Tag Archives | Mac Monday

Microsofties: There is No Hypocrisy

(Note: Yes, it’s Tuesday, but I thought I’d give you a break from Apple news, so here’s this week’s column.)

macmondayApparently WWDC has rattled some feathers in the Windows community. Apple is on the move, and its clear even in this recessionary environment consumers are still buying Macs.

The MacBook realignment was to be expected, and to bring system value back. I’m no fan of the way Apple releases new systems for this reason. Towards the end of the product cycle, the systems lose value because the internals do not change while the rest of the industry is continuously updating.

But that’s not what has the friends of Redmond upset.

Microsoft was mentioned during the keynote, especially surrounding the release of Windows 7. This is what whipped the Microsofties up into a near frenzy.

It appears the beef is this: Apple software chief Bertrand Serlet makes a comment saying Windows 7 is essentially the second coming of Vista.  This is leading into his discussion of how Snow Leopard has made development easier, while Windows development remains unnecessarily complex.

After all, this was a development conference, correct?

Let’s summarize. Apple is apparently hypocritical because Snow Leopard is the second coming of Leopard. Somehow, the Microsofties would have you believe that Apple sprung this on us without us knowing. But there’s one problem with that — we’ve known this for over a year now.

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A Layman’s Guide to Apple’s WWDC

macmondayMany had hoped that Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference would signal the triumphant return of Steve Jobs. It looks like that may not be happening, but there looks to be plenty of other possible outcomes for what we might see at Apple’s yearly developer confab.

Traditionally this has been a developer event, thus any announcements we see here usually are non-consumer. If its not consumer news, what should you expect? Announcements on Mac OS X, new computer systems, new development tools.

At WWDC 2009 it may be slightly different, but only because of the way Apple’s refresh cycle is falling combined with products it already had in the pipe that are ready for prime time. Below, I’ve listed what I think is the Most Likely, Likely, and Not Likely as a guide for those of us Apple fans who may not have the time (or will) to track every Apple rumor that comes across the wires. My thoughts are below the fold.

Before I forget: be sure to participate in our WWDC Prediction Challenge for a chance to win a $100 Apple gift certificate!

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Congratulations Michelle, It’s A Mac.

macmondayI got a phone call from my good friend Michelle the other day. She was genuinely excited. Normally these “I’m excited” calls have something to do with what she heard or saw that would remind us of our long-since-passed youth, but this call was different.

“What are you so excited about?” I asked.

She went into a long spiel about how she didn’t have the money right this second, but that she was getting the funds together for a big purchase. “I was in the Apple Store yesterday, and I started playing around with the laptops. They’re so cool! I’m getting a Mac!”

I laughed, but at the same time was genuinely pleased that Cupertino had won yet another convert. “Why’s this?”

Her reasons were much like the argument that us Mac enthusiasts put forth when comparing the platform to the PC. Its ease of use, the feature set, the asthetics. She also figured out on her own that her brand new iPod Touch 32GB would work a whole lot easier when paired with a shiny new MacBook.

(Maybe it was also the 4th Gen iPod that I gave her that opened her eyes to Apple, but I do digress.)

Michelle’s story is special for one reason. She does not fit the Mac user stereotype at all. She lives in a rural area, and is certainly as middle class as most of us. Her computer knowledge (and this is no knock against her) is certainly not technical — she’s no geek. Yet the Mac has appealed to her.

This got me to wonder — has the Mac community overreacted to the Laptop Hunters ads? Have we let Microsoft get under our skin with a PR campaign that in the end is really preaching to the choir?

I think so. Michelle’s a bargain hunter (I’ve been with her on shopping trips). Yes she could have just as easily gone for the cheap plastic Windows-based laptop, but she has decided not to.

Microsoft has overplayed its hand on price. If stories like Michelle’s are more common, could it just be even in a recessionary environment that consumers aren’t going to go cheap?

I’d argue yes. Through none of the Laptop Hunters ads did we hear anything about the value as it had to do with the system itself: instead we’re beaten over the head with the stigma that price is everything when it comes to computer shopping.

A simplistic view of the average computer consumer? Yes. Computers have become such a commodity these days where the public is actually more informed. Years ago, price played a big part in decisions. Consumers did not care what they got as long as it was a good deal.

In a more technical society, we now know what to look for. Many of these cheap PCs Microsoft has decided to hawk are exactly that — low-cost because the manufacturer decided to skimp in an effort to lower the price.

Plus, consumers know what they need. Apple has always decided to put its features first: this is their philosophy in their ads too. Take notice that price is never mentioned. Instead, the ad always seems to revolve around a feature set, which in the end drives home a argument of functionality as value vis a vis price as value.

No doubt Michelle has seen these ads. I haven’t asked her specifically, but I wonder if Apple’s campaigns are more successful because they sell the functionality first? Apparently even the average PC user is getting the message.

Maybe us Mac users need to step back, let Microsoft make a fool of itself in its ads and never mention the platform itself, and watch as PC users still decide that the package overall is more important than the price. Apple tax be damned.

Congratulations Michelle, it’s a Mac.


Let’s Get the App Store Approval Process Straight

macmondayApple is once again finding itself at the short end of the PR stick with Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor publicly taking the company to task over what is clearly still a inconsistent process on Apple’s part: its approval process for App Store applications.

As Jared touched on earlier this evening, an update to Reznor’s application, nin:access, was denied by Apple. It appears as if the problem lies in some of NIN’s content, which is readily available through iTunes to anyone.

I can see Apple’s preference to keep profane content out of the App Store, although as I’ll point out later the company is far from consistent in its application of the rules.

Apple’s reasoning is content from The Downward Spiral. Several of the songs on that album, especially “Closer,” may be a bit over the top for sensitive users. For those who’ve never heard it, lyrics from the song include it’s notable chorus:

I wanna [expletive] you like an animal
I wanna feel you from the inside
I wanna [expletive] you like an animal
My whole existence is flawed
You get me closer to God

The video (which may be what caught Apple’s eye) is pretty graphic — such that the TV version included several missing scenes in order to allow it to be shown on MTV — but at the same time, its far less offensive than some other things that have made it past the iTunes censors.

But get this: you can’t get The Downward Spiral directly from the application. It’s only in the band’s podcast.

Consider the “Baby Shaker” application, which would have probably still been in the store if it hadn’t been for the amount of negative coverage Apple got for leaving it through. This app was probably the most egregious example of Cupertino’s approval issues, but there’s a lot less severe ones, either in bad taste or just questionable altogether.

How about an App that tracked menstrual cycles of your girlfriend? Or the multitude of fart apps, including one that actually showed a person’s backside? Or an app that cost $1,000, yet didn’t do a single thing?

So let’s go back to the clause in the iPhone Developer Agreement that Apple’s using to explain it’s reasoning for rejecting Reznor’s update:

Applications must not contain any obscene, pornographic, offensive or defamatory content or materials of any kind (text, graphics, images, photographs, etc.), or other content or materials that in Apple’s reasonable judgement may be found objectionable by iPhone or iPod touch users.

Hmm. Baby Shaker wasn’t offensive? Or the menstrual cycle tracking applications, which could easily be obtained by those possibly too young (in their parent’s judgement) to be having sex? I’m not sure about the $1,000 application, but when there’s no value to an application, why is it allowed to be sold?

This inconsistent application of the rules just makes Apple look bad. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s good the company is gatekeeping a little bit. It results in better and safer applications. But why are some of these applications making it through?

Apple won’t talk and explain itself. All we’ve seen from them is the pulldown of the app, and then an apology if we’re lucky. Every time they’re asked how they’re picking applications, they’ll either defer or not comment at all.

So, we’re sit here leaving to wonder why stuff like what I’ve listed gets through, and other applications which don’t even really seem to meet the criteria listed above get rejected.

I don’t think that NIN really should have had their application rejected. What really changed between the first and second versions of this thing, and didn’t the first reviewer did any research on the band’s work?

Guess not.


Keeping Your Mac Malware Free

macmonday(Ed: Sorry we’re a day late this week!)

My post last week on Mac botnets created quite a stir here on the site. The assertion I made (to the consternation of some) was that it was time for the Mac community to swallow their pride and download and employ anti-malware applications. While several of our readers vocally disagree, i continue to hold this position. Simply put, there are too many valid reasons to protect ourselves.

Let me be perfectly clear that I do believe that Macs will never become as malware and virus-ridden as our PC counterparts. It is all but a fact that the Mac OS operating system has been built to a higher degree of security than Windows has only recently begun to even come close to matching.

At the same time, Mac is gaining increasing popularity. Security experts have often argued that it is not only Apple’s more secure code base that immunizes it from attack, but also its small market share. Think about it: if you were writing a virus that was aiming for worldwide attention, which platform would you pick? With Apple’s increasing user base, Macs will become an ever more popular target.

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