Apple’s iPhone Roadmap

Several months ago I began writing this post. I am just now getting back around to finishing it. To go along with the post I did about the future of the iPad, (Apple’s iPad Roadmap)this post looks at the future of the iPhone. There are currently 3 versions of the iPhone available for sale. In the ideal future we would see something like this:

iPhone L (5.3 – 5.5 inches)
iPhone M (4.8 – 5.2 inches)
iPhone S (4.3 – 4.5 inches)

By staggering the iPhone sizes Apple would be re-introducing something it used to do with the iPods. By changing the screen sizes of all the iPhones Apple would be creating a clear distinction between the different models, a good, better, best kind of distinction. While one could argue that screen size alone does not detail the superiority of a particular model it at the least would create different use cases for each model. Today it’s hard to determine the different use cases for the iPhones. It usually just comes down to budget…. and if that’s the case everyone will want the newest or the cheapest. Hence the lackluster sales of this year’s middle tier iPhone; the 5C.

The current rumor mill does point to Apple making a larger iPhone… we’ll just have to wait to see if this pans out.

Apple’s Acquisitions

Why Apple, Inc. is keeping the identity of many of its 23 recent acquisitions a secret

Interesting article over at AppleInsider. Apple has made 23 acquisitions in the last 18 months. We only know about 14 of them.

I wonder what the other ones are.

iTunes to Offer Free HD Upgrades on Movies?

I received the email below from Apple regarding the availability of an HD download for a movie I own. The email suggests logging into iTunes and going to purchase history to download the movie in HD. When I tried to do that I didn’t see both movies available in HD, which may mean they haven’t turned the feature on yet. 

Hopefully this feature will be forthcoming… it’s about time iTunes went HD only.

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The iTunes 11.1.4 Update

On Wednesday Apple released an update to iTunes. You can read Macworld’s article about it here.

After reading through the comments I realized a lot of people were having problems finding the new wish list feature. The wish list is now part of the menu that previously housed the Preview history. To access the wish list click the three horizontal lines to the left of the iTunes store button. In the screenshot below you can see the wish list is available as I browse my Movie section of iTunes.

iTunes Wish List

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Why eBooks Will Eventually Win

Matt Quinn @IamMattQ recently posted an article over at Medium an article entitled Why I Dropped eBooks. It’s a great article and well worth the read.

Matt essentially makes the following points in his article:

  1. There is no troubleshooting for paper books.
  2. When people know what you’re reading they’re more likely to engage you.
  3. Far fewer distractions while reading a real book as compared to an ebook.
  4. The tactile experience is unmatched.
  5. Sharing is much easier.
  6. You own what you buy.

In many ways I completely agree with Matt. On the surface many of his points make sense, however once you dig deeper it becomes apparent that eBooks will still win. For all their flaws, they still have some advantages over books that will become even stronger as we continue to move away from paper and move more and more into digital media.

There is no Troubleshooting

Just look at all the things that can go wrong when you’re attempting to read or purchase an eBook. For starters you must have an internet connection. If you don’t you’re out of luck. Secondly your device has to have battery so that you can actually read the darn book you just bought.
Problems like this can be cumbersome, but there are advantages to ebooks as well. Have you ever been someplace where you can’t find a bookstore? Nowadays there are fewer and fewer stores. While it may be a hassle to get online, make sure your credit card is valid, search for your book, it is still potentially much more convenient than driving across town to go to the last remaining book store in your city.

As for the battery issue there’s a silver lining…. you can read in the dark. Most ereaders as well as tablets and smartphones have backlit or frontlit displays.

Matt’s right, there can be more troubleshooting involved with eBooks than paper books, but I don’t think those problems present a large enough issue to ditch ebooks entirely.

People will Engage You

I’ll admit, I don’t read in public often, but I have been known to ask people about the books they’re reading. It’s human nature. We want to be engaged and involved with those around us. That being said, I think we’re beginning to see the new equivalent of this in the online world. Sites such as ReadMill and Goodreads are replacing the in person engagement and potentially providing an even greater platform for sharing our experiences.

While the author Sherry Turkle makes a compelling argument in Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other. that we are engaging each other less and less, I think ultimately we will understand how to use these technologies to bring us closer together in real life.

There are fewer distractions with a paper book

While a smartphone or tablet is likely to constantly ping you with the latest news, game request or text message the same can’t be said of dedicated ereaders. They lack nearly all of those functions.

As for tablets and smartphones my iPad can be placed into Airplane mode (why do we still call it that?) I also often forget to do this as well. However, since we’re talking about software here, there is a simple solution. When I open the Kindle app, Nook app or iBooks the iPad (or Android tablet) should be smart enough to disable all notifications. That would go a long way to providing distraction freed reading on those devices.

The Tactile Experience is Unmatched

He’s right about this one. Holding a book is definitely a more tactile experience than using an electronic device. That doesn’t mean it makes it “better”. If the goal is to read the book then shouldn’t everything else just get out of the way and let me read? I am willing to say this one comes down to personal preference.

Sharing is Easier and Encouraged

This one is simply a function of publishers being scared of becoming the next music industry. They are scared to death that if they sell books without DRM then one person will buy a book and give copies to everyone else. I think they music industry is actually the model to look to here. We haven’t had DRM in iTunes, Amazon MP3 or Google Music for years. People are still buying music. Artists are still making money. There’s no reason to believe that books would be any different. In fact I think people that read are more likely to want to support the authors they love.

If DRM (digital rights management) was removed from books then most of this argument about sharing would go away. Sure, you might have some people that abuse the system, but on a whole I think we would all be better off for it.

We Don’t Own eBooks.

Finally Matt’s last point is that we don’t own the ebooks that we buy. While it’s true that Amazon can decide to remove a book from it’s servers I don’t foresee this being that big of an issue. If you’re really that scared about all of your books disappearing then the best thing for you to do would be to back up your purchased to an external hard drive (or even a flash drive). Books are extremely small, you could fit every book you’re ever going to read onto one 32GB flash drive that costs $20.

In Conclusion

In the end the goal of the book is to share ideas and tell a story. The internet and the myriad of connected devices have been able to do more to spread ideas in the last 25 years than the printing press was able to do in its first 100. More people have the ability to present more ideas to a wider audience than at any point in human history. The spread of ideas will not be slowing down any time soon. This is one of the strongest reasons that ebooks will eventually win. It is simply easier to get an ebook into the hands of more people more quickly than with traditional publishing methods.

I’m not saying that ebooks will completely replace print books. I don’t think they ever will, but eventually they will make up the lion’s share of books sold. If history is any guide, I think we’ll benefit from this change.

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Endangered Species of the Web: The Link

Endangered Species of the Web is a  great article by a guy named Christian Heilmann about some of the basic things that make the web great. In his post he says the following:

“Links are kind of magical, insofar that they allow anyone to have a voice and be found. Check Paul Neave’s “Why I create for the web” to read a heartfelt ode to the Link. And it is true; once you managed to publish something at a URL all kind of wonderful things can happen:

  • People can go there directly
  • Search engines can index it so people can find it searching for similar terms
  • Consumers can get the content you published without having to identify themselves and enter their credit card details (like they have to in almost any App Marketplace)
  • Consumers can keep the URL for later and share it with others, thus advertising for you without being paid for it”

That last one is something I had never given much thought to, but it is relevant in today’s world.

What technologies have we yet to invent?

  • Ray guns – while we have lasers they’re nowhere near what we have in Sci-Fi movies. Star Wars anyone?
  • Time Machines – while this may technically be impossible. I still want it on the list.
  • Teleporters – this kind of goes with the last one.
  • Video Calls everywhere – In Back to the Future 2 Marty got fired from his job via a video call. Based on the timeline of events that should happen sometime next year…..
  • Holograms – see Star Trek
  • Androids – (no not this android) once again… see Star Trek

However….. here’s a few we almost have.

Living in the Future

Apple Issues

I have several complaints about Apple technology that I want to address in this post. Some things will be iOS specific, while others will apply to Apple as a whole. Some of these things are similar to what existed in my previous post prior to the release of iOS 7.

1. In iOS 7 whenever you play a video in Safari it is not at all apparent which words are actionable buttons and what is simply a label. In the screenshot below the only thing that looks actionable is the slider for the time. The Done, Maximize, Back, Pause, Next and Airplay buttons are all grayed out. Normally that would mean you can’t use them. In this case however all of them work. A new user (or  advanced one) will not know what to press.

iOS 7 Video Player

2. The wish lists on the iOS/iTunes stores cannot be shared with anyone. (What good does it do to have a wish list if you can’t tell someone to buy stuff off of it?)

3. It is not possible to buy applications or media content from a website. It’s possible to buy Android apps from an iPad, why is it not possible to do the reverse?

4. It is not possible to view purchased content from anything other than iTunes or an iOS device. The web has evolved, it is time to make everything web centric. Google has done this from the start. It is time Apple followed suit. (They have proven they know how to make compelling web apps, they just did it with iWork)

5. Facetime should be opened as a standard. Give it to Google and Microsoft and allow them to make it the default on their devices as well. We’re well past the point of treating text, phone calls and video calls as anything other than what they truly are; more data.

6. iCloud needs to be fixed. The fix is actually very simple. Allow users to specify the iCloud account to use for each service. See below for an example

  • I may want to share notes across all of my devices, I may also want to share all of my photos on every device.
  • I do not need to share my iCloud Keychain across everything.

7. Magazines are almost dead. That doesn’t mean Newsstand needs to suck. Allow us to see our updated magazines. Don’t hide everything behind an icon.

8. Allow users to delete the default apps. Except for the app store. (Might also help with #7 above.)

9. Place the default apps on the app store so that I can re-download them after I accidentally delete them.

10. Fix the Photos app on iOS devices. It is actually more complicated to find photos now than it was on iOS6. Combine the photos app with iPhoto for iOS. There’s no good readon why both apps exists. They do the same thing.

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Apple’s iPad Roadmap

This is Apple’s game to lose and it looks like they’re fucking up.

The iPhone 5C is too expensive, plain and simple. Apple doesn’t seem to realize that their target audience has shifted. They’re no longer looking at developed countries. They are looking at the emerging markets. Apple is currently about 300 million devices behind Google. They need to close that gap. iOS is currently on about 700 million devices. This post looks at how they can get to the next 700 million.

First let’s look at the iPad. This device is arguably doing better than the iPhone because it still has decent marketshare. I will admit that Apple priced the iPad Mini too high, but that’s water under the bridge. Going forward Apple needs to fill out their iPad line. Here’s what I envision as the ideal iPad lineup:

iPad (10 inch) $349 – $375
iPad Mini (8 inch) $299 – $325
iPad Nano (6 inch) $249 – $275
iPad Micro (4 inch) (formerly the iPod Touch) $199 – $225

You’ll notice that I’ve repositioned the iPod Touch. As time goes on we should expect to see Apple sell fewer and fewer iPods. The era of a dedicated music device is over. Unless you’re a gym rat you probably don’t own/need an iPod.

Additionally you’ll notice that I’ve changed the incremental pricing between products. Apple needs to move away from $100 for each upgrade and bring it down to $50 to $75. This should still leave room for profit while increasing the viable market.

What’s really interesting about those prices is that it shows that there is already a spot for what I call the iPad Nano. A six inch device that sits between the iPod Touch/iPad Micro and the existing iPad Mini.

What do you think? Does this make sense or is it completely off base?

-ED

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Update on Gold iPhone

So it turns out the rumors were true. This thing is real. Whether or not this is the begining of the end only time will tell.

-ED

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