Finding the Good Stuff: Behind the Scenes Analysis

I’m going to present this first article without comment. That’s because I use Zinio for magazines, and I’m fairly happy with it. I don’t use Apple’s Newsstand. That may change later, but for now, I’ll simply direct you to Justin Williams and his observations: “On Magazines and the iPad.” Hint: make sure your clothes are fire retardant.

It seems that OSes are always on a roller coaster. First, we get something really good, but then the developers mess with it or load up too much agenda. It sucks. There’s customer push back, and the developers relent. Then the OS gets good again. One TMO reader commented that he thought Lion was Apple’s “Vista.”

It’s pretty early in the development cycle, but IDC already thinks Windows 8 will be irrelevant. As usual, I invite you to ignore the idea of whether or not you think the prediction will turn out to be correct and instead look at why IDC believes that now. “IDC predicts PC users won’t upgrade to Windows 8, tablet sales will be “disappointing.

Matt Burns opines that there are only two tablets in the running right now and only two price points: the $500 iPad and the $200 Kindle Fire. (He’s right.) If a company tries to shoehorn its product into this schema improperly, it’ll fail. And coming up with a tasteless name doesn’t help. Here’s his analysis of the new (ahem, slightly modified) Motorola Xoom, the XYBOARD. “Try, Try Again: The XYBOARD Tablets Make All The Same Mistakes.

Hollywood jazz

We’ve all be closely watching the missteps of Netflix and also wondering how Apple will do in its continuing negotiations with Hollywood for content. Recall that it wasn’t too long ago that Hollywood was experimenting with every possible retail sales channel: Blu-ray discs, discount DVDs at Wal-Mart, iTunes, Netflix, Redbox, its own ineffective efforts like Ultraviolet, and so on. It seemed like a silly approach until recently. Now, it seems to me that the goal was to determine which channels were the heavy hitters and then extract additional revenues from them. Here’s an assessment from none other than Netflix CEO Reed Hastings. “Netflix’s CEO Sees ‘Arms Race’ to Dominate Video Streaming.”

Many people don’t believe that Apple will launch its own HDTV. (A year ago, I was a naysayer also.) However, some writers are taking the opportunity to think things through. (Or at least collate and assess the rumors.) My current reasoning is that the very arguments against what I call the Apple HDTV (to differentiate it from the current Apple TV) are the underlying reasons why Apple will go for it. That is, if you don’t see why Apple would compete in this market, then you fall into the same doofus category as Apple’s potential competitors. It’s Apple’s trademark to catch the competition off guard. So, instead of arguing why Apple must fail, it’s important to analyze why they might very well succeed. I tried to do some of that on Thursday.

Apple HDTV

An outward sign that Apple’s competitors don’t intend to be caught off guard is the rollout of new TV environments. Google is working to fix Google TV, DIRECTV has just launched its long-awaited TiVo and now Microsoft is upping the ante with a new Xbox 360 TV update. If this whole Apple HDTV thing is just a silly rumor, then why are Google, DIRECTV and Microsoft working so hard at next generation TV products? Sure. Because they just love us to pieces.

Andrew Munn asks: “Why is Android laggy, while iOS, Windows Phone 7, QNX, and WebOS are fluid?” His post attempts to answer that question, and I’d say he succeeds. Hint: it has nothing to do with bytecode vs. native code.

You’ve probably heard that Google had tried to push out Google Wallet with Verizon, but Verizon said, “Whoa!” Dan Frommer has put together a spiffy piece that digs into the politics of the situation and explains why Google had to back off: “Why Google is bending to Verizon over Google Wallet.” My question is this: if Google is able to come to its senses after the kerfuffle, why can’t it seem to figure it all out beforehand and avoid the embarrassment? Technology doesn’t always have to trump smart, heads up diplomacy.

Kirk Hiner at appletell has put together an extensive list of all the Christmas related apps for iOS. “Whether using iPhone apps to spread holiday cheer at parties and gatherings or just decorating your iPad to enjoy the season, you’ll have plenty of great options. “Christmas apps and accessories for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch [updated].

Charlie Brown Christmas -5

Speaking of cool apps, one of my favorites is Art Authority from Open Door Networks, Inc. Version 4.5 for iPad now has a nifty new feature called “Art Like This.” If you have a favorite piece of artwork, this feature will find other pieces of art that are similar. You can read about it in the press release and see it in action with their video demo. If you haven’t checked out this terrific app, you’re missing one of the great ones.

Microsoft has been making some good moves lately, but Ben Bajarin doesn’t think the company has it together yet because it thinks too much like an operating system company. There’s no doubt that Microsoft’s work is cut out for it in 2012 as tablets soar even higher. Here’s his analysis: “How Microsoft Can Embrace the Post-PC Era.”

Finally, in this last reference, I learned the difference between the wholesale pricing model and the agency pricing model. When it comes to eBooks, that’s turning out to be important and bears on the investigation by the European Commission as to whether Apple was involved with major publishers in eBook price fixing. This is the kind of article I love. It explains the industry, the conventions, the finances and the possible motivations for why companies do what they do. You’ll be a wiser eBook reader after you read: “Understanding the EU’s antitrust inquiry into Apple’s iBookstore.” It’s not as dry as it sounds!


Image credit: iStockPhoto