Category Archives: iPhone

State of the Apple December 2016

The time has come to check in on Apple. This last year is the first time since the iPhone launch that Apple has had a down year. That’s how good they are that it has been a long run, but it’s also because the smartphone a la iPhone has been such a giant in the market these last years. I’m going to go through some of Apple’s products and the products they are rumored to be working on and comment on how good they are and what is likely to happen in future. How good are Apple’s new products and what does that look like as things change in the next 2 to 5 years.

iPhone

We must talk about iPhones because the vast majority of Apple’s profits and revenue come from the iPhone. Smartphones are an incredible moneymaker for Apple in both respects.

Has the iPhone Peaked?

Let me look at the facts and my tea leaves. Apple’s 2015 results starting in October 2015 and ending Sep 30 this year for the first time shows a downturn. Sales in Q1 2015 did manage to beat sales in Q1 2014 (Christmas sales), but not by much. Q2-4 were disappointing but not unexpected. I’m cautiously optimistic.

There are 6 or more key factors here:

1. China has been a huge driver of growth for Apple these last few years, and China has been struggling a bit this last year. Apple’s iPhone sales dropped considerably in China this last year. With growth their showing vulnerability, we saw a lot more sales of cheaper Android phones. Apple dominated the high end everywhere, however. And its smartphone profits have been stellar.

2. The Global Economy had a rough year after several up years in a row. Not nearly as Donald Trump said, but bad enough to help dampen the upgrade cycle a bit. A bit troubling in the last month is that the stock market is up, but Apple stock is pretty flat.

3. Pent up Demand for Larger iPhones. There was a lot of pent up demand for a larger iPhone when the iPhone 6 Plus came out in Fall 2013. This pumped up the numbers for Apple in 2014. With giant spike in 2014, it was hard to top that.

4. 2015 was an “s” year. Our comparison year (2014), was the iPhone 6 year. This last year was the 6s year. Generally, the whole new form factor gives sales a boost in that year.

5. 2016 is an “s” year — again. Apple’s stock has been beaten up all year on the expectation that we were not going to get a real fresh form factor iPhone 7 but essentially iPhone 6s2 or something. That’s pretty much what happened but Apple called it iPhone 7 anyway. Awesome, but the same form factor. Sales have been very good but word in the tech press recently is more iffy on Christmas. If iffy wins, Q1 2016 — the biggest quarter of the year — might be disappointing — or not. Somehow Tim Cooke’s Apple has come through in Christmas season and maybe he will pull a rabbit out of the hat once again.

6. Smartphone sales are slowing except at the low end. Prices are rock bottom in some of the less affluent markets. No one really makes money at those prices, but market share does give you something to brag about and Google (maker of Android) can profit from ads on even the cheap smart phones that themselves don’t make money.

iPhone 7 and 7 Plus

I love these iPhones! They are super fast, gorgeous and 3D Touch rocks the house. Apples 3D Touch and force touch elsewhere keeps getting better and more transformative. Apple keeps upping the ante and other folks have to play serious catch up.  Cameras unbelievable especially on the Plus with its 2x! Wide color. Best smartphones in the world without question.

iPhone in 2016

iPhone 10. Apple has Concocted an iPhone 8 with a new form factor for the year of 2017 – the 10 year anniversary of the iPhone. If the rumor mill is right, and I think they are, new iPhones and iPads are going edge to edge in 2017. The screens are going to be better again! And bigger with the same phone size in your hand. I think this will be very popular. The 5.5″ iPhone 8 Plus will go up to 5.8″! The 4.7″ iPhone 8 will be just under 5″.  Everyone expects the iPhone 8 or 10 to sell really well. 2017 isn’t likely to be a down year.

iPhone Beyond 2017

I wouldn’t place a lot of bets on iPhone 9 being a banner year just because it is going to be hard to top iPhone 8. Which will be an s year. And, the headwinds against the iPhone may stiffen a bit more. All I know is that Apple is making almost all the profit in the smartphone space. They make incredible and jaw-dropping products at regular intervals. And the question would be who can beat them? They might lose some share, but not the crown would be my bet.

Other Products and Services in the Current Mix

None of these other products and services are likely to take the place of the iPhone any time soon if ever. But there are a bunch of them that are important. Here’s what Apple has already out there.

MacBook 12 and MacBook Pro

I am a big fan of both the MacBook 12 and the MacBook Pro 13. I’m writing on the Pro 13 as we speak. Apple’s trackpad is far better than PC trackpads to date. Apple’s screen while not as high Rez as some is as good or better as any other screen out there. This is a laptop, not a hybrid laptop tablet like the latest from Microsoft and other Windows products. But, you now have the beginnings of a very cool touch bar that is Apple’s answer to a full touch screen. Apple is way ahead on the high end generally, but we have seen better quality on the PC side. There has been a delay of the release of new MacBook Pros which I chalk up to the ambitions of the touchbar, the considerable slimming down of the MacBook Pro. I love having a 3 lb MacBook Pro. It’s very powerful, yet thin and light. The MacBook is a close competitor at 2 lbs. You can’t beat that. I must say, having 4 ports instead of 1 on the MacBook 12, is luxurious and welcome but that extra one pound is the price.I expect to see a return to grown on the Mac side of the house. Including the iMac.

iPads

iPad Pro 12.9. I’m a fan of the iPad Pro for its delivery of a huge screen in a 1-1/2 lb form factor. It’s fabulous for reading news like reading a magazine and for any other application where size matters. This guy is scheduled to grow larger with the edge to edge plan Apple has in the works and may show up in that size in Spring. There is a lot of room for improvement on the iPad side of the house. Not in the hardware so much, though, edge to edge will be great. Software needs to get more love from Apple and I think it will if not perhaps as fast as I would like. Developers see the writing on the wall and write first for the iPhone and give their second best to iPad in many cases.

iPad Pro 9.7. This wonderful-sized iPad is still great. I like the bigger iPad partly because it is a new form factor and is exciting because of that. But this 9.7″ number soon be be either lighter or same weight with a bigger screen, is awesome. Can do lots for you and the smaller size is pretty lovable.

iPad mini 4. The mini has gotten second shrift as far as I can tell. Processor lags the other sizes for some reason. Is that an avoidance of the iPhone perhaps? Don’t know. I’m to the point where the mini is the odd man out. But still great when I use it. It does get serious competition from the iPhone 7 Plus right now which is faster with 3D Touch and fits in my pocket (kind of). If the size is right at the time, you get iPad apps that often have extra features that the iPhone is denied. Example would be Scrivener for iOS where the iPad version has a corkboard and the iPhone doesn’t.

Apple Watch. I’m an Apple Watch fan and think it could be better. I wear mine every day. I upgraded to the Series 2 when it came out. Mine is rose gold with a black Sport band that I bought because I wanted the black (this is a black year with the black iPhones) rather than navy blue. Love the look. Definitely upped my exercise game since buying my first watch. Use it much more as time has gone on as far as fitness goes. Also, speed bumped up a lot when Watch OS 3 came out and then with the faster new processor in Series 1 and 2. Plus GPS! This is the wearable of choice and will be positioned beautifully as time goes on and wearables get more and more important.

Apple TV. Have the 4 but not really using it much. Never have done much with Apple TV but I’m not really a TV person. Seems sexy enough. But TV is stymied due to Cable and all the regional controls that Steve complained about. Still waiting to be compelled further.

Rumor Mill

Self-Driving Car

I heard the rumor Apple had 1000 employees on the car project and they probably need that many or more as they ramp up to get into this market. As software becomes more important than hardware in this space and disruption occurs presenting new opportunities for new players, Apple has a great shot here. I am very excited about but not so sure I could afford an Apple car. I can afford iPhones and MacBook Pros but cars are kind of steep when they get as cool as Apple likes to do.

Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality

Tim Cook is talking about this and I believe we can count on entries into this emerging field. Augmented means you have some kind or another of heads up display such as on your windshield in a car, in your contact lenses or glasses. This stuff is closer to real and coming soonish (1-2 years).

Eventually, Virtual Reality will follow and Apple will be there.  But one thing at a time, although, I’m sure R&D is already well underway here to.

 AI, the Cloud and Services

This is Apple’s Achilles heel compared to Google, FaceBook and Amazon and even Microsoft. Apple is structured for selling hardware and software as its main gig and that structure deemphasizes these important services of all kinds. All I can say for now is Apple has its work cut out for it and they realize they have to put the pedal to the metal here to make sure their weakness isn’t a deal-breaker down the road. Apple is touting rapid growth in services. They are acquiring really cool AI companies and people rapidly.

Health and Fitness

Apple doubled down on fitness when introducing Apple Watch Series 1 and 2 this September. Some of the other great features like notifications, and simply having a connected computer on your wrist were not reemphasized. Healthcare is the kind of market Apple can sink its teeth into. It’s giant-sized and has a strong consumer element not just business to business hospitals and such. Apple needs to leverage consumer, it’s longtime strength. There is lots of room for innovation with health. If I knew more real time information about what’s going on in my body, I could do things that would help my health not hurt it. For example, if I can see that the candy bar I just ate spiked my insulin and made me start storing fat, I would think twice. If I could consult the unpleasant impacts my dietary adventures were having over time, I would be less tempted and Apple could throw in medals for diet, sleep who knows what not just steps, stands, exercise and movement calories. I could take charge of my health. Much of that could happen from my wrist but I’m not sure we won’t venture into implants pretty soon. If your dog has a gps tag implanted and humans have large pacemakers implanted without harm done, what’s to stop this trend from going into much wider adoption?

The Home And Beyond

Amazon Echo and Google Home. Yes, the home is coming and Amazon is ahead here. Google Home is pretty weak by comparison. And Apple isn’t on the board yet. Apple TV is the closest thing you have if you don’t count Apple Watch and iPhone which I do count to an extent. But home is a slow lumbering beast. I still have my smart lightbulbs in their packaging. I hear it’s a hassle to get these things working. However, all the devices in the home, office, street, clothing will be smart as time rolls on and Apple will be making sure they are there innovating their hearts out but making sure their entries are awesome not just adequate.

Apple’s Sep 9 — 1-2-3 Punch

iPhones_FrontI’m one of those who was extremely pleased by Tim Cook’s Apple this week. We already knew about iOS8. That’s was a really strong sign of good things to come. I will tell you why I am high on iOS 8 as a linchpin for Apple’s future, then move on to iPhone 6 and 6 Plus and finish up with the Apple Watch and finally to Apple Pay.

iOS 8 Unleashes iOS

In developing iCloud Drive and Extensions, Apple has removed the barriers to growth for the iPad.  I’ve railed against the limitations of iOS on the iPad that have stopped me from using it as a full-fledged post-pc computer. With iOS 8, which is due for release next week, you’ll be able to search your entire device for files no matter which app created them. Lack of full device search has been a giant-sized missing on iPad on the order of missing copy and paste on iPhone in the early days.

Extensions solve the other major problem iPad has had which is inability to freely share information and functionality between apps. Yes, it is all well and good to have specialized apps that do one thing well. But, it’s not OK, when you have to go through hell to get a job done copying files from one app to the other. And only when you get lucky and app A has been modified to be able to work to some degree with App B. Yes you can do email and web surfing without that, but knowledge work and creativity suffer and are frustrated.

The iPad mini with retina and iPad Air are very powerful and will be able to do so much more without having to operate with one hand tied behind their backs. Removing these constraints opens up new fields of opportunity that Apple needs to capitalize on. The iPhone 6 party is about to start and we haven’t seen what the 2014 iPad(s) will look like. We’ll get to it all in a minute but lets start with what will be available to preorder tomorrow.

iPhone 6 and 6 Plus

iPhone 6 is a Worthy Upgrade to the iPhone 5s

Increased screen size is more than welcome on the iPhone and it seems to have been achieved with minimal inconvenience. The 6 is thinner. It has these nice rounded sides so you won’t find it harder to hold than a 5s. Being thinner and rounder helps it fit into your pocket as well. If you can deliver more screen real estate without penalty, why would you not?

iPhone 6 is the Incremental Entry though. The iPhone 6 Plus has other virtues I will get to in a minute but both 6s deliver:

  • Even more gorgeous screen
  • Faster than the 5s
  • Better camera
  • Beautiful design
  • Extra iOS features to make it easier to operate a larger device one-handed

iPhone 6 Plus is the Topper

The iPhone 6 is big. I was surprised when I learned it would be 5.5″. That’s at the upper end of the scale for a <cringe> phablet. I’ve been wanting a bigger iPhone and even I was a little scared this big guy would be too big. But I didn’t anticipate that Apple would do all sorts of good things to make it work as an iPhone. If you can make it work, you’ve done the impossible and given users the chance to have one device to rule them all. I wanted the original iPad to be 7″. Instead we got a 10″ iPad. Then last fall we got an 8″ iPad which many flocked to.

I’ve got a 6″ Kindle Paperwhite but the touch and gray is so inferior to an iPad retina it only gets to come out on special occasions – outdoors mostly. However, that 6″ screen is more than big enough for eReading and the 8″ iPad mini is still too big for comfort though useable. This new 5.5″ iPhone 6 Plus fits the eReader size to a perfect T as it is less wide and thus better for single handed use. It’s brilliant.

Strategically, the iPhone 6 Plus seems perfect. Being an iPhone it has a much higher margin than the iPad mini which it will cannibalize to some degree. So, you raise the iPhone price $100 and you solve the issue in an instant.

When iPhone started it had to be a good phone first a foremost. Those days are gone and the new 4.7″ and 5.5″ sizes are spot on for these touch computers that happen to be phones too. Other smartphones have migrated into these spaces and now Apple has answered decisively. See my blog post Ten Reasons to Go Big with the iPhone 6 Plus for details.
AppleWatch

Apple Watch

I was shocked at the innovation I saw in the Apple Watch Tuesday. I was hoping that Apple would somehow pull a rabbit out the hat and make the Apple Watch compelling. And they did — much more than I expected.

Wow Impeccable All the Way Around

What I saw on Tuesday was jaw-dropping. I didn’t realize there was so much to do and so much that can be done in reinventing the watch as a mobile computing device/platform. Beyond the watch, it is clear that Apple is taking on wearables as a major new category. They didn’t just do an Apple watch like they’ve done computers and iOS devices to date. They decided the Apple watch is a uniquely personal device and personalization is imperative. No one size fits all here.

Options Galore

The sheer volume of options is not something we’ve seen from Apple up until now. Having 2 iPhone 6 models was the first surprise of the day. The Apple Watch is a landslide in the personalization and options department. Two sizes. Three models. Beaucoup straps. Customizable watch face content. Lots of app support — already.

Unique Opportunities with a Watch

This is what I didn’t count on. Fitness and health, yes. I knew Apple could up that compared to the iPhone. But the communication stuff. Taptics! What is that? Allowing you to signal your partner at a party with all sorts of options. I can’t wait. The little fish drawing wasn’t bad either. The Digital Crown to control zooming is perfect.

Will the Apple Watch be a Hit?

It sure looks like it. I want one and plan to buy the v1 Apple Watch that comes out Q1 2015. This is one of those times when Tim’s warning, “Don’t bet against us” seems particularly prescient.

Apple Pay

This is a giant category waiting to happen, so its scale Matches Apple like a glove. They can easily wheel and deal at this level. Apparently Japan has already proven that this kind of thing can work. I didn’t see anything not to like, but I will defer to those who are fascinated by commerce. I’m a little more idealistic and interested in knowledge and creativity. I have no doubt Apple Pay will roll some heads and be a viable entry to this category. But I’ll leave it at that.

Conclusion

Tim Cook, Jony Ive, Craig Federighi and those on the iPhone and iWatch teams did themselves proud Tuesday. Tim wasn’t kidding when he said Apple would continue to blow our minds!

State of the Apple in 2014

Jony_Ive_Book_CoverApple: too Big to be a Growth Company?

From a Stock Investment point of view, maybe. It’s a well known fact that the bigger you get, the harder it is to grow fast because your base is such a large number. Big successful companies like Apple can also become complacent.

With Stock troubles the last year and a half, though, Apple has had some time to introspect and get the house in order to fight the competitive battles they need to fight. The biggest immediate challenge is that Smart Mobile is peaking. Most of Apple’s target market — knowledge workers, professionals and creatives already have iPhones and iPads. Now what?

The first thing Apple has done is put out 3 great versions of their 3 stellar products: iPhone 5s, iPad Air and iPad mini with retina. All three are based on Apple’s new best in class A7 chip and are incredibly responsive. The 2013 retina MacBook Pro is also a great machine. Jony Ive has taken over software design now and iOS7 has  a fresh new look and is better than ever. Their current product portfolio including OSX Mavericks is peerless!

Growth and Innovation

Let’s grant that Apple has one arm tied behind its back as a Growth company due to its decade-long rapid growth and enormous sales and profits. But Innovation, design and excellence are Apple’s proven strengths. How can Apple not innovate? That’s what they do. I’m not the only one impressed with Tim Cook’s competence, intelligence and commitment. Steve Jobs is gone. But intensity, vision, aesthetics and creativity are alive and well in Apple’s secret sauce man — Jony Ive.

Jony Ive Has the Goods

I’ve just finished reading the new Jony Ive book by Leander Kahney and it is quite enlightening. Ive’s father taught him design, curiosity, craftsmanship, observation and innovation from the cradle. His father led the development of design education in England and helped Jony get into the best design schools and firms. Jony was winning prizes for design and turning heads while still in high school. The best part might be that he is just as driven as Steve Jobs was. And Jony isn’t working alone, he has handpicked an amazing team of designers.

Ive joined Apple in the early nineties and designed the 2nd version of the Newton. His team also did a Newton mini-laptop that looked a lot like the translucent Bondi Blue iMac a few years later.  It just got better from there.

Tim Cook Makes it Happen

Tim Cook is not Steve Jobs but he kicks ass and gets stuff done like no one I’ve ever heard of. He’s not even a product guy but he is super competent and obviously loves being the guy running Apple. He will do whatever it takes to keep Apple in a leadership position in technology.

Angela Ahrendts is Coming

I’m cheating a little here as Ahrendts hasn’t even started yet as Apple’s new Retail chief, but I’m super excited just from seeing Angela’s Ted Talk on The Power of Human Energy. She is inspired and inspiring and I’m glad to have her on the team. She’s done wonders at Burberry and is pretty geeky too. She’s done stuff with retail at Burberry that Apple could only hope to do until now.

In the area of computer software and hardware and now Post PC smartphones and tablets, Apple is the innovator. No one else is close…

The Future Unfolding

New Product Categories

We’ve been hearing rumors of a real TV or a much cooler Apple TV for years now. More recently there’s the iWatch rumor. I’m guessing these both are going to happen. Cool stuff is starting to show up in Cars. It is safe to say Apple will address the digital home and car near term. But we will have to wait a little longer to see the results of their efforts.

Sapphire Glass Plant in Arizona Looks Promising

I like this new development. First Apple is manufacturing the Mac Pro in the US. Now they are building a Synthetic Sapphire plant near Phoenix.  My take on this is that Tim Cook is on the move. I think he wants to build up Apple’s manufacturing capability in the US. He says he is just getting started on this.

What About Google?

Google is Apple’s number one rival. They have shown themselves to be good at search and cloud services. Android’s 80% global marketshare in smartphones is nerve-wracking to say the least. Google CEO, Larry Page, plays big and will help the industry move forward rapidly in the coming years. Lots of their innovation is vaporware from my perspective, though. Self-driving cars and Google Glass are innovative but ideas are a dime a dozen. Let me know when you sell those cars and a few regular people adopt Google Glass.

Apple doesn’t pre announce their innovations, so every time there is a gestation period, people start questioning whether they still have it. See my August 2013 post on Apple’s Strengths and Weaknesses for more on Apple and Google.

That said, Google is a great spur to Apple to keep innovating. Just lately Google bought Nest the hip digital home thermostat and smoke alarm maker founded by, Tony Fadell. And Google sold Motorola to Lenovo. I can’t tell whether they are scarily great or just shaking things up.

I’m Optimistic

Google is out there and Apple has to play its best game to do exactly what it wants to do in the technology space. But Apple has lots of cards to play in this undertaking. They have the money, passion,  people,  design leadership and cutting edge engineering and manufacturing. I can’t wait to see what is coming down the pike next. It’s going to be good!

Apple Everywhere, Where Next?

I follow Apple closely every day. I own multiple Macs, an iPhone 4 and an iPad 2. The biggest chunk of my income comes from building software and custom systems with FileMaker Pro – also owned by Apple. I was pretty thrilled last July when FileMaker announced FileMaker Go for iPhone and iPad. The latest upgrade to my Studio Manager product supports iPhone and iPad access.

The second biggest chunk of income comes from advising and consulting with my Mac clients on technology decisions. Apple is my home team. I’ve been writing about Apple since System 7 came out in the early nineties. Here’s what’s going on now:

1. iPad 2. The iPad 2 and enormous success of the first iPad last year is the biggest thing. The iPad is the third big industry-changing new device after the iPod and iPhone. This triple play puts Apple in the catbird seat in the technology scene. They are making truckloads of revenues and profits and their biggest problem is figuring out what to do with all the cash they are accumulating.

I love the iPad and and am on cloud 9 with the new thinner, lighter and faster iPad 2. The iPad is such an easy device to use. iPhone delivered the wonders of multi-touch in an exquisite little package. iPad raises the ante by expanding the screen to handle most digital documents at full size and doesn’t do half bad with video. There’s plenty of room for controls and content.

Apple is building for the future though. Things we are used to like USB and the Finder aren’t in iOS. Apple views the iPad as a game changer. They are reinventing the PC and are very serious about it. Expect to see better replacements for these standards as they get completed to the satisfaction of Steve Jobs. Apple made a judgement call on how far they could get us to stretch into new territory with the iPhone (no copy and paste?) and now with the iPad. They gave us all sorts of inducements to make the missing pieces worth waiting for. See more on this in yesterday’s post Have iPad, Will Travel on my Independent Knowledge Professional blog.

You may want to get an iPad just so you can start the new multi-touch *pad* learning curve. Gestures are in and they are being phased in over time. It helps to get on board so that you don’t have to learn 15 gestures all at once 2 years from now. There are rumors of a possible, more cloud-based iPad 3 this Fall. I’m so happy with iPad 2 that I don’t care one way or the other. But, of course, you would probably find me waiting in line then too. Apple hasn’t disappointed me for quite a few years now.

2. iPhone 4 and 5. Apple finally delivered a Verizon iPhone in February. The iPhone 4 is a killer device with its absolutely gorgeous 960 x 640 pixel screen. The early hubbub about the antenna had little to no negative impact on this juggernaut. However, the iPhone 5 may not be released in June. In fact, it seems pretty clear that an Autumn release is the earliest we can expect. I guess Apple isn’t done yet with whatever they are cooking up. So far we are hearing more cloud-based, a very powerful voice control component based on Apple’s acquisition of Siri. Apparently Apple wants to keep ahead of the pack so expect more on this next iPhone. By the way, the iPod touch should continue to gain iPhone features as time goes on and be an incredible wi-fi-only device. As free wi-fi spreads further, which it has been doing quite nicely lately at places like Starbucks, Peet’s and even MacDonalds, the iPod touch increases its value.

3. OS X Lion is nearing completion. We’ve already seen a preview and it will be morphing closer to iOS, taking on various inventions there. More gesture-based. An app store already out. A bunch of little icons on the home screen too. And more. The Mac and OS X look to be in a great position to continue their long upward climb in marketshare. It’s getting to the point where some people are starting to think that adopting the Mac platform is a step on the way to the future rather than a step off the path onto a niche OS. Many are saying Microsoft’s days in the sun are numbered. I think OS X and Mac will continue to grow. That’s all that matters from my perspective. If the PC platform is plateauing and Mobile and Cloud are ascending, it may not matter too much which way that goes.

All these three initiatives are selling like hotcakes. Apple’s massive multi-billion dollar server farm facility in North Carolina may be completed this Spring. Rumors of a new, much-improved MobileMe are afoot. Rumors of iPhones and iPads that depend more and integrate with an Apple Cloud are gaining traction.

There used to be a solitary Macintosh platform that worked pretty well with Windows. Now we have a different ball game with the two new iOS offerings on iPhone and iPad. I think it is clear there is room between the Mac and iPhone and that spot is being forged with great promise with the iPad and now the iPad 2. You need to be thinking in terms of all three working together. Apps need to be purchased in that context in many cases. Prefer the App that can interoperate all else being equal.

I didn’t mention the continuing success of Apple stores. The 4 in China have proven exceptional. It seems that retail presence is one of Apple’s strategic advantages vis a vis Amazon, Google and Microsoft.

And what about the livingroom and Apple TV? That’s still a hobby as Steve calls it. Apple is probably going to find a way there as well. The latest moves look like they may hold promise. Things like Apple TV 2.0, iPad 2 mirroring to HDTV, home sharing and streaming between iDevices, Macs and Apple TV 2 look good. There are serious obstacles on this front. Google TV ran straight into them in the Fall. Sooner or later things will open up here or a mitigation of differences will be struck between Cable and Digital. Don’t hold your breath but keep an eye out.

Microsoft/Nokia Fight for #2 Spot in Mobile Market Against Android

Nokia’s new alliance with Microsoft and adoption of the Windows Phone 7 smartphone platform has little relevance to Apple. Microsoft and Nokia are fighting for 2nd place against Android. Android has the lead now with its free OS and endless accommodations to carriers and manufacturers. Android has no enterprise presence.

Apple’s iPhone, iPod touch and now iPad usurped the old cell phone and PDA markets and created a third pad market (otherwise known as tablet). Apple is delivering better tech than anyone else. They market hard. They are incredibly efficient and single-minded. Their aesthetics and design are awesome. Apple has nothing to worry about.

But Android hasn’t distinguished itself as a great OS. It’s just the 2nd entrant, free alternative to Apple/iPhone. Both Windows Phone 7 (simpler and more polished) and WebOS (better at the web than Android) are better tech. Google knows that Android is *old* tech cobbled together – that’s why Chrome OS is around — it’s future leaning but has no marketshare at all except as a browser. The Android market is a mess with its openness, lack of app sales, incompatibilities, bloatware etc.

There’s some truth to Google Gundotra’s 2 turkeys don’t make an Eagle tweet. It will be hard to gain traction. But these are still early days in mobile and digitization.

Windows Phone 7 is cool software (maybe not as cool as WebOS but certainly no worse than Android). MS has a great developer program and lots of good feelings from developers — way better than Apple’s rapport with developers.

MS has the sprawling Windows market and a solid Windows 7 OS. Windows has utter dominance in the enterprise. MS even has cool tech and technologists which they can demonstrate when not hampered by having to stay compatible with legacy technologies – see Kinect.

Nokia has great hardware design. Incredible European loyalty. Amazing distribution channels for cell phones. This alliance boosts Microsoft and Nokia in Mobile.

These are early days for great mobile devices. It won’t be easy, but if Microsoft can really focus and Nokia can work with them and play well with others, they can carve out a spot for themselves leaning towards (1) enterprise and (2) simple for ordinary consumers — the silent majority who don’t want to load their devices with endless apps.

Just Blogged About Ordering iPad 32gb + 3G

iPadI just blogged about my iPad choice this morning on my sister Tech Ronin blog. It includes why I chose the 3G option, how I plan to use my new iPad when it comes and where my Kindle will fit in. I’m hoping the iPad will be a perfect fit between my iPhone and Macbook Air allowing me to leave the Air at home more often. There are still lots of questions that won’t be answered until the product is released next month and apps that take advantage of the larger screen and faster processor become available.

Why Samsung’s new Bada OS is a good move

bada

Samsung is a big player in the cell phone market. But, they excel in the feature phone space. The writing is on the wall and feature phones are rapidly losing ground to smartphones. Samsung has to get into this game with their own OS.

Bada can come in all about the lower end of the smartphone market and match up well to feature phone users who are thinking of switching to a smartphone.

Samsung has developed bada to make these exclusive smartphone experiences available to everyone. – Samsung

If you are one the biggest companies in the world, you can afford to make the effort to create a niche for yourself that favors your agenda rather than forever playing second fiddle to Google, Microsoft, Nokia or Apple.

Apple has shown all the other players the way. Half the battle with software development is seeing how something can work. Everyone gets to play with an iPhone and all the accompanying iPhone apps and see for themselves what works and what doesn’t.

Apple paid for all the prototyping and market testing and made smartphones worth having. Now Samsung can imitate, extend and perhaps favor both Samsung and the Asian market — which, by the way, it going to be huge.

Why not? Consider the resources they have. They can afford to do their own OS to control their own destiny in this increasingly mobile, constantly connected world. Don’t run out and buy the first Samsung Bada phone, but eventually all the big phone makers will learn to play in the mobile web space.

And, yes, I’m sticking with my iPhone for the foreseeable future.

State of the Mac (and iPhone) Nov 2009

Time is flying by as usual and it is time to give you my take on what’s up at Apple. This is easy since they are doing so well. I’ve been writing about Apple in one way or another since the early nineties. Back then I was writing a paper newsletter once or twice a year.

Snow Leopard has been great for me. The only hassle was that quite a few things broke and weren’t fixed for a few weeks. Apple had said Snow Leopard in September and all the developers thought that meant September 30. Apple got crazy and introduced Snow Leopard on August 28. How rude!

iMac27

The main thing to know about Snow Leopard if you haven’t upgraded yet is that (1) it makes your machine noticeably faster and (2) the screen pops and dazzles in a way Leopard doesn’t. Apple rewrote the Finder in Cocoa and put the full horsepower of their core graphics engine under it. Now windows pop like you’ve never seen them. As soon as you install Snow Leopard there’s no going back. It’s too lush and enjoyable — and did I say fast!

Then in September we had the new iPod touch and iPod nano. I covered them in my last post, so will skip those here. I still think the Nano makes a fantastic Christmas gift for anyone who likes music or gadgets the least bit. The iPod touch is for all those people who can’t do iPhone due to contracts, crumby reception or exhorbitant data plan charges. iPhone-less college students are perfect mates for the iPod touch because wi-fi runs rampant on a college campus and money isn’t all that plentiful in most cases when you are a student.

Then came a *mightier* Mac mini upgrade, a fast, battery-laden $995 white Macbook with everything but firewire and a crazily ginormous iMac 27. Apple rocks! They do not let up. They drive the tech world.

I only have two tiny complaints at the moment. I wish Apple had knocked Mac prices down a little more somewhere to increase Mac marketshare. But if they did, they could not wow us as well with things like the 7-hour battery life of the white Macbook. Second, where’s my iPad? Lots of people have shiny little netbooks and I want a mini-tablet as an alternative. Lots of Apple owners *had to* go out and buy netbook PCs. Since I have a Macbook Air, I held the line. I highly recommend Apple’s video about the new iMac – there’s a lot of Apple’s amazing industrial designer, Jonathan Ive, on there.

Windows 7 is here. As an after thought, I’ll mention the big W from the North country. I haven’t seen a screen with Windows 7 on it. I go by my tech reading. What I see is that Windows 7 is a great boon to Microsoft’s bottom line. Since a lot of the good things about it are already in OS X, Mac lovers need not be concerned. We know who the innovator is between Apple and Microsoft. Since there is an incredible inertia in favor of Windows, Apple will have to hustle. Glad of that.

Steve Lives and Back in the Saddle

steve_lives_gizmodoWe are disappointed with Apple’s decision to leave the camera out on the iPod touch. On the other hand the 64gb model looks pretty nice. The little nanos with video cam, microphone and fm radio look like great Christmas gifts this year.

Lots of goodies in iTunes 9 – finally better design so you can find what you want faster and a wishlist! Being able to organize your iPhone and iPod touch apps in iTunes looks really good.

Couldn’t resist this pic. I’ve got iTunes 9 running and both iPhone and iPod touch running OS 3.1.

Photo compliments of Gizmodo.