All 4 entries tagged Steve Jobs

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September 28, 2007

Apple owns you

It’s an adage of the internet world that if you compare something to the Nazis, then your argument is defeated.

So I won’t. But…

Apple have issued a compulsory update to their iPhones which means that anyone who’s tried using the device on a phone network other than AT&T, will now find the iPhone is basically dead. Permanently.

If this isn’t the most authoritarian technology company in the world, then who is?

“Microsoft” – I hear you shout!

Well, not really. I don’t think they’ve ever charged someone £900 per year for a product which you can’t mess around with.

Most companies have something called a ‘EULA’ – or End User Licensing Agreement – which most people have traditionally ignored.

These put restrictions on what people can do with a product, such as a computer game. They’re often disregarded by modders and people who play games on friends’ machines.

I can’t think of an example of a hardware company using the EULA in such a measly way as Apple are doing.

And as every device on the planet (including, maybe one day, your own body) becomes connected to the net, what other products could be shut down once you play around with them? Perhaps Olympic athletes should have a chip in them that injects them with lactic acid if it detects an illegal drug?

So do you own an iPod or iPhone? Or do they own you?

P.S. I don’t own an iPhone.


March 21, 2007

Brown finishes with a Jobs

The Chancellor’s been watching Steve Jobs, the maverick boss of Apple. In his final budget, Brown saved the big news until the end, just as Jobs always does – a 2p cut in the basic rate of income tax. It’s not a new iPod, but the iPod generation will be happy…

...until they see the small print. Less trumpeted was the scrapping of the lower rate of income tax at 10p. So the cut in the basic rate of income tax will be almost ‘revenue neutral’. Put in laymans terms, the BBC reckon Brown will get £8bn more by cutting the lower rate, but lose £9.5bn by reducing the basic rate. The £1.5bn will probably be made up partly through a rise in small business tax – sure to be controversial – and by selling more government buildings and the student loans, both short-term gains.

I still don’t understand why tax on beer and wine goes up by 1p per pint or 5p per bottle, yet spirits – which surely contribute to anti-social behaviour as much as beer – is frozen. Measures on the environment will be welcomed, but are hardly radical. The inheritance tax threshold went up to £350,000 (by 2010), by which time many houses will cost that much.

It was a big-headline budget, but beneath the surface, Brown did little more than tinker at the margins. As Menzies Campbell said, it was a budget of a man ready to move on.


January 11, 2007

Apple iPhone won't even get out of the starting blocks

Whoops. The iPhone. Not by Apple.

Apple said yesterday it was talking to Cisco Systems about the fact they already have a product (right) called the iPhone. They were apparently near to signing an agreement about the trademark which would make it alright.

Not any more…!

From the Cisco press release:

“They should not be using our trademark without our permission. Today’s iPhone is not tomorrow’s iPhone. The potential for convergence of the home phone, cell phone, work phone and PC is limitless, which is why it is so important for us to protect our brand.”

All together now…

“Egg on your face, egg on your face…”

Steve Jobs. You’re a very silly boy.


September 12, 2006

iCrisis?

At the weekend, The Observer wrote that the iPod was losing its cool, saying the device was “too common to be cutting edge”.

Well Steve Jobs has hit back in the only way that Apple can: lots of new iPods. And I mean lots.

iPod ShuffleFirst up is the new iPod Shuffle, with 1Gb of memory. It’s that little grey square on the right. Yeah, it’s a lot smaller.

The iPod Nano comes in various new flavours (and up to 8Gb) while the main iPod is 60% brighter and comes as a 30Gb or 80Gb beast.

The prices have all come down as well, which made me think they were making room for a super iPod with full widescreen at around £300-400. But it appears they’re not ready for that yet (although it’s rumoured to be in development).

They’re also got something called iTV (working title, which is useful or they might have some Brits heading for the lawyers), which is going to be a box linking your PC/Mac to your TV. It’s a nice idea, but is hardly cool. If it included a hard drive and worked as a PVR as well, that’d be more like it.

I’m not an iPod fan for the reasons that the Observer mentioned – they’re just too ubiquitous, too simple (no FM radio) and evil when it comes to Digital Rights Management and moving your MP3s from one player to another and back again. There’s a sense that iPods are just a loss-leader, there only to make you spend more money on iTunes, rather than giving you some stuff that you’ll never have to pay for later (like the radio). I went for a Creative Zen Micro instead, and am quite happy with the choice.

But are Apple really in trouble as the Observer says? I don’t think so. Sure, they’re finding it harder to innovate nowadays, and the only changes they’re really making to the hardware has been the size of the hard drive inside it. Sure, you can download movies with iTunes (but only if you’re in America), but that’s software, and software isn’t cool.

iPod NanosThe reason people get so weak at the knees about a possible iPhone or a widescreen iPod is that they’re just such cool products that it’s amazing Apple hasn’t made them already. But I don’t think teasing us for a few more months – or years – is going to hit Apple’s bottom line too much.

Apple’s marketing budget is truly enormous, and Creative have proven – for me at least – that you can have a superior product at a better price, and still not be able to flog it.

But, there’s a development around the corner which might just put the cat among the pigeons, and not surprisingly, it comes from the ‘other’ Silicon Valley mogul. Microsoft’s Zune is out soon, and is expected to do everything an iPod can (and perhaps more, such as serious gaming). With Bill Gates’ billions behind it – and considering the recent success of the Xbox 360 – there’s no knowing how much damage it might do to iPod’s fortunes.


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