Image Credit: Apple
From time to time, I have written about the sorry state of the Microsoft Surface tablet and how it should be put out of its misery. I am not alone. For starters, Microsoft just announced that the Surface division earned $908 million last quarter. Assuming an Average Revenue Per Unit (ARPU) of $1,000, that means that Microsoft likely sold less than a million Surface tablets last quarter.
Microsoft's CEO Satya Nadella would love to have Tim Cook's faux-problem of having only sold only 12.3 million iPads last quarter. Meanwhile, Amazon's Fire Phone falls flat on its face, the company takes a big write-off and reduces the price to 99 cents, a gesture that smacks of failure and desperation. The Kindle Fire is also tanking.
In my opinion, what seems to be happening is that technology oriented consumers, at least in the U.S., are growing a bit tired of the endless, pointless, frenetic exploitation of technology that steps on their toes. More than ever, people sit back and ask themselves how they want to live and what technology serves them.
Apple Has Answers
For example, full of Breach Fatigue, Apple customers are hungry for a new, more secure way to make retail purchases. Apple Pay couldn't have come at a better time, and reaffirms that Apple is using technology to make our lives better, not just abuse us for fun and profit. This weekend, all over America, customers will be out shopping, and the number one question they'll ask at the point of sale is, "Why don't you accept Apple Pay?"
And then they'll go do business with a competitor who does.
So far, Apple has made a pretty good case for how it wants to conduct business with its customers. A lot of the focus, as Tim Cook said in the Apple Q4 earnings report on October 20, has been on communicating to customers how his company values our interest in quality, privacy and security. He also emphasized the power and strength of the Apple product line and the quality of Apple engineers.
All this seems to be sinking in even as companies like Microsoft and Amazon cling to the idea that technology alone, if aggressively pursued, sells itself. That leads to several problems. First, more technology isn't a company's salvation but rather how it's packaged and delivered. Next, aggressive pursuit of advanced technology is driven by fear that a competitor will be faster, better, cheaper. That leads to hurried, bad decisions. Finally, advanced mobile technology has revealed itself to be very interested in prying into our lives for the financial gain of the provider, leaving a bad taste in our mouths.
Apple has been very good at demonstrating to its customers that technology must serve human needs first and that not every gadget that can be made should be brought to market. Nor is Apple interested in snooping into our lives with Apple Pay. When one of Apple's competitors looses sight of these values, its products and services drift in their focus and eventually become an annoyance. Some early adopters and blog sites may make it look like a new product is awesome, but regular customers quickly lose interest. Raw, offensive technology doesn't find a warm place in their hearts.
We know well how companies can get into trouble with the idea that they're big, rich and powerful and think they can compete in any technology arena. And so I was pleased to see this article by Mark Rogowsky. WIth great research and style, he's written a terrific piece for Forbes that lays out the fundamental problems Amazon and Microsoft have been having as a result of that mentality. "Tilting At Space Needles: Amazon, Microsoft's Quests To Sell Mobile Devices Look More Quixotic Than Ever." It's a great read, and I'll leave it to Mr. Rogowsky to have the last, best word on all this.
Next: the tech news debris for the week of October 20: Apple Pay catches sales clerks off-guard.
Page 2 - The Tech News Debris for the Week of October 20
Apple's Senior VP Eddy Cue introduces Apple Pay.
Continuing the discussion of Apple Pay on page one, I found this delightful article by Susie Ochs (@sfsooz) at Macworld entitled "Cashiers don't understand Apple Pay and it's totally adorable." Ms. Ochs describes, with delicious humor, how she went to several merchants and had hilarious experiences paying with Apple Pay. For example:
Then I casually used Apple Pay to buy the socks. The smiling man must have thought I was checking my texts or something, because he was totally unprepared for the transaction to be complete. “What did you do?!” he exclaimed in the tone of a caveman who just saw someone light a Zippo instead of rubbing two sticks together.
If you read any of the links this week, read this one. (By the way, here's Apple's handy FAQ on Apple Pay.) Apple Pay looks so valuable, my wife and I have discussed dumping her hand-me-down iPhone 5s and talking to AT&T about getting her an iPhone 6 like mine. Whatever it costs.
Next. If you've seen the videos or Apple's website describing the amazing size of the new iMac's 5K display, then you've seen this graphic demonstrating how 5K dwarfs a standard high definition image, 1920 x 1080.
Image credit: Apple.
To make the comparison even more poignant, Chris Barylick over at O'Grady's PowerPage has produced this graphic that is even more impressive. It shows a the original Mac's 512 x 342 display also superimposed on a 5K image. "What a difference 30 years makes for image resolution…" I hope he won't mind me showing it to you.
Image credit: O'Grady's PowerPage
You must check out the link above and go read Mr. Barylick's delightful article. It's is indeed amazing how far we've come.
Speaking of Apple's new 27-inch iMac with a 5K Display, here's Jason Snell's extensive review—with benchmarks. "Review: 27-inch iMac with Retina 5K Display." Beware, however. After you read the review, go find all your credit cards—which are now glowing in anticipation—and clutch them hard. Very hard.
Apple is very, very good at building hardware like this new iMac, amazingly so. So what is Microsoft good at, if it isn't tablets? David Hamilton (no relation to TMO's Dave Hamilton) at ReadWrite thinks that Microsoft's Azure is a strong part of the company's future, and I agree. See: "Microsoft's Future Remains Cloudy—And That's A Very Good Thing."
Finally, I know many of my fanatic Particle Debris readers share my penchant for OS security issues. Once again, in a tour de force article, Daniel Eran Dilger digs deep into security issues with Android. This is another must read this week and punctuates, once again, the benefits of Apple controlling every aspect of design and manufacturing of its products. "After gaining U.S. government approval, Samsung Knox security for Android found to be 'completely compromised'." Nice work indeed from D.E.D.
I think I'll stick with Apple Pay.
Particle Debris is a generally a mix of John Martellaro's observations and opinions about a standout event or article of the week (preamble on page one) followed by a discussion of articles that didn't make the TMO headlines, the technical news debris. The column is published most every Friday except for holidays.