MacOS KenDensed: The iPad Rumor Frenzy & Creepy Steve Jobs Dolls

| MacOS KenDensed

Ken RayRemember the rumor that Apple is hosting a media event this month? Turns out they really are. iPad rumors are getting out of control, Samsung doesn’t think Apple can make it in the television market, Canada loves Apple, and that creepy Steve Jobs doll may really ship no matter what Apple says. This is what the Internet dumped in Ken Ray’s lap this week.

It’s Apple Show Time
The rumor mill hits its first mark for 2012. Apple sent an invitation to select members of the media this week for an education announcement in New York City to be held next week.

How do we know it’s an education announcement? The invitation says so.

Playing on the education prop of a chalkboard, the invite has a line drawing of the New York City skyline with an Apple logo front and center with the words, “Join us for an education announcement in the Big Apple.”

The event is scheduled for next Thursday, January 19, 10AM Eastern at the Guggenheim Museum.

Let the chatter increase.

When Rumors Collide
Whatever disease DigiTimes has, it may be contagious. BusinessInsider ran a piece highlighting a DigiTimes report that says we’re in for two iPads this year: a third one in this quarter, and a fourth one later this year.

Yes it sounds like they’ve dusted off one of the biggest and most incorrect iPad rumor of 2011, put a fresh coat of paint on it, and rolled it out as new for 2012.

Hard to be too concerned about DigiTimes doing that; it’s what they do. And hard to be bothered by BusinessInsider talking about what DigiTimes talks about — everyone does, so everyone has to — see also: most episodes of Mac OS Ken for the past two weeks.

No what bothers me is BusinessInsider’s recounting of last year’s rumors. “This isn’t the first time we’ve heard something like this,” says the piece, which continues:

Last year John Gruber of Daring Fireball, MG Siegler of TechCrunch, and Josh Topolsky of The Verge all reported Apple was going to release a new iPad in the fall of 2011, after it released the iPad 2 in March of 2011. Obviously, that didn’t happen. So take this DigiTimes rumor with a gigantic grain of salt.

OK, two things bother me: grains are grain sized. I may be wrong, but “gigantic grain” sounds oxymoronic. How about, “take this story with a hunk of salt,” or, “Look askance at those who would sell this story as certain fact as it is very likely untrue.”

But that’s not the big thing. The big thing is John Gruber never said Apple was going to release a second iPad in the fall of 2011. I remember because it was a really interesting piece. He took great pains to say he had heard nothing about such a thing. He didn’t have secret knowledge of such a thing, but, he said, he could see where it could make sense for Apple to do such a thing.

And it was pretty much from that that the rest of the rumors rolled.

And so I must give a half-hearted “Boo” to BusinessInsider. It’s usually a really good site.

Funny thing is, that’s not the real John Gruber/DigiTimes story of the week.

A piece on the two from AppleInsider has Gruber — who’s usually fairly in the know about upcoming Apple stuff when he’s not running his own, well reasoned, completely disclaimered thought exercise — basically going along with the first half of the recent DigiTimes iPad talk, leaving him about as surprised as everyone else.

Digi’s iPad 3 talk says, basically, that Apple will ship a third-gen iPad with a high-definition display in March.

“Wait a minute. What’s going on here?” wrote Gruber. “A DigiTimes report about Apple and the iPad that’s completely accurate? No completely made-up nonsense? Is something wrong with me?”

Then he got to the part about the fourth-gen iPad next fall and responded, “OK, phew, what a relief.”

So, reading around the sarcasm, he’s on for the iPad 3 with the better display this quarter.

And what of the low-end market? In a separate piece for Macworld Gruber is said to have said, “I think Apple will continue selling the existing iPad 2 alongside the new ones, or introduce a new lower-end model that still sports today’s 1024 by 768-pixel screen, simply because I think the retina-display iPad will be a bit expensive.”

And he doesn’t buy the 7-inch iPad talk.

Okay. I know he’s Gruber. I know he’s smart. And I know he knows more people inside Apple than I do. Like I think I know two. And I haven’t spoken to them in years. And neither one is in the consumer space. I’m still allowed to disagree with Gruber.

The iPad 3, it seems to me, can’t cost more than the current iPad 2. By which I mean it won’t, or I can’t imagine it will anyway. iPhones get better year after year and their price to consumers stays the same. Same with iPods when iPods were big. Barring advances in capacity, prices for consumers don’t go up with iThing revisions. Apple has led people to expect more-more-more for the same low price.

But he is Gruber. We’ll see what happens.

Canada Loves Some Apple
What’s the most “leading edge” brand in the minds of Canadians? A poll of 1,000 grown-up Canucks by Ipsos Reid says it’s Apple.

What exactly is a “leading edge” brand? They, uh… they don’t say exactly, though Apple was chosen by Canadians for “its innovation, originality, and the way it has forever changed the consumer landscape,” according to a press release on the survey sent out by Canada’s Institute of Communications Agencies.

A more varied list you’re unlikely to find.

Running down the top ten: Apple, Google, Ikea, Cirque de Soleil, Coca-Cola, President’s Choice — which is kind of viewed as an off-brand in the states but apparently totally rocks with America’s hat — Tim Horton’s, YouTube, and SONY. I’m sorry did I miss Canada’s own Research In Motion? Apparently Canadians won’t.

On the Cupertino-company, Ipsos Reid President Steve Levy says, “It’s been amazing to see what Apple has accomplished over the past decade, through the introduction of innovative and iconic products… While being seen as leading edge is only one factor in brand influence it is definitely one of the most important, something that Apple has recognized and excelled at achieving.”

Samsung’s Apple TV Smack Down
One Samsung exec is talking smack about one of the last, most notable proclamations of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. We’re talking, of course, about his statement to biographer Walter Isaacson that he had finally “cracked” the whole digital-living room/connected TV thing.

The Mac Observer has Philip Newton, Samsung Australia’s director of audio-visual, taking issue with Jobs’ statement.

Quoting Mr. Newton:

When Steve Jobs talked about he’s ‘cracked it’, he’s talking about connectivity — so we’ve had that in the market already for 12 months, it’s nothing new, it was new for them because they didn’t play in the space. It’s old news as far as the traditional players are concerned and we have broadened that with … things like voice control and touch control; the remote control for these TVs has a touch pad.

You’re right, Samsung dude who’s name I’ve already forgotten. Steve Jobs was an idiot who had no idea what was going on in the consumer electronics space outside of One Infinite Loop.

Sigh.

Asked whether he was concerned about competition from Apple in the TV space, the Samsung somebody responded, “Do we see them as a threat, not specifically no… probably we’ll have some competitors that may suffer… but we see it as a great opportunity, the more big name brands that get involved in smart [TV] the better off we are as a brand because we know we can lead it.”

If you’ll give me 30 seconds of soapbox time: I still don’t want Apple to make a full-on TV set and I still hope they don’t. But, by most press accounts, the buzz at CES this week is about Apple’s plans for a television which, did we make it clear, they have not announced or even hinted at in anything like an official way.

But they’re no threat to Samsung. Mr. Speaker, I yield the rest of my soapbox time.

Someone from Samsung talking smack about a potential competitor isn’t really that surprising. It’s something people often do. Still, it’s refreshing to hear a company talk honestly about the competition.

Enter Lenovo CEO Yang Yuanqing who said in an interview with Bloomberg/Businessweek this week that Apple basically has the tablet space locked up for the near term. Despite that Android’s had 32 percent share of the tablet market, Lenovo’s leader says the iPad is the “leader” and that he can’t see Google changing that right now.

That’s a fairly big statement for the CEO of a company that makes an Android tablet. And yet, he says, “For the Android ecosystem, we still need to learn something, we still need to improve something.” Perhaps snapping out of it a bit, Electronista says, overall, the Lenovo chief tried to downplay the importance of tablets, saying they make up an “extra market for some niche customers.”

Ah. That’s more the sort of talk I expect to hear from an Apple competitor.

Steve Jobs: The Doll Apple Can’t Say “No” to
And finally this week, it’s looking like you will be able to get the creepy Steve Jobs action figure. Or at least it should be legal for you to do so.

The website Paid Content says Apple’s lawyers may be bluffing with their cease and desist letter against In Icons, the Hong-Kong company that plans to start selling the far too realistic, 12-inch, 99-dollar Steve Jobs action figure next month.

Quoting the piece:

While people can indeed own rights to their likeness, those rights usually apply only to living people. Unlike other forms of intellectual property like patents or copyrights, image rights do not survive beyond the grave in most places. Under American law, so-called ‘personality rights’ exist only at the state level — there is no federal law. And only about a dozen states recognize image rights after death.

By Paid Content’s reckoning, the creepy as all get out action figure will not be available legally in California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, or Washington. So if you live in one of those places maybe ask a relative to pick one up for you. Or ask them for one next Christmas.

Wait. On second thought, don’t. Not sure if I’ve mentioned it, but these things are kind of creepy.

Perhaps the biggest bombshell, though, Paid Content says Apple “may not even be able to stop others from using the name Steve Jobs as, surprisingly, the term does not appear on the company’s long list of registered trademarks.”

Boys and girls, we’re going to a dark place now. Not so dark, but… shadowed, let’s say. Around the time the Spike Lee movie “Malcom X” came out, nearly 20 years ago, stuff with “X” started popping up all over the place. So one day I’m in a neighborhood market in Boston and I see this big cardboard holder of air fresheners. Black with grey “Xs” on them, with the advertising line at the top, “Eradicate Odors by Any Means Necessary.”

We could make a mint putting Steve Jobs name on stuff! Come to think of it, we could make MINTS! Steve Jobs Air Fresheners! Steve Jobs Mouthwash! Steve Jobs Deodorant! And all of it Insanely Great! Steve Jobs Insanely Great Flea Collar! Insanely Great Tooth Brush! Insanely Great Coffee Filter!

And the best best part is it just works. All of it.

The Steve Jobs Insanely Great Pack of Six Clothes Hangers!

It Just Works! Coming soon to a 99-cent store near you.

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Comments

Lee Dronick

Perhaps the biggest bombshell, though, Paid Content says Apple ?may not even be able to stop others from using the name Steve Jobs as, surprisingly, the term does not appear on the company?s long list of registered trademarks.?

Well, it is up to the lawyers now.

geoduck

If you?ll give me 30 seconds of soapbox time: I still don?t want Apple to make a full-on TV set and I still hope they don?t.

Agreed. I think it likely would be a failure that would permanently tarnish Tim Cook’s and Apple’s reputation. It’s just not a market where Apple would have anything to offer. TVs are fine the way they are, unlike MP3 Players and Smart Phones there isn’t a bunch of customers who will line up to buy a new interface or the ability to talk to their TV. iTunes content? Cable companies would throttle the bandwidth as soon as it started to eat into their Cable TV cash cow. On top of that right now nearly everyone has a good huge LCD or Plasma that will run for years. There isn’t enough that Apple could offer to get them to trash it for an Apple TV, particularly in these tough economic times.

The thing that those that go on and on about how great an Apple TV would be forget is that Apple is not a magic company. They can’t transform ANY market they go into, just particular ones under particular circumstances. MP3 players were all awful until the iPod/iTunes Store. SmartPhones were complex limited to niche markets until the iPhone. Tablets were clunky and off the radar for most people until the iPad. An iCar or iWaffleIron or iPencilBox would also fail for the same reason as an Apple TV will. It isn’t an area where Apple can provide enough improvement over what’s already out there to seize the market. Television sets, no matter how cool and techy they may be are the same. It’s a box with a picture. Remotes are, much like Windows, good enough. Content is at the behest of whomever provides the bandwidth. Apple can’t change the equation enough to make it compelling.

By all means Apple should keep making the AppleTV box. But an Apple Branded television set would be a flop.

wab95

They can?t transform ANY market they go into, just particular ones under particular circumstances. MP3 players were all awful until the iPod/iTunes Store. SmartPhones were complex limited to niche markets until the iPhone. Tablets were clunky and off the radar for most people until the iPad. An iCar or iWaffleIron or iPencilBox would also fail for the same reason as an Apple TV will. It isn?t an area where Apple can provide enough improvement over what?s already out there to seize the market. Television sets, no matter how cool and techy they may be are the same.


Geoduck:

There is truth in what you say, however, I see this a bit differently. While not predicting a runaway success with a fully-fledged Apple TV, I recognise an opportunity here for Apple to be, yet again, disruptive.

Unlike pencil boxes and waffle irons, which are just fine as they are, I think few would argue that TV isn’t broken, ergo it doesn’t need fixing. Whether we turn our gaze towards the interface, which to use the clinical term, can be described as ‘butt-ugly’ and as graceful as a hippopotamus on ice skates; or towards the hardware set up, the packaging and pricing, the inability to selectively purchase content, not to mention the cost - there is ample room for a major player to enter the field with a compelling solution towards simplification, establish a beach head from which they can advance with a game-changing new model.

Whether Apple attempt to storm the industry in a full-on assault, or take a subtler approach over several moves, out-witting and out-flanking the industry before going for checkmate, is another matter. But if they can simplify the user experience while containing costs (preferably reducing them - but let’s not make the perfect the enemy of the good), that may be all they need to do for this to gain traction and go down as a success. And if this can in anyway be tied to their existing technologies, they launch from a position of strength, with a potentially substantial instal base.

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