Friday, March 9, 2012

iPad News Which May Have Not Hit Your Radar....

As I scanned my favorite information streams last night, I ran across a variety of interesting articles relating to the release of the new iPad (aka the iPad 3 or iPad HD).

While I don't completely agree with this Op Ed piece published on VB News, I  agree there were a few noticable, very un-Applian (what a mouthful of a non-word), elements to this week's choreographed product announcement. While there is much to like about the hardware itself, there appear to be some changes in direction.

I find it hard to believe the late Steve Jobs, would have endorsed calling this third generation product "the new iPad."   I am perplexed by the naming convention, or lack thereof, for this product. The departure has the blogosphere writing and I suspect more importantly, average consumers shaking their heads. I presume in a few weeks, tech journalists and commentators can drop the "new" and it will simply be "the iPad." (As opposed to the original iPad three years ago....)

I also don't think the cheesey "Resolutionary" moniker would have gotten out the front door, much less to the front of the company's web site! I don't see Apple losing all of its mojo in this very early post-Jobsian era, but I completely agree that Cook and his top aides have very big shoes to fill and the company may lose some of the sophisticated, clean, veneer and focus which has made the company and its products iconic. There was likely a three year pipeline of products in various stages of design and production when Jobs left us. It will take at least that long in my opinion to see how the company's culture evolves without his mercurial influence..... Interesting read.....

The great web site Gigaom has written about an important byproduct of the new iPad's roll out, small business network administration and security. Their article entitled, "The new iPad has CIOs quaking in their cubicles"  exposes some of the very real issues the exponential use of personal, mobile, devices, is having on small business networks. Many of these devices are finding their way into office space without ITs formal blessing. The new iPads superior graphic capabilities drives increased data usage, not to mention a host of other data and network security issues, which were all but non-existent three years ago. If you have a small business, there are issues you need to address now, not after a catastrophic network failure or data loss. If your company is in or around middle Tennessee and you would like help with these issues, Music Row Tech is here. Please contact us by telephone or through our contact form.

iTunes, App Store, iBookstore, and Mac App Store

Apple's always churning the waters. A recent patent award gives insight into at least one future direction the folks at Infinity Circle are considering for upcoming mobile platforms, the iWallet. For all the details, I direct you to the Patently Apple blog on this subject. Near field technology is already available in other mobile devices but isn't in wide use or distribution. Google and others would love to create an infrastructure which turns your smartphone into your primary means of payment (credit and/or debit).  The stakes are high and the company first out the gate with a secure, polished, solution, will be rewarded with financial gain and at least as importantly, a goldmine of consumer data!

Reading through Apple's application, adding NFC (near field communication) to iDevices is just the hook; the real intellectual property this patent is designed to protect revolves around handling rules and transactions between primary and secondary financial accounts. (As an example, think about adding your college age child to your credit card account. This may be a responsible decision to protect him or her in an emergency situation. However, it goes without saying, my definition of an "emergency" on spring break may be wildly different than my daughter's thoughts on the matter! Apple proposes that we be able to set up rules, or triggers, which manage these financial processes and relationships. For the record, I think this concept has great potential value.

I wonder why they haven't enacted something similar already in iTunes! Letting kids download songs, music, and apps at will can be very expensive! Giving gift cards out, isn't the best solution.... My other concern, Apple proposes to use iTunes as the repository for this financial transaction activity and mechanism! This makes me nervous! iTunes needs a major overhaul and adding this part of my life to this behemoth, makes me nervous!

Here's a summary of the patent taken from the above mentioned post. (Be sure to click through to the post if you want to explore this idea in much more depth!)
Summary of the Key Points of this Patent
Apple's patent figures associated with Apple's invention generally relate to techniques for implementing and defining financial transaction rules for controlling a subsidiary financial account. By way of example, the relationship between the primary financial account holder and the subsidiary account holder may be that of a parent-child relationship, employer-employee relationship, or the like.

The processor-based device may be additionally configured to transmit the financial transaction rules defined by the primary account holder to a designated financial institution that manages the subsidiary account. For instance, where the subsidiary financial account is a credit card account, the financial institution may include an issuing bank and/or a card association. The financial institution may store a record of user preferences associated with the primary and subsidiary financial accounts, and may update these account holder preferences based on the received financial transaction rules.

More news on the AT&T gone wild bandwagon! After a string of controversial moves including abandoning unlimited data plans for all,  proposing what appears to be a net neutrality breaking new source of income by providing preferential treatment to App developers willing to pay "1-800" like services making access to their data "free" to the consumer ( , GigaOhm, wrote a  great piece on this subject a few days ago!) and still not responding to my plea for roll over data!, AT&T has managed to muddy the water further with the help of Apple.

After the release of  iOS 5.1 this week, iPhone 4S users on AT&T's network  may now see a "4G" symbol on their phone. Problem is, AT&T's network didn't suddenly morph into an LTE capable network overnight! This is a marketing ploy and nothing more. (TNW may not be the first to bring this issue to light, but this is where I heard of the issue and you can read their commentary by following this link). Yet another reason my new iPad will be Verizon driven using their true 4G network. AT&T seems hellbent on alienating and confusing every level of consumer and the App Developer world all in one month! To the extent it is happening, I hate to see Apple, whose reputation for "customer first" has long been a hallmark, be contributory in these activities.

On a related note,  MacRumors announced yesterday that Verizon is including mobile hotspot use (a feature available on the new iPad if the carrier supports it) at no incremental charge!  If you travel with multiple devices, or with associates, friends, or family, with wi-fi devices, sharing your Verizon 4G network can be a great productivity enhancer! I just wish Verizon was willing to take AT&T on with a true $10 Gig/month mid-tier plan! If I could get 3 gigabytes of data for $30 a month (rather than the current 2 Gigabytes) through Verizon, I could give the company a complete "thumbs up" for iPad 4G use. One last point, hotspot use currently carries an incremental charge through SmartPhones on the Verizon network. Oh, AT&T is saying "no comment" at the moment!

All of the new features of the iPad-- retina display; 4G cellular; hotspot support-- takes energy. To keep the ten hours of battery life iPad users have come to love and expect, a bigger battery is the only solution. 9to5Mac indicates the new battery has a 42.5-watt-hour capacity and it physically spans almost the entire iPad case. This power source is about 70% bigger than that found in the iPad2. They ask, as do I, will recharge cycles also grow by 70%!? If so, I will be putting the new iPad to bed even earlier than me most nights! It already takes a good six hours or so to fully charge my iPad2! I also suspect, I won't need a blanket while surfing this winter, this thing could actually throw off some heat. More after March 16.

By the way, it may be nothing, but Apple has sent me an email stating that my new iPad has shipped! Could they actually surprise the earliest round of purchasers with a pre-sixteenth delivery!!? I will keep you informed!

On another side note, this week's iOS 5.1 update actually seems to have (finally) improved my iPhone 4S battery life! Has anyone else noticed a difference! If so, let me know in the comment section. I should also mention that the 1.1 upgrade to the Windows iCloud Manager seems to have eliminated the nagging "403 Forbidden Access" error I have been experiencing for many weeks! I need to see what, if any, other iCloud issues this software release may solve. More to follow.... As faithful followers know, I have had several issues with the initial iCloud introduction and have been free with my criticism. In fairness, I want to evaluate any solutions Apple may release to the public.

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Companies:   Google, Apple, Verizon

I have a long position in $AAPL; $GOOG

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