Particle Debris (wk. ending 5/28) Big Brother, Branding and Apple TV rebirth?

Is Apple turning into Big Brother? It’s a popular notion that many have seized upon, well, because some people are always looking for new and imaginative ways to cast Apple as the bad guy. However, Chris Matyszczyk at CNET has a much more sober and intelligent view of things and suggests that Apple is nothing like that at all: “Google calling Apple ‘Big Brother’ might seem, to some, a little like (with all due respect to both gentlemen) Hugo Chavez calling George Bush the ‘devil’.” This is a good read and includes the modified Google version of Apple’s 1984 commercial (Flash).

Along those lines, the New York Times noted this week that in the 1990s, a Silicon Valley attorney, Gary Reback played a large role in bringing the weight of the U.S. Government’s antitrust oversight down on Microsoft. Now he has Google in his sights. The NYT quotes him: Google is the “arbiter of every single thing on the Web, and it favors its properties over everyone else’s … What it wants to do is control Internet traffic. Anything that undermines its ability to do that is threatening.” The NYT goes into considerable depth on the pros and cons of an investigation and the various players and their motives. Good background on the politics here in “Sure, It’s Big. But is That Bad?

The next item isn’t strictly along the parameters of Apple, Microsoft, Google news, but it’s so good, I couldn’t pass it up. It’s a premake of George Lucas movie, The Empire Strikes Back. “What if Star Wars was a 50s 3-D Movie?” the trailer asks. How would it look? Now you know. How many 1950’s SciFi movies can you recognize in this premake?

When preparing a presentation in, say, Keynote does the nature of the audience affect how you build your slides? Les Posen says it does, and if you want to polish your presentation skills, he has some great ideas in this Part I: “Using Keynote to train scientists to present: knowing your audience.” This is important because technical people, scientists as well, are often terrible communicators for a variety of reasons. They assume the listener knows more than they do, and the scientist is often embarrassed or reluctant to invoke good PR skills. Newsweek recently published a sharp, to the point essay on this. It explains why scientists are losing the PR war on many fronts: the environment, energy and health.

Do you have a list of iPad apps you’d like to see published? Macworld has its own list, so you can compare notes. Dan Frakes posted: “iPad apps we’d like to see” this week.

We often speak of branding as a way to instill a favorable feeling about a company in the customer’s mind, but branding is not done just for the sake of good will. It affects customer tendencies when it comes time to choose a product. It’s all explained in “Why Apple’s Gross Margin’s Are So High.” If some one asks you how Apple got so much cash in the bank, point them to this article.

I guess everyone knows by now that I worked for David Sobotta when I was at Apple, and he has his own blog that often discusses life at Apple. In this edition of Applepeels, he starts off with an interesting discussion about trust and his interaction with the Nova Scotia Department of Education in his early days at Apple — and then contrasts that to the environment at Apple about the time I was there. Check out: “A good day at Apple” for many interesting insights.

You’ve probably read here and there about the problem with Android OS fragmentation, how some customers are stuck with Android 1.5 phones that can’t be upgraded, and so on. Here’s the best article I’ve seen yet, by Andreas Constantinou, that explains the three dimensions of Android fragmentation: codebase, release, and profile fragmentation. Makes me glad I have an iPhone.

You read this week that Robbie Bach was fired from Microsoft. But did you know why? This short blurb puts two and two together: Basically Mr. Bach was fired because Hewlett Packard bought Palm. Still don’t see the connection? Find out more in “The reason Robbie Bach was fired.” I believe the author has nailed it.

Matt Asay at CNET thinks that Microsoft needs a new brand for its mobile products. It’s a persuasive argument in reference to Windows Phone 7. (Doesn’t Microsoft envision mobile products that aren’t phones?) Here’s the salient quote: “Windows isn’t a brand that speaks to consumers….It’s certainly not a brand that tells the world Microsoft has something revolutionary to say about mobile.” And we all know how important branding is (see above).

Now that the iPad is selling like hotcakes, I have been expecting the dedicated eBook readers to come under severe financial pressure. After all, are book companies in the book business or the computer hardware business? My (and your) suspicions are confirmed in this analysis at Gigaom: “Why e-Book Reader Sales Are Seen Heading South.” It’s a no brainer, and you have to wonder why companies keep coming out with dedicated hardware when the iPad is so affordable. Once again, Apple gets it and the other CEOs, outside the computer industry, are clueless.

If you thought that maybe the recent, abrupt change in early termination fees by the major wireless carriers had the attention of the FCC, you’re right. But not for the amount of the fee. Here’s some background on the FCC’s thinking.

We’ve all been waiting for Apple to come out of its hobby phase for the Apple TV. Maybe the end is near. On Friday, engadget posted a rumor “confirmed by a source very close to Apple” that there’s a next generation Apple TV coming that will, apparently, compete with Google TV. It’s mind-blowing. Read about it at: “The next Apple TV revealed: cloud storage and iPhone OS on tap… and a $99 price tag.” I can’t wait.