Office 2008 for Mac. Here We Go Again.

I read a couple of news stories the other day describing the release date and pricing of the delayed product Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac. As I read the information, I was both surprised and not surprised at the same time. I didn’t even realize that was possible.

Rather than just release the product, Microsoft has (once again) decided to split it up into different editions (people might be most familiar with this because of the five or six different editions of Vista). The “basic” edition of Office 2008 contains all the Office applications and will sell for a whopping $400. A “home and student” edition will sell for $150 (almost twice what iLife 08 costs – for the only edition they sell – a complete edition). A “special media” edition apparently ships with “Expression Media for Mac”, which is an image management application. That one sells for $500.

First, I have to talk about pricing here. These prices are just insane. This concludes the talk about pricing.

Second, “Expression Media for Mac”? Admittedly, I know nothing of this product. But if it is indeed an image management application as some articles suggest, does Microsoft seriously think they’re going to take market share AWAY from iPhoto – on the Mac platform? What are they smoking? And can I please have some? If, however, it is indeed something entirely different, I’d love to take a peek.

There are some neat visual and functional enhancements as depicted on the site (notice, no Silverlight). Some of these really help to bring parts of Office for Mac up to the level of iWork 08, and that’s a good thing. One thing I still think is a huge blow to Microsoft is how Apple was able to release software that made Office 2007 file formats readable on the Mac platform BEFORE Microsoft did. My thinking is that a converter should have been released along with the release of Office 2007 for Windows so that all of the loyal Microsoft Office for Mac customers weren’t left behind. But maybe this kind of thinking is why I’m not the richest man in the world. Oh well.

Things will obviously become more clear as we get closer to the launch date in several months. One of the things I’m particularly interested in is the performance of the applications. Performance is an area in which the current version of Office for Mac left a LOT to be desired.

An Apple Price-Cut Lawsuit

I read an article (linked below) about a woman who is filing a lawsuit because the price of the iPhone was dropped by so much so shortly after launch. Frankly, I was annoyed. If you read this blog you would have read my post about my own disappointment in the huge price drop, but then Steve Jobs did the right thing and gave us a store credit, which I was happy to spend because I love Apple products.

Filing a lawsuit? I’m sorry, I just find this person annoying, and this is yet another example of what’s wrong with this country’s legal system. If I made product for a living and sold it for $600, then lowered it to $400, that’s my decision. Getting sued is just, in my opinion, rediculous.

I’d like to hear your opinions.

iPhone v1.1.1

Today I installed the 1.1.1 update of iPhone after reading many articles and blog posts about how it makes an iPhone a “brick” if you’ve hacked it to install or change things.

Lots of people look at the iPhone as a great device that can be hacked to do much more than it “officially” does. These individuals and groups have done some quite remarkable things with a singular goal in mind: Make the iPhone do more than it’s “supposed” to do. I find this kind of thinking exciting. The people who have provided software and hardware hacks to open it up to different carriers or to install new software are true entrepreneurs and they deserve every bit of credit they can get. Even though I have not chosen to try any of their options, their vision, ingenuity, and creativity deserves an enthusiastic two thumbs up and I congratulate them all.

I look at my iPhone slightly differently than the people in that group. I haven’t tried to hack it to do ANYTHING. I’ve lived with it from 1.0.0 to 1.0.1 to 1.0.2 to 1.1.1 (somebody please correct me if I’ve gotten those wrong). Because of my patience I feel as though I have benefited greatly. I do feel bad for those who have had their iPhones turned into paper weights. But I also feel reassured in that some of the things I have complained most about have been addressed – and most importantly, ARE being addressed by Apple.

Here are three things that bothered me about the iPhone.

1. Speakerphone volume.
2. Lack of a period key on the main keyboard.
3. Lack of ability to purchase and download music from iTunes.

Though Apple claims to have addressed these in the 1.1.1 release, I have to submit that I am still extremely disappointed in the volume of the speakerphone. Personally, i’ve noticed no difference (so far – I’ve only had one call). That thing needs to be TWICE as loud, not MARGINALLY louder. However, it’s a home run to note that the other two are now up and running. On my phone. Not one that I bought yesterday, but the iPhone I bought on June 29th, 2007.

Steve Jobs made a comment at MacWorld 2007. He had a photo of three “smart”phones up on his slide and talked about how it’s hard to add new features to those phones because you can’t add a key or reconfigure things because the devices have already shipped.

iPhone 1.1.1 is a classic (albeit small) example of what he was talking about. While I didn’t receive ALL the functionality that I had hoped for, I did receive SOME of it. And because of that, I am willing to be even more patient, knowing that Apple IS indeed making the effort to listen to customers and make the device better and better.

I therefore wait patiently for v1.2.0.


When is it (if ever) the right time to put a dog to sleep?

Max has been with me since 1997. I adopted him when he was 4 years old. Someone had abandoned him – left him tied to a doorknob of a vet hospital. As with many pets, Max has brought me more joy, laughs, and companionship that I possibly could have expected from him going in. He’s been a great pooch. I really can’t imagine the last ten years without him.

His health has deteriorated quite significantly over the past two years. He has seizures that prevent him from using his entire “rear half”. He struggles to get up but his legs just don’t work. Eventually, after a few minutes, he recovers.

He is well over half blind and well over half deaf. He bumps in to things head-on each and every day. If you don’t yell his name, he doesn’t hear you.

He can’t stand up very well anymore. It looks like it’s often all he can do to keep his balance. He also can’t do stairs very well anymore. I have to walk behind him with my arm ready to catch him when he falls (which has happened on more than one occasion).

He is uninterested in playing ball, and he can’t walk quickly (much less run). At night he paces almost constantly. All night long. During the day he is completely alone.

I found myself wondering this evening, for the first time, “When does his quality of life (or lack thereof) outweigh my own selfishness of wanting him around?”

Any advice is welcome and appreciated.

A Thought About Market Share

I read an article this morning that reminded me of a subject I wanted to blog about but forgot to. It has to do with the age-old battle between Macintosh OS X and Windows – particularly Vista at this point.

Many, many people make comments about Apple trying to gain market share and how it is (or is not) eating away at Windows. As this morning’s article proves, sometimes they discuss how Apple needs to do X, Y, and Z in order to beat Windows and talk about a 3% market share for Apple.

I look at things a little differently than pure competition. Consider the cars on the road today. You see tons and tons of Fords, Chevys, Toyotas, and Hondas. You see fewer BMWs, Mercedes, and Bentleys. But that doesn’t mean that BMWs, Mercedes, and Bentleys aren’t as good or wouldn’t provide a better driving experience for *everyone*. It just means that they’re at the higher end of the market, so fewer people own them.

I apply that view to Macintosh computers versus Windows computers. I didn’t used to, as many who read this will recall, but I think it’s just fine if Apple wants to go on making its higher-end software. I don’t believe it’s necessary for Apple to beat Windows. I don’t think they’d regret it if they did, but I also don’t believe it’s a requisite of Apple’s success. Just look at the differences in stock performance over the last five or six years. Apple is up (over six fold) and Microsoft is basically flat (up about a dollar or two). Obviously their stock prices are not a reflection solely of their computer operating systems, but it does tell an interesting story.

So, I present those who make it a point to discuss or criticize Apple’s lack of market share with this thought: isn’t it ok if the pursuit of raw market share isn’t the point?

Hmm. Quality instead of quantity. What an interesting thought.

Here’s the article:

Even in Fiction

I was recently directed to this passage from the book “The Book of the Dead” by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child (page 85 of the soft cover), and I was amazed at how closely we could identify with it.

“She plugged in her laptop and booted it up. At the insistence of her husband, Bill, she had recently switched from a PC to a Mac, and now the boot-up process took a tenth the time – zero to sixty in 8.9 seconds instead of two and a half plodding minutes. It had been like trading up from a Ford Fiesta to a Mercedes SL. As she watched the Apple logo appear, she thought that at least one thing in her life was going right.”

Internet Explorer's Reign of Mediocrity

I saw this on today and I have to admit that I am one of the (apparently THOUSANDS) of people who are tired of having to tweak their standards-based code just so that IE 6 and 7 (MIcrosoft’s browsers which do NOT adhere to web standards) can display their web pages the way the developer or designer originally intended.

With IE’s reduced market share due to the success of Firefox, Safari, and Opera, combined with Microsoft’s several-year development cycle to release IE 7 – a browser that doesn’t even bring IE up to date with the competition – I think people are really just starting to say, “You know what? Screw you.” What do YOU think?

Please comment! Opinions are welcome.

I'm a Bit Disappointed

Today Steve Jobs announced that the price of the 8GB iPhone was going from $599 to $399.

I love the device. I bought one opening day. Didn’t even have to wait in any lines or anything. And in my opinion, it’s the best cell phone ever, period. I’m glad I own one, and it has never disappointed me.

But to drop the price by a third a mere 2 months after you release it is kind of a knee to the groin to all those who bought it before this morning. I would have absolutely no problem if they dropped it to $549 or even $499. But to drop it to $399 clearly shows, at least in my opinion, a steadfast desire on Apple’s part to make a premium off of the enthusiasts (of which you have to admit there are tons, and I’m happy to admit I’m one of them). In fact, I could live with a $399 price if they set it one year after launch. But this just happened too quickly.

Apple has dropped prices significantly on their products before, but (to my knowledge) never by such a percentage so fast after launch.

So I feel taken advantage of. And that feels pretty rotten. And it’s really unfortunate, I think, for those of us who decided to buy the iPhone right after launch.  I’ve purchased lots of Apple products over the past two years or so but, I’ll say it again, none of them has ever had such a significant price drop in a matter of weeks.

I’m glad the iPhone is only $399 now. That just means that even more people will be able to enjoy it, and they should – it’s an amazing device. But to quote South Park, “I’ve learned something today.” I think I’ll be a tad more patient before I buy Apple’s next big thing, particularly if the price seems on the high side (which I think everyone can agree the original iPhone prices were).