AT&T, Apple Set to Expand Connected Cars

Parts of this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) could have been mistaken for an auto show, given the number of vehicles and the manner in which they were displayed. Chevrolet featured a Corvette and a connected Impala; Ford showcased the Mustang in two locations, with a full line-up of cars occupying prime hall real estate; and Audi built a glistening pod beneath which it highlighted several of its high-end vehicles.

The connected car concept is simply building on our uber addictions to be in touch, all the time, anywhere we go (the truly hooked feel a phantom buzz even when their phones are off their hips). AT&T and Apple last week announced plans that up the ante by introducing full mobile video and increased access to Apple services, respectively.

AT&T is working with QuickPlay, a cloud video firm. AT&T plans to offer live and video-on-demand, which should simulatenously decrease incidences of “are we there yet” and potentially increase incidences of distracted driving. Apple recently introduced CarPlay, which intends to use automotive integration to link Apple services such as Siri through vehicle interfaces. Apple claims CarPlay is a “smarter, safer way” to use an iPhone in a car.

How Apple Almost Lost Me

Remember the Saturday Night Live parody commercial for First Citiwide Change Bank, the bank that “just makes change”? As the bank explained,

With our experience, we’re gonna have ideas for change combinations that probably haven’t occurred to you. If you have a fifty-dollar bill, we can give you fifty singles. We can give you forty-nine singles and ten dimes. We can give you twenty-five twos . . . We are not going to give you change that you don’t want. If you come to us with a hundred-dollar bill, we’re not going to give you two-thousand nickels . . .  unless that meets your particular change needs. . .

I thought of that today when watching the Apple launch of the iPhone 5C. The 5C is a plastic clad phone that will retail for about $100 less than the standard iPhone (now the 5S). It will run iOS 7, but the news of the day from this announcement seemed almost (disappointingly) comical as Apple extolled not the technical prowess of the phone but rather that when you combine a series of new color covers, “you get this amazing combination of color between the iPhone 5C and its case . . . and you can combine them in really amazing combinations to create the exact look that you love.” I trust Apple VP of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller when he says “it’s absolutely beautiful,” though I’m less convinced of the prediction that “when you pick up and hold the iPhone 5c for the first time, you’re going to be blown away by the quality of it and how rigid and great it feels in your hand. It’s made of a hard-coated polycarbonate material that’s ideal for this incredible color.”

A rigid polycarbonate that’s ideal for color? Read more

Intel, Google, & Apple OTT Rumors Heat Up

Reports that companies such as Intel, Google and Apple are interested in getting more involved in the over-the-top (OTT) video market are nothing new. Although the companies have said little directly, rumors swirled last week that they are all stepping up their game. Perhaps it was coincidence, but last week also saw OTT heavyweight Netflix cross the line from being a content aggregator to being a serious content producer, as it received 14 Emmy nominations for its original programming.

Google, which owns YouTube, is reported to have had conversations with programmers in an attempt to create online channels that might compete with traditional cable companies. In this model, an OTT provider would stream live content in addition to making a library of shows and movies available. However, achieving licensing agreements with content owners, who already have lucrative but contentious relationships with major cable companies, would appear to be a very complicating factor.

Meanwhile, Intel is conducting tests of an OTT service based on the chipmaker’s own set-top box that is supposed to launch later this year. While Intel seems to be serious about getting into the OTT space, access to compelling programming will, of course, be key to making any kind of inroads. The company has yet to share any details about pricing, or the content it plans to provide to customers. Read more

The Hierarchy of Nerds: Blending Star Wars and Psychology

Screen-shot-2012-05-14-at-10.28.00-AM This might be one of the few D.C. trade association blogs that could open with a re-posting of a thesis  that Chewbacca was actually a highly-placed spy, and Han Solo was simply an unwitting cover for the hairy agent.  A friend of mine forwarded the post to me last year in an email saying, “My mind is officially blown. Destroyed. I can’t look at Star Wars the same way again.” If you’re a Star Wars fan, then the original post is worth a read. If you’re not, then I’ll skip to the point and propose that there are instances in which a novel approach to a common problem can open new and innovative perspectives.

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Illustration courtesy kiwi_orange_socks

About a month ago, Ben Thompson on stratechery.com proposed that Abraham Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs” can be translated to define the mobile wireless market, with specific application (no pun intended) to the iPhone. OK. That’s a mouthful, and I’ll be honest – until I saw the post, I had no idea who Maslow or what the Hierarchy of Needs were; as Clint Eastwood admitted to Rene Russo in In the Line of Fire, “I had to look it up.” But, here it is in a nutshell: Maslow, an American psychologist, proposed that basic human needs must be met before more intricate goals such as morality, problem solving and creativity can be mastered. The theory is often presented in pyramid form, with physiological needs such as breathing, eating and sleeping occupying the base layer while employment, friendship, self-esteem and confidence take roost at upper levels. Stated simply (and perhaps robbing Maslow’s observations of their elegance), property doesn’t matter if you’re not eating. Or, as Thompson notes, “until lower order needs are met, we don’t really pay attention to or pursue higher order needs.” Read more

T-Mobile Gets a Bite of the Apple

Poor T-Mobile. The carrier was left at the altar last year when merger prospects with AT&T fell through. It seems, though, that another knight has arrived to support the nation’s third-largest mobile provider.

Enter the iPhone. For the first time, T-Mobile will offer Apple products in its portfolio. This should be welcome news to those who have grappled with choosing between T-Mobile’s traditionally lower-than-others’ rates and having an iPhone.

Of course, whileT-Mobile CEO John Legere is promising that the T-Mobile Apple experience will be different, questions are arising as to whether T-Mobile’s network can support all of the iPhone’s capabilities. Still, the “i-ppearance” should assuage what Legere acknowledged was a reluctance of some customers to even walk into a T-Mobile store, even if they did not plan to by an Apple product, simply because the carrier did not offer it.

Where have I heard that before? Read more

Sorting through the Rumors, iPhone 5

After all the speculation, it turns out that the 5th generation of the iPhone will be called the iPhone 5.  According to Apple’s web site, numerous improvements have been made to the phone, which required re-engineering and modification. The new phone is 18% thinner and about 20% lighter.  It has a full four inch Retina display with a 16:9 aspect ratio and pixel count of 1136 x 640.  Apple says the screen will look better too with 44% more color saturation than its predecessor 4S.

Apple says they were able to make the phone thinner by building the touch sensors into the screen, giving it 30% less depth.  The improvement also helps cut down on screen glare. It also has a metal back with glass inlays which provides a more substantial feel, but doesn’t add a great deal of weight.

The changes go beyond the aesthetic. Read more

Rumors Galore over the New iPhone

Apple is fueling rumors about the impending release of the iPhone 5.  The media received invitations to an Apple news conference in San Fransisco on September 12.  The invitations have a picture of the number 12, with the number 5 appearing in the shadow.

Tech bloggers are burning up the internet with speculation and questions about the look, functions and name of the next iPhone.

CNet online has a mini rumor page at its web site that opened on September 4.     It speculates that the phone will be unveiled on September 12 and rollout to the public will begin on September 21

We will keep our eyes and ears open to whenever the new phone is released and try to keep you up to date on improvements, refinements and changes to the popular phone from Apple.

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