After a promo video let the cat out of the bag last month, Google is making it official: with an update to the Google Search application, Google Now is available on iOS. Compatible with both the iPhone and iPad, the update brings almost all of Google’s information cards across from Android. The look and feel of the app is virtually identical on both platforms, a testament to Google’s newfound ability to make well-designed apps on iOS. The main differences between Android and iOS are few, mainly in that iOS can display fewer different kinds of cards. “The types of Google Now cards available are largely the same on both platforms,” says Baris Gultekin, Director of Product Management for Google Now.
Ten years ago this month, a music sector ravaged by Napster and largely ignorant of digital distribution found a savior of sorts in what was then called the iTunes Music Store. With its 99-cent unbundled songs, the service quickly became the only significant source for acquiring music legally online.
With iTunes, Apple had drawn the blueprint for distributing music, movies, books, and apps over the web. By supplying and tying together a music player, online store, and song-mangement software, Apple drastically simplified the entire music experience, defying the odds to build a music-retailing dynasty even as file sharing skyrocketed. A decade ago, Apple started to answer what would become an all-important question: how do you get consumers to pay for content again?
The Onion is up to its old tricks again, this time with a headline titled, “Weeping Tim Cook spotted screaming for help at Steve Jobs’ Tombstone.”
The blurb reads:
PALO ALTO, CA—Eighteen months after the death of his mentor, Apple CEO Tim Cook was seen Wednesday pounding the tombstone of company founder Steve Jobs and begging for guidance in his leadership of what was once the largest corporation in the history of the world. “What the hell do I do?!” a hysterical Cook reportedly shrieked, clawing alternately at the grave marker and his own face. “You left no instructions, damn it. I need another game-changing breakthrough product that millions can’t live without. Just give me one idea. One idea, for the love of God! Why are you torturing me like this?” At press time, sources confirmed that Cook had composed himself and decided to develop an iPhone 6.
Apple at the end of the trading day on Friday was trading at about $390 a share, representing a drastic fall in market cap value over the past few weeks. Addressing Apple’s stock price, which appears to be in free fall, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak said that folks are worrying over nothing.
[Apple's]stock price is a little low right now. Over time I’ve seen Apple go up or down 2x over a few months. It’s very disappointing because if you look at the amount of cash that Apples holds that cash translates to one to two hundred dollars per share of stock just in cash form. So the expectations are a little lower even than they expect.
“But where are the profits of the whole industry though? They are still with Apple and profits are all that really matter in the long run. Apple’s business model tends to be new products, even products that didn’t exist before and doing well out of them and not re-making the same thing, as eventually that just gets a little bit stale. So I would guess that Apple is very well prepared, and working on new things that are going to surprise and shock us all. And I honestly don’t know [what].”
As for Woz tipping us off to what Apple may be working on, don’t bet on it. Woz noted that he never asks key insiders he still knows at Apple to divulge what they’re working on.
Citing music industry insiders, The Verge relays that Apple’s rumored iRadio service will be launching this Summer.
Much has been written about Apple’s plan to launch a Pandora-esque service this year. Now multiple music industry insiders have told The Verge that significant progress has been made in the talks with two of the top labels: Universal and Warner. One of the sources said “iRadio is coming. There’s no doubt about it anymore.” Apple is pushing hard for a summertime launch.
This just in. According to Digitimes, some well placed informants within the upstream supply chain also have a close ear to some heated discussions happening within the executive suite at Microsoft. Ever since Scott Forstall was ousted by Tim Cook at Apple, Microsoft’s leadership have been keen to enlist Forstall’s services as their new CEO.
According to sources, negotiations nearly complete. Surprisingly, the main reason Microsoft is so interested in Forstall, is not necessarily because of Ballmer’s lack of performance, but moreso because of Forstall’s ability to sell his sound vision of skeumorphism to the Windows 9 team.
Adobe today announced that it plans to stop offering boxed versions of its Creative Suite software to consumers. Instead, the company will follow the growing trend – arguably spearheaded by Apple – of only offering its professional software via online download.
“As Adobe continues to focus on delivering world-class innovation through Creative Cloud and digital fulfillment, we will be phasing out shrink-wrapped, boxed versions of Creative Suite and Acrobat products,” an Adobe spokesperson informed TechHive vial email earlier today.
Retailers have indicated that May 1 will be the cut-off date for boxed sales of Adobe’s Creative Suite software.
These days, consumers can choose to either download any of Adobe’s Creative Suite apps from their website or access them via a $50 per month subscription.
All in all, Adobe’s move isn’t surprising. There’s been a marked shift away from the optical drive in recent years, and Apple in particular hasn’t been shy about trying to leave the optical drive behind in the dust. OS X is now available exclusively as an online download, and the most recent iteration of Apple’s iMac comes without an optical drive, joining the MacBook Air and the MacBook Pro with Retina Display in that regard.
Some interesting news out of Google today as CEO Larry Page announced via the company’s official blog that Andy Rubin will be handing over the Android reins to Sundar Pichai. It’s important to note that Rubin will remain at Google working on other, and presumably secretive, projects.
Google acquired Android in 2005, back when the Andy Rubin led company was still a 22-month old startup based out of Palo Alto. The purchase price was $50 million and may very well be the smartest acquisition Google ever made. A strong, albeit weaker, case could also be made for YouTube.
Page’s letter reads as follows:
Sergey and I first heard about Android back in 2004, when Andy Rubin came to visit us at Google. He believed that aligning standards around an open-source operating system would drive innovation across the mobile industry. Most people thought he was nuts. But his insight immediately struck a chord because at the time it was extremely painful developing services for mobile devices. We had a closet full of more than 100 phones and were building our software pretty much device by device. It was nearly impossible for us to make truly great mobile experiences.
Fast forward to today. The pace of innovation has never been greater, and Android is the most used mobile operating system in the world: we have a global partnership of over 60 manufacturers; more than 750 million devices have been activated globally; and 25 billion apps have now been downloaded from Google Play. Pretty extraordinary progress for a decade’s work. Having exceeded even the crazy ambitious goals we dreamed of for Android—and with a really strong leadership team in place—Andy’s decided it’s time to hand over the reins and start a new chapter at Google. Andy, more moonshots please!
Going forward, Sundar Pichai will lead Android, in addition to his existing work with Chrome and Apps. Sundar has a talent for creating products that are technically excellent yet easy to use—and he loves a big bet. Take Chrome, for example. In 2008, people asked whether the world really needed another browser. Today Chrome has hundreds of millions of happy users and is growing fast thanks to its speed, simplicity and security. So while Andy’s a really hard act to follow, I know Sundar will do a tremendous job doubling down on Android as we work to push the ecosystem forward.
Today we’re living in a new computing environment. People are really excited about technology and spending a lot of money on devices. This is driving faster adoption than we have ever seen before. The Nexus program—developed in conjunction with our partners Asus, HTC, LG and Samsung—has become a beacon of innovation for the industry, and services such as Google Now have the potential to really improve your life. We’re getting closer to a world where technology takes care of the hard work—discovery, organization, communication—so that you can get on with what makes you happiest… living and loving. It’s an exciting time to be at Google.
With Samsung set to release its Samsung Galaxy S IV tomorrow in New York City amidst much hoopla and media coverage, the South Korea based company has certainly learned a thing or two about creating a media buzz prior to a product launch. Previously, that was a talent that only Apple seemed to have mastered.
What’s more, Samsung has also proven rather shrewd at another one of Apple’s historic specialties – advertising. Not only are its latest people-centric ads resonating with consumers, they also bash Apple fans and iPhone users in the process. That’s a lot of bang for the buck.
And speaking of bucks, Samsung isn’t shy about spending a lot of its money on advertising efforts. While Apple outspent Samsung by a factor of 3-1 in mobile advertising in 2011, Samsung stepped up its game in a major way in 2012. Last year, Samsung outspent Apple by $64 million in mobile advertising. Specifically, Apple spent $333 million on its advertising efforts while Samsung spent $401 million. What’s more, while Samsung’s commercials were hip, cutting and funny, Apple’s efforts were rather mediocre and included a few spots that were received poorly by Apple enthusiasts and consumers.
The willingness to spend heavily could prove even more important as the technology gap between rivals narrows.
“They understand how to build a strong product…and have been willing to invest to drive their success,” said Michael Sievert, chief marketing officer of T-Mobile USA Inc., a unit of Deutsche Telekom.
Samsung’s aggressive approach has carried over into this year, with Super Bowl ads and a big presence at the Mobile World Congress wireless industry conference in Barcelona., where Samsung built a large booth with a coffee bar and private office suites for meetings.
And the advertising dollars certainly helped. Samsung’s 2012 was a banner year for the company’s smartphone division as they ended the year with a 30.3% share of the smartphone market. By way of contrast, Samsung in 2011 only had a 19% share of the smartphone market.
Furthermore, Samsung has been rather adept at creating a strong brand for the “Galaxy” name. Last year, for example, they insisted that all four US carriers call the Galaxy S III the same name, a departure from the typical modus operandi where the same model may have different names across multiple carriers.
As an example of Samsung’s theme with respect to its Galaxy advertisements, check one of their first efforts which took express shots at Apple’s fan base.
And here is one of Apple’s Genius ads from 2012 that didn’t quite strike a chord with anyone.
The Mac 512K was the second Mac released by Apple, hitting store shelves all the way back in September, 1984 for the low low price of $2795. 29 years later, and some folks, believe it or not, still have working Mac 512Ks up and running.
Not only that, but one enterprising user decided to have his Mac 512K talk to Siri and, well, the result is pretty damn cool.
Rumors surrounding Apple’s next-gen iPhone are starting to crystallize, with the latest news coming courtesy of the China Times which reports that the iPhone 5S will come with NFC functionality along with a fingerprint authorization sensor under the home button.
The report claims that Apple has tapped the Taiwanese chip company Chipbond to help build the fingerprint sensors into its next-gen iPhone. The technology would presumably come from AuthenTec, a security firm specializing in fingerprint technology that Apple acquired last year for #365 million.
With NFC functionality in tow, users will be able to engage in commercial transactions linked up to their credit card accounts simply by swiping their device over a payment pad. And with fingerprint authorization, Apple will be able to add an extra layer of security over such transactions.
Rumors of an NFC-equipped iPhone have been around for years now. Not only has Apple patented quite a few NFC related technologies and functions, but it has also made a number of notable NFC hires as well.
Meanwhile, iPhone 5S production is already rumored to have begun with a product launch scheduled for sometime this Summer.