Here is to the crazy ones

Here is to the crazy ones. This Apple advertisement, as narrated by Steve Jobs, was one of the most profound reminders that statesmen, leaders and thinkers always stand out from the crowd. They may be ostracized by the general public, and will probably divide public opinion. However, when they perform their heroic tasks, they stand out and will be remembered for a long time to come. These people come from all walks of life and have varied backgrounds. However, they have one thing in common. Belief in their ideals and thoughts and making sure to live through them.

It is ironic that this video is narrated by Steve Jobs himself, who by sheer dent of his innovation on the IT front, now stands among the greatest minds of 20th century.

Here is truly to the crazy ones.

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Apple’s Next Big Product Ideas

In today’s highly competitive market, Apple is still one of the most innovative companies in the world at this time. Considering that they are over 35 years old, their creativity should be waning like that of Yahoo, Microsoft, HP, Dell among others. Instead it is never been stronger. So what new products can come out of their product line based on what they have in store for us.

Based on the patents filed, product maturity and development, the following are most likely to be revealed in the next 12 months.

iPhone Nano

Nano iPhoneWould it not be great to use my Nano touch to make calls, and run some apps. Yes, the screen interface is too tiny but hey, the next version of Siri could simply make that voice operated. It would be much easier for most of us to wear our phone on our wrist than carry one in our pocket. For example, when we go running/jogging in the morning.

Sort of like the KITT watch from Knight Rider. You speak into it rather than type/touch the screen.

Siri is a problem today. It is not mature enough. But a revamped version is expected with iOS 6 later this year. Maybe that or a later version will bring us closer to reality of launching such a phone.

The only other downside will be battery life. Can a device this small last a whole day on one charge?

Read more of this post

Apple’s Next Big Act

AppleEven though Steve Jobs has declared that we live in post PC world. But it is still a fact that majority of worlds computers run Microsoft Windows. A staggering 85% of world’s computers run Microsoft Windows. Having said that, Apple has not dominated the desktop space since early 1980s. Since that time Microsoft has only grown its lead and mercilessly crushed all opposition in the process.

Today, the space has little competition barring a few million Macs (5%) or a meager Linux (1%) install base. This can all change in an instant if Apple decides to change one thing. Offer their OS X Lion on PC Platform.

Already, Hackintosh (Bootlegged Macs running on PC hardware) are a craze among the underground community. Hackintoshes have shown the way that the hardware and software can work wonderfully together. It is just up to Apple to officially support it.

If Apple does decide to offer its Operating System for non Apple hardware, there will be a huge paradigm shift. A large number of computers, especially in the corporate world, will switch to Macs. And here is why:

  1. Better, stable and reliable Operating System than Windows.
  2. Viruses do not work/affect Mac as badly as they do on Microsoft Windows offering better security.
  3. Mac OS offers better quality products (app store, iLife, Facetime etc) that people will love to have on their PCs.
  4. Cheaper than buying a Mac hardware
  5. Steve Jobs stamp on the Operating System
Apple has never tried to sell just the Operating System. It has always thrived in selling a complete user experience coupled with out of this world innovations. Which is great but in today’s highly competitive world, selling the software in large numbers is the key to winning the race. Innovation can take you so far and sooner or later competitors catch on. Like Android did with iPhone. Like Windows did to Macintosh in 1980s. Now imagine, if Apple allowed its software to be available everywhere through HP, Dell and other hardware manufacturers, it will gain tremendous advantages. Here are the following advantages:
  1. Adding millions of new machines without needing to ramp up production within Apple factories. A cheaper and faster proposition
  2. Allowing even a larger number of computers access to its highly lucrative App store. The billions of downloads could simply become trillions in a matter of months.
  3. Allowing it to compete better with Google (with its ChromeOS and Android) and Microsoft  operating system
  4. With more users experiencing the power of Mac operating system, it will enable them to sell even more iPod, iPhone, iPads and even its hardware (Macbooks etc). Thus creating a hypergrowth in their various product segments.
  5. Sell the dream of Mac everywhere
Finally, Apple can once again be the king of its kingdom that it single handedly created in 1977 by inventing the PC. This strategy will help it compete better with Google on one side and Microsoft on the other. Otherwise, Apple will always be a niche hardware/software manufacturer which will die off once the innovation machine stops.

Steve Jobs – Innovation Personified

Apple IIc
Apple IIc

I wrote my first line of code on an apple II machine in BASIC when I was probably 13. Surely, there were IBM PCs around, but they looked clunkier than my Apple. I learned my first desktop publishing lessons on a Macintosh Classic connected to a laser printer on an apple talk network (the crude 1980s networking introduced by Apple). Wow! They had it all even then.

Next Computer
Next Computer

I moved on from Apple to Commodores about the time Steve left Apple to pursue other adventures. But by the time I was in college, I had found my new love. The NeXT computers with their ingenious NeXTStep Operating Systems. Yes, Steve’s second company was Next Computers right after he left Apple. So for the next four years (early 1990s) I wrote my papers on it, learned how to program in languages like C, Objective C, Perl, used this platform to build my first websites and ofcourse surfed the web (yes before Netscape era), and most importantly learned the Unix operating system the core of my career ever since.

NeXTStep

NextStep Desktop

The hardware and the accompanying software were so advanced in their times that even today, they can hold their own against the best of Microsoft Windows. The little black boxes let us use Graphical WordPerfect to finish our documents in visually pleasing screen fonts and let us print them on laser printers with a click of a button. While IBM PCs still boasted textual green screen based word processors connected to clunky dot matrix printers that made more noise than did any useful printing. We used to send emails through (even voice mails to other NeXT Step users) to people across the world using its graphical and simple to use email client. It let us read classics including the complete works of Shakespeare and other great books in perfect fonts and styles (probably world’s first Kindle), let me surf the web (before the birth of Netscape or even the tech boom on (an obscure) omni-page browser) and yes, it was all graphical, many years ahead of Windows 95. Did I mention, in my spare time, we used to play beautifully written games on it too. And some of them were networked, so that friends on other computers could join in. Yes, I am talking early 1990s ten years before networked/online games became a craze.

Steve Jobs with Macintosh

The original Macintosh Computer

Today, all NeXT affectiandos know that Steve bought/merged his NeXT Computers into Apple upon his return in 1997 and then launched the revamped MacOS X, which is essentially the next generation of NeXTStep OS. MacOS X today powers all Apple computers and is one of the most stable Operating Systems out there.

Today, I cant think of life without my iPod when I go hiking or my iPad when I need to read the latest classic or just surf the web. And oh, I ditched my PS2 in favor of iPod/iPad games that are so cool and better.

Steve’s innovative creations through the ages have mimicked my love affair with computers. I still remember the goosebumps I used to get when my little BASIC programming codes would run perfectly on an Apple Iic. I still cant believe the ease with which we used to get desktop publishing done in late 1980s on a Macintosh. And I could have never finished college with so much fun had I not had my Next experience. And ofcourse, without iPad where will we be all today.

So Steve today, you stepped down from Apple and resigned as CEO, but to us, who have lived through your life with Apple, you will be missed. And we hope that you can still play a critical role as Chairman and Board member in many years to come.

>Kindle or Paperback?

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Kindle or Paperback?


That is the question which my digitally inclined friends and I are pondering. So at our home, we have painstakingly collected close to thousand book personal library. The collection is still growing as we speak as each week a new book is added from somewhere. 


These books are stored in nicely built custom wooden book shelves line the walls of our home including bedrooms. Yet, I have even more books in boxes stowed away in storage. Sadly some of them have to remain there till I find time and money to build more custom book shelves to house them.


But now, with Kindle, iPad and other ereaders, the concept of a home library seems quaint, heavy and expensive. I can fit almost all of my books (they take up over 30+ cartons) of them and many more onto a book reader thinner than the Time Magazine that I get delivered each week. Or is it?


I have my dad’s edition of Charles Dickens novels which themselves are over 50 years old. I have Shakespeare in a special hardbound collectors edition to share with friends. And oh, Homer’s Illiad and Newtons books in Great Books Americana edition. But Kindle have them too and they are all free (atleast at the time of writing this).


Suddenly my multi-room, multi-shelf book collection can now be housed inside a magazine size Kindle.


So is Kindle and iPad the future of book reading? 


Hmmm. Something to ponder.


What happens when Apple goes bust or Amazon no longer exists? What happens to my books bought through electronic medium for e-readers? Will they survive the decades ahead in digital form and can I pass them on to the next generation like my dad shared them with us?


Can iPad books be still the thing to read in say 2030? Or will they be dead along with the technology that housed them? I can still read paperbacks that I bought during highschool (1980s era) without any trouble. Will that be true with an iPad?


History of digital world tells us that we wont have a Kindle in 2030. Today’s “in” and “hot” technology will be lost, old fashioned and forgotten by that time. Does anyone remember Newton from Apple? The world’s first handheld PDA that died unceremoniously during Steve Jobs second coming. Does anyone remember a Palm PDA that once controlled 95% of all handheld market? Where is it now? 


And then, we went through the same crazy world with music. The LPs, cassettes, CDs all replaced and rebought in mp3 format. Yes, we all ended up buying again and again the same song after every so many years. And then the same happened with Videos. My Star Wars VHS collection no longer plays on modern players. Heck, I need to buy HD versions again just to keep the movie playable.


Technology changed so fast that we lost information that we were unable to transfer to the next medium. Palm games and content is not necessarily available onan iPhone or Android phone. I do have my Atari (1982) still with me with the original Pacman, Space Invaders and Astroids. But Atari is defunct and those game cartridges are worthless and not playable on the current hardware. 


So the question really is will my books bought today be usable on a hardware 20 years later?


This is a problem and we need a solution. A workable solution.


The book readers from Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble need to agree on a common protocol to share content. The hardware should be independent of where the books were purchased from. In other words, if I buy something from Apple, it should be readable on Apple hardware or even Barnes and Noble or any other reader that uses the same protocol. Currently, a Kindle book is only readable on kindle (be it on ipad, PC or a kindle hardware). But a Kindle book should be readable on iBooks as well. And an ebook from iBooks should be readable on Barnes & Noble Nook.


Without this collaboration, it is difficult for any serious book reader and collector to move to the digital world.


So till then, I will prefer to buy paperbacks for all the great books that I find in the market and will only occasionally purchase ebooks as I want to pass on the library of books to the next generation to enjoy.

>Apple vs Amazon — Let the Games Begin

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Around the turn of this century (21st that is), Apple was getting itself ready to go beyond the highly competitive (and low margin) PC business and into the feverishly controlled and secretive music industry by introducing a tiny cigarette pack size device called an iPod. Driven by 5GB micro hard disk which promised to hold thousands of our favorite songs and could run them for many hours at a stretch was something that we did not even know we wanted. And the industry giants like Sony thought it made no sense and just outright went on an anti-mp3 crusade.

For Apple, it was truly a radical departure from its core business of making computer hardware and software. But with Steve Jobs cunning insight, and ability to see what we want before we know we want it, has turned the company into a media giant. What happened since that day is nothing short of a revolution for the electronic industry. Today, iPods are no longer just music players, they are essential accessories in our lives. It is hard to not run into someone who is not listening to a Podcast, a song, or watching a video, playing a game or gesturizing something on their iPods/iPhones.

What Apple got right and what Microsoft, Google and Nokia don’t get is that Apple is not trying to get into the music or phone business. No, it’s not into a PDA or gaming market either. It is essentially about being a leader in the distribution, use and viewing of digital media using an electronic device preferably a hand-held like an iPhone. Something that Amazon has been aspiring to do with its Kindle devices for the past many years.

Apple with its well and tightly integrated iTunes desktop, store and hand held devices (iPods and iPhones) has created a unique eco-system that is hard to rival or match. Kindle, from Amazon, comes in close with its ability to let users download what they want to read at a touch of a button. However, it still lacks as a complete device in many ways including not letting them run interactive media (like games, videos or even music). It does not support Wifi and still runs on some proprietary mobile data network (making it hard to use outside the USA). And worst of all the display is still black and white. Which is great for reading books but makes a boring display for doing everything else. And oh, it is heavily dependent on tons of buttons as the screen is not yet touch sensitive.

It is touted that within a few months Apple will announce an iMac Touch/iPad, a tablet PC with no keyboard or mouse, but just a huge touch screen. In short, a glorified version of iPod Touch that will probably have built in access to a 3G network (along with Wifi) allowing users to do anything and everything digitally. A device that will take on Amazon at a game that it thought it had created and had a complete monopoly over. Users who are already more comfortable dishing out money at iTunes Store will probably use it to buy/read books, watch movies, share photos and do whatever their heart desires online.

Apple’s strategy of going after the digital content and dominating that space has truly secured their place for the next decade. They are likely to dominate this market place for many years to come while traditional rivals like Microsoft and Google (with Android) will be left behind wondering what hit them. And for Amazon, it finally has a competitor that has its game plan all worked out against them.

The next decade is all about digital content. It will be all online and will be fueled by handheld devices. Apple has already geared itself to that challenge and will likely dominate this segment while its rivals will be once again left wondering what did they do wrong.