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Mac Bloggers Muse on Microsoft, Cringe at Karl, Prep to Fall Out of Love

By Chris Maxcer MacNewsWorld ECT News Network
Mar 28, 2008 4:00 AM PT

Even though this is has been one of the few weeks of 2008 when Apple hasn't introduced a new product, Apple-focused blog activity has hardly slowed down.

Mac Bloggers Muse on Microsoft, Cringe at Karl, Prep to Fall Out of Love

Instead, it's thriving on 3G iPhone order rumors, more software developer kit (SDK) talk, Karl Rove, Samsung's South Korea Anycall Haptic launch, the arrival of Photoshop Elements for Mac 6, and the notion that someday most everyone may actually hate Apple.

Running With a Rumor

The iPod Observer interviewed Gartner analyst Ken Dulaney, who mentioned there are some 3G iPhone rumors running around Asia. Perhaps, according the rumors, Apple may have ordered a second batch of iPhones -- to the tune of 10 million 3G-based models. The story was a brief four paragraphs, with only two graphs noting the rumor, but it managed to spark the attention of other blogs and media outlets and led to some stories using headlines that implied that Gartner said Apple made the order as though it was a confirmed fact.

Manufacturers will sometimes place orders in advance so that suppliers can get ready for manufacturing by lining up, in turn, their own suppliers and raw materials. A 3G iPhone set for delivery this year is hardly news -- AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson already commented on that last year. The 10 million figure seemed to grab attention, but then again, Nokia just said it would ship 35 million phones with global positioning systems (GPS) this year, and last year the company sold approximately 437 million phones.

The iPod Observer story also covered speculation over a 3G iPhone using an Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) screen and the EDGE-based iPhone's expectations in Europe. Overall, the original iPod Observer post garnered only a handful of comments, but it managed to pick up hundreds on other sites. Many expressed excitement over the rumor; others jabbed at it.

"I hope this is true! I'm holding out for a 3G iPhone for the data rates. I need it to come out sooner rather than later so that I don't crack beforehand!!!" commented johnnyjibbs on the post on the subject.

As for OLED, Gartner's Dulaney has been predicting that a future generation of iPhone would likely use an OLED screen. "OLED is thinner and takes less battery power," he told MacNewsWorld. "It would be the kind of breakthrough Apple likes," he added.

Part of the appeal of an OLED screen is to help offset the increased battery drain that comes with 3G chipsets. Either way, 3G is coming this year, which brings up the issue of cellular service and 3G coverage.

AT&T Expanding Its Map

In February, AT&T said it would expand its 3G wireless service to more than 80 additional cities in the United States throughout the course of 2008. The planned expansion is expected to deliver AT&T 3G services to nearly 350 leading U.S. markets by the end of 2008, AT&T said, including all of the top 100 U.S. cities. It will come with an additional 1,500 cell sites nationwide.

The blog, however, points out that 3G service won't be available in large portions of many Western and some mid-western states -- presumably the less urban areas -- and it cites the AT&T coverage map, which shows which cities have 3G service.

"There are many anecdotal reports of spotty coverage and areas that do not yet have AT&T 3G networks, even though both Sprint and Verizon Wireless have deployed their own 3G networks in those locations," David Chamberlain, a principal wireless analyst for In-Stat, told MacNewsWorld. "However, I don't think this is a big deal in the U.S.," he said.

"First of all, the 3G iPhone is probably intended for all world markets, not just the U.S. Apple sells iPhones all around the world, right? In many places, there is no EDGE -- or limited access to EDGE -- but plenty of 3G," he explained. "Western Europe and Japan spring instantly to mind ... both are pretty hot markets for the iPhone and both have lots of 3G and comparatively little EDGE compared with the U.S. Japan and Korea both have 3G ... but neither have EDGE," he added.

Microsoft Develops for iPhone

An article in Fortune describing Microsoft's examinations of the iPhone SDK and how the company could produce software for it also generated some buzz among bloggers.

Microsoft, which produces the popular Microsoft Exchange e-mail set of solutions for businesses -- and which iPhone 2.0 will support -- should be able to bring enterprise e-mail focused solutions to market. While some commenters expressed obvious disdain for Microsoft, other expressed interest in Office-related solutions as well as a good deal of surprise.

"What I find most interesting about this whole thing, is that MS might be coming out with products that will help to seriously damage the chances of their own phone product, a product they consider to be very important," noted melgross on the post on the subject.

Karl Rove Generates Ugh and Eww

Political affiliations aside, Karl Rove generated some humorous blog posts when it came to light that he owns both an iPhone and a MacBook Air, which he said in an interview on changed his life -- "I have a shred of coolness," he said.

Fake Steve, posting on The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs, called Rove the "architect of evil" in a post titled "Karl Rove raves about his iPhone. Ugh."

Pete Mortensen, in a post called "Karl Rove Loves His iPhone and MacBook Air. EWW!" on the Cult of Mac blog, cut to the chase: "You know, I'm mostly proud to be associated with everyone else who loves Macs. I've got my problems with Rush Limbaugh, but he's done plenty to make people realize that Macs aren't just for left-wing latte-sipping liberals from San Francisco like myself. A little balance to the card never hurt a bit."

Most commenters seemed to enjoy the post, but it's hard to say if they too are "left-wing latte-sipping liberals." Some, though, expressed anger at seeing a politically slanted post while others, like Dan, brought the issue back to Apple: "Apple products rock. You don't have to be a democrat to get that," he noted.

Samsung Gets Touchy Feely

Samsung Electronics launched a new touch-screen phone in South Korea that looks remarkably similar to the iPhone but comes with a cutting-edge technology the iPhone doesn't have -- a new sense of feel. The phone is the Anycall Haptic, and it uses 22 kinds of vibration to provide tactile feedback to a user's hand or fingers.

Samsung hasn't promoted the Anycall Haptic anywhere but in South Korea, and details have been scarce, but that didn't stop bloggers from speculating on the product.

"This is probably one of those features that 90% of people on here will hate unless Apple include it in a future iPhone. Then it will become the best thing a phone could ever have," noted Phil A. on the post on the subject.

In response, inkswamp wrote, "Sure, but in most cases, Apple tends to take an idea like this and put that additional layer of spit and polish on it that really turns it from a neat idea or a novelty into something indispensible. That's really all the iPod was. They took the mp3 player, which had been made by many others at that point and was barely more than a niche market, and did it the way it should have been done."

Haptics: A Vibrating Wave of the Future?

One of the downsides to using a touch-screen keyboard, for example, is the lack of tactile feedback. Pushing a letter on a screen produces nothing more than the feeling of pressure on glass, and if the sound is turned off -- for example, on an iPhone -- the only other feedback is sight. Might haptics be a wave of the future for touch screen phones? Might they someday provide the feel of real keys?

"I'm absolutely not convinced that vibration will make up for a real keyboard in the enterprise -- it won't -- but on the consumer side, those among us who are younger will likely be able to acclimate themselves to feeling a click -- the vibration," Tony Rizzo, director of mobile software analysis for The 451 Group, told MacNewsWorld.

"What vibration still doesn't solve, however -- and this is key -- is the physical presence you get with a real keyboard -- that is, you know where the five key is even if you can't see it," he explained.

Photoshop Elements 6 for the Mac Finally Ships

Several bloggers announced that Adobe's Photoshop Elements 6 for the Mac photo editing software shipped this week. A version for Windows was available in September, and Mac users were totally passed over for a version 5, so this release was a long time coming.

The product ships with a new interface, new photomerging wizards for group shots of people, guided edits for newbies and much more. The biggest issue for those commenting on blog posts seemed to come from those who'd preorded the product online but then didn't immediately receive it on the day it started hitting the retail channels.

Someday You'll Hate Apple, Too

The shortest yet perhaps most powerful item in this week's Mac blog safari comes courtesy of the Apple section of Slashdot. A single paragraph spawned hundreds of responses. Zonk made the post, quoting jfruhlinger, who was in turn referring to Don Reisinger's column, "Even Apple will be hated one day."

"Think today's world, where Apple is the innovative underdog, Google is the company that does no evil, and Microsoft sits atop its throne as ruler of an evil empire. Will this state of affairs last forever? You must not remember the days when everybody loved that scrappy upstart Bill Gates," notes the Slashdot post before quoting Reisinger:

"It's that same [level of] success and its own questionable privacy practices that will lead to Google's PR downfall and propel it into a position of disdain going forward. Trust me, the future of Apple and Google may look bright from an economic standpoint, but these companies will be hated one day too. Sad, but true."

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