Particle Debris (week ending 6/19) Clueless in Seattle (and Austin) and Apple's Safari Secret

On Monday, Jason Snell over at Macworld wrote a scathing indictment of AT&T's business practices with the iPhone, in "AT&T's many missed iPhone opportunities." Mr. Snell argues that AT&T is risking its most valuable asset through a lack of communication and creativity. Of course, that assumes AT&T has anything more to risk, now that that they've pissed off Apple. Asking Steve Jobs for forgiveness instead of permission does not work.

Also on Monday, Roger Entner, SVP, Head of Research and Insights, Telecom Practice, explored how the significance of a US$99 price for the old iPhone 3G has been largely overlooked and under appreciated.

According to Nielsen’s Mobile Insights survey, which asks 25,000 Americans every month about their wireless attitudes and behaviors, the second most important factor -- noted by 20% of respondents -- as to why people did not pick the iPhone was its price.

This move was described as kneecapping the competition. Time will tell, but I tend to agree. A US$99 entry price for a darn good iPhone is likely to play havoc with the marketing and pricing plans of the competition. Apple does it again, just like with the iPod. Get out ahead, innovate fast, then squeeze the competition's financial lifeline with lower cost products. Apple calls it eliminating the price umbrella. I call it squashing the competition.

On Tuesday, Infoworld posted a really interesting article on how HTML 5 could kill off both Flash and Silverlight. After you stop salivating, go read it.

Midweek, I was made aware, via Twitter, of a hilarious video done by Google. The Jaywalking-like man on the street video asked this question: "What is a browser?" You know because you're using Safari or Firefox to read this. Watch the video to see what other people think a browser is. Watch out, it's an MTTN experience. [See TWoW below.]

Have you been annoyed by Apple's new placement of the reload button in Safari 4? Many of us have, but there's always a reason for things, and our Managing Editor, Jeff Gamet, nailed it when he noted that it looks an awful lot like it's designed for a multi-touch Apple iTablet running Snow Leopard. The end of the URL bar is a logical place to put a touch sensitive button. Jeff has a lot of UI intuition, and I instantly agreed. So did Gizmodo on Thursday.

It wasn't until Thursday that I discovered this interesting article by Seth Godin on bloated textbook prices. So bloated that one publishing executive (in Toronto) was able to buy a US$20M house. Why do I bring this up? Because the days of the text book on paper are numbered, and we all know how much value people put on digital content, even if it's a 400 page Calculus book. Apple and Amazon will soon own the electronic textbook market. So I hope that executive enjoys his house -- and can keep paying the real estate taxes when he's unemployed in 2011.

On Friday, I saw an article abut how Sony is selling a Vaio notebook, 15.4-inch screen, with a built-in Blu-ray player for US$879.00. Even in this poor economy, Blu-ray sales are doing very well, and one would think that such a computer would be a critical blow to Apple. But guess what? iTunes in Mac OS X trumps Blu-ray plastic discs on Vista. Vendors, blinded by Microsoft, keep throwing sh*t at Apple's fan -- guess where it goes?

Even though I didn't see this until Friday, it was posted on Monday by Seth Weintraub. Rumors are flying that Dell is going to produce an Android-based smartphone.

It always amuses me how companies that can't seem to sell their own stuff well become dazed by the success of other companies and focus on the product instead of their own practices and excellence. GM might as well start selling Blu-ray players. After all, I could hear them say, "If Blu-ray players are hot, maybe we should sell them too!" When a company starts thinking like that, you know they've totally hosed up the selling of their own products.

That's why Dell wants to sell a smartphone. I imagine it will do about as well as the Dell D.J. Can you imagine the contrast between Apple's development technology, SDK, Cocoa touch, Open GL|ES, and what Dell will come up with? One centimeter, pretty icons on a small LCD do not a smartphone make.

Finally, on Friday, the Edible Apple posted some screen shots of the coolest Apple store yet, in Scottsdale, Arizona. You can see right through, from front to back. If there were ever an example of a store design that invites the customer to come in and have fun, this is it.

Technical Word of the Week (TWoW):

MTTN: (acronym) Milk Through The Nose. Something so funny that you cough up your milk and blow it out in a spray. Something much funnier than a mere LOL or even ROTFL. Credit: David Pogue.