Amazon has agreed to acquire casual web gaming company Reflexive Entertainment. The move marks the internet behemoth’s foray into casual gaming. Reflexive was constituted in 1997 and is stationed in Orange County, California. Reflexive is working on a game development and distribution service called Reflexive Arcade.
The Reflexive Arcade service will be restricted to only PC, Mac and web-based games. The true motivation behind this particular acquisition is not yet known. The two companies haven’t made the details of the transaction public.
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.
We at Maximum PC remember a time, long ago, when having a dual-monitor setup was enough to establish some pretty serious nerd cred. These days, however, everyone and their grandma are playing World of Warcraft and checking their email at the same time on their two screens. So what’s a guy got to do to stand out from the pack? Here’s one idea: run two computers in tandem.
Synergy is a free, open source program that allows you two control two or more computers with a single keyboard and mouse. The linked computers behave as though they were simply different monitors in a traditional multi-monitor, single-computer setup. That is to say, if you drag the mouse off the left side of the right monitor, it appears on the left monitor, directing all keystrokes to that box. More impressively, Synergy synchronizes the two computers’ clipboards and even their screensavers.
Earlier reports that Microsoft's new ad campaign would kick off with Jerry Seinfeld as its OS pitchman turned out to be true, and so has the pre-release skepticism. It's hard to imagine being any more annoyed than when watching Justin Long portray the prototypical hipster for the umpteenth time, but like Vista when it first came out, general consensus is that Microsoft has dropped the ball and left eager PC fans more than a little underwhelmed.
How bad was it? Enough so that you won't find any pretense of unbiased reporting in this blog. Not only did the first commercial in Microsoft's $300 million advertising campaign appear to make little sense, but if it was aiming to be funny (and it was), it missed the mark.
"Today, we are kicking off a highly visible advertising campaign," wrote Microsoft's senior VP Bill Veghte in an email to employees. "The first phase of this campaign is designed to engage consumers and spark a new conversation about Windows – a conversation that will evolve as the campaign progresses, but will always be marked by humor and humanity."
Veghte goes on to explain that the first set of ads should be taken as an icebreaker, but if Microsoft was looking to make a good first impression with Seinfeld's debut, well, let's just say it didn't. See for yourself.
It remains to be seen whether the recent Mac clone phenomenon will turn out to be a legit business or a series of scams, but either way, things aren't looking good. You may recall reading about Psystar, a recent startup who purports to sell Open Computer setups running Max OS X Leopard. Despite confusion over where the company actually resides, the company appears to be in a legal battle with Apple over multiple counts of violating copyright, trademark, and breach-of-contract and unfair competition laws.
And what of Open Tech, the other Mac cloner who recently hit the headlines? In just three weeks after its official Mac-clone product launch, Open Tech vice president Elijah Samaroo sent an email to Wired.com announcing the sale of Open Tech's web store for a cool $50,000. Unlike Psystar, who sells pre-installed Mac-clones, Open Tech was offering to sell PCs with instructions detailing how to install any OS of choice, including Apple's, but is now prepared to let go of its "trade secrets" if it can find a buyer.
But wait, there's more! Adding more comic relief to the ridiculously high asking price for a shady startup, anyone interested in purchasing Open Tech can use the site's PayPal button to transfer the $50,000 and "as soon as the payment is received the Open Tech Papwork and Documents will be faxed or mailed to you."
In the world of PCs we have it pretty good. Hardware is pretty inexpensive for the performance across the board. It’s well developed and pretty amazing that you can take a conglomeration of parts drop Windows or Linux in it and have the thing work (usually). Overall this makes PCs cheap enough for the masses. Mac’s on the other hand tend to average almost double the cost of the PC average, according to a story by DailyTech:
“Macs have gone from an average price of $1,432 and $1,574, for desktops and laptops respectively in June '06 to $1,543 and $1,515 respectively in June '08. While much lower to start, PCs are now even lower in average sale price. The average PC notebook went from $877 to $700,”
I would have thought that the recent change in Mac using Intel hardware would have enabled them to lower their prices, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.
It has always been comparing Apples to, well, PCs to compare the platforms. Apple controls its production from end to end. Microsoft’s approach is more of a middle of the road approach with its Windows Certified Logo program, and Linux of course goes for the gusto with a completely open approach. Each has it’s advantages and draw backs. What we are seeing now is the result of openness and demand. If Apple wants to catch up it means opening up and letting builders use their OS X on their systems. I can just imagine how that will affect their vaunted stability, even though OS X is Linux at heart with Mac clothing. It will level the playing field and Macs might actually capture a larger market share while reducing their prices.
What do you think? Will we see Apple open it’s OS to system builders?
Grungy PC users can forget about over-paying for a Mac just to appear more hip and appease that inner fanboy (which, incidentally, is now an officially recognized word). Instead, shed your PC room's fashion faux pas with AOC's new 22-inch 2218Ph LCD monitor, or so the company implies. AOC claims its new monitor "finally brings PC users the element of style Mac users have enjoyed for the last few years." In addition to 'state-of-the-art metallic workmanship,' the $429.99 2218Ph touts:
12,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio
HDCP-compliant HDMI input
2ms response time
1680 x 1050 native resolution
Illuminating touch key control
Of course, if you're trying to impersonate a Mac user, take extra caution when others are around. Removing the side panel to upgrade a crucial component or firing up a bevy of games are surefire ways of exposing yourself as an uncouth PC user, even if you're wearing jeans and sipping a Starbucks.
Microsoft seems poised to finally fight back against Apple’s Mac Guy vs PC Guy ads. The trendy, cool young ‘Mac’ guy versus the older staid business “PC” guy in a suit, have become pop culture icons. Every Mac user I ever knew was into granola, watching tree’s grow, and communing with nature, not trendy and cool. Microsoft’s position until now has been to sit back and let them play out. This may have been a bad move on Microsoft’s part. Mac Guy has been thoroughly ingrained into the national psyche.
Brad Brooks, the Corporate Vice President of Windows Consumer Product announced during his keynote address July 8 at Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference that Microsoft is launching a 300 million dollar advertising counteroffensive against certain “unnamed competitors”. Dailytech.com quoted him as saying , "We know our story is very different from what our competitors want us to think. Today we are drawing a line and are going to start telling the real story (about Vista)."