The Debt We Owe to Apple & Smartphone Bliss

Even before the Carrier IQ debacle broke out, PC Magazine’s Security Watch took another angle on Android security. Sara Yin reported on a list from Bit9, an enterprise security firm, related to what Android phones are most insecure based on the OS it has out of the box. That is, if you buy the phone today, what OS is installed? And how vulnerable is it assuming the customer doesn’t upgrade? It’s called the Bit9 “Dirty Dozen” and the article is “The 12 Most Vulnerable Smartphones.”

The article above reinforces a theory I have. There’s a massive movement to mobility right now because, well, people are always on the move. But seriously, I think another reason for the popularity of smartphones and iPads is their apparent simplicity. The reality is that, thanks to miniaturization, we’re carrying around a supercomputers by 1990 standards, with a UNIX operating system, and gigabytes of storage. Apple showed the way on how make them easy to use, but that’s turned out to be deceptive.

I think people got tired of fussing with PCs, Windows upgrades and virus protection. So they tend to think of the smartphone as small, friendly and simple. There’s no real need to upgrade the OS because it’s so darn small. Carried to its logical extreme, why would you bother to upgrade the OS in your earring? See what I mean? In reality, smartphones are remarkably complex devices and need your undivided attention when it comes to privacy and security, just like your Mac. But many customers just hum and hide their heads in the sand. I call it Mobility Bliss.

head in the sand

This falls under the “don’t mess with your brand,” department. Just like the recent Coca-Cola polar bear fiasco, Ubuntu, a Linux distribution made the same mistake and changed the default UI over to Unity. The result seemed to correlate with a precipitous drop in installations. “Ubuntu: Wake up and smell the Unity against you.” Where was the guy in the room who should have stoof up and said, “We can’t do that. It would confuse and annoy our customers and betray our brand.” At Apple, messing with the brand isn’t even conceived of.

Last week, I reported on some malls who planned to track shoppers by keying on the signal from their cell phones. Fortunately, Sen. Charles Schumer (D, N.Y.) gave them a call, and they dropped the idea. Pronto. Ah, baby steps. “Malls retreat on plans to track shoppers’ cell phones.”

You’ve probably heard the discussion about how we’re in the “Post-PC era.” The movement to iPads is costing the PC industry dearly in lost DRAM sales. On top of that, Apple’s customers are finding new ways to use iPads in environments where there weren’t PCs before. Dan Frommer has some interesting thoughts on that in: “Apple’s real iPad opportunity: “Putting iPads where there weren’t PCs before.” The combination of iPad growth plus PC decline gets magnified. It’s like, in football, when you’re on the opponent’s goal line and throw a pick-six for 99 yards the other way. There’s a 14 point reversal.

Last week, I was reading this article about IT debt. The thesis is that some developers assiduously maintain their products, even stay ahead of the curve, and so surprise and delight their customers. Other companies drag their feet and try to milk the customer for all they can with aging code. “Milkmen.” And so the IT manager spends a lot of time dealing with issues, a time debt, never quite getting ahead. The entire article was in the context of workload on the part of IT managers.

But it got me thinking. We tend to give Apple a pass when it comes to technology development because Apple moves relentlessly forward, leaving whole technologies and industries behind, flatfooted, disintermediated, and hopelessly foolish looking. But in reality, let’s look at our Apple debt. How much work do we face keeping all our family’s Macs, iPads and iPhones updated, maintained, synced? With all the new technologies Apple throws at us, Ping, Genius modes, M.A.S., iTunes Match, iPads, iPhones, iPod touches, iCloud, MobileMe migration, Apple ID management, AppleCare, iBooks and so on, how much of a debt load is Apple putting on an average family? I’ll tell you this, it’s a whole lot more than it was ten years ago when all we had was two Macs and a printer in the house.

Now you know why your sister-in-law is running iOS 2.0 on her iPhone 3G. Can she make calls? Yep. Don’t push it — she’ll just ignore you.


You’ve been reading a lot lately about Apple and its lawsuits against companies that Apple thinks are stealing its intellectual property (IP). But have you thought about why companies copy? It may be all to easy to write it off to stupidity, greed and laziness. But there’s more to it all than you might think at first blush. Here’s an interesting article that explores the psychology of the copycats. Good stuff.


Speaking of Apple and leaving old technologies behind (that’s my clever segue), here’s a cool compendium of “11 Sounds That Your Kids Have Probably Never Heard.” After you watch (and listen to!) all these cool videos, it’ll be time to give your iPad a hug.

45 turntable

Source: Mental Floss

With the explosive growth of streaming TV, will ISPs react badly by adding caps and surcharges? Or will they charge the companies the deliver the video, like Netflix? Who will, in turn pass the charge on to us. It seems that the legacy days of unlimited Internet access for a flat fee is crashing headlong into Internet television, and something’s gotta give. Here’s a very good, well researched overview: “Watching Netflix Could Lead to Higher Cable Bills.”

Finally, awhile back I wrote an essay about Apple’s well thought out crusade against Samsung and others for IP violations. Here’s an good article that expands on that theme and shows how some of the behind-the-scenes combat is playing out. I’ll say it again. If you don’t think Apple is deadly serious in this war, think again. “Apple vs Samsung lawsuit full of secret combat.”


Uncredited images: iStockPhoto