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iPhone is not made by Apple… at least not in Brazil

Published on February 15, 2013 by in Apple, iPhone, News
iPhone not made by Apple

In Brazil the iPhone is not made by Apple

Apple has done a great job marketing the iPhone and almost everyone knows what it is, a smart phone manufactured by Apple Inc.   Well in Brazil the iPhone is not made by Apple and is not running iOS.  The Brazilian iPhone comes unlocked and runs on Android, not iOS, but wait there’s more… it’s got a 700Mhz processor, 5MP rear camera, 0.3MP front camera and can support 2 SIM cards… all this for around $300!

Who makes this phone you ask?  IGB Eletronica does and they have had the IPHONE name since the 1998.  Yep, the guys in Cupertino are not happy about this and of course have their lawyers all over it.  Too bad the chances of securing that name rights are going to be on the slim side.   So what else could they do… well money talks and we all know Apple Inc has some deep pockets.

The Apple version of the iPhone has been selling in Brazil and will not stop; they just might not be able to call it the iPhone.  What would you guys call it instead?

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Unlocking mobile phones is now illegal (sort of)

For the past week or so, the major buzz across the Internet has been about how it’s suddenly against the law to unlock your cell phone from whatever carrier it’s attached to before the contract runs out.  There’s been a good amount of fear-mongering and ranting about the amount of corporate influence on American law.  While I think much of the outcry has been justified, some of it hasn’t, and I’d like to take a careful look at what this announcement is and is not, and what it will mean for mobile phone users going forward.

First we need to define our terms.  Just what is “unlocking” and how is it related to “jailbreaking” or “rooting”?  “Unlocking” refers to using a code to remove a software or firmware lock in a mobile phone, allowing it to be used on more than one provider’s network. It has little to do with how the user interacts with the phone’s OS.  “Jailbreaking” refers to using software or hardware exploits to gain root access to the operating system on iOS devices.  “Rooting” is essentially the same process, except as practiced on Android devices.  They’re only related insofar as the sorts of folks who are interested in jailbreaking or rooting devices are also often the same folks who want to unlock them from specific carriers.

So now that we know what we’re talking about, let’s specify what this law doesn’t do: it does not make jailbreaking or rooting illegal.  Those processes are still exempted from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), as they have been since the Electronic Freedom Foundation won said exemptions in July 2010. However, the US Copyright Office and the Librarian of Congress began reviewing those exemptions (and others) last October, and decided that the original exemption for unlocking phones was no longer necessary, given how much easier it is for consumers to either purchase unlocked devices in the first place, or  just have their carriers unlock their phones for them. (Having worked for several mobile phone carriers, I can tell you that one of the first things they teach you is how to tell customers that “we’re sorry, we won’t unlock your phone; so sorry for the inconvenience…thanks and have a nice day!”)

Once the Copyright Office and Librarian of Congress arrived at this decision, they granted a 90-day grace period for users to get their phones unlocked.  That time ran out on Saturday.  So, what this means as of now is that only “legacy” phones are still eligible to be unlocked with no penalty.  Newly-minted phones, not so much.  After all, mobile providers are selling these phones (that are really miniature computers) for a ridiculously subsidized fee, knowing that they’ll recoup their money over the life of a 2-year contract.  If consumers were able to unlock their phones, why would they be motivated to stay with a carrier if they didn’t want to?

You’re probably not going to have Johnny Law knocking on your door if you do decide to unlock your phone before your contract runs out with your carrier.  However, you may have a little harder time finding a third-party business to help you with that unlock.  Those third-party businesses could also face civil and criminal penalties of anywhere from $200 to $500,000 for unlocking phones.  It all comes down to whether carriers intend to try to root out phones with unsanctioned unlocks – and if they do so, how aggressively.  We’ll be watching, because it’s our money too.

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GS3 Mini is Less of a Phone when compared to iPhone 5 and Samsung Galaxy S3

Published on October 12, 2012 by in Commentary, iPhone

According to Brian Barrett’s article in Gizmodo, the Galaxy S 3 Mini “is a major letdown.”  The intent of the Samsung GS3 Mini was to create a phone you could put in your pocket, a phone with a manageable size, a mini phone.  This would make the phone easier to carry around.

However, the desire lately seems to be, “the bigger, the better” when it comes to smart phones.  In my opinion, that’s the fundamental reason the GS3 Mini was described as a letdown.  It is just too small.  People constantly complain about the size of the keyboard on the smaller iPhone; making the GS3 Mini even smaller definitely does not help solve that issue.

Barrett argues the letdown factors based on concrete details.  The display is not top quality, measuring 800×480.  In contrast, the Samsung Galaxy S 3 has a near-retina display, making it a much better quality screen.

In terms of processors, the GS3 runs efficiently on a quad-core processor.  Unfortunately, the GS3 Mini only runs on a 1GHz dual-processor.  This makes it much slower, and it does not provide the speed and efficiency for which consumers look when purchasing a smartphone.

The camera poses another problem.  Again, the GS3 has an 8MP rear camera, along with a very high quality front camera and video recorder.  Unfortunately, the GS3 Mini, just a bit smaller, only has a 5MP rear-facing camera.  This means the image quality of the photo suffers.  In a day when many people are disposing of their digital cameras and replacing them with their smartphone cameras, taking a step back in quality seems like an odd choice for Samsung.

And, if that wasn’t enough, the GS3 has no 4G data available.  Zero.  Zilch.  The iPhone 5, Samsung GS3, and many other Android-based devices and smartphones have 4G data.  It is a shame that the GS3 Mini has absolutely no 4G data; again, another step back.

One thing the GS3 Mini has going for it is what Barrett calls the “Galaxy Lineage.”  In other words, it comes from a long line of very intelligent and successful products.  All of which have been able to “fight Apple on its own turn,” according to Barrett.

According to Aki Libo-on’s article, “Samsung Galaxy Mini is Less Than an Apple,” it was rumored that the “Galaxy Mini will compete against Apple’s iPhone 5.”

Unfortunately, this is nowhere near the case.  The iPhone 5 camera has almost twice the amount of megapixels, and the resolution is astoundingly better on the iPhone 5.  These two phones do not compare.  Refer to my previous article to see how the iPhone 5 and the Galaxy S3 compare.

The GS3 Mini has 1 GB of RAM and 16GB of flash memory.  As with the GS3, the GS3 Mini comes with an expandable microSD card slot that allows for more memory space.  Accprding to Libo-on, the GS3 Mini’s “toned down specifications could also mean that Samsung wants to dominate the low-end part of the smartphone market.”

An interesting speculation, to say the least.  Whether that is true or not, Samsung has definitely found its GS3 Mini at the low-end part of the smartphone market.  That doesn’t mean this phone is a total bust; it just mean there are far better smartphones out there for you to check out before you make your educated purchase.

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Why People Love to Hate, Love to Love, and Hate to Love Apple

Published on October 7, 2012 by in Apple, Commentary, Culture

Apple, as it turns out, has become all things to everyone. It is the most reviled company on the planet — daring to control its users by encompassing them in a suffocating walled garden, maliciously squashing its competition through litigation, and embodying the total of the worst of morality in its treatment of its Asian workforce. Apple, for many, is the worst. Those people love to hate Apple.

Of course, Apple is also a company that has navigated itself through the years with a greater vision for the world of technology, and often times humanity in general, always striving to provide its customers with an experience that transcends pushing buttons, connecting to networks, and downloading data, creating a lineup of devices and services that truly make our lives better. Apple, for many, is the best. Those people love to love Apple.

And then there is something else. Something that not many companies, or people, can say they inspire. It’s not a Venn diagram situation — the two above types of people do not overlap to create this person. Rather, it is an entirely separate existence. It is not just the technologically savvy, the long-time lovers of all things digital, the nerdiest of the nerds but also the old-time way-doers, the original solution-makers, the way-it-was-ers, and the on-the-fencers. Apple, for them, is a great burden. Those people hate to love Apple.

They hate to love Apple because it means that the way they wish it was, the way they hoped it would be, is not the way it is. To these people Apple represents something bigger than a Maps app that can’t find a few addresses or a dock connector that is proprietary. To these people, Apple is a signal that what they do, and how they do it, is fading away.

The nerds worry because in their perfect world, everyone is a programmer. There is no user interface. There is no iOS. No Siri. Just some code. And users manipulate that code. Users are in control. Not Apple. But now, to these people, Apple is in complete control. And that’s not fair, or smart, or whatever negative connotation they associate with it.

Then, you have the people whose jobs have been affected by technology from Apple. Newspapermen are almost gone. The record label industry is becoming less and less relevant. Any job that was once paper-centric seems to have a looming threat of digitalization hanging over its head, in large part due to Apple’s devices.

We no longer need a magazine in our mailbox — we have 50 magazines on our iPad. Magazine production facilities close. We no longer need to go to a Best Buy or a Sam Goody to buy the latest CD — we download it directly from the iTunes Store to our iPhone or iPod touch. Best Buy stores and Sam Goody stores close.

The nerds love that Apple has all these amazing capabilities in its devices and yet hate that they can’t do what they want with those advancements. They hate to love Apple. The fading industry people love playing Angry Birds, doing FaceTime with their loved ones, and putting grungy filters on their Instagram photos, and yet their jobs are being replaced by 1’s and 0’s. They hate to love Apple.

The undecideds of the world see the controversies on blogs and the evening news, they hear the rhetoric from the love to haters and the love to lovers and have no idea what to think. They see that Apple looks easy, but think the price is too much. They like the idea of being able to do whatever they want, but hate the idea of having to constantly tinker with their device. They hate to love Apple.

And you know what the brilliant thing is? Apple knows these three types of people better than anyone. And who do you think Apple gears all its efforts toward? That’s right, the people that hate to love them.

In general, you can’t do much about the people that love to hate you. They will have their reasons, many of which are irrational, and almost always, they will refuse to have a civil conversation or debate about the sides of the argument. These people will not change their minds.

Similarly, the people that love to love you will not change their minds. If your Maps app isn’t up to snuff, they’ll be critical perhaps, but understanding. They will buy your iPhone 5 and report as many problems as they encounter, knowing full well that those issues will be fixed, and in the grand scheme of things, the effort is worth it. They will defend you on tech blog comment areas and wait in line for the next big product.

But the people that hate to love you? They are the ones that will hear you out. They don’t like some things, and love others. They will buy an iPhone but sing the praises of a PC (while secretly eyeing the MacBook Air every time they walk past an Apple Store). They will sing the praises of openness, citing Android and Linux, while simultaneously wishing video chat worked as easily for them as it does for iPhone users.

Apple is changing the minds of hate to lovers every day. That’s why Apple is successful. Other technology and consumer electronics companies have no clue, and consequently, focus on the other two groups of people, missing opportunities left and right.

I would submit here that no one in modern history has understood the needs of hate to lovers better than Steve Jobs. And not just from a marketing sense, though he was incredible at that, but from a strategic vision sense. He understood what his company needed to be for the hate to lovers, had an uncanny ability to ignore or deal with the love to haters, and was always able grow the love to lovers. He was able to disseminate a great portion of that ability throughout Apple’s corporate culture which is undoubtedly one of his greatest legacies. And for it, Apple will continue to dominate.

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