Saturday, September 15, 2012

iPhone 5 - Would Steve love this?

iPhone 5

iPhone 5 Hands On - Features, Price, Release Date - CNET Reviews

As the first major, new release of the iPhone, version 5 has already ignited the question, "What would Steve think?"  Tim Cook, Apple CEO, certainly does not possess the pizazz or charisma of Jobs, but that's okay.  He's a straight-forward and shrewd businessman whose keynote at the iPhone 5 introduction is right on a par for most of Corporate America: bold enough to impress but not aggressive to draw criticism.  He laid it up vs. going for the ace.

So what are the major upgrades?  The simple list is as follows:

  • 4G LTE
  • 4 in. screen delivering a 16:9 aspect ratio
  • Retina Display
  • 225 hours of standby! 8 hours of talktime!
  • 22% lighter
  • Metal back replaces glass design from version 4
  • A6 chip that will rival Samsung Galaxy phone speed
  • 8 megapixel camera
  • iOS6 with new Apple maps
  • Louder speakers and noise cancelling microphones
It's a fairly long list and perhaps worth the long wait after the somewhat anticlimatic release of the iPhone 4S, which actually kept me from buying an iPhone.  Is the list an iterative upgrade or leap forward in smartphone design?

Pundits on Wall Street and various analyst organizes have channeled Steve Jobs, declaring the iPhone 5 as another "insanely great product" from Apple.  Most have targeted its end of year 2013 share price to hit an "insanely great" 900 points!  Bloomberg West editors and reporters were practically drooling over it throughout their broadcast.  Wall Street loves it.  The press adores it.  How about the everyday man?

As expected Apple acolytes have continued to rave about it.  There are the purists who are not so enamored. Various bloggers have noted the removal of Google Maps and a pre-installed Youtube app actually degrades iPhone's productivity.  Apple, who claims to know what customers need before they know, now knows what has been tried and true is now obsolete.  So, is this really just another fulfillment of Steve's dying wish to go "thermonuclear" on Google and make their existence strictly an Android play.

From the perspective of product management, this would be viewed as a negative play because it does not echo the voice of the customer, who quite frankly has embedded Google applications into their productivity DNA.  If Apple intends to compete against Google by building Apple native apps, I think I can see this going something like their war against Microsoft Office's market share of 90%+.  

Apple zealots will stay but will Samsung's very competitive Android devices may be the real victor because of its ultra-clean integration with Google apps?  Only time and lawsuits will tell.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

QRC's - Fad or Trendsetter?

How Apple and Google Could Make QR Codes Mainstream?

In the Information Age, the acceleration of information sharing is nearing exabyte (10^21) per month, which is a mind-boggling equivalent of 250 million DVDs.  With the arrival of social networks, namely FaceBook and Twitter, the information sharing experience reached a new level, starting to bridge the divide between the physical and virtual worlds.  FaceBook and Twitter haven't taken us there yet but in this evolutionary process, social couponing, largely led by Groupon, is making physical location relevant in the virtual world.  Now with location-based social networks, such as Foursquare, Google Latitude, Loopt, etc., physical locations in the virtual world are not simply relevant but valued like real estate.

The conditions of the physical and virtual world now set the stage to elevate the web experience making the physical-virtual world exchanges seamless.  As we have read, the TechCrunch article suggests QR codes are the next step to close the chasm but some reason user adoption has been low.  No official studies have been cited, but the growing assumption is that users naturally assume a QRC reader is native with the camera on a mobile device.  Of course, if they simply followed the Apple mantra of "There's an App for that", users would know that there are over 500 apps for that.  So, what's with the delay?  The QRC makes perfect sense.  Instead of monotonously typing the web address on your mobile device, you simply scan it and there you arrive at the web page.

Laziness is perhaps the best answer.  Despite over 40% of web traffic occurring on mobile devices, that advertisement at the subway or bus stop with the QRC still doesn't warrant the attention for a user to quit reading their FaceBook and actually scan the code.  Now does this actually suggest something even more telling?  Perhaps, does this mean that mobile devices are not the right venue for advertising?  Does user dissonance for advertisements grow when using mobile devices because it is supposed to be a personal experience, if not undisturbed one?

Regardless, QRC codes by pure function are useful because they simply speed up the process of mobile browsing along with the various data that can be captured from a QRC to include POC information, LinkedIn profiles, Twitter following, etc.  But for QRCs to gain relevance and acceptance, the stigma of being an advertisement tool must be shed; otherwise, it will disappear as another mistimed, mis-introduced technology innovation.