Sunday, March 7, 2010

On Apple

Oh, how I dislike the internet in general. So many posts on Reddit or Digg or blogs are just insipid grabs for attention, or consumer complaints that the writer wishes to be seen by the offending company so they might have some magical gift.

I have seen so many complaints about Apple like this. People don't just say "well it broke" or "it shouldn't have broken". Instead they say "well it broke, and I don't think I'm going to buy another Apple product unless...". I was at a job seminar for Apple yesterday and that was even a example situation with a customer.

Online vigilantism (about consumer products) is interesting. Reddit and Digg do this like crazy. Posts where people say "Hey Apple, my computer exploded, what do you think about that?" just seem so misplaced for me. They have every right to complain, but since I have had such a positive experience with Apple, I can't imagine they tried actually contacting Apple BEFORE bringing it to a world-wide venue to complain. Several times they mention that it was pending with Apple for a few days and somehow they felt they were being spurned. I feel like this could only be a grad for either attention or a wish for product payoff.

Since I have gotten a brand new model MacBook Pro, because it couldn't burn DL-DVDs. I can't imagine that the people with glitchy video on their iMacs aren't either. Many people complain that Apple should just recall EVERY iMac of that particular year instead of honoring replacements for 5 years out of warranty. Really? Why can't they just replace the devices which actually have issues? Since they have one of the fastest turnarounds I've ever seen, few people are in a position to complain.

But if they replace every iMac in a recall, everyone will have to send it back right away in the recall window. Even if they aren't showing symptoms they have to send it in before the recall window or they'll lose the ability to exchange it in the future. It's just much better sense to do this on a case by case basis. Cheaper for Apple and less taxing on the consumer.

And really, this is the part of the internet I am talking about. Why does the internet (aka the gelatinous mass of users) think they can give Apple, or any other corporation, business advice? This makes sense in a few areas, like for the crusade against DRM (Apple is a part of that, many other companies too). DRM is something that affects our consumption of products and I have to agree that it should be done away with. It's legitimate to use the gelly-net to voice your opinions loud enough so the companies can hear. This is the last bastion of democracy left if you live in America (except for toll-roads).

But I don't think that a lot of things Apple does has anything to do with me or any other consumer. For instance, many people get very excited when corporations sue each other. My question is why? Why do people feel like it's their position to say, Apple's patents are junk or that it's bad will between those companies if they sue each other. Well, y'know, all of those gigantic corporations have legal teams, who happen to be there for the sole purposing of legally attacking and defending the company. You can't even assume that their mission to win the legal battle they begin. They could be doing it for indirect reasons.

If it's Microsoft suing Apple or Apple suing HTC, it's just business. Everyone on the gelly-net who read these articles are outsiders. They'll probably never know the entire story as to why Apple decided to do this, and it just plain doesn't matter for them either. If Apple losses, they might be out 20 million $ which is nothing. If they win they might gain 50 million $ which is nothing. This is at a scale and a level that affect's nothing.

These as news stories make sense though. I mean, for Apple, you're going to have news about their products for consumers, and announcements about the company for investors. These stories generally don't really overlap. You don't have Apple making their quarterly conference call saying the iPod is awesome, and you don't see how much money Apple made this year on the Apple store main page. Investors probably can do with both sides, but consumers really need only concern themselves with the former.

Investors need to know (they legally need to know) that Apple made X$ this quarter, or that they're suing another company. Defending patents is something that is protecting Apple's IP. I don't know how valid their patent claims are, and I don't know how valid Apple thinks their claims are. They may just want to muddy the waters a little by shooting across HTC's bow. It's likely Apple at least put in some long-shot patents to see if it would work out. But in either case it's not really going to affect you getting your iPad. The fact is, this is something that affects Apple's stock price and not really much else.

People seem to be waiting for Apple to turn into Micro$oft, but they're not seeing much more than standard industry practices. I do agree though, because they might turn someday. But generally they seem pretty stable. The one thing that I think concerns everyone is if Steve Jobs leaves Apple. I think that will change everything for everyone. Obviously, Jobs was there to stamp okay for the mass of DRM now used. But the fact is they're dealing with dozens of Media publishers, so you have to realize they're not going to leave that on the table. Besides, the profit from those markets has kept the price of so many devices (Apple TV sells at cost, iPhone sells at subsidy) because Apple is making money after market. If they gave that up then you'd see a greater cost.

Besides, there is STILL the alternative to not go the DRM way, which I won't detail but everyone who cares about DRM already knows.

I think for some reason this information is getting mixed in peoples minds. Maybe the lack of real "leaks" about Apple consumer information has made it so the Apple sites will do with anything. It can only be a speculative market because Apple only speaks twice a quarter. People wanting to buy the iPad get presented with claims that Apple is a horrible company because a fight broke out between them and HTC's lawyers. Seriously, we don't know what we're talking about. I'm sure that 90% of people look at that situation and they project a "wimp" and a "bully" onto multi-million dollar companies.

Apple sues Microsoft for the GUI = (lil) Apple sues Apple defends itself against (gigantic) Microsoft.
Apple threatens to sue Microsoft for Laptop hunters = (sour-grapes) Apple threatens to sue (lil' ole waning) Microsoft.
Apple sues HTC for patents = (Big mean) Apple sues (little up and coming) HTC.

The fact is that all of these companies are multi billion dollar entities in multi-trillion dollar industries. You can't put yourself in the position of any of these conglomerates and imagine how you yourself would feel if Apple came up to YOU and said you owed them 100 million $. This is a completely different world. It's more like two countries and their relations with each other and how they deal with it. In fact these companies profits exceed numerous countries GDPs. The only difference is that the battles never erupt in (real) blood. People should not read these statements by lawyers, because they just don't know what they're reading.

They read Apple's demand to have all of HTC's products removed from the market and 100 billion $ in damages. That's just a wish list! The fact is that their devices will probably not be removed from the market. Apple will likely get much less than it asked for, and will probably only get money. But people read those statements and immediately think of Steve Jobs himself declaring that HTC should be removed from the market. They imagine a whole company getting wiped out and censured by a wave of a judges gavel. That's not it at all.

This is not a civil suit. It is not Steve Jobs in a court room crying about how the HTC CEO hit him or mistreated him and his patents. There will be no custody assigned for those patents. It's a bunch of slick lawyers with 600 pages of documents arguing to a dis-interested judge about the value of 20 patents.

The patent system is something to talk about, it's broken and it's stupid. But don't say Apple is somehow evil because they do exactly what every company of that size does. Apple is not suing some tiny start up either. HTC is a big boy and it can defend itself. Everyone should stop signing positions for Apple to stop suing HTC and try and speak to their representative about reforming the patent system. Or just wait for the iPad.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

LetterDrop on iPhone

My brother an I made a game called LetterDrop for the iPhone. There I said it. It's a pretty cool game, I don't know how much time it actually took to make, but it's been some time. It's certainly been educational and pretty exciting.