Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Watson

Next month an IBM computer called Watson will go head-to-head against the top two human Jeopardy champs for a prize worth $1 million. Whether Watson wins or not, what I wonder about this contest that was four years and untold millions of dollars in the making is how it squares with the image I’ve presented here over the last several years of a penny-pinching, greedy, avaricious, and not particularly smart IBM? The answer is simple: IBM has a split personality.

IBM values research and development. The research organizations like the one behind this Jeopardy stunt still share in a specific percentage of IBM’s gross sales. That’s how IBM keeps coming up with […]

By |January 13th, 2011|2011|32 Comments

Fool me once, shame on you…

Apple has a long history of milking early adopters. Even the crappy products (remember the Newton? the Mac Cube?) would sell a few hundred thousand units to the faithful before those faithful learned the sad truth. But just as they were learning that truth, along would come Steve Jobs (okay, not in the case of the Newton, but generally) gleefully proffering the real fantastic product people had been expecting months before. Then those same early adopters, reenergized, would buy all over again, whether it was an iMac, iPod, MacBook, iPhone, whatever. Why should we think this week’s Verizon iPhone announcement is any different?

Where’s the Long Term Evolution (LTE) network? Where’s surfing while talking? Where’s the […]

By |January 12th, 2011|2011|90 Comments

Verizon's iPhone story isn't so black and white

Verizon announced its iPhone 4 today, as expected, but it was CDMA, not LTE, and it wasn’t white, which would seem to defy one of my 2011 predictions made only last week — that Verizon would get an exclusive on white iPhones. Rather than capitulate, though, I’ll tell a story about the invention of the nibble copier, followed by some dirt about Verizon’s LTE network that might be a big concern for corporations.

Steve Wozniak invented the Apple ][ disk drive with its Integrated Woz Machine (IWM) controller, which was revolutionary for its time. And unlike competing disk drives (these were floppies, by the way — hard drives and optical drives had yet to […]

By |January 11th, 2011|2011|55 Comments

3Dud TV

All the top movies are appearing in 3D versions and the Consumer Electronics Show last week was full of new 3D TV’s. Why isn’t anybody buying them? We already bought our big-screen TV’s, thanks.

Suddenly 3D content is everywhere. Movie studios are using it more than ever and consumer electronics companies are even subsidizing 3D for TV programming and home video. But for all the 3D content, 3D TV sales have yet to takeoff. There are many reasons for this, but according to Conor Schutzman, who thinks a lot about such things, it mainly comes down to conflicting motivations for producers and consumers.

Content producers like 3D for two reasons: 1) they can get a […]

By |January 10th, 2011|2011|82 Comments

2011 prediction #10: Apple buys Time Warner Cable

My last prediction laid out a pretty aggressive 2011 computing strategy for Apple.  But it is just that — a computing strategy — not a media strategy, and Steve Jobs is clearly the most important media mogul on the planet right now, and maybe the most fragile.  This latter point is important, because Steve sees himself as having both a unique mission and a frail constitution.  He can’t wait to get things done, which is why the next couple years will be probably the most important in Apple’s history.

Who needs a 1,000,000 square foot data center? That’s big enough, I calculate, to support 800 million simultaneous users.  Who the heck needs a facility like that?  […]

By |January 6th, 2011|2011|90 Comments