While it seems most PC users got a kick out of watching Seinfeld inquire about the future of chewy computers and Bill Gates doing the robot, I've remained critical of Microsoft's $300 million ad campaign and have yet to be impressed with one of its commercials, including the "I'm a PC" segments currently being aired. By contrast, I found myself chuckling at Apple's initial round of ads, not because I thought they were accurate (they're not), but because they managed to throw humorous jabs without going for that impossible knockout punch. For those of you who follow baseball, it's like being a Red Sox fan (which I am) and tipping your hat at the Tampa Bay Rays for outplaying your team last night (which they did), even though you despise them (which I do).
But lest anyone accuse me of sleeping with the enemy (you know, those whiny Mac losers), let me go on record as saying that the new Mac ads suck too, and not just because I've developed an urge to want to punch Justin Long-in-the-tooth square in the face (I bet he's a Tampa Bay fan too, the smug bastard).
Hit the jump to read my beef with the new Mac ads.
While there’s no doubt that Apple’s insanely popular iTunes store would hit this milestone, they felt it necessary to announce that they’ve finally hit 200 million sales of TV episodes, with more than one million of those being HD episodes sold just last month.
Eddy Cue, Apple’s vice president of Internet Services, said in a statement this past Thursday, “We've got an incredible Fall 2008 TV lineup with over 70 primetime comedies and dramas, including many of the most popular shows on TV in stunning HD. With over 200 million episodes sold, iTunes customers have proven they love watching television on their computer, iPod, iPhone and TV with Apple TV.”
Thanks to the partnership of major television networks such as Bravo, Comedy Central, Disney Channel, ESPN, FX, HBO, MTV, Nickelodeon, Sci Fi, Showtime and USA, these sales don’t look they’re going to slow down anytime in the near future.
For those keeping track, the iTunes store now offers over eight million songs, over 30,000 TV episodes and over 2,500 films. Almost makes a man never want to leave his house.
Back in August there was quite a commotion over the discovery that Apple had included a “kill switch” in the iPhone, functionality that allowed them to remotely remove applications from the device without the user’s consent. Now, in the Android Market terms of service, Google has revealed that Android has its own kill switch.
To Google’s credit, they’re not attempting to hide the kill switch. They say, in the terms of service “Google may discover a product that violates the developer distribution agreement … in such an instance, Google retains the right to remotely remove those applications from your device at its sole discretion.” Apple, on the other hand, didn’t say a word about their remote removal function until a developer called them out on it.
Further, Android’s kill switch only applies to programs downloaded through the Android Market, meaning that if users really want some verboten app, they still have the option of getting it from the developer, or through other channels, unlike the iPhone. Also, Google says that it will try to refund the purchase price of any app bought through the Market that it has to disable.
What do you think of the kill switch? Will it help keep malware off your G1, or should that be left up to the user? Tell us after the jump.
Nvidia scored a much needed win for its mobile graphics with the release of the 9400M GPU, which Apple has chosen to use in its refreshed MacBook line. Apple CEO Steve Jobs gave credit to the 9400M for offering better performance in the new MacBooks, ultimately leading the company to choose Nvidia over Intel.
One could argue that vendor confidence in Nvidia had been more than a little rattled after it came to light that the company's 8M series might have a more serious design flaw than initially thought. What started off as a bad batch of GPUs quickly turned into speculation that the problem could be widespread among Nvidia's silicon, affecting not only mobile parts but desktop solutions as well. But Apple could be just what Nvidia needs to turn this perception around.
It doesn't matter that the first-generation iPhone lacked 3G functionality or that early adopters were slapped in the face so quickly after its release. Even intentional bricking through a firmware update hasn't been enough to knock Apple's iPhone off its pedestal as the must-have cellular phone for geeks and hipsters alike. Can T-Mobile's HTC G1 Android phone deliver the right hook and make this a fight?
It's far too early to tell, but early indications look promising. According to the Motley Fool, T-Mobile subscribers have already gobbled up all of the available preorders for initial shipments of the G1, prompting T-Mobile to triple its order with handset maker HTC. Those have sold out too. All tallied, roughly 1.5 million G1s are already accounted for, with another couple million reserved for retail sales.
That still puts the G1 far behind the 10 million iPhones Apple said it would like to sell this year, but it's a good start for a phone that hasn't even been released yet and still won't be for another couple of weeks. And if the G1 is going to have any chance at taking a bite out of Apple, it's going to need to come out strong and convince buyers there's more to the Android platform than hype.
Anyone plan on picking one up or already placed a preorder? Hit the jump and sound off.
This weekend, Microsoft quietly rolled out a preview release of the Microsoft PC Advisor to select members of the Windows Feedback Program. (Members of the Windows Feedback Program agree to let Microsoft monitor their machines closely, and Microsoft uses that data to determine what types of problems real users experience.) The invitation to try out the PC Advisor made some intriguing promises—the app will monitor our PC for problems and give solutions in real time and it will monitor system settings for potential pitfalls. The survey that preceded our download was even more interesting, it hinted that Microsoft's ultimate goal for the new app is complete Apple domination. Hit the jump for our full report on Microsoft’s new PC Advisor, the Apple tie-in, a whole bunch of screenshots and the first-hands on report we've read so far.
We don't always agree with sister site MacLife.com's outlook (we recently had to slap the site silly when it went on the offensive towards PC users), but this is one time we find ourselves on the same side of the fence. Is anyone expecting great things out of Flash for the iPhone?
MacLife says no and points out several reasons why iPhone owners may rue getting what they wish for. Chief among the fears is a lack of usability in which the desktop experience for Flash heavy sites might become a convoluted mess when ported to the iPhone. Other concerns include irritating ads (you know they're coming), more frequent crashes back to the home screen, and a tug of war over standards.
A collective sigh of relief was let out Thursday, as a panel of federal judges who determine royalty rates for recordings ruled to renew the current royalty rate until 2012. The ruling by the Copyright Royalty Board, a panel of three judges appointed by the Librarian of Congress, applied directly to mechanical royalties (which as we mentioned before, are the fees paid directly to songwriters and publishers of music, not the performers).
The currently royalty rate of 9.1 cents was lobbied to receive a 66 percent increase by music publishers, concerned about losing income as music sales decline. Labels and retailers pushed to judges to adopt a new model that would determine royalty payments as a percentage of wholesale revenue, however neither of these suggestions made the ruling.
One document in the hearing, submitted by an Apple executive, had threatened that a significant inflation in royalty rates could potentially force them to shut down the massively popular iTunes music store, which has sold over 5 billion songs to date. While Apple sees substantial sales, they operate with very thin margins.
There are still some in the music industry that have claimed that new rulings such as these might not be enough to satisfy the insatiable rise of illegal file sharing. “Whether these developments will be sufficient to return the music industry to health is not clear,” said Jonathan Feinstien, a music lawyer at the Krasilovsky & Gross firm in New York.
Apple has threatened to close its iTunes music store, if the Copyright Royalty Board approves a hike in the royalty rate on music sales. The board is to give its decision on Thursday. The National Music Publishers’ Association is pleading for a hike of 66% in royalty rates. On the other hand, digital store owners are demanding a cut in royalty rates.
"If the [iTunes store] was forced to absorb any increase in the ... royalty rate, the result would be to significantly increase the likelihood of the store operating at a financial loss -- which is no alternative at all,” Apple’s VP Eddy Cue warned the board in a filing.
Do you believe Apple can take such a drastic step?
By our own admission, MacBooks aren't half bad. In Maximum PC'sApple's Notebooks Take On the PC Competition, Apple's MacBook walked away as best-in-class in the professional segment, much to the dismay of the PC faithful. But that doesn't mean we're willing to squeeze our wallet dry to own one.
On average, you can expect to pay twice as much on an Apple PC versus a Vista computer. And people are doing just that. Windows PCs still dominate the lion's share of the market at 80 percent, but Apple continues to cling to a respectable 20 percent slice of the pie. Making its piece even more savory, Apple's making over 35 percent of the revenue share. Think about that. Despite claiming one-fifth of the market, Apple's cashing in on over a third of the revenue.
These numbers come courtesy of the latest NPD sales information, but some feel that Apple has done as well as it ever will at the current price point. Joe Wilcox from eWeek writes, "What's next? I predict that Apple's grab for dollars has gone about as far as it can, without price cuts. Apple's higher prices buck industry trends."
That may be the case, but can trendy hipsters be expected to buck the trend of overpaying?