Intel has released their next generation SSDs, the 320 series. Available in capacities from 40GB to 600GB, these new SSDs are actually less expensive than their predecessors. Starting at $89 for the 40GB, these drives top out at $1069 for the 600GB, which amazingly enough, is quite the bargain in today’s SSD market.
WWDC 2011 tickets went on sale today, and a scant 10 hours later, are sold out.
Last year it took 4 days.
And this year, it did so with a persistent rumour that there would be no new hardware announced at the event.
If this doesn’t speak volumes about the popularity of Apple’s OSes, I don’t know what does.
$39 billion acquisition to bolster AT&T’s network offering and add about 46.5 million users to the AT&T family. Assuming of course that this passes regulatory hurdles, which could be difficult, giving that this gives AT&T an effective monopoly on GSM networks in the United States.
I was in my local Best Buy yestereday checking out the new iPad 2. I had seen them briefly in the Apple Store the previous week, but I wanted to get a few minutes of hands on time, and the Best Buy was right there.
While I was playing with one of the two display units, a Best Buy salesman was answering a woman’s questions (badly) about the iPad 2. “How many books can it hold?”. “How much music?”. “Can I get by with the 16GB version?”. The salesman was obviously trying to steer her towards the 32GB version. I interjected and asked her how many movies, music and books she had in her iTunes library. She answered that she had no movies, a few albums, and a couple of eBooks. I explained to her that the 16GB would probably be enough for her. She was sold. Unfortunately, Best Buy, like every other retailer, doesn’t have any stock of the iPad 2 at the moment, and doesn’t know when they will receive any. The salesman made a feable attempt to recommend the Motorola XOOM, but the woman was more interested in getting the original iPad.
I walked over to the Motorola XOOM display to see what the fuss was about. Unfortunatley, the unit was non functional. It was rigged up to work, but either the battery had died, or it wasn’t plugged up correctly. Either way, I found it a little ironic.
Remember in the 90′s when Best Buy carried Macs, and they were usually in a sad state of display? Most of the time they were turned off, and relegated to some row where no one would ever go. It was clear back then that Best Buy had little interest in trying to sell them.
This is the same impression I got about the XOOM. How bad is the XOOM that the sales geeks don’t even bother to have a working display unit? How sad is it that even though the iPad 2 is near impossible to get ahold of, it and the original iPad is still beating the XOOM?
I don’t know how long Apple will have a near lock on the tablet industry, but I don’t see Android eating Apple’s lunch anyime soon. HP has a shot with webOS tablets, if they execute properly on experience, ecosystem, and price. But that is really what the challenge is for someone getting in to the tablet space: You have to have all three bases covered if you want to compete seriously with Apple.
Price is difficult enough, since Apple buys components in quantities larger than most others, and gets the better discounts. Experience is something Google has just started taking seriously, yet with Honeycomb, the consensus is that it still is a disappointing experience. Ecosystem (apps and accessories) is the toughest nut to crack, mainly because you can’t will thousands of developers to create apps for your device. All you can do is create compelling tools, a vibrant sales channel and large user base, and hope that the developers bring their A game to write apps for your device.
I don’t belive Apple will have the tablet market to themself forever, but I don’t see anybody shipping anything this year that has all three legs (experience, ecosystem, price) of the formula.
Jeff Lamarche nails it:
Two days ago, the Xoom looked like a decent, almost finished and slightly overpriced tablet. Two days ago, it had a couple of quantifiable advantages, including native CDMA support and a better GPU. Two days ago, you could make the Xoom look better than the iPad on paper. Though marketing based on tech specs hasn’t proven to be a very effective strategy in mobile computing space, at least they did have that for them. They had grounds for claiming you should buy the Xoom instead of an iPad. The arguments were thin, but two days ago they existed.
Today, simply put: The Xoom is fucked. So, I suspect, is the unreleased Samsung Tab 10.1 and the RIM Playbook. I can only imagine the discussions that are going on inside those companies today.
What strikes me as comical is that these companies must have known that the product they were releasing was any better than Apple’s product from 2010, and Apple would have something even better lined up for 2011.
I’m hoping for a true competitor to the iPad, because competition is good for everyone, including Apple. But right now all the tablet manufacturers look like the keystone cops.
Great article at TechWorld:
“Apple very clearly considers the customers to be ‘theirs,’” Nanian says. “You don’t get any information about them. In fact, while the customer can post reviews about your software on your store page, you can’t respond to those reviews, either online or offline, because there’s no way to contact those users.”
This, I think, is the biggest drawback that developers have to face (apart from the 30% cut Apple takes). When Apple improves in this area, and allows for developers to respond to criticisms in the user reviews, many developers I know will be ecstatic.
I don’t think that Apple will ever give developers information about the customers who buy their apps through the Mac App Store, as Apple seems to be holding ground on that decision pretty firmly at the moment with content providers. But Apple is a smart company. I believe it has to see that devs who are unable to provide good customer service to Mac App Store customers ultimately means a bad customer experience that might hurt Apple in the end.
The iPad 2 looks like a solid upgrade over the previous generation iPad. Apple has addressed many of the shortcomings of the previous iPad – weight, width, lack of cameras. I understand the resistance to putting a capable iPhone level camera in the iPad’s back facing position, but I had hoped for something a little higher res than VGA on the front facing camera. Still, dual cameras are a very welcome addition, and with FaceTime and iMovie for iPad, it should become an incredibly useful tool for video conferencing and movie editing.
The internals upgrade isn’t a slouch either. The dual core A5 with improved graphics performance looks to give the iPad 2 plenty of horsepower for games and other intensive computational calculations. The (rumored) 512MB of RAM is a bit of a disappointment though. Using smaller RAM modules must be one of the main ways that Apple keeps the cost down on the iPad (the previous iPad had only 256MB of RAM). I’ll be interested to see if the increase in RAM translates in to being able to keep more windows active in Safari. The 9 window Safari limitation on the previous iPad was frustrating at times.
As someone who bought the first iPad and used it for a couple of months before selling it, I’m asking myself if I see enough in the iPad 2 to purchase. My problem with the first iPad was that I had a hard time finding a place for it in my day to day usage. It was too locked down to be used as a development machine. And with two laptops in the house (one shared between my wife and I, and one as my main work machine), and an iPhone, it felt like overkill. I don’t know that the new iPad has changed anything in that regard for me. I’d like one, I just don’t know how practical it would be for me to own.
There’s little left to say about Steve jobs 3rd medical leave from Apple. There’s no point in speculating about what the cause is. All we need to know is that Steve’s health is in danger, and he needs a leave of absence to take care of the issue.
Apple is in capable hands during his absence. I’m sure Steve’s editorial control over products/services is still in effect, even during his absence.
Here’s hoping that absence is brief and temporary.
Get well Steve.
With 1 million downloads in 24 hours, the Mac App Store is a resounding success. Overall, I think the MAS is a huge win for the Mac community, even if it does leave some developers and user unhappy with the resitrctions it imposes.
With a simplified way to shop for, pay for, and manage apps on their Mac, users are the clear winners here. Apple, along with several other developers, offered up some apps at considerable discounts. Aperture 3 for $80 (a product that still is offered in Apple retail for $199) is a steal. Pixelmator for $29 (a limited time offer, nearly half off the retail price of $59) is another great bargain.
In Aperture’s case, it remains to be seen what your $80 download gets you. I’m sure it will get you whatever updates are left in the 3.x line of releases, but with Aperture 3.1 the current version, I wouldn’t expect much more than bugfixes before Aperture 4 hits the scene. And when Aperture 4 is released, I doubt Apple will be giving Aperture 3 users who purchased from the Mac App Store free updates. But even if Apple retains the $80 price point, the Mac App Store is still a better deal than the retail boxed route. Aperture upgrades are currently $99. So even if you own Aperture 3 now (non Mac App Store purchase), if Aperture 4 is released at the same price point, it’s still a better price than Apple’s previous upgrade pricing. This is a huge win for customers.
Additionally, being able to purchase individual apps from the iLife and iWork suite gives customers more choice, and doesn’t tie and app they may want or need to an app they may have no intention of ever using.
Gaming on the Mac has always been it’s achilles heel, especially when compared against the gaming ecosystem available to PCs. On iOS, gaming has been a huge strength. Now, imagine you are a game developer with an iOS game that does great business. You now have the option of taking that codebase and reporposing it for a Mac app. Think about the benefits of this: You can target 3 different platforms with extremely large installed bases, all while using the same developer platform and tools. Sure, each platform (iPhone/iPod touch, iPad, and the Mac) is different and may dictate that the game be modified to be a better citizen on that platform, but in a world where maximizing your invested time in a product can mean the difference between success or failure, I see this as a huge win for iOS game developers.
We already have 3 popular iOS games – Angry Birds, the Incident and Chopper 2 available with Mac versions. On launch day, the Games category was one of the most populated. I fully expect game and their resurgence on the Mac to be the big story of 2011.
As a new year approaches, it is once again time to resolve ourselves to change behaviors we believe are destructive or unproductive. For many this means starting a new diet, or quitting smoking. All noble causes. However, if you use a computer, may I suggest a resolution that is just as important to the health of your PC?
Back up your data.
If you routinely use a computer, the chances are that you have files on it that if lost, would cause emotional or financial chaos in your life. Most people never think about a back up strategy until it’s too late. Trust me – if you have photos, movies or music on your computer, losing them forever would be devastating.
Backing up your data used to be a chore. Now there are several methods and mediums that can make backups painless.
Included with every installation of Mac OS X since Leopard (10.5). Time Machine is a “set it and forget it” type of backup, the kind that most people will benefit from. Buy an external hard drive, plug it in to you Mac, and you will be asked if you would like to use this drive as a Time Machine backup. Answer in the affirmative, and over the course of the next couple of hours, your Mac will backup your hard drive to the external volume. As new files are created/changed, those changes are written to the Time Machine backup automatically. Time Machine will keep as many revisions of files as it has room to, giving you the ability to go back to a file to a point in time easily, and retrieve the prior version and restore it.
Pros: Easy to setup and maintain. Intuitive interface for restoring single files.
Cons: Restoring the entire volume can take some time. Lack of configuration options make Time Machine a “take it or leave” solution.
Time Machine is great, but if your Mac’s hard drive crashes, you would have to replace that drive with a new drive, and then restore your back up from Time Machine to the new drive. This could put you out of commission for days, depending upon how big your Time Machine backup is and how fast your can replace the drive that failed.
If being without your Mac for any period of time means lost money or productivity, you probably want a bootable backup instead of (or in addition to) a Time Machine backup.
Using a tool like Carbon Copy Cloner or SuperDuper!, you attach an external volume to your Mac, fire up the software, and in no time, you are creating a perfect duplicate of your current hard drive that is bootable. Now, if your primary hard drive fails, you can boot from this backup and keep on working, or install a new blank drive and clone the new drive from your bootable backup, and be up and running in a fraction of the time it would take you to restore from Time Machine.
Pros: Fastest backup/restore option.
Cons: Doesn’t save multiple versions of files like Time Machine does.
Both of the above options, either separately or together, will provide a solid insurance policy for most computer users. However, there is one scenario under which both backups would be useless.
Since both backup scenarios above essentially dictate that your backup drive is kept close to the machine you are backing up, what would happen if your dwelling was involved in a fire, or a flood? Your data would be destroyed along with most of the other possessions.
That’s where offsite backups come in to place. For less than $60/year, you can backup your data over the internet to an offsite service provider. These solutions work in the background, and can set up a schedule where the transfer of files happens at a time of your choosing.
Players in this field include Carbonite, Mozy and Backblaze. All promise unlimited backup. Where they differ is in cost and restoration options. Because these backups are performed offsite, if your computer goes down, you will not have immediate access to your data. Imagine you have backed up 500GB of data. Restoring 500GB of backup over the internet is going to take some time. Luckily, most of these services offer the option of having a USB hard drive sent to your with your data. This additional service comes with a price, and still means that retrieving your data will take 3-4 days.
If your data totals less than 100GB, another option is DropBox. DropBox offers 2GB of free data backup and syncing, with plans offering 50GB ($9.99/month) and 100GB ($19.99/month) available as well.
Pros: Set it and forget it. Unlimited amount of data. Inexpensive.
Cons: Backing up/restoring over the internet is slow (even with fast connections). In my test, over a very fast Comcast cable connection, 600GB took over 3 weeks to back up. If you have a metered internet connection, your backups will eat away at your available bandwidth.
Any of these solutions is better than not backing up at all. All three offer a way to get your data back in the event of data loss. If your data is irreplaceable, I’d suggest using all three methods. If you aren’t concerned about restoring your data in a timely fashion and don’t have a metered data plan from your internet provider, an offsite backup solution will do the job. If your computer is your livelihood, using a cloning tool like SuperDuper! or Carbon Copy Cloner will have you back up and running in the least possible amount of time.
Personally, I use all three. My computer is my most essential tool for my job, and my data is irreplaceable. With all three backup solutions, I keep all the bases covered in case of any type of catastrophe.
Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex 2 TB USB 2.0 External Hard Drive (currently $120)
Backblaze – Unlimited offsite backup ($50/year)
Carbon Copy Cloner – free download, donations encouraged.
SuperDuper! – free trial, $28