Saturday, December 8, 2012

Cook: Macs in America, Samsung should invent its own stuff
(Bonus: Should you buy an iPhone 5?)

The big dig at Samsung
Over at NBC News's Rock Center, anchor Brian Williams interviews Apple's new chief, Tim Cook. There were teasers on NBC Nightly News, with two Samsung-related items prompting me to write about it.

First, there was Mr Williams referencing this commercial...

... and asking Mr Cook whether Samsung is "going thermonuclear" with its suggestion that Apple products are now for pensioners and mindless Macfans, whereas Samsung users are the ones who truly are cool and far less pushy about it.

That was a delicious dig against Apple itself (full disclosure: I love Apple products, but I'm not in love with them), but so was Mr Cook's response that he loves competition but "we want people to invent their own stuff."

Touché, Tim.

Macs in America
The same interview had Mr Cook announcing that existing lines of Macs will soon be made in America (see also here), despite what he calls a lack of a properly educated manufacturing labor force. Still, with all the nationalist pressure to return Chinese jobs back to American shores, I guess Tim Cook thought it was time to trade meth-heads in Longhua, China, for meth-heads in Lousville.

Frankly, this is something I'd like to see South Korean companies do as well. I think it is very precarious for the likes of Samsung, LG, Daewoo, etc., to rely so heavily on Chinese labor. I think more manufacturing could be done in South Korea (and, were reunification to happen anytime soon, in North Korea), but if it has to be done overseas, I think Vietnam, India, and a few other places in the Americas and elsewhere in Asia would be a more balanced approach than having so much concentrated in China.

Is an iPhone5 worth upgrading to?
And on another note, with the iPhone5 finally landing on South Korea shores, should you buy an iPhone5? Or more to the point, should you scrap your iPhone 4 or 4S for an iPhone5?

Since arriving in Hawaii in 2006, I've had four phones: my initial LG flip phone I purchased in 2006, the iPhone 3G I replaced that with in mid-2008, the iPhone4 I bought in June 2010, and this year's iPhone5 that I got mailed to me on launch day in September. Note that I did not upgrade from a 3G to a 3Gs, nor from an 4 to a 4S. That would be excessive. (I tend to replace phones about once every two years and computers every three to four years.)

If you are still using a 3G or 3GS (or, inexplicably, an original iPhone), then the answer is a resounding yes. The high-resolution retina display alone is worth the price of admission.

If you are using an iPhone4, as I was, then the big advantages are the larger screen and use of Siri. I tend to watch Hulu and Netflix on my iPhone, but that is something you can't do in South Korea (at least, I was unable to do it the last two times I was there). If you have some other way to watch movies or television, the added real estate makes a big difference, largely because the screen is longer rather than wider, so that when it's flipped into landscape mode, it fills up both dimensions.

Siri does a pretty good job of answering queries and yielding good results. It also does very good voice recognition for inputting "text" in almost every app. One of my jobs requires me to take extensive notes on the spot, and this feature alone has been a time-saving lifesaver well worth the cost of an upgrade.

If you already have a 4S, then you already have this feature. If you have just an iPhone4 or older, then it's new. So if it were me, I would find it worth upgrading from an iPhone 4 to an iPhone5, but I don't think it's a compelling case for upgrading from a 4S (if you're even able to feasibly do that). The iPhone5 is noticeably faster than an iPhone4 or iPhone4S, but not at "omigod, I've got to have this" rates with the latter.

(There is also an issue with the Maps app having disappeared, meaning your iPhone will be less adept at figuring out Seoul public transport, but this is an iOS issue, not a matter of which generation of the device you have.)

So, in conclusion, definitely upgrade from a 3Gs or earlier, probably upgrade from an iPhone4, but maybe wait until the iPhone 5S (or whatever it's called) comes out if you have an iPhone 4S. Given that Apple released it's "iPad4" only eight months or so after the "iPad3," it's entirely possible that we're looking at twice-yearly upgrades instead of just one, so it might not be that long a wait.


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