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Why Apples Closed System Works

Apple and Microsoft are closed. Google is open. There is, I think, a case for both. The debate now rages over which is better and what will work. I think they both will. Apple and Google will win this war unless Microsoft can move out of the 1960's.

Google wins for functional tools and "gets" the Cloud concept much better than Apple does. Or at least sees it differently. Chrome as a browser just has more Cloud features and is a workhorse now for the heavy Webcentric user.

Apple has everything locked down. Even iAd will be locked down in how it enables ads to work. I think there is a place for Apple though. Here's why;

- It Works: Consumers want something that works. That they don't have to fiddle with. Apple approach means software designed for the hardware. Including the Web experience. It just works. Much better than Microsoft.

- No Thinking: Let's face it, people want a solution where they can just "do" what they intended to do and not fuss with installing bits and pieces of this and that. When you want to listen to music, you can. Watch a movie? Simple. Apple understands how we're consuming media. Less than 3% of the market wants to fiddle with the innards.

- Code is Dead: 97% of the market does not want to learn code. They don't care about HTML5 or C++ or whatever else. They want to share and create and watch.

- Design, Design, Design: Apple know's design. They understand how to use all this technology and they know how to make it look good so people want to use it. What IT folks put up with, consumers don't. People are willing to pay for good design.

- We Need A Curator: There has always been some form of "gatekeeper" for content. Whether it was the producer in a Hollywood studio, the editor of the newsdesk, the owner of a printing company. Always. Apple understands that, it's just changed the role of the gatekeeper to curator. Television and radio worked well because they both have "quality standards" but often controlled the content. Apple doesn't care about the content, it cares about how it is delivered. So we always get what we want and it works.

The software and IT industry doesn't really have any "standards" so Apple is helping to do that. Not that they'll always be right, but they are on the right track. I like Google stuff. A lot. So I suspect things will be a tad topsy turvy for the next while.

Microsoft is toying with "open" but isn't quite there and is still basing its technology on the 1960's. They're so slow to truly innovate that they'll be well suited to change-resistant enterprises.

What do you think? Is Apple on the right track?


Why the iPad and Kindle Will Not Be The End of Books

Sure they're nice. Sweet technology, doing cool things. They figured out the eye-strain issue with Kindle and that will be reflected in the iPad. The pundits are decrying the end of book publishing as we know it. They holler "stop and shutter ye olde printing press." They missed something. Something very important.

The book is an "experience good" I'm not talking good as in nice, I'm talking "good" as in a product.

We "experience" books. They can be part of a meme, a collection of experiences such as tastes, smells, places where they are read and enjoyed.

What the iPad and Kindle will never ever be able to do:

- Never run out of battery power
- Be readable anywhere, anytime (provided sufficient moon or sunlight)
- Not crash when you spill a wee bit of hot tea on it curled up on the sofa
- Gain that aged smell that says "fine old book"
- Be instantly "off" and instantly "on" when you want it to
- Hold memories of childhood and times in our lives
- Become shared and dog eared amongst family and friends
- Get destroyed in a hard drive crash
- Be always there for many, many more years than an iPad or Kindle etc.
- Easily taken on a camping trip and never running out of charge
- Be a lame brand name (a book will always be a book)
- You can't toss a Kindle at someone driving you nuts across the room
- The sheer delight of wandering through new and used book stores and discovering
- The wonder of children's eyes as each page is turned and they sit for hours engrossed
- Stumbling into your soul mate in the cooking section of the bookstore

Yes, there's a market and a place for these devices. But I suspect though books may be printed less, it will be many many decades before the press will die and bookstores will cease to hold the charm they do today.

What other things can you do with a book to have an experience, that you can't with a Kindle or iPad or similar?


The Idiocy of Patents In The Web World

I'm not a fan of patents, let's just lay that out there. Essentially you create an idea, make the patent filing, then it is approved and made public. Someone copies it and makes a few tweaks and you just gave away your secret sauce. Then you end up in a money wasting circus of defence and suing. Like Apple is with the iPhone in suing HTC and perhaps a warning shot over Google's bow over Android.

All of which is the result of lawyers gleefully rubbing their hands, shareholders groaning or holding their collective breath. I've seen patents used as a business weapon as well, successfully. A company I worked for sued it's primary competitors and in one case beat a giant into closing a division and in the other won royalty payments, adding to its revenue lines.

But overall, I think it's a drain on the corporate coffers, stifles innovation in the current format and leaves consumers without innovative products.

Coca Cola does not have a patent on it's recipe. It could. Wisely, it chose to go the route of secrecy and for over a hundred years has done rather well that way. As has Pepsi and even Google. Once Google submits a patent on its search technology that information is made public and then Google is in a race to sue to protect (what would be a hugely costly venture even for them) and make ongoing changes much faster and at much higher cost than it does now.

My company has a secret sauce for it's search components, Artificial Intelligence algorithms and how we blend it all together. We're not going to patent it. If someone decides they want our secret sauce then they can cut us a cheque, bury us in confidentially and non-disclosures and I'll happily go onto the next ventre.

Meanwhile, the current patent system is a nightmare. Approval in the U.S. is better now that Peer-to-Patent is in place, but it doesn't solve the issue of how big business has turned them into anti-competition weapons they'll wield until an anti-trust suit is filed by government.

All of which stifles technical advancement, frustrates good ideas from getting financed and leaves the consumer hanging. Surely with the collective wisdom of the Web, someone can come up with a better system?