“You had me at scrolling”

Two thoughts about today’s Apple keynote given by Steve Jobs, and the introduction of the Apple iPhone.

The Apple iPhone The first is that it’s an absolute grand slam home run. Think about it this way: take away the phone and the Internet connectivity, and it would still be a breakthrough product, a truly amazing next generation for the iPod. It blows even the current iPods away, to say nothing of Zune and other competitors. People would easily pay $499 for it. (The original Newton MessagePad cost more at introduction, IIRC, $799.)

Similarly, take away the iPod and the Internet connectivity, and the phone is amazing. And then look at just the Internet connectivity — the email, web browsing, Google Maps, the connected widgets like weather and stocks — and in a handheld form factor, it’s revolutionary too. Any of these alone, it’s worth $499. Put them all together…

Second thought, can you guess at what time Steve announced the iPhone?

Apple stock price 2006-01-09

Backtracking using the CNET play-by-play of the keynote, it looks like the initial (and foolish) sell off came when Steve said he wasn’t going to talk about new Mac products. I can’t figure that out at all. When Steve said he wasn’t going to talk about the Mac for the rest of the keynote, I got chills down my spine. Something big is coming. What in god’s name inspired people to sell at that point?

OK, while we’re doing stock graphs, one last thought, courtesy of John Gruber:

Apple stock price vs. PALM and RIMM

And it will be interesting to compare Cingular vs. Verizon over the rest of this year…

Moving to Apple Mail?

Well, after a long year+ of teasing and waiting, it seems that the Cocoa version of Eudora for Mac OS X was a chimera. Today QUALCOMM announced that they are discontinuing commercial development of Eudora, and working with the Mozilla Foundation to move Eudora onto the Mozilla Thunderbird platform.

This announcement comes as something of a shock to me. After holding on waiting for Cocoa Eudora, this shift in strategy feels like the rug being yanked out. It’s going to take some time to digest, and I suppose we should wait for a few days before forming a mob and see if further details emerge. I would especially like to hear more about what “using the Thunderbird platform” really means, and what will be happening with the Eudora code base, especially the long-rumored Cocoa Eudora code.

For now, we’re a bit light on details. The spin on the announcement is that Eudora is being released from the constraints that come from being a commercial product, freed to grow, change, and thrive as an Open Source project. Who knows, that may happen — but it’ll be 6 months before we see a release that might give a clue as to how well it will work out. I confess, I’m skeptical, and not optimistic, for a couple reasons:

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Five things about the new iPod nano

Here are five things I’ve noticed about the new iPod nano I picked up yesterday (I bought the new 8 gigabyte nano, available only in black), which I have not seen anyone else write about yet:

  • The packaging is not just smaller, it’s hard, clear plastic instead of cardboard. It’s a really clever design that holds the nano suspended in the front of the box. There’s a small label on the back of the bracket that holds the nano tightly, which illustrates how to flex the bracket to release the nano. Very clever design…but it took me a few tugs and pulls and a bit of frustration, before I turned the piece over, and saw the illustration.

  • The new nano looks and feels substantially smaller than the old nano, until you line them up right next to each other. The new nano is a teensy bit thinner, but virtually identical in the other two dimensions. The size difference is mostly optical illusion caused by the new rounded edges.

  • Speaking of rounded edges, the new nano comes with a new dock connector fit bracket. The new nano fits into the nano bracket of my Logitech mm50 portable speakers, but my old nano will not fit into the new Apple bracket. It’s a bit too thick, and doesn’t have the rounded edges. I suspect that the new nano will work with most products which fit the old nano form factor, but the reverse will be hit and miss. Products that support a perfect fit for the new nano will not work with the old one.

  • The new nano requires iTunes 7 to sync with a computer. Normally I like to wait a week or two before trying new versions of iTunes, but in this case, I had to install it. (Working wonderfully so far, knock wood.) A very nice set of improvements, including a few things of use to audiobook aficionados like me; more on those in another post.

  • The center select button, the “dot” in the middle of the click wheel, is very slightly concave (the button on the old nano is perfectly flat). It seems like such a tiny difference, and I’m sure by measurements it’s a small fraction of a millimeter, but it’s both quite visible as a real-world gradient, and a really wonderful tactile difference. You instantly know when your thumb is on or touching the button. Just another one of those aesthetic touches that only Apple seems to think of and consider worthwhile. They seem small, but they add up.

All in all, I think the new 8 gig nano is a terrific refinement to a device which I already thought was nearly perfect. And now that it’s sync’ed up with my audiobooks, I am looking forward to road testing it later today during my commute.

Thoughts on Mac OS X 10.5 (“Leopard”)

I watched the Apple WWDC Keynote video stream last week, and have been following the reactions online about features demonstrated for the next version of Mac OS X, 10.5 (“Leopard”). A lot of people (especially non-Mac users) have commented that features like Spaces and even Time Machine have already been done on other operating systems, or as third-party utilities for OS X. They’re missing the point. What’s great about these new features in Leopard is their accessibility to normal people, i.e., their simple interfaces.

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Dude, You’re Getting a MacBook Pro

I’m sure a million people will be linking today to the Apple announcement of Boot Camp, a new utility that now makes it both possible and easy to install Microsoft Windows XP onto an Intel-based Mac. I’m also sure most of them will put their amateur analyst hats on, and tell people what they think it means. (Most will be wrong.)

My interest in and comments on the announcement are quite a bit less global in scope.

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Microsoft Packaging Parody Video

OK, lots of people are pointing to this “parody” video, Microsoft Redesigns the iPod Package, but since it involves the iPod, I thought I’d call a little more attention to it.

OK, lots of people are pointing to this “parody” video, Microsoft Redesigns the iPod Package, but since it involves the iPod, I thought I’d call a little more attention to it.

!/images/ipod/ms-ipod-pro-packaging.png(Microsoft Redesigns the iPod Package)!:http://youtube.com/watch?v=UADizYtTrAI

It’s funny because it’s true, and because the music is perfect. But it’s also interesting because it perfectly illustrates the differences between the Apple and Microsoft design aesthetics — and I’m not talking about packaging. The iPod is so well done not because it’s had so many features added to it, but because it has had so many taken away. The saying “Less is more” is no less true for being cliché.

iPod 101

There’s not much about audiobooks (except how to buy them in the iTMS), but Apple’s new “iPod 101”:http://www.apple.com/support/ipod101/ is likely to be an extremely useful resource to all the many visitors who are coming here after getting an iPod for Xmas.

There’s not much about audiobooks (except how to buy them in the iTMS), but Apple’s new iPod 101 is likely to be an extremely useful resource to all the many visitors who are coming here after getting an iPod for Xmas.

Do check it out, and then come back to Aldo on Audiobooks to start on iPod 102, all audiobooks, all the time.

Medicine (the restaurant)

Rochelle and I ate lunch today at a new restaurant called Medicine. The food is Japanese Zen monk vegan, called “new-shojin”. The flavors are delicate, subtle, and quite good once your brain and palate adjust. And I thought I was at the Apple Store.

Rochelle and I ate lunch today at a new restaurant called Medicine. The food is Japanese Zen monk vegan, called “new-shojin.” The flavors are delicate, subtle, and quite good once your brain and palate adjust.

What’s kind of funny is the weird visual sensation I had while eating. The restaurant has an Asian-style glyph, which the staff all wear on their black shirts (photo at right). The glyph, rendered in white, has shape elements to it — most of a cross-hatch, loop-ish strokes at three corners — that it looks, out of the corner of your eye, like the Macintosh Command symbol: ⌘

So, the effect — of the clean lines of the restaurant’s brightly-lit interior, and of the couple dozen staff whizzing around in their black pants and black shirts with the Command symbol on it — is that you’re eating in the Apple Store.

Zen vegetarian food, beautifully prepared and presented, served in a clean, simple environment. I think Steve Jobs would be a fan.

The Inevitable Apple on Intel Post

Since I write about Mac OS X so often, it seems mandatory to post something about Apple’s announcement this week that they would be “moving the Macintosh platform to use Intel microprocessors”:http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2005/jun/06intel.html. Most of the insights and big ideas about this have already been written, so my thoughts are mostly about, well, me.

Since I write about Mac OS X so often, it seems mandatory to post something about Apple’s announcement this week that they would be moving the Macintosh platform to use Intel microprocessors. Most of the insights and big ideas about this have already been written, so my thoughts are mostly about, well, me.

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Dell 20″ Flat Panel Under $500 $400

A while back I took advantage of a special running at Dell, to get one of these 20.1″ flat panel LCD displays. It arrived a week later, and I’ve been using it as a second monitor off my laptop since then. The quality of the display is terrific. I dunno about doing color-calibrated print work, but as just extra screen space (which I’ve found I absolutely need to do web development productively), it’s spectacular, and makes the built-in screen on my laptop seem dingy by comparison.

A while back I took advantage of a special running at Dell, to get one of these 20.1″ flat panel LCD displays. It arrived a week later, and I’ve been using it as a second monitor off my laptop since then.

The quality of the display is terrific. I dunno about doing color-calibrated print work, but as just extra screen space (which I’ve found I absolutely need to do web development productively), it’s spectacular, and makes the built-in screen on my laptop seem dingy by comparison.

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The iPod shuffle Ad is Genius

I don’t think you can fully appreciate the genius of the latest “iPod shuffle ad”:http://www.apple.com/ipodshuffle/ads/ until you’ve been watching the NCAA Tournament in a sports bar with a zillion TVs, and the spot is suddenly on 20+ screens all around you, especially if they have the sound turned up.

I don’t think you can fully appreciate the genius of the latest iPod shuffle ad until you’ve been watching the NCAA Tournament in a sports bar with a zillion TVs, and the spot is suddenly on 20+ screens all around you, especially if they have the sound turned up.

I dunno if anyone thought of that scenario when they decided to run the spots during the Tournament, but if they did, all I can say is wow.

Not Feeling Sorry for Think Secret

There’s been a lot of press recently about Apple’s lawsuit against the Think Secret website, and virtually all of them assert that Think Secret has a First Amendment right to publish as they have been doing. Finally, someone has written — and done the research to back it up — what I had been thinking for a while: that “it’s not unreasonable for Apple to sue people who publish their trade secrets”:http://daringfireball.net/2005/03/new_york_times.

There’s been a lot of press recently about Apple’s lawsuit against the Think Secret website, and virtually all of them assert that Think Secret has a First Amendment right to publish as they have been doing. Finally, someone has written — and done the research to back it up — what I had been thinking for a while: that it’s not unreasonable for Apple to sue people who publish their trade secrets.

It’s one thing to suppress protected speech; if Apple was suing to make the guy stop writing about how much he hates Steve’s black turtlenecks, or something else that was a matter of opinion or public fact, that would be one thing. But Think Secret is publishing commercial trade secrets, or at least trying to, and that runs into other laws besides the First Amendment.

Now, the court may eventually find in favor of Think Secret. And that would be OK. But it’s a complicated issue that deserves debate and deliberation, and the courts are the right place for that. So I’m not at all feeling like Apple is out of line for initiating the lawsuit.