: Is this thing on? Oh it's on.
I've got one of them here, of our boy Derrick (really?), eating his toast. Really. By itself, it's not much. Unless you're Derrick or love toast. But it's part of an online mystery unspooling around the iPhone.
Quite the saga behind this. The Mobile Guerilla had been searching online for "taken with an Apple iPhone." Good for MG! This one of Derrick was the first of two posted to Flickr, marked private, then removed. I'm still not exactly clear what happened from there to make them public, if obscure. But whatever it was, I came across them, which means they weren't all that hard to find.
Although getting harder. One of the Flickr pages had a comment that I was going back to bookmark, but even the comments have been deleted now. Eerie.
[Update: found this in the Google cache, although it too may be gone by the time you get there. This, btw, is where I found out that the name of the dude eating toast is Derrick.
Now, for what it's worth, the iPhone-ishness of the image was "verified" by the EXIF info, which can of course be edited...but here it is:
Camera: Apple iPhoneAperture: f/2.8Orientation: Rotated 90 degrees clockwise [which means the image was saved to disk horizontally oriented, but rotated in the phone, i think]Date and Time: 2007:04:21 10:23:45Color Space: sRGBTag::EXIF::0xA500: 11/5Compression: JPEGImage Width: 1600 pixelsImage Height: 1200 pixels
Okay, so how'd the photos get taken in the first place? Has to be a hoax, right? Well, no. Somebody at Apple's been testing it of course. And the taker of the pictures is indeed someone at Apple...or so it seems.
The Flickr page with the second photo, also deleted, had a comment from a visitor, also deleted, but copied in a comment elsewhere: "The Flickr account however belongs to an individual who can be tracked down to a LinkedIn profile which reveals that they are a Program Manager at Apple in the Consumer Electronics industry." I took a gander at her LinkedIn profile, and that is indeed what it says. So there ya go.
Of course, since her profile is private, she might be funnin' us all the way across the board. Maybe she's just good at Photoshop (not all the EXIF fields are easily or obviously edited), and her boy Derrick just dig toast. Which is probably the case, hoax or not.
Then again, maybe she works at Apple. It's happened that Apple (like every company you know) has had a "leak" that they've had to "plug," intended all along to say exactly what it said. In this case, that the iPhone is very much on the way, demonstrated with a feature that we've not previously seen in action.
All of that said, I truly hate phones with cameras. Many companies won't allow them on the premises (too easy to document and disseminate things that shouldn't be), ditto gyms (same reason), and one of my favorite pastimes, movie sneak previews (hey, same reason, although this one's especially stupid. The movie's going to be in 1500 theaters in two days! BTW, I'm not a supa-dupa secret insider any more, just an Entertainment Weekly subscriber.) I've even gotten turned away from some concerts, although fewer as time goes by. In any case, I got tired of having to put my phone in a bag at the door...or just flat being turned away...so no camera phones for me.
And I'm sure there's an amount of money that can get me to switch to Cingular...but nobody has offered me that much yet.
So let's say that ain't you, babe. Don't forget that you can register at Cingular to be notified by email when it's ready.
PS. My favorite thing about the iPhone is something that didn't come from Apple, but from Jeff Han and the geniuses at Cornell.
PPS. The saga of iPhone sneak previews continues to continue, although this one's a Photoshop job.
It's the George Foreman iGrill, model number GIPOD200. (Did I miss the 100 model?) Okay, on closer examination, it's a George Foreman grill that you can plug more or less any MP3 player into. But the ad and the model name namecheck iPod by name. Built in speakers and amp, too. Gotta love that. You could go to George's site to see it yourself, but I've been thoughtful enough to save you the trip by pasting the picture here:
My favorite part is "Knockout tunes! Knockout the fat!" at the bottom.
He's such a sweet guy now...and maybe he was a sweet guy then...but I've never seen anybody hit harder than George Foreman in his prime.
Uhm, you kids know he was a boxer, right?
One of his biggest fights, the one documented as "The Rumble in the Jungle" in the fantastic documentary "When We Were Kings," resulted in a hard loss to then-underdog Muhammed Ali -- one of only 5 in a career that included 68 knockouts in 76 fights. These weren't against palookas either -- back then, heavyweight championships meant something serious. These guys were arguably the most respected athletes in the world.
One of George's most famous victories came in the first HBO boxing transmission, with Howard Cosell's call becoming, as Wikipedia reminds us, one of the most famous of all time: "Down goes Frazier!, Down goes Frazier!, Down goes Frazier!" George knocked him down 6 times, with the last blow actually lifted Frazier's feet off the floor. Gotta give our man Joe credit for getting up all six times before the fight was declared a technical knockout. Another non-palooka: "Smokin' Je" Frazier knocked Ali out in the 11th round in "The Fight of The Century," which I think probably was...although I didn't see them all.
Since he retired, my favorite thing about George isn't the grill. It's that he named all five of his sons....George.
BTW, little known fact about me: I used to box. Loved it. Nothing brings clarity like being punched in the face. A finite number of times I suppose.
A few weeks back, I wrote extensively about the EMI/Steve Jobs press conference, as well as the DRM establishment's response. Check it out if you haven't. It's really good stuff, and not just because I wrote it.
Well, here's the rest of the story, or at least as much of it as I accidentally found this morning.
Here again is the transcript of the press conference with EMI Group chief executive Eric Nicoli and Jobs. You'll find that Steve does much of the talking (surprised?), but both guys come off as smart, funny and self-deprecating. A nice read.
Of course, you'll want to hear it yourself. So allow me to present an MP3 of the press conference!
And because you're a glutton for this stuff, here are the slides in PDF form. How cool is that?
On one hand, the slides don't actually say much at all. That's the point. You kids out there? Don't do drugs. And don't put a pile of crap on slides!!! That point-by-point build nonsense? Strictly for amateurs. Don't ever, ever, ever do it. Seriously. Give people a big pretty picture to look at, then tell 'em a story.
If you give them a slide with a lot of bullet points, they'll read 'em fast, assume that this is all you have to say about it (especially if you read even one line aloud to them), and stop listening. It's a waste of time for everyone.
But if you show them a pretty picture, they'll immediately turn back to you, breathless, waiting for you to tell them what it means. You think I'm kidding about this? I'm not. Pay attention to El Jobso. He won't lead you astray.
Okay, slides rant over. But I have plenty of other stories to tell on the subject some other day. For now, back to fun with DRM, EMI, Apple, etc.
Not long after the original press conference, EMI Senior Vice President Jeanne Meyer did a great follow-up interview with bloggers at The Download Squad. (In case you were wondering, bloggers do indeed carry enough weight to get VPs from multinational companies to sit down with them. I suspect that the Download Squad strategy included just asking. So if there's some heavyweight you want to interview for your blog, just ask.)
Here are some choice bits:
The reason we decided to go with a DRM free version was because of the lack of interoperability between the various stores and devices were becoming too confusing and too frustrating.
So it turns out that EMI's strategy was based, at least in part, on the limitations of the iPod/iTunes closed architecture! Read it again. It's her point not mine, but I'm surprised we missed this before.
Not that she's singling out iTunes, though:
It will allow any retailer to sell our music to the owner of an iPod for example, not just iTunes, at the same time it will allow iTunes to sell music for people to buy for use on any number of different digital music devices and in fact mobile phones.
This quote might be the most interesting to me:
When we offered DRM free in an standard format next to a DRM free but with a higher bitrateand priced a little higher consumers on a ten to one basis went for the premium product.
I'm totally in the majority on that count, but I'll be interested to see how it holds up. On the one hand, the MP3/MP4 format is a testament to how little sound quality matters when compared to convenience. (CDs are too, for that matter.) But when higher quality is every bit as convenient? Maybe.
Also worth remembering: that the average number of tracks that iPod owners buy through iTunes is 20. Twenty. But let's put it this way. Say every iPod is responsible for just a single download of higher quality, non-DRM music that they wouldn't have bought anyway. So 100 million times $1.29 equals....where's my pencil?....$129 million dollars. I'll take it.
She also notes, as Steve did, that nearly all music currently sold has no DRM. Even if every downloaded track had no DRM, it would account for far less than 10% of overall music sales. Which begs the question, what was the fuss in the first place? Anyhoo.....
Two last updates, one new and one old. The new one first. Steve says no dice on the subscription model for iTunes. ""Never say never, but customers don't seem to be interested in it," he says, "People want to own their music." Hard to argue.
On the other hand (I'm saying that a lot, aren't I?), I watch whatever it is, 20 or 30 hours a week watching subscription TV (okay, closer to 40 once you throw in Red Sox games), and maybe 2-4 hours a month watching DVDs I own. So all the hoop-de-doo about subscriptions being the wrong model is nonsense to me. Subscription models have been proven again and again. We just don't have the right model of the right model yet.
Wait! The whole XM thing is the perfect evidence that subscription models for music do work well enough for a sizable and fast-growing audience. And radio's ratings are up while TV's are down. So there. You don't have to either own music or steal it to listen to it.
Now here's the old "update." Folks as old as me will remember when Real Audio was the coolest thing ever. Cooler than QuickTime, by a long, long shot. (Not that QuickTime could stream then. Could it?) Rob Glaser seemed like a stud because, when Apple was adrift and a non-player, he left Microsoft with the express purpose of kicking MS's ass...which for streaming media, he totally did...uhm, until...well, I'm not sure when. But sometime around when they became RealNetworks, Real became (or was revealed as?) the lowest quality, most invasive annoyance on the net. Am I wrong about this?
Anyway, here's Rob at the end of 2005 saying that the iPod's reign is going to fade "closer to 2 years than 10" (although he makes an interesting analogy with Apple's computer market share sliding from 40% to less than 4% at the time of the interview), the reason the subscription model isn't getting traction is that most people steal their music (what?), and using Lynyrd Skynyrd as an example of why Real's Rhapsody music subscription service is the coolest. I was going to say it's hilarious and provocative in equal measure....but it's more like 75% hilarious, 10% provocative, and 10% "huh?" and 5% sad for anyone who remembers when Real was cool. But you'll dig the interview. Maybe a lesson to never say anything about anything about the future in print, even online, because you'll almost certainly look like an idiot later.
Speaking of which, where's my dang rocket car? Didn't somebody say we'd have rocket cars by now?
George Ou over at Real World IT talks about his quest for a universal power adapter. Wouldn't it be loverly? Then he observes that USB is becoming the new standard for charging devices including iPods and other portable music players, portable GPS, and an increasing number of phones. All true. He leaves out PDAs and portable gaming devices like PSP and Game Boy.
Then he says, Now all I need is a single cigarette to USB adapter and a single 110 V to USB adapter where ever I travel and I don't need to worry about forgetting a proprietary adapter.
Done and done, my man. I've had USB-charged devices for 3 years, and have found all kinds of goodies. The exact chargers that George is talking about have been around well longer than that. (Yes, you can find white ones designed to work your iPod, for which you'll pay way, way too much.)
After trying the offerings from a handful of vendors, I highly recommend Boxwave. Here's the link for the wall adapter, which I've used more often than I can count in the last three years. The same page has links to other handy devices, including a USB adapter for cigarette lighters.
My very, very favorite device is the miniSync retractable USB cable. The one I have both connects my iRiver "multi-codec jukebox" to my computer and charges it at the same time. There are similar cables for every USB iPod, and even the iPhone. Again, I've used my USB chargers more times than I can count. Even if it's just a few minutes in the car, or a few minutes from a spare laptop, I can keep going.
Since my iRiver has a dandy built-in mic that records to both MP3 and WAV (among others), I've used it for interviews at tradeshows (easy enough to slip the USB connector into any laptop, especially the ones at the Apple booth -- shhhhh!) I've also used it in press briefings, plugged into the interviewee's laptop.
The most life-saving feature is drawing power for a phone over USB. I'll bet you've been in situations where your phone is dead, your laptop has juice, but the phone number you need is on your cellphone. Connect the phone to the laptop, and you're back in business.
Of course, for regular travel, this also means that the only adapter I need is for the laptop. I can charge both a music player and a phone from a USB adapter the size of a 50-cent piece....if you're old enough to remember those...which means you're probably old enough not to say "fitty" every time you pronounce 50.
There are a ton of these little adapters that handle USB 2.0 transfers from the Canon XL-1, hundreds of digital cameras, and much more.
Anyway, Boxwave has a ton of such things: replacement styli for Palm and Treo; dual Firewire-USB adapters for car, wall, and planes; high-quality retractable earbuds (no more tangles!); international power adapters, and on and on. They're cheap, fast, and a pleasure to deal with: the road warrior's best friend since Odwalla Superfood juice.
Not a paid spokesman, just a satisfied customer.