The iPhone was a tipping point in the smart phone market. Â 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. Â 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. Â 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. Â Why will the iWatch succeed while the Samsung Galaxy Gear and LG’s G Watch struggle?
1) Apple has perfected the introduction of products. Â 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. Â Early adopters pre-order on the website, but it is the store that gets people the mainstream buyers. Â Mainstream buyers need to feel the product and test it. Â 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. Â 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.
There is no discernable difference between iPhone4 and iPhone4S on the surface, however, it only takes a few minutes of using the phone to know there have been some important improvements.
The connection speed is much faster. Â Loading webpages, getting email, it’s all just much faster.
Getting my location is much faster, so loading Google Maps, Foursquare, Facebook Places, just works so much better.
The camera rules. Â From videos to pictures, the quality of photos I am taking now with the iPhone is as good as my point and shoot. Â Take a look for yourself:
Sunset with the iPhone 3
Sunrise with the iPhone4S
Here are some of the things that have not won me over yet:
While everyone is fawning over Siri, I have not really used it. Â I think it has tremendous potential, especially once application developers can start fully taking advantage of it.
iCloud works, but it does not feel like a finished Apple product. Â I can’t see what photos have synced via a web page and overall managing what is being synced between my 4+ devices was not as easy as it could be.
I had to do a full restore on my wife’s phone because every time we loaded a photo album the app would crash. Â We could not delete the photos, nor could we restore from a backup. Â The full restore seems to fix thing.
Moving from iPhone3 or 3GS to iPhone4S is a no brainer, but I would definitely hold off on moving from the iPhone4 to iPhone4S. Â The camera, Siri and the better speed is not worth the upgrade in my opinion.
I just finished putting my daughter to bed tonight and I come down to my office and I see the news. Â “Steve Jobs has passed away at 56.” Â I have never felt so sad about someone passing away that I only met a couple of times. Â His impact on my life goes well beyond the 30 minutes or so we spent in a conference room.
Everyday I put an iPhone in my pocket, and use my Mac to organize family photos, and my MacBookPro for work. Â The first Apple hardware I ever used was in 1st Grade, in 1985. Â I don’t remember much about it, but I know I enjoyed my time on the computer. Â It probably even captured my attention enough to want to write software 14 years at AOL.
From an early visit on the Apple Campus with the iChat Team
It was at AOL, that I would get a change to work closely with Apple and get the chance to initially see him, and then eventually meet him. Â I was always impressed that you could find Steve walking around campus, in the Mac Cafe eating lunch with the troops, etc. Â My first encounter with Steve was during a visit in 2006. Â I was riding in a car with a colleague who will remain unnamed, and as we were pulling out of the visitor lot in front of 1 Infinite Loop, we nearly ran over Steve Jobs. Â We were all so stunned we just looked at each other.
Later in my career at AOL, I got to meet Steve and I after I got over my nervous excitement, he was one of the most genuinely passionate persons about Apple products and technology.
Steve’s legacy goes beyond the physical technologies we all use. Â His commencement speech at Stanford University, the movies from Pixar, and the huge influence he has had over leaders in the tech community today. Â The world today is a lesser place with his departure, my condolences go out to Steve’s family, friends and my friends at Apple. Â Thanks for everything Steve.
Of course after today’s reaction, Apple should have called the phone iPhone5 or iPhone10. Â The point isÂ version numbers of a product are always blown out of proportion. Â It reminds me of the book and movie The Right Stuff, when Chuck Yeager broke Scott Crossfield’s speed record of Mach 2.0 by flying at Mach 2.44, no one cared because the “media likes a nice round number.”
Enough, let’s move past this. Â The new iPhone is significant and despite what the media thinks, the phone is going to be the most popular mobile device sold in the 4th quarter. Here are my favorite features from today’s announcement:
Siri is going to be awesome to try. Â I am skeptical that any voice recognition will work well, but the demo I got of Siri previous to today was better than any other attempt. Â When I have seen people use voice recognition software in the past, they change the way they talk, to sound like a robot almost to interface with the device, but Siri is definitely different.
The camera rules, and the apps that go with the camera make it as good or better than point and shoot cameras. Â The cold/warm start times to get the camera loaded for a picture is very impressive too.
More power and more speed for applications to use and for users to access information across the net. Â Though it was disappointing that Apple did not deliver a 4G/LTE iPhone.
Most people will say the find your friends feature is lame and that Foursquare, Facebook and others have this market cornered, but the truth is that I might use this feature more for knowing where my friends and family are when they are running late or where my wife is when we go to a shopping mall.
I think there is a difference between pleasing the media versus getting consumers excited. Â Apple will always focus on the latter and that should be applauded. Â When people walk into the Apple store and when they see their friends using the new iPhone, Â they are going to want one.
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. Â 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? Â 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. Â People think it’s not cool to have a new device if the outside is undistinguishable from the previous version. Â It makes it harder to show it off as a status symbol. Â Sometimes consumers drive me batty! Â 🙂
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. Â And who can forget about iCloud, Music Match and the magazine store front. Â 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.
Security of your credit card in public places continues to be a problem. Â In the UK for example, when you pay for a meal at a restaurant, they bring the credit card reader to your table so you can watch them scan the card.
Not everyone has the ability to have a credit card, as rules tighten around credit, and I assume they will continue to do so, Google Wallet gives parents the ability to distribute money to their kids to use.
Local deal and advertising via Google Wallet is going to be huge thanks to Google Offers. Â While it is not a Groupon killer, Google has a head start on getting deals out to Android/Wallet users.
5 years from now will we think about carrying a wallet, or will a single device do it all? Â I am guessing/hoping it will be a single device.
Google just sent a huge shot across Apple’s bow with this feature. Â I believe Apple will make some kind of NFC announcement at WWDC in 10 days, how can they not?
So haters can hate, but Google moved the ball down the field today with this announcement and for the first time since getting an iPhone 3+ years ago, it makes me question whether it’s time to switch.
We have two distinct camps in the Clearspring offices. Â Our CEO, Hooman Radfar, and a few others believes that Android will dominate and clean up the mobile phone market, while a large contingent believes that iPhone might not lead in market share but they will continue to be the phone that leads innovation and is the bright shiny object in the sky for many.
Back in the late 1980s and early 1990s the purchase of personal computer purchases was price driven. Â Back then Macs routinely cost over $2000, so when Â competitors started building inferior machines for half the cost, Macs lost market share and the rest is history.
The mobile space is different. Â First, the phone itself is cheaper as hardware in 2011 is a commodity. Â Second, consumers have more purchasing power than they did back in the 1990s, and that despite a major recession in 2008-09, consumers seem to still be buying electronics and cutting back in other areas. Â Third, consumers, and especially teens and young adults, want the cool and hip product, device or technology. Â Even if Android is a better platform built on a better device, people think the iPhone is a status symbol. Â Much like the BWM 3 series, there are better built cars for the price in the market place, but that does not stop people from buying the car because it is a status symbol.
So where does that leave us. Â Sometimes a better technology is not preordained to be the most popular or the coolest. Â If the teens of America have any say, Apple is going to have a hard time replicating the failures of the late 1980s, simply because the brand is considered hip by youth.
Despite my inside access at Apple’s Cupertino Campus for years, I never was able to get details on what happened at Apple Stores. Â Though I did get a great story about “testing” the Apple Store before any opened in May 2001, from friends. Â Apparently, Apple put its own employees on buses and took them to non descript warehouses in the Valley. Â When they walked in the warehouses were set up as Apple Stores. Â The employees were given time to “shop” and executives observed how the overall flow of the store worked. Â After a certain amount of time, they would clear out the store, reconfigure it, and start the process all over again. Â Eventually they found a perfect combination of displays, open space, number of clerks, etc.
As for some of the behind the scenes hilarity:
Dealing with drug dealers who come in and try to buy iPhones with fake IDs ranks high on the list.
Pushing MobileMe and AppleCare is a common theme, and happens to me every time I buy something at the Apple Store, and I never get it.
Foreign resellers haggling on prices is an issue, but if you go to Sawgrass Mills Mall in Florida you will see that is a common problem even at the Lee Jeans Store.
I am definitely going to look at my shopping experience more closely the next time I am in the Apple Store.
I really applaud Google for pushing all their chips into the center of the table on ON2 VP8 (otherwise known as the CODEC that powers WebM) rather than continue to support H.264 in Google Chrome. Â I know a lot of those in the tech community think Google is crazy to do this. Â However, when you stop to consider the cabal that the patent holders of H.264 have enjoyed, it was time someone stepped in to break it up.
The move does not come without risks. Â One of the main reasons H.264 was adopted as the standard was, believe it or not, the porn industry. Â As soon as Adobe added H.264 decoding in its Flash Media Player 9, video could be consumed at a super high quality and done so cheaply.
In the last 12 months Google has purchased ON2 technologies to compete on the CODEC front and Global IP Solutions (GIPS) for video and audio processing. Â Wiring this all up Google can offer real time peer-to-peer audio video sessions to go up against Skype and Apple in the space. Â We have to assume that Google has crunched numbers and that using ON2 plus HTML5 is cheaper to serve video up as well.
As I mentioned late in December with the Skype outage, the battle ground is shaping up quickly between Google, Apple, Skype, and to a degree Microsoft and Mozilla with their browsers. Â With H.264 going royalty free until 2015, in the end the user wins as more HD video is available on the internet, unless you are still using Chatroulette, because no one wants to see that in HD.
The long awaited announcement today of the iPhone being available on Verizon brought great relief to sufferers of AT&Ts sputtering network. Â But there is a catch, isn’t there always a catch?
At least initially the iPhone will only be available for Verizon’s CDMA spectrum and not the next generation LTE spectrum (Verizon 4G). Â As soon as I heard this, it reminded me of a conversation I had with a friend who works at Apple on the iPhone back in the fall. Â That person mentioned what a pain it was to work with Verizon’s CDMA network as the user experience was different than the current iPhone.
Why is that you may ask? Â Well with Verizon’s CDMA network, iPhone will only be able to do either a phone call or data but not both at the same time. Â Also, if you are an international traveler, your iPhone is a paper weight overseas.
It is not all bad news. Â The most important part of the announcement today is that we have a choice in networks. Â Choice hopefully will result in better quality networks and potentially pricing. Â Even though I will not be switching, enough people will that hopefully my experience on AT&T will improve.
The key for people wanting to buy the iPhone on Verizon is patience. Â As Verizon fully rolls out LTE, the safe assumption is that Apple will build an iPhone with an LTE chip in it. Â Apple and Verizon’s immediate goal is to get the earliest adopters to buy in, and then 3 or 4 months from now when the next generation of iPhone is released, those users pay a premium to upgrade. Â At least that is my prediction.