Last week Apple made news with some serious innovation in the form of the Apple Watch and a modest upgrade to the Mac, a product that hasn’t seen a serious step forward in years. Also this week, Surface strategy and a less stinky Superfish.
Watch out for Apple Watch
Apple continued its attempts at using proprietary technology for world domination with the announcement of the Apple Watch. Of course, the watch itself is proprietary and also relies on another expensive propriety doodad – the iPhone.
So why would anyone carrying an iPhone need a $350 iPhone Jr. on his or her wrist? As always, the proof is in the pudding and the watch may well be more than worth it. Look at how an iPhone can replace a digital camera and dedicated GPS amongst other things – for some it even replaces their very own PC. But as with other IoT tech will there be more than the $350 Apple Watch selling price to pay?
Mac Still Not Nearly Realizing Potential
Is the Mac being out-Appled by Microsoft? Apple’s Mac remains a solid, and fairly secure PC with one of the reasons being that there are far fewer Macs out there than there are Windows. One big issue here is the price tag with Mac costing up to three times more than a standard Windows PCs, and believe me, with three kids all on Macs, I have become somewhat of an expert in Mac premium pricing.
Last week saw some exciting news for the Mac faithfuls, which took the form of a new machine. No more MacBook Airs or MacBook Pros. Apple instead unveiled one laptop, the MacBook, which will have the capabilities of the Pro, and the versatility of the Air. The reveal showed the thinnest laptop yet, a fanless design, Retina display and the all new USB-C port, amongst other incremental innovations.
While the Mac used to be perceived as groundbreaking, that mantle is slowly fading. Sure, Mac laptops have become faster and lighter, with better resolution, but little else has changed. If you don’t want to sell a ton of computers, that’s a pretty good strategy, and it also keeps its security profile low. Meanwhile, Microsoft is actually innovating with Windows 8 and the Surface. While far (very far) from perfect, Windows 8 combines a full laptop with a full tablet, and all this at a low price. In Appleland you have to buy a $400 iPad and a thousand dollar MacBook to get the same function – and this still leaves you stuck with two fundamentally two unintegrated machines.
A while back I asked Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak about giving the Mac an iPad interface and having one unit that does it all.
“Would I keep the iPad and the Macintosh separate and different as they are now, the Mac being more of a real computer from the old days? Anyone can write software for it, anyone can sell software for it – not much is happening now – you could run multiple programs on the screen at the same time,” the Woz explained. “It’s probably better for the masses and I would keep the two products separate and distinct as Apple does. I think it is a good decision to limit the product, limit its ability, which is a huge benefit to the majority of people. Those who want more still can find computers. And thank heavens for the MacBook Pro.”
It sounds insane to question the Woz, but as a father who has bought plenty of Macs, iPods, iPhones and iPads (and doesn’t have Steve’s bank account), wouldn’t it make sense to add iPad features to the Mac and make an Apple version of Surface?
Surface on the move
If you don’t think the Surface strategy has more legs than the Mac, perhaps you’d listen to IDC which just predicted strong growth for the Microsoft approach. Over the next half-decade, most of Windows PC sales will be based on units that combine the tablet with full laptop capabilities. IDC believes that in 2019, 38 million Windows tablets and 2-in-1 devices will ship, more than double of what will be shipped this year. At the same time, iPad shipments are seeing a 5% decrease this year compared to last.
Superfish less stinky due to antimalware
Lenovo got a major black eye when its consumer PCs were found to be infected with ad-injection software called Superfish. Security firms were soon on the case, and Microsoft itself kicked in with some Windows-centric anti-Superfish code. Superfish is actually a commercial software that Lenovo put on its PCs on purpose, only to find it was actually dangerous. It not only injects ads into your browser, it messes with certificates leaving you are exposed to attacks from spoofed websites and other nasty hacker deeds.
The GFI blog took a stand, calling for companies like Lenovo to stop pre-loading software no one really wants and offers potential harm. Based on existing antimalware tools, and the efforts of firms like Microsoft, Superfish is getting in check. Estimates put the Superfish infection rate at around 250,000, and we are now seeing only about 1,000 infected computers a day.
The lessons is, even legitimate seeming software isn’t necessarily safe, just as an innocent looking email can be a phishing attack. IT must be ever vigilant, keeping abreast of the latest hacker news to nip issues the bud.