Posts Tagged ‘Apple’


This is, in some ways, a dry talk about Apple and the growth of its capital expenditures as its iOS product lines have exploded. But Horace Dediu is one of the best analysts around, and he makes some points with numbers that are extremely relevant to the shape of the tech industry, particular as the consumer-facing businesses of Microsoft and Google continue to look more and more like Apple — that is, they’re defined by highly integrated products, created balls to bones by one company.


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The problem with buying gadgets is that they’re bound to be obsolete at some point. But, as Laptop Mag’s Avram Piltch explains, that point is way sooner for some things than others. Here are 10 gadgets you should avoid like the plague right now, however tempting they might seem:

They say patience is a virtue, but like temperance and chastity, it’s not much fun. Unfortunately, if you want to reach a state of true techstasy, you may need to repress your desire to buy a new gadget today and wait for the next version to come out.

To be fair, sometimes now is the best time to buy a particular device and sometimes you drop your phone into a public toilet and have to replace it right away. But when you buy that 3G phone a month before its hot new 4G replacement comes out, you might as well buy an “I’m with stupid” t-shirt for your friends to wear when you go out together.

Here are 10 products you’d be a fool to buy today.

The iPhone

If you have your heart set on purchasing a new iPhone, don’t do it yet. Every rumor points to the arrival of a much-improved product arriving by fall. We don’t know what exact specs the iPhone 5 will have. We don’t even know if it’ll be called the iPhone 5(my money’s on “the Brand Spanking New iPhone”), but we can be pretty certain it will have 4G LTE, a faster processor, a better camera, and a larger and sharper screen.

While four or five months may seem like a long time to wait, most iPhone owners are on two year phone contracts that usually won’t allow them to upgrade until after 20 months. Do you really want to spend 2013 being known as the loser who has to “take a grenade” with Siri’s older, slower moving sister while your friends cozy up to the new model?

Windows Tablets

Let’s face the facts. If you want to buy a Windows 7 tablet, you’re either a multitouch masochist or a sadistic CTO, looking to pinch-zoom in on employee suffering. Though Windows 7 runs all the applications you could ever want, its touch-unfriendly interface makes it really difficult to use with adult-sized fingers. Ever try tapping the X widget to close a window? You’ll need to stick your index finger in a pencil sharpener first, so you can make sure it’s thin enough.

Coming this fall, Windows 8 offers a very touch-friendly Metro UI and a host of touch-friendly apps on top of it. Even better, Windows 8 will run on ARM-based tablets, allowing for thinner, lighter and longer-lasting designs. A slew of new convertible notebooks that run Windows 8 will arrive in fall too. I can’t wait for the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga, which bends its hinge back 180 degrees to become a slate. Even Kanye West would sit in his seat long enough to wait for Windows 8.



The first generation of Ultrabooks — a new category of uberthin, fast-booting notebooks — arrived last fall with prominent entries from all the PC vendors. However, though notebooks like the ASUS Zenbook UX31 and Toshiba Portege Z835 have a lot going for them, a new generation of much-improved Ultrabookswill arrive this summer. These notebooks will sport Intel’s faster, more efficient 3rd generation Core Series processors (aka Ivy Bridge), and many will offer higher-resolution displays.

A couple of models stand out to us. The ASUS ZenBook Prime will offer a generous 1920 x 1080 screen that will let you watch HD movies at their native resolution, while viewing more of your favorite web pages and documents without scrolling. Meanwhile, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon could be the ultimate productivity notebook when it launches this summer. It will pack a gorgeous 14-inch, 1600 x 900 matte display into a .75-inch thick chassis that weighs just 3 pounds. Plus, you’ll get the industry’s best keyboard.


Sprint Phones

Sprint likes to call itself “the Now Network,” but it really should be named “the Promise Network,” because right now all it is selling is the promise of 4G LTE at some point in the future. The carrier recently announced that it is dumping its mediocre 4G WiMAX networkin favor of LTE on new handsets. That’s the right move long-term, but it leaves current Sprint customers in a bind.

The company is selling 4G LTE phones such as the Samsung Galaxy Nexus and LG Viper 4G LTE, but they’ll only get a 3G signal until Sprint launches its new network. The carrier plans to roll out LTE this summer to just six cities — Atlanta, Baltimore, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City and San Antonio — with no ETA for other cities apart from 123 million people covered by the end of the year. Even if you live in one of the designated six markets, there’s no guarantee that Sprint’s implementation of LTE will be as fast as AT&T and Verizon’s; we just don’t know.

Whether you are already a Sprint customer or are just thinking of becoming one, you should wait to see how quickly the company’s version of LTE is coming to your area and whether it actually lives up to the hype. You don’t want to buy that Evo 4G LTE today, only to be stuck with 2007-era 3G speeds while your friends on Verizon and AT&T are cruising along at 4G.


MacBook Pros

If you have your heart set on an Apple MacBook Pro, tell your heart to go on without one for just a little longer. Everyone expects Apple to announce a new lineup of MacBook Pros in June and these new notebooks will reportedly weigh less, feature high-resolution “Retina” displays and provide USB 3.0 ports in addition to running Ivy Bridge CPUs. These notebooks will also be running Apple’s new OS X Mountain Lionsoftware, which brings more iPad-like functionality to Macs along with stronger security.

Unless a pack of rabid Windows fanboys breaks into your house and smashes your current MacBook Pro with a Metro-UI styled hammer, you can hold on for another few weeks. The Retina display, which should show more content on the screen at once, is reason enough to wait.


Android Tablets

Apple enthusiasts don’t have anything to wait for when it comes to tablets. The “new” iPad just came out in March and has an incredible, high-res screen paired with a powerful processor. However, if you want to consider an Android tablet, now is not the time to buy.

Though we’ve seen some speedy quad-core tablets like the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime, we’re still waiting for Android tablet makers to come out with screens that have higher than 1280 x 800 resolution. Both ASUS and Acer have announced 1920 x 1200 tablets, but neither one has hit the market yet. If you plunk down $500 on a tablet now, you’ll feel silly when the new HD models arrive within the next couple of months.


Smart TVs

Apple can play coy all it wants, but many industry insiders believe that the Cupertino company plans to launch its own TV later this year. There’s no question that the Apple TV will have deep iTunes integration, a gorgeous screen (Apple is known for that) and some kind of Siri-based voice control.

When it comes to launching new Smart TVs, Apple won’t be alone. LG recently showed off its G2 Smart TV, which uses the Google TV 2.0 interface, supports voice commands and comes with a gesture-controlled “Magic” remote. Lenovo just began shipping its Android 4.0- powered K55 Smart TV in China and it may come here at some point as well. If you wait, the additional competition from these new products will force down prices on existing Smart TVs as well.


Windows Phones

The Nokia Lumia 900 has a gorgeous design and the HTC Titan II has an awesome 16-MP camera. However, when it comes to specs, apps and basic multitasking, Windows Phones still lag behind their Android and iPhone counterparts.

With Windows Phone 8 due out this fall, Microsoft could finally start to close the feature gap with Apple and Google. According to some reports, the new mobile operating system will support higher resolution screens, dual-core CPUs, NFC payments and apps that can control other apps, a necessity for true multitasking.

Microsoft has issued some conflicting statements about whether current Windows Phones would get an OS upgrade so I wouldn’t count on the Lumia you buy today running Windows 8 tomorrow. If you’re attracted to Windows Phone, delay your purchase until fall. Otherwise, you’ll be living with a single-core, low-res handset for two years.



There are several great eReader optionson the market right now, from the tablet-like Amazon Kindle Fire to the E Ink-powered Nook Simple Touch. However, as strong as the eReader offerings are today, they’re about to get much better. Barnes & Noble just released its Simple Touch with GlowLight and rumor has it that Amazon is set to release its own backlit E Ink-based Kindle this summer.

However, backlit E Ink is just the tip of this innovative ice berg. Expect Amazon to launch the second-generation Kindle Fire 2 this fall, complete with higher-res screen options and possibly larger form factors like 8.9 inches. Flush with investment money from Microsoft and not content to stand still, Barnes & Noble is sure to release a new Nook Tablet sometime later this year as well. We’d expect the next Nook to also have a higher resolution than 1024 x 600.

There’s also a persistent rumor that Amazon will release Kindles using color E Ink later this year. We just reviewed the color E Ink-powered Ectaco Jetbook Color so the technology is already out there. How bad would you feel if you bought an old-school grayscale Kindle today, only to see one with a backlight or a color screen come out within a few months?



Research in Motion, the company that makes Blackberry phones, seems to be stuck in a time warp, offering phones that have the best specs of 2009, including single-core 800-MHz CPUs, tiny 2.4-inch screens and an outmoded BlackBerry 7 OS. Fortunately, most people aren’t foolish enough to buy phones that you’d expect to find in the bargain bin at a garage sale rather than the shelf at a Verizon store.

RIM seems to understand the problem too as it plans to release an entirely new line of phones running its new BlackBerry 10 OS later this year. The new touch-friendly BlackBerry London phone, complete with a bigger screen and faster processor than we’ve seen on a BlackBerry before, should arrive by fall. If you must have a BlackBerry, this is the one to wait for.

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Microsoft lanzará su suite de ofimática Office el próximo mes de noviembre para el iPad. Sin embargo, Office no estará exclusivamente disponible para el ‘tablet’ iOS sino también para los ‘tablets’ con sistema operativo Android. Los de Redmond lanzarán la suite de ofimática al mismo tiempo para las dos plataformas, que se esperan para el mes de noviembre.

Desde el pasado mes de noviembre, una serie de rumores apuntaban hacia la existencia de Office para iPad y su inminente lanzamiento. Estas informaciones aseguraban que el gigante Microsoft podría estar desarrollando una adaptación de la versión actual de Office en forma de aplicación para iPad y, además, también lanzaría una nueva versión de Office para el OS X Lion de Mac a finales del 2012.

Ya en febrero, nuevas informaciones apuntaban que en ese mismo mes la aplicación de Office para iPad llegaría a la App Store, ya que solo faltaba la aprobación de Apple. Sin embargo, por el momento nada relacionado con Office ha aparecido en la tienda de aplicaciones de Apple.

Ahora, según ha confirmado una “fuente confiable” de Microsoft al portal BGR la aplicación de Microsoft Office para iPad llegará el próximo mes de noviembre, pero no lo hará solo para esta plataforma. La misma fuente asegura que los ‘tablets’ con sistema operativo Android también disfrutarán de esta aplicación, y serán lanzadas a la vez en ambas tiendas de aplicaciones.

Microsoft ya cuenta con algunas aplicaciones disponibles para el iPad como Bing, MSN y ONIT OnPoint MSN. Hay incluso más aplicaciones disponibles para el iPhone, donde se incluyen Microsoft Tag, Windows Live Messenger y Wonderwall. Por su parte, Office es el software más vendido de Microsoft, sólo superado por Windows. En 2011, la suite de software supuso 11.139 millones de euros (15.000 millones de dólares) para Microsoft.

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Steve Jobs, 1955 – 2011

Steven Paul Jobs, 56, died Wednesday at his home with his family. The co-founder and, until last August, CEO of Apple Inc was the most celebrated person in technology and business on the planet. No one will take issue with the official Apple statement that “The world is immeasurably better because of Steve.”

It had taken a while for the world to realize what an amazing treasure Steve Jobs was. But Jobs knew it all along. That was part of what was so unusual about him. From at least the time he was a teenager, Jobs had a freakish chutzpah. At age 13, he called up the head of HP and cajoled him into giving Jobs free computer chips. It was part of a lifelong pattern of setting and fulfilling astronomical standards. Throughout his career, he was fearless in his demands. He kicked aside the hoops that everyone else had to negotiate and straightforwardly and brazenly pursued what he wanted. When he got what he wanted — something that occurred with astonishing frequency — he accepted it as his birthright.

If Jobs were not so talented, if he were not so visionary, if he were not so canny in determining where others had failed in producing great products and what was necessary to succeed, his pushiness and imperiousness would have made him a figure of mockery.

But Steve Jobs was that talented, visionary and determined. He combined an innate understanding of technology with an almost supernatural sense of what customers would respond to. His conviction that design should be central to his products not only produced successes in the marketplace but elevated design in general, not just in consumer electronics but everything that aspires to the high end.

As a child of the sixties who was nurtured in Silicon Valley, his career merged the two strains in a way that reimagined business itself. And he did it as if he didn’t give a damn who he pissed off. He could bully underlings and corporate giants with the same contempt. But when he chose to charm, he was almost irresistible. His friend, Heidi Roizen, once gave advice to a fellow Apple employee that the only way to avoid falling prey to the dual attacks of venom and charm at all hours was not to answer the phone. That didn’t work, the employee said, because Jobs lived only a few blocks away. Jobs would bang on the door and not go away.

For most of his 56 years, Steve Jobs banged on doors, but for the past dozen or so very few were closed to him. He was the most adored and admired business executive on the planet, maybe in history. Presidents and rock stars came to see him. His fans waited up all night to gain entry into his famous”“Stevenote” speeches at Macworld, almost levitating with anticipation of what Jobs might say. Even his peccadillos and dark side became heralded.

His accomplishments were unmatched. People who can claim credit for game-changing products — iconic inventions that become embedded in the culture and answers to Jeopardy questions decades later — are few and far between. But Jobs has had not one, not two, but six of these breakthroughs, any one of which would have made for a magnificent career. In order: the Apple II, the Macintosh, the movie studio Pixar, the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad. (This doesn’t even include the consistent, brilliant improvements to the Macintosh operating system, or the Apple retail store juggernaut.) Had he lived a natural lifespan, there would have almost certainly been more.

Behind any human being is a mystery: What happened to make him … him? When considering extraordinary people, the question becomes an obsession. What produces the sort of people who create world-changing products, inspire by example and shock by justified audacity, and tag billions of minds with memetic graffiti? What led to his dead-on product sense, his haughty confidence, his ability to simultaneously hector and inspire people to do their best work?

His gene pool was intriguing. His biological parents were Abdulfattah John Jandali, a Syrian immigrant; and a graduate student named Joanne Simpson. Unmarried when her son was born on February 24, 1955, Simpson gave him up for adoption. She later married Jandali and had another child, award-winning novelist Mona Simpson. Jobs grew up in a middle-class suburb with two loving parents, Paul and Clara Jobs. (He had a sister, Patti, who survives him.) Though he did make a successful effort to find his birth mother, he never seemed to warm to the theory that his drive was a subconscious reaction to a conjectured rejection. He always spoke highly of the family that raised him. “I grew up at a time where we were all well-educated in public schools, a time of peace and stability until the Vietnam War got going in the late sixties,” he said.

The turmoil in those sixties was also part of his make-up. “We wanted to more richly experience why were we were alive,” he said of his generation, “not just make a better life, and so people went in search of things. The great thing that came from those that time was to realize that there was definitely more to life than the materialism of the late 50’s and early sixties. We were going in search of something deeper.”

He went to Reed, a well-regarded liberal arts school known as a hippie haven, but dropped out after a semester, choosing to audit courses informally. (Including a class on calligraphy that would come in very handy in later years.) Jobs also took LSD in those years, and would claim that those experiences affected his outlook permanently and positively. After leaving Oregon, he traveled to India. All of these experiences had an effect on the way he saw the world — and the way he would make products to change that world.

Jobs usually had little interest in public self-analysis, but every so often he’d drop a clue to what made him tick. Once he recalled for me some of the long summers of his youth. I’m a big believer in boredom,” he told me. Boredom allows one to indulge in curiosity, he explained, and “out of curiosity comes everything.” The man who popularized personal computers and smartphones — machines that would draw our attention like a flame attracts gnats — worried about the future of boredom. “All the [technology] stuff is wonderful, but having nothing to do can be wonderful, too.”

In an interview with a Smithsonian oral history project in 1995, Jobs talked about how he learned to read before he got to school — that and chasing butterflies was his passion. School was a shock to him — “I encountered authority of a different kind than I had ever encountered before, and I did not like it,” he said. By his own account he became a troublemaker. Only the ministrations of a wise fourth grade teacher — who lured him back to learning with bribes and then hooked him with fascinating projects — rekindled his love of learning.

Meanwhile, his dad, Paul — a machinist who had never completed high school — had set aside a section of his workbench for Steve, and taught him how to build things, disassemble them, and put them together. From neighbors who worked in the electronics firm in the Valley, he learned about that field — and also understood that things like television sets were not magical things that just showed up in one’s house, but designed objects that human beings had painstakingly created. “It gave a tremendous sense of self-confidence, that through exploration and learning one could understand seemingly very complex things in one’s environment,” he told the Smithsonian interviewer.

After his call to Packard, Jobs worked at HP as a teenager. He later had a job at Atari, when the video-game company was just getting started. Yet he did not see the field as something that would satisfy his artistic urges. “Electronics was something I could always fall back on when I needed food on the table,” he once told me.

That changed when Steve Jobs saw what a high-school friend, Steve Wozniak, was doing. Wozniak was a member of the Homebrew Computer Club, a collection of Valley engineers and hangers-on who were thrilled at the prospect of personal computers, which had just become possible with the advent of low-cost chips and electronics. “Woz” was among several of the group who designing their own, but he had no desire to commercialize his project, even though it was groundbreaking in simplicity and also was one of the first to include color graphics.

When Jobs saw his friend’s project, he wanted to make a business. While other home-brewers were also starting companies, Jobs was unique in understanding that personal computers could appeal to an audience far beyond geeks.

“If you view computer designers as artists, they’re really into more of an art form that can be mass-produced, like records, or like prints, than they are into fine arts,” he told me in 1983. “They want something where they can express themselves to a large number of people through their medium, and their medium is technology and manufacturing.” Later he would refine this point of view by talking about Apple as a blend of engineering and liberal arts.

The most visible manifestation of this was the elegant case that housed the Apple II. Jobs paid a fledgling industrial designer named Jerry Manock $1,500 to design a plastic case with an earthy beige. (Manock wanted to be paid in advance because, he told author Michael Moritz, “They were flaky-looking customers and I didn’t know if they were going to be around when the case was finished.” Jobs talked him into waiting for his payment.)

“He told me about the prices he was getting for parts, and they were favorable to the prices HP was paying,” his friend Alan Baum said.nJobs would make these deals while Woz and a small team of teenage engineers worked in the Jobs family garage. Every so often Jobs would drop by and impose his views on the project. “He would pass judgment, which is his major talent, over the keyboards, the case design, the logo, what parts to buy, how to lay out the PC board so it would look nice, the arrangement of parts, the deals we chose … everything,” said Chris Espinosa, one of the original group. One other thing Jobs did was convince Wozniak to quit his job at HP and work full time for Apple. When Woz originally demurred, Jobs called all of Woz’s friends and relatives, putting so much pressure on that the gentle engineer capitulated. Once again, Jobs had gotten what he wanted.

Jobs gave thought to what kind of company he wanted Apple to be — once he told me his wish was to create “a $10 billion company that didn’t lose its soul.” He would call up the premier CEOs of Silicon Valley — Andy Grove, Jerry Sanders — and ask them if they would take him out to lunch so he could pick their brains. He later realized that he and Woz were an object of curiosity to people because they were so young. “But we didn’t think of ourselves as young guys,” he said. “We didn’t have a lot of time to philosophize,” he told me. “We were working 18 hours a day, seven days a week — having fun.”

The Apple II was a hit, and so was the company. But unlike Bill Gates, who founded Microsoft in the same period, Jobs did not run Apple. Realizing that his company might go farther if run by professional management, and not a barefoot 22-year-old with a Fidel beard and an abrasive personality, Apple hired a chief executive for adult supervision. Over the next few years, Apple became the most popular of the small field of personal computers, and on Dec. 12, 1980, Apple held an IPO. It was highly unusual for a company that young to do so, but it turned out to be the biggest holding that mantle until IBM entered the field in late 1981.

As Apple became a larger business, Job was somewhat adrift. “The question was, ‘How do I go about influencing Apple?’” he explained in 1983. “Well, I can run around telling people things all day, but that’s not going to result in what I really want. So I thought a really good way to influence Apple would be by example — to be a general manager here at Apple.”

In 1979, as part of the efforts to develop a more advanced machine called the Lisa, Jobs led a team of engineers on an excursion to Xerox PARC. He later described it as “an apocalypse.” He immediately declared that the principles of the Xerox Star — mouse-driven navigations, windows, files and folders on the screen — be integrated into Lisa, an effort which jacked up the cost of the machine almost five-fold. But Jobs’ management style consistently offended the Lisa team, and he looked elsewhere in the company for a group to lead. He found what he was looking for in a skunkworks project off the campus led by a talented computer scientist named Jef Raskin. The small team was working on a low-cost computer to be called Macintosh. “When Steve started coming over, Jef’s dream was shattered on the spot,” said Mac team member Joanna Hoffman.

The Macintosh was a turning point for Jobs, who worried about being branded as the guy who founded Apple, but not much more. Jobs was a relentless, even punishing leader. But his passion earned him the loyalty of the small young team. He encouraged them to think of themselves as rebels. “It’s better to be pirates than to join the Navy,” he told them. A skull and bones flag flew on their office building.

While the Lisa was inspired by the Xerox’s “graphical user interface,” Macintosh took it a step farther. It worked with even more simplicity, was faster, and had a distinctive shape — inspired by the Cuisinart food processor, an appliance Jobs admired. When I interviewed Jobs about the Macintosh in November 1983, he explained to me that while the Lisa team wanted to make something great, “the Mac people want to do something insanely great.”

During that interview I asked Jobs for an explanation on why he sometimes gave harsh, even rude assessments of his employee’s work. (Though in some respects Jobs became more mellow later in life, such blunt criticism became a trademark.) “We have an environment where excellence is really expected,” he said. “What’s really great is to be open when [the work] is not great. My best contribution is not settling for anything but really good stuff, in all the details. That’s my job — to make sure everything is great.” Even though Jobs made life hell at times for the brilliant young engineers of the Mac team, they generally regard the experience as the highlight of their professional careers, a magic moment. And indeed, the Macintosh experience provided a template for the culture of many startups, down to the lavish perks provided to the workers.

On Jan. 24, 1984, Jobs publicly unveiled the Macintosh. A night earlier, a stunning, cinematic Super Bowl ad for the computer galvanized the nation; many consider it the greatest commercial in history. The Mac was a sensation. It also cemented Jobs as a national figure, featured with major features in Newsweek and Rolling Stone. (Though he was disappointed that Rolling Stone did not put him on the cover. Jobs actually called publisher Jann Wenner to plead his case. Wenner told him, “Don’t hold your breath.” lI said ‘All right, but you ought to think about this more,’l Jobs futilely recounted. Later, Jobs’ demands for magazine covers would be eagerly accommodated.)

The Macintosh was arguably the most important personal computer in history. It introduced a style of computing that persisted for decades (sadly for Apple, most people experienced the graphical user interface via Microsoft Windows computers, not Macintosh.) It made computers sexy.

But the Mac did not initially sell as well as expected. This failure, as well as Jobs’ managerial shortcomings, put Jobs in jeopardy at the company he founded. For several weeks, he conducted a backroom battle with John Sculley, the former CEO of Pepsi he had personally recruited to run Apple in 1983. (Jobs had famously challenged Sculley by asking, “Do you really want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life?”) But Sculley outmaneuvered Jobs by winning the backing of the board. And on May 31, 1985, he fired Steve Jobs.

The ouster was cathartic for Jobs. “You’ve probably had somebody punch you in the stomach and it knocks the wind of you and you can’t breathe. That’s how I felt,” he told Newsweek. But he regained his breath by starting Next, a company that designed and sold next-generation workstations. The Next computer, a striking jet-black cube, never caught on (though Tim Berners-Lee would write the code for the World Wide Web on it), but its innovative operating system turned out to be of lasting value, and Jobs kept the company going as a software concern.

During those years, Jobs took on a second company besides Next. A struggling computer graphics studio founded by George Lucas was looking for a white knight, and Steve Jobs took the role. It was to be called Pixar. Under Jobs’ guidance, Pixar morphed from a software company into a movie studio. It produced the first full-length computer-animated feature, “Toy Story,” the first of a series of monster hits for the studio.

Running Pixar was a step in Jobs’ growing maturity. He was wise enough to focus on the deal-making and let the creative movie-makers, like director John Lassiter, do their work. He also got valuable experience in Hollywood. Eventually, he sold Pixar to Disney in 2006 for $7.4 billion.

But it was that other company, Next, that brought Jobs back to the company he co-founded. Apple needed a powerful new operating system, and the Next could provide one. Apple bought Next, but its troubles went far deeper. People were writing the company’s corporate obituary. In 1997, the board of directors fired CEO Gil Amelio and turned to one of its founders to revitalize the company. One of the first things he did was forge a deal with Apple’s blood rival, Microsoft.

While Jobs emphatically stated that he was only filling an interim role at Apple — “I hope we can find a terrific CEO tomorrow,” he said that August — he took to it so enthusiastically that it was no surprise that he removed the lowercase “i” from his iCEO title in 2000. By then he had made Apple profitable again.

A turning point was his introduction of the iMac in May 1998. Almost a year after taking control of Apple, Jobs called me and invited me to spend a few days with him as he launched his first big project. I got a glimpse of the exacting preparations he makes for a launch, monitoring every detail. (He nixed the sound of a clarinet on a video soundtrack to a clip because it sounded “too synthetic.”) When an employee showed him some work at one point he said simply, “This is a ‘D,’” and turned away. But at the launch itself, he was the picture of poise.

The iMac was a huge success, an all-in-one machine that sent the message that simplicity, beauty and power would be behind Apple’s comeback. He also simplified Apple’s product line to four computers — consumer and pro versions of desktop and laptop. “Focus does not mean saying yes, it means saying no,” he explained. “I was Dad. And that was hard.”

But with each iteration of computers, Apple was gaining fans. The one exception was Jobs’ introduction of a monitorless machine called the Cube. It was perhaps the most beautiful computer ever. But in this case, Jobs let his aesthetic instincts overwhelm his sense of the marketplace. It was a rare failure.

In 2000, he explained how competitors still didn’t understand Apple’s mix of art and science. “When people look at an iMac, they think the design is really great, but most people don’t understand it’s not skin deep,” he said. “There’s a reason why, after two years, people haven’t been able to copy the iMac. It’s not just surface. The reason the iMac doesn’t have a fan is engineering. It took a ton of engineering and that’s true for the Cube and everything else.”

In October 2001, Apple introduced a music player, the iPod. It broke ground as the first successful pocket-size digital music player. Because Jobs had a tremendous ability to locate and hire brilliant talent, his team produced it in less than a year. The process is indicative of the way Apple ran. Though Jobs could be overwhelming in pushing his point, he understood that ultimately, his products would not work if their best ideas were discarded. In the case of the iPod, hardware designer Tony Fadell knew how to get his best prototype approved by Jobs — he showed his boss three different designs, with one clearly superior, to give Jobs a chance to berate two efforts before saying, “That’s more like it!” with the last.

Sometimes, Jobs would dig in and only back down when the marketplace spoke. Again, the iPod was an example. Originally, he felt that the iPod should only work with Macintosh’s computers. But its instant popularity led him to agree with some of his employees who had been arguing for a Windows version. When iPod became available to the entire population, it really took off. Apple has sold over 300 million iPods.

“If there was ever a product that catalyzed what’s Apple’s reason for being, it’s this,” Jobs said to me of the iPod, “Because it combines Apple’s incredible technology base with Apple’s legendary ease of use with Apple’s awesome design… it’s like, this is what we do. So if anybody was ever wondering why is Apple on the earth, I would hold this up as a good example.”

What’s more, to support the iPod, Jobs began the iTunes music store, the first successful service to legally sell music over the internet. Though the record labels were notoriously conservative about such deals, “They basically trusted us and we negotiated a landmark deal,” Jobs told me. The iTunes store would sell billions of downloaded songs.

The iPod was a turning point for Apple and Jobs. Competitors never figured out how to top it. Every year, he would come out with a new set. One year he stopped selling the most popular model, the iPod mini, for a totally new model called the Nano. The product line would be laid out on a table. He’d talk about which color he liked best. Often he’d pick one up. Isn’t that amazing?

This satisfied him deeply because Jobs loved music. His heroes were Bob Dylan and the Beatles. I once asked him if his dream was to get Paul McCartney to perform one of those sweet two-song live sets that often close his keynotes. “My dream,” he joked, “is to bring out John Lennon.”

While Jobs reveled in his professional spotlight, he was more circumspect about his private life. He distrusted the most reporters, ever since a 1982 Time article mocked his pretensions and exposed his darker side. Jobs, who thought Time was going to make him Man of the Year (it chose “the personal computer” instead) was wounded. “I don’t mind if people don’t like me,” he said in late 1983. “Well, I might a little…but I really mind it when somebody uses their position at Time magazine to tell 10 million people they don’t like me. I know what it’s like to have your private life painted in the worst possible light in front of a lot of people.” Twenty years later, he would still be complaining about that article. (The writer, Michael Mortiz, later became a powerful venture capitalist, funding Yahoo and Google.) But Jobs would not comment on subsequent accounts of his life that detailed not only rude professional behavior but his original refusal to support his first child (later he accepted paternity).

Jobs was a proud, proud father of four children, three from his marriage to Laurene Powell. He was protective of them — whenever he shared a story about one of his children in an interview, he cautioned that the remark was to be off the record. (His widow and all four offspring survive him.) But he clearly took a huge pride in parenthood.

It was July 2004 when Steve Jobs learned he had a rare form of pancreatic cancer. He originally treated the disease without sharing much about it to the public. Critics wondered whether Jobs and Apple had skirted corporate disclosure regulations by not revealing more information. After what seemed to be a successful initial surgery, Jobs would vary from his circumspect stance just once, in his address to the Stanford graduating class of 2005. That speech, by the way, might be the best commencement address in history. When designing computers, Jobs and his team built the one they wanted for themselves. And now he gave a speech that Steve Jobs would have wanted to hear if he had graduated from college.

“No one wants to die, even people who want to go to Heaven don’t want to die to get there,” he told the Stanford graduates. “And yet, death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because death is very likely the single best invention of life. It’s life’s change agent; it clears out the old to make way for the new … Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”

Steve Jobs never did that. After his cancer treatment, he took Apple’s biggest risk yet — developing a phone. Of course, it would not be just any mobile phone, but one that combined the media savvy of the iPod, the interface wizardry of the Macintosh, and the design style that had become his trademark.

As with all his products, Jobs was fanatical in monitoring every detail — including the press reaction. I was among the few journalists who got to test it before its release. Soon after I received the unit, I was walking down Broadway and my test unit got a call from “Unknown.” It was Jobs, ostensibly wanting to know what I thought, but actually making sure I understood how amazing it was. I acknowledged that it was extraordinary, but mentioned to him that maybe nothing could match the expectations he had generated. People were calling it the “Jesus phone.” Didn’t that worry him? The answer was no. “We are going to blow away the expectations,” he told me.

The iPhone did just that — especially after Jobs put aside his initial view that only a limited number of developers would be permitted to write applications for it. Apple’s App Store eventually included hundreds of thousands of programs, giving Apple a key advantage. As Apple’s current CEO boasted only Tuesday, the iPhone is the world’s most popular phone.

In 2008, observers noted that Jobs had lost an alarming amount of weight, and looked ill. People wondered whether the cancer had reoccurred. In what looks in retrospect to be misdirection, Apple released a statement calling it a “bug.” When I ran into him in Palo Alto in that time period, Jobs brought up the subject, elaborating in detail about how he was suffering a temporary malady unconnected with this cancer. But he got thinner, and seemed weaker, and took a leave of absence.

Despite his health problems, Jobs kept Apple on a steady pace of innovation. When he returned to Apple — after a liver transplant which was acknowledged only months later — his first appearance was an iPod event. “This is nothing,” he told me after the show. “Wait till you see what’s next.”

He was talking about the iPad, the tablet computer that he introduced in April 2010. Expanding on the touch-based interface of the iPhone, Jobs had pulled off a vision of computing that many (including his rival Microsoft) had been attempting for decades. The iPad instantly established tablet computing as a major category, and as with the iPod, competitors could not match it.

Earlier this year, he took a second medical leave of absence. Tim Cook, the operational wizard who had been appointed Chief Operating Officer, would become the temporary CEO. Jobs would still be involved in product design and strategic direction, but freed of everyday responsibilities.

Jobs came and went to Apple as he was able, driven by a town car to One Infinite Loop in Cupertino, centerpiece of the campus of the company he built, only a few blocks where he had gone to school. He would walk past the receptionist and take the elevator to his fourth-floor suite that included his office, a small staff, and a large boardroom where he had overpowered music executives, raked employees over the coals, and approved products that millions adored. With no daily chores to perform, no crowded appointment book, there could be a strange and tranquil sense of timelessness, even as he helped shape products in progress, and dreamed up new ones.

It seemed Jobs had come to terms with his fate. He would spend time with his family and do what he could at Apple.

In June he gave his last “Stevenote,” talking about iCloud. One could have hoped that he would give many more. But on August 24, he sent a note to Apple’s board that he could not resume the CEO role.

He took the role of executive chair and reported that he would continue to participate in product decisions and strategy. But clearly he was headed towards the end that came today, quietly surrounded by the people who loved him and knowing that many millions of people who never met him would miss him desperately. As he told the Stanford students:

Death is very likely the single best invention of life. It’s life’s change agent; it clears out the old to make way for the new.

The full legacy of Steve Jobs will not be sorted out for a very long time. When employees first talked about Jobs’ “reality distortion field,” it was a pejorative — they were referring to the way that he got you to sign on to a false truth by the force of his conviction and charisma. But at a certain point the view of the world from Steve Jobs’ brain ceased to become distorted. It became an instrument of self-fulfilling prophecy. As product after product emerged from Apple, each one breaking ground and changing our behavior, Steve Job’s reality field actually came into being. And we all live in it.

Steve, rest in peace.


Source: wired.com

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Hot on the heels of Apple passing Exxon Mobil to become the most valuable business in the world, there’s another shakeup at a slightly lower level. IBM is the second-largest tech company by market cap last week, behind Apple and just a hair ahead of Microsoft. It’s the first time in 15 years that Big Blue looks larger than Redmond.

Around the turn of the millennium, Microsoft’s market cap was three times the size of IBM’s, topping out at $600 billion during the peak of Microsoft’s powers. That was also the pinnacle of the dot-com bubble. As you might imagine, things have changed since then.

A picture says a lot

To get a sense of how your favorite tech titans of today arrived where they are today, I’ve pulled up some market cap data from Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor. These charts will look similar, but not identical, to the share price charts you can pull up on Yahoo Finance. The differences between the two chart styles stem mostly from the company issuing or buying back shares, which affect the stock price but not the total value of all available shares. Feast your eyes on this:

Market capitalizations over the last five years.

In the last five years, IBM’s market cap has nearly doubled while Microsoft’s dropped by about 30 percent. There were times when this position-flip looked inevitable, such as when the Vista debacle hit its shares at the same time as the mortgage-fueled financial crisis of 2008, but it never quite happened. Until now.

Of course, neither of these companies can hold a candle to the recent growth of Apple, which passed IBM’s total value only two years ago and then jumped ahead of Microsoft’s in the summer of 2010. There was a time when lowly Dell was bigger than Apple, and any change in that relationship looked newsworthy. Not so much, these days.

I threw a couple of extra tickers into that chart to provide a sense of scale. You can see Exxon rising and falling with oil prices, everyone taking a hit in 2008 and 2009, and Google’s valuation mirroring Microsoft’s ups and downs—except for the long-term value erosion that Mr. Softy has suffered while Big G did not. Meanwhile, pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson went through the same rises and falls in the markets as our tech pets, but with smaller effects on the stock. J&J is a very mature business, and everybody needs Band-Aids™ and Tylenol. Wild swings just don’t happen to a stock like that.

So in that picture, you can see the difference between still-breathing growth stocks (Apple), empires in decline (Microsoft), established giants on a moderate upswing (Google and IBM), cyclical stocks in fully mature industries (Exxon), and even a Stoic defense play (Johnson & Johnson), which is less sensitive to market swings.

But wait! There’s more!

The differences and the empire-building timelines become even clearer if we zoom out a bit. Here’s the same market-cap rundown over the last 20 years:

Ticker Market cap: 10/2/1991 ($ Millions) Share price: 10/2/1991 (Dollars) Starting price without dividend adjustment (Dollars) Share price: 10/2/2011 (Dollars) Percent change Unadjusted percent change
AAPL 11,532.4 11.85 12.44 381.32 3,117.8 2,695.2
GOOG 32,398.5 100.34 100.34 515.04 413.2 413.2
IBM 30,185 18.8 25.28 174.87 830.1 591.7
JNJ 29,973.7 7.25 10.94 63.69 778.4 482.1
MSFT 15,162.1 1.42 1.81 24.89 1,652.8 1,275.1
XOM 73,216.1 8.56 15.06 72.63 748.4 382.2

Apple hardly mattered in the 1990s and Google didn’t exist. You can tell exactly where Exxon merged with Mobil, and when IBM’s decade of rebuilding ended—Big Blue was more of a cautionary tale than an oft-imitated template for IT success when the ’90s started. Sam Palmisano designed the software and services powerhouse that you see today and that Oracle, HP, and even Cisco want to copy.

And you know, Apple’s chart in the iStuff era looks hauntingly similar to Redmond’s rise a decade earlier, when it soared on the merits of Windows 95. Can Tim Cook keep the good times rolling or will history repeat itself in Cupertino?

You can even suss out the motivations behind a few business decisions from a chart like this. With rapid growth a distant memory, did Microsoft have any choice but to start paying dividends in 2003?

If I may wear my investor hat for a second, those steady little dividend payouts do make a difference, by the way. Buying IBM, Exxon, and J&J stock in 1991 would have netted you a return of somewhere between 5 and 7 times your money—but reinvesting dividends along the way juiced all three returns to about 800 percent, or nine times the original investment. If (or when) Apple’s ridiculous sales and earnings growth subsides, Cupertino is sure to follow Microsoft down Dividend Road. It’s how a mature business keeps shareholders happy.

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On Monday, Apple announced its new cloud-based media service iCloud. The service allows users to store music, photos, and apps on Apple’s servers and access them from their iOS devices, Macs, or PCs.

That’s great for music and photography fans, but what about us cinefiles and gamers? Where’s our love? For now, Apple isn’t showing us much, but the potential exists to integrate the service with games and movies in a way that no one has done before, and it just so happens that I have a few suggestions about how that should come to be.

As a side note, I’d just like to say how much I’m looking forward to no longer being burdened by iTunes’ restrictive nature when it comes to my music. Before iCloud, if I wanted to buy a song through iTunes at home, sync it to my iPhone, then transfer that song to my Tunes library at work, I couldn’t. Which is ridiculous and antiquated functionality that I am very happy to see go.

This was an issue for years, and I’m surprised it’s taken this long to see it fully addressed. So I guess a thanks to Apple is in order; however, it’s one of those thanks a wife gives her husband after she’s reminded him five times to take out the now-overflowing garbage, and he finally does.

If you’ve (literally) bought into the the Apple iDevice ecosystem and you’re a gamer, you likely use both your iPhone/iPod Touch and iPad to game.

I personally prefer gaming on the iPad over the smaller iDevices, but will use my iPhone when I’m away from home. The iPad is more of a “couch/bed computer” and usually doesn’t leave the relative safety of my abode.

So, when I’m on the bus or sitting in a theater alone waiting for my third viewing of “Thor” to start, out comes the iPhone. I use it to pass the time and distract myself from the fact that I’m sitting in a theater alone waiting for my third viewing of “Thor” to start.

Whether it’s Infinity Blade or Cut the Rope, eventually the time comes when I need to stop playing, usually right in the middle of particularly difficult fight or level. Then, after the movie’s over and I’ve wiped my eyes dry of tears–hopefully before my wife sees me–I’ll want to continue my casual gaming experience at home, starting from the exact point I left off.

Currently, I have no choice but to continue playing on my 3.5-inch screen, while the much larger and sexier screen of the iPad taunts me from the coffee table as only a foul temptress can.

I propose that Apple implements a way to store game progress info from your iDevice to the cloud and pushes it to your other iDevices, making the Apple ecosystem that much more appealing and also catering to what understandably could be my very particular needs.

Well, it’s probably not that particular and it’s not as if this is completely unprecedented. Open Feint allowed certain games to do this very successfully, so the technology exists in some form. I’m just waiting for Apple to throw us gamers a little iCloud love.

Now, I know Apple currently has no plans to allow users to stream movies via iCloud, and there are likely some carrier bandwidth issues that could make this a difficult proposition, at least via cellular. As a tech journalist I’m paid to take issues like that into account, but as a consumer, I just want the thing I want. The technical issues why I can’t get the thing I want aren’t important to me.

Netflix has great cloud-based functionality that allows me to stream a movie on my Xbox, stop it, and then continue on my iPad or PC, right where I left off. Unfortunately, getting a movie I actually want to see (and not just settle for) is such an incredible rarity on the service.

Being able to easily stream movies from my own library onto any of my iDevices at any time would make annoying, socially awkward gatherings with people I don’t like or care about that much more tolerable if I knew I could, at a moment’s notice, break out the opening scene to “X2” and sink back into a fanboy nerdgasm. Bad for personal development, yes, but great for geek cred (those things are usually antithetical anyway).

In all seriousness, I hope Apple is at least considering these avenues of iCloud implementation. The service has the potential to expand the appeal of Apple’s ecosystem by increasing its usefulness the more iDevices you own. Here’s hoping Apple doesn’t limit that use to just music and photos.

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SkyDrive, el equivalente a iCloud de Microsoft, se incluirá en la próxima actualización de su sistema operativo móvil, que por el momento se conoce como Mango. Este movimiento fue anunciado un día después de que Apple presentase iCloud, su servicio de almacenamiento, sincronización y backup de la nube que estará disponible con iOS 5.

Pero no sólo la presentación de la integración de SkyDrive (el servicio en sí existe desde hace años) coincide en el tiempo con la de iCloud. Por si fuera poco, iOS 5 y Mango serán lanzados este otoño.

Pero, aparte de fechas de salida similares, ¿serán parecidos los servicios?

Según el blog de Microsoft, SkyDrive se integrará de forma más profunda con Mango, de modo que los usuarios podrán compartir las fotos almacenadas en el servicio a través de correo electrónico, mensajes de texto o servicios de mensajería instantánea.

Asimismo, los usuarios podrán subir vídeos y otros archivos a SkyDrive y verlos, compartirlos o buscarlos. En este sentido, por lo tanto, se parece a iCloud. Sin embargo, el servicio de Apple también permitirá sincronizar la música gracias a iTunes, mientras que Microsoft, que podría ofrecer el mismo servicio con Zune, no se ha pronunciado al respecto.

En cuanto a la navegación, SkyDrive permite acceder a los archivos almacenados (se pueden ocurpar hasta 25 Gb de espacio) mediante la aplicación correspondiente o mediante un navegador que soporte HTML5. Por su parte, iCloud, que soporta documentos de iWork por defecto, permitirá que se vean y se editen, pero sólo desde la aplicación, no desde un navegador.

Por otro lado, la sincronización será más completa en iCloud, ya que se hará en distintos dispositivos, mientras que, aunque SkyDrive permitirá compartir fotos y vídeos por correo o mensajes, no los sincronizará en distintos teléfonos.

Por su parte, los desarrolladores podrían decantarse por el servicio de Apple debido a la API de iCloud, que les permitirá sincronizar y almacenar los documentos de sus aplicaciones en iCloud, mientras que SkyDrive, por el momento, no ofrece esta posibilidad. No obstante, es de esperar que lo haga en un futuro.

Lo más curioso de esta situación es que, a pesar de que Apple parece tener ventaja, Microsoft lanzó SkyDrive en 2007 (aunque entonces no existía Windows Phone). El problema es que no lo convirtieron en un servicio de sincronización, almacenamiento y backup en la nube, sino que crearon servicios separados para ello, que también servían de almacenamiento, como Windows Live Mesh.

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