Thursday, January 21, 2010

The tablet is freaking us all out

Not only because the tablet is a historical product that will put a dent in the universe that’s as profound as iPhone. It is that. But it’s more. I’m not sure how to say this, but the tablet is exhibiting some spooky capabilities. Like we keep hearing reports from engineers who say they come in and find their tablet prototype glowing. Or talking in weird languages that it shouldn’t know.

Weirdest story of all is this. The wife of one of the engineers on the tablet project has lupus. I don’t know the guy, or his wife, and frankly i don’t even know what lupus is. But anyway. Last week the guy managed to smuggle a prototype out of the campus and took it home with him so he could work on it at night. He showed it to his wife. She used it for a while. Next morning they wake up, and her lupus is gone. The guy rushes in to work and tells everybody what happened, and how the doctors can’t explain it, and we’re all totally freaked out. I mean it can’t be the tablet. But anyway, we fired the guy, and we’re probably going to sue him too. But it’s still pretty cool.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Holy crap I just woke up and realized it’s January already

Last I knew it was New Year’s Eve and I was tossing in that best videos of 2009 thing to run on New Year’s Day, because I knew I’d be kind of out of it on New Year’s Day and wouldn’t be able to post anything because I was going to be put into a medically induced coma and have my nanobots replenished at the Singularity Institute. Was all supposed to happen in twenty four hours and the deal was I’d be home by Sunday. So everything goes blank and now I just woke up and I asked BreezeAnne what time it was and she said it was seven in the morning — on Tuesday. I’m like, Tuesday? Seriously? And she’s like, Yeah, seriously, and you must be starving so here here’s a mango smoothie, and I was like, No time for that, I’ve got to get to the office and catch up on my email and make sure the tablet is still on track.

So whatever. I’m back in the Jobs Pod, vertical again, and arguing with Tim Cook about how much we should overcharge for the tablet. Tim says we can’t go over a thousand dollars, because that’s like some huge psychological barrier, and I’m feeling like hey, if there’s one lesson we learned from the iPhone it’s that we can overcharge as much as we damn well please and people will still line up to buy the friggin thing. Six hundred bucks for a phone, and nobody blinked. This tablet thing is at least twice as good as the first-generation iPhone, so I’m pushing for twelve hundred out of the gate, figuring we bone all the early adopters and then quickly bring the price down to widen the market. I mean look at the hype! Look at the frigtards all trying to guess what it will look like and what it will do! We could start taking orders for it today, sight unseen, at fifteen hundred bucks and I’d bet you we’d sell ten thousand units by the end of the week.

Anyway, we’ll work it all out. Meanwhile, happy New Year, dear Apple faithful. And namaste. I honor the place where your hopes and dreams become projected onto my unannounced products and merge, ultimately, with my personal net worth. Peace.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Kai-Fu Lee throws fuel on the tablet fire

Operation Tablet Hype continues right on pace thanks to my good friend Kai-Fu Lee. He worked here at Apple in the 90s, but we sent him off as a double-agent to infiltrate some of our competitors — first the Borg, and then Google. He now has some mysterious “investment company,” but it’s really a front that lets him stay behind enemy lines and funnel information back to us. He’s also now engaged in disseminating disinformation on our behalf. See, his investment company has ties to Foxconn, our child-labor manufacturing partner. So he goes on TV and tells Fox News that I’m going to announce the tablet in January and that “Apple expects to produce near 10 million units in the first year!” We have complete deniability, but we still manage to feed the media beast with yet another ridiculous teaser. Well done, Agent Lee.

Friday, December 4, 2009

I’ll make a prediction here

This fine babealicious columnist/blogger/hottie/whatever thinks the app store for the iPhone will top 300,00 at the end of next year. Such a conservative! Let’s shoot for 500,000, okay, Princess? The SDK for the iPhone is so freakin’ easy to use, that everybody and his Aunt Henry (believe me, there is an Aunt Henry – don’t ask!), will be trying to get rich quick submitting apps and games – and it won’t be for the beloved iPhone or iTouch – wait until the Holy Tablet is ushered unto the masses – by December 12, 2012, it’s not going to be the end of the world – it’s going to be the end of Dell’s world, and H-P’s world and Acer’s world and Canonical and Microsoft’s world.

It’ll be the dawn of the new age and everything before will seem yellowed, crinkly, sepia-toned, kindsa yucky and ewww and grandparenty.

UPDATE: for your consideration, geek-stalkers,

the new babealicious. Not the beanstalk, dipsticks, the other one!

BONUS UPDATE: ‘Cos I luv youse guys, one more

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Ask A PC

and he’ll gladly confess he knows nothing. Leave him alone, Rose, he’s an actor not an insider. The God Tablet’s price won’t matter ‘cos you will buy it anyway. It’s that good and wunnerful and magical and cool – everything you’re not! So shut up and move on already.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Pissing contest

Two columnists from rival online rags disagree about whether or not why buying an eReader is a good idea right now. Mike Elgin gets point number seven half wrong.

Even if you’re not persuaded by all my arguments, and insist on giving an e-book reader, you should know that one of the best options is unavailable. If you order a Barnes & Noble Nook reader today, for example, it will arrive on January 4.

Dumkopf! The best option unavailable isn’t even on the market yet. Look for it next year ’round this time.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Time Inc. wants to take us on

So the idea is, a bunch of magazine publishers will get together and form their own digital distribution company, the way the TV networks did with Hulu. That way they don’t get screwed by me and Bezos. Nice idea, but we’re having none of it.
Peter Kafka of AllThingsD, who broke the story on this, doesn’t quite come out and say that it won’t work, so let me do it for him. It won’t work. For one thing, the project began as a way to “put the digital genie back in the bottle.” In other words, they’re playing defense. Supposedly Hearst and Conde Nast are going to get on board, and they’ll get others involved too, so let’s try to imagine what those meetings are going to be like. And let’s pretty much figure they won’t be making any super quick decisions.

But they face some real problems — one being content. As in, they ain’t got none. As Kafka points out:

They’ll have to create content consumers want to buy. The new product can’t simply be a digital version of the magazines they’re already printing: That’s already available on the Web, and consumers have shown almost no interest in paying for it, and advertisers haven’t fully embraced it either.

Ah, there’s the rub. So far these guys can’t come up with anything new that’s unique to digital. All they’ve done is repurposed their print stuff and put it online.

Another issue, of course, is that they want to band together and make their content available on all sorts of different e-reader platforms, but they don’t want to give up control of distribution, and they also want to remain in control of the advertising. Otherwise they’re just working for us, and they’re at our mercy. Oddly enough, they don’t like that idea. Oddly enough, we do. And while it may be true that “content is king,” right now we’ve got the leverage. We’re the ones with the cool platform. We’re the ones with the hardware. They need us more than we need them. Sure, some e-reader dorks will play ball with these guys. But they won’t be Apple. As Kafka points out:

Apple for instance, refuses to even acknowledge to Time Inc. executives that it plans to produce a tablet device, let alone provide them with specs.

So it’s one big game of chicken. We’re sticking to our guns, and pushing ahead with the Tablet, and we won’t let them play in our sandbox unless they play by our rules. They’re going to hold back their content until we agree to play by their rules. And what it comes down to, really, is which seems sexier to the average consumer: a gleaming new Apple tablet that’s overflowing with a sense of childlike wonder, or Time magazine?

We’ll see who wins, but I know one thing: I like our chances.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Josh Quittner of Time magazine refutes Gizmodo report on Tablet

Brian Lam of Gizmodo reported we’re talking to publishing companies about the God Tablet. Josh Quittner of Time magazine says no way. Obviously I know who’s right, but will I tell?

Of course I won’t tell, and fuck you for asking. Fuck you, in fact, for wanting to know. When I’m ready to tell you, I’ll tell you. I will say that Quittner, who is someone I respect and admire, maybe isn’t seeing the entire picture here. Quittner says that his sources are telling him something different than what Brian’s sources are telling Brian. Guess what? I bet if you asked our old pal Gruber, he’d tell you his sources are telling him something else altogether. And the nice folks at iLounge are hearing yet another version of the story, in which we’ve designed three prototypes and one has a 7-inch screen and another has a 10.7-inch screen and we’re planning to announce it in January but it still hasn’t had final approval from Dear Leader.

Little info here, guys: We’re fucking with you. Okay? None of you has it right. I’m sorry. But you make it so goddamn easy, and we just can’t resist.

Tablet Part Two: The true significance of the Tablet

Brian Lam hints at it on Gizmodo this morning, but it’s worth a deeper explanation. Little hint: It ain’t about technology.

Here’s the money quote from Brian Lam’s Gizmodo article about how we’re trying to redefine newspapers, textbooks and magazines:

The eventual goal is to have publishers create hybridized content that draws from audio, video, interactive graphics in books, magazines and newspapers, where paper layouts would be static. And with release dates for Microsoft’s Courier set to be quite far away and Kindle stuck with relatively static e-ink, it appears that Apple is moving towards a pole position in distribution of this next-generation print content. First, it’ll get its feet wet with more basic repurposing of the stuff found on dead trees today.

Italics mine on the “hybridized content.” Because that’s the key thing here. And that’s what Brian is getting at when he talks about “redefining” newspapers and other dead-tree products.

New technology spawns new ways to tell stories. That’s the really exciting thing here. Not the tablet itself, but what it means for news, for entertainment, for literature. Gasp. Geddit? Is the fucking light going off yet? This is what Anton Chekhov meant when he said that the medium is the message. This is why the Tablet is so profound.

There is no point in moving to digital readers if we’re just going to do what we did on paper. That’s why Kindle is such a piece of shit. All they did was pave the cowpath. And that’s why we’ve held back on our Tablet — not because the technology wasn’t ready, but because the content guys are such fucktards that they still can’t create anything that makes it worth putting the Tablet into the world.

It’s stunning how few of the big guys in publishing actually understand this. We’ve invited them in for meetings, and while we’re talking we sort of give them a little quiz, in the form of a very simple question: Where do you think publishing is going? Most of them can’t see anything other than what they’ve done in the past. To them this is all just another blip, a little shift in their business, like going from black-and-white newspapers to color, or going from broadsheet to tabloid.

But that’s not it at all. We’re talking about an entirely new way to convey information, one that incorporates dynamic elements (audio, video) with static elements (text, photos) plus the ability for the “audience” to become content creators, not just content consumers.

The funny thing is that the publishing guys still consider themselves the “creative” side of the business, even though they’re the ones with no vision. In their minds, we techies are just a pack of drones. And they wonder why, in this new digital age, we’re reaping most of the financial rewards.

My guess is that the truly revolutionary content is not going to come from the old-guard publishers. It’s going to come from new guys, kids who have grown up digital. This notion of mashing together elements comes naturally to them. And somewhere out there, a genius is waiting to be discovered — the Orson Welles of digital media, someone who will create an entirely new language for storytelling. If you’re reading this, Orson Jr., please get in touch. I’ve got something I want to show you. Okay? Peace.

Tablet Part One: The biggest problem in keeping the God Tablet a secret

Thing is, we need to talk to publishing companies and line up content deals. But unlike the music companies, the a-holes in publishing can’t keep their mouths shut.

Which is how Brian Lam of Gizmodo manages to land this scarily in-depth scoop about what’s going on with the Tablet. Fair enough, Brian is a pretty amazing reporter, probably the best on the gadget-gizmo beat these days. He’s light years ahead of Goatberg and Smurfy, and what’s more, they know it, and it drives them nuts. But the real problem with the Tablet is that everyone we talk to rushes right out and tells the whole fucking world what we’re doing. Sure, they’ve all signed NDAs, with terms that allow us to sell their kids into slavery if they talk. But these aren’t human beings we’re dealing with. They’re hacks. These people have no sense of honor. Note the following quotes from Gizmodo:

Two people related to the NYTimes have separately told me that in June, paper was approached by Apple to talk about putting the paper on a “new device.”

Moshe is on it, but my guess is it’s Pogue and Damon Darlin, the tech editor.

Then this:

A person close to a VP in textbook publishing mentioned to me in July that McGraw Hill and Oberlin Press are working with Apple to move textbooks to iTunes.

Oy. Book publishers. They’re worse than the news guys. But “a person close to a VP in textbook publishing”? My bet is it’s a barista.

And this:

Apple also recently had several executives from one of the largest magazine groups at their Cupertino’s campus, where they were asked to present their ideas on the future of publishing.

That’s either Time Warner or Conde Nast. We’ve met with both, but we’re not sure who leaked. Probably Conde, via Wired, where Brian Lam used to work. Again, Moshe is on it.

But the killer comment, and the one that explains why Brian Lam is now the best tech journalist in the business, comes at the end:

The eventual goal is to have publishers create hybridized content that draws from audio, video, interactive graphics in books, magazines and newspapers, where paper layouts would be static. And with release dates for Microsoft’s Courier set to be quite far away and Kindle stuck with relatively static e-ink, it appears that Apple is moving towards a pole position in distribution of this next-generation print content. First, it’ll get its feet wet with more basic repurposing of the stuff found on dead trees today.

More on this in my next post.