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Apple Mozilla

Steve Jobs: Thoughts On Flash

Apple today published a letter from Steve Jobs aptly title “Thoughts on Flash“. What’s interesting isn’t so much what he said, but what he alluded to. This letter is about Flash, but it’s also about the future if the iPhone platform strategy. It also alludes to the future importance of WebKit and the open web. Lets walk through this. From his points:

First, there’s “Open”.

Steve is right. Flash isn’t really “open”. The iPhone isn’t either by any means. In fact it’s the most restricted computing platform in the world as far as I know. What he did note is that the iPhone uses WebKit and by proxy the web is the most open platform on the planet. That’s very noteworthy.

Second, there’s the “full web”.

Flash video itself isn’t that great by todays standards. That’s why sites like YouTube are serving HD video in H.264 rather than VP6. H.264, VP8 and Theora are the future. If all 3 or just one will survive remains to be seen. Regardless any of them can be played outside of Flash. The dependency on Flash to build a player is going away more and more each day.

Regarding games, this is a silly point. Almost all Flash games need a keyboard or mouse to work. They would never work with a touch screen. Nor would they scale to fit the screen. They would need to be significantly reworked/rewritten.

This is yet more alluding to WebKit and HTML5 where there are solutions already in place.

Third, there’s reliability, security and performance.

It’s pretty hard to dispute the reliability of Flash. It’s by far the driving force behind things like out of process plugins (OOPP) in Firefox among other browsers. It’s also been subject to lots of security vulnerabilities.

Fourth, there’s battery life.

The WSJ quotes Adobe’s Shantanu Narayen as saying the claims of Flash being battery draining are “patently false” but if you look at a CPU monitor while browsing a page with Flash, you can see the load increase quite a bit. Blocking flash on your browser does speed things up and keep your system cooler. I’m very suspect that Adobe has solved this in cell phones when they don’t even seem to have it under control in Windows.

Fifth, there’s Touch.

I already mentioned that mouse/keyboard interfaces just don’t work on the iPhone. No need to rehash that.

Sixth, the most important reason.

That’s actually a vague header. The reason is that they don’t want a third-party sitting between the iPhone API’s and developers. If that happens, developers are limited to what that third-party decides to implement. At the very most developers on the Flash platform get whatever is supported on all Flash platform (greatest common denominator).

That leaves Apple in a stupid position. They could implement killer features in the iPhone and create amazing API’s to take advantage of the features. But if Adobe doesn’t see a way to support things across platforms, or just doesn’t see the cost/benefit of implementing that feature, developers can’t use it. That marginalizes the product for Apple as well as developers.

Conclusion

I found this very interesting that he closed it like this:

New open standards created in the mobile era, such as HTML5, will win on mobile devices (and PCs too). Perhaps Adobe should focus more on creating great HTML5 tools for the future, and less on criticizing Apple for leaving the past behind.

In February of 2007 Steve Jobs wrote another letter on DRM. It’s noteworthy because in January 2009 Apple launched the ability to buy non-DRM protected music. The letter was really a hint at where things were going. He’s repeating the PR strategy that he used then, make no mistake of it.

I have a feeling the day will come where the App Store is deprecated in favor of promoting HTML5 based Applications either directly off the web or packed similar to how Dashboard Widgets are done now on Mac OS X. The App Store will be around for quite some time, but it will eventually morph.

That is why WebKit is so important to Apple. They want to abstract their OS to the point where they can provide very high level hooks into features they want developers to be able to use. The current iPhone App SDK was a solution created by Apple as a way to let developers put applications on the iPhone as an afterthought. The moderation is so that they can keep their security record intact and could shut down a malicious app before trouble becomes rampant. That puts them in the position where they can either approve all content and be viewed as sleazy by more conservative folks, or they can let everything go and accept that reputation. They obviously made their decision. Developers and some geeks hate it, but 99% of the rest of the world doesn’t even know about the process. Nobody wants to know how sausage is made.

The App Store will likely morph to feature Dashboard Widget like applications (not to different from Palm’s WebOS). Apple will still be able to cash in via that distribution point since they can use DRM giving them the only way to actually sell a protected application. You can view them online via you’re browser.

That’s my prediction. The day will come when the iPhone SDK that we know today will be deprecated. WebKit and HTML5 aren’t there today, but the day will come when they will be the tier 1 development platform for the iPhone. Steve Jobs is just laying the groundwork today.

For desktops, other platforms and browsers it’s worth noting that there’s a lot to gain here.

Categories
Apple

WWDC 2009 Predictions

As tradition goes, here are my predictions:

  • iPhone OS 3.0 Announced (100%) – Notice I said “announced” not released. Apple last released iPhone OS 3.0 beta 5 on May 25th. I’m suspicious that they won’t just go from beta to final on developers over the course of 2 weeks. I’d expect some sort of release candidate to sit in between. I think we’ll get a solid date. I’d put the odds of a 3.0 official release being available at about 50%. “Public Beta”? It just seems odd for Apple to go from beta to release like that. Apple did release an iTunes upgrade featuring 3.0 compatibility. Mixed messages? Yea. But a GM release seems a little unlikely.
  • iPhone v3 Announced (100%) – Apple will announce the iPhone 3rd Generation. Faster CPU, 50% chance of dual core or larger architectural change, better graphic capabilities, video support, more memory, more storage, same form factor. I think we can realistically see up to 32 GB capacity. Better (3MP+) camera. Battery life improvements will be minimal at best. The iPhone 3G sold well enough with its battery life making the pressing factor CPU performance. I’m also skeptical about radio as audio can be delivered somewhat low-bandwidth over EDGE or 3rd party FM adapter. Also radio/CD combos never really sold that well, and rarely were offered on MP3 players (notably never the iPhone).
  • Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard Announcement (85%) – Apple will announce the expected release date down to 1-2 month target for Snow Leopard, solid feature set, preview the latest version and provide new builds.
  • Lots of demos (99%) – Apple seems to love to parade developers on stage to show off their apps. Expect to see tons of iPhone 3.0 apps, perhaps even some “look how much faster/better my app is on Snow Leopard” presentations.
  • Steve Jobs Appearance (65%) or mention (90%) – Legend has it Steve is expected to return to Apple at the end of the month in full capacity. I fully expect him to appear in person before the media to prove he’s looking healthy. There is a decent shot he’ll make some sort of cameo appearance at WWDC 2009. It’s also possible he’ll demo something at a soon to be announced event for a hardware refresh in July/August. I think he’ll at least get a mention and official confirmation he’s coming back at the end of the month.
  • iLife / some other software upgrade 60% – Apple likes to bundle upgrades to any of it’s less notable software products into larger announcements so that they get some media attention “also announced was…”, even if it’s a footnote. Because of that, I think there’s a notable chance they will announce some upgrade.

It’s mainly a software event, so I don’t expect any more hardware than iPhone 3.0. I think overall it won’t be as explosive as last year when App Store launched. Then again… Apple may have a trick or two up its sleeves. We’ll know Monday.

Categories
Apple

Happy 25 Mac

Macintosh - Insanely Great

It all started January 24, 1984. Not long thereafter a PC pundit would insist every year that Apple would go out of business. 25 years later Apple is still around.

Enjoy the 1984 Macintosh launch presentation. That’s when Steve Jobs “reality distortion field” was a mere toddler (the term was coined in 1981 by Bud Tribble). Also noteworthy is Steve Jobs didn’t wear his trademark St. Croix mock turtleneck, Levi’s 501 blue jeans, or New Balance 991 sneakers. I don’t see bottled water either 😉 .

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Apple

Leave Steve Jobs Alone!

Leave Steve Jobs Alone

Funny. These parodies will never get old… or will they? For those unfamiliar here’s the original.

[Hat Tip: Real Dan Lyons]

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Apple

WWDC 2008 Predictions

And the a tradition continues. Here’s my predictions for WWDC 2008. Steve Jobs will announce the following:

iPhone 3G

Well duh. At this point if it’s not at least announced, Apple’s stock is going to tank. There’s a ton of stuff to back this up including AT&T telling employees not to take vacation in the near future. And mystery shipments of presumed iPhones. I’ve got a good idea what the technical specs will likely be.

AT&T Subsidy

AT&T will likely subsidy the new iPhone when purchased with a 2 year contract to help lower the price and encourage more people to buy it. This is looking even more likely as the economy declines and potential buyers may now be more hesitant.

.mac to become me.com and mobileme.com

.mac will finally die and be replaced with me.com and mobileme.com. I suspect mobileme.com will be free for iPhone users. me.com may be paid if Apple does it in-house, or free if they contract the functionality out to someone like Google (which is likely).

Mac OS X 10.6 Insights

I don’t think we’ll see it until at least late 2009, more likely early 2010, and I doubt Steve will suggest any faster of a timeline. Remember after 10.3 the plan was slower OS releases. I suspect it will stay that way. I don’t think Apple likes the idea of two Mac OS X branches, the mobile and desktop one. I suspect 10.6 will be an effort to “unify” the platform at least from a marketing perspective. Starting from WWDC 2008 onwards I suspect a “Mac OS X powered phone” will be more common branding. Again Apple’s goal is to sell computers. Using the iPhone as a method to sell the desktop experience is pretty obvious. But what does that mean for the OS? Likely a lot of focus on things like Sync, the future of tech (64bit, multi-core, intel) and blurring the distinction between phone and computer. I don’t think we’ll see much more than a little eye candy and some buzz words considering we’re not far from Leopards release. Just enough to get the press talking about it.

New Desktops / Laptops

I don’t think Apple plans any desktop/laptop announcements just yet, I suspect they will hold off until August as tradition. At that point pretty much all of Apple’s computer lines are due for a major overhaul. I suspect the MacBook Pro may be the first to experience a major design change. Apple desperately needs a mid-range tower to build more market share as the Mac mini is under powered and the Mac Pro is very expensive. If anything is announced I suspect it will be just that.

Special Guests

No idea who the special guests will be. If the new iPhone is based on Atom, I suspect an Intel Exec. Other than that, really don’t know. Likely an iPhone developer or two will make an appearance during the iPhone Apps part. No clue on musical guest.

So there you have it. We’ll see Monday what I got right.

Categories
Apple

Woz In Spaceship Earth

Last week it seemed that Steve Jobs would appear in Epcot’s Spaceship Earth, while Woz would get shafted. Apparently that’s not the case. Gizmodo has some pictures of the new Spaceship Earth that feature a larger-boned scruffy fellow sitting in a garage. As a opposed to a lanky guy. So now it seems Woz is featured in Spaceship Earth.

The character also has a very similar shirt to that of a somewhat famous picture. Another thing Gizmodo didn’t even notice is that you don’t really see Jobs wearing glasses until sometime in the 80’s. In fact, I don’t think Jobs was really seen with glasses until after his first stint at Apple (most if not all pictures show him without). Wozniak on the other hand is seen with glasses dating as far back as the 70’s when this scene would have been taking place. This leads me to believe this character must indeed be Steve Wozniak.

More pictures can be found at lifthill.

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Apple

Steve Jobs In Spaceship Earth At Epcot

According to a blog post at distant creations, a Steve Jobs like character will be in the newly remodeled Spaceship Earth at Epcot. Missing will be Steve Wozniak. The character apparently won’t be referenced by name. It should be noted Steve Jobs is a member of Disney’s Board of Directors and the largest shareholder.

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Apple Mozilla

iPhone/iPod touch SDK On The Way

Readers know I’ve been big on Apple opening up the iPhone/iTouch to developers since the beginning. Apple finally came through announcing a SDK will be made available, though not until early next year. It specifically noted Apps will work on the iPod touch as well. About time. All of a sudden these devices went from being cool, but not really worthwhile to having massive potential. Still missing on the iPhone is 3G, but that’s coming, and likely in an ’08 refresh of the product line.

Gizmodo has an interesting banner on top of their coverage of the announcement. Notice the positioning of the Firefox logo. This comes pretty soon after the announcement of the Firefox Mobile effort. Provided the SDK provided is good enough, I think there’s a pretty good chance we will see a Gecko product on the iPhone in the not too distant future. For quite some time it will likely be Minimo based and very simple, not the more robust plans which require Mozilla 2.

On a side note, I’m surprised nobody has managed to get Linux running on the iPod touch yet. I thought that would have happened by now. The iPhone would be somewhat pointless since getting the phone functionality to work would be a real battle.

Some sort of simulator/emulator to aid development would also be interesting, though I don’t think that’s very likely.

Overall it’s great news. Lets see that SDK already!

Below is what was posted on Apple’s site today

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Apple Around The Web

Steve Jobs Presents the Macintosh, and Life

Steve Jobs 1984

Today’s video clip is Steve Jobs presenting the Macintosh in 1984. The video early on is slightly dark, but bare with it, the important parts to see are fine. Remember while watching that this was 1984 back when monochrome and DOS were king. The Mac was reading text back and using a GUI.

Another video worth watching is of Steve Jobs Commencement Speech at Stanford (2005). Just make you wonder what you’d see if you step back and looked at the dots you connected over the years.

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Apple

MacWorld Disney World/Land?

How long until this results in Mac World Disney World or MacWorld Disney Land?

That’s what we all really want to know.