After having the iPhone 4 for a couple days it has made the pain points of the previous os abundantly clear. The two big ones: lack of unified inbox in mail and app folders. The addition of these 2 features (along with the massive speed bump from my 3G) make the phone a complete joy. But the lack of these features on the iPad make me want to groan each time I receive mail and even think about checking it or when I go in search of an app.

All this will be resolved in the next os update for the iPad, but it will be a long wait.

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There has been a lot of news regarding online advertising lately: Apple’s iAd, apple’s change to it’s developer agreement that supposedly cripples competitor ad companies from collecting analytics, Google’s purchase of AdMob, the FTC looking into both those subjects, criticism of facebook and their data gathering.

http://www.macrumors.com/2010/05/04/u-s-federal-trade-commission-looking-into-apples-iad/

http://www.macrumors.com/2010/04/15/ad-agencies-receiving-iad-details-as-apple-looks-to-hinder-rival-ad-networks/

http://gizmodo.com/5530178/top-ten-reasons-you-should-quit-facebook?skyline=true&s=i

The debate hinges on the assumption that gathering these analytics from users is extremely valuable because advertisers can target potential customers very specifically using all that information that they gather about the user.

What I want to know is if that’s true, why are the ads I see online so terrible and so off base? For all the bajillions of bytes of data they are collecting from us, why are that ads that are served up to me as relevant to me as if I were watching late night cable? On facebook I’ve got a mortgage ad (don’t need one) 4 foods to never eat ad, (meh) and get help for being cheated on ad, (er, unless the facebook analytics are privy to something I don’t know, this one is off base.) On my iphone I’ve god ads for a singles app (I’m married), for the bing app, (I already have it), and the bing app (just because Microsoft wants to pay to put a Bing banner in every app doesn’t mean ad companies are harvesting the power of user analytics.)

For all the talk and handwringing and hundreds of millions of dollars being spent on ad companies and FTC investigations, there seems to very little ability to actually do anything with this information. I think there is quite a bit of programing and engineering work to be done before advertisers are able to actually use the data to serve up ads that would really be of interest to any individual.

Apple Store Shenanegans

December 3, 2009

Dear Apple:

A couple of days ago I went to the new Apple store on the upper west side of Manhattan.Pretty.

On the main floor I asked about the PCI/SD slot in the MacBook Pro line. The PCI slot is used to attach peripherals, in my case to bring in footage from P2 cards into the computer.

First an employee told me that all MacBook Pros had SD slots now. (Incorrect info #1)When I asked why the 17 inch model had a ‘door’ covering the (larger) slot than the 15inch and 13inch, his partner said, “no the 17 inch has the pci slot and the other two have SD slots.” When I mentioned what a bummer this is for those who want the PCI slot in the 15 inch, they said apple had done research that showed that “less than 1% of users took advantage of the pci slot.”

My response to you, Apple, is this: “Less than 5% of all computers in the world are Apple. Shouldn’t you just stop making computers?” I would argue that a significant portion of Apple’s customers throughout their history (especially in lean times) have been video and audio professionals. Just like there is a good business in selling 5% of the world’s computers, there should be a business in selling the tools that professionals need. It’s the ability of apple products to push innovation by users that in my mind has helped keep apple relevant.

It seems to me that this has been a trend with you guys over the last few years. Now that you’ve had a taste of the mass market in your iPod’s and iPhone’s, you’re starting to see the apeal of Lowest Common Denominator thinking. PC makers have been thinking this way from the beginning, but Apple seemed to pride themselves on ‘thinking different.’ I’ve read that NO focus groups or other market ‘testing’ was done on the iMac or it’s add campaign; now customer ‘surveys’ show people prefer shiny screens instead of matte ones and sd slots to PCI, so… Give ’em what they want.

I was also at your store looking for some accessories. Downstairs where the accessories live, I couldn’t find an employee to ask about cables and headphones. They were mostly working with customers at ‘one-on-one’ instruction tables. Despite 10 minutes of walking around the floor and up to employees who weren’t with customers but who were talking amongst themselves, none asked if I needed anything.

I finally asked someone behind the register counter for help, but it became clear that she didn’t know what an RCA cable was and whether they had any in stock other than the $25(!?) one I had found myself. (She tried looking it up on Apple’s web site but didn’t have much luck. I told her not to bother as I could do that myself at home). She also didn’t know the details about bluetooth implementation in the iphone; specifically whether the iphone supported stereo bluetooth connections. (She said they do not (incorrect info #2); apple’s website says they do. ) I wanted to know why some bluetooth stereo headsets you were selling in the store came with a plug in module to attach to the iphone/ipod touch if the iphone supported stereo bluetooth in the first place. So all in all, not a very impressive performance by the apple store employees in my experience.

Maybe because it’s a new store you still have to get everyone up to speed. Here’s to hoping.