Briefly: iPhone 5S, 5C in NZ; Amazon Web Services

Apple has yet to update its NZ website

Apple has yet to update its NZ website

Apple says the iPhone 5s and 5c go on sale in New Zealand on October 25. Prices are lower than anticipated. The 16GB iPhone 5c will sell here for $900, prices rise to $1050 for the 32GB model. The same money will buy a 16GB iPhone 5s while the top of the line 64GB version will cost $1350. The iPhone 4s will remain on sale at $650.

Meanwhile US sources report Apple will launch new iPad models on October 22.

  • Cloud computing juggernaut Amazon Web Services says it is now offering new services from its Sydney datacentre. Previously Amazon’s Glacier long-term backup and Redshift fast data warehouse services were available from further afield. Amazon says Glacier offers low-cost storage for achieving and cloud back-up, prices start from one cent per gigabyte per month. It describes Redshift as a petabyte-scale data warehouse in the cloud.
  • Samsung has launched a new version of its Galaxy Note smartphone with a curved display. The curve is only gentle, but apparently it makes the phone more comfortable to grip. Samsung is using the curve as part of the user interface, rocking the device shows an information screen.  Apart from this, it’s hard to see what benefits there are in producing a curved phone beyond the endless search for novelty and differentiation. Don’t be taken in by reports this will lead to wearable computers – a rigid curved screen is a long way from a flexible display.  LG Electronics has also said it will launch a smartphone with a curved screen next month.
  • Reuters reports Cisco, Google, SAP and possibly even Samsung are in talks with BlackBerry about buying parts or all of the ailing phone maker. The report says this would be an alternative to the preliminary agreement reached with a group led by BlackBerry’s main shareholder; Fairfax Financial Holdings. There’s a question mark over the group’s ability to finance its bid.

Empty shelves at Apple NZ iPhone store

Screen Shot 2013-09-11 at 4.14.34 PM

New Zealand isn’t at the front of the queue for Apple’s new iPhone 5S and 5C models. Customers in some countries, including Australia, can pre-order the new smartphones before the launch.

They get the phones on Friday September 20 and can pre-order from September 13. Neither option appears to be available here.

Apple departed with its usual practice and discontinued the existing iPhone model when it announced the two new versions. As you can see above it no longer features in New Zealand’s iPhone store. For now, if you want an iPhone your choice is limited to the old-school 4S model.

Find me on Google+

Office on the iPad and other tablets

Office Web Apps - pretty darn good on an iPad

Office Web Apps – pretty darn good on an iPad

Last week Microsoft quietly released it Office 365 iPhone app in the wild.

The app lets users edit Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents from Apple phones. It has limited functionality and users need a full Office 365 subscription – that’s NZ$165.

In effect this means users need to run Office on a PC as well as on their phone to get any value from the iPhone app.

Microsoft’s app is strictly iPhone only. You can’t run it on an iPad - (update: apparently you can run it on an iPad 3 or later, either at iPhone size or scaled up) . Microsoft says this is because the software company’s free web versions of Office apps is the way to go.

Some commentators dismiss this idea. Matt Burns at TechCrunch goes further. He says: If Office hits the iPad, even fewer people would buy a Surface.

Burns has a point about a full-fledged iPad Office app hurting Surface sales.

Microsoft’s nice, but expensive, tablet hasn’t been a widespread hit but it is popular with people who want or need desktop-class Office on a tablet.

I’ve been using Microsoft’s Word and Excel Web Apps on my iPad for the last nine months along with SkyDrive. Word Web App is not my first choice of iPad word processor – I prefer the $1.99 iA Writer – but it has everything I need.

Likewise I use the Excel Web App on my iPad. It’s perfect for my needs.

Admittedly my Office software requirements are minimal – I mainly use the tools to write news stories when I’m away from home. But I’d say Microsoft’s statement about the iPhone Office app is correct: if you want Office on an iPad the web apps are the way to go. And they have another advantage over a iTunes-store Office app, they are free.

Five odd aspects of Microsoft’s iPhone Office 365

CaptureMicrosoft’s Office 365 app for the iPhone announcement is unusual on a number of counts:

One: the news was surprisingly low-key considering getting Office 365 on an iOS device is strategic to the company. Apple’s iPhone may be outsold by Android, but it’s an important market for Microsoft. There was no flashy press function, Microsoft slipped the news out quietly through it’s Office 365 blog.

Two: Officially the software is known as Office Mobile for Office 365 subscribers. Microsoft has a track record of giving products terrible names, but this sets a whole new level of awfulness, particularly with the word Office appearing twice.

Three: Going by the promotional material, the app is substantially different to the Office app included with Windows Phone 8. The app is basic, it wouldn’t be enough on its own. To make use of it you also need Office 365 on a PC or Mac and to save documents to a Skydrive account.

Four: You need to have an Office 365 subscription, that’s NZ$165. If you already have Office 365 you can sign-in with your existing account, if you don’t you can buy one through the iTunes store. That’s means Apple earns 30 percent of the deal, which makes for an interesting relationship between the two companies.

Five: Microsoft’s app is for the iPhone only, not the iPad. This is curious because Microsoft needs to get fondleslab users hooked on Office before they find alternative tools.

Microsoft rightly says iPad uses will find the free web-delivered Office apps more useful. But it underestimates the marketing importance of distributing an app via the iTunes app store. And while it might sound trivial, some Office users would feel more comfortable with an Office icon on their iPad’s home screen.