Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Apple iPhone: A Revolution in the Making

It's here and it's much bigger than any of us expected. If you'll notice my post last week, I knew it was coming, and if you look at my post before that, I also talked about a gaping whole in the cell phone market waiting to be filled by a killer phone, and I think we may have it now. Alright, enough of my own hype, you can read to your heart's content here, which is the best recap of the Macworld keynote that you're likely to find, or watch the keynote itself here, which I recommend because you'll find yourself standing up several times and saying "Oh snap!" if you do that. This is why Steve Jobs is a visionary: he sees a problem and sees a product. For how many years have people bitched about phones and none of the phone providers have actually listened? All Apple had to do was listen, and they're now poised to dominate the market. No doubt they'll come out with a better model next year, and it'll have more memory, and all that stuff. My only concern right now is battery life, which is 5 hours (16 hours for audio playback), and that's not too bad but still could use some work. Yes, it is also pretty pricey ($500 for 4 GB, $600 for 8 GB), that's going to happen in the first generation of a product like this, but I'll be damned if it's not worth it. Not only did they do the web right, they finally got video right, it looks pretty damn easy to synch, making calls is nice and intuitive, the iPod itself is even more fun to navigate, text messages are displayed as conversations, checking your voicemail is even better, and everything is so intuitive it's almost physically sickening. Plus, they have OS X on there, so they're opening all kinds of doors for the future. A product like this doesn't come out very often, so I think we should all absorb the day we learned about it, much like I'm sure some of you absorbed the first personal computer and the first time you saw the Internet and so on. It doesn't come out until June, mind you, because of FCC regulations (and I'm sure finishing touches), but it was a good move to not risk more leaks or the FCC letting the cat out of the bag and announcing now. Plus, more time for 3rd parties to help make it even more attractive.

I know what you're thinking, all I do is fawn over Apple, right? Well I don't, they just have good publicists so I read about all their news. Whether or not this phone is buggy or has problems is irrelevant, the concepts that back this phone are much bigger. Apple has plenty of resources to get it right even if it flops the first time, and with this kind of vision, I think we should put a lot of faith in them. Oh, and they're taking pre-orders on the Apple TV (no longer iTV) to be shipped next month for $300. Other than that, not much else at the keynote, though they did announce that they're now Apple, Inc (huge change), the iPhone is for Cingular customers only (so it's GSM), and they've partnered with Yahoo and Google for search/email and maps on the iPhone. And this Macworld marks 10 years since Steve Jobs came back and brought the company back out of big problems and gave it back its focus, and it's focus that has kept it so healthy. You can see that keynote over here, which features the famous partnership with Microsoft to package Internet Explorer with OS 8 in exchange for some help with getting Apple back on its feet (by the way, people should not be booing Bill Gates; he also changed the world, morons). Oh, and one more piece of Apple news, Airport Extreme was quietly upgraded to support 802.11n, which is significant because Apple is rolling out the first products (including Apple TV) to support 802.11n (still in draft though, mind you), a significantly faster WiFi protocol than what we currently have.

Alright, I'm already running long here, so let me breeze through a few other tech items. We're in January now, everyone has PS3s, and the demand seems to have drastically abated. It's unfair to beat Sony over the head with it without real numbers because they are still being sold, but anecdotal evidence suggests that people are returning them after they're not able to resell them, and there's no shortage of them on store shelves, which is strange since I'm pretty sure Sony hasn't even shipped a million of them in the United States. Time for them to shore up on games. Intel launched Core 2 Quad chips yesterday, which led some to believe that we'd see them in Macs today, but no such luck. Still, sounds like a hot processor, I'm sure I'll have benchmarks and such soon enough. Hennessey and Patterson, who wrote the book I learned architecture from (so they literally wrote the book on this stuff), and they claim that the software isn't there yet to take advantage of 4 cores and we still have a ways to go. I agree, who needs more than 2 right now? Not to take away Apple's thunder, but Microsoft has released Windows Home Server, and it sounds like an interesting product, but I don't have a review to go off of right now. I especially like the disaster recovery features, so I think they definitely have the right idea in mind. It's time for them to market it now! A slight buzzkill though: the next-gen DVD formats will not work on Vista machines with digital output connections not protected by HDCP. To most of you, this doesn't mean anything, but the point is that this whole thing the movie studios is doing with anti-piracy measures is ridiculous. Don't blame Microsoft, blame these idiots in suits at the big studios for being jerks.

I'm going to start off my movie section with the best news: a recap of an amazing scene from Spider-man 3 shown at CES. I don't think it's much of a spoiler at all considering what we've seen in the trailer, but if you're a purist and didn't even watch the trailer, then don't read that. We have a couple of new trailers. The first is for Hot Fuzz, and it still looks like it has the potential to be a good movie but the trailer just didn't make me laugh. The other is for Pathfinder, and action adventure movie about vikings in North America. What's up with all these historical movies located in the Americas? It looked interesting, but I'm not sold on it yet. We now have official word of a 24 movie, which will contain a full day in just two hours, but Kiefer promises that it'll allow the awesome crew to put more attention to detail than they can with the series due to its strenuous shooting schedule. Lastly, we have some nice shots from The Golden Compass movie, except that none of them feature any bloody daemons! Those little guys are what made the book so fun and unique to me, so they'd better magically appear soon.

I liked the Ten on Tuesday topic for this week, so here goes nothing...

Ten TV Guilty Pleasures (ranked in order of guiltiness, not how much I like them)

10. Veronica Mars
9. Desperate Housewives
8. Southpark
7. Everyday Italian
6. Iron Chef America
5. Best Week Ever
4. Date My Mom
3. Parental Control
2. Exposed
1. My Super Sweet Sixteen

I know, it's sad. I don't love the dating shows, but they're good, cheap, tawdry entertainment. And I don't watch them regularly, just when I'm in Houston since I don't have cable in Austin.