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Comment Re:Used hardware? (Score 1) 223

That's how you _keep_ a couple hundred million in the bank.

Seriously, though. The state of official government hardware would HORRIFY anyone who's worked in the Silicon Valley. Five years out of date is the standard, ten years out of date is common. And in this instance it's not even official government hardware, which means corners cut from corners.

Comment Re:We screw everyone. (Score 1) 181

To answer your question: The argument is over whether Spotify is allowed to inform users of the app that they can get a paid subscription by going to a website. This is against Apple's rules because it circumvents their automated systems for getting a cut of subscription fees.

Spotify can easily go the route that a number of other subscription-based developers have: They can make the app _require_ a login as a subscribed user, before it provides any functionality - including even informing the user where to go to get the subscription. There is no "redirect" happening, since there is no sale being made in the context of the app (they must have a subscription beforehand). It's a technicality; it's Apple's attempt to split the difference because if they didn't draw an arbitrary line somewhere, all apps in the app store could just claim to be "subscription based" and redirect their users to some non-Apple payment service. Apple's store infrastructure would go from "paying for itself" to "huge financial drain" and the process of paying for things would become fragmented and less secure, and arguably more hazardous and complicated for iPhone owners.

I'm not sure what you have against pasta sauce makers... A tomato from "Bob's farm" can be markedly different from a tomato from "Jill's farm". Just because you think they're all the same, doesn't mean others do! And on the other side, have you listened to most of the new music of the last 20 years? No; no one has, because the market is freaking oversaturated with sound-alike indie bands making a race to the bottom in music fees so they can try and scrape up a living putting on shows. One streaming service is a heck of a lot more like any other streaming service, than one jar of pasta sauce is like the rest. :)

Comment Re:We screw everyone. (Score 1) 181

"Sticking your software on a webserver" is equivalent to Apple's app store, for a developer? Sure...

And for a farmer, dumping your produce in a heap in the middle of a public park is the same as getting it onto supermarket shelves, and getting a check at the end of the month.

Your claim of equivalency just doesn't fly; and since the rest of your argument is built on it, that doesn't either.

Except for the part where you turn your own argument on its head by stating, "there are tens of thousands of different grocery stores, from large chains down to one-store shops. By contrast, there are basically only two viable mobile operating system platforms." I'm sorry; weren't you just saying an app store is the same as dumping your software on a website? By that score, there are an infinite number of them. But that's neither here nor there: If you want to make the (oft repeated) claim that "Apple has a monopoly on the Apple platform", as if that means something in ethical or legal terms, do please continue. :)

Comment Re:We screw everyone. (Score 1) 181

Another day, another distorted car analogy.
No, this is not like a car manufacturer charging for gas "passed through their nozzle".
Apple's app store has become a victim of its own success, in a way, because it has made the process of app distribution on their hardware so effortless for the end user that it is now widely assumed to be trivial.

It has also vastly simplified the process for the developer as well. I know I'm going to get flak for saying this from developers with short memories, but it is true. In the worst (hardest) case you were distributing boxes on store shelves containing stamped CDs - which you then had to support through other means. In the best (easiest) case you were distributing a shareware download on a website, and begging your users for purchases like a street performer with a hat on the sidewalk. Either way your profits were undercut by rampant software piracy. Let me emphasize that - _RAMPANT_ software piracy.

The benefits to Apple's app distribution channel - as well as in the way they control that channel - are not to be dismissed as a mere "nozzle".

Instead of a car analogy, I prefer to use one of a movie theater: The iPhone is a theatre, and your app is a movie that the user wants to see. Apple's app store is the doorway, the cash register, the security guard, and ticket taker at the head of the line. You - the developer - bring them your 'movie', and they hand you back a cut of the ticket sales. There are other movie theaters - like the Android one down the road - but when you bring them your 'movie', they give you back less money than you expected, because in addition to the front doors and the cash register, they also have a number of back doors, as well as a few tunnels under the property, and their security guard doesn't pay much - or any - attention to these.

I find this a much better analogy to understand some of the requirements of running a good app store. It also provides a different context for interpreting the case made in TFA, which in terms of the analogy is something like this:

Let's say the movie theater chain is also in the business of making movies. They put their own stuff up on the marquee next to yours, and since they are a big business with good revenue, they can spend a lot of money on these movies, and even sell tickets to see them for less than the cost of a regular ticket, because they are able to balance the books by counting profit from the concession stand, and their cut of the ticket sold for your movie, as well as their own movies. You couldn't call it abuse of a monopoly, because there is clearly no monopoly in movie theaters. In fact, the competing Android chain is massive compared to the Apple one, since they operate through franchise agreements. But in spite of this size difference, and the competition with Apple's own movies, you consistently get more revenue back from distributing your movie in the Apple theater. People don't mind going through the front door - because they're a different clientele, attracted by the cleanliness of the auditoriums, the unobtrusive security, the efficiency of the cash registers, and the consistently better quality of the movies they see, thanks in no small part to Apple's own self-financed movies that are ostensibly competing directly with yours.

So here's the interesting question: Are those movies competing directly with yours? Hard to say. If you believe that a community has a fixed amount of money they will spend on movies, and the competition is only over who claims the larger slice of that pie, then yes. If you believe that a community's spending on movies is influenced in large part by the quality of their previous movie-going experiences, then - not exactly. There are interesting issues of supply versus demand going on here. The worst outcome would be if Apple financed really crappy movies, and then drove away their patrons (and yours) by overselling them, decreasing the size of the movie-going audience.

An interesting situation? Yes. Stiff competition? Yes. Hard for a small- or big-time movie producer (software developer) to know the right move? Yes. ILLEGAL? Emphatically not. Apple could ban your movie from their theatre entirely - citing some inane decency rule they just made up - and it would still not be ILLEGAL. (The real Apple app store does this with pornography across the board, and they don't even have a competing product to "protect".)

Here's another analogy for further thought: Should Safeway be banned from selling "Safeway Select" brand pasta sauce, on the grounds that it is "unfair" to other pasta sauce makers that don't own their own store chain? Again, keep in mind that Safeway has far from a monopoly in supermarkets.

Comment Pfff (Score 1) 266

Apple has patents for all kinds of things, many of them purely defensive, many of them for products and features that never get implemented. I myself remember floating this idea around a dinner table with a few friends at least eight years ago, but our version of it was generalized: Bluetooth beacons that broadcast a "usage policy" around themselves.

Not just useful for concerts. Imagine a beacon in a movie theater that automatically shuts off the screen and ringer of any cellphone inside it. No more dickheads texting their bros in the middle of your $16.00 movie outing. "But oh no, what if there's an emergency?" The phone still vibrates. Just walk outside the doors and it will light up again.

Imagine a beacon in a classroom that shuts off all cellphone usage of any kind while the class is in session. No more concerns about cheating, no more playing Plants Vs Zombies instead of listening to the lecture. You wanna pass a note to a friend? Get a pencil and paper and do it old-skool ... that is, if you still know how to write.

Then you get your two-way beacons. They listen for IDs. Want to take the subway somewhere? Just walk on, and walk off. You don't even need to take anything out of your pocket. The film Minority Report teased a similar thing with retina scanners, but with this system you wouldn't even need to look at anything. No turnstiles. Beacons in restaurant tables. Everyone who sat down pays a fragment of the bill. You only take a phone out if you want to divide it some non-standard way. Beacons in the intersections. Pass through an intersection too fast and your insurance company knows you're a liability before you do.

This is the future of 'convenience'. Hopefully since Apple seems to give a damn about user privacy, they will be very careful in how they choose to apply this patent.

Comment Re:Long term = cheap / recyclable. Get over it. (Score 0) 364

You forget - this is Slashdot.

The only people still lurking around this dump are old-guard types who thoroughly believe that the particular level of modularity in the products that they personally grew up with is the _right_ level of modularity to ensure basic human rights and freedoms.

So it doesn't matter if you don't know where to mine lithium -- and it doesn't matter if you don't know how to manufacture a wafe-thin battery -- but By God, it matters like hell that you know how to unscrew a case and swap a battery yourself. You're just not A Man if you can't.

Comment Re:Apple's Hardware Upgrade Treadmill (Score 1) 364

Well, good for you. Personally I've been using the same Mac Pro for the past eight years, and with a minor boot patch it runs the latest OS and all the latest software just fine. So, consider your anecdote cancelled out by mine.

P.S.: Apple has not given a crap about its stock price for about 15 years. Wall Street wankers trying to fleece day traders have, but not Apple itself.

Comment Re:repair part costs (Score 1) 364

Yeah, high-standard parts, with required safety, and that makes their cost justified. Maybe in your fantasy world, dude.

If you have ever taken a good look at the inside of most appliances you'd be shocked to discover how many corners are cut, in materials and construction. Whatever safety requirement that a thing not catch fire is solved at the design level, _in_order_to_allow_ the use of those sub-par materials. For example, the basket that comprises the majority of a washing machine is usually held in place at the back with a star-shaped brace of pot metal. It's lightweight and easy to mold into that complex shape (i.e. cheap to manufacture) but it corrodes like hell and is one of the first things to go, usually by cracking and throwing your washer off-balance. (The first thing to go would be the bearings, which again, are not adequately isolated from corrosion, but this allows them to use a cheaper design for the bearing housing.)

My point is, you can't claim that high prices are justified from other appliance makers, while still lambasting Apple for doing the same. A huge part of the appeal - even the reason for existing - of their products, is how lightweight and seamless they are. That's increasingly required screwy manufacturing and assembly processes that involve glue, bizarrely shaped grommets, tiny ribbon cables, et cetera. If they "literally just bin" the device they are tasked with repairing, as you say, well that would make sense given their generally one-way manufacturing process, wouldn't it? If they don't, that means keeping a staff on-hand who are willing to work with tweezers and hot glue for half an hour (or whatever egregious process it takes for their latest device) - and they just don't need to bother with that when their margins are so fat elsewhere.

So yeah, they hand them off to third parties who refurb them. Their handoff price has a big discount since not all of the devices are even repairable, and by the time it happens, the supply chain has adjusted and the parts are cheaper. So yeah, a refurbished third-party last-generation iWhatever is going to cost you a lot less. Are you surprised by any of this? It's all pretty solid business strategy. And again, Apple are NOT unique in these practices.

Comment Re:Artificial Intelligence-Based Education (Score 1) 178

There are a whole lot of problems to be solved before that future comes into view, some of them problems with human nature. Young people don't wanna waste time chatting with Mr. Roboto The Professor Of Science. They want to eat, run around, and have sex. You want to install higher values in them, that's gonna take parents. I assume the next natural step is to clamor for a Mr. Parento, The Electronic Father Figure, and do away with all this boring parenting crap too.

Then in another 200 years we can have all our robot overlords smashed to bits by angry rebels. The movie will star Jennifer Lawrence's great great great granddaughter and be called "We Don't Need No Education"!

Comment Re:BS (Score 1) 178

You expect to throw computing cycles and capacity at this thing you call a neural network and grow real intelligence from it? That's about the same as clearing a strip of jungle, building a tower out of palm trees and vines, and expecting planes to start landing.

The human brain is only very loosely and very very partially described with this dime-store textbook concept called a neural network (which is not an "algorithm" by the way). There's shit going on in brains at the quantum level that biologists and neuroscientists are still just stumbling upon, and will continue to argue about for decades. "As far as we know, the brain stores ALL information in synapses"? You mean, as far as YOU know. And it sounds like you have at least 15 years of neuroscience research to catch up on.

Elon and all the other jet-setting wheeler-dealer types like him have to realize that barking orders at engineers for a dozen years and then acquiring an assload of money does not actually qualify them to speak for, let alone make predictions for, the field that their engineers have spent their lives pursuing. They're all excited about AI because they don't have any f*&% idea what else to be excited about, and they know so little about it that it's become a catch-all prerequisite for whatever revenue stream they can't quite grasp. Self-driving car? Oh, AI will solve that. Conversational interface? Oh, AI will solve that. A robot to do your yardwork? Oh, AI will solve that. Et cetera.

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