Apple Now at Warp Speed: Competition’s Debris Left Behind

| Editorial

Apple has, with finality and punctuation, buried the idea that smartphones and tablets are devices with geeky features, specs, and nifty CPUs. Instead, Apple intends to deliver what no other company can: an intelligent ecosystem for your Internet life. Now at warp speed, no company can catch Apple.

Hardly a day goes by when we don’t think about how the original iPad first shipped 14 months ago and the competition still hasn’t caught up. Part of their failure has been their inability to understand the culture of the tablet. Part of their strategy for success is the “super tablet,” something with hardware so cool, you just gotta hold it in your hands.

Warp speed

In grave contrast, what Apple has been working on is the intelligent cloud. It’s the reenactment of “it just works.” It’s a lot of what we’ve been aching for. One has a Mac (or two), an iPad, and and iPhone. Why must one waste a lot of time keeping these devices synced?

It’s going to take a week or two for the community to sort out what Apple has just done this morning. My first reaction, however, is to note Apple’s strategic move with Lion, iOS 5 and the iCloud. Apple has brought an enormous amount of technology together, at great expense, in its ecosphere to leap into the post-PC world. In other words Apple has spent an enormous amount of time and money to give away something for free that will make even more money. That’s Apple’s strength now.

For the competition to think about developing products, as stand alone items, is clearly no longer going to work. It’s a last century idea. We would no more think about buying stand-alone tablets or smart phones than we would think about buying one of those 1990s electronic organizers and hand typing phone numbers into it.

Apple just jumped to warp speed and left the rest of the technical community at sub-light speed. The debris left behind will be a mess.

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34 Comments Leave Your Own

webjprgm

That’s a nice catchy way to put it.  As a related note, my brother mentioned the other day that he was thinking about getting a new computer. His current computers are a 2000 iMac and an eMac (not sure what year).  He is a very casual computer user. Guess what his next computer is going to be? An iPad 2.

Non-tech people will see tablets as all the computer they need, and today Apple announced the features needed to make that work. Beam me up Scotty!

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

And yet someone who has an iPad and an Android phone is pretty much locked out of all the benefits.

The part I don’t get is how an iDevice devotee is going to straddle work and home. Do they need to have two phones to keep things separate? Do their home photos show up at work, or their work photos show up at home? Same with calendar events. Not that anyone else really has this solved either. It’s why I’m not so sure that the multi-vendor layered approach to systems that John would like to bury is dead for anyone but simpletons.

Oh, and notice whose name didn’t show up at all today. Facebook. That’s kind of a fail. In Android land, deep integration of Twitter and Facebook is enabled by the open architecture. If BoscoNet came into being next month, the same tight integration into apps could be achieved without Google’s help. Things don’t seem as flexible on iOS.

Apple is turning inward. If you do everything the Apple way, all these things make sense. If there are things outside the Apple universe that you want to do, these Apple things make almost no sense.

Lee Dronick

in non-Apple news Halo 4 was announced.

slash snark

der passant

Bosco

ICloud Works across all iOS devices, and Macs and PCs too.  That’s not turning inward.

Sorry Apple didn’t add functionality to your Android phone.  I’m sure the open source community will get to it.

pnicholas

One big thing I haven’t seen (and I might have missed it) is how they can better manage multiple iPhone/iPads with one Apple ID.

Joe Computer User

What is Apple going to do with all those personal, business, industrial, corporate, legal, non-profit, documents stored on the Apple iCloud????!

It’s not just a hard drive!  It’s a data center.

They will have the ability to search and manipulate all of that information, despite what any non-invasive user agreement they might present to customers.

jlm

So what happens to my mobileme account? I renewed in January.

Seems like a great offering if you’re not an “enterprise”. Speaking of Enterprise, why wasn’t the “one more thing” an iTransporter. Come on, Apple. Make it so.

pnicholas

Another thing.  Where is it being stored?  In one facility in NC?  Single point of failure?  They are not doing data protection between the coasts without lots of data loss if a failure comes.

Lee Dronick

What is Apple going to do with all those personal, business, industrial, corporate, legal, non-profit, documents stored on the Apple iCloud????!

You could encrypt it, but businesses are probably going to be using what they are already using.

cb50dc

The keeps-on-comin’ list from Lion just amazed me. I’m not a feature geek, but this batch of capabilities?whoa. John, your title gets at what I kept saying to myself: “Who’s going to make any significant challenge to this package?” Apple’s environment makes this possible, and no one else has anything like it. Just like no one else offers iLife, free with every Mac.

One major thing that I appreciate: PC Free. The requirement of linking to an actual computer has probably deterred many among some grandparents or super-casual users. If I understood correctly, that’s no longer an issue, and thus I see the iPad now opening up to even *more* of a customer base. Maybe AARP should consider boosting their own revenues by becoming an authorized reseller wink

Another major thing: $29. Cripes. That makes it too easy…

Also, real world (and maybe I missed those points in the blogging I followed)?while I know and accept that every significant move forward leaves something behind, I do want to know specifics of the downside: what features, hardware, and software Lion will break or abandon. No doubt that will bring some consternation, as always, inevitably. I for one only very reluctantly let go of System 9 for 10.2 (or was it 10.3?). Many may feel that way about Lion for quite some time.

Did anyone catch any such implications in this presentation, or from previous knowledge?

cb50dc

They are not doing data protection between the coasts without lots of data loss if a failure comes.

Wow! Better call Steve. Apple’s so out of touch, so uninformed, so tech-ignorant that I bet no one there has even thought about that tiny detail. wink

Ross Edwards

in non-Apple news Halo 4 was announced.

Snark aside, MS also announced Xbox Live TV, which will provide not only live broadcast viewing but DVR and so on, details naturally sparse until closer to launch.  If it delivers even a modicum of what it promises, and the Xbox has been pretty good so far about meeting expectations, it will be what AppleTV 2 should have been and what the AppleTV 3 still could become.  I hope Mr. Jobs and Mr. Cook are watching, because I’d love to do it all WITHIN the iOSX ecosystem instead of including an MS device as I currently do.

Between Apple and MS, I think the big news of the day is to divest what stock you can in DirecTV and dish, because the cable companies at least provide internet pipe and it’s looking like the existing shape of pay TV is finally becoming obsolete.

Lee Dronick

@Ross

it just cracked me up their big news is a game. True there is a lot of money in that.

Lion is $29, how much is Windows for the cheapest version?

Ross Edwards

Lion is $29, how much is Windows for the cheapest version?

I believe the figure you are looking for is “More.” smile

I always love new OSX iterations that come out within the news cycle’s reckoning of the latest Windows iteration.  It helps me draw the contrast for those who don’t already get it.  Nice to see that, a week after Ballmer talked up Windows 8, an OS we know is going to have a $100+ price tag, along comes Jobs as usual offering a substantial capability upgrade for less than the cost of a dinner for two at Olive Garden.

RonMacGuy

Oh, and notice whose name didn?t show up at all today. Facebook.

I do agree with you there.  I was surprised to hear the Twitter connections and no Facebook.  But, I’m OK with the current Facebook app.  Not the greatest, but it gets the job done.

archimedes

@Ross

it just cracked me up their big news is a game. True there is a lot of money in that.

Lion is $29, how much is Windows for the cheapest version?

I could be mistaken, but I think MS announced Halo 4 (and Xbox Live TV) at E3, also known as the Electronic Entertainment Expo. Sony, Nintendo and many game software companies will also be exhibiting and making major announcements.

Apple isn’t unaware of the importance of games - games are top sellers on the App store, and today’s keynote included coverage of Game Center.

I don’t know how much Windows upgrades cost, but PC laptops, desktops, and netbooks are dirt cheap.

Of course, a Mac can help to save one’s time and sanity, both of which could be worth something in the long run.

Lee Dronick

@archimedes

I have been weighing the options to either install Windows and Parallels on my MacBook Pro or just buy a cheap PC. Occasionally either my wife or I need to use Windows. I have two older PC laptops running XP, but the newer versions of Windows are more secure. The other thing is which version of Windows to buy.

If I understand it correctly I can get Lion Server for $80, about the price of the cheapest version of Windows 7 desktop.

Getting back to the Halo announcement. From what I have seen none of the mainstream media are covering it, only Apple’s event.

webjprgm

I have been weighing the options to either install Windows and Parallels on my MacBook Pro or just buy a cheap PC. Occasionally either my wife or I need to use Windows. I have two older PC laptops running XP, but the newer versions of Windows are more secure. The other thing is which version of Windows to buy.

Depending on what Win apps you need to run, XP in a VM is probably the easiest option since you already have licenses to XP.  If security is a concern, just don’t use certain features of the VM that share Mac folders and run some anti-virus if you allow the VM to access the internet.  I’ve got VMWare Fusion + WinXP and it works fine for the extremely rare case when I run a Windows app.

Lee Dronick

Depending on what Win apps you need to run, XP in a VM is probably the easiest option since you already have licenses to XP.? If security is a concern, just don?t use certain features of the VM that share Mac folders and run some anti-virus if you allow the VM to access the internet.? I?ve got VMWare Fusion + WinXP and it works fine for the extremely rare case when I run a Windows app.

Never an app other than a browser. My wife is back in school and some of those college online course websites absolutely refused to work with a Mac, User Agent settings not withstanding. It hasn’t been a problem the last few semesters, I am just being preemptive.

I dick around with website design and occasionally test them using Explorer 6.

ViewRoyal

If this was a game of chess, today would have been a checkmate move.

Microsoft is always copying Apple (badly wink).

Apple has multi-touch in Mac OS X, Microsoft responds with Windows 8.
Apple has the highly successful iPod, Microsoft responds with the Zune.
Apple has the highly successful iPhone, Microsoft responds with the Kin.
Apple has the highly successful iOS, Microsoft responds with the WP7.
Apple has the highly successful Apple Stores, Microsoft responds with badly copied Microsoft Stores.
etc., etc.

But iCloud is a major innovation that Microsoft can’t copy.

With iCloud, Apple has a service that automatically and instantaneously syncs all your data and files between all of your devices without having to do anything… and it’s free! Most people (Windozers) don’t get just how HUGE this is… but they will eventually.

Until now, keeping everything in sync involved a lot of worry, effort, and time. And you also needed to be a bit of a tech nerd to understand how to set it up, and keep everything juggled happily.

But iCloud just gets out of your way and works on its own. That is something that has been needed for years, and no one has been able to accomplish that until now.

It would take years and many billions of dollars for Microsoft to come up with a bad copy. They don’t have the hardware/software integration that Apple has. They don’t have the hundreds of millions of media customers. They don’t have the ties to (or the trust of) the media companies. They don’t have he ties to (or the trust of) the mobile service companies.

We’ll probably be hearing Ballmer and the Microsoft apologists say that this is nothing at all (as they said with the iPhone, the iPad, etc.), but it will hit them eventually that this is what was meant by “post-PC” and how important this change will be.

This is going to be great!

webjprgm

MS can still do a bad copy of what they think are the salient aspects.  E.g. incorporate some kind of PC-less sync for Win8 tablets based primarily on Exchange.

ViewRoyal

MS can still do a bad copy of what they think are the salient aspects.  E.g. incorporate some kind of PC-less sync for Win8 tablets based primarily on Exchange.

iCloud is not the same thing as what Exchange currently does on Windows, Mac, and iOS devices. And it’s not the same as Google Docs either.

It’s more like a reversal of what, until now, has been considered “cloud” services.

Google Docs, Mail, Picassa, etc. are Web apps run on Google’s servers. Those apps are run inside your Web browser, and are limited to what can be done in HTML5, and dependant on Google’s servers. The primary files are stored on Google’s servers too.

iCloud reverses that. The apps run on your devices. They are full applications with versions designed for your specific device (e.g. Pages for Mac OS X, Pages for iPad, and Pages for iPhone are tailor made for each device). The files are stored on your device, and synced automatically between all of your devices.

This means that you can work on a file even if you’re not connected to the Internet. When you do connect later, all of your devices have the changes immediately. It also means that you are not stuck using a Web interface as your common UI for all devices, and you don’t have to wait for a server to catch up with you when you make changes, or to refresh Web pages to see those changes (which happens sometimes).

And with iCloud you don’t need to set up and babysit all of those services. No uploading and downloading to all the devices you use. It’s all done automatically in the background.

These differences might not sound like much, but the contrast in user experience between iCloud and Google’s/Microsoft’s Web apps is going to be very noticeable.

archimedes

But iCloud is a major innovation that Microsoft can?t copy.

Just watch them. wink

Seriously, Microsoft has multiple large data centers, is doing lots of research in the area, and is already a fairly large cloud provider; consider Windows Live/Hotmail/Messenger/SkyDrive, Office Live, Xbox Live, etc..

I would be surprised if Office didn’t automatically sync with Office Live, and if WP7 didn’t offer cloud sync, etc..

buddhistMonkey

And yet someone who has an iPad and an Android phone is pretty much locked out of all the benefits.

On the flip side, though, anyone with an iPad and an Android phone who then upgrades to an iPhone will reap enormous benefits from iCloud and iOS 5. And after today’s keynote, what’s the alleged advantage of an Android phone over an iPhone, anyway… widgets?

oldhippievet

Did anyone else miss this?  Hasn’t Google been allowing users to sync their PCs, tablets, and Android based phones since the beginning. I enter an appointment into my Droid calendar and voila, it automatically shows up on my desktop.  Amazing isn’t it, how Apple is turning the computing world on its head by doing something Google has done for years.

Lee Dronick

Did anyone else miss this?? Hasn?t Google been allowing users to sync their PCs, tablets, and Android based phones since the beginning. I enter an appointment into my Droid calendar and voila, it automatically shows up on my desktop.? Amazing isn?t it, how Apple is turning the computing world on its head by doing something Google has done for years.

I think you missed MobileMe which has been around for years.

John Dingler, artist

Hi ViewRoyal,
Yes, watching Ballmer add a nervous squirm to his entertaining monkey dance is going to be a blast. Still amazed, but glad, that he’s still around; He keeps Microsoft in a malaise, hence in check for Apple.

John Dingler, artist

Hi John Martellaro or Anyone Else,
What OS and hardware is Apple using in its new data center? No news on this aspect of its infrastructure.

John Martellaro

John D: Page 2 of this FAQ briefly describes the systems, hardware and OSes, used in the Apple data center.

http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/the-apple-data-center-faq/

John Dingler, artist

OMG, John Martellaro. Apple’s datacenter is using everything under the sun which includes Solaris, Linux, Unix, and MacOS, but interestingly enough, no Windows anything.

It seems that the article admits to guesswork from a gleaming of existing articles presumably not directly describing what is being used.

I guess Apple must be keeping this part under wraps. This could be for two reasons: 1. It does not want critics to focus on speks; It’s counterproductive to its message which focuses on ease-of-use, not on technology which is the Windows PC’s and Android’s game. 2. Apple is using HP hardware, perhaps even Windows server which would be fun because it would indicate a lack of confidence in its own hardware and software offerings.

It would be fun to get the straight scoop.

Einar

Just like many of you, I use Macs at home by choice and PCs at work by submission. But I do get to use iPhone at work. And with our Exchange services in the Microsoft cloud, all Exchange functions like mail, contacts (with photos), notes, calendar etc are synchronized between my PC and my iPhone (both ways) immediately.

So yes, Microsoft already does what many of Apple’s show off points with Lion will do. And I am not a power user, maybe Microsoft does even more for corporate clients.

wab95

Hello from thhe road, John.

What little I’ve been able to glean in between meetings here in Geneva is exciting stuff.

But the framing of this is spot on. As for Apple’s competition, some of them have just fallen victim to misdirection. As important as was the hardware, it was never really just about the hardware, something many of them never figured out. Apple’s idevices and computers have, in an instant, been transformed into portals of entry into managing your digital life. Though I’ve had no time to go through this, it sounds as if the iPad is untethered (rendering the issue of another computer and portable storage moot).

Looking forward to catching up on some reading.

Gregg Thurman

The only “documents” you can store at iCloud are those created in iWorks.  Hardly the type of documents you list.

Lee Dronick

The only ?documents? you can store at iCloud are those created in iWorks.? Hardly the type of documents you list

I don’t for sure if that is true, hard to tell with the meager info on the webpage. The iApp files are supposed to work seamlessly with iCloud, but say a .doc may or may not be. For non Apple apps maybe we will just need to do what we are currently with iDisk. We need more info which I am sure will be forthcoming.

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