Is Apple copying Microsoft?

OK, I just watched the Steve Jobs presentation yesterday where he demonstrated iTV for the first time.

Now, do you remember when I met Steve Jobs on a street corner in San Francisco? Remember what he said to me? “Nice to meet the guys who are copying us.” (Us being Apple, since I was there with Dean Hachamovitch, executive at Microsoft, he was saying that Apple leads, Microsoft follows. UPDATE: Dave Winer was also there, I forgot about the irony that Steve copied lots of Dave’s stuff).

Well, Steve, the honor turns out to be mine! Your UI looks an awful lot like Windows Media Center. Almost a total copy. So, who is copying whom? What’s next, a Tablet PC copy?

Here, we can all play this game. Go watch my video, displayed back in April 2006 with the Media Center team and check out the UI. Now, head over to the Steve Jobs presentation and watch the iTV presentation. It starts at about minute 55.

If anyone ever tells me again that Microsoft only copies Apple I’m gonna puke.

UPDATE: if you watch the John Legend concert at the end of the Apple Showtime video you’ll see he has some weird headphones. Hint: they aren’t an Apple product. They are Ultimate Ears headphones. They cost $900. But they are simply the best headphones on the market. Period. Custom designed for your ears. Disclaimer, I got a pair for free last year. Why are they so good? A baby can be screaming in the seat next to me and I can barely hear it.

Google Press Center is useless

Let’s see. Around 11 a.m. this morning Mike Arrington wrote about the Google/Intuit partnership. Now, he was a little bit ahead of the official news, which was announced at 1:30 p.m.

Remember that a few weeks ago I signed up for the Google Press Center’s email list. I figured that would get me early advanced warning about Google’s hottest stories — or at least would get me close to the same information that Mike Arrington is getting.

Well, no.

When did the email arrive? 5:05 p.m. after it was already old news and covered to death on TechMeme. Remember, this is ostensibly a mailing list for journalists to learn what the latest stuff coming out of Google is.

I’ll give it two or three more news stories to see if the performance improves, but if it doesn’t I’m gonna unsubscribe.

Why I’m disappointed with Zune and latest iPods

Take a look at the viewfinder on my camera. Now, look at the pictures of the Zune (which will be announced tomorrow) or the latest iPods.

What do you notice? My viewfinder is widescreen. 16:9 aspect ratio. That’s what HDTV is all about. 

But the new iPod and Zune are designed to play 320×240 or 640×480 videos. Not wide screen.

That just sucks. Ever watch a movie on an old TV after getting an HDTV? They look like crap. Either they get squished or someone cuts off the ends of the video so you don’t get the full movie you saw in the movie theater.

Now, imagine that Sony made a viewfinder, like the one on my camcorder, that “rips off” of the camcorder and you can carry it around and show your friends videos on it. Look carefully at that viewfinder. It looks much cooler — because of its wide-screen 16:9 aspect ratio — than either the Zune or the iPod does. And that’s before you even put a movie on it.

The one thing the Zune does do right, though, is give us a screen that’s dramatically bigger than the iPod for watching videos.

Oh, and don’t even tell me how lame the new iTunes videos are. Paying $10 or more for a 640×480 video? Do you have any clue how bad that looks on a good 60-inch 16:9 widescreen HDTV? At least if I get the DVD my player upscales it well so it looks pretty decent. Not to mention that DVDs usually come in wide-screen format now. So, count me out. Now, if Apple figured out a way to get HDTV widescreen videos online? I’d buy one of those things in a minute!

I’m shocked that Steve Jobs hasn’t gone 100% widescreen yet, Apple used to be so proud to be the most innovative company out there bringing us things like wifi before most other companies. I guess we’ll have to wait on widescreen, though (hey, Sony, here’s your opportunity!) Yeah, the iTV will let me do it, I think. The reason I’m pretty sure it does is because Steve Jobs demonstrated it using Rocketboom, which films in widescreen HDTV too, using a Sony HD camcorder too. But if I can’t buy movies from iTunes in widescreen, what good is it for most people? (Hey, I’m weird cause I watch Rocketboom instead of Lost or American Idol, most people outside of Silicon Valley aren’t like that).

It looks like I’m not the only one who wants a wide-screen portable device. Look at this Google News search for “widescreen” and you can see the disappointment with Apple coming through the headlines.

What about you? Do you think I’m nuts? Tell me about it! :-)

UPDATE: Ironically Steve Jobs “Showtime” presentation yesterday is up on Apple’s site in, yes, you guessed it, widescreen format. Too bad you can’t watch that in all of its glory on your new iPod video.

Judy says I only asked SAP “softball questions”

Judy (not sure what her last name is, but her about page says she’s a PR person) makes a point that SAP confuses bloggers with journalists and that I only asked softball questions.

She’s right (about me).

I did only ask softball questions. Why? Cause I was still trying to figure out what SAP is all about. I don’t cover them day in and day out.

But, now that I’ve done my softball interview (it’s hard to get into any depth when an executive is only available for five minutes in between other meetings) I’ll be able to step up my game too.

I’m looking at the SAP coverage on Google News, though, and I don’t see too much controversy. Is it a journalist’s job to stir up controversy where there is none? Or is it to ask questions and report on what the answers are?

Not to mention they have open forums where you can see lots of controversial things discussed. I learned, for instance, that there was a recent controversy when SAP came out with a toolset for developing ABAP (SAP’s language) and it only ran on the new versions of SAP. But, even there the controversy ended well and SAP backported that tool.

Anyway, Bloggers got different badges than full-time journalists did (they had badges that say “press” on them).

Now, if HP invited me to a board press conference today, you better believe I wouldn’t be asking “softball questions.” But on my first five-minute meeting with an executive? What was I going to ask?

UPDATE: Charlie Wood is still at the SAP event (as a blogger) and gives more details.

Who has the best images of Google?

Heheh, a little cross-company smack talk going on over on the Virtual Earth blog. They link to all their competitors and say they have better imagery. Actually, what they are demonstrating is their new collections feature where you can gather together a collection of interesting places and put a link to that on your blog. Very useful! By the way, that and more are explained on other posts on the Virtual Earth blog.

Of course the Google Earth bloggers aren’t lying down in this competition. They just added a new layer feature which is very cool.

And, Ze Frank even gets into this fun too. He uses Google Earth today to show where all his “little yellow duckies” are (his viewers). Can you find me? My little Yellow Duckie is in Half Moon Bay, right by the Ritz. Ze told me I was the first member of his “ORG” and, looking at this now I see 10s of thousands of members who watch Ze Frank’s Show.