Particle Debris, Apple, RIAA and MS (Week of Sep 19)

Earl y in the week, we started out with the Podcaster kerfuffle when Apple rejected an iPhone app for the App Store because it competed with Apple. The consensus was that Apple is treading on thin ice with that idea. Apple always protects its own interests, but when the excesses of power reach a certain limit, then the company is not only damaged but opens itself up to legal scrutiny. Apple crossed the line in the opinion of most, including me.

Here is an amusing look at the secret, decision tree that Apple uses to determine whether an app will be rejected or accepted at the App Store.

On another subject of law, if you thought being tossed out of a Yankee baseball game by the police for having to use the bathroom during the singing of "God Bless America" is bad, just wait until the RIAA and MPAA get their way in Congress.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote on the Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights Act. Apparently, it's no longer sufficient for the Copyright holder to take you to court for a violation. The act would get the government into the business of filing a civil lawsuit against "any person" who commits a copyright violation.

The American Library Association, Public Knowledge and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) are fighting this law because 1) the government shouldn't be involved in this litigation and 2) if someone is accused of copyright violation, the government can impound the computer which is forfeited.

Later in the week, we learned that Microsoft's US$300M ad campaign to fight Apple and spruce up the tarnish image of Windows had run into problems with the first two Seinfeld/Gates ads. The company that has been accused of being out of touch with customers created to ads that were, well, out of touch with customers.

In the third ad, which aired Thursday night, Microsoft got it all wrong again by trying to un-stereotype the PC user. The problem is, we already know that a wide range of smart, diverse people use PCs. Ninety percent of Americans. What Microsoft seemed to be saying is that, shucks, not all PC users are doofuses like John Hodgman. But wait, Hodgman has been saying, all this time, "I'm a PC." Apple's attack was aimed the issues with Windows, not with PC users.

Microsoft's response was another misfire because it did nothing to address the digs that Apple has made against the deficiencies in Vista. Instead, the ad went into defensive mode. "Hey, I'm an astronaut! I use Windows."

By choice, I'm sure, given the history of NASA Houston trying to eradicate Macs.

While Microsoft eats cake, Hewlett Packard is tending to their bread and butter computer business. Backtracking to the previous week, when I had to skip my blog, I noted that HP has quietly assembled a group of engineers to completely improve the Windows experience. The efforts go all the way from adding software conveniences to the PCs that assist Vista to bypassing Vista altogether with Linux.

Why? Apple is seizing market share and Hewlett Packard is smart enough and technical enough to start doing something about it.

Apple's 'Get a Mac" ads have had a measurable Return on Investment (ROI). HP is taking concrete, technical steps to stop it. I wonder what Microsoft's analysis of ROI will be for US$300 spent on the new ad campaign.