to be a lot more accessible to mainstream consumers.

The San Jose Mercury news is the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin and Sun’s sister newspaper.

Extensive coverage on Steve Jobs’ retirement

Check out the San Jose Mercury News for extensive coverage on Steve Jobs’ retirement and what it means for Apple, the company he led.

The Mercury News is a sister paper to my employers, The Inland Valley Daily Bulletin and The Sun, and they do a great job covering Silicon Valley and tech.

Apple’s stock is down a bit in Thursday morning’s trading, but I don’t expect the company to suffer with Jobs no longer as the company’s CEO. Apple created a market for tablet computers and if Hewlett-Packard’s decision to abandon the PC market is any indication, there’s a strong chance that tablets will replace PCs and laptops for many households wthin the next few years. Jobs also still has a role as chairman of the board and his hand-picked successor, Tim Cook, is Apple’s new chief.

From the Mercury News:

Analysts say Jobs, who
stepped away in January from day-to-day management to take his third
medical leave in a decade, assembled a strong management team to execute the Cupertino company’s strategy.

“That
magic won’t go away overnight,” said Richard Doherty with the
Envisioneering Group. The company’s products “not only have his
fingerprints on them, they have his DNA.

Mercury News: Apple to update location tracking file

I like to post links to coverage from the San Jose Mercury News, The Sun and Daily Bulletin’s sister paper in the heart of the Silicon Valley.

Merc staffer Troy Wolverton reports today that Apple’s new iOS update will make changes to the location tracking software that allowed iPhones and iPads to track users’ whereabouts.

An excerpt:

The iOS update seeks to address many of the issues with the location file identified by the  researchers. According to Apple, the update will limit the amount of data kept in the location file, will prevent iTunes from backing up the file to users’ computers and  will delete all information in the file when users  turn off location services.


However, the update doesn’t necessarily address  all issues with the file. Apple has said previously  that it will continue to store 7 days worth of  location data in the file even after the update.  Forensics researchers, who have said that they have been using the location data stored file in  criminal and other legal investigations, said that  even that amount of data would still be useful in  their work.

WSJ: Google’s Android phones track users, just like Apple products

Following news that Apple’s popular iPhone and iPad products keep files tracking users’ movements, the Wall Street Journal reports smartphones using Google’s Android operating system transmit users’ locations to Google.

Apple phones also transmit similar data, the Journal reports.

Google and Apple are gathering location information as part of their
race to build massive databases capable of pinpointing people’s
locations via their cellphones. These databases could help them tap the
$2.9 billion market for location-based services–expected to rise to $8.3
billion in 2014, according to research firm Gartner Inc.

In the case of Google, according to new
research by security analyst Samy Kamkar, an HTC Android phone collected
its location every few seconds and transmitted the data to Google at
least several times an hour. It also transmitted the name, location and
signal strength of any nearby Wi-Fi networks, as well as a unique phone
identifier.
(snip)

Cellphones have many reasons to collect location information, which
helps provide useful services like local-business lookups and
social-networking features. Some location data can also help cellphone
networks more efficiently route calls.

Google also has said it uses some of the data to build accurate
traffic maps. A cellphone’s location data can provide details about, for
instance, how fast traffic is moving along a stretch of highway.

The widespread collection of location information is the latest
frontier in the booming market for personal data. Until recently, most
data about people’s behavior has been collected from personal computers:
That data generally can be tied to a city or a zip code, but it is
tough to be more precise. The rise of Internet-enabled cellphones,
however, allows the collection of user data tied with much more
precision to specific locations.

The full story is worth reading.

Reports: Apple iPhones and iPads track users’ every move

Apple’s popular iPhone and iPad products record an unencrypted log of where users take their portable devices, according to several published reports certain to elevate concerns over the potential for consumer electronics to intrude upon privacy.

The data is also stored on any computers synced to iPhones and iPods, according to reports.

From the Associated Press, via San Jose Mercury News:

It’s not clear if other
smartphones and tablet computers are logging such information on their
users. And this week’s revelation that the Apple devices do wasn’t even
new–some security experts began warning about the issue a year ago.

But
the worry prompted by a report from researchers Alasdair Allan and Pete
Warden at a technology conference in Santa Clara, Calif., raises
questions about how much privacy you implicitly surrender by carrying
around a smartphone and the responsibility of the smartphone makers to
protect sensitive data that flows through their devices.

Much
of the concern about the iPhone and iPad tracking stems from the fact
the computers are logging users’ physical coordinates without users
knowing it–and that that information is then stored in an unencrypted
form that would be easy for a hacker or a suspicious spouse or a law
enforcement officer to find without a warrant.

Researchers
emphasize that there’s no evidence that Apple itself has access to this
data. The data apparently stays on the device itself, and computers the
data is backed up to. Apple didn’t immediately respond to a request for
comment by The Associated Press


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Apple reveals iPad 2

Apple customers will have a chance to spend more money this month when the Cupertino firm releases the iPad 2. The sequel to Apple’s popular tablet device is set for a March 11 release in the United States. The price? $500 to $830.

Ailing Apple CEO Steve Jobs appeared to introduce the new project. For more coverage, please check out the San Jose Mercury News‘ reporting on Apple’s new offering. Here’s an excerpt:

Apple CEO
Steve Jobs, officially on medical leave, received a standing ovation as
he stepped on stage at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts here at a
press event at which he announced the second generation iPad.

The
new device represents an upgrade from the first one, which has been a
runaway hit. The iPad 2 will have a new dual-core processor, front- and
rear-facing cameras and will be both thinner and lighter than the
original iPad.

And it will get some new features. Thanks to the
cameras, the new iPad will be able to make video calls using Apple’s
FaceTime software. And Apple will include with it its PhotoBooth program
that allows users to take self-portraits and customize them with all
kinds of goofy filters.

Apple is also bringing two programs
familiar to Mac computer users to the tablet: video editing program
iMovie and GarageBand, a music editing application. iMovie was
previously available for the iPhone; the new version that will be
compatible with both the iPhone and the iPad will be available on March
11 for $5.

Verizon announces iPhone service, as expected

Verizon Wireless and Apple announced Tuesday – to the surprise of virtually no one who cares – that the iPhone will be released to Verizon customers.

The iPhone is the best piece of technology ever invented in the history of mankind, according to its owners.

Apple’s competitors, of course, disagree. Motorola’s Droid phone is so awesome it practically turns users into a cyborg, according to commercials.

Droid uses Google’s Android operating system, but is not the only smartphone to do so. That was different for the iPhone, however. Until Verizon service begins on its scheduled date of Feb. 10, iPhone users had to sign a contract with AT&T to use the popular smartphone.

Verizon customers have not been shut out of the smartphone market, of course. The carrier

Wireless carriers, however, seem to engender less brand loyalty than Apple. The Associated Press reports the news may mean some customers will switch carriers, but how many is hard to say. (Link updated.)

AT&T activated 11.1 million iPhones in the first nine months of 2010. Analysts now expect Verizon to snag some users from AT&T, but the impact will likely be muted because most iPhone users have two-year contracts, and many are on family and employer plans. Verizon did not reveal its service plan pricing on Tuesday.

Verizon’s iPhone version will work only on the carrier’s current “3G” network even though the carrier has fired up a faster “4G” network in many cities. That super-fast wireless data network is available only to plug-in laptop modems for now, but Verizon will have smart phones for it this summer.

Cook said the first generation of “4G” phone chips would have forced some design compromises, which Apple wasn’t willing to make.

“Secondly and most importantly, Verizon customers have told us they want the iPhone now,” Cook said. “I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been asked and my colleagues have been asked . When will the iPhone work on the Verizon network?”

The lack of 4G means the Verizon iPhone will have much slower data speeds than AT&T’s, at least in the areas where AT&T has upgraded its 3G network. AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel was quick to point this out, along with the fact that users won’t be able to surf and talk at the same time on the Verizon iPhone. International roaming will also be
very limited compared with the AT&T version.

However, Verizon has much wider domestic 3G coverage than AT&T does, especially in the interior of the country. In the big cities of the coasts, iPhone service can be spotty because of crowding on AT&T’s network.

Although Verizon did not announce its service plan price, the company plans to sell the iPhone 4 at $199 for the 16 GB model or $299.99 for the 32 GB model with a two-year contract.