Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine

BobBellevilleCriesAlex Gibney’s Steve Jobs documentary is available now in some theaters, on Amazon Instant Video and, ironically, on iTunes. It’s a film that purports to figure out what made Steve Jobs tick. And it does a lot, just not that.

I’m not a dispassionate reviewer here. More than a year before Jobs died I tried to hire Alex Gibney to make a Steve Jobs film with me. At that point he suggested I be the director, that he’d coach me (“It’s not that hard,” the Oscar-winner claimed.) We talked and met but didn’t come to a deal. Later Gibney decided to do a Jobs film on his own — this film — and […]

I was, uh, wrong: Chromecast does what Google claims

FallonChromeA couple weeks ago when Google introduced its Chromecast HDMI dongle I wrote a column wondering whether it was really such a good product or simply good demoware? Now that I have my own Chromecast and have been playing with it for a few days I have to admit I was wrong. Chromecast appears to be every bit as good as Google claims. That’s not to say it’s perfect (more below) but pretty darned good.

What I really doubted was Google’s claim that the Chromecast could turn on your HDTV, switch the HDMI input, and throw content onto the big screen all in one seamless succession of events. It wasn’t that any […]

Ashton Kutcher’s Steve Jobs somehow misses the whole point

steve:ashtonWhile Mary Alyce and the boys were in Theater 7 this weekend watching Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters (“Needs more monsters,” says Fallon, age 7) I was in Theater 2 watching Jobs, the Ashton Kutcher film about Steve Jobs (“Has enough monsters,” says Bob, age 60).

I know the Jobs story fairly well having, well, lived some of it, but people have been asking me about the film so I thought I should check it out. Critics have not been kind and Steve Wozniak said he wouldn’t recommend it. I can see why.

The film is beautifully shot and Kutcher’s portrayal of Jobs, while not spot-on, is pretty darned good. He certainly has the look down and […]

Apple’s challenges require leaving Steve Jobs behind

new_apple_campusThis is the second of two columns about the future of Apple. My last column looked at Apple’s immediate challenges in the iPhone business, while this one looks at the company’s mid-to-long term prospects and how best to face them. The underlying question is whether Apple has peaked as a company, but I think the more proper way to put it is how must Apple change in order to continue to grow?

Even as some analysts are downgrading Apple based on reported cancellation of component orders, saner heads have been crunching the numbers and realized that Apple still has a heck of an iPhone business. So if you are a trader I […]

Silicon Valley conquers Hollywood, part 3 — think small, not big

Some readers of my last column in this series seem to think it was just about the movie business but it wasn’t. It was about the recorded entertainment industry, which includes movies, broadcast and cable television, video games, and derivative works. It’s just that the movie business — like the mainframe computer business — learned these lessons first and so offers fine examples.

Whether from Silicon Valley or Seattle, technology companies see video entertainment as a rich market to be absorbed. How can Hollywood resist? The tech companies have all the money. Between them Amazon, Apple, Google, Intel and Microsoft have $300 billion in cash and no debt — enough capital to buy anything. Apple all by itself could buy the entire entertainment industry, though […]