Not all the Apple news is about sapphire screens and the pending iPhone 6. Apple is promoting their latest iTunes Festival, and this time it's based on London. You can win tickets to attend, or for the rest of us, stream the content using an iOS device, including Apple TV.
I've backed a few projects on Kickstarter, but they're usually boring things like stands and cables. The other day I saw the MYBELL and had to put my money down. The MYBELL is a bicycle horn for the smartphone age. Obviously it mounts to a bicycle handlebar, though I might try it out on my scooter. What makes the MYBELL unique is that you can customize the sound that it plays, just like a custom ringtone on your smartphone. In fact, it will accept MP3 files via the included (weatherized) USB port.
Buzz Aldrin, who inspired the name of Toy Story's Buzz Lightyear, has an Apple connection. He spoke at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference about three years ago. Now, with the 45th anniversary of his walk on the moon, with fellow astronaut Neil Armstrong, he's back in the news. Most recently, Buzz Aldrin offered up his own "Space Selfie," the first ever, taken back in 1966.
Surveys and statistics can be used to suit any agenda, but one from Ranker.com suggests that cable companies, banks, and airlines have terrible service (no surprise) and that a lot of people think Apple is evil. The customer survey list includes notorious firms like Time Warner, AT&T, Bank of America, Walmart, American Airlines, Comcast, Citibank and more. Apple is ranked 22nd "worst" customer service, with 120 up votes ("worst") to 126 down votes ("not worst"), so it's almost a dead heat between haters and lovers.
As an app developer, I'm always trying to find ways to make my apps more visible, and one way is to email existing customers, who have opted-in, about new apps. But plain old text emails don't stand out, and if you get too fancy, the emails might not display well on mobile devices. By definition, my mobile app customers have iPhones (or Android) and most users read their email on smartphones so proper formatting is important.
In the early 1990s, Lou Gerstner, then head of IBM, wrote a book entitled Who Says Elephants Can't Dance? It was about his efforts to turn around a stodgy mainframe systems and also-ran PC vendor into a service provider. He and other IBM stewards have made tough decisions such as eliminating OS/2 (a powerful Windows competitor that ended in what Gerstner called a "resounding defeat") and selling off their entire PC line to Chinese manufacturer Lenovo. Lenovo has since added Motorola to their arsenal, while IBM is increasingly offering services as their raison d'etre.
It's a balancing act, reviewing the many rumors floating around and determining if they're worth reporting or dismissing. The latest rumors suggests competing iWatch sizes (anywhere from 1.3-inch to 1.6-inch to 1.8-inch) and designs will be shipped this fall. My impression is that it's more likely Apple is testing a variety of designs to see what makes sense, or different generations of the product are being tested.
Android may have a larger marketshare, but recent reports from Custora show that Apple fans are using their devices for online shopping at a monopolistic rate. As much as 80 percent of tablet-based shopping is done on an iPad. Considering iPads start at $300 and Android tablets can be purchased for as little as $50, this is remarkable.
Apple has the most exciting roster of new products set to release in 2014, according to Eddy Cue; but as 2014 is more than halfway done, does that mean all of the products will be announced at once? Not necessarily. Rumors and predictions indicate delays for some of the more difficult products, like a 5.5-inch iPhone and the long anticipated iWatch. Apple's new sapphire factories are doing their best, but this is brand new territory. Sapphire has been used for Apple's camera lenses and for traditional watches, but to make 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch screens is a new challenge.
Increasingly, iPads are replacing laptops and even desktops as the computing platform of choice, especially in schools. But the onscreen keyboard is often the weak link. There are a plethora of Bluetooth keyboards, notably Apple's own pricey Wireless Keyboard. It could get expensive to outfit each student with one.