Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The days to come with Apple

What is coming next from Apple? One can only speculate. There has been a lot of talk about a tablet computer. That makes sense, take your iPhone and blow it up to a bigger version, using the same multi-touch interface.

So let's take a step back and see what Apple has done so far, and how that can be applied to what is coming.

Apple was strictly a computer company. Then one day, they decided to take a new direction and created the iPod. This was not a traditional computer per se, but a digital music box in your pocket. Not only did Apple break away from it's normal business operations, but they encroached on the music business. They made hardware for listening to music, they created iTunes, and now control a large portion of the sale of music. Obviously, a huge success.

Then they started making other hardware gadgets to compliment the personal computer, such as wireless routers. Again, stretching their business tactics beyond the PC. Then comes AppleTV, a hardware solution to watching digital video media. Then of course, the iPhone. A cell phone from Apple. So now they directly compete with the cell phone industry.

You get the idea... the Apple technology keeps spilling over into new technologies. What is going to happen next? Here are some fun speculations:

* Apple personal communication (phone?) service. Instead of partnering with cell phone providers, they create their OWN personal communication network. Maybe this won't be cellular technology, but it will certainly directly compete with it. Maybe this will be purely online, via something like Skype? Once everyone is wired in, this will certainly be viable. Or maybe they will do something on their own frequency. Who knows?

* Apple Digital Television. No, I'm not talking about the AppleTV that hooks to your TV set, I'm talking about the TV ITSELF. We'll call it iTube. Imagine a 60" Apple branded TV in your living room. Integrated internet access, iPhone/iTablet remote controlled, jacked into your Apple network via bonjour services. Again, encroaching on the TV industry, but why not? They already make 30" monitors. This leads to...

* Apple Digital Home Theater. Maybe this will be combined with the iTube? Full digital home stereo, speakers, the works. Every component of your home theater with the Apple brand. Goodbye Onkyo, Harmon Kardon, Sony... Hello Apple! Why go through the pain of figuring out what components to buy? Just get Apple... you know it will be excellent quality, it will be compatible with your other Apple hardware, and certainly look fantastic like everything else Apple makes. Not to mention, one cable coming off the back instead of the horrendous tangle of wires in your current system.

* Apple Home Automation. Imagine controlling everything in your home with your Apple computer. Grab your iPhone and turn down the lights. Turn up the furnace. View the camera at the front door. Open the garage door. Warm up the car. Set your alarm. Preheat the oven. Re-program your sprinkler system. Listen in on any room in the house. All of this from in the living room, or from any remote location. Think of the possibilities!

* Apple Home Security. Yep, secure your home with Apple. Motion detectors can alert you from afar, you can instantly view any room in your house and notify the police. The police can then monitor with you, and know exactly what course of action to take from outside.

Now we really start thinking out of the box:

* The iCar. (My business partner and I dreamt this up, I can't take all the credit.) I can hear Steve introducing it at a keynote: "We looked at all of the existing cars out there. The wheels. The suspension. The drive train. The engine. We decided to get rid of ALL of it and start over! Introducing the iCar." A cover slips off of a very simple looking contraption, similar to an egg with a seamless door. The car is hovering over the ground. The door silently glides open and Steve hops in. "We've decided that the iCar needs to magnetically levitate. Therefore, it can only travel on iRoads. Have no fear, we are already working on an infrastructure of iRoads, to be spanning the globe over the next several years." The dash is conspicuous... just one single button. Steve gives it a press, and the entire dash lights up, like a big seamless iPhone interface.

You can use your own imagination from there. What's next? Homes? Buildings? Cities? (I'm from Apple City, USA!), world domination? You decide in the comments!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Reasons why people buy the iPhone

So how many blogs have written "10 reasons why the iPhone sucks." I've seen them, I've read them, they have their points. But the point they are missing, is the reasons why people DO buy the iPhone. The good things far outweigh the bad. Here is my list of the good things.

* Multi-touch. This has to be the biggest breakthrough in mobile usability. Pinch and squeeze the items to zoom in and out, flick or swipe your finger across the interface to effortlessly move through your contacts and photo albums. Nothing comes close to the response and feel of an iPhone.

* Safari. The mobile browser that really does it all. And I don't have to convince you of this, the statistics speak for themselves. Give them a web browser they can use, and they will use it. Pinch zooming, double-tap focus, finger slide panning... hands down, no other mobile browser comes close to it's usability.

* The iPod. Let's face it, Apple built the iPhone with iPod users in mind. You don't need to carry two things around, and the iPod interface on the iPhone is easiest and most feature-rich thus far. For those already tapped into the iTunes ecosystem, the iPhone is an easy choice.

* The App Store. One place to get apps, available to every iPhone. Browse through applications and install them with ease. If you have ever gone through the gauntlet of installing and maintaining apps on platforms such as Windows Mobile, you will deeply appreciate the simplicity of the app store. For developers, you don't need hosting, and you get an instant world-wide audience!

* multi-lingual. This may not apply to individual phone owners, but being a touch-screen oriented device, the available languages are limitless, which is a very good thing for Apple supplying other countries with iPhones, and app developers can write their applications for any number of languages.

* The development platform. Cocoa and OS X have rave reviews on it's easy-to-use development tools (free with OS X), and the iPhone is no exception. Quickly and easily deploy applications on the iPhone that adhere to the apple user interface guidelines.

Of course there are shortcomings of the iPhone (You can read other blogs to get the juice.) But realize, the iPhone is in its infancy. After one year, Apple has completely changed the face of the mobile industry. IMHO, there are only better things to come.