Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Apple Under Investigation

The DOJ Investigates Apple

Once again, we have a slow news week. And, once again, I'm slightly relieved because I've been busy getting ready to move to my new place.

The biggest story happens to be an Apple story: the US Department of Justice is investigating Apple for suspicion of anti-competitive activities. It has come out since that the initial impetus for thee investigation was Apple disallowing Flash on the iPhone, but it has since shifted to center around Apple's agreements with music publishers to deny music to Amazon MP3. One thing I know is true (this isn't insider information, I heard this outside of Amazon) is that Apple has leveraged iTunes to threaten some publishers out of being a part of Amazon's $5 album deals and other promotions. I'm not sure that all these things are illegal, but I certainly consider them somewhat unethical. Regardless, I'm anxious to learn what goes on behind the scenes. iTunes has retained fairly large market share in the face of Amazon MP3, which has a pretty large selection and is on several mobile platforms, including Android, and has been pretty aggressive with cross-product promotions to drive traffic to Amazon MP3.

It definitely looks like Adobe may have initially filed the complaint. If that's true, it seems really childish. I think Adobe is really fighting a losing battle with Apple - the more they antagonize Apple the more they're hurting their relationship. There's nothing anti-competitive about disallowing Flash on the iPhone because it's freely available on Macs and PCs - I don't know that Apple actually has a majority share in smartphones in the U.S., but definitely not worldwide.

You have to love the irony that Apple is basically following the Microsoft life cycle. They've been getting bigger and bigger with success that seems to have no end and massive market shares in their strong sectors, and are now likely to be embroiled in antitrust litigation.

Flash on Android

Meanwhile, what is Adobe really doing with Flash on mobile platforms? There's finally a beta for Android, but it doesn't even support Hulu still and only works on Froyo (Android 2.2) due to API requirements. It looks like the issue with Hulu is legal, but if you're going to release a mobile version of Flash that's only of partial use, then what's the point? The hype for mobile Flash is so old that I don't know who's going to care when (and if) it finally does come out. So far, the speed tests aren't impressive.

Dell Launches Streak

Why does Dell keep trying to making portable consumer electronics that aren't laptops? Their latest creation is the Streak tablet, which is the analog of the iPod touch for Android: it's slightly bigger than a cell phone (5" wide) and is geared towards everything but making calls. This is by far one of the stupidest gadgets I've seen in a while. I didn't care for the iPad, but it was a beautiful device that had some niche use cases - this thing is useless. There are already great Android smart phones out there that can fit in your pocket, and if you want a bigger screen then you can get a full-on tablet like the iPad. This thing seems like it's for indecisive people: people who want a bigger screen but not too big. If this thing doesn't flop I'll be totally astounded.

The Next Apple TV?

I usually don't report Apple rumors since they're a dime a dozen, but Engadget has pretty reliable and believable word on the new Apple TV and it sounds like it could whoop Google TV, if true. It's supposedly based on iPhone 4, though with support for 1080p and at a $99 price point. It would focus on cloud storage, as well - which may explain the price point (less onboard storage). It would be cool if they leveraged Lala in this product, as well. Unfortunately, they're not likely to announce it until after WWDC so we'll have to wait a while longer to find out more. It sounds like it could be a pretty killer product if they pull it off right.


This is a somewhat interesting malware possibility, although it may be tricky to implement. It's called tapnapping and relies on people opening a bunch of tabs (like me) and then forgetting which tabs they had open on what page. That way, it can redirect within a tab to the login page for your bank when you're not looking and you'll think you just got automatically logged off and need to log back in for whatever you were doing. Of course, it relies on your having been logged in on another tab to some sensitive website in order to successfully trick you, but if it tricks one people out of 10,000 then it could definitely become profitable. I don't think there are any major outbreaks of this sort of malware yet, but it could happen.

Final Notes

There are a few more quick stories left.

Verizon got a gym employee fired because his stupid friend posted pictures of a secret Verizon phone that he recoveredfrom a member who lost it, even after returning the phone. Kind of silly - if I worked out there I'd be pissed for the employee (though he was planning on quitting anyhow).

This article shows a really funny trend: Android has a much bigger edge against the iPhone in North America than the rest of the world. I would've thought the individual device manufacturers would have stronger distribution channels collectively than Apple around the world, but I guess not.

If you want to know what lurks inside the Windows Phone 7 architecture, check this out.

Chrome 5 is out and is really only a remarkable improvement for Mac and Linux from what everyone is saying.

Have a great week with more sleep than I'm sure to get!

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