Why Samsung’s Harman purchase is not an Apple blunder

Larry Dignan reported on ZDNet about Why Samsung’s Harman purchase will be seen as Apple blunder decades from now.

Samsung’s purchase of Harman is strategically sound, worth the $8 billion, and positions Samsung well in the connected car market. Meanwhile, Samsung diversifies from a saturated smartphone market.

How is diversification good if Samsung’s whole operations as a conglomerate is all about diversifying into all industries that make money?

If you’re not familiar with Samsung’s operations, check this Wikipedia page.

Samsung is in many markets making low margin for the purpose of making money. Apple is in the smartphone market making high margin because their purpose is to make the best smartphone. Likewise for the desktop and laptop markets.

First look at the Nintendo Switch

Nintendo has given us a first look at the Nintendo Switch, and it’s a pretty daring departure from the current form of consoles we’re used to.

Not too surprising though, as Nintendo isn’t afraid to try new things, as evidenced with the Wii. I’m looking forward to checking this out, though I don’t think it’ll give a proper challenge to the Playstation or Xbox anytime soon.

The Google Pixel phone is looking good

If you’re an Android fan, willing to buy a premium phone, the Pixel is your answer. To repeat: it’s simply the best Android phone I’ve tested. If you’re an iPhone user thinking of switching, the Pixel will seem physically familiar, but you’ll have to overcome the sticky links you’ve developed with fellow iPhone users, things like iMessage (which Google can’t match yet) and iCloud Photo Sharing (which Google is trying to copy). You’ll also have to do without the comfort of your neighborhood Genius Bar.

via The Verge

While I’m not bothered about any digital assistants, including Siri or Google Assistant, I am really intrigued how Google plans to manage and enforce the unlimited full resolution photo storage for pictures taken with the Pixel. It’s a great selling point of the phone, and hits Apple where it hurts – the shameful 5GB of free iCloud storage that we’re still being offered.

Is iMessage the key to iOS lock in?

Over time, iMessage has become indispensable in my everyday life. If the gadgets I have to carry with me on a daily basis are the bones of my tech existence, iMessage is the connective tissue. It’s quick work chats; it’s sharing location on the way to a meeting or dinner; it’s sending a GIF of a hug to a friend who is having a bad day; it’s keeping in touch with mom; it’s getting a series of poop emojis from my niece on her iPod Touch.

via The Verge.

This might be the case in the West, but in Asia, the alternatives such as Whatsapp, WeChat, and LINE still reign supreme. In Malaysia where I live, Whatsapp is the de facto messaging system everybody uses.

One thing that always has me scratching my head is that why Google can’t seem to roll out a proper competitor to this. Sure, now we have Google Allo, but while I hope it works out, I don’t have much confidence that it’ll be a success anytime soon.

Quick Charging Would Be Great

The Pixel charges via USB-C, and uses USB-PD (Power Direct) to pull a whopping 7 hours of battery life in fifteen minutes from its 18W charger when starting with a near-dead smartphone. (USB-PD, like most quick-charging solutions, scales down the power draw depending on how badly your smartphone is hurting for battery life.) Combine that with the Pixel’s 2770mAh battery, and Google’s smartphone is not only going to last longer, but come back from the dead much more quickly than either of Apple’s smartphone options.

The thing is, Apple has quick-charge technology in the 12.9-inch iPad Pro and its various mobile accessories; the company is also no stranger to USB-C, having used it in the MacBook. It may not have been feasible to stick that kind of quick-charging into the iPhone 7 given time and resource constraints, but that only makes me more greedy for it in next year’s iPhone. The age of slow-charge batteries is coming to a close, and I can only hope that Google is heralding the call.

Serenity Caldwell wrote a good piece on the #MadeByGoogle event, but while I wasn’t too bothered about the camera on the Pixel, I really wish that proper quick charging would be implemented on the iPhone.

On Apple Music and Spotify

There’s been some noise recently between Apple and Spotify, which shouldn’t be surprising, considering they’re currently in the midst of fighting to be the king of music streaming.

I just figured I’d toss my two cents in too.

While pricing and content is obviously one of the key factors to the outcome of this, I feel Apple really needs to double down on the interface of iTunes and Music (on iOS). It’s currently hell to navigate. With iOS 10 and macOS Sierra around the corner, things should be getting better, but there really needs to be less horror stories about iTunes/Apple Music messing with your music library. I personally have stopped using iTunes and Apple Music, since it totally poisoned my music library. I was already dabbling with Spotify then, but I’m all in now. I’m more than happy to revisit Apple Music when Apple gets its act together, but on the current trajectory, it doesn’t seem that it’ll happen anytime soon.

Seriously.

Based on several Apple Support threads, it appears that the most recent version of iTunes 12.3.3 contains a database error that affects a small number of users, and can potentially wipe out their music collection after the update. The error has been mentioned a few times, primarily on the Windows side, in the weeks since the 12.3.3 update, but appears to be rare enough that it hasn’t previously received major press. Apple did put out a support document shortly after the 12.3.3 update that walks you through some fixes if you find that your local copies of music are missing.

Focus should really not be on having anything like the above happen, instead of maybe buying Tidal.

Google deceptively tracks students’ internet browsing, EFF says in FTC complaint

Electronic Frontier Foundation released a press release on Google tracking students’ internet browsing.

While Google does not use student data for targeted advertising within a subset of Google sites, EFF found that Google’s “Sync” feature for the Chrome browser is enabled by default on Chromebooks sold to schools. This allows Google to track, store on its servers, and data mine for non-advertising purposes, records of every Internet site students visit, every search term they use, the results they click on, videos they look for and watch on YouTube, and their saved passwords. Google doesn’t first obtain permission from students or their parents and since some schools require students to use Chromebooks, many parents are unable to prevent Google’s data collection.

Google’s practices fly in the face of commitments made when it signed the Student Privacy Pledge, a legally enforceable document whereby companies promise to refrain from collecting, using, or sharing students’ personal information except when needed for legitimate educational purposes or if parents provide permission.

“Despite publicly promising not to, Google mines students’ browsing data and other information, and uses it for the company’s own purposes. Making such promises and failing to live up to them is a violation of FTC rules against unfair and deceptive business practices,” said EFF Staff Attorney Nate Cardozo. “Minors shouldn’t be tracked or used as guinea pigs, with their data treated as a profit center. If Google wants to use students’ data to ‘improve Google products,’ then it needs to get express consent from parents.”

The iPad Pro proves that Apple’s iPad is on its last legs

Inquisitr reported on how the iPad Pro proves that Apple’s iPad is on its last legs.

And the question everybody should be asking is why would you want to buy an iPad Pro for nearly $1,000 when you can buy another device, such as the Microsoft Surface Pro, for almost the same price and be able to use a full desktop operating system? iOS worked on the original iPad because tablets with desktop operating systems had poor battery life and poor software features. Now, that’s changed. Apple needs to get with the times. Sure, you can run Photoshop. But can you run a full desktop version of Photoshop? The answer is no. Sure, you can edit movies in iMovie. But can you edit movies with professional software like Final Cut Pro? Unfortunately, you can’t.

This guy probably missed how people are using iOS apps to create high quality photos, drawings, videos and music.

The Apple Narrative

John Gruber wrote about Bryan Clark’s article about Apple on TheNextWeb.

This is the part of Clark’s piece that got my attention. It’s a common refrain these days — just search Google for “Apple is too dependent on the iPhone”.

Clark makes it sound like this is because the rest of Apple’s business is in decline, whereas the truth is that the iPhone continues to grow at an astonishing rate that even Apple’s other successful products can’t match. Is it worrisome that iPad sales continue to decline? Sure. Would it be better for Apple if the iPad were selling in iPhone-esque quantities? Of course. But iPad still sold 9.9 million units and generated $4.3 billion in revenue last quarter.

Arguing that Apple is in trouble because the iPhone is so popular is like arguing that the ’90s-era Chicago Bulls were in trouble because Michael Jordan was so good. It’s true Jordan couldn’t play forever — and the iPhone won’t be the most profitable product in the world forever. But in the meantime, the Bulls were well-nigh unbeatable, and Apple, for now at least, is unfathomably profitable.1 Just like how it’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all, it’s better to have tremendous success for some period of time than never to have had tremendous success in the first place. Right?

What I don’t get is why Apple gets singled out for its singular success, but other companies don’t. 92 percent of Google’s revenue last year came from online advertising. And more importantly, I don’t get why Apple’s non-iPhone businesses are so quickly written off only because they’re so much smaller than the iPhone.

Apple’s total revenue for last quarter was $51.5 billion. The iPhone accounted for $32.2 billion of that, which means Apple’s non-iPhone business generated about $19.3 billion in revenue. All of Microsoft in the same three months: around $21 billion. All of Google: $18.78 billion. Facebook: $4.5 billion. Take away every single iPhone sold — all of them — and Apple’s remaining business for the quarter was almost as big as Microsoft’s, bigger than Google’s, and more than four times the size of Facebook’s. And this is for the July-September quarter, not the October-December holiday quarter in which Apple is strongest.

My guess is that these “journalists” want to drive traffic to their articles and it is easy to mislead uninformed readers.

UK surveillance bill could bring ‘very dire consequences’

The Guardian reported on Tim Cook warning that the UK surveillance bill could bring ‘very dire consequences’.

“You can just look around and see all the data breaches that are going on. These things are becoming more frequent,” Cook told the Daily Telegraph. “They can not only result in privacy breaches but also security issues. We believe very strongly in end-to-end encryption and no back doors. We don’t think people want us to read their messages. We don’t feel we have the right to read their emails.

“Any back door is a back door for everyone. Everybody wants to crack down on terrorists. Everybody wants to be secure. The question is how. Opening a back door can have very dire consequences.”

Let’s hope the authorities finally see the light.