Clearly, Apple is not improving on its desktop products as much as its mobile ones. Apple does this because it sees iOS devices as the future and rather than dumping its resources into the waste bin of the past (cough cough Windows and OS X) it puts its resources into the garden of the future. (iOS devices) In the future, expect more of the same. Expect Apple to vigorously iterate on its mobile software, and expect OS X and Windows software to suffer as a result of growing neglect. It may seem like a bad idea for Apple to do something like this, but when mobile devices overtake PCs, Apple’s iteration on mobile software will have paid off.
Like many of you, I unboxed an iPad this Christmas. After using the iPad for a few hours I picked up the box, fascinated by how tightly everything in the box fit together. As I set the box down, it noticed that on the bottom edge of the box was an iCloud logo, just opposite of the side on which the Apple logo rested. Everyone knows how sparsely Apple decorates their products, so why would they put an iCloud logo on the box? Only if it was extremely important. More important than iOS 5, the A5 processor, FaceTime, iMessage, iTunes, or the App Store. Apple didn’t put logos for any of those things on the box of the iPad, no, it put the iCloud logo and nothing else.
So, why is iCloud so important to Apple? Is it because it syncs everything? No. iCloud is so important because it not only syncs your content, but it provides the stepping stone to the continuous client experience that has become the pinnacle of usability. Continuous client, if you don’t know, is simply the ability to stop reading a book or watching a movie or playing a game or doing anything, and picking up where you left off on another device. This is something Apple has the unique ability to do better than anyone else because its devices are so popular and Apple’s famous “closed” ecosystem allow it to spread iCloud’s adoption faster than anyone else.
iCloud can help Apple make the transition to PC-free iOS devices. This is important because Apple is moving the world beyond PCs and iCloud is now the forerunner of this transition. This is only the first of many transitions that will be made in the future and iCloud can help people make these transitions easily and painlessly.
iCloud will gain more features in the future, and it also provides a stairway right up to cloud-based apps and even devices when the time is right. iCloud could make transitions to, say, HTML 5 based apps and devices seamless because rather than having to plug-in to iTunes and backup, then plugin your new device and sync for an hour, you can have not even left the Apple Store with you new phone and your apps can be downloading in your pocket from a cloud-based backup. This gives Apple the ability to drastically alter the architecture of iOS in the future and keep the transition experience for customers a good one.
This is why iCloud is so important to Apple, it is the new iTunes, the tool that they will use to make transitions buttery-smooth, and it provides the foundation for continuous-client experiences.
In recent years, namely those since the iPhone, Nokia has slowly fallen out of favor and lost market share. When Stephen Elop, Nokia’s CEO announced their switch to Windows Phone, there was hope.
Nokia’s mentality behind their switch from MeeGo to Windows Phone was that they made great hardware, but the software, MeeGo, was holding them back. So they announced their switch to Windows Phone (a very solid platform.) Unfortunately, shortly after they announced this switch, the software was improved and it shipped on the Nokia N9. This created a quite bit of sympathy for the MeeGo platform. Nokia had worked itself into a sort of corner with many people still liking its older platform, but at the same time it was committed to moving to the Windows Phone platform.
So Nokia had a rare chance to start anew, with a brand new platform, a refreshed user experience, and a potential for bringing its brand back to the forefront. So what did Nokia do? It released the Lumia 800, an N9 running Windows Phone. This phone did not even live up to the expectations set by other leading Windows Phones. In addition, the Lumia 800 does not have any of the software tweaks that Nokia promised for its Windows Phones. In essence, it feels outdated at launch; a phone that is only a stop-gap solution.
In short, Nokia had a chance, and they blew it.
Not all hope is lost for Nokia, they will still make great hardware, and one day they will go on to improve the Windows Phone 7 OS on their devices. Unfortunately, you only get one shot at a first impression and Nokia did not use it wisely.
Assuming both European and U.S. regulators approve the deal, Google will buy Motorola Mobility at 60% of the stock price at the time of the deal ($40). What does this mean for Motorola, Google, and the rest of the industry?
For Motorola: Google says Motorola will continue to operate as a separate wing of Google. So in short, nothing will change… or so Google says, but what about Motoblur (or whatever Moto wants it to be called)? Will Google let a company it owns fragment and skin its operating system? Can Google really stay out of Motorola’s business? The search giant has not given a great answer for these questions leaving us wondering about Motorola’s future.
For Google: Google says that the Motorola acquisition is all about patents, patents to defend Android which has come under fire through recent patent attacks. Google’s Nexus program? Google says that Motorola will have to bid just like any other hardware maker. Also, and most importantly, is that Google says they will not do what Apple does or HP did. Google is either smart enough to realize that competing with their partners is a no-win scenario or they simply feel better leaving Motorola alone because they just bought it for its patents.
For the industry: To all who are engaged in legal action against Android, watch out. Soon Google’s patent arsenal will be comparable to other players and people will hopefully cut it out with the lawsuits. For anyone else, including investors, it doesn’t mean much. Google has a track record of buying companies and leaving them alone, for better or for worse. Take for example Blogger, what has Google done to integrate this service? When was the last huge change to Blogger? It’s not so bad for Blogger, just not good either. Unless you never look at your URL bar you probably noticed that this is a WordPress blog. When starting this I looked at other services, Blogger included and found that WordPress was the best that suited my needs. One of the reasons? WordPress is being actively improved. Blogger? Not so much.
In today’s update to the Apple TV set-top box Apple added streaming of purchased (in addition to rented) TV shows, along with Vimeo support and the all-too-usual bug fixes. I would like to take a minute and point out what Apple is doing here with this update.
As Techcrunch notes in this article Today’s Apple TV update added the feature to stream your purchased shows off Apple’s servers to your Apple TV. This is a partial reversal in strategy on Apple’s part after deals to allow 99¢ rental of shows have presumably fell through for the time being. On iTunes you can also re-download purchased shows. Now say I have a season pass to Glee, (who doesn’t, right?)^1 I can now see the latest episode without having to download it to my computer then stream it to my Apple TV over my home WiFi. This marks another step towards Apple’s attempt to take the loving room. They seem to be seizing on Logitech’s admitted Google TV failure (Logitech had more returns than sales of the Revue in Q1). Apple’s next step is clear, allow customers to re-download and stream movies. The only question I have now is when will Apple release an ATV with an A5 processor that cranks out 1080p video? Chime in on the comments and say when you think Apple will release a new Apple TV.
^1 I don’t have a Glee season pass, my proposed situation was purely hypothetical.
After using Lion for about a week now, I can say with confidence that it has changed the way I use my Mac. Swiping between full-screen apps and desktops feels like the future. Gestures, which I don’t think are too complicated by the way, add to the feeling that everything is front of you is very real. But this is not a review. Apple made a move I want to make very clear. The Mac no longer comes first for Apple. iOS has had multi-touch gestures, full screen apps and an App Store far before the Mac, and this is just the start. The iPod Touch and the iPhone both got Retina Displays before the Macs will. (Support for Retina Display quality graphics were found in Lion.) Apple will of course continue bringing iOS features to the Mac and the Mac will continue to be a revenue source for Apple, but it is no longer their main priority. When was the last time you saw a Mac ad on TV? How about an iPad ad? Also, remember the quote that got all the press back at WWDC? “We’re living in a post-PC world.” Scott Forstall said that. The Mac is a PC, but of course Scott would have never said that. Imagine, “We are living in a post-Mac world.” just after the OS X Lion announcement?
Apple has made it clear (but not too clear) that the Mac is no longer first, from words like “demote” and “post-PC”. With the Mac now second on Apple’s list at least Apple is living in a post-PC world. And they are pushing us that way with every product they make.
Do you think this is the case? Speak up in the comments below!
Google’s newest move into social, Google+, came with a remarkably well designed interface. Although there are still plenty of gripes about the social network itself I am going to pay attention to what Google is doing here with their interface. Google is known for their utilitarian interfaces and that is what people have come to expect from Google. However, with Google+, they also previewed a new Gmail interface that is similarly well designed (in my opinion). Google also launched a sleek black bar at the top of all Google properties, you know the on it has links to most of Google’s services, and called it the Sandbar. I have never been much of a fan of Google’s design choices, until now.
Google has wised up and realized that one way it has let things slip in its battle against Apple is in design. Apple is known for its well thought-out interfaces and minimalist design. Google at some point realized that they needed to compete with Apple on this (If they were competing before they just sucked at it). I feel now Google has finally grown up and noticed that function is not to be enjoyed without beauty. I believe that we will now see Google go though all its services and spruce them up the way it has with Gmail. The design also complements the stock Android Gingerbread interface much in the same way that iOS complements Lion and Windows Phone 7 complements Windows 8. Not many will notice the similarities between Google’s new look and Android, partly because of Android skins and also because they are less pronounced than their competitors’ similarities.
All said, I believe this is a turning point for Google, a well-received social strategy and a design that people will notice looks nice. Both of these things will play a role in Google’s future developments.
The HP TouchPad was reviewed on several sites last week. And one thing rang clear: the TouchPad’s software, and to some extent, hardware were half-baked. The OS, webOS, was laggy and some important features, such as threaded emails, were missing. This sounds familiar. A couple of weeks ago Apple released Final Cut Pro X (say ten). The software, although not laggy was missing some important features that nearly all pro editors need in an editing software.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to have a fully baked product. Having a completed, polished product at launch is making an important first impression. First, those darn bloggers get their hands on the product. They will influence the original bent, positive or negative, that customers have before getting their hands on a product in-store. Next, after a customer has heard about the product online or on TV, they go to the store and try the product if they can. This is when it is most essential, in my opinion, to have a polished product. People can ignore bloggers, commercials are so heavily glossed they are not reliable, and once a customer has purchased a product the company has already won, whether the customer enjoys the product or not. When a customer walks into the store, the manufacturer has one minute at best to wow the customer. The customer needs to be delighted while they lazily tap and swipe the glass screen. If the customer sees any lag or hesitation during their minute with the product what are they to assume about the rest of the product that they hadn’t seen? This is one reason why the iPad, iPhone, and iPod are so successful, they are fully-baked products from the get-go. If the TouchPad had spent one month, just one month, longer in development and HP stomped out some of the bugs, imagine how great of an impression that it could have made. The HP TouchPad could have been the first real iPad challenger. HP had a shot, took it, and missed.
Final Cut Pro X was a total rewrite of the industry-standard Final Cut Pro 7. During this rewrite some important pro features were lost in the transition. Apple has said that these will all return in future updates, however this means that professional users cannot use this software as much as they would like to, cannot use it at all, or have to find alternate ways to do a previously trivial task. Although I think what Apple did with FCP X took some serious guts they should have spent a month or two more adding those features to the software or, if necessary, continued selling Final Cut 7 to professionals who need those features that didn’t make the final cut. (John Gruber thinks so too) I think Apple should have known better and, like HP, the best option was to spend a few extra weeks in fully fleshing out and trimming their product.
A little more work On both these products could have gone a long way.