Apple and CES

Consumer Electronics ShowApple is not exhibiting officially at the CES, but instead has chosen to send about 250 engineers to attend what is, arguably, the world’s biggest consumer electronics show.

I think this post by Darrell Etherington absolutely nails it. Apple doesn’t need a presence at CES. Infact, going by the news that I’ve been reading about the fading popularity of CES, it is they who really would like Apple to attend the even and add some glamour.

The reason Apple doesn’t need to be at CES is because, while, Apple is now a consumer electronics company, they don’t really create the buzz around their products through shows like CES. They have people like you and I, the Apple faithful, to do that.

Of course, you can argue that Apple is still present everywhere at the CES. iPhones, iPads, iPods and Macs are everywhere, either being used by the attendees or as part of the hundreds of docks and accessories that everyone is displaying. There is also the case of the competition trying to copy Apple’s designs and technology. I’d even go as far as to argue that this year is probably Apple’s biggest year at CES, both in terms of exposure and interest.

Apple changed the smartphone landscape in one sweep 5 years ago when they released the iPhone and another competitor can absolutely come and announce something so dramatically different and powerful that it’ll make those iPhones and iPads seem ancient. That is something Apple has to watch out for and that is the reason for the presence of those 250 engineers.

It isn’t Apple-like to follow the industry, but keeping tabs on where the industry is headed helps Apple refine and hone it’s vision of the future.

As for me – I’m absolutely waiting for what 2012 has in store for us Apple aficionados. iPhone 5, iPad 3, Apple TV and who knows what else !



The Elusive Apple Television

The Apple television is an old rumor, one that refuses to die, which, if the past is any indication, leads me to believe that there is some truth in it. The problem is that Apple already has a product called the Apple TV and that is not what this rumor is about. This latest rumor is about a real physical television set. The kind that most of us call the idiot box.

The current Apple TV is a small set top box that lets one buy and stream content from iTunes. A few years back, before Apple released this product, a set top box with a built-in DVR is what the rumor mills predicted. They got a set top box but without a DVR.

The Apple TV is a sleek unit that lets you in to Apple’s walled garden with the finesse that only Apple can match. It also lets you play content from any of your other iDevices using Airplay. It’s not perfect, but it works. And that is where the problem lies. It is one of the few Apple devices that is designed to work with products from other manufacturers. Infact, it depends on a television that Apple doesn’t produce… yet. You know the kind of television sets that companies such as Samsung produce.

Let’s talk about the latest Apple TV rumors now. The rumor mill is now predicting a new Apple  product that will be an actual television set. Not a set top box, but an actual physical television set. That’d, I presume, remove use for the current Apple TV. Now, I see why Apple would want such a product, a) They hate depending on other manufacturers and b) If Samsung, LG and the like can make a TV and profit from it, they can damn well do it too.

Both a) and b) are valid reasons for Apple to jump into the television market but herein lies the problem.

The television market is not a very profitable market. It takes a huge amount of investment to manufacturer television sets, which is not a problem for Apple, but the margins are wafer thin. The game of wafer thin margins is not one which Apple likes to play.

The other problem is differentiation. If you’ve tried buying a television in the last few years, like I have, you’d realize the amount of choice the consumers have. So much choice, in fact, that it’s virtually impossible to distinguish one set from the other. Now, you may say, that this is a problem that is right up Apple’s sleeves, and I’d have to agree with you but I’d also have a counter point to that saying that while Apple may be able to distinguish them from the other manufacturers, how are they going to sell their TV to a consumer that might not want to upgrade it for the next 10 years. Will it even be worth it for Apple to setup a huge supply chain, make room in Apple stores and employ armies of support staff for installation and troubleshooting of TVs to sell a device that a customer buys once in 7-10 years?

Why wouldn’t Apple continue to invest in the current Apple TV ecosystem, make it the best set top box in it’s category, add DVR like features and open up the platform to third party apps ?

The Carrier IQ Saga So Far

It all started with a young security researcher finding out that his android phone was sending out sensitive data out to a third party. It turned out that a small utility installed on his phone was intercepting EVERYTHING on the phone and sending it out to a company called Carrier IQ.

The researcher broke this news on his blog and all hell broke loose !

All the major cell phone manufacturers and carriers scrambled to announce via press releases how Carrier IQ’s software is really harmless and is only installed for ‘diagnostic’ purposes. The company Carrier IQ also issued a press release how this whole thing was a non-issue and blamed everything back on the manufacturers and carriers.

I’m still surprised how this even managed to stay under the radar for this long. I live a big part of my life online to really worry about privacy, but this is HUGE. My phone which forms a big part of my life is sending data about me to a third party company without my permission.

Even if the data being sent is insignificant, I still think this is a pretty big deal. The US govt has launched an investigation against the company while major carriers such as sprint have announced that they’re ‘disabling’ Carrier IQ on their phones. Yes, disabling, Not removing.

Anyone remember the Location Gate saga? And the mainstream press’s reaction when that news broke?  I don’t understand why this is not being played up as much as it should be.

I understand that Apple is an easy target and well, any news and negative news, even more so, about Apple sells but why treat them on a different pedestal subject to a different level of scrutiny.

If you’re really worried about privacy, don’t carry a cellphone. Even if you carry a regular feature phone, the carrier ALWAYS knows your location and where you’ve been. The carriers need this information to serve you. Of course, they don’t need to read your texts to your loved ones or details about each and every call that you’ve made but that is for the investigating agencies to find out.