Particle Debris (week ending 12/18) Making a Difference

| Particle Debris

The year 2009 has been good for Apple and Steve Jobs in particular. Mr. Jobs received a liver transplant, and seems, for now, planning to be around for a long time. It's something to reflect on and be thankful for.

Apple is going to sell a lot of toys this holiday season. The company will make a lot of money, to be sure. But as I gaze at the frenzy of customers in my local Apple retail stores, I would hope that those people remember that, at this time of year, it's not about the riches we have or the gifts we receive, but what kind of difference we've made during our time on this planet -- for real people. The legacy of technical contributions by Apple and others is enormous, but that's not all that's asked of us.

I've watched an extensive interview with Melinda Gates by Charlie Rose, and I was very impressed. Despite what you think about Microsoft's products and current leadership, Melinda Gates is the real deal. Here's hoping the rest of us can consistently emulate her spirit and do our part to have the impact she (and Bill and Warren Buffett) are having on the world.

Enough said.

One of the neat things about the Mac is the creativity and spirit of developers. Every year at Christmas, Charles Moore over at celebrates that with his Festive Mac series. Here is a list of his latest entries.

Christmas lights for your Mac desktop

iPhone Christmas apps

Putting Snow on your Mac Desktop

I noted this week that the Apple iPhone has moved past Microsoft's Windows Mobile in smartphone market share. Here is the chart, thanks to Silicon Alley Insider, and here is the analysis by Greg Keizer at Computerworld.

Recall that when the iPhone was announced, Steve Ballmer said something like, "I like our strategy. I like it a lot."

I also turns out that the iPhone is picking up steam in Japan, according to The Apple Blog:

"These [new] numbers discredit the widespread assumption that the iPhone was having a tough time appealing to Japanese consumers, who have in the past been unreceptive to foreign interlopers in the cell phone market (as evidenced by the BlackBerry’s dismal performance)."

The credit is due to some very aggressive marketing by SoftBank Mobile, the exclusive carrier of the iPhone in Japan.

The more I read about Apple and the iPhone, the more I notice a kind of intellectual drawback by some. Analysts and writers with a broad base of interests often seem to feel compromised journalistically if they make a sober assessment of Apple's prospects. But balanced reporting doesn't mean ignoring uncomfortable facts.

So, very often, you'll see, as so-called balance, one of those articles that quotes some business men who don't like the iPhone and forbid it in their companies. Or another article that casts aspersions on the iPhone for technical flaws that aren't properly documented. Just to raise doubt.

But Apple always seems to put a rabbit out of the hat and do better than some would seem willing to accept. That's because Apple customers, by and large, don't tune into the orchestration of doubt by niche technical writers on the Internet. Apple's customers know what they like, and they go buy it. No one understands this phenomenon better than Apple itself.

And with that, all the best to all of you, my fabulous readers. Thanks for coming along for the ride in 2009. See you next year!

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Marc Elson

Speaking of the Gates foundation, I think you should read this article from the L.A. Times, “Dark cloud over good works of Gates Foundation” (,0,2533850.story). It depicts a not so altruistic picture of this foundation. Here’s just one excerpt of this article :
?By comparing these investments with information from for-profit services that analyze corporate behavior for mutual funds, pension managers, government agencies and other foundations, The Times found that the Gates Foundation has holdings in many companies that have failed tests of social responsibility because of environmental lapses, employment discrimination, disregard for worker rights, or unethical practices.?

John Martellaro

Sounds like more orchestration of doubt.

Marc Elson

Sounds like more orchestration of doubt.

Certainly, if you base your opinion on this excerpt alone. But the journalists who wrote this article found that ?41% of [the Gates Foundation’s] assets, not including U.S. and foreign government securities ? have been in companies that countered the foundation’s charitable goals or socially concerned philosophy.?, that ?the Gates Foundation endowment had major holdings in companies ranked among the worst U.S. and Canadian polluters? and ?Pharmaceutical companies that price drugs beyond the reach of AIDS patients the foundation is trying to treat.?
Is it the only foundation to do that ? No, not at all. But I think it’s important to get a fair picture of this entity, especially since it’s the largest foundation in the world.
Anyway, I’m not here to lecture you. You are free to believe what you want.


“noted this week that the Apple iPhone
has moved past Microsoft’s Windows Mobile in smartphone market share ...”

It’s not “market share” by any stretch of the imagination, as comScore does not measure sales. They use various measures of activity, instead. There is this ubiquitous conflation of usage data with “market share” that makes no sense at all. It’s rather like counting vehicles on the Beltway around Washington, DC, to determine the relative “market share” of cars versus commercial trucks. Such a count will be biased toward the trucks. (This was actually attempted 20+ years ago.)


Thanks for all your articles John.  I really look forward to them each week’

May you have a good holiday season and be surrounded by your loved ones.


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