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MacEdition: iPhone

iPhones, Personal Computers and Netbooks Oh My · 2009-01-10

Things are in flux, right now, a real sea-change in the entire computer industry, from top to bottom, has been in play since the middle of 2006.

- At the top, general purpose servers are giving way to appliances. Storage appliances, firewalls, DNS appliances, mail appliances, loghost appliances, web proxies, load balancers – when someone starts selling turnkey RDBMS and webhost appliances, it’s all-fucking-over for the big iron and the megabuck software applications that run on it.

- At the bottom, Netbooks rule. Linux owns this space in the long haul. For the moment, Microsoft ships on more of them, but this will no longer be true as the price keeps going down. You can get a Dragon processor powered netbook for $200. Pegatron (a spin-off of ASUS) is planning on Freescale-based netbooks in the $150 range, that get 8hrs of battery life, and run cool to the touch. In a return to the Amiga days, they will have specialty chips that offload stuff like HD video from the processor made possible by a special, paid-for Ubuntu distro. Microsoft will have to sell its OS for a few bucks to compete, at which point the Obama DOJ sharpens its anti-trust knives. No can has loss-leader under consent decree. Not yours. ( And speaking of the Amiga, did anyone else see the eee Keyboard? Dude. ASUS out-Appled Apple with this little unit. A full pc, with wireless HDMI out, in a keyboard that looks a lot like Apple’s aluminum one, and, oh yeah, the touchpad is a secondary color LCD display the size of a numeric keypad.)

- In the middle, Apple sold ten million Macs last year. A lot of that was driven by frustration with Vista, and my PC-weenie brother has declared Windows 7 to be the next coming of Windows2000 (without having actually been able to download it yet), but still – momentum is hard to shift. Every one of the hard-core IT nerds I work with owns a Mac at home, now… they’re all nervous and evasive around me when discussing this, because they’re afraid I’ll hit them over the head with “I told you so” smugness. (I’ve grown past that, and am now Nostalgia Guy, waxing poetic about my old Mac Portable, the Powerbook G3, Cyberdog, Burning Monkey Solitaire and how awesome window tabs were on the old MacOS. This might be an equally valid excuse in not discussing your Mac around me, come to think of it.) Steve Ballmer sneers that away with a claim that there were 300 million PCs sold… but he’s wrong. Intel, AMD and Via sold 300 million x86 chips. Nowhere near all of that was used in a Windows PC. In terms of Safari, around 9% of all web traffic is generated by this one, Mac-specific app. Considering the popularity of Firefox, Camino and Opera, it’s a safe bet Apple’s market share is closer to the 15% mark than further… and this is in the middle of a recession!

- In the pocket. Apple’s iPhone changed everything – Blackberry and WinMo are flailing madly, and failing badly, in the face of the New School. Even so, assuming that Apple had a mortal lock forever was a mistake. Google’s Android is generating warm-fuzzy love despite being saddled with a crappy phone… and better, much better, hardware is on the way. And now Palm comes out swinging, hell-bent on doing to the iPhone what it did to the Newton. Palm has been a sleepwalking zombie for the past seven years, and now, the sleeper has woken! Palm’s back, and back in a big, bad way… app store and all. (Despite the unfortunate name, which already has slash-fiction afficionados snickering mercilessly) Oh, and this is Palm, so expect full disclosure of its API and hardware to any and all interested developers, in stark contrast to the Apple Way.

— SoupIsGood_Food

iPhone 3G Purchase Experience · 2008-07-12

I didn’t just want to buy a new iPhone 3G, I had to.

See, I was at Busch Gardens a few days ago, and when I rode Sheikra, my old original iPhone fell out of my pocket to a watery grave.

In any case, this video documents the travails that I, my son, and two friends went through to get an iPhone 3G on day one.

Postscript: a couple of hours after we got back, all three of us were able to connect to iTunes and activate our phones.

— Tom Ierna

A Taste for Feet · 2008-06-09

I enjoy poking fun at execs who make bold predictions about Apple’s potential. The biggest blunders in that regard are Michael Dell’s infamous “give the money back to the shareholders” quote 10 years ago and Steve Ballmer’s assertion that, “There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance.” Comparing AAPL to DELL over the last 10 years shows just how wrong Michael Dell was. Steve Ballmer didn’t need nearly as much time to look like a fool.

Anecdotal evidence makes it obvious that the iPhone has gained significant market share but exactly how significant? It’s hard for a POCWACTSO to do the same kind of analysis that a so-called investment insider might do, but here’s what I have found…

I’ve read a couple of articles that have repeated Microsoft’s Windows Mobile licensing numbers. For their 2006-2007 fiscal year, they sold 11 million Windows Mobile licenses. It also says that Microsoft expects to sell 20 million Windows Mobile licenses in the current fiscal year which ends this month. Now, these are OS licenses and Windows Mobile is not limited to phones. I’m sure the majority of those licenses ARE for phones but the number does include PDAs.

If that is the measurement standard then we need to include the iPod touch numbers in our count when we make our comparisons. But Apple doesn’t break out those numbers. They’re lumped in with the iPod. Fine. We’ll just stick with the iPhone numbers for now. In the last 3 quarters, Apple has sold 5,137,000 iPhones. The current quarter (which ends around the same time as Microsoft’s fiscal year) is up in the air. With the 3G iPhone’s anticipated release today, they will have missed almost a full month of potential sales because of their supply problems. That said, demand is building and the expectation is that Apple will have a LOT of the new phones available for sale immediately after today’s announcement. That will give them 3 weeks of blockbuster sales before the quarter ends.

So let’s look at two sets of numbers for comparison.

Rather than trying to estimate how many devices they’re going to sell in the current quarter, let’s just go with what they sold the last 3 quarters and compare it to what Microsoft says they will have sold in their fiscal year. 5 million to 20 million. In spite of supply constraints, a limited number of countries, carrier exclusivity arrangements and ignoring both iPod touch sales and any iPhone sales for the current quarter, Apple still manages to have a respectable 25% of Microsoft’s numbers.

Now let’s take some liberties to make some more reasonable estimates.

As everyone is already well-aware, Apple is expected to release the 3G iPhone today, and this time it’s going to be a nearly worldwide release. If the rumors are true and Apple is staging these things for immediate availability everywhere, I would expect them to sell at least 3 million of them in these final 3 weeks of June. I’m betting they’ve sold at least a million of the current generation models in the two months prior to its disappearance. And since we don’t have any actual numbers for the iPod touch, I’m going to pick a relatively small number out of thin air and say that they’ve sold 1 million of them in total since they were released. That puts Apple’s totals a little over 10 million… 50% of Microsoft’s numbers.

I’m betting they’ll pass Windows Mobile’s numbers by June 2009.

— Matthew Sparby

"Enterprise" iPhone Support Creates More Questions Than Answers · 2008-03-11

Apple has revealed that many of the Enterprise-class functions on the iPhone are Exchange-friendly. This is great news for companies which have Exchange servers, but it doesn’t address the standards-compliant ways it seemed that Apple was approaching to satisfy some of these demands prior to this surprise announcement.

Whither Darwin Calendar Server and CalDAV for Calendar Sharing? What of extending IMAP for To-Do Tasks and Notes? IMAP IDLE for “push?” How about MacOSX Server’s Open Directory for Contacts?


Darwin Calendar Server is great for collaborative calendars for the desktop and laptop, what with it’s slick integration with most of the vCal and iCal compliant clients. However, there is no iPhone support. As of iPhone version 1.1.4, the Calendar is a pretty limited app, requiring a sync from iCal on the desktop. Hopefully, Apple will decide to bake in Calendar Server support with the 2.0 upgrade, seeing as how they are leveraging ActiveSync to mesh Exchange Calendaring with the iPhone’s MobileCalendar app.

To-Do Tasks and Notes

There’s already seen some indication that Apple is going to support Notes and To-Do Tasks on the iPhone. They may use IMAP for the transfer of this information based on what’s currently going on with and iCal, but the implementation is half-baked at the moment. can put to-do tasks in an “invisible calendar” in an Apple-created IMAP mailbox called “Apple Mail To Do” in each of your IMAP accounts, but you have to begin this process from Mail. iCal remains mostly oblivious to this special calendar until you “reveal” it by right-clicking on the calendar in Mail and selecting “Reveal in iCal”. The iPhone can see To-Do tasks in this special IMAP mailbox, but they appear as Mime-Attachments in MobileMail, and the iPhone provides no way to view or edit them. Full, round-trip To-Do management should be a part of the iPhone experience, and Apple has many of the pieces in place. Will they only support the ActiveSync provided task management?


In an always-on internet world, not having “push” e-mail seems almost antiquated. The Desktop version of has IMAP IDLE support, which (for properly configured IMAP servers) will allow instant notification and synching of Mail. iPhone has some support for IMAP IDLE, the addition of which corresponded with GMail IMAP support, but in versions up to 1.1.4, it’s not immediate. If and when Apple makes IMAP IDLE work correctly, push e-mail should be a no-brainer for non-Exchange networks.

Open Directory

If you have Leopard Server (or correctly configured LDAP server), you can create shared contacts and contact groups. Address Book will connect to these types of servers and allow you to utilize shared contact information, but why doesn’t iPhone yet? Maybe Apple will extend the Mobile Contacts application to get information from their own Server products? We can hope.

Plea, Plea, Please?!

Exchange support will be a huge boon to iPhone market share in the short term. In the long term, the tea leaves don’t yet show if this is a positioning move for Apple to get the thin edge of the wedge of Apple ease-of-use into the Enterprise. Not all Enterprises use Exchange, though, and it would be in Apple’s best interest to complete the work that’s obviously underway to make iPhone an equal peer on the open standards-based server software being used in Leopard Server.

Hopefully, come June, we’ll find that the hooks into all of the mobile applications which allow ActiveSync support have analogs for configuring them to get data from CalDAV, IMAP and Open Directory.

— Tom Ierna

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