Why Apple Products Change the World

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I recently gave a talk at Syracuse University’s Greenberg House in DC about the future of social media.  Part of the discussion touched on how devices like the iPhone and iPad changed forever the way we engage with each other.

The iPhone was a tipping point in the smart phone market.  While Blackberry was first, it was Apple that changed how we use our phones for browsing, music, video, and of course interaction with each other.  It has opened up amazing business opportunities thanks to the application marketplace and in extreme situations a $19B acquisition.

Today, Apple is going to try to change the world again with the iWatch.  Whether this device has transdermal health technology or is just a fancier version of a Nike Fuel Band, doesn’t matter, it will definitely be a hit.  Why will the iWatch succeed while the Samsung Galaxy Gear and LG’s G Watch struggle?

1) Apple has perfected the introduction of products.  While the leaks have grown since the early days of the iPhone, I have to believe some of them are purposeful to generate excitement.

2) Apple makes it easy for all buyers.  Early adopters pre-order on the website, but it is the store that gets people the mainstream buyers.  Mainstream buyers need to feel the product and test it.  Early adopters, aka, Fanboys, are going to buy no matter what Apple releases.

3) Apple has a knack for holding back features from their products creating a fervor for the next version of their products.  Near Field Communications is something that was rumored to exist in the iPhone since 2010, but only today do we get it.

The iWatch is going to be a game changer and thanks to this build up of news and leaks combined with the store and “new” features that have been perfected over time, the iWatch and iPhone 6 are going to be a huge hit.

The next iPhone is going to look like iPhone4 and that is a good thing

Tomorrow, Apple is going to release the next version of the iPhone, it will be called iPhone4S, and it will have the same form factor as the current iPhone.  I am not sure why this is a surprise to anyone?

If you believe Chinese iPhone case manufacturers, they think the next iPhone will have a teardrop design, but there is tons of evidence pointing to this being incorrect.  I even wonder if the images of these cases are actually for iPodTouch.  John Gruber has a great take on the teardrop skepticism.

The guts of the phone have definitely improved, faster processor, better camera, an option for 64GBs, and support for 4th Generation (4G/LTE) networks that AT&T, Verizon and Sprint have been building out so quickly this summer.

One of the nicer features we are getting with the next version of iOS is the ability to take a picture with the volume button on the side of the phone.  I am pretty sure the teardrop design will render this feature useless.

So why is everyone going to freak out when Apple calls this an iPhone 4S, instead of 5?  The phone is going to be a significant step forward but people are caught up by the look and feel and the silly version number.  People think it’s not cool to have a new device if the outside is undistinguishable from the previous version.  It makes it harder to show it off as a status symbol.  Sometimes consumers drive me batty!  :-)

I think we are all missing the real point, we are getting a new phone that will run iOS5 which is a superior operating system to iOS4, and depending on your view an OS with tight integration with both Twitter and Facebook.  And who can forget about iCloud, Music Match and the magazine store front.  Tomorrow’s announcement is going to be huge, I just hope Tim Cook and others can fend off the criticism if the phone looks the same.

New Year’s Treat…AIM.app for the Mac

Happy New Year everyone, and today we have some exciting news to go along with the new year. The AIM Lite team has been hard at work on various different projects, and we’re proud to announce a preview version of our favorite — AIM.app.

Download AIM.app for Mac

This is a native Mac AIM client with a large feature set. It’s made for Mac users, by Mac users, and I think you are all going to like it.  This client is used by the Open AIM development team to test the API.  AIM Lite is the test client we use on the Windows side of the house.  Much like MFC Buddy whose source code is shipped inside the Windows SDK and is available via the AIM Gallery, AIM.app’s source code is available in the Mac SDK.  As always you can download all of our SDKs and read all about our API on http://developer.aim.com.

This is the first public release of the client — but for those Mac developers out there you can see old versions in source at the OpenAIM developer website here. You can also see full release notes here.

AIM.app also supports plugins! Try out KidIM, which allows parents to setup a simple IM environment for kids. Try that our here

As always, we thrive on feedback. Just like in the windows version of AIM Lite, please send us feedback via the AIM.app Help menu.

Here are the screenshots:

AIM Mailbag Part I

I got a lot of questions, both on the blog and via the Wimzi widget on the right side of the blog, as a result I am going to break down the Mailbag in to two parts. Thanks for all the questions, and remember you can always ask questions not just when I am doing a mailbag. On with the questions:

Q: Could there be a way to have for privacy reasons the Cell/Mobile Icon be a preference where you can shut it off on your own will when connecting via mobile.

A: There is a preference in the Privacy Settings (AIM Buddy List Menu: Edit | Settings) to allow, or not allow others to see that you are mobile. If you uncheck that box, people will not see the icon. However if you are forwarding your IMs this preference will not work, so what happens when you set up mobile forwarding, is that you have an option of adding a group that can only send you IMs. This is accessible in the Mobile Settings accessible in the same way that Privacy Settings can be accessed. When the group is added to your buddy list, you can add buddies to the group, and only those buddies will see you online as mobile and be able to IM you. Here is the Mobile Preference window:

Q: Beta testers have been asking for actually colorized Screennames in their buddylists… like a buddy sound call it a buddy color. I am sure there is alot of technical issues to work out on that.

A: We actually have this in the API, in the IAccBartItem interface under the prop AccBartItemType_RichName. The only client that supports this is the AOL 9.0 client in both displaying the text and setting the text. What is interesting about this code is that it is very complex and a maintenance nightmare. I actually had the task of reverse engineering the protocol for this feature to support it in OpenAIM, and it was no picnic. In any case here is a screen capture of what custom colorized Screen Names in the Buddy List looks like in AOL:

I am not sure if we will ever add this to AIM/ICQ, but if we do, it will be different from the way AOL did it.

Q: You are probably sick of hearing the quesion…Is there any new info you can give on AIM for Mac?

A: (No I am not sick of hearing this question as I type from my MacBook Pro) ;-) In case you are not aware Open AIM has a full API available on Mac (Linux and Win Mobile as well). The Mac SDK contains a full Mac AIM client written by one of the engineers on my team, the only issue is that you have to compile it yourself via XCode. I am very confident that by the end of the year at the latest I will be able to share some news regarding a Mac Client.

Q: Why did you do aim 6.5 refresh instead of just going to aim 6.6 and also how come you skipped 6.2,3, and 4?

A: I wish I could say we engineers decide on version numbers for the client releases we do, but we do not. In the old days when I first started on AIM during AIM 2.5, we, the engineers, definitely tried to control the versioning based on features we added and bugs we fixed. So when we did bug fixes and minor features we would increment in tenths (AIM 3.0 to AIM 3.1). If we did a major release like when we moved to host based buddy lists we incremented by the whole number (AIM 3.5 to 4.0). In the case of Open AIM, my team chooses version numbers based on when we modify or add to the interfaces. For example when we release multiple versions of Open AIM 1.3 the differences are non-interface changes (mainly bug fixes). For the client, there is no exact reason why we skip version numbers, it may be related to business/marketing or technical reasons.

So that is the mailbag for tonight, I will get to more questions tomorrow where we will cover new features, GTalk, custom clients and the always popular why will my AIM MusicLink not work.