“Fasten your seatbelts”, 15 minutes of business insight.
The New Yorker got unprecedented access to Apple’s Jony Ive and we got a small-book-sized article that gives us a glimpse into their design process. Well worth a read.
I see it as Apple saying: “Hey, we are just starting to learn what could be done with this thing. Don’t say it’s going nowhere because the sales went down last quarter.”
And I believe they are right.
Another one by Ben Thompson about how Microsoft is seemingly becoming in terms with the new reality:
The cloud, though, changes that. Once you remove the burden of support and maintenance – that’s handled by the service provider – it suddenly doesn’t necessarily make sense to buy from only one vendor simply because they are integrated. There is more freedom to evaluate a particular product on different characteristics, like, say, how easy it is to use, or how well it supports mobile. And it’s here that Microsoft products, particularly the hated SharePoint, were found to be lacking.
Ben Thompson writes about Google and what could eclipse it:
I think Google is quite safe when it comes to search, and that they will be a very profitable company for the foreseeable future. I just suspect we will all think differently about that dominance when it’s a small percentage of total digital advertising, just as we thought differently about IBM’s dominance of mainframes in the age of the PC, or Microsoft’s dominance of PCs in the age of the smartphone.
Apple Watch is not a product from a tech company, and it will not be understood, at all, by the tech world. Apple creates and uses technology in incredible ways. The Apple Watch may prove to be the most technologically advanced product they’ve ever built. But again: Apple is not a tech company, and Apple Watch is not a tech product.
When the prices of the steel and (especially) gold Apple Watches are announced, I expect the tech press to have the biggest collective shit-fit in the history of Apple-versus-the-standard-tech-industry shit-fits. The utilitarian mindset that asks “Why would anyone waste money on a gold watch?” isn’t going to be able to come to grips with what Apple is doing here. They’re going to say that Jony Ive and Tim Cook have lost their minds. They’re going to wear out their keyboards typing “This never would have happened if Steve Jobs were alive.” They’re going to predict utter and humiliating failure. In short, they’re going to mistake Apple for Vertu.
Great commentary by Ben Thompson on the Apple Watch introduction:
The Apple Watch section began with the iconic “One more thing…” at 55:44,1 and these were the extent of Tim Cook’s words before we got our first glimpse of the Apple Watch:
We love to make great products that really enrich people’s lives. We love to integrate hardware, software, and services seamlessly. We love to make technology more personal and allow our users to do things that they could have never imagined. We’ve been working incredibly hard for a long time on an entirely new product. And we believe this product will redefine what people expect from its category. I am so excited and I am so proud to share it with you this morning. It is the next chapter in Apple’s story. And here it is.
Then came the introductory video, and we never got an explanation of why the Apple Watch existed, or what need it is supposed to fill. What is the market? Why does Apple believe it can succeed there? What makes the Apple Watch unique?
For even more Ben’s insight listen to this episode of his podcast.
Apple is going into fashion industry in a big way. I have my doubts about the utility of the watch just yet, but utility may not be the most important job-to-be-done here. It will be interesting to watch the progress of this thing.
I think it’s because the – when you stop moving a frontier, you forget what’s on the other side of that frontier that could titillate explorers, the explorer gene built within us. But on top of that, that can actually transform how we live and what we know of the physical world. And it’s the fact that we have explored since we’ve left the cave that has enabled civilization to be what it is.
The people talking on their cell phone and following GPS instructions to where grandma’s house is saying I don’t need space – excuse me, that’s how you know where grandma lives, and when to make the left turn. There’s DirecTV, there is satellite radio, there’s all these things that involve space, and you’re going to say now that we don’t need anymore space? There’s nothing else I need?
There’s a whole universe! And I as an astrophysicist, see the universe, feel the universe, smell the universe every day. Every day. And for people to say, I’m cool, I’m right here, it’s all I need. Now let’s live. I say that’s how to die. That’s not how to live.
Ben Thompson says it:
Utimately, though, Samsung’s fundamental problem is that they have no software-based differentiation, which means in the long run all they can do is compete on price. Perhaps they should ask HP or Dell how that goes.
In fact, it turns out that smartphones really are just like PCs: it’s the hardware maker with its own operating system that is dominating profits, while everyone else eats themselves alive to the benefit of their software master.
What if we designed a new kind of “maker space” — a space that isn’t just for putting pieces together, but also for seeing and understanding a project’s behavior in powerful ways? — Bret Victor
David writing on Signal v. Noise about building mobile version of Basecamp:
We implemented the main progress screen in the iPhone app in first a fully native version, then again in an HTML-backed version.
After a fiddling a bit, the conclusion was clear: There was no discernible difference! Well, except for the fact that it was far quicker to develop the HTML version than the native version.
Count me in for this approach.
Mobile is dead.… Web & apps are both wrong.
— Matias Duarte, Head of Design at Android
I like Matias’ point of view.
Best CSS gradient, shadow, radius, transition and transform WYSIWYG editor I’ve seen to date. You can create instances for :hover, :active, custom class states. You can also work with transitions and transforms.
Ben Thompson writing for stratēchery:
Think about commerce in the same time periods and contexts I recounted above: in the time of addresses and telephones, most commerce involved driving to the store. It was a purposeful and burdensome activity, rather like a scheduled phone call. In the era of the web, ecommerce became a word, but it still entailed going to a computer, a journey that seems simple, but in reality is often far removed from the motivation to buy, which may arise from an ad seen on TV, or a dress in a windows, or the recommendation of a friend. With mobile though, and particularly with messaging, the omnipresence of both a communications channel as well as a purchasing channel means the separation between the thought of buying and actually making a purchase is very small indeed.
Josh Bersin about knowledge workers:
A “Power Law” distribution is also known as a “long tail.” It indicates that people are not “normally distributed.” In this statistical model there are a small number of people who are “hyper high performers,” a a broad swath of people who are “good performers” and a smaller number of people who are “low performers.” It essentially accounts for a much wider variation in performance among the sample.
Marco Arment writing:
They did everything that the press, analysts, and prevailing wisdom at the time were telling them to do. Everyone was pressuring them to be more like Apple, so they tried.
The problem isn’t that they botched it (although they did, in some ways). The problem is that Microsoft isn’t Apple, and Microsoft’s customers aren’t Apple’s customers. They tried selling a more Apple-like attitude to their customers, most of whom don’t want and won’t tolerate an Apple-like attitude. That’s why they’re not Apple customers.