Apple Wishlist: Would iPhone 32GB be a parting gift at Macworld? | Long Hop

Macworld ExpoUnlikely. There are many other likely contenders for Apple‘s final goodbye to Macworld Expo. A number of rumours as well as expectations from enthusiasts on what Apple could announce have being doing the rounds for the past few weeks, including some really weird and outrageous ones.

Apple Cinascape

Personally, I have mixed emotions about Apple’s participation at Macworld. I am a recent adapter to Apple’s products and although I was aware of Apple’s presence at Macworld, I was a tad bit ignorant about the fact that new products are announced in every event. I have only realised the importance of these events to Mac enthusiasts after my last Apple purchase.

Blackberry PearlI got my first 5th generation, uninsured white 30 GB iPod in August 2006 which was stolen from right under my nose after 11 months of life. Within a week of loosing it I replaced it with another iPod and a month after my purchase, Apple restocked the entire range of iPods with a newer version. Then in December 2007 I bought an iPod Touch which was  upgraded with new features in February 2008. In October 2008, I treated myself to a Macbook Pro, only to see a newer Mac come out a few weeks later. I have been keen on buying an iPhone for a while now, but I had decided to hang on with my otherwise brilliant Blackberry Pearl until the Macworld Expo. Just when I was adapting to the Apple Community, Apple decides to bunk Macworld.

Strategically, the reasons Apple’s decision to move away from Macworld Expo could be various. While Steve Jobs’ health has often been rumoured as one, I would like to believe that trade shows simply do not fit into Apple’s future vision. Also, it has always affected the company’s sales during the peak Christmas period, with a vast number of consumers staying away from Christmas purchases with an expectation of an announcement of improved Apple products during the event. The company has a loyal customer base and the social influence of its customers is unmatched in comparison to any other product in any niche. As per the company’s own statement, it is reaching out to customers in more ways than ever before and probably doesn’t need trade shows to strengthen its brand. Apple is a financially sound company with large cash reserves and has done exceedingly well even under the current economic conditions world over.

However, given the turbulent and dynamic environment, it needs to reassess it’s strategies and I guess by pulling out of Macworld is one of the many decisions the company had to make. As an event, Macworld, supported by customary keynote by Steve Jobs, offered an incredible opportunity for third party developers and vendors to showcase their products and Apple’s decision seems to be severe blow to their prospects.

Steve JobsAlso, it is a huge disappointment for thousands of Apple fans who have faithfully clocked in hundreds to thousands of miles for the event with high expectations. Coming back to Apple’s final participation in Macworld 2009, the company has confirmed that Phillip Schiller, Senior Vice President of Marketing will be stepping into Steve Jobs’ shoes for the keynote. So would this mean that there are no likely announcements for new products? There could be two ways about this. Either there is no product or there is something as a parting gift for all Apple disciples. If it is the latter, which of Apple’s products are on line for an upgrade? A couple of my personal choices are listed below based on rumours circulating in the web world.

The first of the biggest rumours hitting technology publication sites and blogs on the webworld is Apple’s purported entry into the low cost mobile industry with the launch of a 4GB Apple iPhone. It could well turn out to be a killer move for Apple as it could end up selling a lot more mobile phones than any of the industry leaders. Despite Nokia, Motorola, Samsung & Sony Ericsson’s iPhone like phones, they all tend to be in expensive brackets, which has to bought with a contract to offset the costs. A 4 GB iPhone could give iPhone access to the lucrative PrePay mobile phones market.

Product (Red) iPhoneMy personal favourite is a Product (Red) branded iPhone. (Red) is an initiative by U2 front man Bono and activist Bobby Shriver, to raise money for the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. If announced, I might even forego my existing contract with Vodafone and move over to O2. Product (Red), despite it’s criticisms, for the campaign has cost nearly five times more than what it has raised so far, it appeals to me for its vision as well as it’s value as a brand.

Either that, or a 32 GB iPhone with HD capabilities. If announced, that’ll surely rock the event. Clearly, Apple already has a 32 GB iPod touch which is based on a similar NAND flash based memory used in iPhone. However, iPod Touch uses two units of 16 GB rather than a single unit used in iPhone, making the iPod Touch slightly bulkier than the iPhone. However, in the recent days, Toshiba, Samsung and other companies have released 32GB single unit NAND memories, which fits in easily into an iPhone. Technically, a 32GB iPhone is not far off. Just a matter of how long it would take for Apple to come out with one. I am sure to go either on a (red) iPhone or a 32 GB iPhone. It would be an incredible bonus if Apple launchs a 32 GB Product (Red) iphone.

Anyway, there are a number of other rumours, including an updated version of a Mac Mini, a new iMac and an extended range of Apple Cinema displays, as well as an improved version of Leopard, Apple iLife or even Snow Leopard.

As a parting note, the legacy of Apple brand continues to grow (literally) in uncharted territories. A Japanese farmer has grown a new kind of Fuji apples with Apple and iPod logos inscribed on them, by using stickers to shield the sunlight. More about that here and there’s a picture of Apple branded apples below (Courtesy: Gizmodo).

Apple Branded Apples

Facebook Connect or Google Friend Connect: Which One Offers Better Brand Visibility?

Facebook ConnectI am mighty impressed with Facebook Connect. It offers a tremendous potential for businesses and individuals to improve their visibility on the web. Of course, both Google’s Friend Connect and Facebook Connect came out of their test phases at the same time, but at the moment Facebook Connect seems to be holding the sway, largely because of its impressive 120 million user base. MySpace too has a fairly large user base which matches Facebook, but the growing popularity of Facebook, coupled with a cluttery feel and template heavy profile pages makes MySpace a bit messed up in terms of aesthetics. With Facebook hungrily adding new features by the day, the longer term prospects of Facebook look much more attractive than that of MySpace unless it does something drastic to counter this.

Google Friend ConnectMySpace certainly is not idle. It has constantly sought to improve it’s platform, and now with all the internet majors looking at data portability as an option, it comes as no surprise that it has tied up with Google for friend connect, along with the existing partnerships with Yahoo, eBay, Twitter & PhotoBucket. However, what MySpace really needs to do is to keep it simple and appealing to users. It really has to move away from its cluttery offering.

Google’s Friend Connect offers similar data portability as Facebook Connect, but again lacks in appeal and a popular social networking platform. Google has really failed in coming up with something as smart as either a Facebook or a Twitter. It’s very own Social Networking Platform, Orkut, has failed to catch-up with sufficient audiences and is limited to users largely from Brazil and India, failing in the first hurdle itself.

Facebook Connect, on the other hand, seamlessly integrates with a site or a blog with a one click login and allows users to interact with the site, which gets fed into the Facebook News Feed on the user’s Facebook Profile Page, making it visible to the user’s close community. This helps in increasing the brand and product awareness among Facebook users. Social influence in marketing is the key to succeed and Facebook offers this social influence in a surprisingly simple way to a very large user base at absolutely no cost. I am certain that in the coming months it will be a standard feature with many popular commercial/non-commercial online models as well as personal websites and blogs adapting to Facebook connect!

There is an early release of a WordPress Plugin for Facebook Connect developed by Six Jumps and I have been experimenting on this to get it live on my blog and should hopefully done on the weekend. It is incredibly simple to set up, with a little help from extensive tutorials by Six Jumps and I highly recommend getting this working soon on your blog. You will instantly have an army of friends marketing your blog to a wider audience.

Facebook Tweets Twitter: How do two biggest Social Networking Sites Make Money?

Do They Make Any?

Facebook’s courtship with Twitter in the past few weeks has officially ended after Evan Williams, the founder and CEO of Twitter confirmed on Tuesday that there would be no marriage with Facebook. The web world has been abuzz with news recently about Twitter’s reported refusal for a $500 mostly stock offer from Facebook. Both social networking platforms are yet to turn profitable and this raises several questions about how viable these are as propositions for investors. There is certainly a point in a way Mr. Williams envisions Twitter’s prospects in the coming years. He has clearly stated that Twitter would be looking to monetise its platform before such an association and if his strategies to turn Twitter profitable work, then there could be a higher price tag on Twitter than what Facebook is currently offering.

Twitter, a simple micro-blogging platform built on Ruby-On-Rails, has been gaining popularity since early 2007. Started with a $20 million capital raised from Venture Capitalists, Twitter allows users to broadcast messages up to 140 characters through its platform. With an estimated 6 million global users, Twitter is fast catching up with some of the other popular social networking sites although it lags behind miles in comparison with the massive 120 million user base of Facebook. Moreover, of the 6 million estimated users, only a fraction of them tweet regularly. Despite a fairly decent subscriber base, Twitter like most social networking platforms, is struggling to translate its success into profits, although Mr. Williams foresees the opportunity to monetise the platform in the next couple of years. However, one of the first tasks Mr. Williams has identified is to stabilise and improve the Twitter platform.

Facebook has its own challenges to turn profitable. Despite having 120 million registered users and consumer data which is extremely valuable for marketing, Facebook has failed to achieve the desired levels of success. It offers a great platform for businesses to market themselves by leveraging the options of setting up free business pages to interact directly by fostering communities with the target base on a personal level. It also offers an opportunity for businesses to advertise for a fee, although businesses might find that Facebook offers little return on money spent on advertising.

Given the current economic climate, it’s a huge surprise that Facebook is throwing $500 million weight of stock and cash on a smart tool which has, for the moment, no revenue potential. The $15 billion valuation, when Microsoft bought into a piece of the Facebook pie, seems to be extremely overvalued. If Facebook’s stock were to be revalued now, Twitter would loose much of the value of the stock, considering bigger technology companies like Google and others have seen their stock values eroding in the recent past. And the biggest irony is, Twitter refusing such an offer! This, despite Mr. Williams’ assertion that there are no business people among Twitter’s 25 strong team, which could actually put it on the path to economic success.

If past successes are anything to go by, then Google certainly is a beacon of hope. As most of us would already be aware, the seeds to Google’s growth were sown back in 1998 when Google developed an incredible product – a better search engine. And for nearly two years, they ran from pillar to post trying to convince venture capitalists to invest in an idea which absolutely had no revenue channels. Of course, it did benefit from the dotcom boom and fortunately, their revenue potential was realised through another smart product – Adwords, which literally is the driving force behind Google today.

Undoubtedly, both Facebook and Twitter have been successful in capturing user attention. How successfully they translate this attention to bank balance is a matter of curiosity, which depends on efficient leadership and only time will tell this. One thing is certain. They might not make any money for their founders but it certainly does make you less productive in the workplace!