Particle Debris (wk. ending 7/1) The Dog Ate My Homework

| Particle Debris

The jury remains out on mobile payments. Right now, it’s a chicken and egg situation, and as Business Insider says, “Consumers will only use a payments service that tons of merchants use. Merchants will only use a payments service that tons of consumers have.” I, for one, am not real excited about Facebook dominating this market, and my hope is that Apple will jump in and do it in the customary Apple way, that is, secure and foolproof.

If you’ve been wondering about Classic apps and the future of Rosetta under OS X Lion, Christopher Breen has written the “Last word on Lion and application compatibility.

Entrance, Apple, Maiden NC

Apple’s NC Data Center, a veritable hotbed of bustle and activity 

Photo Credit: Bob Cringely

There has been an enormous amount of curiosity about Apple’s new data center in Maiden, NC. So the inimitable Bob Cringely drove by and took some pictures to get the lay of the land. Here’s his assessment of what he saw, on site. “Have you heard the one about Apple’s data center?” Bob is a pretty astute observer, so his findings are a bit unsettling.

This week TMO wrote about the new TRIM function for factory SSDs installed in Macs. However, Other World Computing found some additional gotchas related to the 10.6.8 update, especially related to the SSD and SATA 2.0 speeds: “10.6.8: The Little Update That Didn’t

Speaking of Apple hidden gotchas, there has been some discussion about whether Apple is really using a server-grade hard disk in the Time Capsule, as the company advertises. CNET looked into it and found that there is some wriggle room in the definitions and standards. The loose terminology probably helps Apple create a desired perception. Here’s what CNET found: “Does Apple’s Time Capsule really use a ‘server-grade’ hard drive?

At TMO, we always try to research the latest industry numbers so we can provide the facts and back up our editorial assertions. That means collecting a lot of URLs and organizing them. Here’s one of those researched articles that puts a lot of the iPhone data all in one place, and I know I’ll be referring to it often to get the numbers. So will you. “The iPhone Effect: How Apple’s phone changed everything.

I mentioned this earlier in the week, but the saga bears repeating because there’s more to report. A senior RIM executive, according to the Boy Genius Report, sent them an open letter describing how he had lost confidence in his company: “Open letter to BlackBerry bosses: Senior RIM exec tells all as company crumbles around him.” The RIM exec didn’t actually use the word “crumble.” — that was an editorial choice of words by BGR. Not long after that story was published, RIM officially responded and tried to put a good face on the whole affair. Here’s the followup story and RIM’s response. “RIM responds to open letter published by BGR.

Dog Ate My Homework

Tech theme for the week

The RIM response starts by questioning the authenticity of the letter — which BGR stands behind. The rest of the letter is basically suit-speak and steps around the criticism what was leveled against them. As some observers have suggested, it would have been better if RIM had not responded at all.

Like everyone else, I’ve been following the Final Cut Pro X kerfuffle with Apple and it’s high end video editing customers. What I’ve learned is that everyone is coming at the issue from a different angle, with different needs and perspectives, so the issue seems very confusing. The only way to cut through all that is to understand the Apple politics, and that’s what this former Apple employee, Sachin Agarwal, provides: “Why Apple built Final Cut Pro X.” There’s always a story behind the story.

This was all Apple’s fault. Apple tends to create hype for new products without revealing the technical details about its new product that professionals need. As a result, the default assumption is that the new product is better than the old product. In the case of FCP X, that turned out not to be the case, and Apple has been forced to offer refunds to angry users. Now, Adobe is taking advantage of Apple’s stumble by offering discounts, a Switcher Program, to lure then over to Adobe’s own products.

This is nothing new with Apple. The company cloaks its new products in secrecy and expects customers to buy new products sight unseen, all wound up by the hype. But when it comes to people who make their living with Apple products, Apple needs to be more professional, more transparent. It’s always been a constant problem with Apple, and I wish they’d come to terms with it.

Also, like many others, I was hoping that the Hewlett Packard TouchPad would give Apple some healthy competition. This week, the reviews started rolling in, and it appears that HP made the classic mistake. Instead of starting simple but clean and reliable, and taking its lumps like Apple does, HP decided to shoot for a lot at launch and didn’t nail everything perfectly. The result is that no reviewer was very enthusiastic about the release version, although many expressed high hopes for the future. Here’s a collection of some major reviews:

HP TouchPad

HP TouchPad

My first reaction to the interview with Richard Kerris (formerly with Apple) is that the HP/Palm positioning is disingenuous. To say that the target isn’t Apple but, rather, is the enterprise sounds good until you realize that the iPad already has significant penetration in the enterprise. The iPad already meets the needs of enterprise users, in spades, so HP’s real job is to explain why the iPad can’t meet the enterprise needs, but the TouchPad can. That will be an interesting challenge, both technically and politically.

I wish you all a safe, happy and rain-free holiday weekend.

[UPDATE: This just in:  A humorous look at the organizational charts of some major corporations.]


Photo credits, in order: Bob Cringely,, Hewlett Packard


Lee Dronick

Cringely’s story about the Apple Data Center is certainly interesting. Could they be planning on leasing out server space?


“unsettling”... I have to concur… (cold shivers…)




Apple is many things, but a practical joker it is not - unless dark humour is its next disruptive foray. While I respect much of what Bob Cringely writes, I think that he is way off (measured in astronomical units) on this one. Nor would he be the first to cast doubt or even frankly deride Apple’s efforts pre-release. And that is the key point - this remains under wraps in pre-and even early - release. How often, after release, and usually only after the passage of time, do critics appreciate what Apple have done, and why they did it. Recall concern and criticism of Apple’s cash hoarde? Only recently have we begun to appreciate the wisdom of such stockpiling. I for one, despite this being perhaps counterintuitive, would withhold judgement on Apple’s wisdom or lack thereof over Apple’s data centre.

The RIM “open letter” and response is telling. Again, parallel acts of desperation are a poor proxy for product strategy. So successful have Apple been at redefining the centre of the mat over the consumer and end-user experience that everyone now has to compete there, a position that plays to Apple’s strengths and allows it to pummel the competition. The challenge for RIM, as I see it, is for it to incorporate some of Apple’s best business principles and practices, on the one hand, but use them to create distinct products and services, on the other. No mean feat. Apple’s products are such a powerful centre of mass, that most of their competitors, with notable exceptions (e.g. MS’s WinPhone 7), cannot help but move to imitate. The response letter from RIM senior management offers little encouragement that they are making the right shifts in corporate culture and practice.

HP should be taking note.

BTW, loved last week’s nod to Spock’s makeshift tricorder. There is nothing more inspiring than truly creative solutions, using the simplest if not crudest technology, that effectively address a complex problem. It’s the sine qua non of human genius.


I thought Cringley was off-base.  Google Maps shows two entrances to the Maiden, NC Apple Data Center.  I wonder if he camped out at the unpopular one?  Apple’s not silly, so they built it for very sober reasons.  They have high ambitions. I expect the data center was built to accommodate those.  I look forward to them shaking up the telephone and cable tv markets (and any other they have in their sights).


It certainly seems to me that the datacenter is working. How else could Apple expect millions of people to download Lion? We’re talking about several GB of data per person.

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