Apple’s flawed foray into Cloud Computing acknowledged by Steve Jobs

Image representing Apple as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

Ars Technica is reporting that Steve Jobs sent out an internal email that acknowledged missteps in the rollout of MobleMe:

Steve Jobs: MobileMe “not up to Apple’s standards”

“The MobileMe launch clearly demonstrates that we have more to learn about Internet services,” Jobs says. “And learn we will. The vision of MobileMe is both exciting and ambitious, and we will press on to make it a service we are all proud of by the end of this year.”

Apple may get a mulligan this time from the faithful, but the cloud computing space is rapidly becoming the most competitive place on the internet, and such failures won’t be tolerated for long.

My own experience with MobleMe has left me disappointed, and I’ve decided to stay with the google calendar and gmail solution, and added SugarSync to manage my files across computers.

Apple’s garden walls grow taller

Steve Jobs + iPhone = Genius

Image by Oishi Kuranosuke via Flickr

Finally, after the over hyped launch of the iPhone 3G, someone has come out and questioned Apple‘s walled garden approach to application development for their phone. Don’t get me wrong, I’m probably going to buy one in a few weeks, but I’ve been wondering why Apple was getting a pass on it’s closed system, and mainly by the same folks that challenge any regime that Microsoft puts in place. From TechCrunchIT

Apple has wrapped the iPhone SDK in enough licensing, security controls and right management that it would make the Microsoft Active Desktop team blush. The phone and platform that is certain to soon take second spot behind Symbian in the smart phone market is also the most restricted and closed. Applications can only be installed from a single source, iTunes, and open source applications and distribution is near impossible. How do you install an iPhone application without iTunes? Where are the community advocates arguing for a standard interface, openess and free code?

UPDATE:  Gina Tripani piles on.

Reliance teams up with Apple to launch iStores across India

Ok, this is interesting. Apple has had an on again, off again relationship with the Indian market over the years. While on my October 2007 trip to India, I only noticed a few Apple reseller outlets – resellers that were based mainly in places like Hyderabad and Bangalore. Reports now indicate a link-up between Apple and India’s Reliance. They will build 60 iStores across India and will offer the full range of Apple products.

The announcement makes perfect sense to me. There is a huge pent up demand for products like the iPod in India. Even the MacBook Air, listed at Rs. 99,000, will feed young India’s lust for ‘luxury’ products. [Linked via TUAW]

Wired’s story on the secret development of the iPhone

Description unavailableImage by bizmac via Flickr

It’s been a year since Apple unveiled it’s iPhone, which is considered by many to be a revolutionary device.  While that may be true, the greater revolution came from the manner in which the phone was developed and the equation altering manufacturer – carrier relationship that it left in it’s wake.  Wired has done an excellent write up on the process, it’s challenges, and the underlying gamble that Steve Jobs took with the iPhone.  The article starts out appropriately enough:

It was a late morning in the fall of 2006. Almost a year earlier, Steve Jobs had tasked about 200 of Apple’s top engineers with creating the iPhone. Yet here, in Apple’s boardroom, it was clear that the prototype was still a disaster. It wasn’t just buggy, it flat-out didn’t work. The phone dropped calls constantly, the battery stopped charging before it was full, data and applications routinely became corrupted and unusable. The list of problems seemed endless. At the end of the demo, Jobs fixed the dozen or so people in the room with a level stare and said, “We don’t have a product yet.”

It’s hard to imagine many corporations today that would have a boardroom full of people that would tolerate that bit of news from their CEO.  But then again, this is Apple that we are talking about.  Very interesting read, and well written as well.

Read the rest of the story here: The Untold Story: How the iPhone Blew Up the Wireless Industry

My last Windows based computer

A few months back, I upgraded to a new convertible Tablet PC – the Lenovo X61T – replacing my workhorse tablet, the Toshiba M200. I had the M200 for three years, the longest that I’ve used any laptop. As the M200 approached the end of its useful life, I seriously considered migrating to a new Intel-based MacBook. The key factor that kept me from making the switch was the lack of inking capabilities on Macs. I wasn’t an early adopter of tablets, but by the time the M200 arrived, the technology was stable enough to be useful on a regular basis. The practicality and usefulness of a tablet led me to buy the Lenovo. Buying the Lenovo wasn’t a mistake, but choosing Windows Vista certainly was.

Before I slam Vista outright, I want to recognize how well Microsoft integrated the tablet interface into Vista. Inking is at the core of the operating system, best I can tell, as reflected in the omnipresent Tablet PC Input Panel. Inking definitely feels more natural in Vista than it did on XP. Unfortunately, the instability of Vista, along with odd behavioral issues have made Vista increasingly difficult to deal with. Quite a bit has already been written about Vista’s quirks, so I won’t devote much space to those issues here. However, I can categorize my disappointments with Vista in two key areas, productivity and stability.

First, productivity. Maybe it’s me, but I think most people assume full version upgrades of software should drive greater productivity by either adding a substantial set of new features or simplifying processes through better automation or functionality. Vista fails on all these fronts; in fact it feels more and more like a dot release of XP. To be sure there are a few features that have made me productive, but this has been offset by a loss of productivity on other features. All in all, I don’t see the vast improvement that was promised.

Second, stability. Stability has never been a calling card of Microsoft operating systems. With the release of Vista, Microsoft promised it’s most stable operating system ever. Here too, I don’t see the improvements. Instead Vista has introduced some of the most annoying things I’ve ever seen in an operating system. For example, when docking or undocking my Lenovo, both the laptop screen and the attached external monitor go through a random screen flicker/rotation sequence that varies everytime I dock/undock. Rumor has it that the service pack that Microsoft is due to release will resolve this…I’m not betting on it. In the last few days I’ve started to get random lockups while working on the Lenovo. That is an absolute non-starter for a workhorse PC that I rely on to do all of my work.

I’m seriously considering ‘downgrading’ the Lenovo back to XP. That isn’t an optimal solution, but XP has gone through two service pack releases, with another apparently on the way. Those patches did make XP more stable, and I’d rather wait for a similar set of patches to be released for Vista before returning to it. Vista’s Aero Glass look is slick, but that alone won’t keep me on a system that I can’t rely on.

I don’t plan to replace the Lenovo anytime soon, but I doubt that I’ll keep this machine for three years like the M200. I am nearly certain that my next machine will be one of those Intel powered Apple Macs. Yes, I know that Apple’s laptops have issues of their own, but the operating system has proven to be more reliable than Windows. There is the added attraction of running both OSs on the MacBooks, another nice feature. Now if Apple could bring some of that touch technology from the iPhone to their laptops, we’d have the optimal solution.

The lunacy of DRM at 37,000 feet

I do a lot of air travel, and much of it is cross-country. Flights in excess of three hours can really be a drain on energy and productivity if not managed correctly. My usual routine is to break up a lengthy flight into time chunks with some time devoted to work, some for reading, and some for entertainment. My plan today, cruising across the country from Orange County, CA to the Atlanta airport, was to filter through some light reading, spend some productive time on work related things, and mix in some music that I download onto my laptop via the Yahoo!Jukebox service. Today, however, the music part was not meant to be. Instead of firing up a random playlist, I got the following message:

Well, I’m unable to connect to the internet while in the air, so I can’t access music that I’m paying for? I know that the Digital Rights Management (DRM) regime was designed to protect the creative rights (and profits) of artists, but what use is music that I’ve subscribed to, but cannot listen without logging in? Yes, I know that the subscription model requires a routine ‘check in’ with servers to make sure that I’m not ‘stealing’ music. I do, regularly, log Yahoo!Jukebox onto the Yahoo!Music website to check in. I also know that Jukebox was logged in last night. Despite being logged in, this security upgrade was overlooked! This is not the end of the world, but it is pretty frustrating. Now that “His Steveness’ has weighed in on the subject, there may be hope that the music industry will agree to some sort of protective scheme that doesn’t break when you’re cruising at 37,000 feet!