Jim Karpen holds a Ph.D. in literature and writing, and has a love of gizmos. His doctoral dissertation focused on the revolutionary consequences of digital technologies and anticipated some of the developments taking place in the industry today. Jim has been writing about the Internet and technology since 1994 and has been using Apple's visionary products for decades.
I've seen a number of lists of apps recommended for those lucky individuals who got a new iPhone or iPad from Santa, but CNET's listing strikes me as being the most useful. They include a number of free apps that are my favorites and that I use every day. Let's take a look at some of their recommended apps.
Flipboard — This is likely the most popular aggregator of news and content ever developed for iOS devices. Its interface is gorgeous and intuitive, and very easy to customize to your interests. Many people find it to be their favorite window onto Facebook or news or entertainment or sports, or whatever your interest is.
Google Maps — When Apple dumped Google Maps in favor of its own maps solution, many were disappointed that Apple's effort was missing some of their favorite features, such as transit directions and Google Street View. Fortunately, Google eventually came out with a full-featured version of their app for iOS devices that has almost all the functionality of their highly popular maps app for Android devices.
As we head toward the New Year, rumors are floating around of forthcoming goodies from Apple. Many people think, and Apple has hinted as much, that wearable computing will be among the Next Big Things from Apple. It would be great to see Apple do something like Google Glass, which are essentially glasses with all the capabilities of a high-powered smartphone. Today's Apple rumor is that an iWatch is in development.
Christmas has come and gone, and the first hints are coming in that the iPad was the dominant tablet this holiday season. According to Barron's, a market analyst who called Best Buy and Staples stores found that the iPad was the most popular device among tablet buyers. Amazon's Kindle Fire and the Samsung Galaxy tab also had some sales, but apparently there wasn't much demand for Microsoft's Surface tablet. Even more interesting is a clever search of Twitter posts for the 24-hour period over Christmas.
According to data by Kantar Worldpanel, as of late November Apple's share of the smartphone market rose to 53% in the U.S. over the preceding 12 weeks. Compared to the 12-week period from the previous year, Apple's share rose by 17.5% while the share for Android devices dropped 10.9% to 41.9%. As you can see, all other platforms constitute just a tiny fraction of the market. According to Business Insider, Apple is on the verge of dominating the U.S.
Apple is currently airing a Christmas-themed commercial for the iPad that features FaceTime. A young girl performs "I'll Be Home for Christmas" via FaceTime while her grandfather watches. It's a simple commercial, with no cuts -- just the song. You see the girl on the grandfather's iPad, and the grandfather on the girl's iPad mini. This sort of commercial shows the wonderful way in which Apple makes technology warm and friendly.
No doubt about it, the iPad mini is a hit. According to DigiTimes, which has sources in Apple's supply chain (but which isn't always accurate), Apple had initially estimated they would sell 10 million iPad minis in 2012. But then due to the shortage of components, which was caused by the challenge of manufacturing defect-free devices, Apple adjusted their expectation downward to 6-8 million units. Apple always pushes the limits of the technology, and the result is that during initial production many of the devices have defects simply because they're difficult to build. But then the manufacturer gradually gets better at it, yield rates improve, and more units are produced at a lower overall cost. Yield rates for the iPad mini have now improved, and according to DigiTimes, Apple has increased its 2012 order for iPad minis from 8 million units to 10 million. DigiTimes says that Apple should sell over 10 million units and could sell as many as 12 million this year.
Barack Obama got Time magazine's nod for Person of the Year, as might be expected, but less expected may have been Apple CEO Tim Cook's selection as one of 4 runners-up. If you've ever wondered who Tim Cook is and what he means for the future of Apple, I urge you to read Lev Grossman's brilliant profile of him. Here's how he describes the way in which Cook contrasts with the late founder Steve Jobs: "Jobs was loud, brash, unpredictable, uninhibited and very often unshaven. Cook isn’t. He doesn’t look like the CEO of Apple, he looks more like an Apple product: quiet, tidy, carefully curated, meticulously tooled and at the same time strangely warm and inviting. He doesn’t look like Jobs, he looks like something Jobs would have made. Cook’s flawless cap of white hair could have been designed by Jony Ive and fabricated in China out of brushed aluminum."
Apple's stock is swooning, actually dipping below $500 yesterday after reaching a high of $704 not so long ago. It's hard to say why, but in the long term the question lingers: will Apple be able to come up with the Next Big Thing? After reading an excellent article by Jeremy Allaire on All Things D, I'm convinced that the answer is yes. And that it will be an Apple HDTV. Allaire's points just make sense, and reading them one gets the sense that this will be an inevitible next step for Apple.