Tag Archives: Apple

The Apple Watch comment

It’s a very quick one – and one has to write something anyway after such a long hiatus. Even though we’re talking about pretty different things, both the Watch and the Research Kit have Apple taking on different verticals (luxury, healthcare), the “traditional” industries that are very much any agency or consutling firm clients base. In the automotive industry e.g. we’re seeing self-driving cars coming both from technology or service platform leaders (say Google, Uber) and the conventional automotive players. I guess this is a kind of different competition that it’s worth exploring with clients.

On a general note, I enjoyed the news discussion from the Leo Laporte Twit tech podcast élite (as usual). Here is the link to the 9th of March edition of Tech News Today.

Apps are suburbia, the Web is downtown (or Chinatown)

Chinatown by Atomische – Tom Giebel 2006 Creative Commons

The analogy is by Virginia Heffernan, television critic and columnist for “The Medium” at the New York Times — it is included in “The Medium” dated online 17 May, but it appeared the day before in the Sunday supplement. I think the article title is somewhat misleading: The death of the Open Web; well, to me she does not argue very much about the actual or desirable death of the “open Web”, but rather she contrasts the differences between the more closed enviroment of the App store, the iPhone, the iPad etc. on one side and the more open, or totally open Web. But I had better report here the synthesis of Leo Laporte and Jim Louderback, from which I learned of this article; it’s clear and funny (as always with Leo Laporte’s TWiT):

Jim Louderback It’s almost like we are seeing 1990 played out again with the Mac and the Windows, or 1984, or whatever.

Leo Laporte Well it come down to – do you read Virginia Heffernan’s article in last Sunday’s New York Times where she said apps are the suburbia of the Internet. She said the free and open worldwide web is essentially like downtown where anything goes, there’s ads, there’s scummy people…

Jim Louderback Chinatown…

Leo Laporte It’s dangerous, it’s Chinatown Jake.

Jim Louderback Forget it.

Leo Laporte Forget it. And she said, but apps have become the suburbia, the place that you go…

Jim Louderback It’s a strip mall.

Leo Laporte It’s a little nicer, it’s a little cleaner, there’s – and so – but it has the same problem where if you have everybody leaving the city, the city goes to hell, you stuck with these apps and I think this is the problem. I think we are seeing a fight now between open and closed. Open is always messy, it’s dirty, it’s not – it’s got little issues with the UI. But closed is dangerous in the long run, that’s what I would submit.

Jim Louderback Yeah, I can see that. I can see a good parallel there of Apple’s app store and Android’s app store for that matter being like the strip mall, where you get individualized…

Leo Laporte You get porn.

Jim Louderback …sanitized choices…

Leo Laporte Right.

Jim Louderback …that are very easy to get to, get on a [indiscernible] (43:50).

Leo Laporte Yes, yes, yes. But Apple’s especially, not so much Android’s.

Jim Louderback But you are not going to be able to find the chalk that gets rid of the ants or the weird ethnic food or…

Leo Laporte Right.

Jim Louderback …any of the cool stuff.

The (wonderful) TWiT 250 transcript is from Podsinprint

I recommend the reading of the NYT piece, not just for the point under discussion but really for the analogy as such. I think we need more of this to make sense of what’s happening. Concrete images, communicative and inspiring.

Then, the idea of apps as suburbia might be more or less appropriate, but it certainly conveys some values or desires and expectations of people living in suburbia. This is the most interesting part, as it leads to a discussion about culture and technology. Then one might consider that “suburbia” are not the same all over the world…

PS the hint on “porn” in the transcript might be not very clear– shortly after this part Laporte and friends went on with an amusing exchange on porn on iPhone etc. — but it was too long to be included here… play TWiT if you are curious about it (I also recommend TWiT in general; I wonder sometimes how many listeners they have here in Europe).

Android surge vs. iPhone repeats Windows vs. Apple pattern

This is not the blurb of some Google enthusiast or Apple hater but the reasoning of Fabrizio Capobianco, the CEO of Funambol and a leading voice in the industry, especially when it comes to mobile and open source. See the original post (published about one week ago. 9th of November 2013 update: failed to open page…) for the complete commentary on the NPD data on US 2010 Q1 sales reported below (again, copypasted from Fabrizio’s blog 9th of Nov. 2013 update: same data and image now taken from this post at Android and Me blog by Taylor Wimberly).

smartphone operating system unit share trend circa 2010

In short, the parallel drawn by Fabrizio is about the contrast between better but closed operating systems (the ones from Apple) on one side and not vertically integrated / somewhat open alternatives on the other side (Windows in the past for the PC, now Android for mobile — yesss, not open source on the MS side 😉 The end result is that Apple’s share in the PC market never reached high marks.

Any pattern recognition? I bet. That’s the PC business. One Apple operating system which was closed, and one Microsoft operating system that hardware manufacturer could adopt and ship at “low” cost (for the time). Apple was better and now they have 4% of the PC OS market share.

via Mobile Open Source

Two personal takes:

1, We all have heard the argument that you can run a very successful company with a small share of the market; but it can be counter-argued that the perspective of the analysis above is not focused on a single corporation as such, but on general market dynamics, which at some point in the future could indeed impact the performance of any company in the arena.

2, I know that I am mixing (real 😉 apples and pears, but the surprising NPD data are a striking confirmation of the expectations about future mobile OS diffusion expressed by the respondents to the RTM survey on which I blogged about a while ago (it was: Android first, iPhone second, but now it looks like it could be a very distant second).

Update: I noticed that Apple has publicly reacted to the NPD data claiming that “this is a very limited report on 150,000 U.S. consumers responding to an online survey”, as reported by Reuters and others. Furthermore, Apple reference to another report by IDC on global market sales for mobile vendors in 2010 Q1 highlights also how big is the difference for Nokia penetration in the US vs. the global markets. BTW, perhaps analysts shoud measure (OS) platforms and device vendors together (terminology discussions on “smartphone” vs. “mobile converged devices” might be interesting but they are not very practical).

Mac elitism? Technology, luxury etc.

A leveling of class distinctions in Apple products is going to sting people who valued the affectation of elitism that came with using Apple’s top-of-the-line products.

via Gizmodo – When Pro Doesn’t Mean Pro Anymore – MacBook

This review from WWDC 2009 raised my curiosity. The point of discussion is the leveling of prices in the “Pro” range of Macs, especially with the new 13-inch at 1199 dollars. The argument goes like this: showing off a top-of-the-line Pro used to be a clear sign of distinction; pretty much the same with the old Macbook black when compared to the cheaper whites (btw: I am now living with my second white…).

Uploaded on July 27, 2006 by galaygobi on Flickr CC license
Uploaded on July 27, 2006 by galaygobi on Flickr CC license

I have always been intrigued by the idea of elitism and technology, especially mass market technology as it is the case with these machines. The contrast is quite startling: you have the epitome of machine democratization, the personal computer (well, Macs), surged as a symbol of distinction.

Of course it might be argued that something similar happens for so many products and services. The top-of-the-line as sign of distinction. Yes. But I am more interested in the specific case now than the general phenomena.

I guess that there is big value to ripe for a company capable to bring distinction to its products. They could command higher prices, which should bring more margins. This has been historically difficult with PCs, where shrinking margins are the rule I think. I still remember when Dell took over that company specialized in computers for gaming, not only very powerful but also stylish, with fancy cases if I am not wrong etc. (no details from heart, I should check it out again).

I think that the issue might be an interesting subject of research. Scientific study but also market research. Maybe it is already very covered; again, to be checked.

This is also somewhat related to some earlier thoughts on technology and luxury, media and luxury.

In 2002 I scribbled down a few lines about these broader and distinct concepts as I was pondering the idea of “media recluse”, coined in a book about future trends (I can’t remember the title now; and the notes are in Italian, or almost all in Italian… so I will annoy me transalting myself… how bad): “digital divide inteded as the value of media and information… junk media for the poor and premium for the rich, The categories of luxury, value and misery should be applied to information and knowledge, if we hold true that we live in an economy dominated by knowledge and information. Information is equal for all but not everyone has the same access to information… the old ryhme”.

“Media recluse” were described as people that in the future would recede from information and keep themselves shielded from the media noise or the media pollution. A facet of elitism…

Now it come to my mind a paper about luxury in which there is an articulated discussion on technology and luxury; how technology makes luxury “affordable” and move products down the chain. But how down is down? What is the elitist threshold? It might correspond to a certain model of profitability — or digital divide seen from another perspective.