Crowdsourcing: Top iPhone apps

I got an iPhone recently (no, not one of the fancy new ones) and so I asked people on Twitter and at work to tell me their absolute must-have favourite apps (I got an iPhone in part because the paper I work for has its own shiny new iPhone app, which was kind of my idea). So I thought I would pull together a list of the most suggested apps:

Social Media: Tweetie, Twitterfon, Tumblr, Facebook, Reportage

Food: Urbanspoon, Epicurious, TimmyMe (Canadian)

Radio: NPR Public Radio Tuner, Wunderradio, Last.fm

Tools: Google Earth, WeatherEye, Shazam. Red Rocket (Canadian)

Saving: Evernote, Instapaper

Reading: Stanza, Shortcovers, Kindle

RSS: NetNewsWire, Byline

Productivity: eWallet, Things, Simplify, iPassword

Pictures: QuadCamera, CameraBag, DarkSlide

Games: FlightControl, Labyrinth, Super Monkey Ball, Tetris, Scrabble, Wolfenstein, Tap Tap Revenge

Feel free to leave your favourites or any other thoughts in a comment.

Why Apple might be better off without Steve

I know there are probably already nasty emails on their way to my inbox based solely on the headline of this post. Apple better off without Steve? How is that possible? It’s difficult to even think about the iconic consumer electronics company — now so much more than just a computer maker — without thinking about Steve Jobs. Apple is Steve Jobs, and Steve Jobs is Apple. That’s one of the main reasons why so many people (me included) were so concerned that the company come clean about Jobs’ health over the past few months — because he is so intertwined with the company in people’s minds and certainly in investors’ minds. Every time he appears in a photo looking gaunt, the share price tumbles. How could the company possibly be better off without a man who is a strong CEO, visionary genius and celebrity spokesman all rolled into one?

For the record, I’m not saying that Steve Jobs should cut his ties to Apple, and I realize that speculating about his departure is going to be seen as in bad taste by many people, given his personal health issues. I wish him nothing but the best, and I hope he is around for many years to come. There is no question that Jobs’ vision and laser-like focus on usability and value have worked miracles on Apple’s business model and its share price over the past few years — miracles that many seasoned industry observers never imagined were even possible. So how could not having him around be a good thing for the company? Just stay with me for a minute.

Let me put it this way: While Apple is a successful and widely-admired company with some excellent products, in many ways it is also pretty close to being a cult, as more than one person has argued (with the latest being Dan “Fake Steve Jobs” Lyons, who writes in his recent Newsweek column about how the company is treated with kid gloves by most of the mainstream media). This is hardly surprising, when you think about how low Apple had fallen just a few short years ago. Anyone who can take a company like that and turn it into a market-leading powerhouse with a stock-market value of $75 billion is going to inspire not just admiration but an almost religious devotion.

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iTunes concessions a double-edged sword

Apple’s announcements at Macworld may have lacked some of the flair and sizzle that CEO Steve Jobs usually brought to his keynote, but there was one announcement that, arguably, will wind up changing the playing field considerably. That announcement is the news of DRM-free sales from all of the major music labels through iTunes, and the addition of variable pricing. As rumored during the run up to Macworld, the world’s largest online music store will soon start selling songs for 69 cents, 99 cents or $1.29 each. The only question now, as Peter Kafka notes in a post at MediaMemo, is whether anyone will care or not — and whether it will help to fix any of the music industry’s systemic problems.

(read the rest of this post at GigaOm)

Apple still has a credibility problem

For some time now, there has been speculation that Steve Jobs was sicker than either he or Apple wanted to admit. At first, the company said that he simply had “a bug,” and then when the company announced that he would not be doing his usual keynote speech at Macworld — a speech so associated with him that it has come to be known as a “Stevenote” — the company denied it had anything to do with his health. Now, we know that this was untrue. Steve himself has confirmed that he is unwell as a result of a “hormone imbalance,” and that he is working on getting better (although as Wired notes, the letter is somewhat opaque when it comes to the specifics of this problem).

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Apple iPod Touch large: I want one

Amid all the rumours that Steve Jobs is getting sicker comes what I think is a much more interesting rumour: that Apple will launch a larger-format iPod Touch. Not that I don’t care about Steve-O and his health, of course — I do. But when it comes to Apple products, I’m really interested in the idea of a kind of wireless mini-tablet with the multi-touch interface (something Chris Messina and others have mused about in the past).

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