Is Apple in trouble?

I was reading this great post from Scoble: Why doesn’t Microsoft get the love? « Scobleizer which was spot-on, but for some reason it got me thinking about Apple instead of Microsoft.

I think Apple is in serious trouble.

  1. The Amazon digital download store is much better than the iTunes store. Not the design or that dumb downloader, but the fact that they are selling high bitrate MP3s for the same price or less than iTunes sells the DRM’d files. Apple might be paying the price for being the ones who made legal downloading of music a reality. Losing the store isn’t a huge issue for Apple’s profit. The store exists to sell iPods, Apple doesn’t make much money on it. However, once you don’t need the store, you don’t need iTunes or an iPod. Apple’s innovation on the iPods will keep this business strong for them, but without the whole ecosystem, they become vulnerable.
  2. The desktop line is stagnating. I’m assuming that there is a reason that Apple hasn’t really bumped their desktop line in a while and I’m also assuming that we will get news soon. However, the GPUs on their highest-end machines are years old, and due to Apple’s locked-in nature, it isn’t a user-serviceable part. Letting this go so long is a problem. I and at least one friend of mine are waiting on new desktops before we upgrade our PPC-based machines. The GPUs in the laptops are better than what we have at the moment.
  3. The iPhone debacle: I think Apple is handling the iPhone all wrong. The phone is a triumph of technology, but even $400 for a phone is a lot of money for the average consumer. The phone doesn’t have enough features or speed on the network to replace serious smart phone competitors and it is still lacking some fundamental features that free-phone-with-subscription-phones lack like MMS and MP3 ring tones.

I don’t think Apple is dead or anything like that. I’m still an Apple fan-boy (as a user, not as a developer), but I think these signs are troubling and Apple can still snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

What do you think?

Downtown Dogs (Chicago)

For those who only think I like only hipster, expensive, restaurants. I give to you Downtown Dogs in Chicago at Rush and Chicago Ave. Whenever I’m back in my hometown and I find myself on the north end of Michigan Avenue, I stop in to this little shop-front hot dog place. I order a char dog (or two) with everything (except hot peppers). I’ll grab a Reader off the rack and listen to ‘XRT on the store’s stereo. It makes me feel like a native-born Chicagoan again. While all the tourists are packing in to Giordanos or any of the other tourist joints nearby, I’m enjoying the true Chicago experience.

Downtown Dogs in Chicago

I have seen the future and it is Thermo powered

Holy frijoles was that beautiful.

That was absolutely one of coolest demos I have EVER seen. If I wasn’t wedded to C++, I’d switch over %100 to doing ActionScript development right now so that I could use that tool to make my GUIs. Microsoft should be shaking in it’s boots, because from what I’ve seen of the Silverlight tools, they are (silver)light years behind.

I work for Adobe, so I knew about Thermo. I’d seen slide decks on it, I’d discussed it with people. I’d never seen a demo. This went beyond any expectations I might have had. This combined with FlexBuilder3, AIR, Hydra (you knew I had to make a plug for that) and Astro makes an outstanding tool set for building desktop applications connected or not.

C# has been my go-to for doing up quickie applications or doing app prototypes for my personal development. Not for much longer. Especially because I’m on the mac now and being able to do cross-platform development with such an awesome rapid app development toolset is super exciting.

Liberal Brains work differently than Conservative ones… duh.

Well, of course, this is scientific, but their conclusions aren’t real proof. See, I can say that because my liberal mind is open to more possibilities than the conservative talk show hosts who are guaranteed to rail against these findings if they acknowledge them at all.

In a study likely to raise the hackles of some conservatives, scientists at New York University and the University of California, Los Angeles, found that a specific region of the brain’s cortex is more sensitive in people who consider themselves liberals than in self-declared conservatives.

The brain region in question helps people shift gears when their usual response would be inappropriate, supporting the notion that liberals are more flexible in their thinking.

Brains of liberals, conservatives may work differently, study finds [Seattle Times]

Interesting article on Ruby vs PHP

I’ve been doing PHP for a little while, but I’m always hearing about how much better Ruby on Rails is. Luckily, Derek from CDBaby decided to rewrite his site with Rails and actually decided that PHP was better for some stuff.

7 reasons I switched back to PHP after 2 years on Rails – OReilly Ruby

I spent two years trying to make Rails do something it wasn’t meant to do, then realized my old abandoned language PHP, in my case would do just fine if approached with my new Rails-gained wisdom.

I’ve been avoiding posting

It might sound kind of stupid, but I wanted to leave my post about Ray as sort of a tribute and not distract from it by posting about anything else for a while. Reading back on that post, I can see that it was too self-centered. The only attempt at an excuse that I can offer was that I really was completely knocked for a loop by what happened and was trying to make sense of it for myself. Although, I’m not sure why I chose to do that in public.

This is what I should have said:

Ray was great. She was funny, and she loved to laugh. I saw her go through every emotion over the years and through some really tough times, but she was always a joy to be around, and she was an amazing singer.

Whenever I needed a singer for some project, she was at the top of my list. Not just because of her voice, but also because she was fun to work with.

I didn’t know her as a mother, but I can imagine that she was amazing. She was tremendously compassionate and caring.

Since it happened, I’ve heard from many of her friends in Portland or her old friends that she never lost touch with. It is clear that over the years, she never lost those wonderful elements of her personality that we in Seattle got to know and love.

The earth will be less for her not being here.

LuRay Hodder Kuca: Rest In Peace – 1968-2007

Portland family of three dead in apparent murder-suicide – Breaking News Updates

This kicks me in the teeth. I heard about it when the Oregonian called to get my thoughts and, at first, I thought they must have the wrong Ray. I couldn’t believe it. I played with her for years in Vassily and The Fellini Outtakes. She was on the first Intonarumori record. I lost touch with her after she left Seattle. I didn’t know she got married. I didn’t know she had a child. I didn’t know that she moved back to the northwest.

This is all manner of fucked up.

If there is a memorial service for them please contact me here. There are a lot of friends and former band mates in Seattle that would want to be there.

The Local Vine

So, The Local Vine opened up mere steps from our front door in Belltown, but we avoided it for months. Partially because we were annoyed by the way they cordoned off the public sidewalk. Partially for the crowds of annoying smokers that always surrounded it, taking up what was left of the sidewalk and partially because we were waiting for the crowds to die down a bit.

Imagine our surprise when we found the place mostly empty at 8:30 on a Saturday night, on a holiday weekend, with Bumbershoot happening a few blocks away.

Counting ourselves lucky, we found a spot amongst the a-bit-too-modern-for-comfort furniture and sat down. We had read some of the reviews, so we knew the back story. This place was founded by two recent Harvard MBA grads looking to create a chain of neighborhood wine bars. They wanted to get people excited about wine in the way that Starbucks got them excited (and knowledgeable) about coffee. They were even offering free wireless as an enticement to sit and relax in their space.

Over our stay there, we found some fatal flaws for their business plan. The dark, candle-lit atmosphere screams romance (especially with wine). The lack of sound baffling unfortunately made that quite impossible as more people entered and the noise level became uncomfortable quickly. Speaking of uncomfortable, the low, backless furniture that is the majority of the place’s seating options is not very comfortable and makes it extremely difficult to have a meal without either hunching over the low table or risking spilling food over yourself as you make the long journey from your place to your mouth. The menu doesn’t help as it features a number of dishes dripping with sauces or other things dangerous to clothing. Their business plan may say “come, relax”, but their business actually says “go away.” The atmosphere itself was all about Belltown-cool which I can appreciate, but I have to admit that I’ve gotten tired of having hipster 20-somethings slouching and talking on a cellphone through their entire meal in my eye-line.

As we were here to actually eat and not lounge around drinking wine alone, we were excited that The Local Vine had gotten the chef from Crush in charge of the menu. The food itself was pretty good. For the portions and atmosphere it did feel overpriced. Most of the menu consists of small dishes, each priced between $8-$15. It took about 6 of them to feed the two of us. I would consider that a reasonably priced meal for the quality in a restaurant, but in the Local Vine it didn’t seem right.

The service was quite good when we sat down, but went down-hill as the restaurant filled up. By the end of the meal we were spending a lot of time trying to flag down someone to get our bill. This especially seemed strange because the employee to customer ratio was really high, even when the place was crowded. I’m really not sure how it devolved that badly.

Overall, I liked it. There are some serious problems there to be sure. The only thing that would get me to come back would be the food and then only early in the day when it isn’t too crowded. And then only if I wanted a snack and not a full meal. As far as the Starbucks-as-wine-bar concept, I think these MBAs need to learn a few more lessons before they’ll be able to successfully export this idea to other less-hip neighborhoods in Seattle, let alone other cities.

Local Vine in Seattle