Apple Announces Nothing (New)

“Apple announces NOTHING at developer conference”.

No, seriously, I read it on the internets, so it must be true. You can read it for yourself, here:

images-94

Apple Announces Nothing at Developer Conference ~ By Paul “Comic Book Guy” Ausick

Admittedly, that is just one man’s opinion, and an extremely harsh assessment at that. The consensus seems to be a little more moderate. What most Apple critics seem to have concluded is not that Apple announced NOTHING at their developer conference but that Apple announced NOTHING NEW.

No, seriously. That’s what they’re saying. You can read it here.

Great artists steal: The iOS 8 features inspired by Android ~ by Ron Amadeo

“(M)any of Apple’s announced upgrades were things the Android OS has boasted for years.”

WLETyping suggestions
Third party keyboards
Inter-app communication
Hotwords, music recognition, and streaming voice recognition
Notification Actions
Videos in the App Store
Beta testing
Widgets
Photo backup and storage
CloudKit

Fetish For First

NTSHWhat is it with our fetish for first? Where did we ever get the notion being first was all that mattered and — perversely — that nothing that comes after “first” matters at all?

Tech is not a race. It’s not some Olympic event, where you run 100 meters, cross the finish line, everybody jogs to a stop, and then you get awarded a medal. No. In real life, the tech race goes on and on forever.

If anything, tech is more like catching a train than running a race. You have to stand on the platform and wait for tech to arrive before you can get on board. Try to get on board too soon and you’ll fall flat on your face. Try to get on board too late and you’ll be left at the station. At least, that’s what it’s like for the consumers of technology.

If you’re a company that’s CREATING the technology — like Apple or Google or Microsoft or Amazon — you still have to wait for the technology train to pull into the station. But if you want to control that technology, you might have to actually anticipate where technology is headed and BUILD the platform first. And you’d darn well better hope you guessed right and built your platform at the right place and at the right time. Otherwise you’re going to be as lonely as a developer at a Microsoft Kin convention.

Maybe an even better metaphor is a wave. Tech is like many waves coming together to form one massive wave. To ride that wave, you have to time it perfectly. Too soon and it crashes on top of you. Too late and you are left behind. But catch the tech wave — catch it just right — and you can ride it all the way to wealth and fame.

Take, for example, the iPod:

People think of the iPod as just the iPod. But what people call the iPod was really three things: iPod, iTunes, and the iTunes Store. ~ Tony Fadell ((Excerpt From: Max Chafkin. “Design Crazy.”))

The iPod was introduced in 2001, but it didn’t take off until the hardware (iPod), the software (iTunes Store) and services (iTunes internet services) all came together to create a groundswell that flooded the market and washed the competition away.

First To Fail

QR Codes. NFC. JOYN. MMS. Infrared. Haptics. Projectors. So many dead ends in mobile. ~ Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans)

The tech graveyard is full of failed “firsts,” right?

— Apple’s Newton;
— Microsoft’s Windows Tablets;
— Samsung’s Smartwatches.

Here are some more examples:

The First Wheel:

Wheel

The First Convertible Automobile:

FirstCar

The First Electric Automobile:

FirstElectric

The First Highway Hi-Fi (1956):

HiFi

The First Pedal Skates:

Pedal

The First Motorized Roller Skates:

Motorized

The First Vending Machine With Pre-Lit Cigarettes:

PreLit

The First Automated Hot Dog Machine:

HotDog

The First Picturephone:

lady-bird-picturephone

The First Notebook Computer:

Notebook

Let’s face it, being first ain’t always a good thing. Sometimes, when you get too far ahead on the road you’re traveling, you find you’re no longer on solid footing.

RoadR

How Are We Not Getting This?

How are we not getting this? I mean, it’s not like this is new or anything. It has always been true, since the dawn of man.

The Greeks invented the Phalanx, but the Macedonians perfected it. They didn’t call him Alexander The “Late”, they called him Alexander The Great — and with good reason. ~ John R. Kirk ((That’s right. I cited myself. So sue me.))


images-95And it’s not only geeks like Comic Book Guy who are getting this wrong. A lot of people — people who should know better — are getting this wrong too. Take, for example, a look at this March, 2014 interview with a Steve Ballmer:

Ballmer also took shots at Microsoft’s rivals, waving off Apple as a company that was “quote, cool, unquote” that has “had a good run lately,” and in tablets, (Apple) only commercialized the idea that others, including Microsoft, had originated. ((Emphasis added.))

What.
The.
Heck.

I don’t stinking believe Steve Ballmer even thought those thoughts, more less said those words out loud, more less said them out loud to a reporter.

Apple ONLY commercialized the ideas? ONLY?

EXCUSE ME. Isn’t being a commercial success the frizzing POINT? Isn’t that Apple’s job? And Microsoft’s job too, for that matter? Tech pedants are so obsessed with “first” they’ve completely taken their eyes off the prize. They’ve forgotten the goal is not to be the first, but to be the FIRST TO GET IT RIGHT.

  1. You don’t want to be the first one to sail the high seas.
    You want to be the first one to sail the high seas and RETURN TO PORT SAFELY.
  2. You don’t want to be the first one to fly an airplane.
    You want to be the first one to fly an airplane and LAND IT SAFELY.
  3. To use a D-Day analogy, you don’t want to be the first one ON the beach.
    You want to be the first one OFF the beach…ALIVE.

There’s “First” And Then There’s “First”

There are many kind of firsts, my friend, and first in time is not always first in value to either the producer or the consumer of technology.

You say Android is the first to offer third party keyboards? iOS is the first to do it without allowing all of your keystrokes to be read by those self-same third-party developers.

You say Android is the first to offer inter-app communications? iOS is the first to do it without exposing your mobile device to a “toxic hellstew” of computer viruses.

You say Android is the first to allow Widgets? iOS is the first to make them a seamless experience.

You say Android is the first to allow photo backup and storage? iOS is the first to let you do it effortlessly.

You say Android is the first with a slew of other features? iOS is the first to do those same features without bringing your operating system to its knees.

It means much more to us to get it right then to get it first. ~ Tim Cook

SERVICES - word cloud - colored signpost - NEW TOP TREND

Customer, services, support, care, help, trust, advice, guidance — these are assigned ZERO value by Apple’s critics. Apple announces NOTHING, they say, and Apple announces NOTHING NEW, they say, despite the flood of new services and developer tools announced at Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC). Why the discrepancy?

You can’t teach a color blind man to appreciate a Monet and you can’t teach a person who discounts the importance of privacy, security etc, to appreciate what Apple does either.

Giverny Bridge on the Water Lily Pond

First To Market Or First Priority?

Apple employs a whole different definition of “first” than Apple’s critics do. It’s not about shipping first; it’s not about getting to market first; it’s about getting it right BEFORE it ships and BEFORE it gets into the hands of Apple’s valued customers.

It is key to understand that Apple puts the experience first. Everything else flows from that priority. ~ ßen ßajarin (@BenBajarin)

Security First

Box

Privacy First

    — “Google can periodically turn on mic, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, & similar features on all your current & future devices” ~ Android Police

    — TouchID is being used by 85% of iPhone 5S owners

iOS 8 now requiring apps reconfirm authenticity of background location periodically. Steve Cheney (@stevecheney)

Reliability First

    — Steve had been absolutely against opening the App Store early on, because he didn’t want the phone to crash. You have to be able to call 911 on the phone anytime, so we couldn’t trust our operating system to a bunch of crazy stupid developers without putting them in a huge sandbox first. ~ Andy Grignon ((Excerpt From: Max Chafkin. “Design Crazy.”))

User Experience First

Ketchup

Ease Of Use And “Invisibility” First

In iOS 8, you’ll be able to AirPlay to Apple TV with zero configuration. Don’t even have to be on the same network! ~ Chris Marriott (@chrismarriott)

    — If your customer has to think about it, you’re not done designing the user interface.

Mail attachments up to 5GB in size are not a problem anymore. ~ Horace Dediu (@asymco)

    — There was a debate [on the Lisa] team about the mouse. Was it going to have a mouse, and how many buttons should it have? Steve and I wanted one button, because if there’s one button, you never have to think about it. One of the former Xerox guys argued for six buttons. He said, “Look, bartenders have six buttons on those drink dispensers, and they can handle it.” But that was a failure to understand what Steve was trying to do with user experience. ~ Trip Hawkins ((Excerpt From: Max Chafkin. “Design Crazy.”))
    — There is a huge difference between a learning curve, a low learning curve and NO learning curve. When you get to NO learning curve, everybody uses the feature, no matter how complex it is technically or how geeky it used to seem.
    — According to Teller (head of Google X), the truly innovative projects should become perfectly transparent in our lives. He started off his keynote by talking about car brakes and ABS systems. When you put your foot on the brake of the car, you’re not actually activating the brakes. It’s just an interface. You are actually making a request to a robot.

    “That is a wonderful technology moment. We don’t have to mess with it. We just say here’s what we want,” he said. “When technology reaches that level of invisibility in our lives, that’s our ultimate goal. It vanishes into our lives. It says: ‘you don’t have to do the work, It’ll do the work.’”

Design First

    — “Jobs unveiled the so-called Bondi Blue iMac—named for a beach in Sydney, Australia—at a special event in May 1998. “It looks like it’s from another planet,” Jobs said. “A planet with better designers.” ((Excerpt From: Max Chafkin. “Design Crazy.”))

Integration First

    — Google loves to characterize Android as open, and iOS and iPhone as closed. We find this a bit disingenuous and clouding the real difference between our two approaches. […] In reality, we think the open versus closed argument is just a smokescreen to try and hide the real issue, which is, “what’s best for the customer?” Fragmented versus integrated. ~ Steve Jobs

(T)oday’s additions are pieces in a larger puzzle, not the whole puzzle by themselves. ~ @BenBajarin

Benefits (not features) First

    — The competitors, like Commodore and Kaypro, were all doing speeds and feeds, whereas Steve always wanted things like “What is the significance in the world? How might this change things?” ~ Steve Hayden ((Excerpt From: Max Chafkin. “Design Crazy.”))
    — I find speed is typically the least interesting feature of a new phone. I’ll run a benchmark on a new phone out of dumb obligation (and noting how many times the maker used the word “speed” during my briefing). Fine. Yes. I find the numbers that are supposed to be higher and the numbers that are supposed to be lower are higher and lower, respectively.

    But how, precisely, does the faster CPU make a phone better? Bravo for being the first to get the latest Snapdragon processor in a handset, but after people like me file our reviews and move on, who notices or even cares?

    Here’s why I love Apple: speed actually matters. To Apple, there’s no point in putting in a faster CPU unless it makes the phone better. And “it’ll do things faster” isn’t necessarily a good enough reason. ~ Andy Ihnatko

Performance First

Battery Life First

Apple is opening up iOS to extension in the same way it added multi-tasking: controlled and sandboxed, retaining security & battery life. ~ Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans)

Evaluation

Conclusion

So, am I saying iOS is superior to Android? No, I am not. “Superior” is a subjective term. Each consumer gets to decide for themselves what product best suits their needs. That’s the beauty of the free market.

What I AM saying is it’s time to stop contending Android is copying iOS and iOS is copying Android because it’s a damn lie. The WAY both operating systems create their features and the WAY those features are implemented makes their respective experiences totally unalike.

An original artist is unable to copy. So he has only to copy in order to be original. ~ Jean Cocteau

images-98images-96I can order chicken nuggets from McDonalds or chicken cordon bleu from a five-star restaurant. Both meals are made of chicken but that’s where the similarities end. HOW something is prepared is often as important — and often more important — than WHAT that something is.

It’s the same in mobile technology today. Even if the ingredients were the same — and they’re not — the way Apple and Google “bake” their products is as different in style and substance as would be the same meal prepared by Chef Ramsey and Chef Boyardee.

Tomorrow

Tomorrow, in my Insider’s article (subscription required), I’ll focus on how Apple is making use of different “ingredients” to make their phones, tablets, notebooks, and desktops and how those different “ingredients” both differentiate their products, and make them competitor-proof.

Join me then.

Up-Selling The Mac

Yesterday, in “Whither Apple Or Wither Apple?” I wrote about Apple’s efforts to steal market share from Android. Today I focus on Apple’s efforts to up-sell their iPhone and iPad customers to the Mac.

Continuity

At WWDC 2014, Apple introduced the concept of continuity — a slew of new features for OS X that are designed to make using your iPhone, iPad and Mac one truly seamless experience. The message was clear — if you want to get the most out of your iPhone or iPad — buy a Mac. Here’s just a few of the continuity features that Apple introduced:

— Unified look and feel
— SMS messages on the Mac
— Phone calls on the Mac
— AirDrop will work between iOS and OS X devices
— Mail drop will work between iOS and OS X devices
— Family: you can now share purchased music, movies and apps with up to 6 people — so long as there’s one credit card linking the iTunes accounts
— Handoff

Handoff is my favorite of all the continuity features and it exemplifies what Apple is trying to accomplish. With handoff, you have the ability to pick up your work right where you left off — whether that be on an iPhone, an iPad or a Mac. For example, you can start an email on your phone, realize that it’s going to be complex, and seamlessly move to your Mac and pick up your writing right where you left. Or, conversely, you can start an email on your Mac, suddenly be called out of your home or office, and pick it up and finish it on your iPhone or iPad.

One Step Back, Two Steps Forward

Three years ago, Apple held a back-to-the-Mac event. In it, they introduced a slew of iOS features for the Mac. Some of these features worked well, but others missed their mark. What Apple was going for was comfort — they wanted their iPhone customers to feel at home when using the Mac. However, some of iOS-type features — like launchpad and single-window mode — just felt awkward and out of place on the Mac.

With “continuity”, I think Apple has hit the sweet spot of iOS and OS X integration. It has little to do with making the iPhone work like the Mac or the Mac work like the iPhone. Instead, it has to do making the work you’re doing on the iPhone transition seamlessly to and from the Mac.

Upsell People Walking Into Store Customer Conversions

Enterprise

Apple constantly touts the fact that 98% of Fortune 500 companies use iOS. But Apple wants more — much, much more. In order to make that happen, Apple introduced new features at WWDC 2014 that were developed specifically for Enterprise, including “new security features, enhanced Mail and Calendar, and better device management. Equally meaningful are app extensions, which will not only make power users happy, but also better enable corporations to create and meaningfully use proprietary line-of-business applications.” ((Ben Thompson)) Further, there’s integration with Box and OneDrive as storage options. Even Mark Up can be used as a way of adding on-line signatures to Enterprise documents.

Why Bother?

All this begs the question: Why bother? Isn’t the PC a shrinking market and isn’t the Mac a tiny niche within that shrinking market? Why throw all these resources at a 30 year old device – virtually a tech dinosaur — that’s headed for extinction anyway?

needham-140210-1

Another thing Steve taught us all was not to focus on the past. Be future focused. If you’ve done something great or terrible in the past, forget it and go on and create the next thing. ~ Tim Cook

Isn’t Apple violating its own principles? Shouldn’t they be burying the Mac instead of praising it? Shouldn’t they cut loose the anchor that is the Mac and sail unhindered into their mobile future?

The Mac is dead. Long live the iPhone! Long live the iPad!

Whoa! Hold your horses there, Bucko. Not only isn’t the Mac dead, it’s about to make a big time comeback.

The Mac is still alive and well. ~ Ben Bajarin (@BenBajarin)

Resurgence

MacSales

It is rather incredible to think about a 30-year-old product being a growth story, but it absolutely is the case. ~ Ben Thompson

Even before WWDC 2014, the Mac was going strong and growing stronger:

  1. Mac sales have exceeded PC growth and gained overall marketshare in 30 of the last 31 quarters.
  2. The 4.1 million Macs sold last quarter were a March quarter record for the company. If Gartner and IDC were accurate in their estimates of personal computers shipped worldwide, Macs accounted for between 5.3% and 5.6% of the total.
  3. Apple’s average Mac selling price was steady at $1300.
  4. The ASP, or average selling price, of the Mac line actually increased 2% quarter-over-quarter, climbing from $1,322 to $1,344.

Mac average selling price

In other words, PCs are getting cheaper and consumers are buying less of them and Macs are getting more expensive and consumers are buying more of them. In what world does that make sense?

The Mac Is The Grand Piano Of PCs

Smartphones and tablets have replaced PCs as the primary computer for most normals. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a role for the PC. As the PC (and the Mac) becomes a specialized tool used mostly by specialists, those self-same specialists will want to use the very best tools available.

black grand piano isolated on white backgroundTo steal an analogy from Ben Thompson, there was a time when the grand piano was the only piano available. Then the upright piano — which wasn’t nearly as good, but which was cheaper, smaller and easier to move — took its place. However, there were still those – mostly concert pianists – who needed a grand piano. Were they going to go cheap when they purchased said grand piano? Hell no! This is their livelihood you’re talking about. They’re going to get the best piano they can afford.

The same rule holds true for computing. For example, at WWDC — and at the Microsoft Surface event that preceded the WWDC — almost all the reporters had notebooks, not tablets, and almost all of the notebooks were high-end MacBooks, not cheap PC knockoffs. Concert pianists need concert pianos because their livelihood depends upon the quality of their tool. Reporters need high-end computers because their livelihoods depends upon the quality of their tool. Are reporters going to go cheap when they purchase their computer? Hell no! This is their livelihood you’re talking about. They’re going to get the best computer they can afford.

Anytime anyone NEEDS a grand piano, they’re going to want to spend enough money to get the best. And anytime anyone NEEDS a PC, they’re going to want to spend enough money to get the best. The Mac is the grand piano of PCs. And any specialist who needs a PC is going to want to buy a Mac.

Post-WWDC

Only about 20% of the worldwide market for computers is premium. This is bad news for the iPhone which is rapidly approaching saturation. But this is incredibly GOOD news for the Mac, which is nowhere near saturation.

And the Mac’s share of the Enterprise? Fuggedaboudit. The upside is virtually unlimited.

iPhones and iPads already dominate upscale and Enterprise usage. Apple’s new continuity tools send those users a clear message:

If you already own an iPhone or an iPad and you need to own a PC, then the Mac is the only PC for you.

20140227-FACEBOOK-PAPER-ENGINEERS-0050edit

Apple’s Software Pricing and the Impact on the Competition

When I saw Apple’s theme around free with their software strategy I instantly started thinking about how this could impact the competitive landscape. And while doing so I remembered a strategy from the art of war. Force your competition to compete on a battle field where they have no chance of winning. This is exactly what Apple has done by creating what I can only now call a software-as-a-service model.

Microsoft is a software company and much of their value is wrapped up in businesses like Windows and Office. Like OS X, Windows costs nothing to the person buying a new PC. The cost of the operating system is included in the cost of the hardware. But unlike Windows, a consumer who buys a Mac now knows that all future versions–that come out annually–will cost them nothing. Basically, a Mac customer will always get the latest and greatest software all simply with the initial purchase of the hardware.

When you understand that when the majority of consumers buy a PC and view it as an investment, you see how this strategy can pay off. Microsoft can not make this promise to their customers. Microsoft can and will release rapid Windows software developments but there can be no guarantee to the consumers that future OS versions will be offered to them for free. This is what Apple referred to as “the new era of OS pricing” and it is one I can’t see Microsoft competing with.

Microsoft will also see the value of Office challenged by the mass market. If you are an enterprise customer whose business has spent a great deal of money and time building templates around Office programs, then you will remain committed to Office. However, there are many hundreds of millions of consumers who have no such Office dependency. For these customers the iWork will fully meet their needs and will be offered at a price that Microsoft simply can not offer Office at–free.

Lastly, iLife is a vastly underrated suite of applications. When you survey consumers and ask them the more compute intensive things they do with their PCs it almost always comes back to creativity. They edit and manage photos, they create videos, etc. When you buy a Windows PC there is no built in software suite to serve the basic creativity needs that consumers value more than productivity, in most cases. The fact that Microsoft ignored this has baffled me for years and is further evidence that Microsoft understands business customers needs but not consumers needs.

Throughout the years we have done PC buying intender research. Now while price remains a key driver, and always led us to predict the volume mix between Macs and PCs, the consumers who were considering Macs continually brought up iLife as a reason. The other main driver of interest in Macs was built in customer support. These value proposition remain and are enhanced now by offering OS X (and all future versions) as well as iWork for free.

This is what I mean that Apple has made clear a software-as-a-service model as their strategy. A consumer knows that an investment in Apple’s hardware is also an investment in future software innovations. This can not be underestimated by the competition.

Apple Could Challenge Microsoft for Desktop Dominance. But It Won’t

Apple’s opportunity to dominate desktop computing probably disappeared the day in 1981 that IBM shipped the Personal Computer. Apple’s first attempt at a “business” computer, the Apple ///, was a technical and commercial flop. The anti-corporate “computer for the rest of us” marketing pitch that accompanied the introduction of the Macintosh in 1984 went over badly with business at a time when businesses were buying most of the computers.

The argument, occasionally still heard, that the better system lost is arguable at best. The Mac was a huge usability breakthrough, but in the early years, the graphical user interface demanded more than the hardware could deliver. Microsoft made a major leap with Windows 3.0 in 1990 and by the mid-1990s, when consumer sales became really important, Windows 95 and Windows NT were moving ahead of the aging Mac OS. Mac continued to slip as Windows forged ahead and it wasn’t until Apple’s big switch to Intel processors in 2005, along with increasingly powerful and stable versions of OS X, that Apple had a real claim to equality, let alone superiority.

But the divergent directions indicated by Windows 8 and OS X Mavericks change everything. Although it was Steve Jobs who began talk of the post-PC world when he introduced the iPad in 2010, it seems like it is Microsoft that has bought into the idea. The attempt with Windows 8 to design an operating system that spans traditional PCs, hybrids, and tablets has resulted in a sub-optimal experience on both. With Windows 8.1, Microsoft seems on its way to fixing some of the worst problems of Windows 8 (and its ill-begotten sibling, Windows RT) on tablets by eliminating some, perhaps most, of the need to drop back into Desktop mode to accomplish key tasks. But only relatively minor changes are planned for Windows 8 on a traditional PC, an experience that leaves many users longing for Windows 7.

Mavericks, by contrast, marks Apple’s renewed commitment to the traditional PC, a commitment that had been at least a little in doubt with the surge of iOS features into Lion and Mountain Lion. Except for improved notifications, an idea that borrows from and builds on iOS, the big changes in Mavericks are Serious PC Stuff: A new tabbed interface for the Finder, tagging for better file location and classification, major under-the-hood changes to cut power consumption, and greatly improved support for multi-display setups. Along with a badly overdue, but radical and exciting overhaul of the Mac Pro, Apple is telling Mac users, “We’ve got your back.” [pullquote]Mavericks, by contrast, marks Apple’s renewed commitment to the traditional PC, a commitment that had been at least a little in doubt with the surge of iOS features into Lion and Mountain Lion.[/pullquote]

Apple is now in a position to claim clear superiority in traditional PCs. The new MacBook Airs (pictured) are the first computers to ship with Intel’s next-generation Haswell processors and through a combination of close work with Intel and a lot of software fine tuning, Apple is able to beat the industry by a wide margin on battery life–something made possible by complete control of hardware and software. I expect Apple will do equally well with its MacBook Pros and iMacs this fall when Intel ships the rest of its Haswell line.

Macs could rule the world. Apple’s market share has been rising as Windows PC sales have fallen sharply while Mac sales have been mostly flat. I expect this trend to continue and for Apple’s share to rise. But–in partial answer to the question raised by John Kirk earlier this week–I don’t expect Apple to go after the mass market still dominated by Windows.

The reason is simple. According to NPD, the average selling price of a windows PC at the end of last year was $420. ((NPD data probably understate the average somewhat because the firm measures retail sales, missing the often more expensive units sold directly to enterprise buyers.)) The cheapest Mac is a $599 mini, and the cheapest laptop is a $999. Apple will cheerfully sell you an iPad for as little as $329 and provide a first-rate tablet experience, but there is no way it can provide what it regards as a satisfactory Mac experience at the price most windows machines sell for. ((I don’t mean to perpetuate the myth of an Apple premium. On an equal feature basis, Macs are no more expensive than Windows systems. It’s just that Apple only sells top-of-the-line products.))

The great bulk of buyers is unable or unwilling to spend what Apple commands, and Apple is unwilling to cheapen its products, slash its margins, or both, to meet the market. As a result, Apple will settle for modest gains in share .

This does not mean, however, that Microsoft is home free to at least hold on to its share of a shrinking market. The real threat could come from the bottom, from Google’s Chromebook. Chrome OS, whose only application is the Chrome browser and which depends on web apps (key ones modified to work offline) to do anything, performs well on hardware far more modest than required for Windows or Mac OS. For users with relatively modest needs and good internet connectivity, a Chromebook is a low-cost viable alternative to both a tablet and a Windows laptop. And it will only get better as Google converges Chrome OS and Android, potentially bringing a richer store of apps to Chrome.

These days, the fact that Apple is not coming after them as hard as it might is cold comfort to Microsoft.

 

 

Is Apple Making A Play For the PC Market Too?

Everyone knows that Google’s Android operating system dominates phone market share, Apple’s iOS operating system dominates tablet market share (for now) and Microsoft’s Windows dominates PC market share. While Windows is shrinking in overall market share – if you combine phones, tablets and notebooks/desktops together (and you should) – it has, until now, been a given that Windows will continue to dominate the massive, but shrinking, PC marketplace.

But is that true?

— The MacBook Air used to be a high-priced luxury product for Apple. Now it is their lowest priced, base model. For a thousand dollars, you get one of the lightest, fastest, most powerful notebooks on the market.

— Windows owns the low-end of the market, but the low end is being swallowed whole by tablets. When faced with a choice between a bottom-of-the-line $350 HP or Dell notebook and a top-of-the-line $350 iPad Mini, many consumers are opting for the latter.

Apple has captured 90 percent of the PC market for machines over $1000 since 2009. And given the rapid collapse of the PC market (at the hands of Apple’s iPad and smartphones), that’s a pretty sweet segment of the market to own. ~ AppleInsider

Microsoft has virtually no presence in either the phone or tablet markets. But they also have virtually no presence in the high end of the PC market either. And that’s the only end of the market making money and, in the long-run, it may be the only end of the market that survives the invasion of phones and tablets, too.

Thoughts?

Source for Graphic: NPD Group

Apple and Microsoft Desktop OSes: Two Models, One Winner

When Apple and Microsoft contemplated software for a new world in which tablets were taking over much of the work once done on traditional PCs, it quickly became clear that they were following very different paths. Microsoft opted for an approach that would unify the user experience of tablets and PCs. Apple chose to keep the software environments, and the user experience they produced, distinct.

Early on, I was skeptical about Microsoft’s decision. Today, as the post-iPad, post-Surface versions of Windows and Mac OS X move into their second generation, there is little doubt that Apple was right. Windows 8 is a critical and, so far, a business flop whose problems may be mitigated but are unlikely to be solved by the forthcoming Windows 8.1. Apple, meanwhile, is readying the promising OS X Mavericks (named for a famous surf break in Half Moon Bay.)

Apple’s philosophy is to introduce successful features from its iOS mobile software into OS X when its makes sense while keeping the overall experience of using a Mac very different from the iPad. So Mavericks will gain an enhanced approach to real-time notifications that borrows heavily from iOS. And it will share with iOS a cloud-based system for storing and managing passwords across devices.

When Apple injected a heavy dose of iOS thinking into Mountain Lion, the version of OS X introduced last year, many Mac fans publicly fretted that Apple was on its way to dumbing down the Mac, that OS X would become indistinguishable from iOS. Mavericks, which will ship in the fall, makes it clear this is not going to happen. [pullquote]Today, as the post-iPad, post-Surface versions of Windows and Mac OS X move into their second generation, there is little doubt that Apple was right.[/pullquote]

The late Steve Jobs introduced the iPad in 2010 with a simple metaphor: PCs, whether Windows or Mac, were trucks while the iPad was a car. Most people want cars, though trucks are indispensable for certain kinds of work. Mavericks is designed for the needs of the truckers of the computing world (Apple also unveiled a new 18-wheeler, a long-overdue and radical redesign of its high-end Mac Pro.)

For example, the sort of users who find traditional PCs indispensable are likely to have lots and lots of files and documents, arranged in intricate hierarchies of folders. Mavericks introduces two new power-user tools to help simplify management. One is a new browser-style tabbed interface that makes it easier to examine and rearrange files and folders without opening multiple Finder windows. The second lets you tag files with keywords (shown in the screenshot at top), which facilitates search and ad hoc grouping of files based on this metadata regardless of what folders they reside in.

Apple’s renewed commitment to OS X and the Mac heightens the challenges facing Microsoft. Windows 8.1 is due out in a public preview version at the end of June. Based on what Microsoft has revealed, 8.1 includes some concessions to traditional PC users, including the option of booting directly to the Desktop and a slightly easier way of finding and launching applications from the Desktop environment. At the same time, it will reduce the needs of tablet users and others who favor the new, for lack of a better name, Metro environment from dropping into Desktop. But it fails to change Windows 8’s fundamental flaw: It is a two-headed beast that both PC and tablet users find unsatisfactory.

If Windows 8 fails to recover from its early swoon, it will be a much more serious threat to Microsoft’s future, especially as a consumer operating system, than was its previous flop, Vista. There were a lot of little things wrong with it that annoyed users in a variety of ways, but in many ways it was a large improvement over Windows XP. The problems were fixable without major changes to the underlying OS, and they were fixed in the successful Windows 7 release. The flaws of Windows 8 start with the mistaken idea that a single OS can succeed on both traditional PCs and tablets. Repairing this misconception requires going back to the drawing board, which would not only be a monumental admission of failure but would probably require a couple years of development work. So I expect Microsoft will instead try to muddle through as best it can.

This has serious implications for the marketplace. Sales of PCs as a whole are shrinking and there doesn’t seem to be anything on the horizon that will reverse this trend. But sales of Windows PCs are falling much faster than Macs. For example, in the quarter ended March 30, IDC estimated that worldwide Windows PC shipments dropped 13.9% from the year-ago quarter, which Apple reported its Mac sales were flat. This means that Apple’s market share is growing. And Apple, with its dominance of the high end of the PC market, is continuing to rake in the profits, while makers of Windows PCs are struggling and increasingly contemplating a post-PC world.

The Opinion Cast: The Significance of Mountain Lion

I thought it would be fun to capture Tim and my conversation at the office today around Mountain Lion and our thoughts on what it means for Apple, computing, and even some comparison’s with Apple’s philosophy and that of Windows 8. Often he and I have these chats to get caught up and synchronize our thoughts and I thought I would share this one with our readers.

I hope you enjoy and any and all feedback and / or dialogue is of course welcome.

You can also subscribe to our opinion cast in iTunes here.

OS X Mountain Lion: My Favorite New Features

Tim wrote earlier this week about his conviction that when it comes to post PC platforms Apple will keep OS X and iOS separate rather than merge the two as many expect. What Apple has done with OS X Mountain Lion proves that a desktop class OS can live in harmony with a pure mobile OS and provide a seamless experience across them all.

After using OS X Mountain Lion for a little while now, I have to say that the full experience of seamless integration between all my Macs and iOS devices is quite profound. The funny thing is upon hearing of OS X Mountain Lion’s new features I fully expected it would be, however, it was even more pleasant when I finally got to integrate it into my personal computing ecosystem.

Apple took advantage of their iCloud infrastructure, and tightly integrated it into this new OS release. Apple has continually emphasized a works better together philosophy with their products and iCloud has been a key puzzle piece in this philosophy. Apple executives have referred to iCloud as a strategy for the next decade, but it is most likely the strategy for much longer. iCloud is the glue that ties all of your Apple products together and never is that more clear than with OS X Mountain Lion.

In this analysts opinion, OS X Mountain Lion brings Apple customers one step closer to a seamless and more importantly continuous personal computing experience. Apple has been heading in this direction for a while with things like Photo Stream, iBooks, and others that let you instantly keep experiences in sync. But OS X Mountain Lion takes us even further with things like documents in the cloud, iCloud Tabs, Game Center, and more.

Continuous computing will be a key driver for Apple’s ecosystem going forward. As consumers realize that not only does all you key data, documents, personal settings and more stay synced in real time across all your Apple products but that you can switch from one device to another and feel like you can always pick up where you left off.

Let me know share my experience with a few features that I found particularly useful.

Safari and iCloud Tabs

The updated Safari for OS X Mountain Lion is easily one of my favorites. Primarily because I use Safari as a large part of my daily computing time. The new sharing feature is particularly handy and I used this quite a bit more than I thought. I like to share quite a bit of what I find on the Internet to Facebook and Twitter and being able to share right from Safari without having to jump to a different application or website was extremely useful.

But the biggest new feature that I truly appreciate is iCloud Tabs. I have a Mac and an iPad and I use them both in different ways. Within my personal work style I use them both in conjunction together as a solution rather than as separate products. Because of that I can’t tell you how many times a day I come across a website on the Mac and then want to read that website on my iPad or vice versa. A common use case where this happens is when I am using my Mac and looking up recipes. Once I find the recipe I want I used to have to email it to myself so I can then pick it up on my iPad, which is the tool I use in the kitchen quite often. Now with iCloud Tabs any open tabs in Safari, whether that is on the iPad, iPhone, or Mac is accessible to me. It seems small, but for me it is extremely useful and appreciated.

Notifications

To be honest I have wanted notifications on my Mac for quite a while longer than I wanted notifications for iOS. What is really nice is that you can customize which applications notify you and which ones don’t. For me the most important notifications are email and this one feature has served me greatly.

In my day to day I get well over 100 emails and somedays twice that much. I could literally sit all day and just answer email and it would keep me busy. Obviously because of that I have to prioritize. Pre Notifications in iOS, when I heard an email come in I would click on mail and see who its from then determine if I needed to respond immediately or later. This routine can be quite disrupting to ones work flow. Enter Notifications for email and now as I am working I quickly see who an email is from and without ever having to change applications and quickly read said e-mail, I can choose to respond or keep doing what I was doing.

Since I also text message with work colleagues, friends, and family, quite often having iMessage notify me of a new message was equally pleasant. This kept me from having to disrupt my work flow to check iMessage or my iPhone to see who it was from. Notifications is just one more way that Apple is extending features we know and love on iOS and bringing them to the desktop in a relevant way.

Air Play Mirroring

Air Play support on iOS and even in iTunes on the Mac has been one of those features that I use way more than I expected to. So it was no surprise to me that when Apple brought it to the OS X Mountain Lion that it was on the features I found most valuable. This is key for reasons in my professional life and my personal life.

In my professional life I give a lot of presentations and work collaboratively with teams of executives and product groups. More often than not in these meetings most of the content we are working off resides on my Mac. With Air Play Mirroring we don’t need to huddle around my computer or fiddle with chords and cables and projector issues with inputs or resolution scaling. Now we can simply broadcast the whole of OS X and all the content on it to the large screen or projector. Because of this one features I expect many more Apple TVs in conference rooms.

In my personal life, this is the feature I have been waiting for. Primarily because I watch a lot of video on my Mac. This happens to be because currently many sites I frequent still use Adobe’s flash player– especially the network TV sites. I stream a lot of TV shows from network sites or the web directly and many of them are still on Flash. Unfortunately many of these sites still hold prime TV content from their apps or Hulu + so it is hard to get access to all their content from the apps they release on iOS. Often times I would literally connect my Mac to my TV just so I could watch some shows on my TV. That is why this was one area where Air Play mirroring in OS X Mountain Lion came in for me big time.

I can honestly say that thanks to Apple TV and Air Play Mirroring my living room will never be the same.

Lastly I want to touch briefly on Game Center. This is a feature that I believe may be incredibly disruptive. Now that Game Center games and experiences are unified across all of Apple’s products, the Apple ecosystem has become a fully cross platform gaming environment. I was able to play games with my kids from my Mac while they were on their iPod touches or other iOS devices. Apple is a sleeper in the gaming category and I believe they will soon be a major player from a gaming platform standpoint. And add what I pointed out about Air Play and all of a sudden Apple has a game platform for the big screen as well.

The overall key takeaway for me is what I said a while back in a column about Apple’s promise to their customers. Which is that when you invest in the Apple ecosystem, Apple promises to keep making your experiences better.

And they did just that with their latest release of OS X Mountain Lion.

Mountain Lion’s Gatekeeper Is Not a Slippery Slope

Apple’s announcement of Gatekeeper, an anti-malware component of the new version of OS X, has set off the predictable horrified reactions among tech bloggers. Many are warning that this is a step in Apple’s plot to turn the Mac into an iPhone-like walled garden. But the reactions seem to be made of up equal parts misinformation and paranoia.

Gatekeeper offers Mac users three options. At its most stringent, it will install only software downloaded from the Mac App Store. A middle setting allows downloads from anywhere, but will warn users against installing them unless the code has been signed by a registered Mac developer. The third option is essentially the pre-Mountain Lion status quo: Anything is allowed.

Much of the criticism focuses on the dialog generated by unsigned code when using the middle option. It warns that the code “has not been signed by a recognized developer.  You should move it to the trash.” At Gizmodo, Casey Chan writes: “But Gatekeeper could also be interpreted as Apple heavily discouraging less savvy users from installing non-Mac App Store apps entirely. It’s one step away from turning the current app freedom on the Mac into the app dictatorship of iOS.

At BoingBoing,  Rob Bechizza opines:

“At this point, the thing that unnerves me is not the prospect of Gatekeeper as a crude tool to herd OS X developers into a walled garden and crush freedom. It’s the fact that code-controlling technologies tend to have unintended consequences that harm, rather than guarantee, the quality of user experiences.

“The prospect of Apple becoming a desktop control freak, going full Sony on its own community to stop it using software the way it has for thirty years? Fun, but let’s wait until it actually happens.

“The truth is that Macs don’t currently suffer much from malicious software, and DRM-esque lockouts are always circumvented. So what’s the point of a DRM-esque system for malware prevention? A more pleasingly cynical answer is that it’s a marketing move, aimed as much at analyst-fed Mac malware hysterics in the tech press as it is at real threats. For everyday users, Gatekeeper’s more likely to echo the good old days of Vista’s “Cancel or Allow” than to save them from themselves.”

This is wrong on several levels. First, malware is a very real problem. It may not be much of one on Macs today, but the  increasingly murky swamp that is the Android app market should serve as a warning. Second, raising the issue of digital rights management is a complete red herring. Gatekeeper has nothing to do with DRM, whose purpose is to restrict unauthorized copying of content or to limit its use to specific devices. He is guilty of the very fear-mongering he accuses Apple of.

Give Apple a little credit for understanding  the difference between a Mac and an iOS device. At the introduction of the iPad, Steve Jobs compared the iPads to cars and Macs to trucks. His point was that a car is all most people need, but people who build stuff need trucks. As analogies go, this isn’t a bad one. And the people who need Macs need the freedom to choose their own software.

Another important point that seems to be getting lost: Developer approval, unlike inclusion in the App Store, does not imply that Apple has looked at the software itself. Anyone can become a registered  Apple developer by paying $99 a year and getting code approved for Gatekeeper’s middle option requires only that developers digitally sign their apps. This allows an app to be traced back to its author and lets Apple de-register developers who distribute bad code. Can this be abused? Of course. But it is on the whole a very good thing to add accountability to app distribution.

Finally, the “walled garden” charge is a bit silly because of how easy Apple makes it to change Gatekeeper settings. It’s just a click on the Security & Privacy system preference. This may sound  elitist but I am going to say it anyway. As I tweeted yesterday, anyone who cannot figure out how to change the setting probably needs the greatest protection. Anyone who doesn’t know enough about their Mac to change a simple preference needs someone to curate their software choices.