Tag Archives: Darren Murph

Steve Jobs Will Come Out… Tomorrow… Bet Your Bottom Dollar… That Tomorrow… There’ll Be Tablets

The Tablet is almost here!

David Carr at NYT:

This Wednesday, Steven P. Jobs will step to the stage at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco and unveil a shiny new machine that may or may not change the world.

In the magician’s world, that’s called “the reveal.”

And the most magical part? Even as the media and technology worlds have anticipated this announcement for months, Apple has said not word one about The Device. Reporting on the announcement has become crowdsourced, with thousands of tech and media journalists scrambling for the latest wisp and building on the reporting of others.

However miraculous the thingamajig turns out to be — all rumors point to some kind of tabletlike device — it can’t be more remarkable than the control that Apple and Mr. Jobs have over their audience.

“The reason that we all write about Apple is because we are, of course, interested, but also because everybody likes to read about Apple,” said Matt Buchanan, a contributing editor at the technology site Gizmodo. “Even if they hate Apple.”

Joel Evans at ZDNet:

To be clear, I’ve been doing an informal survey of consumers, including friends and random people that know me as an early adopter. According to my survey, people want the Tablet because it will do everything. This goes along with what also gets me excited about the soon to be released Kindle Development Kit, since the kit will allow the Kindle to be a lot more than an ebook reader.

Building on the point that the Apple tablet will do everything, the consumers I spoke with were excited about reading websites, playing games, sending and receiving e-mails, watching TV, and whatever else Apple offers up as an option on the Apple tablet. And if the report posted by Flurry is to be believed, this new Apple tablet will definitely play games, and is being tested with more than 150 of them.

The results of my informal survey seem to go against my earlier thought that consumers wouldn’t want to add another piece of technology into their lives. Instead, it seems that they are ready to embrace this new technology as long as it does everything they can think of.

From the early days of the Palm and Pocket PC devices, one complaint I heard time and again was that the form factor was just too small for extended use. This was either because your eyes would be fatigued after a certain amount of time or that a certain age group would have trouble both reading the screen and manipulating the tiny stylus. Now we have manufacturers working hard to bring a tablet into everyone’s hands, and they’re finally the size that everyone can enjoy.

As with most technology, the concept of the tablet is nothing new, but with consumers now using their phones for just about anything you can think of, the time is finally right for a device like the tablet to enter into everyone’s home.

Matt Buchanan at Gizmodo:

The Apple tablet is almost here. We hear. Actually, we’re hearing a whole lot lately. With this exhaustive guide to every tablet rumor, we’ve got the clearest picture of the Apple tablet yet. Updated constantly.

1/25/2010: 9to5Mac claims to have talked to some publishers who have the scoop on the tablet, and they say the cost will be “[nowhere] near $1000, as has been reported elsewhere.”

1/25/2010: The LA Times reports that the NY Times has been cooped up in Cupertino for the last few weeks developing a version of its paper for the tablet. The article also has a quote from a Conde Nast press release in which the publishing giant just comes out and says it: they will develop “more content for the iPhone and the anticipated tablet from Apple.”

1/25/2010: Tech Crunch heard through the grape vine that Steve Jobs said of the tablet, “This will be the most important thing I’ve ever done.”

1/22/2010: Fox News’ Clayton Morris has heard Apple’s “in talks” with both Verizon and AT&T to provide data for the tablet.

1/22/2010: iLounge has a an oddball that they’ve “double-confirmed”: Double dock connectors, so it can be charged in both portrait and landscape mode. Making more sense, a tablet-wide plastic stripe for decent connectivity (plausible),

1/21/2010: A truckload from the WSJ: Apple “envisions that the tablet can be shared by multiple family members to read news and check email in homes,” and has experimented with facial recognition through a built-in camera, along with virtual sticky notes that can be left behind. Also backing up our earlier report, the WSJ Apple’s in discussions with newspaper, mag book publishers like the NYT, Conde Nast and Harper Collins, and has “exploring electronic-textbook technology.” EA is apparently on tap to demo video games for it.

Also curious: The WSJ says Steve Jobs is “supportive of the old guard and [he] looks to help them by giving them new forms of distribution,” referring to old media companies, which echoes a quote in the NYT that in the battle over ebook pricing with Amazon, apparently “Apple has put an offer together that helps publishers and, by extension, authors.”

1/19/2010: Apple’s shell company, Slate Computing, has also filed for a trademark on the name iPad. Oh God help us.

Kirk McElhearn at PC World:

Apple’s tablet (and the copycats that will follow it) will be a game-changer, just as the iPod and iPhone have been. Because of Apple’s aura, this tablet will get more attention than the plethora of e-book readers we have seen recently. And I’m betting that Apple will get it right, as far as features, interface and usability are concerned. It will also be an excellent tool for reading the news. Newspapers and magazines will be able to package their content in multimedia bundles (either as apps or something similar to the iTunes LP) that will be designed for reading on a portable screen; this won’t simply be web pages viewed on a smaller screen.

The key to hardware being successful is the software that supports it. One of the main advantages to Apple’s tablet, as far as the press is concerned, is the iTunes Store. Since Apple already has this platform to sell and deliver that content, even on a subscription basis, readers will be able to easily buy their favorite newspapers and magazines and get them delivered instantly. They’ll be cheaper than the print versions, and they’ll be a lot greener too. And the iTunes Store will be able to provide a better selection than readers can find by going to individual Websites. Whether by subscription or by single issue, it’ll be extremely simple to buy newspapers and magazines to read on the Apple tablet.

This change won’t happen overnight. Apple’s tablet will probably be priced so that only the most tech-lusting among us will run out and buy version 1.0. But it will be a bellwether for the future of such devices and how they will change print media. New publishing experiments will be part of the attraction for this new device, and, in the near future, most major newspapers and magazines will offer tablet versions. And with them, a return to being able to provide the news we need.

Daniel Dumas at Wired:

We’ve taken a lot of time to track down the rumors, innuendo and even a few sparse facts about the device since the first whispers of its existence some two and a half years ago.

But now we’re going in a separate direction. Admittedly the five features below are are a little crazy — but their inclusion in the tablet would make it a whole lot more fun. Hey, a gadget journalist can dream, right?

Why it’s a pipe dream: When was the last time Apple offered anything for free, besides truckloads of reality-distorting hype at its press conferences?

UPDATE: Of course, now we know it is the iPad.

John Hudson at The Atlantic

UPDATE #2: Cory Doctorow at Boing Boing

Ann Althouse

Roger Simon at Pajamas Media

Joel Evans at ZDNet

UPDATE #3: Allah Pundit

David Frum at CNN

Darren Murph at Engadget


Filed under Technology

Neutral Tubes, Regulated Tubes, Free Tubes, Paying Tubes

net neutrality

John Carey at BusinessWeek:

To Julius Genachowski, the Internet is one of humanity’s great inventions. “I can’t imagine what life would be like without the Internet,” the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission said in a Sept. 21 speech at the Brookings Institution. “It has unleashed the creative genius of countless entrepreneurs.” And, Genachowski is convinced, it can help solve problems in areas ranging from health care and education to energy.

One of the keys to the Internet’s success, Genachowski argues, is that it is an open system, allowing anyone to use it and develop new applications. Now, he says, “few goals are more essential than preserving a robust and open Internet.” That’s why Genachowski proposed new net neutrality rules for the Internet in his Brookings speech.

The central idea, as Genachowski explains, is that network carriers such as AT&T (T), Verizon (VZ), and Comcast (CMCSA) would be prohibited from discriminating against users or applications. The providers could not favor, say, the transmission of their own videos over those of others. They wouldn’t be able to punish competitors by transmitting their content at slower speeds. And they wouldn’t be able to limit access to lawful content or new applications. “The fewer the obstacles, the greater the opportunity,” Genachowski said. The proposed new rules, he argued, will make sure that “in the 21st century, the garage, the basement, and the dorm room will be places where people can innovate and bring dreams to life.”

David L. Cohen, Executive Vice-President of Comcast:

Today, the Chairman of the FCC, Julius Genachowski, announced that he will ask the FCC to adopt new regulations on the way that companies like Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, Hughes Satellite, and thousands of others provide Internet services to consumers.

There’s been a debate in Washington for the last six years over whether rules like these are necessary to promote an “open Internet” and an innovation economy. And before that, there was a debate that began more than a decade ago over whether Internet Service Providers should be required to let others resell their services.

We welcome the dialogue suggested by the Chairman in his comments, and we completely agree that any consideration of new “rules of the road” begin with notice and an open, public rulemaking proceeding – this is both fair and appropriate.

But before we rush into a new regulatory environment for the Internet, let’s remember there can be no doubt that the Internet has enjoyed immense growth even as these debates have gone on.

The Internet in America has been a phenomenal success that has spawned technological and business innovation unmatched anywhere in the world. So it’s still fair to ask whether increased regulation of the Internet is a solution in search of a problem.

The FCC has had a “policy statement” in place since 2005 that sets expectations for “openness” on the Internet. We support and honor those policies.

When it was alleged in 2007 that one of Comcast’s network management practices regarding uploads of P2P files violated those policies, we defended our actions as a reasonable form of network management. However, the public scrutiny also led us to discuss our network management practices openly with the Internet community. And these discussions convinced us to move to a different network management practice.

We have implemented consumer-friendly disclosures regarding our network management practices, on the theory that, as the Chairman pointed out today, consumer transparency in this context is extremely important.

We went to court to challenge the way the FCC acted on that 2007 complaint against us, but for a relatively narrow reason — because the former FCC leadership simply handled the matter improperly, as even some who disapproved of our earlier network management system have conceded.

We will wait to see the specifics of the proposals that Chairman Genachowski brings before the FCC. But we welcome his proposal to have an open rulemaking process to discuss and analyze these important issues.

Daniel Indiviglio in The Atlantic:

In modern American culture, discrimination has a terribly negative connotation. When you think of discrimination, you think of racism, sexism, ageism, and lost of other -isms that sophisticated people just shouldn’t tolerate. The only thing that the tolerant can’t tolerate is intolerance.

In reality, however, individuals and businesses discriminate every day — just in more socially acceptable ways. When you choose to have a turkey wrap for lunch instead of a Burger King cheeseburger, you might be discriminating against unhealthy food. When a business hires a Wharton finance major over a University of Iowa English major, it might be discriminating against liberal arts and a lesser-ranked school. Neither of these decisions generally involves scorn from sophisticated individuals.

Businesses also discriminate to earn the highest profit. An airline may cancel a route where there are not enough travelers, because running the route just isn’t profitable enough. Genachowski’s fifth principle would prevent such discrimination for internet providers.

For example, imagine if there were certain types of file sharing programs used by college students to share music files that drained an extraordinary amount of bandwidth. Since the internet provider, say Verizon, charges based on a flat fee, instead of usage, it’s highly unprofitable to allow that application to operate through its servers. But Verizon has no choice if the FCC upholds the fifth principle.

This presents an interesting sort of disparity between how internet providers behave compared to most other businesses. Usually, companies want consumers to use as much of their product or service as possible. Then they’ll buy more and those companies will profit more. But the more bandwidth consumers use, the more it costs internet providers, without a corresponding increase in revenue; thus, more usage lowers their profits and provides less money to invest on new infrastructure.

That’s why I worry that the all-you-can-surf model for internet access is not sustainable. It’s akin to all restaurants being all-you-can-eat. Clearly, for light eaters it’s not a very good deal. But for heavy eaters, it’s great. Now imagine if those restaurants had no choice about whether or not they serve caviar and foie gras. Then it would be an even worse deal for light eaters who don’t have expensive tastes. In order to accommodate the FCC’s desire that internet providers not discriminate among content or applications, before long usage-based fees will probably be necessary.

Richard Koman at ZDNet:

A day after FCC chairman Julius Genachowski proposed rules to ensure application and protocol net neutrality on Internet and wireless networks, six Republicans rushed to the battle, hoping to swat away anything with the stink of “regulation.”

The group, led by Sen. Kay Hutchison (R-TX), signed on to an amendment to an appropriations bill that would prohibit the FCC from spending money to create new “regulatory mandates.” From the statement:

“I am deeply concerned by the direction the FCC appears to be heading. Even during a severe downturn, America has experienced robust investment and innovation in network performance and online content and applications. For that innovation to continue, we must tread lightly when it comes to new regulations. Where there have been a handful of questionable actions in the past on the part of a few companies, the Commission and the marketplace have responded swiftly. The case has simply not been made for what amounts to a significant regulatory intervention into a vibrant marketplace. These new regulatory mandates and restrictions could stifle investment incentives.”

Right. The U.S. wireless industry is the very definition of innovation and openness. The amendment is a blatantly unconstitutional attempt to assert Congressional control of an executive function. They try to get around this by controlling “expenditures,” and I certainly don’t know the Supreme Court holdings on such approaches, but it seems to me that controlling purse strings is tantamount to controlling rulemaking.

In other words, it’s a bunch of hot air, which may or may not cause Genachowski to troop on down to Capitol Hill and make his case, but in any case, the FCC rulemaking will move forward, the three Democrats will approve the new rules and AT&T and Comcast and Verizon will just have to live a playing field that actually encourages innovation.

Tony Bradley at PC World:

The response seems over the top and really brings into question what the true political motivations are. Congress didn’t seem to object to the FCC witch hunt and waste of budgetary dollars pursuing CBS for the infamous Janet Jackson ‘wardrobe malfunction’.

The FCC is charged with responsibility for managing the airwaves, bandwidth, and communication in this country. Genachowski is simply working to address emerging technologies and the changing landscape of communications to adapt and evolve in a manner that is fair to both providers and customers.

Genachowski has said that nothing has been determined yet. He called for an open and public discussion of the pros and cons of net neutrality that is “fair, transparent, fact-based, and data-driven.” If there are real concerns about incentive to invest and innovate, opponents should show up, present the case, and let a decision be made. What are they afraid of?

Tim Lee of Cato’s paper on net neutrality

Two posts from Julian Sanchez, one at Cato and one here. Sanchez:

What we’ve actually seen are some scattered and mostly misguided  attempts by certain ISPs to choke off certain kinds of traffic, thus far largely nipped in the bud by a combination of consumer backlash and FCC brandishing of existing powers. To the extent that packet “discrimination” involves digging into the content of user communications, it may well run up against existing privacy regulations that require explicit, affirmative user consent for such monitoring. In any event, I’m prepared to believe the situation could worsen. But pace Genachowski, it’s really pretty mysterious to me why you couldn’t start talking about the wisdom—and precise character—of some further regulatory response if and when it began to look like a free and open Internet were in serious danger.

If anything, it seems to me that the reverse is true: If you foreclose in advance the possibility of cross-subsidies between content and network providers, you probably never get to see the innovations you’ve prevented, while discriminatory routing can generally be detected, and if necessary addressed, if and when it occurs.  And the worst possible time to start throwing up barriers to a range of business models, it seems to me, is exactly when we’re finally seeing the roll-out of the next-generation wireless networks that might undermine the broadband duopoly that underpins the rationale for net neutrality in the first place. In a really competitive broadband market, after all, we can expect deviations from neutrality that benefit consumers to be adopted while those that don’t are punished by the market. I’d much rather see the FCC looking at ways to increase competition than adopt regulations that amount to resigning themselves to a broadband duopoly.

Instead of giving wireline incumbents a new regulatory stick to whack new entrants with, the FCC could focus on facilitating exploitation of “white spaces” in the broadcast spectrum or experimenting with spectral commons to enable user-owned mesh networks. The most perverse consequence I can imagine here is that you end up pushing spectrum owners to cordon off bandwidth for application-specific private networks—think data and cable TV flowing over the same wires—instead of allocating capacity to the public Internet, where they can’t prioritize their own content streams.  It just seems crazy to be taking this up now rather than waiting to see how these burgeoning markets shake out.

Darren Murph at Engadget

Reihan Salam at NRO

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Filed under New Media, Technology

Eat My Electricity, Prius!


The Chevy Volt gets what MPG rating?

Richard S. Chang at NYT:

General Motors announced on Tuesday morning that its Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric car had delivered a fuel-economy rating of 230 miles a gallon — which sounds outrageous. With that kind of gas mileage, you could practically drive from Los Angeles to Las Vegas on a single gallon of gas, or for around three bucks.

But, of course, you wouldn’t be able to do that. G.M. said the 230 number is only for city driving, and it’s not based on the same measurement standard used to calculate the fuel economy of gas-engine or hybrid cars.

Matt Burns at Crunch Gear:

Take a look at the current high-mileage kings and that 230 MPG rating really sinks in. The EPA handed the Prius a 51 MPG city ranking and the Insight a 41 MPG. The EPA says that the Ford Fusion hybrid can get 41 in the city and the Camary Hybrid 40 MPG in the city. With hyper-mileage tactics like killing the engine to coast down hills and fancy pedal work, a few obsessed drivers have pushed a few of these cars into triple digit territory.

None of these cars of course benefit from a battery pack that can power the car exclusively for 40 miles, though. The only real competitor to the Chevy Volt is the Fisker Karma as it’s fundamentally the same powertrain design but the EPA hasn’t had a go with that EV yet.  There is the Tesla Model S too, but that vehicle is limited by the range of a battery pack and doesn’t have an on-board gasoline generator like the Volt and the Karma and therefore will not be ranked under the same guidelines.

Sebastian Blanco at Autobloggreen:

Frank Weber, vehicle chief engineer for the Volt, told AutoblogGreen that the EPA’s method takes into account the two extremes: People who plug in every chance they get and therefore barely ever need gasoline and people who never plug in (if you’re buying a Volt and never plug it in, we’d like to offer you a bridge or two. Call us). By figuring out what the average driver will do with the Volt, the EPA has declared that 230 mpg is reasonable. Weber said, “The number is in the ballpark, it is not unrealistic. The moment you are driving shorter trips, or you go on longer trips and look at your average fuel economy, this number is achievable.”

Keep in mind, the 230 mpg number is only valid for the Volt’s city cycle. On the highway, the number will be closer to 100 mpg. Still impressive to look at, and the first car to get triple digits from the EPA. As you can read in this detailed PDF from NREL, there is much more to think about in calculating the fuel economy of PHEVs than simply how far it can go on a single charge and then what its “regular” mpg rating is. At least, there’s more to it if you’re the EPA.

Darren Murph at Engadget:

This past Sunday, GM reportedly submitted a regulatory filing with the US Treasury, and while it can’t be taken as official word per se, it does provide reason to believe that the promised November ship date will slip to an undisclosed month and year. The report also noted that there is “no assurance” that it will qualify for any remaining energy loans to develop advanced fuel technology automobiles, and if you needed more reason to doubt the whole ordeal, have a look at this zinger: “Our competitors and others are pursuing similar technologies and other competing technologies, in some cases with more money available; there can be no assurance that they will not acquire similar or superior technologies sooner than we do.” Ah well — at least we know the four or five prototype models destined for eBay will do Ma Earth proud, right?

Harry Fuller at ZDNet:

And if gasoline does ever hit $20 per gallon, well, the Volt could put GM back into the driver’s seat. The Volt’s sticker price is apparently going to be around $40K, and it would qualify under current law for about $7500 in federal rebates. So with sales tax in most states it would retail in the mid-$30K range. Expect a waiting list, as well. Every Michigan pol will have to own one for sure. There is no official way to sign-up yet.
Chrysler, Daimler, Ford, Nissan and Toyota all expect to launch their own electric cars in the near future. It’s not clear if any of them can beat the Volt to the market. Also, not clear: will any of these companies be allowed to sell their electric cars in Saudi Arabia?

Allah Pundit:

Thrilling news, not because the Volt’s going to solve America’s dependence on Middle Eastern oil overnight but because the baseline technology’s now not only available but almost cost-effective. Why do I say almost? Let’s do the math. Initial sticker-price estimates are $40,000; assume it’ll be a bit more than that, then deduct $7,500 for the federal tax credit you’ll get for buying one. Let’s say that leaves us with a cost of $35,000. Figure a new car with standard fuel efficiency will get 20 mpg and run you $18,000. Now assume gas prices of $3 per gallon. Buying the cheaper car will save you enough money to afford 5,667 gallons of gas, which, at 20 mpg, means it would be a better deal than the Volt for the first … 113,000 miles. That also doesn’t account for (a) the (comparatively tiny) cost of electricity to charge the battery, (b) the headaches for apartment-dwellers in finding a place to charge the thing, (c) the possibility of higher maintenance costs as the Volt’s new technology suffers glitches, and (d) the strain on urban electrical grids a decade or two down the road when these suckers become popular.

But never mind that. Like I say, we’re thinking big picture here, and the big picture for what this’ll do to Islamic oil autocracies once the technology becomes better and cheaper is sweet. Exit question: Shouldn’t Iran pessimists be looking especially carefully at this rig? If you believe some sort of confrontation in the Gulf is inevitable and you realize what’ll happen to oil prices if the Straits of Hormuz are closed or, god forbid, a regional war breaks out, then suddenly the Volt doesn’t seem like a terrible deal. Especially if you toss a little Carter-esque Hopenchange stagflation in there for old time’s sake.

John Cole

UPDATE: Daniel Gross at Slate

Allah Pundit

UPDATE #2: John Hudson at The Atlantic with a round-up


Filed under Energy, Environment, Infrastructure, Technology