Particle Debris (week ending 10/30) Eyes Wide Open (and Shut)

Silicon Alley Insider, with credit to Gizmodo, posted the best Apple Tablet concepts. My favorite is the first one. It looks like a sleek, over sized iPhone with app icons along the bottom in a dock-like configuration. These are so drool worthy, one wonders how Apple could ever outdo these brilliant concepts.

Some claim to have seen this video before, but I never have. Imagine Steve Ballmer, back at the release of Windows 1.0, circa 1985, that's Windows 1.0!, showing the Microsoft troops how to sell Windows. Warning: no matter how bad you think this is going to be, it's far worse. Have your finger on the Mac's volume button and be prepared to explain to other household members why you're watching a commercial for used cars on your Mac.

Earlier in the week, CNET's Matt Asay reported that the U.S. Department of Defense has issued new guidelines designed to assist with the utilization of open-source software. The document prepared by DOD's CIO, David Wennergren, doesn't set new policy, but it does go beyond the previous milquetoast, neutral statement and moves into a more positive stance. Fabulous.

Arthur C. Clarke's 3rd rule says that "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." That especially applies to operating systems with 70 million lines of code. So it's not surprising that observations of Windows 7 are all over the map.

One element of that is the design of the UI. Apparently, in the past, Microsoft was letting beta testers and some customers provide feedback on the UI of Vista, and that may have gotten Microsoft into trouble. This time around, Microsoft's Stephen Sinofsky tried to create a vision for how Win 7 should work with the user and didn't absorb much in the way of feedback from customers or beta testers. That got Randall C. Kennedy into a hissy fit.

It's nice to see that Microsoft has somewhat of a clue now: the Product Manager defines the features and UI. Beta testers look for bugs.

If you've finished lunch and have a settled stomach, you may want to take a look at this slide show of Microsoft's new retail storefronts published at PC Magazine. Some scouts, who have been up close, however, report that the quality of the materials used is way below that of Apple's. Microsoft's plan: you won't see that in photos. Worth a look though.

Yesterday, Apple published a knowledge base article on "Updating iTunes Extras and LP content for your Apple TV." Turns out, there are some minor technical gotchas for people who purchased iTunes LP content before the Apple V 3.0 upgrade. They need to be downloaded again. Oops.

Some observers have surmised that Nokia's lawsuit against Apple is just part of a business plan to combat the success of the iPhone. But, as I mentioned in last week's Particle Debris, the core of the lawsuit goes to FRAND: fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory licensing fees. Read all the details at Engadget in this excellent analysis.

The perspectives of a senior executive who worked for Apple for 21 years are always valuable. David Sobotta reflects on "The Psychology of the non-Apple consumer." It's a bit rambling, but that's his style. Tidbits galore are hidden therein.

For those who want a straight up, formal review of Apple TV 3, Jason Snell did a good job over at Macworld. It gets a bit detailed, but if you're looking for an all encompassing overview of the update, this one is recommended.

Ars technica reported on a meeting between RBC analyst Mike Abramsky and Apple's Peter Oppenheimer, Eddy Cue, and David Moody. The Apple executives seemed to pooh-pooh the idea that Apple is interested in print. Rather, they view video as the next "exploding opportunity." Anyone believe that?

Video has already exploded. Video is already all pervasive. But the newspapers and magazines in the U.S. are struggling with how to survive, and they desperately need a new, viable business model. I see this meeting as either a 1) deception by Apple to stall for time and get agreements in place or 2) deflect analysts from Apple's newspaper/magazine/textbook negotiations which may not have gone well. So Apple needed to set proper expectations. Or both.

There are now over 94,000 available apps on the iPhone and only a handful involve watching video. The rest are based on knowledge, navigation, travel, and social networking. We actually read on our iPhones.

So I'm not buying it.

Finally, I just wanted to remind everyone that I am on record predicting that Apple will not renew its exclusive agreement with AT&T in 2010. If I'm wrong, I'll come to work on the appointed day without pants on. That's a promise you can take to the bank.