Summer of Discontent: Running iOS5 Beta

I jumped in. A friend of a friend is a developer for iOS, and he had a couple extra device spots for a beta tester, so I signed up. I upgraded my iPhone 4 and iPad (original) to the iOS5 beta. It took me all of half a second to decide to do it.

The Dangers:
Now, a few days in, I can tell you I will never be so fast to jump in again. At least with my iPad. I just need to know the apps on there work. I lost several apps that are key to my work flow. I don’t have to have most of them on my iPhone, but I use them on the iPad daily. I don’t blame the app developers (And I for sure don’t go post negative reviews on the app store about it!), they should not have to support a beta software. That’s why it’s a beta. I should have updated one and not the other. But I wanted to play with iMessage and sync docs back and forth through iCloud.

But my iPad isn’t a toy. I use it for work. Suddenly key apps did not work. I know that they will work again, but for now I’m out of luck. I am waiting eagerly for the next version of the beta, hoping it magically fixes these important-to-me apps. Take it from me, rushing headlong into beta testing is not smart.

Now running it on my iPhone, that is another story.

The Cool Factor:
There is something narciisiticlly nice about being the center of attention. People gather around as you demonstrate the features they have been hearing about in the newest version of iOS. They cannot get this new thing for months, but they want it and you have it. There are enough parts of the new beta working that you can show it off, but just be sure not to expect glitch free bragging. Invariably, something will drop. That’s OK, this is a beta. It’s not supposed to be perfect. And it is cool.

One of the reasons I wanted to do this is to use the features mentioned in the keynote. iOS5 is going to be amazing. I would go on about how cool it is, but I don’t want to say too much.

The NDA:
The Non Disclosure Agreement is pretty intense. I don’t blame Apple. Beta software isn’t perfect, and no company wants people complaining about what may or may not be working. So, I won’t be talking much about it, even though some blogs feel free to say plenty.

In the meantime I eagerly await the next version of the beta, in hopes that my summer won’t be completely jacked up by my impetuousness. I’d roll my iPad back, if I could. But, in the meantime I wait, and use alternative apps to get my work done. Oh, and enjoy a great new iOS from Apple.


RIP Flip

I’ll bet the founders of Pure Digital are smiling this week. Cisco, who bought them and their popular line of Flip handheld cameras, shut down manufacture of the line. After spending $590 million on the company two years ago, Cisco shut them down. There are all kinds of reasons why Cisco might want to do this, but the plain fact is that if the Flip line up was still pulling in the cash it did back in 2009, they would have either kept it or sold it off.

In many ways, this is like Kleenex announcing they will no longer make tissue. I mean, Flip had significant name recognition. people would talk about buying a Flip camera, and mean buying a handheld camera. They made it easy to carry a video camera anywhere, and get good looking video that was easy to share on your computer.

And then they didn’t do anything else. They owned the handheld camera market. And then they stopped innovating, stopped improving. Oh, they released a few new devices. One with a larger screen. A larger capacity Mino. There were lways rumors of new Flips, one that could use WIFI to publish directly to the internet video sharing site of your choice. One that could stream video from the camera. Vaporware.

So, with no real enhancements to entice new purchases, once everyone who wants a Flip has a Flip, how do you make money again? Its not like they are poor quality, they last for years.

And the competition isn’t waiting around. I don’t mean Flip-like handhelds. Most of those are still offering the same features as a Flip. We use the now discontinued (But if you get lucky you can find one) Kodak Zi8 for work. It offered a slightly more “pro” set of features with external power and external audio input. (But most people buying Flip-like camcorders didn’t care about pro features.)

The real competition came from Smart Phones and iPod/Music Players. When Apple introduced the 5th Gen iPod Nano, it had a camera. Steve Jobs even said they were competing with Flip (name recognition). Now, you can capture video on a device that also did something else. A device smaller than the Flip Mino. These were not HD videos yet, but it was the beginning of the end. One generation of devices later, and every Smart Phone and iPod Touch could not only capture HD video, but edit and upload right from the device.

I own a Flip Mino, an iPod Touch, and an iPhone 4. Which of these do you think I will carry if i am trying to lighten the stuff in my pockets? I am letting my kids play with the Flip. I am taking the device that let’s me work and play, capture video, edit and upload. And lately I have been using the video capability through apps that add effects. It just does more than the Flip.

I have a friend who was lamenting the demise of Flip. He loves his Flip. He couldn’t believe they were not going to be available in the future. He pulled out his Flip Ultra HD. It’s the same one he has owned for a couple of years. These are the customers Flip could have capitalized on if they had offered anything worth upgrading to. Give him a Flip with WIFI, and he would have been posting to Youtube in about 3 seconds. Yes, his iPhone could do the same thing, but he likes to use the Flip. he just doesn’t like to use it enough to keep buying new ones that do the exact same thing his current one did.

The death of the Flip is a cautionary tale for every technology company. You cannot sit back with your successful product and expect it to stay successful. You must keep improving.

Why I bought an iPhone 4 After the iPad 2 Announcement

The same day that the iPad was announced, i went out and bought an iPhone 4.

I know what you are thinking, “Why would you do that? You know the iPhone 5 is just around the corner. Now you cannot upgrade. What are you thinking?”

I bought an iPhone 4 because of the market for used iPhones.

I, like many, have two phone lines. My line was up for an upgrade, and my wife’s line will be ready in just a few months. She does not care about her phone. When I upgraded I sold my iPhone 3GS for over $300. The 3Gs would drop in value when the iPhone 5 was announced, so I got top dollar by selling now. I cleared about $100 after everything was done. (Yes, I know I will spend more than that in a contract with AT&T, but I would spend that anyway.)

Once my wife’s line is ready to upgrade we can do some wheeling. I will get another basic phone for less than $100 with no contract, so she can get an upgrade, too. Then I will use her hardware discount to upgrade to the iPhone 5. Then sell my iPhone 4. Right now they are going for well over $400 without contract. I estimate they will still be hitting over $350 after the iPhone 5 comes out.

I should clear at least $50, when it’s all done, and both my wife and I will have new phones. If you can brave the world of eBay to sell your iPhones, you can fund your upgrades to the latest hardware.

Don’t Buy a Verizon iPhone… Yet

I know some of you have been chomping at the bit to get your hands on a Verizon iPhone. The much lamented AT&T network has many hoping to change, and the much liked iPhone has many Verizon subscribers ready to buy a new phone.

But don’t do it. Not yet, anyway.

Assuming the announcement from Verizon tomorrow is the new iPhone, there will be a lot of people who will purchase and pre order. Even if you want one, unless you are willing to stand in line or pre order and wait, it will be a while before you can walk into a store and buy one.

And that may work to your advantage. The world should know by the end of the month if Apple is going to roll out a new iPhone version along with the rumored iPad 2. It will be a shame when all of the new Verizon customers realize just a few short weeks into owning an iPhone 4 that there is already a new version available for pre order. It won’t likely be available until early Summer, but when you lock into a 2 year contract, isn’t it nicer to have the newest phone for a little while?

It is not definite that Apple will update the iPhone 4. There are mild rumors, but nothing like the major leaks last year. From the rumors, it looks like the new iPhone would just be a slight bump, and not a major re vamp of the device. Still, if it can take advantage of a faster than 3G network, or even just has the antenna issue addressed, the new version is worth the wait.

Exercise patience, eager Verizon customers. Wait just a few weeks to see if the new iPhone does indeed come out this year.

Is a New iPhone on the Way?

If this year is like every other year, yes. Every year since its introduction, Apple has released an upgrade to their popular handset. Last year that release was leaked and reported all over. This year, there are hints but the major reports are that AT&T’s exclusive deal will end, and Verizon will also sell the iPhone. That along with speculation on a new iPad (almost a certainty, i would think) has been most of what is circulating about the new year at Apple.

This week a video of “replacement’ parts for the iPhone was posted and then taken down. It showed a slightly different design of the hardware. Was it a fake? And is the claim that it was removed over a copyright claim with Apple a fake?

Today AT&T offers the 3GS for $50 with contract, a 50% price cut. That seems to hint that an announcement is coming, and they are clearing stock.

This is all speculation, and will be until Apple says one thing or the other. I am intimately involved, in that I am due for an upgrade, and want to switch to the latest version of the iPhone from my 3GS. if that remains the iPhone 4, great. but if there is a new iPhone 5 coming, I will wait.

Touching FaceTime

This is a picture of my first ever FaceTime chat. (The image has been altered to protect the innocent who didn’t know they were getting a picture taken.)

I’ll have more in depth review of the new iPod Touch very soon, but I wanted to talk about how the newest feature of the iOS family works with something that isn’t a phone. It was seamless. Simply launch FaceTime, log into your Apple ID, and make a “call”. I called a friend who had just had a baby a couple weeks ago. I had not talked to him since, and I knew he had just gotten an iPhone 4. So, I texted him to see if he was available. Then launched the app.

I found that I liked the landscape mode best. I swapped to the rear camera once.

Talking by video is a whole new animal. I haven’t used Skype or even iChat before, so this was a pretty new experience for me. It’s definitely not like sitting the same room with someone, but you can send a receive visual cues and interact more than a simple phone call. But you have to hold device where you can be seen. And there’s not a lot of talking while doing something else.

Still, I liked it. The greeting from my friend was perfect, “Welcome to the future.”

Apple’s Philosophy

Yesterday Steve Jobs and company had a press conference addressing the iPhone 4 antenna issues. Overall it was a pretty good response from them, free cases or full refunds for those with issues. You can see the main video on Apple’s site, but the Q&A had some interesting content. I was watching the live blog from MacWorld, and got this from them. In the course of an answer, Jobs talked about how they approached entering the smartphone market.

Steve Jobs:

“To understand Apple, one of our biggest insights came about 8 years ago. We didn’t want to get into any business where we didn’t own or control the primary technology. Because if someone else owns it, they’re going to beat you in the end. And in the computer business, we thought software was the most important tech. And we made our own OS. Our big insight 8 years ago was that for most areas of consumer electronics, it was going to shift from big displays or optical pickup heads for DVDs being important, or radios in cell phones, to software being the most important component. And we realized, we were pretty good at software. And so the iPod really proved that to ourselves, that we could do that, and we brought that to the phone business.

We really made the whole process of being able to update your software an order of magnitude easier than it was before. So we’ve been able to frictionlessly distribute major updates for the software for the iPhone, continuously, and have been able to fix bugs, improve performance, add new features… all for free. And everyone’s copying Apple now, but we were the first ones to really do that in a practical way.”

Apple didn’t enter the market until they knew they could do it well. And now they dominate that market.

How may times do we just do something because we can, rather than have a strategy and plan?

600,000 iPhone 4 Preorders in One Day

Macworld posted an article reporting that 600,000 preorders were taken for the iPhone 4 yesterday.

After suspending preorders, Apple issued a statement including an apology:

Yesterday Apple and its carrier partners took pre-orders for more than 600,000 of Apple’s new iPhone 4. It was the largest number of pre-orders Apple has ever taken in a single day and was far higher than we anticipated, resulting in many order and approval system malfunctions. Many customers were turned away or abandoned the process in frustration. We apologize to everyone who encountered difficulties, and hope that they will try again or visit an Apple or carrier store once the iPhone 4 is in stock.

Expect to see iPhone 4 models selling on eBay for triple retail very soon. Some are claiming the demand is 10 times higher than for the 3Gs. This demand is surely what caused the host of issues that precipitated the apology from Apple.

Which Will Impact the World More?

This morning I tweeted:

“Big day, iPhone 4 preorders and the SBC is debating the Great Commission.”

What I did not add was the question, “I wonder which will impact the world more?”

Right now the Southern Baptist Convention is debating how we, as a denomination, go forward into the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Do we keep our approach the same, and revitalize it somehow, or change it up?

Apple cannot even keep up (or rather AT&T cannot) with the orders pouring in for the new iteration of their amazing device. The processing power, new display, and video technology will change how people communicate and compute.

Apple is very good at telling people they need the newest piece of technology they create. People do not actually need an iPhone. But millions think they must have one. I own one, and like it a lot. But using an iPhone is not required to live on earth.

The SBC is talking about something of eternal significance right now.

Will what is decided today truly change the world? Or will it be revealed at rhetoric and political maneuvering? I know many people, on both “sides” who truly want what is best for the denomination, and to see us impact the world. I know that we cannot expect the decline of Christian faith in western society to reverse course by simply doing what we have always done.

I hope that the outcome of today pleases God.

I hope that the work done today really does impact the world, and eternity. I hope that from today we will work to become just as good as Apple, or any other group or organization, at helping people see the need in their lives. To be sure, what we offer is so much more important than the new iPhone. I hope that our actions today reflect that.

[As always these are my views and not the views of any organization I am associated with.]