Particle Debris (week ending 5/14) Incompetence, Fear and Greed

What’s the difference between an exclusive deal with a partner in a competitive market and an illegal monopoly? A lot of people still haven’t figured that out. Anyway, here’s a good take on the exclusive arrangement and contract Apple has (or had) with AT&T by Engadget. It points out that contracts can be amended. Yep.

Expanding on that, I’ll predict, for the third time, that Apple will strike a deal with Verizon in 2010, and the AT&T exclusivity will end. My colleagues at TMO disagree with me, but Apple just cannot turn its back on the sales opportunities with Verizon — which has slightly greater U.S. market share than AT&T.

I once heard that the New York Stock Exchange is driven by only two things: fear and greed. I suppose the Apple iPad has created a market place where those two emotions also come into play, and so last week Borders announced its new eBook store, with over a million titles, and completely compatible with the iPhone and presumably the iPad, though not mentioned by name. We’ll know more in a few weeks. [Update: either i missed it or the Website was updated. The iPad is explicitly mentioned.]

Topherchris, an Internet enthusiast, has concocted a cute love/hate post card from Adobe to Apple. It’s very clever; take a look.

While we covered this at TMO, I can’t begin to say enough good things about Apple’s new iPad ad. I was growing weary of the cheesy, pop music accompanying the iPhone ads, and apparently Apple realized that the iPad merited a more serious approach. The narrator, with a deep voice, rolls out some powerful and key phrases that hit home in a sober, technical, yet fun tone. Check it out one more time to understand the brilliance of this Apple TV ad.

One of the tidbits of information that’s leading journalists to surmise that Apple will strike a deal with Verizon this year is the rumor that Taiwan’s Pegatron Technology will be building CDMA phones for Apple. Whether these are going to China or the U.S and Verizon, or both, isn’t known for sure. And Philip Elmer-DeWitt throws in a healthy dose of skepticism. Even so, it’s just one more piece of the puzzle that eventually leads to enough clues to draw a conclusion.

The Macintosh isn’t making a lot of news lately. That’s okay so long as we distinguish between what’s hot and long term reality. Millions of customers are still buying Macs, and I know I can’t live without one (or two). That’s why I was intrigued by this article, “Ten free apps to install on every new Mac.” I can’t disagree with the selection, and most everyone, I’m guessing, will run across something new and delightful here.

Have you ever wondered what’s going on behind the scenes when you watch Network TV shows on your Mac, iPhone, iPad? It’s not just a simple video stream. Eugene Wei, a VP with Hulu explained all the things that a player environment must do, for Hulu. (His comments have since been removed from the Hulu blog, but not before they were captured by AppleInsider.) The key here is that HTML5 still has some things to work out regarding an agreed upon codec and DRM method. As I’ve said before, commercial motivations to exploit the iPad should light a fire under the standards committees.

Apple is a large, successful and powerful company now. Their size, market cap, revenues, and cash assets make the company a force to be reckoned with. As a direct result of that, everything that Apple does results in growth. That’s important to understand.

Not only are Apple’s sales and revenues going up, iPad and iPhone sales booming, but every initiative Apple engages in can be expected to flourish. While not everyone likes Apple’s stand on Adobe’s Flash, numbers tell the real story. Again, Philip Elmer-DeWitt has uncovered numbers from Mefeedia that show the growing percentage of Web video that’s HTML/H.264 ready. This kind of chart suggests that Apple is successfully forcing the issue on the iPhone/iPad side and that Adobe has lost the war — at least with Apple products. I love charts like this that tell the story, especially when there’s a smart, credible, respected journalist publishing it.

Speaking of Adobe Flash, another thing I like is when an experienced developer jumps in and provides a sane, readable technical explanation of the ins and outs of a controversial issue. This article is by Carlos Nazareno, an interactive media artist, who has a great deal of Adobe Flash experience. You’ll learn a lot from him about where HTML5 stands right now vs. Flash and why Flash isn’t going away, at least on the PC side, for a long time. This is essential reading.

Finally, Mike Elgan at Datamation has written a credible and convincing article about how Apple is so far out front with the iPad that competitors will have a hard time catching up. The result could be that the iPad becomes a de facto standard for personal tablets. Mr. Elgan thinks that’ll be a shame, for competitive reasons, and his approach is calm and sensible from a certain standpoint. You may hope that Apple dominates forever, but Mr. Elgan makes some good points, especially about how incompetent the current competition is. Only Hewlett Packard with its Palm/Web OS on a tablet has a fighting chance — if HP doesn’t screw up as well. Highly recommended: “Why We Need a Real iPad Killer. And Quick.

Business Week’s Cliff Edwards and Peter Burrows have a similar take on how tough it’ll be to compete with Apple: “Tablets: The Scramble to Be Second.”