Category Archives: iPhone

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.

State of Apple – July 2009

I see AAPL is at about $147 per share today. Not too shabby for a deep recession. Steve Jobs is back at the helm after a successful liver transplant! That was a surprise for everyone but seems to have come out for the better. I’m relieved and hope to see him live a long life. He’s only 54 after all.

While Steve was on a leave of absence, the Apple machine showed no signs of distress. Perhaps this is because, Steve remained involved on major decisions and he’s hired an amazing team to carry out Apple’s groundbreaking initiatives.

iPhone_3GS_400px

The new iPhone 3GS is looking to be a big success. I absolutely love mine. The improved camera hardware and software was worth waiting for. I don’t feel bad leaving my point-and-shoot at home anymore. The increased speed and extra memory mean you can flip between web pages and apps without a pause in the action. Voice control and the new compass add even more to the package. Don’t get me started on iPhone OS 3.0 which works on all iPhones and iPod touches. Did I mention the App store?

MacBook_Pro_13

The Amazing new Macbook Pro 13″ was a wonderful surprise. Starting at $1199, this Mac can’t be beat. And they gave us back the Firewire they took away when the unibody MacBook was released last October. Plus much increased battery life and a better screen. If I weren’t in love with my MacBook Air, I would have run to the Apple store for this one.

In spite of some credible initial efforts from the Blackberry, Android and now Palm, Apple seems close to attaining the crown in the Smartphone space. That’s not bad after only 24 months in the market. Keep in mind that mobile is the next computing platform.

We have Snow Leopard and new iPods coming in September. Rumors of a mini-tablet in October tantalize. Really glad to have these amazing technology treats to look forward to in these challenging times.

State of Apple – April 09

It’s about time for an Apple update. The Expo is well behind us now and new Macs have been recently released. We know that iPhone 3.0 will be out by July. Here are the recent high points and things to look forward to.

The Return of Steve Jobs? At Apple’s Annual Meeting on Feb 25th, spokes people seemed to hint that Steve was returning and was in communication on a regular basis with Apple’s board and key execs.

Steve_Jobs_Jan_08My take is that Steve’s health situation is serious enough that we can’t count on him to fully recover. In fact, he may not make it. But, he can afford the best medical care and is making his health priority one. He has a lot to live for. If his health is good at all, he’ll be champing at the bit to get back full-time to Apple. I sure hope he comes back soon.

iPhone Update. The iPhone is still unrivaled and is moving smartly towards a dominant position in the mobile market. All I know is that:

There are iPhones everywhere I go.

There are bajillions of iPhone apps and some of them are quite good like Tweetie, Evernote, Fieldrunner and Todo.

Apple keeps improving it – they are finally releasing cut-copy-paste.

I love my iPhone. A new, faster, more capacious (32gb) iPhone with a better camera is rumored for release in June or July.

Here’s the competition in order of strength: Blackberry, Palm Pre, Google’s Android phones like the G1, Nokia, Windows Mobile phones. Palm Pre looks hot but pre-release, so Palm has a lot to prove. The Blackberry Storm, released in November, was a disappointment. The first Android phone, the G1, is OK but development of the platform has been disappointing to observers like engadget and gdgt. Nokia’s Symbian platform lags technically even though Nokia dominates the smartphone market.

mac_mini

Mac Update. Yay for the upgrade of the Mac mini. The updates of the iMac and Mac Pro were good but mostly speed bumps with decent pricing. A lot of people hoped for even lower prices to suit the economy but that didn’t happen. I look at that as a sign of strength on Apple’s part.

New iPod Shuffle. I do like the new iPod Shuffle, by the way. What I like is the introduction of which_ipod_are_youadditional functionality via voice feedback. This innovation opens up a whole new avenue for gadget-human interaction. I hear it is well-implemented too. Multiple playlists are now supported.

Rumors of a mini-tablet or 10-inch notebook. I vote for the mini-tablet but since it is a new form factor am afraid the odds favor a smaller version of the macbook air that somehow manages to be cheaper. Not sure that is possible. Maybe it will be more like a small version of the Macbook. What I want is something the size and weight of the Kindle for $800 or less — hopefully less. Rumors have it that a device like this might possibly appear between August and October. Or maybe a netbooklike device will come out. I’m happy with my full-sized Macbook Air, so am not netbook-inclined.