Wednesday, June 27, 2007

iPhone Update

I got some flak from friends on my original "Apple Impact" post. Most of the complaints regarding missing features in the iPhone and the "openness" or "closedness" of it.

I think overall reaction to the iPhone depends on whether one is using a microscope or a telescope. "What is is" vs. "what it means." I honestly don't care what it is - I am ridiculously confident in my assessment of what it means.

First and foremost, (not that Apple fully understands this), this is not the iPhone. It is an iPod that makes phone calls. I hope Apple doesn't blow this. You have to look the iPhone within the context of iPod product line and price points.

iPod Shuffle: $79
iPod Nano: $149 $199 $249
iPod (Video): $249 $349
Apple TV $299

//Pat's Conjecture:
iPod (Video, new formfactor, touch screen, no phone, no wi-fi) $349
iPod Video Wi-fi $399
iPod Phone small disk - $499
iPod Phone big disk - $599
End Conjecture//

Mac-Mini $599
Mac-Mini $799

If you splice in the prices of Apple TV or Mac-Mini you get a nice curve up to $1,000 by the time you have a monitor. Have you priced a Playstation Portable and necessary accessories? Every kid/teen you see walking around with PSP is down $1,000 bucks, and at that price they still own only a handful of games. So the whole argument that the price is too high is just not relevant here in the USA - where between affluence and credit card debt, $600 for a toy for self or teens just isn't an issue.

This is why "retail drives enterprise", or "consumerprise" or "prosumer" is such a big deal. If I am a large enterprise making billions off of the knowledge capital of my people, then of course $600 is too much. "Bob, we can't outfit sales with these, our revenue per head would drop from $1.5 million per head to $1,499,400 per head - can't do it!"

The whole success of this product will be driven by the fact that it is not a business product. Business products suck. In fact Generation D (Net Generation, Generation-G) will likely evaluate jobs by access to consumer technology vs. business technology.

Old Business vs. New Business

Vista vs. Mac OS X / Ubuntu
Laser Printers vs. Lots of cheap inkjets
PBX-based Phone vs. Skype
Nextel click to talk vs. iPhone
Enterprise Backup vs. Mozy Accounts

And more.

Closed? More closed than my lame phones? Can't be for long - not with a real web browser. Not with widgets. Not with a universe of hackers out there. One of my best friends rails against iTunes because it is "closed." If selecting a set of AAC drm-protected songs in iTunes and clicking the "convert to mp3" button in another application is closed - then I will take closed in the Apple Reality Distortion Field over any product shipped to date by Sony, Nokia, Ericsson, or Microsoft.

OK, Bill Gates did one more major Window's wing-ding after my post declared he was done. And - the product is being sold as iPhone, something I didn't believe would happen. However, I do stand by what I said, long run this is not an iPhone, it is an iPod that makes phone calls. Do we really believe as the news tells us that ATT/Cingular has a 5 year exclusive? Or is it a 5 year exclusive to the "iPhone" brand and by June 29th next year we will all be able to buy an iPod that makes phone calls for use with most major carriers? Fingers crossed.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Future Has Arrived By Popular Demand

Dell's announcement to support Ubuntu, combined with the fact that they appear to be actually promoting and marketing it, is an industry bellwether.

Computers are so ubiquitous that the up-and-coming generation (Gen D - digital?, Gen-G - good enough?) don't care enough to support an OS near-monopoly like Microsoft. They care about their user experience - but they don't care about the details. They don't care about comprehensive platform strategies. Life is a platform. A computer is a disposable device to be consumed like so much Red Bull and Twizzlers. They want color, style, a browser, a way to find applications, a way to chat, and when feeling fey and ancient, an email program.

And they want a user experience that perhaps pretends it is there to serve them, rather than they, the user, are part of some larger commercial purpose. "There are unused icons on your desktop" anyone?

Remember when Dell first started building computers from a supply chain of component vendors (hard drives, disks, video cards, etc)? A significant number of the experts and business types gasped and said "how do you know where the parts come from?", "how will it work without a single vendor building the whole system top to bottom?, "I want a real computer from someone like (fill in blank DEC, NEC, Fujitsu, Data General, IBM) where they built all the parts themselves.

Linux/Ubuntu is a focal point of industry innovation and like Dell did with sourcing innovative high performance components for its hardware boxes, Dell now realizes that the OS is just another high performance component to be made part of the solution.

While you are at it, look at the Dell Servers page if you haven't in a while. The OS is a component; choices like Red Hat, SUSE, VMware, and I would believe XenSource XEN or Virtual Iron XEN sometime soon.

So remember the Ubuntu-Dell deal and then insert the appropriate William Gibson quote about the "future" here.