Archive for January, 2010

29
Jan
10

Musings on the Announcement of the Apple iPad

It’s been about 24 hours since the long anticipated keynote address and unveiling of the Apple iPad.  I’ve had some time to reflect on what this announcement will mean for Apple, for consumers and for my own personal use. 

Mixed Reactions
On Wednesday morning, it seemed like even the least tech savvy folks knew that ‘Apple was announcing a tablet!’.  (Major props to those sites that were gracious enough to cover this event via liveblog – it made the situation easier to follow.)  Getting bits and pieces of information and trying to digest them while on the telephone and working with customers, I found it difficult to process the facts.  A lot of what Steve Jobs says gets lost in translation in the liveblog.  I was in a room filled with tech savvy co-workers and just about everyone was underwhelmed.  While the announcement was, in fact, a “tablet-shaped device,” the details were significantly less impressive than the grandiose expectations that analysts and random tech followers (like myself) had ascribed to it.  Nobody I spoke to seemed genuinely excited and as I collected feedback (most of it unsolicited), it largely consisted of exclamations about the poor marketing behind the name and what the iPad couldn’t do.  Overall, people seemed generally confused about what makes this product offering so special.

It’s important to point out that after years of speculation about what an “Apple Tablet” would look and behave like, the expectations were almost impossible to meet.  (It was actually a bit anti-climactic to actually see and hear this announcement since it was so much fun to pontificate over the years about what such a device might be.) 

The Keynote is the Key
The key to understanding this product lies not in reviewing the specifications and comparing it to other offerings in the market.  For those who are considering the iPad, my best suggestion is to actually invest an hour and half of your time before you spend $499 – $830.  Watch the keynote and observe how Apple is marketing it to consumers.

Unlike many other product unveilings, Apple devoted almost the entire hour and a half to explaining just one product.  (The keynote is long – if you can’t watch the entire thing, check out just the first 15 – 30 minutes of it.  (It’s available now on the homepage at Apple.com or via iTunes via podcast.)  But for the benefit of those that will only read this, I’ll do my best to share Steve Jobs’ sentiment.) 

The most critical piece of information during the keynote was explained in the first 15 minutes.  Steve showed a slide with an iPhone on the left, a MacBook on the right and and empty space in the center.  He talked about the thought that went into deciding whether there was room for a product between those two devices.  The philosophy he outlined was, ‘If we’re going to announce a product in between these two offerings, it has to be better than the phone and better than the MacBook at some things.’  He then hypothesized about whether the netbook fits in this category.  (He actually put the word “Netbook” in the empty space between the MacBook and the phone.  He explained that the company’s conclusion on netbooks is that they aren’t better than laptops or phones at anything.  He dismissed them as “slow, cheap laptops”.  It was only after going through this explanation that he unveiled the iPad that almost everyone has seen by now.

Continue reading ‘Musings on the Announcement of the Apple iPad’

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22
Jan
10

Downloading Nancy: Review

vlcsnap-2010-01-22-00h50m37s8 Maria Bello has one of those familiar faces.  If you saw her at an airport, you might stop her and say, “I know you from some television show or some movie, but I can’t quite place where.”  I’ve seen her in roles here and there – looking at her filmography, I’ve seen her in Payback, Thank You for Smoking and a few other roles, but admittedly none of them were particularly notable.  When it comes to Downloading Nancy, there’s no mistaking the fact if she didn’t have a signature film, she does now.  Despite a great all around cast, this is her film.

Bello is undoubtedly among the most attractive leading women in film today.  And while I’m not quite sure exactly what it was that attracted her to this script, one would assume that she must have felt the need to make a statement.  This is one of the most visceral, difficult-to-watch-yet-hard-to-turn-away-from while at the same time thought provoking and challenging films I’ve ever seen.  Ever.  Gone from Bello is the beautiful smile and naturally attractive features and replacing them are all the physical signs of a person who has no regard for her appearance and appears to be unashamed in her quest to do harm to her body.

To say that Downloading Nancy follows the life of a woman during “a difficult period in her life” would be a gross understatement.  The title character has been married to her husband Albert (Rufus Sewell) for fifteen years.  The director craftily provides glimpses into the past revealing how the marriage reached this point and we witness some of the worst evidence of neglect.  I’ve always listened to abused women on television declare that “he hits me because he cares about me”.  While I’m no closer to believing the validity of that statement and that mindset now than I was an hour and a half ago, I must admit that I understand a bit more the spirit of a person making that statement.  Albert barely acknowledges that his wife is even in the same room with him.  In on scene, he gets up from the dinner table and walks all the way around the table to get the salt and pepper shakers – a trip that could have easily been saved by simply asking his wife to secure them.  Rufus Sewell usually fits comfortably in the role of the villain in films and that baggage works to his favor here.  It’s painful to watch the neglect that he shows his wife.

There’s no other way to say it – Nancy likes to hurt herself.  She carries a box of razor blades around.  She takes advantage of almost any opportunity when she’s alone to inflict pain upon herself.  This extends beyond self-infliction and we learn that she connects with others online, sharing what she can’t share with her husband.  I have a pretty strong stomach for on screen violence or graphic content and I have to admit that the mere suggestion of what Nancy is doing – whether I can see where her hands are going or not – made me immensely uncomfortable.  This film is to our era what Star 80 was to it’s day.

Continue reading ‘Downloading Nancy: Review’