1606 posts • joined Thursday 18th June 2009 14:54 GMT
The Mac actually wasn't bad for games in 1991. It tended to get ports of a reasonable number of the PC hits but scaled up to work at then-high resolutions (as in, 640x480 sort of stuff rather than 320x200) and not always lazily. So it was like skipping ahead to SVGA. Compare and contrast the Mac and PC versions of Prince of Persia, Chuck Yeager's Air Combat, Wolfenstein 3d, etc.
That said, even then you usually got games late or not at all. And the window during which the Mac was technologically ahead for games was incredibly brief.
Jobs isn't the only odd choice
The list seems generally to be misguided — cutting Jobs alone wouldn't redeem it. I'd keep Newell and Miyamoto but I'm not willing to give them much credit for getting two good choices onto a list of five.
Not really dodgy action
Apple paid some money to acquire the rights to a product. As part of that the previous owners agreed to surrender their right to sell it. Apple then decided to charge the consumer for the product.
Google have pretty much killed any realistic prospect for competition law challenges to Apple, just as Microsoft did in the PC realm — the actionable offence is abuse of a monopoly position, i.e. taking advantage of your standing so as to manipulate the market. It's a protection for consumers, not for other companies. Because Google have a much larger share of the relevant market (I think it was 50% versus 21% worldwide during September), Apple's actions aren't sufficiently damaging for the market as a whole.
Personally I find it really difficult to be upset either way given that the product is rubbish. I think of it like one of those Ask Jeeves-style question-based search engines. In the 80s the idea may have sounded really attractive but the simple fact is that we're more efficient at just using a keyboard and typing our search terms in a Google-friendly way than at formulating a proper question, especially when keeping the sentence structure suitably simple and trying to focus on annunciation.
That's such a trivial straw man argument that I have to wonder about your motives in citing it.
I argued that Jobs' actions were predicated on his belief that he was creating better products as a result.
You use the word 'con' which imports an idea of deception, i.e. you state that my argument is that Jobs was consciously trying to trick people into buying worse hardware.
The conclusion that you've deliberately misstated me is impossible to avoid and it's difficult to believe that the upvotes you've received come from anyone objective.
I don't agree
On the basis that his micromanagement seems to have stemmed from a genuine personal belief that end-to-end control makes better products rather than a lust for profits, I don't agree that Jobs was evil. That's even though I accept that the walled garden locks consumers in and that monopolies are very bad for the consumer. And I'm not arguing that he was necessarily right, merely that his motivations don't justify 'evil'.
One of the handsets I've tried in the last year or so (having a professional interest) was the Nokia N8. The GPS was possibly a little slow but the battery life was excellent and I don't recall having a problem with any of the other hardware features. So I essentially disagree with you on the suggestion that Nokia's rudderless drifting had led to a general deterioration in hardware quality. But then again I never used an N97.
It's confirmation bias
The iPhone is, by a wide margin, the single best-selling individual handset. So the threshold for reporting faults is quit low — each fault, even if extremely minor, will affect a large number of people. Apple compound the problem with their holier-than-thou approach to product launches and to marketing; that would increase the newsworthiness of faults even if nobody was buying the products.
Conversely, each individual variety of Android handset and each model of BlackBerry phone has a relatively small audience. So a fault has to be pretty critical for it to be worth reporting.
That's why in the last few weeks, similar prominence has been afforded to the stories that (i) large swathes of BlackBerry users are provably cut off from being able to text, surf or email; and (ii) some subset of 4S buyers anecdotally report that the battery life feels a little short.
If you already hold the conclusion that Apple's software is crap then stories like this look like confirmation. However the reality is that flaws like this on the iPhone are newsworthy whereas flaws like this on, say, a specific Motorola handset wouldn't be.
Every single relevant consumer satisfaction and/or device durability survey that has been published since the iPhone came out puts the iPhone amongst the top tier of handsets, at least equal with the top-rated devices from Samsung, Motorola, BlackBerry and anyone else you want to compare to.
I'd therefore suggest that the overwhelming weight of evidence is either that Apple's software isn't crap or that all handset software is equally crap.
No. They didn't.
The idea of 'a player for MP3s' wasn't original to Apple or to Creative Labs. The unique aspects of the iPod were the scroll wheel, which most obviously descends from Microsoft's mid-90s addition of a scroll wheel to the mouse, and the Firewire interface for super-fast synching. Firewire is a very Mac interface that has never been big in the Windows market that Creative Labs were most interested in.
Having lost the market, Creative Labs sued Apple in 2006 over a bunch of interface patents, notably including using a hierarchical menu for navigating music and requesting an import and sale ban. The companies ended up settling, with Apple paying a licence fee for the relevant patents. So I guess that's where the story derives from.
So a bit of a hypocrite is probably right, but I wouldn't have agreed with you if you'd used hypocrite without qualification. Apple ended up having to pay licence fees for patents it infringed and it now asserts that Samsung et al are infringing patents without paying licence fees.
While specifically not approaching whether there's a distinction between the similarity of an iPod to Creative's preceding products and Samsung's arrangement of Android to the iPhone, there is a difference in the overall markets. With the iPod Apple entered a vanishingly tiny immature market and popularised it. Both the iPhone and the Android handsets that followed it have entered mature and profitable markets. The net effect is that — supposing for argument's sake there was any wrong against Apple whatsoever — Apple's actions increased Creative's sales, Samsung's decreased Apple's.
Possibly nothing, who knows?
Supposing the savings paid for the risk by already adding more than the cost of the delay and the rebuild, especially when you allow for relevant insurances and premiums, then it's quite possible that nothing went wrong.
After all, nobody was hurt and hard disks remain generally available.
Assuming we take Jobs' attributed desires at face value and as company policy then Apple's plan is actually quite different from Microsoft's — Apple wants to kill Android, Microsoft wants to profit from it.
Ballmer has said he intends to kill Android but that he'll do it because Android handsets are too technical and Windows Phone 7 is therefore more attractive to consumers. Agree with that or don't, it's a very different way of seeking to kill the competition.
Of course, I've not read the Jobs biography yet and Ballmer's statements aren't always completely tied to reality...
Assuming Microsoft's patents are valid then the choice was: go bankrupt because of your intellectual property infringement or pay royalties.
Assuming Microsoft's patents are invalid or irrelevant but Microsoft would have pursued them in court anyway then the choice was: go bankrupt because of Microsoft's belief in its patents or pay royalties.
There's a third possibility, which seems to be what many people are assuming, that Microsoft's patents don't apply for whatever reason and that Microsoft knows it, so is using the out-of-court approach to avoid scrutiny. If that were true it would seem to be odd that companies like Samsung have signed up — they've got a smart legal department and a lot of money.
So then presumably the general negative mood is a reflection of the general feeling towards software patents? That's understandable but patents in general serve the useful purpose of rewarding invention, allowing companies to run research and design departments and benefitting society as a whole. I'm probably not the only person here who can reel off a list of 20 or 30 software patents that have been profitable but newsworthy partly because they're wholly obvious and/or uninventive, but we've no idea what patents Microsoft are asserting.
In this case I prefer to give Microsoft the benefit of the doubt because they've generally not abused patent law in the past, because HTC, Samsung and others have all seen the patents and decided to pay and because assuming innocence is both an enshrined part of our legal system and just plain a healthier way to live a life.
And that's how you enforce your patents
No court dates, no PR, just tell them they're infringing and quietly come to an agreement about royalties. I guess there's a possibility that Microsoft's patents wouldn't stand up in court and that Compal et al have merely decided that this is the most efficient way of dealing with the dispute but efficiency shouldn't be undervalued.
Check the sales figures
The cold hard objective fact is that if you break the market down by handset then the iPhone is the gold standard. It massively outsells every single other individual handset. This isn't an article about operating systems or applications or even just user experience more generally, and the various other market factors that contribute to the iPhone handset totals - even those that a balanced journalist would likely argue relate to Apple's negative aspects - aren't relevant.
Accusing the journalist of bias is classic pot and kettle stuff.
The Kindle's HTML5 app uses one of the new browser extensions that allows a local SQL database to be used for persistent offline storage. So it's using a local persistent store (that is probably backed up to iCloud but that's an orthogonal issue) but is doing so through an open API that Apple doesn't have a veto on usage of.
When Apple says "you should use the local persistent store only for things that can't just be downloaded and cached when required", the obvious implication is that if you use it for things that can be downloaded again then Apple may use their discretion to reject your application.
Obviously when it's an in-the-browser standard Apple can't really dictate the acceptable uses. So Amazon can use the persistent local storage to store whatever they want.
Given that native magazine apps tend to be dressed-up PDF viewers so as to fit the tools publishers already have and that, in my experience, the artificial release schedule dictated by Apple's approval process tends to push clients towards piling on feature after feature and only months later asking "why haven't we shipped yet?", I fully expect Amazon's solution to become normal for all published content. Besides anything else, answering that a feature can be added and pushed into production completely orthogonally from all the other features being worked on rather than holding other features up or having to wait while the other features you just submitted are picked over is a massive win.
The strategy isn't so bad nowadays
Windows Phone 7 is an extension of the Zune interface, so we're five years into it. Windows 8 takes essentially the same interface and ports it to the desktop. So Microsoft have seemingly settled on Metro as the strategy, and did so several years ago. And for my money the interface is distinctive and works very well on phones, though I'm not sold on scaling it up to the desktop.
Not fair comparisons
Does it really still need saying that CPU megahertz isn't a good measure of system speed? Modern computing systems, including mobile phones, distribute a lot of work to the GPU (another component with a megahertz number attached, although no more relevantly) and are heavily dependent on RAM and secondary storage bandwidth, including network bandwidth for most user experience purposes. You should benchmark this phone against other Androids and, if you care, the iPhone before making a judgment.
Similarly, 5mp often looks better than 8mp since the real determiner once pixels are small enough is the optics system and, all other things being equal, cramming an 8mp sensor into the same physical space as a 5mp sensor just makes it proportionally harder to expose each pixel to enough light. You usually end up with exactly the same sharpness when you zoom in but each little soft portion of image has e.g. 64 pixels in it instead of 25.
No review or article I've seen suggests anything Siri-like is included. Siri is an artificial intelligence project that happens to have a voice interface. Both Android (first of the two by a considerable margin, I think) and iOS have had basic command-based voice recognition for a long time.
My feeling is that the screen on this one is just plain too large. The 4" on the Nexus S is a lot more sensible.
iTunes is not required for the 4S or any iOS 5 handset. iCloud is accessible from any web browser.
It's the earnings call tomorrow
So Apple's plan, if the 4m is inaccurate, is to hope nobody mentions the press release from today, to admit they were lying or to commit a federal offence by providing false answers to shareholders.
To suggest that Apple are lying is therefore stupid. To up vote others for suggesting it is to show yourself to be so biased as to be incapable of rational thought. Attacking them on subjective grounds - that they charge too much, that their handset is the wrong shape, that they put their customers at a disadvantage by vetting apps according to ill-defined criteria, etc - is one thing, spouting easily disproven conspiracy theories is quite another.
Apple's counterargument rests on the chip suppliers having acquired the licences, I think. I'm not sufficiently aware of the facts to have much of an opinion on that though.
There are obvious exceptions but courts generally don't order mediation as a remedy since that would usurp them as the final word on legality. What's likely happened here is that the court has said that the points Samsung have raised are the sort of thing it thinks should first be discussed reasonably outside the courtroom. If so then failure to mediate before making it a court issue wouldn't affect the legal outcome but the court would be much more likely to signal its displeasure by ordering a token remedy — like finding that Apple must pay Samsung total damages of £1 and that Samsung are liable for costs, for example. Though it's a safe bet that won't happen here because Samsung will act appropriately; I'm not meaning to suggest that Samsung have or will act in any way that the court considers inappropriate.
@Nathan Hobbs, etc
Kevin argues that the available legal protections are insane if an airplane mode indicator is protectable. You say that his argument is invalid because making something rectangular is protectable.
Perhaps what you can learn from this is that not every comment is a thinly veiled partisan attack?
Obvious points: there's a difference between assaulting someone and defending yourself — attempts to draw moral equivalency feel unconvincing to me, especially as in the legal system you can't just ignore the trolls. Also, Samsung also not only can but does use its patents on actual inventions in order to further its business, through the funds that it accrues under FRAND licensing terms. It voluntarily bound itself to that sort of licensing when it pooled its patents during the usual industry standard development process.
I think their only hope is on the interface stuff. I'm not sure what the normal preliminary relief is, and hence whether a banning order would be considered disproportionate by the court, but it wouldn't be surprising if Apple were about to find out.
I quite agree
Goldberg & Robson's Smalltalk-80 book is the only other thing I can think of that even comes close, but K&R is the gold standard. Ritchie did tremendous work bringing elegance to the internal structure and organisation of computer systems and deserves every compliment already posted here and a million more.
Not entirely accurate
Sure, it's an obtuse pile of crap but — even if we ignore the pedantic point that it predates even the iPod — it was written to simply people doing basic things with their devices. Put the CD in and the music is ripped and stored somewhere appropriate automatically. Connect your device and the music is copied over automatically. Those are the actual basic things: getting hold of the music, getting the music onto the device. iTunes not only doesn't prevent either, it completely automates them.
iOS 5 and iCloud are probably the real answer to how iTunes fits into the canon though: it doesn't. iTunes needn't be part of the loop at all unless you want it to be. Which is good news.
OS X has its own precedents though
Dial the clock back to 1999 and look at Apple then. The difficulty is remaining relevant and providing a computer that can attract developers and do anything useful while Windows has 95% of the market and desktop applications are much more relevant than now. So Apple did the smart thing to stay alive: they embraced the open source community, combined what they perceived to be the best parts of the then competing platforms and the one they'd bought (ie, UNIX underneath, NextStep as the basis for the UI and for applications, get Microsoft on board to supply Office and Internet Explorer), published quickly and updated often.
That set the precedent from which OS X can't easily retreat. It's build in a certain technological way and it'd be neither easy or particularly desirable to start swapping major underlying parts in and out now. It's a much better idea to continue to build upwards.
Conversely, skip forward to 2007 for the iPhone and you've got a company swimming in iPod money and more able to dictate terms. So they ban Flash, close off as much as possible and a year later when they start doing apps they insist on being the single source and — for a while — being the only company that can even supply development tools.
So Stallman's judgment of the company is probably better measured against the iOS experience, which is Apple at its most confident doing everything it thinks is right, than then OS X experience, which is derived from Apple trying to remain relevant and to attract users.
@Ben: I'm not even sure it was the mistake people are making out
CUPS was first released in 1999. It was incorporated into OS X in 2002, at which point Apple's contributions started. In 2007 Apple hired the main developer and purchased the code, yet the contributions continue.
So Apple have been contributing for 75% of its public life. They've owned it for 33% but have continued to publish.
The GPL, and all other licences, affect what you can do with code you acquire under that licence. As a general rule, they don't bind the original author. Since Apple bought the code, they've acquired it other than under GPL and aren't required to continue to keep it open source. It's almost certain they don't own the whole thing (as it's very likely that at least one third party contributed something under the GPL and didn't subsequently sell that to Apple), but they've continued to release what they own which is most probably a very significant portion.
So the conclusion that Apple sponsor CUPS, and own a portion of it that they release even though they don't have to is correct and is in their favour. Any assertion that because Apple bought it or because it already existed they haven't contributed anything is just plain false on the facts.
Of course, it's still a question of an overall assessment. If I found out that Stalin was always very good at gardening I wouldn't therefore conclude that he was a really nice guy.
An objective observer might say...
... it's good that where Apple have benefitted from open source software, they've ultimately given back to the community.
A cynic might add that while it is objectively a good thing to have happened, it's likely Apple acted through legal obligation.
Only a partisan would go so far as to claim misdoing. And, in one case above, to just start making things up about the FreeBSD kernel.
That all being said, Stallman is making a value judgment about the overall balance of Apple's business position in recent years. So CUPS, WebKit, Mach, LLVM/Clang, OpenCL, etc are already factored into his conclusion. Apple's contributions to those projects don't 'disprove' him per se.
My take is that I don't agree with him because I think his world view is too simplistic. For example, if you look at what Apple's stance on Flash has done to the market overall, it's probably been positive. I don't suggest Apple had altruism in mind, simply that their acts have been to the community's benefit, possibly even despite their intentions. But Stallman doesn't seem able to distinguish between intent and effect. I also agree with the poster above that speaking out now, in these terms, is likely to be more of a hindrance than a benefit to his cause.
I don't think that's quite the issue
The comments have mostly been quite balanced — see the large number of people saying essentially "great man, but his flaws stopped me from buying the company's products". Those struggling to be heard are the predictable pack of dogmatic knee-jerk critics, jumping on the death of a human being as another opportunity to pull out their soapbox and preach.
Adulatory comments aren't hard to come by but at least here they're by no means in the majority.
The MSX was poorly implemented though
Video contents had to be posted off via port IO (ie, a very costly form of data access) to the dedicated video chip, which didn't support a hardware scroll. As a result, the first specified version of the machine couldn't smoothly scroll in any general sense. Compare that to the hardware video abilities of a Commodore 64 or the stuff a machine like the Spectrum with the video contents right there in RAM could do and you had a machine consumers just didn't want. Specifications were improved in later versions of the standard but it was too little, too late for most of the world.
Android has a few issues here and there but no huge roadblock of a problem like tying everyone to an uncompetitive hardware design.
The 4S isn't behind the Galaxy S 2, though you're right that it's very hard to imagine it'll still look good on numbers a year from now.
The new iPhone has a significantly faster GPU and a higher resolution screen; the jury's out on relative CPU speeds since Apple haven't supplied sufficient details but parity is likely. The S2 is also slightly hampered because Android used the GPU only in a very limited fashion (ie, for games and for composition but not for normal painting) prior to 3.x, which has yet to make it to phones.
Conversely the S2 has a significantly larger, OLED screen and a whole bunch of other features that sound a bit silly one by one but add up: a memory card slot, an FM radio, a replaceable battery, etc.
Even ignoring whether anybody actually cares, I'm not sure you can say either has the better hardware without a vested interest in reaching that conclusion.
No, he doesn't. Or he'd be comparing it to the HDMI out on iPhones, which like the HDMI out on phones running every other operating system doesn't need an ATV, just a £10 cable.
Show me the fanbois.
Part of it is software, probably
They seemed to suggest that the camera being directly on the lock screen, etc was an iOS 5 feature rather than a 4S feature. It wouldn't be unreasonable to suppose they've optimised the software elsewhere if getting to the camera quickly is something they suddenly care about. We'll know in a week or so, I guess.
For my money, Apple's numbers are probably massaged and I don't recall it ever being much of an issue anyway.
I disagree that Nokia is more innovative than Apple on the basis that neither of them, or indeed anyone else, has produced anything even slightly innovative for several years. All we've seen for a very long time in hardware is piecemeal tiny-step evolution. Neither Apple nor Nokia has innovated at all and I think it's actually unfair to drag Nokia into the conversation when it's currently Apple harking essentially that, after more than a year of working on it, it's managed to put a faster CPU into their phone. If anything Nokia seems to be keeping its head down and just getting on with the long haul towards its software sea change, which is very hard to criticise.
If Siri isn't available, they can still use voice recognition
Siri isn't voice recognition and the iPhone has had normal, offline voice recognition built in for years. Arguing that Siri is voice recognition is like arguing that because Safari uses the touchscreen, the touchscreen isn't available when the user is offline.
So, in contrast to the GSII or Desire Z, a hypothetical user will find that Siri is available when online rather than not available at all under any circumstances.
Based on the demonstration and the simple obvious facts, a real user will quickly find that they don't want to use either Siri or voice recognition, both being essentially useless marketing puff. They'll subsequently then fail to notice whether the service is available on the handset they happen to own on the connection they currently have.
Embracing the adversarial system?
You wouldn't expect an article entitled "Ten reasons why you shouldn't buy an iPhone 5" to be a balanced summary. In fact you would expect it explicitly not to include any arguments in favour whatsoever. It's just a summary of the arguments in favour of a viewpoint; the conclusion precedes the discussion.
Obviously I'm confident that the opposing case will be forthcoming. Our favourite irreverent technical publication wouldn't descend to taking sides, surely?
Per the linked articles
StatCounter don't consider the iPad to be mobile. Their iPhone + iPod Touch share is 23.93%. Their number for Opera's share across all mobile versions (ie, Mini + Mobile + the various fringe versions like that in the Nintendo DS) is 22.8%. Nokia come in third with 16.51%, then BlackBerry on 14.28% and finally Android on 12.85%.
Net Applications count the iPad as mobile and don't combine Opera versions the numbers are arguably skewed — 55.6% to Safari, 18.9% to Opera Mini, 16% to Android and 4.7% to the Symbian browser.
The disparity on Nokia/Symbian numbers is the oddest thing. I think Android's showing is consistent with the way many Android devices are sold, i.e. without cheap data. People can want to use apps and have a decent browser available just in case without intending to browse often when out and about.
Not just the Apple price point
They tried to sell near identikit products, in HP's case with significantly reduced functionality, at the same price point as the runaway market leader. Amazon seem to be the first company to have hit on the idea of doing a device that is both distinct and priced attractively.
Unless Microsoft do something really amazing, my feeling is that it's a two-horse race from here on out. The interesting thing will be whether Amazon's forked Android slowly diverges from the Google original on technical grounds so as to make it effectively a different target.
Looking at precedent
The Kindle 3 launched in the US at $189 (sans tax; see the many articles on Amazon's US avoidance of sales taxes) and the UK at £152 (fully taxed), both back in July last year. At the time the exchange rate was around $1.50 to the pound and VAT was 17.5%, so a literal translation of the US price with no other adjustments would have been about £148.
I therefore think it's likely we'll get a pretty accurate conversion rate for the Fire.
No you don't
You might want to catch up on the announced iOS 5 features.
@Phalamir: more likely to be about quantification
Without being strong on Australian law, I would expect the argument (which I'm not necessarily endorsing, voters) went: Samsung should face measures because they use technology covered by our patents without permission; if you accept that we are entitled to relief because of the patent infringement then such relief should be to bar them from the market because otherwise we lose out very significantly.
So Apple aren't arguing that Samsung's wrong is taking away potential customers, they're arguing that Samsung's wrong is patent infringement. Only if that wrong is established then will the other comments become relevant.
Of course, El Reg's story is correct: if Apple think that a customer lost once is a customer lost forever then they don't sound that confident in their products.
Best of a bad set of options
The touch screens employed by other readers require something to be attached above the display. That reduces clarity a little, which is really important when you're trying to sell to people who value the printed page. I guess they've gone infrared because it looks over the screen from the edges. It also needn't necessarily be one of those cheap trip-the-wire things they had in the 80s, since doing it optically with two or three 1d cameras is now completely viable economically.
"exactly as they first aired"
Is that in the sense of exactly as they first aired as long as you didn't look at any of the bits they've almost certainly cropped or stretched to make a widescreen image?
There's one in the Window of the Maplin on the north side of Waterloo bridge, so presumably you can buy them at Maplin.
That's not a problem
While I was in the US I was able to use my UK Amazon account to order purchases to a US address, even while keeping my UK address as the billing address linked to my card. So you should be able to head to amazon.com, order whatever you want and have it delivered to your brother-in-law.