Sat, 30 Jan 10

Reflections in the iPad

Apple announced a new tablet as predicted, and as expected, everyone has been talking about it ever since. Pundits, programmers, strategists, sophists, and my kids have been weighing in. Social courtesy requires of me to share my thoughts.

Apple will undoubtedly deliver on the promised magic. And it will be great, and awesome. People will line up, jostling each other, to buy it. Strangers will bond in singing its praises, and friends will come to blows over differed opinions. Otherwise perfect families, complete with an iMac, a MacBook, two iPhones and three iPods have suddenly realized that they have an unmet need and are itching to fulfill it.

iPhone developers, new and old, will go overboard in porting and writing new apps that will make the iPad positively shine. Newspapers suffering from shifting patterns of news consumption are hoping that the tablet will create a new channel for keeping their readers and rejuvenating their brand. Book publishers fighting Google’s book scanning agenda and Amazon’s book-selling tactics are happy to have another dog (or lion) in the fight.

Apple is now a $50B-dollar-a-year company. Apple’s hardware design and integration skills are already a huge cut above everyone else in the world. They have now developed their own in-house chip that is causing some beard-tugging from the small band of CPU designers capable of reading between the lines. This ability to recombine technology DNA with a laser-like product focus is unparalleled and, in Apple’s case, highly repeatable.

From NeXT technologies repurposed to be the Mac OS X, and KHTML engine jump-starting the industry-leading WebKit browser framework to the morphing of the Mac OS X into the iPhone OS, very few organizations can deliver improvements on multiple fronts so fast and so radically. Apple does it again and again.

Apple software teams deliver seamless experiences in their marque applications combining firmware/OS/toolkit expertise and user interface insights. Apple has finally recognized and embraced third party developers providing them with SDKs and tools as well as a way to get paid through App Store purchases.

Apple, in short, is inexorable, controlling its supply chain, extending its reach and creating its own destiny through a new device-driven ecosystem, rooted in end-to-end capabilities and special partnerships. A veritable Magic Kingdom, where there is an App for what you want, everything just works and happy vendors wear uniforms with name-tags.

Sat, 30 Jan 10