A Verizon-branded commercial for iPad on their network. What's the big deal? The deal is that Apple has NEVER done this - allowed some other "partner" or company co-advertise, never. That is a big deal. AT&T does not advertise the iPhone and they are not even allowed to mention iPhone or Apple in their commercials. Apple controls all the iPhone marketing, and produces all their own ads. The only thing regarding AT&T in Apple's ads is AT&T's logo at the very end - always covered and ending with Apple's logo.
So why now? Why let Verizon advertise the iPad? Why does not Apple do this? One possible reason is Apple has only so much marketing money available. Once they only advertised Macs. Then iTunes and Macs and iPod, and then also iPhones, and iPod touch and iPad, etc. With Verizon advertising iPad, it gives Apple more marketing bandwidth to reach the general audience. With the amount of money Apple has in the Bank, we know this not to be true. Another reason is Apple is testing the waters with Verizon, laying down a new marketing philosophy - at least with iPad. Everyone and their dog will be able to advertise iPad with Apple's soft-touch blessing. Best Buy, Verizon, AT&T, Target, everyone can go for it. Of course, Apple will brand the product with it's campaign and everyone else gets to say they have it. The overarching goal is a massive, massive awareness campaign. We'll see if Verizon is the only one allowed to do this, but I highly doubt it.
Last week Apple announced they are discontinuing the Xserve. The Xserve is a rack mount server solution running the Macintosh OS. Apples added a alternative, which is the Mac Pro running their server software. The new product looks interesting, but it does not replace an Xserve as the Mac Pros are not rack mountable. Some have suggested Mac Mini as a replacement, but the Minis don't have RAID capabilities. The Mac Mini will work great for small server applications, but not those that need more power. The French Website MacGeneration sent an email asking Steve Jobs why. Steve respond, by saying “Hardly anyone was buying them”. Now I know the Xserve does not have the volume of an iPad, iPhone or even a iMac, but I don’t buy the fact that they were not selling. The Xserve is a solution to those who want to run the Mac OS in the server environment. As of January 1, that will no longer be possible.
Is this a move away from the professional or business user? No, Apple discontinued the Xserve because it was not worth their time to develop the hardware. With the long wait for Aperture 3 and the big delay for Final Cut, Apple is continuing to show they are more focused on the consumer than the professional. The new OS 10.7 Lion are nice, but they are adding more consumer features, not the professional ones. The professional may not be the bread and butter for Apple as it was before the iPod, but that does not mean Apple should stop focusing on them. Apple needs the professionals to develop the iOS apps, create iTunes content and just generally buy or recommend Apple products. A lose of the professionals would be bigger than just the sales of the professional products.
Apple could license the Mac OS to someone like VMware as vitalization is the future for server technology, but don’t see Apple doing this. We will not see legal non-Apple hardware running the Mac OS while Steve Jobs is running the company, even though many hope they will. Apple needs to give more focus to the professional to keep them on the Mac. The best way for Apple to do this is by creating a division (or a spin off company) that can focus on solutions for the professional and business user. They should move their Mac Pro hardware and Final Cut, Aperture, Logic, and other professional software into this division. This new division would then give the focus to the professionals that they need to keep them on the Mac. It would also free up Apple to keep their focus on the consumer instead of have to switch back and forth.
When the iPad first came out, many people speculated whether the it could compete against the current line of notebooks. Apple told us that the iPad fit in-between the iphone and Macbook product line-up and this is where the notebooks market is. When people are looking at buying a notebooks, they are either wanting a cheap or a small and light computer. Most notebooks are small and cheap, but the computer part is their weakness. Yes, they run desktop application, but they run them very slowly.
We find out this week that Microsoft admits the iPad is not only competing against the notebooks, but cannibalizing notebooks sales. Tablet sales are up 26% percent with the iPad taking 95% of the market. Netbook demand sinks 80% in October surgery results. The same surgery showed that 95% of iPad users are either very satisfied or somewhat satisfied with their device. Analysts are predicting that Apple will sell as much as 48 million iPads in 2011. Clearly, the iPad is not only competing against the netbook, it is destroying the competition. The iPad is cheap at $499, it is light 1.5 pounds, and it is small. The iPad is the first punch against the notebook market. Now, is the iPad a computer?
The iPad runs applications from the app store and if you can find the applications for the stuff you do, then yes it is. If you need to run desktop applications, then no it is not the computer for you, yet. In the beginning of October, Apple release an new version of the Macbook Air. The Macbook Air is twice the price of the iPad and does not have a hard drive or optical drive. The Macbook Air is underpowered compared to the current MacBooks except for the solid state drive. A solid state drive uses flash memory instead of spinning disks to storage information on your computer. The Macbook Air comes in two sizes; 11-inch and 13-inches. The 11-inch version has either a 64GB or 128GB Solid state drive. The Air is small and light at 2.3 pounds. Is the Air fast enough?
The key to the Air it not the processor, but the solid state drive. Hard drives are the biggest bottle neck in the computer, adding a much faster solid state drive, makes the computer much faster. Commentators were not sure about the speed as it runs a slower Core 2 Duo Processor. The Air is not a netbook by performance, it does have a real desktop processor compared to notebooks which use a slower ATOM processor. Those who have had a chance to use the Air though are raving over the performance. It is definitely fast enough for most desktop tasks. You may not be editing the next Cars movie on it, but for most tasks, it will be fast enough. If you are looking at a netbook because it is cheap, you are not going to get an Air, as the price starts at $999. If you are looking for a netbook that is light and small and runs desktop applications, the Macbook Air is the best choice. The Macbook Air is the second punch against the netbook market. Look for the Macbook Air to be a huge seller in the next year as it is fast enough for 90% for the users looking at buying a laptop. Put the iPad and Macbook Air together, and you have a one, two punch that will knock out the netbook market.
Apple has been holding off adding USB 3.0 support to their Macintosh line up. It is not like Apple to hold off adopting a new technology. USB 3.0 is backwards compatible with USB 2.0 and is ten times faster. The data transfer rate for USB 3.0 could be 4.8 Gbps where USB 2.0 is 480 Mbps at best. It does require a new connector for the faster data rate though. So one has to ask why is Apple not adopting USB 3.0? Last last week, Tom Kruk emailed Steve Jobs to ask why. Steve responded by saying “We don’t see USB 3 taking off at this time. No support from Intel, for example”. This could be a possible answer, but I don’t buy it. Apple does not wait for other companies when it comes to new technology. If Apple put USB 3.0 into all of their new Macs, new products would come out almost immediately. Apple leads, others follow.
I think Apple is not adding USB 3.0 because it is waiting on another better technology, Light Peak. According to CNET, Light Peak could be coming out sometime next year. Light Peak is a new optical cable interface that Apple and Intel have been working on together. It promises 10 Gbps data transfer speeds, which is twice as fast USB 3.0. Since Light Peak uses an optical interface, it has a potential of much greater data transfer rate, up to 100Gbps for 2020. I think Apple will be replacing USB and Firewire with Light Peak in the coming years. Keyboards and mice are already wireless, so they don’t need a USB connector. Light Peak was developed to replaces not only USB and Firewire, but also HDML, PCI express, SATA and SCSI. It would replace all of the connectors in the back of a Mac with one Light Peak connector except for the Ethernet. Light Peak can be daisy chained together, so there is no need to have more than one or two. Light Peak is the direction Apple will be taking, not USB 3.0.
Silverlight was pretty much gone from Microsoft’s Professional Developers Conference last week with HTML5 taking its place. Even as Silverlight continues to be Microsoft’s development platform for Windows Phone 7, Microsoft looks to be pushing HTML5 as the only true cross platform solution. Over the past few months, Microsoft has been getting aggressive in their HTML5 support as Internet Explorer 9 was shown off with HTML5 demos. More evidence is shown with Office for Mac using webkit instead of IE for displaying web content. Webkit is used in Safari and Chrome as the HTML rendering engine.
By moving from Silverlight to HTML5, Microsoft has put another nail in the coffin of flash. One may think that moving away from Silverlight was be a good thing for Flash, but that is not the case. Silverlight had an uphill battle against Flash because it has yet to achieve critical mass. RIAS (Rich Internet Application Statistics) reports Silverlight having only a 57% browser adoption rate. Microsoft must have seen this and is now moving to embrace HTML5 which should be in every new browser. HTML5 is Flash’s major competitor and adding Microsoft to the HTML5 camp is not good news for Flash. Hopefully this means full support for HTML5 on one of the last major browsers to support it, Internet Explorer. With HTML5 being supported by all major browsers, we should see less browser incompatibilities, one of the main reasons to use Flash in the first place.
We have also seen HTML5 video adoption continue to have substantial growth. MeFeedia came out with a report that showed 54% of web video can now be played in HTML5. Compare that to only 10% back in January 2010. One has to ask, what happened in January to change things? One word, iPad.
Video, applications, browser independence, and easy interactive content are the main reasons to choose Flash for your website. I would think a year from now HTML5 video should be above 80-90%. Most ad insertion apps still use Flash for adding ads to video. That should change over the next year as HTML5 ad solutions continue to be developed. As far as web applications go, HTML5 and AJAX can easily do what Flash delivers. As an iPad user I see very few flash apps out there, and when they are available, the Apps in Apple’s iTunes store are much better. Browser independence should really start to diminish with HTML5 adaptation.
That leaves one area for using Flash; easy interactive content. I see this most often on the iPad, websites that want to look cool and be interactive. They don’t have time to write for different browsers or spend money on AJAX coders, so they resort to Flash. I see Flash sites for small cars companies, musicians, and restaurants to name a few. Flash’s biggest strength is an easy to use, non programming, development platform. It is a platform that designers use as well as coders. Designers don’t code in HTML5 or AJAX. If HTML5 whats to replace Flash, it will need an easy to development environment for the non-programmer - the graphic designer. A development platform for both graphic artist and coders to collaborate. Something like iWeb on steroids that lives outside of MobileMe. This type of application would be the last nail in the coffin for Flash.
As a iPad user, I am excited to hear 4.2 has reached Golden Master. What does that mean? When program developers decide the code is finished and ready to be sold, they would make a Golden Master CD to send the CD manufactures for production. They may not be sending it to the CD manufactures anymore, but when the final software testing has been complete, they still call it Golden Master. This can only mean 4.2 will be coming out to the iPad and iOS soon. I can’t wait to get those new iPhone 4 features on my iPad.
Rumors are flying today about iPhone5 adding Near Field Communication (NFC) capability. You may also see the term RFID used as well. With NFC, your iphone could become a electronic wallet so you could carry some sort of secure ID for purchasing your groceries. It could also be used to store you home folder, so that you could go to any Mac, wave your iphone over it, and your files and settings automatically appear.
Now, this seems interesting, and it would be nice not to carry around a wallet. To bring my home folder along would require a 500GB iPhone, so I don’t think that will be possible for the iPhone5, maybe in the future. It would be nice to go to any computer to use your stuff, but I see lots of problems in the near term. What about applications, are they transferred as well? What happens to the data when I leave that computer? How secure is the whole transferring of data? The electronic wallet also has me concerned with identify theft. In order for these to really work, security will really have to be greatly improved to trust it.
When Steve Jobs said the MacBook air was the computer of the future he wasn't just talking about it's hardware. Lacking both a optical and hard drive is nice and allows for a slim design, but that's just the beginning.
If anyone paid close attention to Apple's October Special Event, the OS X Lion presentation subtly showed us how the future of OS X computing would become largely Finder irrelevant for most tasks. But how exactly will this work? Enter the cloud.