March 25, 2023

Bits Blog: Signs of High Demand for the iPhone 5

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Did you forget to set the alarm on your iPhone to wake you up with a gentle marimba ringtone at 3 a.m. Eastern time Friday?

If so, your chances of getting the iPhone 5 early got a little dimmer.

In the wee hours of Friday, Apple started letting people order the iPhone 5 from its online store. It took only an hour for Apple’s site to change its shipping estimates for the product to two weeks. By Friday evening, the Apple store had changed the shipping estimate to two to three weeks. People who managed to submit their orders early were told they would receive their phones on Sept. 21, the day the iPhone 5 is officially available.

That change in delivery times is a sign that Apple’s online store burned through its initial inventory quickly, forcing customers who ordered later to wait.

“Pre-orders for iPhone 5 have been incredible,” said Natalie Kerris, an Apple spokeswoman. “We’ve been completely blown away by the customer response.”

Supplies at Apple’s wireless carrier partners in the United States seemed to hold up a bit longer, but eventually they, too, began giving customers longer shipping estimates. By Friday evening, ATT’s online store gave a shipping estimate of two to three weeks, while Verizon promised to deliver the iPhone 5 by Sept. 28, two weeks from Friday. Sprint’s Web site was promising Sept. 21 delivery of the 32-gigabyte and 64-gigabyte iPhone 5 models, though it said the 16-gigabyte phone will not be delivered for up to two weeks.

For people who want the iPhone 5 on its official first day of sale, there’s still the old-fashioned option of queuing up in front of bricks-and-mortar stores. Apple and its wireless partners will start selling the iPhone 5 on Sept. 21 starting at 8 a.m. local time for as long as their supplies last.

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Jobs, Rare Among C.E.O.’s, Engendered Affection

His decision to step down as chief executive of Apple brought people to tears, inspired loving tributes to him on the Web and even had some adoring customers flocking to Apple stores on Thursday to share their sentiments with other fans of Macs, iPhones and iPads.

“Through the mist in my eyes, I am having a tough time focusing on the screen of this computer,” wrote Om Malik, the prominent technology blogger. “I want to wake up and find it was all a nightmare.”

Andrew Baughen, a church vicar from London who paused during his San Francisco vacation to shop at an Apple store after he heard the news, said he was praying for Mr. Jobs. Apple, he said, “is not a corporation. It’s more like a family, a movement. I’d like to meet him in heaven and say, ‘Thank you.’ ”

Business leaders, whether fictional like Ebenezer Scrooge and Gordon Gekko or real like Rupert Murdoch or Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs, are usually regarded with considerably less warmth, as rapacious rather than revered. 

“It’s unusual right here, right now, given that Americans’ feelings about business are just north of their feelings about Congress,” said Nancy F. Koehn, a historian at Harvard Business School.

That Mr. Jobs is seriously ill gave the tributes a poignancy and sense of foreboding. But the aloof man in a black turtleneck — who spent the last month on a yacht with his family, according to people with knowledge of his whereabouts — also managed to foster familial emotions among those who work in technology and business and ordinary people who use Apple products.

“Every decade or so, an icon emerges who both has a Midas touch and is in an industry that is in our collective consciousness,” said Jon Kulok, co-founder of Edge Research, a marketing research firm for corporations and nonprofits. “However, unlike those figures, he goes out at the top of his game, and some of the commentary today reflects his going out on top.” 

There were hundreds of thousands of messages shared online about Steve Jobs after his announcement Wednesday, nearly all of them positive, according to NetBase, which analyzes social media commentary. On Twitter, many of the posts expressed love for Mr. Jobs, an emotion that rarely surfaces in business chatter.

Part of the reason, analysts said, is that people love Apple products in a way that they do not love other products they use everyday, whether toothbrushes, toasters or BlackBerrys. And Mr. Jobs as a chief executive is uniquely connected to Apple’s creations.

“What makes Steve Jobs particularly special is it’s as if he personally handed you an iPhone and an iPad. So to many consumers it feels like a gift from a family member,” said Jon A. Krosnick, a social psychologist at Stanford University. As a result, Apple customers feel like they have a personal connection with the man, even though the company is highly secretive and Mr. Jobs is very private.

While Mr. Jobs’s business style — he is well known for terse e-mails and browbeating tactics — has earned him critics over the years, even many of them stopped to praise him on Thursday. 

One sometimes critic of Mr. Jobs, Glenn Kelman, the chief executive of Redfin, an online real estate agency, wrote on the company’s blog: “I still remember exactly where I was, standing in a Dolores Street apartment with a cereal bowl in my hand, when he came on TV to say a competitor had no poetry. It made me think poetry had a place in business and that in turn made me think I had a place in business, too.” 

Dario Fiorillo, who went to an Apple store in San Francisco to buy an iPod while visiting from Italy, said: “Everyone I have spoken with about it is shocked and sad. We all feel like we have a relationship with Steve Jobs.”

Apple’s aura of mystery makes Mr. Jobs that much more alluring, analysts and Apple fans said. His against-all-odds personal story also makes him sympathetic and admirable. He was fired from Apple before returning and transforming it into a juggernaut, and he has continued to work through pancreatic cancer and a liver transplant. 

Ms. Koehn of Harvard said that love for corporate chiefs, while unusual in its excess, was not unprecedented.

Lee A. Iacocca, who created the Mustang before Ford fired him and then joined Chrysler and saved it from bankruptcy, had a similar following three decades ago. His story, of a victorious second act and of products that captured Americans’ hearts, bears similarities to that of Mr. Jobs.

Others compared Mr. Jobs to Thomas Edison. The outpouring of public admiration for Mr. Jobs resembles what the inventor and businessman received, said Paul Israel, director of the Thomas A. Edison Papers Project at Rutgers University. And like Mr. Jobs, Mr. Edison was a master of marketing himself and his products.

“People expected that the Edison technology, whatever it was, would be the best technology,” Mr. Israel said, “and I think that’s what Steve Jobs represents to a lot of people.”

Nick Bilton and Matt Richtel contributed reporting.

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State of the Art: Upgrading to Lion Means Embracing the iPad

In Mac OS X 10.7, known as Lion, Apple went with the “shake things up” philosophy. It follows an old Apple pattern of embracing what’s cool and progressive, and ruthlessly jettisoning what it considers antiquated. That’s great if you love stuff that’s cool and progressive, and not so great if you hate people moving your cheese.

Even the way you install Lion is radical; starting immediately, you can download it from the Mac App store for $30. You can’t buy it on disc or in a box. It’s a 4-gigabyte download. If your Internet connection is too slow, or your monthly Internet plan data caps too restrictive, you can download it at an Apple store, or buy it on a USB flash drive in late August. (I’m writing a handbook to Mac OS X Lion.)

There are some very attractive elements to the download-only system. No serial numbers to type in. No family plans to buy; your $30 covers as many Macs as you own. No discs to store and hunt down later; if you ever need to reinstall, you just re-download the latest version. (Lion requires a post-2006 Mac with Mac OS X Snow Leopard installed.)

If the Lion upgrade is about any one thing, it’s about the iPad.

What made the iPad a mega-hit? Two factors, really. Factor 1: simplicity. No overlapping windows; every app runs full screen. No Save command; everything’s autosaved. No files or folders. No menus. All your apps are in one place, the Home screen.

Factor 2: the multitouch screen. You cycle through screens by swiping the glass, zoom out by pinching and rotate something by twisting two fingers.

In Lion, Apple has gone as far as it can go to bring those factors to the Mac.

Full-screen mode makes a program fill the screen, edge to edge, without any scroll bars, menus or other window-edge clutter. It’s refreshing and useful, especially on laptops, because your screen feels so much bigger.

Autosave spares your having to remember to hit Save as you work. New commands in the title bar can rewind your document to an earlier state, lock it in one version or spin off a copy that you want to take in a different direction.

There’s even a new program, Launchpad, a clone of the iPad’s Home screen, with evenly spaced app icons, on swipeable pages, that open with one click.

And what about Factor 2, the touch screen?

Touch-screen computers don’t work. There, I said it. Spending the day with your arm outstretched, manipulating tiny controls on a vertical surface is awkward and exhausting. The ache you feel later is not-so-affectionately known as Gorilla Arm.

Apple has built what it considers a better solution, a horizontal multitouch surface. That’s the trackpad of its laptops, and the top surface of its current mouse.

In Lion, there are iPad-like multitouch gestures. Pinch four fingers to open Launchpad. Twist two to rotate. Swipe up with three fingers to open Mission Control, a clickable constellation of thumbnails that show all open programs and windows. And so on.

Warning: you scroll a page up by dragging two fingers up, as on the iPad. It makes sense; after all, you scroll the screen left by dragging left, and right to go right. But it takes a couple days to stop scrolling the wrong direction, as we’ve been doing for decades.

Does the iPadization of the Mac succeed? There’s good news, bad news and then good news.

The good news is that once you learn all of this stuff, it does work. Swiping sideways with three fingers takes you from one full-screen app to the next, animated as though someone’s dealing full-screen cards. Launchpad would be a better fit for technophobes if it were always there waiting, and not a program you have to open manually every time; but otherwise, the Lion makeover is fluid and satisfying.


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