Thanks to new adventures in data loss, a number of employees at Microsoft and Apple weren't exactly kicking back on Columbus Day.
A much-publicized outage this weekend meant that many Sidekick smartphone owners found their contacts, appointments and photos had disappeared into thin air. While Sidekick is sold by T-Mobile, the wireless carrier hasn't been taking as much heat for the incident as Microsoft, considering that a server failure at the Redmond company's Danger subsidiary was to blame.
Microsoft jumped into the profitable mythical-tablet market last week, with the non-announcement that its dual-screen tablet -- possibly called Courier -- may or may not someday hit the streets. In response, Apple did not release a statement declaring that its tablet, set to debut someday, will come in an array of rainbow colors.
Yes, it's fun to mock the silliness of the rumor battle playing out in the media. But what seems to be getting lost in the new "will Microsoft one-up Apple?" storyline is the bigger question. When word of the potential Apple tablet began to spread last year, many observers noted that there might not actually be a need for it.
Snow Leopard, Apple's operating system upgrade, probably won't convince many IT departments to introduce Macs into the corporate environment. It is, however, selling at a brisk pace -- at the moment, the regular and five-user versions are in first and third place, respectively, in Amazon's software sales chart.
But it hasn't been a seamless rollout (not that any such thing exists). On Wednesday afternoon, an Adobe blog notified users that Snow Leopard is shipping with on old, less-secure version of Flash. And if you had the latest Flash on your computer when you installed Snow Leopard, it downgraded your player. Ouch.
Aside from the stacks of cash it's raking in, Apple just can't catch a break. Exploding devices, a too-close relationship with Google, App Store approval woes. Now, Bloomberg is reporting that Steve Jobs in August 2007 tried to reach a questionable agreement with former Palm CEO Ed Colligan -- ‘don't poach our staff, we won't poach yours.'
Of course, Apple, along with Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and others, is reportedly being investigated by the Justice Department for its hiring practices. Gentlemen's agreements like the one Jobs apparently pursued with Palm may have been business as usual for Silicon Valley powerhouses.
Apple has for some time now been publicly shrugging off allegations that its iPhones have a tendency to overheat, discolor, catch fire or even blow up. But this morning, a spokesperson for the European Commission said that Apple is investigating reports of exploding devices.
There have been a series of recent incidents in Europe where Apple devices have reportedly been ... volatile. In July, a Liverpool man threw his daughter's iPod Touch out the back door when it started hissing. "Within 30 seconds there was a pop, a big puff of smoke and it went 10 feet in the air," he told the Times.
It turns out that the Apple tablet is an amazing development platform. At least, that's according to a friend of a friend.
I report this to you in all honesty. Yes, Barron's published Monday the first -- anonymous -- account of an actual tablet sighting, but I'm telling you that I spoke to a person who spoke to a person who has developed software for the iPhone's big brother.