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Everyday I talk to companies that are starting down a path, away from the old Windows centric paradigm, to do something "different".  Sometimes that is a fringe purchase of a new Mac here or there (see the CEO with a Macbook Air); sometimes it is a commitment to use iWork or "Open Office" instead of of MSFT Office; sometimes this is wholesale "switching".  My favorite is the company that makes the decision to go all Macs, and then says "OK, now, what kind of software runs on these things?" 

For me, here, the Enterprise is business.  Companies large and small.  I am facinated by and interested in the use of Apple products in any kind of business.

How Apple products are are faring in the Enterprise is a great topic of discussion. I am watching companies providing solutions (I work for one), and observing how Apple talks to the Enterpise.

Sunday
Feb072010

The iPad's Market (not REALLY newly invented)

I am continuing to closely follow the editorial around the iPad.  It's so interesting to me that the hype is NOT settling down. How are we ever going to be able to wait for March and April??

I am especially interested in those arguments that have the iPad failing to revolutionize the Tablet category.  Clearly, with expectations SO thru the roof, there is plenty of room from even the ultimate fan-boy to be at least a little disppointed.  But it's a little early to declare success/failure on changing this market. Is this really a NEW market?  Most would agree that Apple has been tremendously successful in taking on an existing market and game-changing it. It's been that way since the orginal Mac, but think about the latest successful market trumps: Music/media players, phones, even laptops. I have heard Dvorak and others negate the potential of the "tablet" market.  The grumbling is that this "space" doesn't exist because no one needs these things, and even Apple cannot just create a market that doesn't exist.

I disagree.  I believe this market does exist, it is burgeoning, and it would be a real market, even with out Apple jumping in.  It's the Kindle market.  I see more Kindles in the wild every day.  My parents use one!  Remember the Nook sales before the holidays? And all those e-readers announced at CES?  

And then there is the Netbook. Come on, who doesn't agree with Steve Jobs that these Netbooks suck? But you know, if you want some internet, and you need to type, and you have to deal with your company's spreadsheets, you have to have a device that is more than phone, and certainly more than an e-reader. It sure is nice to be able to lug something around that smaller and lighter than a full laptop.

I actually see here market within the Market Steve pointed out.  Apple has even come in between their own "middle ground" not just in between phones and laptops (see pic above), it's in between Kindle's and other Tablet PC's.  The iPad will kill Kindle-type devices, and shave off the wasted overhead of under-performing Netbooks, making a device that will do what MANY, MANY people want the device to do.

Lets tie back to the enterpise. After all, we are trying to put Apple technology in the enteprise here, right?  Think about the executive, dragged into technology. That executive was forced to use first a laptop, and then the Blackberry. Those are the guys (& women) that are EMBRACING Apple technolgy.  You see them at the airport, with their Macbook pros, with their iPhones.  They are also that CEO that use a Mac, while their entire business is run on Windows.

THATS the way into the Enterprise (see my trojan horse post). This takes it to another level. They have a briefcase, slide the iPad in there.  Now there is email, which is really what they want.  But also internet (let's check the stock portfolio). There is content (back episodes of Lost), and music.  The one missing component that this modernizing exec needed on his/her iPhone (besides a screen that wouldn't hurt the eyes) is a tool for writing memos, maybe doing a few quick things on a spread sheet.  COVERED. And hey, got to share with the rest of the company, export to the MSFT formats .xls, .doc.  COVERED.

The reviews and editorials will say what they must to draw eyeballs. Time will tell how the market will respond.  As is the usual case with Apple, there is no apparent "Enterprise Strategy" for the iPad. But I am sure we will see the Enteprise story unfold. Top Down.  Stay tuned.

Monday
Feb012010

iPad is here (well, in 60-90 days anyway)

It's here. It's done.  It's been announced. The cat is out of the bag. And now we know what the thing is. iPad.  We have heard Steve's vision.  Here is what I have to say about it.  I was expecting more (I am still expecting more). As an Apple/Mac over-enthusiast, I say, this looks like a nice Gen 1. So nice that I cannot wait for Gen 2. I won't.  I will be jumping in now. Can I order now Apple?  Now?  How about now?

I have been an Apple/Mac junkie since the original Mac back in the 80's. I was back and forth with DOS and Mac and Windows and Mac in the 90's. The iPod brought me squarely back in the fold in '01, but my Apple/Mac fanaticism really exploded with the iPhone. The Mac was my computer back 2007. I also had a separate phone, PDA, and iPod.  Once it was all the iPhone, it all came together.  My great computing and music experience were now my everything, with me all the time.  Over the next few years, all Windows computers in my life were replaced by Macs. Today, I have to admit, I am pretty committed. 

I was at Macworld when the iPhone was announced. It was impressive. It was obvious that it would be a big for the Mac faithful.  It wasn't so clear that it would burst out beyond the Macheads. It wasn't a no-brainer for me.  I had a long term relationship invested in my Palm/Treo. I didn't NEED a replacement. Maybe, when my contract ran out, but let's not get drastic.  But then I touched it. I held it. That changed everything. I couldn't put it down. And once I had one, and actually used it, suddenly it was in the middle of my life, my Apple experience with me all the time. The App Store put it over the top.  The iPhone/Mac combo continues to change everything for me, as it continues to evolve.  I see the iPad as that next evolution.

I read a great article by Troy Jenson in Seeking Alpha on the iPad and the rush to early conclusions on the the new wonder i-Product from Apple. The post is loaded with valid comparisons of the iPad announcement to the iPhone announcement back in 2007.  Even as a fan-boy back then, I did not see the potential. I did not understand. Neither did plenty of others.  I had forgotten all the haters back then, all of the panning. The haters are certainly still around, waiting for the iPad to fail.  Even those eagerly waiting for the iPad found some things to be disapointed with.

Even though it didn't have everything I wanted or predicted (yet), I feel good about it.  I want it. I know it will continue to get better.  Maybe even before the 60 to 90 days are up. More importantly, I am confident it will continue to evolve my overall Apple/Mac experience. I am VERY eager to see how this device works it's way into the Enterprise. I know it will.  More on the iPad in the Enterprise, later.  Now Apple?  Now are you ready for my money? Now?

Wednesday
Jan202010

Tablet, Slate, iPad, MacTablet Predictions

Earlier this week Apple made it official.  The day I have had on my calendar as the "official rumor date" became real when Apple sent out invitations to dozens, maybe hundreds of media people (See invite, above). I don't know that anything really can be read into the artwork of the invitation, although I am sure many will try. In all likelihood, after we know everything, the invite graphic and words will all make perfect sense. My guess is at the end of this post.

If you don't know the Apple Tablet background story, here is nice summary of how we got to this fever pitch situation of anticipation for the forthcoming Apple-Product-to-Change-the-World.

I now have my countdown on.  Tomorrow when I post my Twitter update, it will be 6 DAYS (#6DAYS). I am taking this opportunity to make my iTablet, iSlate, iPad, Macbook predictions:

 

Prediction #1:Content: Content is the easy prediction.  The would-be content providers were the ones to break the story originally.  First with that NY Times' Bill Keller spilling the beans with the "impending Apple slate" comment.  Since then, it's been a continuous flow of rumor and speculation on how Apple could change the media landscape.  This seems like a no-brainer to me. Apple has iTunes, it is the difference maker.  Just like iTunes was the difference maker for the iPod over the many mostly nameless MP3 players available back in 2001.  All of those Tablets announced at CES were fine, cool looking devices.  However, among the pundits I listen to, every positive review seemed to be followed by these two questions:

  1. "OK, what do we DO with this thing?"
  2. "How does this compare to what Apple is about to do?"

Next Wednesday, Apple will not only show off the most elegant of Tablet devices, they will explain to us exactly how we can use it to make our lives better.  There will be the content, and it will be optimized for this format, in a compelling way.  It WILL give us a reason to pay for content again. We will WANT this new exciting format.  We will almost immediately see the family fighting over this device. Remember how that family demand evolved with the home computer?

Subscriptions will make a comeback. One of the great aversions subscriptions today, electronic or paper, is managing them. I don't feel like I have all that many, but it still feels like too many. I cannot take having to manage them on all the individual websites. Urgh. I see some relief here from Apple, from iTunes.  Just like Paypal has made purchasing from various ecommerce sites, watch iTunes begin to feel like a credit card, in the air (I hate the term cloud), always available as an easy payment method.  Remember those rumors of Apple working on a Paypal killer? This is the natural place to bring that functionality into play.

Prediction #2:Keyboard. Of course this Tablet has to have some kind of keyboard. The easy guess is that it will be some variation of the iPhone keyboard. But really? I am going be thumb typing everything? This device is going to be my primary interface with the world, and I have to use my thumbs on glass even morethan I do today? My hands hurt already, I am not going to make it if that is the only answer. Here again I believe that Steve and company will help us.  I cannot predict exactly what it will be, but I am betting they address this pain (literally for me).  I could see some variation of the bluetooth keyboad that comes with the new iMacs. I could see some other kind of virtual keyboard.  Remember the haptic iPhone technology rumors from 2008?  I love the idea of this NEW haptic technology that Apple supposedly has a patent for, with a keyboard which will come and go as I need it.  That could rock! Anyway, there will be SOMETHING cool with keyboards in the tablet that I predict will help my thumb tendonitis.

Prediction #3:Connectivity.  One of the really nice features of the Kindle is the permanent connectivity capability. Any iPhone user just LOVES the idea of having a device that has the persistent internet connection without having to pay EVEN MORE monthly subscription fees (see Prediction #2). I am going to get this device, but I am NOT excited add more to the blood money I pay every month to AT&T for my data plans (and don't get me started about their family plans). So I will have one for myself.  Immeidately, the family will start pulling it away from me for themselves. I sure cannot see buying two or more of these devices and have even MORE data plans.  If it wasn't for the steep data plan toll, everyone in my family would already have their own iPhones.  This has GOT to stop. And now is the time. You have to believe that believe that Apple is in an ideal bargaining position with wireless companies around the world, and especially here in the US.  AT&T has to want to keep their goose that lays the golden eggs. You know Verizon would love a few of those eggs themselves.

Something will be done here. One though I had was for the Tablet to be able to do some kind of tethering, out of the box. How sweet would that be? It would be a terrific use of my unlimited data which I am sure I barely scratch the surface of.  This would also be a terrific use of the purported "iPhone Nano", as some kind of specific tethering phone. Now THAT is a phone I would put in the hands of the whole family. I am sure this tablet couldn't work on a free plan, like that which comes with the Kindle.  However, either Apple or their carrier partner has to address the potential for outrageous data expenses. If they don't it will put an artifical govenor on the potential exponential growth possibilities for this thing.

Prediction #4:Something for the App Developers.  As I look back at the evolution of the Mac and forward to the future of the iPhone, I have to admit I get a small pit in my stomach.  With all the grief that Apple has taken for the App Store acceptance policies, and with the continuing expansion of the Andriod platform, I woried about the iPhone developers. I think back to the original Mac vs. PC wars of the early 90's and have concern that the developers will slowly migrate to the more "open" Android platform to escape the dreaded App store review process. I am not so worried today about mass iPhone abandonment, like we saw with Mac developers (many of whom have come back by the way). Like in the PC space, there can certainly be a comfortable market penetration for Apple where they can continue to reap profits.  But what can Apple do to keep the "i" platform "the" platform? How can they make this platorm the preferred platform above all others?  For now, it's easy. The iPhone/iPod Touch market is the biggest App platform with the largest customer base.  However, it is completely conceivable that the Android customer base could surpass the iPhone's. It is in Apple's great best interest to keep the best developers, and the best Apps, on their platform.

Here is where Apple's purchase of Quattro Wireless comes in.  With Quattro, Apple can provide developers an easy way to insert ad (revenue) opportunities, in the application.  I can even see tools right in the SDK. I am not a developer, and I cannot provide the specifics of how this could work. We may not even see the specifics until WWDC. But there is certainly a reason Apple wanted Ad Mob, and purchased Quattro. I do not believe Apple's aim is to get into Google's core ad business as a primary business. It would make sense that they are just trying to ensure they continue to grow the community and keep eveyone's interests in line.  Happy developers, making money, keeps a community thriving.

One Final Prediction: Name: Pallet (get it? from the invite graphic?)

SIX DAYS!

Monday
Jan112010

iTablet, iSlate, iPad, MacTablet thingy (it's coming)

Holy cow is it reaching a fever pitch.  The news starts with "Steve Jobs is Happy" last month, and runs all the way up to new minutia being released at CES, when Apple ISN'T EVEN THERE.  I love this.  We got to the end of the week last week, and the bloggers and analysts, and pundits are comparing every thing announced and introduced at CES to an Apple product that doesn't even exist.  It's got some assuming that Apple will most certainly succeed (me amongst them).

Can we call what's coming? Well, certainly many are trying. Back in 2007, the fervor that surrounded the potential coming of the iPhone made for LOTS of prognosticating.  There were many, many guesses at what was coming. Few were right on.

There does seem to be a broad belief that destiny device could change the technology marketplace today, and create new opportunities. I firmly believe what's coming will be different enough to change the industry.

I have some ideas about what is coming.  I have my own predictions. I think mine are a pretty original.  I have a couple of weeks to get them down. I think they are part of what is going to make this device game changing.  I heard Andy Ihanatko say recently that he thinks he might have figured out about 50% of what is coming. He suspects the other 50% will surprise him and blow him away.  I am with Andy.

It's almost time for the game to change.  It's almost time to mark that point in time that we look back to and say "remember back when we DIDN'T have these Tablet thing-ies?" (Mac-tablet-netbook-thing-y courtesy of MacOSken).

We won't know the name until Steve spits it out.  We will be hanging on his words.  I suspect they will surprise us with the name and how it is positioned.  I await this evolution, eagerly.

Hurry up!

 

Monday
Oct262009

Mac Mini Server - the Talk of the Town (oh, & Apple Stepping up!)

I was immediately drawn to the Mac Mini announcement from Apple last week. The Mini has always been a great server for small business, a number of our customers have been using them for years.  Still, prior to the most recent Apple announcement, it felt a rogue act. It seemed like more of Apple being passively interested the Enterprise.

But when I saw Mac Mini Server announcement, and then Apple's offer to send small businesses an evaluation copy of Snow Leopard Server, I was excited.  This is Apple not just paying lip service to Business.  It's more than a footnote in a Stevenote (Philnote).  This is Apple not just stepping with a cool Business product, but marketing too.  As we have all seen, when Apple marketing gets behind things, BIG things happen.

Danny O'Brien, writing for the Irish Times made a comment in a recent article on the new Mac Mini Server that struck a chord with me.  He pointed out that this appears to be "one of the few times when Apple has followed what it has seen its customers do with its hardware, instead of dictating to them what they should be doing."  Could it be that the tide is turning?  Apple in the Enterprise IS happening, I am happy to see Apple advancing the cause.

There are already plenty of Mini Server users out there.  There is a company, macminicolo.net, dedicated to providing Mini server for businesses in their Colocation center.  Talk about commitment to a product.  These guys have even set up a helpful page for those considering setting up a Mini Server for the first time.  How sweet is that?  Have ANY question about Mac Mini servers?  Just go to http://www.macminiserver.com/.  This company is impressively all over this emerging market.

If you are interested in doing analysis on a Mac server as an option, Apple Insider has a terrific comparison of a Mac server to a generic PC server, in honor of the new Mini server.  My favorite plus on the Ben Franklin is the $460 Windows Server requirement, providing only five server users.  After that it's paying CAL fees to the piper (MSFT).  Can you say "dis-incentive for growth"?

Additional resources are out there on the benefits in general of a server, if you are so Mac inclined.  TUAW, The Unofficial Apple Weblog, has some helpful thoughts on Mac Mini server benefits.  Squidoo has a Mac Mini Server Guide, with lots of resources.

And let me not forget to mention the lovely video compendium that Apple has put together in iTunes to help get the user up to speed on the Apple Server.  You really do get the "MyFirstServer" kind of feel here, as described in TechWorld post on this Mini developement.  Lot's of sources trying to educate the potential masses.

Where there is this much talk around town, and around the Blogosphere, it's a good indicator that there is something happening here.  Apple stepping up is showing a toe in the commitment water.  It's Apple in the Enterprise!