A Perspective on iPad’s Impact on Your Mind

With a potential 8.5M iPad’s sold in 2010 and projections of as many as 43.7M units sold in 2011, there is no question that this device has created quite an impact and will going forward. Some are even heralding the death of the netbook (the under $400 tiny laptops) but what I’ve not seen is any discussion about how the use of these devices is changing the way we interact with our computers and, most importantly, its impact on our minds.

The problem with using current desktop or laptop computers is that far too often we have multiple web browser windows open, each with multiple tabs for email, calendar, your blog, Facebook, Twitter and who knows what else. You’ll also have applications open (e.g., Word, Excel, Photoshop, iTunes) and be interacting with all sorts of these applications, most of which are connected to the internet.

Not only is the visual noise of all this stuff running on your screen a disruption, but when an email comes in, someone connects with you via chat, you see a tweet come in from one of your Twitter follows, or you hear a “ping” that someone has begun a Facebook chat with you, it’s a disruption that can knock you off track and off task for quite awhile.

In the scientific community there is significant research that has gone in regarding what happens in our minds when we multitask. What happens when we’re interrupted and then resume our work. How long it takes to resume our cognitive processes after being interrupted and what this does to our ability to get stuff done.

But what does this have to do with the iPad and its impact on your mind? Read More

Why Is Apple’s Success Now So Bad?

I find it ironic when pundits, developers, partners and even customers cry out in seeming anguish when a company gains a successful foothold in any given marketplace — especially when those same people are the ones who lament a company who is not doing well — and this behavior is particularly pronounced in technology, especially when it comes to Apple.

I worked for Apple in the late 1990s after Steve Jobs had returned to the company. In presentations, sales calls and even at family events, I was in MAJOR DEFENSIVE MODE at all times since I was frequently bombarded by negativity from customers, prospects, family and friends. “Apple is about out of business,” was a familiar refrain as was “Borsch…you’re just a Mac fanboy” from my I.T., Windows machine toting friends and relatives. I was even given crap about owning so much of the stock (which, believe me, I’m damn glad I kept!!) and have felt vindicated as those same people have now flocked to Apple computers and “iStuff” in droves. Many rely on me for advice and assistance as well, but the irony of their previous attitudes are lost on them.

The success of the iPod, and Apple’s quick cornering of the market for music downloads, began to cause angst amongst record executives who saw not a savior of their failing business model, but a company now positioning them for success in a digital world.

Exactly the same thing is happening now with the iPhone and the iPad and Apple’s insistence on no Flash and controlling how the applications are developed and deployed on these devices. The iPhone (according to Morgan Stanley’s Mary Meeker) had the fastest rampup in sales of any consumer device ever. It appears that the iPad’s 1 million in sales in 28 days (which Steve Jobs said, “One million iPads in 28 days—that’s less than half of the 74 days it took to achieve this milestone with iPhone.“) may make it the fastest ramping product ever.

I’ve read many of the arguments for-and-against the closed nature of the “iApp” marketplace and am not going to delve into that in this post, but all of the recent brouhaha about Apple’s “no Flash in iStuff” policy and their supposed “stranglehold on tools to develop iApps” is an example of the concern of success and Apple’s incredible strategic thinking about the marketplace, technology landscape, and anticipating the direction we’re all moving towards and innovating with devices we’ll need to make that journey more effective. Read More

Will NetVibes See The Huge Opportunity on iPad?

Techcrunch had this post today about NetVibes launching a new auto-dashboard and tracking service, and it sparked a thought about my new iPad and I had to discover if the NetVibes service I used to know would be an efficient method of having a single spot to aggregate lots of sites and RSS feeds.

Most of the functionality works, but the same latency issues remain and a couple of iPad-centric ones emerge as I’ll explain, but those are trivial to the opportunity the iPad presents for NetVibes.

NetVibes is the best “start page” or “portal creator” engine out there in my opinion.  It’s trivial to create tabs (like those you see in the screenshot above) and populate them with widgets that are either standalone ones for news, weather, sports, email, calendar, Twitter, Facebook or other news feeds and hosted applications and you can create your own widgets too. It’s also incredibly attractive and there are hundreds of “skins” to customize the look, feel and color schemes or you can create your own from scratch.

While this isn’t an exhaustive post about the functionality of NetVibes, I was quite delighted to logon just before lunchtime and see that a “dashboard” which I’d created over a year ago functioned perfectly on my iPad, though was a bit crowded with the 22 tabs I had in it (a number of tabs which looked fine on my huge desktop monitor, but a bit cramped on the iPad). Read More

Steve Wozniak on Color Computing

When Apple released the Apple II at the West Coast Computer Faire in 1977, it was a big deal with its color display. Since I love poking around FORA.tv and watching the thought leader videos curated there, I was pleased to see this snippet of a Steve Wozniak (Woz) interview (you can watch the entire hour+ program here) about the spark of genius. The cool thing? As you listen and watch Woz describe how he came up with the idea to deliver color computing for a radically reduced price, it is the quintessential description of problem solving and creative solutions to problems.

This was recorded at the Bay Area Discovery Museum on February 1, 2010 and they describe it this way:

Steve Wozniak, Apple co-founder and philanthropist in conversation at the Discovery Forum 2010 with Emmy-award winning journalist Dana King from CBS 5 Eyewitness News.

Renowned technology pioneer Steve Wozniak speaks to the importance of hands-on learning and encouraging creativity, and how the Bay Area Discovery Museum is a critical resource for preparing children for the challenges of the 21st century.

The Discovery Forum serves to increase awareness about the importance of childhood creativity, and raises support for the Museum’s educational exhibitions and programs.

Watch this couple of minute segment (yes, there are ads first) and you’ll see what I mean about creative problem solving:

Apple A4 Chip is the “Magic” & is “Revolutionary”

Couldn’t agree more with Jay Yarow at Silicon Alley Insider that The Real iPad Revolution is the A4 Chip That’s Running It. That is where the “magic” is and will set Apple apart for a very, very long time.

Many people seemed to wonder about Apple’s 2008 acquisition of PASemi, a small chip designer for $278M. Ever since I devoured former Apple CEO, John Sculley’s book “Odyssey: Pepsi to Apple : A Journey of Adventure, Ideas, and the Future“, where Sculley outlined the future of computers (in 1987, I might add) where chip designers would shrink functionality on to custom chips cranked out by fabrication plants for those designers, I’ve been a believer in this concept and wondered what has taken so long for a company to jump on this and do it.

Though it’s highly unlikely that Jobs would even acknowledge this vision from the guy that got him ousted from Apple and took the helm to the company’s detriment, it’s nice to see Apple driving forward on this concept that will give it competitive advantage no other company will be able to match.

Watching the keynote video I can only imagine what an A4, or its derivative, will mean for the nextgen iPhone certain to ship this summer!

Broadband Providers: “Let’s cut ’em off at the pass!”

Even the most naive and casual observer can see that the threat from services like Hulu; both Apple’s TV and movie offerings within iTunes; Joost; and the accelerating number of media center software offerings (providing access to ANY video on the internet), pose a huge threat to the cable companies and other broadband providers.

They are all clearly trying to get out ahead of the user market (and the maturity of video provider business models as well as the open source media center software) and put caps in place before wider adoption occurs.

As a tail-end baby boomer with enough of a geek nature to be involved far too deeply in the ‘net, web and social media in my business, I realize I’m atypical within my demographic on how I, and as a result my family, use our Comcast broadband connection. With Comcast’s 50mbps down/10mbps up DOCSIS 3 setup in my office (Note: we were one of two companies in their Minnesota rollout of this new technology) and 16mbps down/2mbps up at home, I’m dealing daily in video, photos, moving around large Zip files, screensharing, personal publishing, and numerous other online activities. These activities are mission critical to our small business, my wife’s and my client interactions, as well as family activities and connecting with others.

Comcast, one of the largest providers in this space, directly affects all aspects of our digital lives. With my family and my current and increasing use of the internet for an every expanding array of online activities (Skype calling; my son’s video gaming; Flickr and Vimeo for photo/video sharing; online backup of our computers; use of our new Mac mini media center), we are certain to end up violating Comcast’s draconian 250GB bandwidth caps (er, I mean, Network Management Policy).

The kicker? According to Comcast’s executive escalation group, I can’t even pay them more for higher tiers of service with no cap or, as one representative told me in March, “…the cap is the cap, regardless of the tier of service.

Did you know that, in Comcast’s case, they can simply cut you off for exceeding that 250GB cap with no warning and that their promised metering tools are still missing in action?

Then I read this recently about Time Warner’s laughingly low caps and realized that, if Time Warner gains traction with this approach, Comcast will follow suit and we’ll all have to watch and do whatever these providers allow us to do online.

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Mogulus: Yep…It’s Still a Beta Product

This is a cautionary tale about a jaw droppingly fabulous technology that simultaneously was quite a frustrating and shaky experience as a producer with what turned out to be just over 94% uptime today. This story also illustrates how inventive and innovative technologies are really pushing the envelope with cloud computing.

Over the last several weeks, I invested days in due diligence on video streaming eventually signing up with Mogulus, “…the most powerful live broadcast platform on the internet.” While I don’t doubt they’ll achieve that vision someday, the tiny gray label in their logo that says “Beta” means that they’re actually, “…the most powerful live broadcast platform on the internet in beta.

Any non-online software company will flat out tell you NOT to use beta software “in production”. Of course, Google’s permanent affixing of the word “beta” under Gmail means that beta has become a convenient excuse when something goes wrong and, frankly, makes you and I as users partly to blame (which reminds me of that line in the movie Animal House when, after destroying the car belonging to the brother of Flounder, one of the fraternity pledges, Otter tells him, “Hey! You fucked up…you trusted us!”

I spent all day today running an online channel filled with several dozen videos, organized into storyboards, for a 24 hour internet broadcast channel for a client. Luckily, the 28 minutes during the live, streaming conference event for my client worked flawlessly, but at least five other times during the day the streaming channel simply went black (though the ticker at the bottom of the screen worked but no video played) and four other times there was stuttering or videos repeating parts of themselves.

Frantic calls from other team members ensued, I emailed support and it corrected itself in minutes (varying from 5-8 minutes) so the email replies were always, “Ahh…I looked at it and it looks fine.”  Each time this happened (or the several times the video stuttered or replayed short snippets of a video 2 or 3 times), we lost viewers which was the real irritant.

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TV = Brain Off / Computer = Brain On

In 2004 Steve Jobs famously said about TV vs. computers, “We think basically you watch television to turn your brain off, and you work on your computer when you want to turn your brain on.” It was one of those statements that seemed like a throwaway (and one most of us did the old head bobbing up-n-down about), but it’s become more and more true since then.

My wife and I often take our laptops upstairs and lie in bed finishing up the days emails, exploring, and increasingly watching “TV”. In fact, my brain gets SO turned on that I find it hard to go to sleep…so I’ve actually stopped doing that in order to relax, quiet down and nod off (and older relatives have cautioned on how “you’re going to ruin your marriage” by playing with our laptops at night vs. with each other).

When I first saw the delightful Alec Baldwin Hulu ad on the Super Bowl — with its clear and humorous reference on how TV watching turned your brain into a gelatinous mush they could scoop out and eat (since they’re aliens, after all) — the brilliance of the campaign took my breath away.

It did so because of the NBC team’s recognition that most of us in the always-on, always-connected participation culture — increasingly turning our attention away from all traditional mediums like TV, radio, newspapers and magazines — view television watching as the mind numbing, brain mushing pursuit it is, but still one we turn to when we choose to be entertained passively.

The team obviously recognized that doing a fun advertisement to get our attention, directly addressing this obvious fact within it and, of course, delivering a service that meets our needs whether we’re watching an actual television set or have our brains turned on with our computing devices, they nailed it.

Jobs nailed it too over four years ago with that statement. He didn’t say anything about turning your brain on to perform tasks, but rather computers as an extension, a stimulator of our brains.

As we all move away from purely linear, serial tasks and processes toward a world where we drink in information, news, entertainment while connecting with others in a parallel and associative way, I’m eager to live in this time of awakening where more and more of us are living in a perpetual state of having our brains turned on.

Fall of 1983: Steve Jobs Introduces Macintosh to Us

Anya Major, the “woman with hammer” in Apple’s famous 1984 commercial launching the Macintosh

I saw Steve Jobs introduce the Mac to company sales personnel in Hawaii in 1983, the essence he’s brought to Apple is the subtlety and nuance of an approach to design and of quality to Apple, PIXAR and undoubtedly to his family and friends, and is a legacy that will endure forever.

The Mac, OS X, the tools, and everything else he has wrought have empowered people like me to create businesses (our core company publication is 21 years old thanks to my Mac SE/Laserwriter and Pagemaker) and continue to be able to deliver high value content and communications.

Bill Gates (Microsoft); Mitch Kapor (Lotus 1-2-3); Fred Gibbons (Software Publishing)

In honor of Steve Job’s letter today (explaining why he won’t be at Macworld) and in honor of tomorrow’s Macworld keynote by Phil Schiller, I bring you two videos from Steve’s intro of the Macintosh to the company in October November of 1983….and I was there!

This man’s vision has brought us so much and, I suspect, will bring us much more, starting tomorrow morning.

This was the faux “Dating Game” with Fred Gibbons, Mitch Kapor and Bill Gates. Many don’t remember Fred, CEO of Software Publishing, but the other two were an important duo supporting this new computer.

Is Apple’s App Store Top Secret?

There’s been plenty of talk about Apple’s decision to restrict certain applications from the iPhone App Store. We even talked about it today on our Minnov8 Gang podcast (one of our team is head of marketing for DoApp, the startup iPhone app developer in Minnesota).

While I’ve observed some of the commentary about previous apps that were rejected after the developer had done the work and submitted the app for review (like this “Pull my Finger” fart one), I was somewhat agitated — but then very agitated — when an app I wanted was rejected (even though I still was able to buy NetShare and download it before it was removed…probably permanently).

Then at the end of the week, I had a jaw-dropping surprise over the rejection of an iPhone application from the app store called Podcaster (You can see a video of Podcaster, and/or order the application, here).

Now I fear that Apple is making moves which will give pause to the ecosystem and either ensure that the killer app is on Google’s Android vs. the iPhone, or at the very least slow development of applications as the developer ecosystem waits to see if the control-freak Apple attitude toward the iPhone persists.

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