iNews Review

Planned Obsolescence and the iPhone, Consumer Christmas List, iOS 5.0.1, Dolphin Browser, and More

This Week's iPad, iPhone, iPod, and Apple TV News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2011.11.21

Mac notebook and other portable computing is covered in The 'Book Review, and general Mac news is in Mac News Review.

All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted.

News, Reviews, & Opinion

iOS 5.0.1 News

Apps & Services

iPod Deals

These price trackers are updated every month.

News, Reviews, & Opinion

How Planned Obsolescence Came to the iPhone

Venture Beat's Steve Blank has posted a fascinating essay noting that at the close of the 1920s, there were close to a 100 car manufacturers, but a relentless drive for low cost production forced most of them out of business as they lacked capital to scale, and the long service life of Ford and GM cars at the time retarded sales of new cars, with US car ownership having risen from nothing to 80% of American families over a 20 year period. The market was approaching saturation, meaning that henceforth cars would have to be sold almost entirely to people who already owned a car. Analogies with the current state of the personal computer industry are obvious.

The solution, at least from an auto industry perspective, was devised by General Motors CEO Alfred P. Sloan, a game-changer and innovator who ushered in a constellation of business model reforms that would make GM the top automaker for 80 years, among them "planned obsolescence" - or as Sloan preferred to call it, "dynamic obsolescence" - in the form of the annual model change, borrowing from the fashion sector where styles changed every year and applying it to automobiles. General Motors began changing the external appearance of its cars every year, with styling and design becoming a vital and integral part of GMs strategy, and by the mid-1950s every other car company was struggling to keep up.

Blank observes that over the past five years Apple has adopted the GM playbook from the 1920s: Take a product that originally solved a problem - cheap communication - and turn it into a need, thereby doing to Nokia and RIM what General Motors did to Ford 80 years ago. He notes that the iPhone transformed the cell phone from a device for cheap communication into a touchstone about the user's image, and just as cars did in the 20th century, the iPhone connects with its customers emotionally and viscerally as it became a symbol of who they are.

Editor's note: For my recent essay on Apple's embrace of planned obsolescence in its products, see Scoping the New Apple's Planned Obsolescence Philosophy. cm

Publisher's note: I beg to differ with Blank. Smartphones are not about the user's image; they are about expanding the capabilities of mobile phones, just as adding a built-in camera, supporting texting, and rudimentary Web access were before the smartphone came to dominance. People tend to choose an iPhone because they want something that just works, while the majority purchasing Android phones want something that works like an iPhone (which completely redefined the smartphone segment) but with a bigger screen, a smaller price, or an "open" operating system.

As for planned obsolescence, that seems to be far more true of recent Apple products than older ones, and more true of its consumer lines than its pro hardware. A lot of our readers are using several-year-old Intel Macs and six-plus-year-old PowerPC Macs (for instance, a 2007 Mac mini, a 2002 MDD Power Mac, and a 2001 Digital Audio Power Mac here at Low End Mac headquarters, and several of our writers love their 2000 Pismo PowerBooks), which speaks volumes about good design and quality construction.

That said, techno-lust definitely applies to the new computer, smartphone, and tablet markets. dk

Poll Reveals What Consumers Hope to Receive for Christmas

PR: Consumers reveal their holiday gift wishes in a poll conducted by SodaHead.com, claimed to be the Web's largest opinion-based social community, and cold hard cash reigns supreme.

SodaHead Christmas poll resultsFrom money and trips to gift cards, clothing, jewelry, and electronics, consumers are hoping for a wide range of gifts to be under the tree this year. According to the poll, 39% of respondents are hoping for cash or a gift card, higher than all other gift types including vacations (30%), electronics (21%) and clothes/jewelry (10%).

"As consumers head to the malls and their favorite online shopping destinations, the poll results from SodaHead.com can give shoppers deep insights into the top items their family, friends and coworkers hope to receive this holiday season," says SodaHead.com CEO Chris Dominguez. "From details on the top tablets and kids' products, to revealing consumer sentiments on whether apps are good gifts, SodaHead's users have spoken and these poll results can serve as a valuable guideline for holiday shoppers."

The Tablet Wars: Apple iPad 2 Most Sought After Gift

As the tablet wars heat up and consumers are presented with dozens of iOS and Android-based options, the clear winner on consumer's holiday wish lists is the Apple iPad 2, as 65% of those wanting a tablet hope to receive the top-selling device on the market. The latest entrants in the tablet market from Amazon and Barnes & Noble have not yet made a significant impact, as only 24% of respondents are hoping to receive a Kindle Fire and a small 11% desire the recently announced Nook Tablet.

Top Gift for Kids: Videogames Take First Place

When it comes to gifts that most consumers think kids would like to receive, videogames top the list with 51%, followed by computers (32%), toys/games (10%) and movies/music (8%).

Top Choices in Technology: iPhone 4S Leading The Pack

Even though the iPad 2 is leading the tablet pack, Apple's tablet is not the top overall tech choice for the holidays, as 39% of respondents hope to receive an iPhone 4S, compared to 31% hoping for an iPad 2. The Amazon Kindle Fire is the tech item of choice for 17% of respondents and 13% are hoping that Santa brings Xbox Kinect down the chimney.

Apps as Gifts. It's Possible?

With millions of smartphones and tablets in the hands of consumers across the country, many may think that an app might make for a good (and easy) present. However, according to poll respondents 59% think that apps do not make a good gift, while 41% feel that apps are a great gift giving idea.

Are the Holidays Too Materialist: Without a Doubt

While consumers were responding to the SodaHead poll regarding what gifts they would like to receive, they also revealed that they do, in fact, think that the holidays have become "too materialistic." While 74% of respondents think the holiday has become more about gifts than family and faith, an even larger 80% still admit that they love the holiday season (as only 20% are saying "Bah Humbug!).

Publisher's note: If you're looking for an iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, iPod classic, iPod nano, or iPod shuffle, check out our recently updated price trackers for the best deals.

Running Slow After Installing iOS 5? How to Fix It

OS X Daily says:

"If your iPad or iPhone is running slow after updating to iOS 5 you're not alone, for many the update has made their device feel sluggish, with taps taking longer to register, stalls between swipes, and just a general noticeable decrease in performance. This seems to effect all iOS devices too, indicating its not necessarily a hardware issue but a software one.

"There are two solutions that are both relatively simple, for best results you need to do both:

  • "Update to iOS 5.0.1 (see below) if you haven't done so already, do it manually or through OTA [Over The Air].
  • "Back up and restore the iPad or iPhone after updating to iOS 5.0.1- do this if you're already running 5.0.1 and it feels slow, this works, we walk you through the process...."

iPhone 4S 'a Big Update Wrapped in the Same Case as Its Predecessor'

BGR's Zach Epstein notes that it's been a month since Apple released the iPhone 4S, crushing sales records and giving consumers got their first hands-on experience with Siri, the intelligent assistant that may help change the way we interact with consumer electronics moving forward. Epstein says that two main groups of consumers are targeted by the iPhone 4S and will continue to be blown away by this device - the millions of iPhone 3GS owners whose contracts expired recently, and non-iPhone owners who, if they choose the iPhone 4S as their next device, will find one of the best user experiences on the market featuring simplicity, high-end performance, the largest catalog of third-party applications on the market, and a gorgeous physical design comprised of glass and metal.

iTunes Match Legitimizes Music Piracy

Popular Mechanics' Mark Wilson notes that Apple's new iTunes Match $25 annual fee subscription service will sync the music on your machine with its song tracks in the Cloud no matter what legal or illegal means you used to acquire the songs in the first place. So is the company that made online music sales work and thwarted would-be pirates for so long now saying piracy is irrelevant thanks to the new world of streaming music?

Apple essentially will legitimize any pirated music up to 25,000 tracks, an,d in that sense, it's the MP3 equivalent of money laundering, Wilson observes. "It's like Hertz saying you can hotwire any car on the lot and they won't press charges, so long as you sign that rental agreement."

1st Generation iPod nano Replacement Program

If you still have a first generation (1G) iPod nano, you may be eligible for a free replacement.

1G iPod nanoA new Apple Knowledge Base article says that Apple has determined that, in very rare cases, the battery in the 1G iPod nano may overheat and pose a safety risk. Affected iPod nanos were sold between September 2005 and December 2006.

Note: This battery issue is specific to the 1G iPod nano and does not affect any other iPod.

This issue has been traced to a single battery supplier that produced batteries with a manufacturing defect. While the possibility of an incident is rare, the likelihood increases as the battery ages.

Apple recommends that you stop using your 1G iPod nano and follow the process noted below to order a replacement unit, free of charge.

Replacement Process

You may order a replacement unit via the web from the site linked below.

Your iPod nano serial number will be checked to verify that it is eligible for this program. You will receive a replacement unit approximately 6 weeks after Apple receives your 1G iPod nano.

If you have a personalized iPod nano, you will receive a non-personalized replacement. Make sure to use iTunes to back up any data on your current iPod nano before sending it in for a replacement unit.

Identifying an 1G iPod nano

It has a black or white plastic front and a silver metal back - later iPod nano models have a metal front and back.

If you need assistance with placing an order, please visit an Apple Retail Store or an Apple Authorized Service Provider (AASP) and bring your iPod nano with you for serial number validation.

Your replacement iPod product is warranted to be free from defects for 90 days from the date of service.

iOS 5.0.1 News

Apple Releases iOS 5.0.1

Apple is now distributing iOS 5.0.1 via iTunes, addressing iPhone 4S battery issues, security problems, and other bugs in the initial iOS release.

Improvements and other bug fixes include:

  • Fixes bugs affecting battery life
  • Adds Multitasking Gestures for original iPad
  • Resolves bugs with Documents in the Cloud
  • Improves voice recognition for Australian users using dictation

Products compatible with this software update:

  • iPhone 4S, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPad 2, iPad, iPod Touch (4G, 3G)

iOS 5.0.1 security patches address these issues:

  • Visiting a maliciously crafted website may lead to the disclosure of sensitive information
  • Viewing a document containing a maliciously crafted font may lead to arbitrary code execution
  • An attacker with a privileged network position may intercept user credentials or other sensitive information
  • An application may execute unsigned code
  • A person with physical access to a locked iPad 2 may be able to access some of the user's data

Apple iOS can be downloaded from iTunes by connecting your iPhone and clicking the Update button or as a Delta OTA update through your iOS 5 device.

Apple Issues First 'Over the Air' iOS Update with 5.0.1

AppleInsider's Daniel Eran Dilger says:

"Just after releasing iOS 5.0.1 through iTunes, Apple has made the update available to users via an over the air update, its first 'PC-free' update for iOS released to the general public."

iOS 5.0.1 iPhone Battery-Suckage Grief

The Register's Rik Myslewski says if you've experienced runaway battery suckage on your brand-spanking-new iPhone 4S, you won't be alone if you're still cursing your Apple handset after updating to Apple's supposed battery-fixing iOS 5.0.1, and indeed your battery issues may be substantially worse after upgrading

Some iPhone Owners Report Worse Battery Life with iOS 5.0.1

BGR's Zach Epstein reports that despite Apple's determination that iOS 5.0.1 resolved issues related to battery life, however, not all users are finding that to be the case.

Apps & Services

Browse Smarter with Dolphin Browser 2.0

Doplhin Browser logoPR: California based Mobotap has announced an update of Dolphin Browser for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch devices running iOS 4.0 or later. Created to provide users with the smartest, most personally adaptive mobile browsing solution, Dolphin features everything from gesture controlled web browsing to webzine access and more.

Dolphin Browser on iPad Dolphin Browser on iPhone

Dolphin Browser was developed as an enhanced alternative to Apple's default iOS Safari browser. The alternative browser app features everything from gesture-controlled web browsing to webzine access, and more. Newly updated, version 1.1 of this app now features enhanced interface options, a smoother overall browsing experience, and other improvements as well. Dolphin Browser version 1.1 is currently available for download on the Apple App Store for free in the Productivity category.

Dolphin Browser on iPad

Dolphin Browser on iPhoneDolphin Browser on iPhoneThis app represents the first ever iOS compatible mobile browser enabled with Gesture browsing features, a Webzine portal, and more. The newly updated app now includes a Featured Webzine section that allows users to access the Dolphin browsing community's 16 most popular Webzine sources and Web destinations. Another recent addition introduced to the app is Dolphin Connect, a feature that connects the browser to the cloud, giving users the power to sync Dolphin across all of their devices and load their browsing preferences straight from the cloud regardless of where they are or what device they happen to be using.

On the practical front, Dolphin Browser now includes a number of new improvements such auto-hiding for the search bar when the user scrolls up and down on pages, recalibrated left/right swipe sensitivity, and improved overall system stability. Users are given the ability to adapt Dolphin to their unique browsing habits and mannerisms, creating webzine and website 'speed dials', or programming swipe-based artistic Gesture commands.

Dolphin Browser on iPad Dolphin Browser on iPad

Editor's note: I've been using the Dolphin Browser on my iPad for several months and would rate it one of the best alternative iOS browsers - if not the best. cm

iPhone 4S Screen Repair Now Available from Jet City Device Repair

Jet City Device Repair announces they are now fixing the cracked screens on the iPhone 4S. This is a full service repair that takes approximately 30 minutes in their Seattle or Chicago shops or is completed within 24 hours if sent through the mail. The repair includes parts, labor, and a 90 day warranty.

Jet City Device Repair is kicking off their iPhone 4S glass replacement service with some aggressive pricing - just $129 plus sales tax. As mentioned above, that includes everything - parts, labor, and a 90 day guarantee.

They try to make things as simple as possible for their customers. People in the Seattle and Chicago areas can just walk into their storefront locations and have their iPhone 4S glass replacement done in about 30 minutes. Those living elsewhere can use their mail-in service to get their iPhone fixed. Simply use their website to place an order, mail them your phone, and they will have it fixed and mailed back to you within 24 hours.

Jet City Devices is a reputable company that has been doing cellphone repair for since 2007. In that time, they have fixed thousands of broken phones. At this time they have 5 professional repair technicians in their Seattle shop and 4 at their Chicago location.

Those interested in learning more about this repair can call them at 800-272-0897 or visit their website.

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