Friday, May 27, 2011

TheAppleBlog · Apple and iOS News, Tips and Reviews (10 сообщений)

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  • Can Deckster's 'Slow Goods' Flourish in Tech's Fast World?

    Dom and Chrys Coballe set about creating their iPod nano watchband accessory, called the Deckster, with an entrepreneurial spirit and the aim of creating something unique. They started with a single moment in mind: the satisfaction a user experiences when they hit the Deckster’s trademark slider and their iPod nano pops in or out. According to Dom, they wanted “to capture the user’s imagination for those precious seconds, in the same way people felt when they swiped the unlock screen for the first time.”

    A noble goal, but definitely not one without challenges. Dom and Chrys, a husband and wife team operating out of Ottawa, Ontario, originally set about bootstrapping the project themselves, no small undertaking for two people with full-time jobs and a young family to support. Getting a shipping Deckster out to the public was an even more challenging prospect because of the unique approach they took to the product’s design: It would feature parts sourced from high-quality North American vendors based in Montreal and Portland, Ore., all of which represent the most sustainable option available, and it would be manufactured on-shore, rather than shipped to China or another cheaper destination.

    While Dom told me that they’d originally planned to go to Kickstarter to pursue the option of crowdsourced funding in order to speed up the process, Kickstarter is currently only open to those with a U.S. bank account and address. Kickstarter plans international expansion, but has no firm timelines in place for those plans. Luckily, Yanko Design publisher Takashi Yamada launched an international crowdsourced funding alternative site targeted at an international audience called CKIE in late 2010. Deckster caught the attention of the CKIE team, and Dom agreed to put the project on the site, where he’s now seeking 50 percent of the initial funding required to go into production.

    Like Kickstarter, CKIE requires a funding goal be completely met before it gathers pledges from contributors, and Deckster has a ways to go before it reaches its $30,000 goal. Even still, for a team that was willing to completely bootstrap the project, CKIE’s crowdsourced model is a very welcome addition to the funding formula. Dom says that CKIE is great not only because “keeping full ownership is very attractive for any startup,” but also because the added international exposure it provides “is huge for a tiny company like ours.”

    As with Kickstarter, backers receive different rewards, set by project creators, based on the level of support they commit to. Deckster offers rewards for donations as low as $10 (credit on the website), but contributors begin securing pre-orders for the shipping product at $125. Because of the high-quality materials used in the Deckster’s build, and its North American manufacturing, retail models will start at $165, so the CKIE price does represent a considerable discount. Deckster anticipates their three product styles will ship in early July 2011, according to their CKIE product page.

    Support from CKIE helps with Dom’s attempts to get the word out about Deckster, but for such a small operation, promotion is an ongoing effort that’s sometimes tricky to navigate. Dom says that while social media helps, it “has very little impact when used alone,” due to “the cacophony of voices and messages online.” In an effort to combat becoming just another part of the background noise, Dom and his wife have tried to “always have some real content like a design element or pics of samples when reaching out via Twitter or Facebook,” and they’ve also been “documenting and sharing [their] experiences, good and bad” on the Deckster blog. For example, Dom recently shared details of the special session he won with web marketer Gary Vaynerchuk (@garyvee on Twitter) as part of a Shopify contest, and the team posted about the source of their design inspiration before that. Dom says he finds it hard to navigate the thin line between appropriate promotion and spam, but he’s doing his best to stay on the fair side of that line.

    I asked Dom what it would mean to Deckster if Apple decides to change its iPod nano form factor again this fall, when it usually refreshes all its iPod products. The nano has seen many radical design changes in recent years, and rumors have been circulating that it will at least drop the clip and gain a camera. Dom says they’ve “always vetted [their] design so it can be modified if the clip is removed or if the overall profile is diminished,” and that they’ll be ready in case of that eventuality. He also says they “know that the game can change at any time,” but isn’t too concerned about the risk.

    In fact, Apple’s risk-taking when it comes to the design of their own products is what Dom says inspired him and his wife to create the Deckster in the first place. He says Apple is influential in the creation of so many startups because “you get inspired by a company that tries to provoke the market and the collective mindscape, even at their size.”

    The Deckster is definitely an inspired product, and one that embodies well the principles of the “Slow Goods” movement, which aims for sustainable products made with high-quality materials that last a lifetime. It’s up to consumers now to decide whether there’s a place for slow goods in the fast-paced world of tech and tech accessories.

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  • Android Still Trails iOS as a Money Maker for Devs

    While Android Market is on pace to overtake Apple’s App Store  in overall apps later this year, it’s trailing far behind as a money-making platform for developers. New analysis from app research firm Distimo found the Android Market is still dominated by free app downloads, and that paid downloads do much better on the iOS platform.

    The latest Distimo report found that just two paid Android apps have ever eclipsed the half-million milestone, while six iPhone apps did that in two months in April and May. In a comparison of paid game downloads, Distimo found there are five games in Google’s Android Market with over 250,000 downloads worldwide, while the Apple App Store for iPhone had 10 games that hit 250,000 downloads in the United States alone in two months. This isn’t that surprising because Apple’s App Store has about three times as many paid apps as Android.

    Overall, 79.3 percent of all paid Android apps have been downloaded less than 100 times, and only 4.6 percent of paid apps were downloaded more than 1,000 times. Among free apps on Android, only 19.6 percent of apps have been downloaded less than 100 times, and 48.2 percent were downloaded more than 1,000 times. Android users appear more likely to download free apps, something we’ve noted previously.

    Historically, only 69 Android free apps have been downloaded between 5 and 10 million times, and 27 apps have been downloaded more than 10 million times. Only one, Google Maps, has eclipsed the 50 million mark. This suggests than even among free apps, there are few outright successes.

    One of the issues appears to be that there is less turnover in the top rankings for the Android market. In April, in the App Store for iPhone, there were 843 distinct applications in the top 300 free rankings, and 584 unique apps in the top 300 paid applications. For the Android Market, there were only 388 distinct applications in the top 300 free apps, and 363 apps that appeared in the top paid 300 paid apps in April. Among top-10 applications, there have been only 26 free and paid apps in the top 10 rankings for April in the Android Market, while 94 iPhone applications were in the top 10 free and paid in the App Store in April. That lack of change in the rankings can be hard on developers, who look to the charts as a way to get attention and free marketing.

    Free apps can still be monetized through advertising, but that works best when you have a lot of downloads, as does Rovio’s Angry Birds, a level of success many developers don’t achieve. Or there’s the potential for in-app purchase revenue, something Google has addressed by recently turning on its in-app purchase payment system. Google has been taking steps to improve the overall Android Market experience with more charts and better curation. It has also been tinkering with its ranking algorithm to reward more engagement. As I recently reported, Android is still a popular place for developers, especially those looking to push boundaries, and it’s growing as the primary platform for some devs. And with Android device sales soaring, it makes sense for developers to target the platform. But it will take some more time before the platform becomes a real money-maker like Apple’s App Store.

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  • Paper Trail Links Mac Scareware to Russian Payment Processor

    The Mac malware threat posed by Mac Defender and its variants recently got worse, thanks to a new version called MacGuard that doesn’t require a user to input their administrator password during installation. But now there’s also evidence pointing to the source of the ongoing scareware threat, thanks to information security blogger Brian Krebs.

    The Mac Defender scareware threat masquerades as an antivirus program by claiming your system is infected, then asking for payment to get rid of the reported infection. It’s a common tactic used by PC malware, but is relatively unseen on Apple computers. Krebs identified a link between Mac Defender (and its variants) and ChronoPay, Russia’s largest online payment processor. In a 2009 investigation while with The Washington Post , Krebs linked ChronoPay to rogue anti-virus operations like Mac Defender, and last year, tens of thousands of leaked documents revealed the company was very much involved in the trade.

    Krebs found that and were both associated with the contact address The domain is owned by ChronoPay, as are the virtual servers in Germany that run it, according to Krebs. Two new domains ( and related to Mac security that haven’t yet been used in Mac scareware threats are also registered using the address, according to information received by Krebs.

    For its part, ChronoPay explained in an interview with Krebs that it basically bears no responsibility for the actions of its customers as a high-risk service provider. It sets up entire businesses, including paying for registration, and hosting telephone support, opening bank accounts, and handling transactions, but it’s actually the merchants who employ its services that are the ones responsible for any issues of legally or ethically questionable behavior. I contacted ChronoPay regarding the link between it and this round of Mac scareware, but have yet to receive a response.

    Krebs says that while it’s possible Apple will have more influence than others when it comes to trying to convince ChronoPay to shut down the alleged rogue anti-virus side of its business, or at least cut off the clients that dabble in that trade, it still isn’t very likely to happen. Luckily, Apple is promising a fix to protect against the malware in the coming days, and has already posted steps users can take to remove it from their systems.

    As always, the best defence against any kind of malware, Mac or otherwise, is due diligence on the part of users. Only download from trusted sources, research before you download anything, and never install something marketed based on scare tactics or if you’re unsure of its origins.

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  • Report: Apple's Cloud Music Service Will Mirror and Augment Your Library

    Apple’s hard work at winning over record labels may well be rewarded, according to Bloomberg BusinessWeek. The publication says Apple’s upcoming cloud music service will offer the ability to scan your hard drive, and then mirror your music collection on its own servers, according to three people “briefed on the talks” between Apple and the labels. Not only that, but if some of your tracks are of poor quality, Apple’s service would automatically replace it with a better version, the sources said.

    If accurate, these reports describe a service that would have a weighty advantage over the recently released competitors from Amazon and Google. Both of those require users to upload their collections before making music available in the cloud, although Amazon makes new music purchased through its MP3 store available automatically on the web. Apple’s method would save those with existing music libraries huge amounts of time.

    But time isn’t the advantage to Apple’s service. According to BusinessWeek, the scanning process wouldn’t differentiate between music acquired from legitimate and illegitimate sources — meaning even tracks downloaded illegally would be mirrored in the cloud, and even upgraded depending on the track’s quality.

    Why would the music industry agree to a service that basically rewards pirates? Because Apple’s service won’t be free, says BusinessWeek. It will likely incur a monthly cost, since the licensing fees Apple would have to pay for the arrangement described above would be enormous. But if labels are getting a chunk of revenue partially derived from pirated music, they’re actually reclaiming some of the original loss on that theft.

    But will users pay for cloud access to their entire music collection from PCs, iPhones, iPads and other Apple devices? We asked that exact question of users back in April, when we weren’t sure of what the cloud service would provide. While a majority answered “no,” it wasn’t a landslide; 43.26 percent reported that they would be willing to pay. Amazon’s service carries a fee structure dependent on how much storage space you use (5 GB of storage is free), and while Google’s offering is free, it’s still a beta product and has a hard 20,000 track cap. Even with a subscription model, if Apple’s offering is unlimited and also offers full library mirroring and upgrading, it will be very strong competition.

    Labels are reportedly banking on the fact that this deal will cause Amazon and Google to get on board with similar licensing deals, but Apple will benefit from being first out the door, and it could gain significant early lock-in advantage if it offers longer-term subscriptions, like the yearly one it uses for MobileMe.

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  • ooVoo Releases Multiuser Video Chat App for the iPhone

    Online and mobile video chat provider ooVoo has just released a new app for the iPhone  that offers multi-platform video chat for Apple devices. By doing so, iPhone and iPod touch users now have one more way to launch multi-user video chat wherever they are.

    The mobile video chat market is heating up, ever since Apple launched its FaceTime app with the introduction of the iPhone 4. Since then, a number of companies have sought to cash in on the phenomenon, including Skype, Tango, Yahoo and others. Like most of these video chat apps, ooVoo works on both 3G and Wi-Fi networks, and enables users to chat with friends on the web and on Android mobile devices.

    The big differentiator ooVoo has is the ability to do multi-user chat. The app allows up to six different video chat partners to be logged into a call at once, and it does so with pretty fantastic video quality, even on mobile networks. In that respect, it primarily competes with Fring, which launched a multi-party, multi-platform group video chat app in early April.

    There’s one other crucial difference: ooVoo’s user base. The company has long had a video chat application available on the desktop, where it mostly competed with Skype. But while Skype is used by many enterprise users and web-savvy professionals, ooVoo is being adopted by a very young user base, a trend being accelerated with the launch of its Android app. I have two teenaged sisters, and anecdotal evidence from their usage of the app shows that ooVoo is pretty cool with youngsters.

    In a phone interview a few weeks ago, ooVoo CMO Matt deGanon confirmed my suspicions that the app has become a popular way for teenagers to keep in touch. According to him, about 57 percent of all ooVoo users are under the age of 25, and the overwhelming majority of that group are under 18. Surprisingly though, those teenagers aren’t necessarily using the app to just speak with their friends; deGanon said young ooVoo users were using the app to connect on social networks and meet new people live.

    ooVoo has more than 25 million registered users now, but the launch of the iPhone app will surely drive that much higher. After announcing availability of the iPhone app to its 1 million Facebook fans, it has seen registrations at about three times its usual level, and expects to hit a record for registrations today.

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  • Your iPad's a Telephone With Google Voice

    Out of the box, Apple has you covered on your iPad 2 with FaceTime for video chat with your friends, family and colleagues, so long as they have a FaceTime capable device and a Wi-Fi connection. But let’s face it, not everybody is on FaceTime, and certainly not constantly near a Wi-Fi hot spot. If all you want to do is replicate a phone connection, Google Voice along with a couple of native iOS apps may be just what you’re looking for.

    What You Need

    Google Voice Account. If you’re not already part of Google Voice, simply log into your Google account and sign-up for Google Voice (, but it’s U.S. only as of this writing). It will walk you through the sign-up process, including setting up a new number.

    GV Connect. Google’s strategy for the iPad, including Google Voice, appears to be limited to Safari apps only. Google offers an official iOS-native Google Voice client for the iPhone, but GV Connect is a better option, as it has full support iPad support.

    Talkatone. Neither the Safari interface that Google offers, nor GV Connect will make VOIP calls from your iOS device. To enable that functionality, you need to download and install the free, ad-supported Talkatone app.  Yes, this is an iPhone app, but you can control it from the iPad-friendly GV Connect interface.

    How to Make a Phone Call

    Once you have a Google Voice account, download and install both the GV Connect and Talkatone clients on your iPad, and set up each with your Google Voice account information. Then, in GV Connect, do the following:

    1. Under Settings, set the Start Calls From setting to Google Talk.
    2. Enable the Call using Talkatone setting.
    3. Click on the telephone handset icon in the upper left corner to place a call.

    While you are controlling your Google Voice account from within GV Connect, the VOIP call is actually being handled by Talkatone. Talkatone does claim to allow calls over 3G, but the quality of those calls are dependent on the network. I’ve only used it while connected via Wi-Fi.

    How to Receive a Phone Call

    To direct all your incoming calls to be received on your iPad. In GV Connect on your iPad, do the following:

    1. Under Settings, set the Call Forwarding setting to Google Talk.
    2. Make sure you are logged in to your Google Account in Talkatone.
    3. Wait for an incoming call.

    It’s that easy; just make sure you’re not logged in to Google Talk anywhere else. I tend to use the stock earbuds to avoid looking like a fool with the iPad pressed against my face, but unfortunately, Bluetooth headsets aren’t fully supported by either Apple or Talkatone. I have yet to completely dedicate my Google Voice account to exclusive iPad-only calling, but I’d love to hear from you if you end up using the solution described above as a total home or cell phone replacement.

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  • Amazon Introduces Mac Download Store, a Mac App Store Competitor

    Amazon unveiled its Mac Download Store on Thursday: a web-based competitor for the Mac App Store. The store provides direct downloads of Mac software directly from your browser, and ships with some marquee titles that aren’t yet available in Apple’s own marketplace.

    The real coup here is that Amazon has top-tier offerings from Microsoft and Adobe, including Office for Mac 2011 and Photoshop Elements 9. Amazon’s web store also has more current game offerings from major publishers, like Dragon Age 2, Civilization V and Sims Medieval. Game offerings on the Mac App Store tend to be older, and therefore compatible with a wider range of Mac computer hardware.

    As with the Mac App Store, much of the user input required for installation is taken out of the process, making it remarkably easy for even beginner users to buy and use titles. Unlike the Mac App Store, though, Amazon’s offering is part of its existing website, and requires no software beyond a web browser to operate.

    Titles you buy from the Mac Download Store remain available for unlimited re-download and installation through Amazon’s Games and Software Library, but the number of computers you can use the software on will vary depending on the software publisher’s preference. Downloads all include sizes, and download time estimates based on your connection.

    Amazon is clearly interested in the idea of becoming a one-stop app shop for multiple platforms. It introduced its Amazon Appstore for Android devices earlier this year, and it already offers direct downloads for PC software and games. It’s a good time to be in the direct download business, since boxed software sales have been slipping for quite some time.

    Apple seems to want to promote the Mac App Store as the preferred distribution method for some of its own software at least, so I wonder whether it will welcome a strong competitive model from Amazon. With its existing customer base and, I imagine, less particular restrictions about the software it offers for sale, Amazon will be an attractive choice for software publishers and developers, and it seems to have the backing of some big fish already.

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  • Comics Should Jump on the iOS Subscription Bandwagon

    The official Marvel Comics iPad app.

    Magazine apps appear to be enjoying quite the bump thanks to the introduction of in-app subscriptions to select titles. Wired, for example, is the fifth top grossing app on the iPad App Store right now. It’s a model that seems to be bearing fruit, at least in the short-term, and one that comic book publishers should be watching closely.

    Comic books are very well suited to the iPad. In fact, when I first bought an iPad, reading comics via apps like the aptly-named Comics, and the Marvel- and DC-branded offerings was something I did often. But with individual titles costing between $1 and $3 for about five to 10 minutes of enjoyment, it quickly became a habit too costly to keep up. And those prices are considerably cheaper than the ones you’ll find for print editions in comic book shops.

    I’m not the only one who isn’t impressed by the value proposition offered by comic publishers. According to comics blog ICv2, comic book sales in 2010 were down 4.64 percent year-over-year. And early reports from this year are seeing drops, too: Newsarama reports that comic book sales were down 23 percent in January 2011 compared to the same period in 2010, and 24.45 percent compared to the month prior.

    The trouble facing the comic book industry may not be getting the same coverage as the decline in print news and magazine readership, and Marvel and DC especially are making money at the box office and on merchandising that softens readership decline. But ultimately fewer readers is bad for business, even if that business has shifted from its origins.

    The iPad is a great venue for comics. The screen’s resolution is good enough that full pages can be read by most without zooming, and the tablet form factor is much more conducive to reading comic books than is the notebook or desktop computer screen. And users are still responding positively to iPad comics apps, despite the current pricing structure. The Comics app I mentioned earlier is ranked 20th in the U.S. top grossing charts, and the Marvel Comics app is number 33. Even DC Comics is still in the top 100 — at number 60 — at the time of this article.

    I asked independent comic creator Stephen Lindsay (who’s responsible for the awesome Jesus Hates Zombies series, among others) what the impact of digital subscriptions might be for the comics industry. Lindsay explained that “the comic industry really has three sets of consumer[s]: those inside the industry who buy comics to support one another, the casual reader, and the collector.” He said collectors don’t care about in-app subscriptions because “they always have, and always will, want the printed book” because the “ownership of it means something” [emphasis in the original]. However, casual readers are “much more ripe for adopting digital” thanks to the lower cost and therefore lower risk of buying on the iPad, according to Lindsay.

    Lindsay says that especially for small-time creators, digital is especially good at “expand[ing] readership and reach[ing] the widest audience possible.” For example, Lindsay notes that “the first Jesus Hates Zombies app has had over 100,000 downloads in the Android marketplace,” which far outpaces its performance in print. Because of that, and because, as he says, “those in the industry who are supporting the industry itself will typically try anything if it’s going to further the cause,” in-app subscriptions stand a good chance of catching on with creators once the floodgates are open.

    Subscriptions aren’t unusual in the comic book world. Generally speaking, they offer a discount of about half-off the cover price for individual issues. With print, that means that 12 issues a year that would normally cost about $50 end up being around $25. In-app subscriptions that offer a similar percentage discount with new content (same-day releases are rare for iPad comics) would likely net a significant uptake in readership rates.

    Offering comics on low-cost subscription plans makes even more sense if you think that the primary focus of major publishers has shifted to Hollywood and other media like television and video games. Comic books are the ground upon which those franchises are built, and getting them in front of more readers will only lead to bigger audiences for cross-media products.

    Comic books and iPads are made for each other. But in-app subscriptions would make that fairytale romance even better for all parties involved.

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  • iPad Usability Study Reveals What We Do and Don't Like In Apps

    iPad users aren’t stingy with their devices, according to a new usability report by the Nielsen Norman Group focusing on Apple’s tablet. In fact, iPad owners who lived with one or more individuals reported that they shared their iPads freely, unlike the iPhone. The report also illuminated many things we like and don’t like about the apps we use on our iPads.

    For example, the study found that users aren’t crazy about using their iPad devices to deal with complicated forms that require lots of user input, especially if those forms are found in non-optimized websites, rather than housed in an app. Users would skip registrations processes rather than deal with inputting information in many cases. The solution to such a problem would be to make forms simpler, requiring less information, and reduce the need for repeat entry of information (so apps that offer to remember login details are better, for example).

    iPad users also aren’t as able to decipher non-obvious control systems as some developers might think. In cases where it wasn’t made clear what tapping an item that wasn’t obviously a button (i.e., a logo) would do, users often missed the functionality. Examples cited in the report include the logo in the top left of The Daily app, which returns users to the app’s home screen. USA Today  originally used a similar mechanism, but changed their logo to include a “Sections” label to tell users that it was in fact designed to be tapped and tied to a function.

    Likewise, gestures in apps can sometimes cause trouble when there are no visual cues to provide information about how they work. Don’t think that placing an instructional video or graphic at the beginning of the app will solve the problem, either. Many users don’t read instructions, though visual instructions that are incredibly obvious, like those used by Bing for iPad, tested well with those participating in the study, since users couldn’t avoid grasping their meaning even when they quickly dismissed them. Nielsen Norman Group advises developers that they’re much better off including visual markers throughout, indicating that swipes and other gestures can be used. For example, magazine apps like Wired include arrows that show the direction a user should swipe to unveil more content.

    Another alternative is to provide explicit tips in the form of dialog boxes, like Adobe Photoshop Express does. The iPad Photoshop app uses gestures to control effects like “soft focus,” and pops up notifications to alert users of what to do. Tips can be hidden at any time, so they won’t become annoying.

    What users find very annoying according to the report are splash or loading screens. No matter how clever, or how easy on the eye, splash screens and animations become annoying very quickly. Startup sounds, in particular, are singled out as especially bad, because of the potential they have for unpleasantly surprising people who open apps in surroundings where noise might not be appreciated.

    Also, almost universally, apps will benefit from having back buttons on nearly every page, and should aim for a simple homepage-like table of contents over more complicated navigation schemes. Users prefer a home base from which to operate without having to hunt through carousels or wade through long columns of thumbnails, and they always want the option to go one step back from their current position, because of accidental taps or to refer back to something they just saw.

    As mentioned above, iPads tend to be communal devices, at least within the household. But the report also highlighted some other interesting points regarding how we use the Apple tablet. Generally, we use it for gaming, checking email and communicating via social networking, watching videos/movies and reading news. We also tend to shop, but the participants in the study generally preferred shopping on their desktops, and some even perceived iPad shopping to be more risky from a security perspective. iPads also tend to be carried around by many users, or at least taken along for the ride when long waits or trips are expected.

    Now that the iPad is more than a year old, it’s interesting to see how people are using it, and what is and isn’t working when it comes to app usability design. No doubt there’s still plenty of innovation left in iPad app interface design, but this report illustrates that some things never go out of style when it comes to user experience.

    How does your experience with the iPad either agree or disagree with the findings described above?

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  • Is It Time to 'Think Different' About the Back-to-School Promo?

    Apple’s back-to-school promotion, during which new Mac buyers can get a free or significantly discounted iPod, has run the last several years, from the last week in May to the first week in September. However, as the growth of iPod sales has slowed, it might be time to rethink the promotion. Sure, an iPod touch is Apple’s “funnest” iPod ever, but Apple has a few other products that might suit the bill for the college-bound kid this summer.

    It’s no coincidence that new iPods are usually introduced right around the time that the back-to-school promo ends. The promotion helps Apple move old inventory and ensures a large number of white earbuds on display at campuses in the fall.

    But maybe an iPod (even an iPod touch) isn’t the marquee item to lure college students that it once was. A discount on an iPad might be a better option. Microsoft has come up with its own plan capture the hearts and minds of American college kids — a free Xbox 360 4GB with the purchase of a Windows 7 PC priced $699 or higher. This Xbox model usually sells for $199, making it an equivalent value with the Apple promotion.

    But an iPad has a lot going for it as both an entertainment device and an educational tool. It works as a lightweight companion device to bring to class for taking notes, checking online references, or maybe even reading textbooks. It’s also quite a bit of fun, maybe even during class if you happen to get a math prof that talks to the board for 90 minutes twice a week like the one I had.

    Taking $200 off the list price would be a strong enticement for many customers to walk out of the Apple Store with both a Mac and an iPad. It could only help Apple in the education market to send large numbers of kids to school with an iPad. It might be part of the pitch to get more textbook publishers to go digital.

    An iPhone is another alternative, but I don’t see Apple doing that because of the cost of the device and carriers involved. The only other Apple device that makes sense with a back to school promotion is an Apple TV. The perfect companion product to a Mac with iTunes, the Apple TV would be a big hit in dorm rooms. You can watch movies and play music, and it even ties into some online services like Netflix, NBA League Pass, and Add support for Hulu Plus, and a rumored Apple cloud-based music and video streaming service, and that would allow college kids to completely cut the cord on cable television. Now, doesn’t that sound like a great way to go back to school?

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