If You Aren’t Mobile, You Are Behind The Curve…

mobileapps2…and being behind the curve is not the place to be at the moment. There are new startups every day, each either carving a new place in the market with an interesting new product, or doing being an improved me-too startup.

If you’ve focused on making your web based experience awesome, that great – but you’ve probably not hit the biggest and growing section of the market – mobile users. In fact, a startup (or any business for that matter) without a mobile strategy, or at minimum, a mobile app, is in danger of being left in the dust.

What are you going to do? You can either a) either a kick ass mobile developer who’s probably in high demand at the moment because everyone is moving quickly to build mobile apps b) begin the arduous process of learning to build an app in Objective C for iOS, Java for Android, or one of the many all-in-one SDK’s like Titanium Appcelerator or PhoneGap, all of which really are truly arduous for the non-coder or c) use an app builder software, which will generate and submit apps for you, using a combination of things like CSS3, HTML5 & Javascript (AKA all-the-latest-mobile-tech). For simple apps (and more complex ones if you are willing to do a bit of b) above) there are plenty of great choices which can get you started off for free or a minimal fee.

Take for example one of the easiest to use and fully templated ones called appypie.com (Great name, but makes me hungry every time I hear it) – I personally created an app, a simple one mind you, but I created an app for for Android and iOS in less than 5 minutes. Now, I used the standard template that they gave me (and they have about 30 main templates – for everything from generic business templates, to fitness apps, to with about 27 modules that you can mix and match between them) and it would take longer if you’d like to put in your own custom images and really think about what your mobile app needs to do – but its a great way to get into having a mobile app quickly and for very low cost. I think the top price is about $33 a month for a true white label with no appypie branding and submission to all app stores etc. Good deal when you consider the typical cost of mobile app development.

It’s a great start for most startups who don’t have very complex mobile requirements from the beginning and may be all that you need. I haven’t dug too deep into more complex apps (I’m in the middle of two projects myself that need a mobile version and am considering appypie for one if not both of them) but I’ll likely test both of them through appypie and see if its suitable for either and report back.

I’m curious – what you all all use for you mobile development platform? I’m sure there’s plenty of hard core – native or fuggedaboudit folks out there – but for those others, what have you used successfully..?

Apple Announces iPhone 5S & 5C : Nothing New Here

iphone5sI just finished watching the iPhone 5S and 5C announcements and boy, I didn’t realize that I was going to be so right when I wrote Apple Misses The Innovation Sweet Spot last week – there is literally nothing new – sure its faster and the screen is better but everything else except the for the fingerprint sensor remains the same. How long has the idea of a fingerprint sensor in your phone been around? Forever.

How the mighty have fallen…

I was discussing Apple’s apparent lack of innovation with a friend of mine and we agreed  that Apple will continue to rake in huge money for a while, but they really have lost the ability to innovate – there will likely be nothing new and different from them. Not that they don’t likely have a ton of innovators with great ideas, but I think they have settled into a comfortable position, just like the hard drive companies outlined in The Innovators Dilemma – they are fat and happy and can’t see themselves being upended by anyone.

IMHO, they should really take the threat from Microsoft seriously. If Microsoft decides to ride it out in the same way they did in the video game console space, in 5 years or less, they will be the second place smartphone vendor to Android, and Apple will slide into their natural spot at 10% of the market, unless they do something bold.

My prediction: by 2020, Android 55%, Windows Phone 35%, Apple 10%. Whats’s your take?

 

Apple Misses The Innovation Sweet Spot

It’s rumored that the next iPhone will have a fingerprint sensor, a new processor and come in new colors, gold (!) and some others. If this is what passes for innovation at Apple nowadays, then I can totally understand the dour outlook on innovation from Apple.

Look, I get that Steve Jobs was a smart guy. He had a lot of ideas. But I’m sure that Apple is staffed to the brim with great idea people. Or maybe not.

The last guy I knew who worked at Apple got shut down and kicked out because he had too many ideas – he actually spoke his mind on things. Maybe the atmosphere isn’t really all that innovative. Maybe Steve ran that place so tightly and staffed it with so many yes men that none of them can come up with a single true innovation since he left. Maybe he designed that place from the ground up to need some kind of guru like himself to make innovation happen, and Tim Cook is not that guy?

Who knows. All I can say is if you ask me – this stuff is not innovative.

Back in 2006, I ran a brainstorming session which was focused on mobile and the fingerprint reader was one of the least interesting of the many, many interesting and cool innovations we came up with, way back then. Here’s one of them. That’s 7 years folks. Tell me how one of the most supposedly innovative companies of the 21st century is only now adding this, highly uninteresting (at least to me) options to its phone.

It occurs to me that Apple is really not innovative at all, unless you look at their mobile user base, which is typically behind the curve. Its the mass market. It’s funny that while Macs appeal to the high end techies and designers, their mobile products are really very dumbed down, unlike the Android devices, which range from the highly technical and customizable to the dumbed down.

So there you have it: innovation is really in the eye of the beholder.

What does this mean? It means that innovation cannot exist as a product disconnected from its users. You could spend all day brainstorming and inventing great new things, but unless those things are a near future innovation for your intended user base, its doubtful that those products will ever see the light of day, at least likely within your time frame at that company. Those are great for generating patent applications and filling up your future product pipeline, but if you, like me, prefer to see your ideas in real product form – out there in the world helping people and/or making money, then you have to take your audience into account. You have to range your innovations, (to paraphrase a famous Panasonic tagline) just slightly ahead of your intended audiences time. Too far, and it will never be productized. Too near, and you will be accused of not being innovative enough.

Personally, these “innovations” from Apple lag even behind all of the others. Let’s hope that for Apple’s sake, the real iPhone announcement contains something in the sweet spot, and these rumors are just the gravy.

We need to see some real steak from Apple.

  • There are two new iPhones on the horizon — the iPhone 5S and the iPhone5C

  • The iPhone 5S is purported to have a fingerprint sensor and other improvements

  • Both phones are expected to hit shelves in September

via Apple iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C Rumors, and Release Guide – ABC News.

iOS vs Android vs Windows: It Doesn’t Matter

iospress13-1370892975So the Apple Developers conference was here in San Francisco this week and there of course were thousands upon thousands of Apple fanboys and fangirls thronging the Moscone Center and many surrounding areas. I usually try to stay away from these pure fanatics but I just HAD to say something once I saw the new interface for iOS7.

I’m sorry but unless you are a total tried and true Apple fanatic its obvious that a lot of the design of the new iOS is a complete lift from both Android & Windows phone (also the new Yahoo! Weather app, which is very cool). But as most Apple fanatics can’t see beyond the awesomeness (in their mind) which is Apple, then they can’t see that at all.

I randomly posted that I thought that iOS 7 looked a lot like Android and boy did I ever get spammed. Apple fanatics were basically telling me to GTFO the message board, like it was for Apple ass-kissers only.

Sigh.

We really should be beyond this crap. Personally, I see operating systems, interfaces, etc as tools to get a job done, not something worth having a jihad over. If I need to code for a Mac, I’ll do it on a Mac. If I need to code on Windows, the same. I’m typing this post on a Ubuntu box that I set up for a specific project. All of these interfaces and operating systems look and act similarly, and they are all simply tools. You use the tool which gets the job done most effectively.

It’s kind of like the differences between Democrats and Republicans, there really aren’t any. ;)

When it comes to IP, c’mon people: everyone has always ripped everyone else off: Xerox PARC came up with the genesis of what you see on a desktop, and everything is a distillation of that. Google stole from Apple, Apple stole from Google, Microsoft stole from both, everyone nabs what they feel are the best features from other OSs and puts them in, hoping no one will notice, but of course, unless you are a total fanatic, everyone does.

Personally, I don’t think the latest reveal will save Apple with anything innovative: they’ve been all about incremental innovation since the iPhone.

We’ve read the rumors, we’ve seen the banners, and now its finally here. Live from the Moscone Center in San Francisco, Tim Cook has just taken the wraps off of the latest upgrade to Apples mobile operating system after pumping up the crowd with some shimmering stats for the current OS, naturally, and as expected, the company’s maintained its familiar naming scheme, introducing the world to iOS 7. Cook called it the biggest change to the operating system since the introduction of the iPhone, bold words supported by new features and a new design that managed to get a visible gasp from the room full of developers when shown off in a promo video.

via Apple shows off completely redesigned iOS 7 at WWDC, coming this fall.

Google AKA Microsoft 1999 AKA Apple With Jobs

Seeing Keep launched from Google yesterday reminded me of Microsoft circa 1999 – they’d already crushed everyone in the big app space – O/S, Desktop Apps (Office), Email (Outlook) and seemed to me were starting to think about picking off smaller players in niches – for example, launching Money to compete with Quicken, etc. Of course, we all know how that worked out – Money’s been dead 4 years and Intuit is still going strong. Actually, come to think of it, Apple with Steve Jobs was like that as well. They didn’t hesitate to crush whole industries – and they were more likely to succeed due to their unwavering fan base  I can see the conversation now: “Apple is doing X now!” “Cool, let me buy X and stop using Y, even though its a better solution!”

So here’s Keep from Google, ala Evernote and Catch.  I prefer Catch myself, but it looks like Google, having captured a big chunk of the mail and desktop, and now making inroads in OS (Soon to be merged Chrome/Android) its only expected that they try to knock out some of the smaller players – fits right in with their strategy to index everything – and eventually run ads against it, I’m guessing.

Will anyone question the idea of having all of your data owned by one company, who’s pledged to “do no evil”? Seems to me if the value prop is there, anyone is willing to give up any and all of their personal information for ease of use and stuff, then why not trust Google with your life’s data?

Google unveiled its rumored Keep service Wednesday, giving users a new way to create and save notes and integrate them with Google Drive.

The service is live both on the Web and in a new app for Android devices running on 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) and above.

Keep gives Google users a central place to store the information they collect from its various services. People are doing this already in Google Docs — keeping to-do lists, recipes, and other short snippets of text on individual documents.

via Google launches Keep to help you store your notes – CBS News.

Mobile Outlook 2013: Android Dominates

Yet another indication of where the interesting new stuff and innovation is – I’m going to predict that in the short term (2-3 years) iPhone (yes, even newer versions) is heading to the same range as the Mac is – will likely get down to about 10% of the smartphone market – hardcore Apple fanboys/girls. Android, as it gets easier to use, cheaper and more open will continue to take the share, and possibly Windows phone – assuming that Microsoft is going for the same kind of long term strategy it used to take over the video game market.

At the moment, you can’t beat the iPad experience on tablets, but in the long term, Microsoft might take a bite of that that market if Android tablet versions don’t continue to step up.

The wildcard here is Google Glass and iWatch: look for these platforms to start to hit their strides in late 2014. Also, look for iWatch to grab a hold of the quantified self folks, possibly including sensors which would wipe out the FitBit Flex, Jawbone UP, Nike Fuelband market.

Smartphone owners are expected to download about 56 billion applications this year, reports ABI Research. The lion’s share of those apps will head to Android devices, with Apple, Microsoft and BlackBerry trailing Google.

Of the 56 billion app downloads, approximately 32.5 billion, or 58% of them, will go to Android smartphones. Apple iPhone owners will download 18.5 billion apps, representing about 33% of the 56 billion total. That means 88 out of every 100 apps downloaded in 2013 will come from the Google Play Store or the iTunes App Store.

The app market for tablets, however, looks a bit different. ABI believes tablet owners will download about 14 billion apps throughout 2013. The Apple iPad will crush every other tablet in terms of app downloads. iPad apps will amount to 75%, or 10.5 billion, of the tablet app downloads this year. Google’s Android tablet share is a distant second, with 17%, or 2.4 billion, of the tablet app downloads this year.

via Android To Dominate 2013 Mobile App Downloadss – Development -.

Is Apple’s Natural Spot 10% Of The Market?

apple-logo2I’m going to go out on a limb and make a (probably wrong) prediction that with the rise of Android & now Microsoft mobile devices, that eventually Apple’s share of the mobile device market may eventually fall to the same place that its computer market is – hovering around 10%.

Why you ask: a few things. Even though personally I never thought that what Steve Jobs was doing was really groundbreaking after the initial iPhone, he retained that aura of innovation. Even when the iPad was released, which was simply a larger iPhone with no voice capability, I didn’t think it was particularly innovative. Same with every iteration of the iPhone since its inception. The devices themselves are not very different from each other – more evolutionary than revolutionary.

Now that Steve is gone, Apple is following the same strategy, but for some reason, its not working anymore. Simply having Steve at the helm makes the difference, cause if you ask me, Apple is not doing anything differently from when Steve was around.

Why will Apple eventually drop to 10%? The answer is Microsoft. If they decide to use the same strategy that they did to eventually dominate the video game console space, then they will likely end up being number two in the mobile device space. If they rapidly improve their devices, and ensure that they leverage their corporate foundation (which seems to continue to keep Blackberry afloat for now) they could easily take second spot. Sure, at the moment the devices are heavy, clunky and slow, but they said the same of the original XBOX, and now they dominate there. Imagine being able to effortlessly port your Windows app to tablet, instead of requiring a near complete rewrite for iPad or Android tablets. The massive corporate embed of Microsoft, along with rapidly improving devices, will likely rapidly expand Microsoft’s tablet and smartphone footprint in corporates. It might take 5-10 years, but I’m guessing that’s where things are going. Blackberry better watch out.

Of course, I could be wrong, and it might be too late, but hey, that’s what futurists do, right? We attempt to make (hopefully) educated guesses about the future.

In the end, you have a hardcore audience of people out there, about 10% Apple fan boys girls, who just love anything and everything Apple. Those are the same people who prefer an equivalent $1700 Mac to a $700 PC, and will always buy Apple.

Apple AAPL has dominated the mobile device market since basically inventing the sector with the iPhone and iPad, but tablets running the Android operating system will overtake the iPad in 2013 much as smartphones utilizing Googles GOOG offering already have, according to analyses from IDC.A study released Tuesday by the technology sector analysis firm reported that Apples majority rule of the tablet market will end in 2013 for the first time since the iPad was introduced, with the Cupertino company’s share of the market expected to drop from 51 percent in 2012 to 46 percent in 2013. Android devices will grow from 41.5 percent of the market in 2012 to 48.6 percent in 2013, the study concluded, because the preponderance of smaller devices running Google’s operating system have proven extremely popular.

via Apples mobile dominance is done for now, analyses find – San Jose Mercury News.

Uh Oh: Apple still has ‘magic,’ innovation, says CEO Cook

Its always a bad sign when your own CEO is the one who starts saying that your company is innovative. Innovation results from the market telling you something is innovative, and unfortunately, Apple’s products no longer are. It reminds me of a time I used to work for Cineplex when I was much younger: the president of the company at the time had personally invested in the movie “Silverado”, which was apparently attempting to reboot the western genre. Just before it opened, a ton of critics just slammed the film, so this guy himself went on interview after interview talking about how great the movie was. When you have to start blowing your own horn, it’s over. Time to look at the next hot company, since if you ask me, Apples days in the front are numbered.

Cook said Apple still has strong growth opportunities because of its ability to work simultaneously on hardware, software and services, brushing aside suggestions that Apple has passed its peak.“Apple has the ability to innovate in all three of these spheres and create magic,” Cook said during a question-and-answer session at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference.“This isn’t something you can just write a check for. This is something you build over decades.”Cook declined to talk about any new products, but said he remains upbeat on Apple’s ability to boost sales of its popular iPhones and iPads in markets around the world.“I’m incredibly bullish about the future and what Apple can do,” he said.“Apple has skills in hardware, in software and in services … There is no better place for innovation.”

via Apple still has ‘magic,’ innovation, says CEO Cook | Business | DAWN.COM.

Design Is Now Crucial to Startup Success

This is sad, but true. I suck as a designers but now I have to hire them… ;)

Remember the good old days? When a startup founder could draw up his own clunky logo, slap it on a Web page and call it a day? Now every startup needs to spend time, attention and money on slick branding and design sophistication – just to get in the game.

Design as a Differentiator

99designs, a marketplace for crowdsourced graphic design, polled more than 1,500 entrepreneurs, startup founders and small-business owners and found that 80% of them think the design of their logos, websites, marketing materials and other branding tools is either important or very important to their success. Just 3% said design was not important.

Blame Apple, says 99designs CEO Patrick Llewellyn. The world’s most valuable company has proved that elegance equals success. “Apple has shown that design excellence can lead to growth,” Llewellyn says. “We’ve seen successful startups like Airbnb, where design is at the forefront, beautiful simplicity. The way you interact with their design has played a part in their growth to prominence. We’ve seen the rise of Instagram and other startups with a very clean, well-designed look and feel.”

via Design Is Now Crucial to Startup Success.

If Apple Won’t Innovate The User Experience, Android Designers Will

Android Innovates

I don’t consider Apple innovative anymore. They have become “the man”. Android, MS-Phone, that’s where the new stuff will be coming from…

Apple’s iOS ecosystem is so robust at this point that it seems unstoppable. Indeed, they have the most important thing right—the content. Hardware, interface, connectivity, all of these things are secondary to that which flows through them, apps, mobile sites, video, audio, data, whatever.

So Android, and more particularly Windows Phone, are at a strong disadvantage because their own app ecosystems have fewer or less reliable content offerings. These two platforms do have one (difficult) strategic advantage, however, because they are behind, they need to innovate.

via Feel UX: If Apple Won’t Innovate The User Experience, Android Designers Will – Forbes.