Apple’s iPhone 5, new iPods arrive in October, analysts say

Even without Steve Jobs as CEO of Apple, the show must go on.Apple headquarters in Cupertino, Calif.

  • By Paul Sakuma, APApple headquarters in Cupertino, Calif.

By Paul Sakuma, AP

Apple headquarters in Cupertino, Calif.

September historically is when Apple updates its iPod line of music players. This year, tech analysts expect Apple in October to add a new iPhone to the mix, a model with wider distribution than before.

The iPhone 4, now offered through AT&T and Verizon Wireless, will be available to Sprint customers, too, saysForrester Research analyst Charles Golvin. Apple needed to broaden the iPhone’s base because of the growing dominance of smartphones based on Google’s Android operating system, sold by the four major carriers.

AT&T last March announced a deal to buy T-Mobile for $39 billion. But because of uncertainty about regulatory approval of the proposed merger, analysts don’t expect the iPhone to be available this year on T-Mobile. Continue reading “Apple’s iPhone 5, new iPods arrive in October, analysts say” »

Analysts Tighten Predictions on Apple TV to Late 2012 / Early 2013

(Actual) Apple TVAnother year, another series of rumors about the Apple TV: That’s Apple TV as in, literally, a television created by Apple, not the company’s set-top box.

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster is one of the latest pundits to weigh in on the possibility of a full-fledged Apple television coming to life at some point in the future. In a recent interview with VentureBeat’s Dylan Tweney, Munster throws down his official prediction for the television’s debut: Late 2012 or early 2013, just in time for the debut of the iPhone 6 and rumormongering over the potential features of the iPhone 7. Continue reading “Analysts Tighten Predictions on Apple TV to Late 2012 / Early 2013” »

RIM on the Edge: Without Innovation, BlackBerry Will Soon Be Irrelevant

Last week was an eventful one in the smartphone world: Google purchased Motorola Mobility, HP dropped WebOS, and–oh yeah!–Research in Motion announced the availability of its latest BlackBerry smartphones, all running the new BlackBerry 7 OS. The Bold 9900Torch 9850, and Torch 9810 are all decent phones, but they aren’t strong enough to make RIM phones competitive once more with iPhones and Android handsets. As it continues to lose customers rapidly, RIM needs to take action at once–or BlackBerrys may go the way of WebOS phones.

On the bright side, we know that RIM is planning to launch a line of products based on the QNX OS (which runs RIM’sBlackBerry PlayBook tablet). But in the fast-moving mobile world, time is of the essence. Though the leaked images, rumored specs, and buzzed-about features sound enticing, how will the phones compare to those running Android, iOS, or even Windows Phone 7 by the time they come out? Is it already too late for RIM to climb back up to the top?

The clock is ticking on RIM: To win over customers, the company must completely make over the BlackBerry OS, design hardware that can compete with rival phones in processing power and innovation, and make a determined effort to reach out to the developer community.

The sales numbers sadly reflect the current lack of innovation: RIM–once the top-ranking smartphone vendor–has posted the lowest year-to-year growth among IDC’s top five smartphone vendors this year (Apple, Samsung, Nokia, RIM, and HTC).

BlackBerry 7 OS: Playing Catch-Up

BlackBerry OS 7 HomescreenThe newest BlackBerry phones demonstrate how far behind RIM is in both hardware and software. They’re solid, but they don’t have enough appeal to entice many existing Android and iPhone users to switch to BlackBerry. On top of that, the prices of the Torch 9850 ($200) and the Bold 9900/9930 ($250 to $300, depending on the carrier) are much too high for 3G phones. These BlackBerrys are sufficient to keep RIM in the smartphone arms race, but they won’t help the company gain many new customers. For example, why would you choose the 3G, single-core BlackBerry Torch 9850 on Sprint when you can select the dual-core, 4G HTC EVO 3D for only $50 more? Besides having superior hardware, the EVO offers access to the Android Market, which has far more apps than the BlackBerry App World (250,000 apps versus 37,276 apps). Continue reading “RIM on the Edge: Without Innovation, BlackBerry Will Soon Be Irrelevant” »

How Apple’s iPad is changing the computer world

With or without Steve JobsApple’s [AAPL] iPad isn’t just a PC replacement, it’s a completely new solution that will define the next-generation of computing, no matter how long the analysts take to recognize the device as more than the equivalent of a PC.

iMusical iYouth

Take a look at the video above.

It shows 24-students in a music class at a UK school working together with an adult music teacher (Neil Johnston) to create a release-quality trackusing 24 iPads.(You can buy the song on iTunes in the US right here.)

The song is completely original, and guitars are linked to the iPad usingApogee Jam while drums and vocals are recorded through iRig Mic and M-audio midi keyboards, themselves all plugged into iPads.

The iPad is a breakthrough device for the classroom because the opportunities are endless for app integration within an education curriculum,” Neil Johnston (@storevanmusic), the music teacher featured in the video above, said to me. “For us, with music, the iPad now allows all students to be engaged in the learning and performing process.”

All aboard

This is a big deal, because it boosts inclusion, he explains. “Before, the kid who struggled to play an instrument was given a triangle and told to sit out of the limelight, trying to keep in time. Now that kid, can open up GarageBand and press some chords on a guitar or piano. That kid is now involved with their classmates, that kid is engaged, having a great time, and learning too! Our project was never about replacing real instruments, it was about an engaging music lesson, where every student had a role to play and could take part.

Johnston will fly across to the US this fall to tour New York and beyond, where he’ll be hosting sessions inside Apple retail stores, I hear. Watch this space for details.

This isn’t the first remarkable use of an iPad in music, or in the classroom. Look around and you’ll find many, many more (including three at the end of this story), but it is an interesting reflection on just how much impact a device which is under two years old has already had across so many industries.

The evolution of both the PC and the Post-PC will both go down on the world-changing track record of Apple’s ex-CEO, Steve Jobs. However, the significance will extend far beyond that: Apple is defining the new generation of computing.

Incidentally, the UK experiment above prompted Sting to say: “I’m very impressed… Your use of studio as classroom and technology as teacher is exactly what we need to maintain music as a vital part of the curriculum.

[ABOVE: An iPad orchestra plays us to the post-PC future.] Continue reading “How Apple’s iPad is changing the computer world” »

Apple Cancels iTunes TV Rentals

Apple has axed its TV rental program within iTunes.

The company introduced the ability to rent certain episodes of television programs for $0.99 each last September, in conjunction with the rejiggered Apple TV.

AllThingsD quotes an Apple spokesman as saying, “iTunes customers have shown they overwhelmingly prefer buying TV shows.”

Earlier this month, Apple added TV shows to its iCloud for iTunes offering. This gives users the ability to re-download purchased TV content on their iOS devices, Mac and PC computers and to stream via the Apple TV. This ends up negating the need for rentals in the first place.

News Corp. and Disney were the only two players to jump on the iTunes TV rental bandwagon, and we’re not surprised that the concept failed to gain traction. After all, the difference between $0.99 and $1.99 is already minimal, especially when the $1.99 product allows a users to rewatch that content on other devices anytime they want.

Amazon.com still offers TV rentals through its Instant Video program. Some programs, like the classic HBO series Oz are priced only 60 cents an episode less than buying the episodes on iTunes.

Did you ever rent a TV show from iTunes? What do you think of Apple giving up the ghost and focusing on purchases? Let us know.

http://mashable.com/2011/08/26/itunes-cancels-tv-rentals/

Social media really does matter to SEO

I’m fascinated to find that a Web site that my friend Christian Toto (film critic at What Would Toto Watch) and I (under the aegis of my Dave On Film blog) are building out and experimenting with has pulled directly into the #1 slot on Google for our catch phrase, yet it has no incoming links other than a post on Facebook and another on Google Plus.

Here’s the Google search result for the phrase “dinner with a critic”:

google search results

I realize that it’s a perfect match for our domain name (which is, ingeniously enough, DinnerWithaCritic.com) but that wouldn’t explain moving into the #1 position on a search that has 13.1 million results. Is it because I’m logged in to Google? No, I had a number of other people do the same search and report the same #1 match.

Think about it: there are no incoming links for this site, I’ve never submitted it with Google, and a week ago it was available for registration. I post a note on Facebook with the clickable URL and another on Google Plus similar, and less than 48 hours later it’s top ‘o the charts on the search for dinner with a critic.

Now tell me again why you think that social media isn’t relevant to search results placement?

Notifications on Google Plus are broken

In the last few weeks, I’ve grown to really enjoy working with Google Plus, the search engine giant’s second attempt (third attempt?) at a social network to rival Facebook. Clean, elegant, responsive and fast for people to engage, I’m liking it more than Facebook in a lot of ways.

Except that Google hasn’t really though through the entire issue of how to share with a user who is following them, and it means I’m not paying attention to people who I really do want to have a symmetric relationship with on the service.

That’s the big difference between G+ and FB: Google Plus is asymmetric, meaning that you can follow me (in the Google Plus world it’s referred to as “circling” because you add someone to one or more of your follow circles) without me having to follow you back. On Facebook every relationship is symmetric: we can’t be friends unless we both green light it. Huge difference and one that I really like, actually.

Except now I find that 300-400 people each day are “circling” me and I have no idea who the majority of them are because there’s just insufficient information from Google shown about how we’re connected, if at all.

Here’s what I mean:

google plus notifications

You can see four people shown here, one of whom has their name in Chinese, three of whom in English. But who are they? Do we know each other? Have we connected or followed each other on a different social service? Do they have a Web site that points to my online content?

The pop-up I am showing for John Yaeger is an improvement because it shows the number of people we have in common (e.g. that both of us have circled). That’s social proof, and that’s darn helpful as a first step. In fact, it’s that “people in common” count that I’d like to see next to each and every person so I can quickly scan and say “ah, 17 in common, what’s the story with this otherwise unrecognized name?”

But there’s a deeper issue here. Google owns the search engine space and has rich, deep and sophisticated profiles on each of us, profiles that include our interconnectedness. Why isn’t that data included here somehow so that I can have a quick visual clue who has circled me that I should be paying attention to versus those that are followers or just building up big circles but that, realistically, probably won’t make it into my Friends circle?

Imagine if G+ was using predictive analysis behind the scenes and that it had a five star scale next to each name that offered a quick clue about who it believed I was most likely to circle up? Or maybe just added a star or slightly changed the background color of the box that included people that have a non-zero “people in common” list? (better, let me have a slider so I can say the minimum for them to be highlighted is X people, not just 1).

There’s more to be done with Google Plus for sure, and this is one area that’s increasingly failing for me. What’s in the cards, G+ team?

Messaging apps face competition with Facebook Messenger on Android

Facebook this week launched a standalone Android (and iOS) app called Facebook Messenger, and it’s already seeing massive downloads on both platforms. The app combines your Facebook chats and instant messages into a single app, and you can also send messages to your mobile contacts via SMS even if they’re not using the app or Facebook itself.

It sounds like the app has plenty of potential to become hugely popular, especially with the Facebook brand behind it, as well as the site’s overwhelming popularity in the social networking sphere. Here’s a nice introduction to its features fromDan Seifert of MobileBurn.com:

Continue reading “Messaging apps face competition with Facebook Messenger on Android” »