Flash in the Pants, Tablets & Apple TVs

Ken RayAdobe kicked Mobile Flash in the pants this week, Apple lost its head of security, and the lost Steve Jobs interview is coming to a theater near you. Mac OS Ken’s Ken Ray has thoughts on all of those topics, and he finally found an analyst that agrees with his thoughts on an Apple television, too.

On Flash and Sinking Ships
In what some are reading as vindication for Apple and its snubbing of Flash in iOS devices, Adobe is giving up developing Flash for Mobile. AllThingsD has Danny Winokur, VP and General Manager, Interactive Development at Adobe issuing a post on a company blog called “Flash to Focus on PC Browsing and Mobile Apps; Adobe to More Aggressively Contribute to HTML5.”

The money paragraph from the post:

Our future work with Flash on mobile devices will be focused on enabling Flash developers to package native apps with Adobe AIR for all the major app stores. We will no longer continue to develop Flash Player in the browser to work with new mobile device configurations (chipset, browser, OS version, etc.) following the upcoming release of Flash Player 11.1 for Android and BlackBerry PlayBook. We will of course continue to provide critical bug fixes and security updates for existing device configurations. We will also allow our source code licensees to continue working on and release their own implementations.

Runner up paragraph:

HTML5 is now universally supported on major mobile devices, in some cases exclusively. This makes HTML5 the best solution for creating and deploying content in the browser across mobile platforms. We are excited about this, and will continue our work with key players in the HTML community, including Google, Apple, Microsoft and RIM, to drive HTML5 innovation they can use to advance their mobile browsers.

And if there is an afterlife, former Apple CEO Steve Jobs is standing in it, yelling “I told you so,” and giving Adobe the finger.

Here’s the problem, though: The rooms on the Titanic are SWEET! And so Research In Motion doesn’t want to leave. A separate AllThingsD piece has RIM saying its licensed Adobe’s source code and plans to go on supporting Flash on the PlayBook, thank you very much.

“As an Adobe source code licensee, we will continue to work on and release our own implementations,” says the company… “RIM remains committed to delivering an uncompromised Web browsing experience to our customers, including native support for Adobe Flash Player on our BlackBerry PlayBook tablet (similar to a desktop PC browser), as well as HTML5 support on both our BlackBerry smartphone and PlayBook browsers.”

Google, meanwhile, seems to know an iceberg when it sees one, so it is jumping, oh, a little bit off the BlackBerry. Computerworld says Google has decided to “put out to pasture” its Gmail application for Research In Motions phones.

“As of Nov. 22,” says the piece, “Google will no longer offer technical support to users of the application, nor will it allow people to download it anymore.”

In its blog post announcing the move, Google says, “Over this past year, we’ve focused efforts on building a great Gmail experience in the mobile browser and will continue investing in this area.”

Don’t Let the Door Hit You on the Way Out
Security researcher Charlie Miller has found a new security hole in iOS and has been booted from Apple’s developer program as a result.

Macstories says the former NSA-man will publicly demonstrate a vulnerability next week “that could allow regular App Store apps to download and execute unsigned code on any iOS device.” While he won’t reveal details yet — giving Apple time to plug the hole — he’s proven the vulnerability by submitting a “stealth app” that exploited it to the App Store. And yes, Apple approved it.

According to Macstories, “the app gets downloaded from the App Store as any other free or paid app. The first time Miller runs it on his iPhone, nothing happens and the app performs as advertised. But as soon as Miller activates the hidden functionalities on his web server, somehow connected to the iOS app, the app ‘phones home’ and starts downloading and executing unsigned code.”

The piece says Miller was able to vibrate the phone remotely, open a YouTube video, and download the device’s entire Address Book remotely. “The app is seen exposing parts of the iOS filesystem,” according to the piece, “listing installed apps, and presumably giving access to a user’s documents, photos and more.”

Apple has since pulled the app from the App Store and has booted Miller from the iOS developer program.

While one could argue that Miller should never have submitted the app, even if it was to prove a point, he argues in a MacNN piece that “without a real app in the App Store, people would say Apple wouldn’t approve an app that took advantage of this flaw.”

You know I don’t know him… but I like the idea of Charlie Miller.

Don’t Let the Door Hit You on the Way Out
The head of Apple Security is no longer the head of Apple Security 9to5 Mac says the all-things-iMaker’s VP of Global Security, John Theriault, has left the company.

Perhaps coincidentally — perhaps not — its on his desk that the Cava 22 Phone investigation would have to land. That’s the phone lost in a tequila bar in San Francisco’s Mission District earlier this year. Hardly his fault, though the confusion — let’s say — around the hunt for the phone, including some Apple employees showing up with some cops at the home of a guy they thought had the phone, and maybe leading him to believe, maybe just letting him believe that they too were cops as they went about the business of searching his home for the phone… yeah that’s something that would likely land squarely on him.

No word whether the exec’s departure has anything to do with that, though a separate piece on the departure from CNET has author and security expert Ira Winkler thinking, whatever the case, he likely wasn’t forced out.

Quoting Winkler: “While I know nothing directly about the case, my gut tells me that a company does not lay off or induce somebody to quit while it is potentially being accused of wrongdoing led by that person. It’s almost an admission that [the company and its employees] did do something wrong and likewise potentially creates a grudge against the company by the former employee. That person could end up being the best witness against them.”

Apple Television: Just Say No
God bless Sanford Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi. He doesn’t think Apple’s gonna build a full-on TV TV.

Hasn’t he heard about Apple co-founder Steve Jobs saying in the book about him that he’d “finally cracked” the whole controlling the connected TV thing? Yes he’s heard about that.

Well, has he heard the talk of talking to your TV via Siri? Yes, he’s heard that too.

But you wouldn’t need a full-on TV TV to those things. A Fortune piece says Toni-Tony-Tonee ran the numbers, “and they just don’t work.”

Quoting his note:

The television-viewing experience appears ripe for innovation and Apple has the technology ingredients to do so.

That said, we wonder if Apple’s aspiration to revolutionize television might be better served by selling a consumer-electronics box — i.e. Apple TV 3.0 — instead of a full-fledged integrated television. Specifically, we note that the while the global flat-panel television market is large ($112B in 2012E revenues), it is forecast to decline overall, and has historically had low profitability. Moreover, virtually all of the benefits that we have outlined can be delivered by selling a box that connects with a user’s existing television. In fact setup and operations would work the same for an iTV vs. Apple TV 3.0 box.

Basically, he thinks Apple could make as much money with less risk selling a lot of low-cost boxes, rather than a smaller number of actual televisions.

No, I don’t like the way he’s thinking. I love it.

Nook and Fire: The New Tablet-ish War
Barnes & Noble introduced its answer to the upcoming Amazon Kindle Fire this week, though NOT, it says, its answer to Apple’s iPad.

Most of what we’d heard rumored ended up being the case. AppleInsider runs down the Nook Tablet specs: 7-inch display, 1GHz dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM, 16GB of built-in internal storage, and an average battery life of 11.5 hours. It ships November 17th for $249.

So who is this aiming at? Barnes & Noble CEO William Lynch says not at the iPad. Talking to USA Today, Lynch says he thinks people will buy both an iPad and a Nook Tablet.

Okay, so, the tablet, according to Microsoft, is a complimentary device to the PC. Now the Nook Tablet, according to Barnes and Noble, is a complimentary device to the iPad?

Like the electronics version of nesting dolls.

What makes the Nook Tablet and the iPad “and/and” rather than “either/or” as far as Lynch is concerned? Reading.

Quoting the CEO, “Despite the fact (that Apple is) closing in on 40 million iPads in the U.S., the iBookstore is still a much smaller share of the overall market than is the Nook bookstore and the Kindle bookstore. That is because these devices, including Nook Color, have been optimized around the reading experience.”

It’s worth noting though that’s when he’s talking about the iPad. When talking the Nook Tablet by itself reading figures in, but it’s not the “end-all/be-all.”

“In Nook Tablet,” said Lynch at the product launch, “we’ve created the best wireless media tablet in the portable 7-inch class. Nook Tablet’s VividView display has been designed to be the world’s finest screen for readability and viewing content. We’ve utilized that breakthrough display technology to bring consumers the largest digital catalog of color and interactive books, magazines, children’s books and high-quality apps through our NOOK Store.

“Additionally, we’ve seamlessly integrated today’s top entertainment services like Netflix, Hulu Plus and Pandora in a product that’s powerful, easy-to-use, under a pound, and a tremendous value at only $249.”

So about books, but not all about books.

The Nook Tablet comes in $50 higher in price than the Amazon Kindle Fire, though the click-and-mortar bookseller has two answer to that. The first being the better specs of the Nook Tablet, the second being the Nook color. Barnes & Noble has dropped the price of the previous-generation device to $199, matching the price of Amazon’s approaching Fire.

“With its competitors unable to field a true iPad rival, Apple’s tablet continues to dominate the market that it created,” begins a piece from AllThingsD, and Canaccord Genuity analyst T. Michael Walkley sees nothing that’ll hurt that dominance. And yes, he’s taking devices like the Kindle Fire and the Nook Tablet into account.

Quoting T. Money’s note: “We anticipate very strong sales of the iPad 2 for the holiday quarter, and we are modeling iPad units ramping from 11.1 million units in the September quarter to 14 million units in the December quarter.”

While he does see new entrants like Amazon’s Kindle Fire causing some stir, he says his firm views “low-priced 7-inch models as a threat to other Android (Original Equipment Manufacturers) rather than to the iPad.”

AllThingsD wraps its piece saying, “It’s looking more and more like Apple’s iPad will follow the same story arc as the iPod, achieving and maintaining market dominance despite its high-end product trappings.”

Quick question: Do financial analysts and writers for the Wall Street Journal really get the fact that there are a lot of people out there without a lot of money? I’m not saying either the Kindle Fire or the Nook Tablet can topple the iPad, but I wonder if — based largely on price — they might put a bigger dent in iPad sales than most analysts expect.

We’ll see what we see when we see it.

ChangeWave and RBC Capital have done a bit of polling ahead of next week’s Amazon Kindle Fire release… and come away with two stats that don’t seem that important… and one that may well be.

AllThingsD has the firms talking to 26,000 people and finding 5-percent saying they’d either already preordered a Kindle Fire, or were “very likely” to buy one. Additionally, an additional 12-percent said they were “somewhat likely” to buy the Fire.

The piece points out that both of those are higher stats than the iPad had before its launch. Back then, only 4-percent said they were very likely to buy the iPad — to the Fire’s five — and only 9-percent said they were “somewhat likely” — to the Fire’s 12.

These are the stats that don’t seem super important to me. One might expect equal or higher intent to buy numbers this far into the tablet game. People today know what a tablet is. They’ve seen a few on the market, on tv, and in coffee shops. They’re a relatively known quantity now, whereas in early 2010, when people were being quizzed about the — then — upcoming iPad, tablets were pretty much the stuff of science fiction as far as most consumers were concerned.

No the potentially important stat is this one: “Of the five percent of ‘very likely’ buyers, 26 percent said they would delay their iPad purchase to buy the Fire.”

Writing on the findings, RBC analyst Mike Abramsky says: “Tablet contenders (Xoom, Galaxy Tab, PlayBook, etc.) have failed to gain appreciable traction against iPad’s estimated 67 percent share, and iPad 2 should be a popular holiday purchase. However, strong early Fire uptake seems likely, raising speculation Apple now faces a real tablet contender.”

Words are funny. It doesn’t seem to me that the iPad faces a real tablet competitor, though it does seem to me that at least some people may give Amazon money for the Fire instead of giving it to Apple for the iPad.

Steve Jobs: Coming to a Theater Near You
And finally today, is it just me, or is the capitalization on the passing of Steve Jobs getting a bit uncomfortable?

The Mac Observer has word of a lost interview between Jobs and tech writer Robert Cringely, originally taped for Cringely’s 1995 PBS mini-series, “Triumph of the Nerds.” Lost, but now the interview is found, and headed to a theater near some of you.

TMO says “‘Steve Jobs: The Lost Interview’ will have a limited showing…” playing in 19 Landmark Theatres on November 16th and 17th, except in Palo Alto where it’ll run November 16th through the 22nd.

Not much time, though I’m guessing we’ll be treated to either a PBS airing or a DVD offering, or maybe a downloadable video on Amazon or iTunes… whatever will make a buck.

Not that I’m against people making a buck, but something about this feels icky. Nothing like ending on a happy note, huh?