Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Bright side: Apple's computer for the rest of us

It's not the best of times. Long Depression 2.0 grinds on. China is increasingly unsettled -- and it's sitting on one of history's great bubbles. American corporations may have decided the American middle class is finished, done in by globalization and IT enabled automation and outsourcing. Spear phishing (Chinese?) caught white house "aides" (Obama?). Core security systems have been compromised. Peak Oil. Pakistan, North Korea, Yemen. The ChromeBook costs 200% too much. Weather badness and rising CO2.

Worst of all, I can't buy a quality dehumidifier at any price.

It's a bit much, even for me. I've got to find some happier things to say -- even if I've got to dig deep.

Today's happy thought - in Fall 2011 Apple will be make my Jan 2010 prediction true ...

Gordon's Notes: Computing for the rest of us: The iPad and the ChromeBook (Jan 2010)

.. The iPad's a pretty thing, but the combination of iVOIP and the return of the Mac Plus and the keyboard and $10 iWorks apps and the $15/month no-contract 250MB limited data plan might shorten Jobs time in Limbo.

... the 2010 [3G] iPad is more than $500 - but by 2011 the device will sell for under $500 with 3G-equivalent capabilities. An additional $15 a month will provide basic VOIP phone services (uses very little bandwidth) and access to email and Facebook Lite -- even before the advertising subsidies kick in. Of course free Wifi access, such as in libraries, McDonald's, schools and so on will provide access to full internet services....

... Think about your family. If it's big enough, your extended family will have at least one person who's, you know, poor. They may have cognitive or psychiatric disabilities. Or you may have a family member who, like most of American, can't keep a modern OS running without an on call geek. These people are cut off. They can barely afford a mobile phone, and they won't have both a mobile phone and a landline. They will have little or no net access. They may have an MP3 player, but it's dang hard to use one without a computer.

By 2011 the combination of a $400 iPad (and iTouch for less) and $15/month VOIP access will start to replace a number of devices that are costly to own and acquire, while providing basic net services at a rate that other family members can subsidize. Not to mention something pretty, which, speaking as someone who grew up poor, ain't a bad thing...

Apple's iCloud [3] and iOS combination mean most families won't need an energy sucking, loud, unstable, unsupportable, malware infested winbox. They will buy a signed-code curated app library iPad with integrated backup and offline media libraries [1]. They will also, unwittingly, accept FairPlay DRM -- which is the best balanced DRM system I've lived with [2].

This will make the world a better place.

Of course there's a silky black lining to the silver cloud, but let's not go there just yet ...

See also:

[1] If money is tight however, and a user foregoes home internet service for the $15/month iPad data plan, they really don't want to be streaming their media library. They'll want to do their iPad backup at a local cafe or library.
[2] It's so good it's silently accepted. It's freakin' brilliant and Apple gets no credit. Of course they don't want credit -- because they don't want anyone to notice it. 
[3] In all the iCloud discussions so far there's mention of Apple's prior efforts at iTools, .Mac, and MobileMe. Few remember the 1980s AppleLink (later the basis of AOL when it was interesting) and the 1990s eWorld. Sixth time lucky?


cathy said...

I've had a Therma-stor dehumidifier for over 10 years and it's been great.

JGF said...

They Therma-stors do look good, but they are designed to work with a central air conditioning system.

I think one of the reasons that we can't find a quality dehumidifier is that there's no longer a market for that product. The market that would pay for a quality product mostly has central air.

It's only in a few northern states that "middle class" families will live without a climate control system, and even (like our old house) use a window air conditioner for a few weeks of the year.

So the "middle class" dehumidifier is going the way of the pay phone. The residual market is highly price sensitive, so it's a race to the bottom ...