Tag Archives: apple

iPad Pro in the Enterprise: 9.7 observations after 9.7 weeks

I’ve owned the iPad Pro for around 9.7 weeks now (nearer to 12 weeks, but whatever ūüôā ), and one of my co-workers asked me if I still love it. It seemed like it would be a good time to write a mid-term review, so here’s ten observations.

1) It’s a scalpel, not a Swiss Army Knife

The iPad Pro has a very specific use case for me, and I don’t find it’s a general purpose device like my MacBook Pro. For instance, it excels on a day like today, where I have a 3.5h journey each way to a 2h meeting. I’ll be back home within 8h, and I want to travel light.

Out comes the iPad Pro, which fits in a tiny bag which my coworkers call a Murse and my other half calls a Purse. Still, it flies through security and the only other things in it are a few business cards, a spare battery for my iPhone, wallet, and keys.

2) It’s great for times you don’t want a laptop

Unlike previous iPads, the iPad Pro is fully functional enough to use for 90% of my tasks. I’m going on vacation at the end of July, and I definitely will not be taking a laptop with me, and I won’t miss it. The iPad Pro is just as good for browsing, email and chat, and much better for books and movies.

What’s more, when I’m at home on the sofa, or on vacation, it’s a much less intrusive device: I can get a few emails done without intruding on our personal time.

3) It’s not at all oversold

My memories of the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 were marred by the fact that the sales literature was total BS, and it didn’t live up to the promises, especially on battery life. I don’t know if the iPad Pro meets the battery claims to the minute, but I can tell you that even with a very tough day, I have battery left at the end. There is absolutely no need to bring an additional charger for a day trip. The keyboard is better than I expected for a compact keyboard and I get 70-80% of my laptop typing speed.

The performance stats claim it’s as fast as a Mac or and iPad Pro, and I feel that might be stretching it, but I never really run out of steam.

4) It has the best screen, ever

I have to specifically call out the screen. I can go and lie in the sun and read a book, and it is plenty bright enough (and the battery will still last a day). The person next to me right now is using an iPad 3, and it’s like night and day. The iPad 3 is dull and hard to read.

5) Optimized apps are good…

I had a revelation the other day when using the eBay app to sell a few items: apps designed for the iPad Pro can be flawless. You use the keyboard to type the description, use the camera, which is as good as a compact camera, to snap photos of the items directly within the app, and post. You can post an item end-end in just a few minutes without transferring pictures a between devices or tapping on a screen.

6) … And can be even better

eBay is an example of an app that has it just right… But there aren’t enough of these yet. The WordPress app that I’m using right now has not been optimized for the iPad Pro, which is a shame, because WordPress is a perfect use case for the iPad Pro. Medium have done a slightly better job.

This gets better all the time, and Microsoft have done a great job with the Office suite, which also integrates with Dropbox on the iPad for an immersive user experience that allows access to all your business files on Dropbox. It also works with Two Factor Authentication (2FA), which is critical to me.

7) It’s not a laptop replacement

I’m very happy with the iPad Pro’s place in my life, but it’s not a laptop replacement. I do however find my laptop spends more of its time on my desk, where I do things like prepare forecasts, presentations, business plans, CRM and analytics. The iPad Pro doesn’t shine when you need to move quickly between multiple apps, copy and pasting data and doing complex functions.

8) Security appears excellent

With a mix of our primary bussiness cloud-based software like Office 365, Dropbox and Slack, all of which support two factor authentication (2FA), and the Touch ID on the iPad Pro, combined with a very complex passcode and Find My iPad, I feel very confident that the iPad provides great security on the move.

If someone steals it, I can find it, they won’t be able to get into it, and it is easily remote wiped, and the apps are easily disabled. Nothing is perfect, but Apple’s attitude towards security with the recent FBI hacks makes me feel very comfortable that customers trusting their confidential information with me are safe.

9) It’s the perfect device on the move

A few things add up to this. First, the on-board LTE and SIM mean that it’s always on. No need to teteher to an iPhone or WiFi hotspot, no messing around. Just pull it open, and it’s always ready for you within a few seconds.

Second, it’s very compact and… TSA compliant. You don’t have to take it out your bag at security checkpoints in the US, and you can use it on planes during take off and approach – both from an airline perspective, and from a space/usability perspective.

Final Words

I really love my iPad Pro. Do I use it every day? No. But that’s not really the point of it. It’s a scalpel, not a Swiss Army Knife, after all. And it’s one of the few devices you could use to write and finish a blog like this on a 45 minute flight.

Even a few months in, I still struggle with the cost, but since there’s nothing like it, I had better stop complaining about that!

The search for a companion device: Apple iPad Air 9.7″

You may have been following my series of blog posts, in search of an excellent companion device, which last finished up with my returning my Microsoft Surface Pro 4. Since January, I’ve been back to using my 2012 MacBook Pro 15″ as my only device, and it’s still going strong.

I believe that Apple will release an extraordinary replacement to the MacBook Pro this year – a laptop which will shake up the industry once again. It will have been 4 years in the making.

That said, a lot of the time, I’m left finding that I don’t need that much of a machine. When Apple released the 13″ iPad Air, I took a close look, and it’s quite an amazing device… But I don’t get it. Just last week, I saw the passenger next to me on a flight using one, and it has a spectacular screen. He didn’t have the keyboard, but was happily tapping around – watching a movie, whilst doing some email and reading the Wall Street Journal in full size. Some while later into the flight, he extracted a MacBook Air from his bag.

I asked what he thought to owning both the iPad Pro and the MacBook Air, what with them having similar form factors, and he responded that one was a personal device and one was business, and he then conceded that they were basically the same weight and size and do the same thing. I think I’ll pass on that.

So when Apple released the 9.7″ iPad Air, I sat up. Now it’s true that the smaller sister of the 13″ iPad doesn’t have the same power – it’s got a slower CPU and Graphics… But it makes up for that with a spectacular true-tone screen which is easier on the eyes and antireflective. The keyboard is a little cramped – reminiscent of the Netbooks from the mid-2000s, rather than a full sized laptop.

Finding the 9.7″ keyboard was difficult due to stock availability, but some careful browsing of Apple’s website found one that was a short drive away, so I ordered online for in-store pickup. Apple make spending your money a very frictionless process, using your existing Apple ID and credit card.

The Price

As someone who regularly has to clean space out of a base MacBook Pro, I’m wary of buying the base Apple device, so I upgraded to the 128GB version, and to the Cellular variant. This sets you back a pretty $879, before you start adding accessories.

Add the Smart Keyboard ($149), Pencil ($99) and AppleCare+ ($99), and not to mention sales tax ($85) and you’re up to a mind boggling $1310. You can buy a base iPad Air for $399 now, or for $1300 you have the choice of a full-fat Surface Pro 4, or a Lenovo Yoga. Or a MacBook. We’re talking about serious money.

The Keyboard

In use, this thing is pretty nice. After a little while, the odd offset on the keyboard becomes second nature and the ZX-Spectrum style keys are surprisingly nimble. I’d say I’m around 80% of the speed of a great keyboard like the MacBook Pro. That’s an amazing achievement.

What’s more, the keyboard has context-sensitive shortcuts – just hold down the Apple cmd button, and it will tell you what it can do right now. You can tab between apps, create new emails, and many other things. Then there’s the fact that you can move up and down emails with the cursor keys: this is a device which allows you to move very quickly. I remember that, from the days of pairing an Apple Keyboard with an iPad. But by the time you’re carrying around an Apple Keyboard, you may as well take a laptop!

Note: the Apple Store employees are not well trained on the iPad Pro yet: I asked them a bunch of questions and they had no idea about how to pair the pencil, or use keyboard shortcuts, or how to activate the cellular option. I’m sure that will get fixed with time, but in the meantime, invest a few minutes learning about the iPad Pro online. There are productivity tips that will help a LOT.

The Mouse (or lack thereof)

I liked the trackpad on the Surface Pro 4, but it was not the best trackpad. Apple has chosen to forgo mediocrity, and in my view that has worked pretty well. The keyboard is so close to the screen that you can easily reach up to use it as a trackpad when you need it.

That said, I think they have some work to do on the shortcuts – cmd-D, for example, doesn’t return you to the home screen. You have to hit the home button, which is a serious First World Problem.

Likewise, I miss the wonderful Windows Hello, and pressing the home button with your thumb feels so… 2015.

The Apple Pencil

I’m in two minds with the Apple Pencil. It lacks the feel-good feeling of the Surface Pen, and doesn’t have a clip, so I’m constantly in fear of losing it. What’s more, it doesn’t attach anywhere to the iPad, so it’s just sort of floating around. In the Apple Store, they have little trays so they don’t get lost, and security guards to hunt you down if you try to lift one!

The charging is super-neat on it, just plug it into the iPad Lightning connector for 30 seconds.

The App ecosystem hasn’t yet caught up with the Apple Pencil, and I didn’t yet find a killer app for me. I’m not much of an artist, and if I was, the 13″ iPad Pro is a much better system, so this is around taking notes, sharing a screen Etc. On the Surface, there were some decent apps like OneNote, which had good support for the (free) Surface Pen. This is a lot to swallow for an additional $99,

In Use

I’m really impressed so far. The iOS Split Screen function means that I’m doing some research on Safari whilst writing this blog post; the lack of this capability was a key issue for earlier iPads.

What’s more, we use Dropbox and Office 365 as our productivity apps, and these integrate beautifully, so I can review proposals on the go. Dropbox really needs the ability to synchronize entire folders on the Pro, rather than individual files, but that will come in time.

It has the usual 10 hour battery life, which is awesome. Given that it has the same CPU performance as a Surface Pro 4 (which lasted 3… sometimes 4 hours), that’s fantastic.

Is it a laptop replacement?

Definitely not, and that’s not why I bought it. If you’re a business user and wanting to replace your laptop with a tablet, this is not the right device for you.

As I see it now, the iPad Pro will have a pretty specific set of use cases in my life:

First, it’s great for day trips and flights, where a smaller device is worth the trade-off for weight and convenience, plus it’s small enough to be used as a personal device during take-off and landing.

Second, it’s good enough to take as the primary device on vacation, and I’ll be really pleased not to be lugging my MacBook across the world and back.

Third, it’s a perfect machine for the weekend. I try to have a rule not to get my laptop out from Friday night until Monday morning, and this means I can type the occasional blog and do some browsing online.

Final Words

It’s early days, and I loved the Surface Pro 4 in the first few days too. I’m also really struggling with the price. There’s no way the iPad Pro has the functionality of a laptop, but it has the price tag of a laptop.

Apple has a 14-day return policy (be careful, this includes the day of purchase), so I don’t have long to decide if I love or hate it. I’m pondering making it my primary device for those two weeks, just to see what it’s capable of.

The Apple Watch in the Enterprise

My Apple Watch arrived on Friday in Lime Green. The reason for purchase – to discover whether wearables will be relevant to Enterprise Software. Can this tiny screen and basic user interface do something actually useful?

First Impressions

The amazing thing about the Apple Watch is it’s an instant friend. It’s not like I had time to waste on Friday (the SAP SAPPHIRE annual conference is just 9 days out) so I threw it on my wrist, spent 2 minutes configuring it via the Apple Watch iPhone app that had automatically installed itself at some stage in the last month, and left it on my wrist to sync. Top marks to the folks at Apple for integration. You need an iPhone 5, or above, which is fine by me.

It then seemed to pick up what apps are on my iPhone, and transfer them to my watch. Some are obviously¬†very useful (Hotels Tonight, Uber, TripIt), some are theoretically useful (the Twitter and Skype apps don’t really do much) and some are downright annoying (Whole Foods, I do NOT want you tapping on my wrist to tell me I’ve got a new reward!).

Haptic Hell

The next thing that happened is what I affectionately call Haptic Hell. All of a sudden, I’ve got my iPhone on my wrist. It seemed like every few seconds I got an email, text, Slack Message, Twitter Direct Message, Skype, or some similar message.

Now I’ve spent some years making my email quite clean. All lists, spam, ham, and other non-essential emails all find their ways automatically into folders. Despite this, I get a good few hundred emails in my inbox every day, and that means my wrist gets a tap (I soon turned off the sound) several times a minute.

Two¬†things are for sure. First, busy people in the Enterprise will turn off a lot of notifications – I already turned a bunch off. You can’t be tortured with a miniature cattle-prod 700 times a day. Second, Apple need to get the software to be much more self-tuning with alerts. It looks like I can configure it only to show emails where I mark the sender as VIP, but then I might miss some great stuff.

Google has gone a long way with GMail to focus you on the emails you need to read now, and the Apple Watch must do this, or I will eventually get bored and turn it off.

Version 1.0

When the Apple iPhone came out in June 2007, I happened to be in the US, so I picked up a first generation device with iOS 1.0 installed. The same happened in April 2010 with the Apple iPad. Actually the same happened with the PowerBook G4 in 2001, but that’s another story.

With each of those devices we saw a similar story – the first generation device was somewhat clunky, and later generations really brought out the best in it – both in terms of hardware, operating system but also in terms of ecosystem.

As I mentioned before, most of the apps aren’t there yet. Many are missing (Viber for one), and many others are very basic (Twitter does only Timeline and Top Trends, neither of which I care about). This will come in time, as people learn how to use the screen and crown.

Usability

Usability right now is around a 5/10. Performance is much better than the early reviewers suggested – I counted 8 seconds for it to lock my location in Uber and show the “request” button.

My main pain is it doesn’t know when to turn itself on and off. Especially when I’m working on a laptop, the screen will turn itself on constantly because it thinks I’m looking at it. Other times, especially when sat on a sofa or in bed, you have to make a conscious move to turn the screen on. That’s quite painful, but no doubt it will get fixed in future revisions.

Battery life is fine, provided you know you have to charge it every day. My main gripe there is that the magnetic charger doesn’t come as a disk with a lightening port. That way I could share the cable with an iPhone. I hate cables, but no doubt someone will think of this and make one.

Security

The security is only OK. It has a lock, and locks when you take it off, which is very nice, but it’s only locked with a code. This defaults to 4 digits but can be set to a complex passcode, and can be configured to unlock when you use the fingerprint scanner on the iPhone.

Personally I’d like to turn the passcode¬†on the Watch off, and only unlock it using the iPhone. This would be much more secure. In the meantime, I set a complex 8-digit numeric password (00000000). Just kidding.

Enterprise Email Integration

This isn’t bad, and not great either (see a trend here?). A lot of the time it says that the message can’t be displayed on the phone (try your best!!!), and it doesn’t do essential activities like being able to automatically join conference calls on your iPhone at the right time.

Calendar appointments come through as emails which is annoying, so there’s definitely some work to do here.

What I like most is the ability to glance and see who emailed you. This way you can decide if it needs actioning right now, which can ironically avoid disturbances.

Apple Watch in the Enterprise

What I learnt is that I believe that successful Apple Watch apps will have the following characteristics:

  • Have simple micro-functions. Uber just has a “request” button, and Hotels Tonight has a list of hotels and a “Book Now” button.
  • Have full micro-functionality. Wall Street Journal gives you a teaser of news articles with no way to read the full article, which is pretty useless. They need to figure a different way.
  • Be actionable in 5-15 seconds. The sweet spot for Apple Watch activity is 5-15 seconds, or you would be better off getting your iPhone out your pocket.
  • Be necessary.¬†Notifications must be necessary! Whole Foods Rewards is a great example of a Bad Watch App, because it bugs you about rewards that you don’t want an email about, let alone someone tapping you on the wrist.

With that in mind, I’ve started to play with ideas with Bluefin developer Brenton o’Callaghan, for pulling Enterprise data onto the wrist. Here’s a few we are toying with:

  • Workflow approvals. Not for all approvals, but managers on the move who need to urgently approve items might benefit.
  • Sales leads. Field sales folks might appreciate knowing about leads more soon.
  • Timesheets.¬†Consultants could get a notification once a day at 6pm, offering them a list of recently used WBS elements to book that day to.
  • Real-Time Analytics. Small graphs, or percentage numbers – showing sales/revenue targets, customer support numbers, staff utilization.

With each of those ideas, we’ve tried to take into account the rules above.

Final Words

The Apple Watch has convinced me that wearables are here to stay. It is a very flawed first generation device, but it has shown me the future. I don’t advise you to buy one if you’re not an early adopter – the Apple Watch 2 will no doubt be an enormous step forward.

What’s important to note is the Apple Watch is a very personal device – it feels like a friend. A slightly awkward friend right now, but a friend. It’s a friend that tells me what’s going on, in real-time. It taps me on the wrist and tells me what’s going on in the world.

I highly recommend that Enterprise Software folks have a serious think about what this means to the future of software. It’s just as significant a move as the iPhone was in 2007. Let’s check back in 2023 and see if I was right?

Does Verizon Fios Quantum 300MB really exist?

I’ve had the need to download a large volume of data over this last week. I¬†had the Verizon FIOS 50/25 service, which is now quite outdated and has been replaced by a 75/75 service for the same price. So, I thought I’d get upgraded.

As it turns out, the Motorola wall box that Verizon¬†provided 5 years ago doesn’t support this, so Verizon kindly offered to upgrade me to a new wall box free of charge, the next working day (it normally costs $100 but they waived it, presumably due to being a long term customer). They also said they had to upgrade me to 300/300 and then downgrade me back to 75/75.

300/300 costs over $200/month, but I thought it would be fun to test: do¬†you REALLY get 300/300 or is it just “theoretical”. What does $200/month get you?

Step 1 – 90Mbit

Two friendly Verizon engineers¬†came by this morning to do the upgrade (precisely on schedule), and 60 minutes of downtime later, I went and retested the internet. I got 90Mbit both on wired and wireless connection. That’s a bit too convenient, and I suspected there might be a problem in the long wire that went from my Apple Time Capsule (3rd Generation) to the Verizon wall box.

So I moved the Time Capsule to a short 3m cable next to the Verizon box, in the hope it might get a Gigabit Ethernet connection.

Step 2 – 180Mbit

This made a dramatic difference, and even with the old Time Capsule I got 180Mbit wireless networking, which is quite amazing. At this point, my ThunderBolt Gigabit Ethernet adapter blew up, so I wasn’t able to test wired networking.

I also knew the Time Capsule was on its way out – it’s 3 years old and has a hard drive inside and gets extremely hot. Some redundancy is good at home so I thought I’d go and buy a new AirPort Extreme. Don’t bother with the Time Capsule… just attach a hard disk to the Airport and save $100.

Step 3 – 320-350Mbit

After I replaced the Time Capsule (802.11n) with the Airport Extreme (802.11ac) I now get the full 300-350Mbit, and it is more reliable with the ThunderBolt Gigabit Ethernet adapter (thanks to Apple for replacing this free of charge).

What’s real world performance like?

It’s pretty amazing. I’m getting a comfortable 60GB/hour of downloads going on, which I happen to need for a work project I’m working on under deadline. Ping time to Google.com is just 4ms and we can all browse the internet and watch movies even whilst downloading several threads at 60GB/hour.

Would I pay $200/month for the pleasure? No, I’m sorry but this is an excessive luxury that I can’t afford and don’t need. But, I am thinking of downgrading to the $129/month 150/150 rather than the $89/month 75/75.

Final Words

Just because you buy 300/300 internet, it doesn’t mean you will get it. You need devices, wireless adapters and wireless routers that can shift that sort of bandwidth and may have to invest some additional dollars to get what you paid for. And if you really want super-reliable internet, you do need to move to a wired connection – it reduces latency and improves browsing performance.

Either way, kudos to Verizon and Apple for awesome customer service and good quality products.

Now, I just need to find a database big enough to load the 18TB of data I just downloaded. More on that later!

Sony Walkman W – Klout Perks Review

So I got my Sony Walkman W in the mail on Thursday – read my previous blog about how Klout Perks sent one to me for free.

Their competition for the best social media content ended the day after, on Friday, so I guess I missed out on that! I haven’t had much time to try them out, but here’s my analysis so far:

Sony Walkman W

 

To set the scene – I’m a runner, and I do hate running with headphones – the wires get in the way, they fall out the whole time and it’s just not very liberating. So I have an open mind here. This is the Sony Walkman W Meb¬†Keflezighi model, who obviously likes Orange.

Good – It’s much more compatible than I had expected

So it doesn’t sync with iTunes, but I can get music on relatively easily. I create Genius Playlists on my iPhone, download them on my Mac (I use iTunes cloud so quite often the music isn’t on my Mac) and then I drag the downloaded content from iTunes onto the Sony Walkman, which appears as a USB disk on my Mac.

So in 5 minutes or so I have 100 songs on it, which is enough for a workout. Admittedly I do like the flexibility of iTunes Match on my iPhone, where I can dial in a Genius playlist for the exact mood I’m in, but I usually listen to the same stuff anyhow.

Good – Fit

The fit is much better than the device looks it ought to be, and not having cables everywhere is a big win. I focus more on running and less on not getting tangled, which is more fun.

Good – Sound Quality

It’s not at the top of my list for workout headphones, but the sound quality is surprisingly good. Better, I’d say, than Apple’s iPhone 5 headphones. Not as good as a high-end Sennheiser or Shure headphone, but I can’t say I really care when I’m pounding the pavement. Bass is pretty awesome, which is a really nice in a workout headphone, and mid-ranges and trebles have plenty of detail.

Good/Bad – Noise Canceling

These headphones give you a really surprising amount of noise canceling effect. It does mean that if you’re on the open road, you need to make sure you pay extra attention because you may not hear cars and cyclists around you.

Good/Bad – Controls

The controls are on the bottom of the ear-pads and take some getting used to because you have to navigate them by touch and they are close together. The Sony Lady barks commands at you like “Shuffle Play” in a sci-fi style, which is pretty funny. As you use the device, they become just fine but they’re fiddly on first attempt.

Not so Good – Music Choice

You can’t really choose what you listen to. Sony say you can drag and drop your iTunes playlists but I can’t get it to work.

Not so Good – You look like Cheburashka

Need I say more? I tried it in the office and felt like a nerd. This headwear is acceptable only for work-outs!

Cheburashka

2) It’s not… integrated

I love the idea of sports headphones, but syncing music is sooooo last decade. I mean check out the Polar H7 Heart Rate Monitor. That thing syncs with your iPhone via Bluetooth and takes a full ECG to your favorite Fitness App.

The Jabra Sport looks like it might be a very nice companion to a workout, as an alternative.

Conclusions

If Sony made a version of this that was a bit smaller on the ears, fitted slightly more comfortably, and worked with Bluetooth rather than using old-school USB technology, I think it would be way cooler.

Sony have done a great job of the Walkman W, and if you want a set of USB headphones without the wires, then these guys are just what you need.

It looks like they are positioning them against the iPod Shuffle and since I have one of those too, I’d say the Walkman W definitely wins.

The beginning of Apple’s slow demise has started

Let’s be clear: I’m a big Apple fan. I have been since I was a teenager and I was first exposed to the Macintosh Plus. I’ve been enthralled by their focus on both design and functionality, sometimes without concern to profit, and of the tale of a company that almost went bust, a few times – and then turned into the most valuable company in the world.

But what goes up must come down and I believe that 2012 signaled the beginning of the end for Apple. This won’t happen for some time yet, because they are producing by far the best consumer electronics in the world. But here’s 5 reasons – and countermeasures.

Apple products are just too good.

This sounds like a stupid thing to say, but I own an iPhone 5, iPad 3 and MacBook Pro and they are (almost) the only consumer electronics I use. Each of these devices is almost perfect. Each device is lighter, faster, has better screens and longer battery life than its predecessor.

I love the longer screen on the iPhone 5, the Retina display of all devices and the fact that Apple (finally) ditched the DVD drive. They work seamlessly together and I never leave home with a charger when I go out for the day. They almost never crash.

But with this operational perfection comes a lack of innovation and a lack of soul. I don’t care what the next new thing is, and I’m not sure that it’s NFC, but Apple should be creating it. Apple should be edgy and shouldn’t be afraid to have a product which isn’t perfect. Innovation means taking risks and means cannibalizing your own market.

Proliferation of product lines

I count 4 MacBook Airs, 8 MacBook Pros, 3 Mac Minis, 4 iMacs, 3 Mac Pros, 8 iPod Shuffles, 8 iPod nanos, 4 old iPod touches, 12 new iPod touches, 2 iPod classics, 2 iPhone 4s, 2 iPhone 4Ss, 6 iPhone 5s, 2 iPad 2s, 6 iPad Retinas and 6 iPad Minis. That’s a total of¬†80 models! And that’s not counting accessories and applications.

Let’s take a simple example of why this doesn’t make sense. In the iPhone5, the cost of 16GB is $10, 32GB is $20 and 64GB is $40. In addition, the cost of an iPhone 4/4S/5 is barely any different. So Apple has a total of 10 models with barely any variance in cost, and a huge variance in retail price.

This might be good for Apple’s coffers but it’s not good for customers. When Jobs came back to Apple he drew a matrix of 4 machines: one desktop, one laptop. One home, one professional. Apple should slash and simplify product lines and get back to where it came from.

Reliance on two aging Operating Systems – OS X and iOS

Apple just put user experience under Jony Ive, who has been charged with creating a unified experience between desktop and mobile systems. The benefit is clear and it’s great in many ways. With each release, the laptop, tablet and phone experience becomes more similar and more intuitive.

The problem is simple: Microsoft, in particular, has created a system which operates how people think, in Windows Phone 8. The live tiles and stream-of-consciousness feeling of Microsoft’s system is the way of the future, and Google’s Android has mimicked this with Google Now.

But Apple, especially with iOS, has a system which creates walled gardens of apps, which you have to switch between. Integration between apps is minimal and you have a sense of being in a hallway with rooms, rather than a stream of consciousness.

Based on the design of iOS and OS X, Apple will never (in my estimation) ever solve this. Instead, they should now start writing the replacement to these two systems, to be released in 5 years. Don’t wait until you’re Windows ME before you create real change.

To innovate you must look out, not in

I don’t believe Apple has really innovated in the last 3 years. Ever since the released of the iPad in 2010, Apple has been obsessively making what it has better. As I said before, this has turned into the best and most polished consumer products ever made.

But the iPad Mini is a horrible example of what happens when you start innovating based on your competitors. It is a defensive play against Google’s superior Nexus 7, and horrible. It’s an iPad 2 in a smaller case, and Apple is capable of so much more, with its purchasing power. I hope they throw it out and start again.

And it is the case with everything they released this year, down to the beautiful new iMac with its impossibly thin edge. Beautiful, better, but not innovative. Apple may prove me wrong by reinventing a new market like the consumption of media, and the Apple TV would be a good place to start.

Charity begins at home

America’s Fiscal Cliff has gained huge global attention, and I believe it will cause a change in taxpayers behavior over the next few years. There will be an understanding that outsourcing manufacturing to other countries (usually China, in Apple’s case) is outsourcing jobs that could be performed in the local market.

When you combine the need to reduce government spending, an increased national debt and Apple’s $41bn profit in fiscal year 2012, I believe that consumers will start to mount pressure to move jobs back into the USA.

There is a sense that Tim Cook knows this already, as he is moving iMac production back to the USA Рwhich is no doubt an attempt to put his toe in the water. There is a sense that with the inflation rates in China, combined with worker productivity, this may be a great plan all around.

Final Words

You may notice that I didn’t moan about the Apple Maps debacle. Such mistakes are human and Apple Maps gets better each day. I’m sure that Tim Cook is already all over creating rich apps that can compete with the quality of Google’s content.

What Steve Jobs, Tim Cook and Jony Ive have done with Apple is amazing, but there are warning signals that Apple has become an amazing company for supply chain and operations rather than a true innovator. And if that is the case, they will fall to the same fate befell that Nokia and Motorola. Good luck Apple!

10 Tips on using the Apple iPad as your primary device

I can be clumsy when overtired. And so it happened that I broke my laptop whilst travelling to a major conference, and couldn’t get it replaced for nearly 3 weeks. As it happens I then smashed the screen on my iPad, but that’s another story, and anyhow it carried on working.

For those 3 weeks, I had only my iPad as my primary computer. Here’s how I coped – and then ended up loving the iPad more than ever before.

1. Let go of trying to curate complex content

Question is – can you? With my job I often can for some periods of time, because content curation happens in fits and spurts. When a suitable powerpoint presentation is written, you can stick with it for some time.

2. Focus on Task Management and workflow

This was my next lesson – and there are some great software enablers for this on the iPad like OmniFocus. I love this because I can categorize and prioritize tasks – entering them as I think of them, and making sure I actually get things done. This is actually a huge boon for productivity.

I’ve also bought a bunch of apps – Keynote, Numbers and Pages to cover off displaying documents properly that others send me. GoodReader, which allows you to process ZIP files. And a bunch of free apps – Lync 2010, LinkedIn, Twitter, Skype, Facebook. I use most of these on a daily basis and they make a difference to productivity.

3. Buy an Apple Keyboard and an Apple Smart Cover

I’ve tried a bunch of iPad cases like the ones from ZAGG and Logitech, but they all SUCK. They are cut-size keyboards that cause you to compromise. Instead, buy a spare Apple Keyboard and carry it when you need to create content. Conveniently, the keyboard shortcuts also work.

For example, this blog is written on vacation, using the Apple Keyboard on my lap. I can type just as fast as on a desktop computer and I leave the keyboard in the hotel safe when I don’t need it.

4. Always carry the 10W Apple Charger

But only to your hotel room and never during the day. I charge the iPad every night, but never need to charge it during the day. That’s the beauty – on a tough day I get down to 10% battery but I’ve never run out. If you get desperate, you can always steal someone’s iPhone charger!

5. If you’re clumsy, look into AppleCare+

I think it’s only available in the USA so far – in the UK they were not familiar with it – but for $100 you get full phone support, plus accidental damage cover. If you drop, drown or destroy your iPad, Apple will provide you with a replacement on the spot, for a $50 co-pay. They’ll do this twice.

6. Use iCloud Backup

I got my iPad replaced just now after the cracked screen and it was an awesome experience. You back up the existing iPad using iCloud and then reset it. When you set up the new iPad you select “use existing iCloud backup” and it puts your iPad back just the way it was – apps, settings and data – including the latest versions of apps – in about 10 minutes. You can do it at the Apple Store when they replace your iPad. So convenient.

7. Focus on being in the present

That’s the great thing about the iPad – you don’t focus on the computer, you focus on the room. Gone are the days of meetings where people peer into their laptops like there’s pictures of naked ladies on them (get the Friends reference?). Instead, focus on discussing, sharing, creating and white-boarding ideas. Create something great together and then take it home to work on it.

8. Relax

Remember that you don’t need to do everything right now and this is a benefit. So long as you capture what it is you need to work on, you can do it later. But, to do this, you have to let go a bit – and relax.

9. Get focussed on your email activity

The iPad is an AWESOME email device because it discourages long and rambling email responses. Email is at its best when it is used as a mechanism to convey a shared opinion, to pass over a task to someone who is responsible and capable of doing it. It’s at its worst when used for rants, rambles, conversations and grenades – or to avoid a face to face conversation. Make sure you use your iPad as a force for good!

10. Enjoy

Sit back and enjoy what you get in return – no big bag to carry around, no chargers and cables. The simple and elegant tablet and how it simplifies your life. On my latest flight I carried a small slip that included the iPad, its charger, a few necessary documents and a toothbrush. No heavy wheelybag, and everything I needed for a week in technology. Not even a need to open an overhead bin.

Final Thoughts

I’m wondering as I write this whether the day of the desktop computer will return. More and more, my laptop is a tool that I use at home, to create content or do complex financial analysis. Provided it is in sync – and iCloud and Microsoft Exchange ensure that everything is – I just don’t need my laptop during an average day.

And I’d conclude that whilst I still need a desktop – the iPad has become my primary device.

Is the new iPad really worth it?

If you follow my blog then you’ll know that I’m uncertain supporter of the Apple iPad. Like many technology elements they are an important part of the job that I do but I’m not sure whether they’re really worth the money. So you won’t be surprised to know the when the new iPad came out I decided to wait and see and decide later whether or not I would get one.

There’s no denying that the new iPad is impressive: the retina display on its own makes the new iPad much more impressive than any competitive product. However after a week or so I soon realised that it would be very difficult to justify an upgrade from the old iPad to the new.

And then three weeks ago I broke my hand. It is an interesting experience to break a hand because whilst it is not especially painful and doesn’t require extensive surgery in my case and it doesn’t really appear all that bad it’s actually really a terrible inconvenience. I cannot for instance write. Orl type. Things like opening doors cooking and carrying: things that you take for granted, become very difficult.

I read about the new dictation feature on Apple’s new iPad and decided that this might be a very good reason to purchase one. I’ve seen people you Siri on the iPhone 4S and thought that Apple’s voice system seemed to be very well advanced. And such dictation system could at least in theory make my life a lot more bearable whilst I was only able to type with my left hand.

This blog is my first real attempt at using Apple dictation and I’ve got to say that I’m really in two minds about it. If you’re in a quiet environment, you speak clearly, slowly and you avoid complicated expressions don’t actually works remarkably well. The trouble is that that’s not really how the human mind works. At least not mine anyhow.

And what’s more you have to tap the dictate button to start and then tap the dictate button again to finish. And when you do you have to have a Wi-Fi connection available otherwise it doesn’t work at all. And sometimes it just refuses to understand what you have to say. To add to all this you feel like a bit of a wally sat there clearly enunciating at an iPad.

In the ends to write this blog on the way that I hadn’t also required in reasonable degree of editing. For instance the dictate feature doesn’t really understand grammar and therefore won’t interject things like commas and full stops where you might imagine they would need to be. You might think that I’m being unfair that what apple is done is way beyond the quality of dictation of what others have managed.

And to some degree this is true because what’s really clever about dictate is that it works in any app where the Apple keyboard is required. It’s very useful when creating a note for the shopping or doing a search or any other time when using a keyboard is just a Little inconvenient.

But has it served as a replacement to being able for me to type? Have I been able to create content at a time when otherwise I would not have been able to do anything? Has it made the new iPad really worthwhile purchase? I’m really not so sure although the more I speak two it, the better the quality of dictation becomes.

However, in the end, I believe that the power of Apple’s dictation system really comes into it so when it’s offered an Apple TV or some such format. Because that is a time when using a keyboard or complicated remote system isn’t really very inconvenient and talking into a small remote or small iPod or something similar would really improve the quality of viewing experience.

Have you extensively used Apples iPod would you recommend a purchase? Let me know.

Has Apple reached the end of the line?

So I’m sat on a London bus going to buy a birthday cake, and I put, as I usually do, a set of boundary conditions around penning a blog. In this case, on my iPad, two short bus journeys totalling about 20 minutes.

And I’m pondering why, whilst I love my iPad 2, I very rarely use it. It is an item of beauty, of fashion and style. It is better than the original iPad by a million miles. The battery life is amazing and it integrates with all my other Apple stuff. It is always ready to use, always on the Internet with cellular Internet or Wi-Fi and never goes wrong.

So why then does it rarely get any use? When I go on holiday it is my device of choice – mostly because it is hard to work on it and temptation is kept at bay. At conferences where there is a lot of walking I sometimes use it. But the rest of the time it stays at home. And quietly downloads my email.

And then I think of Apple as a whole, I start to wonder when it last innovated. The iPod, in 2001. The iPhone in 2007. The iPad in 2009 and the unibody MacBook in 2008. Each of those were very interesting innovations. Like all good innovations, the technology wasn’t quite there to make version one a success.

What Apple has done amazingly well over the last 4 years is to execute on its past innovation. I have no doubt that their product line right now is the best, most polished it has ever been. Just like Nokia’s was in 2001. And that, you see, is the problem.

Because if Apple thinks that the new Apple TV, iPad 2 or iPhone 4S are innovations, they are dead in the water in 5 years time. The closest thing Apple have to innovation in the last 2 years is Siri, but their entire smartphone design is in such silos that Siri cannot integrate to the level it would need to, to innovate.

I don’t think that Apple is necessarily dead in the water yet, because there is time to be innovative once more – and remember that one amazing product every 5 years, with excellent execution in the middle, is still enough. The death of the innovator himself, Steve Jobs, makes that much harder for them.

Regardless of this, Apple will continue to grow because of their fantastic execution, for years to come. But unless we see a change, I predict that we will look back in 2020 as 2011 being the beginning of the end.

Why TechCrunch is boring, SAP is not, and the world has gone mad

It’s cold by the way. Winter finally arrived, I realised as I pondered SAP’s acquisition of SuccessFactors on the run into work. I can still feel the cold¬†imbued from the run¬†into the metal palmrest of my laptop as I write this.

The highlight of the weekend was Alexis Tsotsis’ faux-gonzoistic impression on TechCrunch. I say faux, because it has the attitude of gonzo journalism but not the style. From what I get of her article, if it’s not Apple or a startup, she’s not interested – and therefore the SAP acquisition of SuccessFactors is not worth reading about:

…you can never be too sure with these incredibly dull companies. I am too bored to Google it. In fact, I am literally bored to tears writing this, like I am seriously crying here in my local coffee shop and everyone is looking at me weird…

Really, this says a lot more about what’s wrong about TechCrunch, and actually the world as a whole.¬†And so last night, I was discussing this point with a bunch of Enterprise Irregulars on Twitter. I’m going to disagree with Dennis Howlett (who used to be an Irregular), which is always a good way to start the morning.

@dahowlett:[email protected] giving idiots ANY play is plain dumb

Sameer Patel chimes in with a reminder that the Facebook acquisition of Gowalla – a FourSquare-style location based service, got much more airtime.

@sameerpatel: @applebyj @dahowlett not shocking. Most of yesterday tech meme led w/ reruns of Gowalla FB acquisition for an undisclosed sum vs a $3B buy.

And Frank Scavo got the feel of the enterprise community spot on:

@fscavo: I stopped reading TechCrunch years ago. @alexias’s recent post reminds me why. cc: @dahowlett @applebyj

But actually I think that Timo Elliott nailed it. Yes Timo, this is the real world.

@timoelliott:¬†Strangely, this techcrunch post about the “boring” SAP acquisition made me very proud: techcrunch.com/2011/12/03/zzz‚Ķ #dudethisistherealworld

And let’s just be reminded about how real this world is:

Facebook SAP
Revenue $4bn (estimated) $12.46bn
Profit $1bn (estimated) $1.18bn
% of world’s transactions Ermm? 65%
Users 800m 500m
Market Capitalization $82bn $72bn

If you compare Facebook even by their own metrics, they are still insignificant compared to the behemoth that is SAP. Billions of people interact with SAP on a day to day basis – every transaction with giants like Barclays Bank. 90% of the world’s beer is produced by SAP. And since SAP’s Chief Marketing Officer Jonathan Becher took the time to point it out, I’ll quote him:

@jbecher: @applebyj Amused by bit.ly/tFOK7J Don’t forget 65% of world‚Äôs televisions, 86% of athletic footwear, or 70% of world‚Äôs chocolate

Who says that SAP isn’t cool, with such accolades!¬†And yet Facebook has the greater market capitalization. Why is this? High growth and cool factor. But Facebook has not proven that it has a sustainable market model.

Why does this mean there is something wrong with TechCrunch?

Well it strikes me that TechCrunch gets Consumer IT and is all over the topics that generate a lot of traffic, like Apple, Facebook and Google, and there’s nothing wrong with this. I do however think there’s two major areas where TC has a problem:

First, Founder and former co-editor Michael Arrington sold out to AOL then whined about their involvement. What amazes me here is first, his naivety, and second his desire for self-importance.

Second, it’s fine if you don’t understand Enterprise IT. But don’t whine about it being boring – because if you read Alexia’s article you will see that there are (currently) 99 comments, all of which¬†criticise¬†her and her journalism. Don’t write a crap piece of journalism and then follow it up with “I was just being honest” on Twitter – and then delete the Twitter post.

06/12/11 Correction – Alexia’s “I was just being honest” was in the comments area, not a Tweet. She didn’t delete it. My bad.

And what’s wrong with the world?

Well for my money SAP is possibly the most interesting technology firm in the world right now. I make my money out of the SAP industry so perhaps I would say that, but it’s also born out by facts.

They have the leading enterprise mobility platform, integrated back into an incredibly complex suite of software that covers 65% of the world’s business transactions. They are leading the world with in-memory technology.

And to add to that they have just made a major cloud acquisition, which might be the third dimension to prevent the risk of their becoming irrelevant in 5-10 years time.

What’s wrong with the world is that they are so focussed on Apple, Google and Facebook – with their over inflated IPOs and everything that comes with that. The world was not built on technology bubbles – it was built on hard work and honest money.

For a small number of lucky individuals there is a bubble with an IPO and a retirement salary. For everyone else, the world is a very tough place to live. My advice: stop being bored by the stuff which makes the world turn.