Particle Debris (week. ending 11/12) Max Headroom Rides Again

Apple has US$51 billion in the bank in cash and other assets, so you’d think they’d get a great rate of return. However, according to a regulator filing, Apple is earning 0.75 percent interest on all that cash. That low number has simply served to reignite (if it ever died off) the argument that Apple should be doing something more positive with all that cash. Adam Satariano with Bloomberg/Businessweek tells the story.

We’ve heard Steve Jobs talk about how the iPad competitors won’t be able to match Apple’s combination of price, performance and screen size. Now it looks like his predictions have come true. Larry Dignam summarizes the competitions’s specs and they don’t look that great. For example, the Samsung Galaxy Tab will cost you US499, but you get a 7-inch screen. HP’s Slate 500 has an 8.9-inch screen and will cost you $799. The best part? It runs Windows 7, an OS truly designed for tablets. Not. Read “Apple’s iPad rivals can’t hang on pricing.”

Samsung Galaxy Tab

Galaxy Tab (Credit: Samsung)

We more or less knew that Apple is taking over the game market, but I hadn’t see such a great summary of the tactical situation until Jonny Evans summed it up in “Apple plays the console game.” Mr. Evans, as I try to do, puts a large number of pieces of the puzzle together to make an icon clad argument. You’ll be convinced.

In case you missed it in my other articles, engadget post an exciting article about Light Peak, a 10 Gbps communication protocol using optic fiber. Maybe this is why Apple isn’t leaping ahead aggressively with USB 3. If you missed this, it’s required reading.

When Ryan Faas digs into something,he goes all the way, and his articles run to several pages. IT managers must love his technical essays. This time, Mr. Faas digs into Time Machine and tells you everything you ever wanted to know about Apple’s backup program in “Time Machine Enhancements and Alternatives.”

I like CNBC’s Erin Burnett, but here’s an instructive lesson on doing your homework and being really deep on the subject matter. Philip Elmer-DeWitt caught Ms. Burnett not doing her homework and falling victim to the most superficial arguments about Apple. It wasn’t a pretty sight. Watch the video here: “How not to interview a hedge fund legend.

I haven’t written much about Ping because I don’t think the world needs another social network. I watched as the initial enthusiasm for Ping died into a collective yawn by the Apple community. [iTunes 10.1 allows you to disable it.] Silicon Alley Insider wasn’t kind to Apple when they pointed out that Apple has been trying everything to conjure up some enthusiasm. I wouldn’t have posted this from just anyone, but Dan Frommer is an astute technical observer. So the sarcasm of the headline does not ring hollow. “Apple’s “Ping” Social Network Is Doing So Badly Apple Is Sending Emails To Remind People It Exists.” If you’re loving every second of Ping yourself, chime in with comments.

Okay, time for some geek humor. Have you ever wondered how iPhone, BlackBerry and Android users see themselves? How they see others? This cartoon hits all too close to home.

Are you a developing for mobile? You’ve probably laid out your own roadmap, but do you have have all the numbers? Here’s “The Mobile Developer Journey,” a roadmap that lays out the market place numbers and decision points. Very cool.

I’ve had my doubts about 3D TV. It seemed like the industry was in too big a rush to get customers to dump their HDTVs and hurry them into something new. Now we know that 3D TV causes serious problems for some viewers, namely headaches and motion sickness. The pace of technology development and the panic rush to compete before the other guy locks in the customers has not been good for consumers. It blinded the industry. The details are in: “3D TV: Biggest Mistake In CE History?

3D TVCredit: Oh Gizmo

Anyone familiar with AnandTech knows that their review articles are meticulous in the extreme. So when they did a review if the 11-inch MacBook Air, I was keen to see the benchmarks. Sure enough, these new MacBook Airs are just about the slowest of all the recent MacBooks. If you’re thinking about buying one, read this article first and make the purchase with your eyes wide open. As I understand it, the Apple retail stores don’t stock MBA’s with 4 GB, so you’ll have to order through the Apple online store. That extra memory will be worth it. initially charged customers a monthly fee to receive certain TV channels that are broadcast over the air. They pick up those OTA feeds and broadcast it over the Internet to anyone. Is that legal? The networks say “no” and have filed suit. While it may be illegal now, sometimes it requires a pioneer to set people’s expectations, even if they’re litigated out of existence. People ask why, ride roughshod over certain protections of markets, and finally, sometimes, the political climate changes. I’ll be watching this closely in the future. Remember, there was a time when the TV industry tried to claim that it was illegal to videotape a TV show with a Betamax.

Companies that are wildly successful and have millions of customers will suddenly find that they can no longer treat each customer as an individual. Custom e-mails give way to mass e-mails, and personal responses morph into advice to check the forums, essentially leaving customers to solve some problems on their own. Apple falls into this camp now, and Ryan Deutsch laments that now matter how much love he shows Apple, he’s just number, not a name.

And yet, you still can be treated as an individual by Apple. That’s what Apple’s retail stores are for. Make an appointment, see a Genius, get your Mac fixed. Or learn how to use Keynote in a class. How do you feel about how Apple treats you? Do all those e-mails from Apple make you feel the love? Are you within driving distance of an Apple retail store where you can talk to an Apple employee? Should Apple take the time to analyze your purchases and predict your needs? Essentially, should the company provide any outward sign that they understand you and your individual needs? Or would that be too creepy? As Apple grows and grows, sorting all this out will become more and more of a challenge for Apple.

Along those lines, Apple is at another crossroads. Magazines depend on demographic information They’d like to know everything about you, how to contact you, what you read, what ads you look at, and they’d like to use private information about you to help advertisers sell you stuff. Apple, however, apparently thinks customers have a right to control private information about them and hasn’t been willing to bend over when it comes to the demands of publishers. It all boils down to whether you want Newsweek to know that you spent nine minutes on your iPad looking at a pretty woman on page 17 in an ad for some coffee product. Market forces and money may yet cause Apple relent, but it’s nice to know they’ve resisted so far. More details are here: “‘Hulu for magazines’ to debut on Android as publishers struggle with Apple.

Should our technical future be driven only by money? It seems there’s nothing to stand in the way of that kind of progress except the vested interests of competing businesses.  [Update: there may be a glimmer of hope.]

max Headroom

Max Headroom

To put a final punctuation on this, take a look at the kerfuffle between Google and Facebook over your contact data. This is reason # 1,478 why you won’t find me on Facebook. 

Edison Carter would have been amused by all this. By the way, the complete Max Headroom TV series is now available on DVD. Highly recommended.