Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Apple & Web Services

It is no secret that Apple has never been good at web services (I’ve written about it myself and any search of the web brings up similar articles). Apple has tried to create social networks (Ping), web services (.Mac/Mobile Me), and most recently music streaming services (Apple Music) with varying degrees of success. And while Apple Musics success is still debatable it is a late entry to the space and the former two examples could be considered failures and under whelming. For all their success in hardware Apple cannot seem to leverage themselves into a strong position with web services. That could change though. Recent trends toward atomizing services and the ubiquity of the iPhone platform could allow Apple to make inroads into the web services marketplace.

Large web services companies like Facebook and Google are moving away from monolithic service offerings and are breaking out services into stand alone applications or products. For instance, Google separated the photo features from Google Plus into Google Photos and Facebook has broken out Facebook Messenger and Groups into separate applications while Linkedin is breaking its news feature into a seperate app too. Apple could develop niche applications for the iPhone that come preinstalled with iOS that they could they could use to build market share among the Apple faithful and then port to other operating systems. In fact Apple has already started this with their work applications (Pages, Numbers, and Keynote) and the iBooks application.

Through a confluence of events Apple has a unique oppurtunity in the messaging space right now to build their app market share through the Messages app. Messenger apps are the new big platform battling for mindshare as more people move away for phone carrier based texting to data based messaging. The Messages app currently allows iPhone users to send messages over data as long as they both have iPhones if Apple were to roll out a version on Android (and other platforms) it would open up their market to many more users. (Apple Music is another obvious example though the content deals will vary country to country and Messages could be rolled out globally). This would allow Apple to gain mindshare for their other software and services, which they could then leverage to gain more revenue streams.

Also while Apple’s experience at web services is lacking they do have great experience managing the iTunes and the App Store marketplaces. That marketplace experience does give Apple access to payee information, which they could leverage their advantage. At this point I would follow same pattern as the Beats aquisition and their old arch rival Microsoft: buy over build. There are several software areas where Apple could invest that would help bolster their current software offerings including:

  • Online Storage (i.e. The cloud)
  • Productivity Tools (word processors, spreadsheet)
  • Photos
  • Website Services
  • Identity management

No matter how Apple builds their web services portfolio they need to expand their marketshare and not loose any further ground to more established players in the space.

Facebook Messanger Wants to be Your Phone Number With New Message Requests by Josh Constine (http://techcrunch.com/2015/10/27/facebook-message-requests) Published on: 10.27.2015 and Accessed on: 11.22.2015

iTunes 12.2 New Version Missed an Opportunity for Apple Music by Variety (http://www.engadget.com/2015/07/04/itunes–12–2-new-version-a-missed-opportunity-for-apple-music/) Published on: 07.04.2015 and Accessed on: 07.05.2015

Linkedin Revamps Messaging Experience on iOS with Redesigned App by Cam Bunton (http://9to5mac.com/2015/09/01/linkedin-messaging-update/) Published on: 09.01.2015 and Accessed on: 11.22.2015 Cam

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Can Apple Survive on Hardware Alone?

No one disputes that Apple makes amazing hardware. Whether a phone, watch, laptop or desktop Apple makes beautiful hardware that is often lusted after by consumers and copied by competitors. The sleek lines and rounded corners evoke something out of a scifi novel and the way Apple markets their products they have a more incommon with artisanal goods that mass produced consumer products. Yet to own piece of the future is not cheap. Apple products are typically more expensive than similar products in their category while also being less modifiable and accessible at a hardware level. This higher expense has meant that Apple has great margins on their products and has largely stayed away from the race to the bottom seen across the consumer electronics market. However, the market Apple has chosen to target is limited by its nature and eventually Apple will reach saturation so the questions remains what is the next step for the house that Jobs built?

Here are what I think about some potential next moves for the company that are being bandied about the Internet (plus some of my own):

1) Double-Down: This is the most straight forward option. The company continues to produce phones, desktops, tablets and other hardware along the same format that has lead to their current success. I think the Beats acquisition was in part an effort to expand their current market strategy (i.e. high margin hardware) with the Apple Watch being a different play entirely (see next bullet).

2) Tech as Fashion: This is a popular opinion by many pundits as Apple has been pushing the Apple Watch and building their presence in the high end fashion retail market. The high end fashion has similar margins as Apple and fashion designers have similar aspiration qualities present in their products as Apple leverages their products. As consumer technology is more mainstream this could be a good move though will still require some cultural shift. Though if the smart watch can become as ubiquitous as the smart phone then that could be another product stream that fits into Apples current market.

3) Apple as Service Provider: Apple Music launched this summer to much fanfare into a crowded streaming service market while Apple has within the last year revamped their iCloud storage options and pushed hard to be the service to store your photos. Focusing on software and services would be a major shift for Apple and also any area where they are generally weaker. Though while history has shown that Apple doesn’t understand software (i.e. Ping, Mobile Me) Apple does have great marketplace experience with the iTunes and App stores, which does give it mindshare in payee information.

4) Apple as Content Provider: Apple already puts on the iTunes Music festival every year so their is nothing stopping them from producing original content (like Netflix or Amazon) or partnering with establishing movie or music studios for executive content deals that would only be availiable on iOS and Mac OS X devices (this could be considered the next evolution in the HBO Now deal).

5) Apple as Infrastructure: Rumors have circulated that Apple is working on a car though there could be greater oppurunity for Apple rollout their own cellular network or even fiber network. Apple has always been particular about how customers interact with their products and controlling the full experience through services would be next evolution in that development.

The Monthlification of Apple by Jan Dawson (http://recode.net/2015/10/23/the-monthlification-of-apple/) Published on: 10.23.2015 and Accessed on: 11.17.2015

Why the Legacy Car Makers Can’t Compete with Apple or Tesla by Matt Asay (http://readwrite.com/2015/10/15/tesla-apple-connected-car-makers) Published on: 10.15.2015 and Accessed on: 10.18.2015

9 Features Apple Music Needs to Win Over Power Users by Travis Bernard (http://techcrunch.com/2015/08/22/please-fix-apple-music/) Published on: 8.22.2015 and Accessed on: 8.26.2015.

Apple is Acquiring New Photo Recognition Start-up by Russell Brandon (http://www.theverge.com/2015/10/6/9466613/apple-perceptio-acquire-photo-recognition-startup-siri) Published on: 10.06.2015 and Accessed on: 11.23.2015

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Brand Loyalty

The market appears to be punishing Tesla due to an unfavorable review by product review bastion consumer reports (on Tuesday, October 20th shares dropped ~$20 in the afternoon before clawing back a slight gain before the closing bell). Having grown up in a Consumer Reports household I can understand the wariness some could have over owning a Tesla given the recent review. Thogh as this article in Techcrunch points out even though Consumer Reports found owners who had complaints they still thought glowingly of the brand. Automobiles have reached a commodified levle for many consumers as most cars meet the standard needs for average drivers (i.e. they get them from point A to point B) so generating that level of loyalty for a car is fantastic.

Tesla Shares Plummet After Consumer Reports Drops Model S Recommendation by Alex Wilhem (http://techcrunch.com/2015/10/20/tesla-shares-plummet-after-consumer-reports-drops-model-s-recommendation) Published on: 10.20.2015 and Accessed on: 10.20.2015

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Restart, Rebirth, Reimagine

This blog is a continual project. It has been restarted and reborn several times over powered by different platforms and focusing on different content. I cannot help but compare the experience to comicbook publishers periodically restarting a prominent series as new writers or artists onboard (often through killing or changing the main character so it is unrecognizable to prior fans). Sometimes a character needs a fresh perspective from a new team and it is best to declare story bankruptcy and begin anew.

Similarly, I have decided to retool the blog and begin the blog anew. The blog’s main goal has always been to share and develop my thoughts on technology, and librarianship (plus some readers advisory and pop culture thrown in for good measure). The viewpoint will stay the same though hopefully with more frequent and better posts. The frequency of the blog posts has always been varied depending on several factors such as the news cycle and the various facets throughout my life, which can make more regular posts a challenge. Though I am hoping through making the posting/writing process more efficient I can put out more posts. The major changes to the blog will be as follows:

1) Platform: I have been using Blogger for years (prior to that I was hosting the blog myself) and thought about changing though Blogger still offers a great feature set (built in mobile version, custom domain set-up) for a reasonable price (i.e. free).

2) Content: Working in information management I am more distressed by my content being caught up in a single platform so I am streamlining my creation process (more on the specifics later) and will be writing all future posts in plain text so I can retain a master copy of the content, and then (hopefully) using markdown to prepare the post for publication.

3)Focus: The blog has often been veered in various directions concerning topics covered (everything from technology blogging to reviews etc.) I will be refocusing the blog a series of topics that where i think my voice has a particular value-add: librarianship (and being a librarian in the 21st century), and technology (with a slight focus on Apple), and also work (remote work and productivity. I will be moving the reviews and other more personal posts to my personal blog

4) Organization: Alongside the changes to focus I will be re-cataloging the entries using a faceted taxonomy so anyone looking for a particular topic will be able to find it much easier. The schema will be as follows:

Librarian – Content Management
Librarian – Embedded Librarian
Librarian – Information Management
Librarian – Library
Librarian – Technology
Librarian – Taxonomy
Librarian – Knowledge Management
Librarian – Personal Brand
Librarian – Librarianship
Technology – Apple
Technology – Email
Technology – Mobile
Technology – Social Media
Technology – Internet Access
Work – Productivity
Work – Remote Work

5)Archives: As mentioned above, the content for this site has varied over the years thought the older posts will remain in the archives and accessible as much as some of the older posts make me internally wince they are part of the process (plus the archivist in can’t bare to remove them).

Library Travels

Last month I came across the article that Seven Days ran about how librarian Jessamyn West is on a mission to visit every library in Vermont, and it made think about how libraries inhabit physical space.

As much as I believe that the future of libraries hinges on virtual service delivery I still love to visit libraries, and believe the physical library is important. How the physical space manifests itself can be different depending on the library: for example corporate libraries could be welcoming for meetings and knowledge sharing while academic libraries could have lecture spaces alongside small study areas, and public libraries could be open forums for community discussion. 

Regardless of audience though libraries can leverage their physical space alongside their virtual space to brand the library as a community resource in the virtual and a physical world.  Though you'll notice among the above examples I didn't mention "house books". While libraries have often been viewed as book repositories libraries have progressed beyond housing dead trees on shelves and need to show themselves as knowledge connectors. 

Another reason that the article really resonated with me is that whenever I travel to a new place I always enjoying checking out the local public library.  I always find theses trips invigorating and educational as every library approaches their mission slightly differently and you can learn a lot about their perspective by soaking up the atmosphere. I look forward to more seeing libraries as my travels continue.

Jessamyn West Documents by Ethan De Seife (http://www.sevendaysvt.com/vermont/jessamyn-west-documents-vermont-public-libraries/) Published on: 12.18.2013 and Accessed on: 12.20.2013

Elbow Grease and Geocoding Making a Map of Vermont Public Libraries by Jessamyn West (http://www.librarian.net/stax/4209/elbow-grease-and-geocoding-making-a-map-of-vermonts-public-libraries/) Published on: 11.06.2013 and Accessed on: 12.20.2013

Monday, June 22, 2015

Librarian Futures: Knowledge Sharing in the Enterprise

Last week Ron Miller wrote on Techcrunch about the persistent issue of knowledge sharing in the enterprise space focused around how identity and security are looked at as two different disciplines yet they are really two reflections of the same goal. While the article focused on security this issue persists throughout the enterprise environment across many different departments and not just within security and identity. Information and knowledge gets trapped inside departments and internal working groups without a concerted effort to push it between teams. There are many tools to facilitate knowledge and information sharing though without building a sharing culture those tools often go underutilized. Being an information or knowledge champion is the perfect role for a corporate information professionals/librarian. Librarians have been sharing and organizing information for centuries and connecting people with information across the organization is a perfect fit for their skill set.

As champions librarians can set-up knowledge transfer systems and help facilitate knowledge capture through acting as information hubs throughout the organization.

1) The Audit: Librarians can speak with key principals and staff across different departments to understand what they're working on currently and the trends in their group.

2) Knowledge Access: As mentioned earlier, there are several tools available to capture and organize information within an organization. The librarian can mange the repository ensuring any taxonomy is followed and items are cataloged correctly (plus advocating for including documents in the system in the first place across the organization).

3) Knowledge Connection(s): Through understanding what the different groups throughout an organization are working on (and their goals) the librarian can help facilitate dialog between teams working on similar projects across different teams.

The Enterprise Silo Problem Exists by Ron Miller (http://techcrunch.com/2015/06/12/the-enterprise-silo-problem-stubbornly-persists) Published on: 06/14/2015 and Accessed on: 06/15/2015

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Is the Mac still a Rebel?

Like many in my peer group my first computing experience was on an early Apple computer (an Apple Macintosh SE), and after a decade of so in the PC wilderness I returned to the Macintosh in early 2000s. This was prior to Apple's push into the phone and tablet market though after the OS X revolution. In the early 2000s Macs were embodied by their "Think Different" motto and seen as the rebellious choice over the staid PC (Remember the Mac vs PC commercials?) Over the past decade I have watched Apple diversify their product portfolio, and the Mac become a more mainstream computing platform, which makes me wonder what happens when the rebel is no longer the rebel.

In mid-November, Walt Mossberg wrote on Recode about the strong quarter Apple reported for their Mac product line with an 18% jump in revenue growth year over year* The reasons behind this growth is a confluence of events: Apple has done a great job in marketing the Mac through its excellant retail presence, the iPhone's popularity has helped foster Mac sales through the "halo" affect, and users have been drawn to the Mac for its combination of hardware and software.

Recently, whenever I walk into a coffeeshop and look around the MacBooks outnumber the Windows laptops. While no longer personified by the rebels, and the artists I think the Mac is still a superior computing platform to other operating systems and am glad the Mac community continues to grow. The reasons I appreciate the Mac are the design sense, the strong support ecosystem, and the strong small developer community making great programs. Being a rebel has never appealed to me and Apple should embrace its market leadership and forge a new image. Being a rebel has served  Apple well though now it should embrace the staid image of building a reliable, mainstream platform.

The Mac’s Second Act: From Obscurity to Ubiquity by Walt Mossberg (http://recode.net/2014/11/19/the-macs-second-act-from-obscurity-to-ubiquity/) Published on: 11.2014 and Accessed on: 01.18.2015