19 September, 2007

IPhone: the price drop and Doing the Right Thing

Okay, I know. There are a lot of angry iPhone customers out there. For those of you that don't know me personally, I'm not made of money either. I bought the iPhone because it addresses a very specific problem for me. There is no way I could use any other cell phone on the market without great difficulty. I have cerebral palsy and therefore, I also have coordination problems. The touch screen means that I don't need to dial any numbers to get help immediately. I tap a name and that's it. I don't need to remember long phone numbers anymore because with the iPhone, they don't exist. I keep phone numbers with my addresses in my e-mail contacts. I can then sync my iPhone via iTunes with my address book on my PC. So all I have to do to make a call is tap a name. That's the power of the iPhone. It's a huge step forward for someone like me because it means that I don't have to deal with small buttons. I have a 4 GB iPhone. Recently when Apple announced the new iPod lineup, something strange happened. After Mr. Jobs introduced the new iPod nano, shuffle, and, the iPod classic, he introduced the iPod touch. What is the iPod touch? The iPod touch is the iPod component of the iPhone and nothing else. That's right, it's an iPod that looks like an iPhone and utilizes the exact same touch screen interface. Steve Jobs also announced that Apple was dropping the price of the 8 GB iPhone by $200, bringing it to $399.

This friends, is where all the trouble began. But let's look at the circumstances surrounding this announcement. The iPod touch will come in two models (8 GB & 16 GB). So why are they dropping the price of the iPhone? It's simple. Jobs and company can hear the sound of sleigh bells. That's right, Christmas is coming. The iPod touch is priced at $299 for the 8 GB model. If Apple can say, "wait, for just an extra hundred dollars, you can have the easiest cell phone you've ever used" , that's a very attractive proposition. Since Apple has discontinued the 4 GB iPhone, it is also logical to assume that very shortly the company will be introducing a 16 GB phone that will most likely sell for between $499 and $599. Do I think it was a big price drop? Yes, of course I do. I can however, see what Apple is doing. And I think that as computer users, we are use to new product cycles every six months and frankly, that's not how the cell phone industry works at all. Their cell phone models do usually come out about every two months. Would I like to have a larger capacity iPhone? Naturally I would. Given time, I will but this does not detract from the fact that my current iPhone is fulfilling the purpose for which I bought it. Yes, I love the iPod in the iPhone and I would love to be able to import more songs and movies on to it but ultimately, I need the phone as a phone. The last time I checked, my home phone does not have a 4 GB iPod attached to it. Does yours? If it does, I want to hear about that :-)! Perhaps one of the reasons that Apple's announcement caught people off guard is that we seem to have a rather odd perception of this company. We think that because they're smaller than Microsoft, they must be "on our side". Let's be clear. Choice drives innovation. It is therefore; good that Apple does things differently than Microsoft. In the end though, they are a company and like all companies, they need to make a profit to stay in business. Apple is doing the right thing by offering a $100 Apple store gift certificate to early adopters.

06 September, 2007

Mac me up, Scotty. There's no intelligent lapttops down here.

Well folks, the time has come for me to begin thinking about returning to the halls of academiia in pursuit of my eventual masters in adaptive technology. For those of you asking, "exactly what is that", adaptive technology involves both the development of new applications and, the implementation and adaptation of existing computers and software technology to assist those with disabilities. Perfect job for me, right? I agree but in order to facilitate my academic aspirations, I'm going to need a notebook computer. Naturally because of my disability, any portable computer I use must meet specific requirements in order to run the specialized speech software needed. I also wanted a rugged notebook: something that would stand up to any little mishaps my coordination problems might visit upon it. It's wonderful having CP, boys and girls :-)! For those of you that don't know what it's like, I basically rent space in my body. Just because I occupy my body does not mean I have constant control ovver it or its muscles. The brain injury, due to lack of oxygen at birth, sometimes causes my body to move in ways I don't intend. That brings me back to the choice of notebook. I've looked at "toughbooks", which are notebooks that can be used in areas which would be dangerous to normal laptops, such as construction sites. These notebooks are extremely well-made and are designed to withstand almost anything: water, dropping, being run over, etc.. The price is astronomical, however, making it an unfeasible option for my purposes. So what did I decide to do? Well, I'm buying a Mac! Can I get a " hallelujah " from the Mac crowd? This should prove once and for all to everyone that Apple is a company I watch, love, and, respect. Does this mean I'm abandoning Windows? Not at all. I have a Windows Vista media Center PC at home with an Xbox 360 that takes the recorded TV shows from my media Center and streams them via my home network to my living room. I therefore cannot give up Windows, nor would I want to. For college however, my needs are somewhat different. I need a durable laptop that can run Windows applications. I need a laptop with the appropriate amount of RAM preinstalled. Upgrading hardwarre on a portable PC is nearly impossible, owing to the size of the components in question.

So why a Mac? The Macbook Pro is made of aluminum and glass, not plastic. This makes it somewhat more durable than the ordinary laptop. Don't misunderstand me, I'm not saying that the MacBook could withstand everything in the world, just that it's a little more durable than some of its counterparts. They are Intel-based PCs, as are all Macs these days. This means that they are capable of running Windows when necessary through either a program included with the Mac called "Boot Camp",, or, a program called "Parallels (sold separately). With "Boot Camp", you are given a choice at start up of whether you want the computer to boot into Windows or, OS X. "Parallels" is somewhat different in that it allows you to run both operating systems simultaneously. This gives you access to both your Windows applications and, those on OS X. So obviously, I will be using "Parallels". I would point out that although the Mac can run Windows, you could not legally run the Mac OS on a PC. This infuriates me at times, but that's another blog entry. The choice of running both Windows applications and native Mac applications opens up a world of possibilities. I don't see any reason why we should have to choose between types of computers. I've always been intrigued by OS X and I like the basic concepts behind the operating system. At the same time, as I previously stated above, I cannot make an "either/or" decision. Therefore, the MacBook Pro offers me the best of both worlds. The MacBook Pro also comes standard with 2 GB of RAM preinstalled. I intend to try to get four gigabytes of RAM, if I can afford it. If you're still wondering why I would go to a Mac, the iPhone proved something not only to me, but to the rest of the world. The iPhone reminded people that at any moment, Any company could come up with something that changes the way we look at everything. The MacBook Pro has certainly done it for me. I will be getting more information on my experience with this notebook in October, when I'm actually able to purchase it.