August 26, 2012

Applesauce: All Things Apple – August 26, 2012

I understand. You’re tired of hearing about the scuffle between Apple and Samsung, tired of hearing about how often Samsung rips off Apple’s designs, ideas and patents. I get it. But you’re probably more tired of hearing about it than Samsung is of actually doing it.

A brief note: The Apple and Samsung verdict came in after this piece was written. I’ll be devoting an entirely different piece to that verdict, as it’s too large a topic to glance over.

It’s Applesauce, y’all, and I’m ready to get saucy.

“Does This Suit Make Me Look Fat?”
So, you say Samsung has opened up another one of their Samsung stores in Sydney, eh?

Well, that’s no big deal. After all, retail presence has to be a fine way to get the good word of Samsung out to the people in the streets. What better place to show off their newest member of the Samsung Galaxy Family or the Samsung Galaxy Note family? They’re one of the top competitors for mobile devices, after all. There must be some interest in Samsung products.

No, this is a fine idea. Just because they open a store doesn’t mean they want to be like Apple. Besides, it’s not like their employees are mimicking Apple’s blue shirts….

What’s that you say?

Hmm, so they are wearing blue shirts?

Well, blue is Samsung’s corporate color. It just happens to be the color of their logo and the color of their branding. That’s pure coincidence. After all, Apple doesn’t hold a patent on the color blue or a patent on their employees wearing blue tops. Besides, Best Buy’s retail employees wear the same thing. Next you’re going to tell me Samsung is ripping off Best Buy, too.

No sir, I think Samsung is being pretty transparent here, just trying to operate a business the best way they know how.

And why do you think it’s interesting that I used the word transparent?

So the Sydney Samsung store has an all glass facade?

Again, this means nothing. Many retail stores use glass fronts. It allows passersby to get a glimpse of people freely and easily using Samsung’s products.

“By jove!” they say, “That Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 looks awfully easy to use! Perhaps I’ll pop in a quick sec and have a gander!”

There’s nothing wrong with letting other customers do the advertising for Samsung, even if they are innocent bystanders swiping and pawing at mobile devices. Next you’re going to tell me that Samsung has their products laid out simply on a few tables in a mostly wide open, well lit area.

I see.

Well, I suppose this sort of layout is really just the best way to go about planning a retail store. Again, just because Apple had managed to finally figure out how customers liked to shop and what sort of layout would bring customers in doesn’t mean they can lay claim to cool devices laying on a table. Surely Apple can’t claim to have invented the easiest way to do things, they just happened to have done it first while everyone else was busy forcing products through a pipeline in an effort to eek out a slim margin as they got as many devices in as many hands possible, user experience be damned.
Samsung is just trying to stay current, and it only so happens that Apple is known for laying out a store in this way. It’s unfair to say Samsung is copying Apple by opening a randomly placed store on a randomly picked street in Sydney, Australia.

You don’t say…

On the same block as an Apple store?

Well, my guess is if you were to ask a Samsung executive, they’ll tell you that they went out of their way to not appear to be copying Apple in anyway. Besides, their American trial has been making global headlines, and everyone is now all too acutely aware that Samsung products may or may not or may resemble Apple’s. They’d be daft to do anything which might even give off the appearance of imitation.

You’re kidding me…

You’re telling me Tyler McGee, Samsung Australia’s VP of Telecommunications said the close proximity of Apple’s retail store to their store played “didn’t even come into the equation?

You’re telling me they’ve learned nothing at all from their legal battles, in which they’ve dumped millions and millions of good dollars after bad to fight a war they’re almost certain to lose?

This is madness…Samsung, you’re making it very hard to stand up for you.

Seriously…it’s fine that Samsung has a store. It’s fine that they’ve laid out their products in a similar way to Apple in their retail store.

But watching the video, there are just a few too many similarities, like Samsung’s insistence in copying the word “Genius” by referring to each and every one of their devices as a “Smart” device: “Smart” phones, “Smart” tablets, “Smart” TVs, they even have “Smart” cameras, for crying out loud. And of course, you can stream content from your “Smart” phone or “Smart” tablet (shouldn’t tablets already be smart? Doesn’t labeling them as such nullify the point?) to one of Samsung’s “Smart” TVs, similar to how you can stream stuff to your Apple TV. Apple doesn’t own this technology of course, but it’s one more installation of the store which makes it seem more like Apple than Samsung.

Just as with everything Samsung casually lifts from Apple, their interpretation of Apple design is shrouded in clumsy, ham-fisted corporate speak and buzz words. This kind of implementation makes Samsung look like your friends single mom who used to be all-too willing to let her 13 year old and friends come over anytime to have some of her wine because, you know, she was that cool mom. It’s almost like Samsung is saying, “Hey! I Know, if I put on these cool, hip new jeans I bought from WalMart and let you guys just come hang out at the house, you’ll think I’m cool, right?”

“Look at ‘em there, pretty maids all in a row.”
Well, it’s finally happened. Apple is back on top of the heap as the Most Valuable Company in the world, perhaps even the most valuable company in the history of the world. Not bad for a company founded by a socially awkward nerd and an arrogant-yet-charismatic LSD tripping hippie in a California garage, no? But wait! Is Apple really the most valuable company in the history of the world?

There are a certain type of people in this world who don’t like to be told things. When news is reported or claims are made, they simply cannot receive this information without adding their own caveat, no matter how insignificant this detail might be. I don’t want to point fingers. After all, I’ve never been in a position to point fingers my entire life. All I’m going to say is you might find these people in a comic shop, or playing online role playing games, or at renaissance fairs. (See that? I left out the extra “e”, just to have fun with them.) I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with wanting to have the truth, the complete story, as it were. Without this kind of insatiable thirst for the whole, exhaustive version of the truth, our world could potentially be in a world of hurt. People would mostly believe what they were told and governments could end up running the media and life would become an Orwellian novel.

I get it.

So, when some publications began reporting that Apple was not only the most valuable company in the world, but possibly the most valuable company in history, there were some who immediately perked their ears up, took to their calculators and let our a collective “Erm…excuse me.”

Apple’s $622 billion market cap is a nominal record, which means ‘in name only,’ or alternatively, not really,” writes Ryan Chittum on a Columbia Journalism Review blog. “That’s because it’s a record only if you don’t adjust Microsoft’s 1999 market cap for inflation. Sorry, but you have to adjust any number like this that’s that old for inflation—it’s comparing apples to oranges not to do so.” So, once inflation is adjusted, it seems Microsoft’s 1999 market cap is a good $235 billion more than Apple’s current (and impressive) market cap. According to Chittum, the press is “overlooking reality” in order to grab the headline worthy buzzwords of “Apple” and “Record.” It’s a fair claim, I think. After all, it’s long been a struggle by the press to create headlines captivating enough to get passersby to buy the publication or click on a link. On the other hand, the real news here is that Apple is doing incredibly well. While it may be irresponsible to throw around the words “ever” or “in history” lightly in journalism, the real news story is that Apple is on their way to beat this market cap.

They’re in a close second, for crying out loud, and this is the real news story. For instance, another story out this week touts the headline “Apple’s iPhone Is Now Worth More Than All Of Microsoft.”

Writing for Forbes, Tim Worstall immediately addresses how tricky it is to use the word “worth” when there are a myriad of aspects to consider. Though Worstall agrees that this headline isn’t “really correct,” he does say that when one compares sales, more people are buying iPhones than any Microsoft product, combined. “The truly strange thing is that they’ve managed to gain this level of sales while making software style margins on selling hardware,” says Worstall. “That’s the trick that no one else is managing at all.” So, is Apple the most valuable company EVER IN ALL THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD OF ALL TIME? Well, it looks like, when certain considerations are met, no. But, it also appears as if many believe that this could be a possibility in the not-too-distant future.

“No, it was cordless…”
To my count, we’re only 17 days away from September 12th, when Apple may or may not release a new iPhone, iPad, or all new iPods.

I feel like some sort of SEO manager just typing that…

At this point, there are few, new details or secrets being discovered about this new iPhone. We’ve seen multiple pictures and videos of what this new device is supposed to look like. We’ve heard many reports about a new dock connector and relocated headphone jack.

Even the announcement date of September 12th and release date of September 21st is generally considered “common knowledge” at this point. At least, it’s as close to common knowledge as you can get with an as-of-yet revealed announcement.

The signs are all there, of course.

Both Amazon and Nokia have said they’ll be hosting their own press events the week before Apple’s big, expected time in the limelight. Nokia will take the stage first on September 5th during their Nokia World conference, where they are expected to reveal their newest Windows Phone 8 offerings. These phones won’t likely be available until October when Microsoft releases their Windows 8 platforms into the wild. Amazon takes a different stage the next day, September 6, where they’ll announce…something.

They’ve yet to announce any details, so we could see new tablets, new smartphones, or possibly those Apollo 11 engines Jeff Bezos found on the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.

Either way, we’re in for a real treat.

If you need even more confirmation that Apple may release a phone that looks a bit like this in a matter of weeks, Apple has now begun to strike out at a company which was selling “iPhone 5 modification kits” for iPhone 4 and 4S devices. That’s right…you could buy an aftermarket back plate for your current iPhone 4 or 4S to make it look like the rumored iPhone “5.” reported on Friday that Apple has now issued a take down notice to the makers of the modification kit. Now, the makers of the back plates have 48 hours to complete orders and shut down the site.

This just smacks of confirmation, does it not? Apple is pretty protective of their IP (a fact we’ve been very well aware of for the past 3 weeks) so they could be striking out against this site simply because they’re selling an after-market accessory with an Apple logo on it…but I doubt it.

So, love it or hate it, it seems this very well could be the way the new iPhone looks.

LG also took some time this week to casually mention the fact that they just so happen to be building a brand new, “in-cell” panel in mass quantities and have been shipping them without any problems at all.

The in-cell technology rumor has been around for several months, and now it looks as if it could be more reality than rumor.

“We had some hard times (in developing the new in-cell technology) at first…but it seems those hard times have finally ended,” said Han Sang-beom, LG’s chief executive.

“The in-cell technology is the industry’s latest development. (But) we will be able to supply the panels without any fail.”

Now we play the waiting game.

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