Category Archives: Apple

Thoughts on Steve Jobs: I Feel Sorry For My Kids


I never met Steve Jobs. I don’t have any neat stories to tell about him. However, similar to everyone else, I feel like there’s a little less magic and mystery in the world now with his passing.

Jobs’ creations at Apple held an important role in my path. My first personal computer was one of the first PowerMacs where I did my first HTML programming. Shortly thereafter, my first “real” business adventure was buying thousands of dollars worth of broken Apple IIe computers from our school district with friends, fixing them up in a garage, and then reselling them for profit.

I reflected today on my own experience with Apple products along with Jobs as a visionary, entrepreneur, leader, marketer, salesman, and more. While doing this, I began to think about my nine, seven, and three year old kids, and I actually felt sorry for them in a weird way.

These kids never lived without the magical touch computing of iPods, iPhones, and iPads. They instantly accepted and became familiar with these products before ever getting a chance to know what it was like before they existed.

They didn’t get to realize how crazy it is that my parents record collection multiplied by 100 could be stored on a tiny and easy to use device.

They didn’t get to try an iPhone for the first time like I did and mentally compare it to a rotary dial phone, and then think to themselves “Wow, I’m living in the future!”.

They didn’t get to figure out that at one point it took tons of hardware devices to accomplish what they do when they instantly play games, surf the web, take pictures, shoot video, watch movies, listen to music, talk on Facetime, and more all on a sleek tablet.

Lastly, I fear that my kids generation may not be as curious and as driven as Steve Jobs and his brethren were on revolutionizing technology. If everything just works so well and and is so easy, will they challenge the status quo to create their version of what the future looks like?

While there will never be another Steve Jobs, the optimist in me believes that he already is inspiring the current generation of entrepreneurs, and that his legacy and products will continue to inspire future generations to come. Thanks Steve.

Separating Your Work Device From Your Fun Device

My new iPhone4, synced and ready to go.photo © 2010 Simon, Mandy, Joshua, Bradley and baby Karla Yeo | more info (via: Wylio)
Anyone who knows me personally knows that I am a bit of an iPhone nut, and to some extent my iPad if I can get it out of the hands of my kids.

Primarily I use them for text/email communication and reading my RSS feeds, Twitter, and Facebook streams.

As my usage of mobile devices has grown over the past few years, I feel like I’ve also become more productive when working on my computer because I’m not spending time there reading RSS, Twitter, and Facebook.

A lot of this reading is relevant to my work as I try and stay current on what’s happening and find new things to read that will help me learn and improve. However, it’s all time spent away from actually producing real work and building things on the computer, and it tricks you into thinking that you are doing something worthwhile when it’s only marginally useful.

Not until reading this recent post by Seth Godin did I make the connection that I had separated my “fun” and “work” devices from each other.

I’m pleased this separation of devices happened naturally for me, but I think I should take it a step further and potentially remove bookmarks, apps, and anything else on my work laptop that is part of my news/fun world to make it even more of a clear separation.

For anyone else struggling with productivity or who just wants to be more productive, I’d recommend making this switch to using your mobile device only for reading and fun and making your laptop or desktop computer your work-only machine.

The downside of this, is now I spend too much time on my iPhone or iPad when I’m out and about! Especially because I can also check work email and text from those devices. Perhaps the switch should go both ways and I should remove all work from my mobile devices? Let’s take it one step at a time…

Great Newsday iPad App Commercial

This is a fantastic commercial for the iPad application Newsday.

While I haven’t used my iPad yet in this way, it still might happen.
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Rumored Apple iTV May Be The Next Step to Damage Cable TV

Cable TV is Out

From http://www.flickr.com/photos/hjl/

I don’t know anyone who loves, or even likes, their cable company. Everyone I know who realizes that there will be a alternative someday to paying too much money for hundreds of channels they don’t watch can’t wait for the day that alternative arrives.

Many have even taken the leap already by canceling cable and using HD antennas combined with the web/Netflix/Hulu/torrents to get the shows and movies they want to watch. Personally I haven’t made that move yet for a few reasons:

  • I like live sports, which there really isn’t a great online alternative for yet.
  • We have multiple “main” TVs, which makes it harder (but not impossible by any means) to get the content on the right TV at the right time.
  • My kids watch various cartoons and movies, and it’s nice to get that on demand, record it on the DVR, or find it on TV quickly instead of having to go seek out the content online.
  • As far as I’ve seen, it’s still easier to just have the tuner/DVR/etc. all in one box.

From what Digg founder Kevin Rose hears on the rumor mill though, another big step in the march to end cable could be coming in September with Apple’s iTV. Kevin says the rumor is:

The rumor: Apple will be releasing a revamped/renamed version of their ‘Apple TV’ set-top box, called ‘iTV’. The box will run the Apple iOS (same as the iPhone/iPad), and be priced around $99.

Very interesting. Kevin is very aggressive in thinking this will “change everything” due to new types of TV applications, “app stations” like ABC/CBS/HBO/etc., photo/video sharing from the iPhone directly to relatives TVs, and the iPad working as the perfect touchscreen remote. These are all very good points, and the $99 price point is low enough that it could see big adoption.

I’m not quite as bullish as Kevin. I think that there are a whole lot of people out there who don’t have an iPhone or iPad and aren’t as rapid to pick up new technology who will remain on their cable boxes for years to come. They love to spend time flipping through the endless channels and watch shows they really never knew existed.

However, there are a lot of us who are picking up new technology and also teaching our kids how to use it. My kids will never have their own cable box by the time they move out on their own, that’s for sure. So if the rumored iTV comes in September, I think it’s the first of a few big steps to damage cable TV’s stranglehold on us. I’d much rather personally give my money to Steve Jobs and Apple instead of Comcast, especially if they’re delivering a better product (that includes my sports).

Washington Post Digital Advertising Critique Gets Critiqued by Me

Vintage Newspaper Ad
In the Washington Post over the weekend Frederic Filloux asks “Why is digital advertising so lousy?”.

That’s a loaded question of a headline firmly entrenched with Frederic’s opinion leading us down the path of lousiness. That being said, I don’t know that anyone can argue that digital advertising is at the place where it needs to be in order to deserve the large shift of advertising spend that will eventually move online from offline. But is it lousy? Does it deserve the tongue lashing Frederic gives it? As a whole, it does not, but of course there are portions of it which do. The same could be said for television and print magazine. Are we to believe that all TV and print ads are high quality and perfect?

Not only that, some of Frederic’s arguments don’t make any sense so let’s take those head on:

Let’s face it. On digital media, advertising hasn’t delivered. In the news business, we have a rule of thumb: An electronic reader brings 15 to 20 times less in advertising revenue than a print reader does.

Frederic uses this to say that digital advertising has missed it’s target. Even he points out though that there are many other factors that play into this. Besides that though, perhaps this isn’t just a case of digital advertising not being effective, but some of this should be attributed to measurement. What do I mean by measurement?

Well, offline advertising does not have the same tracking mechanisms and analytics that digital ads have. We know the actual physical response that digital ads create, and can back those actions into ROI metrics against our ad spend. We don’t have that luxury with offline advertising, so it’s much easier to overcharge advertisers in the offline world. Additionally, digital advertising gets little to no credit for it’s brand building impact, for digital ads influencing offline purchases, for digital ads influencing online searches and purchases but not directly from an ad click, etc. While these indirect things are attributed to offline ads without any real measurement, and they can charge more for it. What gives?

While Frederic might say that digital ads bring in 15-20 less ad revenue as an offline reader, I’d tend to say that perhaps offline ads are 5-10 times more expensive than they should be.

They end up as fodder for ad-blocking systems. Unfortunately, these defense mechanisms are thriving. A Google query for “ad block” yields 1.25 million pages that send you to dozens of browser add-ons. On Firefox, AdBlockPlus is the most used extension, with more than 80 million downloads and more than 10 million active users. The same goes for Chrome, whose ad-blocking extension is downloaded at a rate of 100,000 times a week and now has more than 1 million users. For Internet Explorer, there are simply too many add-ons to count.

Wait, so because people use ad blockers that means digital ads suck? What’s the comparison here? There’s really no equivalent of digital ads in the offline world so this is a stupid comparison. The only thing close to an offline ad blocker would be the DVR allowing people to skip commercials. And those haven’t been popular right? Of course they have. Either online or offline, people generally do not like advertising and chose to ignore it or block it in any way possible. No matter how creative or good an ad might be, there will always be internet users who will want to block any and all ads. If there were an offline equivalent that allowed people to block newspaper, magazine, and TV ads, don’t you think those same people would block them? Of course they would.

Another sign of the ad-design failure is Apple’s decision. Not only does Apple enter the mobile-ad business as a sales house, but Jobs’s company will also design ads, for a hefty $50,000 to $100,000 fee. Apple’s message is that the profession needs to reboot advertising graphical standards. How strange to see a technology company giving lectures on design to the very people who prided themselves for their creative brilliance.

I generally agree with Frederic that ad design can improve. But there are also already many great ad implementations that have been done, and many more that will be done. While this happens, there will still be lousy ads. In fact, there will be a lot. You know why? These lousy ads actually drive A LOT of direct response, and in turn revenue. Does Frederic think that all these ugly and annoying banners exist simply because there are no good designers? On the contrary, almost all of them are intentionally designed to be ugly and annoying to catch the eye and draw the click. I’ve seen the ad results of when people test nicely designed ads vs. lousy and annoying ads. Guess which one generally draws the most clicks and revenue? Yep, the lousy ones. If we measured brand-building impact, then the results might be different.

Apple getting into the ad design business is a sign that they feel that ad design can get better. I’d also argue though they are doing it to charge advertisers an arm and a leg, to get closer to them, and to cut out middlemen and give themselves more of the profit. It’s not simply that they think ads suck.

Frederic’s last points about ads being bought and sold in too much of a tech or engineering point of view has some truth to it, but should that really be surprising at this stage of the game? We’re talking about a computer-driven world, it’s natural for the tech people to be leading the charge. Rest assured Frederic, good ad design will catch up, there’s too much money at stake for it not to do so.

Apple iPad 3G Review: Impressive

iPad 3GThere is obviously no shortage of iPad reviews on the web, but why not dogpile on? I received the iPad 3G on Friday and have spent the weekend playing with it and letting my kids use it as well. Here are the pros and cons of the device after two days usage, but the short summary would be “impressive with flaws”.

Cons:

- Typing on it is challenging. In fact, I almost feel that I can type faster on the iPhone. In the wider landscape mode, my hands are a tad too big to really be comfortable on the home row, and since it’s a touch keyboard you really can’t rest your fingers on the keys like you can on a real keyboard. In portrait mode I have to type one handed or with both thumbs, but it’s obviously wider than the iPhone which makes it harder to type in this way. Due to this I tend to agree with many reviewers who think it is more of a content consumption device than a content creation device.

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