Apple’s iPad: The Mothership Prepares for Launch

On the Mother Ship. a self-confessed Apple fanboy gets finger time with the ipad – and face time with Steve Jobs

Article “Apple’s iPad: The Mothership Prepares for Launch” published on Thursday 1st April 2010 in TIME Magazine” – Time Magazine headline.

It is a gorgeous spring day when I arrive at the coolest address in the universe: 1 infinite Loop, Cupertino, Calif., where apple has been headquartered since 1993. The campus, for such they call it, is enormous yet not big enough to contain apple’s current rate of expansion. An additional site is being designed and built. after stocking up on “I visited the mother- ship” t-shirts at the company store (we fanboys are pathetic, I readily confess), i am shown around the canteen, lawns and public spaces. It is right to call this a campus, for everyone looks and dresses like a student. I should imagine the only people ever caught wearing suits here have been visiting politicians.

I am here at apple’s invitation to try out the iPad, and later in my visit I will spend an hour with the company’s boss, Steve Jobs—the first time I’ve ever spent any real time with him.

Read this article at TIME.com

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Digital Devicement: Part Three – BlackBerry Picking Time

It’s only mail and text, but I like it, like it

I remember attending a Rolling Stones concert at the Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles last year. When it was apparent that the final encore had been given and that the event was over, the audience stood to leave and the darkness was punctuated by the twinkling of ten thousand BlackBerries: the Rolling Stones generation checking their inboxes. No cigarette lighters held up in the air to honour the band (there probably wasn’t one smoker in a thousand at the venue), just handsets held up to their own faces to honour the bandwidth. The moment seemed to distill some truth about our culture that simultaneously amused, depressed and delighted me. Go, as they say, figure.

The Canadian company Research In Motion introduced its first BlackBerry, a duplex pager, ten years ago. Since then RIM has established itself and its device as one of the great success stories of the digital age. BlackBerry is a kind of cult – a verb, a metonym, a synecdoche for corporate life on the move.

Under the RIM

For those of you unconnected with business, the way Blackberryists interface with their phones may be unfamiliar. Typically he or she will have been given the handset by their employer. This is not an act of generosity. The device is a kind of leash, a digital ball and chain not far from the electronic tag that convicts on parole are forced to wear. The email and calendar accounts are controlled by the company, via BlackBerry Enterprise Server connections. Each handset can be zapped, nixed and deactivated by the corporate IT people whose hands are ever hovering over the kill switch, awaiting the command from the Fifth Floor. Or so it must seem to some employees. Like the bonds of marriage, the connection can be seen as a welcome tie that binds you with ribbons of gold to the company you love, or as a set of shackles that confine you for ever in a hateful prison from which there is no escape.


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Digital Devicement: Part Two – Magical Heroes


Android is the name given to an open source mobile operating system developed by Google and the Open Handset Alliance and released a year ago. In December 2008 I reviewed here the HTC G1, the first android phone. I concluded:

One can bet that the G2 and G3 will better bear the luscious fruit of Open Source development before very long. Meanwhile, the G1 stands as a reasonably priced and impressive first shot from HTC and Android. The whole system can only improve and when it does it will truly give the iPhone a run for its money. Especially if Apple stays as tightly closed as they are now.

Well Apple haven’t shown much sign of opening up. Each week seems to bring a new story of some indignant developer complaining at Apple’s lordly refusal to allow their new app shelf-space in the store. Even the mighty Google have been whingeing. On the other hand Apple have not stood still in the field of iPhone development either. So have Android and HTC managed to close the gap with the Hero and the Magic?


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Digital Devicement: Part One – Introduction

I’ve been putting off this day for some time. But the final piece of the puzzle (in the shape of the Palm Pre) has arrived and I can delay no longer. Over the past few months I have bought and been sent some of the latest, loveliest and lousiest arrivals in the world of smartphonery, iPoddery and assorted digital devicement. I don’t pretend to offer teardowns, benchmarks or full and complete reviews and news on the subject of pricing, availability, networks and deals since all these variables tend to … um … well vary, I suppose. So prepare for a blessay, a maxiblog in four parts of which this is Part the First: An introduction. A sketchy tour d’horizon of the terrain that lies before us, stretching into the purple distance.

I am as aware as anyone that on the subject of smartphone brands perfervid attachments and preferences can foment almost religious fervour in our passionate breasts. It is not enough for many BlackBerry aficionados to love their Curve or their Bold, they must also loathe the Apple iPhone; every time they see one in the hands of a passer-by in the street or a latte-lapper in the Caffè (iPhone users only frequent coffee bars that spell café with two Fs) a small part of them wants to scream out “Poser! Creep!” How much worse if the iPhone is being fondled on screen by a talkshow host, film actor or celebrity chef. It is as if those cursed airheads are conspiring to question the BlackBerryist’s very life choices – his whole meaning and value in the world.


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iPhone, therefore I am – Stephen reviews Apple’s iPhone 3GS

Article also published on Friday 19th June 2009 in The Guardian

A little under a year ago in this very newspaper I reviewed the Apple iPhone 3G and its new firmware release: ‘Now that the Applications store is up and running,” I wrote, “you will soon find it a very common sight indeed to see people crowded around each other’s iPhones showing off the latest impossible, breathtaking and ground-breaking application. ‘Ah, but mine can do this!’ will be heard in every café and bar. Satirical sketches will be written and performed on Channel 4 mocking the trend. Once again Apple has changed the rules and nothing will be ever be quite the same again.”

It is very rare for any prophetic utterance of mine to bear fruit, but in this case it seems I was bang on the money. On July 11th 2008 the Apple iTunes App Store Apple iTunes App Store opened its virtual doors and the world changed. The diversity, originality and imagination that has since gone into the authoring of apps has created, from the standingest of starts, a whole new business model, and one that benefits cottage industry amateurs quite as much as established software houses. With over 50,000 apps and more than a billion downloads, it is hardly surprising that Blackberry, Nokia, Microsoft and Google have all now jumped on the app emporium bandwagon. Apple has shown that a mobile phone can be a pedometer, a restaurant guide (one which can make the reservation, direct you there and let you know which kinds of sustainable seafood you can order with a clear conscience), an ensemble of musical instruments that can be blown down, tapped and strummed, a library of literature, a periodic table, a performer of magic tricks, a language translator, a  Skype phone, a Twitter client, a radio, a games platform and a device that can set your home satellite TV to record any programme you like wherever you are in the world. Not to mention a fart machine and perpetrator of other mad, pointless and preposterous one-time-use pranks, japes and wheezes. Now that the others are all playing catch-up, it is easy to forget what a risk Apple took in creating a market out of nowhere. In recent weeks the once great Palm have brought out an immensely exciting iPhone inspired touchscreen phone, the Pre (US-style CDMA only and not available in Europe for ages), Nokia have finally released their long awaited N97, which I will come to later, and the prolific HTC have introduced their Google Android phones, the Magic and Hero.


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