Apple is not China.

I originally sent this as an email to Buzz Out Loud this morning. It wasn’t used on the show, but I figured it was worth posting anyway. The points are still valid. On Tuesday’s show, Molly made a comment comparing Apple’s App Store shenanigans to the way China handles their government. It just wasn’t a good analogy.

There is simply no way that you can compare Apple’s questionable App Store policies to China’s unmitigated death march on human rights. Apple is a consumer electronics company. It makes choices, based on what it sees as a value to increasing its presence in the market and its monetary worth to stockholders. China is an entire country, bent on oppressing what the world has come to accept as basic civil liberties and human rights to advance its own agenda. You really can’t draw parallels between these two entities. They’re simply not the same.

I know it’s tempting, because we all love to look at corporations as nefarious, overreaching behemoths whose every move is calculated to control more of our lives, and in a lot of instances, well, that seems to be the case. But… not in the App Store, k?

You may not like that Apple is selectively removing apps from the App Store, as it reeks of censorship – but it’s not a government. We as the non-stockholding public don’t get to have a say – it’s a company that makes products, to make money. Let’s all take a step back, and be honest – no one’s basic human rights have been compromised – no one’s undeniable freedoms have been trampled because of these decisions.

And frankly, we all know the App Store has too much crap in it anyway.

Windows Phone Series 7: fighting yesterday’s battle. (Again.)

It’s finally arrived, and it’s very impressive. Seriously. As a former Windows Mobile addict (reformed), I have to say, I wish this had happened three years ago, when my distaste for the stagnancy of the OS was at its apex. I spent entirely too much time hacking and whittling function into every device I had because I was under the delusional impression that this was how things needed to be. I jumped ship for a BlackBerry Curve, which held my attention for about six months, until I realized how pitifully anemic the OS underpinnings really were pertaining to extensibility. Then I got an iPod Touch, and well, shortly thereafter made the jump to an iPhone.

But this isn’t about what Apple did. It’s about what Microsoft didn’t do. It’s become a company fractured by success, splitting into divisions that compete and snipe at one another internally. The XBox platform is a winner, as is the Zune interface (while being a little late to the party hardware wise, despite the introduction of the really nice Zune HD). But MS’s major problem is that it is still fighting yesterday’s battle. The decision to push Bing so hard, when the search land grab is long since over is a failure to understand where the market’s moved. Its glacial pace of product announcement and release is its greatest failure in some aspects, and is reinforced by today’s decision to release the extremely well-received Windows Phone Series 7 for the “Holiday 2010” season. Which is long after Apple will likely release iPhone 4.0, and will almost certainly be after new Android updates, RIM updates, webOS updates, and a deluge of consumer-confusion with the litany of new OS choices from phone manufacturers themselves. It’s a crticial tactical error (see Palm’s release and subsequent delay of webOS for an example of lost opportunity to capitalize on interest). And I like Palm – but it’s undeniable that the wait for the original Pre hurt possible market success.

The hardware battle is over. Actually, it’s not over, but it’s becoming irrelevant. The content connectivity/ecosystem battle will determine the next phase’s winner. As long as MS continues to look behind itself for progress, it’ll always be bringing up the rear, no matter how nice the products end up looking. Microsoft, despite leading in advances like Surface, is not a company that’s comfortable with looking ahead and doing what’s next. In the extremely volatile mobile handset world, this is tantamount to failure.

But man, it really does look nice.

MarsEdit is simply amazing.

Given that today is a total whiteout outside, I decided to put in some serious time playing on my MBP this morning. I was up way too early, and have already given myself a minor headache from catching up on long-neglected Instapaper posts. Then I moved on to application exploration. I’ve heard about MarsEdit before but never actually tried using it.

Needless to say, it is a quantum leap from editing live in a browser, or even just composing text and cutting and pasting. I may have to pick it up. It’s extremely impressive. One more step on the path to streamlining my activities and working smarter. This app is what I picture when I think about how things ought to work.

I was looking at Notational Velocity a moment ago too, solely based on Merlin Mann’s resounding recommendation on last week’s MacBreak Weekly, but it doesn’t seem to fit with the way I mentally organize information. Cool app, though.

MarsEdit 2

Notational Velocity

Ok, I’m definitely buying this. All it took was the composition of this single post to sell me. Well done. Hmm, the only thing stopping me would be if it tripped on the posting… let’s see.



Apple Confidential 2.0

I read this book about a year ago, and I think about it often. If you are at all interested in Apple as a company, I’ve yet to read something that goes into the exhaustive detail that this book does. It’s not written from a fanboy perspective; in fact, it’s unflinchingly detailed in every aspect of the company’s growth from that tiny garage to the multi-billion-dollar culture-defining behemoth that it’s become. Which includes all the bad choices, all the tantrums, and all the back-room sniping that led to the company falling, and eventually rising again. A great read, highly recommended.

Apple Confidential 2.0

Scaling down, to move forward.

I was always a curious kid, and that desire to explore never really left. I love tinkering, so I void warranties. I even have a t-shirt that my sister gave me to commemorate this life-choice. But it does end up consuming me, always wondering what else I can do, constantly playing, and taking time away from other activities, like, you know, living?

As a result of this small epiphany, I entered into a new agreement with myself this week: to slow down, increase focus, and limit the amount of time I spend playing with my iPhone. I realized that although I could hack the crap out of it and install a million interesting jailbreak applications (which I’d done, beginning in October of last year), what I really needed from my tiny, shiny friend was the minimum barrier to getting my daily tasks done in a decent fashion. Life has only gotten busier and more complicated over the past few months, and I’m starting to come to the realization that this is how it’s going to be from now on. I can’t spend as much time doing the things I used to, because other things find a way to wedge themselves in. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, it’s just… life.

So I’m conducting an experiment. I’ve restored my phone, losing the ability to run unsigned code (read: non-App Store apps) going to back to a stock device, and removed any non-essential apps – equaling about 75% fewer apps installed overall. Instead of an entire page of photo apps, three of which I actually use on any given day, I only have those three apps, and nothing more. I haven’t even tinkered with settings to customize the device as much this time, in an effort to make another eventual restore a little quicker, should I want to or need to do it.

Overall, I want to see if I can change the way I do things day-to-day, because I sometimes feel like I’m missing out on moments, despite the fact that I can rationalize almost anything to myself. I love tech, and live it every day, but there are other things in life too (blasphemy!). Plus, if I’m really serious about increasing my productivity, I have to start coming to terms with the things that suck it away (endless searching of the App Store isn’t helping).

I’m not saying it’s going to last, because I can’t suppress who I am. But it’s refreshing to sometimes change things up, and the stress of possibly bricking my main line of communication with the rest of the world is alleviated. That’s always the trade-off when you start breaking your toys open to see what’s inside. I don’t know how this will all shake out. But I do know that when I start avoiding change in my life is when I really start losing the ability to change.