Particle Debris (week ending 3/26) Too Much, Too Good, Too Fast

The convergence of TV and the Internet is not happening the way people thought it would. In a few paragraphs, I’ll point to a story that hits the nail on the head regarding how it’s happening. Meanwhile, Google is going at it the old fashioned way, by working with Intel and Sony, to integrate some aspects of the Internet into modern TVs.


“The partners envision technology that will make it as easy for TV users to navigate Web applications, like the Twitter social network and the Picasa photo site, as it is to change the channel.”


Good luck with that.

On Monday, Silicon Alley Insider compared Amazon’s Kindle app for the iPad to Apple’s iBookstore (via the iBook app) for iPad. Dan Frommer thinks Apple has won the design war, but having this kind of competition on the iPad can only be a Good Thing™.

Speaking of SAI, they publish these fantastic charts that I subscribe to. Boundless good information in graphical form comes forth often from SAI. Here’s one that shows the correlation between Apple’s market share and the number of retail stores (upper right).

Even better, the article points out, correctly, that there’s a difference between correlation and causation. The causation could be other effects, for example, Apple ads, word of mouth, product placement in TV shows and movies, frustration with Windows, etc. Then the opening of Apple stores simply reflects the sales opportunities for emerging new customers. So the opening of Apple’s stores can’t be construed as the cause of the correlation. In any case, the chart suggests that Apple isn’t done opening new stores.

Have you ever wondered who’s responsible for the original design of the Apple glass cube at Apple’s Fifth Avenue store in Manhattan? It’s Peter Bohlin, and here’s the fascinating story from Inga Saffron at

Opinions vary on the potential for success with the Apple iPad. So it’s good to hear from very bright, experienced people, not just some “meh-sayer” (see TWoW below). Wired interviewed 13 of the brightest technical minds for their view on the rise of the personal tablet. You’ll hear the viewpoints of Nicholas Negroponte, Marshall McLuhan (via Gary Wolf), Fake Steve Jobs (Daniel Lyons, Newsweek), Chris Anderson, James Fallows (The Atlantic) and others. They talk about some uses most of us haven’t even pondered yet. It’s a must read.

When I worked for Apple, Apple was into Supercomputing/High Performance Computing (HPC) big time, (and so was I) thanks to the initiatives by Virginia Tech and COLSA in Huntsville. However, Apple decided to get out of that business in 2005, and one has to wonder what might have happened if Apple had stayed in it for the long haul — as the industry begged them to do. Here’s a story showing that even lowly Dell can pocket a billion dollars selling clusters. I think Apple could have pocketed more than a billion dollars a year selling to the HPC community, but that would have required time, commitment, partnerships, technical allocation, and a steady hand by an enabled senior scientist at Apple. Alas, it was not to be. Good-bye to the billions, Apple. We hardly knew ye.

Here’s the article I alluded to above about the convergence of the Internet and TV, and how it’s really happening. You can probably attest to this yourself. Basically, the convergence is happening as we watch TV, but augmented by a computer on our lap to check on things — like facts, cast, background, the International Movie Database (IMDB) or time-shared surfing during commercials. The phenom will only get stronger when we all have iPads on our laps in the evening. Zowie.

Have you heard about Line2? This might be hottest iPhone app of 2010. Basically, it’s a full featured VOIP app that complements (or replaces!) the AT&T service. David Pogue thinks it’ll have AT&T execs losing sleep, and I’m probably going to experiment with it myself — AT&T 2G/3G service at my house … well, sucks. Read all about it in Mr. Pogue’s story at the NYT.

You may not remember the infamous successor to the Apple II. It was the Apple III, circa 1980, a gorgeous Apple computer that we all lusted for. Unfortunately, it had some technical problems — one of which was the refusal by Steve Jobs to allow a fan in the much more powerful Apple III. Once it got a bad rap for failing soon out of the box, the computer became a commercial failure. Even so, it was oh, so beautiful, and I know I wanted one!

This fellow had his dream come true. Check it out.

We know that Steve Jobs has been creating a fuss lately by replying to customer e-mails with pithy one-liners. PC World has surmised that Mr. Jobs is now using that technique, on his own iPad, in place of controlled leaks, and thoughtfully included a reference to my own wildly famous article on controlled leaks.

I think that’s a good theory because nothing gets people’s attention more than an e-mail from the Apple CEO, and it’s a good way to keep the juices flowing and everyone’s attention on the iPad. It’s a win-win for everyone, and Mr. Jobs retains control and the spotlight. Sweet.

Finally, from a former Apple Director, my former boss, and a man who knows a lot about Apple, having worked for Apple for two decades, here is an expose on Apple decision making that’s totally on the mark. If you want to know some of the naked truth about what it’s like to work at Apple, you’ll enjoy reading, “The real weakness of Apple,” by David Sobotta. These days he’s living on the beach and enjoying the hell out of life.

Technical Word of the Week (TWoW)

Meh-sayer” n. A person who expresses indifference or apathy towards something (or everything).