It is not the Apple Tablet, it is the Store

The recent escalation of rumours surrounding the so-called Apple Tablet / Slate / Big iPhone / xxx (where xxx is a super cool Apple-ish name) seem to focus on the hardware. The gadgetry. The hardware specs.

I am a little over gadgetry. Every week there is a new phone, device or somesuch that junks the old technology. Surely this is neither ethical nor sustainable?

But that is not where the innovation, nor the future lies for Apple. Recent Apple acquisitions, investments and successes leads me to conclude that Apple and Google are about to square off. Not in search. Search is rather boring and a commodity.

In the forthcoming weeks, ignore the hardware. Hardware is dime-a-dozen, and many vendors are going to release slate like gadgetry in a similar form factor. Rather, watch what Apple does with their iTunes / App store. Presently this system provides music, tv, movies and with the advent of the iPhone – Apps.

The next department for the store are newspapers, magazines and books. Either sold as subscription, or with embedded advertising. Just wait.

The revenue model will appeal to the traditional mainstream media – so expect a continuing avalanche of obsequious and self-serving coverage. Not of the store – but rather the hardware. Embedded within these stories will be the expectation of a holy grail. The holy grail of the future of print media, without paper.

Somehow, I doubt it.

iTunes, iPod Touch and Windows

iTunes, iPod Touch and Windows Integration

It’s nearly a week since I upgraded my iPod from a generation 3 to one of the cool, uber-geek iPod Touch devices. As a 99.5% Windows Vista user, I am impressed.

The iPod Touch works on our home wifi. In the morning I check emails and other overnight happenings from the comfort of my bed in Safari.  The synchronisation between my Internet Explorer (Vista) and Safari (iPod Touch) browsers works well.

It beeps at me when I have an appointment. My contacts are in there.

All it needs is a mini email application. A slightly less finiky onscreen keyboard. A camera and a VoIP. Oh, that’s right — that’s an iPhone!

You know you are getting older when…

You know you are getting older when you read stories about history, and have played a very minor part in them.

  • Apple sales staff were in Hawaii in 1996 when Gasee came to visit Gil Amelio (it was the Asia-Pacific Sales Conference). We didn’t see him as he "flew in under the radar" of the media and employees.
  • I remember Ellen Hancock asking the internal crowd about OS alternatives. I spoke positively about Unix, and Solaris. Re-reading the history… I didn’t help out much!
  • Seeing a photograph of Rhapsody running on a Power Mac from the NeXT campus in March 1997.
  • WebObjects. What the RoR crowd now think of as the pinnacle of MVC (model-view-controller) on the web just echoes NeXT’s OpenStep UI development from the late 1980s.
  • The 1997 MacWorld conference in San Francisco (which I attended, including the now-famous keynote) with Woz and Steve Jobs as guest speaker was a major love-in

Gates and Jobs. No, not that pirates movie

Oh, and not that Pirates movie either. I just cannot see Bill Gates as Capt’n Jack.

Thanks to Michael, who passed on this link, (Sir) Bill Gates and Steve Jobs are going to talking at the same conference: Wall Street Journal’s Fifth Annual D: All Things Digital Conference. (May 29 to 31 near San Diego, CA

Us geeks may look at this co-appearance as two industry heavyweights attempting to out-pitch each other.  Mere A vs B characterisations are too easy, and downplay the historical impact of this event.

I rather think about the echoes both Billg and Stevej have on the future of this planet. Bill with his philanthropy including the desire to cure many of the forgotten third world diseases; and Steve with the heart warming kid’s movies and changing to the music industry. Maybe they will have more in common than the world expects?

How will our descendents remember these men, the giants of our time?

Smartest Accountants in the Room

Mac Geeks vs. Apple Accountants. Fight!

According to The Inquirer, Apple is “blaming” an Enron-inspired US Federal Law Sarbannes-Oxley (SOX) for the need to charge US$2.00 for the 802.11n update to MacOS X 10.4. Following the link at the bottom of the page, there is a slightly longer article on iLounge.

SOX? Probably more important than the Auditing (and that lovely open ended section 404 about ‘Management on Internal Controls‘, which I’ve read) section, its the FASB Revenue Recognition rules. All companies that provide a contract (let’s say a End User License Agreement) have strict controls and rules related to how the revenue from that contract must be accounted for. There are whole teams of lawyers and accountants that know these rules blind, and apply them to company revenue-related activities.

Companies that mis-state revenue, let’s say as it has offered an material update to technology in a following quarter and not correctly accounted for it, and if offered “free” later would have to re-state revenue for previous quarters. Now, if Apple had “pre-announced” their 802.11n plans, and been a more open company, I think there would be no charge. Apple has chosen it’s own destiny.

Yes, accounting can be weird. The world of contract law is weirder. But these are the cornerstone of the capitalist world we find ourselves in, and stable for nearly 500 years. Until Enron bent the rules, too far.

So, now US$2.00 seems like a minuscule amount to pay compared to engaging teams of Apple professionals to this Sisyphean Task. However, the cost to Apple is more chipping away at the information control fortress.

ps: I am neither a rev-rec, nor sox expert!

Update: 21st January 2007: Apple to Charge for Faster WiFi from CNet. Also amended prices above from US$5 to US$2.

Additional iPhone Thoughts and Notes

  • The “Apple” icon sits in front of the iPhone and tv. (yes, lower case). It seems Apple in deeply committed to rebranding as a consumer brand. New iPods, when they announce this year, will also be dramatically changed.
  • The iPhone is most likely a platform on which future high-end iPods will be released. The OS, as stated by Apple, is MacOS X. Essentially Apple have a common base OS from their multi-CPU boxes to the smallest device: in total control of the UI/UX. Or maybe smaller-configuration Mac tablets?
  • The only successful service Apple has is the iTunes store, which sells nearly 60 songs per second. In a connected world of desktops to phones, online services become more critical to tie things together. Both Google and Yahoo! were onstage with Steve at the keynote. There is more to come, here.
  • The target market is the current iPod user, not the standard Mac user. There are way more iPod users in the world than Mac users.
  • Apple has some surprises in Leopard to tie iPhone into the OS. Some people are thinking that there are components of the iPhone that will be in the desktop Leopard.
  • Can it do VoIP? The Wifi would lend itself to this. Breaking the lock on current carriers would be revolutionary. I suspect Apple is going to start out with carrier’s help and breakout. Or, they could test hardware-only sales in free-er 3G markets (Asia, Europe) where there is no lock-in.
  • The specs on the camera are not specified, apart from “2 Megapixels”
  • The operating system market from phones is rather saturated, but Apple could license this OS as there is no substantial potential revenue loss (if they did this with MacOS, they are risking their hardware revenues)
  • The whole experience of using the phone (as a piece of hardware) puts all other interfaces to shame. This alone will benefit all phone users as Nokia et al struggle to make their phones work like an iPhone.

More excellent notes on MediaVidea

Hands on the iPhone from David Pogue, NYT

Apple, Inc: The 2007 Agenda Setting Week of Keynotes

Steve Jobs renamed his company to Apple, Inc. Renamed the iTV to Apple TV and the iPod to iPhone. Well, not quite. However, the iPhone is an iPod with a new OS: a baby MacOS X and lots of connectivity. If you live in the US.

Apple’s first round of product announcements for 2007 at Macworld have been rumoured for many months – if not years. I think the build up has led to disappointment in the Mac-crowd.

The iPhone is available in June in North America, based on a 2 year exclusive with Cingular. Europe is slated for the end of 2007 and Asia for 2008. With the current shenanigans in Australia with Telstra’s new network and others scrambling – I am not asking for an iPhone for Christmas 2007. GPS, WiFi, Bluetooth etc. etc. are all in a nice package where the screen is a touchscreen. Apple have innovated on the UX with multi-finger gestures to make all the apps work in a small package. Looking at the online demos, as you would expect – Apple have gone a long way to correct the current staid phone user interfaces

The Apple TV seems like a nice idea: a media center with wireless and smart integration with the Macs on your local network. Seems a little late and me-too. Not 1080i, nor can it play HD/Blueray DVDs. Niftly little thing, but it doesn’t do enough quite yet.

In what was a strange keynote, there were no MacOS X (a good call since all that would occur are many Leopard vs. Vista comparisons), no new Macs (strange since Intel announced new Quad-core processors overnight) or no new software. The keynote should have been given at CES, not MacWorld!

My opinion is that Apple Inc, as it moves out of the wild-west of computers into the highly controlled world of telecommunications and television is going to have to learn the art of partnering quicker. It is not yet big enough to push its weight around to get its own way. But like the iPod/iTunes store franchise: this could all change within a very short time. Apple is late to the game with both these products, and has a long road ahead to be successful.

Boom! The Ari Gold (Entourage)/Steve Jobs Keynote video

Microsoft, Inc: The 2007 Agenda Setting Week of Keynotes

Took the opportunity to watch Bill Gates and team present at CES 2007. The theme of the Microsoft show was Connected Experiences.

All devices, including the ‘fridge, all connected: this is the vision as described at the beginning, and shown in a futuristic bus-stop, kitchen and bedroom of the future. More than consumer, it pervades other environment – as we are seeing the explosion of the digital decade. In Microsoft’s vision, its most recent products are foundational: Windows Vista, Office 2007 to the Live services: we all must share files, connect email, schedules and files.

Justin Hutchinson gave an overview of Windows Vista, and a glimpse of a couple of things not shown publicly before: not searching, but finding files/apps/websites visted from all local computers. Thumbnails for files in your file system; restore previous copies (named Shadowcopy: “better than going back in time”). From Office 2007, link to to navigate through Live3D using an XBox360 controller into Vista = Live3D fly thru’ (cool)

Also shown was SportsLounge, a new feature of Media Center: HD feed, Media Center, Fox Sports (SportsLounge) alerts based on players. The sooner Australian digital cable has extra, open features such as PVR the better.

Also, there is something in Vista Ultimate: Extras. This will download extra software pieces to the Vista desktop. For example: Groupshot for fixing images where there are multiple people.

Final “wow” feature is a Full motion video desktop background. Oooh, aaahs all round.

Windows Home Server, due in the second half 2007. The video cast feed was cut as a HP video was shown. Auto backup from home network; connectivity Zune XBox, remote from outside home network. Capacity, put new storage in – software move data around. Any house with more than one computer and loads of digital content need a server. From personal experience, doing this by yourself is too tough for the average user. May not be a hit in 2007, but certainly will go off in 2008.

Also coming XBox Live on Vista (Windows) and XBox 360 with IPTV along with HD DVD and Movies download (7Gb for Spiderman returns, formatted HD!). More into on Channel 10.

It will be interesting to compare and contrast with Apple in a few days time. Will Apple get this connectedness? It pervades Microsoft: from Zune to XBox; everything is connected.

Run downs: Engagdet, and Read/Write Web.

Geek and Roman Toys

Apple finally releases Intel Core 2 Duo versions of the 15 and 17″ MacBook Pro. The concept of 200Gb of disk space and 3Gb of RAM is attractive, but we’ll have to see … I don’t think Santa is that generous. Unless someone wants a 5 month old 15″ MacBook Pro.

Myriad of things from Adobe. Apollo gets US$100m of backing from Adobe; but still no code to get your hands dirty. Flex Builder 2.0 for MacOS is out. Woot!

DigitalEditions comments from Ryan Stewart; in fact, Ryan has some excellent comments on Adobe Apollo too.

However, the biggest announcement is a parry to Microsoft’s XPS: Adobe Mars project. This is a representation of PDF in XML, but packed in a ZIP container. This one has been bumping around for a while: and it seems the SVG might just be getting another run at Adobe.

Just as Adobe starts to head toward the moon in the Apollo, we have another space metaphor to deal with: Mars. Or mabye it’s just a penchant for Roman Gods?

Fittingly, Mars is the Roman god of war.

Too much stuff, my brain hurts. Especially as I have some serious Javascript and Adobe Extendscript revolving in my head.

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