And so it begins …
Apple are allowing developers to really push the envelope with Web apps.
Check out http://developer.apple.com/webapps
I hadn’t noticed that Safari 4 has some great debugging tools. You can even see the latency of your resources being loaded into the browser.
The faded blue is latency. Very cool.
You enable the tools here …
Lots of new toys to play with.Big software economics
Rare glimpse on the economics of software companies with scale.
It’s believed the Mac BU currently employs around 180 people whose products — including Office, Messenger, and Remote Desktop Client — combine to generate over $350 million in revenues each year.
Say the average person’s annual cost is, say, $US150k. That’s 27m. Even with a lot of marketing spend that’s a good return.
When pressed for details, a spokesperson for the Redmond, Wash.-based software giant would say only that the company expects to release new versions of Office for Mac every 2 to 3 years.
I was hoping the days of 3+ year releases were gone. Seeing the progress that web office companies like Zoho are making in months - imagine how far they’ll go in 3 years.
OSX is being updated every few months. 10.5.4 is almost here. 10.5.3 had quite a few new features. So complexity is no excuse.
I’ve been playing a around a bit with web office tools. The collaboration features are awesome, but they are still clumsy to use. As Silverlight, Flash, AIR, Java and other web hosted runtimes roll out over the next year I’m sure we’ll see office parts that you can embed. You would have to think that’s all going to accelerate well within the 3 year horizon.
It staggers me that the biggest horizontal categories are so ripe for innovation and the door is open so wide. And the rewards for getting it right are so large.
The use-case of office documents are they are ‘hot’ for probably a day - maybe even just an hour of intense collaboration. Once a document is done, 99.99% of them never change again.
Probably 5 times a day I’m hunkered over someone else’s PC collaborating on a document. Or I’m emailing changes around that have to be in series or we have a version control nightmare. That slows collaboration and minimizes review cycles. Worse it’s embarrassing to have to go around again at the last minute. An emotional, painful response. Something you seek when looking for high value problems to solve.
It would be so good if we could use all that processing power on the desktop to deal with the rendering of multiple users attacking a document at once. Easy rollback of changes. Full tracking ability and difference detection. The bandwidth requirements are minimal as it only needs to keep a track of a few people typing and where their mouse is.
Use the power of the computer to empower across the world what people are doing next to each other everyday. It’s such an obvious scenario.
I hope that’s what the Office and MacBU teams are working on.
We are seeing innovation in this space. Zoho seems to be in front technically, speeding past Google. The experience the web guys are gaining in collaborative editing will be invaluable. But I wish they would work on fat client versions as well. They seem reluctant to charge. Hard to find any pricing info on Zoho. I think they should charge so they can accelerate investment.
These numbers show it is a high value space. New entrants getting close to the sacred cow will hopefully drive faster innovation in Office.Sproutcore
If you were blown away by the MobileMe interface, then this link is very, very interesting on a number of levels.
Google needs an open web because it can’t compete and sell ads if Adobe or Microsoft infect the open web with proprietary Flash or Silverlight plugins and subsequently convert web content into opaque binaries instead of open HTML.
I remember Pink, Taligent and Copeland. Man that goes back a while.
That makes SproutCore a light Cocoa alternative for deploying web apps that look and feel like Mac OS X desktop apps. At WWDC, Dr. Michael B Johnson of Pixar gave a lunchtime presentation where he pointed out that if you don’t need 64-bit addressing, multithreading, or other desktop-only features, it makes a lot of sense to deploy apps using the web.
But aren’t web apps awful? They historically have been, particularly in the days when every server response required a page load. The development of Ajax technologies, which allow the current page to draw new data from the server asynchronously in the background, has helped. Modern Ajax websites such as Flickr offer drag and drop features, and Google’s use of Ajax in its web apps has made them more desktop-like, but web apps are often well behind those designed for the desktop in terms of a usable interface.
SproutCore helps push things forward; it keeps rich interaction local within the user’s browser and supports offline functionality, making web apps behave more like desktop apps and less like the constantly reloading HTML pages that users dislike. They also look like desktop apps, and in particular can look like Mac OS X desktop apps.
The SproutCore framework also solves a lot of problems for web developers. It takes care of browser incompatibility issues to run cross-platform in Safari, Firefox, or Internet Explorer 6/7. It also makes it easy to leverage the fancy CSS features of modern browsers.
On Apple SaaS …
Apple already has a silent lead in the consumer “Software as a Service” market with .Mac; While Google, Yahoo, and MSN have built models around pushing ads to fund their online mail, photos, and other applications, Apple has been quite unique in being actually able to sell its .Mac service to subscribers. Everybody wants to do what Apple is actually doing.
Fascinating. Another few bites of the Apple strategy revealed.Interaction Design example
We really believe in design for competitive advantage. So its great seeing examples of the design process.
iPhone take two
After a day to digest the iPhone news I have a few more thoughts.
They are going after a very broad market:
- Kids. Addition of parental controls makes sense and I’m not aware of any other phones doing that. Clever.
- Consumers. They are hitting a price point that makes this a fairly compelling device at the moderate to high end consumer level.
- Small Business Owners. Integrating the iPhone with push email and shared contact services gives smb’s access to services normally associated with enterprise software. Questions remain over if they will allow hosted domains, or if the client applications will work with Google Mail.
- Enterprise. It may take another version but this is a credible first offer to Enterprise customers.
The breadth of this is also noticeable in the simultaneous launch in 20 countries, coordination of device and hosted services with MobileMe and embracing Windows users. Even the way that the country sub-sites all updated was impressive. This is an awesome execution project. Compare to HP who launched 50 new products today, including a gorgeous looking laptop, that I can’t find on HP.com.
They are also going Enterprise. Not just iPhone but broadly with Exchange support in Snow Leopard, the next update to the MacOS. This was overshadowed but is big news on its on.
Apple have become a broad execution company. What other companies are executing simultaneously on so many fronts - to this quality?
As well as this, it’s hard to think of another company that can hype up the entire world like Apple can. They have the marketing side cracked as well. Nuts.
There are a few potentially insidious bits. Coated in sugar.
The distribution network of iTunes is potent and quite reasonable priced at 30% margin which includes hosting and credit card payments. As it goes to so many countries all ISV’s need to think - do we have an iPhone app strategy just to get access to that channel. That is very interesting for SaaS vendors. Software + Services to get the distribution.
The application notification service ties Apple into such a wealth of information. Yet it makes sense to solve the background application issue. This is a scary/brilliant part of their strategy. Very, very clever.
The MobileMe applications were slick. The demo’s looked like some of the the best web apps I’ve seen to date. More importantly, here is a compelling Software + Services model.
So Apple gets hardware, software, clips the ticket on apps, and has regular SaaS revenue. A multilevel, vertically integrated cash machine.
Who is doing this stuff at Apple? The very few exec’s they wheel out don’t really blow you away and have gaffed a few times. It can’t just be SJ. There must be a very tight strategy team in there somewhere.
Will I get an iPhone? Depends on the soft keyboard experience. I assume they’ve learnt a lot in the last year and it will be improved. The BlackBerry is still the ‘power email’ device.
I don’t think Vodafone locally know too much yet but the burning questions are
- What if you’re already on an Enterprise plan?
- Visual Voicemail?
- Mobile data rates?
A lot of stuff came together today. A few holes but the breadth of execution is unprecendented. Fanboy or not, that’s what impresses me.July 11
New Zealand is on the official country list for July 11 iPhone 3G launch. Who’d have thunk this a few months ago?
About to skim through the keynote but from what I can tell there are some interesting hooks.
- After panning RIM for a single point of failure in their email service Apple does the same with an central, Apple only, app notification service, instead of background applications
- The have developed their own push email service. I wonder what Google will do with their mail - can they use the same push mechanism or will it be Apple only?
More later …
Q: I wonder if MobileMe supports hosted domains?
And on fake Steve …
Did you see it? Were you watching? Were you there? People, word up. That. Just. Happened. A faster, better iPhone, for as little as 200 bucks. Yeah. You should have seen the faces in the crowd. For a moment they were all just sitting there with this glazed, worshipful, vaguely confused look on their faces. It was the same look Joan Baez had on her face the first time she slept with me, right after I finished — just this curious look like, Who are you? What planet do you come from? Why do I hear angels singing? How did you do that to my lady parts, you strange intense monkey man?
Just saw this …
Snow Leopard will also include out-of-the-box support for Microsoft Exchange 2007 and is scheduled to ship in about a year.
Mac goes Enterprise!?!3G iphone will run on Telecom’s new network
Confirmation looks to have arrived on what chipsets are in the new 3G iPhone to be released this Tuesday.
quad-band GSM support (as we currently have), A-GPS, and tri-band UMTS / HSDPA — which would make the new iPhone(s) 3G-capable in just about every market in the world.
It covers 850MHz and 2100MHz which is the new Telecom network.
Lost of shipping information around that Apple has been flooding the US with unmarked boxes and even Australian retailers have received packages embargoed until Tuesday. So iPhone 3G units may be available in volume sooner than expected.
We should know all Tuesday morning.If I was in charge at Microsoft
We’re a Microsoft Gold partner and really appreciate our relationship with MS. Lots of friends there.
Only a few years ago the Microsoft powerhouse was unstoppable. You couldn’t even imagine Microsoft could have a competitor and there were calls to break MS up.
Then two fronts happened. The Internet, which challenged the lock in of the desktop model, and Apple came back.
It’s a fascinating tech story that thousands of people commentate on. But this article was a bit of a wake up call as to where MS is at.
Over the past couple of years, Microsoft’s already problematic reputation in some circles — as the soulless, power-hungry purveyor of lackluster products — has suffered a series of self-inflicted wounds. It spent two years and $500 million on the media blitz around the long-delayed Windows Vista launch, only to see the January 2007 “Wow” campaign, which likened Microsoft’s new operating system to Woodstock and the fall of the Berlin Wall, derided as arrogant and creatively void. Vista itself sold poorly, leading to price cuts of up to 40%. Worst of all, the flop bred a new generation of Microsoft haters. “Microsoft has really lost control of its image,” says Rob Enderle, an influential advisory analyst for tech companies including Dell, HP, and Microsoft. And with its two most formidable competitors — Apple and Google — boasting their own consumer cults, that’s the last thing Microsoft can afford to do.
I’m sure Microsoft strives to do better but the fact is as companies grow it is just hard to be nimble and the technology market allows new entrants to come in unencumbered and change the rules. In that climate long term brand demise is entirely predictable. But at the same time a cheeky challenger, smaller with a lot more focus, but big enough to make an impact has been accelerating that brand erosion.
Nothing is doing more to carve away at Microsoft’s reputation — and contribute to its loss of market share — than the assault launched by Apple two years ago in the form of the “Mac vs. PC” spots featuring The Daily Show satirist John Hodgman. The ads became immediate pop-culture fixtures, spawning more than 1,000 video spoofs on YouTube and taking home last year’s Grand Effie, the ad industry’s highest honor for effectiveness. “Nobody messes with anyone in the tech industry the way Apple has messed with Microsoft,” says Enderle. “It’s the first time I’ve ever seen a major national campaign that disparages a competitor, and the competitor just sits back and takes it. If somebody tried to do that to Oracle, you wouldn’t be able to find the body.”
It is so interesting to watch this battle on such a big and public scale.
Microsoft is reinventing itself. SharePoint is growing like a wildfire in the enterprise and the cash keeps rolling in.
Far from being complacent Microsoft has lots of smart people and lots of money. They know they’ve missed the market in a number of public areas and that has removed any corporate arrogance they might have been accused of a few years ago.
They will have learned a lot of the past few years, and especially over the last few months on the so far failed Microhoo bid and the unrestrained reaction from the community.
I expect Microsoft to reinvent themselves over the next few years. Now there is real competition and that leads to innovation. That is great for the industry.
What would you do if you were Microsoft? If big Steve tapped you on the shoulder and said, your turn?
Here’s my strategy …
- A lightweight operating system. Forget backward compatibility. Just needs to run Office v.next which has to be compelling. Make it not need a hardware upgrade. Less is more. Open Source it.
- Leverage the Office platform for a powerful Software + Services model. Collaborative Office has to be the goal.
- Win the Enterprise. That means double down on SharePoint, but make it a database, not a collection of objects.
- In fact promote everyone in the SQL Server team. The Enterprise is about databases.
- March out everyone in the Exchange storage team. Exchange is your corporate anchor. There has been no innovation for years. You need to port it over SQL Server immediately. Shoot anyone that stops you. Mail is a database application. Period.
- Clean sheet redesign or your mail client. Mail is broken at all levels and is the most important application.
- Buy a big Services company. Maybe HP. Microsoft has to be the new IBM. Straight partnering won’t cut it anymore.
- SilverLight has to win, or buy Adobe. Don’t let Apple get them or you’re done.
- Resurrect Internet Explorer for OSX. You’re going to loose OS market share in the short to mid term, at least have a chance to keep them in the browser.
- Lock in Dell. As computer hardware gets cheaper the OS becomes the biggest cost. They’ll go Linux unless you fix those relationships with a great OS. You need a tighter hardware/software partnership. Surely together you can build a stunning computer. Look at OLPC2.
- Significantly up your Open Source strategy across the board. That will win back the geeks.
- Win the SMB market. No one there yet and they already have Office.
- Do lots of small acquisitions to fill in the strategy.
- Platform as a Service (PaaS) .Net and Windows Server with compelling licensing.
- Sack all the existing design guys and hire a design dictator who overseas everything. Microsoft Web properties, packaging and applications are ‘over designed’. You need someone who understands less is more. Not Chris Bangle but like a Chris Bangle at BMW who drove design.
- Do a total redesign of the Windows Mobile interface. It is not a scaled down desktop computer. It is a handheld device. Hire some RIM guys to do it properly. Or buy RIM.
- Maybe use some cash to buy or lock in a global fibre network. Vertical integrate your Enterprise Software stack with the network layer. Then you can QoS connected applications and add value to the stack with Enterprise Messaging Services, off site back ups etc.
- Xbox/Media center has to be default lounge computer. Double down but really model user scenarios so it works as people want to.
It’s a big list but MS has a big team, the brains and the resources.
Adding an iPhone interface to Xero obviously makes a lot of sense. It’s a web application but optimized for iPhone delivery. It’s not the full Xero application so we want to hear what scenario’s will be useful.
As m.xero.com is a web interface, what we have done requires a connection. Probably OK for most scenarios but there are some ocaasions where it would be useful to have a native iPhone application. Expense claims would be a good example.
However the way that Apple are controlling the distribution of iPhone applications, my understanding is that we cannot just put up an iPhone expense management application for our customers to download. We have to put it up through the store.
This is fine for iPhone only applications.
As a SaaS offering we already have a billing link with our customers. We may not want to charge extra for an iPhone application. We’d just want our customers to download something from our website to improve their experience.
Does anyone know how Apple is planning to handle these partial iPhone applications that extend other services that not primarily based on the iPhone?Pocket Accounting
Out today is an iPhone version of Xero.
I’ve been using it for a few days and it’s really cool. With the upcoming launch of the iPhone 3G we wanted to get it out there and see what scenario’s people want. Expense claims is an obvious one we’ll add soon.
Here is the press release …
Xero now available on the iPhone
Xero announced today the release of a customised Apple iPhone version of their popular online accounting system.
This allows people who have an iPhone (or iPod Touch) to use Xero to access all their bank balances and recent transactions from anywhere. It also provides the ability to call any contact with one simple tap.
Xero Chief Executive Rod Drury said this gives business owners easy access to crucial information at all times - one quick glance at a small device in their pocket provides unlimited flexibility and mobility.
“We believe the iPhone is a breakthrough device and with signals that a 3G version will soon be available in our core markets of New Zealand, the United Kingdom and Australia we believe now is a good time to introduce an iPhone version of Xero and get feedback from customers.
“We believe online accounting is the core information system for small businesses. With Xero, businesses are beginning to see the power of linking their mobile front line staff to the back office.”
Xero for the iPhone is available immediately to all Xero customers at no extra charge, customers can simply login at http://m.xero.com. It’s also available for anyone to try for free by signing up at www.xero.com.
We also added blog comments today as we shifted to WordPress. Tell us what else you want here.Vodafone gets the iPhone
Well that happened faster that expected.
If you think the iPhone is a break through device, like I do, then this is a very significant announcement for the local mobile industry.
Previously the Vodafone Global CEO has ruled out the Apple dance. So it appeared that Telecom NZ had a great chance to scoop an exclusive iPhone deal.
The first wave of the carrier deals done by Apple favoured the challenger carrier that did not have an investment in content. Locally Vodafone is doing a roaring trade here on music downloads so getting the iPhone would mean some complex business issues.
In contrast Telecom had everything to gain.
As the mobile challenger launching a new, non differentiated, network the iPhone would have given Telecom a big leg up, made it instantly cool, and provided instant content. Having iPhone pricing in the product line up would have been useful alongside expensive world mode phones. Telecom would have had an easier job rebuilding their brand around an exclusive iPhone deal.
While a positive step for Vodafone the marginal benefit to them is much less than the marginal loss to Telecom.
So Vodafone needs to work out what iPhone/iTunes means to it’s current services. Telecom missed an awesome opportunity. It would be interesting to know how far into it they got. Would be tough being a single carrier from NZ competing against a multi-country Vodafone group.
For content developers I hope we see a Vodafone partnering program that provides an opportunity to develop here and use the Vodafone global network as a channel to market.
This is a significant event for the industry.Things - new must have OSX app
If you’re anything like me you wake up at 3 in the morning and remember something you haven’t done and often have to get up and do it so you don’t forget again.
I’ve been looking for a Getting Things Done (G-T-D) type application that was fun and easy to use.
I think I found it. Things: http://culturedcode.com/things/
Still in beta but looking good. The Tag based metaphor seems to work.
I’ve assigned Option-T as a hot key to pop up the Quick Entry pane. This makes it real easy to throw in tasks and sort them out later.
I’m enjoying using it and already feel more in control. It has some team functionality that I’ll play with next week and an iPhone version coming so expect it to have a service/sync component.
Metabase is XML so good scope to have fun with that as well.Mobility wars heating up
The phone wars are about to heat up again with the 3G iPhone just around the corner.
The 3G Blackberry has been delayed slightly but their issue will be their browser. No developers I know develop specifically for the BlackBerry browser, but with the iPhone having a mainstream browser you do think about how your app might render on an iPhone.
It also seems that one of the major iPhone developer limitations, the ability for apps to stay resident in the background, has been fixed in the recent sdk builds.
Active Sync makes the iPhone accessible in the Enterprise (some would argue killing Windows Mobile in the process) and we’re starting to see some neat little ‘meshed’ productivity apps coming out that live both on your Mac, Phone and Web like EverNote.
I use a number of BlackBerry apps but they are not as easy to use, and screen constrained.
I still prefer the hard keyboard of the Blackberry but I have both a BB and an iPod Touch with me most of the time. So as apps get delivered on the iPhone I might trade off the keyboard.
I’m sure Apple has learned a lot about their soft keyboard over the last year so seeing how that performs in the new version of iPhone software will be interesting.TimeCapsule installed
The TimeCapsule I ordered turned up today.
Setup was easy and now the Mac’s in the house are wirelessly backed up. Good for peace of mind.
Just a few years ago thinking you would have a terrabyte of storage in your house seemed a bit ridiculous.
What now seems ridiculous is that you can’t afford to offsite backup to your ISP. Backing up your home laptop to your home NAS seems to be only a small step along the reducing risk continuum.
I hope there is a seamless iPhoto Server coming soon. The hardware and network is in place for it.Giant Icons
Somehow today I grew giant icons on my desktop.
It took me a while to find how to put them back. Command J allows you to alter desktop Icon Size and Grid.Quick Mac Tip
I just remembered a great tip for working with an external mouse on a Mac. I had forgot to set it up when I changed machines.
I use a Microsoft Intellimouse with a Click Wheel. The Click Wheel is great for scrolling but you can also Click. I set it up to Expose that without reaching for the keyboard I can shrink all windows down and pick the window I want.
It took me a while to find where you set up the Click Wheel to launch Expose. It’s not under Mouse Settings but under Expose.
Under System Preferences> Expose & Spaces set ‘All windows’ to Mouse Button 3.
This will change your life.
Also don’t forget the two fingered right click.Air thoughts
A week into the MacBook Air and I rate it.
I went for the cheapest one, 80GB hard drive and 2 GB of ram. The disk is only 4800 rpm so it’s no rocket ship but doesn’t seem slow.
The thinness is fantastic. You just take it with you.
The one USB port has not been a problem at all. I just plug into my Dell 24″ monitor which has 3 ports. Also the new Apple thin keyboards have a USB port as well.
I had a few pleasant surprises as I migrated across machines. Copying my iTunes directory meant that my iPod Touch was still in sync. Wasn’t expecting that.
I have a big external drive connected to my Dell monitor so TimeMachine works well. Whenever I plug in it just chugs away. Though Apple is doing some stupid things with TimeMachine over AirDisk. Here one day and gone the other … Apple says Time Machine over AirPort Disk is unsupported feature
The Remote Disk feature works well. Don’t miss having an optical drive at all.
The biggest pain is the ongoing lack of an iPhoto or iTunes server. Can’t believe no one has done this yet.
Still feels like the Air will have a fashion life of 20 minutes as SSD prices come down and new Mac products are released in a few months.
The existing MacBooks are still absolutely fine and it will be interesting to see what they do with them in the next revision.
My dream is still the form factor of an Air, 120GB+ SSD, and ability to drive a 30″ external monitor.Platform opportunities
Over the last few months we’ve seen a number of significant computing opportunities arrive that provide access to massive markets for new ideas.
Developing applications inside FaceBook was a good first start.
The iPhone SDK is a big game changer. Reports are coming in that the iPhone is the biggest mobile computing browser already. Whatever you think the iPhone is huge and a number of companies are seizing the opportunity.
Today we heard about Google App Engine. This allows you to deploy your application into Google’s server cloud. Just write your code, load it up and promote. This reduces barriers to entry significantly. Amazon has been doing this for a while but what is different about Google App Engine is the that it allows you to link into Google Accounts.
Check out this simple list management program … http://to-done.appspot.com/
You login using your google credentials. So imagine all the little useful applications you can write that leverage that simple logon mechanism.
But looking a bit further out this post from David Recordon nails what gets me excited.
Imagine if Google Accounts added support for the (upcoming) OpenSocial REST APIs. All of a sudden, each of these App Engine sites could start injecting activity and querying for activity across each other.
If done right, this really could be the first shipping glimpse of the distributed social web that there is to come.
Winer has some strong thoughts as well - Early notes on GoogleApps
I’m really pissed at Microsoft. Why? They wasted billions on Vista when they should have been virtualizing Windows and making their developers’ investments apply to the net. I know it sounds outlandish, but it really isn’t. Amazon doesn’t offer EC2 for Windows, just Linux. And I’m stuck with two Windows boxes at my hosting company, hosting a dead fucking end. My bet on Microsoft in the late 90s just ran out of gas.
Microsoft is investing big on virtualization, and data centers, so while not at the party yet there will be a big push from them in this space in the next year. There is a lot of .Net code out there waiting for this and .Net developers will demand it. They’re invested and don’t really want to learn a new languages like Ruby, Cocoa or Python.
Regardless, computing is moving away from the traditional ‘build an application over an operating system’ model of past at frightening speed. There is so much opportunity opening up right now as the technology world shifts into this new ‘application in the cloud’ model and incumbents don’t get how big a shift this is.Mac Migration
Migrating between Mac’s was quite easy, even though the Migration Assistant didn’t work. In some ways it is better to do it manually as you can start again. My disk usage is much less that before.
OSX is quite clean in regards to where users files are so the process is straight forward and fastest with a USB disk. The general steps are …
- Under your user folder the main things you want to copy are your documents, iTunes Library and iPhoto Library. Locate these.
- Your local Entourage Cache will be under \Documents\Microsoft User Data and is probably huge. As its on Exchange you don’t need to bring that across.
- Copy these up to a USB drive
- Set yourself up on your new machine
- Run the software update to get all the latest stuff
- Install Safari 3.1
- Install Office 2008 and set up Entourage. Your Exchange will then start syncing across the network
- Copy back your documents, iTunes and iPhoto Library
- Install your other applications
- To clean up your old machine, put the Leopard Disk in the drive and reboot holding ‘C’. This will boot from the DVD and allows you to do a clean install and reformat your old hard drive.
Of course the trick to getting a new computer is to understand your office hierarchy and the needs of each person down the line. There is normally a flurry of excitement when a new person joins the company though it may generate a chain of activity as demonstrated in the following diagram …
The positioning has begun already for who gets a slightly used generation one MacBook Air in a few months :)