by Beatweek Staff
“Is GTA 5 not coming to Sony?” asks one ponderous Beatweek reader who has clearly chosen Sony’s PlayStation over Microsoft’s Xbox as a console gaming weapon of choice. The short answer: of course it is. Nothing has been officially announced as to which platforms Grand Theft Auto V will be launched on, but every previous version of the game has been released on PlayStation so there’s no reason to believe a change is in order. The game has also existed on Microsoft Windows from the start, and on the Microsoft Xbox console platform since GTA 3. Recently, a mobile version of GTA 3 was also released for Apple’s iPad and iPhone devices, and various mobile versions have been released on Sony’s PlayStation Portable PSP device. So why does PlayStation, which is always included in GTA releases but never seems to be promoted as such, get the shaft?
Part of that is the slowly declining nature of the PlayStation platform in general. Microsoft’s Xbox wasn’t expected to be a success in light of the the fact that the company had no prior console experience and the fact that nearly all new Microsoft ventures (Zune, Windows Phone 7, various tablet) in the past decade have been failures. Yet it didn’t take long for Xbox to gain a major foothold in the console market, taking marketshare directly away from the PlayStation and leading some game developers to focus on Xbox exclusively. In a word, Xbox has momentum – and PlayStation clearly does not. Sony is attempting to rectify that with the launch of the PlayStation Vita this year, but that’s a mobile gaming device. When it comes to home consoles, Sony may have to wait until the PlayStation 4 in order to regain momentum. For its part, Sony says that might still be another five years away. In the mean time, games like GTA 5 and others like it will continue to be released for both Xbox and PlayStation, but more often promoted for the former than the latter.
Microsoft is considering buying Adobe Systems, say the headlines. It’s an odd move, considering that Adobe’s twenty-first century innovation most closely resembles that of a rotting corpse; the company inexplicably thinks it can build the embarrassingly obsolete technology known as Flash into some kind of platform of the future, while the company’s near monopoly in creative pro software markets like Photoshop and Dreamweaver is the only reason it still exists. Microsoft has a nearly limitless amount of cash on hand, so buying Adobe (currently worth about fourteen billion on the open market) would be easy enough. But even Microsoft isn’t crazy enough to bet on Flash as being anything other than the bane of internet users everywhere, meaning that Microsoft is only after one thing: the creative pro market.
And it all makes sense: while Apple’s Macintosh marketshare has been growing significantly each quarter for the past several years, Windows still has majority marketshare in every single user category, except one. When it comes to creative professionals, Macs rule the market and always have. Even stodgy corporations with strict Windows-only policies elsewhere in the company still typically have a graphic design department full of nothing but Macs. But these users rely on Adobe products first and foremost, and the one surefire way to make them think twice about continuing to do their work on a Mac would be to cripple or even take away entirely their ability to use said Adobe products. Even as much as Adobe and Apple seem to hate each other these days, Adobe would never consider pulling the plug on the Mac versions of its core products, because the financial impact on Adobe would be nothing short of devastating. But if Adobe were to become a mere (financially) small subsidiary of Microsoft, ditching the Mac versions and throwing away sales to Mac users in the process wouldn’t be anything more than a rounding error in Microsoft’s bottom line.
Assuming Microsoft really is eyeing Adobe for the sake of trying to force the creative market onto Windows, rather than the insane notion of wanting to be the owner of the boat anchor known as Flash, Apple would do well to block the move at all costs – even if that means Apple buying Adobe itself. Based on market capitalization, Apple is nearly twenty times the size of Adobe, so a buyout would certainly be possible even though it wouldn’t likely be entirely in cash. Such a move would allow Apple to seize control over Adobe’s creative apps, perhaps even burying the Windows versions. With Apple consistently demonstrating a better understanding of software design than Adobe, apps like Photoshop would benefit from the polish of being in Apple’s hands, while Apple could finally kill off Flash (and win the adoration of internet users everywhere for being the one to put it out of its misery). On the other hand, there’s the question of whether killing off the Windows versions of Photoshop and Dreamweaver would be wise, as doing so would create a vacuum for competitors to thrive in when it comes to corporate environments in which creative professionals are being forced by policy to do their creative work on Windows PCs. As such, Apple might end up having to not only spread its resources thin to maintain the Mac versions of Adobe apps, but also invest resources in maintaining the Windows versions – a complete waste of time for Apple.
Still, Apple can’t allow Adobe’s creative apps to fall into the hands of rival Microsoft, even if the latter promised to continue development of the Mac versions (knowing Microsoft, they’d be crippled in one deniable manner or another). Although apps are looking like the future of computing, and desktop software is increasingly looking like the past, this is one instance in which Apple might have to invest in the past to protect itself in the present.
Safari 5 was missing from Steve Jobs’ WWDC keynote, but Apple has officially released the cross platform web browser after all. Apple’s browser for Mac and Windows is available for free download now at apple.com/safari and offers what Apple says are “innovative new features” which “improve the way you view the web.” We’re installing Safari 5 as we speak and we’ll give you the scoop on those features as we test them out. Of note is the fact that Mac users have two different Safari 5 download options, one for Snow Leopard and one for Leopard, while it’s not immediately clear the difference between the two iterations.
Why did Jobs opt to leave Safari 5 out of his keynote address? He apparently wanted his focus to be entirely on iPhone 4, a trick worked, judging by public reaction. How and if Apple plans to promote Safari 5 to Mac and Windows users is still in question at this point.
Google is abandoning the Windows platform internally for what it says are security failures, making the search giant the latest in a string of corporate entities leaving Windows behind. More interesting, however, is that Google plans to shift not merely to its own experimental Chrome operating system and the open source Linux platform, but also the Macintosh platform which comes from its rival Apple, according to a PC World report. Google’s (partial) move to the Mac internally comes at a time when Apple itself is reportedly considering abandoning Google as the default search tool for its Safari browser on its iPhone and iPad in favor of a Microsoft product, the oft-scoffed Bing. While Google has made no official announcements regarding its internal choice of operating systems (nor is there reason to believe that the company ever will make an official announcement one way or the other), the report states that Google employees have been informed that they’ll need approval from a higher up if they feel they need to continue using Windows while at work. The fact that Google is set to partially rely on the operating system of an increasingly bitter rival in Apple, rather than fully committing to its own Chrome operating system, suggests that Chrome OS isn’t nearly as far along or as tenable of an option as some geek pundits have proclaimed.
This question first came up when the iPhone hit the market in 2007: since the iPhone is a piece of Apple hardware that runs a (stripped down, modified) version of the MacOS X operating system, was the iPhone in fact a tiny Macintosh computer? And if so, did that mean that those Windows PC users who bought an iPhone suddenly became both a Mac and a PC user? The question got kicked around hypothetically quite a bit in the iPhone’s early days, but in the end it was generally realized that while buying an iPhone significantly increased the chances that you’d become a Mac user the next time you went to buy a new computer, it didn’t mean that having an iPhone made you a de facto Mac user; that designation remained limited solely to those who owned a piece of hardware that actually had the word “Mac” in its title.
But today, with the iPad, the question gets asked all over again – and perhaps this time the answer is not the same. The iPad, again, runs a stripped down and modified version of MacOS X. But having spent some quality time with an iPad today, it feels more like I’m using a small-ish touchscreen computer than a big iPhone (actually, the iPad’s screen doesn’t feel that cramped, despite the device itself seeming to be much smaller when in your hands than its ten inch height might have suggested). So, does a Windows PC user who buys an iPad become a de facto Mac user? There are arguments on both sides. If someone is using a device that runs signature Macintosh software like the iWork suite, it’s hard to say that they’re not using a Mac. Then again, just because a Windows PC user is using iTunes, Safari, and QuickTime on his PC every day, it doesn’t make him some kind of de facto Mac user; of course, those are Windows-specific versions of those apps we’re talking about, so maybe it’s not the same scenario.
Perhaps it comes down to each new iPad owner’s usage pattern. Many desktop PC users will his keep their desktop but their iPad in place of a laptop (in fact, for some people the iPad will be the first “laptop” they ever own). Others will find a way to put a desktop, a laptop, and an iPad to good use (or in many cases, just a laptop and an iPad). And there will be a small number of people who will adopt the iPad as their only computing device, a group whose size may well increase dramatically as time goes on and the iPad’s hardware specs grow up to rival that of today’s lower end laptops.
While these things are open to debate and we’ll surely know more once we see just how the iPad-buying public ends up putting their new baby to use, I’m going to go ahead and tentatively say that everyone who uses their iPad in a regular capacity, to do things that are meaningful to them, as opposed to just being an occasional toy, can now be referred to as a Mac user (or at least a cross-platform user) – whether the iPad-buying Windows users of the world like that title or not.
Apple has released a minor update to its iTunes software for Mac and Windows, which houses the iTunes Store and App Store and powers the iPhone, iPod and iPad platforms. As its numeric designation suggests, version 9.0.3 brings the kind of revisions that users are not likely to write home about, but is nonetheless a recommended update for all iTunes 9.0.x users. Some longtime users will find the top-listed new feature to be a welcome relief, as users will no longer be required to enter their password every time they make a new iTunes purchase.
According to Apple, these other minor improvements are also included in iTunes 9.0.3:
• Addresses problems with syncing some Smart Playlists and Podcasts with iPod.
• Resolves a problem recognizing when iPod is connected.
• Addresses issues that affect stability and performance.
The iTunes 9.0.3 update is available through the iTunes app itself (Mac and Windows) as well as via Software Update (Mac).