Apple

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Stealing Intellectual Property is Good for Consumers?

Filed in Current Affairs, General, TechnologyTags: , , , , , , ,

It is intriguing that companies who steal intellectual property frequently complain that the original inventors are hurting consumers and inhibiting innovation when they sue them for theft. Unfortunately, most of the public is naive and prefers to believe the "victim's" hype, usually because they want to buy what the thieving company is now producing, usually at a discounted price to the products produced by the original inventors; eg, Apple vs Google/Android Samsung/Galaxy.

Great ideas are very hard to conceptualise and develop, but usually cheap and quick to copy. I realised a great analogy of this recently while playing The Cave on my computer. There are approximately ten puzzles in The Cave. Without instructions, a single clue or a cheat-sheet, any of the puzzles could take me up to 10 hours to understand and solve, and one or two of the puzzles completely stumped me. BUT, once I knew the answer, those same puzzles would take less than 15 minutes to complete. The same principle applies to ideas. Before the idea exists, there are no clues and the idea can take a very long time to conceptualise, develop and perfect. But once the idea exists and is made public, anyone else can copy the idea with very little effort, time or expense.

Apple's slide-to-unlock method took many many months to conceptualise and perfect. It takes less than a day for a competitor (like Google) to copy it.

So when Apple sues Samsung (i.e., Google's Android) for using its slide-to-unlock invention, is it hurting consumers and innovation as Google and Samsung like to assert? In a short time frame, it might affect consumers because they won't be able to use this cool feature on competitors' products. In the long term however, it's a different story. If competitors are free to copy and steal ideas/inventions, they won't need to invent their own. If they don't need to invent their own, there will be no innovation and consumers will be worse off because of it. (many examples of this can be found on the 'net)

An additional argument is that if a company needs to spend a year and vast amounts of money to create a feature to distinguish their product and make life better for their consumers, a feature that their competitors can then copy at will, why then should the company create those features?

Consumers need to think. If you hear a company complaining about consumer rights/choice and innovation, ask yourself; are they really helping consumers and supporting innovation by copying someone else's ideas? The answer will almost always be "no".

Unfortunately, while the Apple/Samsung legal battle wages on for two, three or more years, Samsung profits from the ideas they (and Google) have stolen from Apple and will continue to do so until the legal battle hands down a verdict. Samsung is proving to the world that it profits to steal ideas. They are also proving that there is no profit in creating new ideas or in being truly innovative.

iOS v6 Maps app - MTR station description

Apple’s iOS Maps dangerous???

Filed in General, TechnologyTags: , , , ,

iOS v6 Maps app - MTR station description

Since Apple released iOS v6 and the new Maps app with it, the iPhone has not been a very good helper when you need to find your way around. While many of the trips I've navigated with the iOS Maps have worked out fine, there were at least two different occasions where my destination as directed by Maps was far from the actual location.

In Kowloon Bay while trying to find my way to Miele, Maps took me to a location a full two blocks away. I had to walk the distance because I had already parked my car believing that Maps was accurate. whoops!

In Cheung Sha Wan where I had an interview with a group of middle-school students, Maps took me to a location three blocks away from the actual location. Again, I had to walk the distance because I wasn't driving that day. I arrived 20 mins late for the interview as a result.

Maps is definitely not great in Hong Kong. There are multiple problems with it in general.

There are no street numbers in Maps so you can't locate a street and then identify which block your destination is in.

Building names are extremely important in Hong Kong but Maps doesn't know/display them.

MTR stations are important in Hong Kong but when clicked, many of the MTR station icons in Maps display information about the MTR line that the station is part of, but not the station's actual name; for example, "Mtr-tsuen Wan Line_kcr-west Rail Line" (I didn't make that up!) instead of "Sham Shui Po".

Apparently, Maps is using data from Apple's partner TomTom. You have to wonder how reliable (or not) TomTom's own products are.

But the problem doesn't apply only to Hong Kong. In Australia, people have been stranded in extremely remote areas of Australia while following directions given by Maps. A screenshot on AppleInsider's site demonstrates the problem quite nicely. The situation has occurred so many times that the Australian police have issued an official warning against relying on Maps! WOW!

So if you plan on using Maps and you're strapped for time, or arriving in the wrong place might be life threatening, don't rely on Maps alone. Get another app, or maybe consider getting a traditional hard copy street directory, what we in Australia used to call a 'refidex'.

Cheers all :)

Manufacturing leaving China?

Filed in GeneralTags: , , ,

Didn't see that coming, but should have! Foxconn is apparently planning to build a new factory in Brazil to build Apple products. The Chinese source article sites transportation costs as the reason for the move, but one can not discount the possibility that labour costs in China have now escalated too much to be competitive with other developing nations.

In Hong Kong, we've been hearing about the increasing costs of labour and the associated labour-protective contracts that must be signed. Now, we're beginning to see real effects of this.

Improved antenna, 4-inch screen, NFC e-wallet rumored for Apple's iPhone 5

China Times also noted that strong demand for Apple products, particularly the iPhone and iPad, has prompted Apple's manufacturing partner, Foxconn, to plan a new facility in Sao Paulo, Brazil. It was said that the new plant will be specifically to build Apple products, and production will start in 2013.

iPhone 5 第3季現身

此外,為了解決美洲市場運輸考量並分散生產據點,外電指出,鴻海計劃在巴西聖保羅(Sao Paulo)市北方約60公里處的 Jundiai 市再度興建廠房,專門為蘋果代工產品,並計劃於2013年開始投產。 目前富士康在 Jundiai 市擁有兩座廠房,分別為Sony、惠普(HP)組裝產品。

Blown away!

Filed in Entertainment Ind., General, Music, TechnologyTags: , , ,

I'm blown away by the Apple iTunes system.

I'm getting myself organised for a musical future, and part of that involved converting and importing into iTunes all of the Karaoke VCDs and DVDs we have in the house. When the tracks become part of the system, they're easily accessible, and they'll get listened to. The process of converting and importing the Karaoke tracks took three days of AppleScript scripting to automate and process, along with lots of Chinese typing, but I now have more than 700 karaoke tracks; both audio and video; in my iTunes library. Being a perfectionist, I then proceeded to correct the data for the tracks in my library, and create playlists (unrated, not played within the last month, ≤xGB) that I could use on our Apple TV and iPhones.

Did I say iPhones? Yep! I've waited more than a year for Apple to release the iPhone in Hong Kong, and I was registered with Hutchison 3 in both the local store and the online database weeks before the official launch. Even though we can't really afford it at the moment (who can?), we went ahead and purchased one white 16GB and one black 16GB, two colours so that my wife and I wouldn't accidentally pick up the wrong phone. Before buying the phones, I calculated the Total Cost of Ownership for the All-You-Can-Eat package. It comes out to HK$12,000 over two years per phone which is a lot of money, but not as expensive as the TOC in some other countries. The HK$12,000 included an upfront payment of $6,000 including the 'iPhone' cost, the 'Plan Prepayment' and the first month's subscription fee; ouch!

The iPhone is so cool. It has its bugs but the current functionality is great, and the potential is simply awesome. When comparing the iPhone to other 'smart' phones, people need to remember that the iPhone is not so much a phone as a portable computer with added phone functionality. It's a completely new paradigm. For the purposes of this article though, I'll only describe one function; Apple's included Remote application.

Here at home, we have two desktop Macs, one Apple TV, two portable Macs, and now two iPhones, and iTunes is completely interlinked through our wi-fi network. It's incredible. At this very moment, my iPhone is controlling the iTunes library on my iMac which is broadcasting the music through the Apple TV connected to our hi-fi system! How cool is that??? I could remote control the Apple TV directly but I don't get to set ratings while connected to the Apple TV, only when connected to an iTunes library on one of the Macs.

Life is suddenly becoming so much more musical ;-)