Hello, iPhone & Don’t Play with the Dead

Mac OS Ken's Ken RayIt was another busy week for Apple. iPhone 4S pre-sales were through the roof, and customers were ready to hand over their hard-earned cash on Friday if they hadn’t preordered. The release of iOS 5 practically brought the Internet to its knees, and Google and Samsung had a hard time coping with Apple’s dominance in the news and in the smartphone market. As if that isn’t enough, this week Mac OS Ken’s Ken Ray gets on his soap box, too, over Google and Samsung’s media tactics.

iPhone 4S: Who’s Crying Now?
Who’s disappointed that the next iPhone is an evolutionary 4S rather than a revolutionary 5? Indications seem to be no one.

Apple issued a press release Monday — which I sure thought was some sort of holiday in the states — saying that iPhone 4S pre-orders had topped one million in the first 24 hours of availability. The company says that beats the previous single day pre-order record of 600-thousand attained by its predecessor, iPhone 4.

Apple Senior VP of Worldwide Product Marketing Phil Schiller says the company is “blown away with the incredible customer response to iPhone 4S… The first day pre-orders for iPhone 4S have been the most for any new product that Apple has ever launched and we are thrilled that customers love iPhone 4S as much as we do.”

While it’s too early to say who the big winner was, is, or will be, among iPhone 4S carriers in the states, the Death Star sems to be as powerful as ever. AllThingsD has AT&T announcing late Friday that it had processed a record 200-thousand pre-orders in the the first 12 hours of availability, making the 4S launch the most successful iPhone launch the company has ever seen.

Not giving hard numbers of its own, new comer Sprint, which welcomes the 4S at the first iPhone available on its network. No hard numbers, but satisfaction.

Sprint VP of Product Development Fared Adib issued a statement, saying, “We are very, very pleased with the initial first day of iPhone 4S preorders. Today’s sales and the overall customer experience greatly exceeded our expectations.”

Exceeding expectations has to be the best news imaginable for Sprint since it seems they are in fact betting the store on Apple’s communicator. Electronista has Sprint execs speaking at its Strategy Update event in New York City naming the iPhone the bright center of its universe.

You might well picture Sprint CEO Dan Hesse with kaiser rolls on his head and a flowing white robe saying, “Help me iPhone 4S… you’re my only hope.”

Think I’m overstating it?

Quoting the CEO, “How do we take both [brand and churn] to the next level? The answer is the iPhone. You want to be associated with great brands, and Apple is the best brand in the tech space.”

That comparison kind of has to stop right there though, otherwise in a week or two we’d find out that AT&T CEO Randal Stephenson was Dan Hesse’s father… and someone at Verizon would have to have their hand cut off.

Google & Samsung: Time Out!
Google and Samsung are holding off on an event that had been scheduled for this week due to the passing of Apple cofounder Steve Jobs. Is this out of respect? Mmmm…

Here’s what we know: The two companies had been scheduled to announce the first phone based on the next version of Android, Ice Cream Sandwich. That was supposed to go off at the CTIA wireless industry trade show in San Diego.

Last Friday they said they’d changed their minds though, saying in a statement to AllThingsD, “We believe this is not the right time to announce a new product as the world expresses tribute to Steve Jobs’s passing.”

On it’s own Samsung had also said, “Under the current circumstances, both parties have agreed that this is not the appropriate time for the announcement of a new product.”

It would be neat to assume that this was out of respect for Jobs, but — seriously — two Tuesdays was the iPhone 4S announcement, the following Wednesday was when Jobs passed, that Friday iPhone 4S pre-orders started, and this week came iOS 5 and iPhone 4S sales in brick-and-mortar stores. Under all of those circumstances, none of which Google and Samsung could have known about when the CTIA event was planned, a product announcement would just be stupid.

Sorry to be cynical… but it’s easy to think that they used last Wednesday as a way to gracefully get out of today and the attack of the iThings.

May I now add a bit of support to the “did it for the press, not out of respect” argument? AppleInsider has Google filing a friend-of-the-court brief along side wireless carrier T-Mobile USA against Apple.

Where be your respect now?

According to the piece, the two have filed with the US International Trade Commission asking the body to not ban HTC’s Android products, with T-Mobile saying it would like to see that even if the HTC phones infringe Apple’s intellectual property.

I’m sorry, what?

IP expert Florian Mueller added the T-Mobile brief “asks the ITC to deny an import ban even if an infringement is found…” though — if they feel they must — could T-Mobile have between four and six months to sell the devices first?


As the argument goes, “With such a transition period, ‘T-Mobile and the rest of the industry could change to other devices without harming U.S. consumers.’”

For its part, Google doesn’t even look at the HTC infringing bit, arguing instead that a ban would “eliminate the competition from a fast-moving, maverick competitor (HTC),” a shift that it argues “could drive up prices, diminish service, decrease consumers’ access to the technology, and reduce innovation.”

The list of plagues that would be visited upon us would be almost biblical with Google saying that a preliminary injunction against the four HTC phones that Apple says infringe its IP would

…likely raise the price of mobile devices to U.S. consumers, diminish the variety of devices available, lower the number of consumers that have access to the critical public health and welfare benefits of mobile computing, reduce innovation in the mobile device industry, reduce the development of critical wireless network infrastructure, lower the number of mobile applications created, raise barriers to entry, and threaten the only open mobile computing platform.

And if that doesn’t scare ya, the NEXT paragraph mentions locusts, pestilence, and Ragnarok.

Still, it’s hard to imagine Apple would mind… I mean… Google’s been so respectful…

New Kid on the Block
The big star early in the week, though, was iOS 5, said by some reviewers to be significant enough to make compatible machines such as the iPhone 4, the iPhone 3GS, both available iPads and the third and fourth generations of the iPod touch feel like new machines.

Of the 200 or so new features, Apple highlights Notification Center, which is neat, iMessage, which is neat, Newsstand, which is confusing… my Newsstand has stuff on it that to which I’ve never subscribed, while at least one magazine to which I have subscribed… not on my Newsstand. I ask you… without actually asking you.

Reminders, deep Twitter integration, letting users tweet directly from Safari, Photos, Camera, YouTube, or Maps, a way to access the Camera while the screen is locked — which is awesome, built-in photo editing, tabbed browsing in Safari — which is awesome, it does the whole computer cord cutting thing, Wi-Fi Syncing, Multitasking Gestures for iPad, AirPlay Mirroring for iPad 2, and a slew of new accessibility features for people with mobility, hearing, vision, and cognitive disabilities.

It took me hours mid-day on release day to update my iPad 2, though middle of the night updating my iPhone 4 took about an hour. Maybe a little more. I had one guy tell me that he ended up with a bricked iPhone, though — if memory serves — that was fixed later in the day.

The reasons for the troubles were unclear, though swamped servers on Apple’s end could be the cause. I mean, imagine how many millions of people were trying to update iThings on release day, and a lot of those with more than one device.

One caller to Mac OS Ken: Live suggested to family members that they wait to upgrade until next week, though I am nowhere near that kind of patient when it comes to iThing updates.

Best of luck to you.

Samsung’s Kick in the Pants
Mark it another crappy week for Samsung. The New York Times says an Australian court has put the whammy on Sammy, imposing a temporary ban on the Galaxy Tab 10.1.

And now they’re in a world of hurt, Bert… they’re in a jam, Pam… they may wanna slip out the back, Jack… make a new plan, Stan… there’s no need to recite the rest of that tune… June.

Apple wins again with the Australian court barring sales of the Samsung tablet at east until the court rules on Apple’s claims of patent violation, which could easily push past the holiday shopping season. And that would be huge in a bad way for the Korean company. According to the paper of record, “Samsung has said that the product’s viability in the Australian market would be killed off if it missed Christmas.”

They need stop-motion holiday characters to come to their rescue.

Meanwhile, the company has a different plan for working around other bans in the Netherlands. Electronista has Sammy saying, “Hey babe… we’ll release upgraded versions of things.”

According to the piece, Samsung will tweak the Galaxy S, Galaxy S II, and Galaxy Ace to move on past sales bans imposed in the Netherlands. Company official James Chung says Samsung has “fixed the technological problem” with its implementation of photo browsing that got the devices booted in the first place.

No word on when the revved machines might go on sale.

Don’t Play with the Dead
And finally this week, an editorial of sorts.

I’ve seen a few pieces over the past week that have said Google and Samsung postponed their Ice Cream Sandwich phone event out of respect for the passing of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.

I would like to issue one blanket correction for all of those: In the pieces I’ve read, neither Samsung nor Google said anything about postponing the event out of respect. Executives from both Samsung and Google did issue statements of condolence and respect when Jobs passed away, but what they said about the Ice Cream Sandwich event was, basically, now’s not the time.

The exact quotes from Samsung, according to a piece from AllThingsD,

Samsung and Google have decided to postpone the Samsung Mobile Unpacked event during the CTIA in San Diego, previously scheduled for October 11. Under the current circumstances, both parties have agreed that this is not the appropriate time for the announcement of a new product.

Later in the day Samsung went on to issue what sounded like a clarification, but it wasn’t. “We believe this is not the right time to announce a new product as the world expresses tribute to Steve Jobs’s passing,” they said.

Actually, they were expressing tribute to Jobs, not his passing. But even leaving that off, it was, according to Samsung’s statement, the world expressing tribute to Steve Jobs’s passing, not Samsung and Google.

Why does this bother me so much?

Because you don’t play with the dead. Not for political gain. Not for PR. You don’t play with the dead.

Look, Samsung and Google were in a pickle. They had a new phone and operating system event scheduled for October 11th. They probably had that scheduled for weeks if not months. Then Apple comes out and says, “Let’s talk iPhone.” Then Apple says new mobile operating system on October 12th and whole new phones on October 14th. Get your breathing apparatus. All of the air is about to be sucked out of the room by Apple and nobody’s going to pay attention to your new phone and operating system except for the people in the hall in which you’re speaking.

No way Google and Samsung are able to back out of the event, so they’re just gonna have to soldier on. Until Wednesday, October 5th when the guiding force behind Apple and the iPhone (which went a long way to making Android and the various smartphones that use it more than a pipe dream) dies.

The world is stunned. The tech world is stunned. And Google and Samsung see a way out.

Being human, our immediate reaction is to equate the “Ice Cream Sandwich” postponement with respect.

But in the same week, Google filed a friend of the court brief against Apple’s move to block the sale of some HTC phone. Should Google file such a brief? Absolutely. But if it’s disrespectful to launch your own phone the week that Jobs passes away, is it not also disrespectful to argue against the company he cofounded?

Samsung, this week, started a cute promotional stunt in Australia. The Sydney Morning Herald says the Korean electronics company “has ambushed the launch of the iPhone 4S by offering $2 smartphones in a temporary shop just metres away from the official Sydney Apple store.”

That started the promotion on Monday, October 10th, the day before Google and Samsung would have you believe they decided it would be disrespectful to launch a new phone and operating system.

While it is meant to be an internal affair, word has leaked out that Apple CEO Tim Cook has set aside this coming Wednesday, October 19th, as a day for Apple employees to celebrate the life of the company’s fallen co-founder. For people who follow tech news this is common knowledge.

In other news, Google and Samsung have set a new date for the recently postponed “Ice Cream Sandwich” event. You’ll never guess which day they’ve picked.

From another AllThingsD piece: “The event, which is expected to see the debut of the next version of Android as well as the first device running the operating system, will now take place on October 19 in Hong Kong.”

To be clear, I have no problem with companies doing business. I have no problem with companies competing. I have no problem with promotional stunts and the occasional war of words in the press. I have no problem with companies postponing an event if holding that event will be a waste of their time and resources. I kind of wish that happened more often.

But don’t play with the dead. Say the real reason you’re canceling or don’t give a reason at all. But if it’s not out of respect, don’t imply that it is. To do so makes “business as usual” look disrespectful. And feigning respect is reprehensible.