pyehouse
16Sep/122

Come on Apple… Amaze Me

So you might have heard about a new phone that's out now. They call it the iPhone 5 and it is apparently the best phone Apple has ever created.

I don't disagree. I like that they've gone back to a non-glass back. I like even more that it's smaller, lighter, more powerful and let's be honest -- it has an improved, albeit still proprietary, plug. No more trying to plug it in the wrong way? Yes please. Still, these are evolutionary in nature and really only mildly so. It's going to sell like hotcakes, I'm sure. Though why people would want to use hotcakes as a cellphone is outside the scope of this post. And if I weren't already happy with my iPhone 4 (not even a 4S), I would upgrade. I'll take a pass for now and wait awhile. Still, there are some things I would have liked to have seen.

As I said, I like the new non-glass backing. But perhaps they could go further? With the cash reserves Apple has on hand, they could buy Nokia and make an iPhone capable of surviving a gunshot. At point blank range. With a .50 cal. Seriously, have you seen those things? The Nokias, not the .50 cals. The point being anything Apple can do to ruggedize the iPhone (while still maintaining that famous iPhone design aesthetic) would be much appreciated.

Speaking of an iPhone surviving catastrophes, what about water? I've reviewed the Otterbox case for iPhone 4 but have since quit using it because the rubber shell was beginning to tear near the headphone flap and I decided I was going to try using my iPhone au naturale. So far I haven't had any disasters and I'm doing alright with transporting my iPhone in my pocket but while I would dislike dropping it, I don't think it would cause the same amount of panic as dipping it in liquid would. To that end, would it be possible to use some sort of liquid repelling construction or substance to at least provide a little peace of mind? It would be nice to know my iPhone could be used in the rain, or on a train, and on a bus, with a friend named Gus... ok, I'll stop now.

Moving down the wishlist, I'm going to add something that I suspect could be just an iOS feature as opposed to a hardware update. Wi-fi only network mode. Currently iOS presents you the option to either disable all networking (Airplane Mode), only use cell networking (by turning off Wi-Fi) or to use Wi-Fi/cell networking (using Wi-Fi when available and falling back to cell otherwise). But what if I don't want to use cell networking at all, and just want to make use of Wi-Fi? Apple, can you give me some of that, please? (Look, I just said please. That means you have to now, right? Tim?) Okay, those of you in the know are aware of my failure here. Head over to the Settings app, go to General->Cellular, turn off the cellular data option. Grats, you are now WiFi only. *sigh*

Right now, you might be wondering about the dock connector. There's been a number of comments about Apple missed a chance to win some points by switching to the ubiquitous micro-USB connector rather than their new proprietary Lightning connector (seriously guys? Thunderbolt and Lightning? really?). If this article is to be believed, there are some solid reasons not to use micro-USB and in fact I think it would be reasonable to offer it as a new standard and to start switching phones to support it. That said, others have commented that while Apple might be justified in using their new connector, they should have offered adapters. That I also disagree with. If you're buying a new iPhone 5, you're getting a new Lightning adapter. If you have devices which work with the old Apple dock connector, in many cases an adapter won't work purely because of the physical layout, not to mention the iPhone 5's new dimensions. So in this case, my request is simple... Apple, offer your new connector up as a new standard, available for the industry to move to. It does seem to have some keen advantages and it would be nice to have everyone on the same page, widening the availability of third party add-ons that work with any phone, as opposed to having to pick one ecosystem or the other.

That's all for me. There are other things that could be mentioned (NFC anyone?) but for me personally, this much and I'd be a very happy camper. That's not to say the iPhone 5 isn't a nice phone as is. Sure it is. But it could just be that much nicer. Tim? Are you taking requests?

Filed under: tech 2 Comments
4Nov/110

SEO Marketing – Read the Label

My company has only recently started to pay attention to SEO and online marketing in general. Given that we are an IT based firm (albeit small) and have been in business for going on 10 years, that ought to be a shock. It is to me. I think it's because it wasn't until recently that advertising was really given the importance that it is due. Regardless, as a result of our efforts our site is slowly moving up the search results for what we do. I want to point out that this progression is slow and that is expected, almost intentional. I mean sure, if we could see our site shoot up to #1 on Google and Bing through some legitimate means, I'm all for it. But the fact is there is no legitimate means to do that. And anyone who tells you otherwise is selling snake oil.

When we started working on promoting our site, one of the things we did was submit our business information to various local search engines. These indices are usually free to add your business information, allow you a little bit of extra free advertising and just generally help get your name out there. Like many things in presence building, it's free and doesn't hurt and ultimately it all adds up. Anyway, while we were hitting these sites, we also ended up hitting the radar of the advertising staff of a local major newspaper. We received a call probably two months after we had been revving up our presence building strategy and so had already been developing a plan for organic growth and seeing it to execution. Therefore, when the advertiser called they had their work cut out for them. What, after all, could they offer us that we weren't already tackling?

Now, if I am already telling you this, then why even write the post? Well, like any sales job, the pitch prettied up what they offered. Phrases like "you'll have the power of our 17 million pageviews" were used. To the layman, it might seem like you'd be getting a hell of a lot of a traffic. What local business wouldn't want 17 million pageviews, all of them local? Sign me up! But of course, that wasn't the point. What they were selling were basically a handful of links to your website, hosted on what amounts to a very deep page on their own site. There were a few additional things on offer including some print advertising and a Facebook fan page tab which they would administer on your behalf, but nothing really earth shattering. In essence, they were providing a metered number of backlinks to the website. Granted, those 17 million pageviews they get make their site very authoritative, so when they link to you, it helps. But then too, those links are deep within their site and the search engines know this. It can help the organic growth of your site (i.e. move you closer to the #1 spot for a plain old search as opposed to paid advertising and the like), but it's not going to make your site go gangbusters.

And that's the point. When I specifically brought this up, to his credit the salesperson said that absolutely, they were simply increasing the weight of the site. They were not able to promise a specific number of new hits or calls or jobs. Naturally, it was what they want you to be thinking when you sign the contract. But there is no silver bullet. There is no magical slingshot to vault you to the top of the search results. It is a slow process. And it's all about building trust. Just like it takes time for a person to come to trust you, so to does it take time for search engines and the web in general to trust that you are authoritative on the subjects you write about. Just keep providing meaningful content, avoid the obvious errors and make an effort to let people know you exist. Eventually they will come. Or in the words of Matt Gemmell, "Good SEO is a by-product of not being a dick."

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19Oct/110

Yahoo and Apple, A Study In Contrasts

I'm not going to discuss differences between how the companies have been run, the dramatically different arcs each has taken in recent years, or the products each has gotten into. I am instead going to talk about something many might find a bit odd on my blog. I'm going to talk about stock prices. More specifically, stock valuations in relation to quarterly earnings reports. Large companies typically provide "guidance" on quarterly revenues. This represents their estimate on what revenue will be in a subsequent quarter. It is supposed to be used to gauge the possible performance of the company for investors. Wall Street analysts, however, typically offer their own guidance. So depending on who you listen to and how different the analyst expectations are from the business' expectations, investors may have quite a different reaction to results.

Rewarding Success With Disdain

By any measure, Apple's Q4 2011 results are spectacular. They posted their second best quarter ever at $28.27 billion in revenue, which was second only to the quarter immediately prior which clocked in at $28.57 billion. This in spite of the fact that this past quarter would have included the lull leading up to the release of the iPhone 4S, a period of time where users considering a new device typically hold off until the latest gadget is out and available. Apple also mentioned this was their first $100+ billion fiscal year in terms of revenue. In fact, so sure is Apple that they're doing well, they have indicated they expect to have $30 billion in the next quarter, which would include the holiday season. You would expect, therefore, that this sort of performance, something any company would be absolutely pleased by, would warrant an increase in stock price, wouldn't you? Not so fast. Apple typically sandbags their estimates, indicating lower revenue guidance on a quarterly basis and always exceeding the mark. This time around Wall Street apparently took this into account and pushed their expectations higher than Apple's. Apple's guidance had been $25 billion. Wall Street expected $29 billion. The final total of $28.27 billion was well over the Apple numbers but didn't quite reach Wall Street's much loftier mark. The result? Apple was trading 6% lower in after hours trading last night.

So let's recap. Apple says they expect to make $25 billion. Wall Street figures they are wrong and expects $29 which is technically higher than any quarter in the company's history. Apple almost makes the mark but misses, coming in at $28.27 and posting the second best quarterly results in the company's history, but still exceeding their own guidance. Wall Street responds to this sort of success by trading at reduced prices.

Rewarding Failure With Interest

Now let's consider Yahoo. Yahoo also posted their results yesterday. Their earnings fell 26%. Their ad business is in decline. They have had a turbulent time at the executive level, with questionable leadership moves. Their search share is diminishing. I've written on Yahoo's decline and missteps on multiple occasions. Analyst predictions, however, were lower than the announced results. You would expect that perhaps with Yahoo not doing so well, in spite of what the analysts predicted, the share price might still be on the decline. (I think you know where this is going) Nope. Yahoo traded up in after hours activity.

I imagine that analysts would say they are doing the public a service by trying to see through the manipulation that companies attempt by announcing estimates that are too high or too low in an attempt to alter public perception. The problem is that the analysts have almost as much to gain by altering what people expect. What's worse is that you end up with real results which are ignored in favor of propped up numbers which have no bearing on what is actually happening.

What about the future of Yahoo visible to the trading public warrants an increase in stock price, especially based on the numbers they released? What about the future of Apple visible to the trading public warrants a decrease? The answer to both is "nothing".

I suppose I should be thankful though. As should anyone who believes Apple is a strong healthy company with plenty to look forward to. It seems like Wall Street salivates over the notion of Apple falling on their faces. The more that view becomes pervasive, the more buying opportunities become available to those who see the numbers for what they are.

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17Oct/110

Java Resurgent: Not So Much

In Pursuit of the One True Programming Language

Java logo Cringely had an interesting take on Java. I must confess, I love Java, warts and all. And while it has been awhile since I really got involved with Java development, I've watched from afar and seen that more of its issues are being worked out. I think the thing that drew me to it in the first place was the potential of 'write once, run anywhere'. I say potential because it was never really a reality. Java is still solid on the enterprise server but then that was never really the issue. 'Write once, run anywhere' was supposed to be the promise for client developers to be able to create an app that was truly cross platform. And it works to a point, but still there are problems.

In any event, Cringely clarifies his position that it's the JVM and its potential resurgence that he is considering. i.e. having a single platform which provides solid performance and good flexibility across platforms so that you can target that and call it a day. Moreover he ties that performance in with the promulgation of SSD over HDD and the fact that the bottleneck will cease to be database seek times due to hardware inefficiency and simple runtime inefficiency due to platform. His comparisons are mostly to Ruby but apply to any interpreted language. He notes that the JVM provided threading and memory management at a time when it was mostly done with greater difficulty with existing tools (e.g. C++) at the time.

C++ has been getting more of these features, whether through add-on libraries or through language updates. It is supported on almost any platform you care to mention. What C++ lacks is the enforced standardization of things like data types (which are still in some cases hardware implementation dependent for C++ but have set size definitions in Java) and UI frameworks. There are C++ frameworks which are cross platform capable and allow for a single application to be built for any supported environment but as with Java they must target the lowest common denominator in terms of functionality, often lag behind native enhancements and still do not typically look quite like they "belong" since there is usually a noticeable difference from native apps.

The point here is that C++ is not far behind Java in terms of offering many of the comforts which the JVM provides. Note I say the JVM. It is the JVM and the backing libraries which provide all of the functionality. The Java language is just a front end. JRuby is an example of being able to target the JVM with a language other than Java. Which still ties in with Cringely's point. But here is where I differ.

I don't think the JVM will see a resurgence, as much as I might like it. The biggest point Cringely seems to be making is that as more emphasis is put on CPU performance because disk performance improves enough to make seek times negligible, the JVM will see more projects in lieu of things like RoR and CakePHP. I disagree though. Right now the JVM is already available for those projects for whom performance is so key that it is needed. Right now, database performance is a common factor among all web server implementations. Put another way, optimizations for database access affect all implementations roughly equally. So again, any optimization happening now is still going to determine your deployment language. That won't change with database performance increasing. If anything, it might even make those scripted languages more useful because you've already cut some of the performance bottlenecks and you can afford a little more slack on the logic performance.

Additionally, as C++ evolves, it seems to be closing the gap in the number of toys you enjoy with Java. So the ease of development is decreasingly an issue. Which means you can get your performance gains, with possibly more deployment options, and equal development ease, by switching to C++ in lieu of Java. Not now perhaps but in the timeframe Cringely is considering for JVM uptake.

And while OS X is still not a majority market share, it's numbers are increasing. And Java is in a somewhat nebulous state at the moment. Apple has deprecated their JVM. Java apps are not allowed in the Mac App Store nor on iOS. Oracle has announced Java 7 but has not announced a timetable for availability on OS X. That's a big hole.

All in all, I would love to see Java make a comeback and be more widespread than ever. I truly enjoy developing with it. I just don't see it in the cards.

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12Oct/110

BlackBerry Dying On the Vine

I almost feel sorry for RIM. It's bad enough that what was once the golden child of the smartphone world, at least among business users, is now being taken out back by these upstart iPhones and Androids, but now the reliability of their centerpiece, their BlackBerry Messenger service, is being called into question due to an outage that is going on three days and is affecting world wide communications among its users.

The Register reports ongoing problems despite RIM's reassurance that all is well. And they note that the most affected are non-BES users, those who are perhaps on individual plans or business users who operate with smaller companies that can't afford their own BES server, even the free BESX variant. Given that the competition is moving in on RIM's turf because of their popularity with just this crowd, this isn't going to give RIM any traction to fight off the relative newcomers. Additionally, it seems some BES users also appear to be affected, further eroding support for the platform. But the worst part of all of this is the continuing denial on RIM's part that anything is wrong.

It's one thing to admit that you are not sure what is causing the problem. That is bad but given the complexity of a system with the size and scope of the BlackBerry Messenger service, it's believable. It's also understandable if you point out that you think you have the problem licked but that you are waiting to know for sure. It's almost commendable if you then enlist your customers, asking them to let you know of any further feedback "to assist in troubleshooting" the issue. But to keep telling the world you've got it fixed, only for the world to reply that, in fact, you do not... that shows not only a continuing technical ignorance about the problem but a completely myopic approach to customer relations that is only going to further alienate a shrinking customer base. RIM can ill afford to lose more customers over something that was supposed to be their strong suit.

In fact, there has always been a longstanding argument that the BlackBerry was the only enterprise-worthy smartphone, that the others simply weren't ready to play in a big corporate environment. RIM could point to two things, the manageability of their devices in a corporate environment and their relative stability, as points of comparison with their rivals which made RIM look like the better choice. Well, the manageability side has been less of a comparison point given the options available for iPhone and Android devices in the corporation and now the stability of RIM's services is being called into question. Overall, not a good week for RIM.

The best thing RIM can do now is admit the problems are ongoing rather than trying to cover them up and, of course, fix the problem. But if they continue with their head in the sand approach, when they come up for air they may find they're left standing with far fewer customers than when they started.

11Oct/110

Genius

Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex... It takes a touch of genius - and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction. -Albert Einstein

Apple - iPod nano with Multi-Touch

12 Key Features Apple iPad Lacks

Ridicule is the tribute paid to the genius by the mediocrities. - Oscar Wilde

Apple Releases iPod

Genius always finds itself a century too early. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Apple Predicted Siri 24 Years Ago

The man of genius inspires us with a boundless confidence in our own powers. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Apple - iLife - iMovie

To see things in the seed, that is genius. - Lao Tzu

Apple - OS X

Apple - Safari


Steve Jobs was a genius. No, he did not personally invent everything Apple produced during his tenure. No, he did not even push Apple engineers to directly invent everything they produced. Rather, he was inspire what he saw around him and he used his vision to create products that simply worked and worked simply. Apple products have a reputation, be they hardware or software. To the naysayers and detractors, it centers around form over function, imitation and naive simplicity. To the proponents and fans, it centers around form fitting function, inspiration and naive simplicity. The art is in making what was once complex, simple. Part of making products that appeal to people, not merely to consumers, is making them appealing. The design of Apple products is not simply a marketing ploy, it is one of the defining characteristics. The simplicity of design is not a dumbing down but a purification. That is the genius that Steve Jobs brought to Apple.

11Oct/110

Poor Qwikster. Netflix Hardly Knew Ye.

Netflix logoSo, as reported on TekGoblin, Netflix has now renounced their pronouncement announcing Qwikster, the spinoff which would have split the DVD rental business off from the streaming business. I had written previously about the Netflix saga and as before I don't think Netflix has done themselves any favors but I also don't think they are dead in the water. I also received one of these automated emails and my first thought was that perhaps the Qwikster Twitter guy was just asking for too much money.

If nothing else, I personally like the fact that they listened to the customers complain about now having to split activities across two sites and have decided to keep things in one house. From a business perspective though, it certainly does come across as being indecisive, which is never a happy-maker with the shareholders. It's the right decision, but it shouldn't have to have been made as Qwikster should never have seen the light of day. Still, that's easy to say in retrospect.

Initially I took the message, particularly the announcement of no new price changes, to be a positive thing, perhaps an indicator that they had secure new licensing to replace Starz! once it goes away, but the more I think about it, the less sure I am of this. If they had secured new licensing, they would want to shout about it, not obscure the fact. The rest of the email discusses addition of new content now, under existing licenses. It doesn't mention anything about what will be available in a year or two. And then there's the whole Qwikster flip flop.

On the one hand, eliminating Qwikster before it actually had a chance to start was, as I said before, the smart move. Frankly, it should have been done before Qwikster was even announced. No one outside of a board room should have ever heard of it in relation to Netflix. Then, when it was announced, customers got angry. It was bad enough that prices went up but then to force them to maintain essentially two lists of content to view and rate was just silly. Even from a technological perspective, the two sites could have shared accounts and data. There was no need to tell customers they couldn't manage lists in one location. It was a stupid move. But they addressed that with Qwikster's death, so kudos earned and given.

But the rapid switch in strategy makes one wonder why the sudden change in direction. Again, at first I took it to be a good sign that Netflix was willing to listen to customer dissatisfaction with the Qwikster split and do something about it. But then if it made sense for the bottom line to do the split and now they have decided against it, what reasoning did they use? Because customer dissatisfaction with the split mostly seemed centered around managing those two queues, a technological issue that could easily be addressed without giving up whatever economic incentives the split would have provided. Yet now those incentives don't seem so important anymore. I can only think of two reasons.

One is because there are new licensing agreements coming soon and so they plan to try to stir up as much goodwill as possible to win back lost customers in order to make the new content available to as many viewers as they can. As a result, they keep the DVD rental business within the fold and continue to play nice with those who make use of the service, in order to quell the discontent. That would be swell but then why keep us in the dark about it? Why not delay the Qwikster launch until they have the new licensing wrapped up and can announce it alongside Qwikster's death. Instead, we get an email telling us prices won't be going up and oh, we've added a bunch of new content lately or will add more soon. That new content is simply from existing licenses. It doesn't represent the premium content which Netflix is tussling with Starz! over. (Or was until the deal went bust) What of that?

The other reason why Netflix might want to bury the idea of splitting the DVD business out is because they believe they may need it to survive. With negotiations dead with Starz!, the Netflix team has no doubt been courting other content providers to find more premium content to show viewers. If they had no luck, they would need to stave off elimination until they could get someone to work with them on terms that would not further alienate their base due to price hikes. In this, they would look to become the next Apple, arm twisting content providers into a more consumer friendly model with consistent pricing at lower rates than the content owners want to accept. But if they couldn't find anyone willing to license to them on such terms, they would have no choice but to keep the DVD business around to keep profits up.

The interesting thing is that in this second scenario, we wouldn't necessarily know it if it happened. We would see Qwikster buried soon after it was announced, we would see some PR come out about new content now available (but under current licensing), and then we would see... nothing. Nothing further would need to be said because the negotiations would be taking place with various content owners. And if they won a new license, you can bet we would hear it trotted out and used to show that Netflix is a great bet. But if they failed to secure new licensing, you would continue to see the DVD rental business pursued relentlessly, with perhaps an apology concerning not being able to transform the industry or something to that effect.

I'm an avid Netflix user. I like it and hope the model thrives, especially because it's pretty friendly to Mac users what with Netflix built into the AppleTV. I hope they secure new content licensing. I don't know if they would survive if new premium content required a higher tier of pricing or some sort of pay-per-view option, as that is ground already well-tread by other services. In some respects Netflix is attempting to commoditize movie and TV programming, making it something much less expensive than it is elsewhere and far more accessible. I think this is to be commended and insofar as Netflix continues to be a player in this arena, I'm rooting for them. I just hope they start showing some consistency.

9Oct/110

Seth Godin’s Forever Recession

Seth Godin wrote of what he calls the "forever recession" on his blog. His opening quote:

There are actually two recessions:

The first is the cyclical one, the one that inevitably comes and then inevitably goes. There's plenty of evidence that intervention can shorten it, and also indications that overdoing a response to it is a waste or even harmful.

The other recession, though, the one with the loss of "good factory jobs" and systemic unemployment--I fear that this recession is here forever.

In it we see his thesis statement, that we are all talking about the recession when in fact we are feeling the effects of two recessions. He goes on to discuss the recession that we can't really fix and that we should in turn embrace the coming revolution (which he mentions in the post title). In essence I agree with him, but I don't know that everyone will be capable of embracing the coming change.

The loss of production capability in the US due to competitive failures (driven mostly by labor costs which will only fall with a great deal of pain) is putting increasing numbers of people out of work. This production is moving to facilities outside the US because, frankly, they are too cheap to compete with on price. And as Seth notes, these jobs "can be systemized, written in a manual and/or exported". You can get the same quality of goods from overseas as you can get locally in many cases, and the buyers in the US by and large look at price once quality needs are minimally met.

The problem comes in moving toward that new future where "everyone has a laptop and connection to the world" and so "everyone owns a factory". Not everyone has a skill set that lends itself to that sort of environment. The person who works on the line at an automobile manufacturing facility (or any other manufacturing facility) is not prepared to take on the kinds of tasks one can source over the internet.

Am I being arrogant when I say this? No. Not everyone is cut out for producing content for consumption on the web. And I mean content in the broadest sense. Music, art, writing, software, these are the primary outlets on the web today. Not everyone is cut out to produce something in one of those categories. I daresay the majority are not. Even with training, many will still fail to make the standard for making a living in that world. That doesn't make them any less of a person. These people might be very good at what they do, sharp as a tack, but not be cut out for these kinds of jobs.

My point in all of this? There isn't a clearcut progression from point A (factory jobs which are disappearing in the US) to point B (jobs which Mr. Godin describes as part of the new way). I suppose that means I'm less pessimistic than he is. I think the way is cleared for those who are already in a computer related job to move from the more typical 9-5 style desk jockey position into the job/gig based situation Mr. Godin describes, but I don't see much room in the new world for those coming from the production line. Not without a great deal of retraining and a great deal of pain. More, perhaps, than he sees. For my part, I hope I'm very very wrong.

5Oct/113

Is Apple Aiming for the Enterprise Now?

Shiny glass like image of an appleOne of the things that comes up from time to time is the dominance of Windows and dearth of OS X in the Enterprise. It is no less true now than it has been in the past... OS X is not a major presence in business and in particular big business. In the past, Apple made overtures toward the business market with their Xserver and Xsan products, but those have been discontinued, leaving only the Mac Pro as the high horsepower OS X server of choice and the Mac Mini as the budget oriented OS X server platform. What does this mean for Apple in the Enterprise? Not much, or at least nothing different than what they have always been. Still, a few interesting tidbits came up during Tim Cook's presentation that makes one wonder if Cupertino hasn't kept business market share plans somewhere in their back pocket.

We Want More

In previous keynotes, there hasn't typically been a global interest in discussing overall install base for the Mac. There has been discussion of laptop install base because that has historically been a strong point for Mac sales relative to the rest of the industry. But desktop sales have typically not been mentioned prominently. To be fair, Tim Cook didn't really go into desktop sales specifically but he did discuss overall install base very prominently during the opening of the keynote. And more importantly, he stated "there are still 70% of people buying something else. We still have a lot to do."

Now, no CEO is ever going to state "We have plenty of customers, we don't need any more." They would be kicked out of their posh office and deservedly so. They might even have to forego their golden parachute. But looking backwards, this sort of aggressive discussion of expanding the overall user base has been atypical of Apple. Surely they have always wanted to expand their hardware sales but it hasn't been discussed so matter of factly before. That makes it interesting, but that alone isn't what got me to thinking about business sales.

We Have More

During the discussion of iPad statistics, they pointed out 92% of Fortune 500 companies are looking at the iPad for internal use. I have to agree with Mr. Cook, that is remarkable. Of course, they're naturally going to mention things which put the iPad in a positive light, and the fact that the iPad is the dominant tablet at the moment means there is plenty to talk about. Still, it is striking to me that there is such an emphasis on business uptake of the iPad.

Combine this with the other factoids, uptake in the medical industry, the recent adoption by some airline pilots to reduce the number of physical books they have to carry with them, the 95% overall satisfaction rate with iPad users, and you have a serious reason to think that the iPad, and Apple by extension, is going to end up firmly entrenched within the business sector.

But Wait, There's Still More

Finally, there is another interesting piece of information that was shown; satisfaction rates for smartphone users. At the top of the heap was Apple with the iPhone. Noticeably missing from anywhere near the top of the heap? RIM's BlackBerry. Personally, I have seen a large number of our clients shift from BlackBerry to iPhone or Android phones, with a bias toward the iPhone. RIM's BlackBerry phones are, of course, known for being the phone for business professionals with presumably superior communication technologies. But with that low a satisfaction rate among RIM customers, at least some of them have to be switching. And what are they switching to? No doubt some of them are heading to iPhones. Toss in the fact that RIM entered the tablet war with disastrous consequences and you have a recipe for many dissastified business professionals turning toward Apple products.

So where does that leave things? Apple has been using the halo effect to push sales of each item of hardware through popular usage of other pieces of hardware. While the iPhone has been popular, the iPad is taking it to a whole new level, especially in the business sector. The fact that Apple is taking note of their overall market share, both in mobile and on the desktop, suggests they are aware of the overall position and that they can have a place in business. They haven't given up on OS X Server as a product and might yet reintroduce server hardware but in the meantime can continue to work toward presence on the desktop at the small and enterprise business levels. I don't purport to know what Apple is planning but it certainly seems like they have an eye on what could be.

4Oct/110

iPhone 4S – Did You Expect a 5?

Shiny glass like image of an appleThe Wall Street Journal, and others, seem to be bummed that Apple announced the iPhone 4S without the expected hoverboard and dishwashing upgrades. Apparently, having a faster processer, faster graphics chip, support for both GSM and CDMA on the same device, more capacity, sharper camera, incredible voice control capability, support for faster downloads via HSPA+ along with an extra letter 'S' wasn't enough.

The fact is that for any other device, the hardware bump from iPhone 4 to iPhone 4S would represent sufficient advances as to warrant a version bump, no sweat. But because of the expectations which Apple has built up around their devices, it is almost inevitable that they can't keep up with expectations. In the weeks leading up to today's announcement, blogs and news sites trotted out lede after lede baiting users with tantalizing might-be's and possible could-have's. Some were spot on, some missed the mark. Regardless, there was precisely one voice missing from the hype machine. Yep, Apple. Apple made no grand pronouncements other than that it would be about iPhones. There were bits and pieces which we could glean from their activities and from various leaks (perhaps some more astroturfy than others but still) but nothing that set expectations terribly high. Some even surmised that some of the news leaks just prior to today's Apple announcement were intentionally leaked by Apple in order to lower expectations that were running rampant leading up to the iPhone 4S unveiling. And given how many Debbie Downers are disappointed in the hardware bump, I can hardly blame Apple for wanting to set expectations lower.

Jazzed About the iPhone 4S

To be honest, while I'm appreciative of all of the enhancements, it's the GSM/CDMA on a single device on top of availability on Sprint that I'm most jazzed about. Because of the support for both cell protocols, the iPhone is being called a world phone, which is now a fair statement. It now means that I can take my phone to whichever carrier I desire to take it to, without having to worry about the hardware inside which tied it to one set of carriers or another. It adds the element of freedom that has been missing with the iPhone since it was first released. And while I haven't had an opportunity to check for myself, Sprint is known for having lower data and voice plan rates. I don't know if that will translate to lower rates for iPhone users, but if so, that might apply a little additional downward pressure on fees that have only gone up since the iPhone's debut. I wasn't considering myself to be in the market for a phone upgrade but I might take a look at what Sprint will offer and, if it makes sense to do so, make the switch.

Really, there is a lot to love with this upgrade. If you can't find something that at least piques your interest, you aren't trying very hard. It seems strange to hear people complaining that they didn't get the toy they weren't promised in the first place and instead have to settle for the toy that is still clearly better than what they already have. I suppose, though, that it speaks volumes about the popularity of Apple and what people expect from their design team.