Why does Apple get away with it all !

Apple recently announced that they will not be taking part in Macworld from next year and Steve Jobs will not be presenting at this year’s (2009) keynote. The blogosphere as usual hasn’t taken very kindly to this news. According to Apple the decision to pull back has been based on the fact that they’re a big company now and they have other avenues to reach the customers.

I don’t have a doubt about the statement. Apple is a really big company now. But, have they ever given the fact a thought, that they’re big because of the users. Apple is not big because their operating system is bundled with 90% of the computers sold in the world. They’re not big because their phone is the most stable platform in the world. They are big because their community of users hasn’t left them for greener pastures … yet.

Apple is probably the onle company in the world that can get away with anything. And I really mean anything. DRM, faulty hardware, sub standard OS performance, “Apple Tax” … anything !

And now this.

Is it really time to look for alternatives. Is it time to really think why we use Apple products anyway !

I’ve been an Apple user since some time. Owned an iBook sometime and when it failed with the infamous logic board failure, I saved up money to buy the latest greatest Macbook – which I’m glad I didn’t buy.

I also own an iPhone and have gone through all the hoops to make sure it works with my provider. Will I buy an iPhone again. Short answer – No !

Long answer is a bit complicated. The reason I didn’t buy a Macbook is the same as the reason why I’m not going to upgrade to a newer iPhone. Freedom. Or the lack of it.

In all these years of using Apple products, I’ve never felt more crippled. Apple’s products are priced more than any of their competitors and don’t really provide any real benefits. Why should I buy those products anymore. Apple is now crippling even the display ports with DRM and they still want us users to endorse their brand.

One thing I really don’t understand is why are more and more developers developing open source application drifting to the Apple world. Attend any open source conference and you’ll find atleast 50% of the developers using Apple machines. Don’t they feel the pain ?

I really hope that Apple doesn’t cripple the Mac mini this Macworld with the display port nonsense. As far as I know, that’s the only decent mac that is left.

Don’t get me wrong. I like Apple. I like the fact that Apple products apparently … just Work. I just don’t like the freedom that I have to give up for that. And I still don’t think OS X has anything great going for it. Its the hardware that Apple is good at.

Thank you Apple …. for showing me the path … for guiding me towards the light. I don’t need to take any more crap from you and I can go back owning my computer and using it the way I always wanted to. Thank you.

5 free and exciting iPhone Games

Steve Jobs, while launching the iTunes app store remarked that the iPhone (and iPod touch) is the best gaming device ever made.

And looking at the kind of games available for the iPhone, I completely agree with ‘ol Steve.

The App store has thousands of games available already, both paid and free. And each one of those games has been approved by Apple, so you can be atleast sure that whatever is available on the app store right now, is high quality stuff.

In this post, we’ll look at some interesting iPhone games that are available right now and, of course, are free to download and use.

Matches

Matches is the iPhone version of the old game known as Memory or, well, Matches.

Each card on the screen has a matching that the player has to find and there is a time limit for uncovering all the matches. There are many levels and the time available to find all matches keeps shrin

king and so the game becomes increasingly more challenging as the levels progress. Exactly, the kind of thing you want to be engrossed in on a Sunday afternoon 🙂

iBowl

iBowl is from the makers of iGolf, another exciting and addictive free iPhone game. As is obvious from the name, iBowl is a bowling game – With a twist.

The difference between iBowl and the other bowling games that most of us have grown up playing on other consoles is that iBowl uses the accelerometer built into the iPhone for the bowling part. What that means is that the player presses a button and pretends to bowl as if he’s playing a real bowling game, with the iPhone in hand instead of the, well, ball.

You can even challenge a friend to a game of Bowling, althought this doesn’t exactly do this using multi player gaming. Instead, iBowl sends an email to your friend asking them to load up iBowl and then probably uses the developer’s website to keep track of scores. I’m saying probably because I haven’t personally tried this option till now. I’m happy playing and winning against … myself 🙂

WordWrap

WordWrap is the iPhone implementation of the classic jumbled words dictionary based game – You get a set of letters, jumbled up, and you’re required to form as many words as you can out of those letters. If you use all the letters to form a single word, bonus points. Each progressive level gets more difficult, or not, depending on how well you’ve studied the dictionary. ‘Nuff said … this game has to be played to really be able to appreciate it.

Vegas Pool Sharks Lite

This is another of my favorite iPhone Games. I can spend hours playing this one, or atleast as long as the battery on my iPhone lets me.

Vegas Pool sharks is like playing Pool with a twist. The Lite version is the good ‘ol Pool game which you play against an opponent controlled by the computer iPhone. The paid version promises to make the game even more fun by letting you play against stakes. Now, this is one thing every gamer knows. Put some money on the table and watch a boring game transform into the most fearsome encounter ever.

Tic Tac Toe

I’m sure this one will bring back fond memories of all those classes spent sitting in the last row playing Tic Tac Toe with your best bud, while the teacher continues with the most boring lecture ever.

It sure evokes those feelings in me. I’ve literally spent ages playing this game and the last page of all my school notebooks will testify to that. I’m just glad the game is back in its most eco friendly avatar ever. I love it.

Those were some of our favorite iPhone games and I’m sure I’ve missed tonnes more. Go ahead … type in those comments and share with us your favorite iPhone games. We’d love to hear about any tips you’ve got too … for getting past the difficult levels, you know 😉

Dostana Review … and … Apple product placement

I saw Dostana last Saturday and kinda liked the movie. I mean I have no idea that John Abraham had so many fans in Bangalore. I mean fans of the male kind ! The kind who would whistle looking at John coming out of the Miami Ocean in his Undies … a ‘La Ursula Andress. Well, not really, but you get the drift !

Anyway, the movie was fun and mostly harmless clean comedy. I know some people were disappointed with the movie because … you know … they actually thought that Abhishek Bachhan and John Abraham would be playing a couple in the movie !

So, anyway the movie is about two random guys who are looking for a place to stay in Miami and end up being interested in the same apartment. The hitch is that the apartment is only for girls and so the duo decide to act as a couple and the rest, as they say, is history 🙂 Well, not really, but you know how these things go … I’m not supposed to spoil the fun and all that jazz.

All in all, I’d say its a nice and fun movie … Oh wait .. I already said that. Well, go watch the movie then.

The other thing that I wanted to talk about is product placement in movies. Specifically, Apple product placement. And when does it really start to get irritating.

I mean, I’m all for the producers making an extra buck by making the actors pose with nice and sexy gadgets, but there definitely has to be a limit to this. Or if there isn’t … a limit should be set soon … like now !

The makers of Dostana must have really got a nice bundle from Apple for promoting Macbooks, iPods, and iPhones in the movie. The movie features all those gadgets in multiple scenes and in places where they were absoltely avoidable. In fact, Karan Johar went a step ahead and started with promoting Apple products outside the movie too by gifting John a (new shiny white) Macbook on a chat show he was hosting for, of course, promoting the movie.

T-Mobile G1 – World's first Android based Phone Launched

Finally !! The world’s first Android based phone has been launched by T-Mobile. Called the G1, the phone has apparently been made in collaboration with HTC.

Why am I so excited about it ?

Well, apart from being a pretty decent phone, this is also the first phone in the world to be based on an open platform, Google’s Android project. That has to be a big deal, right ?

The last bit about being based on an open platform might not be relevant to the vast majority of people using any phone, but for a techie like me and for the millions of other people who value their rights, it is a big deal. And I’ve realised it only after using the iPhone.

Let me make one thing clear. I LOVE my iPhone. But, I should also make clear the fact that I am not a big phone user. I am on the phone about 20 mins a day and the rest of the time, I use the iPhone more as a mobile internet and music device. And the iPhone doesn’t disappoint me in that capacity. I use it to read/reply to emails, catch up on my RSS feeds, browse and have even used it to remotely setup my brother’s Linux box.

I have jailbroken my iPhone and use it that way to install third-part applications which Apple would have never allowed otherwise. I hate the fact that the phone is so closely bound with iTunes. That I cannot use the application of my choice to control my data that is on the device.

I hate the fact that I have to go throught the Apple AppStore to get any applications I want to install on it. And the applications in the AppStore are also controlled by Apple, of course.

I still love the iPhone, the device. It’s the artificial iTunes ecosystem that Apple has created around the device, is what I don’t like. Because, it takes away from me the freedom to do what I want with a gadget I’ve paid money for.

And for that reason alone, I think Android is a big deal.

Android is an open source operating system for mobile devices. Sure, the carriers will be restricting the software when they sell the phone, but that’s ok. As long as the underlying OS is free, as long as the ability to put applications on it is free, as long as I can use it the way I want, I’m willing to put my money on it.

Google is not going to control the Android marketplace, which is the equivalent of the iTunes AppStore for Android devices. Any developer will be able to offer his/her applications for the Android platform without the fear of them being rejected on flimsy grounds.

The iPhone has managed to bring the focus on the mobile web and it is for platforms like the Android to take it further.

The story of a Linux convert

First of all I’ll get my credentials out of the way. I have been using computers since the last 10 or so years. That’s not much by a lot of people standards, but I like to brag about it anyway !

I used windows for the first year of my computer using life, got bored, moved to Linux, was fascinated and used Redhat, fedora, debian, slackware, ubuntu for the next 6 or so years.

I then got myself a Mac, a 2004 model iBook (I like the way Macheads use the year to describe their machines, as if its a car or something … like I’ve got a 2008 model Ferrari ! ), and fell in love with Mac OS X. I did install Linux on the iBook once but removed it soon after since, obviously, Mac OS X was so much better ! Or so I thought. My iBook came with Mac OS X 10.3 and soon after I bought the iBook, Apple released Mac OS X 10.4, the version with spotlight (which, by the way, beats the crap out of beagle anyday). I *had to have* 10.4 on my iBook but I realised that I had to pay for it, so I did what any self respecting Indian would do. Asked a friend for a copy (Well, actually he pointed me to a torrent which I then used to download my copy).

Continue reading “The story of a Linux convert”

80% of US businesses run Macs

According to a yankee group report, 80% of US businesses run Macs. While the number itself is staggering what is even more interesting is that this percentage is almost double the 47% of mac running businesses from just two years ago. Not surprisingly, a good 28% of these businesses still use virtualisation to run Windows on these macs.

While I’m not the right person to comment on this data, I’m not particularly surprised. Macs have been gaining market share with the general public since the last few years and its good to see  that businesses have started looking at the viability of putting macs in the hands of their employees. I’m sure the above number includes mom and pop stores who use a mac to do their billing and not much else, so the percentage of macs in big enterprises will still be low but even this represents a big change.

When Apple announced the moving of their entire line of computers to Intel based chips instead of the PPC architecture, who would have thought the implications of the move. A lot of people from the mainstream press and the apple zealots were unhappy with the move and for some reason or the other decided that Intel chips just won’t cut it for apple.

I, on the other hand, think that the move to Intel has been the biggest contributor for this new found love for Macs among the PC community. With an Intel powered mac, the consumer has a good looking machine which allows him/her to run windows, play games and use Mac OS X, even at the same time with virtualisation software from one of the major vendors.

The move to Intel in itself was a trigger for an even bigger revolution, Virtualisation. While virtualisation has existed on the Mac platform for some years in the form of products like the Microsoft’s virtual PC, the market was a very niche one and anyone who has tried using Virtual PC to run windows on a PPC mac, would testify that it isn’t the best of experiences.

With an Intel chip, however, things changed and virtualisation just became a lot easier … and faster and consumers actually started appreciating the value of the technology. That in my opinion has been the real trigger of this mass exodus of PC users towards the mac platforms. The power to be able to run their applications and do the things that they’ve been doing for ages on a newer better and more powerful platform.

Singtel confirms iPhone launch for India (and other markets)

Singtel in a press release has confirmed that it would be distributing the iPhone in India through Airtel. This along with Vodaphone’s press release earlier this month has made India one of the few countries in the world, where the iPhone will be available on two competing carriers. I’m dying to see the competitive wars unfold ! Here’s hoping the Indian iPhone consumer gets a good deal 🙂

Gartner says Windows is "Collapsing"

This shouldn’t be news to anyone but when Gartner says in a report that the Windows Ecosystem is collapsing, I’m sure a lot of us would be willing to give them a thought. Granted, companies like Gartner thrive on tall claims to drive up their business but even I wouldn’t agree more with them on this one.

While I certainly do not think that Windows is “collapsing” but a gradual decline in the number of windows users and developers cannot be ignored. From the world’s most used and loved operating system, Windows is now just another statistic on the analysts’ radar. Mac OS X and Linux are formidable forces in the Operating system world and analysts are actually sitting up and taking notice of them.

The Vista debacle should have taught MS a lot of things but I doubt that they’re willing to learn anything from it. Consumers want more out of their computing machines these days and just a couple of fancy graphical effects are not going to sway them. They would rather have a working, stable operating system than change to a newer buggier one which also requires them to upgrade most of their hardware.

Microsoft on its part is signing up deals with open source companies like Novell. It released the SP 3 version of its best seller operating system Windows XP last week and even though XP will still be EOLed in June, MS has been working with some organisations like Asus who want to keep using XP on their low cost/low power computing devices. Gartner says that Windows is bloated, overly complex and full of useless functionality and that users who aren’t forced to upgrade by way of OEM deals, would rather stick to what they have.