Archive for the ‘ Apple ’ Category

Problems for Apple TV on the Verizon Horizon?

Problems for Apple TV on the Verizon Horizon?

Talking about another unsolved problem for Apple is very sad.  To many of the “Apple Faithful” the company’s demise continues apace.  Since Jobs passed, the iPhone 4s has been the only product worthy of the company he first built and then rebuilt after the “sugar water” salesman drove it to near bankruptcy.

The next big thing was to be Apple TV.  Jobs reportedly said jubilantly before he died:  “I cracked it”.  This gave hope to the masses that the cable companies could be bypassed and that a customized internet experience would be available for everyone interested.  Everyone who has cable, satellite or phone company TV gets a 1000 or  more channels and maybe they watch 5 regularly.

Currently Americans are becoming sadly and slowly aware that, like health care, their internet connections are the slowest and most costly in the developed world.  Our health care costs twice as much as French health care that is better and free to the patient.  French doctors go to your home at no cost.  It is the same with cell, internet and TV services.  Even South Korea has a far better internet experience than the United States.  You can download a two-hour movie with no problems.

Our cable and internet companies are all monopolies.  They have an incentive to keep the politicians out of their monopoly,  and provide the worst “acceptable” service so politicians don’t hear about it and they max-out their profit.

Netflix has been reporting for years that Comcast, AT&T U-Verse, Verizon FIOS and Time Warner Cable have been slowing their download speeds.  Currently a stunning court victory by Verizon that many believe has opened the door to an end for “Net Neutrality” has let to scattered reports of internet download slowdowns throughout Verizon’s “territory”.  I have FIOS and use Apple TV.  Prior to the court decision Apple TV worked just fine.  Personally I find Apple’s decision to keep shows that I buy on their servers reprehensible.  When I want to watch I movie or TV show I own I have to again and again download it from Apple’s servers.  That is workable and worth paying for-as long as the downloads work.   Recently it has been just frustrating to use Apple TV.  One show downloads slowly but consistently.  The next takes 20 minutes to start and then the next pauses right in the middle for no reason other than FIOS is slowing the internet connection.

I thought I was imagining things when the internet connection suddenly slowed after the court decision, but reports about this “phenomenon” are coming from all over about FIOS.  Apparently Verizon is experimenting with slowing down connections to see the reaction from consumers.  If they get away with it they probably will first ask Apple and Netflix for money to speed up their downloads and then ask the consumer to pay for a higher download rate to receive the downloads.  They want to take a bite out of both ends.  It is never enough for a monopoly.  This strategy can easily be forced on the consumer by slowing download speeds and giving the alternative of downloading the same product at a much higher speed from Verizon or whichever provide controls the pipes.

As it stands now that has made my Apple TV all but unusable.  I certainly won’t buy anything else from Apple’s iTunes and wait 20 minutes for it to begin to download.  I can barely watch the shows I already own.

This is clearly a big problem for Apple that they need to address on a National level.  The US is not even in the top ten of global download speeds.  As of November 2013 it was ranked 31.  Now with the monopolies who provide internet service able to slow the internet at will it is likely to get much worse.

Apple has the money and the clout to influence National Policy.  It is about time they started looking out for their customers and their share holders.  The future of Apple TV is at risk.  The dream if the highly anticipated iTV may never become a reality.  Possible solutions are to be discussed in the next article.

If the internet monopolies are free to manipulate download speeds, they will become “partner” in any and every product sold on the internet.  Hollywood, Apple, Netflix and others ought to be on high alert.

Clearly this has already impacted iTunes.  Why buy video from Apple if it will take an unreasonable time to download?  People buy movies and TV shows to unwind.  If the experience is stressful they will be less inclined to buy.  I know I am buying nothing on iTunes until the download situation is resolved.

Econ 101-Understanding Demand and Supply

It is easy to understand how Republicans and the Oligarchy that controls the USA have confounded the electorate with hair-brained economic ideas when even someone as bright as Thom Hartmann does not understand the basic concepts of supply and demand.

 

On his show last week he blithely stated that Steve Jobs invented demand for the iPhone by creating a new product.  Since smart phones prior to the iPhone were difficult to use at best (Palm for example), sales sky rocketed for an easy to use product.  Therefore we are to understand Steve Jobs “created demand’ where there was none?

 

Thom claimed this supported the Supply Side economics theory and Ronald Reagan’s “idea”.   It was cutting taxes for the wealthy so they could innovate and create new products that caused economic growth.  Thus Jobs and Apple created Supply which was then in Demand and va-va-voom the economy grew, or at least the Chinese economy grew.  However, Thom was wrong on both points that are fundamental to the ridiculous ideas that underpin Supply Side Economics, Greenspanism, Milton Friedmanism, Libertarianism, Ayn Randism or whatever you want to call the crazy theories that support the economic “ideas” that have driven the country to third world status.

 

First the idea that Steve Jobs was motivated by tax cuts, or the tax rate Apple paid, or the tax rate he paid is just silly.  Jobs, like most people, was internally motivated to do what he loved.  After Apple went public he stated he had more money than he could ever spend in his life from just Apple’s IPO.  So money was not his motivation.  He was doing what he wanted.  That is what people do when they are healthy and free.  They do what they love, and what he loved was creating products that were simple and easy to use that unlocked creativity latent in people.

 

Cell phones were in general use throughout the world prior to the invention of the iPhone.   However, every phone company wrote their own software.  Their software was terrible.  Why?  Because consumers had no choice, they had to use Verizon’s software on Verizon’s phones.  Anyone who used those phones had the same experience:  horrible software that was tied to difficult and frustrating to use hardware.  The phones that could reach the internet were slow and designed to take you to a “home page” that tried to separate you  from your money.  The user experience was the last thing Verizon thought about. But consumers had no choice.  If you wanted a phone to carry around in your pocket that was it, you used the software the companies provided.  And it was awful.  I remember reading this report from Nokia about their phones.  Their CEO and management were “shocked” to find cell phone users limited themselves to only 17% of the “features” available.  I was not shocked.  Using the “features” took hours of time and was frustrating at best.  I bought an expensive “feature” phone with a 3.2 megapixel camera.  When I downloaded the pictures to Verizon’s web site, they were postage stamp size, not 3.2 mp but more like 200 pixels.  I asked Verizon how to get the 3.2 mp pictures off the camera and they did not even know.  That was the state of cell phones pre-iPhone.  There was a tremendous, breathtaking Demand for phones that could take pictures, check email, surf the internet and work as a phone easily.

 

Steve Job’s ability to negotiate with AT&T so that Apple could write the software and control the user experience was essential to the success of the iPhone.  In one moment a company that wrote great software was offering an alternative to horrible phones for a small increase in price (to those who could afford it).  Steve Jobs tapped in to a pure gold vein in the mother lode of a gold mine.   There was huge pent up demand for the product.  It would be like if BMW or Porsche came out with an electric car than ran on solar power, never needed charging, had zero fuel cost for its life, and was only 20% more than existing cars.  There is a huge demand for that product.  Inventing that product would not be a case of Supply inventing Demand.  The Demand is there.

 

Just so with the iPhone, the pent up Demand was huge.  So the Demand was there but the Supply was lacking.  All Jobs did was recognize the Demand and chart a path towards that golden vein.  If AT&T and the other phone companies had not allowed Apple to use the iPhone on their networks, Apple would had to buy a network in the USA to get its product to market.  The gold was still there but they would have to approach it from a different angle.

 

So the Demand is there for many new products.  However, the new products are not keeping up with Demand.  The innovator often taps into the zeitgeist of the Demand and thereby creates a product which sells in huge numbers.  It does not mean that the Supply and Demand roles have been reversed and that Supply Side economics has a “grain of truth”.  Demand drives the economy plain and simple.  Innovation is tapping into Demand that exists but like a hidden silver mine is latent and untapped.  The wealth innovation provides comes from the Demand that is already there but is unseen and untapped.

Apple iOS Upgrades Resemble Microsoft’s

Apple Upgrades Resemble Microsoft’s

The latest upgrade to the iPhone and iPad feature iOS 7.  There are some distinct improvements.  Mainly there is one improvement, it is easier to see the words and letters.  Otherwise the improvements are starting to look upgrades that Microsoft endlessly offered to Word and Excel.  With the Mac along about the time of Office 98 the upgrades started to be changes for the sake of change.  O 98 was a great upgrade that changed the clunky Windows like program into a superb Mac program that could have been written in Cupertino.  But then…has anyone really been excited by an Office upgrade in the last 15 years?  In both Word and Excel Microsoft began to make changes instead of upgrades.  Keystrokes meant something under the old program and then you had to learn something new.  That was an upgrade?

Now Apple is hard at it.  Among the worst feature/change is the combining of the search and internet address boxes.  When there were two boxes, your computer searched when you wanted it to search and went to a web address when you entered it.  Now you have to take time to figure out what it is going to do and then to try to choose what you want before the box closes or Safari makes a decision for you.  I find this completely annoying on the Mac and even worse on the iPhone.  In fact I don’t use the internet on the iPhone because of this.  It drives me crazy.  I can’t understand how anyone could possibly view this as an improvement.

Another change is the method to turn off ever running Apps.  Apps often run even when you leave them  This drains the battery and no doubt they are running programs to collect information which will be sold to the highest bidder.  In OS 6 double tapping the Home button brought up the troubling Apps and you could tap the “x” to turn them off.  Now you double tap the Home Button and swipe up on the mini-phone with the picture of the program.  Completely unintuitive.

The camera changes were also unintuitive.  You have to push “photo” or “square” to the spot rather than just touch what you want.  With a touch screen interface one would think that touching movie or video enabled that feature but you have to slide it along.  It seems someone at Apple is in love with sliding things on the interface.

Notes has no lines in it, which makes it harder to read?  Why one might ask.  Change for the sake of change ala Microsoft.

Other features that should be standard are hidden.  For example:  making the text bold so the tiny letters are easier to read should be the default, yet to do this you have to hunt through the settings to find the appropriate box to check and restart the device.

The one upgrade that was helpful is to make the screen easier to read.  Thanks for that.    However we are still waiting for a large phone?  Please see my other articles for an amplification of that point.

Apple Breaking Bad Now Features the FBiPhone

Apple’s refusal to make a larger phone has reached the point of insanity and is almost quite funny if you are not an investor. The rumors were right and Apple intends to launch different colors of phones not different sizes? This is a sure sign that the upper management of Apple has to go and go quickly. The new iPhone 5c is cheaper than the “old” iPhone and is replacing the old iPhone which will no longer be made. So “c” for cheap? This is the company that produced some of the best ads ever? Instead a new iPhone 5s which is essentially the same as the iPhone 5 will also replace it. The iPhone 5, a despised product won’t be missed, and unlike its predecessors will not be reduced in price and kept for sale. The iPhone 5s has fingerprint technology in it. Really? This is what consumers have been demanding and anticipating? iMac like colors and J. Edgar Hoover in cell?

First everyone with large hands, anyone who is near sighted or has uncorrected astigmatism, or just likes a large phone, has been waiting for Apple to catch up to the S class phone and the Galaxy Note for three years now.

Second a full 75% of folks stick their phones in a case, that means they can buy a case any color they want. No need for a colored phone because you will never see the color of the actual phone. So WTF? Eye candy aimed at teenagers who can’t afford the phones anyway? And if the want Eye Candy on their phone, guess what? There is a company that makes cases called Eye Candy.

Third I have never heard a person say I really need a different color of phone but I know plenty of people who are sick of the small iPhone and want one that is S class device or Note class all in one in that size and configuration.

Fourth a large phone should be cheaper. In theory the cost of designing all that stuff to fit into a small space costs more than putting it into a big space.

So the reason Apple has not made a large phone? The rule of thumb. When Samsung launched the S class phones Apple was expected to follow shortly with a comparable product. This was a no brainer. The S class put Samsung on the map. It buried Blackberry, Windows, and Nokia. Apple responded by announcing the rule of thumb in an advertisement. The refusal to make a larger phone was based solely on the idea that the thumb must reach across the phone. Thus an advertisement which in years past had given reasons to buy a product now gave reasons why not to buy a competitors product. What is wrong with that picture? Because the phone had to be of a size so that a certain sized person could use it one handed (while driving with the other?) a larger phone was unusable and unwanted because this particular guy could not roam the entire screen with his thumb. Had to be the worst advertisement in Apple’s history. That was ridiculous enough but Tim Cook then doubled down on the rule of thumb in a conference call during an earnings report. He said Apple would not be making a larger phone to compete with not just the S class and by now nearly every other phone maker out there but Blackberry. There would be no product to compete with the Note either because of the rule of thumb! Hard to believe. Someone should have showed Tim Cook pictures of people’s hands. Believe it or not hands come in different sizes.

So now we can different color phones. This mimics the “Colors Everywhere” iMac that Jobs so successfully launched with the Rolling Stone song. But a colorful computer was distinct from the beige desert of bland boxes of Dell, Intel and Microsoft products that polluted the interiors of offices everywhere. Plus the color of the iMacs stood out anywhere and everywhere they were used. No one put a case on an iMac. And they were very large. Lots of purple, tangerine, and grape. For reasons stated above the color of the phone is inconsequential. There is a huge demand for a larger phone. The S class and Galaxy Note are taking sales away from Apple every quarter. Since Apple’s great visionary passed away EPS has now declined every quarter year over year. Had Apple simply made a larger phone that customers want, an all in one like the note which would also count towards iPhone sales, year over year EPS would have likely continued to increase. The only reason Apple is not making a larger phone is that Tim Cook is in charge of Apple. His decision to keep the iPhone at an odd size is his and his alone. At some point he will pay the price as Apple shareholders have now.