• Newsletter Issue #567

    October 8th, 2010


    It’s generally assumed that you shouldn’t need to read a manual to use a brand new iPhone. That’s probably true for the basic functions, such as making a phone call or checking your email, but as Apple increases the feature set, not everything is obvious. Sometimes you have to poke around, touch a few things, and see just what happens. But would you know that pressing the Home button twice shows you a list of running apps?

    Yes, I realize many of you know that, but this is one of the features that isn’t altogether obvious, and it’s a crucial element to the task of managing the multitasking feature, particularly when loads of apps are sitting there ready to do their thing in the background.

    So on Saturday night’s episode of The Tech Night Owl LIVE, we presented author Karen G. Anderson to discuss her latest book, “Take Control of iPhone Basics, iOS 4 Edition.” Even if you’re a power user, you’ll learn valuable hints and tips when you listen to this episode. We also plan to have Karen back on the show in the near future to discuss “offbeat” iPhone apps. I can’t wait.

    Macworld Senior Editor Dan Moren came on board to talk about Apple’s recent loss in an expensive patent lawsuit, where Apple may be forced to shell out over $600 million because of their alleged infringement. Later on in this discussion, Dan discussed the prospects for an iPhone from Verizon Wireless.

    Commentator Peter Cohen, co-host of the “Angry Mac Bastards” radio show, also offered comments about a possible Verizon version of the iPhone. It is interesting to note that Peter said he had not yet heard about a possible change to the CDMA standard Verizon uses that would allow you to talk and use data apps, such as Mail and Safari, at the same time. Now that several reports have been published indicating that such a feature may indeed be forthcoming, which might remove one of the more serious obstacles preventing the iPhone from working with full efficiency on Verizon’s network.

    But I’ll have more to say about that in another article in this issue.

    This week on our other show, The Paracast, it’s all about Dulce. The very word conjures up hellish visions of “Nightmare Hall,” bubbling vats filled with human body parts, evil reptoids killing spec op troops invading their underground lair. But is there anything to these fantastic rumors? In this episode, co-host Christopher O’Brien presents Anthony Sanchez, who reveals shocking info about Dulce from a retired Colonel who claims to have worked there.

    Coming October 17: Can voices from the beyond be recorded? What are they trying to tell us? This week co-host Christopher O’Brien presents Electronic Voice Phenomenon (EVP) expert Michael Esposito, who takes us beyond the sonic threshold.

    Now Shipping! The Official Paracast T-Shirt. We’re taking orders direct from our new Official Paracast Store, where you can place your order and pay with a major credit card or PayPal. The shirts come in white, 100% cotton, and feature The Paracast logo on the front. The rear emblem states: “Separating Signal From Noise.” We’ve also added a selection of additional special custom-imprinted merchandise for fans of our show.


    At one time it was fair to say that Adobe and Microsoft were enemies, rivals in some product categories, such as Web apps. So we had Adobe Flash competing against Microsoft Silverlight, and may the worst product please disappear.

    At one time, in fact, Microsoft tried to develop a suite of graphics apps to compete with Adobe’s Illustrator and Photoshop. But that was just another Microsoft initiative that failed.

    But why would Adobe and Microsoft suddenly consider a corporate marriage?

    The answer is, of course, Apple. Adobe is chafing over the inability to run Flash on the iOS, and they no doubt feel intimidated by Apple’s competing software, primarily Final Cut Pro and Aperture. Indeed, Final Cut Pro, whose creator was once lead developer of Adobe Premiere, has become a mainstay in the movie industry. In turn, Premiere exited the Mac platform, and only returned recently.

    Whenever a merger of two large companies is contemplated, or believed to be contemplated, someone drops the magic word “synergy” to explain why such a move is in the best interests of stockholders and, of course, customers.

    In the real world, few mergers accomplish anything more than cause layoffs. One company might acquire another to rid themselves of a competitor, or to acquire technology they don’t have.

    With Microsoft/Adobe, would that mean that Silverlight would disappear, only to be supplanted by Flash? If that were the case, would it also mean that all the sites that use Silverlight would be forced to change the code? Or maybe the combined company would support both, which would be the height of redundancy, but, it’s not that the two companies have always done smart things separately.

    More to the point, what would Microsoft do with Adobe’s graphics apps? Would they make sure that the Windows versions always come out first, and that some products are exclusive to the Microsoft platform? Wait, that’s already happening.

    More to the point, and maybe some of the tech pundits who are touting this possible merger of inconvenience don’t realize this, combining these two companies wouldn’t do anything to help compete against Apple, not a thing.

    Other than, perhaps, the threat of withholding Illustrator and Photoshop from the Mac, and it would seem logical that the expected antitrust investigations of such a deal would probably require that both platforms be equally supported.

    In other words, MicroAdobe, or whatever it’s called, might have to provide more support for the Mac platform.

    Competition indeed!

    More to the point, Microsoft’s biggest problem these days is competing in the mobile space. With Windows Mobile 7 arriving, there doesn’t seem to be any compelling reason for its existence, other than to try to salvage what’s left of Microsoft’s failing mobile business. Certainly the new mobile OS isn’t offering any unique features that will suddenly convert iPhone and Android OS users, not to mention RIM’s BlackBerry.

    So what’s the point?

    Besides, how would a merger with Adobe change a thing, other than, as I said, to leave thousands of people looking for new jobs? It’s not that Adobe has any expertise in the mobile space. The present version of Flash has, at least so far, not worked all that well on the Android platform, so there’s no evidence it would fare better with Windows Mobile 7.

    In the end, it just doesn’t make sense to me, but I do not pretend to be an expert at evaluating proposed corporate tie-ups, other than to suggest that the lessons of history dictate that large mergers of this sort seldom improve a thing.

    Yes, Adobe’s tie-up with Macromedia gave them control of Flash, but it’s not as if Flash became better as the result of that multibillion dollar investment. But, Adobe did get the opportunity to kill the lone substantive competitor to Illustrator, which is FreeHand. In retrospect, it would have made sense for the government bureaucrats who examined the merger to demand that FreeHand be continued or spun off, rather than consigned to the phantom zone.

    Perhaps the most successful merger in the tech industry was Apple’s acquisition of NeXT, which brought Steve Jobs back to the company he co-founded and, in the end, saved the combined company, which is now, on the basis of market cap, the most powerful tech company on the planet.

    Most tech mergers are more in the realm of HP’s takeover of Compaq. They were able to assume control of a competitor, but not in a way that benefited anyone. Certainly not the people who lost their jobs as a result.

    Besides, if Microsoft and Adobe need to downsize, they can do that without a merger.

    In any case, I hope that the official denials are true. Such a corporate alignment doesn’t make any sense whatever. I think the CEOs of Adobe and Microsoft need to take stock of their real problems, and not waste time and money creating new ones.


    Call it wishful thinking. Call it the biggest rumor of the year — and, no, a possible combination between Microsoft and Adobe doesn’t come close. But when two major daily newspapers speak of a possible event, you have to take it seriously.

    Both the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times claim to have insider information on the impending arrival of the iPhone on the Verizon Wireless network. While both can — and have been — wrong when predicting what Apple might do, this particular rumor makes sense.

    Depending on where you live in the U.S., AT&T might be a pretty good cell phone carrier or the pits. Some suggest they seriously underestimated the demands the iPhone would place on network capacity, while others assert that AT&T was simply the only large wireless company in this country who’d accept Apple’s demands for unprecedented control over their first entry into the smartphone market.

    I’d suggest both are true, and I also agree that AT&T’s spotty reputation is, at least in some areas, on the mend. Yet there are still people in San Francisco, New York, Chicago, and other major metropolitan areas that abhor AT&T. They would probably switch to Verizon Wireless in a heartbeat once their contracts are up, if they offered the iPhone.

    Even assuming that early 2011 will see the Verizon iPhone, you have to wonder how Apple plans to make it happen. The cheapest way out would be to swap out the chip that supports the GSM standard and replace it with a CDMA version — supported by Verizon, Sprint and some carriers around the world. That would be a fairly simple task.

    Another possible solution would be to install one of the Qualcomm chips that can be used in a world phone, one that supports both GSM and CDMA. Or perhaps Apple is waiting for the next-generation system, called LTE. That way, they wouldn’t have to invest in a dual-purpose chipset.

    The other problem that has existed, at least up till now, is based on the fact that the current CDMA standard doesn’t allow for the use of voice and data connections at the same time. AT&T has touted GSM’s support for this sort of multitasking as a reason to boast a better user experience, where you can talk to someone, check email, or make a restaurant reservation, at the same time.

    But just be sure you’re not driving when you attempt to juggle these tasks.

    If the possible modification of CDMA comes to pass, the iPhone won’t be crippled, at least in that respect, if a rumored change to the network technology comes to pass.

    The other issue is whether Verizon will cede full control to Apple over the iPhone user experience on their network. In other words, there will be no ugly Verizon icon on the phone’s exterior, and you won’t be saddled with one of those extra-cost apps, such as V Cast, to compromise your experience.

    But with the prospects of selling millions and millions of the iconic iPhone on their network each year, I rather suspect Verizon’s bean counters will come to realize the advantages to the company’s bottom line. In other words,  the iPhone you get from Verizon will, other than the carrier to which it’s attached, and the required hardware changes, function the same as it does on other networks.

    The real question is whether Apple will wait for the arrival of the iPhone 5 to increase the presence of that device in the U.S., or just offer a modified iPhone 4. I expect it’ll be the latter, since, other than the fools at Consumer Reports magazine, few are complaining about those alleged antenna issues.


    The Tech Night Owl Newsletter is a weekly information service of Making The Impossible, Inc.

    Publisher/Editor: Gene Steinberg
    Managing Editor: Grayson Steinberg
    Marketing and Public Relations: Barbara Kaplan
    Business Development: Gil James Bavel
    Worldwide Licensing: Sharon Jarvis

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    One Response to “Newsletter Issue #567”

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