MacOS KenDensed: Apple’s Textbook Rumors & Creepy Steve Jobs Dolls

Ladies and gentlemen, the one and only Ken Ray!Apple might be planning an ebook media event, or not. New Mac Pros might be in the works, or not. Microsoft might be give sales people commissions for selling phones, or not. And a Steve Jobs tribute dol might just be a little creepy. One thing is for sure: Mac OS Ken’s Ken Ray has an opinion on all of those topics.

Apple Media Event Roulette
Gentlemen, start your guessing. Remember that thing about that super-vague rumor of an Apple media event toward the end of this month? It’s now unofficially official.

AllThingsD, property of The Wall Street Journal, hit with a story late last Monday that something’s up for the end of the month. And they included a part that I’d heard: this event is scheduled not for San Francisco, nor San Jose, nor Cupertino, but for New York City.

“According to sources close to the situation,” says AllThingsD, “Apple is planning an important — but not large-scale — event to be held in New York at the end of this month that will focus on a media-related announcement.”

The sources say this is NOT an iPad 3 event. Additionally, the piece says this is not likely to be a TV event, or at least not a full-fledged television set event. AllThingsD guesses it’s either an advertising event or a publishing event, though I’m still hearing education event.

And P.S. — None of this may go the way we think. “Per the usual caveat,” says AllThingsD, “the tech giant is well known for moving around their public show-and-tells, so this could certainly change at any moment.”

Until then, guess away.

TechCrunch says the event will center on publishers in the iBookstore, that it will involve no new hardware, and that it will not be major.

Here’s the thing though: The guy from whom I first heard about the January event says this is bigger than people are thinking. Not a small announcement, but a big announcement in a smallish setting.

Clayton Morris, the guy from whom I heard about the event on an episode of Mac OS Ken: Day 6 that I kind of sort of burned… heh heh… he now has a lot to say about the event, though still from unnamed sources. And it sounds interesting.

According to his post:

  • This event will focus on iTunes University and Apple in education.
  • He learned of the event back in September when it was originally scheduled for late Fall in New York but it was eventually postponed.
  • The event will be in New York rather than in the Silicon Valley because New York is more centrally located for textbooks and publishing.
  • This initiative has been in the making for years.
  • The announcement will be small in size but large in scope: a big announcement in a small space. 
  • He expects at least two large project announcements as they relate to Apple in education. 
  • Steve Jobs was intimately involved with this project before his passing. He gave a hat tip to the textbook side of this project in the Isaacson biography.
  • And finally, this will not be a hardware-related announcement.

So there’s that, too.

Of course, Clayton’s not the only one with sources. 9to5Mac says iTunes staff is on “lockdown mode” ahead of the rumored event.

Then there’s the one from MacRumors that says Apple has taped promo-interviews with execs in the textbook industry, though it says those might not figure into the January event.

The site Goodereader says its sources say Apple is planning to intro a new self-publishing platform based on the EPUB format, similar to programs offered by eBook competitors Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

And finally, Ars Technica says that the January event could involve support for EPUB 3, which would improve media and interactivity in books. One Ars source also says Apple may be making changes to iBooks aimed squarely at the academic world, which seems to lead up back to Mr. Morris.

Now is the time when we wait. Like Advent but… later.

Looking to back up the whole education idea, a piece from BusinessInsider. They’ve gone paging through the pages of the Isaacson biography of Jobs to see what he had to say on education, some of which seems pertinent to possible plans.

“Jobs had his sights set on textbooks as the next business he wanted to transform,” and some of which doesn’t. “Steve Jobs’ real parents would only put him up for adoption if his adopted parents agreed to pay for his college education.”

Perhaps the biggest harbinger in the piece, BusinessInsider says:

(Jobs’) idea was to hire great textbook writers to create digital versions, and make them a feature of the iPad. Jobs wanted to make textbooks free so they would circumvent the state certification process, which he thought was “corrupt.”

A bit more in depth on that from the end of Chapter 38 in the biography:

The process by which states certify textbooks is corrupt,” (Jobs) said. “But if we can make the textbooks free, and they come with the iPad, then they don’t have to be certified. The crappy economy at the state level will last for a decade, and we can give them an opportunity to circumvent that whole process and save money.

New Mac Pro! Or not.
The Mac Pro may be in for a refresh… or not.

You’re welcome!

MacRumors says the shipping time for a build-to-order Mac Pro went from “you want it, you got it,” to “one to three weeks” just before Christmas, which could mean big newness in the works. Or it could mean nothing.

You’re welcome.

“Increases in shipping estimates in Apple’s online store can sometimes be indicative of an upcoming product refresh as the company draws down supplies ahead of launching the updated models,” notes the piece. And signs could point that way, with a refresh of Intel’s Sandy Bridge E Xeon Processors believed to be imminent, as well as “evidence of support for AMD’s ‘Tahiti’ line of graphics cards … showing up in developer builds of (Mac) OS X 10.7.3…” AMD has also officially unveiled the first Tahiti graphics cards for release this month. So there’s that too.

Then again, the piece points out, some have speculated that Apple will kill the Mac Pro line rather than update it. So… The Mac Pro may be in for a refresh. Or not.

You’re welcome!

Working on Commission: Windows Phone
A new year, new rant.

If Paul Thurrott is correct, I am angry. Not because he’s right, I don’t know the guy and have no opinion on him. No, if he’s right, I’m angry about what he’s right about.

Electronista has the Windows-focused writer citing secret sources who say plans between AT&T, Microsoft and Nokia — which is practically a mobile-phone division of Microsoft at this point — will pay store staffers to recommend Windows Phones. If his sources are correct, AT&T retail workers will get a bounty of between US$10 and $15 per phone depending on the number they’re able to move.

You know when I quit going to Circuit City? When their commissioned employees made it nearly impossible to examine products in peace and at my own pace.

Additionally, while I’m not an expert, I know a little bit about Apple’s offering through AT&T thanks to what I do every day. You know: this. And yet, with that familiarity, I’ve had transactions screwed up at AT&T retail stores thanks to the ignorance of an AT&T retail associate.

I’m not saying everyone who works at AT&T retail is ignorant of every offer out there. There are a lot of offers with which they have to keep up. And I’m sure there are at least as many stories of retail workers at Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile not knowing as much as they should as there are stories of ill-informed stormtroopers on the Death Star. But it was better when ignorance was your only enemy.

If the person with whom I have to deal in the retail space has $10 to $15 riding on which phone I choose how likely do you think he or she is to wonder what phone is really going to be right for me?

Now, flash ahead three to six months when we find Microsoft and Nokia trumpeting the AMAZING popularity of it’s phones through AT&T, leaving off the bit about how much they’re paying people to pimp those phones specifically.

I shouldn’t be so bothered. I’m just anticipating noise. Like when you see someone hand a kid a whistle. And before that kid even puts it to their lips you’re already thinking, “Why did anyone ever give that kid a whistle?”

Commission-based selling is nothing new. I’ve even done a tiny bit of it myself years ago, though in as gentle a way as possible and only for products in which I truly believed. And I don’t begrudge the ability of AT&T’s stormtroopers to make an extra buck or two. I’m just not looking forward to the piercing-whistle that’s bound to accompany any gain made by Nokrosoft.

Again… assuming Paul Thurrott is correct.

Steve Jobs Tributs: Now with More Creepy
And finally this week, word of two Steve Jobs products you’ll likely never see, and one is just downright creepy.

On the not so creepy side, MacNN says Apple has rejected a Steve Jobs-theme photo-calendar tribute app. Nushka Labs puts out an App called PhotoCalendar HD, which let’s users lay calendar pages over their own photographs. In order, they say, to honor Jobs, they submitted an app similar to PhotoCalendar HD, except this one was pre-filled with photos of Jobs.

Apple’s response: Thanks, but no thanks.

In rejecting the “tribute calendar” Apple reportedly said, they appreciated the effort to honor Steve, though they decided to “honor his life in other ways” and would not accept the app.

Well then how ‘bout a creepy doll?

The Courier Mail out of Australia says the companies “In Icons” and “Dragon in Dream” have teamed to produce a truly creepy Steve Jobs action-figure.

The piece says the 12-inch-figure “features a realistic likeness and Jobs’s trademark black turtleneck, jeans and and shoes…” and the pictures seem to bear that out. My girlfriend thought I was staring at a picture of Jobs on my MacBook Pro, until I pointed out the oddly articulated wrists.

Thing… is… CREEPY!

The Courier Mail says “The figure is due for release in late February for $99.99 plus shipping,” though Apple’s lawyers have already sent In Icons a cease and desist letter. In Icon’s founder says Apple can try whatever it wants, but it won’t stop making the dolls.

So this could get interesting.