I don’t envy the new CEO of Microsoft in the decision to whether or not release the quite clearly ‘finished and ready to go’ Microsoft Office for iPad.
Should Microsoft release it, giving their main competitor in the tablet market and advantage?
The iPad has already done very well thank you in the business sector, without having even a smell of a Microsoft product on it, and releasing it will further give the last few business that are still waiting for Microsoft’s ‘answer’ to tablet computing to come along, even less reason to stop computers with Apple logos on them coming over the threshold.
This is what happens when you try to have your cake and eat it – Microsoft cannot be a software supplier to OEM’s, and also have a hardware line that competes with them.
Apple knows this, and have known it since Steve Jobs came back and pointed it out to them – they’ve exploited this USP ever since. Witness the unfolding ‘in and out’ behaviour of Google – they also cannot be a software supplier to OEM’s, and also have a hardware line that competes with them.
However, the once question that nobody is asking is – how much will it cost?
Way back when Apple first released their selection of apps for the iPhone, the cost was surprisingly minuscule, $2.99 if I remember correctly.
There was much gnashing of teeth from developers at that point, how were they supposed to make money when Apple effectively set the price so low?
Well, the reason is because Apple need to do the opposite to Microsoft – they make money on software and then the OEM’s make little or no money on the hardware, with Apple, it has to be the other way around.
So, how much will it be Microsoft?
Releasing a stripped down Office app for the iPad (it will have to be), and charge anything above $99, and you may as well not bother.
Sell it cheap, to compete with iWork and you won’t be able to make a profit – all your money comes from software.
Make it free with an Office 365 subscription is a none starter – nobody will choose that when there are many ‘just good enough’ Office-compatible apps on the iPad already available.
So, you can see why Ballmer hesitated in releasing it – whatever they do, it will hurt them in some way.
What Nadella does next will be worth watching.
Via MacDailyNews & TheBoyGenius.
Although MDN is making a valid point here, in that Apple has 90% market share of the markets they operate in, it’s not surprising that this percentage is going up.
As the PC OEM’s race to the bottom, making more and more cheap laptops (netbooks), they exit the higher end of the market, effectively leaving this predominantly for Apple.
However it’s that bar chart that caught my eye.
I’d never really considered it, but Apple does indeed compete at the low end, it’s just that they do it differently to all the others.
Steve Jobs has said that netbooks are really a price-based solution to consumers wanting cheaper laptops.
They don’t do anything well, and make for a compromised, limited computer experience, but at least the OEM’s have a product at that price point – therefore soaking up sales to that segment of the buying public.
Apple does the same, but doesn’t compromise.
When Apple wants to hit a price point, they make sure that the product that fits that price point, does everything it’s designed to do perfectly, whilst still making a decent profit for them.
Yes, the further you go down the price scale, the less features each product has, but that’s not the point, they may have missing features, but every feature they do have, works perfectly without compromise.
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But despite all of Calacanis’ obvious tech-savvy, and the ability to manipulate the interwebs to give his persona a boost, he doesn’t seem to realise that it’s not all about the numbers – two old marketing mantra’s come to mind…
1) It’s the quality, not the quantity of your audience that truly matters in the long run
2) You can fool some of the people some of the time, but not all the people all the time
The last two tricks he’s played on us, (the famous anti-Apple rant and now this fake iPad story), are cynically planned to boost his following.
People will get wise – this is not a trick he can keep on playing.
It’s rare that we see past Steve’s RDF and get a taste of what his real motivations are, to-wit: comments concerning Adobe:
They are lazy, Jobs says. They have all this potential to do interesting things but they just refuse to do it. They don’t do anything with the approaches that Apple is taking, like Carbon. Apple does not support Flash because it is so buggy, he says. Whenever a Mac crashes more often than not it’s because of Flash. No one will be using Flash, he says. The world is moving to HTML5.
In my view this is the real reason why we don’t see Flash on the iPhone and iPad, Steve’s angry that they haven’t embraced Apple’s development environment fully, if at all.
It’s common knowledge that Adobe use their own cross-platform development software so that they can create software for Apple and Windows in tandem. As far as I know, Apple’s development kits allow you to do just that as well.
Steve’s bottom line – don’t use Carbon, we won’t use Flash.
Absolutely spot-on observation.
The tech industry will be in paroxysms of future shock for some time to come. Many will cling to their January-26th notions of what it takes to get “real work” done; cling to the idea that the computer-based part of it is the “real work”.
It’s not. The Real Work is not formatting the margins, installing the printer driver, uploading the document, finishing the PowerPoint slides, running the software update or reinstalling the OS.
The Real Work is teaching the child, healing the patient, selling the house, logging the road defects, fixing the car at the roadside, capturing the table’s order, designing the house and organising the party.
Think of the millions of hours of human effort spent on preventing and recovering from the problems caused by completely open computer systems. Think of the lengths that people have gone to in order to acquire skills that are orthogonal to their core interests and their job, just so they can get their job done.
It’s strange how for years Apple’s computers have been portrayed as toys and not for real work.
After 20+ years of having to massage Windows into a semblance of usability by employing an army of IT experts, here we are today, the pro-iPad platform enthusiasts trying to make everyone realise that these ‘computers’ actually get in the way of the ‘real work’.
I want the computer to get out of my way and let me create something – I want an iPad.
AppleInsider has a great article about one of the mystery’s of the upcoming iPad – the file system and sharing the content you create on the device.
If the iPad is going to become a really useful device, and not just ‘a big iPod Touch’ as has been said by various negative commentators around the internet, then how the device sits amongst the ‘computers’ in the world is important.
I say ‘computers’ in quotation marks because the iPad isn’t a computer – not in the current definition: ‘a computing device that allows you to write, install and run any software and extend that computer to do just about anything you want.’
The iPad certainly isn’t that, but I feel that’s a good thing.
Not just a ‘good’ thing – a desirable thing.
To be truthful, I’m fed up with computers and what they are – I want something closer to the iPhone, something that let’s me do the things I do on a computer, but I don’t want to have to worry about the file-system, potential viruses, installing updates to various sub-systems and the like.
I’ve thought about this and this is my situation: I have and iBook and 80%-90% of the time I do the following:
- Check email
- Surf the internet
- Update the blog
- Social networking (Twitter, facebook etc)
- Use iTunes, and the iLife apps
- Use the iWork apps
- Play games
The other 20% is:
- Rip CD’s & DVD’s
- Bring some work home and use the Adobe Apps
I can do all of the first list on the iPad, the 2nd list is something that I haven’t done in ages, the 2nd list I can live without and if I do need it, then the iBook can handle it.
But coming back to the AppleInsider article it seems that Apple really has thought this through. If I create a Pages document on the iPad, it will wirelessly be available to the Pages app on the Mac – it couldn’t be simpler.
No file system, no worries, no hassles. You just get work done and surely that’s what we all have ‘computers’ for isn’t it?
We don’t want to spend time keeping them running, installing updates, configuring them, checking for viruses, and doing anything but creating content?
If using computers means that to you, then like I said – you’re welcome to them. I want an iPad.
Way back in 1997, Apple was very nearly history.
I remember back then that I seriously thought of getting out of the graphic design business for good, I could not face a career having to use, what was then, Windows 95/NT.
I decided to hold on and hope for the best, but even I never thought that Apple could go this far.
If there’s one thing that defines Apple, since 1997, since Steve Jobs came back, it is that everything they do, and I mean everything they do, MAKES THEM MONEY.
A sh*tload of money.
Profit margins on their hardware that others can only dream of (around 40% for the Mac).
Software – since Steve Jobs returned, Apple makes the best software in their target markets (please Apple, take on Adobe!)
Content – the iTunes store makes profit on music, movies and apps.
Apple Stores – have the best profit per square foot of any retailer.
Next we have the tablet, and with the rumours of more content deals and that huge data centre built for some as yet unannounced reason, we can expect that to rake in even more cash.
But as the MacDailyNews/Businessweek articles states, what is it for?
Apple have spent a little here and there, acquiring one or two businesses that make strategic sense.
But there’s a lot of money left and it’s looking very unlikely that Apple are going to give that money to their shareholders (with a dividend), or it’s users (by reducing that profit margin).
So what’s it for?
Take a look at the graph at the top of the page – I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.
I’ve been a graphic designer for many years now. When I first got into this business there wasn’t just an absence of Macintoshes, there was no computerisation whatsoever.
We created graphics using various sources; cameras, illustration, hand-drawn typography and galley type, all pasted onto a board ready for platemaking like this:
It was a long laborious process, and thankfully it was gradually replaced by the Apple Macintosh.
I create pieces of artwork now that would have been impossible to do back then. Computerization has been a world changing event for my profession.
A few years ago I saw a movie on you tube that really got me thinking, here it is:
I thought back then: are we about to see a return to that drawing board? Are my children and perhaps even myself, at some point in the future going to work with an interface such as this, with the form-factor of that drawing board I used almost 20 years ago?
A welcome return certainly, but even I thought it was decades off, until I read this:
I firmly believe that this touch interface and the hardware it runs on will arrive eventually, and will seem light years ahead of even that YouTube video, which is really just a projected image from beneath, tracking your hand movements and relaying that to some pretty sophisticated software.
But even I didn’t think it would be this year – if the rumour from Digitimes plays out.
That hardware, with Apple’s Touch Interface, connected to the iTunes AppStore for rock-solid reliability? That is a device that I’ve been waiting for all my life.
I remember a comment I read once concerning a question put to Steve Jobs along the lines of, “If you could release the Mac today, would you do anything differently?”
His answer was along the lines of, “I wouldn’t let anyone write software for it.”
I think his reasoning behind this statement, is the perennial problem that plagues computers: the fact that they are computers.
Anybody with minimal training can come along a write any software they like and release it into the wild. Users can then install it onto their computer and off they go.
This central premise lies at the heart of what a computer is – it runs software, both good and bad.
Coming back to Steve’s comment, even he couldn’t create a time machine and actually do this, but he could (and I think he’s trying and succeeding) to certainly do the next best thing.
Namely, anyone who wants to write software, must have that software approved – by Apple.
This is the current model of the iPhone and iPod Touch. Whether you agree that it’s a good thing or a bad thing, any software that runs on these devices is controlled by Apple. They could even delete it remotely if they wanted to.
Now think of the upcoming tablet.
The current consensus is 7″-10″, that probably runs a variant of the TouchOS, and iWork is installed by default – this means that this is a serious content creation device, not a passive device that you listen to music and watch movies on.
But that means it also runs the AppStore. Which means that the software distribution model is the same – any software is controlled by Apple.
Now speculate – 5 years from now, we will have bigger tablets that run some seriously meaty software (I’m thinking Adobe apps here), and we will still have the same software distribution model.
A device that will, sooner or later replace the mouse-driven desktop, with all application development controlled by Apple.
Software that’s even more reliable than what we have now, with no viruses, spyware or malware, and even if they could be written, there would be no way for those things to even get onto your tablet.
What Steve Jobs is attempting to do with the iPhone, iPod Touch and by extension the range of tablets that they will sooner or later have, is redefine an industry.
Computers and everything that they have ever meant, will be consigned to the history books – and good riddance to them.
Recently on CNNMoney, 8 people gave a rare insight into Steve Jobs, and it makes enlightening reading – choice quotes are:
“He does it in a very black-and-white way, while the rest of the world gets caught up in the gray — or caught up in themselves.” – Andrea Jung
“It struck me that there wasn’t furniture good enough for Steve in the world. He’d rather have nothing if he couldn’t have perfection.” – Larry Ellison
“He set the performance standard for product thinking and product execution that all the rest of us should aspire to hit.” – Marc Andreessen