This was a significant week in Apple's history. In the past, Apple's well tuned marketing engine worked just as well, but the Mac faithful just weren't present in sufficient numbers to jar the Applesphere. However, the decisions Apple made regarding the secrecy of the iPhone 2.0 and iPhone 3G rollout may have come back to haunt them.
It was Tuesday before Apple even acknowledged that the iPhone 3G would even go on sale at 8:00 am today. Casual inquiries with Apple and AT&T store personnel suggested that right up to the last minute, they didn't really know what was going to happen.
Then, today, servers crashed, activations were held up, and things didn't go quite as well as planned. I noticed in my RSS feeds that the PC community was all over this story, detailing how Apple and AT&T had months to plan for this event and didn't bring sufficient resources to the party.
I sensed a certain amount of glee over that. Of course, those writers won't be so gleeful when Apple, in a few years, is selling US$15 billion worth of iPhones each year.
Is it possible that Apple's hype machine and resources have come up against their limits with the popularity of a consumer electronics device like the iPhone?
In my case, wanting to stay on top of events, I upgraded my iPhone 2G to OS X iPhone 2.0. It seems to go okay until I noticed that, after activation, all my icons on the home page have disappeared. I've tried some tricks, but to no avail. Worse, the iPhone can't be restored. I'm sure, in time, it'll get fixed.
I was off for a few days this week with company in town, so I don't have too many particle debris stories.
On Tuesday, Google announced that Gmail is now blocking fake eBay and PayPal e-mails. They've invoked the DomainKeys technology to authenticate the sender of e-mails. It's high time this happened, and I can't believe we're half way through 2008, and it took this long to enable that kind of technology.
Back when I was at The Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee in the 1990s, we had a vision that every e-mail sender would be (carefully) issued a public and private key and e-mails would be authenticated against that key. As expected, however, greed and a lax attitude by the government about all this has led to a Wild Wild West approach to the Internet. The toll has been high in terms of stolen money and identify.
Speaking of Oak Ridge, there was another story in the news about them: the supercomputers of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. As our desktop computers move slowly into teraflops and terabytes, the supercomputers at the various National Laboratories are easing into the petaflops and petabyte phase, the so-called petascale projects. These computers are put to good use for various national security projects, and they're fun to read about.
At one time, Apple thought it wanted to play in this arena, but found out that the level of commitment was too high a price to pay. Apple still sells some very nice workgroup clusters, but a full scale corporate commitment is required to build, in partnership with the federal government, these kinds of computers.
Apple is facing that kind of challenge now with the iPhone. Runaway success is great fun for a time, but one has to wonder how the company will have to change to manage worldwide rollouts of successors to the iPhone 3G. It'll be interesting to watch -- and report on.