iPads in Space & Apple TV Rumors that Just Won’t Die

Mac OS Ken's Ken RayMore iPhone 4S talk, the new Apple television frenzy, the iPad is a Wi-Fi glutton, and the iPad has a new home on the International Space Station — along with Angry Birds. It’s like the world is begging for Mac OS Ken’s Ken Ray to jump into the middle of it all.

iPhone 4S, Now with Shorter Battery Life
Successful as the iPhone 4S launch has been, the device is, apparently, not without its issues.

CNET says it’s heard word of slower than expected 3G speeds for Sprint’s iPhone. According to the piece, there’s a 60-page support discussion thread on Sprint’s site, with indications there that this is a problem for the iPhone alone, and not other smartphones offered by Old Yeller.

Are Apple and Sprint aware of the issue? Offically, Sprint says everything’s fine — with a side of “we’re paying attention.”

Quoting a statement sent to CNET by Sprint:

Overall, iPhone performance on the Sprint network is consistent with our expectations and the rest of our high-end portfolio. Sprint also did bench-marking of Sprint’s iPhone against competitor’s iPhones and the testing showed little to no performance difference. We are seeing a very low return rate for this device but we are watching the reports of speed issues very closely.

We do see opportunities to optimize performance, specifically in high network capacity areas. We see this as typical optimization work and do not have any specific area of concern. Sprint is committed to providing the best possible experience for our customers. We are listening to our customers and working closely with our partners at Apple to ensure optimal performance of iPhone devices on our network.

That’s the official line. Though unofficially, Apple and Sprint do seem to be working on a fix, which would mean they know there’s a problem.

The Next Web points to an alleged internal Sprint memo indicating that both Sprint and Apple are “aware of, and working on, a fix, suggesting the problem could be software-related.”

CNET got no comment from Apple in the Sprint story, but sporting of them to try for, eh what?

As for other problems, I’m hearing chatter about wicked bad battery life either for new iPhone 4Ses, or iOS devices running iOS 5. Some say doing a complete restore makes the battery better, others say it does not. Some say it’s tied to the new hardware while others say it’s tied to the new OS. I’ll watch for more on that over the next few days.

On Analysts and Magic Numbers
Time for another edition of “Fun with Numbers.” This week we look at Apple’s share of the tablet space versus the number of tablets Apple’s sold.

CNET has market researcher Strategy Analytics noting the significant growth of the Android tablet, going from controlling 2.3 percent of the space in the third quarter of last year to 26.9 percent for the same quarter this year. Conversely, Apple went from controlling 95.5 percent of the tablet space last year to 66.6 percent in the third-quarter of 2011.

Cue the Greek chorus, limber up those fingers for “doomed” and “beleaguered” headlines, and — for goodness sake — will someone PLEASE wake Rob Enderle?

Maybe not so fast.

While Apple has dropped from controlling nearly 100 percent to just two-thirds of the tablet market, CNET points out that the number of tablets being sold across the board has risen dramatically. So despite the lower percentage of market share, the 11.1 million iPads Apple sold in the third quarter of this year was about 7 million more than it sold in the third quarter of 2010.

And THAT is how we play “Fun with Numbers.”

Please don’t wake Rob Enderle.

Apple TV: The Idea that Just Won’t Die
So, yeah. Apple may, at some point, make an actual TV TV.

And we know because Steve Jobs said so.

There was a ton of stuff over the weekend culled from early reviews of the Walter Isaacson biography of Steve Jobs, most of which I haven’t talked about. In fact, most of it I haven’t even read because, well, I’m really looking forward to reading the biography.

It’s waiting for me on my iPad right now. Soon as I’m done with you guys, I’m gonna get started on it.

But there was one headline I couldn’t ignore. Somewhere in the virtual stack of pages ahead of me, Isaacson has Jobs saying he’s “finally cracked” the mystery of the connected television.

Electronista has Apple’s co-founder saying he’d found a solution to the interface problem that would do away with the traditional TV remote, but would apparently also not use any of Apple’s existing tech. Well, it would sync seamlessly with existing devices and with iCloud. Otherwise, whole new ballgame on which to watch your ballgames.

And hockey.

“It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine,” Jobs said. “I finally cracked it.”

I’ve read that page from the book, that’s pretty much all it says.
Part of me would like to think that this is true, and that work is already being done on it.

Personally, I’ve never been excited about a television. Not the set itself. You need a television, you buy a television. When you break that one because something stupid you saw on it made you so angry you really had no choice, then you need another television. And you buy another television.

If Jobs really found a way to make the thing itself exciting — and got Jony Ive started working on it — that could be cool.

I’ll tell you what I do love: the guys at Sharp, Vizio, Samsung, and anyone else still making TVs. Welcome to the world of record labels, cellphone makers, book publishers, movie studios, video game makers… and a whole host of other companies that saw their worlds shaken by Steve Jobs’ thinking.

At least he’s given you warning, assuming this is something Apple does eventually do.

So Apple’s full sized TV TV is suddenly so real to so many people, going from a dream for some Apple fans to the next certainty — or maybe the certainty after the next certainty for financial analysts — to a blip of a mention in a 656-page book, to an absolute certainty for some Apple fans and financial analysts.

Kind of makes sense, I guess. The book was the authorized Steve Jobs biography, with the book’s subject saying he’d “cracked” the whole connected TV thing. It’s seriously less than one page of the book, and suddenly we know who’s in charge of the project.

Really? Just like that? Financial news service Bloomberg says yes.

They’ve got three unnamed people — said to have knowledge of the project — saying Jeff Robbin, who helped create iTunes, the iTunes store and the iPod, “is now guiding Apple’s internal development of the new TV effort.”

Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller declined to comment for the Bloomberg piece.

“Outside of Jobs’s remarks in the book,” says Bloomberg, “Apple hasn’t acknowledged that it’s developing a TV set. According to one person, it’s not guaranteed that Apple will release a television.”

One guy who has to have felt all kinds of elated and vindicated by the less-than-a-page of TV talk in the Jobs bio is Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster.

Long of the opinion that Apple would hit with a full-on TV by the end of 2012, Fortune has Munster saying yesterday that Apple’s already making prototype TV sets.

Mr. Munster says, based on meetings in Asia this past January, his firm thinks

Apple is investing in manufacturing facilities and securing supply for LCD displays. These displays could range from 3.5-inch mobile displays to 50-inch television displays.

“More recently,” he writes, “in September (of this year) we met with a contact close to an Asian component supplier who indicated that prototypes of an Apple television are in the works.”

He also pointed to TV-related patents held by Apple, the amount of money he thinks Apple could make if they DID get into televisions, and — of course — the passage in the just published Steve Jobs biography.

You know what bums me out? At some point I may have to go ahead and get on the “Apple’s gonna make a TV TV” train.

Crappy Hotel Wi-Fi? Blame the iPad
You know how bad Wi-Fi can be in hotels? Yeah that’s the iPad’s fault. Now I know what you might be thinking: The iPad just came out in early 2010 and hotel Wi-Fi has been bad for a while. To this, I’m afraid, I’m forced to tell you to shut up.

Electronista has hospitality technology provider iBAHN saying that Apple’s tablet has prompted a huge jump in average bandwidth use per guest, hobbling hotel Wi-Fi networks that they say were just fine two years ago.

“The iPad is the fastest-selling device in consumer electronics history, and because of it the demand placed on any public place Wi-Fi system has gone up exponentially in the last year and a half,” said iBAHN CEO David Garrison.

His solution? Garrison says hotels will need to employ tiered options for Wi-Fi service, billing guests more for more bandwidth, less for less bandwidth, and nothing for people who pretty much just wanna check email and surf the web. Then, he says, hotels would have extra money to improve their Wi-Fi service.

iPads. In. Space.
And finally this week, Houston we have an iPad. Two of them, actually. And I meant Kazakhstan. And I mean we’re getting two iPads.

CollectSpace.com says two of Apple’s tablets will be rocketing to the International Space Station via a Russian space launch, as will an Angry Bird stuffed animal from the Rovio game Angry Birds. The report says the iPads will go in an unmanned cargo transport later this month, while the angry toy will hang by a string in the cabin of a manned mission in November. When it goes weightless, the space-farers will know that they’ve made it to space.

I doubt that that’s the only indicator.

As for the iPads, NASA says while they’re assessing Apple’s tablet for mission related tasks in the future, they’ll only be for entertainment right now.

I would pay for a picture of an astronaut on the International Space Station watching the part in “2001: A Space Odyssey” where the astronauts are watching the news on tablets that look like the iPad.

You could fall into that picture.

One quick note for NASA, though: if after sending the iPads up you lose contact with the Space Station, don’t worry. It’s just that the iPad gobbles up bandwidth.

Maybe you should charge more for staying at the space station.