October 07, 2011
Should I get the new iPhone 4S?
My wife and I write about technology for a living, and so it behooves us to stay up-to-date and always carry around the latest and greatest. Yet, I still have my old iPhone 3GS, and my wife hasn't yet complained about her lowly 3G. Truth be told, what both of us anticipated more than the new iPhone was getting off the AT&T contract. We're both off contract now, so that's good. However, why is it that we're told new phones are subsidized and are essentially paid off during that 2-year contract commitment when the charges stay the same when the contract ends? That's as if you're paying the bank a monthly sum for your mortgage, taxes and maintenance, and then the bank continues to charge you the same when the mortgage is paid off!
Anyway, we're off contract and, like everyone else, had been looking forward to the iPhone 5. A big step forward would make signing up with AT&T a bit less unbearable. But now it's just the iPhone 4S, not a new 5. So what should we do?
Get the new iPhone 4S anyway? More speed is always good, though I never felt my 3GS is slow, and I actually never felt my original iPhone was slow. Getting a better camera and 1080p HD video? That, too, is nice, but I still have my doubts that even the new 4S will do the job of the dedicated little digital camera I almost always carry with me. Siri? I know the media swoons about it, but I feel zero need to have my iPhone talk to me. Really sounds more like a Newton Intelligence redux to me.
But if I were to go for the new iPhone 4S, should I get the $199 16GB model, given that I never come close to filling up the 8GB in my 3GS? Or pay $299 or even a hefty $399 for 32 or 64GB? My guess is that the new phone fills up much more quickly because of the much larger still and video files. So getting the base model may end up being frustrating.
So why not just get the iPhone 4 that now goes for just $99? It'd still be a great upgrade for us, what with the retina display and all? It's an attractive thought, but then we'd sign a 2-year contract to pay off an essentially obsolete phone. And every time I'd use the phone I'd be reminded that I didn't spring for the extra hundred or two hundred bucks to get the dual processor and whatever else is new in the 4S.
Or should we just stay with our old phones? They do the job and we've never found them lacking (other than the often lousy voice quality). But paying almost $200 per month for two old phones that are off contract seems an awful lot. And ever since we got iPads, we use those for almost all the non-phone stuff we used to use our iPhones for.
Right now I am leaning towards waiting for the iPhone 5 and continuing to pay AT&T their King's ransom for off-contract phones. I wish I weren't in this situation of having to choose from less than thrilling options.
October 05, 2011
In 1996, I wrote the below and published it in Pen Computing Magazine.
Bring Back Steve
It'd be good for Apple (though possibly bad for Newton)
I wasn't surprised when Gil Amelio was canned at Apple. He may have contributed in getting Apple better organized, but market share kept slipping, and he could not provide a compelling vision. Neither could Lou Gerstner at IBM, for that matter, but he had the managerial presence (and a good deal of luck) to establish himself as IBM's savior and undisputed leader. Gil Amelio didn't. Fortunately, after all these years, Apple's board is still strong enough to take swift and drastic action when the situation requires it.
So, who's next? Traditional business executives just don't seem to cut it at Apple. Sculley didn't work, Spindler didn't work, and Amelio didn't work. They were all fine managers and executives that could do a world of good for almost every other big US business, but Apple is different. Apple's success has always been based on that elusive combination of conjuring up an exciting vision of the future and then embodying it in elegant technical solutions. Apple is about vision, imagination, and products people want and desire. When was the last time anyone desired Windows?
So let's get Steven Jobs back at Apple's helm. There's no one who can fire up the imagination like he can. No one does a better presentation. He may not be the best manager in the world, or the easiest to get along with, but so what? Who else can claim his accomplishments? He co-founded Apple and an entire industry, he created a superb product like the Macintosh. After his departure from Apple he started another company, Next, and was smart enough to change the mission of the company when it become obvious that being in the hardware business didn't work out. He then snatched victory from the jaws of defeat by selling his Next technology to Apple for almost half a billion dollars. While doing all this, he also had the foresight to invest in Pixar and made another fortune when that company went public. Founding Apple was not a flash in the pan. He's one of the truly great innovators of this age, he knows how to run a business and make it successful, and he doesn't throw in the towel when things go badly.
Jobs started Apple, and it would be only right to see him at the helm once again. The upside is that he'd immediately provide the company with a huge boost just by being back. He'd energize the legions of loyal Mac devotees, and most probably recruit many new ones (remember, who really loves Windows?). And since Apple is about to include Next technology into its next generation of computers, who knows it better than Jobs? The downside? Even with Jobs, Apple could still flounder and die. But under whose leadership would you rather see Apple go down? Yet another faceless manager, or the very man who started it all?
Let's get Steven Jobs back, even if it means hard times for the Newton.
Steve Jobs died today, October 5, 2011. He was only 56.