Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Post-Mouse Era

Apple has declared we are entering the Post-PC Era.  Previews shown at WWDC 2011 suggest we are actually entering the Post-Mouse Era.

Finger Gestures Rule! 

I am not talking about the gestures we were so proud of in high school.  Tablet and trackpad gestures are in our future.

RIM has made a good start with PlayBook margin gestures. The most common ones are familiar to PlayBook users.

Power on gestures are 1. side margin to margin and 2. vertical margin to margin:

Other common gestures are 1.  Show application menu  2. Show task picker  3. Switch to next task on left  4. Switch to next task on right  5. Show system menu  6. Show keyboard:

What else can RIM do?

First of all, gestures need to be customizable by a user. My preferences will likely be different than yours.  RIM needs to accommodate such preferences.

The power on gesture could be split to allow 1. ON = side margin to margin and 2. SLEEP = vertical margin to margin:

RIM can also address problems with the gestures that open the application menus or switch tasks:

What's problem?  Inexperienced users invoke these operations by mistake and get confused. I have seen many people inadvertently switch tasks when flipping through pictures or pages in an application.

A simple configurable preference provides a solution.  Use two part, out->in gestures to invoke these functions:

Now we have slightly different gestures in an application for paging and scrolling versus those used outside the application for task switching.  I have tested this new gesture with many users. They like it!

Other functions can leverage a left or right turn in the gesture.  For example, the following multipart gestures could be configured:

1. Open Camera  2. Open Browser  3. Close this task immediately 4. Open new file.

The specific functions don't matter.  RIM simply needs to use the margins more effectively to compete with the newly announced iOS 5 multitouch gestures.

Here are some special examples that could be used for things like: a secret login password gesture, initiate a system restart, verify a credit card PIN or do anything the user wants to make less than obvious.

What do you think?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Apple iCloud Postmortem

Apple announced their iCloud initiative a few minutes ago at their developer conference.

Here are some summaries:

CNET iCloud Summary

Engadget iCloud Summary

Gizmodo iCloud Summary

Apple Insider iCloud Summary

Hey!  I was pretty much correct with  my predictions a week ago:

My iCloud Predictions

I even got the death of MobileMe right :)

My Postmortem:  YAWN.

My Next Prediction:  Apple will do much better than it did with Mobile Me.  The differentiator  between cheap $200 tablets and premium $500 tablets will be the underlying services like those provided by Apple iCloud.

The Ramifications for RIM:  Want do you want to be?  One of the many $200 cut-rate, commodity tablets or one of the few $500 tablets that will dominate mobile computing for the next decade?

Up Next: Back to our regularly scheduled blog with some original suggestions for RIM on how to improve the PlayBook.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Apple iCloud

Anyone who has read my blog knows I have a certain dislike for the Apple iPad.  For me, it is more toy than technology.  And I think the Apple jihad against Adobe Flash is disdainful and bad for all of us in the long run.

Yet, I have respect for Apple in other areas. I use my MacBook Air more than any computer I have ever owned. After using Adobe media editing products for more than a decade, I switched to Final Cut Pro in 2007.  It is a tremendous video editing product.

Apple will announce its iCloud service next Monday. Leveraging its South Carolina Data Center (see satellite image below),  Apple is going to shake up the world again.

View Larger Map

Why should we care?

Apple is making another of their signature BIG bets on a technology that everyone else has just been talking about.

In the past, I have complained that you need another computer to synchronize and backup the iPad.  This tethering requirement never made much sense to me. Starting next week, the iPad will lose its umbilical cord.

Storing your digital life on the web is an obvious path for Apple. They will subsequently use the iCloud to leverage greater dependency on iOS devices

How will it work?

iCloud will be like Facebook for data. Or for those who have been around long enough: It will be the 21st century equivalent of AOL.

You want some music?  It's on the iCloud. But music is not the only part.  Want to rent a movie? iCloud. Want to start watching that video on an Apple TV and finish watching on your iPad? iCloud.  Update your software? iCloud. Want to share the pictures you are looking at in iPhoto? iCloud. Want to make a video call to Grandma? iCloud. Want to make a free phone (a.k.a. Skype) call to another part of the world?  iCloud will eventually be there to.

Apple is going to make the iPad the Control Window to everything you have on the iCloud. A computer will be completely optional.

(Aside: expect to see to see iTunes and Mobile Me branding fade with time. iCloud is the new brand)

Cloud Storage for Dummies

I never understood why Apple outlawed files and folders on the iPad.  Now it is clear.  iPad content will seamlessly move from iPad to iPad to iPhone to desktop using the iCloud.  Newbee users won't know that it is just a synchronized file system. Apple will call it 'magical' - and many users will buy it.

What About RIM and everyone else?

Amazon, Google, Microsoft and RIM need to get serious and provide some coordinated competition.  Each has strengths that beat Apple in particular areas. Individually, they lack the breadth of solutions to match Apple in the consumer oriented application space. They need to seriously consider a more unified response - or at least - a less proprietary approach.  Either way, they will need to back their bets with significant investment.  Will they do it? That is a good question.

The iPad will be less about hardware and more about the underlying services. Just like the iPod was never really about MP3. It was always the vehicle for weaning users onto iTunes and thereby locking them into iPod hardware. iPads will now wean us onto the iCloud. It's Déjà vu all over again


UPDATE: Based on question from forum

Hardware Paradox

Apple is primarily a hardware company. Yet iTunes is more important to them than hardware. 

Here's why I say that: To continue selling hardware, Apple needs barriers that stop others from offering alternative hardware that just costs less. iTunes is that barrier.  Mac Computer buyers are offered exclusive iWork and iLife applications.  Where do they by these apps today? iTunes!

Now Apple is doing the same with the iPad. You can buy cheaper hardware (Soon to be 200+ Android tablets available - many with attractive prices). You can buy better hardware (the PlayBook). But you cannot get Apple services any other way.

iPads are no longer just about hardware.
Competitors need to take note.