Apple’s No Jack City

Apple announced the new iPhone 7 yesterday and announced that they are removing the headphone jack.  Some quick thoughts on that…

Short Term Pain

It’s annoying to have to live in a world where my phone does not have a headphone jack as I have many different headphones laying around and to use them I have to use an extra dongle that i have to carry with my phone.  Also, for people who want to listen to music and charge their phone at the same time – a common use for Uber and Lyft drivers, this is now impossible (although i did see this solution). For all of these reasons, I think it will be a pain in the ass for many people – including myself in the short term.

Moving towards the future

I do think that the wireless technology of headphones is underrated and way more advanced than we are aware.  By forcing the issue and making these headphones mandatory, Apple will bring more and more great wireless headphones available.  I can imagine a world in 5 years where everything is wireless.

From my use of the Echo, I does seem that the only thing between the cloud and my is voice. Having a sweet set of headphones that can access it all of the time seems like the right way to go.

The use of the word “courage”

This was totally ridiculous.  Apple, even if you think it, don’t say it.  When you’re causing so much short-term pain to your customer, don’t get up on stage and pat yourself on the back. That was a dumb move.

The Apple eco-system

Now all headphone manufacturers who build a lightning connector are married to the iPhone. Doing this will result in more lock-in than ever before.  This was definitely part of their thought-process when coming to this decision.  Apple loves the lock-in.

 

 



The More Open Your Network, The More Successful You’ll Be

I just read this article by Michael Simmons and it was really interesting.  It states that that simply being in an open network instead of a closed one is the best predictor of career success.

The idea is that people in open networks have unique challenges and perspectives.  Because these curious folk are part of multiple groups, they have unique relationships, experiences, and knowledge that other people in their groups don’t.  These views lead to more and better opportunities. 

 The chart for this is:

 

It also interesting to see how this played out with Steve Jobs. He always advocated for diversity of experiences. In a Wired interview in 1995, he said: 

Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something.
It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people.
Unfortunately, that’s too rare a commodity. A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experiences.
So they don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have.

I love this position. The experiencing of different industries, different cultures and different perspectives is a great goal to have. 

Please Put Your Dock on the Side

One of my little pet peeves is how people use their dock on their Mac. 

Here’s my logic. What do you do most on your computer?  You read web pages from top to bottom.  Because of this, your page is maximized from top to bottom and you spend most of your time scrolling.  There is usually extra space to the sides of the page. 

Why then, do you take up extra space on the bottom of the page with a dock?  You are constrained vertically but have surplus horizontally.  It makes so much sense for you to have your dock on the left or the right. 

If you have it on the bottom and set to hide that solves most of the problem, but because you scroll so much up and down, you can hit your dock by accident a bit.  But it works.   

My rant for the day. 

Thoughts on Apple’s iPhone 6 & ApplePay

I listened to the announcement last week and have a lot of thoughts on the upcoming iPhone. 

Apple’s launch event came, and delivered (mostly) what had been leaked and/or expected: a larger iPhone & a phablet, payments and a smart watch. The phones are mostly predictable: the customer is always right, and the customer has decided to optimise for pocket size and experience over thumb size (the changes in iOS7 & iOS8 have made it possible to do this, incidentally).

Why did they make it bigger?

Basically, Apple dominates the high end of the phone market.  They like it that way.  To date, there has been a few high-end Android phones eating away at their sales (mostly Samsung phones).  There are currently six reason people buy these phones (taken from Benedicts’s Blog): 

  1. Their operator subsidies an Android but not an iPhone – this has now ended, with Apple adding distribution with all the last significant hold-outs (Sprint, DoCoMo, China Mobile)
  2. They don’t particularly care what phone they get and the salesman was on more commission to sell Androids or, more probably, Samsungs that day (and iPhones the next, of course)
  3. They have a dislike of Apple per se – this is hard to quantify but probably pretty small, and balanced by people with a dislike of Google
  4. They are heavily bought into the Google ecosystem
  5. They like the customizations that are possible with Android and that have not been possible with iOS until (to a much increased extent) iOS8 (more broadly, once could characterize this as ‘personal taste’)
  6. They want a larger screen. 

The first has largely gone, the second is of little value to an ecosystem player and nets out at zero (i.e. Apple gains as many indifferent users as it loses) and the third is small. Apple has now addressed the fifth and sixth.  That is, with the iPhone 6 and iOS8, Apple has done its best to close off all the reasons to buy high-end Android beyond simple personal preference.  As Benedict Evans states, “You can get a bigger screen, you can change the keyboard, you can put widgets on the notification panel (if you insist) and so on. Pretty much all the external reasons to choose Android are addressed – what remains is personal taste.”

What’s the deal with ApplePay?

A lot of people are saying “they are going to make a ton of money with ApplePay!” and “They are going to crush PayPal!” – both are not even close to true.  If you look at what they are actually doing here, it’s not to take on banks, credit cards or any actual payment system.  They are taking on the wallet.  If you look at what they did with music – they didn’t put Universal Music out of business, they didn’t come up with a better way to be a label, they just crushed the music store (like Tower Records).  It’s the same here.  You still need a credit card.  You still need a bank to issue thecard.  You just don’t have to pull it out or even have it when buying something.  

 

I just pre-ordered my new iPhone 6 (not the Plus) to get it on Friday.  What about you?  You buying one?

 

The craftsmanship between a great idea and great product

Saw this from Dixon’s blog over the weekend. It’s a good clip from Steve Jobs in 1995 where he talks about how building great products and thought it was worth a repost.

As the head of Product at Kapost, it really resonates to me as we often start off with a product idea and through months of discussion and design, come out at a different place – one that is always better than where we began.  I also like the talk of keeping things out of product.  In my opinion, that’s one of the hardest part of design product – trying to intentionally remove or not include parts that customers claim they want.  

The Jobs quote:

 

There’s just a tremendous amount of craftsmanship in between a great idea and a great product. And as you evolve that great idea, it changes and grows. It never comes out like it starts because you learn a lot more as you get into the subtleties of it. And you also find there are tremendous tradeoffs that you have to make. There are just certain things you can’t make electrons do. There are certain things you can’t make plastic do. Or glass do. Or factories do. Or robots do.

Designing a product is keeping five thousand things in your brain and fitting them all together in new and different ways to get what you want. And every day you discover something new that is a new problem or a new opportunity to fit these things together a little differently.

That’s one thing I love about product.  You need to understand design, your business, competitive landscape, your customers, technology and how to get things done.  It’s one of the more interdisciplinary roles a company has. 

 

Apple Maps vs. Google Maps: A Rant

I recently heard someone talk about what a bad move it was for Apple to release their own Maps app on the iPhone.  I’ve heard this maybe half a dozen times lately and I couldn’t disagree more.  We should all be happy this happened.  Here’s why…

About a year ago when there was no Apple Maps, the situation was this:

  • The default map app on the phone was Google maps
  • Apple had repeatedly been negotiating with Google to have them provide turn-by-turn directions and voice navigation in their app on the iPhone.  Google had turned them down time and time again so they could promote Android phones and claim some level of superiority.
  • Apple had no alternative but to accept that Google was sandbagging their iPhone app

Fast forward to today.  Apple releases Maps which has turn-by-turn directions that are way better than the old Google app.  Google was rendered to be an optional app on phone and because of this fact they stepped up their development efforts and made the Google maps app way better than their previous app.

Today iPhone users have two great options for maps and both options are way better than they had a year ago.  If Apple hadn’t done anything, we’d probably still be stuck with a second-tier version of Google maps.

So, Apple’s probably pretty happy with their decision.  The iPhone mapping capability is at the very least comparable to Android, something they couldn’t claim a year ago.

Ok, i can now go back to work.  Thanks for letting me rant.

May 2015 Update: 

Looking at this latest report you can see that 84% of cell phone users get turn-by-turn navigation while driving.  Looks like Apple made a good call to really shake up the platform to get that functionality in there.

Screen Shot 2015-05-27 at 9.44.41 AM

 

 

My Pebble Watch

About 10 months ago, I watched this video on Kickstarter and was really intrigued about the thought of having a watch send me updates from my iPhone.

I put some money down in May 2012 and waited.  And waited. And waited.  It just so happens that I wasn’t the only one who wanted this.  The guys at Pebble raised over $10 million for their watch.  They then got started mass producing the watches which proved to be harder than they thought.  That said, last month I finally received my watch – almost 11 months after I backed the project. 
Continue reading “My Pebble Watch”

iPhone5: 3 months in

I wrote a post about 4 months ago about the iPhone5 and what I thought about it.  This was before i had purchased it or even used it.  

I have now been using my iPhone 5 for over 3 months and really love it. It’s a nice upgrade over the 4. I like the thinner size, the bigger screen, the faster processor, and the super awesome camera.   All things considered, it’s pretty damn sweet.  I even have been using Siri in the car to play music and send quick text messages.

There’s a lot of buzz around Apple maps being terrible and some android phones being better.  For me, Apple maps have been great although i just installed Google Maps and found that to be even better.  I’m sure some Android phones are better or at least come close to the iPhone, but at this point, they are all basically the same.  We’re so far past regular cell phones that are just phones that we’re all winners.  These smartphones are just ridiculous in what they can do.  Quibbling over megapixels, LTE coverage, the number of apps, and features such as turn-by-turn is such a great problem to have. 

Thoughts on the iPhone 5

At the Kapost office yesterday, about half the company was glued to live-blogging of the iPhone 5 announcement.  What we saw was only a blog but watching it was quite a show.  A few things stood out for me:

 It’s all about the LTE.  Most people don’t realize what LTE is and what it means.  Forgot the ads you see for 4G right now – those are lies.  What most people are getting as 4G isn’t really 4G. LTE is wireless internet that is 20-50x faster.  Once you get it, you won’t need to upgrade for speed for a long time.  It’s like going from a bike to a motorcycle.  Sure, in the future you can get a faster motorcycle, but the major upgrade has happened.  (more info on LTE here)

The magic of Apple.  Only two companies make money in the mobile phone business: Apple and Samsung.  You could read that as Apple and the people who are best at copying Apple.  Apple make money because they convince us to buy something that we didn’t know we need.  The iPhone 5 is really just the same phone, but they go out of their way to show us how it is both the same and something totally different.  It’s thinner (ooohhh), it’s faster (aaaahhhh) and has more and better bells and whistles than ever before (applause).  I don’t know of any other company that asks and gets an hour of my time for them to explain to my why i should buy their product.

Desktop to Mobile.  The transition from computing being a desktop/laptop world to a mobile world is totally complete.  The graphics on the iPhone 5 now rival console gaming units.  There was a demo of a race car game and the rearview mirror on the car was showing accurate graphics.  At this point, the phone is literally just a smaller computer. Sure, not everyone has a smartphone yet, but they will and it will be a fascinating world when companies start taking advantage of the fact that everyone in the world is carrying out a crapload of computing power in their pocket.

I’m still rocking the iPhone 4 and plan on preordering a new phone at midnight on the 14th.  In fact, everyone I know who has a 4 or older is planning on upgrading to the 5.  Are you?

Steve Jobs Biography was Great

I just finished the Steve Jobs book and it was probably one of the most enjoyable books i’ve read in a long long time. I might say the past 10 years.  Here’s why:

Steve Jobs really cared about his products, deeply.  He had an intuitive feel for what the consumer wanted, and what he wanted.  He truly wanted his products to be close to art.   Even though very few in the industry believed him, even after the Macintosh had been around for over 10 years, he continued to hold on to this belief.  Each button, CD tray, color, and line was important to him. There’s a great passage in the book when he found out that the CD-ROM drive of a Mac was a tray instead a slot and it brought him to tears.

It was also fascinating to hear about the infant PC industry.  I had no idea how the PC industry started. I knew there was Apple and i knew there were was IBM but i didn’t understand how it emerged.  The narrative of the hobbyists building the board in garages makes sense to me, and i now understand.

I also didn’t understand how Jobs could get kicked out of his own company by a CEO and board that he selected.  But, after reading the story, i’m surprised he didn’t get kicked out sooner.   To hear of his return and his path back towards success was riveting.  Just a great story.  I highly recommend this book to anyone who’s enjoys Apple even a little bit.  Most people didn’t revere Jobs that much when he was alive (except, obviously the fanboys) but looking back at his accomplishments and commitment to excellence and innovation, we have to place him in the pantheon of business and product innovators.
I do think the world is a better place for having him here and i wish more people followed his path and held on to their dreams and reached for the stars.  It’s a great thing when it happens and actually works.