Tag Archives: Alan Patrick

What Apple did right with the iPhone

Alan Patrick sums it up nicely:

“In fact its indicative of the industry’s malaise that Apple made such a big splash by making a phone that merely “did” the ‘Net easily, loaded applications quickly, and had a decent size screen. Hardly revolutionary technology, but they came as a shock to the mobile industry. Putting the user’s need first – how totally innovative!”

Just like the old saying “Only Nixon could go to China”, I often think “Only Apple could do the iPhone” – not because the technology is wildly novel, but because only someone as ballsy as Steve Jobs could force the telcos to not mess things up. Jobs’ real genius was forcing AT&T to accept unlimited Internet that really meant unlimited, not allowing any walled gardens in access, and refusing to carry network-specific applications.

In other words, remembering that “the customer” is the end user – not the networks.

There’s an interesting parallel here with Microsoft, too. Although Microsoft has always sold plenty of product direct to end-users, for years there’s been a very real sense that its actual customers were IT managers and directors – hence its focus on features in Windows for them, occasionally at the expense of the people who actually have to use the machines.

Microsoft is, I think, realising that this isn’t a wise approach anymore: That even though its bread and butter remains the enterprise market, that market is now, at least in part, driven by the desires of end-users. The iPhone has proved to be a stealth weapon for Apple in the corporate market, with IT people being hassled to support it as a way of accessing corporate mail and so on. This is a horrific idea for Microsoft – any appearance of the Apple logo in corporates rings big alarm bells in Redmond.

The interesting question – and one I’ll leave open – is if Microsoft has the ability to turn its focus around, and target consumers rather than IT managers. In my limited experience of Windows 7 so far, I think the answer might be “yes” – but until I’ve had a good long play, and run into the inevitable “gotchas”, I’ll reserve judgement.

Cloud computing makes me nervous

Maybe it’s because I’m old, but cloud computing makes me nervous. I remember the Apple "1984" ad not just because it was a great piece of work by Ridley Scott, but also because of its underlying message. And that message was simple: monolithic computer systems supplied by monolithic suppliers aren’t a good idea for individuals.

Cloud computing is a return to the dark ages of the 1960′s and 1970′s, when all of your most valuable things – your data – sat on a big server somewhere. You accessed it from a simple terminal, but only so long as you paid IBM or whoever to process your data. While you owned the data in theory, in practice you were at the mercy of your supplier.

Alan Patrick, too, has been around the blocks a few times, which is why he is equally amazed at what people are sleepwalking into:

"I’ve been reading some of the comments on other blogs about this with a mounting sense of wonder at the sheer naivete of some users. For anything that is important: Firstly, always plan for redundancy in your systems – have an online and on computer service that are synched. Secondly, do frequent backups to a 3rd source. Thirdly, if its important, pay for it. Ad funded services are responsive to the advertisers, not to the users – its that pipers / tune thing."

If you use Google Documents exclusively you are taking a serious risk that one day Google will lock you out of your data. I’m not impuning anything about Google here – they may, indeed, plan to "do no evil". But you are relying on their good grace, and that should make you nervous.

Own your own documents – keep them on your hard drive, and on a seperate drive or two as well. Use Google Documents as a backup, not your only storage.