Categories
design innovation

WWDC 2020

Each year Apple holds it’s WWDC conference giving developers a peek at what’s coming in tech for the next year. This week Apple unveiling iOS 14, the next version of Mac, watch OS, and more.

DubDub is a fantastic event for enthusiasts and entrepnours because it gives us a peek at upcoming trends that we can expect to see over the coming year. There are three trends that I think are particularly interesting…

The first trend is the proliferation of apps.

  • iOS introduced widgets – they allow more information without opening apps
  • Organization – if you have many pages of apps you can quickly find them.
  • App Clips – an easy and lightweight way to install quick use apps like when you need to pay for a parking spot or cafe but don’t need to keep the app around.
  • Many improvements to Siri making it able to answer more informational questions and perform more tasks. Siri also doesn’t take up the entire screen, making it easier to invoke anytime without loosing context.

All of these features recognize that there are too many apps and bouncing in and out of apps isn’t great. Widgets bring you the information you want without opening an app, the organization makes it easier to find apps, and app clips allow you easy access to app powers without the download and clutter.

The second trend I spotted was around transportation.

  • Apple introduced features in its map product for bike routes making it easy to see elevation and get bike-friendly directions.
  • It introduced EV charging routes to give better directions for electric cars that need to charge-up while en-route.
  • They also introduced digital keys for the upcoming BMW with other cars in the works.

All of these features point to a macro trend around the evolution of transportation away from traditional cars. From bikes to the application of App-Clips for scooter rentals to sharing keys, Apple is painting a future where how we get around is changed.

They also hinted at Augmented Reality with technologies like spatial audio and more detailed perspective maps.

The third trend is really around the evolution of the computer.

Apple announced that they are producing their own computer “Systems on a Chip” or SOCs. This means that the chip that runs your iPhone, iPad and Mac will finally be made on the same architecture and that means that Apps from your iPad will now be able to run on your Mac.

  • The Apple UI got updated in a number of areas from Siri, Icons and Notifications. There’s been a lot of consolidation and the look and feel of the platforms is starting to align.
  • The Apple UI for the Mac is starting to look touch-friendly and that’s hinting at a future where Mac’s have touch screens.
  • Earlier this year Apple’s new iPad proclaimed that the new computer is your iPad and with the mature Mac operating system making the shift, this could become very true.
  • Additional focus on virtualization and compatibility technology imply that more cross iPad/Mac/Phone work is in-play and we’re likely to see iPad apps on the Mac and perhaps the inverse too.

What else?
There were a lot of features in iMessage for replies and animoji making iMessage almost like a twitter/slack client. The iPad introduced many features for pencil based interactions and there are a lot of subtle UI tweaks and improvements and I’m sure a ton under the covers.

Why DubDub?

Companies that want to get ahead should look to see if they can lean into some of the future trends. Being an early adopter of a new technology can give startups a distinct advantage.

So iOS 14 looks like a nice update, it doesn’t feel major but there are lots of little improvements throughout. App Clips are particularly interesting and I think it will aid in on-the-spot discovery.

Widgets are cute but I’ve never found widgets particularly useful. I think it’s a nice progression and a good departure from the grid we’ve had for the last decade. It’s also nice that this functionality isn’t buried in the today view.

Lastly, I do think that the migration of Mac to a common architecture will be a key change for the next decade of Apple. We can expect more shared features and more touch capabilities on the Mac. I think we’ll also see more powerful apps move to the iPad as a result. Xcode, FinalCut, Office, Photoshop and more are likely to become full-featured apps providing a consistent experience across touch, pen and computer.

Categories
business design innovation startups

Hey, Apple!

Hey, Apple, we need to talk about the App Store… Our relationship has gotten away from us. Things started great, I remember how Steve Jobs introduced us.

It started out simple: Free Apps, and Paid Apps. Paid apps pay a 30% rev-share and Free Apps are always Free. Steve Jobs, made it pretty clear and it was a good deal for a new platform that didn’t have many apps.

Things were good for many years. App Store was growing, Apple was promoting and advertising developers and apps. It was a great time to be an app developer, but things started to change.

The App Store Review process started to clamp down on developers. At first, it was for consistency with the platform, design guidelines, network consistency, and quality. But soon it started to be much more than that.

Apple started to reject apps that competed with Apple and started to enforce payment requirements on all digital apps that had subscriptions. At first, it was newspapers and magazines but over the years it has gotten broader and broader.

Many rejections are no longer for the benefit of consumers, it’s just for the benefit of Apple.

Applications from Netflix, Spotify, Audible, Facebook, and many more started to create features and experiences that were terrible because it was necessary to avoid paying Apple 30%. You’d download an app and you couldn’t do anything unless you went to a website to subscribe or create an account. For years you couldn’t use your audible credits to add books to your library because Apple wanted to compete with Amazon and take 30% off the top.

This terrible experience was a requirement if you wanted to avoid paying Apple 30% of your revenue. For many businesses that have smaller margins, this made it a requirement to create awkward free apps or limited apps that would then convert outside the app.

The App Review is a good idea – to provide a level of quality in the App store but the rules that are good for consumers are now confused with what is financially good for Apple. The App Store and Apple are very different now.

The promise of simplicity in the original app store isn’t there anymore. Apple isn’t helping market or sell apps the way that it did in the early days so the benefit to individual developers isn’t there anymore. It’s time to renegotiate the deal.

I’ve seen many businesses large and small get turned upside down because of reviews. The Hey email app being rejected recently is only the most recent battle. Apple’s platform isn’t an option for mobile-first companies, it’s table-stakes to compete.

Apple needs to look in the mirror and reexamine the relationship they want with their developer community. Do they think that Apple Pay and In-App-Payments should win on its own merits or if they should continue to strong-arm every digital business? Do they need developers to build apps anymore or should we go back to building web-apps? Does the App Store Review exist for the benefit of consumers or does it enforce an Apple advantage in certain businesses?

Hey Apple – I’ve been a fan of for many years, the app store has made me a lot of money and it’s made Apple into a trillion-dollar business, but the reason we loved Apple is that it symbolized the creators, the rebels, the misfits and trouble makers. As you think about iOS14 and WWDC- it’s time to reflect on your roots. Apple made products that wowed and we need to get back there. We need to rekindle the relationship. The AppStore is an amazing innovation but it’s gotten away from its roots. Let’s stop strongarming and let’s get back to making things that are insanely great.

Categories
business

TAGMA is the new FAANG

Tesla Apple Google Microsoft and Amazon – TAGMA

Tesla, Apple, Google, Microsoft and Amazon are leading their fields in terms of innovation and if you’re interested in business or just making money in the stock market, pay attention because these five are doing something different. TAGMA is the new FAANG and it’s here to stay.

First, let’s start out with a premise, and that is that customer-centric companies that innovate outperform non-innovative companies.

Is this true? Well, there’s research that shows that innovation can be correlated to company performance. A group from MIT looked at corporate ideation software (an overly expensive suggestion box) to see how many ideas were actually implemented and then looked at the performance of these companies to see how they did.

Source MIT Sloan

When there are few ideas implemented you have some winners and some losers but when you get to the right you have zero companies doing poorly when they are implementing the ideas of the organization.

Now a suggestion box is a good idea and this type of tool can lead to better communication and decentralized improvements across many parts of the company. Some of these suggestions may be small, but it’s not the size of the suggestion, it’s what you do about it that counts.

This is a small lens to use for large companies but small changes and innovations are good indicators that companies are open to larger changes, ideas and bigger, company pivots.

What’s this have to do with TAGMA and is it the new FAANG? I’m getting to that….

The S&P is changing

If you look at the S&P 500 it lists the largest 500 companies by market cap.

If you look at how long companies stay on the S&P 500 list, it’s changed dramatically.

Source Innosight

In the 1980’s it was over 30 years for the average company to stay on the S&P 500. By the year 2000 it was 15 years and some think it will shrink even more. Firms keep slipping off and the average time on the S&P has gone from 20 years down to 7. According to this research into longevity 50% of the companies on the S&P500 today won’t be there in 10 years.

So to be a high-performing firm you need to innovate and to stay on the list you need to be able to reinvent yourself every few years.

That brings us to my list.
Tesla, Apple, Google, Microsoft and Amazon.

Let’s start with four of these. If you look at the composition of the S&P 500 by market cap, 20% of it is made up by Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Apple and Facebook. 20%! Ok, then, why isn’t Facebook on my list?

Why not Facebook?

Well… I started off by saying that our premise was that customer-centric companies that innovate outperform non-innovative companies.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I have friends who work at Facebook and before I get angry emails, let me explain. While Facebook dominated their segment ofsocial media and the acquisitions of Oculus and Instagram were brilliant. Facebook just has a terrible reputation when it comes to customers.

They actually have a negative net promoter score… when you compare that to Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and Google, it’s not even close.

Facebook has a negative net promoter score compared with all of it’s tech peers

Why Tesla?

Ok, then but what about Tesla? Well, it’s not part of the S&P500? Why? Well, it hasn’t made the list yet. Tesla meets most of the criteria except for one. It needs to have positive reported earnings in the most recent quarter, as well as over the four most recent quarters. Tesla was supposed to hit that requirement but… global pandemic and all. If Tesla was on the list, it would likely be in the top 40.

The other reason I had it on my list is that unlike Netflix (a member of the FAANG club, who already destroyed Blockbuster) Tesla has a tiny fraction sliver of the market and lots of room to grow. Fast growing companies that are innovative grow up to be the next Apple’s and Google’s. No other company is growing like Tesla at scale.

Innovation wins in the long-term

For the last 10 years, I’ve personally invested in innovative companies and doing so I’ve consistently outperformed the S&P500 year, over year, over year. Now your mileage may vary but customer-centric innovation pays off; not just in terms of returns but in terms of positive impacts on society and the world.

Categories
design

Apple’s 2020 iPad Pro

If you’re anything like me, it’s been many days in quarantine and your kids stole your iPad a few weeks ago. So let’s take a look Apple’s new iPad Pro and what makes it so new.

Since the original announcement of the iPad over 10 years ago, the iPad has typically been considered the fourth screen device.

Your TV was the 1st screen, your computer was the second, the third was the mobile phone. With this release of the iPad pro, Apple is trying to change the narrative. Apple released two videos –
“Your next computer is not a computer” and “How to correctly use a computer”

In both videos, Apple is clearly trying to make the iPad your second screen taking the place of the computer and they are starting by targetting Pro’s with the iPad Pro. But Why would Apple do that?

If you look at Apple’s financials, over the last year you can see that revenue went down for Mac and iPhone business. However, iPad was up 17%. Apple would love for you to buy an iPad, pair it with some Airpods or Beats, and buy plenty of accessories like keyboards, apple pencils, and dongles.

Apple has been great at hardware advances and it’s no surprise that the display, camera, and performance are getting better and better. The introduction of Lidar is a surprise but this seems to be an extension of what Apple’s been doing with the Facetime camera.

Lidar stands for LIght Detection And Ranging. It sends light beams and then captures the reflection to figure out the range and spacial orientation. It’s used by the Mars Rover, some self-driving cars and now the iPad. It’s being used to improve the Augmented Reality experiences.

In terms of AR, I think there are two interesting areas to explore. The first is gaming. We’ve seen a lot of AR-enhanced games and while they are fun for a few minutes, apart from Pokemon go, few have had lasting value. With better cameras, these games will continue to improve. These technologies set the stage for AR glasses that Apple is rumored to be working on.

The second area in AR is how it’s being used professionally and this is where the iPad Pro may really shine in terms of its technology.

Several years ago Google had introduced AR into it’s larger tablets and Facebook’s Oculus has been pushing into this space. The new iPad’s Lidar is likely to find fans in architecture, space planning, and interior design and Apple’s videos are showing this future.

I know a number of folks who have tried to move to the iPad as their primary computer over the years with many issues, but Apple is systematically working on removing their objections.

Certain types of editing workflows are just easier with your hands on the keyboard and trackpad so Apple is introducing what can only be described as a variation of the traditional mouse and pointer user experience.

The user experience of the trackpad interface is particularly interesting. When not in use the pointer disappears and when it is in use the pointer snaps to controls as you get close. As you hover over text, spreadsheets or other controls the pointer shows context. Apple is even taking advantage of Fitts’s law to make sure that edge gestures like control-center or task switching is particularly easy. The full-size keyboard also removes many of the objections for typing longer documents on the iPad.

The other main objection for using the iPad as a computer is the lack of pro-level applications. Apple has been chipping away at this problem and some tools such as Adobe Photoshop and other pro-level tools have started to be available, however, even Apple’s own pro-level tools such as Final Cut Pro, Motion, and Xcode haven’t yet gotten their 1st generation iPad versions, making it hard to convince both Pros and larger software companies.

The iPad is looking like a great computer alternative but, it’s unlikely to replace your computer if you’re a true pro. Pros in audio, video, photography, architecture and engineering are likely to need tools and applications that aren’t yet available on the iPad Pro.

Apple is making great progress on a technology called “Mac Catalyst” that is allowing developers to share more code between their iPad, iPhone and Mac apps and that will also help.

So if you’re a Pro the new screen, keyboard, performance, and Lidar enhanced camera can certainly come in handy, but what if you’re not a Pro?

For non-pros, this can absolutely be a computer replacement. Web-browsing, document editing, portability, is a great option. The only potential downside is the price. When comparing the new iPad Pro with the new 13″ Macbook Air the two are almost the exact same price. If you configure both with 245GB and keyboard the iPad Pro is $84 more expensive.

So is the iPad Pro a computer replacement? Probably not for the true pros, it’s still a fourth screen for most but I do think the format for a tablet/slate computer is likely to become the second screen of the future.