Particle Debris (week ending 3/12) Thefts and Smackdowns

It’s easy to surmise that the more a company spends on R&D, the better and more exciting its products will be. On Monday, Gizmodo plotted the R&D expenditures of Microsoft, Sony and Apple and compared them as a percentage of revenues. Microsoft spends the most on R&D, 15 percent of revenue, Sony spends about 8 percent, and Apple only 4 percent of revenue on R&D. Yet, if one were to rank the excitement and desirability of each company’s products, that ranking would be reversed. Clearly, Apple has some extra magic sauce that amplifies the effect of its R&D spending.

It’s no secret, I have been a big fan of the CBS TV show Numb3rs. So I was delighted to be directed to a video from an episode not long ago that shows a lot of code on the screen. The code turns out to be Objective-C, written by Charlie’s (David Krumholtz) fiancee, Amita (Navi Rawat). An astute viewer has captured the key segment and posted it to YouTube. In fact, the code comes from a book by Erica Sadun — confirmed by Erica herself.

Would one think it possible to run Snow Leopard on a vintage 1984 Macintosh? They said it couldn’t be done, but a fellow clever with hardware has made it happen. As the article says at TUAW, it’s a great conversation piece!

Look for companies that build iPad imitations to tout the ability to run Flash. Of course, more often than not, that’s by virtue of running Windows 7. So it’s kinda like a TV ad for a sleek convertible, cruising along a country road, and blonde in the right seat with her hair blowing in the wind. As the camera pans back, we see that the car is a Yugo. That kind of thing. As they used to say on TV, don’t be fooled by imitations!

Also, early in the week, I saw an interesting article by Jim “The Beard” Dalrymple about the eventual convergence of the iPhone and iPad OS at version 4.1. Mr. Dalrymple is well connected and knows what he’s talking about — generally. (See below also.)

Apparently, Apple’s tough talk about HTC’s infringements is shaking the confidence of developers. This Fortune/CNN Money article by Philip Elmer-DeWitt traces the Apple campaign back to comments made by Apple’s Tim Cook in January 2009. It’s a good summary of the players and the politics as Apple goes about protecting its own intellectual property. The interesting outcome? New opportunities for Microsoft’s Windows Mobile 7, and Microsoft is all tuned in, ready to spring.

Sometimes, Steve Jobs himself makes these nastygram phone calls. While it’s a bit self-serving, it’s still an interesting read to hear, in the blog of ex-Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz’s blog, how he handled the phone call he got from Mr. Jobs in: “Good Artists Copy, Great Artists Steal” He starts: “I feel for Google - Steve Jobs threatened to sue me too.”

Apple always has strong and mixed reactions to new products. That’s probably because people immersed in the PC world’s way of doing things don’t really understand Apple’s new products and what the company is trying to achieve. Here’s a look back at the initial reaction to some other famous Apple products. What’s funny, looking at the iPad comments by some, is that few industry observers have learned anything new about Apple in the last 20 years.

Later in the week, I ran across this article at AppleInsider about how Apple’s iPhone 4.0 will offer a version of multitasking that doesn’t kill the battery. For those who’ve overlooked this issue, note that the iPhone already offers multi-tasking. It’s just restricted to specific apps bundled with the system by Apple. Even so, people who aren’t paying attention surmise that the current iPhone can’t do multitasking at all! Read the article by Kasper Jade and Prince McLean to sort it all out and be in the know.

I have huge respect for Sascha Sagan. He’s a smartphone expert and a fixture in the community and at PC Magazine. Even so, this article, “Apple’s iPad Could Kill The Mac” demonstrates how a seed for notion that would take a decade or more to come to fruition, maybe longer, can lead to a hastily written editorial. If only the distinguished Mr. Segan understood the breadth of the activities that millions of Apple customers conduct in their Mac OS X-based Macs. And yet … do I believe that Macs will ultimately be forever altered or even deprecated as the iPad genre develops fully? I do. But it’ll take another 10-12 years. So what Mr. Segan got wrong was merely the timeline. Okay, half a cigar Mister S.

We’ve herd a lot about Apple toying with the idea of moving the default search engine on the iPhone from Google to Microsoft’s Bing. So I was interested to see this interview with Microsoft’s Bing Director, Stefan Weitz. Here’s a guy who is full of prayer lately that he can steal some serious business for Microsoft.

Finally, there have been a lot of misperceptions and outright misrepresentations about the Apple iPad. Few are better at straight talk than Jim Dalrymple. Here’s a must read article to get all your iPad facts straight: “Debunking the iPad bunk.” It’s fun to read The Beard explode the myths in his refreshingly blunt style.

That’s a wrap for all the technical news debris. Now go order (or reserve for pickup) your iPad before it’s too late. I did.