#Apple #SurfaceBook … when you’re ready Tim

Macintosh_Classic_2I’m an Apple dude. Value proposition sold from my MacintPowerBook_G4_17osh Classic II  for my (shoddy) Comp. Sci. dissertation on the gusty streets of Edinburgh in 1994 to my first 17” Powerbook Aluminium G4 in 2003 which unbeknownst to me happened to coincide with the launch of OS X Panther. I’d already decided to switch – an upgrade to the OS was a
bonus! Overjoyed in the early days of Java when a bright young coder in my US team came to me with one of the company custom trading systems gamely running OS-agnostic on his Macbook as a holiday project. More gushing here.

Anyhoo – current Apple inventory consists of:

  • iPhone 6S+ 64Gb -64Gb schoolboy error; double it next time!
  • Mac Mini 2010 – 1st one with HDMI plugged into big arse TV – a respectable 2.4GHz with 4Gb RAM
  • Macbook Air 13” 2011 – 1.8Ghz proc with 4Gb RAM; still competitive with the latest Macbook – docked to:
    • Apple 2007 23” monitor (still going!)
    • Bluetooth keyboard/mouse, Mac on monitor stand
  • iPad Gen 1 64Gb 3G – 3G another schoolboy error – but it was the early days of tethering commercials negotiations with Telcos

macsTo the nub of the gist. I need a new computer. And I want to replace all the above bar the phone. What I need is:

  • 13” minimum touch screen
  • Detachable Keyboard
    • detachable tablet from keyboard (not fold around over keyboard design as HP Envy 2, Lenovo Yoga etc.)
    • keyboard when attached designed so it can actually be used as a laptop vs. a desktop lightweight keyboard; e.g. sitting on your knees on a train
    • screen when attached solid
  • Stylus – accurate with clickable pen controls
  • Connectivity – either on tablet or via (portable) docking station need at least
    • HDMI port – TV
    • Mini Display port – external monitor
    • USB schenanigans – USB schlep
  • Switchable OS mobile/full
    • mobile OS when touchscreen, full desktop OS when linked to keyboard.
    • Full desktop OS (with mouse, keyboard, external monitor) only going to cut it for productivity/multi-tasking. Split screen footering about on an iPad Pro? I don’t think so…

What sweeps the above almost is the MS Surface Book – albeit the fact it’s Windows, it’s microsoft-surface-book-detaching-the-screen_slideshow_mainApple-priced and with a bouncy screen when attached to the “miracle hinge”. Had a wee shot of the smaller Surface Pro in the Sydney Microsoft store which was pretty cool but non-lapable (as per iPad Pro).

Ah the Microsoft Store – always reminds me of the Sony Metreon centre in San Francisco in the early noughties with the first MS store I’d ever seen next to also the first Sony Store I’d seen outside Tokyo with a pile of very impressive shiney stuff. Take my money.

Over more recent years here in Sydney a tech retail hub has spawned around Pitt/George streets – proferring a plethora of Apples, Microsoft, Samsungs and Telstras with more incredibly bright lighting, light wood, big arse screens, jeans, valued individuals and lanyards than you can shake a stick at. Plenty distribution and more crucially (for non-Apple) marketing channels to scoop up the consumers.

iphone-macbook-pro-surface-book-2I note MS are pumping a more humble “Switch” campaign than Apple rocked out in the early 2000’s. I looked into switching and decided against the amount of conscious decoupling I’d need to do from the Apple ecosystem. Never mind the image of Balmer’s crazy eyes and sweating face I can’t get out of my head from that conference every time I see the Start button

Anyhoo – Apple wasn’t going to offer a proper hybrid with the iPad Pro –  and why would they? And canabalise their existing iPad product line?

So I can wait  a little longer whilst their hand is twisted by market forces (whilst my 5/6 year old hardware festers away) … unless they come up with another form factor you didn’t realise you needed…

Get your finger out Apple.

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iAssault: Samsung & Windows Mobile v iOS7

Microsoft has jumped on the Apple iAssault bandwagon with another non-MS device buy-back program, this time targeted specifically at iPhone users.

Took this snap on Sydney’s George Street the flagship Samsung store – opened aggressively diagonally opposite the crystal Mecca of the AppleStore complex. They updated their window display the day after the iPhone 5S launch with the “iChanged” campaign:

SAMSUNG

Anyone remember the Apple campaigns targeted at desktop switching? Switch to a Mac (2002) and Get A Mac (“I’m a Mac / I’m a PC” – 2006). Get A Mac coincided with the fresh, minimalist rebranding of Apple stores with the blue shirts and symbol signage to aesthetically differentiate the product and build-in perceived value for the premium pricing.

I never needed convincing of how cool the machines looked. As a developer, my value proposition was for home use – I was sick fed up of interrupt issues et al with home PCs having spent too much time with IT Operations resolving similar issues with our custom-built  trading apps in the office. The “just works” thing was a solid case for me for core non-tech usage. A bit like a chef coming home and whacking a microwave dinner in the oven.

But back in 2000 Office compatability was pretty shoddy, hardly any mobile phones would sync with the Mac address book et al(hardwired of course – except the gloriously kitsch Sony Ericsson P800) and remote office access? Forget it sailor.

I digress. Regarding mobile – Samsung and Microsoft must have been rubbing their hands together as the “coolness” factor is clearly the most important consumer product attribute now. And Apple missed the mark big-time with the boxy iPhone 5S – yes, EVEN with 9 million units pumped out in the first weekend. It’s the longer game that counts with brand value.

Apple’s lengthy product cycles won’t permit a revolutionary “non-boxy” iPhone coming out  anytime soon. Microsoft’s Nokia acquisition gives a real opportunity to knock out an awesome device (the Lumia 1020, although essentially a different category focusing on the camera, is pretty impressive) and with the stability of pure-play Android devices, Samsung’s superior hardware is looking like the go-er.

I’m an Android, I’m a kosher non-jailbroken iOS”  –  the next set of Google ads whacked out across the international channels to join Samsung/Microsoft to encircle Apple?

Apple launch: Upgrade iPhone4 to iPhone5S? And some whimsical tidbits.

Well, I watched the keynote launching the iPhone5S and other accoutrements and reviewed the tech specs from here in Australia. What’s Tim Cook’s catchphrase going to be now that we have “gorjus” no more? Anyhow – re. iPhone 5S purchase … it’s a no from this tight fisted rational consumer. Need a real kick in the backside (forced incompatability) or to be massively impressed by ground-breaking new direction to invest. And that wasn’t the case. And here’s why.

What we wanted ... v what we got (again) but in pimped up gold

What we wanted concept art … v what we got (again) but in pimped up gold

As mentioned, I dig my current iPhone4 in my Book Book case/wallet. Great setup with a practical case.  I see Apple are punting their new case with the iPhone5S – jeez their copy guys are good at writing the ads – they should all work in Australian restaurants inventing delicious descriptions for the Sydney-style tiny piles of food on the BIG WHITE PLATE for 40 sheets (you know what I’m talking about Sydneysiders). They’d make a killing taking a cut of the increased sales.

I always go top-of-the-range for the upgrade investment in a phone. 64Gb to sync most of my massive iTunes library. Granted this could go on  the cloud via iTunes Match. However, recently I drove 6 hours south of Sydney to go skiing, setting off at an excruciating 3am. I would be slightly disappointed if the Manowar power metal song I was listening to to keep me awake suddenly cut out due to poor network coverage. And it’s going to chew up my data allowance on my network carrier big-time.

So for a 64Gb iPhone 5S outright buy here in Australia we’re talking $1129. From what I can see the main points are:

Better Camera: I believe in fit-for-purpose. I’ve a solid Panasonic Lumix FT3 camera which apart from being waterproof et al, the GPS altimeter having literally saved my bahookie on a Scottish mountain in a storm, takes awesome photos. Awesome hi-res photos (and you should see the specs of the latest generation FT5).

blade-runner-esper-photoAnd as we build our SquiloByte-sized digital back-catalogue of images over time, and as we are sitting in our nursing home of the future with our 5D room projectors reviewing our auto-indexed life’s media collection, our old eyes will need the highest-res images that were available at the time. I reckon a whole generation of snaps on lower-res and lower-shoot quality mobile devices will give us later regrets with our digital archive. Especially when we’re trying to zoom in on the Blade Runner snake woman.

Speed – mobile device move up to 64-bit: A7 chip and LTE network. But to be honest with my iPhone4 A4 chip, I really haven’t found any major issues or frustrations with this short of bad network coverage, and that’s not going to be fixed by buying this phone. What I am a little concerned about here is if we’re going to see the same glitches moving from Mac PowerPC to Intel chips in 2006 with the stovepipe “Rosetta” Universal solution. You’d hope we’d be good with the same chip brand, but the best laid schemes o’ mice and men…

Motion Sensor: taking Big Brother to the next level … measuring user movement, in the background learning your commuting routes to suggest directions direct from your Notification Centre … feeding up to your Facebook perhaps to target those banner ads even further? Perhaps integrated with Facebook voice-ads:

bb“Hey John – I note that you’re a single guy who likes the personal pages of several adult entertainers, you’ve checked in to several bars tonight and it’s now 2am and your motion sensor detects an erratic movement pattern. Since you’re in the area, here’s some ads for some completely legal licensed “massage” parlours in order of how far from your current location”

A slight extrapolation perhaps (!) but watch this sorry space, and check your Terms & Conditions!

Free iWork Apple bespoke productivity apps: I find these to be a) fidgety and pretty useless on a mobile device and b) not as good as MS Office (well, perhaps KeyNote is pretty good). I reckon that Apple is desperate to increase the usage of their iWork suite which has had poor uptake and this is the final push before a possible retirement in the future. I still maintain that one of the best and most useful apps that was pulled was iWeb site design tool – awesome. I had to move on to WordPress but it’s not the same (without coding). Now iWeb would have been a good cloud iWork app for a mobile device…

Fingerprint ID sensor … first generation of this. This is actually pretty impressive, and highly useful (unlocking your darn phone when you’re of course definitely not using it mounted on your dashboard whilst driving, honest) but let’s watch and view how this pans out for app adoption. Might even prompt a revival of the Mafia and Yakuza. Much easier to whip off a finger than to interrogate people for passwords which as I’m sure we all know are difficult to extract under panicked duress 3a01f18f46ffa78a32607f084669a4b4when you’re torturing someone.

Champagne gold colour – this is perhaps the MUST have feature. If you’re the kind of classy dude who values your grillz big-time.

So the above points don’t sell me.

More fundamentally I want to see some blue ocean market-shaking kick-arse radical redesign from Apple (I loathe the words “game-changer” and “killer app” – we’re really due a new buzzword).

The basic iPhone design hasn’t changed since the original iPhone in 2007 (which I confess I queued around the block for from 3am primarily since I was flying to the UK the following day and I knew the device was just the dab to keep a 2 year old occupied!).

mac-pro-towerThe boxy style phone just isn’t cutting it for me now when you look at other Android hardware alternatives with their huge crisp screens and more comfortable “handfeel”. If Microsoft gets it right with the Nokia deal, and introduces a truly integrated groovy device into the MS ecosystem they’ve a good chance of aggressively attacking the market.

For me Apple needs to get over the “if it ain’t broke” attitude and Jonathan Ive grow some cahunas and re-invent the iPhone styling, something radical along the lines of what they did with the Mac Pro “tube” desktop. As Schiller quipped “Apple can’t innovate my ass”.  Keep wearing those tight jeans till the next iPhone body redesign Big Phil.

The biggest factor for me is the availability of iOS7 – which my iPhone4 can be upgraded to. Aside from hardware, this is the radical UI change that reinvigorates the device experience. Lack of compatability would have been the serious carrot on a stick to drive me to upgrade (together with the phone trade-in offer from Apple to sweeten the deal – as they know fine well).

As to Siri, missing from my iPhone4… well, they need to get Billy Connolly into the labs at Infinite Loop for some voice sampling – still has major issues with my native Scottish accent as the Russians will attest to!