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Entries in 2011 (2)

Thursday
Jan062011

Mac App Store Launches

Earlier last month, on December 16th, Apple announced that the Mac App Store would launch today, January 6th, with this press release:

CUPERTINO, California—December 16, 2010—Apple® today announced that the Mac® App Store℠ will open for business on Thursday, January 6. By bringing the revolutionary App Store experience to Mac OS® X, the Mac App Store makes discovering, installing and updating Mac apps easier than ever. The Mac App Store will be available in 90 countries at launch and will feature paid and free apps in categories like Education, Games, Graphics & Design, Lifestyle, Productivity and Utilities.

“The App Store revolutionized mobile apps,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “We hope to do the same for PC apps with the Mac App Store by making finding and buying PC apps easy and fun. We can’t wait to get started on January 6.”

The Mac App Store lets you browse new and noteworthy apps, find out what’s hot, view staff favorites, search categories and read customer ratings and reviews. Like on iPhone®, iPod touch® and iPad™, you can purchase, download and install apps in just one click and start using them immediately. Purchased apps can run on all of your personal Macs and updates are delivered directly through the Mac App Store so it’s easy to keep all of your apps up to date. The Mac App Store is available to Mac OS X Snow Leopard® users as a free download through Software Update.

 

I’m looking forward to seeing which developers decided to make their apps available through the Mac App Store. I’m also curious to see which free Mac apps will be on the store, and whether or not they will be truly useful/helpful at all. I’m certain that there will be a bunch. Hopefully they will be more than just fart apps, ill thought-out widgets, and 40 versions of Chess. I’m also curious how many, or even if any, of the really big developers chose to include their software on the Mac App Store.

It should also be illuminating to see how developers handled the restriction of not being able to make demos, or shareware versions of their software available. I’m quite certain that some of them probably worked out ways to bend that rule as far as possible, such as making more versions of the software with single and dual use cases, instead of a one size fits all solution, without actually breaking it. At least for now anyway. For the sake of opening the store with a healthy number of apps that they can brag about immediatiely, Apple likely allowed entry to some apps that push the boundaries on this rule, and will begin tightening the approval screws later as the store matures and grows.

Once we see the implementation for the store, perhaps it will set the ground work for and enlighten us as to what Apple might announce either later this month or next month about version 2 of the iPad. I’m not convinced that Apple will have some big new hardware category to announce at the keynote this year. Instead, I think we will just new iterations of the iPad (hopefully with more RAM!), and perhaps iWork ‘11 (note, Apple pushed software updates yesterday for versions of iWork ‘09 and later, and they pushed an iLife update the day before. Not sure what this means, other than perhaps some prepartory work in advance of the new Mac App Store. These optimization tweaks might also mean that iWork and iLife will not be part of any announcements later this month.)

If they do pushed a new iWork ‘11, I imagine that this iteration will set forth to prepare us, and help us understand the vision of the iOS integration that is to come in Mac OSX Lion. These features will probably show how you can increase productivity between your Mac, and the various iOS devices family. This will likely be explained with the iWork improvements as well as a tease about the next iOS updates that will likely go to the developers in March as they have the past few years.

We also might hear about new content partnerships in either television, film, music, or books. If I had to put my money on which new content deals to expect to hear about I would put my money on books, newspapers, and magazines, but who knows? There seems to have been a bit more foot dragging by the content providers than usual, in this area as of late. If there is a new iBooks content announcement, expect a feature or two to be announced for the iBooks app.

The iPad hardware improvements will likely include more RAM and a rear camera. I’m not certain that they will bring Facetime to the iPad just yet. If they do, it would likely mean a complete reworking of the industrial design of the hardware. I cannot imagine adding the camera to the current iteration without either being forced to make it thicker (and heavier, which will piss off some wussies who already whine about the current pitifully small 1lb weight), or longer, which will annoy another batch of people. Both of these options don’t seem like the sort of design decisions that Jony Ive and Steve Jobs have been embracing as of late.

I don’t see them introducing a smaller 7” model this time around. I also don’t see them expanding the storage size. With the introduction of the Macbook Air 11” and 13” inch machines, it is increasingly unlikely that Apple will allow the iPad storage capacity to compete directly with the more expensive Macbook Air machines. I do think it is possible that they will continue keeping the separate WiFi and Wifi + 3G price points, but they will likely drop the prices a bit on the 64GB, and 32GB sizes, while eliminating the 16GB device altogether. The benefit of removing the 16GB is that it would allow them to stay ahead of the competition by making more powerful machines available at the current prices. I think that Apple would love to brag that their entry Wi-Fi model that costs $499, is now 32GB in storage capacity.

I would not be surprised if the “one more thing…” announcement at this year’s keynote will be the release of iPhone on other carriers. If not this year, then it will definitely happen next year, unless something unusually dramatic occurs that prevents either Apple or the carriers from wanting the iPhone. Unfortunately this has been an expectation for some many years that the world’s reception might be more tepid than expected, as the announcement of The Beatles on iTunes was received.

iPhone 5 announcements will most likely be reserved for their usual spot in the Spring or Summer of this year.  With the iPhone 4 out for such a short time, I don’t expect to hear anything official about the next phone until June or July. Probably at the Worldwide Develpers Conference (WWDC), as they have in previous years.

 

Friday
Oct292010

Portland Trailblazers Season: 2 Games Down, 80 to Go

We are only two games into the season, but some interesting statistics have developed early for the Portland Trailblazers of 2010-2011. While it is early, take them for what they are worth.

 

A lot is made of which team can score the most number of points overall. If you are interested in that sort of thing, then Portland’s ranking at 13th in average number of points per game is probably not all that impressive to you, but if you are like me,  I’ve always thought that metric that is more important when judging the offense of any sport team is the point differential between the team in question and their opponents.

Often, it may seem like a team may not put up a ton of points, but as is often the case, a team may not have to if they are playing extraordinary defense and winning by more than ten points, while implementing a solid offense. If you look at the stats with that in mind, Portland is the only team in the league that has played more than one game, and averages an 11 point spread on the margin of victory, and ranks #2 after Houston in overall number of points per game averaged by teams who have played more than one game so far.

 

When we look at the defense side of the ball, we see that the defense of the Blazers is definitely driving their offense. They are second in the league in outrebounding their opponents by a whopping 14 boards/per game, and they are averaging nearly 5 more steals per game than their opponents, whichis  also a best in the NBA for teams that have played more than one game during this season.

 

What is really extraordinary is that the Portland Trailblazers are achieving this with only one starting center, Marcus Camby, and a journeyman in Argentinian Fabricio Oberto, who did not get a chance to  practice with the team at all prior to stepping on the court in his first game as a Trailblazer.

 

We’ve been hearing from Coach Nate McMillan about what kind of defense team he wants, and it is beginning to look like he is starting to finally get that kind of defense that he has wanted out of this year’s team. Especially from LaMarcus Aldrige, Armon Johnson, Wesley Matthews, Marcus Camby, and Brandon Roy.

 

Their defense has really shined in the fourth quarter of late. Portland outscored the Phoenix Suns 31-11 in the fourth quarter of their season opener at the Rose Garden, and then outscored the Los Angeles Clippers 28-17 for a combined total of 59-28 in the fourth quarters of the last two games. If it were one game, I might be inclined to think that their opponent just had an off night from the offense during the fourth quarter, but when it happened again the next night, on the road no less, against a Los Angeles Clipper team that looks like it should have a better record than it did last year, it seems farfetched to say that it was just a coincidence.

 

Could this be the beginning of a solid season for the Portland Trailblazers, or merely the dumb luck of drawing two teams that are going to turn out to be much worse this season than they were last year? Who knows? But I’m feeling pretty good about the former.