Tag: Apple

Ralf HallerRalf Haller December 12, 2009

MacBook first-time user experience

On my trip to the US I could not resist the saving potential buying a MacBook. I got the lowest cost model as I did not see any real difference to a MacBook Pro and I looked into all the details. All in all with some software I saved about 500 USD compared with what I would pay in Switzerland. Not bad when the total amount was only 1500 USD.

Now after I set up all my SaaS links, imported my contacts, synced the calendar with the Mac iCal and put all my PC data onto a 2.5″ super small portable hard disk from where I will use it in the next few weeks whenever needed, I was ready to go. I did not think a VMware installation would be necessary to make the switch from Windows.

My first working experience was awesome. The screen is a beauty and so are every other detail. Hard to understand why it took me so long to switch.

The Safari browser is quite fast which is important for me since I have lots of software in the cloud. I don’t see the need for any other browser – sorry Chrome and Mozilla. Now I am thinking to maybe get MobileMe so my iPod Touch and MacBook stay automatically synced and data is stored in the cloud as well. The only thing I did linking me back to the MSFT world was to buy Office for Mac as I don’t think Apple’s office suite will guarantee 100% backwards compatibility to my long list of MSFT Office files. So that’s it. I think Apple will make life for MSFT, PC vendors and mostly mobile phone vendors a tough one in the coming years.

Ralf HallerRalf Haller October 18, 2009

Will the Verizon/Motorola Droid campaign have any impact?

To give you my opinion right away: I can’t imagine that Motorola and Verizon will by addressing some of the possible shortcomings of the iPhone ecosystem make their own Droid launch a success. Product management is more complicated than looking at  the market leader, writing down all its product specs and then simply bringing out a product that shows better features. This strategy succeeds only in a commodity market. But Apple and the iPhone, app store, iTunes ecosystem is NOT a simple product only but a thought-through end-to-end user experience product & service offering. The Motorola and Verizon folks have obviously still not understood this otherwise they would not have launched such a desperate campaign merely addressing – mostly – features. The strongest point was the openness of Google’s Android platform but also here they did a quick-and-dirty job. Not surprising knowing how desperate Motorola is these days to finally get back on track with a successful mobile phone after its long-time-ago success of the Razr.

But if you want to tackle Apple then you must take them on in a completely different way. And I think they are vulnerable because any company who is arrogant will miss opportunities or simply not do the best job possible. History has shown that over and over again. Unfortunately the Indian or Chinese style of product management, comparing spec sheet features one by one is not enough to make an impact. This has to be done differently…

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Ralf HallerRalf Haller October 10, 2009

Online shift: print industry to face same fate as music industry?

Recently I have been hearing in various places that print news were recovering, triggering comments of relief (from the newspapers) that predictions that everything was heading online were obviously not correct. I had a smile on my face when I read that, and it reminded me of a short-term assignment I had more than ten years ago with Bertelsmannn BMG in Hong Kong, where I had to plan for a data center for their AsiaPac countries. BMG was already thinking then about distributing music over the Internet and for that purpose went into the Internet access business. They formed a joint venture with – at that time market leader – AOL and even built their own country-wide access networks in Germany, as well as buying providers in other countries. Of course they did not realize that the Internet is a shared medium and it therefore did not make too much sense to buy it like a print or CD manufacturing plant.  Back to Hong Kong: as the data center did not seem to make economic sense at the time I suggested to them that I help with setting up an online music sales operation testing the waters in the AsiaPac region first (at that time dial-up was still to be found everywhere). Despite their investment into the AOL joint venture and into whole country IP networks (in Hong Kong we had the option to buy Hong Kong SuperNet, the city’s first and largest ISP) they looked quite puzzled about my offering and had one question only: how do we protect ourselves from illegal pirate downloads and distributions? My response was that there are technical methods even if not all can be protected, but most importantly we cannot sit and wait until it happens anyway. So still they turned the idea down and I moved on as well…

By now we all know what happened: a fruit company from Cupertino sells more than 50% of all music online and is taking the profits. Not only Bertelsmann BMG but all the other music labels lost the race to a company that had no idea about the music label business and its distribution at all.

So while the music industry shift online is done and one company dominates it, I am convinced we will see the same in the print media. And it looks like it might be the same fruit company eying for it. Read I. Cringley’s latest article on this, providing more background info. Interesting to read that he had the exact same experience in the print publication industry (in 1994 already) that I had in the music industry. History repeats itself, it seems, telling us that if you wait too long someone else will come and take that opportunity.

Ralf HallerRalf Haller June 9, 2009

And the truth is: iPhone 3G S with longer battery runtime

There are rumors that Apple spreads rumors prior to new product announcements itself to create buzz. What has been rumors and what is now reality you can read here. To me the three best things of the new iPhone are: higher speed (2x, PAsemi chip ?), longer battery runtime (not for 3G operations though), improved OS with many new features. Looks like that Apple has used this new product release primarily to fix some major flaws such as poor battery runtime and also added some software features such as copy/paste that the masses were annoyed about or were badly missing.

Speaking for myself, I think this is not enough news to go back to an iPhone so I will keep my iPod Touch and a super thin Samsung mobile phone with which I am doing fine. The new OS upgrade I will do of course and welcome.

Ralf HallerRalf Haller February 6, 2009

Has GSMA got something against Apple’s iPhone?

Today I received an e-mail from the GSMA Mobile World Congress organization team with information on the soon-to-start event in Barcelona (Feb. 16-19). Included was an offer for a mobile event guide that you can download to your mobile phone. As it turns out, it works for 260 mobiles incl. the Blackberry, but not the iPhone. Quite strange, in light of the iPhone being the biggest success of any product introduction in the mobile communication history (and not only there). I will check and try to find out if there are any other reasons than what I speculate in the above heading.


Make the most of the Mobile World Congress 2009 by downloading the official Event Guide for mobile devices. The guide, sponsored by Tellabs and powered by Velti, allows you to find an exhibitor, locate facilities and services, view the Congress agenda, locate halls, zones and registration areas. The guide works on a variety of handsets* and is stored as an application on your device. To download the official Mobile Event Guide simply text GUIDE to +44 7786 201 765.

*The guide is compatible with over 260 devices including BlackBerry. It is not available for the iPhone. The guide can be deleted from your mobile after the event.


Ralf HallerRalf Haller January 6, 2009

Apple “steals” ideas from Google and others and makes money with them…

Today’s keynote at the Macworld event was filled with new announcements and following it on CrunchGear in near real-time my mouth started watering and a decision that has developed over the last year came finally through: my next laptop will be a Macbook for sure. They are now light years ahead of Microsoft that I think not using a Macbook and its OS would mean a severe competitive disadvantage.

Now back to my heading. It is pretty obvious that Apple has stolen quite a few ideas from Google. The funny thing, though, is that while Google seems good at coming up with good new stuff only Apple is able to make money with it.  Google still today has “only” managed to commercialize its search and I do not think that they will ever be able to do anything else really – commercially speaking.

Here the list of things that I have seen Apple borrowing from its friends in Mountain View and others:

  • face detection in iPhoto (Picasa started that a few months ago)
  • GPS geotagging in iPhoto (a clear Google maps domain)
  • iMovie UI seems to be taken from Blackberry
  • iWork.com is clearly using ideas from Google’s iDocs
  • remote Keynote application app over Wifi on the iPhone is a copy of an existing app, i-Clickr, thanks guys!
  • over 75 million accounts linked to credit cards, aha, I can smell what is coming here soon, Amazon’s of the world fasten your seat belts

One nice thing that maybe has not been noticed as much as it should have due to its possible impact on the telecom industry: iTunes music store now works over 3G and offers the same pricing model. At last the mobile operators have a smile too on their 3G investments. Thanks, Apple.

Ralf HallerRalf Haller January 1, 2009

Best iPhone apps I came across so far…

Below a list of my currently favorite iPhone apps. There are so many iPhone apps out now that I have a hard time keeping up with all of them. In fact I am not keeping up with it. -) If you want a review of these apps check out AppVee. It seems the currently best review place that I have found at least. Some of their reviews I do not share though at all, so it is still worth checking out the apps by yourself and look for other reviews and opinions elsewhere. The lists below are in random order btw.

Worth noting is that practically all my cloud applications also have a mobile version now which I can add as bookmarks to the iPhone and they look like any other iPhone app; they have just to be launched through the bowser which happens automatically.

For Work For Fun
  • Instapaper
  • Evernote
  • fring
  • Stitcher
  • Tube (London, Paris, …)
  • Newsstand
  • Taxi Guide (Shanghai, Beijing…)
  • DianHua
  • WiFinder
  • Holidays
  • Flight Status
  • AirportStatus
  • Record
  • SBB Timetable
  • Google
  • Google Earth
  • LinkedIn
  • iCurrency
  • Easy Pasta
  • Recipes
  • Shazam
  • Wine Card
  • TV Guide
  • Word Bank (MyWords-Chinese)
  • Flashcards (Chinese characters)
  • Hanoi
  • Cocktails
  • Clubs
  • Aero Weather
  • WeatherEye
  • Stanza
  • iChillout
  • FourFree
  • Blanks
  • 20 Minuten
  • WeatherPro


Ralf HallerRalf Haller August 24, 2008

Latest secrets from the iPhone appstore

iPhone apps have catapulted the wireless mobile industry into a new millennium. Everyone will benefit: Apple of course, the app developers now having a platform to make good revenue quickly; the other wireless device vendors and developers as they now also have a path to tap into the market of the billions of mobile phone users, allowing them to profit, too, if they move fast.

  • the neutral app recommendation site www.appvee.com contains lots of copied and neutral info on iPhone apps, plus reviews. This site helps with finding your applications.
  • there are apps restricted to use in North America only: WeatherBug (temperature in Fahrenheit only), Pandora radio (does not run in Europe), AirportStatus (also keeps crashing on startup, latest: now it works!), NWA travel…
  • my favorite apps right now are (a snapshot as things change daily):
    • Evernote, great notebook that also has a website that lets you better organize and share your notes
    • MProfs, nice short marketing tips and how to stories, with some good contributions in it
    • SBB Timeplan, giving you fast access to the Swiss public transport timetables
    • 20min, free Swiss news source, best are the available news videos, I think
    • Bloomberg, this has proven to be the so far best stock market news and tracker application for me, its counterpart Swissquote lacks basic usability features, which is a shame, as otherwise they could be even better I think, so right now I’m still using Bloomberg
    • WinWeinReb, a big database in German for wine grapes, after you key in the wine grape name you get infos about its major locations and also a description of its to be expected taste, a database that gives access to the wines itself would be a great extension, hope they do that for free then too
    • AeroWeather. There are many other — it seems great — to-be-paid for tools for pilots available, but AeroWeather is for free and provides the latest reported weather at all major aiprorts worldwide, including METARs and TAFs in both raw and decoded versions: very nice tool!
    • nice stuff for just playing around: Mandarin phrase book, Cocktails, Brain Tuner, Newtons Cradle, Blanks (new English words), PangeaVR (3D panoramas), Midomi and Shazam (recognize songs)
    • more useful tools: Currency, ZIPcodes, Units, Translator, Cards, WeekNumber