Siri Plans to Stop Taking Orders and Start Giving Them

Apple CEO Tim Cook has announced the company is going to focus on developing self–driving car “systems” instead of the car itself. In an interview with Bloomberg Television he explained this qualifies as an “MOA” effort as in “The Mother Of All AI projects.”

The decision to concentrate on software, rather than both hardware and software is a new one for Apple. Normally the company designs the hardware along with the operating software and then ships the entire package off to China for manufacturing and intellectual property theft.

When the finished product returns to the US, Apple does its best to control the sales of all related products.

I’ve been with Apple longer than I’ve been with my wife. This is a fitting comparison since buying Apple is the hardware equivalent of matrimony. And even more fitting personally, since I’ve had excellent luck with refurbs, regardless of whether it’s Apple computers or wives.

Apple, like my wife, is a closed system that takes a dim view of playing the field. Cupertino prefers customers make all software purchases through the App Store. The same goes for hardware and the Apple Store.

Android, on the other hand, is a wild and wooly open system with many hardware manufacturers, many software producers and little if any standardization. Apple’s closed system is designed with control in mind.

Think of Hillary Clinton running a Best Buy.

Under Apple there is much more look–and–feel uniformity across the product spectrum, which comes with a price. Usually higher.

So, I would have had mixed feelings about owning an iCar.

I wouldn’t have liked being limited to buying gas at Apple stations. Sure the free operating software updates are nice, but that’s balanced with the thought of being lectured on the size of my carbon footprint by an Apple “Genius.”

Cook, at the time, hadn’t ruled out electric vehicles. He rhapsodized, “It’s a marvelous experience not to stop at the filling station or the gas station.” This only proves the chauffer maintains the car without Cook’s help.

Gassing up takes about five minutes. Charging up takes hours. Electricity may start cheap, but at the rate Apple changes the design of its propriety connectors, the cost of new adapters to plug into the power outlet will no doubt balance out the iFuel cost.

I think for the foreseeable future I’ll keep my manual car. If I want to drive with a woman that argues about routes and how fast I drive, I’ll just invite the wife.

CORRECTION: I was wrong last week. That column concerned NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s decree allowing NFL players scoring touchdowns to make fools of themselves — while the blockers that made it possible are ignored.

That may have been attractive for ballerina ball fans accustomed to method acting from their players, but football should be a serious game.

If I wanted to watch bad dancing and mini–charades I’d attend a GOP townhall meeting when Obamacare repeal was on the agenda. When I watch the NFL, I’m hoping professional football players will act professional.

You may recall my temporary burst of optimism when Cameron DaSilva of Fox Sports reminded us next season the NFL will also institute a snap clock. It starts when an official signals touchdown and teams will have 40 seconds to get set and begin the conversion.

DaSilva reported there were 32 touchdowns that weren’t followed by a booth review, penalty or injury. Even without the Original Tap–Dancing Kid performing his routine, teams were taking an average of 45 seconds to snap the ball. Adding choreography would only make the situation worse.

My optimism crashed when I mistakenly calculated those 32 TDs were thinly spread over the 119 games in the season’s last seven weeks and playoffs. At that rate only one quarter of a TD per game would be influenced by the snap clock.

But I was wrong!

It wasn’t the last seven weeks, plus the playoff games. His survey was only for the seven playoff games.

I should have known something was off. Reviewing 119 games, even with fast–forward or NFL Red Zone is a significant investment in a research project for a reporter facing multiple deadlines. That kind of time commitment spent watching streaming video is more characteristic of the government; say the US Patent and Trademark Office.

While only seven games cuts the sample size and increases the margin of error, the results will do in a pinch. (If you know someone in the USPTO who is not under investigation by the Inspector General, maybe you could ask them to examine the other 112 games.) For me, 4.5 touchdowns per game, unsullied by freestyle ego–mania, is much better than what I feared.

Apple’s Potemkin Privacy Suffers a Breach

Apple and fingerprintsThe bad news is Tim Cook’s privacy chastity belt is starting to itch in a spot where it’s embarrassing to scratch in public. The good news is if he forgets his password or loses his touch ID finger, the FBI can help him unlock his iPhone.

You may recall the Apple CEO made a big production out of refusing to comply with a court order to help the FBI extract the data from an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino Islamic terrorists.

I wrote about initial developments in the controversy here.

In a letter to the public Cook characterized his refusal to cooperate as a principled stand for personal privacy, “Customers expect Apple and other technology companies to do everything in our power to protect their personal information, and at Apple we are deeply committed to safeguarding their data.”

So they’re breathing a sigh of relief from Brussels to Mosul. But then the FBI, of all organizations, had to rain on the privacy parade.

Learn how Cook put himself in a box that’s entirely of his own making by clicking on the magic hyperlink below.

http://www.newsmax.com/MichaelShannon/Apple-Cook-FBI/2016/04/07/id/722821/

 

A Poisoned Apple in the Garden of Liberty

Apple privacyApple, which invades your privacy by checking to see if you had a non–Apple repair on your phone, is now refusing to cooperate with the FBI on unlocking the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone.

In spite of all of Tim Cook’s “privacy” posturing, it’s not a privacy issue at all. San Bernardino County owns the phone and they, too want it unlocked.

Instead it’s all about market share. Apple thinks making a public fight over privacy in the US will help it keep market share among Western consumers, while bending over backward to grant Communist totalitarians access to customer data in China will also preserve government–controlled market share there.

All the details AND a solution can be found by clicking the magic hyperlink below that will take you to my Newsmax.com column:

http://www.newsmax.com/MichaelShannon/Apple-Data-iPhone/2016/02/19/id/715198/

 

Competition Bombshell from Apple Proves Markets Work

The vast majority of high–end cellphone users are blissfully unaware the $200 they pay to upgrade their phone is a heavily subsidized price. Most of us think the $200 is bad enough, but if customers were paying full retail for their newer phone the price would be in excess of $650 for a model from Apple.

That’s a lot of money to pay in one big chunk for a device your teenager is likely to drop in the toilet.

Cell service providers cushion the blow by folding the rest of the cost into the contract. That’s why early cancelation fees are high. The company is recovering the cost of the phone.

This system worked fine as long as competition in other areas of the business was at a manageable level, but that’s changed. AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T–Mobile and other providers are cutting prices and beefing up bundles on minutes, data and contract length. Consequently, financing phone purchases is less attractive.

This is where competition works to your advantage. Apple knows if customers have to pay the entire cost upfront, sales decline as customers wait longer between upgrades.

So Apple will now finance iPhone purchases for $32 per month AND allow customers yearly upgrades. In addition, Apple includes its premier AppleCare service ($99/yr.) as part of the package.

Finally, Apple will give customers the option of switching cell carriers every year, marking the end of the two–year contract and repaying cell provider’s decision to stop financing phones.

What’s more, this instance of competitive creativity would solve many of the lingering, intractable problems of Obamacare. How? Click the link below to find out in my Newsmax column:

http://www.newsmax.com/MichaelShannon/Obamacare-Apple-Free-Market-Competition/2015/10/01/id/694256/

 

Bystander Nation

Savvas & Amy Savopoulos: RIP

Savvas & Amy Savopoulos: RIP

For all intents and purposes the Savopoulos family were good, civic–minded residents of Washington, DC.

Savvas, and his wife Amy, were active in charitable causes and contributed $51,800 to both Republican and Democrat candidates since 2006. The Daily Mail reports that even though Savopoulos was very wealthy he didn’t surround himself with bodyguards or other security and the family didn’t hesitate to open the door when someone knocked.

When you live near Vice President Joe “Shotgun” Biden in a well–patrolled neighborhood, what could possibly go wrong?

In this instance, everything.

Today Savopoulos, Amy, 10–year–old Phillip and housekeeper Veralicia Figueroa are all dead after someone opened the door to their murderer, ex–con Daron Wint. Over an 18–hour period Wint took the family hostage before torturing, stabbing to death and then setting their bodies on fire.

What’s most striking about this is the sheer number of people who went to the Savopoulos’ home while they were hostages or had unusual telephone contact with the family during and then did absolutely nothing.

The timeline shows there were many opportunities for someone to call the police, yet no one did.

The pizza guy is off the hook. He delivers two pizzas about 9PM Wednesday. He rings the bell and leaves the boxes on the porch. The money was waiting for him and no doubt rich people had asked for stranger things, so he leaves without incident.

Next Savopoulos calls the other housekeeper, Nelitza Gutierrez and leaves a strange, contradictory message, which is understandable when your family is held hostage. He tells Gutierrez his wife is going out, but then says she’s sick and Figueroa is staying overnight, so don’t come tomorrow. He concludes by saying Figueroa’s cellphone is dead and they don’t have a charger for it.

Gutierrez thinks that’s strange, but she doesn’t call Figueroa’s husband. Instead she lets the matter drop.

Early the Thursday morning Savopoulos makes a “flurry” of calls to his banker, accountant and personal assistant wanting immediate access to $40,000 cash. This should have set off alarm bells, particularly since Savopoulos wants his assistant to deliver the 40K to his home and leave it in the garage next to the recycling.

Even Joe Biden could tell this is suspicious and out of character, but again no one calls the police or even insists that Savopoulos meet them to take the money.

Forty thousand dollars is dropped off at the Savopoulos home like it’s another Domino’s pizza.

Later that morning Figueroa goes to the house to find his wife. Although he feels someone is inside, there is no answer when he rings the bell. Still curious, he starts peering into windows. And wouldn’t you know it, his cell rings and it’s Savopoulos saying Amy has gone to the hospital and Veralicia is with her.

The house feels wrong, the timing of the call is wrong and no word from his wife is wrong, but there is no indication Figueroa tried to call Gutierrez to see what’s up.

The last contact with anyone outside the home is a text at 9:30 to Gutierrez that reads: “I am making sure you do not come today.” This is her second bite at the apple. Gutierrez tries to call back and sends a reply but again no answer.

None of these individuals had the entire picture, but each of them had enough pieces for concern. They saw something, but failed to say anything.

But that’s the way society functions in the left’s Bystander Nation. Let the authorities and experts handle it, while you mind your own business. Individual responsibility is something for cowboys from Oklahoma.

If employees in the Bethesda, MD Apple store overhear a woman begging for her life in the adjacent Lululemon store and do nothing as she’s stabbed 330 times, how can we expect DC residents to call 9–1–1 before ransom money is dropped off?

In the left’s social paradise it takes a village to raise a child, but it requires only a handful to let a family die.

Even if Savopoulos had been concerned about family safety and applied for a permit to carry a gun, chances are he’d have been denied. Police Chief Cathy Lanier requires a “good reason” before she’ll issue and concern doesn’t qualify.

The good news is if the two surviving daughters want to apply on their 21st birthday, chances are good Lanier will relent.