Can Apple Keep its Cool?


If you're reading this article on the go, pause for just a second and take a look around. What phones do you see people using? The iPhone? An array of Android devices? The business man's Blackberry? Chances are you're seeing quite a mix of all three and them some (and let's not forget the poor little Windows Phone). But what's shocking to me is that more and more, the iPhone isn't popping out of people's pockets. Rather, Samsung and HTC phones are breaking free of the fruit's chains and storming ahead. Why? Some say competition, others will tell you that Android is just plain better than the iDevice. But the real reason: the iPhone just isn't the coolest kid on the block anymore and Apple needs to fix that – and fast. 

I slip out my iPhone, check Twitter, and then shoot off a few emails. Hearing the faint whoosh of the Mail app verifying my sent mail, I slip it back into my back pocket and carry on with my day. This seems to be the habit I have with my phone, one that I'm proud to say is quasi-productive while at the same time, semi-amusing. But while meandering the halls, I'm taken aback at the rapid revision of what phones friends and strangers alike are typing away with… not iPhones.

Apple knows how to play the game – and it plays it very well. From commercials to keynotes, stores to employees, the company breaks its back to make sure the consumer feels free within its walled garden. With a relaxed atmosphere and staff, Apple draws in the teens, the adults (and apparently all of those who aspire to be hipsters), and their devices feed that feeling. But it seems like those times are drawing to an end, with Samsung's latest and greatest commercials bashing the sort of cult-like following Apple has had and showing its own phones to be… well, superior. 


I'd say the first mistake Apple made was to limit their phone to one carrier (in the red, white and blue) for the longest of time. Do you remember the original Droid launch commercials by Verizon? It was the Anti-iPhone. And it did spectacularly well. 

The next mistake was not mixing the operating system up a bit. I know, I know: if it ain't broke, don't fix it, but people get bored of the same tiny squares on a screen after three years and Android offers full customizability. 

And the last fall out would be not unveiling any game-changing software or hardware for the iPhone 4s.

Many pundits are saying the iPhone 5 will be groundbreaking, and that's going to give Apple a much needed bump up, but when it really comes down to it, if you want to stay on the top with trends, you need to break the ground each and every year, and then some. 

So will Apple stay cool in the long run? Maybe, maybe not. But let's not forget that Blackberry ruled the air for quite some time, and now look at 'em. It's a tough business, keeping cool, one that requires more than just a fancy phone or custom operating system. And don't look now… but I think I see Windows Phone pulling up pretty fast.

2:45 pm

Google+: It’s Time to Let the Teens In


Facebook, Twitter and even MySpace allow you to sign up for their respective services if you're 13 and up, so why can't Google live a little? Back in June of 2011, the internet was ablaze with reviews, commentaries, and first-hand tutorials of the seemingly stellar service, and quite a few focused on how Google+ grabbed such a stupendous size of users in a short time. Google has decided to keep one group of users off the service and is doing so at its own peril: teens.

This guest post was written by Alexander Burger. He is a teen himself and would love to join Google+, if only Google let him. Alexander usually blogs at

Smartphones have spread like wildfire in the past few years and more and more adults, children, and especially teens, have them. With Internet-capable devices in hand, teens can do more than just text or tweet… the revolution of what one has on them now has grabbed hold and is sticking pretty hard. Teens are probably the most sought-after group of consumers. Television ads, billboards and websites all trying to grab their attention… and teenagers being teenagers – they soak it all up. One day it's Sperry Topsiders [editors note: don't feel bad, I had to look that one up, too…], the next it's Nikon cameras, all based on who wears what, what shows where, and who speaks in such a way. Let's just say, if Jersey Shore moved to Connecticut, our tourist business would go through the roof.

But Google doesn't buy that. It doesn't see how you need to snatch up the socialites and get within the walls of schools and football fields. Does the G-Giant think Farmville flourished because of my mother's addiction to the game? No. Did Words with Friends get big because the scholars in our society decided to spend their time unscrambling letters to hit that triple word tile? No. Teens rule this terrain, teens decide whether you win, or lose, and if Google wants its social venture to come out golden, they have to play the game, they have to let them in.

So where does this leave our lack-luster social network, the one that Google keeps trying to back up with ideas like "Search Plus Your World?" It leaves them with questions about when they will open the gates and let the sea of younger students surge in and get a hold of all that popularity and more importantly, profitability.

Google+, to its credit, is a slick take on social, and one that could really be preferred over Facebook, but at the moment… it's a vacant wasteland collecting dust, pictures of cats, and absolutely no kind of human activity.

3:28 pm