Thursday, August 7, 2008

Apple Apps

It used to be that Apple was a lot about style and innovation. They were the first with icons and mice (although they stole those from PARC), first with the smaller rigid floppy disks, first with Firewire, and more of that... Although they are still keen on style, they seem to have found a different way to become successful and make mega bucks for us lucky shareholders. They actually seem to be reinventing things that existed for long but never managed to go mainstream. And then Apple shows up to reinvent the wheel. In doing that though, they make sure everybody thinks that never a living soul had thought of that before ( they even tried this with Podcasting but that try was lousy and brutal, and they then stopped arguing about it). And in that process, they end-up creating new markets and gottahavit fashionable trends and they finally prove that some things that failed to monetize in the past actually turn out to be God blessed Sacred Cash-Cows. Take iTunes as one sound example of this. This thing (music downloads) was going on for ages before they came into play. They changed the goalposts though (availability, variety and price) and made it simple enough for a two year old to download some real cool tunes and sing along... A whole new world emerged and billions of songs sold worldwide. They then started doing the same with videos and TV shows. I remember the early whining.... yeah... yeah... the quality is not yet Hi-Def, bla-bla-bla... So what? How many seen full HD shows on this planet yet? A micro percent point? C'm on, I am used to watch the video Cranky Geeks podcast (yep, today is this week's episode just out) on my 40 inch Full HD Bravia and I say, ok, it ain't a Hi-def show alright but it's gorgeous to watch... the characters look sharper than normal TV (the one I've been watching for 30 years) so where's the problem?

Anyways, they went on to reinvent the mobile phone next. And we all know what happened. Front page news even in Mongolia, Gana and Nicaragua (and ...Belgium for that matter). What can I say? They even seem to reinvent their own products. All the stuff one can now do (if lucky) with I been doing long ago and some more with their very own dot mac. When I first saw the briefing on WWDC last June I kept thinking, what's wrong with me? Why don't I see the delta? Ok, maybe 'push' is a bonus, but is this worth all the fuss? Apparently El Jobso thinks it is. And mark my words, he' ll prove right again.

And finally the App store. I have had PDAs and pocket calculators all my life. More than you can imagine. Always been loyal to TI, from deep in the early seventies. However, I never spent more than, say, a few days on each one of them and then left them to rotten. Waste of money. I can't get my hands off my iPod Touch ever since 2.0 came out though... Three words: A-MA-ZING! Too much to explain. Start with their delivery model. From very cheap to free pricing for all sorts of things that we have been using before, but scattered all over made by companies that come and go like comets. At least now, you know where to look for, how to get the goodies, pay a few pennies and you're good to go! As I said, A-MA-ZING! The limits are a developer's imagination. It is possible for a young kid with some programming skills and a great idea to start making dough and a living on what he/she earns by selling a little trivial app, like measurement conversions, to say something. I'll give you an example. The most frustrating experience when you read recipes in cook books are the different obnoxious measurement units they typically use, depending where the books come from, like US, UK, Europe, Greece, Japan. We use a metric system here but even in that, how do you mean using cups and spoons? Give us a break! Well, there's a little genius iPhone app that translates and converts all that for you. Even sizes for clothes, there in your bleedin' iPhone. Calling people with the phone only represents 1% of the stuff you do with these gadgets nowadays. Phenomenal! Simple apps but once you get used to them, you don't let go. You just feel bare naked without your iPod/Phone...

And the story continues... To the developers this is 'manna' from heaven. Get paid directly, post updates real quick, 80% of code is reuse-based on SDK libraries, get all the help they need from Apple and user forums and if lucky, even get some VC funding. Us users, we scan and read about them apps in one single place, compare products among each-other and download 'em over and again to our heart's desire. I found myself spending more than 30 bucks daily for the last so many days (ssssh, my bride might listen). Talking about delivery models! Wow! His Jobness will re-write the Bible once more. El Jobso! A dropout who took calligraphy classes without even caring for exams and never bothered about 'what they (don't) teach you at Harvard'.

Wow, again!

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