Thursday, November 23, 2006

IPhone : Another masterpiece from Apple??

Phone. What is it? Is it for real? Is a new masterpiece really on the way to the market from the Apple assembly line of masterpieces?

Well nobody really has any answers. Apple as usual is tight-lipped about the whole affair. Its share is touching new highs and the market is ripe with rumors that indeed Apple's iPhone is about the hit the markets.

According to "With reports circulating that an iPhone from Apple Computer is likely to debut in the first half of 2007, the introduction of an iPhone could have an adverse impact on sales of music handsets by other vendors should Apple's first order for an iPhone total 12 million units as reported earlier." Research also estimated that global shipments of music handsets expected to top 134 million units in 2007, shipments of an iPhone handset could take up a 5-10% share of the global music handset market next year.

The Apple Masterpieces

Why does any product debut from the house of Apple make so much news? Why is each product from the house of Apple a masterpiece?

I guess the best answer is an article I wrote two years about the Cult of Mac.

"No other computer inspires devotion like a Mac. The largest and most fervent subculture in computing, Mac fans come in all shapes and sizes, but never waver in their dedication. Like fans of a football team or rock band, Macintosh fans have their own subculture, with clearly defined obsessions and rites of passage."

Leander Kahney author of The Cult of Mac

Like, Leander Kahney, journalist and author of the book "The Cult of Mac", I too have been an Apple fan for years. My enthusiasm compares nothing to Kahney who wrote this beautiful book "The Cult of Mac". Kahney's career speaks volumes about him. Wired News, senior writer at the legendary Mac magazine Mac week, Scientific American, Business 2.0, and the Guardian. Kahney owns six computers, all of them Macs. From what I can make out he seems to a 'Mac Addict'.

Addiction, understandable. Devotion, perceivable. Veneration, perhaps apprehensible. But all the THREE put together for a machine called the Mac is perhaps isn't graspable by a non-Mac being.

From Mac to IPod the same cult following. Infact IPod perhaps has a bigger following than even the Mac. Will IPhone meet the expectations the "cult" is anticipating?

The Other Force

There is also a school of thought that believes that the launch of IPhone will not be as simple as Apple thinks it to be. It is noteworthy that the mobile phone market has some of the biggest giants in the corporate world. The market has immensely matured feature wise over the last few years. According to "as a newcomer to the handset market, Apple would face many challenges, including integration of its platform, issues with patented technologies, verification from service providers and production cost issues."

The Last Word

I believe the IPhone is for real. It's been on the blogs and the web for long enough and I guess we will soon see it in the stores. Will iPhone have a cult following?

Well let me answer it this way. Apple and Steve Jobs I trust. When it's a Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni painting you very well know it's a masterpiece. After Mac and IPod, anything that Apple makes I know for sure will be a masterpiece. Looking forward to seeing the iPhone. All the best Apple? Or did I make a mistake there? Should it be all the best the Nokias, the Sony Ericissons and the Motorola's of the world? iPhone is coming!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Zune vs iPOD - Round 1

Have you squirted a song yet? That's the question Microsoft hopes your friends will ask you as you ponder which digital music player to acquire. Although you are more likely to buy an iPod this season—something even Microsoft admits—the software giant from Redmond is running a huge marketing campaign that it hopes will plant some seeds of doubt. After all, iPods don't squirt songs. And Microsoft's new player, Zune, does.

What's a song-squirt? It's the first, and currently the only, application of the wireless connectivity built into every Zune. (In other respects, the Zune is a decent, if not compelling, alternative to the hard-disk-drive iPod.) Squirting is a tune-sharing feature that works like this: With its built-in Wi-Fi, your Zune can alert you to the presence of every other Zune within 30 feet; you can then choose to send a song (or even a podcast or a photo) to any of the neighboring devices. The potential recipient gets a message asking if he or she wants to accept the tune. If so, you start squirting, and in 10 or 15 seconds the other Zune has the song, and its owner can play it.
The catch is that the squirt is fast-drying—in three days it goes away. Or, if the recipient plays it three times within that period, it evaporates after the third spin. This is because Microsoft cut a lousy deal with the record labels, which still regard innovative digital schemes as potential piracy threats, as opposed to potential sales boosters. My guess is that people will be turned off that the songs expire so quickly.
Robbie Bach, in charge of the Zune group at Microsoft, calls squirting "a really good first step," clearly indicating that the company, which sees Zune as a long-term project, will introduce other wireless functions. One obvious use is buying songs straight off the Internet, but I'm not sure that's so valuable—computers do pretty well at that already. Zune product manager Scott Erickson describes other possible uses—like allowing a concert performer to send a song to every Zune in the audience—that sound more intriguing.
But perhaps the best immediate use of Wi-Fi in any portable music player might not be in sending music itself, which requires permission from the overcautious record labels. Instead, Microsoft could take a page from a feature built into Apple's iTunes that lets computer users on a network, or within close range via Wi-Fi, look at each other's music library. There is an insatiable need to know "What's on your iPod?" This goes for friends, celebrities and total strangers. It turns out that we really do make judgments about other people—and even have attractions triggered—based on what they listen to. Actual scientific proof of this comes from recent studies by Cambridge University psychologist Jason Rentfrow and his colleagues on "the role of musical preferences in interpersonal perception."
Spontaneously browsing a nearby music collection could result in any number of fascinating outcomes. How cool would it be to sit in a subway or take a break in a gym and check out the contents of the nearby music players, then try to visually identify the Miles Davis fan, the Ramones rocker and the Barry Manilow sentimentalist? It would be the ultimate social icebreaker—or, for those with woeful tastes, a deal breaker. (Of course, one would assume that users would have an option to specify whether they wanted their musical identities so exposed.)
My guess is that sooner or later, Apple will get Wi-Fi into iPods. In the meantime, allowing us to wirelessly expose ourselves in a musical sense could be a big win for Microsoft. We'd all be asking, "What's on your Zune?"
Editor's note: Levy's latest book, "The Perfect Thing," is about the iPod.

IE 7 vs Firefox 2

According to reports, Mozilla Firefox 2 and Microsoft Internet Explorer 7 (IE) are both vulnerable to a bug that steals the login-id and password of users, with the help of a fake log-in page.

The bug has been dubbed as "Reverse Cross Site Request vulnerability" (RCSR) by Robert Chapin, who first discovered the flaw.

Reportedly, the attack was first carried out from a profile page using a specially crafted HTML that hides the genuine MySpace content from the page, and displays the fake login page instead. The fake page is then sent to another Web site, along with information regarding MySpace users who visited the page using Firefox.

The attacks seen on My are likely to move on to Firefox as well because the Firefox Password Manager automatically enters any savedpasswords and user-id/s into the form, whereas IE is not capable of filling in the saved information automatically.

Therefore, Firefox is more likely to get affected by the flaw, as compared to IE.

According to Chapin, users of both Firefox and IE need to be aware that their information can be stolen in this way when visiting blog and forum Web sites at trusted addresses as well. Further, an RCSR attack is more likely to succeed than an XSS attack because neither IE nor Firefox are designed to check the destination of form data before the user submits them.

Moreover, the browser doesn't indicate the exploitation as it is conducted on a trusted Web site.

As of now, no fix has been issued by Mozilla, and it's not very clear if the other versions of Firefox are also affected by the flaw. Users have been advised to disable the "Remember passwords for sites" from the preference link in Firefox.

Additionally, these attacks could also be highly effective against firewall of local network servers and HTTPS addresses that are not otherwise accessible because the attacker does not need direct access.

Microsoft : War against phising !!

Microsoft is ramping up its fight against phishing, not just by continuing to improve Internet Explorer's phishing filter, but also by taking phishers to court. Announced today, the company is filing 129 lawsuits in the name of anti-phishing across Europe and the Middle East. According to a BetaNews report, Microsoft can file these suits because the phishers are damaging the company's image.

Because many of the defendants in the suits are young people as in teenagers, Microsoft is willing to accept settlements for the likes of 1,000 to 2,000 euros. Nevertheless, a recent criminal suit that dealt with phishing sent a Turkish man to prison for two and a half years. Other criminal suits were filed in Germany and France while most of the civil suits were filed in Britain.

The first lawsuit against a phisher was filed by the Federal Trade Commission in January of '04 against a 17-year old Californian teen that used a webpage resembling America Online to steal credit card numbers. The teen's punishment was a lifetime ban from sending spam and a US$3,500 fine.