Particle Debris (week ending 2/6) New Hardware for Apple Customers

On Monday, I found an interesting posting by Om Malik who tried to make sense of the strategy behind the rumored Google alternative to Microsoft's SharePoint -- called Gdrive. Like Apple's and Microsoft's SharePoint, this service is intended to be a cheap storage cloud in the sky, for collaboration, that continues to support Google's business agenda.

On the plus side, the data is available from anywhere. On the negative side, the data is subject to Google's control and levies. My thinking on all this is to have a clear personal strategy on what data needs to be shared, perhaps a very small percentage, and keep the rest localized. Falling into the cloud with everything just isn't smart.

Midweek, I saw a fascinating article at intoMobile that described, in some detail how Apple could be bringing multi-cores, OpenCL and Grand Central to a next generation iPhone. So far, Apple's competitors have been having fits keeping up with the iPhone and the App Store. If they thought a simple touch screen could make their smartphone look like an iPhone, the technologies Apple is poised to unleash will fully destroy their illusions and drive them to despair. Panicked executives approve bad ideas.

On Thursday, The Economist reported on how, after several years of chaos, the Internet TV market is starting to sort out. While YouTube is the undisputed leader in volume, its reputation is such that advertisers and IP holders are often more comfortable with a more tightly managed environment. As a result, is doing quite well when it comes to attracting advertisers, and after a slow and unprofitable start, is beginning to look like a solid business. (As predicted by its executives.) Here's what The Economist concluded:

"But for the moment it appears that YouTube proved that people would watch videos online—whereas Hulu is proving that advertisers will foot the bill."

On Friday at Apple Insider there was a story about how AT&T seems to be planning an Internet enabled device that provides a local 3G signal for those in a dead zone. (Like me!) The ~$100 box will plug into a home router and provide several thousand square feet of 3G signal using UMTS. That will allow AT&T customers in a 3G dead zone to talk, as usual, on the 3G network, bookkeep all the minutes used, and act just as if the user were in a strong 3G signal area.

T-Mobile has been using a slightly different technology, UMA, that is only available on selected T-Mobile phones. AT&T's device will work with any of their 3G phones, like the iPhone. I can't wait.

On Thursday, I wrote about boxee running on a Mac and mentioned that it's also available for the Apple TV. That opened up an avalanche in the comments section, and all of a sudden, it seems, the technology to get hulu, CBS, ABC, Netflix and Joost in an Apple TV seems to be maturing into a critical mass. I spoke with Scott Davilla, the author of the ATVUSB-bootloader that does all the heavy lifting, and he believes that the maturing of this technology is a driving force behind the Apple TV sales.

Apple TV meets Linux

The atvusb-bootloader uses Linux

Based on Scott's download logs and some assumptions about what percentage of Apple TV customers might try this patch, I am inclined to believe the estimate of 2 million Apple TVs sold to date. While Apple sits back and watches, benignly, more and more customers are figuring out how to expand the capability of their Apple TV.

For those who may need some additional hints on how to get boxee or XBMC (a media center, similar to boxee) running on their Apple TV, a timely four page article with detailed instruction has been posted at The Register. The author goes into more detail than needed for, say, a simple boxee install, but one can never have too many reference sources.

A slightly different product, aTV Flash, based on the same bootloader is being developed right here in the Denver area by FireCore. They can do that because the atv-bootloader is open source. Mr. Davilla told me that this software doesn't violate the Apple TV licensing agreement. His software also provides a way to reset the Apple TV back to factory default if warranty work is required and the standard Apple technique for factory reset doesn't work (MENU + minus) on the remote.

Finally, on Friday, Jim Goldman published a summary of why Apple's stock has been climbing lately: financial fundamentals. (And probably combined with optimism that the Government's stimulus package is going to help.) However, it's easy to be optimistic for a few weeks while Apple's stock slowly climbs. Really bad news tomorrow about Mr. Jobs or something more global could quickly erase the gains amongst trigger happy investors. Even so, my take is that we've reached rock bottom. No where to go but up now.