FOR THE WEEK OF MAR. 27, 2006
Apple anniversary is milepost on tech highway
Breakthroughs from Apple and other technology innovators are presented in various parts of the newspaper, depending on the product and approach. They may run on Page One, in the business section, on lifestyle pages or with entertainment news. Challenge the class to think of more topics that "float" easily between sections because they interest workers, investors, consumers, students or others.
Apple’s new products and 30th anniversary are presented as news, even though the articles benefit a company competing to make money. Ask students to find examples of coverage that probably helps a business or an industry, and then offer arguments for and against that type of "free advertising" in news columns. When is it legitimate? What standards can editors use to be fair?
Reports on music downloads, cool web sites and other technology developments show how newspapers raise awareness of things that can be "rivals" for readers’ time and attention -– just as they do with coverage of movies, TV, radio, live entertainment and even local athletic events. Invite class members to discuss why newspapers do this and who benefits from such coverage.
A hugely successful California company created by two personal technology industry visionaries turns 30 this week. Apple Computer was founded by college dropouts Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, who filed partnership documents on April 1, 1976. As it turned out, their business was no April Fool’s Day joke.
Apple has profits, global influence and an image of creating hip, innovative products – notably the Mac desktop computer, the iPod digital player and the iTunes online shop with 99-cent music downloads. Even Pope Benedict XVI now wears earbuds plugged into a sleek iPod Nano, a recent gift from Vatican Radio staffers. In accepting the 2-gigabyte gadget with a 500-song capacity, the pontiff noted that "computer technology is the future."
Apple’s next splash is expected to be an iTunes Movie service offer full-length feature film downloads, a move that Amazon also reportedly is planning. That convergence of entertainment, marketing and technology would be the latest example of high-speed developments that are making this more of a Tech Planet and changing how we shop, communicate, learn and relax.
Impact of iPod: Apple’s device, introduced in 2002, holds more than 80 percent of the market among digital music players and has sold more than 42 million units worldwide. It and iTunes have popularized the notion of music -- and now video -- on-the-go. They also spawned the modern explosion in podcasts, or self-made broadcasts of audio programming over the Internet to portable gadgets.
What’s new from Apple: Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO, introduced the iPod Hi-Fi in late February. It uses stereo-style speakers as an alternate way to play iPod downloads, and can be plugged into an electric outlet or operate from six batteries. It even charges the iPod while playing.
What’s new from others: Vending machines aren’t just for candy and beverages anymore. The latest models being tested will rent DVDs, with up to 200 choices, and sell food alongside gas station fuel pumps. The screen shows a list of product categories. The customer can view images of more than 2,000 items, available by touching the image. Automated equipment delivers selections product from inside the machine and places it on a conveyor belt which delivers it to a slide-out delivery door. If tobacco or alcohol is selected, the customer is asked to slide an ID card into a slot so it can be digitally photographed and verified by a clerk.
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