thinglets: Top Ten Unrevealed iPhone4 Features

1) More absorbent than Sham-Wow in tricky oil spill situations.

2) Able to leap off tall Chinese factories in a single bound.

3) Has the ability to motivate an entire community's police force if it goes missing.

4) Gives you a hundred more reasons to use data and be gouged by your provider.

5) Farmville gives iPhone that touch of class that only Zuckerberg understands.

6) iPhone to blind today's teens in a decade with eBook reader.

7) Google directions lawsuit pales in comparison to the 2011 class-action suit involving video chatters getting hit by runaway fruit cart.

8) Prosecuting attorney uses new iPhone gyroscope configuration to determine the amount of helicopter-like rotations the corpses made before landing on the Google Streetview van.

9) Sharp 720p video capabilities look especially sharp while enduring tailbone trauma on the shockless city bus.

10) Release date of June 24th is 130th anniversary of the first public performance of O Canada which really means nothing as no one in Canada knows when they'll get the iPhone 4 yet.

thinglets: An Open Letter to Steve Jobs

Dear Steve Jobs,

Why are you such a dick?

I realize your bound to make money for your shareholders and are beholden to the corporate overlords of profit and loss, but seriously dude!

You call out your bought-and-paid-for guerilla hit squad to bust into some blogger's house and ransack his stuff, all because he wrote some shit about a cell phone that doesn't even officially exist. Sure, he was involved in some shady shit to get it, but just because your acolyte got careless after a couple steins of pilsner, doesn't mean you have to go all ape-shit.

I am regular purchaser of the "i" line of phones and mp3 players, not because they're the greatest things since pita bread, but because I'm a lazy bastard who wants everything done for me and doesn't want to have to think about actually getting complete use from a mobile device.

You see, I just like shit to work. But I also like to try out new things that other owners (not USERS) but OWNERS have done with their devices. So I propose a concept for you.

If you're all hot and bothered that your Appletini-soaked employee was either negligent, drunk or just plain stupid, I can accept that.

If you want to be all pissed off that YOUR prototype had pictures leaked all over the internet for geeks everywhere to react to like a backyard fireworks show, I can accept that as well.

If you want to fire up your private militia/police force to trample on the rights on a blogger (and I won't even make the journalist argument) because someone touched your toy, I may not like it, but I can accept it.

But here's what you have to accept!

When I go out to buy your "next gen" groundbreaking device that adds a couple of features to the old device and is really like last year's Chrysler Cordoba with a new cigarette lighter, it's MINE!

I get to crack it, hack it, smack it, break it up, bust it up, beat it up, and reconfigure it any way I like because I OWN it.

I'm not renting, leasing, or putting it on layaway. I have a receipt in hand, a VISA statement in the mail and if I lose it, it's not you that suffers, it's me. So if I own it, don't start hating when I start jailbreaking.

Because if you start telling me that when I own the next iPhone, you can force me to do anything with it, I'm getting a group of my friends together, and we're gonna imbibe in a few steins of pilsner, and we're gonna buy fake badges at the dollar store, and we're gonna inevitably make numerous bad jokes in reference to Treasure of the Sierra Madre, and we're gonna use Open Office to print up a fake search warrant, and we're gonna invade your Star Chamber in the middle of the night, and we're gonna raid your fridge, 'cause no doubt we'll be hungry.

Are you sure you want risk this eventuality? Are you sure you want to continue to be such a dick?

You're sooo lucky I'm a lazy bastard.

But I'll give someone a dollar to take my place... perhaps Gizmodo will outbid me.

lovehate: Unboxing Day

I remember a couple of years ago when someone told me to watch an unboxing of a new product on YouTube. I can't remember what it was, but i gave this friend the benefit of the doubt and went clicking away on the link he sent me.

Wow! What a waste of time.

Not only did I not care about the item being unboxed or the person doing the unboxing, but i actually started to resent the entire process. It's almost like they were rubbing it in my face that they had something I didn't. And even though I didn't want the product they were unboxing, I started to feel envious of the joy they took out of unboxing it.

I will admit that there is a certain anticipatory feeling that accompanies opening a new product, but I can't imagine the process that takes one from frustratingly tearing shrinkwrap and mauling cardboard to actually do it in front of a video camera. Because while I was shocked that anyone would actually record themselves doing such a thing, by the sheer numbers of like videos in YouTube's "related" column, I discovered that thousands of people actually found this process exciting.

Now far be it from me to rain on people's parades. After all there are far worse things that people do to get their rocks off.

I was reminded of that day when today I "unboxed" my first iPhone. Oh sure, I've unboxed the iPod shuffle, the iPod Nano, and the iPod Touch over the past few years, but nothing sparked my synapses like opening my iPhone... which I did... at work... without fanfare, without video camera, without pacing and shaking my hands in eager anticipation. I took a letter opener, gouged the shrinkwrap, ripped the box open, flung the manuals in the trash and swapped out SIM cards without soundtrack, special effects, chromakey titles or people watching on YouTube.

Am I alone here folks? I'm a tech guy! I like gadgets and toys and regularly buy a whole crapload of electronica I don't need but still covet. Maybe I'm just jaded. Maybe I just come from a time where my favorite unboxing of the day had to do with a bowl of Count Chocula and digging out the cheap plastic toy at the bottom... aaah! those were good times.

I used to think "Unboxing" was a late-career George Foreman fight. Now I think it should have a day named after it since people love it so much. I figure here in my home and native land of Canada we have Boxing Day on December 26th, but that doesn't make sense. The day after Xmas is anything but Boxing Day anymore; it's all about the Unboxing.

I am thus declaring December 26th Unboxing Day in Canada, not because that's when we open things (which occurs the day previous) but because that's when we debox our households after the clutter of commerciality drowns us. I suppose one could call it Deboxing Day, but Debox sounds too much like a new pharma scam. 

Join with me on December 26th to celebrate Unboxing Day and liberate your house of boxes... except of course the Idiot Box, which is still a box, but how many boxes can you bask in the warm glow of on Xmas Eve?

lovehate: Macolytes Drool for The Apple Strudle... I mean Tablet

Is everyone heading down to the Great Outdoor Sports Equipment Supply Depot to get their backpacks ready for a three week stint in a line outside their neighborhood Apple Store to wait for the new iTablet? Have you borrowed your sci-fi geek friend's Dune-inspired Fremen suit so that you can filter your own urine and sweat and not give up your spot in line? Why are people so excited for a fragile 11" piece of vaporware?

I just don't get it. I do have issues which make me question why I would EVER want one of these rumored devices and, by extension, why anyone else would.

First Issue: iPhone OS - I can't imagine having a big screen version that merely echoes the functionality of an iPhone. The iPhone OS is neat, but if this device is going to replace a netbook, I have the feeling people will want to run more than one application at a time. Notice how the iPhone commercials never say "there are Apps for that." To promote this as a slogan would imply that you could run "apps" and not "app". A tablet will HAVE to get a better version of the iPhone OS if it's going to be used for anything useful whatsoever.

Second Issue: form factor - Why on earth would I lug around an 11" version of an iPhone/Touch. The iPhone fits in my pocket. I would have to buy some sort of European carryall to accommodate this funky new device to do the same things I do with a pocket-sized gadget. And while I admit that I sometimes wish I had a bigger keyboard on my iPod Touch, larger screen buttons won't convince me to switch. In addition, think of one of the most popular additions to the iPhone 3GS: video. Picture yourself holding an 11" slab up in front of your face to take a picture or shoot a video. And I can't foresee holding this up to my head to answer a phonecall.

Third Issue: price - A high GB iPhone, without a subsidy from a mobile provider, can cost upwards of $699. A 10" screen tablet would have to cost, being generously frugal, between $1000-$1200. Assuming there's Bluetooth with the new device, a funky iEar could be packaged with the device in order to allow a mobile subsidy to apply. Maybe a $100 belt clip could be sold as an accessory and it would look like you had a digital picture frame hanging from your waist. I have a tough time justifying a $300-$500 netbook when I can buy a full laptop for between $500-$600. Apple never does things on the cheap, and I can imagine this might the most expensive Strudel... I mean Tablet... on the block.

If a netbook was originally meant for someone who didn't need a laptop, but wanted to stay connected to the net in a slightly larger form factor, who will the tablet be for - someone who really doesn't need an Macbook but wants to stay connected? Because from what I can see, the Macolytes who would buy the tablet would also own the Macbook Air and Apple TV and the iPhone and a black turtleneck and a polished aluminum MacMini with an etching of Steve Jobs profile. The iStrudel doesn't replace anything except cash from your wallet with air.

lovehate: The "i" meets the "mart"

I've never been an Apple fanboy. Sure I kinda liked my Shuffle and I really like my Nano for allowing me to take video podcasts on the go. I do covet the iPod Touch and will probably pick one up within the next couple of weeks. And seeing that it mildly bothers me that iPhones are going to be sold at Walmart, I can only imagine what the Mac fanboys (and girls) must be thinking. Their world of brick-designed polished aluminum and stylized high end merchandise is going to be hocked under the "Have a Nice Day" octogenarian greeters of the uberdiscount leviathan.

Quite simply, Apple has made their continued mark on not only being ahead of the curve in terms of product design, but also on a "cool" factor that created a perceived higher class of gadget and computer buyers. Apple had a group of dedicated apostles willing to pay twice as much for hardware and the same price for music... even while it was held ransom through DRM!

The marriage of the "Holy Grail" product of the "i" prefix with the bargain basement of the "mart" suffix will drive Apple to common highway instead of the toll roads. The first time the acolytes of the Cult of Jobs see an iPhone on sale for 144.44 with the "Always" placard next to it, their hearts will die a little inside.

It's not that I don't understand the marketing angle and the potential cash to be made, but will I ever be able to take the Mac/PC ads in the same vein again? When I think of Justin Long now, will I envision Warren Cheswick in a blue apron making minimum wage?

Okay, look... I know that other Apple products have been available at Walmart for years and the shine hasn't come off the devotees. But along with the Walmart news comes the rumor that iTunes is going DRM-free. After years in the clouds, Apple is coming down to earth. What remains to be seen is if Apple can catch the even larger market of people who would never pay a premium for gadgets. Let's face it, consumers can get cell phones these days for next to nothing and pay as they go. Will bringing the iPhone into suburbia convince the $47.77, no contract buyer to spend $200 with a three year commitment? I'm guessing this is what Apple is banking on.

Maybe the "elite" market is getting tapped out in this economy. Maybe the days of techies paying $3000 for a Macbook that parallels the processing abilities of a $1000 PC laptop. I don't believe Apple is hurting by any means, but I do think they are hedging their bets. My only remaining question is do they have another landmark product on the horizon. We've been seeing a regular pattern over the last few years of Apple rolling out new models of devices that basically do the same thing - kind of like the auto industry... though I don't think an iBailout's in the works.

Is there a future for another portable media device/phone in Apple's future, or is it just model tweaks for the next five years? I have no doubt there is something up the sleeves of the development teams in Cupertino, but the last time there was something completely unknown that was rumored as different and "groundbreaking" Michael Kamen's was pimping It/Ginger - ultimately the Segway. And while the Segway was cool, it certainly wasn't the revolutionary product it was cracked up to be.

The proprietary has met the ordinary. The MOMA has met the dormroom poster sale. The Ferrari's available at Budget Rent-a-car. The "i" has met the "mart"... and the late adopters will carry their new AT&T contract in a plastic basket with a package of Twizzlers, a sweater made in China, and an impulse-buy horoscope scroll.