technology


24
Feb 14

Samsung and Apple: two flavors of innovation

What exactly defines an innovator these days?

Has Apple lost its title of “most innovative” because it hasn’t changed the world since 2010? Or does Samsung now own that title, even though it hasn’t changed the world since … uh, when was that again?

Obviously, innovation comes in many flavors.

Sometimes it’s about creating revolutions, other times it’s about adding features. Sometimes it’s about creating things that people fall in love with, other times it’s simply about creating things.

It’s because of the Samsung vs. Apple innovation debate that I’m so eager to see what will happen with the smartwatch category.

For the first time, no one can accuse Samsung of copying Apple as they did with iPhone and iPad. It literally beat Apple to the punch on this one.

When (and if) Apple unveils an iWatch, the world will finally see — in the starkest terms — the true difference between Samsung innovation and Apple innovation. Continue reading →


13
Jan 14

Technology, religion, fanboys and Walt

Touchy, touchy.

Seems like former Wall Street Journal technology reviewer Walt Mossberg isn’t in the mood for aggressive comments these days.

In his first article at re/code, he “schools” those who are intolerant of others’ opinions and exhibit religious devotion to their chosen platform.

While Walt tries to be objective, two subtle clues hint at the source of his frustration.

One is the headline: It’s Not a Church, It’s Just an Apple Store. The other is his main visual: New York’s iconic Apple Store Fifth Avenue.

I don’t really mind that Walt makes Apple fans the poster children for his article. You have to get those clicks somehow.

Didn’t we cover this Apple-as-religion thing years ago at Scoopertino? (click to see)

And it’s not like this is anything new. Badly-mannered zealots have been among us, on every platform, for decades — just as they have been in politics. It’s actually more of a human thing than a technology thing.

What’s out of whack for me is Walt’s very first paragraph. For a guy whose life revolves around technology, he expresses a surprisingly cynical view of technology companies: Continue reading →


9
Aug 13

Apple’s evolving view of “pro”

In recent years, many pros have started feeling like Apple’s jilted girlfriend. Through no fault of their own, the love just seemed to fade.

Apple might claim otherwise when confronted, but the telltale signs have been hard to ignore:

Mac Pro. Apple’s most powerful Mac has been agonizingly slow in the update department. It hasn’t changed physically in eons. (Though it’s about to.) Ironically, the one Mac targeted specifically at the pro user remains the only Mac without a high-speed Thunderbolt connection. Even the Mac mini has had Thunderbolt for over two years.

17-inch MacBook Pro. This big-screen laptop was a favorite and a necessity for designers and video editors who needed that much real estate to be their mobile best. Then, poof.

Final Cut Pro. When the long-awaited update to Apple’s high-end video editing suite finally appeared, it lacked certain features critical for pro editors: multicam editing, EDL support, backward compatibility and more. You could say the pro editing community was speechless—but it wasn’t. The cries of anguish were long and loud.

Aperture. The latest version was released in February 2010. Yes, that’s 3.5 years without a major update. Even if you consider this misleading, the perception of stagnation is a natural result when Aperture’s competitor, Adobe Lightroom, continues to evolve visibly.

Could it possibly be? Would Apple ever even think about saying goodbye to the pro market?

I hope you’re sitting down for this, but Steve Jobs did in fact once consider that very option. Continue reading →


29
May 13

Dueling philosophies: iWatch vs. Glass

Too often, those who try to explain Apple’s spectacular rise from the ashes fail to note the obvious.

First, there’s the company’s love of simplicity. (Hmm, someone should write a book about that one.)

Second, there’s the company’s love of humanity. That is, Apple has never created technology for technology’s sake. It creates technology that strikes a chord with human beings.

That’s why Apple’s marketing typically focuses more on humanity and less on technology. And that’s why Apple has succeeded in disrupting multiple product categories on a global scale.

This is something to keep in mind as we ponder the looming revolution: wearable technology. Continue reading →


7
May 13

The iPod-ization of iPhone

It happened to iPod — time for iPhone to get the family treatment?

For months, we’ve heard that Apple isn’t the innovator it used to be.

iPhone has fallen behind. Samsung is now the real innovator. iPhone 5S is an also-ran before it’s even launched.

Of course, Apple’s “problems” are more perception than reality. But perceptions do fuel momentum, and the negative buzz about Apple has been (a) tarnishing the brand and (b) driving the stock price lower. So what’s Apple to do? Will we really have to wait until 2014 to see a major upgrade to iPhone?

We can’t predict the future. However, we all know the past — and you’ll find some important clues there.

Back when the very first iPhone was about to launch, it was assumed by many inside Apple that iPhone would follow the path of iPod before it. The first year or two would be devoted to evolving and perfecting the device — and then the iPhone line would be expanded to address various types of customers.

iPod’s biggest years came after it had expanded into a family of products. Continue reading →


21
Dec 12

Microsoft goes for the gimmick

Back in the days of NeXT, Steve Jobs taught me a lesson in technology advertising. As you might expect, it wasn’t very complicated. It went like this:

“Be important.”

At that point in time, Steve had a particular need for importance. Sales of the NeXT Computer weren’t exactly on fire. The company was struggling to survive.

Steve wanted the world to believe that NeXT was a relevant force with a message that deserved notice. He had no interest in an ad that was cute or inconsequential. He wouldn’t pin his hopes on a marketing gimmick.

I can’t help but think of Steve’s direction when I see Microsoft’s advertising for its Surface tablet.

“Important” it is not. Continue reading →


16
Nov 12

The great skeuomorphism misunderstanding

No, I’m not quite ready to let the skeuomorphism thing die just yet. Humor me.

I was relieved that Tim Cook dismissed Scott Forstall and put Jony Ive in charge of Human Interface.

I was surprised when I read so many articles that seemed to misinterpret what had just happened.

I lost count of the articles proclaiming the death of skeuomorphism. Such as:

Skeuomorphism is (finally) dead: So what is Apple’s next move? and Jonathan Ive to rid skeumorphism in iOS and OS X.

News flash: skeuomorphism is not dead. What’s dead are cheesy, antiquated graphics — like the stitched leather look in Contacts and Calendar. These were aberrations in a world that had been built upon good taste. Continue reading →


24
Oct 12

Reflecting on the iPad mini event

I’m still calling this the iPad mini event. But that’s only because it sounds much simpler than the MacBook Pro/iMac/iPad mini event. That was quite a boatload of technology.

Some observations:

Tim Cook. I thought he was much improved yesterday — compared to his performance at the iPhone 5 event, where he seemed overly coached and eager to hurl those adjectives.

The even-newer iPad. Surprise. The 4th generation comes only seven months after the 3rd generation. Never seen that before. Of course an update was necessary, if only to add the Lightning connector. Apple couldn’t very well be selling millions of iPads for the holidays sporting a connector that has no future.

The next new iPad? Taking iPad off its regular spring update schedule is a smart marketing move. By moving to a fall update schedule, Apple will enter every holiday season with a brand-new iPad. That’ll throw a bit more fuel on the flame. Continue reading →


10
Oct 12

Watching the Samsung-Apple playoffs

Last time Apple went heavy on advertising in a sporting event, it didn’t exactly end well.

But let us not speak of the Genius anymore. All traces of that campaign have been hidden from our sight.

Now the baseball playoffs are here. And once again, Apple has made a very expensive media buy. This time, it’s blanketing the games with the new iPhone 5 ads.

But look. Someone else has moved into the neighborhood. Samsung showed up for the playoffs with equal force, in the form of its Galaxy S III ads. You know — the ones that make fun of the lost souls who line up to buy an iPhone, when they could just as easily have a much cooler Samsung phone. Continue reading →


1
Oct 12

Apple Maps: adventures in crisis management

Some time after the big oil spill, we inevitably get the “open letter” from the oil company CEO. It’s a time-honored tradition in disaster management.

Following Apple’s maps lapse, Tim Cook has taken a page from the same playbook. His open letter appeared last week.

Tim’s apology was deep and sincere. He said that Maps fell short of Apple’s standards and pledged to make improvements quickly. He also suggested that customers download other mapping apps, implicitly saying that those apps are currently superior to Apple’s.

Many have reacted positively to Tim’s letter, finding it refreshingly honest.

Personally, it made me squirm a bit. Not because I prefer Apple to be untruthful, but because I want it to be even more truthful. Hold that thought for a minute.

The last time Apple had to deal with a public outcry of this magnitude was during the iPhone 4 “antennagate” controversy. Steve Jobs called a press conference, which in itself signaled the seriousness of the situation. Continue reading →