Thursday, September 30, 2010

5 Reasons the Media Cover Apple So Much

A study published Monday drew on a host of metrics to conclude something we all already knew: The media covers Apple more than any other company.

In the past year, headlines about Apple took up 15.1 percent of tech news coverage, while articles about Google constituted about 11.4 percent, and a meager 3 percent were about software giant Microsoft, according to the Pew Research Center study.

Guilty as charged.

Here at we confess that we write about Apple more than any other company. Cuff us. But first, hear our reasons why we opt to cover the big A more than its rivals.

Apple delivers

Talk all the trash you want about the iPhone lacking Flash or the iPad being unable to print (until November). Apple delivers on products and then talks about them — exactly the reverse of the way most tech companies work.

If you put yourself in the shoes of a tech journalist for just a few months, you’ll undoubtedly write about company after company who promises some sort of awesome new technology “coming soon.” You publish, you sit, you wait, and often times that product never comes into existence — or if it does, it flops miserably. Examples include the Plastic Logic Que, Microsoft Courier, and HP Slate.

Apple’s culture of secrecy can be frustrating when journalists want answers to questions about public concerns, but holding off on product news until it’s ready for prime time works well for Apple. When Steve Jobs finally talks about a new product, it’s finished and ready to ship. It’s a lot easier (and less meaningless) to write about things that happen — objects that are real that we can hold in our hands — as opposed to imaginary “products” that may never appear in stores.

Apple creates strong stories

When Apple releases a product or announces a piece of news, the company tells a story in a well organized, neatly cohesive way. In his famous keynotes, Jobs introduces products with a slideshow presentation punctuated with colorful adjectives and active verbs, and he sometimes throws in a story to explain the history leading up to the product. Duly, some communications specialists have hailed Jobs’ presentations as the best in the world.

Compare this strategy with Google’s. After the search giant released a few well-baked products like Google Mail and Google Search, the corporation splintered off into a flurry of departments with ambitious engineers that seem to announce a new project every day, without giving us a clear understanding of why any of this stuff exists. Take Google Wave, for example: What was that all about? Even after its death, we still don’t really know what it was.

Or even take a look at Samsung’s eyebrow-raising strategy with the Galaxy Tab. First the company announces the Tab exists, then slowly it rolls out news about carriers, and eventually we’ll hear about pricing. This sporadic storytelling results in a series of small dips in the pool of tech news, which is never quite as powerful as Apple’s big splash.

Apple takes design seriously

Apple’s extreme vanity about design sometimes requires customers to pay a premium, but it works well as a marketing tool. Make pretty stuff and journalists can take pretty pictures for their readers. Build a reputation of designing products that work very well, and the media will scrutinize you for every little flaw. Whether it’s good or bad press, Apple’s design philosophy naturally generates a lot of coverage in the media.
Apple has a well-planned ecosystem of products

Apple has gradually built an ecosystem of services, software and hardware that all come together in a way that’s easy for consumers to understand. iTunes sells music and videos that run on Macs, iPods and iOS devices, along with apps that run on the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. By creating a friction-free, cohesive experience, anyone who’s an Apple customer — including journalists who write about Apple — knows what it means to be an Apple customer.

As a result, each product or service becomes a sub-brand that’s instantly recognizable to anyone who’s even touched an Apple product. Again, the end result is that Apple’s carefully refined ecosystem is easier to write about for a mainstream audience.

Readers demand Apple news

Perhaps as a result of all the aforementioned reasons, readers want to know about Apple more than any other company. Our most-searched term is usually “iPhone,” and Apple stories are often among our best-read tech stories. We don’t know for sure, but we’re guessing other tech writers and editors see the same thing happening with their Apple stories, too.

Bottom line: We write Apple stories because you, our readers, want to read them.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Google’s Vision of the Future? Bicycle Meets Monorail

Pity the future.

Two years ago Google launched the 10^100 project to give millions to fund ideas that will change the world. After being overwhelmed by 150,000 ideas, Google finally announced five winners on Friday.

One of the top five is a company appropriately called Shweeb that proposes building a monorail made of little clear capsules powered by people pedaling recumbent bicycles. Google is giving the company $1 million to fund R&D to “test Shweeb’s technology for an urban setting.”

Quite simply, Google must have gotten 149,996 stupid suggestions for this to have gotten funding. Monorails are kind-of cool in that Disney-theme-park way, and recumbents are efficient bicycles — if entirely unsuitable for daily, urban cycling. But combining the two is something not even the worst sci-fi writer would conjure up.

Can you imagine how sweaty and stinky these things would become? If I’m going to pedal something to get somewhere, it’s going to be using a bike that can actually turn and take me to my destination. Moreover, these things are bound to be slow, and will probably need a large staff of attendants, like a theme-park ride, to ensure that people get on and off safely.

That’s about the best one could hope for.

Shweeb is about to announce where its first public-transit system will be installed. We’re thinking it might work well in Miami Beach, where the well-tanned can shuttle from hotel to beach in a bathing suit, showing off their liposuctioned and collagen-injected derrieres through the plexiglass capsule to onlookers below.

It might also work well in Portland, Oregon, where it could convey bearded computer programmers (the core market for recumbent bikes) from one brewpub to another.

Or maybe it will eventually replace the miniature and embarrassing multicolored bikes that Google engineers ride around the Mountain View campus.

The other recipients sound much more deserving.

The net’s best fighter for government transparency and openness, Carl Malamud, landed $2 million for his Law.Gov project to make the nation’s legal materials online and free for anyone who wants to see them.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Make Clothes Out of a Can With Spray-On Fabric

 Tight-fitting T-shirts and hipster jeans would get even snugger if you could just spray them on.

That idea just got a little less far-fetched. A liquid mixture developed by Imperial College London and a company called Fabrican lets you spray clothes directly onto your body, using aerosol technology.

After the spray dries, it creates a thin layer of fabric that can be peeled off, washed and reworn.

“When I first began this project I really wanted to make a futuristic, seamless, quick and comfortable material,” says Manel Torres, a Spanish fashion designer and academic visitor at Imperial College in a statement. Torres worked with Paul Luckham, a professor of particle technology at the Imperial College to create the material.

“In my quest to produce this kind of fabric, I ended up returning to the principles of the earliest textiles such as felt, which were also produced by taking fibers and finding a way of binding them together without having to weave or stitch them,” says Torres.

Clothes designed using the spray-on fabric will be shown at the Science in Style fashion show next week at Imperial College.

Spray-painting the body has been around for a while, and you can even get spray-on latex body paint (NSFW). And who can forget the amazing spray-on hair, a staple of Ronco infomercials in the 1980s? But these are illusions, tricks to deceive the eye. The spray-on fabric, in contrast, is lightweight and can be stored in your closet with other clothes.

The spray-on fabric consists of short fibers that are combined with polymers to bind them together and a solvent that delivers the fabric in liquid form. The solvent evaporates when the spray touches the surface.

The fabric is formed by cross-linking fibers, which cling to one another to create the garment, says Fabrican.


Intel Touts ‘WiDi’ for Connecting PCs, TVs

Intel has joined the parade of companies trying to beam video to your TV. The chipmaker is betting on “WiDi,” its technology for streaming media wirelessly from the PC to the TV.

Intel’s WiDi, which is short for “wireless display,” will remove the pain of stringing HDMI cables between the TV and the laptop.

“This display technology extends the laptop screen to the TV,” says Randy Stude, who handles gaming strategy for Intel. “You don’t need cables or to buy a single-purpose gadget to make the connection.”

Intel showed the WiDi technology at the company’s developer conference in San Francisco earlier this week.

The technology will come pre-loaded in new laptops. Already 44 models sold at Best Buy have the WiDi technology. But consumers will need to buy an additional $100 adapter from Netgear to complete the connection to the TV. Add a wireless remote such as Loop or Glide TV, and consumers can watch web content on a big screen 25 feet to 30 feet away.


A-lusion & Scope DJ present Second Identity ‘The Album'

Scantraxx Recordz presents a spectacular new debut album of A-lusion and Scope DJ aka Second Identity. A-lusion Scope and DJ are both two very talented Hardstyle producers with a great knowledge and experience in producing pounding Hardstyle. With appearances on the biggest and best (dance) events in the world like Defqon.1, Bassleader, Reverze, In Qontrol, Hard Bass, Decibel Outdoor and Qlimax these two are essential and irreplaceable top producers in the Hardstyle scene. Besides their solo career, they've also created a unique (live) act "Second Identity". An exceptional Hardstyle act with its own ‘sound' that is unheard off.

It has been a logical choice for Second Identity to bring it all to a higher level. Both producers locked themselves in the studio and are ready to present their debut album to the world. An album where every Hardstyle addict is waiting for! A unique sound that you simply can't afford to miss! An album, which is meant to, played out loud. Make sure that you get this album because it is a real must-have for your collection. A-lusion and Scope DJ proudly present their debut album; Second Identity!


Apple's Newest Watch Is ... Wait, What? It's an iPod Nano?

What time is it? Who cares! Apple's newest timepiece puts music, video, photos and step-counting front-and-center, and lets the minutes fall where they may.

Sure, you can check the time, but that's hardly the point with this attractive piece of wrist jewelry. Its unisex design goes equally well with a man's suit, a lady's sweater or a jogging outfit.

One downside: It doesn't come with a watchband, so you'll need to get your own. Fortunately, the clip on the back lets you easily attach it to the strap of your choice.

Unlike almost every other watch we've tested, Apple's Nano has a touch-sensitive, high-resolution LCD display. The interface is a little counterintuitive at first, but it's no more difficult than anything from Tokyo Flash. As a bonus, you can rotate its face with a twisty two-finger gesture, making it work for you in any orientation.

With its Apple heritage, the Nano is a perfectly usable music player. Available in 8-GB ($150) or 16-GB ($170) models, it has plenty of capacity for storing thousands of songs, and its touchscreen provides a simple, if cramped, interface for selecting tracks. (Tip: Use iTunes to organize playlists before syncing. It'll make it easier to find the music you want.)

Sound quality is excellent, though the generic white earbuds Apple includes are nothing to shout about. There's a built-in FM radio player for getting your Ira fix (Flatow and Glass) when podcasts are unavailable.



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