Today, Rachel Whetstone, Google's senior vice president of communications and policy, asks what has been on my mind since a stunning scoop set the Wall Street Journal against the Federal Trade Commission and the search and information giant. As I explained in an analysis of the news reporting, the story is flush with insinuation and veiled accusation, bereft of context.
Among my more serious concerns: Journal-parent News Corp's ongoing tug-a-war with Google's business model and its impact on paid content. Both entities likely would benefit by any means that trustbusters could crimp Google. The scoop's timing and tone look like they intend to influence European Union public policy. Ms. Whetstone's response is brilliant, because it gets to the point: Conflict of interest taints the Journal's credibility and impartiality. She rightly observes: "We understand you have a new found love of the regulatory process, especially in Europe".
Behind buying polls there are as many questions as answers, like: "How many people saying they will buy X, really will?" Oftentimes the number wanting something and actually getting it are usually much less than tallied results indicate. Considering those caveats, our Apple Watch buying poll nevertheless illuminates how the device could be hugely successful even from a small number of sales. I do mean big.
Among the more than 1,100 respondents, as I write, 19 say they will buy Apple Watch Edition, which price ranges from $10,000 to $17,000. Assuming they all purchase and do so on the cheap, the math is easy: $190,000. Another 482 people want either of the other two models (Sport and standard Apple Watch). for $216,618 calculated at base prices of $349 and $549, respectively. The closeness of these two total dollar figures, possible profit margins behind them, and differences per-customer profits are ghastly.
As Apple Watch hype increases and the preorder date (April 10) approaches, a question gnaws me: Why would anyone spend so much money on the device? Our BetaNews buying poll now exceeds 1,000 responses, which is large enough sample-size to get some sense of the readership's intentions. Fourteen (2 percent) of you plan to buy the Edition model, which price ranges from $10,000 to $17,000. No disrespect, but talk about money to burn! Forty-five percent of respondents plan to purchase any Apple Watch, while another 5 percent of you are undecided.
So I wonder: What could you buy instead of Apple Watch? I intentionally single out the big spenders, settling on $13,000 as mean between $10K and $17K, being it's such a lucky number and Apple looks to make lots of luck—eh, money—from the smartwatch. Before continuing, an important reminder: Functionally, there is no difference between the cheapo timepiece ($349) and its massively-expensive sibling. The price difference is all bling.
When isn't a cell phone too big? The Motorola-made, Google-branded phablet answers that question for me, and may very well for you. From Samsung's introduction of the original Note, I scoffed at large-screen smartphones—and, honestly, the seemingly stereotypical gadget geeks using them. But big is better, and my arrogant attitude about phablets and the people buying them was unwarranted.
Simply stated: Nexus 6 is the best handset I have ever used. The experience is so fresh and delightful, the emotional reaction reminds of using the original iPhone that I purchased on launch day in June 2007. N6 shatters my negative preconception about phablets, particularly unwieldiness when used daily. That said, I made some lifestyle changes, including choice of clothing, to accommodate the mobile's massive size.
The first day of Spring is upon us, and Google celebrates with free offers to anyone buying Chromecast from today through April 19. The freebies arrive as Apple tries to whip up sales of its streaming set-top box by exclusively offering HBO NOW starting April 10. Apple TV sells for $69, but Chromecast for $35—and Google's goody box is valued at $80.
To 3 free months of Play Music and DramaFever add: One free Play Movies rental, 1 month free Qello Concerts, and 3 months free Sesame Street GO. You can find the offers here. These are for the U.S. market, and the goodies may not be the same in each of the 16 countries where Google offers any.
My family plays musical computers today, as mom receives my wife's Toshiba Chromebook 2—to replace the end-of-life original Microsoft Surface RT. Last week, my beloved took possession of my Google Pixel after I received the newer model, released on March 11.
While writing the above paragraph, my mother phoned to let me know the laptop arrived. "Oh do I like this Toshiba! This can't be a 13-inch screen. It seems so much bigger". The reaction is more than just because of the move from the RTs 11.6-inch panel. Among the Chrome OS category, the Toshiba's screen is exceptionally bright, and crisp, setting it apart from every model other than Google's own.
Meet the new Microsoft. Maybe the company really charts a new course under CEO Satya Nadella's leadership. Colleague Mark Wilson reports that even software pirates can upgrade free to Windows 10. Seriously? Reward the thieves who rob revenue from the platform's cradle? Hand robbers sacred possessions at the door? Give them the house keys and ask them to lock up after they take the tellie, silver, and jewelry?
Outstanding! I really am not being sarcastic, just pretending to be. The strategy is simply brilliant and too long coming, assuming nothing changes before Windows 10's summer release or Microsoft clarifies licensing rules to mean something different. Without even stressing a single synapse I can conjure up more good reasons for the upgrade plan than the fingers on my hands. But I'll keep the list a bit shorter for this post.
There is still time, and we need more responses to get a representative sample of BetaNews readers. The question is easy: Will you buy Apple Watch? Preorders begin April 10 and sales start on April 24. Prices range from $349—please excuse my spitting out coffee—to $17,000.
As I post, the majority of respondents, 46 percent, don't plan to buy any smartwatch. About that finding, I am not the least surprised, given limitations like battery life, smartphone tethering, and functional overlap. Twenty-four percent plan to buy another smartwatch, while 14 percent say no for other reasons. That works out to 84 percent in the No category. The remaining 16 percent is no smaller number, assuming intentions materialize into purchases, particularly considering how costly is Apple Watch.
The second of three Friday 13ths was definitely a lucky day. Near Noon, FedEx delivered the Chromebox Pixel 2015, which I set up late afternoon. Nearly 24 hours later, time is right for some immediate reactions before my eventual full review. My perspective presented here is two-fold: General first impressions for anyone combined with what are the benefits for existing Pixel owners. For many of the latter group, I say this: Consider your budget and needs wisely. What you've got may be more than good enough.
For everyone else, I will contradict the majority of reviewers, and even Google. Pixel is not a computer for developers or limited number of laptop users. Anyone shopping for a quality notebook that will last years should consider the new Chromebook, most certainly if looking at any MacBook model or Windows PC, such as Surface Pro 3. Everyone living the Google lifestyle who can afford a laptop in this price range should consider nothing else. Now let's get to the drill down, point by point. There are 13, for no other reason than my receiving the laptop on the unluckiest day.
As the dust settles from this week's big Apple reveal, one question lingers: Who gains more from exclusive distribution of new streaming service HBO NOW? I don't know what the device maker paid for the privilege, but big benefits belong to it. I wonder: What were HBO executives thinking by tying the service's early destiny to a single platform during telecast of the popular Game of Thrones series?
Particularly for cord-cutters who don't have Apple TV, iPad, iPhone, or iPod and want GoT Season 5 the choice is simple: Buy ATV for 69 bucks or spend more on another device capable of running HBO's iOS app—or steal! Three days ago my colleague Alan Buckingham, who owns no fruit-logo products and cord-cuts, wrote that he might get the streaming box. Today I asked if he really plans to buy Aople TV. "I haven't yet, but I likely will", he says.
Bias in the media is inevitable, and any news gatherer who denies this fact is a liar. Companies seek favor or to influence in countless ways. It's the nature of the beast, which cannot be tamed. So I wonder how Chromebook Pixel embargoes impacted reporting about Apple's newest laptop. If so, Google pulled off one hell of a marketing coup.
The search and information giant provided many tech blogs and news sites with the new Pixel about a week before the laptop launched yesterday and the first reviews posted—that was also days before Apple's well-publicized media event where a new MacBook was rumored. Both computers share something in common: USB Type-C, which is bleeding-edge tech. The connector received much media attention on Monday and Tuesday two ways: Buzz about it being the next great thing, and MacBook having but one port (Pixel has two, and others).
Two new laptops launched this week, both pioneering USB-C and packing 12-inch displays. The likenesses stop there, and the distinctions can't be overstated. One computer you can buy now, the other comes next month. Should you consider either? My primer will help you decide.
Apple unveiled the new MacBook, which measures 1.31 centimeters at its thickest and weighs less than a kilogram, two days ago. Sales start April 10. This morning, Google launched the second-generation Chromebook Pixel, which is immediately available for purchase. Both laptops adopt USB Type-C for power and, using adapters, hooking up to other devices. USB-C puts both computers at the bleeding edge for charging and connectivity, But their approach to ports couldn't be more different.
Across tech sites and forums there are rumbling complaints about Apple choosing to provide just one port on the 12-inch MacBook and the compromises the design presents. The flawed approach is much bigger, and the laptop line has been this way before—where thinning down means giving up something many users want, which is why I am so surprised that little of the discussion focuses on the original MacBook Air.
Stated simply before the long explanation: If you don't mind paying $1,299 or $1,599 for the performance equivalent of a souped-up tablet, running OS X but lacking touchscreen, Apple's tiny laptop is a good choice. Otherwise, stop whining and buy something else. There is no shortage of choices in the slim-and-portable category.
Today's splashy media event takes Apple back to its roots (no pun intended). For example, the new MacBook, which weighs less than a kilogram (2.2 pounds) and is 1.31 centimeters at its thickest, reminds of the design and engineering qualities that made iPod nano so breathtaking and innovative 10 years ago in September. Apple CEO Tim Cook paid a little homage to predecessor Steve Jobs when remarking about the laptop: "Can you even see it?" Small size mattered when Jobs unveiled the nano, too.
Innovation—and nothing resembling the cliché overuse of the word today—went into iPod nano and was demonstrated this morning in the new MacBook, which goes on sale April 10, starting at $1,299. Lust-worthy design is an Apple prerogative that is core to today's crop. But there is much more: Real cohesion around an Apple vision long lost in the distraction of Steve Jobs' illness and death and the transition that followed.
The long-hyped smartwatch from the maker of iPhone is now official. Apple takes preorders from April 10, and sales start 14 days later. For all the hype, the price is what really distinguishes the device, which will be available in aluminum, stainless steel, and solid gold—with the latter selling for minimum $10,000.
Apple Watch Sport is the lower-cost option in 38mm and 42mm cases, starting at $349 and $399, respectively. Apple Watch ranges from $549 to $1,049. Apple Watch Edition is the pricey one starting at $10K. At launch, the wristwear will be available in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, United Kingdom, and the United States. Today's big question: Will you buy one? And which?